Also, a correction: I had reported that this Free Comic Book Day edition is also this new Pink Panther run's official #1. The ads inside it clarify that the formal #1 will follow sometime in May, but it appears to have been pushed back to June 8th.
written and drawn by S.L. Gallant
Gallant definitely understands the neo-silent film, visually-dependent nature of the DePatie-Freleng shorts and faithfully translates them to the medium of comics... or, if you will, sequential art. (I would think that Scott McCloud would approve.) I was confused by a couple of the gags. I'm prone to think it may well have been me, with one exception: what's up with Inspector Clouseau's cameo at the end? Is he Thor's Earthly counterpart, or was this a case of magical long-distance place-trading? Anyway, in the spirit of Free Comic Book Day, this parody of Marvel's Thor works nicely as tribute to the medium as a whole.
written and drawn by Adrian Ropp
The punchline of this one-page Ant and the Ardvark gag is an old standby. While no new layers or twists are added to it, it's still told well, with quick, sharp timing, and the characterization is true to the shorts. Compared to the light, flitting style of "Pan-Thor", this has an earthier style, grounded (pun kind of intended) by a more weighted sense of anatomy. In both cases, the respective style is an appropriate interpretation of the animation on which the comic is based, although neither is a slavish mimicry of the original by any means.
written and drawn by Warren Tufts
Though this story is attributed to 1994 issue of Pink Panther (published by Harvey, we can deduce), the fact that it was also a reprint then is neglected. The four-tiers-per-page format in conjunction with the Pink Panther title logo in the opening half-page splash are a dead giveaway that this of Gold Key/Whitman origin. In true Western Publishing fashion, just like with, for example, Tom and Jerry and The Road Runner the Pink Panther does something that his screen counterpart does not: talk. A lot.
This is an extremely silly story about an island trying to sacrifice "Pink" (that's his name, apparently) to their volcano god. The natives are represented by an oblivious, buffoonish "king" with an absurdly long, jibberish-y name that he can never pronounce right himself (this running joke nearly dominates the story) and his royal "assistant", who's the "power behind the throne" -- you know, the type who's actually far more astute and competent than their "lord", and is actually the one keeping things running, but never complains, happily, loyally and quietly doing his job. Their comedic interplay is actually pretty entertaining. The same goes for Pink playing out the old routine of relishing in the mistaken belief that the natives genuinely mean to treat him hospitably and as an honored guest, and then, at the moment the truth hits home (markedly later than common sense would dictate -- and that's where the humor lies, of course), doing, "Wuh-wuh-WUHHHHH?!!! They want to EAT ME??!!! I'm OUTTA HERE!!!"-type double-take. Fun stuff. Like cotton candy! (And not just 'cause it's pink!)