Friday, October 8, 2010

Free Comics Review for 10/06/10

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new column here at The Weekly Crisis. Every week, comic book companies upload free comics to their digital services, including old favorites, hidden gems, and teasers of new series.

In the Free Comics Review, I will check out all the free comics that are put online on any given week, and highlight the good and bad of each issue. Just for the sake of my sanity and to not make the column overly long, I won’t be reviewing previews, teasers, or sneak peeks which companies also upload every week. Even counting those out, there’s still a total of 8 full issues up for free this week. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Black Cherry Bombshells #1 (DC App)

Written by Tony Trov and Johnny Zito
Art by Sacha Borisich

I want to preamble this by saying I’ve only read a couple of Zuda comics. This is straight up, one of the worst comics I have ever read. I feel really bad about complaining about a free comic (because, hey, it’s free!), but I struggled to find anything positive to say.

The concept behind this is that all men have died and turned to zombies, leaving women to fend off for themselves. Gangs form all throughout the world that must fight for their survival. As far as ideas go, this is not a bad pitch at all. Sure, a bit too Y-The Last Man, but there are worse comics to steal from.

If there was any potential behind this idea, it feels like the creative team did everything in it’s power to steer away from it. While you might think that there’s plenty of social commentary to make from this scenario, there’s none to be found here, just women fighting and insulting each other for pages.

The art is only slightly above MS Paint quality. There is no depth to it at all, giving everything a flat paper cut-out look, and the details are sparse at best. Character’s faces are incredibly simplistic, and everyone sports big wide eyes all the time.

I hate being so negative (and on the first column too!), but this was an all around bad comic. If this was chosen for Zuda, it makes me wonder what was rejected.

Invincible Iron Man #14 (Marvel App)

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Salvador Larroca

At first sight, this is a strange issue to upload, as it is in the middle of the really long Dark Reign arc of this series. That being said, I know that in trades, this arc was divided in two, and this might be the first issue of that second trade.

I’ve already written quite at length about this series in my review of the Ominbus I bought some time ago. You can find it here.

I’ve also written at length about Larroca’s art before, but let me just say that the fact that this is on a smaller screen does not help at all. Larroca is actually pretty good at crafting a dynamic looking page, but looking at the art up close makes it’s imperfections and lack of details more noticeable.

Matt Fraction’s writing on this issue is pretty sharp, especially as he handles three different character arcs at the same time: Tony going to Russia, Maria Hill on the run, and Pepper deciding her next move.

Black Widow’s appearance in this issue is just completely strange. For some reason she is wearing a thong all the way up to her hips around her house. Why was she even living undercover, as her face is publicly known (remember when she was in Mighty Avengers?). Maria Hill’s method of drawing her out of her house is a cool visual, but ultimately pointless.

Melody #1 (ComiXology App)

Written by Ilias Kyriazis
Art by Ilias Kyriazis

As if knowing how much I hated the previous  Zuda comic, Melody shows up to give me hope again. Oddly enough, this one can be found on the ComiXology App, but not on the DC one. What’s up with that?

The comic in itself is nothing short of wonderful. The basic pitch behind it is that a Muse delivers the best song in the world to a washed up singer, only for him to pass it on to his assistant with his dying breath.

Mel, our protagonist, suddenly finds herself with the knowledge and weight of the song heavy on her shoulders. This song is the perfect song, which makes anyone that listen to it instantly fall in love with it. As you can imagine, there’s all sort of people that would want this for less than ideal plans for it.

The idea behind this comic is good, but the writing and art is also able to keep pace. This comic is just all around lovely, and the only complaint I have is that it seemed quite short in comparison with other comics I read.

War of the Woods #1 (Season 1) (ComiXology App)

Written by Matthew Petz
Art by Matthew Petz

This was a delightfully nice surprise! It’s a short but cute and punchy neat little story.

The main plot of this is that aliens have invaded the world, but instead of experiencing it through the eyes of a human being, we see it through a bunch of forest animals, including otters, a turtle, a deer, and an owl among others.

The animals start seeing the flying saucers landing around the area, and start to wonder what’s going on. Their naive and innocent worldview leads to some fresh scenes. A human would have immediately known what flying saucers mean, but we get to see the animals try to figure it out.

The characters are not completely defined yet, because this comic is pretty short, but it makes you want to find out more about them. You can tell that they are animals, but at the same time they have human personalities, and they’ve learned to use technologies like abandoned radios and televisions.

The art is also pretty fitting and unique. With dark and earthly tones, it carries the mood of uncertainty well, without ever falling into making scenes too dark. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more from this writer/artist in the future

X-Force #7 (Marvel App)

Written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Art by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback

This is the beginning of the Old Ghosts arc, which saw a number of old foes from the X-Men team come back and haunt them.

