We wrap up Avengers Week with my annual trek through Free Comic Book Day.
Last year I started off at Star Clipper in University City. They were well-known for offering the best deal on free comics (10) and the best spot for people watching. And it’s important that you have people to watch as the line takes an hour to get through.
Anyway, as reported a few months ago, Star Clipper was blown up after several weeks of “Going Out of Business” sales. It was in all the local news. But then it turned out that Lockjaw had teleported the comic shop out of U City at the last moment and relocated it on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis.
The stupidity of this probably deserves its own column. The owner of Star Clipper claims he’s losing money operating out of a very popular pedestrian business area. He sells the shop to another guy who moves it to downtown St. Louis. Who in their right mind thinks they’ll make more money operating a comic book shop in downtown St. Louis as opposed to the Delmar Loop? Driving downtown is difficult, parking is more difficult, parking is not free, oh, and you might get shot. Good luck, Star Clipper. You’ll need it.
Furthermore, according to my email from Star Clipper, they were only giving away 5 free comics this year. I can match that at Fantasy Shop and not leave St. Charles (I assure you it’s just coincidence that the new owner of Star Clipper is the person who owns the Fantasy Shop chain). I decided I would not be making the trek to the Clipper.
Instead I started off at Comic Relief across town. They were doing their usual 2 free comics, more if you buy stuff. They had nothing I wanted to buy so I picked up the free Marvel books (Avengers and Secret Wars) and headed to the other side of town to Fantasy Shop. There was a line but it wasn’t that long and moved fairly quickly. They were offering 5 comics. I picked up the DC book, looked around, and struggled to pick out 4 more. Where’s the Archie comic? I always get one for my sister. Where’s Atomic Robo? Sigh. I grab a Simpsons comic, a Teen Titans GO, one with a dinosaur on it and one other.
Next door to Fantasy Shop is a Slackers, where they sell new and used video games, movies, comics and etc. They were also taking part in FCBD, so I thought I might as well drop in. Mmmm, what’s that smell? It’s not nerd smell or used video game smell. It’s pizza! There on the counter were several boxes of pizza and a sign inviting everyone to have a slice. Now that’s good marketing. I didn’t walk out with a comic but I did have a piece of pepperoni. Stefanina’s makes good pie.
At this point I’m pretty much done and I’ve only been out an hour. I decide to go by the mall. Two of their shops — V-Stock and another Slackers — are participating in FCBD. Maybe this Slackers will also have food.
Went to V-Stock first (it’s similar in purpose to Slackers). There was a female Thor going through the long boxes but I didn’t see where the free comics were located. Some guy asked me who the symbol on my shirt was for. I get that sometimes. I found the free comics — displayed on a shelf behind the counter. Bad move, V-Stock. Most nerds, and kids, don’t want to have to ask the clerk at the counter for their free comic. And the nerds that do want to talk — you don’t want to talk to them.
Walked a few doors down where Deadpool was greeting customers at the mall Slackers. Inside they had sub sandwiches from Mr. Goodcents. Slackers is my new favorite store. I had a turkey sandwich and no comics.
Figured the day was still young so I made a short hop down I-70 to 270 to Dorsett in Maryland Heights to Newcastle Comics. This is a place I just found out about a few months ago. I’d been there once and was very impressed. Large, nice layout, nice selection of material. Too far to drive to every Wednesday but it’s a special occasion.
Sure enough, they had a few tables of stuff, including stuff I hadn’t seen elsewhere, and were generously offering 5 books. I got my fill and was ready to call it a day. But on the way home I passed by The Mills mall and realized they also had a Slackers, and I was still a little hungry, so I thought I’d give them a shot. i was greeted by a rather hefty Flash and behind the counter was an equally hefty Spider-Man. This shop had cookies.
I got home exhausted with a dozen comics that I had no strong desire to read. I’ve been through this before, you know. The thrill of Free Comic Book Day is in the hunt, not the prize. But who knows, maybe this year would be different.
I begin to read “Secret Wars,” a prelude issue to this year’s big Marvel event. It features a lovely Alex Ross cover with several Marvel characters from several Marvel universes engaged in battle. Open it up and it’s 10 pages of kids talking about the end of the world and recapping what’s been going on in “The Avengers” books over the last 3 years. Sigh. Oh, and not drawn by Alex Ross.
Because, you know, it’s Free Comic Book Day. Thousands of people who only pick up a comic once a year are going to pick up this comic, drawn by the powerful image on the cover and the Marvel brand. And they’re going to get home, open the comic, and see 10 pages of kids talking about the end of the world. Boy, will they be thrilled.
There’s also an 8-page Avengers story in which they fight a bunch of giants for 7 pages and then the Guardians of the Galaxy show up in the last panel. I’m guessing it’s leading to something but I don’t know what. Pointless.
Which brings us at long last to “The All-New, All-Different Avengers,” because we gotta tie this in to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes somehow and because I’m not going to review the other 10 comics I got. I don’t even know when I’m going to get around to reading them.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping track of Marvel Comics, they are currently on a path to destroying the Marvel Universe, which will lead into the Secret Wars story and what comes out the other end — who knows? But All-New, All-Different Avengers is apparently something that comes out the other end.
As you can see from the cover, the New Avengers features black Spider-Man, black Captain America, She-Thor, Teen/Muslim Ms. Marvel, white Nova, red Vision and Iron Man (may or may not be Tony Stark in the armor). If this is the future of The Avengers, I am glad I am old and going to die soon.
Once again you have to admire the marketing geniuses at Marvel. At the same time they’ve got a movie in theaters breaking box office records starring Thor, Cap, Iron Man, HULK, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Vision they give everyone a free Avengers comic featuring…well, the Vision and Iron Man look familiar.
Truthfully, I’m not too worried about these newbies replacing my beloved Avengers. Marvel currently publishes Four different Avengers titles so I’m sure there will be a more traditional Avengers book showing up alongside this one. It’s also always good to keep a lot of characters I don’t care about in the same book so I don’t have to put up with them taking up space in a book I do care about.
As for the story, it’s nothing to speak of. It’s 10 pages of The Avengers fighting Radioactive Man and the kids learn a lesson. It’s a split book with “The Inhumans.” I found that half slightly more interesting only because I like Medusa and the Human Torch and was not expecting to see them make out in the last panel.
And so ends Avengers Week 2015. Of course, in reality every week is Avengers Week if you’re willing to assemble. See you in July for Ant-Man week.
Well, maybe Ant-Man weekend.