Saturday, May 5, 2012

Free Comic Book Day 2012: A sampling

The first Saturday in May means Free Comic Book Day. Today, my original plan was to visit three shops, but time constraints and having my brother visit trimmed it down to a quickie at the neighborhood shop. Oh, well, can't have everything, amigos. Maybe next year. Anyway, let's see what landed on my desk today:

Spider-Man: Season One preview: The full-length graphic novel, which brings the webhead's origin forward to the present day with the references to modern communications, such as texting, hits stores on Wednesday. It's a good way to warm up for "The Amazing Spider-Man", starring Andrew Garfield, opening in July, as Sony is hitting the reset button on the "Spider-Man" movie franchise. They've got their own reasons, but we'll discuss that again another time. Between this and the current family of Spider-Man monthlies, plus the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series on DisneyXD, some folks might get a wee bit confused with the various interpretations. Old schoolers like me won't be. I like the artwork. The graphic novel is filed under "consider". Rating: A.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron preview: Even though the AvX miniseries event is out now, Marvel is preparing for the next event in the Avengers family of books with the return of one of the team's deadliest enemies, Ultron, a sentient robot whose intelligence supposedly exceeds most of us. Uh, right. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, one of the busiest scribes in the business, is joined by a couple of veteran artists in Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary. As they used to say to promote such things at Marvel back in the day, miss it not. My wallet's telling me I have to. Common sense, you know. Rating: A.

Valiant 2012 preview: 20-odd years ago, Valiant was a major player in the comics industry, and had no less than Jim Shooter at the helm. Today, the characters introduced in the early 90's are back, rebooted for the 21st century. X-O Manowar is already on the shelves, with revivals of Harbinger & Bloodshot due later this summer. The artwork looks gorgeous, but I've a feeling these are going to be kinda pricy this time around. Decide for yourselves, folks. Rating: A.


DC: The New 52 previews a forthcoming storyline in Justice League, plus the next wave of titles, some of which, including Earth 2, are already out. DC also serves up the latest in their Adventures line for younger readers with Superman Family Adventures, the cover of which looks like it might be along the lines of the late Tiny Titans book.

Hermes Press may not be as well known as a lot of other publishers, but they are sort of a niche company in that they specialize in reprinting older titles that came from other sources, particularly Gold Key. Hermes' contribution to FCBD '12 is a reprint of GK's adaptation of the TV series, My Favorite Martian, with art by Dan Spiegle, who did a lot of work for Gold Key, DC, and others for many years. Fan favorite writer Grant Morrison wrote the preview for Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, which I believe is meant to be a feature film from "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld. Blue Water, which made 60's icon Adam West into a comic book character last year, has done the same with his Batman co-star with Burt Ward, Boy Wonder. I suppose next year, to complete the trilogy, they'll get Yvonne "Batgirl" Craig to sign off on a similar project. That, actually, might not be such a bad idea.

Marvel had a 2nd Avengers book, reprinting an earlier issue drawn by John Romita, Jr., all part of the push for the "Avengers" film, which opened in the US yesterday. The neighborhood shop has a rule restricting customers to 3 books per person, and even with the rule in place,  most of the freebies were gone by the end of business this afternoon, which I think might be a first, I just don't know.

Well, I did acquire the first issue of IDW's Popeye miniseries a week ago, and it is faithful to the original Thimble Theatre strips by Elzie Segar back in the Golden Age, except for one thing. Bluto, the villain of the piece, was not really a major adversary in the strip. He became more of an icon thanks to his inclusion in the animated shorts. However, writer Roger Langridge came up with a wonderful script that bridges both the strip and some of the best of the shorts. It's done in one, so there's no cliffhanger, and we can move on to the next issue. Rating: A.

I am still referring to it as a miniseries, though there are those who claim it's actually an ongoing title, and that Diamond, which solicited it as a miniseries initially, may have been misinformed. Stay tuned.

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