Free Comic Book Day ’22: Your guide to what to pick up this Saturday

Comics

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Free Comic Book Day is almost here! The annual direct market event is this weekend, with 49 titles on offer from dozens of publishers. That’s a lot of books to look at, and with most stores limiting the number of books you can pick up, you’ll want to be informed going in.

Fear not, for The Beat is here with all the information you’ll ever need on the available Free Comic Book Day titles, who they’re for, and if they’re worth your time. Read on for all the information, and don’t forget while you’re out enjoying the festivities to spend some money at the shops you visit. These comics are free for you but they’re not free for retailers, so show them a little love and support and pick up some new reading material.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022: DC COMICS

(We’re starting with these since they’re not distributed through Diamond and not technically categorized as part of the FCBD offerings.)

DARK CRISIS #0 FCBD SPECIAL EDITION

Audience: Ages 13+

Notes: This is an event tie-in that, despite having the familiar Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman on the cover, tells a story in which those characters are dead and gone. It’s an entertaining story that brings readers up to speed on what’s been going on in the DCU and is sure to pique some folks’ interest, though the lack of the recognizable DC trinity in the book may turn some readers off.

Verdict: Pick it up.

GALAXY: THE PRETTIEST STAR FCBD SPECIAL EDITION 2022 #1

Audience: 13+

Notes: A preview for one of DC’s upcoming young adult graphic novels, this book features an alien princess in disguise as a human teenaged boy. It’s a clear transgender allegory but the obviousness of it doesn’t make it any less powerful. Jess Taylor‘s artwork is also absolutely incredible, and the visuals will hook you even if the story somehow doesn’t.

Verdict: Definitely pick this one up, then preorder the graphic novel.

DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS FCBD SPECIAL EDITION 2022 #1

Audience: All Ages

Notes: This is a preview of a graphic novel tie-in to the upcoming movie. It’s got the whole Justice League in it, as well as their super-powered pets, and it introduces all of the characters and their dynamics nicely. As an ad both for the movie and for the graphic novel, this comic works perfectly. Check out our interview with Heath Corson about the book here.

Verdict: It’s talking animals with super-powers. You know if you like that sort of thing or not.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022: GOLD COMICS 

Archie_Best-Archie-Comic-Ever_2

Archie Comics | THE BEST ARCHIE COMIC EVER! #0

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Here we’ve got an Archie anthology featuring modern style stories showcasing the line’s versatility, from superheroes to romance to horror and everything in-between. It’s a little disjointed, as it uses pages from the forthcoming Best Archie Comic Ever! one-shot to frame reprinted stories from other Archie anthologies, but it gives a good taste for what the publisher has to offer right now.

Verdict: Pick it up.

AWA Studios | PRIMOS #1

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: This reprints the first issue of the LatinX superhero series from AWA Studios. It’s a solid, if kind of by-the-numbers, origin story, introducing new characters and mythology with an entertaining hook. This book is also notable for including the entire first issue in both English and Spanish.

Verdict: You won’t regret picking this one up.

Boom_Buffy-25-Years_2

BOOM! Studios | 25 YEARS OF BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

Audience: Teen

Notes: Half of this comic is panels and notes about stories that happened previously. The back half is a teaser for the upcoming The Vampire Slayer series, which looks interesting – you just have to get through the homework before you enjoy it. If I picked this up expecting a full story I’d feel kind of ripped off.

Verdict: Pass.

DarkHorse_Stranger-Things_2

Dark Horse Comics | STRANGER THINGS/ RESIDENT ALIEN

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Stranger Things is an easy sell even after all these years, and Resident Alien is just a delight. This is an easy pick-up.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Graphix_Pilkey-Sampler_2

Graphix/ Scholastic | PILKEY SAMPLER: DAV PILKEY’S DOG MAN & FRIENDS SUPER COMIC TEASER

Audience: All Ages

Notes: This is the most popular print comic there is. You don’t need my notes on this.

Verdict: Chances are you’ve already read this, but if not, pick it up.

