Hundreds of people were standing in cold weather on a Midtown Manhattan street on Wednesday morning to get copies of Marvel Comics’s special Spider-Man comic book, in which the superhero meets Barack Obama, who is featured on the cover.
“I love President-elect — soon to be President — Obama, and this is a historic moment for comic books,” Hannibal Tobe, a 31-year-old barber from Harlem, said after he emerged from Midtown Comics, on West 40th Street near Seventh Avenue, clutching a brown paper bag. Inside was the Obama comic book, in a plastic slipcase. “I want to pass this onto my son.”
Mr. Tobe, whose son is 10, planned to come back to the store to get additional copies for himself and for his 67-year-old father.
The comic book — a version of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man No. 583 with a special variant cover by the artist Phil Jimenez — cost $3.99, plus tax, and already there was talk of it selling out.
The line outside Midtown Comics began forming before the store opened at 10 a.m. Bronko Spaleta, 38, and “frostbitten, but otherwise good,” stood at the front door, ushering those in line into the store, which can only accommodate about 20 customers at a time because of fire and building safety codes.
Each customer was allowed to buy only one copy of the Obama comic book (and one copy of the one without the variant Jimenez cover). “It’s one of each cover,” Mr. Spaleta told those waiting on line. “Please do not jump back in the line.”
The crowd attracted souvenir hunters who love Mr. Obama.
“Barack Obama is my superhero, and he was from the minute I first saw him,” declared Melanie Seinfeld, 58, who traveled to Manhattan from her home in East Meadow, N.Y. “I’ve never bought a comic book in my life, but I love Barack. And I’m not selling this on eBay. This one’s for me.”
Like others interviewed, Ms. Seinfeld said she did not expect that Mr. Obama could single-handedly revive the economy — as much as it might need a superhero right now.
“He may have some of the best ideas in the world, but he needs the backing of his staff,” she said. “We can’t expect change overnight.”
Mr. Tobe said: “I’m not expecting miracles from President-elect Obama. We, as the people, have to help him and hold ourselves accountable.”
Both Mr. Tobe and Ms. Seinfeld said they were feeling the effects of the economic downturn. Mr. Tobe said he had just one customer on Tuesday: “If you lose your job, you’re not going to come as regularly.”
And Ms. Seinfeld, who has worked in the theater industry, is unemployed.
The theme of the comic book supplement involves Peter Parker detecting an Obama impostor trying to disrupt the inauguration, but those who bought the comic book said they were not actively fearful for Mr. Obama’s safety.
“I trust that the people whose job it is to protect him will protect him not just on Inauguration Day, but throughout his eight years in the White House,” Ms. Seinfeld said, emphasizing the number eight.