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Many comic shops in Chicago are hosting writers throughout the day. Some prime examples include Dark Tower Comics (4835 N. Western) with Thor writer Robert Rodi, Challengers Comics + Conversation (1845 N. Western) with Image Comics artist Mike Norton, and G-Mart Comics (2641 N. Kedzie) with Army of Darkness writer Elliott Serrano.
Tons of free books are being offered for the day. My suggestion would be to search out the Spider-Man version of the Season One series, a franchise that gives classic Marvel teams' origin stories a slightly modern twist. While we all didn't really need to see a teenage Jean Grey talking on an iPhone, it certainly is fun.
This Free Comic Book Day comes at an especially exciting time for comics lovers. For starters, it's opening weekend for The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises drops in mere months. These are two of the most highly anticipated superhero flicks of all time. We're also smack-dab in the middle of Avengers vs. X-Men, the Marvel event of the year. This series pits the two iconic superteams against each other in an effort to destroy/control/understand the Phoenix Force, a galaxy-destroying cosmic entity which has brought fear, mystery, and excitement to Marvel readers since before I was born. If you're looking to buy some books while nabbing up the free ones, the AvX titles are recommended. They epitomize what it is about comic books that got me so hooked on them at a young age: epic, action-packed stories about colorful, larger-than-life characters.
The Free Comic Book Day website provides a complete list of appearances and participating shops around the country as well as the massive list of exclusive free books.