Review

Free Comic Book Day 2009

4th May 2009 | by | 1 Comment

For something a bit different this Bank Holiday Monday, we thought we’d take a look at some of the books put out by Marvel and DC for this year’s Free Comic Book Day…

Blackest Night #0
Hey, you know what? This is actually pretty good. “Blackest Night” hasn’t actually started yet, but I’m already deathly sick of it due to the roughly six months-worth of “Prelude” we’ve had to put up with in the Green Lantern books, which have only served to overwhelm and confuse with sheer volume of concepts and characters, rather than inspiring excitement for the event. But this #0 issue, designed as a primer for readers not following recent DC history, actually lays out far better the basics behind the storyline, and in having Hal Jordan and Barry Allen discuss death and rebirth at Bruce Wayne’s graveside, provides a nice meditation on the way the subject tends to get covered in comics. After all, given that the resurrection of dead (or thought-dead) heroes has been a tradition of the genre all the way back to Captain America, it actually kind of makes sense to build an entire event around the concept. There are decent moments as Johns shows yet again that his knowledge of DC characters and history is second to none (even if his ability to come up with decent new ideas for ’em is sometimes lacking), and Ivan Reis’ art is no rush job, particularly when covering various flashbacks. Profile pages that explain the nature of each of the different Corps in the Lantern spectrum do little to convince that the concept isn’t inherently ludicrous, but at least negate the need to have read the last year’s worth of Lantern books. If you’re interested in reading the upcoming event (or, indeed, still considering whether or not to), then this is a heartily-recommended primer. [SP]

FCBD: Avengers #1
Marvel’s FCBD books of the last two years have been pretty agenda-setting, both in the case of their Spider-Man issue (which was the first “Brand New Day” book some 8 months before that continuity officially arrived) and their Uncanny X-Men freebie, which was set after Messiah Complex despite being when the crossover hadn’t even been solicited. By contrast, this Avengers book is fairly current – though perhaps the fact that the title is simply “Avengers” will bear fruit in the future? There’s a certain perverse joy in having the Dark and New Avengers team up before they’ve actually even fought one another, while Spider-Man’s narration gives readers a clear “in” to the story (even if the Dark Avengers’ introduction is ridiculously wordy.) It’s a fun issue, suffers slightly from having a lot of characters to cram into one issue, but Bendis is at his quippy best, which Cheung’s art is as stunning as ever. Definitely worth buying when the inevitable “Director’s Cut” gets released. [JHu]

FCBD: Wolverine #1
In stark contrast to the character-packed and complex FCBD Avengers, Marvel is also offering this all-ages Wolverine solo title by Fred Van Lente. Set literally minutes before Wolverine was sent to fight the Hulk in his first appearance (because god knows that particular moment in continuity hasn’t been repeatedly mined before…) this is essentially an issue of Wolverine: First Class, and is clearly aimed at younger readers. While one must applaud Marvel’s attempt to reach younger readers, one can’t help but wonder if it’s not a little misguided. In comics, “all ages” is practically synonymous with “patronisingly simplistic” and such comics rarely seem to be the entry point for new readers anyway. Even worse, with a Wolverine movie on screens, the comic seems more likely to end up in the hands of freebie-seeking Wolverine fans far older than the comic’s true audience, and in that case, it isn’t going to help dispell any of the popular myths about comics being for kids. Well-intentioned, soundly-crafted, but ultimately it’s a case of “wrong place, wrong time.” [JHu]