Weekend Shorts: Free Comic Book Day

2015-05-25 13.35.14If you didn’t know already, Free Comic Book Day was on May 2nd, and there were many many many free comics to be had! If you missed it, don’t worry, they’ll do it all again next year, on the first Saturday of May, and you’ll be ready to go this time!

I stopped into my comic shop pretty late because that weekend was busy as all get out, so some of the comics I was interested in were gone already. The guy handing out the freebies asked which three I wanted, and I said “Doctor Who, please, and Terrible Lizard, and whatever you think I should be reading,” which is how I ended up with those two and also Secret Wars #0. What did I think? Let’s find out!

Secret Wars #0, by Jonathan Hickman and Paul Renaud
I wish one of the regular counter people had been on free comic book duty that day; maybe I would have gotten something I actually liked as my surprise comic. But alas. I mentioned that I don’t know much about Marvel characters in general in my failed all-lady X-Men quest, so maybe reading the zeroth issue of a huge Marvel crossover event was not my smartest move. It opens with the seemingly young daughter of Mister Fantastic (so… he has a kid, apparently?) yelling at a bunch of people wearing numbers (she has a 6, so… numbers are a thing?) about how they need to get their rears in gear and build a ship. Then there’s some exposition about, like, universes colliding and heroes fighting each other. Then there’s a big panel with lots of heroes who can all apparently fly getting ready to fight each other. Soooooooooo that’s cool? I guess? I am not the target audience for this comic series, that is for sure.

In the second half of the… issue? Book? Set of pages stapled together?… there is a story in which The Avengers meet the Titans from Attack on Titan, a manga property I also know nothing about except that I have ordered it for my library because the teens want it. So there are weird giant creepy dudes and a bunch of Avengers whaling on them because that’s what they do, I guess. Hooray? Whatever, I’m sure when I throw this issue in the library prize box it’ll be gone in seconds.

Doctor Who, Free Comic Book Day Edition, by Nick Abadzis and Eleonora Carlini; George Mann and Mariano Laclaustra; and Al Ewing, Rob Williams, and Simon Fraser
That’s a lot of creators, because this is a compilation of three stories from three different Doctor Who runs with three different Doctors: Ten, Eleven, and Twelve.

I’ve been a little down on Doctor Who as of late, largely because I am not a fan of Clara, so when this book opened with a story more or less about Clara I was like, ugggggh. She and Twelve venture to a world made of quartz where bad things are happening and Clara has an existential crisis and then saves the day. Probably. The second story, with Eleven, is a sort of cute play on Free Comic Book Day wherein some alien being hijacks the giving away of free books to force people to read his book and there are some terrible jokes about reading and authors in there. The last story, with Ten, is probably the best of the bunch. In it, he and his companion throw their muddy clothes in the laundry and then the mud becomes sentient. Ish. It’s short and to the point and still gets in some cute original run jokes, so it wins in my book. And now I’m feeling a hankering to go watch some Donna episodes. I miss Donna.

Terrible Lizard, by Cullen Bunn and Drew Moss
This one I read first of my stash and loved absolutely the most. It opens with a couple of full-page, color-saturated illustrations of a city under attack by strange creature, and then pops back a week to a teenage girl kicking back and eating cereal. As you do. Said girl, Jess, gives us some backstory on the military or military-adjacent research lab her dad works for, and then she literally skateboards into it just in time (ha) for a freak time accident that brings her face-to-face with a very very large dinosaur. The T-Rex is dealt with in a not really unexpected way, but then at the end it turns out that there’s more to this event than meets the eye. I loved the artwork and the story in this issue, and I will definitely be putting the trades on my library order.

Did you get any better comics on Free Comic Book Day? Let me know!

Books with Pictures: The Raven Girl and The Hypothetical Gentleman

I don’t have deep thoughts about either of these books, but I figured I’d let you know that they exist and are pretty cool!

Raven GirlThe Raven Girl, by Audrey Niffenegger
It is a true fact that I will read basically anything that Ms. Niffenegger publishes, because even when it’s weird it’s usually pretty good.

Well, this is very very weird.

