Free Comic Book Day 2013 Reviews

May 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Comic Books, Reviews | Leave a comment
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Like many comic readers, I went out on Free Comic Book Day and picked up a lot of comics. Some were better than others. Below you’ll find my reviews for: Atomic Robo/Bodie Troll, The Steam Engines of Oz>, Mouse Guard/Rust, Endangered Weapon B and the Tentacles of Doom, Judge Dredd Classics, 2000 AD Sci-Fi Anthology, Infinity and more.

Atomic Robo

Publisher: Red 5 Comics

Writer: Brian Clevinger
Artist: Scott Wegener
Colorist: Anthony Clark
Letterer: Jeff Powell

Atomic Robo focuses on a robot called quite simply “Robo.” It looks like a robot, but it doesn’t act like one. Robo has all the mannerisms and dialog you would expect from any human. In this comic, it’s forced to stop a fellow robot named Project Saint Unit 5 which has gone rogue. unit 5 gets the drop on Robo and they enter into a slugfest which Unit 5 dominates in. Eventually Robo’s human companion Jenkins comes to the rescue.

Interior art showing Robo getting ambushed by Unit 5, the thing that looks like a refrigerator.

The art isn’t too bad. It’s cartoony but very expressive. The comic uses a lot of humor, however, the humor and the story are on a young reader level. This isn’t a comic I would recommend for adults, but would be perfect for kids. In the end, this isn’t a series I have any interest in reading more of. I give it one out of five metal bikinis.


Bodie Troll

Publisher: Red 5 Comics

Writer/Artist: Jay Fosgitt

To get an idea of what Bodie Troll is, think Bill Goats Gruff with extra cutesy characters. This comic is heavily geared toward younger readers. One serious flaw in this particular story is that the lettering got very hard to read toward the end of the issue. Overall, Bodie Troll is a pass, though kids might like it.

Since the art wasn’t too bad and I did like the one joke about the Troll peeing all over the grass, I give it a one out of five metal bikinis.


The Steam Engines of Oz

Publisher: Arcana Comics

Writers: Sean Patrick O’Reilly and Erik Hendrix
Artist: Yannis Roumboulias
Colorist: Chandran Ponnusamy
Letterer: Erik Hendrix

The Steam Engines of Oz stars Victoria, not Dorothy, who helps out around the Emerald City by keeping the machines in the bread factory working and serving food to the inmates in jail. Unfortunately she gets kidnapped by some flying monkeys. They take her to a frozen palace inhabited by the witch of the North. The witch shows Victoria that the Emerald City is expanding at an uncontrolled rate. The city is shown pumping pollution into the air, clear cutting forests. For a moment, it’s almost like a blatant global warming message.

Witch of the North: “This is all your doing.”

Victoria: “I don’t understand. I just make things work. It’s my job, it’s what I do.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if the writers were trying to make me feel guilty about not doing my part to save the world and keep it clean. Thankfully another thread pops in really quick that changes the theme: the Tin Man is running the Emerald City. That one element changes things completely. If a machine is running the city, all the expansion and destruction makes sense. It puts a different spin on it.

Here’s some images of the interior art:

Victoria believes the witch and ends up going back to the Emerald City and freeing some of the inmates, who she is good friends with. Together, they convince themselves that the best way to sway the Tin Man from his dangerous path is to go find the Scarecrow. Sadly, the issue ends before they really get anywhere. It teases some adventure, reveals some characters, and the art is decent. It’s tempting to pick up an issue and see where this series goes. I give it a three out of five metal bikinis.


Mouse Guard

Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

Writer/Artist: David Petersen

With Mouse Guard: The Tale of Thane & Isla, the thing that caught my eye was the interior artwork. Sure it’s got mouse people. It’s probably a kiddie comic. Nevertheless, the art looked so neat that I had to grab it. Interestingly enough, it was one of the better comics offered on Free Comic Book Day 2013.

The art is a dark, details style that has an old world atmosphere to it. The muted colors certainly add to that. My one gripe with it is the lettering. It’s funny how you don’t notice something like that when it’s done right, but when lettering is done wrong, it stands out. Here, the lettering lacks an organic feel. Rather than being shaped by the word bubbles, the lettering feels like it’s squeezed in to the point of someone merely typing the letters in, not bothering with spacing. It definitely hurts it a bit.

After the first page, the artwork takes a dramatic shift as the story goes from a comic to an illustrated story.

