No one remembers what made me pick up my first comic from the rack and ask someone to buy it for me. But my collection might have a clue: the first comics I got had everything I already loved as a seven year old.

Someone had given me a copy of “Batman & Other DC Classics” after the previous summer’s movie and I read it between repeat viewings of the film and VHS. I liked the sampler but the first comic I picked up on my own was Robocop #2 from Marvel in February of 1990.

Two months later I came back and got #4, but in May I changed up and got other things I liked such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Ghostbusters and somewhere I picked up a free Spider-Man about reading (probably the county fair or the library). In June I got another Turtles and Transformers, but July was only a Turtles, I was hooked at this point. August came and I got both Turtles and Transformers. I missed September and then October 1990 when I turned eight then in November got comics again and haven’t stopped.

November 1990

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #16

I love the Turtles and back then they were in inescapable. I watched the cartoon and movie, played with the toys, played the arcade game, bought books and magazines, ate the cereal and more, so finally I read the comic. Of course, this wasn’t THE comic. It was a comic, the one I could find. But it didn’t matter that it wasn’t the storylines I knew, because I knew the characters who were simple but clearly defined enough to translate from one medium and back. This was a comic that had been intended to tie into the cartoon tying into the toys tying into the original comic, but just before I started reading it changed and became about the environmental and philosophical issues that Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy wanted to contemplate with clean art by Chris Allan, Jim Lawson, Ken Mitchroney and even the great Gene Colan (#22).

 

December 1990

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #17

 

January 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #18

 

February 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #19

Transformers (vol 1) #77

Transformers might have been the first toys I really collected starting before my fourth birthday and leading to other lines like GoBots, G.I.Joe, He-Man and eventually TMNT and superheroes. So a Transformers comic book sounded like a great idea but I arrived too late. The comic was ending with issue 80 and at this point the Autobots and Decepticons were united and arguing politics as their world decayed while some humans were going crazy. This was not what I was expecting. I picked up a few issues but never enjoyed it the way I did the movie, cartoon, or my own stories with my collection.

Married… With Children (vol 2) #7

Yet another comic book based on something else I already watched (despite my mother’s efforts). I don’t recall much about the comic itself but it was certainly something that existed and continues to do so in a box in my parent’s attic.

Marvel Milestones: Fantastic Four (vol 1) #1

At this time Marvel was interested in putting out their classic books just as they looked the first time around so for some reason I thought I’d start with this. It’s hard to go wrong with Lee/Kirby and this of course still held up. But it didn’t make me pick up the on going series, but I did get the reprint Marvel Milestones edition of FF #5 that would come out late 1992. That is probably what made me start following the title at #371 and lasting a long time.

 

March 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #20

Mighty Mutanimals (vol 1) #1

This would be my first spin-off. It featured characters introduced in the TMNT Adventures book were brought together in this miniseries along with my favorite Turtle, Raphael, to continue battling some villains from the main series. I was all for it.

 

April 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #21
Mighty Mutanimals (vol 1) #2

Incredible Hulk (vol 2) Annual #17

Like most everyone else up to this point, I knew the Hulk from TV. The SciFi channel used to rerun the show and I understood the basic concept. So this issue was a great introduction. It had a neat little story by Peter David and John Romita, Sr. showing the Hulk’s origin from the perspective of an MP who was there. Then there was a story of the current smart Hulk, Betty, Rick and Marlo getting mixed up in a war between The Mole Man and Tyrannus. I wasn’t too interested in the villains but I enjoyed the Hulk and his friends.

Marvel Age #101

I don’t know why I got this magazine about the latest Marvel comics other than maybe I liked the Al Milgrom cover and didn’t think to flip inside. Unless Fred Hembeck really made an impression on me. I’d pick up this magazine/comic in the future which helped me know what was coming out. This would be helpful as I managed the spinner racks in the future. But that is a nice cover.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie II Secret of the Ooze: Official Movie Adaption

The movie came out in March but the VHS wouldn’t be out for a long time. I had to have this comic to keep it all fresh in my mind.

X-Men Classic #60

I got this comic with a Wolverine action figure but I don’t think it was packaged with it, I think the toy store just handed me the comic. I spent a lot more time with the toy than the comic (which reprinted Uncanny X-Men #156). I think my only other exposure to the X-Men up to this point would have been the comics I’d seen on the rack but hadn’t bought (Uncanny, X-Factor and New Mutants). This was before the line widened, before the cartoon and before the arcade game. I liked the toy and bought more of them, but I can’t remember much other than the great Mike Mignola cover. And despite the years I spent slavishly reading X-Men comics, I’ll admit I haven’t ever read through the entire Claremont saga. I know it was good, because the comics I did read always referenced it and so I saw the after effects.

