Today Is Free Comic Book Day 2014!
There are 57 titles available this year, so there should be something for everyone. (Note that Free Comic Book Day isn’t free for retailers, so please don’t be greedy, and if your store is having a special sale or event, check to see if there’s something you want to buy.)
Here’s a run-down of the gold-level books (which all stores are required to buy). They fall into several major categories:
I don’t know anything about Avatar: The Last Airbender, but the story from Dark Horse is written by Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints) and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys), two skilled favorite creators. Older readers may find the owners of the collectible shell store grumping about how girls aren’t really collectors, but fakes there with their boyfriends, oddly familiar. Overall, it’s a charming (and timely) tale about women teaching each other how to stand up for themselves. Plus, Hicks does such a great job drawing smarmy store owners that I wanted to slap the page. There’s also a two-page “Itty Bitty Hellboy” story by Art Baltazar and Franco and an icky David Lapham “Juice Squeezers” story about kids taking revenge on each other with ants.
Fantagraphics’ Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck is a marvelous story in which Magica De Spell changes the orientation of gravity, just for those two. It’s got some amazing cartooning and eye-opening perspective shifts from Don Rosa. The second story looks at the impressively lucky Gladstone Gander and the one day a year he’s unlucky. Really nice art, really great storytelling, really entertaining reading.
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Archie has a 96-page digest of reprints. None of the stories were particularly outstanding, in my opinion, but they’re accurately representative, and there’s a good amount of reading for kids here.
DC launches its newest weekly series, Futures End, with a #0 issue that’s too gross for kids. It stars cyborg insect versions of lots of heroes in an apocalyptic future that Batman Beyond comes back to prevent. If you love comics, you may want to look elsewhere, since one friend said “I read this first [of the FCBD batch], and it made me not want to read comics any more.”
Marvel promotes its summer movie with a Guardians of the Galaxy introduction piece. The art is busy, but it gives the curious the basics of the characters.
Bongo once again brings us Simpsons stories. There’s a Spongebob comic. G.I. Joe tackles the Transformers in Kirby throwback style by Tom Scioli. Perfect Square has a collection of wordless Hello Kitty tales. Kaboom!’s Summer Blast presents a wide variety of cartoon-inspired bits, including Peanuts, Garfield, and Adventure Time pieces. Papercutz put together a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers issue that has both a story and a set of character who’s who text pages.
Image Comics puts out a Marc Silverstri-written fantasy story about a kid who works in a carpet repair shop but keeps reading comics and sneaking away to do magic. I thought Rise of the Magi felt overly familiar, but others might find it closer to their wish fulfillment.
Too many for me to cover them all, but here are a few I thought stood out.
Defend Comics explains the mission of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund with a selection of interesting comics, including a lengthy reprint of the history of the Comics Code from Comic Book Comics and some great “Tales of Comic Book Censorship” by Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier.
Epic #0 is the typical “teen gets superpowers” origin story, but with a funny twist — Eric loses his abilities in the presence of girls, because he’s a teen boy and gets distracted. Also following fondly in the footsteps of those who’ve come before, Eric talks a lot. Very Spider-Man-like, but fun.
Showa: A History of Japan is an excerpt of the very large historical four-volume series by Shigeru Mizuki. It covers events during WW II from a personal perspective, with the author smacked around as an army private. The style is not what many people think of when they hear “manga”, but effective.
The Adventures of Jellaby reprints part of the Capstone graphic novel by Kean Soo, which I enjoyed.
And to wrap up, here’s LeVar Burton talking about how great reading comics is: