Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays - Ten Titles You Should Try For Free Comic Book Day

With Free Comic Book Day only around the corner it’s time to start making your lists up. There are plenty of free comics to choose from but each store will only let you walk away with a few free titles. You might be lucky enough to have more than one local comic shop so we’ll draft up the top ten free comics you should consider picking up this Saturday the 1st of May to best broaden your horizons.

For those that may not know, Free Comic Book Day is the one day a year where pretty much every comic publisher puts out one, or more, comics that you are allowed to grab from your local store for free. You will actually be allowed to only grab a few free titles from your store, largely depending on the stores policy (and how much you time and money you regularly spend there). Larger publishers, like DC or Marvel, often put out more than one issue, and some of the issues are actually quite well written with top tier talent involved. It's an initiative to get new readers into this fun sandbox in which we play and read.

I’m an absolute sucker for FCBD. I love that I get to walk away with some free swag and I also love that others get the chance to come in and experience the fun of comics in a hugely entertaining and free environment. Did I mention that it’s free? And that many retailers also take this opportunity to offer sales in back issues and trades?

You should also note that taking your nieces, nephews, and other young ones from your family is a stand up thing to do, and it goes along with the purpose of introducing new readers to the world of comics. Just don't take them only to grab the comics for yourself the moment you step out of the store!

So in this spirit, here are a few comics that are worth looking into picking up. Click each title for a PDF preview from the Free Comic Book Day website.

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by John Romita Jr.
Published by Marvel

This one is kind of a no-brainer as it is one of Marvel’s biggest characters, Iron Man, right on the release of his second movie, Iron Man 2, teamed up with another big character who is just about to get his own movie, Thor. It is also the writing of Matt Fraction that is usually pretty slick. He’s penned an Eisner winning run on Iron Man over the past two years and absolutely knocked a series of Thor one-shots out of the park a few years back, as well as being the guy about to take up the mantle on the Thor ongoing title. Romita Jr is a fairly standard Marvel addition, most people like his work. I usually don’t love it but it won’t stop me picking this one up. This issue just seems like a great introduction to two great characters for anyone unsure of what the Marvel U is all about, it’s not some knock off dodgy free title but rather a stack of the biggest names from the biggest publisher.

2. DC Kids Mega-Sampler
*sadly, this title is the only one I couldn't get a free pdf download of, sorry.

Written by Landry Walker, Art Baltazar, Franco, Sholly Fisch
Art by Eric Jones, Art Baltazar, Mike Norton, Dario Brizuela
Published by DC

I am all over this business like Matt Murdock on his next woman. I know, I know, DC is also putting out a #0 issue of War of the Supermen (click this title to see a PDF preview) but I don’t read DC, at least not DCU titles, and so have no idea what that war is about. I know it looks alright, and I know plenty of people will be keen to pick up the zero issue for it, but I also know that I’m not one of those people. And I don’t feel like it offers a great jumping on point for the man on the street as it’s the beginning of a mini-event that is seeded in lots of prior happenings. A good comic for an established fan but not for someone’s little kids, whereas this comic just makes me smile already. Slow down, have a look at the title, yeah, that’s it, now you’ve got the groove. This is an anthology of cool little stand alone DC kids stories and I’ll be getting it for sure.

Written by Brian Clevinger, and various others
Art by Scott Wegener, and various others
Published by Red 5 Comics

I am going to sadly admit something here to you all assembled; I haven’t ever read any panels of Atomic Robo. I know, many of you will call me a goon and call for my comic journalism number in response to such an outcry, and I’d almost support you, except I won’t. This comic is exactly what FCBD means to me, it gives me a chance to sample an already established title and see if I need to go fishing for back issues. Atomic Robo is a title that always floats in the back of my trade buying list but never makes it to the top as other things always get in the way. Now nothing should stand in my way as this bad boy is free. I’ll finally get the taste and see if it captures me as it has so many others. Here’s hoping.

Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Brian Hurtt
Published by Oni Press

I was exposed to Cullen Bunn’s writing skills when he wrote the schlocky J-horror Immortal Weapon one shot that focused on Iron Fist’s female companion in the fighting tournament for the Capital Cities of Heaven, The Bride of Nine Spiders. I liked that issue a lot and have kept my eye on his name ever since with anticipation. This title is about one of many guns that surfaced during the Civil War and contained otherworldly power. One gunslinger must stand up to help the innocent girl who holds the special weapon and will be chased by wicked cutthroats. It’s an interesting premise and one I’d feel silly passing up for free.

Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith
Art by Charles Paul Wilson III
Published by Th3rd World Studios

This series debuted at the last FCBD and went on to receive absolutely awesome praise from many reviewers (including our own Matt who rated it a Must Read). I still haven’t checked it out, sadly, but much like Atomic Robo I’ll be here for free to see if this sequel begins well, and then if I need to update my Amazon order soon. The title is about toys that come to life to save their owner during the final years of World War II. The artwork, from all previews and accounts, is phenomenal and I’ve been wanting to sample more of CPW3’s art since he placed second in the Comic Book Idol 3 run over on CBR.

