The opening of the "X-Men"
sequel spawns a comic-book
giveaway like the one last
year for "Spider-Man"

Participating stores
on the island:

>> Amazing Phoenix Corp., 98-023 Hekaha St., phone 484-4413
>> Collector Maniacs, 3571 Waialae Ave., Suite 102-A, phone 739-3912
>> Gecko Books & Comics: 3613 Waialae Ave., phone 732-1292 1247-G Kailua Road, phone 263-2004
>> Last Sanctuary, 1485 Kapiolani Blvd., phone 955-2440
>> Other Realms, Ward Warehouse, phone 596-8236
>> Ryan's Sportsworld, Aina Haina Shopping Center, phone 373-7419

When the "Spider-Man" movie opened in theaters nationwide in late April 2002, major and independent comic-book publishers, along with more than 2,000 shops across the United States, celebrated that weekend's big event with their own, heralded as Free Comic Book Day.

So it would seem only natural that with the big "X2: X-Men United" opening tomorrow, Free Comic Book Day would have its own sequel, and it all happens Saturday, with specially printed comic books to be given away to store visitors.

The only difference from last year is that public libraries won't be part of the distribution of the free comic books, limited instead to participating stores. But, still, it's a great way to get young and old into reading and appreciating the "sequential art" of the medium.

Titles include "Archie & Friends," featuring the ageless characters of Riverdale High; a sampler issue from action-adventure Rocket Comics; a self-contained, all-ages story in a special issue of "Transformers: Armada," new publisher Future Comics with the debut of "Metallix No. 1," created by the same team that did a recent makeover of Marvel's Iron Man character. There are also about 35 other titles from independent publishers, ones that, while not as familiar to a wider audience, are worth the effort to check out.

The highlighted titles below should be available at all of the stores:

"Ultimate X-Men No. 1" -- Marvel Comics once again takes advantage of the monster publicity its characters are getting through a blockbuster movie. Just as free copies of "Ultimate Spider-Man No. 1" were given away last year, reprints of the first issue of this well-done "X-Men" spinoff title will be available Saturday.
"Frank Miller's Robocop/Stargate SG-1" -- The cult '80s sci-fi movie gets the long-awaited comic-book treatment with the master artist personally supervising the project (Miller will also do the covers). This sampler book also includes pages from upcoming "Robocop" books and the special preview of the adaptation of the popular Sci-Fi series "Stargate SG-1."
"Way of the Rat" -- A personal favorite of mine, the first issue of this martial arts series is reproduced with a new cover. It's a great collaboration between writer Chuck Dixon, artist Jeff Johnson and inker Tom Ryder, and tells the story of a thief, Boon Sai Hong, who takes a ring that gives him magical fighting abilities. He also meets Po Po, a talking monkey that becomes Boon's master, teaching him the truth behind the ring as well as Boon's destiny.
"Batman Adventures No. 1" -- An all-ages comic debuts with this free issue, with a cover by "Batman" cartoon artist Bruce Timm.

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