Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Top Ten Picks From Free Comic Book Day 2017

It took quite a while to read 30+ comics in order to make this list, but as always, it's been a lot of fun (and a bit of work in places). Enjoy the list and explanations below!

10. Underdog #1

Maybe it's just the kid in me who loved this cartoon as a child, but this short issue manages to capture just about everything I ever loved about the original cartoon. The zany circumstances and even zanier villains behind them? Check. Hilarious narration? Check. Pun-tastic dialogue between characters? Check! It even managed to capture the charm of the cliffhanger sequences, where you would cut to a commercial during a really crucial moment. As far as nostalgia trips go, this one is at the top. I also recommend it to any young kids as well, as I'm sure they'll also love it like I did back when I was their age.

9. Wonder Woman #1: Special Edition

While I do tend to get disappointed whenever DC decides to simply re-release older material for FCBD, instead of simply writing up new stories to tease us for future events, this was admittedly a great choice for them to go with. As with other titles in DC's Rebirth event, this issue serves as a great starting point (if the "Year One" title didn't already make it obvious). This will also be of interest to those looking forward to the upcoming movie, as you will notice a lot of similarities between parts of the movie trailer and the events in this issue. Well worth the read if you're not yet up to speed with Diana.

8. 2000 AD Special

It impresses me to see this title come out every single year. Not only do you get a host of talent together for multiple short stories, but they somehow manage to feel fresh and engaging every single time. This is one of those yearly releases that you can never go wrong with. Consistency is key, and this book always nails it.

7. X-O Manowar Special

Don't let the title fool you. While X-O Manowar is the bulk of the issue, there is host of other characters and information included here. Along with the X-O Manowar prelude story, you also get a preview for the upcoming Blooshot Salvation story, written by Jeff Lemire. Without giving away too much, a new character is introduced, and big things already appear to be in the works. There's also a short preview for Harbinger Wars 2. If you're unfamiliar with these titles, the stories here might not mean much to you, but fans of Valiant will have a lot to look forward to here.

6. BOOM! Studios Summer Blast

As always, Boom likes to show off previews for multiple titles in their FCBD offerings. In this issue, you get an all new Mouse Guard story from Archaia, a preview of the new series from KaBOOM!, Brave Chef Brianna, and finally a spin-off of Lumberjanes called "Coady and the Creepies," focusing on a supernatural punk band trying to get their foot in the door. As much as I love Mouse Guard, I have to admit that Brave Chef Brianna is the story that actually won me over the most. It's about a girl setting up a restaurant in a city of all monsters. It's got that innocent charm that you can't help but love for a series like this, and it's admittedly very funny. I cracked up at least three times from this short story alone. It's also really neat that they offer a new recipe for a dish at the end of every issue (including this one). Fun times all around!

5. Star Trek: Mirror Broken

If it's not already obvious, this story was created solely for the hardcore Trek fan that wants to explore every possible nook and cranny of each series. Luckily, I happen to be one of those people! Here, we see the cast of Star Trek: Next Generation finally heading into a realm the shows and movies never touched; the mirror universe! This is only the first part of an upcoming miniseries, but it's already clear that this is going to be something that hardcore fans (especially of Next Generation) will want to check out.

4. I Hate Image

I have never read Image's "I Hate Fairyland" before, but after reading this comic, I now feel that I absolutely have to. In this issue, Gertrude (the girl smiling on top of all the bodies on the cover) is trying to escape Fairyland, but has to go through 'Image' in order to get there. You get various settings and cameos from just about all of Image's biggest titles, and hilarious sequences of Gertrude interacting with them. Walking Dead? It's in here. Spawn? Of course. Saga? Oh yeah. Even the infamous "Lying!" cat is here. Longtime readers will appreciate this "Kingdom Hearts With Blood" approach taken.

3. World's Greatest Cartoonists

Fantagraphics has been known to put out some of the greatest comics in the business (especially Love & Rockets). This volume does a great job of giving you glimpses into titles you may have never heard of before, with all new stories (and even missing/deleted pieces from others). It's also got a new short story by Matt Furie, creator of Boy's Club (and the now infamous character Pepe the Frog). Due to the character of Pepe being used to create memes for the "Alt-Right," Pepe was later declared to be a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. This comic showcases Pepe's funeral, as it seems Matt is showing that he has given up on trying to redeem the character. This is an absolutely jam-packed comic, and there's no reason not to give it a read.

2. The Incal

If you are unfamiliar with Alejandro Jodorowsky, this is the quintessential book to try. Many will know Jodorowsky from his failed attempt at making a movie adaptation of "Dune," or his extremely trippy movies like "El Topo," but The Incal is probably the most important work he has ever put out. This issue offers 30 pages of the original graphic novel. Without going into too many details, this is a futuristic sci-fi story that will absolutely blow your mind with its storytelling and psychedelic visuals. While one could argue that this preview isn't enough to give you a true idea of the bigger picture in these stories, it at least serves as a helpful starting point. It's one of the most odd, but intriguing titles out there in the comic medium.

1. Hostage

This one really shocked me, and that's part of why it's at #1. Every time I've picked up a FCBD issue from Drawn and Quarterly, you typically get a laugh or two. This? This is something quite series. The issue includes two stories from now famous French comics (one currently out in English, and the other coming out later this year). The first is Guy Delisle's "Hostage." Not only is this story of being held captive a frightening and claustrophobic one, but it's also based off a true story on top of everything else. The second preview, "Poppies of Iraq," contains Brigitte Findakly's account of her life growing up in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein, and goes all the way to the Paris attacks of 2015. While there was not a huge amount of content in this comic, it still managed to say plenty. I could imagine Brigitte's story in particular being compared to works like Maus in the future, and it will be interesting to see how it is perceived here in the States.

Honorable Mentions:
Doctor Who, Bongo Comics Free-For-All, Rick & Morty, Catalyst Prime: The Event, Lady Mechanika

Thanks for reading! Let me know what your favorite Free Comic Book Day issues were in the comments!

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