What we like:
Zap! Pow! Splat!
What it offers: Steve's Comic Relief has an expansive comic-book catalogue, featuring superheroes who fly, swing between skyscrapers, and stretch like rubber. Fans will find not only Spider-Mans, Fantastic Fours, and the currently dead Captain America, but also comic books based on TV series such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and female warriors such as Misty Knight.
The shop has been a spawning ground for comics professionals, including the award-winning David Lapham, who created the Stray Bullets comic book and formerly worked in a Steve's Comic Relief branch in Toms River.
There's more: Also on the shelves are comic-book-related action figures, games, and sometimes T-shirts and posters, often related to the latest comic-book-inspired movie such as Spider-Man 3, which will open Friday. On Saturday, the shop will host its annual Free Comic Book Day, giving out free comic books to customers who visit.
Background: The store has its roots in a comic-book shop that started in the Jewish Community Center of the Delaware Valley, formerly in Ewing, N.J. Steve Gursky, a comic-book enthusiast who was then a youth leader at the center, founded the store in 1981, with youngsters who shared his interest. That enterprise led to a booth in the old I-95 Marketplace, and finally to the current location when the marketplace closed several years later.
At the height of the business and comic-book industry boom, Gursky had seven stores, including in Newtown and Bensalem. A flattening of the industry led to business reverses. Shops closed and others were sold, including the Levittown store to Joe Pomerance, said Gursky, who remains as the store's general manager but who also has a job as a social worker.
Other Steve's Comic Relief stores remain in Toms River and Lawrenceville, N.J. Gursky says comic books' popularity "is growing. Movies, video games, television - lots of the media have a lot of their characters based on comic books."
Where: 4153 Woerner Ave., Levittown; 215-945-7954
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
- Kristin E. Holmes