FCBD '09: From Owly to Wolverine

fcbd_nodateOwly and Friends

Top Shelf Productions’ Owly and Friends offers new Owly, Korgi and Johnny Boo stories. There’s a one page reprint of last year’s Yam in the back. Ann & Christian Slade‘s Korgi features the same intense line work as before and a highly unusual story. “Johnny Boo meets Johnny Who” is notable for it’s creative team of James Kochalka (age 41) and Eli Kochalka (age 5).

Owly very well could be the best all-ages comic currently published. Andy Runton‘s little round owl and his friend Wormy never fail to delight and are accepted favorites in my house. In this year’s silent story, Owly and Wormy must find a solution when their large collection of plants won’t fit in their tiny greenhouse. It’s typical Owly goodness!

Recommendation: Any of the series represented in this book are worth a closer look, but Owly stands out as a must read comic.

NASCAR Heroes

A group of super-powered racers and crew face off against a dastardly villain who will stop at nothing to add to his trophy shelf. I imagine it would be somewhat difficult to understand what’s going on in this comic without reading the previous FCBD issue or the regular series.

Jeremy Diamond and John Gallagher provide the stories. Peter Habjan, Rich Duhaney, Susan Menzies, Thom Zahler, Ian Rutledge and the Smiley Guys Studio provide the art, most of which is not too shabby.

I must admit I wasn’t expecting much after 2008’s disaster of a comic. At least the “heroes” didn’t cheat in order to win a race this time. They only used their powers in self defense.

The issue earns a couple of marks in it’s favor. The high-gloss, heavy-weight cover is very nice. There is also a NASCAR Heroes Profile of teen-aged racer Chase Elliot.

Recommendation: The regular series is probably not worth the $3.95 cover price. Wait until Janet Evanovich’s NASCAR comic comes out for Fathers’ Day of 2010.

The World of Cars: The Rookie

BOOM! Kids’ flashback issue of Lightning McQueen’s origin is full of vibrant colors and cool special effects. It’s a sample of the first issue of the new series based on the Disney/Pixar property.

Writer Alan J. Porter says, “When I first saw Cars in the movie theater, I wondered how McQueen  had gotten into Piston Cup racing and become the “rookie sensation of the year.” I also wondered why these particular residents of Radiator Springs had decided to stay as the town died around them, and what it was that made it so special.” Now he’s answering those questions in the new comic.

Albert Carreres, Allen Gladfelter and Emily Kanalz supply the art. Deron Bennett is responsible for the lettering.

Recommendation: Snatch the first issue of this new series while you still can.

Wolverine: Origin of an X-Man

Tying nicely to the theatrical opening for the summer movie season, this all-ages book reveals the events leading to Wolverine’s first mission as part of Canada’s super team, Alpha Flight. Our diminutive hero is sent on a one man mission to stop an unknown force from taking over a small town.

Marvel has trouble getting all-ages right. Most of their comics I’ve looked at in recent months are full of gore, adult situations, witchcraft, even soft core porn. By contrast, they seem to think all-ages means inane drivel even a three year old would find intellectually insulting.

This comic, however, is spot on. Fred Van Lente’s story and the art and letters of Gurihiru and Dave Sharpe create an engaging tale of heroism, wisdom and integrity.

Recommendation: Demand more titles like this from Marvel Comics.

Wizard Hot Lists

Speaking of everyone’s favorite mutant, guess who graces the cover of Wizard Entertainment’s FCBD pamphlet. (They’re trying to prove they’re relevant.)

Wizard magazine and it’s related publications don’t enjoy the popularity they once did, but Hot Lists is relatively free of the negative gender stereotyping for which the rag is infamous.

The copy on page one suggest that this freebie may feel “heavier than all the other ones in your stack,” in spite of being somewhat skimpy. There’s a list of the 50 greatest comics movies of all time (Batman, X-Men and Superman II better than Superman: The Movie? C’mon!), a two page spread on Death Note, samples from art books published by Wizard Entertainment and a few pages of Twisted Toyfare Theatre (the highlight of the issue).

Recommendation: Do what I do. Read Twisted Toyfare Theatre in the bookstore and put the mag back on the rack.

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About James A Woods
Freelance Writer, Constant Learner, Family Man

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