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
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 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
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
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’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).
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.
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
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 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 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.