It’s that time of the year again where your local comic shop has free comic books for both young and old to get new and old readers a chance to sample select comic books. To find out more about Free Comic Book Day head over to the website that has all of the details and a comic shop locator to help you find a comic shop near you.
Around the world on May 4th 2019 there will be not only free comics but a lot of stores will have guest comic book creators, cosplay, posters, buttons, toys and many have special sales on graphic novels and trade paperback collections.
I will be at Pulp Fiction Comics in Long Beach CA at 1742 Clark Ave (DIRECTIONS) but also the store in Culver City at 4328 Sepulveda Blvd (DIRECTIONS) will also be celebrating FCBD too. One of the best things about both stores is that they also do a can food drive that if you bring can goods to get even more free comic books. This is a great way to not only get more free comics but you will be helping local food banks that desperately need more supplies.
So your going to Free Comic Book Day and your new or not sure what to get that is what I’m going to help you with. I have read the offerings of this years comics and will steer you to the ones that are must have and ones that might not be to your liking. I’m grouping them by either age and or genre.
All Ages Comic Books
The all ages comics are some of the best for new young readers but for older and more seasoned readers they are sometimes a bit harder to judge because they are not the intended audience. So with that in mind I will steer to the ones that actually entertained me and these all are good for any young readers or tweens depending on the title.
The biggest win is the sample of the DC Zoom title Dear Justice League that has gorgeous artwork from Gustavo Duarte who did the Bizzaro mini series a few years back at DC. It not only works for kids but any age is going to like the sharp humor in the stories. Funny Pages from Rebellion is basically the British equivalent of MAD Magazine that was a very nice little surprise. Casper and Little Lulu are always easy wins because the characters are so classic. Lulu is reprints but still great but Casper is new stories and artwork buy Eric Shanower who did the great Wizard of Oz adaptions. The Tick once again has all new stories that are always a big win every year because it’s just darn fun. Lumberjanes and Pokemon are alway strong books and this year. my only gripe with Lumberjanes is that the first story is just an excerpt from the new graphic novel in November and it’s a bit hard to tell new readers that they have to wait till then but there is a charming backup story that saves the day. With Detective Pikachu in theaters soon this is a strong book this year from Viz Comics. Star Wars Adventures was a big surprise and while it’s aimed at a younger audience I found the story was solid. Gilbert by Art Baltazar is fun and his artwork always is great. Last but not least is Lucy & Andy Neaderthal by Jeffery Brown with all new story and artwork based on the best selling book series of the same name. All of these comics are strong all ages books and will help new readers to the world of comics. They are also great if your a parent and want to read them too.
The rest of the All Ages titles are fine and thankfully there are no real clunkers in the bunch. Go Fish and Blastosaurus have weak artwork and so-so stories. Descendants, Witch Hat Atelier, The Big Bad Pizza Battle, and A Sheets Story are just excerpts from released or upcoming books so they are not bad but just a bit disappointing in that but on the other hand it might get new readers back to comic shops after FCBD. The other books in this category are decent but they are based on television and video games so they might have limited appeal depending on your taste. Any of these titles are good choices for the younger crowd and there is nothing that you should avoid so this years crop overall is solid.
Teen and Teen +
While Year of the Villain is not actually a free comic book it is only a quarter and I’m sure a lot of comic shops will be giving this comic away. This is the big kick off to DC Comics big summer crossover story where the Villains have a plan to take over the world. There are three stories with different creative teams but they all set up the storyline. The Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev chapter two was the strongest but it gives a good set up to the story and is worth checking out even if you have to buy it.
For me the big win was the Grumble VS. The Goon that mixed the two books in both story and artwork that you don’t see very often and is a brand new self contained story that is pretty rare in this years crop of comics. Under the Moon is the second of the DC Ink line of Young Adult graphic novels that while it was just a sample of the book I was intrigued to read the whole thing after this preview. I was not a fan of the Stranger Things comic because it felt like a rehash of the series but the main reason to get this comic is the great Black Hammer second story that is all new and good primer for anyone who has not read this incredible comic. Hope had a good story but the artwork was a little weak but at least they gave you the whole first issue for free. Both that and Punchline had good strong female characters that is a good thing in comics now. Kino’s Journey was a sample but didn’t feel like a typical manga story. It was more of a drama that might invite new readers in better. H1 Ignition is a new superhero line from Humanoids. While the preview story was thin it did give you a lot of back story on the charters and the story but a little too early to tell but shows promise and a strong creative team. Vampirella is celebrating her 50th Anniversary and the reason to grab this one is the reprinting of 1993 story by Kurt Busiek and Arthur Adams that has been rarely seen and a fun little story. Robotech was pretty decent but the nostalgia factor is where its strongest.
The rest of the Teen comic books are fairly middling. That is not to say they are bad but as with the Marvel titles they are OK and at least fans of the movies that they are based on might actually read a comic for a change. Spawn is simply a reprint of the first issue and seems pretty pointless. Malika is pretty standard stuff and Riverdale is not one the better stories. Archie would have been better off reprinting one of the new Archie issues over this but I get that the series is popular and this would appeal to that audience. Zagor is reprints from 1961 and after reading I can understand why nobody has heard of this book and sadly it’s pretty weak. The rest of the pack are OK if they interest you but I found nothing outstanding and there are better choices out there to get instead. They are OK if your first choices are not available.
There are not too many Mature comics this year but three really stand out. Deadly Class hot off the first season adaption on SYFY this is a nice stand alone story that gives you a flavor of the comic that inspired the series. A nice side story in the Animosity series that will give you a nice take on the concept of this story. It might not be the strongest but it will give you a reason to try the regular series because of its strong concept. Finally hot off winning many awards last year including the Oscars of comic The Eisner Awards where it won 3 Eisner’s. This is a new set of stories created just for this book and while it may not be everyones taste, it is one of the strongest teen and mature comic for a more seasoned readers who wants to expand their reading choices.
The final three comics are a mixed bag. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is OK and just part of a story and lots of ads so it OK but for fans of the series but not going to impress new readers too much. The Dark Ages is listed as a teen rated comic but with the blood and beheadings I would be careful on what age you were going to give it too. I would say older teens at the youngest. The only comic on the list that I found sub par was Starburns Presents that was pretty much amateur hour and simply not up to par as far as quality goes. Sure it’s free but I would say it’s not worth even that.
First and foremost if you are a regular comic book reader try and get your friends and family to go to your local comic shop on Saturday May 4th to share what we love about comics and graphic novels. Try to get younger kids to go also because they are the future and reading any book including comics is a key to learning. While your picking up your free comic books remember that the comic shop actually pays for all of those free comics so help support them by buying other things like comics, graphic novels, toys or anything from them to show your support to them.
The most important thing about Free Comic Book Day is to have fun!