$85,000 in missing comics returned to Florida retailer

The tale of $85,000 worth of missing vintage comics has a happy ending -- after an added bit of mystery.

As we reported early this week, Florida retailer Rick Whitelock discovered at Tampa Bay Comic Con that a box of rare comic books, which included "The Amazing Spider-Man" #1 and two copies of "Amazing Fantasy" #15, had disappeared from his booth. After the story began to circulate, Whitelock received an anonymous phone call from a man who said he had the box.

Apparently he was another exhibitor, because he said the box turned up while he was unloading his own merchandise from the convention. "He saw my sticker that says New Force Comics, so he Googled us," Whitelock told the Tampa Bay Times. "He freaked out when he did, because he saw all these news stories talking about stolen comic books."

Whitelock offered to pick up the box of comics or arrange for a dropoff at a friend's store, but the caller insisted on shipping them by FedEx. That was fine with Whitelock, who only wanted his comic books. "But until those books are in my possession, I won't feel better," he said. "I haven't slept in three days. I've lost seven pounds. I just want some peace."

On Wednesday, peace -- and the comic books -- finally arrived.

"I am happy to confirm that my previously missing box of comics is now safely back in my possession," Whitelock wrote on the New Force Comics Facebook page. "I am so thankful to the power of prayer! I want to thank God, my family and friends, the entire collecting community , the Tampa police department, the Tampa Con staff, as well as all media outlets that helped spread the word and give me positive support. It has been an unbelievably stressful and trying last 5 days, but I am so thankful at the end result. I feel truly blessed."

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