A very busy week here at Pop Culture Maven leading up to Saturdays big Free Comic Book Day and I will be at Metropolis Comics in Bellflower CA helping give out free comics till we run out. There were still a lot of book this week so let’s get to it.
Mouse Guard, Labyrinth and Other Stories: Free Comic Book Day Hardcover Anthology 2014
Archaia Writers and Artist Various
This is going to be the book that everyone will be trying to get on Saturday for Free Comic Book Day 2014. Archaia is back again with another hardcover book that has six stories to sample from and they are all winners. First up is a new Mouse Guard story by writer and artist David Petersen and tells the story of three sisters that find their purpose. Next up is Royden Lepp’s RUST that is a cute story of RUST flying for the first time. Labyrinth by writer Adam Smith and artist Kyla Vanderklugt that star everyone’s favorite Ludo and how he gets a helping hand from some friends. Bolivar by writer and artist Sean Rubin is a tale of very unusual immigrants to the United States back in the day. Will O’ The Wisp by writer Tom Hammock and artist Megan Hutchison is the story of why Missy the raccoon is so tired after a long night out. Finally Farscape by writer and artist Ramon K Perez has the crew trapped at a very unusual alien barbecue. This is a fantastic book and to get it for free with all of the great stories and art is an absolute steal. There was not any of the stories that disappointed me and there were some that were quite surprising. As always Mouse Guard is the best book that Archaia has every published so to get a new story is always a treat. The Labyrinth story was really sweet and it was nice to see a solo Ludo story. Both Bolivar and Will O’ The Wisp both reminded me of really well done children’s stories and will have to look for the books that are out now. This is a solid collection of great short stories that give you a great flavor of the quality of books that Archaia releases. A book like this could run $5 to $10 but you can get it free at your local comic book shop this Saturday. The supply of this is very limited so get there early.
Is this book worth your time and money? It was one of the best reads this week and for free is the best deal of the year. Archaia has put their money into this quality hardcover to show the great books that they put out. Trust me they are losing money for this book on Free Comic Book Day. Try and get a copy because you wont be disappointed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Bad Dreams #1
Red 5 Comics Writer and Artist Gary Winnick
This book was originally put up on Kickstarter but failed to meet its goal. Red 5 Comics stepped in and decide to publish it. The plot from Red 5 is, Bad Dreams is a somewhat twisted tale of whimsy — chronicles the adventures of an odd group of Dreamworld characters: Mary, Nimrod, Sir Spanks (a Night Mouse Knight), Spide, and Shroom. Mary wakes to discover both her memory and Night have gone missing from the land. Mother Night’s absence is causing havoc as everyone slowly goes insane from lack of sleep. The friends must pool their resources, working together to uncover the strange secret of their past and exactly who’s behind it all. Winnick had worked at LucasArts on games and this was a story that he had been working on for years. I had seen the Kickstarter project and was interested and so I was looking forward to the comic coming out. I was sadly disappointed the story felt like to many fairy tale stories that we are all familiar with like Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth and others. It was just unoriginal and didn’t bring anything new to it. The artwork was for me a mixed bag. There were a lot of times where the art felt flat and stiff with not a lot of life to it but there were times where it really leaped off the page also. The color work was very nice but couldn’t save a lot of the artwork.
Is this book worth your time and money? I really can’t recommend this book. While not terrible, it really didn’t bring anything new to the fairy tale type story that it was telling. The art was both good and bad with a lot of flatness to it. I really wanted to like this book but there is just not enough to work with to get me excited to make a second trip.
Marvel Comics Writer Mark Waid, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colorist Jason Keith, Letterer Cory Petit
The first issue of this new series was interesting start to the series. The plot from Marvel is, ALL-NEW DIRECTION! THE EPIC “BANNER D.O.A.” BEGINS NOW!!! Following the shocking events of last month’s INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK finale, Bruce Banner lies at death’s door! If he survives, it WON’T be as the Bruce Banner we’ve known! How will the Hulk wreak vengeance on Banner’s assailant? How CAN he? Waid story in the second issue stumbles a bit. While I understand that he is not revealing everything yet I felt that this issue wandered around too much and really didn’t go anywhere with the story. I really didn’t care what was going on with everything. There seemed to be a lot going on with a whole lot of nothing at the same time. Bagley’s artwork is nice and he does nice work but there is not too much for him to do beyond character exposition.
Is this book worth your time and money? While not terrible the second issue puts the book on very thin ice. The overall story felt a bit pointless and there was a lot of dialog with not much said. I didn’t hate this issue but am worried that the book is floundering with the second issue has me really worried.
