They have no super powers, but they are heroic: They are the store employees across America who sell comics and, like the guys in "High Fidelity," bicker with one another all day long about the true treasures of the discount bin. They are the Comic Book Store Clerks of America and we salute them.
Ten years ago, Gabriel Hagmann hatched the perfect retirement plan: Work hard, save up and open his own comic book store. After a decade of hard labor, Hagmann, now 36, is the proud owner of Dreamstrands (115 N. 85th St., Seattle,  297-3737), where he navigates customers to boxes of back issues where they can peruse actual honest-to-goodness comics instead of having to strain their eyes reading badly scanned copies on the computer.
Ah, Stan Lee! Hmm, I would suggest something that he didn’t have to do with creating, which is pretty rare. I think I would give him a Vertigo book, something like "Sandman" or "Lucifer" or "Young Liars" — something that is outside the realm of superheroes.
In your opinion, which actor has played the best Batman?
Definitely Christian Bale, but the best Bruce Wayne was Michael Keaton. Val Kilmer was horrible! Christan Bale looked best in the suit; Michael Keaton did a great job of not always being in-the-moment — there were times when he was shaking your hand but thinking about something else more important, as Bruce Wayne would be.
How do you feel about the term “graphic novel”?
It’s often misused. A graphic novel is a book that has original material with a thicker format of 200 pages, whatever. It has never been published before. A trade paperback contains previously published material. While a trade paperback can be a graphic novel, not all graphic novels are trade paperbacks. A trade paperback contains issues of certain series. I don’t think there is a better word for graphic novel because that is exactly what it is: a novel in a graphic format.
Which one super power is notably missing in the superhero world?
If you can think of it, someone has it. There’s nothing missing, and if there is, it’s just that someone hasn’t combined two different powers together.
If you could erase any comic book series from the consciousness of humanity, which one would you choose?
That’s a good one! There are so many that are so bad. But everything has its place. Everything caters to some person or some group. I’m trying to think of older stuff. There were some things from the 1970s that were kind of weird but still have that funky drug aspect of the ’70s too. I think it would be a T&A book from the ’90s, those books that focus on the female form and distort everything else. There were so many of those, things like "Lady Death" and "Purgatori." But in the last five or six years, there was even a "Purgatori" series that was very well written and gave the character a history and made her empathetic. So I don’t think there would be a series I would completely annihilate. Can I annihilate a character? If so I would get rid of Robin; he was the worst thing to happen to Batman. And there actually is a "Robin" comic book series, so I would get rid of that.
— Michelle Castillo
UPDATED: An earlier version of this post was inadvertantly published before proofreading. The errors have been fixed (hopefully!), and we apologize to Gabriel Hagmann for making his syntax sound like the Hulk.
Photo from Gabriel Hagmann