Friday, May 13, 2011

Free Comic Book Day 2011

Last Saturday marked the 10th annual Free Comic Book Day, an event that hits participating comic shops everywhere the first Saturday of every May. This fun-filled event has always been a great opportunity for publishers to reach out to new readers, and this year was no different. DC, Marvel, and Image each showcased a taste of their top creators, but who offered the strongest freebie?

From DC came Green Lantern: Special Edition, which was a reprint of 2008’s Green Lantern #30. An awesome origin story from writer Geoff Johns and penciled by Ivan Reis, who are still on the title today. This is a great segue for the upcoming motion picture based on the same hero. However this story doesn’t offer much for current comic fans. Thankfully the last 7pgs offer up a Flashpoint preview. Geoff Johns now pairs up with Andy Kubert for DC’s big summer special. Kubert’s art really shines here with plenty of full pages of our favorite speedster and a 2pg spread of DC’s greatest heroes. The excitement builds as a confused Barry Allen runs to an alternate looking Batman for help. This final page and the checklist to follow imply an epic reimagining of the DCU. The first issue of this series just hit stores Wednesday.

Marvel offered up an all new Amazing Spider-Man tale by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos. The book immediately catches the reader up on Spidey’s current life after the events of Big Time. The new Madame Web weaves a tale in which our hero battles The Mandrill and a mind controlled Spider-Woman, while Web and kung fu hero Shang Chi plan to prepare our hero for the events to come in Spider-Island. If the teaser for what is to come in Amazing Spider-man wasn’t enough, the book also features a six page preview for Fear Itself. There are already two issues of this series out, which should continue rampaging the Marvel U for most of this year.

Image brought us Super Dinosaur #1, an all new series from Chief Creative Officer Robert Kirkman. Originally published April 20th 2011, Image is offering up a free look at this series well before issue 2 hits. Jason Howard’s artwork is perfect for the fun filled tale of Derek Dynamo and his teched out best friend Super Dinosaur. This all-ages title offers plenty of dinosaur-centric sci-fi that comic fans new and old can enjoy. After the origin story, the creators offer up eleven pages of bios, alluding to the excitement to come in the upcoming issues of Super Dinosaur.

While each of these books offered up their own rewards, it became too easy to rank them. Amazing Spider-Man felt like the perfect special for Free Comic Book Day. This book is the perfect jump on point for new and returning readers of the webhead. Super Dinosaur also blew me away, and made me regret not picking up the title when it first arrived. An accessible all ages title that is guaranteed to be fun. Meanwhile DC’s Green Lantern: Special Edition felt like filler. The book doesn’t catch the reader up on any of the events that have affected Hal Jordan and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps. By comparison the other titles prepare the reader to continue following the ongoing books. The redeeming part of DC’s special would be the exciting preview for Flashpoint. In the end Free Comic Book Day proves to be a huge success for the industry all around, securing at least my sales for many more titles to come.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

C2E2 Weekend!

Tomorrow is the beginning of the second annual Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo. I'm overexcited for it. So much so I'm in a dizzy getting ready for it. Stay tuned for my regurgitation of a weekend full of panels, signings and comic fun!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Secret Warriors 23

This title has been a favorite of mine since its inception. While this book doesn’t offer many jumping on points, it has provided many satisfying twists and turns for followers. Secret Warriors has always provided an espionage themed tour through the factions of the Marvel U. Even with the end of the title only four issues away theres plenty of excitement to come.

Back in 2008, during the Secret Invasion crossover, creators Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev introduced us to the idea of Nick Fury and his ‘caterpillars’, super powered youths that have yet to be discovered or compromised by anyone else. After the aliens the Secret Warriors got their own book, with words by Jonathan Hickman and art by Stefano Caselli. Recently Alessandro Vitti subtly stepped in on the art, and he’s dishing out some exciting climatic fight sequences. So how’d we get to this point in Hickman’s secret agent, super hero story?

***there’s totally SPOILLERS below***

But it’s just a comic book, so keep reading.

After the Skrull invasion Nick Fury still had plenty of wars to fight. His team of young warriors partnered up with what’s left of the Howling Commandoes, Fury loyalists and former S.H.I.E.L.D.agents, to take on Hydra, terrorist organization extraordinaire. Cold war Soviet espionage organization Leviathan recently resurfaced, but of course Nick Fury has planned for that. Now after meeting the key members from each of these factions, it’s boiled down to a battle royal between Hydra, Leviathan, and Fury’s forces.

Recently it’s been discovered that JT (Hellfire) has sold out his fellow Secret Warriors to Baron Von Strucker of Hydra. This betrayal coupled with the climatic explosion of Hydra headquarters led to young Phobos (that’s right, the god of Fear) being stranded and forced to duel Gorgon, a Hydra leader with an equally mythic epic katana. The Secret Warriors witness their team mate get struck down by the Hydra samurai. Caught in a secondary explosion from the chaos, JT’s life rests in Fury’s hands. A man who lives by a code, Fury cannot allow a traitor to live.

After the recent twists and bummers of the recent battles, this recent issue starts off with an uplifting fresh story of a forgotten warrior. Sebastian Druid was a pudgy slacker whose powers were but a weak flicker of what his father, the late Avenger Dr. Druid, once wielded. Well way back in issue 13 Fury gave Sebastian the pink slip due to ‘being a liability.’

Of course Fury didn’t give up on one of his caterpillars. When Sebastian was dismissed he was met by John Garret, one of Fury’s Howlin’ Commandoes. Garret was sent there to whip the young Druid into a self sustaining secret agent. After some pushups and pep talks, we get see the new and improved Sebastian on some solo missions of varying success. It all leads up to the two meeting up right where we left off with the rest of the Secret Warriors.

Sebastian saves the crew and they get a clean get away. Back at HQ Fury debriefs Daisy (Quake) on the recent events with her love interest JT. Enraged, she destroys the table in front of her in a super powered fit and Fury leaves the room. Can the Secret Warriors be over just as Sebastian has returned?

At last year’s C2E2 Hickman said there was an end game planned for the Secret Warriors title. Then he estimated 32 total issues, now it’s been released that it’ll be 27 issues all together. That’s alright though if it keeps producing gems like this. This series has slowly introduced the reader to a loveable new cast of Marvel heroes, and I’d be interested in anything these characters or creators spin off into.

Jonathan Hickman’s other works out on shelves right now are also amazing. The recent S.H.I.E.L.D. series has been an interesting journey through the history of the Marvel U’s most clandestine underground society. Hickman’s also been brewing up excitement with Fantastic Four, which looks to soon be the Fantastic Three! No news on what’s next from Caselli, but we’ve seen his pencil at the throat of many Marvel crossovers. Vitti obviously has his hands full with the remainder of this series, but after seeing his work in the Brother Voodoo trade as well as this book, I can’t wait to see him pen more characters.

There you have it. That concludes the long winded rant on another favorite of mine. As cheesy as it is, I find this story stirs up inspiration in me. It has perfect timing with all those New Year’s resolutions and what have you. I was trying something different with this long winded explanation of the whole series. Hopefully there’ll be more to come. More reviews. More changes. More comics!