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Free Comic Book Day 2018: A Guide To The Best Bets And The Best Avoided

For the 10th year in a row, NPR's Glen Weldon reviews the 52 free comic books you'll be able to pick up in comics shops across the nation on Saturday, May 5th.
World's Greatest Cartoonists Source: Diamond Comics Distributors

Walk into a comics shop this Saturday, May 5th, and you'll get some free comic books.

Free Comic Book Day has been an annual event for 17 years now. I've been writing up this guide to the FCBD books for the past 10 of those, so believe me when I say:

This year's a good 'un. The best yet. Don't skip it.

There are more all-ages books in this year's mix, more stories starring girls, women and people of color and a healthier, more robust selection of genres to choose from than ever before.

It's also gratifying to see fewer publishers putting out FCBD offerings that amount to little more than samplers, offering readers only tiny snippets of stories from several different comics they publish. Happily, most of the books you'll be able to pick on Saturday — even those that are simply excerpts from new or forthcoming graphic novels — make for solid, substantial, satisfying reads.

Here, as every year, the relevant details:

  • You can find your closest shop by typing your ZIP code into the Comics Shop Locator on the www.freecomicbookday.com page.
  • Some comics shops don't take part in Free Comic Book Day — check with the Comics Shop Locator to make sure your local shop does.
  • Publishers print special Free Comic Book Day editions of the books that will be handed out on Saturday.
  • There are 52 different FCBD books this year.
  • Not every shop will offer all 52 titles.
  • Some stores lay them out and let you pick the ones you want; other stores hand you a sampler pack.
  • If you do get your choice of books, the reviews below might help you find the ones you're likely to like.
  • If you don't get a choice, hey: Free comics.
  • While you're there, buy something.
  • No seriously: Buy something.
  • Buy SOMEthing. The comics shops still have to pay for the "free" FCBD books they stock, and they're counting on the increased foot traffic to lift sales, so be a human being. And buy something.
  • How will you know WHAT you should buy? Ask someone on staff at the comics shop. It's that simple. Tell them what kind of movies you like, what kind of books, what TV shows you binge on. They'll very likely be able to make recommendations in line with your tastes.

The books are rated by age-appropriateness, but of course there's always wiggle room with that.

As a general rule:

ALL-AGES: Akin to a G-rating. Little Aiden or Brittany will read it with delight.

TEEN: Akin to PG. Little Aiden or Brittany might need help with some words or concepts.

TEEN+: PG-13. Only three books fall into this category this year. Two are Marvel books, in which superheroes punch folk ... for justice! The third is the Bob's Burgers tie-in, which features a story from her "Tina's Erotic Friend Fiction" notebook, but of course the most erotic thing about it is the word "erotic." Aiden and Brittany can handle it.

MATURE: R. "Daddy? Mummy? What's 'disembowel' mean? Why is tomato juice coming out of that man's nose? And ears? And eyes? And neck? And why are those two people's hips kissing?"


ALL-AGES


Title: Adventure Time

Genre: TV Tie-In/Fantasy

The Gist: Fionna and Cake — the gender-swapped, fictional fan-fiction versions of Adventure Time's main characters, embark upon on a quest: To deliver a bowl of punch to Prince Gumball's party.

Additional Info: Along the way, they meet various obstacles, and their contrasting but complementary personalities cause them to react in very different ways. Nice, economical characterization from writer Kiernan Sjursen-Lien and cute/creepy art from Christine Larsen.

Verdict? Yes, definitely.


Title: Bongo Comics

Genre: TV Tie-In/Humor

The Gist: A perennially solid FCBD choice: Looks and feels like several episodes of (latter-day, it must be said) Simpsons.

Standout story is the lead

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