Tomorrow, May 7, is the happiest day of the year for comics fans: Free Comic Book Day, which is both a celebration of the hobby and a chance to read tons of new comics given away without paying a dime! While some are reprints, most contain awesome new material—and here’s our guide to the very best of this year’s offerings.
Boom! has always been famously generous with its Free Comic Book Day offerings, and 2016 is no exception. Summer Blast not only contains previews of upcoming stories from the upcoming Adventure Time comic and Lumberjanes’ own summer special, “Don’t Axe, Don’t Tale” (what a title!), but also brand new original comic short stories set in the worlds of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and David Petersen’s Mouse Guard.
If that wasn’t enough, also included is a preview of their recent all-ages girl detective series Goldie Vance, and a preview of K.I. Zachopoulos and Vincenzo Balzano’s The Cloud, a futuristic fantasy about a young boy and his winged wolf companion. Seriously, Boom! is giving you major bang for your buck—which hey, is already zero bucks.
Marvel is bringing its big guns to Free Comic Book Day, offering a special teaser issue for its incoming event series Civil War II. It’s not just a preview either, but a whole new story that sets up the future conflict between the heroes of the Marvel Universe—and introduces the new Inhuman that catalyzes the event, Ulysses, who can predict future events. Also included is a bonus story set in the All-New, All-Different Avengers comic that introduces to the world to the mysterious new incarnation of the Wasp.
One of two Dark Horse offerings this year, the publisher leverages its biggest licenses for a trio of all new stories. The Aliens tale is set in the world of Dark Horse’s brand new series Aliens: Defiance, while Mike Mignola flashes fans back into an untold chapter of Hellboy’s history—but the big draw here for many will be a brand new tale from the universe of beloved cult classic Firefly from Chris Roberson and Stephen Byrne. Joss Whedon even “executive produced” the story, in so far as one can executively produce a comic. But it means it’s the real deal!
Although not related to but certainly conveniently linked into Titan’s upcoming crossover event, this year’s offering includes new stories for each of the four main incarnations of the Time Lord seen in the show’s revived era: Doctors Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve. Each story is by the creative teams of the respective Doctor’s standalone series too, so it all blends into the current time-traveling events of the Doctor Who comics
Rom is back in action! Decades after the classic Marvel comic that brought Hasbro’s weird scifi toy to life came to a close, the Space Knight now has a new home at IDW. There are deep reaches of space to explore and Dire Wraiths to do battle with, and it all begins with this free prequel issue ahead of the Rom series beginning in July.
Valiant’s own summer event kicked off earlier this week, but before you read the new adventures of superhero Rai in the far future—where an ultra powerful Japan has gathered itself on a space station and abandoned the desolate Earth below as the all-powerful New Japan—you can read a prelude issue as this year’s free offering from the company.
On top of an all-new story, the issue also comes bundled with previews for some of Valiant’s recent new series—everything from the hilarious adventures of Archer and Armstrong to a new look at the upcoming Faith ongoing series.
Okay, so sadly Archie Comics’ Free Comic Book Day release is just a reprint—but it’s a reprint of the first issue of the absolutely fantastic reboot of Archie and friend’s teen adventures in Riverdale. Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Andre Szymanowicz, and Jen Vaughn’s fresh (and slick as hell) reboot was one of the greatest comics we read last year, and if you’re still somehow not reading it, this is a great opportunity to get on board.
Fans of the blockbuster manga and its wildly successful anime adaptation will want to check out this first look at Kodansha’s brand new comics anthology. It’s a collection of new tales from the bleak world of Hajime Isayaba’s manga, but with a twist: they all come from some of the finest writers and artists in Western comics, giving us a take on Attack on Titan quite unlike anything we’ve seen from the series before.
I mean, what else are you going to do while you wait for the second season to start?
When I said Marvel are bringing out their big guns, I really meant it—not just content with teasing its massive summer event, they’re also offering a primer for the new Captain America comic, starring the recently rejuvenated Steve Rogers back in action as Cap, doing what he does best: smacking Hydra goons with his shiny new shield.
Just like the Civil War II issue, the comic also comes with a bonus prologue for the upcoming Spider-Man-centric Dead No More storyline happening later this year.
Alan Tudyk comes to the world of comics, to co-write a new miniseries based on the scifi show-within-a-show from his geeky webseries Con Man, following the adventures of Captain James Raaker (played by actor Jack Moore in the world of Con Man, and by Nathan Fillion in our own). The four-part miniseries is coming later this year, but you can read the prequel issue for free tomorrow.
You might think it’s a bit weird to include a comic on here that includes new stories set in the worlds of Plants vs Zombies and How to Train Your Dragon, but Dark Horse’s kid-friendly freebie also comes with something that older fans would definitely be intrigued in—an all-new Legends of Korra tale from Korra story editor Michael Dante Dimartino.
Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender should be already well aware that the comics offer some brilliant insight and new stories in the Avatar universe, straight from the show’s creative teams, so aside from being a damn good offering for youngsters, this’ll be a must-read for Legend of Korra fans.
Black Mask Studios’ free comic offers two short stories set in the worlds of two of their biggest hit series: the outstanding teen superpower tale We Can Never Go Home, and its brutal conspiracy thriller Young Terrorists. Both are great, but the real star here is the We Can Never Go Home tale, which sets up the second run of the series—another one of our favorites of 2015—beginning later this year.
What comics are you looking forward to picking up this year? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can find a complete list of every comic available this year here, as well as more details on events taking place to celebrate the day over on Free Comic Book Day’s website.