My story begins many years ago, when my parents, blessed be their infinite wisdom, decided to send me abroad to my gramps’ place (and, incidentally, country) for the summer. Those were peaceful days, so they just put all the required paperwork in a plastic bag around my neck and kissed me goodbye, as some nice lady helped me board the plane. I was six years old.
A few hours later, I was delighted to finally meet my father-side family, and of course they shared that feeling, even if I couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying to one another, and some of them couldn’t understand me either. Because of the language barrier, I was a very young stranger in a very strange place, I depended on grown-ups for everything, I couldn’t understand TV, couldn’t even read a book, and sometimes that made me feel quite lonely and homesick.
Then, that fateful day, my two youngest uncles, clearly understanding something had to be done, brought me a pile of books that I finally could understand: comics written in my mother tongue. They said those were quite good and, would I be interested, they could look for more by asking family, friends and neighbors.
On the top of the pile were Uncanny X-Men #112 and #113. When I began reading, I was only grateful. By the time I finished, I was blown away.
You open the book. The first page is a single panel describing a whole bunch of those X-Men heroes and that Magneto bad guy. The next two pages establish the team dynamics and the conflict between Cyclops and Wolverine. Magneto is then revealed to be an absolute badass, as he brings the helpless X-Men into his awesome secret base, seated inside a volcano in Antarctica so only he can get in or out. Splash page of the awesome secret base seated inside the volcano, detailed to the millimeter.
The X-Men then fight Magneto in a fantastic action sequence, but lose because they attack him one at a time instead of using teamwork. Magneto turns Colossus’s body and Wolverine’s claws against themselves and basically counters everything that’s thrown at him. He then restrains the X-Men, using machines that cripple their nervous system back to the equivalent of six-month olds, so they can’t use their powers, and tells them he’s doing this because their actions forced him into the same condition a while ago.
End of book.
You get to the next issue in what feels, in retrospect, like drunken stupor, and you open it. Magneto is out of his volcano base, busy declaring war to the outside world. Further exposition is given regarding his motives. Meanwhile, the X-Men are humiliated by the Nanny robot, but Storm manages to focus her superior motor functions to work on her shackles using a hairpin. She fails her first try, and you feel her frustration as if you were actually there yourself, crippled in a chair, trying to trick a cyberkeyhole using only a hairpin stuck between your teeth.
When Magneto comes back to his volcano base, everything’s dark, the Nanny robot is stuck in an infinite loop and the X-Men ambush him. This time they’ve planned everything and their improved teamwork brings Magneto to his knees. Wolverine misses a killing shot, but not by far. In the end, the base starts to collapse into the volcano, Magneto escapes, there’s lava everywhere, the X-Men get separated and can’t do anything about what’s happening, then the ceiling comes down on them.
Only that furry blue Hank guy and that Jean gal manage to get to the surface, but the feat depletes Jean’s Phoenix reserves and she passes out, leaving both of them stranded in Antarctica. Hank tries to carry her teammate for a while but, eventually, he too falls to the ground, their two bodies crossed in an “X” sign in the eternal snow.
End of book.
Needless to say, I devoured the rest of the pile (including outstanding issues of Iron Man, who quickly became my favorite character), then some more, and that summer abroad became one of the best summers of my life.
And that’s how I got into comics.
I may not remember a specific cover but I can relate how I got into comics. Actually wait…no I can’t. I think it may have involved fellow kids at school talking about them and the scattered ripped up/drawn on ones I had from somewhere as a child. My fondest memory of when I first started collecting and all through life until I went to college was the fact that it was always me and my grandfather going to buy them. Well he bought them. He bought them all. We started out going to either a 7/11 or a local grocery store that also had a spinner rack. I can still remember the smells of both those places. Sadly neither one of them are still are around.
I graduated from those two places to an actual newsstand type store that introduced me to my first pull list as we say. I just wrote down on a piece of notebook paper what I wanted them to set aside for me and then they would. This was still the late 80’s I believe. This place eventually changed ownership and I finally found my first actual comic book store. I stayed at this place for a while until a closer store opened up and I moved to that place.
Okay enough of my nomadic history. What I really look back fondly on is the fact that this was something only my grandfather and me had. It was something we would do every week. As I said he bought EVERYTHING. In the 90’s when I was buying any crap that came out he had the cash. When i wanted to get multiple copies that just happened to have different trading cards in them he just ponied up the cash. When I went away to college and fell off the comic medium for a while he boxed all my comics up and put them in storage in my attic. I still have almost all of them.
He is no longer with me but to this day when I walk into my local comic store on Wednesday I always stop to thank the man that fueled my addiction back then. So those are my fondest memories of when I first started collecting which I think is what this was supposed to be about. If not I just wanted to gush about a man that may have never took me fishing or hunting or other manly stuff that most grandfathers would consider bonding time. No this man took me comic book shopping and for that I can never thank him enough.