Guest Review: FCBD Legion of Dope-itude

Another guest review by Ethan!

Synopsis:

Tying into an episode of the Fresh Off The Boat television series airing in May, this Free Comic Book Day special reveals the characters created by Eddie and Emery for a comic book contest on the television show!

What I first Thought:

I’ve never seen an episode of Fresh Off The Boat before, so I’m not familiar with that aspect of this story.  However, I loved writer Gene Luen Yang’s Shadow Hero graphic novel, so I was really interested in reading more from him.  The Jack Kirby-esque cover of the issue also didn’t hurt.

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

With TV tie-ins, there’s always a debate about how to handle the likenesses of real people.  Jorge Corona opts to go the cartoony route for this issue, which I feel was the right way to go given the overall comedic tone of the story.  His page compositions are pretty solid, and he does a nice job of making each character look suitably unique, while still keeping enough common traits between the characters to remind you that they’re a family.  The art is very clean, and super easy to follow, and all of the characters are fluid in their motion.  There’s a lot going on in each panel, but the art is laid out in such a way as to draw the viewers eye to the proper focus every time, showing great care in the construction of the craft.

Story: 4/5

It’s possible I might have gotten a little more out of this issue if I’d seen any of the show.  There seem to be some bits that are picking up on prior material, and the characters are sort of just thrown into the story without a whole ton of introduction.  That being said, it’s a family that get’s super powers, and they generally follow the basic sitcom family tropes.  Not super hard to follow or connect with them.  The story is clearly crafted to follow up on the show’s episode “Pie vs. Cake,” as explained by the first page of the comic.  Eddie Huang (who is nominally the comic’s main character) informs us of his brother Emery’s comic, which re-invisions the family as a team of super heroes.  Shortly thereafter, the real life Huangs discover they have powers just like their comic-counterparts.  We then get a few of their exploits as heroes, and discover the (more than a little tongue-in-cheek) origin of their powers, all wrapping up in a big, goofy comic-book battle with a giant monster.  Most of the family members gets a moment of focus to showcase their abilities, which range from standard issue (The Persuader’s hypnotism) to rather unique (Lazy Boy’s “channel changing”). The only one left out is Evan/Blazer Boy, who doesn’t seem to really have any abilities of his own, and mostly just hangs around his mother.  Once again, I’m not sure if this is a show thing or what.  It struck me as slightly odd, but not enough to ruin the issue.  The dialogue is generally pretty solidly crafted; they talk more or less like real people would, and many of the characters have their own tics and gags.  I was particularly amused by the lampshading of a few of the stereotypes that Asian comic characters are frequently saddled with.  The issue ends in a rather open-ended fashion, which could potentially lead to additional stories, and I wouldn’t be opposed to such a prospect.

Overall:  4.5

Details:

Title: Fresh Off The Boat Presents: Legion of Dope-Itude Featuring Lazy Boy

Issue: Free Comic Book Day

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Writer: Gene Luen Yang

Art:  Jorge Corona

Colors: Jeremy Lawson

Letters: Jim Campbell

Release Date: May 6, 2017

Pages:  28

Genre: Super Heroes, Action-Adventure, Comedy, Television

Guest Review: FCBD Secret Empire–Spider Man

This is a guest review done by my wonderful boyfriend and the mind behind The Figure in Question! He went with me to Free Comic Book Day and he’ll be reviewing the books he picked up.

Synopsis:

The Marvel Universe is under siege from the greatest threat it has ever known! Everything has been leading to this as Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino bring the entire Marvel Universe together for the highly-anticipated SECRET EMPIRE series! UNITED THEY STAND against a common foe, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Defenders, the Champions, the Inhumans, Spider-Man and more must hold together as an unwavering front! Yet even their combined might may not be enough to withstand the awesome power of Hydra! Then, after his globetrotting adventures Spider-Man has returned to his friendly neighborhood as Chip Zdarsky and Paulo Siqueira present a sneak peek at PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN! A new companion series to the best-selling Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker is back in the Big Apple he’s brought the Ol’ Parker Luck with him! Don’t miss your first taste of this back-to-basics and high-flying ongoing series!

