I didn't bother going to the comic shop for Free Comic Book Day in 2015 because I felt I'd rather wait for the year's offerings to turn up on Comixology rather than brave the FCBD crowds. But otherwise, I've been out for Free Comic Book Day almost every year since the first one. My preferred shop offers two FCBD offerings for free per customer, $0.25 for additional comics. I came away with six books; here's what I thought:
The Invincible Haggard West #101 by Paul Pope (First Second).
This is actually a comic book from 2013 which sold for $2.99, but I guess there was a lot of overstock. Free Comic Book Day is actually a good venue for this comic - it's the opening sequence from Paul Pope's graphic novel Battling Boy, telling the final adventure of Haggard West, whose death has reprecussions on the rest of the book. The only thing wrong with this comic was its original cover price; since the entirety of the contents were in Battling Boy, the publisher was basically banking on getting Paul Pope fans to buy something twice. As a free book (or if it had been priced at $1 or lower) it's appropriate as a preview comic - it will make you (hopefully) want to pick up Battling Boy to have the rest of the story. I've already read Battling Boy, but I judged that $0.25 for some Paul Pope was a good deal.
Free Comic Book Day 2016: General (great title there) by Chris Roberson, Stephen Byrne, Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Brian Wood and Tristan Jones (Dark Horse Comics).
This poorly-named comic contains three original short stories to advertise three ongoing Dark Horse properties. These are Serenity by Roberson & Byrne, Hellboy by Mignola & Corben and Aliens by Wood & Jones. Aliens did not interest me, but Serenity and Hellboy are properties I've enjoyed in the past. The Serenity tale is given the cover along with Joss Whedon's name (he's "executive producer," whatever that means in terms of comic book production; guys, you probably don't need his name to sell a free comic). It's a harmless bit of fluff where River tells a bedtime story to Zoe's daughter about the crew's adventures in the style of a fairy tale. If you already know Firefly/Serenity then it brings nothing new to the table, but it's a good bit of pandering. The Hellboy story involves a young Hellboy deciding to check out a cursed mirror his father told him about and that turns out to be a bad idea. Corben draws some great monsters.
The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2016 by Jeff McClelland, Duane Redhead and Ian Nichols (New England Comics).
It's hard to go wrong with the Tick; although series creator Ben Edlund has long since moved on, the character is still a lot of fun. This book is easily the best value of all the FCDB titles I picked up as it contains three complete stories. The first two involve the Tick dealing with the problem of various alternate reality versions of himself appearing in the City, while the 3rd story involves "Tickfest," the Tick's first convention (which is actually a trap set by a super-villain). It's entirely suitable for kids or adults with plenty of fun lines of dialogue: "Reality and I have never been great allies, I suppose."
FCBD: March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (IDW/Top Shelf).
I've heard many complimentary things about March, the graphic novel adaptation (in 3 volumes) of John Lewis' participation in the civil rights movement. This book collects an example from each volume, together giving a good impression of the scope of Lewis' tale. I certainly do intend to get around to reading March one of these days.
Rom #0 by Chris Ryall, Christos Gage, David Messina, John Barber and Chris Evenhuis (IDW).
IDW has recently picked up the licenses to the Micronauts and Rom, two toy properties whose comic books were produced by Marvel, but everything Marvel invented remains with that company. Can Rom work without Marvel's involvement? I dunno. For some reason IDW has redesigned Rom, taking away his sleekness, making him look bulkier. His distinctive pointy-feet have been turned into normal boots, his mitten-hands are now normal gauntlets and his neutralizer looks completely different. It's the same set up (Ultimate Rom, as it were) with Rom battling the Dire Wraiths. I thought the Dire Wraiths belonged to Marvel, but perhaps the toy company owned the name? Anyway, these Wraiths don't use any of the previous Marvel designs, instead going for an H.R. Giger Alien look. Once again, Rom comes to Earth to stop the Dire Wraiths; this time he'll do it in a clumsier costume and opposite a completely different supporting cast (not introduced here). I think I can safely say this isn't for me - I'm not interested in Ultimate Rom and thought writer Ryall's earlier creator-owned book Onyx was already a decent enough revisiting of the Rom mythos.
Free Comic Book Day 2016 (Captain America)#1 by Nick Spencer, Jesus Saiz, Dan Slott and Javier Garron (Marvel Comics).
Like so many of Marvel's FCBD offerings, this one previews some upcoming stories. Captain America gets the headline treatment because of his new movie and it features him battling Hydra alongside Sharon, the Falcon (who is also Captain America) and another Falcon (who is not Sam Wilson; comics, everyone!). Meanwhile, a Spider-Man story pits him against people who have mysteriously returned from the dead, something which happens every single dang month in comic books, but one assumes it's different this time. I'm still happy to remain on the outside of Marvel and not go back the ol' MU - too many memories. But these are decent previews. If I were still reading super heroes, I'd be following that Spider-Man story.