Free Comic Book Day Put on a mask, tie a towel around your neck and enjoy comic fan’s favorite holiday, Free Comic Book Day. For the past thirteen years, your local comic store has teamed up with publishers, recognizable brands and newcomers, to offer free comics to any patron who visits their shops. The goal is to celebrate the comics medium, encourage readers to branch out, emphasize the community of brick and mortar stores and be a stepping stone for younglings to enjoy reading. The Offering Marvel is doubling down on Guardians of the Galaxy this year. The first issue, a new story penned by Brian Michael Bendis, introduces Venom (he’s a good guy now) and Captain Marvel onto the team. This is an interesting choice, because neither of these characters will be in the August 2014 film and have continuity heavy back stories. This will serve as a jumping on point for the latest Guardians ongoing. The second, is a one-off story starring Rocket Raccoon and probably serves as more new reader friendly. DC Comics is releasing New 52: Futures End and Teen Titans Go!. Futures End is a new weekly series (for those unfamiliar most comics are monthly…ish) which explores an alternate timeline where Batman Beyond battles Earth’s heroes controlled by a sentient robot. It is an extremely comic bookie premise. Teen Titans Go! is based upon the Cartoon Network show of the same name and features the team engaging in slapstick humor and high jinks. Recognizable properties that you might not always associate with comics will be represented such as; Hello Kitty, Power Rangers, Mega Man X, Adventure Time, The Smurfs, The Simpsons, SpongeBob and other shows that you (or your kid’s) might have watched and enjoyed. FCBD is an opportunity to engage with these characters in a brand new adventure. Publishers use FCBD as a way to introduce new readers to new series. If you a reader wanting to try something new, here are a few examples. Steam Wars presents a parody version of the Star Wars Universe. In Rise of the Magi, Marc Silvestri tells the story magic existing in our world and the steps taken to ensure the mystery is never revealed. Silvestri describes it as, “Harry Potter meets The Usual Suspects, meets The Seven Samurai.” Epic launches with a zero issue that details how a normal teenager gains the power to be the world’s first superhero…his only weakness is pretty girls. If your shopkeep only always you to pick up one book and you want a wide variety of stories; try one of the anthology issues such as Red Giant’s Giant Size 4-pack, 2000 AD Special (featuring a Judge Dredd story) or the all ages friendly combination of Itty Bitty Hellboy and the Juice Squeezers. If you can’t decide amongst the selection of free titles offered, might I suggest Atomic Robo; the FCBD offering is a one-in-done tale with action and humor interjected throughout the adventure of a secret agent, sentient robot. The Experience Stores use FCBD to promote local comic creators, fans in the area and the industry as a whole. Venues and events will vary depending but it is commonplace to have cosplay contests, merchandise sales, sketch artists and indie creators trying to show off their work. Anecdotally, every time I went to a FCBD shop the Fighting 501st Storm Trooper legion was on site. This is a great opportunity to see the collection of comic fans in your area and interact with like-minded individuals. Feel free to ask a cosplayer for a picture and how they did their outfit or review an artist’s style. Be warned, with FCBD coming after the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2 that there will probably be discussion about how well (or poor) the film did floating in the air. If you look forward to Wednesday (when new comics release) every week, this is an opportunity to try a product you are hesitant to purchase. For fans that lost touch with the genre, this is an easy peek to see if there is anything you might be interested in. And to anyone who has never purchased a comic this is an excellent chance to see where all these blockbusters originated from. Excelsior! Level Up, Friends!