Friday, August 7, 2015

MCU & Me: Issue #1 - Origin Story, Part One

I first started reading comics seriously in junior high school. There were a few comic books here and there throughout my early childhood - occasional Star Wars comics (I was a huge Star Wars fan growing up), an issue of Fantastic Four #274 (I obsessed over that comic, and with the Thing, Frankenstein's Monster, She-Hulk, and this weird black-skinned alien thing that kind of looked like Spider-Man, what wasn't there to obsess over?), an odd Supergirl comic preaching the importance of using a seat belt, and a reprint of a horror comic that I'd love to track down again some day.*

And, of course, there were superheroes on television. On the cartoon-front, I had "Super Friends" and "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends." I had a live-action version of "The Incredible Hulk" (I don't know if I remember the original show or the time Mister Rogers visited the set more!), and two live-action Spider-Mans (the show featuring Nicholas Hammond, and the vignettes on "The Electric Company").

But it wasn't until the mid-80s that I started reading comic books regularly. Before class, there was a group of fellow junior high school students in the lunchroom huddled around a stack of comic books, mostly Marvel titles. It didn't take long for me to discover what held the attention of these other kids. I was hooked as soon as someone put a copy of Uncanny X-Men in front of me. This would have been in late-1986, and I came to start reading Uncanny X-Men in the middle of and right after the Mutant Massacre event.

I started reading Uncanny X-Men regularly, as well as a number of other Marvel titles, like Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man (issues #116 and #119 were particular favorites of mine, which may explain why I like Sabretooth as a villain so much). Somehow I ended up with issues #97-#100 of PPtSSM, probably through one of the two comic book stores in town. (Forgive me - I thought The Spot was cool.)

The Book Rack was a store my parents would take me to every few weeks, and I would always dig through the back issues. I'd also buy the newest issues of whatever I was reading at the time, and maybe even bring in something I was done reading to trade it in for credit so I could pick up something else. I briefly owned the Mary Jane-Peter Parker wedding issue that way.

When I started driving on my own, I also started going to Comic Quest, the other comic shop in town. I was endlessly amused that it was located on Logan Ave. Unfortunately, Comic Quest isn't there anymore, and it looks like there's still a Book Rack in Cheyenne, but I suspect it's not "the same" and may not even carry comics.

I was a strictly-Marvel comics reader back then, and typically stayed with the mutant books. I started to dive into Doctor Strange's books, as well, my interested in blending magic and the supernatural with superheroes really starting to blossom (no doubt that pump was primed by that Fantastic Four comic a few years before). During my junior year in high school, however, my creative writing teacher steered me toward giving the Avengers titles another look. It didn't take much to turn me into an Avengers fan from that point on. (Thanks, Mr. Roberts!)

I never REALLY believed the street was named after Wolverine, but I wanted to!
I was a comics reader who liked what he liked and that was that. I didn't try DC because I already decided Marvel was better, I didn't like Captain America because I decided Wolverine was better, and so on. My attitude changed in the mid-to-late-90s.

I had drifted away from comics for a little while (shortly after Image Comics burst onto the scene), but for some reason after my first year of film school, I decided to give comics another look. The first round of the Amalgam Comics caught my eye, and through that, I finally started sampling DC's output as well.

Green Lantern (my Green Lantern is Kyle Rayner) became my favorite DC title, and when Grant Morrison took on the JLA, I was hooked. I eventually drifted to being more of a DC guy than anything else, and while I kept track of what was happening in the Marvel books, I was more interested in following the adventures of the characters populating the DC books. (I even drifted away from the Avengers eventually as I wasn't really enjoying the creative team or creative choices any more. When Jack of Hearts - one of my favorite Marvel characters - was killed, then brought back to life, and then killed again, I was ready to let the House of Ideas go.)

I stuck with DC through Infinite Crisis and the following 52 event(s), but, again, I started drifting.

(It should be stated that I didn't just read the superhero books. Over the years, I bought comics from companies like Chaos!, Image, Valiant, Dark Horse, CrossGen, BOOM! Studios, etc.)

Why did I start to drift away from comic books? There are many reasons. Finances, lack of interest, changes in direction, etc. Even today, I read very few if any comic books outside of the occasional collected edition that I already own. I still keep track of what's happening at the big publishers, and if any of my favorite characters (for some reason, my favorite characters are usually the lower-tier or less popular guys and girls) make an appearance somewhere, I'll at least try to find out what's going on. (You hear that, Marvel/Disney? I'm ready for another Jack of Hearts appearance!)



* This horror comic told the story of two boys playing outside, tossing around a baseball. One of them (maybe because he was dared to by the other) threw the baseball through a window in the old creepy house at the end of the street. Neither boy went to retrieve the baseball because it was, as I said, an old, creepy house. Years later, the two boys are now grown men and have girlfriends/wives (I don't remember for sure). They're showing off their old neighborhood and see the old house again. They decide to finally approach the house (maybe to apologize for the baseball incident years ago?), but no one answers the door. The door is open, however, so they let themselves in and find a skeleton sitting at a table as if it was eating breakfast. It's covered in dust and cobwebs, and there's a crack in the back of its skull. A baseball is sitting next on the table as well, with pieces of broken window glass around it. If anyone has a lead on this comic or this story, please drop me a line at monsterkidradio@gmail.com.

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