Sunday, May 15, 2016

On the Shelf: Reviewing Free Comic Book Day, part 3

As was the case last time, this was the result of collecting "remainders" from Free Comic Book Day one week ago. Let's scope:

Arcana is home to Stan Lee's newest creations, The Unknowns, which co-writer Chris Wyatt has described, according to Arcana, as a cross between Men in Black and Ben 10, but let's factor in that the multi-racial alien group that comes into play could be derivative of the Starjammers from Marvel's X-Men franchise. The Unknowns, boasting some nice art from Alan Otero, takes a backseat, literally, as the backup feature to Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, a graphic novel excerpt that purports to imagine the childhood, or a facsimile thereof, of noted author H. P. Lovecraft. Maurice Sendak would be proud. The trick is getting kids to read and be enlightened as well as entertained.

Rating: B.

Sticking with stuff for the kiddo's, Nobrow crams three features into their entry. Hilda leads off, and it looks like a homage to the Golden Age with more panels per page than normal. Akissi is an inner-city comedy adventure that the late Morrie Turner (Wee Pals) would be proud of. Sam Bosma's manga-inspired Fantasy Sports closes the volume, as the last page is the inside back cover. Very old school in approach. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll see anything further of any of these, as local dealers don't order a lot of the smaller indies.

Rating: A.

Action Lab checks in with Susan Beneville's Awake, which looks mighty impressive. Again, you're going to have to order copies by way of Diamond Distributors' monthly Previews catalog (next issue out May 25) to get your local shop to get you a copy. Oni Press offers up Junior Braves of the Apocalypse, described by Horrortalk as "....The Walking Dead for kids!". Yes, there are zombies. Unfortunately, with all the attention given to a certain DC comic book coming at the end of the month, folks may forget Junior Braves, and shouldn't.

Both Junior Braves & Awake merit an A.

Z2's Comics Lab anthology volume showcases six diverse and distinct features, again appealing to all ages. All that can be said here is that there's something for everyone. Boom! Studios' 2016 Summer Blast includes a short story featuring Finn & Jake from Cartoon Network's Adventure Time. However, the artwork loses something in transitioning the characters from the screen to the printed page. The monthly book is doing well, though, so they're getting somewhere, though that might be because CN plays Adventure Time into the ground. Mouse Guard's been around a while, and reminds me of the late Brian Jacques' Redwall books, which were later adapted into a cartoon for PBS. The volume also includes an entry based on Jim Henson's Labyrinth, the popular Lumberjanes, and the debut of Boom!'s newest star in the making, Goldie Vance, who can be best described as a cross between Penny Proud (Disney's Proud Family) and Nancy Drew (yes, Goldie's an African-American detective).

Comics Lab gets an A-.

Boom!'s Summer Blast breaks down thus:

Adventure Time: C.
Labyrinth: B.
The Cloud: B-.
Goldie Vance, Lumberjanes, & Mouse Guard: A.
Overall rating: B.

Black Mask pairs up entries from two entities, Young Terrorists & We Can Never Go Home, aimed at teens & young adults. They look like a couple of projects that were rejected by Vertigo for some reason.

Rating: B--.

Space Goat offers Dark Lily & Friends, the "friends" being Monster Elementary, Mage, Inc., & Rocket Queen & The Wrench. The latter pair are the better entries, but there's some charm to Monster Elementary, too. Just can't get into Dark Lily. Too derivative of other concepts.

Rating: B.

Devil's Due-First welcomed back Mike Baron's Badger, but instead of bringing back original artist Jeff Butler, Baron recruited artist Val Mayerik, who's been around since the 70's. Badger is placed in the ring with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Vince McMahon won't like the outcome, considering one of his heels is supposed to be from Russia..! Squarriors and Mercy Sparx deserve some love.

Rating: B.

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