KITCHENER, ONT—The local comics-collecting scene has been abuzz ever since comic-book hobbyist Blaine Thurdlow's announcement Monday that he will spend next Friday evening on a confirmed date with a woman, his first in six years.

Comic-book lover Blaine Thurdlow says the woman with whom he will soon go out on a date is "as good-looking as the sexiest Black Canary full-pager you ever saw."

Thurdlow, 26, a self-described "confirmed bachelor, not unlike a certain millionaire playboy, Bruce Wayne," expressed great enthusiasm about the upcoming opportunity to socialize with an adult female. "I haven't been this thrilled since they reprinted the Kree/Skrull War," he said.

"Believe me, this one's going to be an event to rival the wedding of Mariko and Wolverine," Thurdlow told reporters, speaking from a vendor's booth he rented at OntarioCon '96, where he also sold hand-painted Ghost Rider miniatures.

"I may not be a slick ladies' man like Lieutenant Commander Riker, but I've seen enough romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy to know a thing or two about love, if you know what I mean," he said.

Holding up a double-mylar bagged first issue of X-Factor, Thurdlow added, "Oh, and as if today weren't great enough already, I also got Rob Liefeld's autograph. Check it out!"

Thurdlow, who was barely able to contain his excitement at the press conference, described himself as slightly nervous but greatly looking forward to his upcoming date and potential deflowering. "I'm lucky I was never exposed to massive doses of gamma radiation, or else this much adrenaline would surely trigger my transformation into the Incredible Hulk!" joked Thurdlow with a hearty laugh.

"Not that I would actually be the Hulk, of course," he clarified. "I would merely be a being similar to the Hulk, but lacking the alter-ego of scientist Bruce Banner that makes the Hulk uniquely human."

Thurdlow's date, Tina Chen, 25, an employee at the Kitchener-area Taco Bell that Thurdlow frequents, is considered "very nice" by co-workers. Chen was unavailable for comment, as she speaks little English. Thurdlow remained confident that he could communicate amorously with Chen on their upcoming date by using "the universal language... in other words, the nonverbal storytelling abilities of top-notch graphic sequential art."

Touting repeatedly the knockout beauty of his slated dating companion, Thurdlow beamed to the assembled crowd of nine. "I'm not trying to brag, but Tina's as good-looking as the sexiest Black Canary full-pager you ever saw," he said. "And that's including when Neal Adams was doing the inking, back when Black Canary was a backup feature in the Green Arrow/Green Lantern team-ups from '76 to '78."

After an elegant dinner for two, Thurdlow has a reservation for a horse-and-buggy ride, after which he plans to ask Chen up to the one-room efficiency he has occupied for the last eight years. There, he will seduce her with his prize possession: a mint-condition, signed complete run of the Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover mini-series.

"This is the series that in the late '80s completely transformed the entire D.C. Universe," he said. "How could she possibly resist me after eyeing a gem like that?"

"After that," Thurdlow said, "well, let's just say there'll be a kiss to rival the one between Saturn Girl and Elastic Lad in Legion Of Super-Heroes #257!"

Friends and supporters throughout the comic-book community are rallying around Thurdlow's cause, offering donations of such items as shoe polish, a tie, dress slacks and a $15 gift certificate for all Marvel back issues in stock at Hero City Comics and Baseball Cards' three Ontario locations.

"If Blaine can score with a chick, maybe my years of desperate loneliness can one day come to an end, too," said Hiram Jurgens, one of Thurdlow's well-wishers, who added that he personally finds Spiderwoman attractive, but is drawn more to "less glamorous but more intellectually engaging superhumans such as the X-Men's Kitty Pryde. Claremont really captured not only her mutant ability to phase her body through solid objects, but also her foibles, hopes and fears as well."

Not everyone shares Thurdlow's confidence. "Crisis on Infinite Earths was a hackjob, pure and simple. Wolfman and Perez did much better work back in the third run of New Teen Titans in '82, '83," said Toronto's Ed Fruem. "And Legion #257? What a joke. For real romance, let's talk about the Fantastic Four's Reed and Sue Richards, the married couple better known to millions of fans as Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl."