I had completely forgotten it was Free Comic Book day when we planned to head out to the excellent Travelling Man comic shop in Manchester to get my regular order (Hawkeye, Marvelman/Miracleman and (occasionally) Sandman Overture). Being old I was worried about queues and crowds. Quite unjustly as it happens. Travelling Man kept everything running smoothly, a smile on everyone’s faces and a carnival atmosphere. Kodos to all.
So, what did I manage to blag in my first ever Free Comics Day haul?
Well, it appears that between myself and my lovely wife we picked far too many comics for one blog post. So here we have the first batch…
Ten Year Celebration – Boom Studios: A strange mix of strips. Not that I was ever the biggest Garfield fan but the strip here isn’t actually very good and show’s Jim Smith’s characters in a poor light. Equally the Peanuts strip doesn’t work well as it appears to be many previous Schultz strips merged in to one. As a huge Peanuts fan this rankles somewhat. On the plus side the Mouse Guard strip is excellent, well written with beautiful artwork. The Labyrinth strip is great fun and beautiful to look at, while Iscariot is a lovely read. My favourite, however was Munchkin, which is just puntastic.
Doctor Who – Titan: I am a huge Whovian and was looking forward to reading this despite not having read any of the ongoing comics currently on sale. There are three strips here, one each for the 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors. With such limited space they all feel a little rushed, but are in no way poor at all. The characters are pretty much nailed in each strip and the artwork reflecting the narrative wonderfully in each. On screen, of these three, my least favourite Doctor was the 10th which makes it a nice surprise that his strip is my favourite here. Shame there was no room for the 9th, but still a great find.
25th Anniversary Special – Valiant: I don’t know much about Valiant, its comics or its characters. Which is a surprise as it appears to be their 25th Anniversary. Although, that said I found it quite hard to get in to and found the strips to feel quite dated. The ideas are sound, the storytelling neat, and the artwork works well but the whole is less than the parts. It appears that Valiant are going for a bit of a relaunch but these strips don’t show them in the best light and aren’t a great hook to draw in new readers.
2000AD – Rebellion: Now 2000AD and I go way back, well kind of, and I was really looking forward to this. Having read it from issue one to the early 1990s I knew there would be something for me to enjoy. And it outshone my expectations. Every strip is a great read, be they reprints or new work. In fact I had only seen one before, one of the Daily Dredd’s! Among the strips the stand outs are Judge Dredd, Death Rock, Nemesis and Dr Sin. That is not to say the others are poor at all, Slaine is as excellent as I remember, the Alien Invasions are great, 3000AD is wonderful fun and Dan Dare well worth reading. I had never encountered Dr Sin before and my first read of this character really drew me in and made me smile. It is great to see Dredd strips being as political as always too. However the biggest smile came with Death Rock and the return of one of my all time favourite! 2000AD characters! Wonderful! Extra points to Rebellion for the QR downloads with every strip too.
Divergence – DC: Back in the day I was always more of a Batman fan rather than a Superman one. In fact I don’t remember buying the big blue school boy regularly at all while getting Batman and Detective Comics monthly. Which is why it is a surprise that it is the Superman strip I prefer here. The artwork is great, the idea is clever, the script well paced and the pay off spot on. On the other hand there is little lightness of touch in the Wonder Woman strip which does little but to introduce a new character (to me anyway) and over do the mythology. The Batman strip falls between the two, the script is paced well and the artwork is beautifully done. It starts with a lovely emotional touch and then ends with an awkward cliff hanger which just doesn’t seem to fit at all.
Avatar – Dark Horse: I have all the Avatar series’ on DVD and find it a charming and delightful story. Unlike the movie which managed to squash all the charm out of it. The worry then is which way the comic strip would go. Fortunately the comic reflects the charm and wit of the series and it was refreshing to see the story takes place after the end of the DVDs. I know very little about Plants vs Zombies and having read the strip here I still don’t, sadly. One of the star finds, so far, in my first Free Comic Book Day has been Bandette, the third strip in this comic. In the same spirit as Tintin and Rainbow Orchid, with with a lighter feel it is a simple, great fun adventure with a neat twist. The plot is great, the script fun and the artwork lovely. May see if I can learn more about this character.
So, that’s my first batch of Free Comic Book Day reads complete. Who knows what I will find in the second pile? More like Bandette or more like Valiant?