Much like the rest of the series, this issue of X-Force is very heavy on continuity, and you will probably get the most enjoyment out of it if you are a hardcore X-fan, or at least if you are well versed in the goings on of the various X-Men teams.

The writing in itself is not very memorable, but I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the creative team, who normally have quite a good handle on characters. I think the problem is that all of the characters have a very similar personality and bad-ass attitude, making them not really bounce off each other.

The best scene in the whole book are the ones with Elixir, who acts as a nice straight man for all the insanity that surrounds the rest of the X-Force team. He is out of his element, and it’s funny to watch him squirm.

The art is pretty clean and realistic. Everyone has well defined features, particularly their faces and emotions. If there’s something lacking from the artwork is that some women have extremely similar features (such as X-23 and Agent Morales), which can lead to confusion.

X-Men: Original Sin (Marvel App)

Written by Daniel Way and Mike Carey
Art by Mike Deodato Jr., Scot Eaton and Andrew Hennessy

This is the start of the story arc called Original Sin, a crossover between Wolverine: Origins and X-Men Legacy.

This comic’s biggest achievement is that the two creative teams, with all of their differences, actually gel in quite well. I’m sure big part of the credit goes to Andrew Henessy who inked both parts and gave it a somewhat unifying look.

I don’t really care much for Daken, so this whole thing doesn’t interest me a whole lot. Wolverine is trying to protect him, because he seems to be amnesiac, so he hides him with a friend. Meanwhile, Wolverine seeks out Charles Xavier to help Daken: he wants him to wipe his son’s mind free of the conditioning he suffered.

This was the comic that introduced the retcon that Wolverine originally joined the X-Men in order to kill Xavier, only for Xavier to use his telepathy to changed his mind.

Sadly, this is not the worst thing that this comic introduced into X-Men lore: here is the first time we meet Miss Sinister. I don’t know who thought that was a good idea, but the whole thing is very silly.

X-Men: Phoenix Warsong #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Greg Pak
Art by Tyler Kirkham

Was it “Complicated X-Men History” week at the Marvel Digital offices? Here we have the first issue of a mini series that is a sequel to Phoenix: Endsong. You know what they say about sequels, right?

This is not a very good book.

To get things started, the art is basically Marc Silvestri-light, and I’m not a fan of Silvestri or this artist. The girls are always pouting and/or striking a pose. Emotions come only in “quite and brooding” and “shouting and exasperated”.

The writing is quite clunky, and the plot is overly complicated. If you haven’t read any of the previous stories this refers to, you might be lost as to what’s going on here. I read the thing and I’m not completely sure what’s going on. The Stepford Cuckoos are getting new powers, and everyone is getting nervous about them

There are some good character moments, particularly with Beast. Hank works well as the big, older uncle  figure that offers advice to one of the girls.

Young Avengers #7 (Marvel App)

Written by Allan Heinberg
Art by Andrea Di Vito

As if to wash away the bad taste from all these, we get this issue of Young Avengers, which is the beginning of the second arc, Secret Identities.

There seemed to be a problem with my download, and the Guided View was not working on this comic. That meant I had to scroll through all of the panels manually. Annoying, but not this comic's fault.

I’ve read this before, and Young Avengers is still surprisingly good. It’s easy to see why this was such a big hit to begin with.

After the Avengers told them to stop their extra curricular activities, the Young Avengers find themselves going out on missions again. That means that the Avengers will have to do something drastic: go talk to their parents.

The writing is sharp and full of personality. The characters come through the page and become almost real teenagers. Deep down, I think Allan Heinberg is secretly a teenager, there’s no other way he would have such a good handle on them.

Art-wise, there is a certain timelessness quality to it, and I mean that in the best way. This comic looks like it could have easily been in any of the past three decades. Clean and proficient in it’s storytelling, there’s nothing to complain about here.

As a bonus, it deals with the issue of teenage sidekicks doing drugs in a much more subtle way than Rise of Arsenal could even hope.

Well, that's it for our first ever Free Comics Review! Any tips, advice, criticism is welcome. Let us know what you thought in the comment section below.

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Anonymous said...

Why arent DC putting out free comics? who actually gives a shit about previews and origins

Matt Duarte said...

Yeah ive noticed that DC hasnt been putting a lot of comics online lately, just stuff from Zuda mostly. Maybe just putting previews is working out for them? I know Boom does that as well.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I love this column. The more love for the iApps the merrier, I say. I read the Invincible Iron Man one and that g-string above the pants thing just seemed so damn fake to me, very lame. I also think I finally figured out who Larocca traces Tony Stark from...Josh Holloway. Seriously, have a look at some of those faces he pulls. Textbook Sawyer.

Also, you should have a little rating at the end of each one, maybe Buy It could mean you should buy the trade that it kicks off...?

Steven said...

Zuda must have pretty much been a bust. The competition ended in April and DC announced in July that they would be closing down the Zuda brand and folding the operations into the main DC online brand.

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