FCBD 2016: All-Ages Adventure, Humor, Science…Something for Everyone

Out of the 16 FCBD Silver books this year that I consider “all ages”, 8 seemed to be more suited for readers in the 10 and up range.  The specific age ranges will vary by child and parent.  Parents, you should page through any of these comics before giving them to your own child to determine if they are suitable.

There was a bit more diversity in the older-skewing kid friendly books.  Whereas the titles for younger readers were mostly related to media properties that kids might be familiar with already, in this batch only 2 are based on properties popularized in other media, with the remaining 6 being original concepts.

Remember, these comics are free to you as a fan, but are NOT free to your comic shop.   Shops pay some amount of money for each of these comics you carry away with you, so browse around at your local comic shop and buy a few comics while you’re there picking up your FCBD selections!  Get to your shop early for best selection as many shops will run out of free comics later in the day.  Find local shops participating in FCBD here: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/storelocator   You can give your shop a call to see if they will be carrying any of these Silver books you’re interested in, not all shops will carry all Silver books.



CREDIT: Action Lab

Awake #0 FCBD 2016 Edition (Action Lab)
Rating: 3/5 – Waking Up is Hard To Do…

by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

This zero issue would have greatly benefited me, as a reader, if it would have included a short text intro that set the stage for what I was about to read.  What is presented are 2 separate plot-lines.  The first features Pic, a young man who says he can “talk” to planets.  The second focused on Reign, a young girl who seems to be just developing her power which is apparently to waken and heal planets.  There’s a lot of characters, places, and concepts introduced but the story didn’t do a very good job of communicating the big picture to me.  I’m sure things will all tie together and become clearer over time, as the two story threads mirror one another in a series of parallel panels on the final page.  But I had a problem with the pacing and story structure of this as a standalone offering attempting (I assume) to sell readers on buying more.  The last page was meant to be a big hook to get me to come back, but it didn’t work for me because I didn’t latch onto the characters.  Nice art by Brian Hess, whose work reminds me a bit of Jeff Smith, this could be a series that I revisit to see more of Hess’ art and hope that the story starts to coalesce for me.



CREDIT: Space Goat

Dark Lily & Friends FCBD 2016 Edition (Space Goat)
Rating: 4/5 – Lots of Samples, Some Too Short to Judge.

by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

There are 4 stories jammed into this issue: First is a 10 page sample of Dark Lilly, seen here for the 1st time anywhere.  A Goth girl on the Moon who ends up transported to Earth.  This looks like it will be shaping up as a fish out of water tale as Lily figures out how to make her way in the new environment.  Following on that “Fish out of water” theme, the 6 page Monster Elementary story focuses on vampire kid Desmodus who ends up having to attend a human elementary school when his monstrous one is raided by the FBI.  Some nice “Calvin & Hobbes”-y art by Canaan Grall  The last 2 stories are only 4 pages each (Rocket Queen and the Wrench & Mage, Inc.) and neither gave me enough to go on to make a solid of judgement, other than the art, which for both was very clean with a minimum of extraneous detail.  Space Goat may have been better served in limiting this to 3 stories, making the third long enough to give a proper sample.  Everything here looked good, my personal favorite being Monster Elementary.  Dark Lily seems like it would be right up the alley of younger female readers and fans of series like Blue Monday.



CREDIT: Arcana

Howard Lovecraft/Stan Lee’s The Unknowns FCBD 2016 Edition (Arcana)
Rating: 3.5/5 – H.P. Lovecraft as a Kid with a Pet Cthulhu & an Alien Rock Band.

by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

Howard Lovecraft is a fictionalized H.P. Lovecraft as a kid having adventures with his pet Cthulhu Spot (who talks) in this cute story that could be absolutely terrifying to fans of the harder-edged Cthulhu stuff.  Maybe it’s a good way for Lovecraft fans who are parent to break in their kids on the Cthulhu mythos without giving them nightmares, but it may forever ruin them for the real Lovecraftian stories later in life.  Maybe it’s best to give to kids who just have a love for fun monster tales and leave it at that.  The back half of the issue has the latest Stan Lee “creation”, The Unknowns.  A brother and sister who a trying to create their own rock band stumble on the crash site of an alien vessel and recruit the aliens to be members of their band.  By the way, the aliens resemble a gorilla, a squid, a bat, and a giant insect.  We just get the meet & greet here, but I’m interested to see what a full issue worth of this would be like.  It could be awesome or devolve into silly, I’d like to find out!


Junior Braves

CREDIT: Oni Press

Junior Braves Of The Apocalypse FCBD 2016 Edition (Oni)
Rating: 4.5/5 – Boy Scouts vs. Zombies.

by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

I’ve read the 1st volume of Junior Braves and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This comic give a good sample of the story, picking up a bit into volume 1 where the Brave of Tribe 65 return home from a camping trip only to discover the zombie apocalypse started whilst they were out in the woods.  Now the Braves need to find their parents, if they are still alive, while staying alive themselves.  Time to put those merit badges to practical use, boys!  Highly recommended and fun for all ages, though it is probably too intense for really young children.  This one gets my “pick of the page”, fun for kids and adults.  Give it a try if you can.



