Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Free Comic Book Day 2010: Fractured Fables & Sonic the Hedgehog

Fractured Fables (Free Comic Book Day Edition), Image Comics
contributors: Michael Allred, Laura Allred, Tim Daniel, Bryan Talbot, Camilla d'Errico, Edison Ya, Ed Brisson, Doug TenNapel, Alexander Grecian, Christian Ward, Derek McCulloch, Anthony Peruzzo, Ted McKeever

Image Comics' Fractured Fables is the company's latest themed hardcover collection, akin to its 24Seven and Popgun, featured warped and/or deranged interpretations of beloved fairy tales. From short nursery rhymes like Hey, Diddle Diddle to more linear tales like Little Red Robin Hood, apparently no nursery rhyme is safe from the dementia of the modern comic book artist, including personal favorites like Doug TenNapel. His "Rumpelstiltskin" rivals Bryan Talbot and Camilla d'Errico's "Red Riding Hood" for my favorite of this sample issue, as they parallel the spirit of the original fairy tale with just a little crack in their integrity (a fracture, if you will) that makes them fun and modern. The all-ages appeal of this collection makes it an ideal Free Comic Book Day teaser, as kids enticed by the Iron Man fare might pick this one up, too, and taste what less mainstream comic art looks like. The timelessness of these fables makes them vulnerable to equally timeless interpretation, and since their original language is so vivid, the comic book is the perfect place to recreate that original magic. It's like the wolf in grandma's clothing -- sweet on the outside, but packing a bite if you get too close.

Sonic: Hide & Seek & Destroy, Free Comic Book Day Edition, Archie Comics Publications
by Ian Flynn, James Fry, Jim Amash, Matt Herms, Teresa Davidson

I didn't know Sonic the Hedgehog was still around, at least in comic book form, but here he is, just as zippy as ever. This sample issue is a little too mired in back story for my tastes -- wait, back story?! In a comic book inspired by a video game about a hedgehog that runs fast? Believe it, considering this title has thirteen trade paperback collections and at least one spin-off series (ha, pun) -- and, as I wrote, this issue carries that history forward, referencing past events to tease about things to come. Fortunately, it kind of reads like a video game level, too, as Sonic infiltrates a boss's lair to encounter a big baddie -- in this case, a amalgam creature of previous big baddies, an homage to Sonic legend, no doubt. Fans of the character will probably dig this issue, but as a layman to the Sega franchise, it was just a fun but fleeting read.

Interestingly, characters like Sonic represent the modern fairy tale. The game console is like the Brothers Grimm, or the Mother Goose, and the franchising that results is akin to the constant retelling. I mean, when Sonic first came out, I was a kid; now, at 30, I can only assume kids as old as I was then are picking up this Free Comic Book Day offering with the same of fervor I had holding that video game controller. More power to 'em. Somebody has to carry these stories forward.

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