My Comic Book Crisis

A woman of a certain age, a computer, and a love of comics

Avengers detail

My husband went to an auction the other night and brought home a big box of old comics, so I had a lot of fun this past weekend going through them and picking out a few to read.

It was quite a change of pace since so far most of my reading has been current stuff — heavy on the Vertigo and not so heavy on the classics. Today I got to delve into a little vintage Avengers, a little Fantastic Four, Justice League of America, several Spectacular Spiderman issues and a little Batman thrown in for good measure. Here are the treasures I unearthed:

The Avengers 234 (1983)Avengers 234 cover

In the grand-daddy of dysfunctional family stories I learned The Scarlet Witch was raised by gypsies, is married to Vision, a synthetic man, and discovered that Magneto was her father. Whew, that’s a lot going on in 24 pages. It was like watching a Dr. Phil marathon; I was emotionally exhausted by the end and down a pint of Haagen-Dazs.

It was the first time I’d seen Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel and she’s definitely cool. You gotta love anyone who takes time to notice — and eat — the pastries being served in the Avengers mansion and still look good in that all-white bodysuit.

Justice League America 27 (1989)

Wow, I knew this cover looked familiar

Justice League of America cover and Exorcist poster

In this one the Blue Beetle has been programmed a la “The Manchurian Candidate.” He’s set to go off at the words “Bialya my bialya,” which sounds like nothing more than an innocuous ode to a breakfast food, but it turns him into a wild man. Batman’s in the background and he’s as humorless as ever and there’s an appearance by the Green Lantern that does nothing to forward the plot, but he’s sporting a haircut that vies with She-Hulk’s outfits for the biggest fashion faux pas of the decade. Remember, this is the 80s, so that’s saying something.

Fantastic Four 94 (1969)Fantastic Four 94

Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl’s baby Franklin is introduced and in order to keep him safe, the Fantastic Four travel to “up-state” to take him to a child-rearing specialist. Somehow (and this is never explained) the Frightful Four has found a way to monitor the Fantastic Four, so they head “up-state” too and it all becomes a battle of the weird superhero powers: Rubber, invisibility, rock and fire vs. sand, glue, magnetism and hair. Awesome — somebody really DOES have a hair super power! Add Medusa to my list of kick-ass women.

Spectacular Spiderman 150, 151 and 152 (1989)

Spiderman is lots of fun because he does have a sense of humor and there’s a certain playfulness that’s lacking with, say Batman. Don’t get me wrong: I love the Dark Knight, but sometimes he just a little too, well, dark. And he’s about as funny as an undertaker.

Covers of Spectacular Spiderman 150, 151, 152

Peter Parker also has a special spot in my heart because he’s a newspaper guy and there’s always a scene or two at the newspaper. In this series, he and MJ are married, but as he’s wont to do, he occasionally bolts at odd moments to go fight crime. I would find that awfully annoying, but then my husband has annoying habits too: Sometimes, just to amuse himself, he’ll turn on the original version of “Battlestar Galactica” then hide the remote until I’m just about ready to rip out my own eyes rather than watch another badly acted minute of that 1980s dreck.

In the Spiderman issues I read last weekend there was an awful lot of crime going on in the city, what with Kingpin, Tombstone and the Lobo brothers — who are tall, dark and harbor a secret — in town. Meanwhile, Daily Bugle Editor J. Jonah Jameson is acting really weird — although, as a journalist I can tell you, an editor acting weird isn’t exactly cause for alarm; it’s more like a pre-requisite.

It’s all a very tangled web — but a fascinating one, as were the others I read last weekend. I realized I’ve been missing out on some really cool stuff and in the future I intend to delve a bit more deeply in the past.

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