I read comics a few times as a kid, mostly dc stuff, but it never really fired me up until one day back in 1983 I had my mom buy me a sealed bag of three comics because I was bored. What I found in that plastic bag changed me forever. I immediately became a huge comic book fan and a huge groupie of the Marvel Universe. I so thoroughly enjoyed the marvel titles so much that I went back the next day and bought a second bag of three comics and I was off and running. I had suddenly found comics to be so creative and so immersive that its nearly indescribable to explain how my child self felt, but I guess you might say it was kinda similar to seeing Star Wars in the movie theater the first time. Pretty powerful stuff for a kid.
They funny thing is that the bagged comics were a few months behind what was actually on the shelves so there was a gap in my collection for several years until I discovered the comic book store.
But what were these six issues that had such an affect on me?
Captain America # 283
This is the one that started it all because it was this cover that got my attention. I’ve always had a fondness for Cap ever since this issue and I really loved (and still do) Mike Zeck’s art. Plus it had the Viper, see here for my love of this character.
What immediately blew me away with Rom was Sal Buscema’s artwork. I’d never seen anything that exploded with so much energy and yet was so emotive at the same time. I greatly enjoyed the sci-fi and horror trappings of the title and Rom was also my first experience with the “tortured” hero. Other supers talk about losing their humanity but with Rom he actually gave up his own body to fight the cosmic threat of the dire wraiths. This issue took place in Russia, and the idea of Communist Superheroes (and villains) was totally new for me and it felt representative of how a kid could interpret the bizarreness that was the cold war.
Fantastic Four #256
I think I read an issue of Fantastic Four back in the seventies, but this issue was a whole new ballgame. John Byrne was at the height of his powers and he really was doing something special with this title and as a kid I noticed. This was my first introduction to a really cosmic adventure with the FF battling in the Negative Zone. I loved the grandness that was the villain Annihilus and his “death” as he floated to through space and crashed into the barrier that separated dimensions. I swear I could actually hear his scream. I’ve been an 80’s Byrne Junkie ever since.
New Mutants #5
Before New Mutants #5 it was my belief that kid superheroes were supposed to be a joke like the wonder twins. Abruptly, with this issue, that all changed. Here was my first encounter with an X-men title and I was hooked. The characters were so well fleshed out and the team was so relatable that it almost seemed like they could be real… if just for an imaginary moment. I also really liked the international flavor of the team and I greatly enjoyed how they interacted, like a superhero Real World. This was also my first introduction to Sal Buscema’s art as he did the inking chores on this title and I’ve been a big fan of his from this time on. Plus, there’s that Viper again and this time she’s brought a friend.
I had never encountered anything like what I found in Daredevil #196. Before, I couldn't even conceive that an environment itself could really be menacing before but this issue really showed me the danger that lies in the heart of a decayed concrete jungle. It was gritty and crime hung around like old smelly socks. I had no concept of the super anti-hero before, so I had a difficult time making out if Wolverine was a supposed to be a good guy or a bad guy, but the fun part was trying to figure it out. I’ve never been a big fan of Klaus Johnson's art but it was certainly different then everything else and it suited crime story feel of comic.
I can’t remember the sixth issue! I thought I’d never forget any of these titles but for some reason one has slipped from my memory. I’ve rummaged around the Internet endlessly looking at comic covers, trying to find this lost issue of my “real” first six Marvel Comics. This lost comic book would have to be from June 1983 as all the other bagged comics had this cover date but nothng has come up in my searches so far. It’s maddening that I can recall this issue. Oh well… I just have to keep looking.