Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Free Comics!

I’m not going to lie. The biggest news this week is in the two slot in this edition. It’s also just not the most image oriented item. So, instead, we’re mixing things up at the top. But that’s okay! It’s still Comics Disassembled, and I’m still sharing ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, led by two things going in different directions.

1. Free Comic Book Day, Being Rolled Out

Next year’s slate of Free Comic Book Day releases was announced this week, along with the debut of cartoonist Terry Moore’s lovely commemorative art for the event — starring Strangers in Paradise’s Katchoo and Francine! — and you know what? It’s looking like another good year for people who enjoy FCBD! There are 48 total titles in the initial roll out, with arguably the biggest news of them all being one publisher included amongst them: DC Comics’ releases were announced at the same time as everyone else!

The past couple years, post DC’s Lunar migration, have found the publisher announcing its participation and its titles separately from the rest, with the Free Comic Book Day page – owned and operated by Diamond Comic Distributors, its jilted ex – debuting its slate well before DC would. Now, everyone is back together in the initial roll out, albeit with DC’s roll out largely being limited to “we are participating and it’s going to include four titles with no covers labeled as ‘DC FCBD Special Edition,’ ‘DC Middle Grade FCBD Special Edition,’ ‘DC Young Adult FCBD Special Edition,’ and ‘MAD FCBD Special Edition.'” It’s not much. Still! This feels like a thing! Were fences mended? Were agreements made? I’m not sure, but everyone’s under the same roof once again.

Beyond that, the trend of the year has to be temporary covers and even concepts leading the announcement. Almost 21% of announced titles are effectively blank covers for now, including many of the most notable titles. My favorite was undoubtedly BOOM!’s “The Worlds of James Tynion IV” cover, on which the most prominent words were the writer’s name and nothing else was shared. Congrats to JT4! He’s now at “Just make James’ name huge on the cover” levels for marketing staff. Still, with the writer celebrating his tenth anniversary at the publisher, it’s a strong plan by BOOM! to go that route.

The other interesting tidbit came in right before publishing. Marvel revealed the creators involved with its two most notable FCBD releases, and the X-Men flip book half — it’s sharing the space of one comic with a Blood Hunt chapter — allows readers to “get a glimpse of the future of mutantkind as Jubilee learns that you cannot go home again!” We knew that before, as that was part of the announcement of the Gold Sponsor Titles. What we didn’t know is that Gail Simone will be writing said story. Is that a hint of a future creator in the Tom Brevoort era of the X-Men? Or is that just a placeholder as things are getting sorted? TBD! Either way, Gail Simone is writing the X-Men, most notably Jubilee!

While there are certainly questions of how much impact Free Comic Book Day still has these days, as a person who goes ever year no matter what, I’ll say this: I’m excited already for Saturday, May 4th to hit. It’ll be a blast, as it always is.

2. Comixology, No More!

On one hand, the news that Comixology will effectively be going away on December 4th — as its standalone app will shutter permanently, with the experience and everyone’s comic purchases migrating into the Kindle app, the one true place to read comics within the larger Amazon ecosystem going forward — isn’t much of a surprise. It was clear the changes the once digital comics giant was making back in 2022 were all designed to start the integration process. This is just completing the journey of the ball they started rolling back then. More than that, is it even really that big of a deal, Comixology itself asks? As Jeff DiBartolomeo, the General Manager of Comixology, notes, 93% of the comics read over yonder are via Kindle anyways.

That may be very well true. It’s entirely possible the number is that high these days. But at the same time, it just all feels…unnecessary. That’s where the other hand hits. The ongoing devastation of Comixology as a platform since Amazon acquired it just feels like a waste if their grand plan was “Let’s have comics in Kindle!” You could have done that without acquiring Comixology at all! Instead, what once was a vaunted name in the space will exist largely as a brand for Amazon’s digital comics storefront…for now. Who knows when that will go away, at which point Comixology will effectively be wiped away from the world entirely.

It’s entirely possible this will fast track an improved reading experience for those buying comics within the system. Focusing on one path allows for more rapid improvement than when you’re trying to maintain two. Kindle could prove to eventually become a boss comic reading experience, especially considering the varying changes they’ve made of late, which Heidi MacDonald walks readers through over at The Beat. But I just have Benoit Blanc’s voice playing in my head as I think of what has transpired, talking about how dumb it all is with a maximum amount of exasperation behind it.

To be honest, I don’t expect this to make a significant difference in current user experiences. I’m guessing your average digital reader has already made a decision as to whether they’ll roll with Comixology’s punches or not. They’ve either migrated elsewhere or bunkered down and tried to make the Kindle of it all work. It is what it is. But what it is just so happens to be is a bummer.

Here’s a good reminder for you all, though. Comixology is not the only option. The team at Omnibus just launched a web store and online reader, which joins the iPad app that already exists. It looks pretty dang slick, and I know that they have a lot of big plans cooking. GlobalComix launched an app experience. Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe Infinite are still out there. For an even more inexpensive option, the library card powered hoopla and Libby are available for the price of free, and you get the bonus of even being able to borrow movies and shows with the former. There are a lot of options for those who want to read digitally and don’t want to deal with Amazon’s mercurial nature. Now’s a good time to check them out, because the old days of digital comics? They’re gone for good.

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