I got all the comics save 1 from FCBD this year and I’m going to be taking a look at each of them on my Blog. You can see the 1st 12 comics I read in Part 1, followed up by 14 more media tie-in comics in Part 2. This time around I’m looking at 11 indie comics (stuff that is not the major publishers and is likely to be completely new or off-the-beaten track for many comics readers). This is an interesting group of FCBD comics because they were likely ordered in small quantities by most comics shops and are mostly not featuring flashy/recognizable characters on the covers.
While a casual fan picking up a comic for the 1st time on FCBD might well find something really cool here, this is the group that I wish people mired in super-heroes would try out. These are books that a comic shop owner should purposely buy and give to readers who primarily read super-heroes and media tie-in comics in addition to their standard 3 or 4 FCBD comics they get to pick at most shops. Most fans mired in the world of the “Big Two” are usually going to use their 4 picks on the Marvel/DC selections so they keep abreast of the latest for their favorite heroes. Giving these folks a couple of extras as long as they are in the Indie category would be a great sales tool for a comic shop owner who has these people in their shop every week mostly buying the same old stuff. Use FCBD to nudge them along the evolutionary path of their comics reading.
I’m not going to do full detailed reviews. I’m going to look at each and try to give an assessment of whether each comic made me want to seek out and but more comics. That is, I assume, the purpose of these free comics. They’re teasers to try to get a customer to want more. Let’s see how effective this year’s batch were; my ratings will be as follows:
Buy: This either made me want to buy what comes next, or it looked like it was enough to make “someone who likes this sort of thing” buy more.
Pass: The comic didn’t provide me a compelling amount of material that made me want to follow it to the next level.
Valiant 25th Anniversary Special (Valiant)
Buy: I tottered on the brink of giving this a “Pass”. I love Valiant and what they’re doing, but this issue seemed to me like it will play really nicely to existing fans, but I don’t think it had the grab it could have for pulling in new readers. Bloodshot has been essentially turned into the Punisher; the 1st 4 pages of Ninjak #1 were what pulled this over into Buy territory; the 4 page preview of the Dead Hand storyline coming in X-O Manowar was, I think, impenetrable to a new reader.
Hip Hop Family Tree Three-In-One (Fantagraphics)
Buy: I’m not the target demographic for this. I don’t listen to Hip Hop because I don’t particularly like it. But I love this history of Hip Hop. I look at it like a history book and I like to learn about things I don’t know about. The backup story was from something called Cosplayers by Dash Shaw and it was superb! I’m going to be seeking out and buying Cosplayers and other stuff by Shaw.
Mercury Heat (Avatar)
Buy: A good 11 page intro story to the sci-fi world of Mercury Heat by Kieron Gillen. Particularly nice was the lengthy essay by Gillen explaining the series and characters, this has me sold on this one and looking forward to its debut in July
And Then Emily Was Gone #0 (ComixTribe)
Buy: People will look at this and either fall in love with Iain Laurie’s bizarre art style or be turned off by it. But what they see is what they’re going to get! Pretty cool backup story featuring the Oxymoron. I had not previously seen a fairy sitting on a toilet, but it worked in this story. Weird, but good weird.
Comics Festival (Toronto Comic Arts Festival)
Buy: A mixed bag of Canadian comics creators in this anthology. I didn’t like everything, but it’s rare that I read an anthology where I do. That said, I loved Con/Game by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang as well as the Superhero Girl story by Faith Erin Hicks. It gives me some more stuff to be on the lookout for, which it the point of this comic, so it was a success.
Captain Canuck (Chapter House Comics)
Pass: I read the original run of Captain Canuck when it first came out back in the late 1970s, which probably puts me in a very tiny percentage of the people checking out this comic. I liked it back then, maybe almost because of it’s flaws (journeyman art but a LOT of heart). This issue was split between a new updated version of the Captain (which I didn’t care for) and a story of the ‘classic’ Captain (which I liked more than the updated version, but also didn’t cry out to me as something that warranted revisiting). Not for me.
Motorcycle Samurai (Top Shelf)
Pass: This was one of the FCBD books I was most looking forward to, based on early descriptions I had read. I may have fallen prey to “unrealistic expectations” because the reality of this didn’t live up to what I was expecting and didn’t click with me at all. It has one of those very distinctive art styles that will either work for a reader or not. For me it fell into the ‘not’ category. The narrative didn’t do anything for me either. That said, people should flip through the book, it may work for them.
Grimm Fairy Tales: Wonderland (Zenescope)
Pass: This read to me like a pseudo-Twilight Zone story with a horror twist. There were elements of the GFT Wonderland story woven into it, but it wasn’t particularly effective at really delivering the Wonderland backstory in a way that popped for me and made me want to read me. I got to the end and thought that I had read an average story and didn’t feel compelled to seek out more.
Lady Justice (Super Genius)
Pass: Lady Justice originally came out in 1995 from TeknoComix and I bought/read it back when it first came out. Touted as “Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice”; Neil came up with the concept, but the execution was left to others who do not execute at Neil’s level of skill. This is a reprint of the original #1 issue. Reading it again after 20 years, I don’t think it aged well and didn’t really cry out to me as something that needed to be revived / reprinted.
I.C.E. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Bayou Black Out (12-Gauge)
Buy: I.C.E. is a action oriented police procedural done in comics form and well done for what it is. It’s not an over-used comics genre, though it has been beaten into the ground on TV. Decent setup for the next series, Bayou Blackout, coming out soon. I liked the short story “The Ride: The Devil Don’t Sing No Blues” more than the main event. A nice Twilight Zone-esque standalone short.
2000 AD (2000 AD)
Buy: 2000 AD, the long running British comics prog, is home to a number of fabulous characters, many of whom are not familiar to people in the US. A character that is familiar to most comics readers is Judge Dredd, who is featured in an all-new story here that is a great example of the character. There are 2 other new stories: Death Rock (which was very good and left me wanting to know “Who is Harry 20”) and Doctor Sin. We also get a reprint of Nemesis the Warlock, Dan Dare, Slaine, and 3000 AD The Traveller. Good stuff that left me wanting more.
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