Today is Free Comic Book Day, a yearly event that started back in 2002 when comic shops across the country invite new readers and old into their stores with special promotions and sales in addition to a special selection of free comic books printed specifically for FCBD.
If you find yourself in a comic shop after seeing the Avengers, you may find yourself all geared up with an interest in comics based on the characters in the film. In addition to the free Avengers comic, here’s a quick guide for some great collections that you may want to flip through.
Currently, the monthly Avengers books are going through a transitional period, so they aren’t exactly new reader-friendly, but Thor, Captain America and Iron Man are solid and the new Captain America and Hawkeye series has gotten good press. The staff of your local comic shop should be happy to help, but here’s the beginning of a guide.
The jade Goliath of rage, the Hulk is one of Marvel Comics’ oldest creations. Bruce Banner was a mild-mannered scientist who yearned to hold Betty Ross in his arms, but working on an Army base run by her father General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross made that all but impossible.
The gamma radiation transformed Banner into the Hulk, an indestructible creature driven by anger never before seen. Many things have been learned about the Hulk over the years, but nothing has changed the fact that he is the strongest there is and his rage is endless.
The Hulk’s life has been a whirlwind of nightmarish changes as he changed color and visited other worlds only to find the same situation over and over… no one would leave him be. Finally the combined members of a superhuman Illuminati shot the Hulk into space to spare humanity from his destructive rages. Landing on an alien hostile world, the Hulk fought through a sea of trouble with only the the thought of revenge in his mind.
The collections below showcase some of the most popular and tumultuous stories of the past five years.
The star-spangled hero of WWII, Captain America embodies the peak of the human condition. Even though the Super Soldier Serum turned the frail Steve Rogers into the sentinel of liberty, it is his inner moral compass and belief that people have it in them to overcome adversity and realize their true potential that makes him so special.
Armed with a shield baring a brilliant star surrounded by red and white stripes, Cap fights the enemies of freedom. The shield is made of a unique unbreakable alloy and Cap is able to hurl it through the air with an unparalleled precision. In the last days of WWII, Captain America was frozen in the ice for decades. A man out of time, Rogers was unfrozen into a world he never knew.
One of the elder statesman of the Marvel Comics Universe, Captain America is respected by almost every hero from Spider-Man to Wolverine and even the Punisher. The collections below showcase some of the best of the modern series.
Inventor Tony Stark is a futurist, able to predict the path that human society will take and the role that technology will play in that world to come. After becoming wounded in a war zone by weapons that he designed, Stark’s mind turned to developing his inventions toward a suit of armor capable of magnificent feats.
Iron Man and Tony Stark have become more closely merged in recent years as the technology that made him a superhero merged with him. Neither human nor robot, Tony Stark is an entirely new kind of human being. Somewhat reckless and often egocentric, Stark faces his problems head on (with varying results).
The collections below consist of some beloved stories from the 1980’s and 90’s as well as the knock-out modern series.
God of Thunder, Thor is an Asgardian warrior far off Asgard. When he came into contact with Earth, he discovered their true worth and became their defender. An unending wave of villains have risen to take him down, but none have succeeded.
Able to command the weather itself, Thor also uses his uru hammer Mjolnir to fly through the air and strike back at his enemies. Possessing incredible strength, a limitless endurance and courage that enables him to proudly fly into the jaws of destruction many times over, there are none like the noble Thor.
Thor has recently been revived in a new series The Mighty Thor that is incredible and highly recommended. Along with that series, I recommend the Walt Simonson run and the animated feature.
A former circus performer, Clint Barton realized that he had an ability to fire arrows with an uncanny precision. Seeing the world gawp at the exploits of heroes such as Iron Man, Barton designed a costume and took to the rooftops as a hero… with unpredictable results. The sharp-eyed archer Hawkeye has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with giants, gods and superhuman beings with only a quiver of trick arrows as his weapons. One of the most cocksure and brave Avengers, Hawkeye is also the boldest and snarkiest. Grounding the Avengers with his street-level approach, he is a resourceful hero to be reckoned with.
There are several collections of Hawkeye that showcase his origins, exploits as a solo hero and as the leader of the West Coast Avengers. In recent years, Hawkeye has (understandably) become more of a high profile and currently leads the Secret Avengers which I also recommend.
Despite her youthful (and supple) appearance, the deadly super spy Natasha Romanov has been active the Cold War. Raised to be a perfect weapon by the KGB, Romanov has no true past as her memory has been replaced and rewritten to suit the needs of her job. Defecting to US, Black Widow has become a member of SHIELD as well as an Avenger.
A master of close quarters combat as well as various armaments, the Black Widow also uses her specially designed ‘sting’ mounted on each of her bracelets. An expert gymnast and martial artist, the Black Widow daringly launches herself into battle with very little protecting her aside from her wits and skill.
The collections below reflect her early years as well as some more recent adventures.
I hope that these recommendations and summaries are useful and that you have a great Free Comic Book Day! Support your local comic shop and happy reading!