Or at least that´s what I´m hoping for. I already thought I could pack these into my last post but making that post took longer than expected. So for this post I´m going over the books in the order of how well they achieved the task of FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Which for me means promoting the idea of reading comics as fun but also promoting the particular title and make the readers pick up the book.
WOLVERINE ORIGIN OF AN X - MAN
Fourth place belongs to this comic that has a nice cover by Ed McGuiness while the interior 22 page story is done by Gurihiru, somebody I never heard of. The first thing I noticed - besides the " great for all ages " and " not for resale " ( like anyone is going to pay attention to that ) on the cover - is tha format.
That´s because both this comic as the Avengers issue are in the POWER FREAKS format. Way back when I had the hopes of saving the title by participating we found out that if we use a somewhat smaller size than the standard US comic format you can print a 32 page comic on two maximum sized papers. Some of the german independent comics like Weissblech´s HORRORSCHOCKER have since then adapted the format since it was never our intention to keep that info for ourselves.
Now I´m not sure if the smaller size is really cheaper for MARVEL and they are trying to find a way to produce their comics for less money. The way they have made the most part of their books 3.99 books seems to contradict it. I also don´t know if it really makes a difference with the kind of numbers MARVEL is producing. What I do know is that it must be cheaper to ship the comics. I know if you ship one comic it doesn´t really make a difference if it costs 5 cents more or not. But it´s different if we are talking about 1,000 comics or 10,000 comics.
Anyway, unlike the american readers I have read quite a few comics in the smaller size so it´s really not that big a problem. If you read comics only in the US standard format this you have to adapt a bit. But if you read comics in the US standard formar as well as in the manga size and the magazine size it´s not a big deal. Heck, even if you only read standard US format comics you won´t mind the smaller size after the first five pages.
But let´s not dwell too much on the outer appearance and talk about content. The reason why this comic is only in fourth place ( of the four comics in this post ) is that while the art is really nice looking the story is kind of - meh. I guess the idea behind this comic was to promote the movie X - MEN ORIGINS : WOLVERINE or the regular WOLVERINE comic - or both. The problem is it doesn´t accomplish anything like that.
I haven´t seen the movie yet but from what I saw in the trailer nothing even remotely similar happens in the comic. And the same is true for the comic. I don´t know what MARVEL was thinking but they clearly didn´t think about the customer who reads this comic, goes to a comic shop to buy the next issue and all he can find is the latest issue of OLD MAN LOGAN. Which not only looks completely different but is also much bloodier.
Maybe the idea behind it was to give readers an out - of - continuity springboard to jump into the Loganverse but for that it doesn´t have enough background info. The story just covers the absolutely necessary basics and if it had come out in the 70s it wouldn´t even need that. Because back then ( and I´m totally dating myself now ) all the comics had a short written introduction at the top of the first page. So there would have been something on the first page like :
Brainwashed by a secret agency and turned into the deadly Weapon X the mutant Logan was found with total memory loss by canadian Departement H founder James Hudson who gave him the codename Wolverine. With a skeleton laced with Adamantium - the strongest metal known to man - and unbreakable claws from the same substance as well as a healing factor that lets him recover from any wound he fought for years alongside the uncanny X - Men always looking for his past and the people who did this to him. Now he got his memories back and he wants payback !
I know MARVEL doesn´t like to give stuff away for free but that´s the whole idea behing FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. So I can understand why they don´t want to hurt their possible sales of ORIGIN issues. But I think it would have been better to just put an issue of the current storyline OLD MAN LOGAN into the FCBD issue with an TO BE CONTINUED IN THE ONGOING WOLVERINE COMIC at the end.
And that´s why out of the four comics this one has the lowest grade.
Now at first I thought this comic would be in the same position as the above. From what I read it´s much too complicated and confusing for readers to understand.
Which may be the case for Today´s comic readers. Because let´s face it : they are already out of their depth if they start a new book with issue 2. At least that´s the impression you get on the internet. Be that as it may I found the Avengers FCBD comic to be a really good jumping on point.
Unlike the wolverine comic this one has the actual writer of the Avengers franchise Brian Michael Bendis onboard as well as star artist Jim Cheung - even if the latter one isn´t on any of the Avengers books. Jim Cheung is one of the artists who had their big break on CrossGen and who became a superstar when he went to Marvel when CrossGen went bankrupt - along with ( among others ) Steve Epting, Paul Pelletier or Steve Mc Niven. Which by the way contradicts the rumor that CrossGen folded because it didn´t have good art.
But back to the Avengers comic. For me the story was entertaining, funny and it does a good job of presenting the status quo of the Avengers. There are two Avengers teams : one good and one bad. The bad Avengers team is lead by Norman Osborne who is America´s darling right now and it´s members are all villains. The issue even tells you which villain plays which hero. And at the end of the issue the reader knows that there is going to be a confrontation between the two teams. What more do you need ?
