2000 AD-2000 AD
The usual eclectic, Judge Dredd heavy assortment of sample 2000 AD strips. A good assortment of material offering a fairly balanced portrayal of the publisher’s output, and the tone of the material, both current and reprint.
It’s free

Adventures of Jellaby-Capstone
Beautifully illustrated, gentle stories about a girl and her monster. Utterly charming work.
Get it

All You Need Is Kill/Terra Formars-Viz
Sci-fi stories of soldiers fighting aliens, with a fair amount of violence to each. The material if fairly unremarkable otherwise.
It’s free

Archie Digest-Archie Comics
Unsurprisingly Archie-heavy collection of typical Archie Comics material, broken up some very nice vintage Josie strips.
It’s free

Armor Hunters-Valiant
We all like to joke about current comics bringing back the 90s in full force, and no one is committed to that ideal more than Valiant.
I have absolutely no idea what is going on here, and it’s all a lead-in to a cross-over about characters I’m still more than a little startled to find there is still an audience for.
It’s free

Atomic Robo-Red 5 Comics
Fun stories featuring Atomic Robo and Bodie Troll. This book is always one of the highlights for FCBD. Just all around stellar work.
Get it

Avatar: The Last Airbender-Dark Horse Comics
Nothing here is For Me, but the lead story is a cute, in-universe take on the “Fake Geek Girl” nonsense that’s fairly amusing.
It’s free

Bongo Comics Free-For-All-Bongo Comics
As with past years, a mix of Simpsons comics by a variety of creators. The work is typical of the line, and whether or not you enjoy pretty much hinges on what your tolerance level for the Simpsons is these days.
It’s free

Buck Rogers-Hermes Press
Reprints of vintage Buck Rogers newspaper strips and some preview pages for the current, Howard Chaykin illustrated revival. The vintage material is charming, in that “of it’s era” sort of way, but the appeal here is mostly the historical curiosity value it might have.
It’s free

Courtney Crumrin-Oni Press
A reprint of the first issue of the most recent Courtney Crumrin series. It’s an excellent book, and while there’s a bit less backstory given than is probably needed for a new reader to catch up, it’s still evocative, unique work worth attention.
Get it

Defend Comics-Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
An interesting selection of material focusing mostly on the history of anti-comic book hysteria and free speech issues. It has the feel of something aimed more at parents dragged into a comic shop than kids and new readers.
It’s free

The Dumbest Idea Ever-Graphix
A kid-friendly bio-comic about making comics. Fun, engaging, with appealing art and story.
Get it

Epic-Comix Tribe
I was prepared to just go with the It’s free response to this utterly bland story of a super-powered teenager who loses his powers around girls, but I decided I couldn’t get past the mincing, implied to be gay villain (poodle included) who appears in the prologue, so we’ll just go with
Avoid

Far From Wonder-Automatic
Vaguely steampunkish Alice in Wonderland revision, reprinting the first chapter with art by Ben Templesmith…who does not draw the rest of the series.
It’s free

Finding Gossamyr: Way of the Bladeslinger/Past the Last Mountain-Th3rd World Studios
Beautifully illustrated fantasy stories, serving as prologues to forthcoming comics or collections. Nice material, and very engaging.
Get it

Fubar-Fubar Press
Oh joy. A zombie comic, where the brave American soldiers get to kill hordes of Muslims, but it’s okay, because they’re all zombies! For those folks who thought the racist subtext of zombie fiction was just a little too subtle, I guess.
Avoid

Giant Size 4-Pack Bundle-Red Giant
A four pack of flip-books of various fantasy and super-hero titles. The mix is fairly eclectic, and most of the material here is at least promising. Of the eight titles featured, Magika is the most appealing and has the nicest art.
It’s free

Grimm Fairy Tales-Zenescope
A tie-in preview of an upcoming “event” comic for the “sexy fairy tale women” comics. It’s pretty much exactly what I suspected it would be.
Avoid

Guardians of the Galaxy-Marvel
Marvel, perhaps sensing that there was there was too much interest in the forthcoming film, gives us stories about Iron Man and Venom talking about the Guardians of the Galaxy, a ponderous conversation between Thanos and Drax, and a vampire killing Spider-Man.
Yeah, that should cool off any kids who thought those trailers looked cool.
It’s free

Hello Kitty and Friends-Viz Media
I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here, but it’s cute, bright and nicely illustrated, which is really all it needs to be.
It’s free

Hip Hop Family Tree Two-in-One-Fantagraphics
A brilliant “comics as artifact” presentation of the history of hip hop, presented absolutely perfectly and masterfully.
Get it

The Intrinsic: Singularity Zero-Arcana
A group of vaguely magic themed heroes bicker amongst themselves, and then demons attack. The art is nowhere near appealing enough to counter the generic feel of the set-up.
It’s free

Ipso Facto-Automatic
A stiffly drawn and poorly paced sci-fi comic about…aliens? Psychics? Who knows. It’s not clear, and the presentation is so poor I’m not inclined to try and find out.
Avoid

Kaboom Summer Blast-Boom
I’m not a fan of the aggressively weird school of current cartoons, as it seems like they’re aimed much more strongly at self-consciously ironic 20-somethings than kids. The comics based on them suffer from the same problem. So while the art on some of these is nice, it’s all very much not For Me, so no thanks.
It’s free

