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, and 11 Indie comics in Part 3. This time around I’m looking at 12 all ages comics. This is a great group of FCBD comics; as I was reading them they were mostly really well done and would be perfect for getting younger readers into reading comics. I’m not sure how many actually ended up in the hands of young readers because (a) shops would have to order them and (b) kids, or their parents, would need to pick them instead of comics with familiar super-heroes or media tie-ins.
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; I’ll give some suggested age ranges, but that’s going to be for “first contact”. In general, once someone becomes a teenager they usually proactively distance themselves from what they perceive as “kid stuff” even though it can still be fun to read even for adults. 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.
BOOM! Ten Years Celebration (BOOM! Studios)
Buy: A great anthology of stories that will give a taste of properties from media tie-ins like Adventure Time, Regular Show Peanuts, Garfield, and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth to creator-owned phenoms like Mouse Guard and Lumberjanes. I thoroughly enjoyed most of what was in this comic and it was a great sample of all ages material that BOOM! is putting out. Appropriate for kids & adults of all ages.
Stan Lee’s Chakra the Invincible (Graphic India/POW!)
Buy: This was a great kid-friendly super-hero book showing off 5 different artists on 5 short stories. I have a feeling Stan Lee’s name is being trotted out here to give this a feeling of legitimacy. He helped create the character but didn’t write any of the stories in here. Stan’s name isn’t needed. This was a good comic that can stand on it’s own. I’d target this on kids up to about 12 years of age.
Jurassic Strike Force 5 (Silver Dragon Books)
Buy: Shades of the Ninja Turtles! Here we have fighting dinosaurs who like tacos, but it was all good fun and should be some great action for kids who love dinosaurs up to 12 or 13 years of age.
Bodie Troll (Red 5 Comics)
Buy: Bodie Troll is a fun character and this was a really well done comic. Appropriate for kids up to 12, but be warned that Bodie gets “drunk” on root beer, so if you’re REALLY hard-core about keeping your kid away from even a hint of such things, read it first before giving to a younger kid. This also had a story of Drone, where a gamer remotely runs a combat drone, which would be fine for 7 or 8 up to teens. The issue is rounded out with Creature Academy which should be good for kids into Pokemon or similar properties.
Buy: The Rabbids remind me of Minions from Despicable Me, albiet with bunny ears. In any event, they’re fun. This issue also has a story of Ariol who is searching for that one last collectible sticker to finish off a set, a situation many collectors can relate to. The issue is rounded out with the Smurfs and Garfield. A nice selection of stories for kids and adults alike.
The Tick (New England Comics)
Buy: The Tick has been around for a long time. He made the break into animation and a short-lived live action series, but he’s not a character that seems to have the overall awareness and popularity of “big two” heroes. Nevertheless, there are some fun stories in this comic that might turn new readers on to the tick and the comic points them at collected editions of all the Tick material that’s out there in some easy to collect “Complete Works” collected editions. Good for kids, teens, and adults.
Cleopatra in Space (graphix)
Buy: This is a story about a tween version of Cleopatra that starts in ancient Egyptm but Cleo finds herself transported to a future/space setting with talking cats and other oddities. Cleo is a spunky girl and has a fun/rambunctious personality, very likeable. I enjoyed her time in Egypt, the space adventures which are not really seen other than a basic setup in this issue, now have a bar to surpass. This should be good fun for kids 6 and up, particularly ones that like cats.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (Viz Media)
Pass: Al reviewed the 1st volume of this manga quite favorably, I think maybe reading this in a larger context might be better than the excerpt of story presented here. The 15 pages presented here seem to jump into the middle of the action, there is some aimless fighting and I never really got a feeling for what was going on. What I read here would not cause me to want to get any more of this. The 2nd half was a 15 page Yu-Gi-Oh story that did a much better job of being comprehensible and standing on it’s own. The JoJo story seemed more suited to older teens (13+) while the Yu-Gi-Oh story would be suitable for readers 10 and up, particularly ones who have watched the TV show or played thee card game.
Overstreet’s Comic Book Marketplace (Gemstone)
Buy: This is genuinely all ages, though probably much more suited to teens and adults. It’s not really a comic book, but a sample of the Overstreet Comic Book Marketplace magazine with articles like “How DC Comics Took Over Television”, stuff on the monetary value of comics (which is pretty much Overstreet’s gig), a nice article on collecting Winter Soldier original art by Steve Epting, and an excellent examination of the secret Marvel/DC crossover that occurred as part of the comics featuring the Rutland, Vermont Hallowwen parade. This is well worth picking up for the Crossover article alone.
Gronk, a monster’s story (Action Lab)
Buy: Gronk is a lovable monster that has come to live with a woman in rural British Colombia. This story is a good intro to Gronk, and more can be read on the web (but the webcomic is B&W and the comics collection is in color). The back half of this comic is another “cat friendly” offering “Hero Cats of Stellar City”. Both are great for any kids 6 and up, younger if parents read them with their kids. Wonderful material for young readers.
March Grand Prix (Capstone)
Buy: March is a race-car driving rabbit in this action packed racing adventure for young readers. I was completely entertained as an adult and think this would be great for reading to young children or giving to young readers as a first comic. Completely appropriate for any young reader, this was an extremely well done comic that has me wanting to get the full story in the full OGN volume available in August 2015.
CBLDF Presents Defend Comics (CBLDF)
Buy: This presents a variety of shorts focused on communication, freedom of speech, and attempted censorship; perfect subject matter for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Some really good takes in here, probably suitable for ages 8 to 10 and up. It’s a good book the read with your kids and help them understand the concepts that are broached here and how some people like to try to dictate what others can read and express. Hopefully you’re the kind of person who is in favor of freedom of expression and against censorship and will identify with the people fighting the good fight in these stories. If you find yourself thinking it’s OK to ban a book and/or tell others what they can choose to read, please unfollow my Blog now 😉
…and that’s all of the FCBD 2015 offerings (except for Hatter M, which I can recommend on the basis of reading the OGN’s first hand). A nice batch of comics this year, a lot of them were perfect lead-ins for new readers. That’s not to say that FCBD is without room for improvement. I’ll talk about some of the problems with FCBD that should be addressed by Publishers and comic shops to meet the needs of both existing and new readers in the next installment of this Blog….
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