Monday, May 04, 2009

The Avengers Free Comic Book Day – Review

The Avengers Free Comic Book Day – Review

Publisher Marvel

Writer Brian Bendis

Pencils Jim Cheung

Inks Mark Morales

Colors John Rauch

I know I should start out with the positive as Marvel always produces a ton of great material for Free Comic Book Day, but for me this was their number one item on FCBD and I have to say WTF? A regular comic book is normally 6 ½” by 10 1/8” and this size is smaller then where we were in the Golden and Silver Ages and probably slightly smaller then even in recent years, but I do not know when it become the standard. My WTF has to do with Marvel making the FCBD book even smaller and it clocks in at 6 1/8” x 9 3/8”. In calculating that out it goes from 65.8 square inches to 57.4 square inches a reduction of 8.4 square inches or a 13% reduction in size. If you don’t think that the accounting people are not crunching how much they can save on paper cost by making their magazines smaller then you have not been paying attention to how Marvel operates. Here is another thought, cut the magazine size to this size and now a full page of a comic can fit on my pitiful 15” diagonal monitor and hey how much easier will it be to convert you to an e-comic if a table can be made that size. I keep telling people the e-comic / digital comic revolution is coming and Marvel is making plans on all sorts of levels to be at the forefront of the market place. From just a poor paper fan perspective this sucked, but when I sat down and read it I forgot about it.

This will do so many things for Marvel that I can’t help but think this was just the nice way to taste the waters with a smaller size comic. It gives them cheaper printing costs (less paper), cheaper shipping (less weight), starts to train paper to a smaller size making a hand held tablet size digital comic more palatable and a single page easily fits on a 15” diagonal monitor screen. Outside of the screaming fan that has shown unwillingness to ever vote with his wallet against Marvel doing these types of things, why wouldn’t they make this move. Marvel wants you to sign up with their digital program; Marvel wants to sell comics on a digital basis, Marvel will push the envelope until you push back. One last note Marvel makes no notes on their solicitations as to the size of their comics.

The story itself was quite the bargain as it was free. Marvel put a top talent team against it with Brian Bendis writing (their biggest writer) and Jim Cheung on pencils (an excellent artist) and gave us a 24 page story that was a great action packed adventure of both the Dark Avengers and the New Avengers. It was not as good of a primer of the Marvel Universe as DC did in their book, but it did serve that purpose in many ways as they laid out who was who in the current status quo. The story itself was not bad and gave us hints of what maybe coming as the menace while defeated does not feel like it is over by any means.

What absolutely killed me in this story was the dialogue from the characters, Bendis was horrible. I have complained about this before but Bendis reached a new low. Spider-Man’s internal monologue was atrocious and the interplay between the characters was like Bendis wants to be writing for a sitcom as opposed to a comic book and misses on both counts. It continually took me out of the comic and reinforced my belief that while Bendis has some good plots, he needs someone else to write the script. Still no matter the flaws this was a good adventure, tons of action, lots of super heroes and solid art, one of the best pamphlet size comics on the market.

Overall Grade B – Maybe a B- as it is 13% smaller then any other comic on the stands.

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