A post from my old Marvel blog concerning the comics purchases that turned me into a regular Marvel reader. These are being well-covered in the BREVOORT HISTORY OF COMICS section, but I’m reposting this anyway.
So I had overcome my resistance to Marvel comics through my purchasing and reading of FANTASTIC FOUR. But I hadn’t yet been thoroughly converted to the Marvel cause, such were my memories of my earliest forays into the Marvel U.
I did immediately begin following the FF characters, though–so when I found MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE, which teamed the Thing up with Mister Fantastic, I picked it up, and began purchasing MTIO. And when the Human Torch was cover-featured on an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA (which reprinted the Torch story from STRANGE TALES #114 in which Johnny Storm fought a Cap impostor) I was all over it. But that was about it.
I came from a relatively literary-minded family. Both my parents were avid readers, and so one of the things we’d do regularly as a family was to go to our local public library. My folks were always encouraging about my reading comics, especially when they saw me checking books out of the adult section of the library on the history of comics. (That’s where such books were racked in those days, and there weren’t really many of them.) Being interested in the histories of the various characters, I had become aware of the book ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS, which reprinted the first appearance of the Fantastic Four, among other things. I also knew that the library had a copy, since I’d seen it on past visits, though I’d never cracked it. So on our next trip, I went looking for it.
But I didn’t find it–I never did, in that particular library. What I came across instead is the book at the left, its sequel, SON OF ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS. SON reprinted the first appearances and assorted stories of the X-Men, Iron Man, the Avengers, Daredevil, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, the Watcher and the Silver Surfer. But none of them were the FF. I remember flipping through the volume back and forth, trying to decide whether or not I should check it out, feeling disappointed that ORIGINS wasn’t available. The thing that put it over the top was a small cameo by the FF in the first issue of AVENGERS, which was enough to make me decide, “what the hell.” That and the fact that checking the book out would be free.
This book was my real gateway into the Marvel Universe. I read the X-Men story, got interested, and searched out the current issue on the stands (#108, John Byrne’s first as artist). I read the Daredevil story, got interested, and did the same (#150, introducing Paladin.) There wasn’t a SHIELD book at the time, nor was the Silver Surfer appearing anywhere regularly, but at least I knew who they were.
I ran into other problems with the other two strips. There were two Iron Man stories reprinted: his origin story, and a later tale from TALES OF SUSPENSE, illustrated by Gene Colan. I wasn’t all that wild about Colan’s Iron Man at the time (though today, I think his interpretation of the character is among my top three favorites), so I was kind of torn. It took me a little while before I eventually bit the bullet and bought an issue of IRON MAN (#111, right in the middle of a strange multi-issue saga, and shortly before Micheline, JRJR and Layton would inherit the title.)
I really liked AVENGERS #1, though–I tended to respond best to the stories drawn by Jack Kirby, although I didn’t really quantify that at the time. So I ran right out and got the latest issue (#168, the second part of the long Korvac Saga). And I was lost. There were a million characters in that book, but I couldn’t tell who was who, or what their relationships were, or anything. So despite the lovely George Perez art, I didn’t immediately become an AVENGERS reader. It would take another three months for that, when I found AVENGERS #170 and #171 both on the rack at the same time, a two-part Ultron story also drawn by George.
I was fast becoming a Marvel convert. But there was still one major player missing.