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Free Comic Book Day 2015: Read It Or Leave It? Part One: Gold Titles

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Here’s how Free Comic Book Day works:
There are two sponsorship levels: Gold and Silver.
The Gold titles?  Every participating retailers must order these titles.  (Yes, stores BUY those FCBD titles that you get for free…so buy something at every store you visit!)
Twelve titles are offered this year.  Many of the publishers listed below also offer a secondary title in the Silver section, but those are less likely to be found at each comics shop.
Of course, since stores invest a lot of time and money in celebrating this great tradition, most will limit how many copies you can grab select during your visit.  To help you make the most of your Free Comic Book Day, I offer the following reviews.  These are my personal opinions, but I’ve read just about every single FCBD issue issued since 2002, plus I’ve been reading lots of comics since 1974, so I’m jaded and patinaed and  inoculated against most forms of hyperbole.  I’m also judging these as a new reader would, because that’s the whole idea of Free Comic Book Day…to gain new readers.
Don’t agree?  Feel free to comment below.

FCBD 2015 BOBS BURGERS

Publisher: D. E.
(W) Mike Olsen & Various (A) Bradley C. Rader & Various
Bob’s Burgers, the hit TV show created by Loren Bouchard, is now a comic book! The Belcher family – parents Bob and Linda, and their children Tina, Gene, and Louise – appear in this special Free Comic Book Day edition that collects the “Best Of” in-canon stories from Dynamite’s first-ever Bob’s Burgers comic book series.  Thrill to Tina’s Friend Fiction, Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities, Gene Belcher Presents: The Musical, and more! It’s an all-ages extravaganza that captures the feel of Bob’s Burgers perfectly – because it’s a comic 100% created by show writers and animators!
Rating: All-Ages
 I haven’t watched the show, so I don’t know much of what’s going on.  It’s kind of weird… but I did like the musical episode.

FCBD 2015 BONGO COMICS FREE-FOR-ALL!

Publisher: BONGO COMICS
(W/A/CA) Matt Groening
Get in line for the foremost Free Comic Book Day four-color giveaway of the year! When Bart brings one of Professor Frink’s recent discoveries to school, it leads to some hair-raising hilarity. Then, Lisa finds a doorway to an ancient past, CBG gets a hip -new girlfriend, and Homer tries his hand at some home improvement. And much more.
Rating: All-Ages
Yup… just like the blurb says!
Side note: are the characters on the cover canonical?  I love the symmetry!

FCBD 2015 BOOM STUDIOS 10TH ANNIVERSARY FCBD SPECIAL

Publisher: BOOM! STUDIOS
(W) Grace Ellis & Various (A) Vicki Scott & Various

2015 is BOOM! Studios’ Tenth Anniversary year, and to help us celebrate we’ve gathered short stories from several current and new all-ages titles for Free Comic Book Day, offering an oversized, full-color issue that showcases 10 all-ages-friendly titles from our Archaia, BOOM! Box, and KaBOOM! imprints. The BOOM! Studios Ten Year Celebration 2015 Free Comic Book Day Special features a cover illustrated by Mouse Guard creator David Petersen and will contain the following stories:

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth
“Wisdom and Idioms” Written and Illustrated by Cory Godbey
An all-new short based on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. The Wiseman and his bird try to find some humor in the magical world of Labyrinth.

Iscariot
Written and Illustrated by S.M. Vidaurri
Young Carson discusses magic and time with a wizard in this special preview of the upcoming Archaia original graphic novel written and illustrated by Iron: Or, the War After creator S.M. Vidaurri.

Mouse Guard
“Service to Seyan”
Written and Illustrated by David Petersen
An excerpt from Mouse Guard: Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales. Gwendolyn learns about her mother Alma and the great warrior hall of Seyan.

Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wards
Created by Pendleton Ward
Written by Jen Wang
Illustrated by Britt Wilson
A brand-new Fionna & Cake short from writer Jen Wang (In Real Life) and Britt Wilson (Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake)! Fionna and Cake are on the search for an opponent for Cake to play against in Card Wars.

