Mike Malve

Mike Malve is excited about his revival of Atomic Comics, which opens Wednesday in SanTan Village.

The new Atomic Comics, which recently announced a comeback 10 years after the Arizona chain folded, is opening Wednesday, Nov. 24, in Macerich’s SanTan Village shopping center in Gilbert.

The store, at 2270 E. William Fields Road, Suite 108, Gilbert, will be open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. 

The store announced that opening day would feature a “Local Comic Shop Day” celebration with area creators appearing for signings and sketches 4-6 p.m.; another creator event is planned for noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 27.

The SanTan Village online directory shows the Atomic Comics Gilbert store located next to Massage Envy, a short walk from Harkins Theatres in the outdoor shopping plaza. 

Mike Malve, the former Atomic Comics chain’s original owner who has local business backers for the reboot, and Macerich representatives confirmed the location to Nerdvana.

Malve recently teased Valley comic book fans with interior demolition photos preparing the location and exterior shots, as did the official Atomic Comics Instagram and Facebook profiles.

After telling followers to expect an opening in time for the holiday shopping season, Malve on Nov. 1 announced the Nov. 24 opening.

“What a great week to open, not only do we have a cool event planned for that day, it also leads into Black Friday and all of the holiday shopping bonanza,” Malve said in an email to Nerdvana.

Hints started dropping on the social media accounts as early as September; the Arizona Corporation Commission shows an LLC filing in August of this year under the names of Maricopa County residents Joe Furman and Scott Hagen.

Malve said Furman will be working side by side in the store with him. “He has a great passion and knowledge of geek culture and I’m excited to be working with him,” he added.

Atomic will also partner with ComicHub, an ecommerce platform for online sales via web and mobile app, and will ship to customers “anywhere,” Malve said.

The partners already are looking beyond Gilbert to possible future expansion elsewhere: “We have several locations in mind throughout Arizona,” Malve said.

Why the Gilbert/SanTan Village? 

“It’s an untapped market in the Valley,” Malve said. “There’s nothing like Atomic Comics on the east side of town. We love being near movie theaters and SanTan Village had an amazing space that just so happens to be next to Harkins movie theater.”

Malve originally started Atomic Comics in 1988 as Bubba’s Comic Store in Phoenix. A year later, it moved to Mesa and changed its name to Atomic Comics. Additional stores followed at Phoenix’s Metrocenter, Chandler in the East Valley and Paradise Valley before the chain went bankrupt and closed in 2011, blaming its expansion, the troubled economy following the Great Recession and a Mesa storefront that was destroyed by a car five years earlier which sent patrons elsewhere during months of reconstruction.

The chain had a reputation nationwide for a knowledgeable staff as well as frequent promotions and popular events that would bring big-name industry talent to connect with fans in the Valley.

Malve used his industry connections in these efforts, as well as making sure the Atomic Comics brand was enshrined in the 2010 big-screen adaptation of the Mark Millar-John Romita Jr. title “Kick-Ass.”

“I’ve always wanted to bring Atomic Comics back,” Malve told Nerdvana. “I was just waiting for the right time to do it, and waiting to find the right people to do it with.”

 “I am really excited to be back in the comics retail game, I miss that nonstop everyday action that comes with owning a comic book store,” Malve said. “The daily interaction with your customers, publishers and other friends in the industry is just a lot of fun. Every day is like Christmas morning. 

“We’ve had some old employees and friends come by the shop and help us bag and board comics and hangout. The joy I’ve seen from the people that came by and found the shop early, be it past Atomic Comics employees or customers, the happiness I’m feeling is really shared by them when they step into the new store and they realize Atomic Comics is back.”

Nerdvana asked Malve how the new Atomic Comics will be different from the brand’s previous life.

“The collectibles market has been incredibly strong the last couple of years and shows no signs of slowing down,” Malve said. “Since Atomic Comics shut down 10 years ago, no other stores have really been able to offer the type of experiences and culture that Atomic Comics was able to deliver on for so many years.

“The current state of the world we are living in, people need something to keep them busy and find joy in, comics and collectibles have become even more important to collectors.”

When asked if he plans to take on other local stores (like Samurai Comics, which picked up where Atomic left off and recently expanded to Chandler), he said Atomic wants to be a part of the healthy and thriving geek community in the Valley.

 “There are a lot of great comics stores out there, but we will be trying to push the envelope as we always have by providing as many fun products as we can including comics, toys, statues, magic cards, Pokemon cards, board games, clothing, accessories, gifts, and anything else that is fun and geeky.” 

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