This Free Comic Book Day issue comes from Viz Comics.

I Choose You story and art by Ryo Takamisaki.

Pokemon Adventures story by Hidenori Kusaka. Art by Mato.

Thanks to a bored co-worker, I got my hands on some of this year’s Free Comic Book Day offerings. Due to my son’s current obsession with all things Pokemon, this was one of the 51 offerings I specifically asked for. Today we sat down to read the comic and the entire reason behind FCBD unfolded before me.

In the first story, I Choose You, Ash meets his first Pokemon, Pikachu, for the first time. This story was told in the very first episode of the cartoon and again in a recent anniversary movie. It is the often told origin nearing the same level of repetition as Spider-Man. Ash wants to be the world’s greatest Pokemon trainer. On the morning of his 10th birthday, when all potential trainers receive their first pocket monsters, he oversleeps. Ash arrives at Professor Oak’s lab too late to choose a Pokemon. The only one left is the temperamental Pikachu. He refuses to get in his Pokeball, refuses commands, and in general is a stubborn creature. But Ash keeps trying. During their reluctant journey, Ask discovers another Pokemon and tries to throw a rock to knock it out in hopes of then catching it. Instead he hits a Spearow, a bird type Pokemon, in the head and triggers the entire flock to attack. The flock pecks Pikachu violently. Ash steps in front and protects Pikachu, ready to sacrifice his own life. This act inspires the sullen and defeated Pikachu into action, using his special attack to save Ash.

In the second story, Pokemon Adventures, a different trainer – Red – trespasses into Professor Oak’s lab. The Professor startles him thus triggering a chain reaction releasing all of the Pokemon in the lab. The two now must team up to recapture all of them. A lone Bulbasaur remains. Bulbasaur is about to be attacked by a large fighting type Pokemon, Machoke. Red uses his brain and Bulbasaur’s powers to save the day and thus a bond is formed between the two. Professor Oak sees the potential in Red and sends the two off to start their own adventure.

Both stories do exactly what a FCBD title is supposed to do, get the reader interested enough to buy the next part of the story. A little ad follows the tale informing new fans where to find the next part of the story and how to order/buy it. It is a comic and reads exactly how it should.

We read the story together. At first I thought I would be writing that I read the story to my son, but he surprised me with how many words he recognized. He also had no problem with the Japanese right to left reading. He understood the pacing of panels and the build up to reveal new twists with the turn of a page. This has been the most engaged he’s been in a story that didn’t feature Pete the Cat.

He did show more interest in the first story though because not only is Ash the more familiar character, but the art was closer to that of the cartoon. I know adult comic fans get frustrated with characters changing to match movies but for young readers the familiarity breeds excitement.

This issue isn’t going into my comic collection, it’s going on his book shelf. Maybe we’ll pick up a manga eventually and read more of the tale. After this one is falling apart thanks to the many forthcoming readings.

 

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