With spring in the air and a new Marvel movie in theaters, it’s time for the 16th annual Free Comic Book Day! On Saturday, May 6, 2017, comic book stores in North America and all around the world will be giving away free comics. With 50 titles from a wide range of publishers including Marvel, DC Comics and Image Comics, this is a can’t-miss event for any comic fan and a great way to introduce readers of all ages to the wide world of comics.
Now, CBR has your guide for the Free Comic Book Day comics you need to pick up! While the selection and availability of titles will vary from store to store, these comics are some of the best bets for new readers and seasoned collectors alike.
15. ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
While Marvel’s other Free Comic Book Day release might grab headlines, “All-New Guardians of the Galaxy” sets the stage for two highly-anticipated Marvel team titles. In the comic’s lead feature, Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder and Ive Svorcina set the stage for their new series, “All-New Guardians of the Galaxy.” Fresh off of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2,” Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Racoon and Groot return to far corners of the Marvel Universe with the Nova Corps hot on their trail. With a solid art team, Duggan’s lighter take on superheroics should make this an accessible jumping-on point for fans of the Guardians’ cinematic adventures.
Then, Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez and Justin Ponsor bring Marvel’s street-level heroes together for the long-awaited debut of “The Defenders.” Fans of Marvel’s Netflix shows won’t want to miss this story, where Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist team up to defend Hell’s Kitchen. Marquez and Ponsor are one of the best art teams at Marvel right now, and Bendis, who co-created Jessica Jones, has always excelled with street-level heroes and team books, so expectations are high for this upcoming series.
14. WONDER WOMAN
With Wonder Woman set to make her solo cinematic debut in this summer’s “Wonder Woman,” 2017 will be a big year for DC’s Amazon Princess. On Free Comic Book Day, DC will give readers a chance to catch up with Diana’s adventures in “Wonder Woman Special Edition” #1, by Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr. This book follows Diana and her future partner Steve Trevor in the days leading up to their first meeting on the shores of Themyscira, the Amazons’ island paradise.
While this comic was originally published as “Wonder Woman” #2 last year, “Wonder Woman: Special Edition” is a great way to jump into DC Rebirth, an ongoing effort that’s reinvigorated all of DC’s superhero comics. During his acclaimed run on “Wonder Woman” in the mid-2000s, Rucka became one of Diana’s definitive writers. With dynamic art from Scott and Fajardo, that deep understanding of the character is on full display here in an accessible form. For younger readers, DC will also be offering a preview of Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat’s upcoming graphic novel “DC Super Hero Girls: Summer Olympus.”
13. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Since 2011, IDW Publishing has produced some of the best “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comics ever. With a line of titles including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and several miniseries, IDW has worked influences from every incarnation of the Turtles into a massive ongoing epic. With revised origins and the input of Turtles’ co-creator Kevin Eastman, the Heroes in a Half-Shell have fought familiar foes like the Shredder and Krang in this well-regarded reboot.
On Free Comic Book Day, IDW is offering “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Prelude to Dimension X,” by Tom Waltz, Eastman and Cory Smith. This all-ages adventure sets up the Turtle’s upcoming space-based adventure in this year’s crossover, “TMNT: Dimension X.” While a defeated Krang awaits trial for his crimes in Dimension X, a mysterious assassin has set his sights on the Turtles and the rest of Krang’s enemies. For fans of Nickelodeon’ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” this comic is a perfect jumping-on point.
12. BETTY & VERONICA/RIVERDALE
For the last several years, Archie Comics has had a sustained creative renaissance that’s turned Archie and his friends into some of the most exciting characters in comics. Although both of their Free Comic Book Day offerings are reprints, both comics give readers a chance to step into Archie’s bold new world. Their main release is a reprint of last year’s “Betty & Veronica” #1, by Adam Hughes and José Villarrubia. In this beautifully illustrated issue, the limits of Betty and Veronica’s friendship are tested when a new coffee shop threatens to take over Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.
Archie’s other Free Comic Book Day offering is a prelude to the CW’s hit series “Riverdale.” This special reprints two short stories from this year’s “Riverdale” one-shot, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Brian E. Paterson, James DeWille, Elliot Fernandez and Thomas Pitilli. These two tales show the lurid details of how Archie and Veronica spent their summers before she arrived in Riverdale.
11. X-O MANOWAR
Valiant Comics had some of the highest-selling and most critically-acclaimed superhero comics of the 1990s. Since 2012, Valiant Entertainment has rebuilt the Valiant Universe with well-received titles like “Bloodshot” and “Ninjak.” In both of Valiant’s incarnations, “X-O Manowar” has been one of the publisher’s biggest titles. In the series, the Visigoth warrior Alric of Dacia was abducted by aliens in the fifth century. After using a high-tech alien battlesuit to escape, he found himself trapped in the modern day, where he became a hero with the Manowar armor.
