Sean's History in Comics, Part 2

By | Saturday, February 25, 2006 Leave a Comment
As you may have guessed, I have an affinity for the Fantastic Four. It's quite clear for me just when that came about, as it was the Fantastic Four that moved me to become an actual comic book collector, as opposed to a kid who read comics.

My first encounter with the Fantastic Four was not a particularly pleasant one. In the "collection" I inherited from a friend of my parents were Fantastic Four #111-112. In the story, Mr. Fantastic has been able to find a cure for the Thing, allowing him to change back and forth at will. However, it affects his mind and the Thing goes on a mad rampage through New York and has a glorious brawl with the Hulk. At the end of #112, though, the Thing's girlfriend calls his name at exactly the wrong moment and he takes full-on a Hulk fist to his face. Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch then arrive and announce that he's dead.

When I first read that, I was pissed. Here I'd spent an entire two issues reading mostly about this Thing character, only to have him die at the end of the story. Plus, everyone else was running around angry, and the stress level in the comic was really high. Clearly, I was much too young for the story when I first read it, and I had no intention of trying to track down another issue.

I grew older and was starting to come to the point where I felt I was outgrowing comics. I'd seen Superman save Lois any number of times; I'd seen Batman capture the Joker over and over; I'd seen just about every superhero get put into an "inescapable" situation, only to escape in a nick of time. I was just about ready to give up comics.

But then I turned eleven.

For my eleventh birthday, my parents got me -- among the usual collection of clothes and toys -- some comics. Most of them were the same kind of fare I was getting tired of, but then there was Fantastic Four #254. It was engaging, it was funny, it brought up some interesting concepts. And, most interestingly, Mr. Fantastic died at the end of it! The difference this time was that I cared about the characters. The characters, who before had been irritable and agitated, were now charming and approachable. I didn't want Mr. Fantastic to die, and I had to buy the next issue to see if his teammates could save him. (I don't think it'd be considered a spoiler at this point to say that he was saved.) The next issue brought Annihilus to Earth, and ended with the Fantastic Four rushing their son to the hospital. So I bought the next issue as well. And the next. And the next.

Before I knew it, I had a subscription to the series and was hunting at flea markets and comic shops for the first 253 issues. And, so, another comic book collector was born.
Newer Post Older Post Home