A comic book just isn’t a comic book without a proper villain.

But now all superheroes from Batman to Superman are facing their biggest villain yet…the coronavirus.

So far, it’s been kryptonite to the entire industry. Shutting down entire distribution facilities, meaning fans can’t get the latest issue of their favorite comic until further notice.

“Weekly books, I know for my business are over half of what we do. We are a weekly bookstore, people really enjoy coming in every week, socializing getting their new stuff, continuing that ongoing story, and so for us, it’s been really interesting,” said Lesley Frolich.

Frolich owns Comic Realms in Bismarck and says business so far is down 60-percent. Every part of the comic book industry is impacted.

“Because with us not getting weekly books, from our distributor, we’re not paying our distributor and money because we’re not getting any product. So those distributors aren’t paying publishers then those publishers don’t have the money to go up the chain to the creators and writers so the whole industry is hurting from top to bottom,” said Frolich.

In the digital age that we live in, many people might say, why don’t you just read your comic book online? Well for many fans of comic books, they want to hold the physical issue in their hand, and not being able to get that issue until further notice is particularly frustrating.

Brian Zelmer has been collecting comic books for years now and says he and other fans are eagerly awaiting the next issue of their favorite comic.

“They’re frustrated because they’ve been reading some of these stories that have gone one for a while and now there’s a pause or a hiatus in the new storyline, and so everyone’s kind of, ‘Awww, my book just ended, what’s coming next?’ and now we’re waiting longer at that cliffhanger,” said Zelmer.

Sales of comic books topped 1-billion last year, but many stores operate on razor-thin margins and both Frolich and Zelmer say stores across the country won’t be able to survive this latest crisis.

Frohlich says they’re doing their best to help customers by offering Facebook live sales and curbside pickup. They’re doing everything they can in the hopes of defeating the invisible enemy known as the coronavirus.