Valiant’s Free Comic Book Day offering, “X-O Manowar Special,” features a preview of X-O Manowar’s action-packed new series, with a story by Matt Kindt and jaw-dropping work by Tomas Giorello. In this excerpt, Alric finds himself without his battlesuit and drafted into a war on a distant alien world. This title will also feature previews of “Bloodshot” and the rest of Valiant’s lineup with work from creators like Jeff Lemire, Doug Braithwaite, Ryan Bodenheim and Mico Suayan.
10. THE SIMPSONS
While the quality of TV’s “The Simpsons” has varied dramatically over the years, Bongo Comics has published consistently entertaining comics based on the world of Springfield since 1993. With over 200 issues of “Simpsons Comics” and its related titles, Bongo has perfected the formula for all-ages humor. While Marge, Bart, Lisa, Homer and Maggie usually take center stage, some of the less prominent citizens of Springfield have had a chance to shine in comics.
Since 2005, Bongo’s compilations of recent Simpsons stories have been a Free Comic Book Day staple. In this year’s “Bongo Comics Free-For-All,” an injury forces Bart to make the best out of using a rolling backpack in a tale by Max Davison, Rex Lindsey and Dan Davis. After that, Ian Brill, Rex Lindsey and Mike Rote keep Homer and Bart up all night on the lookout for burglars. Finally, Rod and Todd Flanders are forced to fend for themselves on the not-so-mean streets of downtown Springfield in a story from Mike W. Barr, John Delaney and Andrew Pepoy.
9. DOCTOR WHO
Although the wait between new “Doctor Who” episodes can be agonizing for fans, Titan Comics has regularly published the Time Lord’s continuing adventures since 2014. While TV viewers only see new adventures with the current Doctor, Titan has produced new comics starring several of the Doctor’s most beloved incarnations. Along with new companions not seen in any other medium, these comics have even featured rare team-ups between various versions of the Doctor.
In this year’s Free Comic Book Day offering, all four modern Doctors will appear in the same story in “Doctor Who,” by Alex Paknadel and Mariano Laclaustra. In this time-traveling tale, the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors will all visit the same planet at different points in time. Bill Potts, the Doctor’s newest companion, will also make her first comic book appearance in this title. Along with nods to established “Doctor Who” continuity, this comic will also tease upcoming storylines for Titan’s ongoing “Doctor Who” books.
8. THE TICK
With Amazon’s “The Tick” set to premiere later this summer, it’s the perfect time to get reacquainted with Ben Edlund’s nigh-invulnerable superhero. From his humble beginning as the mascot for a comic book store, the Tick has gone on to star in numerous independent comics, a beloved animated series and a cult classic live-action show. Along with his trusty sidekick Arthur, the Tick has protected the City for years in his delightfully zany adventures.
For this year’s Free Comic Book Day, New England Comics is offering up two titanic tales in “The Tick,” by Jeff McClelland and Duane Redhead. In the first all-ages story, the Tick throws himself a party with some of his closest friends and enemies in “Happy Birthday, Tick!” Filled with giant ants, ninjas and existential musings on the nature of life, this should please fans of “The Tick’s” particular brand of absurdity. This comic will also reprint “Civic Duty,” a rarely seen story where the Tick tackles presidential politics.
7. BOOM! STUDIOS SUMMER BLAST
With original creations like “Lumberjanes” and licensed titles like “Adventure Time,” Boom! Studios has established itself as a major destination for kid-friendly comics over the past few years. With their annual “Summer Blast” compilations, Boom! has used Free Comic Book Day to give readers a sample of several of its younger-skewing humor titles.
While Boom!’s previous Free Comic Book Day offerings leaned heavily on licensed content, this year’s “Boom! Summer Blast” highlights three original titles. First, David Petersen offers a new short story from “Mouse Guard,” his brilliantly illustrated, award-winning saga about medieval mice. Then, Sam Sykes and Selina Espiritu serve up an excerpt of “Brave Chef Brianna,” a light-hearted title about a chef who opens a restaurant up in a city full of monsters. Finally, there’s an excerpt from “Coady and the Creepies,” by Liz Prince and Amanda Kirk. This recently-launched title follows sisters who perform in a punk rock band fronted by the ghost of their sibling Coady.
6. RICK AND MORTY
On April Fools’ Day, the surprise season premiere of “Rick and Morty” left viewers hungry for discontinued fast food items and new episodes. While the rest of the show’s third season won’t premiere until later this summer, Oni Press’ “Rick and Morty” comics have quietly become some of the most popular humor titles in comics. The continuing adventures of mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his nephew Morty have garnered praise for faithfully capturing the look, style and humor of the cartoon.
For Free Comic Book Day, Oni’s “Rick and Morty” reprints the first issue of the duo’s ongoing series. Rick and Morty get rich off of the intergalactic stock market in this story by Zac Gorman, CJ Cannon, Ryan Hill and Marc Ellerby. Then, there’s a preview of the upcoming miniseries “Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It,” from Trini Howard, Marc Ellerby and Katy Farina. Based off of the mobile game “Pocket Mortys,” this series finds Morty trying to escape from a “Pokemon”-esque fighting league where the fighters are alternate reality versions of himself.
