Free Comic Book Day 2019
Gold Sponsor Comics
I continue reviewing this year’s Free Comic Book Day titles! Today, I showcase the Gold Sponsor comics… these are the twelve titles which all stores get. Many publishers will offer both Gold and Silver comics, using the Gold title to promote an event or launch a new series or graphic novel.
(W) Micol Ostow (A) Thomas Pitilli, Andre Szymanowicz (CA) Thomas Pitilli
See where it all begins in this brand-new story based on the smash-hit CW series, Riverdale! Micol Ostow (Riverdale: The Day Before) and Thomas Pitilli (Archie) bring fans into the world with a never-before-seen tale that presents all-new drama and intrigue set between episodes of the show! Plus, get a sneak peek at Scholastic’s original Riverdale novels coming soon to comic shops.
I don’t follow the TV series, so I’m a little lost here. There’s quite a bit of intrigue going on! There’s also a sneak peek at the upcoming Riverdale Student Handbook, which brings viewers up to speed. There’s also a prequel novel, Riverdale: The Day Before, the first three pages which are featured in this issue. The rest is house ads, for the ongoing series, as well as the “Afterlife” series. Recommended for fans of the show.
The perfect jumping-on point for the Whedonverse with all new stories from the worlds of BOOM! Studios’ hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly! First, Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his first mate Zoe Alleyne Washburne have a bond that was forged in blood during the war that shaped the ‘Verse, but when the awful secret at the core of that bond is finally revealed and they’re called to answer, the people who love them are left to pick up the pieces. And, there’s something evil lurking under Sunnydale High School, namely a gateway to a hell dimension that’s been foretold to destroy the world as we know it. Buffy and the gang have mostly got it under control… as long as there are no twists, turns, or misunderstood prophecies. Easy peasy!
No idea what’s really going on in these three stories, but I think they are either prequels/origins of key characters, or hints of things to come. Recommended for fans of either series (some of whom do not realize there are comics!).
Dark Horse Comics
(W) Jeff Lemire & Various (A) David Rubin, Ibrahim Moustafa (CA) Chun Lo
Tales from two diverse worlds! In Stranger Things, Eleven and the Demogorgon have disappeared from Hawkins, Indiana. Steve and Nancy try to cheer Mike up, encouraging him to get the adventuring party back together again. Then, in the world of the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer series, Madame Dragonfly takes the reader on an EC-style tour through her mysterious Cabin of Horrors to witness two groups of brand new heroes from the past!
…and here’s another media tie-in that kinda recaps the previous season, but doesn’t really tell much of a story. The Black Hammer backup story is interesting, especially that splash page!, and since it’s Jeff Lemire writing his own superhero universe, I’m willing to take a look at the trades. As stand-alone stories…meh.
When fifteen-year-old Selina Kyle becomes homeless, she must confront questions of who she is and who she will become. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Myracle (ttfn, ttyl) and artist Isaac Goodhart, comes a story about a teenage Catwoman as she struggles to find her own identity while living on the streets of Gotham City. This FCBD special edition features a chapter from DC Ink’s upcoming original graphic novel, UNDER THE MOON: A CATWOMAN TALE plus a sneak peek at TEEN TITANS: RAVEN, another DC Ink graphic novel by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo.
NOTE: This is the first time, in the 18 years of Free Comic Book Day, that DC has offered two titles which are aimed at kids! (The silver title is the highly recommended Dear Justice League. No zero issue event comic this year (although DC is offering a third ancillary title to promote such a thing).
This preview features a teen Selina Kyle, growing up in poverty, in a difficult household. The preview is for all audiences, but the book is aimed at 15+, so it will be as serious as most Young Adult novels. Bruce Wayne appears as a school friend, and we’re teased with an inciting incident almost as strong as the death of Wayne’s parents.
We also get a short preview of the upcoming Raven graphic novel. Raven can sense other people’s emotions, and the preview shows here beginning to ask some questions which will lead to some interesting answers? RECOMMENDED.
(W) Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman (A) Dave Wachter (CA) Dave Wachter
The road to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ 100th issue begins! New York City has just erupted into war as Splinter battles Karai for control of the Foot Clan with the Turtles caught in the middle! Find out how the Turtles got to this point as they battle some of their fiercest foes in this special FCBD offering!
A whole lotta back(hi)story… We do get a decent eight-page story up front, showcasing the main characters. But then, this old lady spends twelve pages recapping What Has Gone Before. IDW at least features a decent timeline of the many graphic novels and how they all fit together, so a new reader isn’t confused on what to read first, or next. [Has it really been 35 years of TMNT? I still have the five-part cartoon miniseries I taped off of WGN back then. I wonder where that VHS tape is…?)
(W) Rick Remender (A/CA) Wes Craig
It’s not Summer Break yet! FCBD fans will be treated with a special one-shot standalone Deadly Class story. Readers of the ongoing comic series by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, viewers excited about SYFY channel’s adaptation from Executive Producers the Russo Brothers (directors of Avengers: Infinity War), and new readers alike, will enjoy entering the world of King’s Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical.
At the very least, we get a complete story set in this series, where the students sneak out to see a band perform. It didn’t intrigue me, but it’s Rick Remender, so worth a look. It’s part of his “Giant Generator” imprint, and there’s a two-page ad in the back showcasing his many indie titles. There’s also a TV series, so some fans of that show might not be aware of the original series.
