Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Free Comic Book Day Comics Part 2

The three books I'll be looking at today are all flip books, so it'll be like getting double the reviews for your money.  Not that you pay anything to read this blog, nor should you.  If you had to, I could honestly think of several dozen blogs or other forms of reading matter far more worthwhile than this one for you to blow your paycheck on.  
Actually--returning, however briefly, to my topic--of the nearly dozen free samplers I picked up on Free Comic Book Day, the majority of them featured previews of two or more series or graphic novels.
By the way, you may be wondering how I came away from the day with so many books when I only visited three shops.  True, all the stores I went to did have a limit of one, or at most, two comics per person.  However, my last stop on the tour, Packrat Comics, had a deal wherein if you threw a buck or two into a jar for donations to a charity that aids wounded veterans you could snatch up as many comics as you liked.  It was for a good  cause, and I do have to find stuff to write about on this blog somewhere, so I tossed two George Washingtons into the kitty and grabbed anything that I hadn't picked up at the Laughing Ogre or Comic Town that looked interesting or that, at the very least, I thought I might be able to get a halfway entertaining bad review out of.
To digress yet again, isn't it the bad reviews that are more fun to read than the good ones, especially if the reviewer really despises the comic, movie, or TV show in question? Its the same basic appeal that American Idol held for people, at least until Simon Cowell left.  We were all slightly embarassed by Paula Abdul's tearful gushing over any sixteen year old Whitney Houston wannabe with even a moderately decent singing voice.  What we really wanted, what we tuned in for, was to see mean old Simon make that poor little girl cry. 
Now, I don't know how entertaining my first review is going to be--that, as always, is for the you, the people I'm seeking to entertain, to decide--and I sincerely hope no one cries, especially not the "title character." Atfter all, there are few sights more pathetic than that of a washed up actor/"pop culture icon" on his knees and bawling like a damned baby. That said, however, I really have nothing at all nice to say about BlueWater Comics' Burt Ward: Boy Wonder.
The concept is similar to last year's BlueWater freebie, The Misadventures of Adam West, in that it features the actor transformed by magical/super-scientific means into a younger version of himself from when he was at the height of his popularity and becoming the swashbuckling crimefighter he only pretended to be in front of the TV cameras.  In this case, Ward is walking a couple of dogs in L.A.'s Griffith Park out near where the exteriors for the Batcave where filmed back in the 60's. Before he really knows what's happening, he finds himself chasing some masked stranger who kind of resembles the original Red Hood (that's the man who became the Joker, not Jason Todd) through a teleportation device which, oddly for a denizen of a world in which such things don't exist outside of science fiction, he instantly recognizes as such.  Then the story does a reverse Wizard of Oz as the art goes black and white when Ward emerges from the space-time warp on Pluto in the distant future, forty years younger, a hell of a lot thinner, and still in pursuit of the mysterious masked stranger.
Whereas the Adam West book had a certain campy charm, not entirely unlike the TV series that made West famous, Ward's book is just this side of unreadable. I  shall not be paying for any more of this story, nor do I recommend that you do so.
That wasn't so bad, was it, Burt?
The flip side of the BlueWater book is Wrath of the Titans.  This is set up like a children's picture book, with full page illustrations on one side and text on the facing page describing in tediously painstaking detail exactly the scene depicted in the illustration.  Ok, obviously I am not the target demo for this book, but this seems to me the kind of book that would make even the most dim-witted kid feel that he was being talked down to. Needless to say, this one's a pass  as well.
We come now to the Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2012, featuring "Tales From The Springfield Bear Patrol" in which the titular semi-official law enforcement body consisting of Homer, Barney, Karl and Lenny rise up to save the town from a horde of marauding ursines set loose by a vengeful TV traffic reporter.  This is a very funny story typical of the Simpsons style of humor.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you what I mean by that, as the TV series has been running since the dawn of time---first there was the Big Bang, then, after a word from the sponsor ("The universe brought to you by GOD Brand Supreme Deity.  Accept no substitutes---OR BURN IN HELL!"), there was the first episode of The Simpsons.
This half of the book also includes a short autobiographical piece by Sergio Aragones.
Flip this book over and you get SpongeBob Comics Freestyle Funnies. The main story has SpongeBob reading the latest issue of his favorite comic book, Merman Comics, to Squidward, who just wants the little yellow pest to go away.  Eventually, SpongeBob gets the message and leaves without finishing, leaving Squidward, to his chagrin, obscessed with learning how the story.  The story includes pages from the comic book adventures of Merman, a parody of Aquaman, and those are drawn by comics veteran Ramona Fradon, who pencilled many of the real deals exploits back in the Silver Age.  The story overall is excellent, but the real treat is seeing all too rare new art from Fradon, which looks just as great as it did back when she was the Sea King's regular artist. 

Finally, we have a preview three of DC's comics for younger readers.  On one side there's an excerpt of Superman Family Adventures, written and drawn by Art Baltazar and Franco, the same team responsible for the late, much loved Tiny Titans. From the little taste we get here, it seems that this new series has all the charm and energy of their previous effort.  I may not actually buy this.  My niece Alison was a huge fan of Tiny Titans, and she'll probably get this as well, so I'll read her copies.
The other side spotlights two titles based on shows appearing on Cartoon Network, Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice.  Even though the GL story is written by Baltazar and Franco, I'm not quite taken  with it.  It borrows too heavily from the post-Rebirth Geoff Johns mythos for my taste. I'll skip this one.
I can't really say anything about the Young Justice sampler.  At a mere six pages that don't tell us what the full story is about, there's just not enough here for me to decide whether or not I'd ever want to buy this comic.
So, I'm only about halfway through my FCBD haul.  Next time: Barks, robeasts, and Dr. Dinosaur.

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