Friday, May 6, 2011

FCBD is Embargoed For All I Care #105

FCBD 2011 Young Justice Batman BB Super Sampler #1
Free Comic Book Day 2011 (Spider-Man) #1
Free Comic Book Day 2011 (Thor the Mighty Avenger) #1
Super Dinosaur: Origin Special #1 Free Comic Book Day Edition

But seriously, is there some kind of review embargo on these things? I got my copies on Monday...

Free Comic Book Day: Young Justice/Batman: The Brave and the Bold Super Sampler #1 (DC, 2011, "Free")
Two Marvel reviews follow. One is for a general audiences book, and the other is targeted at the younger set. Both are more accessible, pleasant, and just plain more competent than Art Baltazar and Franco's Young Justice strip. This is one of those clumsy, clunky affairs where people run around without getting much done beyond finding an excuse to devote three pages to exposition (vague quasi-origins of the leads) before a thrown together conclusion. The art by Mike Norton isn't bad, but it seems to bring out the worst aspects of the YJ animated designs I missed on the actual cartoons, like Kid Flash's armor, Aqualad's bare feet, and Robin's comprehensive cluster of lame. The only thing I liked was someone finally coming up with a hook for the Atomic Skull besides being named the Atomic Skull.

On the other hand, Sholly Fisch's Batman and Flash team-up rocked, even if the two stories really overdosed the Flash portion. I usually hate "this character is so great because" tales, but Fisch found a hook that really made it work, especially the zinger of a punchline at the end. In fact, I liked that b-story far better than the super-hero action, so I'd be curious to see Fisch work outside the Johnny DC ghetto. Rick Burchett's art is also reliably great on stuff like this.

Free Comic Book Day: The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel, 2011, "Free")
Dan Slott writes the Marvel Comics I don't tend to read. I probably should have jumped on GLX when I had the chance, as I admire Squirrel Girl from afar, but that was my last real shot. I didn't care for She-Hulk, and even though I knew a guy whose favorite super-hero was the Thing, I somehow manage to find that more pathetic than my Martian Manhunter fixation. "The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Aunt Petunia related Yancy Street Cigar Smoking It's Use Up Every Repetitive Catchpharase Time!" I of course haven't been into Spider-Man since I was in short pants, so I could do without another origin retelling (and so could most modern kids, after the movies and cartoons.) However, the '70s charm of a mind-controlled Spider-Woman under the musk of the Mandrill helped win me over, as did Humberto Ramos' nigh perfect pencils, so I would overall give this a thumbs up. If nothing else, this was about the first time in my decades of reading that I found dialogue for Spider-Man genuinely amusing, like I always heard it was supposed to be.

However, I live to bitch, so what is up with making the Secret Wars Spider-Woman into a new Madame Web? I know the old bitch got cacked, but it still reminds me an awful lot of the awful '90s when everyone got sexier and more extreme. Remember when Dr. Octopus was a pink-haired chick? Humberto, I can't imagine a circumstance where Spider-Woman's yellow abdominal points would meet at her 'taint. Finally, remember when Jeph Loeb had Superman learn Krypton-Fu from Mongul to battle Imperiex? That happens here. That's the kind of shit that happens when you let your writer get on a message board. wade_hard91 comes up with a convincing win scenario in a Deadpool vs. Web-Head thread, and Slott goes, "Oh yeah, well if Spider-Man learned martial arts and beat a whole island full of similarly powered characters, he'd be... Wonder Woman? Oh shit, what have I wrought...?"

Free Comic Book Day 2011 Captain America/Thor the Mighty Avenger: The Mighty Fighting Avengers (Marvel, 2011, "Free")
I already liked Chris Samnee thanks to the artist's internet presence, and I'd heard plenty of good things about Roger Langridge's Muppet comics. Combined, they made for a fun comic. The writer managed a lightweight, kid-friendly done-in-one while telling an enjoyable tale that didn't insult anyone's intelligence. The characterization is rather cavalier (a sarcastic Cap; Loki talking like a teenage punk,) but I appreciated the liberties, however jarring, so long as it isn't cannon. At least that's more interesting than Marvel's regular kid's line. Curiously, I had less trouble with the lanky young Thor than the scrawny rookie Cap, I guess because it kind of makes the Super Soldier Serum look watered down. It reminded me of the time I ordered a Cap costume-style shirt, tried it on, had a friend point and say "Steve Rogers," totally saw his point, and immediately resold the thing. The costume redesign done especially for this issue left a lot to be desired, I'm afraid. Regardless, Samnee's storytelling is happening, and I enjoyed looking around Cap. He reminds me of Paul Smith, and that's praise, son.

Super Dinosaur: Origin Special #1 Free Comic Book Day Edition (Image, 2011, "Free")
I still love The Walking Dead for all its ups and downs, and I liked what I read of Astonishing Wolf-Man, but somehow, I can't seem to bring myself to appreciate most of Robert Kirkman's writing. To my mind, he is the most honest and true scripting child of the '90s... the anointed second generation of Image Comics, which does not help in any way. You know this dude grew up on Scott Lobdell X-Men and Fabian Nicieza New Warriors. How can I respect that? I mean, above I reviewed a comic combining two Marvel corporate heroes with movies out this summer, and somehow, Super Dinosaur seems like the more cynical marketing ploy of the two. For every G.I. Joe there was an American Defense; Transformers a Go-Bots, Masters of the Universe a Sectaurs. There were also those attempts to be original, different, and yet the same, like Air Raiders or Inhumanoids or M.A.S.K. or Visionaries. Super Dinosaur reminds me of that. See, Johnny Quest teams-up with an intelligent miniature cybernetically enhanced T-Rex, with Daria in his supporting cast. Okay, that's not fair. Johnny Quest was cooler. More like Wesley Crusher by way of Bobby Hill. They fight were-a-ma-bobs with names like Tricerachops and Squidious. They protect an "Inner-Earth" that perfectly preserved the age of dinosaurs. There isn't an actual story, but rather the lead character selling the set-up of the series to a prospective audience and/or licensors. There's an eleven page catalog of properties with model sheets to send to Asian sculptors for the toy line, and the work can be recycled for the card backs. I'm pretty sure it would flop, and it's a shame Remco went out of business, but you always have to try to sell a full line, right? This is the result of the loosening restrictions on commercializing children's television under the Reagan administration. Instead of Roald Dahl, creator-owned projects are inspired by Filmation.

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