Free Comic Book Day was last Saturday. I’ve gone just about every year for the past six or seven years, and I have the same M.O. every year. I go in completely blind to what is available (i.e., I don’t look at the solicits in Previews) and plan on dropping at least a little money to further support my LCS. It’s been pretty fruitful in the past because I have put a couple of new books on my pull list as a result of the offerings and I’ve gotten my fair share of trade paperbacks and Pop! figures.
This year, though, I was a little anxious because of the embargo I’ve put on buying stuff for myself. The $5 trade bin has been one of my “homes” at the LCS for the past few years, and with the exception of a couple of books that were convention or eBay finds, I managed to get the Marvel Essentials that cover the X-Men from issue #1 (Lee/Kirby) to the end of Inferno, books I am slowly making my way through (I am now up to the first of the All-New, All-Different reprint books). Would it actually be possible for me to completely avoid those cheap trade bins, especially when it was not just a $5 trade, but 3/$10?
Based on the title of this post, you’ve probably figured out that the answer is no.
I did manage to avoid it at first. I took my son with me at around 2:00, after his soccer game had ended, and along with picking up our free comics, we bought four pop figures (they were buy one, get one free)–he got Spider-Gwen and a gold Black Panter, we pick up bearded Captain America for my wife, and I got Lex Luthor in his armored battle suit. But then Professor Alan and Em were passing through and we met up around 6:00 p.m., so I dropped $20 on six trades. Thankfully, I’ve read through all of them and can rate them right here and now, so my rule-breaking wasn’t completely for nothing (though I will be updating my tracking page to reflect it).
Here are the quick, one-paragraph reviews of all six. The rating for all of these will be keep, but I thought I’d offer up my opinion anyway.
The ‘Nam volume 3. This collects issues #21-30 of the series, which I already have and covered on “In Country”, so I didn’t actually read them. But I am going to collect these newer trades on the cheap so when I want to do a reread, I only have to go to my single issues for what absolutely isn’t available.
Voltron: The Sixth Pilot and Voltron: Year One. I find licensed property comics to be hit or miss, especially those licensed property comics that come from toys and cartoons that were on when I was a little kid. Sometimes, the writers try too hard to give you an “updated for now/more mature audience” look at it and it winds up being almost … I don’t know if tawdry or sleazy are the right adjectives, but there’s certainly something that feels wrong about some of them. Dynamite published these and I decided to take a chance on them. Voltron is something I enjoyed back when it was first on and while I haven’t seen the more recent cartoon on Netflix, I have fond memories of watching it in the second grade. These two trades are cinematic in feel and scope and were really fun to read through because of the way they play with the source material but never fail to give plenty of action. “The Sixth Pilot” is the first arc from what was then an ongoing series and relates the origin of Zarkon; “Year One” was a stand-alone miniseries that provides the origin of the Voltron Force (with Sven, pre-Arus/Allura). When I am at a convention or sometime next year, I am going to see if I can find the other trades in this series on the cheap.
The Vision, vol. 1. This was a Professor Alan recommendation and is the first volume of the Tom King-written Vision series from Marvel. I don’t know what year it was published (and probably could check but I’m too lazy to), but the story is that Vision has created a cyborg family for himself and they have moved to Northern Virginia to live while he works in Washington for the government. It quickly becomes a story about what happens when you don’t fit in with the “perfection” of suburbia and even tips into a little bit of psychological horror. I need to pick up future volumes because the story continues beyond what’s here.
Avengers Origin. I actually had half of this series in a longbox of Marvel comics that someone gave me for free years ago and that I have since sold/donated. I remember liking the issues that I had read and decided to grab the trade because it was cheap. It’s all right. We’re basically getting an extended retelling of the first meeting of the Avengers right around the time of issue #1 of the series. It’s got its moments and there are some classic looks of these characters in there, but I don’t think I would have paid full price for it. The Phil Noto art is gorgeous, though.
Sword of the Atom. Another Professor Alan recommendation (my friends are bad influences), this collects the four-issue miniseries from 1983 as well as three subsequent specials, two of which were pre-Crisis and one of which was post-Crisis. This is the series where Ray Palmer divorces Jean Loring and then winds up living among an alien race that has taken up residence in the Amazon Rainforest. It’s superheroes mixed with sword and sorcery with really dynamic art by Gil Kane and Pat Broderick. The Jan Strnad script has a lot packed into each issue but still moves along at a quick pace. If you see this, pick it up even if you don’t really care for The Atom. It was a pleasant surprise.
But what about the free stuff? Well, my LCS allows for a very generous 8 books on FCBD, so even if I didn’t buy anything, I still would have walked out with a nice-sized stack. Here is what I got and how I rank it in terms of its impact on my pull list.
The Essentials (“I have to pick this up because I’m already invested”)
Robotech (Titan). There’s a big storyline called “Event Horizon” that begins in issue #21 and this special was more or less the kickoff. I’ve really enjoyed this whole interpretation of the story (courtesy of Titan Comics) and am going to keep collecting. I’ve also been collecting their omnibus reprints of the old 1980s comics, have all of the Macross trades, and will soon be picking up their reprints of The Sentinels and beyond.
No Impact (“I’ll pass”)
Animosity Tales (Aftershock), Deadly Class (Image), Stranger Things (Dark Horse), and comics featured in Defend Comics (CBLDF). These were all entertaining for the most part, but even though I’ve read good things about Deadly Class and Aftershock’s Animosity, there are so many other independent books out there fighting for my attention that some of them were bound to not stick. I’m putting these in a “donate” pile (and if anyone reading this needs/wants them, please comment below or DM me on Twitter).
Added to the Pull List (“I want more”)
Captain Canuck (Chapterhouse), Ignited (H1/Humanoids), Midnight Sky (Scout). I own a few Captain Canuck issues that I fished out of cheap bins a while back and kept meaning to seek out some more, so when I saw this and read the story, I decided to give it a go. Midnight Sky looks like an interesting post-apocalyptic horror-tinged story about a world without sunlight, although I didn’t see it listed on the LCS’ site, so I will only add it to the pull list if I remember it. Ignited is a teen superhero story that takes the approach of having super powers manifesting following a school shooting. It’s something that is probably cause for controversy but the preview was interesting enough for me to give it a shot, and Mark Waid is involved, so that alone is worth the try.
What Wasn’t There (“I passed completely”)
Offerings from DC and Marvel. To be fair, Brett picked up at least one Marvel book and a couple of Star Wars books, so if I want to see what was there, I can borrow his. But I’m just not in the mood for anything DC is going to be putting out (except for the upcoming Lois Lane miniseries). I’m trying not to sound like a bitter old man because if you really like the current DC titles, then that’s your preference and it’s not bullshit to state a preference, but with the exception of Detective Comics #1000, I haven’t really bought any DC comics in a number of months. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now I’ve decided to find my joy elsewhere.
And that was Free Comic Book Day 2019. It was great to see my LCS (Atlas Comics in Charlottesville, Virginia) packed with people and great to spend time with friends and my son. Yes, I broke my rule, but since I immediately consumed what I bought, I’m going to call it a wash and say it was money well spent.