Hopefully all of you made it out to your LCS to participate in Free Comic Book Day. The turnout at my store (Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania) was once again impressive, with people lined up outside and down the sidewalk on the mini-strip mall in which it’s located for at least the first two hours it was open.
Comix Connection allows three free FCBD comics per person, plus one more for each in-date, canned or non-perishable food item you donate to a food drive. Since my kids were unavailable this year, I brought six cans to get comics for them and one extra one for myself. That allowed me to walk with all of the Marvel and DC books plus an extra one that I used to take a nostalgia trip.
In case you couldn’t get in on the fun, here are some mini-reviews to fill you in on what was being offered by the Big Two:
Guardians of the Galaxy
Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Bradshaw and Scott Hanna (who has his name misspelled on the credits page, unless there really is an inker out there named Scott Hana) team up for a 10-page story that introduces readers to the movie roster of Guardians of the Galaxy by using the framing device of Tony Stark trying to get Flash Thompson to join the team as Venom. Tony being Tony, he also gives Star-Lord some insurance in case the symbiote gets out of hand. Always the planner, that one. The story is certainly nothing special, but it does its job.
The book also contains a pair of more interesting back-up stories that are previews of upcoming comics: one is Thanos: The Infinity Revelation, an original graphic novel by Jim Starlin, and the other is a short piece that ties into the Spider-Man event Spider-Verse. Both are short but enjoyable and made me more curious about the stories they are pushing, so they both go in the win column.
The Skottie Young cover made me think this was an actual issue from his upcoming solo series, but no such luck. Instead, Joe Caramagna and Adam Archer handle a 10-page story that has Rocket, Groot and Mr. Wal-Rus barely escape from a tight situation involving a kidnapped space princess. It’s all-ages appropriate, and if you think Rocket is a little too blood-thirsty in the current run of Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll probably enjoy this depiction of him. He still kicks butt but it’s clear he has a heart of gold.
Helping add to the kid appeal of this book is a reprint of a story from Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man, which is based on the cartoon.
The New 52 Futures End
Unlike Marvel’s FCBD comics, this is actually a vital read for the upcoming weekly series/event of the same name. Set 35 years in the future, older versions of heroes like Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Blue Beetle, Grifter and Amethyst are barely holding on against an army of cyborg monstrosities created by the omniscient satellite Brother Eye. Yes, the New 52 Batman (and Mr. Terrific, apparently) decided to build one too.
Many of the most familiar DC heroes have already been assimilated Borg-style into Brother Eye’s grotesque army, which ends up racking up a large body count against the heroes who remain — to no surprise really, since DC has been the grimmer and grittier of the Big Two for a while. Batman has a plan that involves having Terry McGinnis buy him some time so he can travel to the past, a.k.a. our present, and assassinate someone to stop this from ever happening. If you think this sounds a lot like the plot to Age of Ultron, you’re not wrong.
The final few pages feature two twists, one of which I won’t spoil but the other I have to: the time machine misses its mark by five years, meaning the future they are trying to prevent is already in progress. Can it still be stopped? You’ll have to read the weekly comic, which debuts next week, to find out. If you also read Batman Eternal, please prepare your wallet in advance for the beating it’s about to endure. Like it or hate it, DC put some big guns on this FCBD story, including Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, Ethan Van Sciver and Patrick Zircher.
Bonus Review: The Tick
I have fond memories of the black-and-white Tick tales from New England Comics from way back in my youth. Happily, this all-new story does not disappoint even though Ben Edlund has long since moved on to other projects in TV and film. Jeff McClelland and Duane Redhead get the characterization and art just right, and there are plenty of sly pop culture jabs in this story about aliens who steal the Tick’s city and bottle it up. We also explore Arthur’s OCD and find out whether or not Tick’s sandwiches can be saved. Recommended for anyone who just likes fun, single-issue stories.