Free Comic Book Day has come and gone once again, and this year I hit up my favorite shops: Maximum Comics and Alternate Reality Comics! I grabbed the following titles to read and review:
- Bob’s Burgers
- DC Superhero Girls
- Doctor Who
- Spongebob Freestyle Funnies 2016
- We can Never Go Home/Young Terrorists
I will warn you, not all of these comics are child friendly, so keep that in mind before reading my reviews!
This comic includes three short stories, and I will cover each one in this review. As an overall note, I will say that there is more cover art than story in this comic, and I wish there more time and effort was dedicated to the latter.
Published by: Bento Box Entertainment
Release Date: May 7, 2016
Title One: Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction Presents: Take A Chance On Me(s)
Written by: Brian Hall
Art by: Frank Forte
Summary: Darryl has invented a cloning machine for a scientist and he needs Tina’s help to test it. She refuses to help until she finds out that Jimmy Jr. needs back up dancers for the talent show. So what does Tina do? She clones herself to help him, and they win the talent show, which leads to Jimmy dating all 26 of the Tinas. How is Tina going to get out of this one?
This is my least favorite of the three stories, mainly because of how Tina was characterized. Darryl is her friend, and I would understand if she was scared to be cloned, but she isn’t. Instead, she is too worried about Jimmy Jr. to help out her friend and that’s not something Tina would do.
I’m also not a fan of the art style due to the fact that the character’s noses look very weird on their faces. The same nose is used on everyone, and it looks bad. Overall, the art looks like it could be Bob’s Burgers‘ art style, except for the very odd noses. But this is a minor nitpick compared to the whole story.
Title Two: Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities Presents: What Lies Beneath Bob’s Burgers
Written by: Justin Hook
Art by: Ryan Mattos
Summary: The Belcher kids and the Pesto kids are playing baseball outside when it starts to rain. They decide to go down to the basement to continue the game when Jimmy Jr. hits the ball and cracks the wall. Louise decides to break the wall further and the whole crew ventures behind the wall. What kind of creepy things will they find behind the wall?
This is probably my favorite story of the three. The art style is noticeably difference from the show and works really well with the story. The art is a little more round and stout while the show’s art is more long and oval. I think it works really well with this story because it is a little more cartoon-like without sticking to the usual Bob’s Burgers‘ feel of “realistic cartoon”.
I love seeing Louise as the featured character – she makes me laugh and can be really dynamic when leading the story. Her leading an adventure-type story is a very fun read, and even though the ending may seem dull to her, it’s realistic, and it brings back that feeling of the show very well. The storyline is not too overly out there, which would be more fitting for a Gene story, not a Louise one.
Title Three: Gene’s Rhymey Rhymes That Could One Day Be Songs Presents: Full Moon Lounge Gene
Written by: Mike Olsen
Art by: Derek Schroeder
Summary: Gene in this rhyming scheme is a singer that can’t be held down by chains and can’t fight the urge to go out every full moon to go sing in lounges. During the full moon, he doesn’t turn back to normal Gene… that is until he starts missing home and his family.
This is exactly the kind of story that I expect out of Gene and I loved it. The story does also play well with a good mix of imagination and slight realism that comes with the show. Gene is much more adventurous in real life as well as in his dreams, and this comic is the perfect personification of this. I found it really funny how he thinks his dad thinks he’s really cool and it’s sweet because you can see how supportive Bob can be in his eyes. The art style is pretty consistent with the show compared to the other two comics. Though it is slightly more cartoon-y, I liked this comic a lot, and it is my second favorite story between the three of them.
DC Superhero Girls
Written by: Shea Fontana
Art by: Yancey Labat
Published by: DC Comics
Release Date: May 7, 2016
Summary: “Class is in session! Welcome to DC Super Hero High! DC Super Hero Girls is an exciting new universe of superhero storytelling that builds character and confidence and empowers girls to discover their true potential. This special FCBD issue features two exciting, action-packed stories from the upcoming original graphic novel DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: FINAL CRISIS that readers of all ages will enjoy. It’s the day before finals and the student body is hard at work…and nothing is going right! Wonder Woman spars with Cheetah in gym class as Batgirl and Supergirl watch from the sidelines. In the next class, the girls sit next to an empty seat. Where could Supergirl be? Don’t miss this chance to meet the students as they find out that fun, friendship and hard work are all part of growing up!”