Free Comic Book Day 2019 is the perfect chance to dive deep into the Marvel Universe with new stories and exciting adventures alongside some of Marvel’s most acclaimed creators – and this year, Marvel is bringing you the biggest and boldest stories yet! FCBD AVENGERS #1 features a story by industry superstars Jason Aaron and Stefano Caselli that sets the stage of the main Avengers series just in time for Marvel’s highly anticipated movie Avengers: Endgame, while an all-new thrilling 10-page tale from Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato creates one of the most unique, dynamic, and deadly versions of the Avengers ever- the Savage Avengers!
[Rated: T by Marvel] Narrated by Iron Man, just after the War of the Realms event, we see various Avengers teams (and others) in various situations. It’s kinda like the comicbook equivalent of the credit cookies seen at the end of a MCU movie! It doesn’t make a whole heckuva lot of sense, but probably will when read next year, after all the current storylines are done and forgotten.
The backup story teases the upcoming Savage Avengers, which looks like a grim-and-gritty team straight out of the Nineties! Seriously…Wolverine, Conan [sic], the Punisher, Venom, Elektra, and Brother Voodoo. Presented in dark, neutral tones reminiscent of Alex Maleev’s Daredevil run. Me…I think it might work even better as a black-and-white comic, given the many shadows and textures.
If you’re a fan of Marvel, pick this up. It’s got some interesting ideas, probably best read as a trade collection.
(W) Jody Houser (A) Rachael Stott, Giorgia Sposito, Arianna Florean (CA) Enrica Eren Angiolini
Jump aboard the TARDIS with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and her companions on Free Comic Book Day! A perfect introduction to the hit new series from Eisner-nominated comics writer Jody Houser, where readers leap through time and space in fun, fast-paced adventures!
The Doctor and her (their?) guests spend the day at an amusement park, and cross paths with a rigged game of skill. Enjoyable, even if you don’t follow the show, but not my cuppa.
(W) Jason Muell (A/CA) Natsuki Minami
A full-color, manga-style graphic novel telling a brand-new story in the world of Disney Descendants, starring Dizzy, the granddaughter of Lady Tremaine, and featuring a host of Villain Kids from the Isle of the Lost! This is the first chapter of Disney Descendants: Dizzy’s New Fortune.
Lady Tremaine is the villain from Cinderella. Dizzy is the daughter of Drizella, the eldest daughter of Lady Tremaine and step-sister to Cinderella. Descendants deals with the offspring of the Disney villains, in the classic nature-versus-nurture debate. The artwork is clear and not too fancy, telling the story and getting the plot rolling. Fans of the TV movies will want to read this, and the concept is easy to explain to most people, who have seen the original movies.
(W) Tim Seeley, Brian Hurtt (A) Tomás Giorello, Juan José Ryp
Prepare yourself as the most ambitious moment in Valiant’s history launches forward with two original stories, exclusive to Free Comic Book Day 2019! Before Sony’s live-action Bloodshot blockbuster film takes movie theaters around the globe by storm in 2020, discover a breathtaking new tale of Valiant’s brutal one-man army from superstar writer Tim Seeley (Nightwing, Batman Eternal) and groundbreaking artist Tomás Giorello (X-O Manowar)! Then, the 41st century dawns anew with a pulse-pounding prologue to Fallen World, a shocking new event series starring Rai — the formidable protector of a future Earth — by acclaimed comic creator Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and incendiary artist Juan José Ryp (Britannia) that launches just days before Free Comic Book Day!
We get a peek into the next story arc of Bloodshot. Then there’s an eight-page story set in the 4001 AD storyline, centering on two religious pilgrims who journey to the ruins of New Japan, crashed upon the Earth. The artwork is excellent, not unlike something seen in Heavy Metal. The Valiant shared universe, full of heroes, seems to tell stories outside the typical superhero templates, so you might find something new and unusual.
(W) Donny Cates (A) Dylan Burnett (CA) Daniel Warren Johnson
Poli has a mech suit and a mission. Weep has machine guns and a temper. Together they lead a band of freedom fighters on a planet populated exclusively by blood-sucking vampires. A planet called Earth. Donny Cates (Venom, God Country) and Dylan Burnett (Cosmic Ghost Rider, X-Force) bring you neon-drenched, blood-soaked, all-out vampire warfare. #DeathBeforeUndead
So…climate change awoke vampires. The humans flee to the stars, nuking Earth as they retreat. Now the vampires have grown smarter, and have traced the path to their new home, Palus. So Palus sends a fighting machine to destroy the vampires, but meets up with a local human survivor, and the local vampire sheriff. An intriguing setup; like most science fiction comics, it will read better in trade.
(W) Ryo Takamisaki, Hidenori Kusaka (A) Ryo Takamisaki, Mato (CA) Mato, Ryo Takamisaki
Two tales from the world of Pokémon! Pokémon: I Choose You!: When Ash Ketchum oversleeps on his 10th birthday, he ends up with a stubborn Pikachu instead of the first partner Pokémon he wanted! But after a rocky start, Ash and Pikachu become close friends and true partners-and when they catch a rare glimpse of the Legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh in flight, they make plans to seek it out together. Pokémon Adventures: Red doesn’t just want to train Pokémon, he wants to be their friend too. Bulbasaur and Poliwhirl seem game. But independent Pikachu won’t be so easy to win over!
The first story teases the origin story of Ash and Pikachu. The second story sees Red visiting the professor’s lab and accidentally releasing numerous Pokémon, and beginning his training. Clear, easy-to-read storytelling. Both trades are available now.