The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) 2012 Free Comic Book Day Titles

By Chris Cummins in Comics, Daily Lists
Friday, May 4, 2012 at 8:11 am
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If Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year, then Free Comic Book Day has got to be a close second, right? For the past 11 years, comic book stores across the country have been giving away special promotional issues with hopes of gaining new readers and bringing back those who have moved away from the pleasures of pull lists and variant covers. This year's event will be held on this Saturday, May 5th, and with it comes the usual assortment of high-profile releases from major companies and indie outfits alike. There will be a total of 42 titles available this year, which is pretty much definitive proof that life, the universe and everything revolves around comics. 

With some shops limiting visitors to 3-4 comics each, it's important to select your freebies wisely. That's where today's Daily List comes in handy. Here is your (admittedly subjective) guide to the five best and five worst 2012 Free Comic Book Day offerings. Let the mad rush for free crap commence!


5) Peanuts/Adventure Time Flipbook
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Are Finn and Jake the 21st century equivalent of Charlie Brown and Snoopy? Apparently Kaboom! Entertainment thinks so. For their sole 2012 Free Comic Book Day entry the indie comics label has offered up a flipbook that is thematically linked by stories about boys and the dogs they love. It's a brilliant idea to pair up Peanuts and Adventure Time, because although they are each clearly products of two very different times they each share an odd sweetness. Especially noteworthy here is Vicki Scott and Ryan North's writing on the Peanuts half of the book, which captures the essence of Charles Schulz's melancholic whimsy without seeming derivative. That's a fairly miraculous accomplishment that should please even the Lucy in your life.

4) Overstreet's Comic Book Marketplace: The Greatest Horror Comics of All Time!
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Part of the reason that The Walking Dead was such a game changer is that it achieved a level of mainstream success unmatched by any previous horror comic. So it makes a certain amount of sense for the industry to revisit the genre's other notable entries. Which brings us to this celebration of terror titles from Overstreet's Comic Book Marketplace that includes a rundown of the history of horror comics, profiles of memorable releases ranging from Tomb of Dracula to Swamp Thing, a look at the ten most valuable horror comics, and much more. Admittedly, this isn't a comic book and as such is a bit of a cheat to give away on Free Comic Book Day. It's forgivable though thanks to the sheer amount of great info here.

3) Star Wars/Serenity
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No, it's not slash fic in which Chewie gets it on with River Tam, but rather a two-sided flipbook featuring Star Wars and Serenity stories both written by Zack Whedon. Set prior to Star Wars, "The Art of the Deal" has Han and everybody's favorite walking carpet meeting another of the smuggler's disreputable associates while the Serenity tale "It's Never Easy" features stunning art from Fábio Moon that will have you longing for a similarly animated series based on the saga. I'm not sure what the physical manifestation of a fanwank would be, but I'm guessing this comic is pretty close. Just wait until you get home with it before the fapping commences. Free Comic Book Day is a family event after all.

2) Walt Disney's Donald Duck Family Comics
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The ultimate mission statement of Free Comic Book Day is to introduce kids to the magic of comics. Frankly, I can think of no better way to do so than with this collection of two Donald Duck stories from Carl Barks that have been re-released by Fantagraphics. There has never been a smarter or more fun creator of "kids comics" than Barks, and his Disney work rightfully remains the most cited example of the genre at its best )although Bob Bolling's 1960s Little Archie output comes pretty damn close). The annual giveaway shouldn't be about promoting company-wide events or high-profile new releases, but instilling a love of illustrated adventures in the young. The Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge tales included here ("Lost and the Andes" and "Only a Poor Man" respectively) will enchant any tyke who has the good fortune to land themselves a copy of this. In turn, they'll be inspired to check out other comics, and with any luck this curiosity will turn into a lifelong appreciation of the artform. And isn't that the whole goal of this exercise in the first place?

1) Mouse Guard, Labyrinth and Other Stories
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Perhaps best known for their Jim Henson-inspired comics -- including the ongoing Fraggle Rock and the graphic novel Tale of Sand, which visualized an unproduced screenplay from the Muppet maestro -- Archaia Entertainment seeks to dramatically up their public awareness with this free 48-page hardcover book. The comic equivalent of tapas, this sampler aims to show off the company's most appealing offerings, including David Petersen's Mouse Guard, the comedic Western Cow Boy and a short tale inspired by Labyrinth (be sure to cue up Flight of the Conchords' "Bowie" while reading this one). With whimsical art and engaging stories, this will be one giveaway that will stand proudly on your bookshelves. Once you steal it away from your kids, that is.

Hit the jump for the worst freebies from this year's Free Comic Book Day
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