IDW_TMNT_2

IDW Publishing | TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES FCBD SPECIAL 2022

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: This book features a prelude to upcoming Ninja Turtles event The Armageddon Game, as well as a reprint of the very first TMNT comic. The prelude story directly mirrors the reprint, which is interesting, and it ends on a cliffhanger that reflects the readers’ reaction to it. Hard to say if this will work for people unfamiliar with the characters already, though, but it’s a solid comic.

Verdict: If only for Sophie Campbell‘s fantastic art, pick this up.

Image_Bone-Orchard-Prelude_2

Image Comics | BONE ORCHARD MYTHOS PRELUDE

Audience: Mature readers

Notes: This is the beginning of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino‘s new horror universe at Image Comics. This team has already proven they know horror with books like Gideon Falls, and this story is oozing with mood and tension.

Verdict: If you like your comics with some scares in them, pick this up.

Kodansha_Wandance-Blackguard_2

Kodansha Comics | WANDANCE & BLACKGUARD SAMPLER

Audience: Older Teen/16+

Notes: This is a two-fer, a flipbook with previews for two wildly different comics included. One’s a slice-of-life romance comic, while the other is a futuristic fantasy story. Mileage will likely vary depending on what you’re in to, but I personally really dug the Blackguard half.

Verdict: If space is limited, you could probably do without this one. I’m definitely going to check out Blackguard, though.

Marvel Comics | SPIDER-MAN/ VENOM #1

Audience: Teen

Notes: Another sampler, this one with two full stories starring Spidey and Venom, respectively. The Spidey story is classic-style Spidey, a done-in-one story that also teases something to come. The Venom story is set in the current status quo, with Eddie Brock off-world and his son, Dylan, the new symbiote host. There’s also a short preview for All-Out Avengers.

Verdict: This one’s a lot of fun. Pick it up.

Titan Comics| DOCTOR WHO #1

Audience: All Ages

Notes: I’m a lapsed Doctor Who viewer, so I’m familiar with the basics but not some of the more recent developments. This comic makes me want to pick it back up. It’s a classic story of The Doctor teaming with some humans against an entertaining threat to Earth.

Verdict: If you’re not already a Doctor Who fan, this might make you one. Pick this up.

KN8_202205FCBD_KaijuNo8SakamotoDays_C1.indd

VIZ Media | KAIJU NO. 8/ SAKAMOTO DAYS

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Another manga sampler with two previews for very different books. Kaiju No. 8 didn’t really do anything for me, but Sakamoto Days, about a retired hitman now trying to be a good father and husband, was pretty entertaining, at least in as much as it reminded me of the all-time holiday classic, Jingle All The Way.

Verdict: Skip it.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022: SILVER COMICS 

ABLAZE_Trese

ABLAZE | TRESE

Audience: Mature

Notes: This is a preview of volume 4 of the Filipino comic series, due out in English from Ablaze in June. It’s a solidly entertaining horror-revenge story with pretty great art. Definitely not for kids, though.

Verdict: This is worth a read in a pinch.

AfterShock_Bunny-Mask-Tales-1

AfterShock Comics | BUNNY MASK TALES

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Bunny Mask has been a standout series from AfterShock for its interesting blend of horror and mystery, and this one-shot story does a nice job giving readers a taste of that.

Verdict: Definite pick-up.

AmMythology_Three-Stooges

American Mythology Productions | THE THREE STOOGES FCBD CELEBRATION

Audience: All Ages

Notes: Oof, this one’s rough. The comedy of the Three Stooges is already an acquired taste, and translating their unique physicality to comics form is a tough task. Add in a lot of dated pop culture references and it’s a recipe for failure. It’s either going to work for you or it’s really, really not. Unfortunately for me, it’s the latter.

Verdict: Pass.

BoomStudios_Hollow

BOOM! Studios | HOLLOW PREVIEW

Audience: All Ages

Notes: Preview of the forthcoming graphic novel that’s a modern spin on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The first few pages of this book hooked me in a really surprising way, and the graphic novel is sure to be one that I’ll check out.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Dark Horse Comics | AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER/ THE LEGEND OF KORRA

Audience: All Ages

Notes: Preview of the upcoming chibi-style, all-ages Avatar: TLA graphic novel, Aang’s Unfreezing Day, plus a complete The Legend of Korra story. I’d’ve liked it if both stories had been self-contained, but as introductions to the characters I think this works pretty well.

