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No free lunch? Who cares when there are free comic books!

Saturday is the annual Free Comic Book Day. All across North America, participating stores will give away comics to anyone who comes by. But don't expect Action Comics No. 1.

How can you not love a world where once a year, comic book retailers across North America and the world open their doors and offer comics gratis to anyone who drops in?

Saturday is Free Comic Book Day across North America and the world. Screenshot by CNET

That's exactly what's happening tomorrow -- on Free Comic Book Day. According to the official Web site, "Free Comic Book Day is a single day -- the first Saturday in May each year -- when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their stores."

To be sure, there are catches. First, not every retailer that sells comic books is going to be handing over the goods (I'm looking at you, Wal-Mart). And secondly, even with those that do, don't expect to grab the book of your choice. No one's giving away Action Comics No. 1 or Superman No. 1. Instead, your choices will be limited to what's on offer. That means that those visiting, say, Cards and Comics Central in San Francisco, will be able to grab up to five books from a selection published especially for the day. The number will vary, however, from retailer to retailer.

And what's available? According to the Free Comic Book Day Web site, this is the list of books that the publishers have come up with for the 2012 celebration -- which, by the way, is the 11th since the project began in 2002.