Another year, another successful day of free comics. Since 2002, the first Saturday in May has been a special time when anyone who walks into participating stores walks out with special comics at no charge. My local shop was a packed house from the start of the event. A line filled with men, women, and tons of kids in superhero costumes wrapped around the store, each of them eager to scoop up some free comics.
Most of the bigger companies had special issues of their series available for pickup. Most notably, Marvel had several tie-ins to their upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. However, plenty of non-superhero comics were also ready with free issues. Adventure Time and The Simpsons, Smurfs and Grimm Fairy Tales; even the Power Rangers had a comic at no charge! But as most of our regular readers would assume, I was there for the video game comics.
Archie Comics had a special double-issue ready for their video game series. One side featured their favorite hedgehog in Sonic: Comic Origins, while the flip-side of the book prepared readers for the debut of Mega Man X. Both of the plots in this issue revolved around origin stories, which is pretty common for Free Comic Book Day offerings. Since many of the folks attending the event may not be familiar with a series or character, publishers will take this opportunity as a sort of introduction to attract new readers.
Sonic: Comic Origins focuses on the beginnings of two side characters: Princess Sally Acorn and Rotor the Walrus. Each of their stories shows how they came to join the Freedom Fighters and showcases their particular talents for fighting Dr. Robotnik. Mega Man: The X Factor introduces readers to Dr. Cain, the scientist who would awaken the advanced robot X from cryogenic sleep. With the help of X, Dr. Cain ushered in a race of machines called Reploids, humanoid robots who would work beside mankind for a better future. Both of these stories feature colorful and detailed artwork, with plenty of nods to the source material hidden throughout. As a logical bonus, there are overviews for both series to catch readers up on the comics thus far.
Mega Man and Sonic weren’t the only video game heroes to have free comic books. The various artists and writers at Udon Comics put out a special Street Fighter issue for the occasion. Made up of three stories with three different art styles, this Issue #0 let numerous fighters share the spotlight.
Hong Kong Hustle features Sean from SF3 doing his best to defend an unidentified woman from hoodlums. When the mystery lady turns out to be Chun-Li, Sean is not only humbled, but protected by the veteran warrior. The next tale, Your Enemies Closer, revolves around Juri Han from SF4 investigating the whereabouts of her former boss, Seth. When she finally uncovers his location, M. Bison closes in and Juri decides to serve a new master. The final tale, Beyond the Hills, provides a thoughtful glimpse into the origin of Street Fighter mainstay Akuma. Each of these stories tie into separate series offered by Udon Comics, and there are plenty of advertisements for each one at the comic’s end.
After a crowded and exciting trip to Free Comic Book Day, I am happy to come home and look over all the spoils from the journey. As expected/planned by the participating retailers, many comics were bought in addition to those given away. I picked up an X-Statix book (a humorous group of supers from Marvel), along with some of the latest boosters for Magic: The Gathering (my addiction is well documented). But the most surprising purchase was found on the lowest shelf. While glancing over the children’s comics section, I found a hidden relic from the past: a Pokémon picture book called “Meet Mew!” Too adorable to keep to myself, please look forward to seeing this on my Tumblr, Please Take One.
For all of you who got to attend Free Comic Book Day, I hope your experience was as fruitful as mine. And for those who didn’t get the chance, be sure to drop by your local comic shop soon: they tend to have plenty of leftover special issues up for grabs!
For more bits and pieces on video game comics, be sure to check out Geek Force Network every Monday. More info can be found here.