Free Comic Book Day 2024 Reviews: Energon Universe, TMNT and more

free comic book day 2024 reviews

Today, May 4, 2024, is Free Comic Book Day! The annual event hits stores all over America with 48 new comics available totally, 100% for free. And while every store has their own rules on how many comics you can snag, there are still some hard choices to be made. Which is where we come in with these Free Comic Book Day 2024 reviews!

Some — not all — of the publishers involved in Free Comic Book Day have been kind enough to pass along advance review copies of their issues. And some we just picked up from stores. So in order to help you make your choice before you head off to the comic book store today, here are some spoiler-free capsule reviews of what to expect from several of this year’s Free Comic Book Day issues.

Energon Universe Special

Energon Universe 2024 Special #1 cover

Publisher: Skybound/Image Comics

Featuring three brand-new stories about Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Void Rivals, this isn’t some throwaway title for the best new comic book universe in a long time. Instead, you’re getting essential tales from Daniel Warren Johnson and Ryan Ottley, Robert Kirkman, and Lorenzo De Felici, and Joshua Williamson and Jason Howard, respectively. It’s chock full of Easter eggs and cameos that will make fans go wild. But as someone who, frankly, does not know most of these characters, what actually works is they continue to give an intriguing emotional hook to the stories, as well. A must-pick-up, if you can find it — and luckily, if not, Image is releasing this for cold hard cash next Wednesday.

Absolute Power Special

FCBD 2024 Absolute Power Special Edition

Publisher: DC Comics

This brand new story from Mark Waid and Mikel Janín, as usual for Waid, expertly weaves telling a dark tale while making it new reader friendly. Amanda Waller is very close to enacting her plan to steal all the powers from DC’s heroes and villains, and in the process, we check in with Failsafe, Green Arrow, Dreamer, and other characters key to the upcoming event in order to establish their new status quo. There’s a fair amount of danger here, and DC neatly lays out how several years of storytelling have all been leading to this.

Blood Hunt/Uncanny X-Men

Blood Hunt FCBD 2024

Publisher: Marvel

The front story by Jed MacKay and Sara Pichelli looks great, of course, and has some fun bits with Spider-Man, as well as establishing the status quo for a few key characters in the Blood Hunt event. However, the real draw here is Gail Simone and David Marquez’s story focusing on Jubilee, the first from the next era of X-Men. And I’ll tell you what: things look real bad for our mutant heroes in a way we haven’t seen in years. It’s ominous, but the sort that makes me worry for the end of Krakoa and desperately want to know what happens next. Meaning: good stuff.

Ultimate Universe/Spider-Man

FCBD Ultimate Universe

Publisher: Marvel

The front story by Zeb Wells is ostensibly about teeing up the return of the Green Goblin, but it’s mostly Peter Parker once again ruining a date; this time thanks to Chucky Cheese-esque attacking robots. It’s… Wacky. Meanwhile, the Ultimate Universe story is wild and chock full of Easter eggs as Iron Lad, Doom, and Captain America search for a lost hero in a museum full of dead ones. I could see the first story being too broad for new readers, the second too inside baseball. But I’m inside that baseball game so dug the backup quite a bit.

Disney’s Encanto And Turning Red: The New Adventures

Disney Encanto and Turning Red FCBD

Publisher: Papercutz

Two new tales from the worlds of Encanto and Turning Red, the former is far more substantial than the latter. But overall this flipbook is a winner, expertly capturing the feel of both movies, albeit aiming for a younger audience. The art is nice and quirky too, not aiming to capture the CGI of the flicks but instead create their own looks and feels. Probably the best all-ages book to pick up this FCBD.

Hellboy/Stranger Things

FCBD 2024 Hellboy Stranger Things cover

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

The first story in this book is your classic Hellboy in a weird situation, things go bad, he solves it with a punch, and shrugs it off. That said, Mignola works in an interesting recap of the character’s history at the same time, so this might work if you have no idea who Hellboy is. The backup story is a silly riff following your favorite Surfer Boy Pizza boys as they tell spooky tales. But the real stand-out there is Jonathan Case’s art, which splits the difference between Chris Evenhuis and Scooby-Doo.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

FCBD 2024 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Publisher: IDW

Rather than teasing Jason Aaron’s upcoming run, we’re getting two tales of the TMNT here. One tees up the Nightwatcher series, which seems to be an armored Turtle. You don’t get much about the character, who is basically the Batman (Batturtle?) or mutant town, but the action is solid. The backup is where it’s at though, as Splinter tries to have a normal day at home while the Turtles are out of the house.

Archie Horror Presents The Cursed Library Prelude

FCBD2024 The Cursed Library Prelude cover

Publisher: Archie Comics

Archie has been rolling out their horror one-shots for a while, but what this issue presupposes is: what if they weren’t one-shots? What if Madam Satan and Jinx are in a multiverse of Archie Horror? It’s an intriguing conceit that writer Jamie Rotante weaves through deftly. There’s more to come, and now that it’s all starting to come together, I’m very curious to see where it goes. Plus, read our interview with Rotante for more on the book — and what’s next.

Spidey and His Amazing Friends #1

Spidey and his Amazing Friends FCBD

Publisher: Marvel

Tying into the show, this is very much for pre-schoolers, which I am not. However, it’s also packed with stories. So if you have beginning readers this might be a good one to check out to introduce them to the Marvel Universe. And you know, keep ’em busy for a while.

Maleficent #1

Maleficent FCBD 2024

Publisher: Dynamite

This is a reprint of the superb first issue of this book from Soo Lee, and it continues to be superb. Basically, our villain is alone in the woods until the outside world intrudes, and then she takes matters into her own hands. If you missed this the first time, do not miss it again on Free Comic Book Day.

Monster High

Monster High FCBD 2024

Publisher: IDW

There are unfortunately only five pages of story in this book — the rest is taken up with character bios, ads, and a calendar that teases the upcoming series Monster High: New Scaremester, which apparently will run 10 issues through 2025. Ambitious! But for those of us who may not be familiar with the franchise — read, me — this might not be enough to intrigue you to check out more.

Star Wars/Plants Vs. Zombies

FCBD 2024 Star Wars Young Jedi Adventures cover

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Now that’s more like it. I’ve never watched Young Jedi Adventures and I don’t know anything about Plants vs. Zombies, but both these stories were all-ages fun. The Star Wars one was earnest and at times surprisingly intense as Nubs (the blue one) heads into danger. Meanwhile, the back-up is pretty hilarious, as the always reliable Paul Tobin walks Zomboss through various ridiculous origin stories. It’s like The Killing Joke, but for kids!

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