In this story, which is meant to be a sort of modern-day fairy tale (and is in fact shelved in the fairy tales section of my library), a postman and a raven fall in love and somehow (NOT ASKING) produce a part-human, part-raven child whose mother says she is lucky to look human, even if she can only speak in raven, but who does not actually believe that. Our raven girl wants to be a raven, and will do whatever is necessary to make that happen even if society (in the form of a classmate) objects.

There’s a pretty sweet and easy moral to the story — that we all need to be who we are inside no matter who we are on the outside — but this fairy tale is decidedly more Grimm than Disney, especially with the modern-day attempt to become a raven that I still totally agree with the classmate about (well, if our girl were a human, anyway). It’s got pretty pictures and is a quick read, so I’d say if you can get your hands on a library copy you should pick it up.

Rating: 7/10

Doctor Who, Vol. 1Doctor Who, Vol. 1: The Hypothetical Gentleman
So I had thought that this would be one long story like the other Doctor Who comic book I picked up at the same time from the library, but as I figured out, say, halfway through, it’s actually two separate stories. So the first story disappointed me a bit in ending much sooner than I had expected, but I’m not sure I can actually fault the story for that.

In this first and titular story, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory go to hang out at the Great Exhibition, but when they arrive they meet with a strange football, a stranger machine, and a couple of possible clairvoyants. When the machine starts freezing people (including the ever-unlucky Rory) in time, the Doctor puts on his investigating face but (spoilers!) is frustrated in his attempts to figure out what is going on. I am frustrated also.

In the second story, called “The Doctor and the Nurse,” Amy decides that Rory and the Doctor need to have some bonding time, so she drops them off at a pub and goes off to explore on her own. The Doctor says to heck with that and attempts to skip himself and Rory ahead to the end of the evening but of course does not get there as planned. Meanwhile, Amy finds herself following an operative of the Silence and then minimizing the death toll of the London Beer Flood that said operative caused.

I’m not sure how these stories fit into the comic series overall; it seems that the series is full of short two-issue stories but I have no idea if they’re supposed to stand alone or not. As stand-alones, I found them amusing but not terribly good or exciting, though I did notice a running thread of “The Doctor does a lot of unnecessary things” that would be interesting to delve into in more detail, so maybe that’s a thing? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out someday?

Rating: 7/10

Doctor Who: The Forgotten, by Tony Lee

Doctor Who: The ForgottenSo I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before (oh, right, briefly), but I like me some Doctor Who. I’m not as obsessive about it as some I know, but I’m always game to watch the new episodes or some of the older episodes that I hear are more modern in style, and I might possibly own a TARDIS coffee mug even though I don’t drink coffee. So when I found a couple of Doctor Who comic collections (this one and one other to be read later) on the shelf waiting to be cataloged, I figured I’d give them a go.

Well, actually, I almost didn’t give this one a go because I opened it up and saw Martha, my least favorite companion, and she wasn’t even written like the Martha of the television show and I was like, great, a lame companion and a lame writer? So I gave up after five pages. But then my husband, who shares my appreciation of the show, read it and told me that the writing was not, in fact, lame and that Martha was not really a major part of the story, and I was like, okay, let’s do this.

The story opens with Martha and The Doctor hanging out in a The Doctor Museum that is at first cool, and then kind of creepy when they note that no one else is around. The focus of the museum is a room containing the costumes and notable objects of the first nine Doctors, and when the Doctor suddenly loses his memory due to villainous interference, he uses the objects to remember stories of his past lives and thus remember himself or such-like. There are lots of adventures with lots of different companions, some happiness and some sadness, and of course lots of Doctors saving the day.

It’s not the greatest frame story, and the little mini-stories with the different Doctors are pretty quick and sometimes a little confusing without the context of a specific Doctor’s general escapades. However, being a primarily new-series Doctor Who watcher I appreciated the chance to find out more about all those Doctors I’ve missed and hang out again with those I haven’t seen in a while. I also really appreciated the writer’s notes at the end detailing how the project came about and how it had to change quite a bit between conception and execution, like a little commentary track for the book (how I love those!).

Recommendation: If you like Doctor Who and you want a chance to visit or revisit some past Doctors, you’ll have a fine time with this book, but I probably wouldn’t seek it out again.

Rating: 7/10