Retcon Punch, Episode 01: He Don’t Like Wednesdays
Retcon Punch, Episode 01: He Don’t Like Wednesdays
Superman’s head shatters.
A bullet breaks the Man of Steel’s plastic noggin and continues into the back wall of the shitty little closet, packed to the rafters with toys for grown men.
“Ike, come on out. Let’s do this face to face. I get that you’re scared.”
“I should be! You’re shooting at me!”
Ike hears a small distant thud, a pistol hitting the worn carpet. Then, silence.
Ike looks down at Veronica’s unconscious form, her body sprawled uncomfortably over two large cases of Witchblade maquettes. He takes in the large bump on her forehead, shiny even in the near-darkness. He stares at the small of her back and the visible bit of her underpants.
“Ike? Don’t test me.”
It occurs to Ike that this was never supposed to happen—but then most of the time, when one is being shot at, it’s not supposed to be happening. Ike wishes he was at home in the crummy recliner he pulled out of his neighbor’s trash six years ago, settling his ass cheeks into the cushion’s familiar imprint for a night of Twilight Zone reruns. He has wished this same wish about seventy times over the course of the past fifteen minutes. It has yet to come true.
Instead, he’s here, and he’s shaking a little but it’s to be expected, because he can see through a bullet hole in the shitty little closet’s thin door and his adversary is closer than Ike thought, arms extended forward into pudgy claws like Batman crawling out of the Batmobile in that full-page Frank Miller splash from Dark Knight Returns…
Ike opens the door.
One Week Ago Yesterday.
I don’t like Wednesdays.
They always make me think of that song by the Boomtown Rats, where the girl has the chip in her head and she goes crazy because she don’t like Mondays. I actually bought a Boomtown Rats greatest hits in college; I wondered if they had any other good songs. They don’t.
Yes, I went to college, and now I sell comic books for a living. I try not to think about it.
Unlike the crazy chip head girl in the Boomtown Rats song, I’ve almost always preferred Mondays over Wednesdays. I manage Superb Comics at Sepulveda and Aviation in Hermosa Beach, and only the saddest of sad sacks would spend time in a comic book store on a Monday.
Whereas Wednesday is “new comic book day” to a salivating legion of fans, all of whom descend upon the store at exactly 11 a.m. and file nervously inside as fast as I can unlock the deadbolt. Then they form a line at the register, waiting for me to hand them a stack of 32-page pamphlets containing the latest installments in the ongoing adventures of intellectual properties concocted by brilliant Jewish men many decades ago.
On this particular Wednesday—the Wednesday when the giant penny in my personal Batcave flips, and suddenly heads is tails and black is white and dogs and cats are living together—the weekly comic book shipment to Superb Comics is late.
Comic book fans are tightly-wound people; they do not react well to change. Alter the shade of yellow on Batman’s belt buckle for one issue and the letters will pour in for months decrying the “new look” and longing for the halcyon days when Pantone 101 graced the waistband of the Caped Crusader.
When comic books arrive late, it is a cataclysmic event on par with a kidney arriving late for a transplant surgery. To say that “it sucks” is an understatement on the highest order. It sucks, in fact, the most massive of suckable items.
This is why it takes me upwards of an hour to notice the giant gaping hole where the store’s Fine/Very Fine copy of Fantastic Four #1 once hung. Like most comic book stores, Superb has its most expensive old comics displayed on the wall behind the register, which serves the dual purpose of attracting buyers and allowing an employee to always be standing in front of these pricey bits of pop ephemera so that no one can stuff a copy of Avengers #57 down their shorts and walk out with it.
This particular copy of Fantastic Four #1 had a $17,000 price tag plastered upon it. The tag was more of a joke than anything else—none of the clientele had the cash on hand to buy a comic book worth more than their annual salary. Instead, they’d just come in and ogle it as they made their purchases. Occasionally, some pimple-clad pre-teen would notice it and ask to hold it, and I’d always oblige. I don’t care if an extra half-ounce of fingerprint oils could over time deteriorate the precious paper slightly—it was worth it for the awe-filled expressions.
Still, the fact that Superb Comics wouldn’t be selling it anytime soon for $17,000 didn’t mean it wasn’t WORTH that much. It easily was. Any enterprising nerd could have moved it at a convention or on eBay for that amount.
So for those keeping score at home: It’s a Wednesday, the new comics are AWOL, and Superb Comics’ most valuable back issue has gone poof.
A single word runs through my brain, over and over. It starts with an “F.” It has four letters. It isn’t “fart.”
Next week: Douchebag Ascendant!