 

May 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #22
Transformers (vol 1) #80
Mighty Mutanimals (vol 1) #3

 

June 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #23

 

July 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #24

Captain America (vol 1) #391 and  #392

I started reading CaptainAmericajust in time for the end of the Superia Strategem. Whew! Glad I didn’t miss that. But I kid the legendary Mark Gruenwald. I enjoyed these comics despite coming in at parts 5 and 6 of the storyline. I didn’t have a clue who all these characters were but things were at least exciting and I could follow along. I would continue reading Cap though I missed the next few issues and didn’t get back until Galactic Storm, a massive crossover that to this day I only read a fraction of. Luckily I was in the right place to enjoy, which I mean sincerely, the entire Cap Wolf saga. But these comics were fun but afterwards I was left wondering why Paladin wasn’t in more comics, after all he appeared in a Captain America comic book! You have to be a pretty important character if you’re fighting alongside CaptainAmerica, right? Right!

Batman #468

It took me a long time to buy a Batman comic and it certainly didn’t grab me. I liked Batman but for some reason have never felt a need to regularly read his comics. I know they’re good and talented people worked on them but I was content to drop in and out safe in the knowledge that there was always Batman if I wanted him. In the meantime I had the idea and my toys.

Iron Man (vol 1) Annual #12

For a couple of years Marvel’s annuals would tell crossovers with their characters. Since I liked the Incredible Hulk chapter of “Subterranean Wars” I apparently decided to get the next part which featuredIronMan.I was not as engaged and never have been. I find his comics to be pretty boring as most of them deal with either Evil Iron Men or Evil Tony Starks or The Mandarin. I’m happy to have him in my Avengers comics or see his movies, but I can only enjoy him when he’s contrasted with someone more interesting.

Marvel Comics Presents (vol 1) #85

What a comic this was! For $1.25 I got Peter David & Sam Kieth introducing Wolverine to his new enemy Cyber; A story about the end of the Freedom Force; A Beast story by Scott Lobdell, Jae Lee, and Rob Liefeld with Todd Klein lettering; A Speedball story by Lobdell and Ron Wilson. Of course at this point I wasn’t paying attention to who was putting together the books, but this was a real sampler of what comics were and were about to be. The part of the comic that made the biggest impression on me was Sam Kieth’s pencils. I was immediately addicted to how expressive and wild they were. I needed more.

Spider-Man (vol 1) #14

This was one of Todd McFarlane’s final issues before leaving Marvel and going on to create Spawn, but of course we didn’t know that at the time. This was just the comic I picked to follow Spider-Man’s adventures and it was not really welcoming or engaging and I put it out of my mind.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day #1 and  #2

In the late ‘80s and early 90s local tv affiliates of the national networks would fill their Saturday afternoons with movies. These were usually action movies or comedies edited for a general audience. This was where I developed my early love of RoboCop, Spaceballs, The Terminator and more (when I was accidentally allowed to watch the real versions I was shocked but enraptured). That’s why I picked up the RoboCop comics earlier and my excitement after seeing the new movie in theaters, I needed these comics but never any others.

X-Force (vol 1) #2

This is the comic that attached me to the X-Franchise. A comic mostly devoted to Deadpool’s second appearance and Kane’s first while the titular team does stuff in the background. It is at this point that I point out I’m eight years old when this comes out and Kewl Dudes fightin’ was neat. The plot never made much sense and characters didn’t have much character, but dangit, Kane could shoot his robot hands and punch people across the room. That was enough for me.

 

August 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #25
Marvel Comics Presents (vol 1) #88
Marvel Comics Presents (vol 1) #90
Terminator 2: Judgment Day #3
X-Force (vol 1) #3

Amazing Spider-Man (vol 1) #353

This was the Spider-Man comic I was expecting. It was funny and fast paced with dozen of characters getting mixed up in an adventure in an organic way that made sense. I got more than just Spider-Man here as each of his costars and the villains were engaging and I wanted to know more. But overshadowing Al Milgrom’s writing was Mark Bagley’s pencils. To many the definitive Spider-Man artist might be his creator Steve Ditko, the successor John Romita Sr or any number of folks with a substantial run, but mine will always be Mark Bagley. His Spider-Man was the perfect mix of muscles and flexibility that was always clear and easy to follow. When I think of classic superhero drawings, I can’t help but think of the people who did the biggest books in my mind at the time: Mark Bagley, Jim Lee and Ron Lim.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (vol 1) #117

It took me a relatively long time to start reading this comic but I started here with part two of a three issue storyline and I had no trouble getting caught up. I liked seeing characters I recognized from the cartoons and the new additions to my toy box but in more realistic adventures. They would get out of whatever cliffhanger the previous issue ended on, and get through at least one more harrowing situation before a third came up and ended on a cliffhanger. Larry Hama could really keep an action comic flowing with subplots and distinct characters that you understood. Reading this comic actually changed how I played with the toys. It used to be that my friends and I would get together and have our characters wage war until we got picked up to return home, but after this comic I became interested in what the character’s personalities were, why were they soldiers and what they wanted out of life.

