Big day tomorrow, people! Not only is it Cinco de Mayo (I’ll take my lime margarita with a salted rim, Smitty), but it’s also Free Comic Book Day. Which is pretty self-explanatory: In a bid to drum-up interest in comics, select stores give away titles from sundry notable publishers. Check this site for participating locations.
Our buddies at Diamond Comics Distributors, who sponsor the grabfest, hooked EW up with various titles to peruse in advance. So let’s break this down, shall we?
SHAMELESS MOVIE TIE-INS WITH SHAMEFUL STORIES
Transformers No. 1 (IDW)
The “Official Movie Preview” reads like a prosaic exercise in Autobot-Decepticon speak. Still (since I’m a tool): Transformers!!!
The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel)
The Web Slinger encounters a crazy with a case of road rage while ambling to Aunt May’s b-day party. Doesn’t nearly measure up to the hype of its talented creative duo — writer Dan Slott (She Hulk) and illustrator Phil Jimenez (Infinite Crisis) — but, nonetheless, squeaks by as a pleasant joy ride. I can’t say the same, however, for Marvel’s other dismal freebie submission, Marvel Adventures: Iron Man & Hulk, in which Iron Man meets a new metal head and the Hulk smashes more stuff. Feh.
MOST GRIPPING STORY
Whiteout No. 1 (Oni Press)
Not familiar with Whiteout? Start here with this murder-mystery from Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber that takes place in the stark environs of an Antarctic camp. It’ll leave you pining for issue No. 2.
MOST EYE-GRABBING COVER
The Astounding Wolfman No. 1 (Image)
Jason Howard’s bold artwork practically growls at you, enticing you to pick up the new book, co-created by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), about a dude who discovers he’s a werewolf. Includes a bunny’s gratuitous demise.
Justice League of America No. 0 (DC)
Don’t get us wrong. We do love us some Brad Meltzer (DC’s marquee writer, NY Timesbest-selling novelist). But this reprint of his issue involving Batman,Wonder Woman, and Superman — which toggles between the past and future— will give most readers a mild case of motion sickness. Got ayoungun’? Snap up DC’s other gratis reprint, issue No. 1 of Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, featuring delightful art by Chynna Clugston (Blue Monday).
BEST TITLE WITH THE WORST STORY
Pirates vs. Ninjas (Antarctic Press)
I feel betrayed.
SURPRISINGLY DECENT WORK BY A ROCK STAR
The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)
Gerard Way, lead-singer dude of My Chemical Romance, teams up withartist Gabriel Bá for a sprightly tale with macabre undertones,boasting a villain reminiscent of the Joker.
BREEZIEST SUPERHERO READING
Love and Capes (Maerkle Press)
These mundane episodes in the domestic life of a superhero — some more amusing than others — exude just enough charm.
MOST SCHIZOPHRENIC PUBLICATION
Activity Book (Drawn & Quarterly)
Part free-spirited workbook, part instruction in how to write, this excerpt from Lynda Barry’s upcoming book What It Is, is unparalleled in originality.
MOST IMPROBABLE COMEBACK
The Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
The Green Hornet–Kato pairing is probably my favorite whiteman/sidekick-of-color duo, but I’m intrigued by Dynamite’s Lone Ranger,who packs appeal in his potential for true grit. (Tonto makes a briefappearance cracking a horse-meat joke.) Be sure to flip the book overfor a Battlestar Galactica: Season Zero comics teaser.
Unseen Peanuts (Fantagraphics)
Fantagraphics has published a number of Charles Schulz compilations;here are some strips that have never been anthologized. Though not flawless, Unseen is nevertheless a treasure trove of strips paired with illuminating backstories.