The very last panel switches back to comic format. Honestly, the story is pretty interesting. It has a fairy tale quality to it and a very good moral. I actually really liked it and would be interested in checking out more of this series. It also earns points for telling a complete story rather than just being a teaser. I give it a four out of five metal bikinis.


Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

Writer/Artist: Cory Lodbey

“Sir Didymus’ Grand Day” is a short comic squeezed in the Mouse Guard/Rust Free Comic Book Day issue. The story stars a one eyed fox in jaunty clothing who has an eventful day. It’s a really short comic with not much of a story, but the artwork is rich and gorgeous. Since it was so short, I went ahead and scanned the whole thing.

While I really liked the artwork, the story was pretty weak, so I give this one a two and a half out of five metal bikinis.


Flip

Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

By: Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos

“Flip” is a story about a 10 year old bounty hunter. The artwork is very very cartoony, but the story was actually pretty smart. It wasn’t dumbed down and it played on the title “Flip” by actually making the reader actually flip the comic to read the whole thing. It also uses flip as part of the dialog for the story. I’m not sure I’d buy an issue of the comic, but I’d certainly read it if it was a web comic or a newspaper strip. The style is very reminiscent of cartoons like Calvin and Hobbes. I give it a four out of five metal bikinis.

Since the story is only two pages long, I went ahead and scanned the whole thing, side-by-side.


Rust

Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

By: Royden Lepp

Rust is a really short, simple story with two kids hitching a ride with an older kid to collect chicken eggs. The older kid has a jetpack and the eggs are at the top of a very tall, broken down robot. That’s really all there is to it. The coloring is all in muted, monochromatic yellow tones, with cartoony characters. Nothing of any interest as far as I’m concerned.

For this one, I have to break out the rancors, our negative rating scale. I give Rust a one out of five rancors. It’s bad, but nothing to rant about.


Bolivar

Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

By: Sean Rubin

Bolivar was another short comic crammed into the Mouse Guard/Rust issue. This story had very interesting artwork with some nice, detailed settings. The colors are good and the story even made me laugh. Short and sweet, I give it a three out of five metal bikinis.


Endangered Weapon B and the Tentacles of Doom

Publisher: AAM/Markosia

By: David Tallerman and Bob Molesworth

Endangered Weapon B and the Tentacles of Doom is a cartoony comic with crisp, clear colors and a story that strives for humor. A professor, his female tech assistant Tilla, and his bear companion armed with a robot suit head to Australia. There they explore the hidden wing of the Library of Alexandria. They encounter some Indiana Jones traps before running into Zhen Xiao Zhou Zhang. Zhen is not alone, though, as he is backed by his team of ninja squids who are protecting the library. It’s almost funny and that pretty much sums up the whole issue: almost funny. The art is decent with very good coloring and a pleasant style. The characters are kind of interesting. Tilla is a bit cantankerous. The bear doesn’t speak but is very capable and useful with the robot suit ala Aliens. Plus the professor is a bit of a gray character willing to trick, cheat and lie to get what he wants. Unfortunately the issue falls a little short in being truly funny and it ends abruptly before the story is done. I’m not quite intrigued enough to pursue the story further, but I’d give it a two and a half metal bikinis out of five.

You can read the whole issue online here.


Judge Dredd Classics

Publisher: IDW

Writers: John Wagner, Joe Collins
Artist: Brian Bolland
Colorist: Charlie Kirchoff
Letterers: Tom Frame, John Aldrich, Tony Jacob and Steve Potter

For Free Comic Book Day 2013, IDW released a special Judge Dredd Classics issue with old stories that have been recolored or for the first time ever, colored. The issue kicks off with a three part story called “Judge Death” and ends with six short Walter the Wobot stories. Altogether, the stories were fun and entertaining. The art looks pretty good. I’ve never read any of the Dredd comics, so as my first taste, I’d have to say I enjoyed it. It’s definitely something I’d like to read more of. As a Free Comic Book Day offering, it was a nice treat. One bad thing though: the ink was a bit tacky on my issue for some reason and the ink on the back cover actually came off and stuck to my fingers. Still, I give it a four out of five metal bikinis.