X-Men (vol 2) #1

Of course I bought this. Didn’t everyone? At least once? I knew this was a step up from X-Force, more dynamic art, cooler characters and clearer and wordy dialog. This really let me get an idea of the vast world of X-Men comics filled with interconnected characters whose complicated backstories were always bubbling up to get them in trouble. As daunting as continuity is always described, this only encouraged me. The world was a complicated place butClaremontmade sure to spell out everything in fine point detail. It could get tiresome if you already knew that Pyslocke’s Psychic Knife was “the focused totality of [her] telepathic powers,” but as a new reader seeing her for the first time I needed to know what she was threatening Magneto with. And once I was on board with what was going on, I could pretty instinctively gloss over the repetitive phrases/descriptions thatClaremont(and others) used to focus on the new information.

 

September 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #26
Marvel Comics Presents (vol 1) #92
X-Force (vol 1) #4
Amazing Spider-Man (vol 1) #354
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (vol 1) #118
X-Men (vol 2) #2

Adventures of Super Mario #8

The Super Nintendo came out on August 23 and I was desperate for one. It would be a major upgrade from my parent’s Atari 2600 and I wanted to fully immerse myself in the Nintendo Culture. That meant picking up video game magazines (often with their own comic pages) and comics like this and watching the Super Mario Bros Super Show.

Conan The Barbarian #250

I don’t remember anything about this comic. I must have liked the big round anniversary number. So apparently those do work. At this point I’m starting to branch out in what comics I like. I’m not just getting comics for the characters, I’m getting the characters in the comics.

Darkhawk #9

I really liked Darkhawk when I discovered him in the issues of Amazing Spider-Man I read and followed him to his own series. It of course makes sense to come to the character this way as Darkhawk was just the latest character created from the Spider-Man template: a teen character with extraordinary powers and try to balance the desire to do right with their troubled personal lives. He is sometimes lumped in with the excess of the comics of the 1990s and that’s easy to see as he had Spider-Man’s personality, Wolverine’s claws, Iron Man’s force beam, razor wings and an edgy name to top it all off. But there was more here than the sum of the parts and the people working on the comics gave their hero Chris Powell unique problems as the son of a crooked (or maybe not) cop trying to takeover the duties as man of the house while battling the mob and discovering the mystery of his otherwordly amulet.

Deathlok #5

Despite my love of Robocop I never really got interested in Deathlok and probably got this because of the guest stars on the cover. Of all these first year comics that I don’t remember, this is the one that I am most interested in rereading for the first time probably. I’ve heard great things recently about what Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan and Mike Manley were doing here. This might be a favorite comic I never knew I had.

Incredible Hulk (vol 2) #387

After enjoying the annual I decided to read the regular Hulk story and picked up the second part of a story of people running around inIsraeltrying to kill or save the next Hitler who is only 10 years old. This was very confusing but I would buy many more Hulk comics in the future.

Iron Man (vol 1) #274

Again coming back for more from the annual I got part 3 of the 4-part “Dragon Seed Saga” which details the history of Fin Fang Foom and the rest of his alien race coming to earth and pretending to be dragons and/or humans and how The Mandarin got his rings from their spaceship. Meanwhile Tony Stark was getting ready to return to the exposition filled fight. This is a necessary point in all stories but I’ll bet I would have enjoyed starting at part 4 more. As it was I didn’t come back for it.

Spider-Man Saga #1

This was a wonderful series that came along at just the right time for me. It was four issues that covered Spider-Man’s entire history up to that point through text summaries and selected panels. By the time I finished these books I knew every major character in Spider-Man’s corner of the Marvel Universe and many other big names as well. I would have still become a Spider-Man fan without this book, but it wouldn’t have been as easy. Now a days people search online for a wiki or issue synposis, but this worked for me at the time.

What the–?! #15

I can’t imagine I got a lot of the jokes about Marvel comics and continuity. But I did enjoy a story about a kid who comes up with a superhero but it’s corny and won’t sell, so instead he comes up with “The Strange Young Fighting Frogs” as an obvious TMNT parody and strikes it rich. In the end the characters all come to life and he has to choose between his noble artistic intentions and his get rich quick scheme. That always struck with me.

 

October 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (vol 2) #27
X-Force (vol 1) #5
Amazing Spider-Man (vol 1) #355
Amazing Spider-Man (vol 1) #356
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (vol 1) #119
X-Men (vol 2) #3
Adventures of Super Mario #9
Spider-Man Saga #2

Nintendo Comics System #8

These licensed comics didn’t last long and I didn’t get a chance to pick up any other issues. It’s possible they were only intended to drum up interest in the Super Nintendo and if that was the case they did a good job. Still, I would have liked to pick up more of them. I was a fan and would later get the first dozen Sonic The Hedgehog comics despite never owning a Sega system. I just liked comics and video games but I liked comics a little bit more.

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