"I knew that if we built it, they would come,’" Local veteran opens comic book shop in Wasilla

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - In a modest room on top of "Game Theory" in Wasilla, you can find a comic store taking readers to other worlds, other dimensions, and other multi-verses.

But it's run by a veteran and his wife who have seen their share of the grittiness of planet Earth.

Originally from Queens, New York, Luis Nieves is one of the shop owners for Aegis Comic of Alaska. His interest in comic books started early, but took a detour as a military service member and Alaska State Trooper.

“Growing up there was a big comic book influence. I actually remember when Eastman (Kevin Eastman), creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, walked into my local comic shop and was pitching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book,” said Nieves, “Who knew (the) book would turn into this massive thing that, there isn’t a kid in the world that doesn’t know who the Teenage Mutant Ninja (are.)”

If you ever get the chance to walk into the shop, immediately you are hit with nostalgia, envy, and pure excitement seeing the walls filled with comics, posters, and collectibles.

But it wasn’t all comic books growing up for Nieves.

When he turned 18, he joined the military. He originally joined the Navy but transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard. Through the Coast Guard, he was stationed here in Alaska.

“I feel in love with the state,” said Nieves.

In 2007, After his military service, he joined the Alaska State Troopers. For years he worked with the Troopers until an incident in Dillingham led him to cut his time short with AST.

But he didn’t let that stop him from looking for a way to serve his community as he did as a service member.

“I thought ‘What better way than a comic book shop?'”

During his time as a service member and into his time with AST, Nieves says the X-Men franchise was a major influence growing up as a kid.

“Stan Lee and his co-creators, they were addressing all of the social injustices that were going on, and whenever I came into contact with the public, I kept that in mind about what they might think my perception of them is, and to also act as a check for me as a way to say 'don’t judge a book by its cover.'”

Nieves says especially during his time in the military, the influence of comics and especially comic book characters was present. He said he can remember “going overseas and meeting people who never owned a comic book, but they knew who Superman was” and how they struck him.

That leads us to this moment in time.

In May 2019 Nieves and his wife Amie Nieves opened Aegis in Wasilla.

“It’s helped me get this new fresh start and essentially to finish well. I’m about to turn 50-years-old and I feel like finally got this new fresh start in being able to serve my community in a completely new way. And this place has essentially turned into a field of dreams where I knew that if we built it. they would come and they sure have.”

Inside the shops, you can find several comics from both DC, Marvel, and other publishers including some independent companies.

The shop has also turned into something beyond comics, a place where Nieves says people can grow and build on relationships.

A memorable moment for Nieves happened recently.

He said earlier this year a special needs customer who loves comics made Nieves one of his own.

Nieves pulled the “comic” off the wall during our interview to show us a folded up paper with a photo of Spiderman villain “Doctor Octopus” on the cover. Inside was a special message.

“’Thank you for treating me like a normal person,’” Nieves read, “That made my year right there.”

In the next few months, the shop looks to expand and make more room for its backlog of comics, give customers space to sit and read their books, and also give them a chance to relax in a speakeasy-type room.

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