FreeComicBookDay.com
FreeComicBookDay.com

10 Free Comics To Get On Free Comic Book Day

FreeComicBookDay.com
FreeComicBookDay.com

Saturday, May 7 marks the 15th annual Free Comic Book Day, in which comic book shops around the world will give out over 6 million select comics free of charge. The 50 different titles that will be available span the industry’s vast array of genres and target audiences.

The following are 10 comics that cover everything from superheroes to manga to educational comics, showcasing the wide variety you’ll be able to find at your local comics shop. Free comics are great, but while you’re there, don’t forget to buy something, too!

1. CIVIL WAR II

Marvel Comics

With Captain America: Civil War hitting theaters this weekend, there is sure to be demand for this prelude to the new Civil War II mini-series. The film is loosely based off of a 2006 comic in which the superhero community gets split into two factions over whether or not to register their identities with the federal government. The sequel will once again feature a rift, with two sides falling behind either Iron Man or Captain America—but this time, the divisive subject is whether the power to predict the future should allow for someone to be tried before they commit a crime.

A backup story in this FCBD issue introduces a new version of classic Avenger the Wasp, written and drawn by comic veterans Mark Waid and Alan Davis.

2. DC SUPERHERO GIRLS

DC Comics

DC Comics has a vast array of great female characters, but only now does the publisher seem to be tapping into the potential they have to appeal to young female readers. DC Superhero Girls is both a new cartoon series and a line of Barbie-sized action figures. It's set in a superhero high school where characters like Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Harley Quinn have adventures that teach lessons about empowerment and friendship. This Free Comic Book Day sampler includes two stories from the upcoming graphic novel that will be released this summer.

3. ROM #0

IDW Publishing

Joining other 1980s mainstays like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and the Micronauts is Rom the Space Knight. Like the Micronauts, the original Rom comic series from Marvel long outlived the actual toy line and remains a nostalgic fan favorite. IDW Publishing, who is already making comics with the properties mentioned above, has picked up the long dormant Rom comic book license, and this free issue will act as a prologue to the new ongoing series that launches in July.

4. ATTACK ON TITAN ANTHOLOGY

Kodansha

Attack on Titan is the most popular manga of the past decade, and it has spawned critically acclaimed anime, prose novels, and video games. It is a multi-volume epic about the citizens of a walled city besieged by giant, horrific “Titans” who attack and eat humans. Its popularity has reached the States and it has inspired many Western comic creators. To celebrate this, manga publisher Kodansha is releasing an anthology of Titan stories by an impressive collection of creators, like Cameron Stewart, Michael Avon Oeming, Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, Babs Tarr, Tomer Hanuka, Faith Erin Hicks, Kevin Wada, and more. This sampler contains excerpts of many of the brand new stories that will appear in the anthology.

5. SCIENCE COMICS

First Second

First Second’s new educational Science Comics line launched earlier this year with two kid-friendly graphic novels, one about Dinosaurs and another about Coral Reefs. They tackle the scientific details of their subjects in a way that middle-schoolers will appreciate, by using humor and charming illustrations. Their Free Comic Book Day offering includes two new science-related non-fiction stories by Maris Wicks (Coral Reefs) and Jon Chad (Volcanoes).

6. ARCHIE

Archie Comics

If you haven’t been following comics lately, you may be surprised to learn that Archie Comics is one of the most daring and interesting comic publishers of the past few years. They’re always willing to take chances with their brand's beloved characters, most recently with a reboot aimed to modernize Archie, Betty, Veronica, and gang into something that more closely resembles a modern teen comedy. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ Archie comic is fun and stylish, and this FCBD re-release of the first issue in the series is a great introduction for new readers.

7. 2000 A.D.

2000 A.D.

UK publisher 2000 A.D. has been putting out their weekly science fiction comics anthology of the same name for over three decades now, but many American readers still are unfamiliar. Anyone who enjoys comics like Prophet and Saga will probably find a lot to enjoy in 2000 A.D.'s imaginative and often satirical brand of science fiction. This extra-sized free issue contains samples from a bunch of 2000 A.D. staples, including Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper.

8. ONE-PUNCH MAN

Viz Media

One-Punch Man, the surprise manga hit of 2015, now has multiple volumes available in bookstores and comic shops, and this FCBD sampler is a great example of why so many people love this dynamic send-up of superhero comics. It is the ongoing story of Saitama, a young man with a deadpan face who easily defeats any opponent with just one punch, a fact that fills him with unbearable ennui. This sampler includes both a One-Punch Man story and a My Hero Academia story, which is a superhero high school comic that runs in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump.

