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The Dork Side 

Dork in the Sun

It's a great summer to be a nerd. In fact, we're already a few weeks into our bliss, which started with the triple-punch weekend of Free Comic Book Day, Star Wars Day, and the opening of The Avengers. And hold on to your Aquaman Underoos, because that's just the start of it. New Batman and Spider-Man movies are coming soon. So is an Aliens prequel and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, in which our 16th President kicks some undead ass.

This means Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us will soon be stocking a bunch of action figures based on all the big superhero movies, including Avengers and Dark Knight Rises (Bane is going to be so badass). This summer also marks the 50th anniversary of the classic Mars Attacks! trading-card series, which Topps is reissuing in a heritage set with some new additions. There's also tons of other tie-ins, like holiday ornaments, bobbleheads, and a brand-new comic book series.

Other must-read comics due over the next three months include a new miniseries called Darth Maul: Death Sentence, which is set in Star Wars'

expanded universe and stars the only good thing about The Phantom Menace. The Walking Dead celebrates its 100th issue with a zombie blowout. And the controversial Before Watchmen series — new stories set before those told in the greatest comic book ever — launches the first week in June with Minutemen.

There's also a hefty new collection of Carl Barks' terrific comics from the '40s and '50s coming out this summer, Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge Volume 1: Only a Poor Old Man. Plus, the 42nd edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide will be published in July, so you can check out how much all those "Death of Superman" comics you're hoarding in the basement are worth these days.

Armed with the annual reference bible, you can rifle through tons of back issues at a couple comic shows happening this summer: The Lake Effect Comic Book Convention in Mentor on June 3 (find more info at comicsandfriends.com) and the Akron-Canton Comic Con in Akron (harpercomics.com) on June 24.

Or you can hit some of the area flea markets, where Golden Age bargains can be found next to boxes of rusty nails. Jamie's Flea Market in South Amherst (jamiesfleamarket.com) is our favorite, but the Hartville Flea Market (hartvillemarketplace.com) and the one that takes place at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea (cuyfair.com) should also yield some geeky treasures. Saturday is high season for all three, though other days offer action too.

For Your Shelf

Are You My Mother?: Alison Bechdel follows her acclaimed graphic novel about her father with this deep, tangled one about her often-chilly mom.

The Grey: It doesn't get much dorkier or awesome than Liam Neeson taking on a pack of hungry wolves with broken bottles tied to his hands.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Volume 1: Quick-moving manga about a schoolgirl, a new classmate, destiny-changing dreams, and a talking cat. Weird, wonderful stuff.

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