This week, we urge you to pick up free comic books ... drink a fair amount of agave-based beverages ... take in the music of Cinco de Mayo ... and enjoy live readings of prose and poetry.

City Week 

Get to Know a Superhero

Free Comic Book Day

10 a.m., Saturday, May 4

Heroes and Villains, 4533 E. Broadway Blvd.

321-4376

For most comic book fans, a formal occasion is hardly needed to recognize their favorite characters and story lines, but every year the first Saturday of May provides the perfect opportunity to introduce a friend to the industry.

Heroes and Villains has hosted a local celebration of Free Comic Book Day annually since the store opened a decade ago, using the event to reach out to new customers. The staff is prepared to give out almost 8,000 comics during business hours on May 4, a rather impressive increase considering only 500 were handed out the first year.

"The goal is to try and make it a memorable event, and at the same time get comic books into the hands of people who have never tried them," said Heroes and Villains owner Mike Camp.

Comic book writers, illustrators and publishers nationwide donate their services to prepare for Free Comic Book Day, banding together in an industry wide effort to get comics into the hands of potential fans. This year, titles ranging from Superman: The Last Son of Krypton to The Walking Dead will be distributed. They are typically the first chapter of a long storyline designed to pull in readers.

The theme this year is "May the Fourth Be With You," combining a celebration by Star Wars obsessives with the broader comic book world. Younger comic lovers can craft light sabers and hair buns inspired by Princess Leia, while costumed guests from the Justice League of Arizona's, 501st Legion will be available for photo ops.

The earlier you browse, the better the selection of comics, Camp said. It starts to thin out long before closing time.

— K.N.


Cinco de Mayo Music

The Civic Orchestra of Tucson Presents Pops in the Park

7 p.m., Sunday, May 5

DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, Reid Park

110 S. Randolph Way

cotmusic.org

The Civic Orchestra of Tucson offers eight free concerts to the Tucson community every year, and on Sunday it will celebrate Cinco De Mayo with a Pops in the Park concert.

"We're doing a lot of the really popular Mexican folk songs and dance songs," said Lisa Brown who has been playing in the orchestra for two years and has been interim co-manager with her husband for one year. "We're also including some more modern music of Mexican composers, which is always fun." 

The pops concert will also feature two winners from the Civic Orchestra of Tucson's 2013 Young Artists' Competition.

"We select at least four competitors to perform with the group," Brown said. "We show off the winners. We offer that opportunity for the young musicians, the budding talent of the community."

Kip Zimmerman is a 16-year-old oboe player who won first place in the senior winds/percussion division at the competition. He will be performing the first movement of Vaughan Williams' Oboe Concerto on Sunday.

Cello player Levi Powe, who is 12 years old, won second place in the junior strings division this year, and has previously won at a younger level. Powe will perform David Popper's Hungarian Rhapsody.

The Musical Petting Zoo, another aspect of the concert, allows children of all ages to try out various instruments with the help of the orchestra members. 

"I've personally seen a 3-year-old play the trombone," Brown said. "We show them what you have to do, and ... they have no inhibitions and some of them get this incredible sound out of the instruments."

The Musical Petting Zoo starts at 6 p.m. and the concert begins at 7. Admission is free.

— M.M.


No Margaritas Allowed

Fifth Annual Agave Fest

7 p.m., Friday, May 3

Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

hotelcongress.com

"Most people think of tequila as Jose Cuervo or Sauza; those are really the cheapest and worst tequilas," said Dave Torkko, beverage director of the Agave Fest. "What we've done is brought a whole array of great tequilas the past four years for people's enjoyment that they would not otherwise have been able to taste."

The fifth annual Agave Fest will be held on Friday to kick off Cinco de Mayo weekend, with local bartenders competing to create the best beverage.

Last year, Allie Baron of La Cocina took home first place. She says her three years of experience at La Cocina and her mentors there enabled her to win.

She plans to defend her crown this year. "The level of competition and the caliber of the other bartenders is so high ... I'm going up against these phenomenal local bartenders who really have way more experience than I do," Baron said. "It's a chance for me to, like, test my craft against them but also to learn from them." 

Torkko said the key to winning the competition is creativity.

"Be creative, think outside the box, and try to pair something that is new and exciting," he said.

According to Torkko, making liquor from agave began with pre-Columbian Indians. They would ferment agave nectar over fire and place cotton cloths on top of containers. After draining through the cloth it became basic tequila.

"We're just trying to bring greater awareness of the wonders of this ancient and distinctive beverage," he said.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, and include food, cocktails and tequila sampling. 

— M.M.


Writers Reading Their Writing

Arizona Theatre Company's Intermezzo: Poetry, Prose and Performance

7 p.m., Tuesday, May 7

The Temple Lounge, 330 S. Scott Ave.

884-8210; arizonatheatre.org

Translated by the Arizona Theatre Company as "the show between the shows," Intermezzo seeks to connect members of Tucson's literary scene in an atmosphere with a long history of artistic engagement.

Shedding the formalities associated with the theater arts proved the first challenge for the show's organizers, who used the success of their Café Bohemia play-reading series as a jumping point for the new event, now in its second month. Selecting the Temple Lounge, a cultural hub in downtown since 1927, as the performance venue fulfilled both the casual and experimental stipulations of Intermezzo, according to associate artistic director Stephen Wrentmore.

The lounge "is intimate enough that it feels like you're being spoken to privately, but it's social enough that you know you're in a group of people that are curious enough to share the possibility of what the evening may bring," Wrentmore said.

With a $5 donation at the door, the audience can partake in a live reading with Joy Williams, a fiction and short story writer, and poet Brandon Shimoda, who have both lived in Tucson.

"It's a lot of fun to get two writers at different parts of their career in the same room and see what happens," said Brian Blanchfield, the curator of Intermezzo and poetry editor of Fence magazine.

Honoring an open dialogue between the readers and the audience is meant to distinguish Intermezzo as a "celebration of words," according to Wrentmore, and also as an instigator of communal curiosity.

"When people are in the company of ideas, or another way of thinking, it makes them connect differently with the world," Wrentmore said.

— K.N.

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