9. WE CAN NEVER GO HOME // YOUNG TERRORISTS

Black Mask Studios

Black Mask Studios is a new publisher who's been rapidly putting out subversive, mature-reader material by interesting new creators. Their Free Comic Book Day “Mixtape” contains samples of two of their best series so far. “Side A” is a new chapter in the super-powered teenage runaway drama We Can Never Go Home that will bridge the gap between the previous volume and the upcoming one. “Side B” contains a story from Young Terrorists, the edgy near-future comic about the daughter of a globalist kingpin who leads an uprising against the government, big banks, and the military.

10. BOOM! STUDIOS SUMMER BLAST

Boom! Studios

Boom! Studios is putting out some of today’s best comics geared towards a diverse all-ages audience. This sampler contains not only their biggest hit, Lumberjanes, but also a preview of their next Adventure Time series, an excerpt from their excellent new mini-series Goldie Vance, and an all-new Mouse Guard story from David Peterson. There’s also a Jim Henson’s Labyrinth story and a preview of the upcoming fantasy graphic novel The Cloud.

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Marvel Entertainment
The Litigious History of DC and Marvel’s Rival Captain Marvel Characters
Carol Danvers is just one of many heroes to hold the Captain Marvel mantle for Marvel
Carol Danvers is just one of many heroes to hold the Captain Marvel mantle for Marvel
Marvel Entertainment

Behind-the-scenes struggles and legal wrangling have played just as big of a part in the history of comic books as the colorful battles on the pages themselves. And one of the most complex and long-lasting disputes in the industry has focused on Captain Marvel—or at least the two distinct versions of the character that have coexisted in a state of confusion at both Marvel and DC for decades.

Like many comic book tangles, this dispute was made possible because of the debut of Superman. Soon after his first appearance in 1938's Action Comics #1, there was a deluge of knockoffs from publishers looking for a piece of the Man of Steel pie. Though most of these were fly-by-night analogues, Fawcett Comics’s attempt at its own superhero wasn’t an inferior model—it quickly became real competition.

ENTER: THE BIG RED CHEESE

Fawcett’s Captain Marvel was created in late 1939 by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck and debuted in Whiz Comics #2. On his first cover, Captain Marvel is shown carelessly throwing a car against a brick wall, as two criminals bolt out of the windows. In Action Comics #1, Superman made his debut by hoisting a similar car over his head and driving it into the Earth, as the criminals inside fled.

The similarities were unmistakable: Here were two caped strongmen with heroic squints and circus tights leaping around cities and battling mad (and bald) scientists. But while Clark Kent got his powers from his Kryptonian physiology, Captain Marvel was, in reality, a young boy named Billy Batson who would receive his powers by shouting the magic word “SHAZAM!” If Superman was the straitlaced Boy Scout, Captain Marvel earned his moniker of "The Big Red Cheese" through sheer camp, a wink, and a nod.

Seniority mattered little to young comic book readers, and once Captain Marvel found his footing, he was outselling Superman at the newsstand and beating him to the screen by receiving his own live-action film serial in 1941. But as Captain Marvel reached larger audiences, DC was in the midst of legal action against Fawcett for copyright infringement. The claim was simple: Captain Marvel was a bit too close to Superman for DC's comfort.

DC wanted Fawcett to cease production of the serial and comics by the early 1940s, but Fawcett fought to delay a court battle for years. It wasn’t until 1948 that the case actually went to trial, with the dust finally settling in DC's favor in 1954. Legally, Fawcett would never be allowed to print another Captain Marvel book. By now, though, the superhero market was near extinction, so for Fawcett, it wasn’t even worth it to appeal again. Instead, the publisher closed shop, leaving Superman to soar the skies of Metropolis without any square-jawed competition on the newsstands.

MARVEL CLAIMS ITS NAME

The next decade would see a superhero revitalization, beginning with DC’s revamped takes on The Flash and Green Lantern in the late 1950s, and exploding just a few years later when Timely Comics changed its name to Marvel Comics and launched a roster of heavy-hitters like The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Hulk, all by 1962.

Marvel was a buzzword again, and in 1966, a short-lived company called M.F. Enterprises tried to capitalize with a new character named Captain Marvel—generally considered one of the worst superheroes ever put to paper.

Marvel now needed to stop inferior comics from using its name on their covers, so it obtained the trademark for the Captain Marvel name and went about protecting it by introducing yet another character named Captain Marvel. This new alien version of the hero made his debut shortly after in 1967's Marvel Super-Heroes #12.

