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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's Day Four of FREE COMIC BOOK DAY WEEK here at TOT Central as I continue to read and review the 35 FCBD issues I got from the spiffy fine York Comics and Games - in Parma, Ohio - on that most auspicious of comicdom holidays. For these reviews, I'm dropping my usual "floating Tony heads" and asking three things of these promotional items:

1. Are they entertaining and/or intriguing?

2. Are they friendly to new readers?

3. Do they make readers want to buy future issues of the comic or item, follow the characters featured therein, or buy other items from the publisher?

We continue...


Secret Agent Corrigan

IDW's Library of American Comics #1 presents samples of such classic strips as Blondie, Archie, Polly and Her Pals, Secret Agent Corrigan, Rip Kirby, and Li'l Abner, in addition to several catalog pages of their books. Though they are shown on one of the flipbook's covers, there are no interior samples of Little Orphan Annie, Bloom County, or Dick Tracy.

I found almost all of the samples entertaining; I haven't yet warmed up to Polly. Each sample has a brief introduction, making the issue somewhat reader-friendly.

As to the key question of whether someone would buy the books after seeing this FCBD issue, I confess I doubt the typical comics shop is where IDW will find new customers for these terrific books. I know I wish I could afford them all, but I'm not the usual comics shop patron.

Love and Capes

My pal Thom Zahler's Love and Capes is the best super-hero comic book being published today. It avoids the usual super-hero stuff to concentrate on the relationship between the Crusader (Mark) and his new wife (Abby) and their relationships with family and friends. It says interesting things about super-heroes and it says them in a funny, thoughtful manner. Zahler's art just knocks me out every time I get a new issue. So, the answers to my three FCBD questions are:

It is entertaining and intriguing.

It is friendly to new readers.

Anyone who wouldn't want to buy this comic book after reading this free issue is to be pitied and maybe feared.

Mouse Guard

Fraggle Rock

Archaia published a Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock flipbook for FCBD. David Petersen's Mouse Guard is an intriguing, lushly-drawn adventure of guardian mice and the confederation they protect from predators. Having fallen behind in my reading of this and so many other series, I am close to a new reader. I didn't pick up on all the back story in this sample, but what I did understand made me want to read the whole series from start to finish.

I didn't have as positive a reaction to the Fraggle Rock part of the issue. I never watched the TV show and neither of the two short stories grabbed me. Your mileage will likely vary if you're a fan of the show.

Oni Press

The Oni Press Free For All is an all-ages anthology featuring three delightful stories: "The Tale of Captain Hollister and Old Salty" (Salt Water Taffy) by Matthew Loux; "Midnight Snack" (Possessions) by Ray Fawkes, and "Runnin' Late," a Crogan adventure by Chris Schweizer. All three tales were entertaining, friendly to a new reader, and good enough to make me want to seek out more of the same. The giveaway also includes an editorial extolling Free Comic Book Day and these Oni creators. I can't recall if any other FCBD issues mentioned the holiday within their pages. All in all, this is an excellent showing from Oni Press.

Overstreet Guide

Not every one who reads comics collects comics, though those comics do seem to accumulate. Not every one who collects comics is concerned about cost beyond whether or not they can afford to buy something they want or, for that matter, interested in the grading and selling of comic books. However, if I were someone new to the hobby who was interested in all those things, I would deem The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics as the most valuable of the FCBD giveaways.

Writer J.C. Vaughn, along with the other writers and editors who created this comics collecting primer did a fine job explaining the basics to the new comics reader, collector, or seller. I don't think it will be of much interest to grizzled old veterans like me, but we're not its audience. Gemstone Publishing might do well to keep this guide in print and send it around to libraries and other places where it might catch the eye of potential new comics readers and buyers. Well done all around.

Owly and Friends

Owly and Friends [Top Shelf Productions] is a wonderful smile-inducing anthology of all-ages stories, two of which are told in pantomime. Andy Ruston's Owly is a kind little owl living in a peaceful forest. James Kochalka's Johnny Boo appears to be a young ghost with his own pet ghost. Korgi by Christian and Ann Slade is a charming series about a young girl living in the woods with her pet Korgi. In a parallel world where all my money wasn't going to college tuitions, I would certainly buy these comics and, even in this world, I'd certainly recommend them to libraries and schools and people with money.

Radical FCBD 2010 has four previews of upcoming titles from this publisher. The one I like best is "Driver For the Dead" by John Hefferman with art by Leonardo Manco. Its protagonist is kind of a special circumstances hearse driver, but really captured my interest in this preview was voodoo priest Moses Freeman. Alas, according to the introductory copy, Freeman is destined to be the driver's next client.

I am also intrigued by "Time Bomb" which has a Nazi doomsday bomb and a plan to go back in time 24 hours to stop said bomb from activating. The preview stops before the heroes end up going too far back in time - to smack dab in the middle of Hitler's Germany - but with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray writing and Paul Gulacy on the art, I want to see more.

The other two previews are science-fiction blah. Neither is particularly well written or drawn. Radical might not agree with me here, but I think two hits on four at bats is a pretty good day at the plate.

It's May. I'm allowed baseball references.

Sixth Gun

The Sixth Gun #1 [Oni Press] is the first issue of an ongoing series by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt, whose The Damned was a lively mix of crime and horror. This one is a lively mix of horror and the western, as various deadly folks seek supernatural treasures. I liked this debut issue a bunch, so I'm calling it another FCBD win for Oni.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with the finale of TOT's special FREE COMIC BOOK DAY WEEK. See you then.

Tony Isabella

<< 05/26/2010 | 05/27/2010 | 05/28/2010 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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