Thursday, May 11, 2006

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY arrives belatedly 'round these parts

Well, I've just read Marvel's FREE X-MEN/RUNAWAYS & Oni Press' FREE SCOTT PILGRIM. The X-Men/Runaways team-up was pretty dire stuff, a blemish on the glory that is Vaughn's lasting contribution to the Marvel universe. I presume it was intended to be a hastily assembled crash course in the flippant stylings of the Runaways to the potentially huge X-Men readership. A couple of killer lines of dialogue aside, it's the standard "superhero teams meet, superhero teams fight, superhero teams bond" dynamic that Marvel have been churning out for forty-three years. Such a tired old formula is a most unfitting introduction to a team of characters I'd happily recommend to any young reader getting into comics (and, hey - recommending books is what I do for a living). Similarly, I'd also happily recommend the Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O'Malley to any young reader just getting into comics. Hell, I'd even recommend it to any eternal adolescent who loves the holy trinity of girls, guitars and computer games. This is the zeitgeist-defining book of its generation, just as, say, DEADLINE was for mine. Yes, it's that flippin' good, and this'll serve to tide me over until the next installment proper in Scott's saga.

These two titles are the nearest the American comic book tradition has came to successfully assimilating the ethos of shojo and shonen manga, rather than just a patronising, superficial adaption of its visual style. As such, they'd readily appeal to the core markets for manga (teens, girls, those who want to try comics but are uninitiated with the insuperable complexity of the Big Two's established continuity). Marvel have been criticised in the past for just reprinting old material for FCBD, or for using it as a promotional tool for their latest movie releases (unfair: if anything, FCBD was created to allow comic shops to piggyback on the success of Marvel's movies). This time, ironically, they might have been better just creating a flipbook of a couple of key issues of RUNAWAYS and YOUNG AVENGERS.

And the moral of this story is: nip over to Amazon and buy those three Scott Pilgrim books.