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The Pull List – FREE COMIC BOOK DAY Wrap Up

The first Saturday in May has come and gone which means the phenomena known as Free Comic Book Day prompted another safari of literary and artistic works within the confines of their natural habitat, your local comic book store.

I remember back in my day when you could pick up every single offering being released for this amazing event. In recent years, more and more people have caught on to the hype and venture to seek out the comic goodness.

The result has prompted many shops to put a limit on free books per customer. Naturally, I raised my fist in furious anger over such restrictions. Then I grew up (well, kind of) and realized this day was as much about the comic book faithful getting their fill on the house as it is about bringing new fans into the fold.

This year’s FCBD enjoyed the added benefit of being adjacent to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, one of the years most anticipated films. So, you see the movie, walk out of the theater as you hitch your wagon to the champions of justice and/or you gain a heightened affinity for your all-time favorite hero.

Besides Wikipedia, which can sometimes serve as a fountain of misinformation, the prime destination for your research needs would be your friendly neighborhood comic book store.

Enter Salem, MA, home of the infamous Salem Witch trials. Its tourist heavy pedestrian mall will bring you around to many specialty shops. This fellow, transported from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, was kind enough to inform me that a trolley was about to hit me as I took his picture, all while staying in character.

Now, that’s dedication.

This year, I planted my flag at Silver Moon Comics & Collectibles for all of the FCBD festivities.

The shop under the ownership of Christopher Berry and Leslie Smith is developing an increasing clientele in under a year of operation due to their great service and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Oh, and get this, they actually talk to their customers!

This is refreshing considering that I’ve been to so many stores that are run by elitist nerds won’t even take the time of day to talk to you and act as if you’re a giant inconvenience if you break one of the ten commandments by actually asking them a question.

Hannibal King (Yes, that is his real name) is an artist on the rise who was the guest of honor at Silver Moon.  He’s worked on such titles as Grendel, The Phantom Unmasked, Green Arrow and is a former artist for the Magic: The Gathering trading card game.

King was commissioning his work with various sketches on display. Yours truly couldn’t resist the urge of getting a little something drawn on my blank variant cover of Marvel’s Star Wars #1. Which force-sensitive character did I pay Mr. King to draw? Was it Darth Vader or the Jedi Master himself, Yoda?

As you can see in the image above, I clearly have an affinity for the obscure. Yep.  I chose Max Rebo.

Enough about the festivities, you came here to read about the comics.

Looks like it’s time to punch in.

Secret Wars #0
Writer: Jonathan Hickman, Hajime Isayama
Artists: Gerardo Sandoval, C.B. Cubulski, Paul Renaud
Cover: Alex Ross
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This was the most anticipated release of Free Comic Book Day as Marvel kicks off their big event of 2015.  Secret Wars looks to change the Marvel Universe as we know it which will include over 55 books between tie-in issues and special one shots.

Jonathan Hickman has been the maestro wielding the creative force that has led to this moment with almost two years of back story that can be found in the pages of his run on Avengers and New Avengers.

Most of the story here shows Valeria Richards telling the Future Foundation about the world incursions that the Illumanti tried to prevent. Hickman makes the book new reader friendly while giving current readers some nice reminders. I loved the artwork in this issue. it was just right and conveyed a sense of world ending calamity.

There was also a bonus, which included the heroes of the Marvel Universe battling the gigantic humanoids of Attack on Titan. Manga really isn’t my cup of tea, but the show gets recommended to me on a daily basis. Three episodes in on Netflix and I’m hooked which gave me a greater appreciation for what I had read earlier. The artwork and color were the stars of this particular show and was well realized.

If you’re a Marvel fan or you have been out of the loop for some time, this is the book you need to read. The primer for Secret Wars more than did its job and you just might find yourself enamored with a completely new franchise.

BOOM! Studios Ten Year Celebration 2015 Free Comic Book Day Special

With way too many creators to list, BOOM! Studios reminds us that they’ve been the game for ten years now with mini samples of the publishers most popular and well known titles in one fun-filled offering.

The acquisition of Archaia Entertainment has served BOOM! well as they play a game of show and tell with Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and the imprint’s most critically acclaimed book, Mouse Guard. David Petersen created this series and often has others creators write and draw short stories in each issue. Here Petersen does it all himself with a touching tale about one’s journey to the afterlife in “Service to Seyan.”

Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Munchkin also get some well-deserved page time for the publishers contemporary offerings. Then we go to the classics as Peanuts and Garfield make their presence known.

Can Garfield win the title of fastest cat in the world?

Yes, I know how absurd that sounds.

Also, will Snoopy be able to write his book with Lucy providing her unique form of creative input?

This FCBD offering literally has something for everyone!

Dark Horse FCBD: Fight Club/The Goon/The Strain
Writers: Chuck Palahniuk, Eric Powell, David Lapham
Artists: Cameron Stewart, Eric Powell, Mike Huddleston
Colorists: Dave Stewart, Eric Powell, Dan Jackson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse gives a little something for the more mature reader to sink their teeth into. Eric Powell gives us a peek into the latest comings and goings of The Goon, while David Lapham brings us a new Guillermo Del Toro story set in the world of  The Strain which was a nice little introduction into the thrilling nature this series.

