December, 1976

 FF #177 was the first Marvel comic I truly went out and bought. 

I’d had bad experiences with the Marvel books that had made their way to my hands earlier. (see CAPTAIN AMERICA #183) But by 1977, I was becoming more and more interested in the history of comics. And in reading the Human Torch story reprinted in Jules Feiffer’s GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES and the chapter on the Torch and other Timely heroes in THE STERANKO HISTORY OF COMICS, I became interested in the character.

So contrary to all previous behavior, I went out with the intention of picking up a Marvel comic book starring the Human Torch. I made my way to the Genovese Drug Store, where they had a huge bin of Marvel books priced at 6 for a dollar. (I only realized years later that Genovese must have been getting their books off the back of a distributor’s truck, since, being that all the books were several months old, they must have been returns which were reported as pulped) Digging through the large bin, I pulled up FANTASTIC FOUR #177-179.

I read the three comics on the floor in the living room. And I found them to be pretty darned entertaining, particularly the first two issues by Roy Thomas, George Perez and Joe Sinnott. Similar to my previous Marvel experiences, I still didn’t understand everything in these books–but they made me interested enough to want to figure out the parts I couldn’t follow. I hunted up the current issue–#187, also drawn by George and Joe, but written by Len Wein–at the local 7-11, and I was off.

I think it helped that FF #177-178 were among the most Schwartz-like issues of the book in a long time, with the colorful, wacky villains of the Frightful Four holding open auditions for their fourth member–something I could easily see the Flash’s rogue’s gallery doing.

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