Writer: Dale Mettam
Art: Jose Coba, Ivan Escalante
Letterer: Tony Garza
Publisher: Viper Comics
This Free Comic Book Day one-shot has two stories – one with a character from my childhood, the other with a modern character I don’t really know much about. Unfortunately, neither of these stories really resonated much with me.
Inspector Gadget is first, and it’s set up well. Gadget, Penny and Brain are on a trip to Istanbul to hop on board the Orient Express. Naturally, there’s trouble on board – a genius scientist riding the train has been targeted by agents of MAD to get their hands on him. But the set-up leads into a cliffhanger, which is always dangerous in a FCBD book. If you’re going to leave the reader dangling in a free book, you better make really sure the cliffhanger is worth coming back for, and this really feels like a very standard Inspector Gadget story. It’s okay, but nothing special, and for some reason the lettering on the first page is so small it’s almost painful to read. Another mark against it.
Speaking of production problems, Johnny Test suffers from an even bigger one. The entire story has a sort of pixilation, like the pages were originally shot at a much smaller size and then blown up to fit a standard comic book. The story is actually clever – ninjas are doing Johnny’s homework for him, causing a sort of time paradox that will force him to go back and stop his homework from being done. It’s not something you’ve seen before, and although it, too, ends on a cliffhanger, it’s one that makes me more inclined to read more. But the art problems make it really hard to recommend.