For the last couple of decades, the comic book industry has seen a pretty enormous contraction. The hottest selling book of the 1990s, Marvel’s X-Men (vol. 2) #1, sold an astonishing 8 million copies when it hit store shelves in 1991. Today, the best selling comics titles sell far fewer copies, with the top book of the century thus far barely topping 530,000 in 2009 (Amazing Spider-Man #583), and the top book of the last year getting just over 300,000 (Uncanny Avengers #1).
As a result, comics publishers have been participating in Free Comic Book Day for the last decade or so, with a number of free offerings highlighting classic titles, upcoming events, or specials made just for the day. Many stores across the country also have special celebrations, with costume contests, prize drawings, video game tournaments, and more.
This year, major comics publishers like DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse all have some pretty interesting things to pick up on the day. Here are my top five picks for FCBD 2013, happening this Saturday, May 4th!
1) Superman Special Edition #1
If you tend to be one of those people not sold on the idea of Superman, this free book is definitely worth picking up. Reprinting 2006’s Action Comics #844 written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner (director of the original 1978 film), this is the beginning of a story called “Last Son,” where a child is sent in a rocketship from the distant planet Krypton and lands on Earth. When Superman finds it, he’s pretty surprised!
The issue was the beginning of Johns’ run on the character of Superman, and presents him in a delightfully modern context which I think would make anyone question why they ever thought Superman was anything other than awesome.
2) Star Wars/Captain Midnight/Avatar
Dark Horse has been the steward of Star Wars comics for a very long time, and although we’re likely in their last year of their ability to put those comics out (the Disney purchase means they’ll be headed back to Marvel), they seem to have hit a new stream of popularity. Brian Wood, writer of the new, ongoing Star Wars series taking place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, pens the Star Wars portion of this FCBD offering from Dark Horse.
It’s all-ages, features franchise favorites Darth Vader and Boba Fett, and also has some interesting material featuring Captain Midnight and the characters of Avatar: The Last Airbender. And it’s free! Pick it up.
One of the legendary big bads of the Marvel Universe is the death-worshipping demi-god, Thanos. A lot of people are more interested in Thanos today, due to his brief appearance at the end of a little movie called The Avengers. In response to that popularity, Marvel is releasing a book for free on Saturday that should help you get to know the character’s past a little better, and also help you and established fans prepare for his future.
Infinity features writing from the multi-talented creative team of writer Jonathan Hickman (unsurprisingly the current head of Marvel’s Avengers line) and artist Jim Cheung, whose work is normally reserved for covers today. The book will also feature a reprint of a previous Thanos story to give you an even greater idea of who he is.
4) Bongo Free-For-All
Specifically created for FCBD, Bongo has created another hilarious romp through the world of the Simpsons, featuring three different stories. One stars Bart, who has miraculously become Springfield’s model citizen…at least for the day. And it doesn’t end well. Jimbo even gets some time in the limelight, where he and his gang take their troublemaking to whole new levels. Li’l Homer also appears for a “dim-witted bedtime tale,” and we also get some time with Maggie, doing what Maggie does best: chase after Happy Little Elves.
If you’re looking for a good dose of humor on Saturday, the Bongo book always delivers. And, besides? FREE!
5) Judge Dredd Classics
In addition to their highly profitable Star Trek, Transformers, and Doctor Who licenses, IDW has also managed to pick up 2000AD’s Judge Dredd for a stint of ongoing publication here in the United States. I’m sure that, like me, they were hoping that the awesome Dredd film would’ve been more successful, but regardless of that the publisher is going forward with a new ongoing series, a “Year One” mini telling how Joe Dredd started his career as a Judge, and now a series reprinting classic 2000AD Dredd stories with recolored pages.
This free offering is one such story from that upcoming series, featuring the introduction of fan-favorite villain Judge Death, and is the slightest taste of the coming remasterings of some classic Dredd stories. By the way, it’s FREE.
For a complete list of titles as well as how you can find a participating store near you, be sure to visit FreeComicBookDay.com! Get out there and enjoy the books, and happy reading!
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