CREDIT: Image Comics

Oddly Normal Chapter One FCBD 2016 Edition (Image)
Rating: 4/5 – A Story For Anyone Who’s Ever Felt a Little Different.

by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

This re-presents the 1st issue that was reviewed by Adam Alamo back in 2014:

Oddly Normal is the green-haired, pointy-eared, half-witch protagonist of our tale. Because of these unique features (compliments of that whole half-witch thing), she’s made fun of and ostracized at school. She doesn’t feel the love at home either, with parents too self-absorbed with each other to notice that Oddly just doesn’t fit in. As a result, you have an extremely brooding character that would otherwise be unlikeable, if not for her inner dialogue revealing that she’s bright, funny, and insightful. Unfortunately, she’s never had a chance to express any of this and lashes out with anger and resentment instead.  There are plenty of kids out there being alienated and bullied for being different. Look almost anywhere and you can find a teenager that feels his or her parents just don’t understand. However, most kids don’t have magical powers and that’s what makes Oddly just a bit different while also remaining completely relatable.  This ability sets up the adventure to come and if you enjoy this sample, the next logical step is to pick up the collected edition, there are currently 3 volumes available.



CREDIT: First Second

Science Comics FCBD 2016 Edition (First Second)
Rating: 4.5/5 – Making Science (and Learning) Fun to Read.

by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

This issue presents samples from 2 volumes of Science Comics:
Coral Reefs, Cities of the Ocean by Maris Wicks, currently available.
Volcanoes, Fire and Life by Jon Chad, available in September 2016

In the Coral Reefs sample Wicks gives the backstory of her love for the ocean, getting SCUBA certified, and visiting reefs in the Bahamas.  In the Volcanoes sample Chad frames the learning with a story about a young man on a frozen, dead world learning about volcanoes via mythology and scientific fact.  Both stories were riveting and could easily draw your kids (and adults too) into learning more about the world around us.  Getting some education along with your entertainment is a great way to learn new things and these graphic novels would be wonderful additions to a young reader’s library.



CREDIT: Dark Horse

Dark Horse All-Ages Sampler FCBD 2016 Edition (Dark Horse)
Rating: 4.5/5 – Great Art Tells a Couple of Really Charming Stories.

by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

The challenge with media tie-in stories is how much they will work for fans of the core property, which admittedly is probably going to be most of the people who buy it, versus how well it works for someone coming in cold and liking the story/art so much they decide they would like to try the comic even though they are not a follower of the original media.  In this sampler we get stories of the Legend of Korra, How To Train Your Dragon, and Plants vs. Zombies.  The lead story with Korra was utterly charming, even though I’ve never watch an episode of Avatar, Korra, or read any of the comics, I have a vague awareness of the mythos.  Heather Campbell’s art was crisp and I loved the story of Korra meeting her “polar bear dog” Naga.  Based on the strength of this sample, I’d seek out more of these comics.  I have seen the 1st How To Train Your Dragon movie, so am again, generally aware of the world and characters.  I really enjoyed the “telling tall tales” format of the story and was impressed by Doug Wheatly’s art.  Another win, this sample made me interested in what’s going to happen next.  For Plants vs. Zombies, I’m vaguely aware that it’s a video game, but that’s about it.  The story did little for me and I think I just fall into the “not my cup of tea” category here, as the whole thing seemed fairly silly.  This seemed firmly in the “it’s probably good for people who like this sort of thing” camp, and I assume that it may appeal to people who play the game.  Overall, this sampler was well worth picking up for the 1st two stories and I’ll be looking for more of these properties from Dark Horse in future.



CREDIT: Papercutz

Sanjay And Craig/Harvey Beaks FCBD 2016 Edition (Papercutz)

Rating: 4/5 – Don’t Let the Talking Snake Near the Bird, He May Feel Like Snacking.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

Another media tie-in where I was completely unversed in the source material, two cartoon series on Nickelodeon.  That said, both stories kept my attention and (since I looked the shows up on the internet) I can see that the art is reasonably evocative of the source material.  I really enjoyed the Sanjay and Craig stories, the second one in particular.  I’m not sure why a 12 year old kid (Sanjay) has a talking snake (Craig) as a buddy but I’ll roll with it. This seems targeted at a tween & up audience, but I could see watching it and having a good time of it. Harvey Beaks is about a little bird and his buddies, and seems to skew to a much younger audience than Sanjay and Craig.  The stories were cute and the second one kind of heartwarming.  This seems best suited for children who enjoy the cartoon.  In any event, it’s great that Papercutz are doing comics squarely targeted at kids.  Making these based on cartoons they’re familiar with can get them reading instead of just watching TV, which is a great thing.  Parent, if your kids like these shows you should be buying them the graphic novels.

Whew!   That’s it for the all ages comics!  21 reviews down…but there are 50 different FCBD comics so I have 29 more to go!  Next time I’ll be looking at the rest of the Gold tier comics that should be available at all comic shops participating in Free Comic Book Day.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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This entry was posted in Action Lab, Arcana, Dark Horse, First Second, Image, Oni Press, Papercutz, Space Goat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to FCBD 2016: All-Ages Adventure, Humor, Science…Something for Everyone

  1. Pingback: Free Comic Book Day 2016: A Comic Fan’s Holiday… | ComicSpectrum – Bob's Blog

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