Free Comic Book Day 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017 was Saturday May 6th, 2017. I went with a friend of mine and we arrived probably around 11:00 am. So there was a long line that wrapped around the corner. However, it was still an excellent event. There were cosplayers, and Vault of Midnight, my local comics shop, had their side walk activity area with vendors, artists, and kids activities. This year there was even a food truck! Once inside the store was less packed solid than last year – making it even easier to get to the free comics on the back wall as well as to look around the store for other items to purchase. This year we were allowed to choose four free promo books. I also picked-up my weekly pull list comics and inquired about a Doctor Who graphic novel that was missing from my collection. It is to the credit of the excellent staff at Vault of Midnight that even as busy as they were, they were still willing to check on a special order for me.

On to the comics, this year I picked-up four free comics, all tie-ins by chance. I picked up: Titan’s Four Doctors FCBD event issue; IDW’s Star Trek the Next Generation Mirror Broken; Archie Comics Betty and Veronica (a tie-in to Riverdale, somewhat), and DC’s Wonder Woman.

I’m going to start by discussing Wonder Woman. I picked this free promo comic up thinking it would be a tie-in to this Summer’s Wonder Woman movie. However, I was a bit disappointed because it’s actually a re-print of Wonder Woman Rebirth #1, which I have already read. In fact, Wonder Woman has been on my pull list since Rebirth started. Also, with two volumes of Wonder Woman Rebirth available in graphic novel format – it’s probably something that a lot of people have read since it’s included in the first Wonder Woman Rebirth Graphic Novel. That’s the negative. The positive is – I re-read the comic anyway and I really enjoyed it. As much as I enjoy Rebirth, and I do, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow have been the hardest lines for me to “get in to” so to speak. I finally dropped Green Arrow (I applaud the extremely brave social commentary of Green Arrow – but I found I couldn’t connect to Oliver and it always ended-up at the bottom of the stack when I was reading my books.) Wonder Woman is also teetering on the edge of being dropped from my pull – though I’d probably get the graphic novels instead. With two completely different storylines, Wonder Woman is really hard to follow month to month, especially if one isn’t that familiar with her storyline and background in the comics. But having said all that, I re-read this, the first issue of Wonder Woman Rebirth, and I found I really enjoyed it. Having read the bi-weekly book for about a year, I had a slightly better idea what was going on. If you haven’t read the new Wonder Woman, I do recommend it, I just feel the graphic novels are an easier format for enjoying the stories.

