Comics on the Can: Free Comic Book Day 2017

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

In which  I reveal my thoughts about this year’s Free Comic Book Day books

Free comic book day

In where I celebrate the grandeur of the sequential art form by sitting on the potty, reading a story presented in the above mentioned format. I then wax poetic about the various virtues and failings of the story in question with possibly several humorous asides and the occasional off color joke. I also, occasionally, include pictures with whimsical captions for your entertainment. This modest endeavor started out connected to a gift presented to me on occasion of yet another trip I made around the sun; namely a box of comics I got for my birthday. The box sat idle, undisturbed for a fashion till one day, whilst relieving myself of waste product, I read one and communicated my musings upon the enterprise via social media. Now I do this petty, poop-related prattling on a semi-regular basis for a web based media site (which is most assuredly an elaborate ruse to snag the founders of the site what is referred to in the common vernacular as “swag”. Charlatans that they are.).

I have noticed as of late, though, that the method has evolved away from the original idea; no less than a half dozen of the most recent entries have not been from the birthday box. An issue of Black Panther still awaits perusal by my keen eye. Someday I shall read this recounting of the bold and exciting adventures of the king of the fictional country Wakanda.

But not this day…

This day I ruminate on shit I got a month ago. This day I reveal my thoughts about Free Comic Book Day books.

Free Comic Book Day is, ostensibly, a loosely agreed upon national (?) event where you can go to your local comic store and get free comics. It’s a good idea if your local comic store knows how to capitalize on the event. As you no doubt noticed you can find a wide variety of material to take home for free and shortly thereafter forget about.

Here are the different types of books in Free Comic Book Day:
Type 1 – Advertising book – Marvel and DC mostly. A company touts their upcoming giant multi-title crossover event of the season (Hey look it’s Deadpool buying a chimichanga while Fin-Fang-Foom wrecks downtown!). A few out of context pages from the event and background info that you already knew.
Type 2 – Sample book – some companies use the opportunity to grab you with a great title you might not otherwise try because you’re spending all your dough on a Marvel or DC multi-title crossover event (Batman and the Flash somehow come across the Comedian’s blood spattered button in an effort to merge the Watchmen universe with the DC universe!).
Type 3 – Short story book – Even other titles use the unique platform to tell a bonus story connected to but not entirely necessary to a title.
Type 4 – Short story version 2 – Still other titles use the compressed format to show off what you can expect from your next favorite title in a short.

I got pretty much an example of each except for the Marvel/DC advertising book because I no longer have a parakeet cage to line.

Rick and Morty (Oni Press) – (Types 1-4). I am a HUGE Rick and Morty fan but, curiously, I’ve have only given the comic series a passing glance. Perhaps because if I read the comic it would be too much of a good thing (though I don’t share that philosophy for cheeseburgers or porn). Maybe because I object to the over commercialization of beloved characters:

Free comic book day

Yes, I have Son of Zorn pops too! Shut up!

Nope, not that either! It’s probably because I think that nobody except Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland could really capture the bleak, funny, nihilistic genius of the TV show. Though with the Free Comic Book Day story “The wubba lubba dub dub of Wall Street” comes relatively close. Zac Gorman has the rhythm of the dialogue down pretty solid. Same with the dynamic between Rick and Morty and the rest of the family. Jerry wants Morty to get a job, Rick says jobs are for suckers and sets out to prove it. Rick has a device which can game the galactic stock market; he needs Morty to proxy for him. They get insanely rich. The problem is that the device merges timelines to make the stock picks successful. Which means, as Rick tells a now rich and arrogant Morty, that multiple timelines were destroyed! A lot of blood on both their hands. Of course Rick only did all this as a middle finger to Jerry in the first place. That grim little detail turns a standard little yarn into a Rick and Morty story. The story ends with Rick and Morty being taken away by the Time police and since the story has a “Part one” attached it qualifies as a lead in to a larger story. The back-up story is an odd little sample from the limited series “Pocket like you stole it” which is a story inspired by the smartphone game “Pocket Mortys” which is itself a send-up of Pokemon. I’m not sure what to think since I deleted Pocket Mortys after about two weeks of obsessive play for my own mental health.

STAR TREK TNG MIRROR BROKEN (IDW) – (Type 3) As a lead in to the first ever STNG mirror universe story the minds behind most every Star Trek crossover (Star Trek/Doctor Who, Star Trek/Planet of the Apes, Star Trek/Green Lantern and coming soon Star Trek/Warner Brothers shared universe, Star Trek/Extreme Chef challenge and Star Trek/Die Hard) Dave and Scott Tipton and J.K. Woodward do what one of these lead-in stories should do; enrich the main story but not be essential to understanding it. This story comes from the perspective of Lt. Barclay; a nebbish but engaging character in the regular STNG universe… a full blown sociopath in the mirror universe. Judgmentally a bad guy except that being a sociopath is an advantage in this world. So… protagonist is better. The story moves Barclay around the Imperial starship Stargazer encountering most of the mirror universe versions of the regular STNG crew including Borg Data, Vamp Troi and sleeveless Hot Picard. Oh and naturally (and inevitably) dead Yar. You get the lay of the mirror universe, the dynamic of how the crew works and a taste of what the Tipton/Woodward braintrust have in store. Woodward not only nails the likeness of the actors (Dwight Schultz’s Barclay is not only dead on but utterly chilling in mirror universe form) but fills his panels with details that only a serious fan (which JK is) would catch . There is not a wasted or dull moment in this book. Of course If you didn’t get your hands on it the story will most likely show up next in the trade of the main STNG mirror universe story (my guess).

