One of the biggest natural disasters in recent history to hit the east coast was Hurricane Sandy. Many people in New York and New Jersey were absolutely devastated by the damage. Previously, many people in the comic book community have contributed to the relief effort like ‘Hawkeye’ writer Matt Fraction, who contributed the proceeds from issue number seven of his award-winning Marvel comic. Now, the crew from ‘Comic Book Men’ are doing their part, starting with one of their own, Michael Zapcic.
However, before they get into the process of rebuilding Mike’s collection, a customer comes in to see Walt and the gang to look for ‘Howard The Duck’ #1 from 1976. This guy has the complete run of the series except this one issue. Created by Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, Howard was originally intended as a throwaway character. The guys talked about the lawsuit from Disney because the character looks like Donald Duck, but now it’s even more interesting because Disney now owns Marvel and Howard the Duck, so a Donald/Howard crossover can actually happen now. While the asking price is $25, the Stash lets it go for $20.
At the back counter with Walt, Mike takes a tally of how much he actually lost in terms of comics because of Hurricane Sandy. He shares that he lost his entire comic collection valued in the thousands, plus his kitchen and dining room thanks to 3.5 feet of water crashing through his house. Thankfully, he and his family were safe and sound after the whole ordeal. Walt asks if there was one thing that he wishes that he could’ve saved. Rather than picking the most expensive thing in his collection, Mike says that his most treasured item was his Teen Titans poster by superstar artist George Perez that he’s had since he was young. After hearing that story, Walt says to Ming and Bryan that they should try to find some way to help Mike restart his collection.
Another customer brings in a ‘Tarzan’ toy from Disney’s 1997 version of the story called ‘Rad Repeatin Tarzan’. It was banned because it looked like it was masterbating. Not really the sort of thing you’d want your kids playing with. He’s asking for $60-$70, but Ming could only go at high as $10. However, the seller realizes that he’s not ready to part with it just yet and decides to keep it for himself.
During a brainstorming session with Walt, Bryan, Ming, and Rob Bruce, they all think about what they could do for Mike to help him kickstart his efforts of rebuilding his collection. Rob says that it would be hard to track down that Teen Titans poster, but Walt remembers another character that the artist is known for that Mike loves: Simon Williams, the Avenger known as Wonder Man. With that idea, Rob reveals that he’s developed a relationship with the great George Perez, one of the gang’s favorite artists and the man who drew Mike’s beloved poster, so they come up with the idea of approaching him about doing an original piece for Mike.
The last customer comes in looking to sell some Power Records comics from 1974. Back then, they sold for $1.50 and included a reprint of a comic and a record that brought the story to life with voice actors and sound effects. To me, it sounds like the old school equivalent to Marvel’s Infinite Comics or the AR app that both enhance a reader’s comic experience in this day and age. The guy would like somewhere around $120, but they’re not in great condition. Walt offers $50, but they negotiate to $60.
Bryan, Walt, and Ming meet with George Perez, “one of the greatest living comic book artists of all time” according to Walt, who is a HUGE fan, as we’ve seen in previous episodes. Perez is responsible for the artwork in things like ‘Infinity Gauntlet’, ‘Teen Titans’, ‘Justice League’, ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, and much, much more. The three of them tell the comic book legend about Mike and his collection and ask for a one-of-a-kind piece to help him his collection. After hearing about the situation, Perez is more than happy to do it.
Later, Perez comes to the shop with a very special Wonder Man print for Mike, who’s completely shocked and incredibly emotional that the gesture from one of his favorite artists and his friends. Plus, George’s wife gives the guys George’s famous Lamb Chop shirt to hang up in the store. As Mike expresses his deepest gratitude once again, Walt ends the show by saying that “as great an artist he is, [George Perez] is a better human being.”
This episode was so fulfilling on so many levels. For one, it was great to see the guys jump to Mike’s aid after he had gone through such a terrible experience with Hurricane Sandy. People can hate on this show as much as they want, but even the haters have to admit that the Comic Book Men are incredibly thoughtful and loyal friends. They may not seem like it at times to those who don’t know better because of their sarcastic outer shells, but they are some quality people in my book.
Then, it was amazing to see how nice George Perez is. A lot of the time, so many years in the industry can make people bitter and cynical, but this incredibly talented man is so humble and personable. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him from friends who have met him at cons lately, but it’s great to see first hand on this episode.
As a whole, I can think of very few episodes of this series that have as much heart as this episode. It was a truly great thing to see and I hope that Mike’s collection is well on it’s way back to it’s former glory after receiving a piece like that from George Perez.
‘Comic Book Men’ starring Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Kevin Smith, Ming Chen, and Mike Zapcic airs Sundays at Midnight/11c on AMC.