5. BUFFY: THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
Over the course of seven seasons, the cast of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” grew up and matured into some of the most well-developed characters on TV. On Free Comic Book Day, Dark Horse Comics is sending those characters back to one of the scariest parts of their lives, high school. “Buffy: The High School Years” features an original story starring a teenage Buffy from Kel McDonald and Yishan Li. While Dark Horse’s other Buffy comics are mired in the show’s continuity, “Buffy: The High School Years” is accessible to new readers of all ages. This line of graphic novels has produced well-reviewed new adventures that fill in some gaps during the show’s first two seasons.
This special will also feature a time-traveling “Plants Vs. Zombies” tale written by Paul Tobin. Dark Horse’s other Free Comic Book Day offering marks the comics debut of James Cameron’s “Avatar,” by Sherri Smith and Doug Wheatley. That title also features a story from Brian Wood and Werther Dell’Edera’s secessionist crime drama “Briggs Land.”
4. STAR TREK: MIRROR BROKEN
Even though “Star Trek: The Next Generation” defined the franchise for a generation, the series never went to one of Trek’s most famous locations, the Mirror Universe. With their Free Comic Book Day special, IDW Publishing seeks to remedy that. In “Star Trek: Mirror Broken,” Scott Tipton, David Tipton and J. K. Woodward venture back into the dimension where the peaceful Federation gave way to the ruthless Terran Empire. This tale follows twisted versions of familiar characters including a muscle-bound, goateed Captain Picard and a Borg-infused Data as they try to take control of the Empire’s newest starship, the Enterprise.
For a decade, IDW has been publishing stories set in every era and ever corner of the “Star Trek” Universe. With “Star Trek: Discovery” facing a seemingly endless series of delays, their comics are some of the best options for fans looking for a “Trek” fix. This particular take on the “Trek” universe will lead directly into the same creative team’s upcoming miniseries, “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken.”
3. CATALYST PRIME
Lion Forge Comics is set to kick off its new superhero imprint this Free Comic Book Day with “Catalyst Prime: The Event.” In this special issue by Christopher Priest, Joseph Illidge, Marco Turini and Jessica Kholinne, five astronauts make a fateful journey into space to save the world from an oncoming asteroid. The events of this special will set the stage for Lion Forge’s wider line of titles, which will be debuting throughout the rest of the year.
While Lion Forge might be new to the world of superheroes, the “Catalyst Prime” creative team has a history of excellence with some of comics’ biggest icons. Both Priest and Illidge are veterans of Milestone Comics, the short-lived superhero universe that gave birth to “Static Shock” in the 1990s. With upcoming Lion Forge titles set to feature work from Brandon Thomas, Ken Lashley, Joe Casey, Larry Stroman, Alex De Campi and many more, this title is a chance to get in on the ground floor of one of this year’s most intriguing new imprints.
2. I HATE IMAGE
With critically-acclaimed epics like “Saga,” the always-popular “The Walking Dead,” and one of the strongest lineups of independent comics ever, it’s a good time to be a fan of Image Comics. In this year’s Free Comic Book Day release, Image skewers its past and present in “I Hate Image,” by Skottie Young and Jean-Francois Beaulieu. In that duo’s acclaimed black comedy, “I Hate Fairlyland,” a young girl named Gertrude has embraced ultra-violence after being stuck in a magical realm for three decades.
In this decidedly mature readers special, Gertrude carves a path of destruction across Image’s biggest titles. The worlds of “Saga,” “The Walking Dead,” “Savage Dragon,” “Black Science,” “Spawn” and many others are all treated to Gertrude’s wrath here. For years, Young has charmed his way into readers’ hearts with his Marvel work, specifically his heart-warming “Young Marvel” variant covers. This special is a chance to see the scope of his talents fully unleashed on some of the biggest characters in the Image Universe.
1. SECRET EMPIRE
Even though it’s just started in earnest, Marvel’s crossover “Secret Empire” is already one of their most controversial stories in recent memory. Through the reality-warping shenanigans of the Red Skull, Captain America has been turned into a sleeper Hydra agent. After being made the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Steve Rogers reveals his true colors while Earth’s strongest heroes are busy dealing with an alien invasion. While this story has divided fans, it takes center stage in the Free Comic Book Day special “Secret Empire,” by Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino. With a shocking final moment that will cause even more controversy, this is a comic that everyone will be talking about.
This Free Comic Book Day title will also feature a prelude to Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert’s upcoming series “Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man,” by Zdarsky and Paulo Siqueira. In this “back-to-basics” tale, Spider-Man’s lunch with Mary Jane is interrupted by an appearance from the high-flying Vulture. Zdarsky has established himself as one of Marvel’s funniest writers, and Siqueira’s style is suited to Spider-Man’s acrobatic adventures, so this should be an exciting start for Spider-Man’s new era.
Click here to find a comic shop near you, and support them on Saturday, May 6, 2017! Keep it locked to CBR for all the latest in comic book news, and let us know what Free Comic Book Day comics you’re looking forward to in the comments below!