Now this was a throwback of sorts to the early 1990s. I’m talking about the days when Wizard magazine pretty much was the guide to comics and such. A publisher called Valiant was all the rage, with it’s mix of new modern characters and the revamped classics Magnus and Turok.
I never really read much from the publisher, save for the stuff that was put in the value comic bundles at dollar stores all through the nineties. The publisher returned in its newest incarnation last summer and the Valiant 2013: Free Comic Book Day special does a pretty good job serving as a starting point for new readers.
It features an excerpt from their big summer crossover Harbringer Wars as well as their other monthly books. In addition, they have creator intervivews. And the art in the Valiant books of 2013 looks a lot better to me than the art of Valiant in 1993.
The purpose of Free Comic Book day offerings is to attract new readers, so I guess I would say this did it’s job. I’m a bit more interested in their Archer and Armstrong series, but that’s more due to me really liking writer Fred Van Lente. So I’ll keep that on my radar but it’s not a must read for me. I’m going to put it out to the rest of you: how are the modern Valiant books?
If the purpose of Free Comic Book Day is to attract the attention of non-reading super hero and comic book fans, did DC: The New 52 succeed?
I would safely say that this was more of a “preaching to the choir” type of promotional item. It really didn’t do anything to gain new readers. If the beauty of the New 52 relaunch was to attract new readers by making things clearer, this freebie furthers what’s going been on in DC the last year.
It starts out with some council of cosmic elders “punishing” three of their own to wander the Earth. One of them is the hooded woman named Pandora who has been popping up since the beginning of the New 52. The other is a newly revamped Phantom Stranger. But the third is the new Question. Unfortunately he isn’t investigative reporter Vic Sage (or disgraced detective Renee Montoya) taking matters into his own hands. He’s now a dissident faced to wander the world faceless. Eep.
Pandora winds up infiltrating Steve Trevor’s ARGUS facility (in SAT analogy form, Trevor is to ARGUS as Nick Fury is to SHIELD) to steal the contents of Pandora’s box. Not only that, but they see a transmission of the Justice League of Earth 2. The story ends with the Justice League inexplicably fighting a group of other super heroes, including a new Green Lantern, Vibe, Green Arrow and what appears to be Black Adam. Now I’m confused.
What Geoff Johns wrote and the art team of Jim lee, Gene Ha, Ivan Reis and company drew wasn’t bad, there was just way too much stuff going on. Any one of these plotlines would have done, but don’t shove the introduction to Pandora’s back story and new characters into the first contact with another universe and a new group all at once. It was overkill.
The fun stuff was the two page previews for the next wave of New 52 titles. So what do I think about these?
- The War That Time Forgot looks amazing, solely for the Ariel Olivetti art.
- Batman Incorporated seems to be going into Batman: The Dark Knight territory.
- Dial H For Hero looks like an indie horror book.
- I think I’ll wait for Earth 2 to hit the trades before I consider reading it.
- World’s Finest‘s revamp of Power Girl and Huntres really really makes me miss the Post-Crisis versions of the characters.
- With the characters they chose and art by Ian Churchill, the Ravagers book reminds me of something that Wizard would have extensively covered during the 1990s.
- GI Combat looks really cool, since it’s a non-capes book.
Let’s take a trip in the old way back machine and look at Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day 2009 offering, which pitted the Avengers against the Avengers–technically Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers.
The two teams have to put aside their personal differences, mainly Norman and company trying to arrest the other group for treason, and the Avengers proper not taking to kindly to being impersonated by super villains, to help Thor stop the frost giant Ymir from merging his world with Earth.
Brian Bendis does a great job stresssing how much each group really dislikes each other. He also manages to compare the two teams, with the real Avengers being able to work together (and even with their evil counterparts to a lesser extent). Meanwhile, Norman’s kooky crew can’t get along. I also like how Thor is portrayed as being quite aloof, as he is still a little upset with Iron Man over the whole Clor debachle. Young Avengers’ Jim Cheung does an amazing job on the art side of the book.
So how did this book do as a Free Comic Book Day selection? It did a fair job of showing new readers, whether they just came in for a free comic book or a longtime reader, exactly what was going on in the Avengers book. I give it a thumbs up.