Comic books have always seemed to be an important part of my life in one form or the other. I’ve been a fan of the stories, the rich character development and histories, of course the art work, a hardcore collector, and I even owned and ran my own comic shop for years. My all time dream is to be able to create my own comic book or be involved in the creative part of the industry. I am in the process of achieving that dream, and with hard work and determination I know I’ll reach my dream.
When looking back at my love affair with the comic book genre I realized that I actually remember the very first comic book I read. This was 25 years ago and I was like 9 years old. I didn’t go to any comic shops and I wasn’t actively looking for a comic book. I was just at home being a nerdy kid playing with my Star Wars toys. My aunt Ruth came over to my house for a visit. She handed me a stack of comics. They were taken from her husband who was a comic book collector. She was clearing out space at her home and thought I might like them. I had never really been interested in comic books before, sure I had watched Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends as well as the Super Friends cartoon. So I knew about superheroes, but this was my first introduction to the amazing world comic (sequential) story telling.
The very first comic I read from the stack of comics she gave me was The Mighty Avengers 242. So this is officially the first comic book I ever read.
I remember the cover caught my eye because I wanted to know who the shadow figure was and why everyone looked so shocked. What I also remember most about this issue was the introduction of Mockingbird by Hawkeye to the Avengers. It was a good introduction issue for a new reader like myself.
There wasn’t really a lot of action in this issue, but there was a compelling story. The comic showed me how this group were friends and close like family. This can only really be showed in a long running story. So I wanted to know more about these characters.
It ends with Captain America, Wasp, She-Hulk, Thor, Captain Marvel and Hawkeye heading to a strange structure in Central Park New York and getting zapped away. As a kid I didn’t know what was happening, did they die or what?
The next comic book I read was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars 1. With a great cover like that you’d think it would’ve been the first one I’d read. It’s actually my good fortune that I read this comic next. The Avengers 242 leads right into this one. You can imagine my pleasant surprise to discover the Avengers didn’t die but were instead transported to an arena with a lot of other super heroes.
Again being that this was my first time reading comic books it was great to start with this issue too. It introduced me to all the major characters (heroes and villains) in the Marvel Comics universe. With a quick synopsis of who they were and what they were all about.
The premise of Secret Wars was that of a super cosmic being named the Beyonder and how he gathered earths greatest heroes and villains to basically fight to the death. The winner would receive their hearts desire. I remember how Galactus flies to attack the entity and is swap like an insect. As a 9 year old kid, this just blew me away.
The third comic I read was probably the most famous of the lot. Amazing Spider-Man 252. As most people know (well at least the one’s in comic book circles) this is the first appearance of Spider-Man’s black suit. Which we later learn is actually an alien Symbiote life form. Years later the suit eventually becomes one of Spider-Man’s deadliest villains named Venom.
I was familiar with Spider-Man from his Saturday morning cartoon series on tv, but this Spider-Man was very different. This Peter Parker was much grittier. He wasn’t as go lucky as I had known him from the cartoon. With the addition of this black suit the charter just seemed darker to me.
I remember the first page of the comic shows the Daily Bugle with the headline about missing super heroes. This issue takes place after the event of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. So I was excited to know that Spider-Man would survive the Secret War. This was my first Spider-Man comic I had ever read and I was very intrigued by how different it was, I was super excited to read more.
The final comic in the group my aunt gave me was the one that showed me the depth of story telling and character development that could be found in comic books. Sure I was only a kid but the story really blew me away and I knew this was something special. The comic was Phoenix the Untold Story and my introduction to the world of mutants and the X-Men.
This story is a reprint of Uncanny X-Men 137 with the original attended ending. It takes place after the Dark Phoenix Saga and is where Jen Grey is judged for her crimes as Phoenix. Like the Avengers comic I read, this group of heroes were more than just teammates, they were a family.
This comic book takes us through the minds of all the heroes, showing their hopes and dreams. It shows the love that Jean and Scott have for each other and the pain her loss will bring to the whole group. The X-Men fight against aliens with their own powers for Jean’s life. In the end she sacrifice’s herself before the darkness that was Phoenix could return to harm her friends.
As I look back at these first comic books I read, I fully realized how lucky I was. These were ground breaking stories and a great way to start my life as a comic book reader. I had no knowledge that comic book stores existed back then so every time my parents would put gas I’d look for the comic section. I didn’t care if the comics were bent (which they usually were) I was just excited to see what cool new stuff was out. I remember there was a gas station named the Good Time Store and it’s logo was a big smiley face. That’s where I always found the latest issues to Secret Wars.
It’s been a great 25 years of comic reading. There have been so many great story arcs and a few not so good, but it’s always been a huge pleasure. These stories have had the greatest visuals imaginable and anything is possible. I’ve read all the great character development through the heroes adventures and tragedies. Although I started as a Marvel Comics fan I now read other comic companies like DC, Dark Horse and so many Independent comics. I know that the next 25 years and most likely the rest of my life I will enjoy reading comic books. They are our modern mythology and I thank my Aunt Ruth for introducing them to me. Shazam!