Mass Appeal’s Guide to Free Comic Book Day 2016
What you need to know before you hit up the comic shop tomorrow
Free Comic Book Day started as way to drive readers back to their local comic shops when digital comics started to rear their ugly head. But there is a big misnomer about how it all works. Yes, we the customers get the comics free on this joyous day, but the comic shop, however, does not. The comics don’t just show up at every comic shop on the first Saturday in May, they have to be ordered. And while they don’t cost as much as regular comics, LCSs don’t make any money on them. So, here’s the reason you need to know all this, most shops only let you take FCBD comics with a purchase and the majority have a limit of five to ten. Now, with fifty (!!) titles available, you really need to know what to grab. That’s where we come in. Unlike previews on other sites, we have actually read a lot of the comics and can give our honest opinion of what you need to read and what is not worth the paper its printed on.
Civil War II w/ All-New All Different Avengers
Marvel Comics are masters of capitalizing on their movies and giving the fans something to talk about on FCBD! With Captain America: Civil War opening in theatres today, it is the ideal time to get fans excited about their next big crossover event Civil War II. This time the war between heroes and friends starts when a new Inhuman named Ulysses who has precognitive abilities comes on the scene. Some heroes think he should used to fight threats pro-actively, while the other side believes one cannot be guilty until they commit a crime. However, in this comic we just see the first incident in which A-Force and The Ultimates unite to fight Thanos based on a Ulysses vision. I won’t get into any specifics but suffice it to say, it looks like a major player may be biting the dust!
Also in this issue is the start of a new All-New All Different Avengers arc in which we are introduced to the new Wasp. We aren’t given many clues as to who she is, but she seems to be Russian and judging by what she does to the Vision, it’s hard to say what her alliance is.
This one is a must for any Marvel fan!
Steve Rogers: Captain America w/ Dead No More
The other thing Marvel is really good at is making sure their movies and comics match up. Meaning that many times the comics have gone in very different directions than the arc a movie is adapting, ie: Steve Rogers lost his vitality in the comics a few years back and hasn’t held the mantle of Captain America since. BUT this comic rectifies all that. So, worry not non-fanboys, if you pick up this comic just because you are on a Cap high after seeing the new movie, you won’t be confused. This is a straight-forward Captain America story where Hydra is the enemy and his allies like Sharon Carter, Sam Wilson and even Rick Jones are all present. And did I mention they introduce a new Falcon? Yeah, Sam Wilson has passed the torch and the new kid seems to be an Inhuman named Joaquin.
The other story in here is the intro to the upcoming Spider-Man crossover Dead No More. Somebody is bringing the most important dead characters from Spider-Man continuity back to the land of the living. In this opening gambit writer Dan Slott brings back the original Rhino, his wife, the Kingpin’s wife, and even Gwen Stacy. The man pulling the strings? We’re thinking it’s a new version of classic Spidey foe, the Jackal. His mask seems to be the likeness of the Egyptian god Seth and his lair definitely has an ancient Egyptian vibe. Intriguing!
This comic should also be in your Top 5 grabs.
Suicide Squad #1
DC are not as proficient as Marvel at making movies or aligning their comics to take full advantage of movie hype. Early advertising for FCBD 2016 suggested that DC’s main offering was “top secret” and many speculated it would be a #0 issue for their Rebirth launch. However, it appears those plans fell through. So, I guess they decided they would at least support their upcoming summer flick by giving us a reprint of the #1 issue of New 52 rebooted Suicide Squad. This is kinda cool and kinda disappointing at the same time. It’s good way for readers intrigued by the Suicide Squad trailers to get an idea of what David Ayer is adapting (he definitely pulled his Harley from this run), but for DC fanatics this something they’ve had in a long box for years already.
DC Super Hero Girls
I respect that DC usually do a FCBD book for the youngsters as well. And it’s a good thing they did this year because kiddos surely are not the right demographic for the adult themes of Suicide Squad. Super Hero Girls is a program DC started to do a better job at attracting the Barbie crowd. It includes a comic, animated movies, Barbie-esque dolls, Lego sets, and tons of other merchandising. This comic introduces us to the main cast of characters and the high school setting. The best part of this for long time DC fans will be the tongue-in-cheek title of the upcoming arc. I won’t spoil the surprise.
It’s hilarious to put this side-by-side with Suicide Squad #1 and see how Harley is portrayed so differently on each cover.
If you are sick of the Big 2’s antics, Valiant is great alternative. They offer a fully developed universe chock-a-block with awesome superhero stories and top notch talent. This comic is the lead in to their 4001 AD crossover event and gives us a taste of what life is like in the Valiant Universe two millennia from now. We see the floating world of New Japan and meet the 4001 Rai but they’re holding off the unveiling of the future X-O and Shadowman, and a new character (just announced today) named War Mother for the actual mini series and oneshots.