Betty and Veronica I picked up as a tie-in to Riverdale, the new series on the CW that’s based on Archie Comics. This story was fun, and full of surprises. It’s narrated by J. Farnsworth Wigglebottom III (a.k.a Hot Dog) Jughead’s dog. The dog speaks directly to the audience and is amusing and fun as he both narrates and comments on the action. Wigglebottom even “eats” two pages of the comic and then has Betty and Veronica giving exposition instead – in swimsuits. There’s a fair amount of humor in the book too. The story involves a national coffee chain buying out and closing down Pop’s the diner where the kids hang out. Betty is angered by this and rallies everyone to save Pop’s. When she discovers that Veronica’s father owns the coffee company, and the bank that holds Pop’s mortgage, Betty explodes at Veronica – and the issue ends there. The back of the book includes informative advertisements for Archie Comics, including the “new Archie”, and a Riverdale tie-in. There are also character portraits from Riverdale. Overall, I enjoyed this. The story is somewhat basic, one of the characters even comments that threats of Pop’s closing seem to happen a lot. But the breaking of the fourth wall, and the humor, make this an enjoyable read. Betty and Veronica and the other newer Archie comic books make for an excellent comic for teens and children, filled with Americana and a slightly old-fashioned bent.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken is a return trip to the Next Gen Mirror Universe. This story follows Lt. Barclay’s Mirror Universe double. I have always like Lt. Barclay and his Mirror Universe counterpart is tough, capable, and definitely shaped by the circumstances of his universe. In the Mirror universe, the Empire is breaking down, having suffered catastrophic wars with the Klingons and the Cardassians – Spock’s era of reform is over, resulting in an even more ruthless attitude within the Terran Empire – or what’s left of it. Assassination is still the only means of advancement, something we forget as we see Barclay contemplating getting out of engineering and into a “better” life. I liked the focus on a single character with basically a concluded story in this promo book. It’s also a good intro to the ST:TNG Mirror Universe comic, and the write-up for that series promises to be very character-focused, introducing a character per issue before any major plot. That’s the type of writing I like in comics – focus on character, and character interaction as well as world-building. The plots should always add to this. But when mere “action” takes over, without character being explored – the stories can fall flat. This issue of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Mirror Universe comic emphasizes character, and a relatively minor one at that (Barclay) and I enjoyed it. The last pages of the book explain three other available series from IDW, with three sample pages of each one. They are Star Trek – Boldly Go, which follows on from the reboot Star Trek films, taking place just after Star Trek Beyond. The second is Star Trek / Green Lantern. And the third is, Star Trek – Waypoint. Star Trek – Waypoint is an anthology series featuring all the various versions of Trek, though the sample issue seems to be set in a future version of Trek (Data has been uploaded to the Enterprise and is now the ship’s computer, though he projects holograms of himself to various duty stations.) all three of these series looked pretty good, and I actually plan on looking for a graphic novel version of the ST/GL crossover series. The art in this book (and the sample pages) is also very good, with a lovely painted look that’s has a dark undertone that’s appropriate for the Mirror universe. The color palettes for the sample pages fit the various versions of Trek they represent. If you are a Star Trek fan, check out IDW’s comic series – you won’t be disappointed, I think.

Doctor Who – The Promise (Four Doctors, FCBD 2017) begins, appropriately enough with teh Twelfth Doctor and Bill running on an alien planet. They find an ancient temple and enter, using YMCA as the visual key lock. The Doctor locates a fob watch, but it’s broken. He and Bill tell the local aliens a story and prevent a civil war. In the TARDIS, Bill asks the Doctor to tell her the real story and he tells her about his friend, Plex. The story flashes back to when the Ninth Doctor has to break the bad news to the hermit, Plex, that his entire planet has been destroyed. Plex then reveals to the Doctor he’s producing clones from his own stem cells and siphoned Time Lord Arton energy. The Tenth Doctor visits Plex when he dies, where he sees a hologram from his friend, who sends him to the planet of the clones. The Tenth Doctor has t “fixing” the overly deferential nature of the race of alien clones. The Eleventh Doctor awakens Plex, who becomes the leader of his re-united planet. Though as the Twelfth Doctor tells Bill, he’s afraid the society will break down again. This is a pretty good story, though it’s a bit hard to follow at times, since the different Doctors visit Plex at different times in his life – and nothing occurs in linear order. The back of the promo book includes a very handy catalog of Titan’s various Doctor Who graphic novels and specials. The art is excellent, and colorful in this book.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Supremacy of the Cybermen

  • Title: The Supremacy of the Cybermen
  • Authors: Cavan Scott and George Mann
  • Artists: Ivan Rodriguez, Walter Geovanni, Alessandro Vitti, Tazio Bettin, Nicola Righi, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: Multi-Doctor Specials (Doctor Who Comics Event)
  • Characters: Twelfth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Gabby Gonzalez, Cindy Wu, Alice Obiefune, Rose Tyler, Captain Jack Harkness, Jackie Tyler
  • Collection Date: 2017
  • Collected Issues: Issues # 1-5
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 3/25/2017

Supremacy of the Cybermen is the collection of the 2016 Doctor Who Comics event. It features the four modern Doctors and their companions in the main stories, plus cameos from every Doctor ever from Hartnell to John Hurt (the “War Doctor”). The story features Cybermen who have gotten a hold of time travel technology and are changing history. The Doctors, in various time periods know something is wrong but don’t know how to fight it. And, scarily enough, they are losing. From Cyber-Silurians in the Dinosaur Age, to Ace as a Cyber-person attacking the Seventh Doctor – this book is richly illustrated and quite depressing – until the very end.