What I first Thought:

This was the only FCBD pick-up that I knew about prior to arriving at our local store.  I’ve been following the events of Nick Spencer’s Steve Rogers: Captain America series, which is a direct lead-in to this.  Since it’s a continuation of a story I’m already reading, I obviously wasn’t planning to just skip it.  The general public’s not too hot on the whole Hydra Cap thing, but I’ve been enjoying seeing where it’s been going, even the Steve Rogers presented here isn’t “my Steve Rogers.”  I had no real opinions one way or another on the second feature, which is a Spider-Man story, unrelated to the main story.  I like Chip Zdarsky’s work as a writer, though, so I’m intrigued.

Ratings:

Since there are two unrelated stories here, I’ll be examining them separately.  I’ll note Secret Empire with an “SE” and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man with an “SM.”

Art: 3/5 (SE), 5/5 (SM)

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Andrea Sorrentino’s work, if I’m totally honest.  I mean, he’s got an interesting style, and he can layout a page well enough, but his work is always kind of murky and washed out.  Not my ideal choice for anything having to do with super heroes.  I personally would have preferred the interiors had been more consistent with Mark Brooks’s cover, which I feel is more on par with Marvel’s usual style.  With Sorrentino’s interiors, at times, it’s a little difficult to figure out what’s going on in any given panel, and I had some real trouble making out which characters were which.  On the plus side, as I noted before, the layouts are pretty strong and he’s clearly having fun working the Cap and Hydra iconography into the shapes of the panels.  He seems to get a bit more comfortable as the story progresses, and the final splash page is a good deal stronger than the first few pages.

On the flip side, Paulo Siqueira’s work on the Spider-Man story really appeals to me.  The work is really clean and easy to follow.  The characters are all very lively, and sport some of the best expression work I’ve see from any artist that’s not Kevin McGuire.  The line work is bold and easy to follow, and the panel layouts do a really nice job of conveying movement as Spider-Man and Vulture sweep through the skies of New York.  Siqueira delivers a very iconic take on Spider-Man, in the vein of John Romita, Sr. and Gil Kane, who are two of my favorite Spidey artists.

Story: 4/5 (SE), 5/5 (SM)

The SE story is pretty decent for what it is, but there’s a big caveat on “what it is.”  It’s not a whole story, nor is it a beginning or an end.  It’s right smack dab in the middle of everything; it’s the rising conflict that’s leading to the main climax that will be the Secret Empire mini-series.  There’s a quick, broad strokes recap of Civil War II and a little of Steve Rogers: Captain America, before kicking things off with Hawkeye being ambushed by some Hydra goons.  He’s rescued by Black Widow, who informs his “gonna miss the war.”  The rest of the story depicts the major Marvel heroes battling Hydra’s forces, climaxing with the arrival of the Hydra corrupted Steve Rogers.  The final splash page shows our heroes defeated, Cap standing over them, wielding a certain thunder god’s magical hammer, while the narration proclaims of Hydra “They were stronger.  They were more powerful.  In that moment—They were worthy.”  This final shot has been the cause of some contention amongst fans, who say it preaches an uncomfortable message of “might makes right.”  I personally see that uncomfortable message as an indicator that something’s off here.  Cap’s turn to Hydra was the result of the Cosmic Cube rewriting reality.  Recent story developments have amended that it was actually setting reality back on the correct path.  However, if Mjolnir is allowing Steve to wield it, perhaps this shows that Steve is supposed to be worthy enough to wield it, deep down, perhaps indicating that his true nature really is what we’ve been seeing all along.

Zdarsky’s Spider-Man story is a more complete tale.  There’s still a bit of a cliff-hanger (leading in to June’s Issue #1 of the series), but we get a fairly standalone little battle between Spidey and Vulture, as well as a quick lead-in conversation between Peter and MJ to help catch readers up to speed on where those two are.  The choice of Vulture as the primary antagonist is no doubt inspired by his presence in the upcoming movie, but it was still nice to see him sort of return to his routes, while still not completely backtracking.  We also see the introduction of the new Trapster, who I assume will be getting a larger role in the series proper.  Above all, I found Zdarsky’s dialogue to be very strong.  He’s got a good handle on Spidey’s quips and I even found myself laughing out loud once or twice.  I’ll definitely be grabbing the first issue of the main series when it hits.

