Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Comic Book Day 2011--a review

It's been over a week since Free Comic Book Day, so I'm finally going to review what I picked up this year:

Darkwing Duck/Chip 'N' Dale's Rescue Rangers: One of three flip books I snagged, this one comes from Boom! Studios' Kaboom! imprint. Based on the popular Disney Afternoon series from the 80's.

The Rescue Rangers half is a preview of a graphic novel due next month. Some very old business comes back to haunt Monterey Jack, and we learn a little something about Gadget's upbringing. Great fun. Now, if Disney could be convinced to revive the TV show.....! As for Darkwing Duck, apparently, nothing is as it seems. Darkwing appears to be retired, and as Drake Mallard, is working for Quackwerks, which has created a robot police force. Funny thing is, one of Darkwing's old foes is also a Quackwerks employee. When the robocops go haywire, well.....!

Rating: A.

Inspector Gadget/Johnny Test: Viper Comics has obtained licenses for both series. Seems that Cookie Jar, which bought out DIC a couple of years back, acquired Gadget from Disney. Didn't even know about that. Anyway, Gadget plays out just like the TV show, although the only gripe is that most of the panels are printed a wee bit too small. The hometown paper recently experimented with smaller print, and got some negative feedback from readers rather quickly. The same, I think, could hold true here, unless it turns out to be a printers' error at Viper. As for Johnny Test, it's worse. It's a little too stiff. By the way, this ain't a flip book. Gadget leads off, followed by Test, and in this case, to paraphrase Reese's, these two great tastes don't go great together.

Rating: C.

Geronimo Stilton/Smurfs: I am not familiar with Stilton. Then again, I'm not the target audience. Papercutz has published a series of Stilton graphic novels, and "Dinosaurs in Action" is a preview of the next one in the series. A Smurfs strip runs across the bottom of the page leading into the backup feature, "The Smurf Submarine". Yes, Papercutz has done Smurfs graphic novels, too, the first time the little blue people have been in American comics since a short-lived run at Marvel in the 80's. It helps, of course, that Papercutz editor Jim Salicrup is a former Marvel editor. With the feature film due later this year, this will give fans a warm-up.

Rating: A.

Young Justice/Batman: Brave & the Bold Super Sampler: If you follow either series on Cartoon Network, you're already ahead of the game. 1st of 2 FCBD entries from DC, and it's a mixed bag. Young Justice battles the Psycho Pirate, a long time DC villain who hasn't been seen in a while. Meanwhile, Batman lends Flash a helping hand in Central City when Bruce Wayne is supposed to be hosting a party back in Gotham City. Of course you know that on Brave & the Bold, we never see Batman as Bruce. Good, clean fun.

Rating: A.

Green Lantern Special Edition: The other DC item reprints a portion of a recent Green Lantern miniseries as part of the run-up to the feature film starring Ryan Reynolds, opening next month. Also included is a preview of the Flashpoint miniseries, the first issue of which is out now. If you're a fan of parallel universes or alternate timelines, this may just be your speed. Literally.

Rating: A-.

Captain America & Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers: 1st of 2 from Marvel. I get that the artist, Chris Samnee, was looking for a Golden Age style vibe, but it is a little discomforting and disconcerting to modern readers unaccustomed to such. I'm guessing Samnee might've been influenced by Cap's co-creator, the inestimable Jack Kirby, but it wouldn't have hurt to change things up for the scenes in the present day with Thor and his girlfriend, Jane Foster (which follows the continuity of the movie, oh by the way).

Rating: B-.

Richie Rich/Kung Fu Panda: I told you when I reviewed Richie Rich's 1980 cartoon show in Saturday Morning Archives a while back that Richie would be returning to comics this year, and he's back with a vengeance. Ape Entertainment's Kidzoic imprint has given Richie a 21st century makeover. No using the Harvey Comics designs of yore. Richie looks like a regular kid. Girlfriend Gloria Glad has gone from blonde to redhead. Irona has been given a complete reboot, no longer just a domestic robot. Cadbury has been buffed up into a he-man dishing out cans o' whoopin' to the bad guys, in this case some robots. An old foe of Richie's Dr. N-R-G, has also been rebooted. Back in the day, he had a light-bulb mask that completely concealed his face. Here, it's a helmet, revealing the demented Dr. Phil Lament (Filament? Get it?). Long story short, Richie MacGyvers a solution to beating Lament. The first issue of the new series is out presently as well.

With "Kung Fu Panda 2" due in time for Memorial Day, Po returns in an all-new adventure to whet your appetite for the movie on the flip side of the book.

Rating: A.

Amazing Spider-Man: Marvel's other entry gets readers ready for the series' summer event. Considering what editorial has done to the webhead in recent years, this may actually be a step forward. I'll stick to the newspaper strip, although sometimes I wonder if Stan Lee should pack his typewriter away.....!

Rating: B.

Classic Comic Strip Action & Adventure/Blondie: IDW is doing reprint collections of classic newspaper strips like Secret Agent Corrigan & Rip Kirby, strips that the hometown paper didn't feature when I was a wee lad. You can also sample some Golden Age Blondie, as well as Al Capp's seminal L'il Abner. Methinks I may be clearing some bookshelf space this summer.....!

Rating: A.

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