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

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Graphic Novel Review: Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection (book 1)

Synopsis:

Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo take the reins of Fantastic Four and deliver some of the most daring and humorous adventures these heroes have ever seen! Giant bugs! Living equations! Johnny Storm, CEO! Exploding unstable molecules! The secret behind the Yancy Street Gang! And witness the antics between the Thing and the Human Torch heat up like never before! Prepare to laugh and cheer at once!

First Thought:

Recently, my boyfriend and I were playing Lego Marvel Super Hero ©. While playing, I told him that I didn’t really care for the Fantastic Four characters because I was unimpressed by them in their movies. He agreed that their movie were terrible representations of them and decided to lend me a couple of his favorite storylines for the characters. Opening myself to change, I decided to give this book a read to see what this family was really about!

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

My original impressions of the characters were wrong, at least within this storyline by Mark Waid. I haven’t read very much of Marvel, but I was really impressed with this story. It was all about family, focusing on the group as a whole and the relationships between various characters.

I enjoyed seeing Reed and Sue as parents. They aren’t the perfect parents, they mess up from time to time it was great to see that, it was real and heartfelt. I smiled seeing Reed interacting with his new daughter, it reminded me of my relationship with my own father. It was nice to see how the young boy of super heroes messes up, royally so, and learns from the experience.

I enjoyed the relationship between Sue and Johnny. She did everything she could to help him, to raise him, to make him into a better man, and Johnny was able to realize that. I loved seeing the arc of their relationship, and I can’t wait to see more from them!

Lastly, I really enjoyed seeing the interactions between each of the before mentioned characters and The Thing. He played a different role for each of his team members and it was nice. Before reading this, the thing (eh, get it? Okay, I’ll stop…) I remembered the most about his character was the childish relationship between him and Johnny and not much else. After reading this novel, I see him as a dear friend to each of the other members and that they actually care for him too.

Ratings:

Art: 4

The art changed for the last two issues in this novel. Both art styles were nice to look at and didn’t make me cringe, but I really enjoyed the first art style more. Overall, I appreciated that the artists made the characters a bit cartoonier to fit the overall mood of the story. I also loved the colors in this story; everything was so bright and colorful!

Story: 4

I found the stories to be fun and light, but serious when need be and I believe Waid did a wonderful job balancing the moods. I enjoyed seeing the Fantastic Four not as super heroes first, but friends, family, adventures, and pioneers before anything else. I believe the first issue did a wonderful job of setting up Waid’s vision for this story and I can’t wait to read more!

Overall: 4

Details:

Title: Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection

Book: 1

Issue(s): 60-66

Publisher: Marvel

Creator(s): Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Writer(s): Mark Waid

Illustrator: Mike Wieringo & Mark Buckingham

Colors: Paul Mounts, Avalon Studios’ Mark Milla & John Kalisz with Malibu

Letters: Bill Oakley and Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne

Released Date: June 29th 2011

Pages: 208

Manga Review: Nichijou (vol.1)

Details:

Title: Nichijou: my ordinary life (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-18

Written by: Keiichi Arawi 

Artist:  Keiichi Arawi

Translation/Adaptation: Jenny McKeon

Publisher:  Vertical Comics

Published:  March 29th 2016

Pages: 178

Genre: Manga, Comedy, Slice of Life, Surreal humor

Synopsis:

(as read on my copy)

Define “ordinary”

In this just-surreal-enough take on the “school genre” of manga, a group of friends (which includes a robot built by a child professor) grapple with all sorts of unexpected situations in their daily lives as high schoolers.

The gags, jokes, puns, and haiku keep this series off-kilter even as the characters grow and change. Check out this new take on a storied genre and meet the new ordinary.

What I First Thought:

            I picked up this manga because of the reaction a friend of mine had to seeing it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. This friend of mine is an exchange student from Japan and is an absolute sweetheart! Anyways, she was so excited to see it that I decided to give it a read.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

This manga was nothing like I expected! My friend warned me that it was going to be bizarre, but I didn’t think to take her too seriously. I’ve never read a manga like this and I’m glad that I have. The comedy was a lot of dry humor and outlandish events. Something things didn’t really make sense to me, which I believe may be because of error in translation or the joke doesn’t translate as well into English.

Overall though the volume was great! Each chapter or couple of chapters contained individual stories, so at the moment there doesn’t appear to be any overarching plot line. The chapters are headed by different characters or sets of characters, so you never get too cozy before you’re following someone else. The main characters are cute and a little stereotypical, up to a point, and the drawing style really matches the cutesy but surreal feel of the manga. What I loved most about this volume was that every chapter is different, either the cast members were different or the overall writing style was different. One chapter none of the characters said a single word, but the artist really captured the mood and what they were trying to express in each panel. Another chapter one of the main characters just kept coming up with different haikus and played a bystander, and later she kept getting distracted by accidentally making up different poems. Each chapter kept me on my toes and where the humor didn’t quite hit the mark for me the story made up for it; I definitely can’t wait to read the next volume!

 

Manga Review: Chi’s Sweet Home (part 1)

chis-sweet-home-part-1Details:

Title: The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home part 1 (vol.1-3)

Story by: Kanata Konami

Artist: Kanata Konami

Translation/Adaptation: Ed Chavez

Publisher: Vertical Comics

Published: July 28th, 2015

Pages: 480

Genre: Manga, Humor, Comedy

Synopsis:

Chi is a mischievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Separated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow, when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.

The complete Chi’s Sweet Home collects the first three volumes of this series and includes never before translated comics from Konami Kanata in a new trim size!

Rating:

5/5

This manga was really refreshing. The drawing is simple and fun, and everything is colored! Chi was adorable and her adventures never failed to make me smile. The comedy is very light, nothing crude or complex. You just read about the life of a young kitten with her new family and their experiences together.

Honestly, after reading part 1 of Chi’s Sweet Home I want a kitten. I have always been a cat person, and this story has done wonders for my current gloomy mood. Every chapter is rather short and has it’s own story, so they could be read separately. Overall, the story has a flow and the chapters are connected, but if you skip a chapter or read a head a little you won’t get lost.

If you love cats or need a simple, light-hearted pick-me-up, please read this manga. I read it after hearing about the death of Carrie Fisher (may she rest in peace) and it really did help with my mood. I couldn’t help but laugh and go ‘aw’ as Chi bumbled her way through her new surroundings and learned new lessons, which reminded me of the early years of my current cat. Even the human characters were well fleshed out and were fun to read about. The drawings, as I’ve said, are simple and remind me of Newspaper comic strips, and the coloring is so bright, bringing even more cheer to this comedy.