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I Wanna Be Free: Graeme looks at some FCBD books ahead of this weekend…

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the calendar, this upcoming Saturday is Free Comic Book Day – that 24-hour period when publishers try to convince you to pay money for their wares in the future by employing the popular drug-pusher credo of the “first one,” if you will, being “free”. There’re a ridiculous amount of books coming out this year; enough for me to spend today and tomorrow looking through what’s going to be awaiting you for zero dollars this weekend, and even then I haven’t seen everything that’s going to be available. Let’s do the superhero ones first, shall we?

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: This is the strangest of the books released; It’s incredibly old-school, with Dan Slott using a traditional Spider-Man plot (I want to be there for Aunt May – but my life as Spider-Man gets in the way!) and even using thought balloons, but with a pretty massive unexplained character appearance – You’ll know it when you see it – that begs for follow-up elsewhere. If the rumors are true, and Slott is soon to take over Amazing, then is this a flash-forward to Spider-Man, post “One More Day” (which gets trailed at the back of the book, and is such a buzzkill as to harsh my mellow from the Slott/Phil Jiminez strip; when did Quesada’s art get so ugly?), and does that mean that we’re heading to some kind of reset button about to be pushed…? Good, if confusing…

THE ASTONISHING WOLF-MAN #1: Everything about Robert Kirkman’s new series, from the title down to the slick-but-dull writing screams minor 1970s Marvel… Shame that the artwork, doesn’t follow suit – It somehow manages to be stylized and yet unstylish at the same time (Think a blockier, less refined, Cory Walker). There’s nothing about this Okay first issue that makes me want to actually pay money for the second issue, but it’s fine enough. The previews at the back, for Top Cow’s First Born event and the new-look Spawn, aren’t particularly enticing, either…

LIBERTY COMICS #0: Heroic Publishing deserves praise for standing up to Marvel’s attempt to use their Champions trademark, but not so much praise for this anthology spotlighting their pretty-generic female Captain America in pretty-generic Captain America-lite WWII stories. All of the stories trade on a weirdly idealized version of what WWII must’ve been like, right down to the bizarre “Japanese Internment Camps aren’t that bad really” feature. Eh.

MARVEL ADVENTURES: IRON MAN/HULK: Marvel’s kid-offering for the day hypes up their two upcoming launches, Iron Man and Hulk. Neither strip comes up to the level of something like Jeff Parker’s Adventures work, although Fred Van Lente’s Iron Man comes close (Pepper Potts in particular is a lot of fun) – Sad to say, though, the highlight of this Okay book is probably the non-headlining third strip, a new Franklin Richards short.

NEXUS: As much as I love the character and this strip, this greatest-hits compilation is a missed opportunity to introduce fans who are unfamiliar with Nexus to the whole shebang, focusing instead on scenes that the creators’ favorite scenes shown mostly out of context. I’m still looking forward to the return of the series, but this Okay book could’ve, should’ve, been better.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention either of DC’s attempts, JLA #0 and The Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1. One of the reasons why is that both of them are reprints – the Legion book, a tie-in to the cartoon as opposed to the Waid/Kitson team, actually only came out last month – and another is, well, I didn’t read the FCBD editions. But nonetheless, JLA is a fair enough sample of what the regular DC Universe books are like these days (Okay enough continuity porn), and the Legion book seems on par with the TV show, neither of which are particularly more than Okay to me.

Tomorrow: The indie books, including the one that you should go out of your way to pick up.

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