I never wanted to board up the windows of our shop, but I thought about it for a moment there. That made me realize I’d rather stand behind the values I learned reading comics as a kid then operate behind a wall of fear.

Instead, I decided to commission some artwork to hang in our windows that remind me of those values, that we are always stronger when our friendships include as much diversity as possible. That’s something I feel I can stand proudly in front of.

Captain America meets the Falcon in 1969. Steve Rogers is the World War II hero that came home to a Vietnam welcome. He spends a great deal of that time alone, and suffering from PTSD from losing his best friend in the war. When he runs into Sam Wilson he not only needs a friend, he needs something to widen his gaze enough to look beyond his own issues. Help others to help yourself. Sam needs someone to point him in the right direction to assume the mantle of the Falcon, as much as he needs to see that the American Dream still lives in the hearts of good men. When they part after that meeting, Sam worries more about Cap than Cap worries about him. That’s the start of a true friendship. It’s a great moment.

The strength of their relationship relies on their differences presenting them with new viewpoints on their own lives.

Power Man and Iron Fist were both products of popular culture, Luke Cage came from the Blaxploitation films of the early 70’s, and Danny Rand road on the success of martial arts movies like Enter the Dragon. By 1978 neither character could support his own book, and the charcters meet in Power Man #48, only to share the title by issue #50.

Issues of race rarely come up in the comics, though the characters do spend more time in Luke’s world in the streets of Times Square then they do in Danny’s corporate office. Danny absolutely looks up to Luke as a mentor though, and the two of them would balance each other out perfectly over the years, finding the parity between brawn and finesse.

(They were just a cool team in general too.) I would later find out that one of my favorite stories was the first published work by Kurt Busiek, drawn to perfection by Denys Cowan, pitting the duo against Unus the Untouchable in issue #90.

My comic book collection is quite small, and when we opened the shop all I kept were my Avengers, Marvel Two In Ones, and Powerman and Iron Fists.

Not much more can be said about the relationship between Peter B Parker and Miles Morales.

As much as Miles needed a mentor, Peter needed to feel like he still had value. Into the Spider-Verse is an incredible display of the value of diversity in our friendships, family and lives. Again, through helping others we help ourselves.

So, we not only have these images hanging in our windows, we also printed them out for you to have as well. We’ll be giving these three images out as 11×17 prints free with any purchase. (Seriously, just spend a dollar on a button and we’ll give you all three prints.)

There’s still a considerable amount of work to go, but thanks to comics I’m ever optimistic that the good guys will win in the end, albeit while overcoming a great deal of strife and adversity along the way. Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop will always be a safe space representing diversity in every way you can define it. That’s my job and please let me know if there’s ever an issue that needs my attention. Thanks to Tim Switalski for the amazing artwork too!Watch out for each other Cleveland, John Dudas