Infinity

Publisher: Marvel

By: Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung

As someone who doesn’t read Marvel, this issue didn’t make much sense to me. I know the purple guy is Thanos and he has rings of power. I get that he’s sending his minions to collect tribute. But nothing else in this issue makes any sense. What did the minion mean by “the Gauntlet of Tribute”? What was the Outrider searching for? What exactly was in that box, babies? And if so, what was there significance? As is, the issue had nice art and dialog but was worthless if this is your first intro to the story. I give it a two and a half out of five metal bikinis.


Also included in the issue was an old story called “The Final Flower” that featured Thanos. Circa 1977, this story came complete with cartoony art, bright, goofy colors, and a slightly better story than the one above. You know what to expect here. The story was written by Scott Edelman with art by Mike Zeck, colors by Petra G. and letters by Susan Fox. It is interesting comparing the two stories. While it may lack a lot visually, it did contain a complete story. It also made a lot more sense. Still, I’d only give it a two out of five metal bikinis.


At the very end of the issue was a brief story called Avengers: Endless War which looks to be an upcoming or new series. It wasn’t very long and didn’t include much of a story. It gives a taste of something with no excitement, no intrigue, and not much to look at. As a teaser, it fell flat. I’d rate it a one out of five metal bikinis.


2000 AD SF Anthology

Publisher: 2000 AD

Last but not least is the 2000 AD SF Anthology. Of the Free Comic Book Day offerings I picked up and noticed, this was the largest and thickest of the bunch. It’s actually an oversized comic. It kicks off with “The Jimps Clubb”, a Judge Dredd story by writer Matt Smith, artist Ben Willsher, colorist Chris Blythe and letterer Pye Parr. The story is about people who impersonate Judges for the thrill. Decent art, decent story, I give it a three out of five metal bikinis.


Next up was a story called “Indigo Prime” written by John Smith, art by Edmund Bagwell and letters by Simon Bowland. The story is about CERN and the hadron collider. Unlike real life, when the hadron collider is fired off it causes massive destruction. The world doesn’t just explode. Instead multiple dimensions, times, universe collide together in an over the top dreamfest of ridiculous ideas. With a rough around the edges art style, it conveys some pretty good horror scenes. However the ideas they toss in are just too much and it makes the story feel overloaded. It doesn’t make any sense, either. I’d give it a two and a half out of five metal bikinis.


The story “Future Shocks: Red Moon” was done by writer Andy Diggle, artist Kev Walker and letterer Annie Parkhouse. It’s about a stranded man on an alien moon with carnivorous creatures called piranha dogs. The story is dark, twisted and very very good. It’s a great little sci-fi horror story. The art reminds me of Gabriel Hardman’s style with dark shading and atmosphere. Definitely a five out of five and a highlight out of all the stories I read from Free Comic Book Day 2013.


“The Visible Man” was a quick black and white story done by writer Pat Mills, artist Trigo and letterer Jack Potter. The art, story and premise aren’t very thrilling. It’s a guy who gets in a car accident, rams a truck hauling radioactive sludge, and gets transparent skin. Thus you can see his organs, muscles and bones. Not a very nifty super power. I’d have to give this one two and a half rancors out of five for being pretty bad.


“Alien Wedding” is another Judge Dredd story, this one written by John Wagner with art by Cam Kennedy, colors by Chris Blythe and letters by Tom Frame. This story had really good artwork and a fun story. Solid three out of five metal bikinis.


“D.R. & Quinch’s Agony Page” was a quick little one pager that channeled a cross between the Grinch and hippies but with more violence. Eh, two out of five metal bikinis.


“Insurrection” was also set in the Dredd universe with a disenfranchised colony declaring independence from Mega-City One. As a teaser, this one does a good job. It had a compelling, rich story and characters plus beautiful black and white artwork. Written by Dan Abnett with art by Colin MacNeil and letters by Ellie de Ville, I give this one a four out of five metal bikinis. This is a story worth pursuing.


Sadly the anthology ends on a bad note with Planetronix: Mohawk of Menace. Written by Al Ewing, art by Henry Flint and letters by Simon Bowland. It has very odd, Andy Warhol type art and coloring. The humor falls flat. It’s very over the top humor with some dated political satire. The art is bad, the story is lame and it was a terrible way to end the anthology. I give this one a five out of five rancors. Yeah, it was that bad.

Altogether, though, I’d say the stories in the 2000 AD SF Anthology average out to a four out of five, and it was well worth picking up.

And that wraps up my reviews for Free Comic Book Day 2013. You can check out my review of the Star Wars title here in case you missed it earlier.

Reviews By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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