Overall: 3.5 (SE), 5 (SM)

Details:

Title:  Secret Empire / Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man

Issue:  Free Comic Book Day

Publisher:  Marvel

Writer:  Nick Spencer (SE), Chip Zdarsky (SM)

Pencils:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE), Paulo Siqueira (SM)

Inks:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE), Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, & Paulo Siqueira (SM)

Colors:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE),

Letters:  VC’s Travis Lanham

Release Date:  May 6, 2017

Pages:  28

Genre:  Super Hero, Action-Adventure, Marvel

Comic Book Review: FCBD Lady Mechanika

Synopsis:

Introduce new readers to this steampunk bestseller, which has been remarkably successful with female readers as well as fans of the popular steampunk genre, with this FCBD special that includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I’ve seen Lady Mechanika floating around at the various comic book stores that I’ve been into and I’ve been interested in reading about her for a while. So when I saw this edition I decided to finally take the plunge and see if this dark, steampunk lady would suit my fancy!

Ratings:

Art: 4/5

I really liked the art. Everything was well drawn and detailed. You could see the detailing in her outfit real well, specifically on her vest. The patterns on the vest were faint so that it didn’t distract from the overall scene, but you could see it well enough to give her clothing a distinctive and authentic feel. The action scenes weren’t too congested with unnecessary lines, sounds, etc. that would draw you away from what was happening. Some of the facial expressions were a bit too dramatic but overall the people looked decently designed. My one complaint it that Lady Mechanika looks to have Barbie’s proportions. I understand how corsets work, they make the wait look thinner and the boobs stand out more, but her body just doesn’t look right. Overall the designs, detailing, and the colors are fantastic.

Story: 4/5

I really enjoyed the intro to the character, it was enough to a good glimpse at her personality and what drives but still leaves you wanting more. And boy do I want to read more about this dark, mysterious heroine! The other two previews to the later volumes were interesting, they were shorter than the excerpt from the prologue. I think I would have enjoyed the other two more if I knew more about the story and they were just too short. I’m really curious as to what happens in those volumes now, but I wish there was a little more to let me know what to expect. Either way, I’m interested in reading more from this series!

Overall: 4/5

Details:

Title: Lady Mechanika

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Benitez Productions

Writer: Joe Benitez

Art: Joe Benitez

Colors: Peter Steigerwald

Lettering: Josh Reed

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 28

Genre: Mystery, Science-fiction, Teen, Action, Steampunk

Comic Book Review: FCBD Colorful Monsters

Synopsis:

D+Q presents a giant sampler loaded with 64 pages of our most beloved comics for kids – delightful misadventures with Moomin and his family, strange and spectacular tales of Kitaro, and more hilarious antics from Anna & Froga. Enjoy a sneak peek into the rollicking sketchbook of cartoonist Elise Gravel, with colorful monsters, imaginary friends, and activity pages where readers can draw right alongside her!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I was interested in picking up some kid friendly comics and this one caught my eye!

Ratings:

Since there are four completely different stories I’m going to rate them separately. Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War will be represented by (K), If Found…Please Return to Elise Gravel will be (EG), Anna & Frogga (A&F), and Moomin and the Brigands (M).

Art: 4/5 (M), 4/5 (EG), 4/5 (A&F), 5/5 (K)

(M): The artwork kind of reminded me of the Saturday comic stripes. It was simple but creative drawings with contrasting colors. The artwork wasn’t always consistent, but I enjoyed it well enough.

(EG): I really enjoyed the artwork for this. It reminded me of the things I used to doodle in notebooks or no the edges of notes/homework during school. The line work is simple and funny, and the colors are very bright. It was very nostalgic, like someone took pictures of a kid’s school doodles and decided to share them with the world.

(A&F): The art was very simple and colorful. Again something that reminded me of Saturday comics, especially with short stories! I actually don’t have much to say about the art. It was nice and well done, but nothing to write home about.

(K): The art in this story is the best. The characters are simply done with enough detailing to make them unique. The background is really well done, close up and far away. The trees, grass, even the structures look so real without distracting from the characters in the panels.

Story: 3/5 (M), 5/5 (EG), 4/5 (A&F), 5/5 (K)

(M): I know this is just an excerpt from the story, but the beginning didn’t make much sense to me, and the following scenes didn’t seem to fit together even though they’re from the same story. I found the story to be cute and funny but the actions of the characters and the progression of the story didn’t make much sense to me. I really enjoyed the ending of this one though, I think it was my favorite of this story.

