Thursday, May 10, 2018

More stories about Free Comic Book Day '18

Time to dive back into the pile.

Marvel is giving readers first looks at reboots of Amazing Spider-Man & The Avengers. I've said this before. Why keep going back to #1, when the numbering, after the math, makes more sense, especially after these books recently hit some milestones, like issue 700? Because Marvel's beancounters---and this applies to DC, too----still think a 1st issue sells better than a regular issue. However, if you keep rebooting to #1 every 2-3 years or so, that novelty will be no more.

I really cannot get invested in these books myself, but I can recommend them.

Rating for both: A.

Meanwhile, a mini-series comprised strictly of 1-shots under the title, Marvel Rising, showcases some of the company's younger heroines, particularly the current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, who can stretch her limbs, a la Reed Richards, something that the previous Ms. Marvels, including the original, Carol Danvers, couldn't do. More on Carol shortly. Squirrel Girl, who was originally introduced as a throwaway character a few years ago, is one of the hottest stars Marvel has now, and her book, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, is mostly tongue-in-cheek camp comedy. To see her team with Ms. Marvel would be fun----as long as Marvel lowers the price. Greed rules this branch of the House of Mouse.

Rating: B.

In the run-up to "Avengers: Infinity War", Marvel released a series of 1-shot reprint volumes as part of the True Believers series, this time focusing on the film's central villain, Thanos. The reprints include Thanos' 1st appearance in Iron Man, all the way back in the 70's, as well as the first issues of Infinity Gauntlet & Infinity War. The coolest part about the reprint volumes is that they're all comfortably priced at a dollar each. Another reprint comes from Silver Surfer (2nd series) and artist Ron Lim.

The reprints all merit B's, except for..........

Marvel resorted to a little bit of a cheat with True Believers: Carol Danvers, which highlights her first appearance as a supporting character during the cosmic Captain Marvel's run in Marvel Super Heroes (1st series) 13, all the way back around 1968. She only appears briefly, a few panels at the max, as this is a chapter in the Mar-Vell saga that continued in his own book.

Rating: C-. That's for cheating the consumers.

Back to Free Comic Book Day, and over to DC. The latest DC Super Hero Girls graphic novel, "Date With Disaster", has nothing to do with any of the ladies getting a blind date. Instead, it's a cautionary tale after a sort, as Batgirl discovers that her father, Commissioner James Gordon, is trying to find a new love. Well, give them points for trying. Don't know if this actually will work with the target demographic.

Rating: B-.
I soured on Riverdale right at the start, as I've documented when the series premiered nearly 18 months ago. As season 2 winds down, head writer/co-executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa proved yet again how out of touch he is with Archie Comics history.

In order to sell the show, he had to break up the parents of many of the teens. For example, Archie Andrews' parents are separated, as Mary (Molly Ringwald) has only made a few appearances. Ditto for Betty Cooper's folks. Worse, Betty's father, Hal (Lochlyn Munro) was outed as the villainized Black Hood in last night's episode. On the show, the Hood is a serial killer tasked with eliminating "sinners". A religious nut, he ain't.

Earlier this season, they swerved the audience, or at least tried to, by suggesting that Mr. Svenson, not the old janitor from the books, was the Hood. Svenson was killed off, largely because Aguirre-Sacasa doesn't know what to do with a lot of the supporting characters. However, a lot of viewers had to know this was just what it was presented as, a red herring, a stall tactic by the writers while they tried to decide who was the Hood after all.

I'm sorry, but as a long time comics fan, I have to disagree with the portrayal of the Hood. Period.

The Black Hood has been around since the Golden Age, and was MLJ/Archie's answer to Lee Falk's famous comic strip hero, The Phantom. Both heroes had a generational lineage dating back centuries. Archie's Dark Circle line ended the generational angle for the Hood three years ago by killing off Kip Burland, who'd had the costume since the 70's, in favor of disgraced cop Greg Hettinger.

Instead of using Hettinger, a character created on his watch, Aguirre-Sacasa got lazy and decided that, for the second season in a row, a parent of one of the kids was the villain du jour. However, there is a 2nd man loose in Riverdale with a Black Hood, so maybe Hal Cooper isn't the main villain after all. Signs point to Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), posited here as a JR Ewing-style manipulator, being behind a second Hood to help wife Hermoine become mayor. Lodge has been used like this in the books, too, occasionally, mostly ever since Aguirre-Sacasa came aboard as creative director.

Apparently, a sure sign that he had Hal Cooper in mind came when Betty (Lili Reinhart) was summoned to an abandoned shack one night, and.......

Now, I'll grant you this. Betty does look fetching, even if she is a little scared, wearing a mask.

It'll be a long time, I'd gather, before the Black Hood appears in any of the company's imprints again, just to let the stench of this story arc fade away. Now, having Betty try to restore the legacy of the Hood by becoming a masked vigilante down the road might not be so bad........!

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