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Free Comic Book Day 2019

For the fifth year in a row, I have brought Free Comic Book Day to my library. I pick up a good selection of titles from my favorite comic book store, Graham Crackers, and offer them to the library patrons when they come in. I also had some Star Wars and superhero crafts available for kids to do as well. I know, I know…I’m pretty awesome to offer such epicness to my library community, and this year we had the biggest crowd yet. As an added bonus, I love getting a sneak peek of the titles, and this year I choose seven.

Hope proved to be my favorite of the seven stories I picked up. It introduced the story about Julie, a mother who is secretly an Ultra and keeping her secret hero identity even from her husband and daughter. When a car accident with her family reveals her secret, Julie’s life is upended and her daughter is taken from her. This was strong introduction with very promising story lines, in addition to the bright clean art. Perhaps because I am a mom myself, I could imagine myself in her shoes (plus who doesn’t wonder what they’d do if they unexpectedly obtained super powers).

As soon as I saw a pug on the front cover, I knew immediately that Mike Norton of Revival fame was the illustrator, so this was a must read for me. This story is mash up of two existing comics- Grumble, with a physic and wisecracking pug, plus The Goon, a muscled fighter of supernatural creatures. It was odd pairing of characters, definitely more geared for existing fans of either series vs a new reader like myself. At the end there was a reprint of the story Hillbilly.

My Favorite Things Is Monsters took the comic world by storm and for good reason: the author/illustrator Emil Ferris is crazy talented. In this comic three vignettes are offered- one that describes Ferris’s path to publication, a short about Karen and her brother Deeze talking to neighbors and a how-to-draw-a-monster segment.

In this issue we get a small, touching scene between Nancy and Steve, as Nancy is concerned her little brother Mike is not coping well after their monstrous adventures. They try to draw him out by encouraging him to return to his involvement with his role playing games. There is an additional Black Hammer story afterwards, which introduced me to Madame Dragonfly.

This issue had a few Marvel stories in them, and like I said after reading last year’s FCBD issue, it can be hard for someone who is mostly a fan through the movies to connect with these stories that vary in author voice, illustration style and time period. The first story had some heroes that I don’t usually associate with the Avengers, such as Ghost Rider and Blade, so that was amusing at one level. The second story, The Savage Avengers, had a much grittier vibe and featured Wolverine.

This issue contains two stories- one about Venom and his reemergence, and the second one is a light hearted romp between original Spider-Man Peter and the younger Miles. The first story is very dark and violent, so I found it interesting that they paired it with the next story that was all about the two Spideys arguing over pizza and could be read by a younger demographic than the first story.

Blood Shot gets yet another revamp, this time under author Tim Seeley. I read Bloodshot: Salvation for the first time last year, and was intrigued by this soldier of fortune, who would just like to be free of the shadowy agency Project Rising Spirit and the super powers he had forced on him that transform him. In this story, he saves a scientist from a dangerous cult and it serves as a prequel to the upcoming series.

All in all, I felt I picked up some strong titles. I was most intrigued with Hope, and liked the peeks into Stranger Things and My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. The others were good reading, but the free issues won’t make me pursue the series.

-Nancy

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Bloodshot Salvation: The Book of Revenge

So…there’s a lot of blood in Bloodshot. Who woulda’ thunk it?

Having read virtually no Valiant titles except for Faith:Hollywood and Vine, I only had a passing recognition of Bloodshot, but no real understanding of who he was or his backstory. I picked up this digital copy because Jeff Lemire (who must be an android and not sleep because his output of titles is amazing) is the author and I’m a sucker for a good revenge story.

Bloodshot aka Ray Garrison is a former soldier who worked for the shadowy Project Rising Spirit, and whose nanites in his bloodstream could transform him into a killing machine with healing powers (shades of Wolverine from Marvel). His memory has been wiped several times, but he has escaped from the decommissioned PRS in the previous Reborn series, and has established a family with his girlfriend Magic. They have a baby daughter who seems to be perfectly healthy and free of Ray’s powers.

It’s all too good to be true, and frankly Ray decides to f**k everything up by going after Magic’s father who is a cult leader and has been harassing her to rejoin his compound. Plans go sideways, his daughter Jessie gets sick and PRS gets new funding and doesn’t want any former soldiers on the loose. There are time jumps, transfigurations and many many deaths. Then there is the required twist and cliff hanger to make you come back for future volumes.

The artwork is excellent, with a gritty realism and a subdued color palate. The artists are very fond of exploding eyeballs and showcasing gore. But I do have a complaint: the front cover is misleading. It shows Jessie as a young girl with the trademark white skin next to her father. This scene did not happen, and in fact, Jessie has not seen her Dad in years at this point. While I assume they will be reuniting in the next volume, this cover was very inaccurate.

I’m glad I had a chance to read this title through NetGalley, as Vin Diesel is signed on to portray Bloodshot in a movie adaptation, and now I have a passing understanding of the Bloodshot saga. I’m rooting for Ray’s family to have a happy ending, but we all know it won’t come easy.

-Nancy

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