Created by Bob Montana, Al Williamson, Chic Young, Berkeley Breathed, Alex Raymond, Chris Sterrett, Chester Gould, and Harold Gray.
Published by IDW Publishing

This title just seems like a solid experiment because it is something different. It’s not spandex and the usual  fare at all, this is some serious adult pulp. It includes previews of Archie, Secret Agent Corrigan, Blondie, The Complete Bloom County Library, Rip Kirby, Polly and Her Pals, Little Orphan Annie, and Dick Tracy. It’s an eclectic bunch that promise to bring action and adventure to high action drama to fall on the floor funnies. I’m interested in seeing some of the Secret Agent Corrigan work and the art in the very old school private investigator, Rip Kirby. Hopefully a few people will be expanding their horizons with this free pick up.

Created by David Peterson and TBD
Published by Archaia Entertainment

Mouse Guard was released to acclaim and Eisner awards in 2006. The writing and the art are stellar examples of how comics can be used for serious content and adult themes. The title always stood out because of its distinctive square shape. This issue should be a great sample point for what will surely suck many into purchasing the collected editions. On the flip side of this comic, literally, will be Fraggle Rock. Two words that definitely equal a sell to me. I loved Fraggle Rock as a kid and so a free sample of their four colour adventures is an awesome idea. This one is a sneaky one to watch that you could give to any literate person in your family, or anyone who was born anywhere near the 80’s.

Written by Jim Shooter
Art by Dennis Calero and Bill Reinhold
Published by Dark Horse Comics

The resurrection of some old school Gold Key characters seems pretty cool and I’m interested to see how they are handled. I’m a fan of Dennis Calero and I’m also interested to see how Jim Shooter is doing these days. A character who looks like a cross between Cyclops and Dr Manhattan shares a title with a guy whose claim to fame is that he fights robots. Yeah, I’m in one this one. I only wish that they’d created the cover as an homage to the old Gold Key style. Franco Francavilla would have been perfect for it.

Written by Kevin Smith
Art by Jonathan Lau
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want this one for free. Kevin Smith is one of my favourite writers but his comic work often leaves me somewhere in the middle. I loved his Daredevil run and even liked his Green Arrow but I didn’t appreciate his many gaps in publications and so haven’t added him as a must buy creator. I’m interested in his Green Hornet run, which just started and is based on his unproduced screenplay, and I know I’ll probably get the trade eventually. This issue will simply help me make the decision of how soon I’ll fork out for the trade. This will also include previews for the other four Green Hornet titles Dynamite is publishing now, and no, I'm not being facetious or exaggerating, they have four more GH titles.

Written by Larry Hama
Art by Augustin Padilla
Published by IDW

I still have a fair few of the old G.I. Joe comics from my youth. I can still remember seeing many of those iconic covers on the stands and loving reading the issues with my figures nearby. This issue is a kitschy but still awesome idea of giving us the very next issue, but 15 years later. Joe have closed up shop and COBRA have been left to do whatever they want. The cover alone would have got me through the door but this actually sounds like it could be pretty interesting. It will also segue into an ongoing series of G.I. Joe that Larry Hama will write for IDW.


There are a few other close calls in the list, things like the first issue of Irredeemable, a Bongo Free-For-All, or The Tick, and I’m sure plenty of you will have your own personal hit list of what you’ll be racing to grab as soon as the doors open on your LCS. In the end, I only hope that you enjoy what you get and possibly take someone else along with you to share in the fun, or at least share your haul with someone else as well.

Let us know what you plan on getting come this first day of May.

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brandon said...

Atomic Robo reminds me a little of Indiana Jones and some of Hellboy. It's just a fun read and offering something for FCBD is awesome.

Pretty sure its GI Joe #155 1/2.

IDW's GI Joe frustrates.

They went on and on about a reboot then they come out with something that I would have liked two years ago from them instead of Hama's awful Origins.

They can't seem to make up their minds about what they want to do, only that they want to wipe out the DDP run. At $4 a pop for some five monthly titles the franchise is just too expensive and confusing to follow - never mind the movie continuity stuff.

Sadly, I'm passing on the Joe issue. IDW has just soured me on the whole franchise.

Marc said...

Never having read any of the post-Marvel GI Joe comics, I'm looking forward to the FCBD issue and IDW returning to the original continuity. I can definitely understand why it would upset people who have been following the franchise for the last few years though.

The Iron Man/Thor comic looks good, and more Mouse Guard can never be a bad thing. I think I'm actually going to take a few friends to FCBD this year, which is something I've never done before, and will hopefully turn a few of them onto comics a bit more.

Space Jawa said...

For some reason I can't figure out, my shop doesn't get Atomic Robo. Like, at all. You'll never find an issue of it there. And it's not because they don't want to, but because they simply can't. So unfortunately, that's one FCBD issue I won't be able to pick from.

On the bright side, I'm expecting that it'll be reprinted sooner or later in one of the TPBs like the first one was (I'm guessing the Dr. Dinosaur one will be reprinted in the TPB for the current series) and it'll be free online not long after FCBD is over.

Ivan said...

The guy is called Magnus, wears a skirt and fights robots. Pure comic book gold.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Brandon - good catch, thanks. I always spend so much time on the words I often neglect the numbers.

I did want my list to reflect as many publishers as possible but still be titles that might entice new or forgotten readers.

@Ivan. I know, right, genius.

Scott said...

You can already read Atomic Robo for free right here ; http://www.atomic-robo.com/free-comics/

FCBD 2008, 2009, and the Yonker's Devil digital-short.


Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Scott, yeah, I downloaded it on my iPhone already, as well. That Clevinger really wants to sell some Atomic Robo, good on him!

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