COVERGIRL: I don’t recognize the face, but the leg move – part cheerleader, part ninja – is signature Batgirl. Gotta be her.
INSIDE STORY: Knightfall and her crew try to recruit Batgirl to kill bad guys, but Batgirl refuses, whereupon they try to kill her. Detective Melody McKenna, who hates Batgirl and works for Batgirl's father Commissioner Gordon, saves Batgirl and explains Knightfall’s backstory. Detective and Batgirl are getting along nicely, until they’re not.
McKenna wants to know who Batgirl is working for. Batgirl wants to know what McKenna is working on.
As they fight inside McKenna's house, Batwoman lurks outside. We know who she works for: the DEO.
SDCC is the mama of all Comic Cons, the uber-Con, the Taj MaCon. But other than massive amounts of famous, semi-famous, and niche-famous people and, presumably, tons of cosplay and panels … why are comic cons the end all and be all?
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I had a great time at Boston Comic Con. I loved the DC artists’ panel, I thrilled at meeting Cliff Chiang, and I wowed watching Francis Manapul at work. I will go again. Stranger in a Familiar Land and I are going to NYCC in October and, I hope, to Coast City Comic Con (Portland, Maine) in November.
I’m expecting size differences: bigger or smaller crowds, more or fewer vendors, greater or lesser numbers of panels. But flavor differences? Less sure. You’ve seen one group of 20-somethings strutting the halls dressed as Birds of Prey, you’ve seen them all, right?
Not so the comic book store.
I have a personal relationship with my comic book store. The staff knows my kids, they answer my ignorant questions, they advise with intelligence, and rejoice when I rejoice in a new read. I’m not squished, I’m not rushed, and I’ll never in a million years read it all.
Harrison’s pop happiness stretches long, beginning on Essex Street in Salem, kitty-corner from a cheesy statue of Samantha Stephens my kids think is an anthropomorphic jungle gym. Busy windows full of bobbleheads and neon pull in the tourists and locals. The store is full of how-to-draws and lunchboxes and old comics and new comics and stickers and magnets and t-shirts and figurines and Japanese candy and smelly erasers and, at the front counter, an annoying button that says NO 100 different ways.
Two hours southwest of Harrison’s, in old milltown Putnam, Conn., Wonderland Comics sits at the bottom of a street-level stairway and below a row of antique stores. More squat and square than Harrison’s, Wonderland is equally, happily stuffed to the gills. The store boasts a knowledgeable and friendly staff, offers not-so-much for the kids, and houses a strange, slightly scary bathroom with mildly pornographic wall art.
Charlie’s Comics in North Conway, NH: different yet again, and depressingly so. If Harrison’s is Tutti Frutti and Wonderland is Cosmic Cherry Pop, Charlie’s is Imitation Vanilla, poorly stocked, unenthusiastically staffed, and miserably stuck at the lonely end of a shabby, deserted strip mall surrounded by blandly perky outlet malls.
I hope to visit Westside Comics when I’m in Vermont later this month, and I’ve got two Wednesday trips to Wonderland coming up in August. I've got serious decisions to make when I'm in New York for NY Comic Con in October, and I'm hoping to hit Portland, Maine's Coast City Comics and the Coast City Comic Con in November.
I know what to expect from the comic cons, and I’m looking forward to them. I have no idea what to expect from the comic book stores, and I can’t wait.