Regular Show
“Coffee Shop Special!”
Created by JG Quintel
Written by Kevin Church
Illustrated by Coleman Engle
Based on the hit Cartoon Network animated series, Eileen and Margaret make Muscle Man his special drink.

Peanuts
“Dogstoevsky”
Created by Charles M. Schulz
Story by Charles M. Schulz
Pencils by Vicki Scott
Snoopy looks to finally become the World’s Greatest Author, but Lucy’s help may not be the helpful push he needs.

Garfield
“Fast Feline”
Created by Jim Davis
Written by Mark Evanier
Illustrated by Andy Hirsch
Nothing can keep Garfield from a good meal, even if it means having to beat the fastest cat to get it.

Lumberjanes
Created by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Illustrated by Brooke Allen
When the Lumberjanes aren’t taking care of pesky critters or crazy demigods, they’re making fun crafts like friendship bracelets. Friendship to the max!

Munchkin
“Table of Contents”
Written and Illustrated by John Kovalic
Fight the monsters, steal the treasure, and backstab your buddy! A wandering monster table appears in this short from the illustrator of the hit card game Munchkin, John Kovalic.

Help Us! Great Warrior
Written and illustrated by Madeleine Flores
Based on the hit webcomic and new miniseries from Madeleine Flores. Great Warrior gets attacked on the road!

Rating: All-Ages

I really want to see a raccoon rodeo…


FCBD 2015 DARK CIRCLE COMICS #1 (MR)

Publisher: DARK CIRCLE COMICS
(W) Duane Swierczynski & Various (A) Michael Gaydos & Various (CA) Francesco Francavilla
THE BLACK HOOD! THE FOX! THE SHIELD! Get in on the ground floor of Dark Circle Comics and experience the cinematic and creator-driven reinventions of these iconic properties. Who is the new Shield? How did the Black Hood come to be? Can things get more unpredictable for The Fox? Learn the secrets of the Dark Circle universe from the creators themselves via sneak peeks at the new series, creator interviews and a first glance at the next Dark Circle series – all held together by an eye-popping cover from Afterlife with Archie artist Francesco Francavilla!
Rating: Mature Readers
Wow… they weren’t kidding!  There’s some blacked-out swear words!  We see the prologue to the Black Hood, a teaser of The Fox, and some sketches for The Shield.  Given the various incarnations over the years, I’m curious to see if this time is the charm!

FCBD 2015 DARK HORSE FIGHT CLUB THE GOON THE STRAIN (MR)

Publisher: DARK HORSE COMICS
(W) Chuck Palahniuk & Various (A) Cameron Stewart & Various (CA) David Mack
Dark Horse Comic’s most thrilling FCBD to date . . . Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart premiere Fight Club! Eric Powell with all-new tragedy in The Goon! And Guillermo del Toro presents an all-new chapter from The Strain! Need we say more?
Rating: Mature Readers
Fight Club…haven’t see the movie, so I don’t get what’s going on here.  The Goon…has vampires from the Confederacy.  The Strain… again, not familiar with the source material.
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FCBD 2015 DC COMICS DIVERGENCE

Publisher: DC
A first look at upcoming storylines! DC Comics: Divergence features three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the “Darkseid War” within Justice League featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on Superman.
Rating: Teen
Three prologues… We discover what happened to Batman, Superman has gone underground, and we discover that Wonder Woman shares a birthday (and other traits) with an upcoming Justice League Bigbad.

FCBD 2015 DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL

Publisher: TITAN
(W) Robbie Morrison & Various (A) Elena Casagrande & Various
Take a blistering trip through time and space with three stunning ALL-NEW short stories featuring Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor and the brand-new Twelfth Doctor by the ongoing DOCTOR WHO creative teams – PLUS a sneak peek of the TOP SECRET Summer 2015 event! Be the first to get a hint of the epic that will shake the Doctor to his core! It’s an unmissable read for fans, and the perfect primer for anyone looking to jump on board the TARDIS!
Rating: Teen+
#10 does laundry.  #11 drives the narrative.  #12 breaks the circuit.
Nice stories, self-contained, and you don’t really need to know much about The Doctor to enjoy them.