Verdict: If you like A:TLA this is an easy pick-up.

Dynamite_Red-Sonja-Marvel

Dynamite Entertainment | RED SONJA MARVEL FEATURE STORIES

Audience: Teen+

Notes: It’s interesting that Dynamite would put out a FCBD title featuring comics not by Dynamite. This comic reprints some old Marvel Red Sonja stories. Maybe they’re just going for the name recognition of “Stan Lee presents Red Sonja”? It’s bizarre, and not indicative of the comics Dynamite is putting out regularly now.

Verdict: Skip it.

Epicenter_Tex-Land-of-Seminoles

Epicenter Comics | TEX: IN THE LAND OF SEMINOLES

Audience: Teen

Notes: This is a classic-style Western, and unfortunately that means it brings with it all the baggage of classic Westerns. The artwork is gorgeous, but the story is shoestring thin, with a nonsensible deus ex machina that’s not foreshadowed at all.

Verdict: Skip this one.

Fantagraphics_Donald-Duck

Fantagraphics Books | DISNEY MASTERS DONALD DUCK & CO. SPECIAL

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Anthology book reprinting a quartet of stories featuring Donald, Goofy, and a few other Disney favorites. This is a nice representation of the work Fantagraphics has done remastering these older comics, and they’re entertaining stories to boot.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Gemstone_Overstreet-Guide-Collecting

Gemstone Publishing | THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING COMICS

Audience: All Ages

Notes: I’ve always thought this series sounded like a fun idea, and there’s some interesting stuff in here, including an illustrated essay about creating and collecting comics. But the writing here is just so-so, and the art doesn’t do it any favors.

Verdict: Skip it.

Graphix_Realm-of-the-Blue-Mist

Graphix | REALM OF THE BLUE MIST: A GRAPHIC NOVEL (THE REMA CHRONICLES #1)

Audience: All Ages

Notes: Excerpt teaser for the upcoming first book of The Rema Chronicles. It’s fairly straightforward fantasy, with portals and strange worlds and a guy with healing powers. This one didn’t hook me the way some of the other previews did.

Verdict: Pass.

Humanoids | THE INCAL UNIVERSE

Audience: Mature/18+

Notes: An introduction to Humanoids’ upcoming expanded Incal universe line of graphic novels. The first story is a summary of the original book, followed by two excerpts from a couple of the upcoming graphic novels. It’s pretty wild sci-fi and fantasy stuff, which isn’t a bad thing, but it won’t be for everyone.

Verdict: This is worth a read to see if it’s right for you.

IDW_Sonic-the-Hedgehog

IDW Publishing | SONIC THE HEDGEHOG FCBD 2022 SPECIAL

Audience: All Ages

Notes: This book features both a standalone story featuring movie stars Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Doctor Robotnik, and a primer on what’s been going on in the Sonic ongoing series ahead of the title’s 50th issue. The main story is pretty light and fun, though the primer that follows is a bit of a slog. If you’re really into Sonic, though, you’ll probably dig this.

Verdict: Not for me, but maybe it’s for you?

Image-Skybound_Clementine

Image Comics/ Skybound | CLEMENTINE #1

Audience: Teen

Notes: This book is hefty, with a full issue-length preview of the Clementine graphic novel and two shorter previews of other books from Skybound’s Comet YA graphic novel imprint. It’s worth it for Tillie Walden‘s artwork on the Clementine preview alone.

Verdict: 100% pick this up.

LevGleason_Equilibrium

Lev Gleason Publications – Comichouse | EQUILIBRIUM

Audience: Teen

Notes: Full-length story that flashes back and forth between a dystopian future where Earth has been taken over by a monstrous ruler, and the present day initial battle where a group of public-domain heroes fight and lose to the monster. It’s solid set-up for…I’m not sure what for after reading the issue, as there’s no indication where this story is going to continue. So that’s really disappointing and frustrating.

Verdict: It’s a solid comic, but without knowing where it’s going to continue, I say Pass.

