17 May 2003

Free Comic Book Day was two weeks ago, and I'm just getting around to commenting on all the free books I picked up. Shame on me. Actually, it seems much longer than two weeks, especially considering how fast the days have seemed to pass the past few months. Like time lapse video.

But, anyway. I convinced my sister (who reads comics every now and then), my nephew (who is into gaming and miniatures, but not comics so much) and my niece (who doens't read comics at all, but likes anime) to come along. My niece also brought her friend. So there we were, two just-over-thirty women, a thirteen-almost-fourteen-year-old boy, and two seven-almost-eight-year-old girls in the wilds of comic book land. Of course I wanted them to come so they could become junkies like me, but I had an ulterior motive -- if they didn't choose their quota, I could make them pick up free stuff for me.

Three comic stores in the same block (two right next door to each other) and three free books a person. Nine books, right? Due to my clever planning, I came home with thirteen. There were still a few more I would happily have taken. But I was happy. Thirteen free books, and I managed to only spend $20 on non-free stuff. A very good day.

So here are my thoughts on the books I got. Keep in mind that these are quick judgements, based on a single reading of a single issue or excerpt in an anthology. So. I probably won't get through them all today, so I'll start with my favourites. Or, rather, I'll leave my least favourites till last (meaning these aren't in strict most-to-least fave order).

Skinwalker #1 of 4 (Oni Press) I'm kind of a Tony Hillerman mystery junkie, so a comic about a Navaho polic officer and an FBI agent investigating murders sounded pretty appealing. I was a bit worried that it would be a Hillerman rip-off, though. Anyway, I liked this one enough that I'll be looking for the collected TPB. It was similar to Hillerman's books to the extent that a detective story in Navaho country with a Navaho police officer as one of the main characters and a plot involving skinwalking is bound to be. Phew. That was quite a sentence. The art's pretty good, though it's all in shades of grey, and often quite dark, which gives it a bit of a . . . I can't think of a suitable adjective, but it is very, very grey. The Navaho characters look Navaho, though, which is a big plus. Good stuff.

Way of the Rat #1 (Crossgen) I think I've said elsewhere that I've pretty much been avoiding Crossgen's books because they look at first glance like Image clones with their bright computer colouring and all. As often happens when I make some sweeping, opinionated statement like that, I have to admit I was at least partly wrong. Somewhere in a previous post I mentioned Brath, and how it was actually pretty good. Well, Way of the Rat is, too. It's kind of like a Chinese action movie in comic form, which is actually pretty cool. The art is a bit uneven, but mostly good, and the characters look Chinese. And the women are actually wearing clothes! The story is fun, too, though it's hard to say how well it succeeds from only one issue. I suspect I may pick this up now and then, or maybe wait for a TPB. I mean, it's got a talking monkey.

Whether I will have to continue to revise my opinion of Crossgen books remains to be seen, but I'll certainly be more open-minded from now on. Maybe I'll go check out the free comics on their website.

Also, I didn't mean to imply that all Image books are bad, just that I'm not the least bit interested in most of them. I do read some of the creator-owned titles they publish (yay, A Distant Soil) and I like Aria (I'm a sucker for fairies), but most of the titles make me want to move to the other side of the store rather than pick them up and read them. (There's another sweeping, opinionated statement waiting to be revised -- somebody feel free to prove me wrong) (I know, send me lots of free Image comics to read and maybe I'll change my mind).

Leave It To Chance (Image) What was that I was saying about being proved wrong? Well, this book doesn't, quite, but I did enjoy it. I think it's from last year, and I have no idea what issue # it is -- somewhere in the middle, I'm guessing. This book didn't really blow me away or anything, but it's nice to see an all-ages title that has a fun fantasy story and a tough girl main character (that is, a girl who is wearing normal clothes and doesn't have her boobs popping out). I suggested my niece pick this one up, but I don't know if she's read it yet, so I can't tell you what she thought. The story is almost self-contained, so it was a good choice for a free issue. I probably won't rush out and buy it, but I did request one of the TPBs through the public library so I can form a better judgement.

Anyway, this is becoming a very long post, so I'll leave it at that for now. More later.

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