Another Free Comic Book Day come and gone. Fort Wayne has several great comics shops, as well as an amazing downtown library, so I definitely wasn’t lacking in places to hit up for free comics. The library even had special events for kids — a superhero scavenger hunt, cape and domino mask making stations, and superhero visits.
My comic reading habits this year have been mostly going back to old favorites. Linda Medley is still working on Volume 3 of Castle Waiting, and Kate Beaton is taking a break from the Hark! A Vagrant! comics to write a graphic novel, so I’ve been returning regularly to the volumes I already have for my feminist fairy tale and historical parody fix.
I’ve also finally finished up the America Chavez solo series, having taken a few months’ break after Issue #6 because the story arcs were kind of bugging me…
It felt like every conflict the writers introduced was solved too quickly and easily. Unlike Ms. Marvel, where story arcs last for at least four episodes each, or Young Avengers, which took 15 issues to complete its story arc, the conflicts in America 1-6 usually took just two issues to resolve. Cyborgs attack Sotomayor University? Just a quick zzzzapp! and they’re gone! Those adorable pre-teens from Planet Maltixa turn out to be an evil guerilla group that kidnaps America’s ex-girlfriend? Never mind; they basically just invited her over for a Buffy marathon. An old girlfriend is forced to betray America to an evil organization that wants to pit them against each other in a boxing-match-to-the-death? Just call in Deus Ex Madrimar!
None of these mini arcs lasted long enough to make a compelling story, and when I heard the series as a whole was canceled after Issue 12, I wasn’t really surprised.
Then America Vol. 2 (Issues 7-12) appeared at my local library, and I decided to give it a chance. And right away, they hooked me with America’s full origin story involving a mystical planet born from the love affair between two ancient goddesses, and a demon enemy that drove America’s ancestors from their home and has now returned for a re-match, oh and apparently those cyborgs and the evil Midas corporation were all connected after all under another enemy we met in Young Avengers, who is also set on attacking America’s home planet, and all this is going to take more than just two episodes to resolve. Much better, right?
Dang, Exterminatrix is scaring me more than those skeletal planet-eating demons!
Aaaand then, after that awesome six-issue build-up, and an admittedly awesome motorcycle battle with Exterminatrix, America just has to ask the evil pink genocidal planet-eating demons nicely to please make peace with the people of Planeta Fuertona, and a decades-long conflict is over in a flash.
Yup, this calls for a Merida glare.
So, that was America Chavez’s first solo series. A lot of build-up and a few fun moments lead to an eye-rollingly rushed end. But, who knows? Maybe Rivera et al. will try again in the future, and I’ll be willing to see where America’s story goes.
So, now what? While I wait for more Castle Waiting and Hark! A Vagrant!, I’ve been having a much better time with Ms. Marvel (The Inventor returned for a re-match! Bruno returned from Wakanda! There’s a new mean girl at school and reformed concern troll Zoe might kind of maybe have a crush on her!) and Free Comic Book Day has given me a few new stories to consider.
All Summer Long, by Hope Larson (as excerpted in FCBD’s Comics Friends Forever), is apparently one of those the-summer-everything-changed coming-of-age stories about a thirteen-year-old girl named Bina who tries to figure out what to do with herself while her possibly-estranged best friend is away at soccer camp, and ends up spending more and more time rocking out with his older sister. I’m really hoping this is going to turn into a f/f summer romance, personally.
Street Angel, by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, is about a homeless skateboarding teen ninja who spends her days battling fellow ninjas, as well as “drugs, nepotism, and pre-algebra,” and also saves a lost dog from a local gang. I’m already a big fan of the stark, graffiti-like art style, with its flashy fonts and bright colors, and I may be down for some forthcoming adventures working as an office temp at a ninja tech corporation, besides dealing with girl gangs, superheroes, and a lunch lady from WWI.
And then there’s the Malika series, by Roye Okupe, which takes place in a fifteenth-century West African kingdom ruled by a warrior queen who fights internal rebels as well as an external superpower known as the Ming Dynasty. The FCBD episode was unfortunately sold out by the time I got to the comics shop, so I hit up my library’s hoopla account for Issues 1-4 instead, and was intrigued enough to sign up for updates. Fun Fact: the five provinces of the Azzazian Empire are inspired by real historical West African kingdoms and ethnic groups like the Bornu, the Dahomey, and the Nupe.
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What about you, La La Landers? Which of this year’s free comics have hooked you on new stories? Any other comics or graphic novels you’d like to give a shout-out to?