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Cory Walker

Free Comic Book Day 2020

Free Comic Book Day had been scheduled for Saturday, May 2nd, and for very obvious reasons didn’t happen. I had brought FCBD to my previous library for several years and had big plans for my new library, but it had to be cancelled. With many of the issues already printed- what were the publishers and comic book stores to do? So, they decided to release the issues on a weekly basis from July 15th- September 9th. But I am resourceful and know that September 25th is National Comic Book Day, so my new library patrons will get comics after all on that day, albeit in a smaller outside the library (in a tent) event.

Here were some of my favorite issues this year, minus any DC comics that I had originally put in an order for since they pulled out of the event (boo, hiss!) since they no longer work with Diamond Comic Distributors.

Dark Ark: Instinct

This dark what-if tale was fascinating. Many of us have heard the biblical story of Noah and the ark saving people and animals for the future, but this tale speculates that a sorcerer Shrae builds an ark to save the unnatural animals. In this short story, a spider/human hybrid is about to give birth on the boat so her mate seeks nourishment for the forthcoming babies. But instinct takes over when she thinks she can not feed them and her mate discovers what she has done when he was briefly away and his actions doom them to extinction. The art was necessarily dark and sketchy with pink and red overtones. Cullen Bunn continues his excellent storytelling in this series.

X-Men/Dark Ages

The first story was about the X-Men with the second about the Avengers. I had no idea what was going on in the X-Men story although it had gorgeous art. Different universes, tarot cards, and ominous warnings were all I got out of it. The next story was centered around Tony Stark (whom I dislike) but at least I understood what was happening. When Iron Man’s powers are strictly based on technology, what happens when the world goes dark?

Spiderman/Venom

This issue contains two stories- the first about Spiderman and Black Cat and the second one being about Venom. In the first story, Peter and Felicia are battling it out with Vulture and working well as a team. The sexual tension is high and Peter questions what Felicity is up to, as she can’t always be trusted. In the next story, Eddie Brock is warning the Avengers team that the extremely dangerous villain Knull is readying to attack. His symbiote Venom is friendlier than I remember, and the two have to battle another villain, Virus. Both stories are good lead-ins to their respective future narratives.

Bloodshot, featuring X-O Manowar

The meh Bloodshot story was only a few pages long and didn’t even list the author and illustrator, although it did show Vin Diesel on the front cover as he will be portraying him in a future movie. I enjoyed the longer second story about X-O Manowar during his Viking childhood. It connected the mythology of his ancestors with his space-traveling future.

The Resistance

The evocative cover drew me in, and this story ended up being my favorite FCBD issue as it was a complete first issue of a new series, not just a taste like so many FCBD stories are. In fact, the narrative is eerily similar to what we are going through now, as a pandemic sweeps through the globe. In this tale, the pandemic is even more deadly, with a 95% fatality rate. But suddenly, the virus stops- as if a switch were turned off. The remaining world needs to regroup, with hints that there might be a mystical or otherworldly reason for what happened. The art is solid and was appropriately shadowy considering the storyline.

I also read Invincible by Robert Kirkman and The Boys by Garth Ennis, but they are simply reprints of their first issues to serve as lead-ins to new series on Prime Video that they wish to hype.

I appreciate that FCBD was not scrapped and adapted so readers could still pick up free issues. The comic book stores and publishers made the best of the situation with the unforeseen pandemic and DC pulling out of the event. It builds goodwill, drives people to comic book stores and thus increases sales at both the stores and for the publishers.

-Nancy

Invincible: Volume 1

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Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley & Bill Crabtree. Invincible. 2005.

How did I not know of this comic’s existence???!! I found it by complete accident, for no one told me about it, and I haven’t seen it reviewed by other bloggers recently. It is written by Robert Kirkman, and is still being published concurrently with his The Walking Dead series. Just my luck that as soon as I discover this awesome first volume, there was recently an announcement that the series will be wrapped up in the next year.

We first meet Mark Grayson, a young superhero, who is annoyed at having to save the world from doom. The storyline continues with a flashback to four months prior, when he discovers that his powers have finally kicked in. He knew he was destined to have powers, as he is the son of Nolan, aka Omni-Man, the most powerful and beloved superhero on Earth. He and his mom Debbie have always known of Nolan’s alien origins, but the public is unaware of his alter ego. The story continues with Mark adjusting to his new found powers, and how he balances becoming the new hero Invincible with school, fighting villains, pairing up with other young heroes in a team,  and girl issues. Later his world is turned upside down, with a twist that will surprise you, and his life changes forever with this new knowledge. This new development is a game changer and sets up endless stories for the future.

The artwork is fun, fresh and bold. There are lots of little details that made me laugh, especially the homage to the Justice League and to Star Trek TNG, and Mark’s love for Science Dog.  I even thought the font they used for the big sound effects with the interlocking double oo’s added to the whole feel. The mustache on Omni-Man was appealing (TMI- I am a sucker for mustaches. I look forward to November when my husband grows a mustache for the charity Movember) and it was amusing to see mustaches on all the men when he reminisced about his home planet.

I read the Ultimate Edition, and it had a lot of extras in the back. One feature that I found fascinating, was the behind the scenes scripts between Kirkman and Walker. Kirkman had the dialogue and layout planned with details such as how many panels should be on a page, sound effects, setting details such as the Grayson’s home layout, and facial expressions he wanted used. Also included were mock ups of the pages, possible publicity, character studies, and side notes by the creators.

This was an outstanding start to a series that has now been running for years. I’m glad I caught onto this sleeper hit before it comes to a close. Bravo to the team that created a whole world as rich as the DC and Marvel superhero universes. I will be back for more!

-Nancy

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