Here's what I thought of this year's offerings.
Voltron Force: Shelter From The Storm (Viz Media)
Writer: Brian Smith
Artist: Jacob Chabot
While this is clearly aimed at children who watch the animated series, I enjoyed this quite a bit. Not enough for me to buy it, but I would not hesitate to get this for my son if he knew who the heck Voltron was.
Avengers: Age of Ultron 0.1 (Marvel)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Bryan Hitch (pencils) and Paul Neary (inks)
Wow, this is actually pretty damn good for Bendis. I only winced once at his dialogue. This is a huge set-up issue for the Age of Ultron arc, and it looks great. Hitch's artwork is tremendous. I am looking forward to reading a Bendis book, believe it or not. I have several in my backlog to get through first, so maybe I should get cracking. Now don't go thinking that I have gone all soft on Bendis or anything. The vast majority of his stuff that I've read has sucked. It's just that I feel that if I am quick to condemn his shoddy work, then I must be equally quick to praise his successes. Credit where credit is due and stuff.
DC: The New 52 #1 (DC)
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Jim Lee and others.
This is a sampler of the various genres of the New 52, and aside from the first 3-4 page story, I am uninterested in any of it. What can I say? I'm more of a Marvel guy.
Spider-Man: Season One (Marvel)
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Neil Edwards
So Ultimate Spider-Man isn't good enough for the Millennials? How many reboots and re-tellings of Spider-Man's origin do we need? This is okay for what it is, but I'll stick with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's origin story, thank you very much.
Mouse Guard, Labrynth, And Other Stories (Archaia)
Writers: David Petersen and others.
Artists: David Petersen and others.
In what is clearly the most elaborate Free Comic Book Day item ever, Petersen and Archaia give us this digest sized hardcover with a sampling of the various titles in the line. This must have cost them a fortune, as it even has sewn binding. I enjoyed The Mouse Guard story but have been reluctant to buy it for fear of being sucked into still another title.
The Hypernaturals (Boom)
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artists: Brad Walker, Tom Derenick, and Mark Irwin
The future, where heroes are everywhere riff recycled so many times that it's almost fresh. Almost.
Worlds of Aspen 2012 #1 (Aspen)
Nothing here makes me want to buy anything by this company. Not my cup of tea.
Image 20 (Image)
Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton has piqued my interest. I'll be in for the eventual collected edition. Near Death seems okay, but I can already tell that if I buy it that I will only read it once and then dump it on eBay in one of my purgings, so I will save myself time and money and just borrow it from a friend or the library.
Valiant 2012 (Valiant)
This is very polished stuff. I can appreciate fine craftsmanship, even if the stories are not what I am looking for. I wasn't around for their first pass 20 years ago, so I have no nostalgic longing to see these concepts reworked for the 21st century.
Transformers Regeneration One #80.5 (IDW)
Writer: Simon Furman
Artists: Andrew Wildman (pencils) and Stephen Baskerville (inker)
Much like what IDW has done by bringing back Larry Hama on G.I. Joe, IDW has brought back the creative team for the back half of the Marvel run, continuing the Marvel continuity and numbering from the '80/90s. I enjoyed this quite a bit, and will try to resist the urge to buy this. Try to.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Vertigo/DC)
Adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel by Denise Mina
Artists: Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti
This seems interesting. This genre isn't really my cup of tea, but Manco's artwork makes this more appealing to me. I passed this on to my wife, who is a huge fan of the books. I might check this out or, better yet, buy it for her and read her copy.
Also picked up Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens (Liquid; not pictured above) for a friend, and read it. While it is written by Grant Morrison and lushly illustrated, I will be passing on it. It's lame.
Follow my blog on Facebook.
DC has made strides in fixing the problem of their books not laying flat. Join the cause page if you want make sure that DC keeps up the recent good work on their hardcovers. Don't do it for me, do it for the children. Won't somebody please think of the children??