Saturday i ventured out for some errands; the reward a trip to the nearest comic book store to glom some free comics. Granted the nearest store (whichshallremainnameless unless someone asks) is far from my favorite, but it was close by and i rationed some cash to support the local business.
The pluses of this store: it's huge and has toys. The minuses: the owner is a bit of a butthead who berates his help. For some reason i can't begin to fathom, this vast shop with hundreds of thousands of comics had exactly ONE free comic title - Betty and Veronica. Yeah, really. At first i thought maybe they were just keeping the other titles for fanBOYS, but they told guys the same thing. What gives? Was it too arduous to get free comics??? They were giving away some bronzeagey superhero titles from their backstock. A nice gesture, but there was nothing sufficiently mockable to take home.
The first thing i see while perusing the shelves are new cardboard signs announcing that due to the closing of the (far superior) Classic Movie & Comic Center (CC's), this store was experiencing shortages of many titles, and signing up for a pull service was advised. Very bad news. CC's had been in business since 1974. They were everything the nameless store is not - friendly, competent, knowledgeable, organized and honest. They were also about ten miles further from my home. i had been fussing over which shop should have my paltry pull box business, and while i fugued one of them vanished.
After fuming all weekend about another good store biting the dust, i've decided the bleeding won't stop unless casual comics readers like me take every cent of our limited comic dollars to the best store we can find, even if it means a 30 or 40 minute drive. If you're thinking something like "I drive 60 miles in blizzards to get my comics", OK, but for most of my adult life i haven't been more than 10 minutes away from a comic shop. In the metro Detroit tri-county area of nearly 4 million people i now find two comprehensive shops with backstock, graphic novels and a pull service. Neither is in my county, and they are each 15 miles in opposite directions. i'm picking one of them and getting a box so i MUST do the right thing every month.
End of rant. On a happier note, the Essential Defenders is way more entertaining than i expected. i have most of these books, but confess that i haven't reread most of them since they were new. The Defenders were a dumb idea, but perfectly of the time and really amusing in a naive sort of way. Because the origin spans four titles, you get to enjoy several top writers and artists near the peak of their Marvel years. Doctor Strange might be overqualified to be Hulk's handler, but recent books prove there are worse ways to use him.