This book also contains samples of Divinity II, A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong, Faith, and Bloodshot Reborn. Not to mention a two-page spread in the center that features every character in the Valiant Universe, plus teaser ads for upcoming titles like Savage, a new Harbinger series, Brittania, Blood Shot War, and ‘90s favorite Psi-Lords!
Get it, get it, get it!
ROM The Space Knight #0
ROM has quite a storied history. The character started as Parker Brothers toy in the late ‘70s, and was soon after licensed to Marvel for a comic series. The action figure failed, but the comic was a success. ROM was given the subtitle SpaceKnight, a rich backstory, and was woven into the Marvel Universe. However, Parker Bros. kept the rights to ROM and he was unceremoniously yanked from the Marvel Universe after his series ended in the late ‘80s. Marvel did keep the rights to all the parts of his story that they created like his home planet, enemies, and even the SpaceKnight designation, and they continue to use these elements today.
Now, this brings us to a time when Hasbro owns Parker Bros. and have a licensing deal with IDW for many of their top properties like Transformers and G.I. Joe. So, with the success of those franchises, Hasbro is looking to reintroduce ROM. A FCBD launch is a smart move by Hasbro as it helps create awareness in advance of the live action ROM movie, which was recently announced as part of a Hasbro shared cinematic universe.
Anyways, the comic has dope art and easily establishes ROM’s history, mission, and alignment. Interestingly, IDW gets to use Dire Wraiths here, which I’m pretty sure Marvel still owns the rights to.
Serenity w/ Hellboy & Aliens
Darkhorse always does well at giving you some fun short stories in the universes of some of fandom’s most beloved franchises and this year is no different. The Serenity portion of this book is River telling Wash and Zoe’s baby a story about her parents and their crew, albeit and embellished version. Next we get an early Hellboy tale where he escapes his BPRD facility. And then we close out with a sampling of the new Aliens series Defiance.
All in all, this comic is worth scuffling with another customer over.
Avatarex: Chapter One
If Grant Morrison’s name is on FCBD book, you should pick it up. In fact, if Morrison’s name is on any comic, you should pick it up. He has proven time and again to be an innovator of multiple comic book genres and just fiction writing in general. Graphic India (an Indian comic company, if that isn’t clear) have secured Morrison to write two Indian themed graphic novels and you get a couple pages of each here. Avatarex is about a hibernating man-god awakening in the future to save the Earth and mankind, but learning he may be to powerful for his own good…and our’s. Then, in 18 Days, which started life as a digital comic, we get a modern retelling of an epic Indian myth.
This is for those looking for something different but high quality.
Whoa, Archie is looking a hell of a lot more realistic than the last 74 years the title has been in publication. The team at Archie Comics have actively reinvigorated this property with some amazing creators and new takes on the tried and true Riverdale gang in the last half decade. This #1 makes it clear Archie will not be left in the past and the update should attract readers that would never imagine picking up one of the classic digests. This reboot is also a lot closer to what we will see on upcoming Netflix show, as evidenced by the obvious similarity between this new version of Archie and the actor cast to portray our ginger protagonist on the show, K.J. Apa. More important than the look though, is the story and we get the venerable Mark Waid handling writing duties here! Not only has this veteran of the industry helped define Superman, The Flash, and Daredevil (to name a few), but he seems to understand what makes Archie great as well.
Like DC’s main entry this year, this is a reprint. It was initially published last summer, but since you weren’t likely to fork out $3.99 for it then, now is a good time to give it a try.
To mark the 80th Anniversary of The Phantom, Hermes Press gives us four classic stories featuring the purple clad adventurer, plus extras. This one is for Silver Age fiends and features the work of fan-favorite artist Jim Aparo (Batman; The Spectre)!
2016 Summer Blast
This is BOOM! Studio’s big sampler that includes 6 different titles! We get exclusive original Labyrinth and Mouse Guard stories, as well as previews of Adventure Time, Lumberjanes, The Cloud, and Goldie Vance. The Labyrinth short opens the book but it is basically just a rundown of the main characters and isn’t that interesting. The Mouse Guard tale, on the other hand, is the whimsical account of a legendary mouse called Piper the Listener. While this is the best part of the comic, it’s too bad Mouse Guard doesn’t have its own book because the mini hard covers of years past were always the highlight of FCBD. The Cloud seems to be a post-apocalyptic fairy tale and is worth a read. As an Adventure Time fan, I could take or leave the bit about Finn and Jake’s latest dungeon raid. The Lumberjanes and Goldie Vance stories had solid art and writing but I don’t think I’m the target audience for those titles.
Mouse Guard has built up a good FCBD reputation, so expect these to go quickly.