The main course of this offering is of course, Chuck Palahniuk’s sequel to his 1996 novel, Fight Club. This intro adapted Palahniuk’s ending to the novel, which was different than that of David Fincher’s 1999 cult film.

FOG! Managing Editor Elizabeth Weitz wrote a review of the inaugural issue that humbled this contributor to the point that I don’t dare to try my hand at writing one. So get some soap and check out her in-depth analysis of Tyler Durden’s latest exploits.

Street Fighter Super Combo Special
Writer: Matt Moylan
Artist: Jeffrey Chamba Cruz
Colorist: Espen Grundetjern
Publisher: Udon Entertainment

Udon Entertainment is a publisher who’s primarily releases manga-influenced comics and graphic novels. They work extensively with video game developer Capcom which led to Udon obtaining the comic book rights to a particular fighting franchise.

Street Fighter II was my jam back in the early to mid-90s. I beat every version of the game with every character. Turbo, Hyper, Super, Champion edition, regular edition, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious edition, it didn’t matter. I was a bad ass M. Bison

So naturally, I picked up this gem to see what the characters of my middle school years are up to today. Well, they’re still fighting to be recognized as the one true world warrior. Ryu (of course) gets the main event treatment as things always begin and end with Hadoken throwing Ansatsuken expert.

The story provides some seamless transitions as different characters emerge. Charlie fights Ryu and just as he is about to unleash the sonic boom, we see how he learned the maneuver from his good friend, Guile.

This occurs through the main story as Crimson, Ibuki, Viper, and Ken get their time to shine. We are also treated to some “Street Funnies” where a childlike Ryu has some difficulty washing his Gi. The artwork is all manga, which encapsulates all of the fighting fury you come to expect.

Avengers #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Marvel has hyped this particular band of earth’s mightiest heroes for the past few months as this will be the main Avengers book in a post-Secret Wars world.

The Eisner award winning Mark Waid has written some of the industry’s most prolific stories so it’s only fitting that he takes the helm of this high value commodity.

The first big take away from all of this is that MILES MORALES IS IN THE REGULAR MARVEL UNIVERSE!!!

This is something fans have clamored for and making him a member an Avenger for his Earth 616 coming out party is the perfect way to make sure this Wall Crawler doesn’t get lost in the shuffle with so many spider-powered people crawling around.

Waid makes great use of the young cast consisting of Nova, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man/Miles Morales as he balances their inexperience with the seasoned grit of Iron Man, Vision and Captain America. There is a lot going on here with a few pages to spare and Mahmud Asrar makes the most of it with some fun visuals in the shadow of a perilous situation.

Frank Martin’s coloring makes this one of the brighter Avengers books I’ve seen in some time. That isn’t a bad thing, but it produced a feel that teeters on the kiddy book vibe and fails to find the balance displayed by Waid and Asrar. This is something that can be adjusted as things more forward with the series.

There is also an Uncanny Inhumans story and the appearance of Johnny Storm heavily suggests that he might stick around for a while.

Divergence #1
Writer: Gene Luen Yang, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder
Artist: John Romita Jr, Klaus Janson, Scott Hanna, Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics

DC Comics is currently in the midst of their big 2015 event, Convergence, which will bring about the end of the New 52. We get a sneak peek into the lives of Batman and Superman while Geoff Johns sheds some light on the upcoming Darkseid War.

Gotham City is reeling after the presumed deaths of Batman and the Joker. The identity of who takes over the mantel was revealed weeks ago, but it’s still interesting to see how they got there.

The new Batsuit is going to take a lot of getting used to as it reminds me of a mechanized version of the Tick.

Still, I’ll withhold final judgment until I see it in action.

On the Metropolis side of things, Gene Luen Yang establishes a new status quo for Superman.

Clark’s life has been drastically altered thanks to Lois Lane and with so much being taken away from him, this places Superman in a light that’s isn’t too flattering. While the object here is to place the Man of Steel in a situation that tests the mettle of his humanity, I just didn’t buy it and it almost felt…wrong.

Still, this was just a teaser trailer of things to come, so let’s wait and see what happens.

Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok are driving this particular ship as the “Darkseid War” is upon us. Johns’ more is more approach works even with limited space, but the honors here go to Fabok with his amazing two page spread of Darkseid vs. the Anti-Monitor , which got me excited for things to come.

In closing, Free Comic Book Day is something I always look forward to. It doesn’t matter if the comics are fun or boring, you can’t argue with free. While shooting the breeze with some of the other folks in the shop, I was taken back with the amount of families that came out for this event. It was cool to see the youngsters getting a hold of titles such as Spongebob, Pokemon, and Teen Titans Go. Kodansha Comic’s contribution, Attack on Titan was quickly gobbled up at every shop I contacted. Some even snickered and laughed when the word “Attack” left my lips

While consumers reap the benefit, participating comic book stores also gain from this event as it’s a great way to promote their store while hoping to sell some merchandise in the process.

Silver Moon has been amazing to all of their customers which is why I had no problem buying a few blind boxes while hording the back issue bin. I had a great time on Saturday and I’m already in countdown mode for next year.

May the Fourth be with you!

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