I know some reviews are like " Oh no, two teams of Avengers ? That´s way too complicated! " but come on. That´s only a problem if you don´t read the comic. And that´s not the idea behind FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. So we should not base our evaluation of a comic on the basis of what happens if somebody just flips through it ad doesn´t read it. I know that a lot of comics out there are not very reader friendly. But it isn´t so that the reader has to be spoonfed with everything.
Way back when I started reading comics you read them because you didn´t know everything about it after reading one issue. If I would have read this comic then I wouldn´t have said : " Two Avenger teams ? And one is composed of villains ? And Spider - Man and Wolverine are with the good guys ? I don´t understand. " No it probably would have been something like : " Two Avenger teams ? And one is composed of villains ? And Spider - Man and Wolverine are with the good guys ? That´s totally awesome ! I have got to find out more. "
So this comic gets two thumbs up and the third place because it does everything right that the Wolverine comic does wrong.
BLACKEST NIGHT 0
Now this is how you start a big story. Not an event. Because DC does stories while MARVEL does events. I don´t know if the 12 pages are from the first issue of BLACKEST NIGHT or if they are a FREE COMIC BOOK DAY exclusive. What I do know is that DC brings their a game with the creative dreamteam of Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Dough Mahnke. While Ivan Reis delivers his usual vibrant art Geoff Johns gives you everything you need to know to understand the story. Yes, if you haven´t read FINAL CRISIS there are some spoilers in it - as some spoilers from FLASH REBIRTH like the fact that Hal Jordan is talking to Flash Barry Allen ( Duh ! ). But whose fault is it if you have been living under a rock ?
Additionally you get a few words from the writer about his plans for the ongoing story as well as some pin up pages of ALL the players involved in BLACKEST NIGHT. So the whole comic is one big advertisement. But unlike UNIVERSE ZERO it is totally free. It seems that sometimes the powers that be learn something from their mistakes.
Not that it has done many in the Green Lantern universe since ONE YEAR LATER. From REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS to WANTED : HAL JORDAN to SINIESTRO CORPS this has been one incredible rollercoaster ride which only got better and better. And it seems that the best is still to come.
I should also mention that this FCBD comic as well as the Avengers comic and the next one are all on the same level as far as succeding in promoting the title. The reason why it is on second place while the Avengers comic is on third is that it is much better structured to give the reader all the necessary information. yes, the Avengers comic does a good job and provides the reader with the current status quo. But Blackest Night 0 provides score cards on top of that.
There is also an episode on ComicGeekSpeak about Blackest Night 0 to which you can download the episode
SAVAGE DRAGON 148
Yes, that´s right. Erik Larsen gives you a whole issue of SAVAGE DRAGON for free ! Which is the reason why it is the number one. It has the current writer and the current artist of the book. It´s from the current storyline so if you read it and you like it you can buy the next issue in the comic shop without having to fear any surprises. It is a full length issue ( without the back up stories and the letters pages of course ), the story explains everything you need to knoew and it´s free !
Now with a lesser talented writer there would be the danger of boring the reader with expository dialogue. But by introducing a new superhero into the world of Dragon it´s just an ordinary case of two crime fughters telling each other their life story. It also gives you some historical bacground about the new old hero Daredevil.
Savage Dragon is one of the best superhero books out there that nobody reads. No other comic has such a long run by one and the same writer / artist / inker and an ongoing storyline that always manages to surprise it´s readers while staying fresh without the need of retcons. No other comic is constantly experimenting with the artform comic book and with this issue you really have no excuses. So if you want to read wett written and well drawn realistic comics you ought it to yourself to check it out !
So with this shameless plug for a comic that really deserves a bigger audience I can finally end the report on my first FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. There were some good comics, some not so good comics and some really great comics. Some of them even made it on my pull list like LOVE AND CAPES of which I have already gotten the first trade ( although I can´t read any trades with my injured shoulder right now ) while there are others I will try to avoid. All in all it was a wonderful experience and I can only recommend it to everybody who likes comics. I know I can´t wait till the next FREE COMIC BOOK DAY comes around.
That´s all for today and next time we will talk about DC destroying Power Girl´s cleavage window. And not in a good way.
Power Girl picture by Ryan Kinnard
Colors by powerbook125
edit : When I did the post I forgot to put in this info for the Power Girl picture above. There is also a link included for powerbook125´s deviant art gallery ( which is NSFW as I should mention ) where you can see the uncensored version.
As there have been some complaints about this kind of things before I have opted for a slightly altered version. I wanted to do a direct link to the uncensored image as well but as you will be redirected if you are not a member of deviant art I think you can use the gallery link. Once again, sorry for not including this earlier and thanks to Ryan Kinnard and powerbook125 for the excellent picture. Nice work guys ! Now if only DC would...naaah
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