This comic is the cutest thing I’ve ever read, and I know I would have went hog-wild over it when I was a kid. The costume designs are very cute, but still are practical for girls who moonlight as superheroes or villains. They aren’t over-sexualized, either, and even Harley Quinn looks appropriate in super cute shorts with black and red tights. I loved looking at all the background characters, and there were a few different heroes in the back of this universe that were absolutely adorable. Starfire and Beast Boy were the best ones background-wise. I’ll probably be grabbing the novels and toys because of their very cute design and the fact that they are perfect for their intended audience.
When it comes to the writing, I really did like the overall lesson of the story, which was that even though you may have made a mistake in the past, that shouldn’t hold you back from doing something again. It’s scary, but you can do it. This is a lesson that I’m still trying to learn as a grown adult, so teaching this to younger audiences is wonderful.
This story is not designed solely for children, which I really appreciated. The writers could have made the story full of selfies and twerking, but they chose not to. This comic is not dated nor directly labeled”for kids”.
This comic is comprised of four different stories, one for each Doctor, so I will be reviewing each one in the same format as I did with Bob’s Burgers.
Published by: Titan Comics
Release Date: May 7, 2016
Title One: The Twelfth Doctor “Robo Rampage”
Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Simon Fraser
Summary: The Twelfth Doctor is called in by Osgood when she and London is being attacked by K2 Superior. Will the Doctor, pretty recently regenerated, be able to save them all?
As I was reading this and story taking notes about it, I realized that I had no positive things to say this story. I am not a fan of the Twelfth Doctor, but even so, I was open to this comic and wanted to see where it would go. I tried giving this comic leeway, but even a few of my Twelfth Doctor friends didn’t like the comic either, so that made my criticisms of it feel just. From the art to the story, this comic is all together not very good.
Let me start with the “time bubble” to save Osgood. What is a time bubble? That seems like a concept from a cartoon, not Doctor Who. It was a really flimsy way to move the plot along.
I hated Osgood in this. This is the exact reason why I hate creators writing “fan” characters. Osgood is used purely to move the plot along, making it so the only thing the Doctor does is use his screwdriver to save the day, and to talk up how great the Doctor is. How quick she was to identify where we might have seen the monster before wasn’t a nice nod, it was really lazy. I would have preferred to see Doctor try to wrack his brain and try to figure out why he had seen it before… it would have been a good nod and more interesting than Osgood spoon feeding the reader.
The Twelfth didn’t have much going for him in the personality department. He seemed to have just regenerated and was still trying to figure out who he was going to be, and his only purpose is saving the day, which makes this whole comic not enjoyable. This isn’t even a companion focuses story, it’s a fan service gone terribly wrong.
Title Two: Eleventh Doctor “Obsessions”
Written by: Si Spurrier and Rob Williams
Art by: Leonardo Romero
Summary: the Eleventh Doctor has found companions in Alice Obiefune and Abslom Daak. The only reason Abslom is still on the TARDIS though is because she took his wife. What will Abslom do if he does find his wife? Will he leave or continue the journey?
The art in this comic is okay at best. The Doctor is the worst drawn character out of everything, but Matt Smith is a little funny looking, so I understand. But thats’s just a minor point.
His story is not only all talk, no action, but it’s also really gross. Abslom trying to find his wife in the TARDIS is viewed by the others as an unhealthy obsession, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. As someone who has lost someone close to him, Abslom probably wants to find his wife so he can have closure. He doesn’t know if she’s dead or alive and that’s a scary thought. To write it off as “he’s just obsessed with her” is really shitty and it makes it appear that the characters have no sympathy towards him.
When it is revealed that his wife is dead, you the reader doesn’t have anytime to feel heartbroken because the Doctor is “sitting on the intercom button” and says two really garbage things about “obsessions”: “One: You accept that the things which keep you going are only ever temporary, and you prepare to switch obsessions like clothing. Or Two: You make your mission so impossible, you’ll never ever succeed.” This is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard come from the Doctor. The Doctor shows no compassion for Abslom. He knows his wife is dead and doesn’t care – it’s still a gross obsession especially since Abslom doesn’t know.