(EG): This one doesn’t really have a story. It reads like someone’s journal and the doodles match the entry you read. I think this one would do very well for kids, or any adult needing to escape real life.

(A&F): This segment was made up of 3 different short stories, each cute and funny. The short stories didn’t have any correlation with each other, which was fine. The characters were odd but amusing, each different and well portrayed within their few pages.

(K): The story is simple with a good moral, don’t always trust those who ask for help. It’s normal for humans to try to help others, especially those who appear to be of poorer status. But looks can be deceiving, those who appear to be in need can make lots of money from those with big hearts, and this story serves as a lesson. I think this was my favorite!

Overall: 4/5

This was a pretty good sampler for the stories these excerpts came from.  Believe both kids and adults alike would appreciate these stories! Hopefully I’ll find more of these stories in the future.

Details:

Title: Colorful Monsters

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Writer: Anouk Ricard (A&F), Tove Jansson (M), Shigeru Mizuki (K), Elise Gravel (EG)

Art: Elise Gravel (EG), Tove Jansson (M), Shigeru Mizuki (K), Anouk Ricard (A&F)

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 62

Genre: Comedy, Humor, Children’s

Comic Book Review: Steven Universe (2017-) #3

Synopsis:

When the local business owners in Beach City start to feel the economic pinch during the tourist off-season, Mayor Dewey and Buck come up with a solution: food trucks!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

Story: 5/5

Overall: 5

This issue was centered more on Mayor Dewey and his son, Buck, rather than Steven and the Gems. I really liked that the story was more on the town itself; don’t get me wrong, I love Steven and the Gems, but I also like the towns folk and I want to see more of them too!

In this story the town is trying to solve a problem of many beach towns during the off-season, drawing in customers. Buck comes up with the idea of bringing in food trucks on the weekends to help bring in more people for the local businesses. Things go off without a hitch…except the local businesses suffer. However, together Mayor Dewey and Buck find a way to both draw in people and help their local businesses, also highlighting the importance of local shops and how just bringing in new people won’t always help.

The story was really simple and you see some sweet moments between Mayor Dewey and his son. While they’re not main or major characters, I thought it was still nice to see more of their relationship together. It was also nice to see that while yes, Dewey is a politician, but he also really cares about the city he watches over.

I think that the artwork has improved a lot since the first issue. The first issue of this run had great art, don’t get me wrong, but it still didn’t feel quite like Steven Universe. However, I feel like the artist has really captured that in this volume while still having their own style. I also loved some of the sight gags in this issue, one that I was not expecting but won’t ruin for anyone else!

Why do I have to wait so long between releases?!? Until next time!

Details:

Title: Steven Universe (2017- )

Issue: 3

Publisher: kaboom!

Creator: Rebecca Sugar

Writer: Melanie Gillman

Illustrator: Katy Farina

Colors: Whitney Cogar

Letters: Mike Fiorentino

Released Date: April 24, 2017

Pages: 26

Genre: Science Fiction, Slice of Life

Comic Book Review: Empress #1

Synopsis:

Imagine you’re married to the worst bad guy from your favorite sci-fi movie. An alien dictator feared throughout the universe, who will kill you if you leave — but you need to escape for the sake of your three children. All you have are your wits, your bodyguard, and three guns.

What I First Thought:

I found this comic one day when I went with my boyfriend and his family to their local comic book store. They had the first four issues and it looked interesting enough, so I grabbed it. I’m still new to comic books, I still haven’t quite figured out how to judge whether or not I’ll like it before buying it. This time I went with my gut, so hopefully that was enough!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

I loved Stuart Immonen’s art! Not going to lie, but at first I was a little leery about the heroine’s character design because from the cover it looked like she would be an unrealistic “space babe”. After seeing the artwork, time and again Emporia was portrayed with realistic body proportions that weren’t too over the top. I think what I liked most about the artwork is that it already appears pretty smooth, some of the past comics I’ve read were a little rough in the beginning. Every line has a purpose, the scenes aren’t cluttered with too much detail, there’s just enough to give the readers all the information they need. The action sequences weren’t overcrowded or overpowered, just enough explosions when needed.

