'Twas the first Friday in May, and all through the town, there was nary a grumble, or even a frown. For the very next morning was the best of the year: everyone knew Free Comic Book Day was here!
That's right, it's already that time of the year again. Time to wake up early, eat a bowl of cereal, put on your nerdiest T-shirt and strut on down to the nearest peddler of finely paneled periodicals to stock up on the type of comics that can only come out annually: free ones. The 16th annual Free Comic Book Day will have new arrivals from dozens of different publishers arriving at your local comic shop, and it's up to you to decide which of the many special offerings to stuff your sack with.
Luckily, you need not make such a momentous decision all on your own. I've put together a list of the top ten books to pick up, and they cover the whole spectrum of comic book readers, from kids to adults, newbies to veterans, and everything in between.
So set your alarm to make it down to your favorite shop in time this Saturday, and try to support your local business while you're there, because the comics are free for you, but not for the store. And rules on how many per person and what books are ordered varies depending on the store, so be sure to check in ahead of time so you aren't disappointed.
Now, let's get to some comics!
10. KID SAVAGE
by Joe Kelly and Ilya, from Image Comics
If you're looking for an all-ages adventure, look no further than Kid Savage. This series stars a strange wild child who takes it upon himself to help a stuck-up family of space-faring explorers in their fight to survive on his planet. The series is written by Joe Kelly, who has a lengthy career in superhero comics and a proven track-record in kids entertainment, most notably as one of the co-creators of the animated series Ben 10. This is sure to be a blast for kids both current and former.
9. TMNT: PRELUDE TO DIMENSION X
by Tom Waltz and Cory Smith, from IDW Publishing
The most recent incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics been the most well-regarded in some time, possibly since the original series, and now is the perfect time to jump on board. This issue acts as a lead-in for a massive story this summer called Dimension X which will see the Turtles pitted against their old foe Krang, who is none too happy about being sent back to his home dimension to be put on trial. The FCBD issue promises a new villain and the beginning of the biggest space-adventure the brothers have ever seen, so it's sure to be a shell of a time.
8. ATTACK ON TITAN
by Jody Houser and Emi Lenox, from Kodansha Comics
Attack on Titan has taken the manga and anime worlds by storm, and it now has the Western comics scene set in their sights. They released a killer anthology of stories by comics creators last year, and this year they are looking to continue that with a new story by Faith and Mother Panic writer Jody Houser and Plutona artist Emi Lenox. The creative team's resume guarantees that they'll deliver a creepy and action-packed tale, but if that isn't enough, there's also a preview of the second season of the anime included in the issue. This one is a must-have for manga and comics fans alike!
7. RICK AND MORTY
by Zac Gorman, Tini Howard, CJ Cannon, Ryan Hill, Marc Ellerby and Katy Farina, from Oni Press
Oh Rick and Morty, what a cruel mistress you are. You keep us waiting for an abnormally long amount of time for season three, debut the first episode on April Fool's Day, and then disappear once more back into the Szechuan ether from whence you came. And here we are, your loyal fans, with nothing to do but re-watch your episodes again and read all of the comics we've already read. W-w-w-wait. You're telling me you haven't been keeping up with the Rick and Morty comics? Well lucky for you, Oni Press is throwing you a plumbus and giving you the first issue of the hilarious series and a look at an upcoming miniseries — completely free! What a—burp—deal, Morty!
6. LEGEND OF ZELDA
by Akira Himekawa, from Viz Media
Even if you're not like me and haven't recently been putting in ludicrous numbers of hours into playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if you're a video game fan, chances are you've put your fair share of time into the dungeons of Hyrule at some point. So whether you're looking to fill a tri-force shaped void in your life until the DLC comes out, or you just want to revisit the fabled Nintendo kingdom, this issue is just what you need. The issue features chapters from two different Legend of Zelda stories, Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time, giving you two unique styles of Zelda to choose from.
5. ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
by Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, from Marvel Comics
This may not be the most hyped-up FCBD release from Marvel, but it's sure to be the most fun and accessible. The first story included is a lead in to All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1, which released this week, and was an absolute blast. Full of humor and huge, imaginative action, this is the perfect comic to read after — or on your way to — seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The second story also has a well-timed media tie-in, as it's a prelude to the new Defenders comic that, like its Netflix counterpart, stars Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil. Cosmic shenanigans and street-level butt-kicking in the same comic? What more could you want?
4. CATALYST PRIME: THE EVENT
by Christopher Priest, Joseph Illidge, Marco Turini and Jessica Kholinne, from Lion Forge Comics
One of the things I heard most often working in a comic book store was how hard it was to jump in on complex superhero universes. If this describes you then you need to take this opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a bold new world. This issue sets the stage for an all new superhero world called Catalyst Prime that is placing an emphasis on positive and forward-thinking portrayals of heroes of color. The first series, Noble, had a very strong debut issue this week, and the upcoming Accell, Superb, K.I.N.O. and Incidentals all look like fascinating additions as well. Dive into a whole new world this Free Comic Book Day!
3. X-O MANOWAR
by Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Doug Braithwaite, Ryan Bodenheim, Clayton Crain, Tomas Giorello and Mico Suayan, from Valiant Entertainment
The first two issues of the recently relaunched X-O Manowar series have been phenomenal, and so it stands to reason that this prelude story will be as well. A warrior out of time trapped on another planet and drafted into a war in which he has no stake, X-O makes for a fascinating protagonist and flagship character for the Valiant Universe, and now's your chance to introduce yourself. Plus, the lineup of artists on this book is more than you could possibly wish for on a free comic. Don't miss this one.
2. SPILL NIGHT
by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland, from First Second
There are a lot of prologues and preludes this FCBD, but this is the one I most looking forward to. Spill Night is the lead-in story to the graphic novel Spill Zone, which I spotlighted as one of the month's must-read graphic novels earlier this week. It's about a small town that gets sucked into a mysterious wormhole that twists and distorts everything inside. The prelude story is about the protagonist's little sister, and her doll Vespertine, who has become suspiciously talkative since the incident. A great read for young adult readers and fans of small-town sci-fi in the style of Stranger Things.
1. I HATE IMAGE
by Skottie Young, from Image Comics
This very special issue of Skottie Young's fan-favorite I Hate Fairyland sees the protagonist Gertrude go through a portal that she expects to send her home, but instead sends her into the world of Image Comics! There Gert will wreak havoc on characters from a number of Image titles like The Walking Dead, Saga, Spawn, Descender, and many, many more! This looks like a completely insane celebration of all things Image, just in time for their 25th anniversary. A ridiculous romp of the highest order that must not be missed.