This is the first in a (hopefully) series of reflections on my early comic reading days. I will try to relive how I felt at the time, and what impressions various books, characters, creators had upon me - as opposed to the majority of my other posts which real more with my impressions as an old guy.
I really started buying my own comics around 1979 or 1980. Until then I really just read whatever my parents picked up for me or whatever was available in our school’s rainy day recess room (where copies of Devil Dinosaur went to die). I was very fortunate to grown up with a comic shop within a 10 minute walk of my house. I call still recall staring at their copies of Amazing Spider-Man #1, Avengers #1 and Fantastic Four #1 on display in their window (I wonder how sun faded those copies look today).
It was at this juncture in my comic book fandom that I discovered back issues. Working alphabetically through the bins, it wasn’t long before I came upon the Avengers. I had read a few issues of this title and was also a big fan of Captain America and Iron Man, so I was in heaven gazing upon these incredible covers. One of those that really caught my eye was #161. What 8-year wouldn’t love the notion of superheroes being attacked by ants?
Upon reading the book, it wasn’t the ants that stuck with me, nor was it the infighting amongst the Avengers, nor was it the shiny android named Ultron (my first exposure – I’’ admit that he scared the heck out of me). Nope, what really resonated with me the most was the emotional instability of Hank Pym/Ant-Man. Most of the superheroes I’d come across to that point were pretty much flawless humans (like Captain America or Superman). Even if a superhero had a problem, it was usually something pretty mundane, such as Spidey running late for a date.
There was something different about Hank Pym, and I noticed it even at a young age. Of course, his problems issues have been visited and revisited ad nauseum over the next 25 years, but it seemed very novel at the time. Between the ants, Ultron, Hank Pym and the rest of the Avengers – it was clear that a good chunk of my allowance money would be spent buying back issues of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.