Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Free Comic Book Day Comics Part 3

I'm sure no one's going to be too disappointed if I skip the lengthy, rambling preamble this time out and get right to the comics.
I was in college when Voltron debuted back in the mid-80's.  While I enjoyed the series, mine was more of an ironic, detached appreciation.  I was laughing at it, whereas fifteen or even ten years earlier I would have bought into the premise unquestioningly.  Thus, I don't have the same nostalgic attachment to the show that people that much younger than me might.   Still I can tell a well written and drawn comics story when I read one, and VIZ Media's Free Comic Book Day offering, Voltron Force: Shelter From The Storm, written by Brian Smith with art by Jacob Chabot, presents the opening pages of what looks to be a very well done graphic novel.
Shelter From The Storm picks up several years after the events of the cartoon series with the original Voltron Force training a trio of new recruits to eventually take their places.  On a training exercise, the newbies encounter a runaway robeast created by the team's arch-nemesis King Lotor.  I would definitely consider reading the full graphic novel, though unless you're a real diehard Voltron junkie, I might recommend checking it out of the library.
The free comic from Red 5 Comics, with previews of the cover featured Atomic Robo, as well as NeoZoic and Bonnie Lass, and including stories featuring pirates and dinosaurs, seems shrewdly calculated to appeal to readers' inner child.  Nonetheless, it does hit most of the right buttons.
The titular Atomic Robo of the lead story is a robot created by Nikola Tesla in the 1920's who today leads a globe spanning scientific troubleshooting organization known as Tesladyne. In this tale, Robo is tricked by his old enemy Dr. Dinosaur, a super-intelligent talking dinosaur, naturally, into unleashing a super evolved dinosaur, or Futuresaurus Rex, intended by Dr. Dinosaur to destroy him.   While I didn't enjoy this quite as much as last year's Super Dinosaur free sampler, I can see that Atomic Robo has the potential to be a lot of fun.
I believe that in one of last year's posts in the wake of Free Comic Book Day I expressed a preference for free comics that give you complete stories rather than teasers continued in something you're expected to pay for.  This sampler from Red 5 contains a mix of both of those.  The Atomic Robo story is complete in this issue, while the other two stories are merely the beginnings of longer tales.
NeoZoic posits a world where dinosaurs never died out and have existed side by side with humans, giving rise to an organization called the Predator Defence League whose mission is to protect humanity from the beasts.   This eight page preview provides just enough  of a glimpse into that world to leave me slightly confused about just what's going on, but somewhat curious as to what the deal is.  Adding to the confusion is the art, done in sort of an Americanized Manga type of style.  The story features three female characters and they are all drawn with basically the same face.  The only thing differentiating them is hair and skin color.  If this were a black and  white comic I'd have been totally lost.  This is definitely a comic I'd want to check out from a library before shelling out any of my hard earned cash for it.
Bonnie Lass chronicles the adventures of the daughter of a famous pirate in what appears to be some sort of alternate history present day.  Bonnie and two of her companions have gotten themselves captured by some sort of cult or something looking to retrieve an object she stole from them.  They end up being rescued by probably the last person Bonnie wants to save them. With its cartoony art and irreverent tone, Bonnie Lass looks like it might be the most fun of the three series previewed here.
Finally for today, we come to Donald Duck Family Comics, presenting two vintage stories by legendary "good duck artist" Carl Barks.  The first deals with yet another scheme by the nefarious Beagle Boys to hijack Uncle Scrooge's money bin, while the other details Donald's efforts to be free of the nightmares which plague him whenever he tries to get some shuteye.  Rounding out the issue are a series of one page strips by Barks featuring Donald and Scrooge.
As to the question of whether the full books that this comic is promoting are worth buying, the answer seems pretty self-evident to me. Any collection of Barks' duck comics would make a worthy addition to anyone's bookshelf.
You know, its kind of funny, to me at least, that two of the best comics for young kids this Free Comic Book Day, this one and Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley, come from Fantagraphics, a publisher not exactly known for its kid friendly fare.  That they both contain material written and drawn over a half century ago is not so surprising to me, however, as I'm rapidly turning into a cranky old man who thinks everything new sucks.
I've still got two more free comics to write about, but I'll get to those next time. 

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