MadCave_Nottingham

Mad Cave Studios | NOTTINGHAM FCBD SPECIAL

Audience: Mature/18+

Notes: The second FCBD title drawn by Andrea Mutti after Bunny Mask Tales, which is far from a bad thing. This is a super-moody horror/adventure story with a solid twist at the end. Also included is a preview for another Mad Cave book from the same creative team.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Marvel Comics | MARVEL VOICES #1

Audience: Teen

Notes: A sampler for Marvel’s ongoing Marvel’s Voices anthology one-shots spotlighting characters and creators from marginalized groups. As with most anthologies it’s kind of a mixed bag, but still great to see Marvel putting content like this out there front and center for a wide audience.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Marvel Comics | AVENGERS/ X-MEN #1

Audience: Teen

Notes: Teasers for a trio of upcoming Marvel stories. The Judgment Day teaser gets readers up-to-speed on what’s going on with the three teams involved, but does so in an exceptionally wordy fashion. A tease for the upcoming Hellfire Gala has some nice imagery but doesn’t do much as a story. The highlight is a four-page teaser for Bloodline: Daughter of Blade, which is extremely effective at introducing the character and her backstory.

Verdict: Pass.

OniPress_Joanna-Unpossible-Monsters

Oni Lion Forge Publishing | JONNA AND THE UNPOSSIBLE MONSTERS #1

Audience: All Ages

Notes: The full first issue of the fantasy adventure series from superstar artist Chris Samnee. This book is great and so much fun, and Samnee’s artwork throughout is untouchable.

Verdict: Pick it up, along with the two already-available collected editions.

Papercutz_Fuzzy-Baseball

Papercutz | FUZZY BASEBALL TRIPLE PLAY

Audience: All Ages

Notes: I’ve heard of dogs playing poker, but animals playing baseball? This is a pretty cute story about the team going up against a trio of vastly different opposing teams. The art is pretty solid, though a lot of the book is more like a picture book than a comic.

Verdict: If space is limited, pass.

Penguin Young Readers | NEVERLANDERS

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Excerpt of the upcoming Neverlanders graphic novel, a reimagination of Peter Pan by Tom Taylor and Jon Sommariva. It’s got an interesting hook, leading readers to believe it’s one thing before swerving and revealing itself to be something else entirely. Unfortunately it also ends just as it’s starting to get to the interesting part. Otherwise it’s fine, but it didn’t knock my socks off.

Verdict: Pass.

RandomHouseChildrens_Max-Meow

Random House Children’s Books | MAX MEOW: CAT ON THE STREET COMIC SPECTACULAR

Audience: All Ages

Notes: As far as clear riffs on Dog Man go, this one’s pretty fun. The issue has multiple stories, plus games and gags and some ‘how to make comics’ material. Great stuff for kids and adults alike here.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Rebellion_Best-of-2000AD

Rebellion | BEST OF 2000 AD ISSUE #0

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: 2000AD is a big blindspot for me and this is a solid sampler to get new readers caught up on what the series has to offer. There are two newer stories and a couple of reprints in this anthology issue. The satire of the Judge Dredd story is heavy and over-the-top, and that’s a clear standout.

Verdict: It’s worth checking out.

Red5_Carriers-Beorn-DragonWhisperer

Red 5 Comics | CARRIERS/ BEORN/ DRAGON WHISPERER

Audience: All Ages

Notes: Birds with guns? For kids! The main story is about a vigilante squad of birds who protect New York City, like the “Goodfeathers” cartoon meets the Ninja Turtles. The second story, Dragon Whisperer, looks cute on the cover, but it also features a scene of a person being burned alive. For kids!

Verdict: Hard skip.

ScoutComics_Electric-Black-Children

Scout Comics | THE ELECTRIC BLACK CHILDREN OF CAINE #0

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Another supernatural horror comics, this one from Scout Comics’s Black Caravan imprint. This one really did nothing for me – the writing and the art are fine, there’s nothing wrong with them, it just didn’t grab me.

Verdict: Pass.

SourcePoint_The-Winchester-Mystery-House

Source Point Press| THE WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE: 100 YEAR CURSE

Audience: Teen

Notes: Still more horror, a one-shot tale about the titular Winchester Mystery House. This is an entertaining haunted house story with some entertaining visuals and solid storytelling. I don’t know that it made me want to read more about the house, but it’s an enjoyable one-and-done story.