IDW Writer Jonathan Mayberry, Artist Alan Robinson, Colorist Jay Fotos, Letterer Robbie Robbins
Jonathan Mayberry adapts his highly successful book into a new comic series. The plot from IDW is,Mankind has been silently infected by millennia-old bacteria unknowingly exhumed by a scientific expedition in Antarctica. Now, in some rare cases, a person’s so-called “junk DNA” becomes activated, and depending on their racial and ethnic heritage they begin to manifest one of the many diverse forms of the “others” that are the true basis for the legends of supernatural creatures. These aren’t your usual vampires and werewolves-it goes much deeper than that. Mayberry was at the last Long Beach Comic Con in November when IDW announced the comic series. I was intrigued by what he said about the story and so how did the comic turn out? The first issue is a bit of a mixed bag. While it’s not bad it didn’t get me really fired up about it either. Mayberry obviously loves the vampire genre and it’s well written. It’s just that the first issue got off to a so-so start. There was a lot of exposition going on and hopefully the next issue will do a bit more for it. Robinson’s art is decent but there were a lot of empty backgrounds in panels. He handled the character expression pretty well and the action scenes were good.
Is it worth your time and money? The first issue really suffered from being a set up story and I’m hoping that the second issue will jump-start the series. I think that it also needs to find a stronger voice in that the issue didn’t really bring much new to the vampire genre. It’s a fair start but the next couple of issues are either going to make or break this book.
Adventure Time 2014 Annual #1
KaBOOM! Writer Frank Gibson, Artist Becky Dreistadt, Letterer Britt Wilson, Short Cakes Written and Illustrated by Ian McGinty with Lettering and Colors by Fred Stresing
KaBOOM continues to crank out Adventure Time books and I have found that the one shots and short stories are the more wild and strange ones. The plot from KaBOOM! is, Cake is a sweet little kitten gettin’ into magical mischief with her best friend…little adventurer Fionna! A very special, horizontally-formatted issue by dynamite creators Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson bring you the cutest thing imaginable…Baby Fionna and Cake! The main story by Gibson and Dreistadt is a blast and doing the artwork horizontally is pretty genius. It’s a simple but sweet story with Fiona and Cake getting ready for Fiona’s birthday party and the not so simple guest list. The rest of the book is one page gag stories from McGinty that are simply perfect and there are no clunkers in the bunch.
Is this book worth your time and money? If you are an Adventure Time fan then I am sure that you have already bought this book. If you are a casual watcher of the show or the comics this is a nice done in one book that has fun stories and great art that maybe a short but is very sweet to read. I had a good time with it.
Silver Surfer #2
Marvel Comics Writer Dan Slott, Artist Michael Allred, Colorist Laura Allred, Letterer Clayton Cowles
I was disappointed in the first issue of this book so I hoped that the second issue could win me back. The plot from Marvel is,Who is the NEVER QUEEN? How is the entire future of the Marvel Universe tied into her very existence? And why is she trying to DESTROY the Silver Surfer?! Are these questions important? Sure. But you know what’s just as important? Lunch. Because what Earth girl Dawn Greenwood has for lunch today could change the fate of EVERYTHING! Not kidding here. This is a very important lunch. The first issue was really bogged down with trying to do too much at one time and the story just wasn’t fun and didn’t really breathe. The story really comes together in the second issue. Slott is still having Surfer a little to much the straight man but does loosen him up a little in this issue. The second issue is a bit more fun and that was really sorely needed in the book. It has a bit more to go in that department but this issue is a very good step in the right direction. The star of this book is Allred’s art and the story is more along his style and feel. While this does not need to be a comedy book it does really need the fun factor to it. Hopefully it will continue to loosen up a little more with the next few issues.
Is this book worth your time and money? This issue is a big leap over the first issue. The first issue was plagued with too much crammed into it and just became overstuffed. The second issue has a lot more breathing room in the story and is getting the book in the direction that it needs to head to. Now I am looking forward to the next issue in a good way this time.