It is the Twelfth Doctor who discovers that the Cybermen aren’t bent on attacking Gallifrey, but that Rassilon has forged an alliance with the Cybermen – giving them control of space/time and the Eye of Harmony (Gallifrey’s black hole that powers time travel) itself. The Doctor is justifiably angry at Rassilon and realises he is being duped by the Cybermen.

Rassilon is absorbed as pure regenerative energy, then the Doctor is also connected to the Eye of Harmony. Inside, the Doctor meets Rassilon and they must work together to overcome the Cybermen’s plot. But the Twelfth Doctor still remembers the disasters of the past – even after they are reversed.

I enjoyed this story very much, especially the cameos of the past Doctors. The artwork was particularly beautiful. And the story was very complex. Doctor Who Supremacy of the Cybermen is a story not to be missed by any Doctor Who fan. Highly recommended.

Book Review – Eleventh Doctor Vol. 4 – The Then and the Now

  • Title: The Then and the Now
  • Authors: Si Spurrier and Rob Williams
  • Artists: Simon Fraser, Warren Pleece, Gary Caldwell, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 11th Doctor
  • Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Alice Obiefune, The War Doctor, Abslom Daak
  • Collection Date: 2016
  • Collected Issues: Year 2, Issues # 1-5
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/30/2016

Titan Comics Doctor Who: The Then and the Now starts off it’s collection of the second year of their adventures of the Eleventh Doctor as played by Matt Smith on the BBC television series, and his companion Alice Obiefune. This story mentions the Time War and glimpses of the War Doctor (as portrayed by John Hurt) occur throughout the book. But I was expecting to see the Eleventh Doctor and the War Doctor meet – or at least a full flashback and that didn’t happen.

However, even though at times the story was confusing, and it ended on a cliffhanger, it was still a good book – exciting, with excellent characterization, and beautiful art.

This story also brings in Abslom Daak from Doctor Who Magazine and is used with permission. Daak’s a chainsaw (chain sword) wielding Dalek-killing mercenary – and an odd choice for a one-time companion.

I think this story will be interesting once it gets going, however, this particular story felt like a very confused beginning, and it had no end because of the cliff-hanger. I’m thinking that Year 2 for the Eleventh Doctor will be like Year One, in that it’s mostly a single story.

Update/Note: I have read volumes five and six, and volume six is reviewed on GoodReads; however, I want to post my reviews here on WordPress in order as much as possible. Therefore, I will re-read volume five and probably volume six as well and then post my reviews.

Book Review – Eleventh Doctor vol. 3 – Conversion

  • Title: Conversion
  • Authors: Al Ewing and Rob Williams
  • Artists: Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, Warren Pleece, Gary Caldwell, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 11th Doctor
  • Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Alice Obiefune
  • Collection Date: 2015
  • Collected Issues: Issues # 11-15
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/20/2015

I read this a few weeks ago, but never got around to writing a review because I was busy with other things. So here it goes, although the story is no longer fresh in my mind.

Doctor Who – Conversion is the third Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) graphic novel from Titan Comics. It features the companions original to the Titan Comics series of Eleventh Doctor adventures: Alice, Jones, and Arc. The artwork, as always for the Titan Comics Doctor Who graphic novels and comics is brilliantly good! The story promises to bring about a conclusion to the Serveyouinc storyline – and it seems to, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the villain of Titan’s 11th Doctor stories returns. The story also gives us more background to Arc’s origins – and start’s off where last issue’s backwards story ended (or started). And if you think that sounds confusing, much of the novel was very confusing as well. Also, Cybermen land in Roman Times during a Civil War, and the Doctor and his companions must prevent Earth’s history from being forever changed.

Overall, I felt this graphic novel was good, though not as good as the previous Eleventh Doctor volume, Serve You, though the two volumes are very inter-related.

