Friday, September 5, 2008

The First Six

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.

Rom #44

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.

Daredevil #196

Daredevil #196
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.

And ?
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.



Don Snabulus said...

Captain America needs to watch where he is putting his hand.

Please post an update if you figure out the 6th. I am now curious.

Arkonbey said...

Do you still own The Five?

Do they still do the bags? Man, I remember those well. We got them when we were home sick and mom was out getting ginger ale.

rob! said...

Zeck on Cap and Byrne on FF were some of Marvel's best creative teams.

Dean Wormer said...

This made me feel like a kid again reading about you discovering those books.

I have fond memories of a little ritual my dad would do for me after I served mass as an altar boy.

On the way home we'd stop at 7-11 and get a slurpee and a comic book. That always put me in the happy zone after boring mass.

Evil Twin said...

The Rom cover is the one that caught my eye immediatley... and after your little introduction to the character I'm very interested in finding out more.

ladybug said...

I remember the New Mutants cover...and the Fantastic 4 one vaguely. Fun stuff!

Swinebread said...

Snab – Heh heh, you would notice something like that!

I’m still looking for the 6th issue

Arkonbey – I still do own them but they aren’t in very good condtion.

Nah they haven’t done bags in almost two decades but I do remember boxed set of three comics in the 1990s. We’re you home sick because you moved?

Rob – You said it. It was a great time to read comics. I think that’s why my mind is kinda stuck on the early 80s.

Dean - Wow, I wish my Dad would have realized the same thing an bought me comics at 7-11. What did titles did you like reading?

ET – ROM was a great comic. It had a unique cross of horror, sci-fi and superhero genres and I can’t say enough about the art by Buscema in the first sixty some issues. Here’s a great webpage about ROM.

Also siskoid has been blogging about ROM and has a lot of art from the interiors see here. he’s not up to issue 44 though.

LB – It was a fun time in comics. I Loved going to the store and hunting for my favorite issues.

John S. said...

Seeing this post is amazing, since three of these comics are on the list of the very first comics I ever read. I stayed overnight with a friend on a summer weekend and he had a stack of comics he'd bought at the 7-11.

He had copies of the Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, and the New Mutants issues you've got here. I also read my first cross-over comic (FF #257 and the Avengers with the Aug 1983 cover date) and my very first X-Men comic--#173 with the Sept cover date. (The comics rack at the 7-11 had all kinds of different cover dates since they would just leave them on till they sold.)

Wow. This took me back to when I was ten years old. Thanks!

John S.

Dean Wormer said...


It was a lot of DC stuff. Superman, Batman and the like. I think I've shown you my giant trunk full of comics. They're all from that era.