The Ballad of Franklin Bonisteel (Z2comics) – (type 4, possibly 3). Hard boiled, hard drinking, hard…piano playing… Pete Reyes; session musician/reluctant detective. Writer Gabe Soria hits all the right LA detective beats. Pete is hired by a Phil Spector whack-a-doodle type (the eponymous Frank Bonisteel) on the hunt for the current big thing on the charts because of money owed. Pete brings along his friends; a Cabaret style lesbian, Marguerite and fellow session player Simon “Papa Legba” through a night of seedy LA watering holes, drug dealers and posh homes on bad boy drive. Pete seems relatively unconcerned about Phil Spector wanna be’s murderous intent but hey, a guy’s gotta make the rent. The Free Comic Book Day story unspools with a good deal of atmosphere; artist Warren Pleece communicates the feeling of smoky, noir-ish, sun baked/sodium vapor scarred LA in just black and white. And a judicious dusting of humor. The song that Bonisteel thinks was stolen from him keeps popping up on radios and jukeboxes across the night sending him into murderous fits of rage. The story has a happy ending in the sense that nobody ends up dead and Pete gets paid. Which counts as a win for a hard boiled gumshoe working the harsh streets of LA. It’s easier than you might think to screw up a pulpy genre potboiler like this. Fortunately Soria and Pleece got it right by paying attention to the details and creating interesting characters.

Finally I Hate Image (Image) – (Type 2-4) – Skottie Young might be best known for his adorable, clever and funny Marvel covers but there is a twisted dude beneath all that cartoony character design. His Image book “I Hate Fairyland” about ten year old axe wielding Gertrude pretty much exemplifies how one person with a wacom tablet and a warped bloody sense of humor can push boundaries. With all the glee of a sugar rushed child with a box of half broken toys Young has Gertrude slaughter her way across… The land of Image? Gert is searching for “The Partners” so she can get back home and, to paraphrase Tequila from Hard Boiled “Woe betide anyone who gets in her way.” Or basically just anyone for that matter. What follows is kind of a sampler book for Image’s line: Saga, Walking Dead, Chew, Black Science, Savage Dragon and Spawn among others with the dubious honor of getting hacked to pieces or ass kicked by Gert. This is great demented fun; like Wizard of Oz on bathsalts. Gert finally chops her way to The Partners and proceeds to slaughter them too totally borking her chances of getting home again. Sure there are some in-jokes but they don’t get in the way of the real jokes like starting a fight in a disco full of ‘roided up super jerks by yelling “The nineties sucked!” or Gert pushing a black and white Rick Grimes into a sea of zombies. You can hear Skottie Young cackling with glee and it’s so over the top you’ll most likely do the same thing. I know I did. So now I think I need to catch up on “I hate Fairyland”.

So did Free Comic Book Day achieve its intended goal? Well I was already a regular customer but I did add STNG Broken Mirror to my pull list and as soon as I can figure out if I want “I Hate Fairyland” more for me than warping my daughter further I’ll be getting that. Also Gabe Soria and Warren Pleece are gonna be worth looking out for in the near future.

Hopefully new people came into comic stores and discovered that comics aren’t just muscle bound freaks punching one another through walls. Hopefully regular customers found something new they’re willing to take a chance on and skip that Thunderbolts – Taskmaster: Dark Empire one shot for the two Deadpool panels.

If you could only remember where you put that damn bag down!


Merging the DC and Watchmen universes is just the first step in a total Warner Brothers shared universe! Soon Bugs Bunny, Chris Nolan universe Batman, Harry Potter, Fred Flintstone, Tim Burton universe Batman, Samurai Jack, Batman The Animated series universe Batman, 3000 miles to Graceland, Sucker Punch, The Lego Movie universe Batman, The Matrix and Dirty Harry will all team up in a yet another Avengers style multi-platform exploiting big budget summer tentpole movie. Suck on that Universal!

Dark Universe; a shared universe of Universal monsters is coming with The Mummy being the launch pad. Unless it bombs. Probably not, the movie does have Tom Cruise running. That usually works for Box office.

Russell Crowe is Dr. Jeckyll in the Mummy movie. It’s revealed that the secret formula to turn Crowe into a raging monster is called whisky.


Yes, I said @#$!-ING that’s how serious I am!

I might consider getting into the Rick and Morty comic book. The Free Comic Book Day issue moved me a bit closer to that decision.

Sadly my Parakeet, Darth Vader, escaped about eighteen month ago. I’d like to think that it came to unite disparate parakeet tribes against the evil cat Mr. Tibbles and lived happily ever after. Odds are DV became owl food.

JK illustrated the characters and ships of the mirror universe for the Paramount commissioned “style guide”. Which means just about any future mirror universe stories in any form will draw on JK’s work. Bitchin!

Hot Picard, Hot Kellus, hopefully this doesn’t devolve into Hot Super Mario.

Z2 comics has a free music track from The Murder Ballads OST by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) and Robert Finley (a grizzled bluesman) At

Gert: (To Saga’s The Will) sorry for crashing your garlic ship and kinda killing you.
Lying Cat: lyyyyyyyyying!

Odds are that bag of free comics is under that pile of Ikea catalogs and pennysaver adverts on the hallway table. Go check you lazy bastard!

NEXT: I have to keep putting off Black Panther to beat Big Trouble in Little China’s record (about two years) but who knows, maybe Black Panther.

LATER: Maybe an issue of STNG Broken Mirror but I’ve been liking it so it won’t be funny.

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