Thursday, May 12, 2016

On The Shelf: More Free Comic Book Day stuff, and other things

Before we dive into our next batch of Free Comic Book Day entries, a few nuggets of joy.

The CW Network is quickly becoming the "CB", as in, of course, Comic Book, Network with the addition of two more Greg Berlanti entries. Riverdale has been green-lit to series, and Supergirl moves from CBS to CW for its 2nd season, opening up the possibility of another crossover with The Flash, this time with Kara (Melissa Benoist, ex-Glee) returning the favor and paying a call on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin, ex-Glee) and friends in Central City.

However, until the fall lineups are finalized next week, I wouldn't count on Riverdale or Supergirl being on the CW's fall slate, as the network had renewed all of their current shows, including The Flash, Arrow, & Legends of Tomorrow. The limited series, Containment, will wrap its run on July 19, as it will not return for a sequel. Have to believe it lost viewers from Flash whilst occupying iZombie's time slot. Riverdale, plus his duties as producer and occasional writer on Supergirl, explains in a nutshell why Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie Comics' creative director and scripter of its twin alternate reality horror books, put Afterlife With Archie & Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on the backburner for several months when it would've made more sense to have another writer (i.e. Mark Waid) pick up the baton to fill-in for the duration of Aguirre-Sacasa's stint in Hollywood.

Speaking of Sabrina, she will enter the "main" Archie Comics continuity in a forthcoming issue of Jughead, out in August, which will be a refreshing relief after what we've seen in the horror line. Also, Josie & The Pussycats will appear in Afterlife #10, also in August, as that series will skip June & July, per advance notices from the publisher. Something tells me Josie, Melody, & Valerie could have a decidedly more, ah, feline look, but that's just me. Also, for those of you not digging the "New Riverdale" books, the "classic" version of Archie and pals still exists in the digest books available at places like Rite-Aid & Walmart
A week ahead of its launch, DC is previewing their new Hanna-Barbera line in a preview issue out now, headlined, of course, by Scooby Apocalypse, which will be co-written by Keith Giffen & J. Marc DeMatteis, reuniting the team that turned the late 80's Justice League into a comedy act (more Giffen than anything else). From what I can gather, those "meddling kids" are now meddling adults, as they all have jobs, but Scooby isn't exactly as we remember him. The series debuts in 2 weeks, but it's the only one I'm not really warming up to. Just call me late to the party if I decide to jump in.

Back to the FCBD pile we go.......

Science Comics, from First Second Comics, a publisher that has been under the radar for a decade. That would be because they don't publish monthly books. Just graphic novels. Here, they offer samplers of works by writer-artists Maris Wicks & Jon Chad, who interject themselves into the stories, which look like the kind you could probably find in elementary schools. Believe me, I think I could see that happening. Safe, non-toxic, and anything but boring.

Rating: A-.

Actor Greg Grunberg (ex-Heroes, Alias) makes his comics debut with the graphic novel series, Dream Jumper, which comes from Scholastic's Graphix imprint. I think Grunberg and artist Lucas Turnbloom (Imagine THIS) drew inspiration from the "Nightmare on Elm St." movie series, as our juvenile protagonist tries to save his friends from a dream monster. No, it's not Wes Craven crossed with Maurice Sendak, but a little safer on the eyes than that.

Rating: A.

Nickelodeon is well represented. Papercutz holds the licenses for two current animated series, Harvey Beaks & Sanjay & Craig, and puts the two together in a single volume. In a way, I can get some of the internet haterizing over Sanjay, which is a buddy comedy that alternates between bizarre comedy that aims for the sensibilities of the target audience, and parodies of movie trailers that look just flat awesome. Can't really have it both ways. I'm not familiar with either series, and I'll reserve comment on Harvey Beaks for Saturday Morning Archives at a later date.

Rating: B-.

Dark Horse holds the licenses for Plants vs. Zombies & The Legend of Korra, as well as a comics adaptation of Dreamworks' "How To Train Your Dragon" movie series. The three are together in one volume, and Dragon looks like the best of the group, with veteran artist Mark Wheatley at the board. Not at all familiar with the other two.

Rating: B.

Castle star Nathan Fillion and fellow actor Alan Tudyk are among the creators of Automatic Publishing's Spectrum, but the real hook is the nigh-realistic work of artist Sarah Stone. Brilliant, and not too busy, that's all I'll say.

Rating: B.

Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez are back with the return of their seminal series, Love & Rockets, which Fantagraphics will relaunch in July. The FCBD entry is a reprint volume, and if you weren't into the series before in two previous itinerations, I doubt you'd be ready for the new series.

No rating.

March, from Top Shelf, is a autobiographical account of one man's journey as a civil rights activist in the 60's. That man is Alabama congressman John Lewis, and his story is told in three volumes, all of which are excerpted in the FCBD issue. If you can find any of the three graphic novels, get them, because this can be shared by the whole family.

Rating: A.

Rom was introduced to comics fans at Marvel in the 80's, adapting Parker Brothers' first non-game product in recent memory. The Galadorian spaceknight now is part of the Hasbro family, as Hasbro bought out Parker Brothers several years back, and, to the surprise of, well, no one, it seems likely Rom will meet the Transformers at some point should IDW take that initiative after Rom begins a monthly run in July. The Dire Wraiths are much scarier at first glance than the original series, and that should be a selling point all by itself.

Rating: A.

We'll close this edition with two more familiar TV names.

Titan books offers a sample of 4 different itinerations of Doctor Who. Absolutely a must-have for any fan of the long running BBC series.

Rating: A.

Finally, Viz Media brings out Pokemon Pocket Comics, which looks more like an activity book than anything else. Just xerox the pages you want your kids to play with to keep the book in mint condition as best as you're able.

Rating: A.

The conclusion of our review will be on Sunday.

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