Scripps Howard News Service
Comics, that is, because Saturday, May 4, is Free Comic Book Day, when participating retailers give away comic books that publishers have specifically created for the event. Many retailers turn FCBD – sometimes referred to as “Nerd Christmas” – into a sort of party, with creators doing signings, and customers cosplaying, and other comic-book-related events. If nothing else, it’s usually a participating comic shop’s biggest traffic day of the year, with lots of crowds and excitement.
Go to freecomicbookday.com for a list of events and participating retailers in your area. Meanwhile, we can anticipate the comics by their online descriptions – and there’s a lot to anticipate. This year a record 4.6 million comics will be given away, according to Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., consisting of 53 titles. Some of them look so good, it’s hard to believe that they’re free. (But they are, honest!)
Whatever the Big Two publishers come up with is always popular, and both Marvel Comics and DC Comics have offerings that dovetail with their other media properties.
For example, DC’s Man of Steel (who has a movie of that name coming June 14) stars in Superman: Last Son of Krypton #1, written by Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and former Superman director Richard Donner. Drawn by fan favorite Andy Kubert, this special issue features the Metropolis Marvel battling General Zod and his minions, who happen to appear in Man of Steel as well. There’s also a preview of Superman Unchained, a new series by Scott Snyder (Batman) and Jim Lee (Justice League), which will debut the same week as the movie. Talk about synergy!
Meanwhile, Marvel offers Infinity, which sports a big purple puss on the cover that fans will recognize as Thanos, the mad Titan, who happens to be the villain in Avengers 2, coming in 2015. But coming even sooner – this summer, to be exact – is a Thanos miniseries, culminating in an event called Infinity, which will cross over in a bunch of Marvel titles, especially those starring Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, who also have a movie coming next summer. (Yes, you do need a scorecard to keep up with all this.)
Meanwhile, neither publisher is neglecting their cartoon blocks, which are found on Cartoon Network (DC) and Disney XD (Marvel). The DC Nation Super Sampler offers a sneak peek at two new shows coming from Warner Bros. Animation, Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go! Marvel, meanwhile, gives a glimpse of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. in a book of that name, which also contains a sneak preview of Avengers Assemble!
Speaking of TV, fans of a certain zombie show on AMC shouldn’t miss The Walking Dead Special, with four solo stories starring The Governor, Michonne, Morgan and Tyreese. That last story has never appeared anywhere before, and none of these stories, says TWD creator Robert Kirkman, will ever be reprinted in the trade paperbacks. Completists, to your vehicles!
Needless to say, parents should probably keep the kiddies away from anything involving The Walking Dead – I mean, seriously, that is one scary book – but most FCBD offerings are distinctly kid-friendly, and for the most part, girl-friendly. For example, The Little Mermaid appears in Dynamic Forces’ Damsels, Tinkerbell stars in NBM’s Disney Fairies and an old favorite surfaces in the Pippi Longstocking Summer Special. And be sure to steer the kids to the Bongo Comics Free-For-All (starring the Simpsons), Boom’s Kaboom! Summer Blast! (with the Peanuts gang), Ape Entertainment’s Sesame Street & Strawberry Shortcake, United Plankton’s Spongebob Comics Freestyle Funnies, NBM’s The Smurfs, IDW’s TMNT New Animated Adventures (starring the martial-arts Turtles), the World of Archie Digest, Antarctic’s Action Time Buddies (starring Kid the Adventurer and Bro the Kung Fu Pegasus), Oni’s Rated Free for Everyone (starring Crogan), Hermes Press’ Scratch9 (the world’s greatest superhero cat), Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man Flipbook, the Top Shelf Kids Club (with six stories, one pitting Pirate Penguin against Ninja Chicken), Action Lab’s Molly Danger and Capstone Presents Mr. Puzzle (a fellow who likes solving puzzles).
So older readers might tuck into Dark Horse’s Star Wars/Captain Midnight/Avatar, an accurate title referring to the three features in the book. Or Alterna’s FUBAR (more zombies) or IDW’s Judge Dredd Classics. Valiant provides two books, one with current material (Harbinger Wars Special) and one from their storied past (Valiant Masters Showcase Edition). Dynamite’s Grimm! details the characters, creatures and inspiration for the ABC series, while Image’s gorgeous robot assassin returns in Aphrodite IX.
Unfortunately, there’s not room enough to describe every book – I could spend a considerable amount of time just on the wild, wonderful weirdness of Archaia’s The Steam Engines of Oz and Mouse Guard. And I’d love to muse on the return of venerable old favorites like Fantagraphics’ Prince Valiant and Hermes’ Buck Rogers.
But, alas, you’ll all have to experience the rest yourselves at Free Comic Book Day. Where, remember, you get comic books. Absolutely free!
Contact Captain Comics at firstname.lastname@example.org.