Verdict: Pick it up for spooks.

Ten Speed Press | IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR

Audience: Teen

Notes: Malaka Gharib is the cartoonist behind I Was Their American Dream, is back with another graphic memoir, this one about her adjustment as a teenager to living with her father’s new family. Gharib’s previous book was excellent, and this preview indicates her follow-up will be as well. Plus there’s not a lot of traditionally indie material for FCBD this year, which makes this book stand out among the pack for readers of a certain age.

Verdict: Pick it up.

TenTonPress_10-Ton-Tales

Ten Ton Press | 10 TON TALES

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: This one’s interesting, an anthology sampling of stories in multiple genres, from humor to sci-fi to biography. It’s a good representation of what Ten Ton Press has to offer, if a little disjointed in its presentation.

Verdict: It’s fine. You could do worse.

Titan Comics | BLOODBORNE

Audience: Mature/18+

Notes: It looks like Bloodborne is a computer game? I had to look it up. There’s no indicating in the comic that that’s what it’s based on. That aside, the main story of the issue – all five pages of it – is pretty underwhelming, though I bet people who are familiar with the game would love it. Or not? I honestly don’t know. That’s not a good sign, comic.

Verdict: Pass.

TOKYOPOP_Guardian-of-Fukishima

TOKYOPOP | THE GUARDIAN OF FUKUSHIMA

Audience: All Ages

Notes: This is an excerpt from the French graphic novel of the same name about the 2011 tsunami in Japan. It’s a powerful story made moreso by the fact that it’s true, and it intertwines Japanese folklore in an interesting way. This is definitely worth a read.

Verdict: Pick it up.

UDON_Street-Fighter-Masters

UDON Entertainment | STREET FIGHTER MASTERS: BLANKA

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: I have to admit, I did not expect the amount of pathos I got from a Street Fighter comic about Blanka. This is a silent story, and it feels kind of derivative of things like The Incredible Hulk or Frankenstein, but it’s still really well done.

Verdict: I can’t believe it but yes, Pick this up.

Valiant_The-Year-of-Valiant

Valiant Entertainment | THE YEAR OF VALIANT 2022 FCBD SPECIAL

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Three full stories, a preview, and an interview round out Valiant’s FCBD title. They’re all pretty entertaining superhero/adventure stories, and there’s enough variety to them that you get a good feel for what makes them each stand apart from each other. Is this enough to get me to read a Valiant comic? I might check out that new Bloodshot book – the art’s fantastic.

Verdict: Pick it up.

Vault_Barbaric-1

Vault Comics | BARBARIC #1 FCBD EDITION

Audience: Teen/13+

Notes: Special FCBD edition of the first issue of series, which is already available in a collected edition. In my opinion that’s the best way to use FCBD – as a bridge to get people interested in your back catalog. I’m not a huge fantasy or barbarian guy, but this issue was fun.

Verdict: Sure.

VIZMedia_Pokemon-Journeys

VIZ Media | POKÉMON JOURNEYS/ POKÉMON ADVENTURES: XY

Audience: All Ages

Notes: It’s Pokémon! You don’t really need me to tell you anything here. Pikachu’s on the cover.

Verdict: It’s Pokémon!

YenPress_Enemies

Yen Press| ENEMIES

Audience: All Ages

Notes: The first thing you notice about this book is the nice, glossy, cardstock cover. The contents are just as nice as the packaging, with a preview for Svetlana Chmakova‘s forthcoming new graphic novel. It’s a great introduction to the characters in this slice-of-life book, and it’s sure to capture many a reader’s attention and enjoyment.

Verdict: Pick it up.


OVERALL: I’m really impressed with this year’s Free Comic Book Day offerings overall. Most publishers got the memo that this was the day to put their best foot forward, and there are very few books here that I would flat out advise against reading. I know this doesn’t help you narrow down what you should get as clearly as I’d wanted to, but at least hopefully it gives you an idea of what each book is about so you can go in to a shop and make informed decisions.

Whatever you decide to pick up this weekend, I hope you find something you like. Have a save and happy Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day 2022 is tomorrow, Saturday, May 7th.

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