Written by Ian Flynn
Art by Patrick Spaziante, Lamar Wells, Gary Martin, and Rick Bryant
Published by Archie Comics
Release Date: May 3, 2014 (Free Comic Book Day)

Flip book cover by T. Rex and Tracy Yardley

Flip book cover by T. Rex and Tracy Yardley

Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, and the challenge for every book shop owners purchase to give away is this: will an uninitiated reader like this enough to come back and buy more? Because, at the end of the day, Free Comic Book Day isn’t meant as a reward for existing fans, or as merely incentive for Wednesday shoppers to come back in on Saturday and spend more once a year. It’s about growing the audience, the market, and the community.

Archie Comics gets that.

Delivering a solid set of stories that introduce readers to characters they may never have heard of, and providing more than enough background (and direction) to get them to the next step, Archie took the spirit and mission of Free Comic Book Day very seriously. Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man (in this case, Mega Man X) have long histories both in and out of comics, but these stories encapsulate their origins and essence in simple terms, and manage to stir up drama in the process.

The difference between Mega Man and Mega Man X for me as a general outsider to the comic and the video game could easily be confusing, but writer Ian Flynn provides a perfect step-by-step primer for the world both characters arose within, as well as those whom I presume will be their antagonists. Likewise, with Sonic, a character I know as much about as Q-Bert (Wow. I’m old.), we’re treated to a fun set of origins for characters Sally and Rotor, and given a real sense of the world they all live in.

One of the funniest highlights of the book as a whole, in fact, is how both stories seem to mimic popular comic book event type stories and drill them down to their most entertaining and accessible terms. DC Comics’ New 52: Futures End series is not alone in depicting a future world where robots have taken over and must be stopped, but Mega Man X tells that story in a way any adult can still enjoy, but will feel awesome about enjoying it with his or her son, daughter, niece or nephew. This is a sharable book, and therein lies the real heart of Free Comic Book Day.

Overall, the art produced by the many gentlemen on the book is fun and clean, very characteristic of Archie Comics’ house style in its energy and brightness. And the added bonus of this edition being a flip book is the opportunity for a pull out double-page size poster in the center, getting readers excited for the upcoming Mega Man/Mega Man X crossover event! If you ever want a kid to revel in the Flash of Two Worlds or the latest Crisis event the way you did (ahem, do), then you’d can do far worse than dropping this book in front of them today. It’s primer for a lifetime of excitement.

The Verdict: 9.5/10



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