The character was born purely for legal reasons. According to comic book veteran Roy Thomas, Stan Lee only created a Captain Marvel at publisher Martin Goodman's insistence: "All I know is the basis of the character came from a resentment over the use of the ‘Captain Marvel’ name."

Comics are nothing if not needlessly confusing at times, and by the early 1970s, Superman wasn’t quite the sales force he used to be. In need of some fresh blood, DC turned to an unlikely source for help: Fawcett. The company had reemerged in the late 1960s as the publisher of Dennis the Menace comics, but its hands were tied when the superhero business revived since it was legally forbidden from producing new Captain Marvel books. So they did the next best thing by agreeing to license the character and his supporting cast to DC in 1973.

CAPTAINS IN DISPUTE

Now the world’s two biggest publishers both had high-profile characters named Captain Marvel. But there was a catch: Since Marvel owned the rights to the name, DC couldn’t call its new Captain Marvel comic Captain Marvel. Instead, all of his comics went by the title Shazam, as did the character’s live-action TV revival in the mid-1970s. Oddly enough, the name of the character himself was still—wait for it—Captain Marvel. So DC could retain the character’s name in the stories but couldn’t slap it onto book covers or TV shows. Only Marvel could monetize the name Captain Marvel.

Right after Captain Marvel’s first DC book launched in 1973, there was an immediate hiccup. The full title of the series was the slightly antagonistic Shazam: The Original Captain Marvel. That lasted all of 14 issues before a cease and desist order from Marvel turned the series into Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal. Marvel, on the other hand, found itself in the position to keep its trademark by continuously pumping out more books with Captain Marvel on the cover, which is why the company’s history is littered with reboots and new versions of the character turning up every two years or so.

By the 1990s, DC had outright purchased its Captain Marvel from Fawcett, but it could barely promote him. There are only so many times you can put Shazam on a comic cover but refer to him as Captain Marvel on the inside without confusing your readers. So in 2012, DC and writer Geoff Johns decided to end the decades of confusion and simply rename the character Shazam, because, as John said, “everybody thinks he's called Shazam already.”

In 2019, these two characters that are seemingly forever linked will have another shared milestone when they both make their big screen debuts. Marvel’s Captain Marvel will hit theaters on March 8, 2019, with Brie Larson playing the Carol Danvers version of the character. And after nearly 80 years of switching publishers, changing names, and lengthy legal battles, Zachary Levi will play the title role in Shazam! a month later on April 5.

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Evening Standard/Getty Images
8 Actors Who've Played Batman (and What Fans Had to Say About Them)
Evening Standard/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Batman is one of the most beloved superheroes of all time, which has made playing him a difficult task for more than one actor. (Playing characters with rabid fan bases can be a double-edged sword.) Here, take a look back at eight actors who've donned the Batsuit—and how fans and critics reacted to their performances.

1. LEWIS WILSON

Lewis Wilson as Batman
Columbia Pictures

Lewis Wilson was the youngest person to play Batman. He appeared in the 15-part 1943 Columbia serial. Critics complained about everything from his weight to his accent.

2. ROBERT LOWERY

Robert Lowery took over the role in the 1949 follow-up serial, Batman And Robin. He was a forgettable actor in this role.

3. ADAM WEST

Adam West at 'Batman'
Evening Standard/Getty Images

West played the Caped Crusader from 1966 through 1968 in the Batman television series in addition to a film spin-off. Fans were torn: Either they loved his campy portrayal or hated it.

4. MICHAEL KEATON

Michael Keaton's casting in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film caused such controversy that 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Brothers’s offices.

5. VAL KILMER

Val Kilmer in 'Batman Forever' (1995)
Warner BRos.

Val Kilmer put on the suit in 1995 and received mixed reviews. Director Joel Schumacher called the actor “childish and impossible."

6. GEORGE CLOONEY

It's safe to assume Clooney regrets his decision to star in Batman & Robin. It was the worst box-office performer of the modern Batman movies and Clooney once joked that he killed the series.

7. CHRISTIAN BALE


© TM & DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Though Christian Bale is largely favored as the best actor to play the Dark Knight, he was not without criticism. NPR’s David Edelstein described his husky voice as “a voice that's deeper and hammier than ever.”

8. BEN AFFLECK

Most recently: Fans immediately took to the internet to decry the decision to cast Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), recalling his previous roles in the poor-performing Gigli and Daredevil.

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