I was feeling a bit nostalgic, and thought it’d be fun to look back on the very first comics I remember reading as a kid. I wracked my brain (but memory’s a funny thing) to compile this list. The first time reading them is still pretty vivid, but the exact order is a little fuzzy. But I did my best.
So, in order:
1985: Masters of the Universe: The Battle of Roboto Mini-Comic – This is representative of the many MOTU mini-comics I read as a kid. These are really my first exposure to comics books as a storytelling medium. So, a lot of credit/blame goes to these little booklets. I got into MOTU when I was five (in late1984) after the line had been going for a couple years. I’d go back and get a lot of older characters thanks to garage sales, but those didn’t always include the mini-comics. So, the first comic I really remember well was the Roboto issue, as I got the figure new. He wasn’t the first new figure I got. That honor belongs to Battle Armor He-man and Skeletor. But, for some reason, I can’t remember their respective comics well. It might have been that I was just a little too young to really remember those. Oh, how I’d recreate the scene of Roboto going after Teela in front of Grayskull. I think I was a bit traumatized by it, and had to work through it by recreating it with my figures again and again. This was gripping stuff for a five year old.
1986: The Amazing Spider-man 274 – Looking back at this issue now (via Marvel Unlimited… I don’t have the original issue any more sadly) it strikes me how weird an issue it is to jump into as one of my first forays into full-size comics. LIke most of the comics on this list, I was entirely at the mercy of whatever titles the local drugstore or supermarket would stock. Their selection would often feel random, and getting a consistent run was nearly impossible. So, I guess this was good practice is plopping into the middle of a story and trying to make sense of it. Of course, back in the day this was made easier thanks to generous recaps and set-ups. But, basically this is about the Beyonder (from the Secret Wars) sparring with Mephisto, and Spider-man getting caught in the middle. He ends up being faced by all the people he’s lost along the way in a series of nightmarish visions, including one where Gwen Stacy is transformed into a harpy! It’s strange, now, to think the title was just a few years from the McFarlane era and all that would entail.
1986: Marvel Treasury Edition – Rampaging Hulk 24 – This came out in 1979, but I found it at a garage sale and loved it to death. Literally, I mean, because it was falling apart by the time I was done with reading it. The artwork was so huge and bold. It featured Adam Warlock, the Inhumans and Man-Beast! It left a huge impression, and I was incredibly excited when (as a regular Silver Surfer reader) Adam Warlock came back. The Inhumans have also long been a favorite due to this humongous chunk of comic book.
1987: The Transformers Comic Magazine – This was a digest-sized comic that collected a few issues of the comic. Like a lot of kids around this time, I loved the Transformers cartoon and picked up the toys once in a while when my mom would spring for one. But I thought this was great. I’d never seen the actual comics where I lived, so it was a revelation when I found this. The storyline was a bit of a mix of Transformers and superheroes, which worked for me. I still think Circuit Breaker has a great design.
So, that’s it! The four comics I first remember reading. I’m sure there were a few other comics in the mix here – either borrowed from friends or read at the barber shop from Brother Ford’s big garbage bag full of them. But, since I didn’t get to take those home and re-read them again and again, they haven’t stuck with me. And soon after this, many more comics started to get added into mix. The release of the Batman movie was a big impetus for me to pick up more comics on a more regular basis. So I picked up things like the adaptation of the first Batman movie, the comic book and tape set of “The Untold Tales of Batman,” the Messner-Loebs run on The Flash, Silver Surfer, and the Simonson/Adams run on Fantastic Four. Flash, What If? (I still vividly remember the Atlantis Attacks What If? comic!), FF (which was taken over by Defalco and Ryan) and Silver Surfer were the only titles I regularly bought, with a few odd issues or back issues in the mix from time to time.
When I was 14, I started working at the local Dairy Queen AND a comic book shop opened up in town and my comics buying began in full-force and I transformed from a “comic book reader” into a bonafide “comic book collector.”