Sunday, May 06, 2007

Quick Take Reviews: Free Comic Book Day Edition

Here is a very special edition of quick take reviews based on the free comic books Jim and I picked up yesterday. Some are for our nephews, while others are for us to enjoy. I didn’t so much review on personal taste as I did on overall appeal to a new readership and the general overall appeal. Without further ado, here they are.

Who Wants To Be A Superhero? Feedback (Dark Horse/Sci Fi Channel): I thought this short story penned by Stan Lee was pretty cute. It was nicely illustrated by Will Conrad and had Stan’s signature flare. My biggest issues were that it was very short- some teases for season two of the show would have been nice, and that I would have appreciated this much more right after the first season ended. Grade: B. Kid Acceptable: Yes.

Lone Ranger/Battlestar Galaactica Flip Book (Dynamite Entertainment): This is the book I picked for myself. I love the Lone Ranger, so it was a no-brainer. The stories were excellent quality productions that were like a little extra reward for a fan like me. I wouldn’t hand it to a small child though. It was a bit violent. My nephews are 10 and 13, and I would hand it to the 13 year old, not the younger one. This book felt like it was done for me, an adult. Grade: B. Kid Acceptable: Teen or older.

The Astounding Wolf-Man (Image Comics): This was the book that I had seen the most hype on so I wanted to get a copy. With Robert Kirkman doing a big PR tour, and having the entire first issue of his book free, I figured Image and he were betting quite a bit on it. For the most part, I thought the story was interesting. I liked Jason Howard’s art, because it gave the story a cartoony edge that saved the violence from being too nasty for Free Comic Book Day. Of course, I still wouldn’t give this book to my younger nephew, but the older one would probably do alright. Would I buy the second issue of Wolf-Man? Yes, sure. It was good enough to merit another look. The second story with Brit and the preview for Spawn Godslayer surprised me a bit. They were definitely not kid friendly. The Top Cow First Born preview was gorgeous, but didn’t have a lot of substance. I did like the advertisement in the back for Image Comic’s website. Wolf-Man grade: B+. Overall grade: C. Kid Acceptable: Not really.

The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel Comics): All I had to see in this book was two names- Dan Slott and Phil Jimenez, and I was there. I am a total slave to Phil’s art, so this was a must-have. The story was a tad corny, featuring a new villain in a car. For the most part, the adults I talked to rolled their eyes, while the kids thought it was cool, so what do I know? In my mind, children were more of the target for this book anyway. The last few pages of the book featured a peek at this summer’s story arc in Amazing Spider-Man so I figured that was the adult portion. I liked this book a great deal for overall appeal. Grade: B+. Kid Acceptable: Yep.

The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse Comics): This was my least favorite offering to be sure. I like the band My Chemical Romance so I wanted to try lead singer Gerard Way’s work. It didn’t do anything for me. It was a tad corny as well, and I would have liked to see a different style of art. The second story, Pantheon City never really had a chance to warm up. A lady that I would guess is the lead character doesn’t show up until the last page. The final story ZeroKiller was alright, but it didn’t catch my attention in any special way either. This book was not a kid’s book, and it seemed more aimed a narrow crowd of readers, so I was really disappointed. There was no real stand out here. Grade: D. Kid Acceptable: No.

Marvel Adventures Iron Man & Hulk (Marvel Comics): This book reminded me of Tales to Astonish or Tales of Suspense back in the day. One book featuring two characters in solo stories worked well here. I do have to admit that my favorite part of the whole thing was the Franklin Richards back up. My younger nephew thinks it is funny stuff, and who am I to argue? I really liked this book for younger readers and I enjoyed it myself. After living in a world full of Marvel Continuity that I dislike, it felt good to escape into a safer, gentler time. Grade: B+. Kid Acceptable: You bet.

Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century (DC Comics): This was my favorite offering of the day for kids. I loved J. Torres’ story and Chynna Clugston’s art. I took the book for what it was and really enjoyed it. It was cute while telling an interesting story. Maybe it is the chick in me, but I could have read it several times and gotten the same reaction. It made me want to watch the television show. It doesn’t get better then that. Grade: A. Kid Acceptable: Definitely.

Those are the books I was able to pick up. I appreciate Free Comic Book Day and love the fact that I can pick out books for my nephews. I just wish there would have been more of a labeling system for kids. The last thing we as an industry need is for a kid to take home a book only to discover it is not what they wanted while their parent is unhappy with the content.


David C said...

My shop did a really good job of setting up separate "kids" and "older people" areas with the appropriate books, but it does seem like the burden is on the shop to do this, and a big "FCBD All-Ages" logo on the cover would be a good thing....

Heidi Meeley said...

David, I am glad to hear that your shop was on top of things. Our retailer was inundated with people and hadn't really had an opportunity to peruse the books. It was kind of a crap shoot, so my hubby stayed at the one store the rest of the day and "guided" kids towards the all ages stuff.

I also wish that the all ages stuff would have been noted, as well as the other samplers maybe having a "big kids" label. Maybe next year?

Lisa said...

I'm quoted today on LITG discussing how at least the Gold Sponsors should be all age, and that there should be very clear ratings on the covers.

Like David C we separate the books out at our store, and have all ages on one table and T+ on the other and we pretty much do the handing out or at least very closly watch what people take. But still - something like what happened with Wolfman and the sex toy panels in the Britt preview after it really should not have happened. Had I not read about it on line I'd never have known because we just don't have the time to read all the comics before the event.

These little things are how comic book stores end up getting sued for handing out adult material to kids. While we're careful at our store, many stores aren't, and without the help of the FCBD panel or some other group, a store could easily find themselves meeting with lawyers. That's not a good way to end one's Free Comic Book Day, if you ask me.

Lisa said...

Oh, and Tim Seeley and I are still arguing on my blog about the appropriateness of pairing Family Guy with Hack/Slash. I had a big problem with it, as did our employee Kelly Ann. Tim and the Devil's Due gang didn't seem to be bothered by it, feeling that Family Guy's sometimes adult jokes are the same as seeing panels of a woman being tortured.

Heidi Meeley said...

Lisa, you are amazing. I agree completely with what you said. As a retailer, you take a great deal of risk in the fact that there has to be some trust to the content in what you sell. It must be incredibly difficult to keep it all straight. God knows, looking at the books out on the table, it wasn't obvious by the cover what was kid friendly and what was more for grown ups. With the risks you run in handling all the offers, it puts the burden squarely on your shoulders and I think that is very unfortunate.

I am impressed you made LITG. It is my favorite guilty pleasure! I also agree with you that there is a definite difference between hack/slash and Family Guy style jokes in an offering. I am glad you are standing your ground.