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Jody Houser

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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Faith: Hollywood & Vine

Faith is a kick ass heroine! Not your typical scantily clad model type superhero chick, she transcends that stereotype and it becomes a non-issue.

Faith Herbert aka Zephyr has actually been around in comics as part of the Harbinger Renegades through Valiant Comics since 1992. I was unaware of this series, as I have read almost nothing from Valiant. But a year ago, Faith was given her own stand alone series, and I took notice. Faith is a psiot,  a sub-species of humans that have evolved psychic/mind-based powers, and she also can fly as she is light as a feather. As such, I love the front cover, that juxtaposes the imagery of a large person being able to sit on phone wires, to showcase one of her powers.

This first volume tries to catch you up a bit on Faith and why she left the Harbinger team. It seems as if a romantic break up with one of the members and the fallout from an especially difficult mission has her wanting to spread her wings. She takes on a secret identity of Summer Smith to safeguard her Zephyr persona, and goes to work at a gossip magazine as a journalist. Sporting a red wig, she tries to balance being a working woman with deadlines and bills with making new friends, and just possibly starting a new romance.

She is more than willing to remain a super hero, and takes on a ring of dog nappers, along with aliens bent on world domination. All of this is done with a practicality, showing Faith as a real woman with issues and fantasy crushes. In fact, I love when she fantasies, for the art shifts to show the difference between her reality and her fantasy. Artist Francis Portela draws Faith in her real world, while Marguerite Sauvage takes over for the fantasy segments. I love this, for it shows while Faith may be fantasizing, and the art changes to a pastel hue with a more cutesy rendition of her, Faith doesn’t alter her appearance drastically (aka- her weight) even in her dreams. She is who she is, and is proud of her look. In fact, the artists make sure she is drawn wearing trendy clothes, no trying to camouflage who she is. I love that!

This is a solid start to a new series, and I’m glad that Valiant choose Faith to showcase. She is a worthy adversary of any super villain, with promising future story lines. She is positive role model to girls, on top of all that. You go girl!

-Nancy

Houser, Jody & Francis Portela & Marguerite Sauvage. Faith: Hollywood & Vine. 2016.

 

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