Dexter’s Laboratory #1
IDW Writer Derek Fridolfs, Artist Ryan Jampole, Colorist Jeremy Colwell, Letterer Tom B. Long
IDW has thankfully rescued the Cartoon Network properties from DC Comics who seems to care less about all ages books anymore and have gotten some good talents behind the books. The plot from IDW is, Everyone’s favorite boy-genius returns to comics! Dexter has reached the pinnacle of his greatest scientific experiment—one that will gift him with infinite clarity and superhuman intellect beyond all mankind. But with every precaution in place, will he be able to finish it before his meddling sister Dee Dee ruins everything…AGAIN?! The key to doing this book is, does it feel like a story that could be on the show? I will give Fridolfs does it quite well and makes it feel just right. When I was reading it I could hear the original voice actors doing this story so it did feel a lot like the show. Jampole gets the style of the art just like the show but is able to bring the comic book style that it also needs to work.
Is this book worth your time and money? If you are a fan of Dexter’s Laboratory then the good news is that Fridolfs and Jampole capture the feel of the show to this new book. While it’s a short read I did have a lot of fun with it and it made me really miss the show. But that is a good thing because I felt it could be an episode of the show. This is a good all ages book for everyone.
Southern Bastards #1
Image Comics Writer Jason Aaron, Artist Jason Latour, Letterer Jared K. Fletcher, Color Assist Rico Renzi
From the team that brought you Vertigo Comics Scalped comes a tale of the south and how it’s a truly different type of place. The plot form Image is,Welcome to Craw County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs football team…and more bastards than you’ve ever seen. When you’re an angry old man like Earl Tubb, the only way to survive a place like this…is to carry a really big stick. From the acclaimed team of JASON AARON and JASON LATOUR, the same bastards who brought you Scalped and Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted, comes a southern fried crime series that’s like the Dukes of Hazzard meets the Coen Brothers…on meth. It’s been a while since I read Scalped but was a fan of the book. Aaron sets up a lot in this first issue without revealing too much too soon. The story gets off to a solid start and makes you look forward to where the story is going to take you. Latour art style really fits the story quite nicely. I really love how he captures the facial expressions on the characters. Some of the backgrounds were a little sparse at times but the art and story are really so rich that you don’t mind it and it never takes you out of the story. I really loved the color palette that Latour and Renzi use for the mood of the book. It really adds a lot of weight to the feel of the book.
Is this book worth your time and money. The first issue gets off to a solid start and while I wasn’t immediately blown away by it, I was leaving with a great desire to read more of this story. That is the thing that I really loved about it was that they didn’t try to over tell too much in the first issue. The pacing of the story is where the book really shines. Hopefully they will continue that with future issue. RECOMMENDED!
The Amazing Spider-Man #1
Marvel Comics Writer Dan Slott, Pencils Humberto Ramos, Inks Victor Olazaba, Colorist Edgar Delgado, Letterer Chris Eliopoulos Short stories by Various
A new Spider-Man book that comes out the same week as the new movie. It’s call synergy folks and is selling like hotcakes. The plot from Marvel is, The Greatest Super Hero of All Time RETURNS! The world may have changed since Spidey’s been gone, but so has Peter Parker. This is a man with a second chance at life, and he’s not wasting a moment of it. Same Parker Luck, new Parker attitude. Putting the “friendly” back in the neighborhood, the “hero” back into “super hero,” and the “amazing” back into “Spider-Man!” Also returning: The recharged and reenergized ELECTRO! My review is going to be about the main story and not the extra filler that overpriced this book at $5.99. Slott tries to get new readers up to speed with all of the plot lines from the previous series but that is where I had most of the problem with it. Now I have not read the previous book but Doctor Octopus brain was swapped with Peter Parker. I’m sorry that sound like a bad Roger Corman film. If you must have a full-page at the start of a new series to catch people up then this is not a fresh start and is just a money grab to try to get new readers. Slott’s story while not terrible is pretty average and just too much previously on type story for any new reader to get into. I honestly didn’t care about anything because as a new reader I felt left out in the cold with this book. The only good thing is the Ramos artwork that is the most enjoyable thing for me in the book. The six short stories didn’t really bring much to the table besides having the supporting cast have a story. None was dreadful but nothing jumped out either. Marvel included issue #1 of the Inhuman that had been released a few weeks ago and I can see why it was “free” because I would have felt bad spending money on it. Pretty lackluster book that tossed a lot of stuff at the wall but not much was left sticking to it. It was written by Charles Soule with art by Joe Madureira. The art on the story was nice but the coloring really awful and was flat and loud at the same time.
Is this book worth your time and money? It was certainly not worth the $5.99 cover price because while there is a lot of pages of story going for it, the quality of the stories were not ultimately worth it. The big problem for me is that it really is not a first issue but the continuing story from the previous series. For new readers there is too much back story to get into to enjoy this issue. Sure it may be Spider-Man but it was far from Amazing.