There's nothing quite like reading a brand-spanking-new comic book. Those 30-some pages take you to far-off galaxies and planets full of aliens and strange creatures. They'll also bring you back to Earth, exposing the superhumans and villains who live among us.
What better way to appreciate the medium than by giving away new comics to longtime nerds and new readers? That brings us to Free Comic Book Day, happening Saturday at local comic shops and libraries.
It's the one day every year when comic book stores around the country give away special releases for free. The first FCBD was in 2002, marking the inaugural industry-wide promotional move. The comics given out on FCBD are from numerous publishers, creators and artists.
In Tampa Bay and around the country, FCBD is a day to celebrate the geek community and local, independent comic book stores.
Most established comic book stores participate in FCBD in some way. Large stores often turn the day into a celebration of everything comic-related with parties, cosplayers, guest creators and artists, plus discounts on merchandise and games.
What comic books can I get for free?
Every year, the folks at Free Comic Book Day release a list of FCBD issues that are provided at cost to stores that in turn give them to customers for free. Many of the free comics are previews of series coming out soon or special editions of popular stories to get readers started. For a complete list of the free comic books released on Saturday, visit freecomicbookday.com.
Any recommended grabs?
Civil War II #1: The anticipated continuation of the war that split the Marvel universe in two. Civil War II is expected to bring more characters into the conflict Captain America and Iron Man started, featuring the All-New All-Different Avengers and an All-New Wasp.
Captain America #1: Steve Rogers fans will get a taste of the new Cap comic series coming in May.
Suicide Squad #1: Get acquainted with the worst heroes ever in this re-release of the first issue of the Suicide Squad series before the movie hits theaters.
The Phantom 80th Anniversary Special: A special release featuring the original masked hero in four stories to celebrate the 15th anniversary of FCBD.
Anything else I should check out?
So. Many. Things.
If you're new to comics, a trip to the comic book store can be daunting. Since FCBD falls after May the 4th (Star Wars Day) and the release of Captain America: Civil War, we recommend brushing up on some galactic and superhero reading. How about a literary guide to the Star Wars universe and Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
We've also got you covered with essential reading for Batman v Superman.
Need a Civil War primer? We have that, too.
Tampa Bay comic book stores participating in FCBD:
Emerald City Comics, 4902 113th Ave. N, Clearwater
Choose from any three FCBD comics, and get 25 percent off all books and graphic novels. Guest creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (DC's Harley Quinn comics) and artists Adam Riches and Rob Hunter will be around from 1-4 p.m. for autographs.
Comic World Largo, 12675 Seminole Blvd., Largo
Celebrating a new location and FCBD, Comic World Largo will have 25 percent off all new comics, variants, back issues and graphic novels and a walk-in discount on all comics, plus free FCBD issues.
Nerd Out Comics, 1745 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa
A week-long sale, free comics and guests.
Yancy Street Comics, 13944 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa
Free comics, sales on everything in the store and surprise guests.
Urban Legend Comics, 1337 Oakfield Drive, Brandon
Pick any three books from $1 boxes for free. FCBD comics and sales all day.
Hollywood Comics and Collectibles, 670 Brandon Town Center Drive, Brandon
First 50 customers get a free Iron Man cardboard mask. There will be hourly raffles, baked goods, sales and cosplayers. Guest co-writer and artist for Iron Man, Bob Layton, will sign for free and a meet guests until 3 p.m.
Heroes Haven, 4339 Gunn Highway, Tampa
First 150 customers in line get a bag full of all 50 FCBD releases. The event features local talent, sales and a party inside and outside the store.
A few Hillsborough County libraries are also getting in on the fun with comic books, superhero activities and discussions of all things comics.
Locations and times
John F. Germany Public Library, 900 N Ashley Drive, 12-2 p.m.
Riverview Branch Library, 10509 Riverview Drive, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Seminole Heights Branch Library, 4711 N Central Ave., 2-4 p.m.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at email@example.com Follow @chelseatatham.