Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday Is Free A Little Longer For All I Care #109

Elric: The Balance Lost Free Comic Book Day Edition
Locke & Key: Free Comic Book Day Edition
Magic the Gathering: Path of the Planeswalker II Preview
The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2011

Elric: The Balance Lost Free Comic Book Day Edition (BOOM! Studios, 2011, "Free")
I was introduced to Elric via a fantasy book cover art collection on the back end of grade school. A long haired albino with a black sword that ate souls was a pretty easy sell in my young mind. I was always seeing ads for First Comics' adaptations of Michael Moorcock's immortal hero(es) as well, but for some reason I never bit. I think it had to do with an inborn loathing of high fantasy, even the seemingly cool kind. Finally reading an Elric comic, I realize I missed my shot, like how if you don't go through a punk stage by the time you're 25, it'll always be three-chord noise to you. It's a dude dressed in black chopping monsters to shit, with a series of pin-ups to let the new readers know that this is just one of many incarnations of the same being. If you're already a fan, it's probably ten pages of boss teasing, and there are no flies on Chris Roberson or Francesco Biagini. I'm just too old for this kind of thing. Oh, there's a nice three page overview of Elric's past comics from other publishers, which I thought was gracious, plus a five page sketchbook.

Locke & Key: Free Comic Book Day Edition (IDW, 2011, "Free")
I had a loaner copy of the first hardcover collection of this series, so I decided to read that before this. The book was good-- the free comic not so much. The art by Gabriel Rodriguez is still really nice, but the motherfuckers went cheap and just dug out the one issue of the series they could find that was suitable for all ages. Sure, there's a text piece inside the front cover to catch you up, but that just hampers your enjoyment of the trades. Without in-story context, it's just one long action sequence with nineteen pages of zero to little dialogue and about nine splash pages. I appreciate trying to reach as large of an audience as possible, but little kids don't need to read this series, and I can't see an adult being turned on by this misrepresentation of the normal contents.

Magic the Gathering: Path of the Planeswalker II Preview (Wizards of the Coast, 2011, "Free")
Back in the '80s, TSR tried their own short-lived comics/modules produced in-house that sat on Waldenbooks shelves collecting dust. I never read any myself, because they looked pretty shitty. I wonder if they were as marked by incompetence as this new shit from the famous CCG manufacturer I tend to forget is still in business. For starters, it's a twenty-eight page painted story with five artists, so fuck consistency. The artists are all pretty good, but they're also the only people involved with any experience. See, problem dos is that they lettered this thing amateurishly on a computer program in all caps using basic fonts like Comic Sans. When lettering slaps you across the face, you've really fucked up, because that's supposed to be one of the "invisible" arts. The words that fill those captions and balloons aren't too miserable, but the story is basic fantasy tripe involving the avenging of dead parents, kids raising themselves into barbarian toughs, and characters making stupid choices to serve the plot/"fate." One of the painters is Christopher Moeller, who's also a pretty good writer, so it's a shame the three WOTC staffers responsible for this thing hadn't let him take a pass at the script. At best this is promotional product, and at worse a vain indulgence.

The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2011 (New England Comics Press, 2011, "Free")
NEC taught Wizard Magazine how to manipulate a speculative market, so there was a time when The Tick seemed poised to be the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Tick followed TMNT into animation, toys, and live action, but never came close to the same degree of success. There's no shame in that, because phenomena doesn't come around every day, but reading a Tick comic decades past its prime leaves me scratching my head. There's a seven page original story that introduces a number of bad, bad puns as characters, and then fifteen pages of Marvel Handbook style text biographies that belabor the terrible jokes. There's also a selection of ads for collections of the Tick comics hardly anyone read that informed the bios, plus trades of failed spin-offs from the early '90s. This stuff is so dated and dubious, it leaves me as clueless as a modern kid being exposed to Laurel & Hardy. "Dad, why are you making me watch this old stuff?"

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