I can highly recommend the Titan Comics series, though. Each set reflects the era it represents: the Tenth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor, and the Twelfth Doctor. This year (2016) they will be adding the Ninth Doctor, the Eighth Doctor and a special Fourth Doctor special.

Book Review – Eleventh Doctor Vol. 2 – Serve You

  • Title: Serve You
  • Authors: Al Ewing and Rob Williams
  • Artists: Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, Warren Pleece, Gary Caldwell, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 11th Doctor
  • Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Alice Obiefune
  • Collection Date: 2015
  • Collected Issues: Issues # 6-10
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/26/2015

The first story in Titan Comics 11th Doctor Doctor Who graphic novel, Serve You is presented in a very unique, confusing, but ultimately successful fashion: backwards. It opens with Alice and the Doctor lamenting the loss of Jones. The bottom panel is even marked, “The End”. But then the story leaps back in time. Every page or so is earlier than the previous one, and even the page numbers run backwards. This is disconcerting, but eventually the Doctor, who remains conscious through the time leaps, even if his “other body” has been knocked unconscious, explains what is happening. He’s able to save both Jones and Arc with help from Alice and defeat the Nimon who has gotten into the TARDIS. The Doctor even saves (and protects) the planet the Nimon had destroyed. Despite the initial confusion, the story works.

Chapter 7 and 8 tell the story of an eons-long space war that comes to Earth but doesn’t involve Earth. Never-the-less the Doctor and his companions become involved. It’s a good story and I liked Alice’s involvement. Bits of the story, without giving too much away, reminded me of Farscape (crossed with the film 2001).

Chapters 9 and 10 resolve the on-going Serveyouinc storyline from volume 1 of the Titan Comics 11th Doctor graphic novel series. I must admit, I found parts of it to be very confusing. I liked some parts and not others. Overall, I was a bit (just a bit) disappointed as to how the conflict which has been building through two graphic novels was resolved.

Still, overall Serve You is an excellent Doctor Who graphic novel. The art is gorgeous, as it has been for all the Titan Comics I’ve read so far (in the Doctor Who line). The stories really feel like episodes from the Matt Smith era, even though the Doctor has new companions. There is a slight young adult feel to the stories, but they are still quite enjoyable for adults. Both Serve You and the series of Doctor Who graphic novels are recommended.

Book Review – Eleventh Doctor Vol. 1 – After Life

  • Title: After Life
  • Authors: Al Ewing and Rob Williams
  • Artists: Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, Gary Caldwell, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 11th Doctor
  • Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Alice Obiefune
  • Collection Date: 2015
  • Collected Issues: Issues # 1-5
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/16/2015

After Life is the first collected volume in Titan Comics Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) Doctor Who series. The art is fantastic and I really loved it. It has a wonderful painted quality, with some pages looking like a watercolor with subtle differences in shading of essentially the same color palette such as grey or sepia; whereas other pages use bright colors, but not the traditional “comic” 4-color look. It’s truly excellent art. The panel order is also very clear, and the imagery is sharp and crisp not blurry or fuzzy.

The first story is this collection of five issues was my favorite, it introduces Alice Obiefune, who first loses her mother, whom she had been caring for, for years. Then she loses her job. Then her landlord throws her out of her apartment so he can sell the building at a profit for luxury apartment complexes. Also, when she reaches out to a friend she finds her friend is moving away. Alice, needless to say, is very sad and depressed. And she runs into a Rainbow Dog – an alien; and the Doctor. Alice helps the Doctor chase the Rainbow Dog, but then the Doctor sees a Time Lord Cardinal out of the corner of his eye, gets distracted, and runs into a light pole. Soon after he leaves Alice, and disappears. Alice returns to her apartment, determined to fight back and at least keep the apartment. Then the TARDIS arrives. Alice and the Doctor spend some time together, rescue the Rainbow Dog and reunite it with it’s child-alien owner. The Doctor takes Alice for a trip in the TARDIS.

