My (Comic Book) Origin Story

In keeping with comic book tradition, I am publishing my origin story after several other posts have already been published. This allows me to make up stuff through retroactive continuity and thereby confuse the reader.

Figure 1 – First appearance of Supergirl (May, 1959)

I am a sixty-something who grew up in the 1960s and back then I spent a lot of my spare time reading comic books. It was one of those childish past times that was tolerated but was frowned upon. Instead of reading comic books, I was supposed to be doing other stuff like homework or chores.

Whenever my brother and I would get our allowances we would walk over to a place next door to the local K-Mart that sold used books and comic books. The used comic books were cheaper than new comics. I think I could get five used comics for 25 cents (something like that). I would buy DC comics (publisher of Superman, Batman, etc.) and my brother would buy Marvel (publisher of Ironman, Spiderman, etc.).

So, in 1967, we were buying titles from the early to mid-sixties. I never paid much attention to what specifically I was buying. I would buy whatever they had and whatever I could afford.

My two favorites were Justice League of America and Green Lantern.

Figure 2 – First crisis involving JLA and JSA (August, 1963)

I collected comics from late elementary school to early high school and I kept my stack of comics in a closet in the bedroom that I shared with my brother. One day, when I was a senior in high school and we preparing to move to another house, I came home from school and found that my stack of comic books and my stack of Newsweek magazines were gone. I had every Newsweek magazine published between January 1968 and December 1969. Gone! Everything was gone!

I asked my mother where my “books” were and she informed me that she threw them out and not to bother looking for them, because the trash had been already picked-up. I flipped out and forty-five years later, I still not have forgiven my mom for that. She knows not to bring that up, as it is a very sensitive subject.

Her excuse was: “I can’t stand the clutter!”

(It’s a good thing mom did not look under the mattress of my bed, because that is where I kept Playboy and Penthouse mags)

Fast forward to about five years ago and I read somewhere that DC was doing a reboot of all their titles and were coming out with new issues for everything (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc.).

They were calling it the “New 52”. Fifty-two, as in 52 titles. Since comic books in 2011 were no longer 12 cents an issue and were now four bucks a pop, I had to limit my purchasing to only a couple of titles. I chose the Justice League and Batman.

I subscribed to JL for one year and below you see the first 12 issues of new 52 “Justice League”.

Figure 3 – Justice League New 52 (2011)

Yet, it was not the same… Don’t get me wrong, the artwork is great, the stories are intriguing, but when I think back to the comics that I read back in the sixties – the era that is now called the “Silver Age of Comics” – I feel like there is a huge difference between what is published now and what was published then. To me, it is just not the same.

I do enjoy watching “Flash”, “Supergirl”, “and “Legends of Tomorrow”, but those live action shows are just not same for me when I compare them with comic books and cartoons.

Back in the early 90s when my son was a kid, he and I would watch “Batman: The Animated Series” on television. I thought then and still think today that that series was the greatest animated cartoon series ever. It was not like the Batman comics that I read as a kid, but it was not as dark and disturbing as the Batman comic books that I got in the mail back in 2011.

Recently, I learned that back between 2000 and 2006 there were two series that ran on WB that were continuations of the DC Animated Universe. They were titled “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited”. I am sure I would have known about those shows back then if there had been a kid living in my house, but thanks to Netflix I now know about it and I am now watching those two series today. When I compare the stories in these cartoons, they are more closely aligned to what I remember when I read JLA comic books back in the 60s when I compare the series with the Justice League comics that I got in the mail back in 2011.

It was only this past year that I discovered ComiXology.

According to Wikipedia, ComiXology “is a cloud-based digital distribution platform for comics, with over 200 million comic downloads as of September 2013. It offers a selection of more than 100,000 comic books, graphic novels, and manga across Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Windows 8, and the Internet. In April 2014, ComiXology became a subsidiary of Amazon.com.”

ComiXology has titles and collections available from the Golden Age (1940s to 1950s) through the Silver Age (mid-1950s to mid-1980s) and beyond at somewhat very reasonable prices. Most of the single-issue comics that I have purchased are either .99 cents or $1.99

Figure 4 – Justice League of America Vol 1 #21 August, 1963

When I visit ComiXology, I feel once again like a kid visiting that used comic book store on Longpoint drive, next-door to the K-Mart and across the parking lot from Jack-In-The-Box.

Figure 5 -Hal Jordan meets “Earth’s First Green Lantern” in GL #16 (Oct, 1962)

I have put myself on a budget and right now I have a rule in effect that says that I cannot buy anymore “books” until I have finished reading what I have purchased so far.

Also, I have a rule that I am only buying books from the golden, silver and bronze ages of comic books.

The golden age covers the first 20 years of DC comics – 1936 to 1956. The Silver Age of Comic Books covers the period from 1956 to Green Lantern issue #83 (May 1971) when Carol Ferris learns that long time employee, Hal Jordan, is the secret identity of Green Lantern. (That is kind of a comic book reader’s joke. Let’s say the silver age is 1956 to 1976).

Then bronze age was from 1976 to  the mid-80s when DC ended many titles during what was known as the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” – it was another reboot like the one in 2011.

Figure 6 – First appearance of Earth-One Flash 1956

Figure 7 – Earth-One Flash meets Earth-Two counter-part in 1961

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