Friday, October 15, 2010

Free Comics Review for 10/13/10

Welcome to the second edition of Free Comics Review! The launch of the new column was well received, so I am probably going to be doing this for a while. If you have any questions, tips, or advice on how we can make this new feature better, you can always leave a comment below.

Something I forgot to mention last week is this: if you don’t have an Apple mobile device, you can still read some of these comics for free (with the exception of the Marvel ones)! Just go to, open an account, and you’ll be able to read them on your computer. This week, we have eight reviews of Free Comics for your enjoyment. Hit the jump to read them.

Box 13 (Vol. 2) #5
(ComiXology App)

Written by Steve Ellis
Art by David Gallaher

Alright, confession time: despite being completely free, this is the first time I have read one of these Box 13 comics. For some reason or the other, it just wasn’t appealing enough for me to check them out.

That being said, I read this issue without any previous knowledge whatsoever and I was not only pretty quick to catch on to what was going on, I was also seriously impressed with the work I saw.

The story, which is only 8 pages long (a chapter in a bigger story), is about Olivia who is a member of something called The Nursery, being tortured for information. This is a pretty good device to catch up new readers with the events, even if it was not intended that way.

Gallaher’s art is pretty amazing. Armed with the knowledge that this comic is going to be on a tiny screen, the comic follows a basic horizontal grid layout that absolutely pops on the screen (even if it might otherwise look dull on a normal comic). He uses some very interesting transitions that every other artist should pay attention to.

I really can’t say much about the story, as it is a short chapter, and in the middle of a series. Will report back when I know more!

Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice
(ComiXology App)

Written by ???
Art by ???

Hey, wanna know who drew and wrote this? Your guess is as good as mine, because no where in the comic or even in the info page are the creators behind this credited. At all.

It looks kind of like Michael Avon Oeming’s work, but I don’t think it’s him (if someone knows, please drop a comment below). The writers might have been the ones behind the video game, but all it lists is “Valve Corporation”. As if to add insult to injury, this one is filled under “Creator Owned” in the publisher’s section.

This is actually four issues of a series, 180 pages worth of free comics! It’s like a free whole paperback for your enjoyment. And on top of that, the story starts and ends here, so you really have no excuse not to check this out.

I read this without ever playing the Left 4 Dead games, and I really enjoyed it. The characters are interesting and well developed, with each chapter of the series delving deeper into each of them. I figure this might be even more enjoyable if you have played the games as well.

As a promotion device, this is also pretty good, because now I’m interested in playing this game. I probably never will, because I suck at Resident Evil-like games. I always get killed. And I scream like a little girl whenever something jumps out of a window.

Road #1
(ComiXology App)

Written by Eddie Sharam
Art by Eddie Sharam

This is another comic by Zuda which, inexplicably, is on the ComiXology app but not on the DC one. Anyone know what’s up with that?

If I had to use one word to describe this comic, it would be: strange. If you asked me what’s going on here, I would certainly struggle to tell you. I’ll try my best...

There’s a never ending road, and religious sects have popped up around it, that make it their mission to travel that road, such as the Pilgrims of the Road. Our protagonist is Felix, a pilgrim, who for unknown reasons has decided to defect. He escapes into the world, which is full of futuristic technology.

Felix has some cool gadgets to help him on his trip, such as his tricked out car, and a parrot that is really a communication device. The comic has some very weird and cool ideas, including an antagonist that is just a walking skeleton, because he has added implants and removed all of his skin.

The whole thing is very European , the sort of thing you don’t see very often in the United States comic industry. It makes me wonder what the reception for this comic was like when it was being serialized in Zuda.

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #1
(Marvel App)

Written by Gerry Conway
Art by Gene Colan

Every now and them, Marvel decides to upload one of their classic books, such as this one. I’ve heard quite a lot about Tomb of Dracula, so I was pretty excited to check this out.

To be completely honest, I actually have a hard time reading older comics, and this is not an exception. They were so painfully overwritten that it just makes the experience very dreadful for me. It doesn’t help that the prose is very, very purple.

The story deals with a descendant of the Count Dracula going back to the castle, which he has inherited. Inside it, they accidentally remove the stake from Dracula’s chest, which allows the old Count to come back to life and terrorize the new inhabitants.

This actually works as a sequel to Bram Stoker’s classic novel, with all of the events of the book having happened a hundred years ago. If looked at that, this is not a bad comic in itself, as it actually fits quite well in terms of tone and style.

Thankfully, the story picks up once the Count revives, and things get more exciting.

Gene Colan’s art is wonderful, dark and moody. It goes a long way towards setting the mood of the story. I’m not completely familiar with all of Colan’s work, but what he does in these pages is nothing short of awesome.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #1
(Marvel App)

Written by Brian Bendis and Mark Millar
Art by Adam Kubert

Hard to believe that a book with this kind of creative team was probably the least successful of the Ultimate franchise. Imagine the kind of numbers this comic would do now.

It’s actually surprising how well Millar and Bendis work together, as their writing styles are not very similar. This issue, however, has a certain Bendis flare about it that is recognizable.

As an updating of the old Fantastic Four mythos, this is actually a pretty clever take on the origin. The familiar beats are there, but making them younger opens a whole set of new possibilities.