FCBD 2015 PERFECT SQUARE PRESENTS POKEMON

Publisher: PERFECT SQUARE
(W) Hidenori Kusaka (A) Various
All your favorite Pokémon game characters jump out of the screen into the pages of this action-packed comic! Legendary Pokémon Xerneas and Yveltal ‘s battle against each other is destroying Vaniville Town. Can X and Y save the town in Pokémon X o Y?!
Bonus Feature: More action in Pokémon Adventures and Pokémon Adventures Black and White!
Rating: All-Ages
Three introductory stories.  The new series about the reclusive Pokemon trainer seems interesting, but I’m not the target audience for this series.

FCBD 2015 SAVAGE DRAGON LEGACY

Publisher: IMAGE COMICS
(W/A/CA) Erik Larsen
The generational saga of Savage Dragon reaches a new milestone as Malcolm Dragon graduates high school and follows his father’s footsteps to the Chicago Police Department. Every young new officer has a lot to live up to, but for the son of a world famous figure as renowned as he is reviled, navigating the world of law enforcement is especially challenging. The cost of failure is high in a city becoming more dangerous by the day: Can Malcolm step out of his father’s shadow and become the hero Chicago needs, or is he doomed to make the same mistakes?
Rating: Teen+
So…Malcolm Dragon is the Savage Dragon’s son.   Sort of.  It’s complicated.  Larsen gets most of the exposition out of the way early, and I enjoyed his drawing style.

FCBD 2015 SECRET WARS #0

Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Prepare yourself for the final days of the Marvel Universe as you know it as the march to the biggest comic event of the year continues! From the ashes of a decimated cosmos rises…Battleworld! Amid the strange, patchwork realm, refugees from thousands of obliterated universes struggle for survival. Even if they can endure the horrors of Battleworld – the home they knew has been destroyed! Time has run out, and the opening salvo of Secret Wars has been fired. But can anything restore the Marvel Universe that once was?
Rating: Teen+
Issue Zero, so this is another prologue.  Not much happens…  but I enjoyed the Future Foundation kids, especially their numbered jumpsuits.

FCBD 2015 SPONGEBOB FREESTYLE FUNNIES

Publisher: UNITED PLANKTON PICTURES
(W/A) Graham Anable (CA) Gregg Schigiel, Rick Neilsen
This year’s SpongeBob Comics FCBD offering features a 22-page story by Boxtrolls director and Grickle cartoonist Graham Annable. In “Tangy!” Plankton’s new special sauce made from jellyfish jelly has strange effects on SpongeBob and Bikini Bottom’s residents. The only one unaffected, the only one who can save them all, is a very reluctant Squidward. Plus more undersea sequential stories by James Kochalka, Maris Wicks, Gregg Schigiel. and other awesome aquatic artists!
Rating: All-Ages
Fun stuff.  Nothing that knocks my socks off, just good old-fashioned cartoony comics!

FCBD 2015 TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE #0

Publisher: IDW PUBLISHING
(W) John Barber, Tom Scioli (A) Priscilla Tramontano, Tom Scioli (CA) Priscilla Tramontano
OPTIMUS PRIME is gone-and DECEPTICONS are on the loose! It’s up to BUMBLEBEE and an elite crew of AUTOBOTS to track them down before their rampage spreads across Earth! TRANSFORMERS comics have never been hotter, and the excitement spreads to this all-original comic inspired by the all-new animated series! Plus: previews of IDW and Hasbro unbelievable publishing slate for 2015, including an exclusive TRANSFORMERS VS. G.I. JOE strip!
Rating: All-Ages
The coloring was a bit murky, as if the panels were photo-comics.  Otherwise, I liked the lead story with the cartoony style and characterization.  The Transformers vs G.I. Joe strip is fun, and if you loved the old 80s cartoons, or love crazy indy-infused pop culture, pick up this series NOW.  It was one of the highlights of last year’s FCBD, and for you Hasbro fans, it’s a bit of a prequel to the original Joe cartoon series!

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