This was the by far the most inappropriate Doctor Who story I’ve ever read.
Title Three: Tenth Doctor “Lady of the Blue Box”
Written by: Nick Abadzis
Art by: Elenora Carlini
Summary: As the Doctor needs some quiet time to work on something, Gabby helps a new traveler get used to life on the TARDIS, giving her a pretty thorough tour.
This story really doesn’t have much to do with the Doctor, and usually I don’t mind that, since the companion is just as important as the Doctor, but I am not that familiar with these companions, and to be frank they are not at all interesting. Readers don’t even know the name of the “new companion” whose aboard! How boring and uninteresting.
The Doctor is written poorly in this comic. Much like the Eleventh and the Twelfth, he’s kind of a jerk, which I found really unnecessary. So on top of new two new companions that are really boring, you have a jerky Doctor. It was also weird that the other companion, Gabby, had met previous regenerations of the Doctor, but she doesn’t remember because of her “fading memory.” Really?
This whole comic ultimately feels like a sitcom more than an episode of Doctor Who. It only succeeds in giving readers a house tour and the story has very little to do with the Doctor at all. But if the companions were actually interesting, then I honestly wouldn’t have minded this story.
Title Four: Ninth Doctor “Hacked”
Written by: Cavan Scott
Art by: Mariano Laclaustra
Summary: Nine, Rose, and Jack are back on an adventure in the eye of Orion. Though the Doctor claims it’s tranquil, it doesn’t appear that way when buildings begin appearing out of nowhere.
This is my favorite of the four stories, and I love the trio of Jack, Rose, and Nine. All three of them are really well written in this comic and they seem identical to their television counterpart. This story is very short, but it definitely is more action packed than the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor’s. Everyone in the story played an important part and each could be considered the hero of the story.
The art is amazing in this story – everyone looks amazing, and they look exactly like who they are suppose to be. It is comforting that at least one artist was able to translate the characters into comic form well. I really loved how the pixelation looked when it came to things that came in and out of the world. Overall, this comic is visually the best out of these stories and is by far the best written, as well.
Spongebob Freestyle Funnies 2016
This comic includes six different stories, but three of them are no longer than a page.
Published by: Bongo Comics Group
Release Date: May 7, 2014
Title One: Ship Swap
Written and Art by: Andrea Tsurumi
Summary: A pirate swaps his hat for the new Spongebob comic, leading to a swap with everyone, ending where we started.
This story really has nothing to do with Spongebob besides the fact that it’s a Spongebob comic they are trading. It has a really interesting art style that is different from the show. The pirates all look very interesting, but since this story is only a page long, there’s not much more I can say, but I did like that they explained a pirate reference so children could easily understand what was going on.
Title Two: Farewell to my Arms!
Written and Art by: Israel Sanchez
Summary: To keep up with the demand of senior citizen fishes getting a half cent discount on Krabby Patties, Spongebob keeps up with the demand by stretching his arms to the limit and growing multiple arms. He ends up flinging the arms to try and make them make the burgers quicker. When they don’t do a good job, what’s Spongebob going to do to get the patties out to everyone?
The art is not my favorite in this story. The shading is comprised of really dark colors and it’s not bright like how Spongebob usually is portrayed. The style is also way more angular and it’s just not all that nice to look at.
When it comes to the actual story, the idea of the arms being sentient enough to make the patties, but not enough to make them correctly is weird to think about. I think that the arms would still have feeling in their hands and would be able to tell “Oh that’s not something that goes on a patty!”. They know enough to tell what the condiments container feels like, but not enough to tell that a knife isn’t a hamburger patty or anything food wise. The only thing I could say is that the story was pretty easy to follow.
Title Three: Whirled View
Written by: Robert Leighton
Art by: Jacob Chabot
Summary: Spongebob messes around with a kaleidoscope, looking at Sandy, Patrick, Gary, and Squiward through it.
This story is also only a page long but the art is very similar to the show, which I really enjoyed. The colors are much more bright and the art is round instead of having gross colors and angular shapes like the previous comic.