Story: 4/5

This was a pretty good beginning to the series. I’m really intrigued with the setting of this story. The story is set 65 million years ago with dinosaurs, aliens, and space travel; to date I don’t think I’ve ever read a story (outside of watching those few episodes of Doctor Who) in which those three are combined. I’m excited to see where Millar will do with this setting. Already I’ve seen a T-Rex fighting in an arena and a ship having to avoid a flock (?) of pterodactyls, but will there be more to it and will the dinosaurs actually play some sort of role in the story.

This story had just enough information to keep me from getting lost, but still left me with questions. I would’ve liked for a little more background, but I think that’s more my speed. I’m still curious to see what happens next!

Overall: 4.5

Details:

Title: Empress

Issue: 1

Publisher: Icon

Writer: Mark Millar

Illustrator: Stuart Immonen

Colors: Ive Svorcina

Letters: Peter Doherty

Released Date: April 6, 2016

Pages: 32

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Book Review: The Senator’s Youngest Daughter

32073917**The views of this book do not reflect our political views or ideals. This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: The Senator’s Youngest Daughter

Author: Kelley Rose Waller

Publisher: Versive Press

Release Date: October 1, 2016

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Pages: 313

Synopsis:

Senator A.C. McFerren has been missing for more than six months. The obvious prime suspect in his disappearance is the homegrown terrorist group known as the Army of Social Justice.

Searching for her kidnapped father leads Brenna McFerren Jefferson to the terrorists’ elusive “Death of Government” headquarters, known as The Doghouse. But nosing around where the federal government won’t investigate puts a target on her family and sets in motion a rebellion she isn’t prepared to lead.

Dreams of liberty cause the Senator’s daughter to disguise herself for undercover recon, recruit a high-ranking defector, and partner with a subversive news agency that combats government propaganda. As Brenna’s strength and family ties are tested, she unites a political party that commands the power to transform the United States.

My First Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book. Dystopia is probably my favorite genre, and I especially love really political, espionage-y ones. From the synopsis, this book sounded like it was right up my alley.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

It’s taken me a long time to write this review; I couldn’t figure out what to write about it. I don’t really know if I enjoyed it or not. I found that the writing was fine. It was easy to follow and clear. The characters were developed, if a little lacking in dimension.

This story is narrated by the main character, Brenna, and I found that the narration did match her dialogue, which I appreciated. However, as a fellow teacher, I did find her hard to connect with at times. She mentions often how all she wanted was to be a kindergarten or first grade teacher, but she left because of how government restrictions were affecting the education system. Now, there are many teachers who are frustrated and feel restricted by what we currently deal with in education and there are many teachers who leave because of it. However, the teachers that talk like Brenna talks throughout the story are never the ones who do, because they know they need to be there for the students. They work with and around restrictions; they don’t normally just give up. As someone who had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am in my career, Brenna’s thoughts about teaching are almost infuriating.

Here’s the part that has been killing me about writing this review: This book reads like a republican’s nightmare about socialism. That’s not to say that I am in favor of socialism, because I’m not. When I took my “What is your political alignment” test in my government class, I was almost in the exact center. While I can see how aspects of socialism have had positive impacts in several countries, I believe there are fundamental differences between the US and those countries that make it so it probably wouldn’t work here. However, this book seems to ignore the fact that it has worked other places and that there are positive ideas in this. It also runs off of several misconceptions about socialism, portraying a more communist society than a socialist society. Politics and society are difficult and complex, but the viewpoint of this book is very simplistic and fear based, rather than a critique based on research.

Final Thoughts:

In conclusion, my feelings about this book are mixed. I was ok with the writing, characters, and overall story; this is a genre I really enjoy. However, the political situation and climate is so one sided and filled with the fearful ideas I hear constantly in the conservative place I live I found it jarring. It was hard to read, not because it was bad, but because it hit close to home.

Rating(s):

2/5

I would recommend this book to people who don’t understand why some people cannot see “How socialism would be a benefit to society.” I think it is a very good perspective into the thought processes of people who are fearful of socialism. It is also a fine political drama, but one that I did find was so extreme it would pull me out of the story and turn me off reading it for a while.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!