Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review- Free Comic Book Day Reviews Part Three

Free Comic Book Day Reviews Part Three

I have been lackadaisical in my reviews and did not do a Free Comic Book Day overview this year. Rather than do one at this late date, I'm just going to list two stores with each batch of Free Comic Book Day comic reviews. Please note that the comics reviewed did not necessarily come from the shop listed in this review, nor does the shop endorse these reviews.

Not all of the comics that I'll be reviewing over the three parts of my Free Comic Book Day reviews will be FCBD editions. Some are singles that I paid for on FCBD while others were offered for free as part of the FCBD festivities. I always pick something up at each shop, as those free comics aren't free to retailers and vultures are lame.

In this third and final part of my overview and review of this year's FCBD festivities I'll go over the last of the five stores that we hit on our journey across two counties as well as review for another batch of comic books.

Big Ben's Comix Oasis in Allen Park, MI, has been serving the populace for over three decades now, which is pretty crazy to think about. I remember the humble beginnings of this store as the Book Bank, when it had used books and few card tables filled with back issues and quarter boxes along with a few racks of new comics. I watched the place carry less books and more comics...move into the downtown area of Allen Park into a bigger store with still more comics...move two other times and finally into it's current incarnation, where it is arguably the largest comic book store if not in all of Michigan, then in the Metro Detroit area for certain.

My hatchlings.

Keyser Soze: Scorched Earth/ The Rift Free Comic Book Day 2017 (Red 5, cover date May, 2017)

Keyser Soze is a pretty cool concept, although you get very little about the gist of it across the 16 pages of story included here. Modern comics give the artwork plenty of room to breathe. The downside is that it takes multiple issues to hammer your point home. This is a risky game in the $3.99-4.99 age of comic books. Time is money, money is tight, and attention spans are short.

The Rift seems solid if unoriginal. A rift in time brings a WWII pilot into the modern day. It's nothing that hasn't been done a million times before. I'd read it for free from the library.

The Walking Dead #163 Cover A (Image, cover date February, 2017)

Unless you have just woken up from a coma, you know about The Walking Dead. It's as culturally pervasive as superheroes. I read the first eleven issues years ago and failed to see what the hype was all about, as I disliked Kirkman's decompressed style of writing.

Credit where credit is due: This issue is great. Worlds better than the earlier issues, both in writing and artwork. I have reassessed my opinion of The Walking Dead and now can see why everyone is gaga* over it.

*I was reluctant to use the word gaga, as Lady Gaga kind of ruined the word for me. But then I thought about how Lady Gaga admits that she stole the word from Queen's Radio Gaga, which is where I stole it from before she came around, so I will retain my homage to Queen and keep using the word.

Vampirella #0 (Vol. 4) (Dynamite, cover date, February, 2017)

I'm not a huge Vampirella fan (even though I own all 15 Archives), but this was some good stuff! I'm not hip to her continuity or story beyond the fourth Archive (where I stalled on my marathon) so I can't say what is what, but as far as picking up this comic book, reading it, and deciding if I liked it, this worked.

Free Comic Book Day 2017: General (Dark Horse, cover date, May, 2017)

Why on Earth would Dark Horse title this book General in the indicia?

The Avatar sequel is like Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, promised and repeatedly delayed for so long that it has become a joke. Not only that, but expectations will be heaped so high on it that it can't help but disappoint. Nobody is going to care by the time that it comes out. That said, the comic is pretty good and beautifully illustrated. I like Avatar, I just think that it's James Cameron's white whale.

Briggs Land is not my cup of tea. Your mileage may vary.

Z2 Comics- Free Comic Book Day 2017 (Z2, cover date, May, 2017)

The Ballad Of Franklin Bonisteel (Or “The Shreveport Kid”) has a completely unique and fresh feel to it, even if the concept goes over well tread ground. I'll keep my eyes open for this one. The back-up feature, Murder Ballads, isn't awful but it isn't anything I would pick up, either.

Tex Patagonia FCBD Color Edition (Epicenter, cover date May, 2017)

While comic books are an American invention (comic books, not the comic strip), our friends across the pond have been exploring and blazing their own trail with fascinating results. European culture is of course different from American culture, so it should come as no surprise that their comic writers and artists approach the artform completely different than we do.

Epicenter has been bringing us colorized English language translations of European favorites. This is every bit as good as their other offerings, Magic Wind and Zagor, also both popular overseas but completely unknown in North America.

Tex is set in the 19th century. There is a similar thread with Magic Wind in that he is an outsider of a different race who becomes equal to the indigenous population through a test or event. If you enjoy stories set in the Old West or Mexico then this is for you. European comics have a clear, brisk layout without sacrificing character development. American comics have aped this format over the past 15 years but haven't quite figured it out yet. Tex is definitely worth checking out.

Crossed + One Hundred #1-3 (Avatar Press, cover dates November, 2014- February, 2015)

I was a huge Crossed fan, reading it for quite a while until I got bored with it. Then I heard that Alan Moore was writing a new series set 100 years into the future of the original outbreak. The thing with comic books is that there are so many being fired at you from every publisher, week after week, that it is impossible to keep up with it all. I snagged these three issues out of a dollar box at a local comic store.

Without going into the plot or providing a synopsis (which is what most “reviews” really are: book reports), I'll get to the meat of the problem with this series, at least as far as the first three issues are concerned. There is zero sense of urgency. At no point in time do the Crossed pose a threat for more than two pages in any of these issues. It's your typical, boring post-apocalyptic scenario, with civilization rebuilding itself in the aftermath of a catastrophe. I expected better from Alan Moore. I expected more from Alan Moore.

None of the characters are the least bit engaging. I cared so little for any of them that I kept waiting for the Crossed to kill any or all of them off so that I wouldn't have to trudge through their story any more. Alan Moore has all of the characters speak in the newly evolved slang, which was neat for about five pages but quickly became grating.

I have no resolution for this arc, and I don't even care to go online and find a synopsis for closure. I simply don't care. Imagine a conversation with someone boring, where your mind trails off but they keep on rambling. That's what Crossed + One Hundred is. The fact that Alan Moore is attached to it only adds insult to injury. Oh well. At least I'm only out three bucks. 

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