The Doctor and Alice head for what the Doctor says is a beautiful place, an entire planet set aside as a System-Wide Park. A national trust or national park. But when they arrive, the planet’s been destroyed and turned into an amusement park. To make matters worse, everyone is deliriously happy – artificially so. The Doctor and Alice find the aliens responsible and put a stop to it, and free the citizens of the park and the planet with it’s waste mines and destruction. It was a good story, but told too quickly – it should have been two issues at least.

The third story ties in with the second one, in that the same “group” or villain is at the root of what’s going on, but the story is somewhat confusing and jumps back and forth in time a bit too much. It’s also a somewhat predictable story of the musician who makes a deal with the devil to get his talent. The only interesting bit is that the Doctor also makes some sort of deal – and although Alice and temporary companion John Jones manage to save the Doctor – he can’t remember what he was willing to sell his soul (so to speak) for. However, since we again see a glimpse of a Time Lord Cardinal, we can certainly guess. I just felt this story was both predictable and a bit flat.

The final two issues bound into this graphic novel are a single story. Characters from the previous two stories appear again, and the story is set on a deep space research station or base, where something has gone horribly wrong and a number of people are in comas as a result. The Doctor, and Alice find out eventually that the station was torturing an “Autonomous Reasoning Center” literally a walking mind. This mind doesn’t want to hurt people or even take revenge for being hurt – it simply wants to know – but it’s attempts at communication were painful or hurting others. The Doctor straightens it all out.

All four stories in volume one were good, but I felt the first story was the best. In a sense, this volume of the new Titan Comics Doctor Who graphic novels seemed to be aimed a bit more at younger children or at least at teens. But the stories are still good – just not mind-blowingly great. I have the second volume and look forward to reading it soon.

Doctor Who Four Doctors Event (Titan Comics) Review

The Four Doctors Event is a five-issue comic mini series written by Paul Cornell and published by Titan Comics. I know I first heard about this series from social media, I think on Twitter. Anyway, I was very excited about it because I really like Paul Cornell’s writing (Cornell writes the Shadow Police urban fantasy series, see reviews on my GoodReads page) – and I thought it was great to see him back to writing Doctor Who. Titan Comics is a new publisher for Doctor Who Comics and they definitely get Doctor Who. I’ve now read several of their graphic novels (collections of the soft cover series) and the art is always excellent, and the stories very much in the tone of New Who. Again, see my GoodReads page for specific reviews of the various titles I’ve read so far.

The art in the Four Doctors Event is excellent. The panels have a painted almost watercolor look, and the edges of figures are sharp and crisp. I like my comics art to be realistic and the panel order to be clear – and that’s precisely what the Titan Comics give me, including this series. But it’s also gorgeous and I really like the painted look.

Doctor Who has had multiple-Doctor stories before in both the Classic and New aired series, namely “The Three Doctors”, “The Five Doctors”, “The Two Doctors”, and the 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor”. These stories have been hit or miss – I loved “The Day of the Doctor”, and I enjoyed “The Three Doctors” but I felt the plot of “The Five Doctors” was more a series of cameo appearances than a good story and “The Two Doctors” was just too long and slow-moving. But the Four Doctors Event has a great story that takes advantage of several versions of the Doctor (the Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and briefly the War Doctor). There were several surprises in the story that I don’t want to spoil, so I won’t – but it is a good story and well-written.

The only disappointment I had was that The War Doctor (John Hurt’s character in “The Day of the Doctor”) only appears at the very beginning. I kept expecting him to return, but he didn’t. The Ninth Doctor also isn’t in the story, except a very brief cameo at the end – but the explanation for his absence is brilliant! Overall, this story was excellent and had the same feel as “The Day of the Doctor” without being quite so bonkers at times (No “little girl” Elizabeth the First this time around) but it also wasn’t as grim as some stories I’ve read by Cornell. Not that there’s anything wrong with grim, I like grim – at times; but this mini-series had just the right New Who attitude, so I enjoyed it very much.

I normally never buy things twice, but I plan to purchase the Graphic Novel version of this story when it becomes available in January 2016. This comics mini-series (and no doubt the graphic novel) is highly recommended.