The Best of Free Comic Book Day 2011 | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

The Best of Free Comic Book Day 2011

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The beauty of having 45 kids is that on Free Comic Book Day, regardless of the store’s restrictions, if I coordinate my children correctly, I get to read a good majority of what’s being offered. So many in fact that it’s taken me two weeks to read through and decide which ones are the cream of the crop this year.

So what I’m going to do now is narrow down Free Comic Book Day’s loot to the best of the best. If you happened to pass these books by (and it’s understandable: there’s a lot to choose from and in the comic book industry, you’re always forced to judge a book by its cover) here’s a quick run down of each of my favorite books and why you should chase up the titles represented in each.

Curious? Well read on, gentle reader…

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This is my pick of the lot this year. Quality and quantity, this is my personal favourite. Starting with JIM HENSON’S DARK CRYSTAL, written by Brian Holiguin with beautiful art by Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John. This piece is as dark and scary as I found the film as a kid. Focusing on Raunip, the son of the all-seeing Aughra this piece of art is a precursor to an epic, ongoing adventure that launches in Winter (US) 2011. Following that is a quick write up on an old and forgotten screenplay by Jim Henson that will be brought to life in comic book form. A TALE OF SAND was a script that Henson wrote over six years, but due to his commitments to The Muppets and Sesame Street, it never got produced. The third piece is MOUSE GUARD: THE TALE OF THE WISE WEAVER. Written and illustrated by David Petersen, Mouse Guard’s children’s book style visuals and violent setting is such a contradiction, that it works. And seeing the hero use his head instead of brute force is always refreshing. The final piece is an interesting story called SEASON OF THE DAPPERMEN. Set in a little clock-work world with a clockwork hero and a clockwork angel that he loves, this seems to be the first chapter of a large adventure. Everything in this book is beautiful to look at and each world is unique and interesting and I’ll be keeping my eye on the racks for more of each tale.

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ATOMIC ROBO has been in my peripheral vision for a couple years now. I know he’s kind of popular (as far as independent comics go) but I’ve never picked it up before. Until now. And I’m glad I did. The first chapter covers the title character. Written by Brian Clevinger with art by Scott Wegener the story opens with Robo and his crew discussing what sounds like a volatile hostage-style situation which opens up to actually be that Atomic Robo has been asked to judge a high-school science fair. I was quickly introduced to the humour of Atomic Robo and, as you probably know, I’m a sucker for some fun insanity. And really, who doesn’t like a villainous talking dinosaur smoking a pipe? Then we’re taken back to 1850 with FOSTER BROUSSARD: DEMONS OF THE GOLD RUSH. This ruggedly handsome rogue quick talks his way out of being hung by persuading the Queen of England he can get her more gold than she knows what to do with. Finally we get MOON GIRL. This little story is painted and looks damn good. Set in 1945, Moon Girl has a fist fight with a villain who claims she knows more about Moon Girl’s history than she herself does. Three tales that remind me that comic books can just be fun. They don’t always have to have social commentary or political undertones. Sometimes a fun story is just a fun story.

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My third pick of the lot ventures into more darker territories. Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, BALTIMORE takes us to war-torn Europe in 1916 where we’re introduced to the vampire hunter that goes by the name of… you guessed it… Baltimore. The beauty of Baltimore is though vampires are his arch-enemies so-to-speak, he takes care of monsters in all their forms. Then comes CRIMINAL MACABRE. Cal McDonald is a private detective. But what is he going to do when someone claiming to be the monster from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein turns up requesting help? Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten give us one hell-uv-a story. Monsters, heroes, darkness and horror. I really can’t say much more than that. Sit back and gasp as the creepy-crawlies come out after dark and then sigh with relief when from the same shadows come heroes just as dark and scary as the monsters they hunt.

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And last but not least, an honourable mention goes to THE MISADVENTURES OF ADAM WEST #1 BY BLUEWATER PRODUCTIONS
Russell Dauterman and Reed Lackey bring an interesting tale where the fourth wall is utterly smashed. Using Adam West as the main character, a washed up actor from the 60’s and 70’s who doesn’t agree with today’s definition of a hero. When his frustrated agent has to continually turn down movie roles on West’s behalf, he soon finds himself with no representation and no work. But out of the blue West is transformed into a younger, fitter self in what appears to be a covert spy-world. The art here is a little undeveloped, but the premise of the story more than makes up for it. This is going to be a fun series. Following that was the perplexing THINGS TO COME. Written by Walter Koenig with art by J.C. Baez and Jon Lyons, Things to Come shows us a post-apocalyptic world where mankind has descended underground to escape the terrors of the surface world.

So there you have it. My personal top picks from Free Comic Book Day 2011. What I found interesting is that across all these different genres, there’s hardly a superhero to be seen. Proof in my eyes that although most comic book publishers are obsessed with superhero culture, other genres can be explored and rise above the status quo.

There are 2 comments.

  1. BenL said on June 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I 100% agree with all of these selections as the “Best of FCBD”. I’m glad you liked Atomic Robo – as I feel it’s the best book out there right now. Family friendly, yet not geared exclusively at kids, and their stance on comics and the character are top notch. They also have never had a delay due to creative issues (now Diamond distribution issues? that’s another story).

    The Baltimore stories are equally awesome. If you haven’t read the book, you should – as the comics tie in nicely.

    The only issue I think you should have included was the Locke & Key release. Locke & Key are continually raising the bar for storytelling and suspense. If you haven’t picked it up, based on your “likes” above – you should.


  2. Totz the Plaid said on June 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I wasn’t able to get the Adam West one, but I’d add a fifth to the list: Darkwing Duck. It may have just been a re-print, but the issue itself was so much fun that I have to say that anyone not reading the series should have picked that up as an intro anyway!

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