Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Yesterday was that great nerd holiday Free Comic Book Day. Ten yours ago when I lived in California my daughter and I would make a day of it. We would drive into Ventura an go to Ralph’s Comic Corner and she would get a bag of kid’s comic and I would get the adult bag and then we would go to her favorite Chinese restaurant to make a day of it. Now that I am in Oregon I keep that tradition with my niece and nephew.
We drove to Milwaukie Oregon’s Things from Another World. TFAW is the retail arm of Dark Horse comics, and the place to go in Portland for FCBD. If you never been there Dark Horse pretty much takes up half of Milwaukie’s Main St. By the time we got there about a half an hour before the sore opened we still had an hour and forty-five minute line. It kind of like being in line at Disneyland, it might stink but it is part of the experience. Kids ran around pretending to be Jedi’s and heroes, parents shared stories about the more humorous and embarrassing parts of child raising, hipsters shared where to get the best IPA. There was defiantly a feeling of community in the line.
A local film club called Film Troopers interviewed the people in line and made short movies with some of the people dressed up in line. This added to the festival feeling in line. Dark Horse sent their Alien out to the crowd to hand out some of their titles, and keep the kids entertained. My nine year old nephew tried to sweet talk one of the TFaW employees into letting have one of the chairs used for the celebrity guest who would be signing comic books. (It didn’t work.)
There was fifty titles this year for FCBD. Each person who bared the line could get ten. Now the free comic books are free to the customer but they are not to the store. Each free comic book cost anywhere between twenty-five cents and a dollar to the company, so stores have a limited access to some of the more sought out titles. Fortunately TFaW is the place to go and even though we were in line for nearly two hours, they still had most the titles I wanted. The only one I didn’t get was the mirror universe Star Trek:TNG with Jean Luc looking like a bad mamer Jammer.
After we got our books I took the kinds to see Guardians of the galaxy Vol 2. My spoiler free review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, first half, good effects, I care about these characters, funny, a lot of Easter eggs, and it is fun but it is not really a good movie. Second half, good effects, I am so emotionally invested in these characters, I am nearly falling out of my seat laughing, Easter egg overload, I am having so much fun, I no longer cared that it is not a ‘good movie’. I pretty much knew who was going to be a good guy or a bad guy fifteen minutes into the movie. I knew who would live and die with in thirty, and the big bad plan was pretty generic. Sins I would not forgive in other movies, were easily pardoned because I cared so much about the characters. They were having fun so I was having fun, others have commented also this is a movie more about feeling than thinking. And that isn’t a bad thing.
OK so let’s go over some of this year’s free books.
Buffy the High School Years/Plant’s Versus Zombies. Dark Horse like many publishers put two of their titles in one book for FCBD. Dark Horse is now on season 11 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The TV series went 7 years, and the other four seasons were released as comic books. This goes back before the Scobies graduate where a two eyed Xander takes buffy to a comic books store with a vampire hiding in the back. It kind of refreshing seeing a young Miss Summers. Honestly I haven’t read the PvZ yet, but my nephew loves this series, and was laughing when he read it.
Avatar/Brigs Town. Another Dark Horse twofer. Honestly I am over James Cameron Avatar, and the new movies are even out. I glanced though this and the thing that sticks out in this book, is the same thing I liked about the movie. It’s gorgeous use of color. But like I said I am over Avatar. Now Briggs Land by Brian Wood that is something else. I loved Wood’s other masterpiece reflection on a divided America DMZ. This tells the story of a family that seems to run police, religion and criminal organizations in backwoods New York. I was never quite sure if the was a collapse of the government like in DMZ or if they are just remote enough that no larger government institutions seem to be involved. Strong characters and a tense stand off make this a just pick up and makes me want to check out the recently released TPB, Briggs Land: State of Grace.
Secret Invasion/Peter parker the Spectacular Spider-Man. I am on record saying that the biggest mistake ever made in comics is that incepted Captain America was always Hydra arch. Even after t=reading this I am not sure how Nazi cap and Hydra takes out The Avengers and all Earth’s heroes so easily. You are supposed to get all emotional at the end as a triumphant Captain with his Hydra cronies, raises Miolnir. The only time is the whole story I felt any emotions is when DCotU favorite Kamala Khan took cap’s shield to the face.