Instead of their opening arc being about getting to the moon, the Ultimate Fantastic Four are instead testing a teleportation device. This first issue is about young Reed’s first foray into the N-Zone. In this version, the Baxter Building is a think-thank for young and gifted students.

Kubert’s art work is legendary by now, so there is not much more than I can add.

Ultimate Spider-Man #28
(Marvel App)

Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Mark Bagley

Speaking of Bendis, here’s another chapter in his longest body of work, Ultimate Spider-Man. There's actually been quite a lot of Ult. Spidey issues uploaded for free in the past.

This issue is actually a very nice sample of why Ultimate Spider-Man worked and was so influential in spearheading the imprint. A nice mix of action and teenage drama, which touches not only in Peter Parker’s life, but also that of it’s supporting characters.

What’s even more peculiar is that this story is a done-in-one tale, which are not very common in Bendis’ usually decompressed style. The main plot is that the Rhino is attacking the city, and Peter is stuck in school, trying to suit up and go help.

A series of unfortunate events lead to him meeting up with people he knows around the school, so he can’t change into his Spider-Man suit. He keeps looking around, but by the time he gets there, someone has beaten him to the punch.

It’s strange, I actually enjoyed Mark Bagley’s art the first time around when I was reading this for the first time, but for some reason, revisiting the artwork now, when other artists like Stuart Immonen and David Lafuente have interpreted this world, it looks strange. I can’t help but seeing Bagley drawing adults instead of teenagers.

Vision Machine #1
(ComiXology App)

Written by Greg Pak
Art by RB Silva

A creator-owned comic, Vision Machine is a digital-only comic released through ComiXology.

Like any good sci-fi tale, Vision Machine works a social commentary of trends in modern society. The target in this case is quite obviously the Apple furor of the last six or so ears. It’s actually a bit on the nose, as the company in this tale is called Sprout, and the product is called iEye.

Set in the year 2061, iEye is brand new gadget that everyone wants to have. It’s a sunglasses-like device that everyone wears around, recording their every movement. Additionally, they can add special effects, editing, and sharing all the video they record on the go.

The story centers around three students attending film school, and they are the ones pushing the boundaries of what can and can’t be done with the iEye. While it seems that it’s all fun and games, we can see seeds that the iEye will soon affect society in a deep and unsettling way. It all starts with a missing child...

Like I said above, some of the writing could be subtler, but Pak has still created an intriguing and creative story, and I’m looking forward to reading further parts of this series.

Silva’s artwork is perhaps a bit too clean and shiny for my taste on this particular genre. Sci-fi tales are usually portrayed as more gritty and cluttered. Not to say it’s bad, but I think maybe his artwork would fit better in other genres.

X-Force/Cable: Messiah War Prologue
(Marvel App)

Written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Art by Mike Choi

Just last week I reviewed another chapter of X-Force. This time, it’s a one-shot that kicked off a crossover between that series and the Cable one.

Much like last week’s, this issue deals with a lot of old and recent X-Men continuity, and you will probably get more mileage out of this tale if you are familiar with the characters already. I figure it can be a bit overwhelming if this is your first time at this particular rodeo.

Because this is a prologue, a lot of the characters are introduced quite nicely to new readers, though not everything is explained with perfect clarity. For example, X-Force shows up after they are transported in the middle of a mission, but unless you read the series at the time, it’s never specified what they were doing.

The artwork is by the same creative team as last week’s, so I really don’t have much to add. Things look perhaps a bit grimier and darker because it’s set in a Post-Apocalyptic future with not a whole lot of scenery to break up the monotony of the black leather suits.

Kyle and Yost are a well-oiled machine in terms of character interaction, but they take things to a whole new level with the appearance of Deadpool on this. Seriously funny stuff, and goes to show that Deadpool works better when he has a straight man (in this case, Wolverine) to bounce his craziness against.

That's it for our second column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. We always try to improve our content based on your suggestions, and with a new column, it's good to hear back from the readers. So, comment away!

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Eric Rupe said...

I remember hearing about Oeming doing a Left 4 Dead comic so it is probably him. I also don't find it surprising that the Zuda stuff isn't on the DC app since they are closing Zuda down at the end of the year.

Matt Duarte said...

The strange thing is that some Zuda comics (such as the Black Cherry Bombshells one from last week) ARE on the DC App and the comiXology one too. Maybe they left it up to the creators to decide where they wanted their comic to go up?

Servando Gomez said...

Matt, I do hope you come back to read this comment as I'm suprise i didn't answer it the first time.

First off, I do hope you played L4D as it is a first person shooter in the vein of Halo but with Infecteds. Do it now as its really cheap and fun. Its nothing like Resident Evil except for theme (no puzzles, no stand and shoot, and no ackward camera angles)

Second: The Road is Awesome and i wished I did finish it. I remember it doing quite well as they had a event for it as the second season was ending.

Third: Adam Kubert art in Ultimate spiderman was gutted by the amount of time he would reuse the same image. IT was virtually that Invincible Moment of the day where they take a jab at decompression. The art was good though for the most part and I liked the story. Looking back on it though, I do feel it was more juvinile than it had to be. Probably the Mark Millar influence in it. I still love the update they did though at least conceptually.

Matt Duarte said...

@Servando: I'm not a big fan of first-person shooters, to be honest. Mostly because I tend to suck at them. I'll give it a look if I find it for cheap though!

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