The story is really simple, but the only real nitpick I have is the fact that the kaleidoscopes was not portrayed accurately. Usually, kaleidoscopes have colored tiles in the tube, making pictures more of a rainbow and distorted. In the comic, it’s more of a repeating pattern, with no change to the coloring.
The only other thing I have to mention is that there is one panel where Spongebob is looking at Squidward’s butt through the kaleidoscope, and that makes me question why. I understand that butt jokes are funny to kids, but it doesn’t really make any sense.
Title Four: Flotsam and Jetsam Ocean Facts Underwater Mountains
Written and Art by: Maris Wicks
The comic teaches the reader about underwater mountains and volcanoes. I think this is a nice nod to Steven Hillenburg (the creator of Spongebob), who has a degree in Marine Biology.
The art is pretty cute, and the information is easy enough for anyone to understand. Though it has literally noting to do with Spongebob, it’s a very cute and educational break from the comics to learn about Spongebob’s home under the sea (slightly).
Title Five: Patrick’s Guide to Getting Stuff for Free
Written and Art by: James Kochalka
The art style in this comic is more than simple, it’s kinda lazy. This style was not very appealing to me and if it was more than one page long, then I probably wouldn’t read it. This piece definitely wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t that thrilling either.
Some of the tips included stuff like “find it on the ground” or “ask Sandy to invent it”. It’s obviously for kids so I can’t be too harsh, but it was still really boring.
Title Six: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy in Bedlam in Bikini Bottom
Written by: Evan Dorkin
Art by: Ramona Fradon
Summary: When a mysterious giant orb from outer space plunges into the deep blue sea, it takes the help of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy to figure out what it is.
The art in this comic is very similar to the Golden Age of comics. It has a very older feel to it and that’s something I really liked about it.
I feel like the writers were trying to make Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy a Batman and Robin type duo, but they did it very wrong. Mermaid Man is a huge jerk to Barnacle Boy when in reality, his sidekick is trying to help. Barnacle Boy was right in a lot of ways in this story and Mermaid Man just blew him off and ignored him. It wasn’t an enjoyable exchange and it kind of ruined the story for me.
These are two comics in one book, referred to as Side A and Side B, like a cassette. This comic is rated M for Mature so if you are interested in this comic, please keep this in mind.
Published by: Black Mask Studios
Release Date: May 7, 2016
Side A: We Can Never Go Home “Dead Set on Destruction”
Written by: Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon
Art by: Josh Hood
Summary: Morgan and her boyfriend, Dale, are going to a motel after seeing a movie when something strange happens right outside the motel door.
This comic was really short but it still provided a really good way to hook readers into their story. This comic is rated M for Mature due to sex references, swearing, and *spoiler alert* slight gore when Dale gets shot. The gore wasn’t a huge pushing point away from me, but it’s not something I’m usually comfortable with. This comic was pretty well written for just a few short pages, but I really like Morgan and I want to know more about the bulletproof girl so I’ll probably be looking to see if my comic book shop has subsequent issues
The art style does have a good mix of cartoon and real life inspirations, making these characters more believable as real people. Having Morgan be sixteen and look sixteen also helps set readers more into the world around them, and it also helps readers kind of jerk when they realize that this world is not as close to ours as they may think.
Side B: Young Terrorists “Lies from My Father”
Written by: Matt Pizzolo
Art by: Amancay Nahuelpan
Summary: Sera is in a concentration camp type facility after the death of her father. She has been in a lab, being trained to be not only super intelligent, but poisonous, in addition to also having amazing strength. Will she make it out alive?
This comic was much too gorey for my taste, and it reached the point where I didn’t want to finish the story. It also was difficult to hold interest, as the story constantly bounced from the past to the present. This leads to a lot of confusion when a reader is trying to get into the story but is barraged with too much background information
The art is similar to ‘We Can Never Go Home’ in the sense that is very realistic, which truthfully makes the gore harder for me to stomach.
Even though these comics are from the same company, it’s strange to see the two paired together in one issue. One succeeds in introducing and submerging the reader into the story, while the other does not. I probably won’t be picking this series up to finish the story, but if you’re a fan of the series, don’t let my criticism discourage you.
Did you pick up any comics on Free Comic Day? Let me know in the comments!