Sunday, March 27, 2011

Free Comics Review for 03/23/11

Welcome to another (rather late) edition of Free Comics Review! Today we have a selection dominated by the big two, who have decided to go all out and upload three free comics each. Both Marvel and DC decided to upload a rather varied set of comics this week. Hit the jump to see the reviews.

Captain America: The Chosen #1 (Marvel App)

Written by David Morrell
Art by Mitch Breitweiser

The Chosen was a six issue mini series that Marvel released some years back under the Marvel Knights imprint, starring a dying Captain America. In a strange move, Marvel had previously released the SECOND issue of this mini series for free, and I reviewed it here.

In this first issue we meet Corporal James Newman, who is fighting in the Afghanistan war. He is just another member of the army, no one special, when his caravan is attacked in a town in the middle of nowhere.

The attack is brutal, but Corporal Newman raises to the challenge of dispatching the enemies, and rescuing several of his unit’s members in the process. Thankfully for him, he had the aid of Captain America who guided, helped, and encouraged him.

Or did he? No one else saw Cap in the battlefield, and they all think that Newman is suffering from illusions due to the stress of the battle. Newman, however, is quite sure of what he saw. As the comic ends, we see Cap in a hospital bed, dying.

This comic feels overtly patriotic in some parts, to the point where it borders on the cheesy. It’s not “America F$%& YEAH!”, but there were a couple of scenes were I found myself rolling my eyes.

The true star of this comic is Mitch Breitweiser, who does an amazing job on the art duties. His realistic take on the world makes you feel that you are watching a war film rather than reading a comic. My only complaint is that I don’t personally like Cap’s scaly costume.

Catwoman #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Darwyn Cooke & Michael Allred

This is the first issue of the most recent Catwoman series from the year 2001. The high profile team (Brubaker, Cooke, AND Allred, holy $#!&) made this series quite successful. I’ve read parts of it before, but I never read the first issue.

I was particularly surprised by this issue, which was quiet and introspective for the most part. Selina is taking some down time after some turbulent events (never really specified what, though there’s mention of some poison in her body) and tries to find herself.

While she is laying low, she goes back to the Old Gotham neighborhood, where she used to spend time in her early days. If I am not mistaken, it is revealed here that she used to live with and protect the prostitutes of the neighborhood.

After a run-in and helping Batman, Selina decides that it is time to reinvent herself. In the process she gets a new costume that is more functional than her old purple spandex suit. I quite like it, and I think this comic’s creative team did a wonderful job with the design.

On the art side of things, Cooke and Allred go all out and create some incredibly original yet still clear storytelling. I don’t know who’s soul they sold to get both of these artists in the same book, but it was probably worth it.

Overall, this is a great issue, and with the pedigree of the creative team, I am hardly surprised. Highly recommended.

The Flash #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Francis Manapul

Wow, this is probably the most recent issue given for free that I’ve seen on the DC app. This is from the most recent Flash series, the one that started after Flash: Rebirth, and the story is called “The Dastardly Death of the Rogues”.

The star is Barry Allen, who has just come back from being dead and is re-adjusting to his life back in Central City. During his absence, things have gone from bad to worse. He is back working for the Central City Police Department, where crimes have skyrocketed.

On top of that, the Rogues continue to wreck havoc throughout the city. There’s a very funny moment, where we learn that the Weather Wizard has been raining out baseball games, just to mess with people.

The main problem with this issue is that Barry Allen has the personality of paper bag. Come on, just try to think of a word to describe Barry Allen and I almost guarantee you will come up blank.

The star of the comic is Francis Manapul, who just completely steals the show with his art. From the great scene where Flash dismantles a car into pieces, to a genuinely amazing page of the rogues where the panels form the word “Wanted”, everything looks great.

Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Clayton Crain

This six-issue Ghost Rider mini series from 2005 was originally released on the Marvel Knights imprint. It proved to be quite popular at the time.

The story is mostly a flashback/introduction to the Ghost Rider character, as told by two angels who seem to be in a bit of trouble. They want to use the Ghost Rider to sort out their issues, but he is currently trapped in hell, being tormented.

Lest you forget, this is a Garth Ennis comic, but there’s plenty to remind you of that. First of all, the angels are huge a-holes, there’s some gruesome and violent scenes (though not completely shown on panel), and there is a character called Buttview.

Yes, you read that right. Buttview. He crosses a demon, and as a punishment, the demon sticks that persons head inside his butt (by bending his spine in a horrible fashion). Hence, Buttview.

Despite all this, it’s quite an interesting comic in of itself. There’s not a lot of Ghost Rider, as he mostly appears in flashbacks. However, Ennis creates a compelling dilemma and introduces some intriguing characters.

In an ideal world, Clayton Crain would ONLY draw Ghost Rider. The man was just born for this character, and he draws the hell out of him and his environment in hell.

Pray for Death #1 (DC/ComiXology App)

Written by Nicholas Doan
Art by Daniele Serra

Pray for Death is another former Zuda comic. This time, it’s about Detective Abigail Jenkins, who is on the hunt for a serial killer with deep religious overtones.

This is not a commentary on this comic in specific, but man, a lot of these Zuda competitors (or at least the ones that I read) were seriously obsessed with death and the afterlife, weren’t they?

In any case, Detective Jenkins is investigating a crime scene, where the victims have been left in a praying position, only to find that the killer is still in the vicinity. She gives chase, but he ultimately escapes.

We learn a bit more about Jenkins, who apparently handled a very big media-ridden case in the past, and because of this she is not very well liked among her peers in the police force.

What follows is a long torture scene where the killer subjects another victim to a crucifixion (and killing her two children in the process). There is some serious torture porn going on here, and I can’t say I’m a fan of it. Your mileage may vary.

The art is pretty fitting for the theme of the story, as it is sketchy and gritty. My only complaint is that at first it is a bit hard to understand in what order these events are happening. I felt that a different color hue, or a similar flashback tool, could have helped in this aspect.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel App)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Millar
Art by Adam Kubert

This comic was previously reviewed on an older edition of Free Comics Review.

That's it for this week's column! Any ideas, tips, or advice are welcome. Remember that you can always read the comics in the ComiXology web reader (with the exception of the Marvel ones). 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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Roger said...

Would ever think of recommending any new comics that come out weekly?. I just feel like comics like we3 should be pointed out in the midst of subpar cap America books or Archie comics

Matt Duarte said...

@Roger: I normally review the comics that are uploaded for free in this column. You mean recommending books that have been uploaded digitally recently? I guess I could do something like that, as part of a different column (kind of what like Ryan has been doing for Jumping On Points, but with freshly digitized comics).

What say you, other readers? Would you like something like that?

Jen said...

Yeah . The ratings and 25 most popular ratings are flawed and would be greatly appreciated as it is difficult to find classics like we3 or transmopolitim or scqlped when most of the top 25 is old man Logan or young avengers:(

Don Winslow said...

I understand what people might have against OML, but what was/is wrong with Young Avengers?

Ed's Catwoman is third on my list of reads. Who want a series written by Bru and drawn by Cooke and Allred? Charlie Sheen addicts, that's who!

Jen said...

There's nothing wrong, it's just not equal to the books mentioned above . Plus as a teenager I can tell you as a fact that they do not sound like teenagers . More Mary sue . Morning glories and avengers academy now that's how teens act and sound like . Basically there are more deserving titles then the likes of YA that Matt could suggest . Also trying to find decent comics on wendsday is trying to find a needle in the hay stack

Adam said...

Yes yes yes yes !!!!!! And also yes young avengers is highly over rated

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