Saturday, September 22, 2012

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: Superman #291

This may have been the first comic book I ever owned. At the very least, it is the first one I remember owning. It was published just prior to my 3rd birthday, and I must have owned it for a while and then it vanished. For years, I only had the fuzziest memory of Superman and a brick wall. I only had only local shop for back issues, and I spend years in the early 80s searching through their bin looking for this cover, hoping that my memory had not betrayed me. It was not until several years later that I saw it again and had a 'eureka' moment. I can understand why my memory was fuzzy, as it is a typically loopy and forgettable Supes story about some hood temporarily gaining Kryptonian strength thanks to a watch. Still, it is nice to keep this in the collection as part of my personal comic book history as it helped make Curt Swan's Superman my Superman.


The Mutt said...

I have no memory of there ever not being comic books in my life, because my Dad read them. Because there were us kids around, they were always safe, mainstream comics like Batman and Superman. The first comic book that really imprinted itself on my fragile little mind was Robin Dies at Dawn.

The first comic book I ever chose and bought for myself was when I ordered a mail-order subscription to Star-Spangled War Stories. There was an ad and an order for form in the back of a Superman comic. It showed Army Guys fighting Dinosaurs. How could a six-year-old resist that?

I remember clipping the order form from the comic, checking the little box, putting a dollar bill and some coins taped to an index card in the envelope and sending it in.

The comics came in the mail in a brown paper sleeve. They were folded in half and creased!

Oh, waiting a month for the next issue was exquisite torture. So much Kanigher and Heath and Kubert and Andru goodness.

Scott M said...

That's awesome Mutt.

I never subscribed until I was much older. It is hard to resist the War The Time Forgot!

Four-Color Kid said...

Ahhh... Curt Swan!
The one and only definitive Superman artist.

I don't remember exactly which Superman cover was my first, but I remember a bunch of them. My Superman started in early Bronze Age around 1971 and the ''Kryptonite Nevermore'' storyline. I remember being very intrigued by the Sand Creature that inherited some of Superman's power. Some memorable early memories of Superman covers were mostly by Neal Adams and Nick Cardy. I remember my brother and I had to divide our shared comic book collection at one point and we fought and argued hard about SUPERMAN # 263 with the cool Neal Adams Superman with half his body made of molten lava (the background was one of of those greyish photo of NY).

Among other favorite early reads are SUPERMAN # 241 with a kind of japanese oni-looking monster is seen from the back, dragging Superman and the Sand Creature by their respective capes. I looked for a long time for that particular issue because I had missed it the first time it came out but I had seen an add for it and wanted to know deseperately what the monster looked like from the front.

SUPERMAN # 260 was another issue I remembered fondly from that era. It was the first appearance of the Viking Valdemar of the Flame. A very cool cover of a striking viking warrior mounted on a giant hawk fighting Superman. It must have been well received because Valdemar came back 10 issues later with another cool Cardy cover where Superman seems to be preventing Valdemar from saving people going into a dragon's open mouth.

One of the scariest ACTION COMICS cover for me was another Cardy gem where Superman is sitting in a dentist chair obviously in agony, twisting the armrests while he is having some tooth pulled out. To a 7 or 8 year old boy, that was as scary it could get (I know it looks ridiculous now, but back then...)

Neal Adam's ecological cowboy Terra-Man, the Galactic Golem in the subway, Captain Strong (a Popeye parody/homage), are other sweet memories of early comicbook reading for me.

One last one, and maybe my favorite Superman story of all time, the one that prompted me to hunt down runs of ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN published between about 1970 and about 1974. ACTION COMICS # 430 and 431. The first cover depicts Superman flying through his appartment window while a weird purple amphibian-like monster flies out from an adjacent window. The second cover is one of those ''secret identy revealed'' cover depicting Clark Kent and the same creature ripping each other's disguise. I loved that two-part story which featured more Clark Kent than Superman. Clark and some random passengers take the bus one morning and the bus is somehow transported and stranded to another dimension/future or past earth (??? not sure which). It excited my imagination so much that even today, when I take the bus, I still think about it! Weird huh?