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Justin Ponsor

Free Comic Book Day 2018

For several years 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.  As an added bonus, I love getting a sneak peek of the titles, and this year I went a bit crazy and picked six. But…none of them wowed me, as I think last year’s selection was better.

Free Comic Book Day Vol 2018 Avengers

Now I know comics can’t always follow whats going on in the movies, but having two Avengers stories that don’t correlate with what many of us saw on the big screen is confusing. In the first story, Black Panther and Odin, Thor’s father, talk of a threat that has been hidden for a million years. We get flashbacks to six God’s from the past that must be ancestors to modern day superheros. It’s hopelessly muddled and doesn’t make sense at all. The second story about Captain America is penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and picks up where last year Hydra’s story ended. This second story has some possibilities.

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A lighthearted romp with Han and Chewie getting into a scrape and then out of it. Typical Han Solo antics but the character is drawn with a face that looks more like actor Alden Ehrenreich than Harrison Ford. A nice tie with the upcoming Solo movie, but it didn’t advance his story line at all.

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This version of Bond isn’t drawn to resemble any of the past cinematic Bonds, and that’s just as well, as not to muddle our perceptions of him. 007 is being sent out on a mission, and due to some new regulations will not have his gun on him while he travels. This issue is a prequel to a future story, and humanizes James as he prepares to leave on this new job. The story and the clean art seem promising.

Image result for free comic book day 2018 invasionI picked up this title thinking the cover looked pretty cool, before I realized it was a Captain Canuck story. I almost put it back down after that realization, but then I would have missed the awesomeness of Canadian Trudeau, American Trump and Russian Putin facing off against one another at a United Nations General Assembly. Trudeau is portrayed as the voice of reason (true in real life) while Trump especially gets a comical (also true to form) depiction. Go Captain Canuck- save our world from alien invasion!

Image result for free comic book day 2018 lady mechanika

I am not a fan of steam punk at all, but I picked the title up as I needed some female representation in my selections. This issue has two stories set three years apart, and is filled with the tired tropes of Mechanika having to find her origins, but as soon as she finds a clue, something prevents her from following it. This bionic female is sexualized with completely ridiculous outfits. Although the artwork is absolutely beautiful, I could not get past her comical vest that pushed out her breasts. Come on now. 

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This final story was a last minute grab for me, once I saw that it is an 80’s coming of age crime story, as I’m a sucker for that era! The opening story line appealed to me, as Diego works at a mob owned business, and (true story) I’m almost positive I worked at a clothing store that was a front for the mob when I was in high school. The plot then veers into cheesy 80’s movie territory with the story of a nerdy boy who wins over a hot girl. It was cute, but I don’t know where the continuing story will go. Also, the stylized cover doesn’t adequately represent the art inside, it’s completely different. I don’t like bait and switch.

So, I really question if I will continue with any of these stories. While I didn’t hate them, none grabbed my attention enough to make me rush out for future issues. Time will tell.

-Nancy

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Civil War II

Bendis, Brian Michael, David Marquez & Justin Ponsor.  Civil War II.  2017.

I truly do not know where to start on reviewing this book. My two favorite comic book authorities at Graham Crackers counseled me not to purchase this title, but I didn’t heed their warning. I should have listened!

When Civil War came out, it was an excellent story on moral responsibility, civil liberties and national security plus it tied in with current events such as the Patriot Act. This second story is all about profiling, which certainly is an issue right now with the world’s fight on terrorism, but is done so in such broad strokes as to lose it’s message.

Before I get started on the plot, I want to first say the artwork by Marquez and Ponsor is excellent, and actually is better quality than the first Civil War book. The coloring is rich, and the faces are realistic with the body types drawn more appropriately instead of unrealistic proportions than some artists do when they depict superheros. But there were some editing choices that puzzled me. There were some cool two page spreads, but some were used several times over. When the story was in issue format, they obviously liked some pictures enough to include them in different issues, but when collected into graphic novel form, they should have eliminated the redundancy. Plus, the front cover fell prey to a recurring Marvel problem – it doesn’t match the story. The wrong Spiderman costume was drawn in (Miles was in this book, not Peter), and Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy is shown on Iron Man’s side when he was actually on Captain Marvel’s side.

Quick plot recap with some spoilers: A new Inhuman, Ulysses, emerges with the ability to see into the future.  When he warns the Inhumans and Avengers that he saw a vision about the villain Thanos attacking, they are able to be proactive and are ready for him, thus thwarting a greater disaster. A hero dies, and Iron Man and Captain Marvel take different sides on whether Ulysses’s warnings are truly accurate, and if they should be used to prevent future crimes. Iron Man accuses Captain Marvel of profiling, while she feels it is more important to keep everyone safe no matter what it takes. Heroes take sides, and battles ensue. More deaths occur, with a showdown regarding how free will and one’s motives affect the possible threads of the future.

While there were some good moments with clever dialogue and the debate about the Hulk/Hawkeye issue, the rest of the book just seemed to be a hot mess.  A huge problem for me were the tie-in issues that were referenced to but not shown in this volume. I couldn’t possibly keep up with this whole merchandising “event” so I just read this novel, and was confused in spots. In the first Civil War, the X-Men sat out the battle, but in this second story everyone, and I mean everyone, showed up. The split X-Men team (a tie-in explained this, so I had no idea why half the members were with Storm and others followed Magneto), the Canadian Alpha Flight team, the Champions (young Avengers) and the flippin’ Guardians of the Galaxy showed up! What??!

But the biggest problem I had was with Captain Marvel, and her character assassination in this book. Almost all superhero movies revolve around men, with a few token women thrown in as eye candy, so the upcoming Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies are very important. Why would they then make her SO unlikable before her chance to shine in a movie????

Now, I am truly hoping some Marvel fans can explain these following questions to me:

When Ulysses was changed into an Inhuman, wasn’t another college student taken too? What happened to her?

What’s the deal with the dog Lockjaw? He got drawn in more than some human heroes, such as Squirrel Girl who I saw in one panel and never again.

Why were heroes on either team? There was no explanation as to why they choose their side.

Do the heroes that died in this story stay dead? Usually everyone comes back somehow and I don’t feel like reading other related issues to find out on my own.

Why is Hank McCoy now with the Inhumans?  I’m sure I’ll have more questions if I think longer on the plot, but I need to move on.

I’m disappointed that this story, which should tie in with upcoming Marvel movies, was just not any good. They did no favors to the franchise with how many of the characters were portrayed. A marketing line for the novel, “The Marvel comic event everyone will be talking about” proved true- but not for the reasons they had hoped.

-Nancy

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