Free Comic Book Day gripped the world a couple of weekends ago, and many geeks were on hand to celebrate this great occasion at my local comic shop (Comic Zone in Perth, where it was so busy all of the free comics were gone within two hours !!). The comics on offer were all pretty decent, however there were five that stood out for me in terms of quality of story, art and awesomeness !
Here are my five favourite Free Comic Book Day comics (presented in “Top 40 countdown” style):
5. March Grand Prix, Kean Soo (capstone)
This comic came out of nowhere and debuted at number 5 on the charts! You see, I picked up this comic for my 2 year old son Guy, who enjoyed his first FCBD with Daddy this year. The story features a rabbit named March who wants to prove himself on the racing circuit, so it’s blend of cute cartoon animals and cool cars was a perfect blend for a toddler who loves watching both Peppa Pig and motorsports (his favourite being the drift cars). After reading the comic to him a couple of times I found myself wanting to reread it myself, as there was enough humour and cool character moments (especially between March and his mechanic friend) to keep me interested and entertained. The comic is a sample of the graphic novel being released in August, which is now on my pre-order list (nominally for Guy, but I am dying to see whether March can win the race and fulfil his dreams !!). Oh, as an example of the witty humour shown in the book I present the full title of the graphic novel: March Grand Prix: The Fast and the Furriest. Brilliant !!
4. The All-New, All-Different Avengers, Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar (Marvel)
Now THIS is how you tease a new status quo in your universe ! This issue is set after the end of Marvel’s super-massive Secret Wars event (which promises to end the Marvel Universe as we have known it since 1961) and so gives a few hints as to how that story may play out. With both Miles Morales and Ms Marvel being shown as members of the team, we can be certain these fan favourite characters survive Battleworld, and that some iteration of Marvel New York remains. The “big three” Avengers are also still around, albeit in their new incarnations, meaning that eve the “old hands” are still learning how to be effective heroes. So, even though the story is straight forward with an easily defeated threat there are many chances for superhero angst, doubt, overconfidence and funny banter. Mark Waid gives us all of this in spades, crafting a story which has me eagerly anticipating the new Marvel world to come !
3. Savage Dragon Legacy #1, Erik Larsen (Image)
I have read Savage Dragon since it began in the Image Revolution of the 90s so I was always going to grab this comic, even if only to keep my run complete. I can happily report, however, that this is a fantastic comic and is a must read for all comics fans, not just is Dragon junkies. The story has Malcolm Dragon following in his father’s footsteps by working as a Chicago cop.
What follows is a great story which cleverly balances the need to recap history and showcasing the main character’s abilities, personality and motivation. The recap is deftly handled by having an annoying reporter grill Malcolm, which allows for Malcolm’s reactions to the questions highlight the way he feels about the information he is providing. It is an info dump, but one delivered in an interesting way. As is often the case with Savage Dragon, the hero’s current activities and personality are shown via a cracking fight scene! This one is brutally awesome, with plenty of dynamic foreshadowing, funny banter and huge sound effects to sell just how tough the fight is, at least until Malcolm uses his powers in a clever way to take the villain down. Even more amazing is that despite showing us the past and present, Erik Larsen still has room to plant some seeds for future stories, including: Dragon’s girlfriend being pregnant, other new Dragon babies being born and Malcolm’s insistence on finding evidence to prove his father is innocent of the crimes for which he has been imprisoned. The issue did a great job in rekindling my passion for Savage Dragon, which despite being a comic I enjoyed was one I would put off reading in favour of others. That will not be happening this month !
2. Mercury Heat, Kieron Gillen and Omar Francia (Avatar)
I have been a fan of Kieron Gillen’s writing since I picked up the first issue of Phonogram: The Single’s Club back in 2008 and have followed him ever since through all of his varied works. So, my picking up this FREE preview of his new book was a fait accompli and my expectations were high for what had been billed as hard sci-fi action with a kick-ar$e woman protagonist.
These expectations were more than met, as – in what has become a theme for me with FCBD 2015 – I was pleasantly surprised at just how awesome Mercury Heat was !
The protagonist – space cop Luiza Bora – is indeed kick-ar$e, but more importantly is also a well-rounded character. Gillen and artist Omar Francia cleverly flick between the present action and a past interaction to set the scene and illuminate Luiza’s character. This was used to best effect in a scene transition from the past Luiza declaring “I don’t WANT to help people” to the present in which she is kicking a perp in the face ! In that one change we can see how the naïve innocence of childhood has been twisted by a cruel reality into cynicism and brutality. It’s powerful stuff. A more light-hearted look into Luiza’s motivations is also shown in a flashback scene. In this one she is telling us why she wants to be a cop: “I love Murder, She Wrote ! I want to be like Jessica. I want to help people”. Again the scene is disrupted by the present which is at odds with the young Luiza’s declaration, with the humour of the scene becoming grimmer.
If that were not enough, Gillen also gives us an insight into the world he has created, citing the influences behind it and revealing a slew of great designs from Omar Francia for the characters and objects which inhabit it. I immediately put this baby on my standing order list and cannot wait to delve more into the world of Mercury Heat and it’s incredible lead !
1. Hip Hop Family Tree, Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
And taking the number one spot is, appropriately, a comic about music! Hip Hop Family Tree was an absolute revelation, even though I picked up last year’s FCBD issue. I had forgotten just how deftly Ed Piskor delves into the history of the hip hop founding fathers, and how much humour there is in his telling of these tales. His chronicling of the infamous-in-comics-circles Rob Liefeld Levi’s ads (directed by Spike Lee) is hilarious as Piskor uses an “Extreme” style which apes Liefeld’s own. If that were not enough, the incredible wraparound cover features rappers from the sublime (Run DMC) to the ridiculous (Kid’N’Play – hey, I like their stuff, too. But what was the deal with that haircut !?). In fact, I enjoyed this issue so much I picked up the special slip-cased edition of the first two volumes of the book and have been blissfully immersed in the rap scene ever since! I urge you all to do the same, because – to contradict hip hop royalty Public Enemy – with Hip Hop Family Tree you CAN believe the hype !
All in all, then, Free Comic Book Day 2015 did exactly what it should – it exposed me to new titles, got me excited all over again for a comic I already buy, pleasantly surprised me with a new book I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of ! My wallet may not be happy with my buying the special slipcase edition of Hip Hop Family Tree, ordering March Hare Grand Prix and adding a new comic to my ever-growing standing order but I most certainly am !!
Did Free Comic Book Day make your wallet lighter too ? What were you inspired to pick up ? Let me know in the comments below !
Source: Comic Book Day (images)
GS Blogger: Brett