Les Miserables: The Fall of Fantine-Udon
Not being a Les Mis fan in any of its forms, I’ll admit to being biased against this from the start. That the art by SunNeko Lee is relentlessly cheery, and thus fully at odds with the subject matter, causes a merely mild bit of cognitive dissonance. The second preview, for a manga version of Pride and Prejudice in full shojo cliche glory, is of far more interest to me.
It’s free

Magic Wind-Epicenter Comics
A Weird Western, featuring Edgar Allan Poe and a psychic shaman. The art is appealing and the break from the usual genres featured today is welcome. The premise has promise and piques my curiosity.
Get it

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-Papercutz
Prose introductions to the original Power Rangers, and a cute story featuring the same.
The kids who watched this have kids of their own now. I…I need to lie down for a bit.
It’s free

The New 52: Future’s End-DC Comics
Ugly and incoherent mess that pretty much embodies everything wrong with DC’s books these days.
Avoid

Overstreet’s Comic Book Marketplace-Gemstone
As per usual, a paen to the joys of collecting comics for potential resale value. Also as per usual, misses the damn point of Free Comic Book Day by a mile.
Avoid

Project Black Sky-Dark Horse Comics
A promotion for Dark Horse’s new super-hero comics line. The story is a fairly standard super-hero misunderstanding leading to a fight, and the art is okay, but I find myself wishing a story featuring Captain Midnight and Brain Boy wasn’t taking itself so seriously.
It’s free

Raising A Reader-Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
A guide for parents on the mechanics of comic books and using them as a method of getting kids to read. A much better comics education offering than the price-guides and “hot books” nonsense we’ve seen in past years.
It’s free

Rise of the Magi-Top Cow/Image
A brief preview to a new ongoing fantasy series from Top Cow. It’s of that “blend fantasy with something like reality” school of fantasy. It’s not particularly strong material, but it’s entertaining for what it is.
It’s free

Rocket Raccoon-Marvel
This is the book Marvel should have slapped the “Guardians of the Galaxy” logo on. A fun, nicely illustrated story about Rocket Raccoon going on an adventure, backed up with a Spider-Man in space story.
Get it

Scratch 9-Hermes Press
This comic features President Obama rocket-punching a “They Live”-bot to save a cat.
It is beautiful.
Get it

Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan-Drawn and Quarterly
A selection from the artist’s memoir of life as a naval recruit in Japan during World War Two. The historical perspective is interesting, and the art is eye-catching, but the particular selections don’t flow together very well.
It’s free

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies-Bongo
I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with Spongebob stuff at the best of times. Some of the art and stories here are fun and nicely done. Others just reinforce how little patience I have with Spongebob.
It’s free

Sherwood Texas-12 Gauge
A modern re-imaging of Robin Hood as the leader of a biker gang. It’s actually a fairly clever spin to put on the story, but I wish the art was a little more appealing.
It’s free

Skyward/Midnight Tiger-Action Lab
A fantasy story and super-hero story, both not quite there, but engaging and different enough from the usual fare to be interesting.
It’s free

The Smurfs-Papercutz
An assortment of fun kids comics, mostly from Papercutz’s line of translated Euro-comics. A good mix of material, tone and art style.
Get itSonic the Hedgehog/Megaman X-Archie Comics
Short origin stories for Archie’s line of video-game tie-in comics. I continue to be amazed at how insular and continuity-driven this line of comics is.
It’s free

Steam Wars-Antarctic Press
Steampunk. Star Wars.
Oh dear lord.
Avoid

Street Fighter-Udon
Nicely illustrated fight comics featuring characters I have absolutely no interest in.
It’s free

Teen Titans Go-DC Comics
In contrast to DC’s other offering, this a joyful, anarchic romp through the fun side of super-heroes. Perfect material for new readers and kids.
Get it

The Tick-NEC
An amusing, genre-savvy super-hero farce. Fun, but the amount of enjoyment probably hinges on your Tick tolerance.
It’s free

Top Shelf Kids Club-Top Shelf
Two fun shorts setting up the stories of kid-friendly fantasy graphic novels. Nicely illustrated and amusing.
Get it

Uber-Avatar
Prose pieces, with typical gory illustrations, from Avatar’s Nazi super-humans comic. By Avatar’s standards, almost restrained.
Avoid

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity-Fantagraphics
Being a Donald Duck fan there’s pretty much no way I’m not going to endorse this. But even apart from that, the Fantagraphics collections of Disney material are easily the best reprints on the market right now, and this tale, featuring a visually inventive and clever Don Rosa story as it’s lead, is a great introduction to the upcoming line of Rosa reprints.
Get it

VWars-IDW
Background material and prologue to a comic series about war between humans and vampires, of the postmodern “just a disease” type.
I really don’t like vampires, and I could have done without the gratuitousness of the shock-gasp-horror ending, but it’s not actually bad despite ranking high on the Not For Me table.
It’s free

Worlds of Aspen-Aspen Comics
A flip-book devoted to premiering a new fantasy series about a world with no men, and a sci-fi series about alien game hunters. The stories are actually fairly intriguing, but I can’t get past the Aspen house style.
It’s free

Zombie Tramp-Action Lab
Every year, there’s at least one book that gets the entire purpose of Free Comic Book Day wrong. This year it’s this…thing. Violent, gory, over-sexualized…pretty much the exact way to give a new reader as negative an impression of the comics industry as possible.
Avoid at all costs

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© 2012 Dorian Wright Some Images © Their Respective Copyright Holders