The second half is a Spider-Man title. Honestly Spidey never did much for me. It starts out with a whinny Peter on a generic date with Mary Jane, they see Vulture generically rob a bank, thus starts a generic super hero villain fight. Then wham! They both get ambushed by new hipster chick Trapster, and I am in love. Parker is more upset that she calls him old than the fact she just took him out, and for her part Trappy isn’t having any of this star struck newbie garbage. She has been watching Spider Man since she was a kid, and he is just another mark to her. Did I mention I am in love?
Doctor Who, IDW entry to FCBD is a win. This tale tells how four of the Doctor’s incarnations (9, 10, 11,12) effected an alien species. It starts out with Doc 12 telling his new companion stopping an alien religious war, and him then explaining that to his new companion Bill how this race was changed by his previous selves had visited them. It does a great job of telling interrelated stories and showing off the Doctors, the companion and art style used in the different Dr. Who series.
I picked up Antarctic Press’ Steam Wars: Strike Leader, because I miss read the title and thought it was a Star wars story. This turned out fortuitous because it turned out to be my favorite title of this year’s FCBD. It is based on a steam punk (maybe closer to diesel punk) air war. The connections to Star wars is basically homage with the shape of the airplanes and pilots call signs, Gold Leader and Lady Redhawk. With its air wars, female heavy officer corps and art and style reminds me of my favorite AP title Ted Nomuras’ Tigers of Terra. This is a series I plan on checking out in the future.
Guardians of the Galaxy/ The Defenders. Of course there is going to be a tie in to the major comic book movie released the same weekend as FCBD. The GotG title seems to be an amalgam of the movie guardians, the comic book versions and the new cartoon. It has our heroes escaping form a space prison (Not the one they did in the first movie) for what it is, it a good little story. Now I love the Defenders, and it makes sense that Marvel wants to hype it before the series release. It is a good strong story, with a blending of the TV and comic books versions (Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are married) But it is a strange combination with the family friendly Guardians. There is no ne of the swearing or sex that makes the series R rates, but there is mention of gangs drug and prostitution rings and the cliff hanger with a bleeding and shot JJ, is probably not a story to add with a comic marketed for kids.
I Hate Image is another mature title. It is based on Images I Hate fairyland. Though it has a small Mature theme tag on it, its baby doll antagonist and cartoon style art it could easily be mistaken for a kid’s title. Gret is a six year old green haired axe waiving girl who normally cuts a bloody path through fairytales. In this titles she encounters image characters Rick Grimes, The Paper Girls, Cassie Hack, Witch Blade, and Spawn and kills many of them. Eventually she wipes out expys for the creator owners of Image.
Keyser Soze: Scorched Earth/ The Rift Kyzer Soze is the best fictional criminal mind ever! (Yes I am including professor Moriarty on that list) And you thought he only had one story? Here is another one outside The Usual Suspects. In this story set in 1986, the criminal mastermind takes out drug dealers who have cut him out of the profits. This is the first part of a upcoming Soze title. The second part is The Rif about a World War Two pilot who is flying over Burma one moment and crashing in present day Kansas. Interesting concept but not enough of the new title to see where they are going with it yet.
English comic magazine 2000 AD had an anthology. This was the comic I wanted the most and I am glad that TFaW still had a copy when I finial made it to the front of the line. The first 7 page story is a Judge Dreed tale. It is classic Dreed, someone is killing people and dressing them up like Dreed to get his attention. Instead of finding where the perp is getting his Dreed clothing, old Joe finds a clue then makes himself a target until the criminal tries to take him out and Dreed turns the tab les on him in three panels. There is a cool ABC robot story, and a supernatural tale, and my favorite Judge Anderson story. Again classic Anderson, she uses her pre-cog power and tries to arrest a pair of alien siblings. They trap her but she escapes by a combination of willpower and luck, again classic Anderson. The anthology is finished out with a Judge Death story.
I have bought a few Lady Mechanika titles before, mainly if they we in the cheap bin or the titular heroine have a sexy cover, but this is the best LM story I have ever read, and has given me a renewed interest in the line. Here the sometimes unlady like mechanical monster hunter is hunting what is basically a mechanical chupacabra, before a team of mercenaries can get it. The monster is closer to man than it is machine or monster and has an unexpected connection to Mechanika origins. This is probably my second favorite title of the day and has renewed my interest in the Victorian heroine.