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   Now in our eleventh calendar year!
   PCR #512 (Vol. 11, No. 3). This edition is for the week of January 11--17, 2010.

"The Lovely Bones" †by Mike Smith
Kingdom of the Spiders †by ED Tucker
Comic Book Craze Part 1: The Marvel Years †by Chris Woods
Toy Shopping in Japan: Toy R Us Osaka †by Jason Fetters
Hypocrite Part Ii .... Movie Notes .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf †by Mike Smith
Growing Up Fanboy

Comic Book Craze Part 1: The Marvel Years

Comic books have always been a big part of my life. Even though I havenít collected comics in 23 years, I still from time to time pick up an old back issue at the local comic book convention. For me, I never really came to a point where I out grew them, I just felt they werenít as good as the use to be. A few years after I stopped, I would pick up a new Spider-Man or Hulk to see if they gotten better, but unfortunately they didnít. Although, the years that I collected were some of the best in comics in my opinion and I didnít really need to buy new ones because I had all my cherished issues from the 70ís and 80ís and also some before my time.

I started to read or should I say look (because I was still too young to read) at comics at the age of 2 around 1975. My mom had all ready bought me different super hero toys, T-shirts, or items with the characters on them, so I recognized many of them in the comics. Throughout the rest of the 70ís, my mom would often buy me comics (which she use call ďfunny booksĒ) from DC, Whitman, Archie, and others, but Marvel really stuck with me and became my favorite. Back when comics were only 35 to 40 cents you could buy a bunch of them. It also helped that my uncle had collected Marvel in the mid-60ís when he was a kid and just left them up in the attic. When I discovered this as a kid it was like discovering the Lost Ark. The comics that he collected were, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and Tales to Astonish, which featured two characters with separate stories, but just in one comic. It featured Ant-Man (later Giant-Man) and Wasp Woman as the first story, then The Incredible Hulk. Later on, Giant Man was replaced with Sub-Mariner and the Hulk stayed. He also had a few issues of Marvel Tales, which featured reprints of older issues of Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Journey into Mystery with The Mighty Thor, and Strange Tales with The Human Torch. Spider-man, Hulk, and The Fantastic Four became my favorite and I started collecting the newer issues at the time to keep caught up with what my favorite heroes were doing then.

Marvel comics of the 1960's.

Spider-Man became my all-time favorite and I would try to never miss an issue of the web-head. The character debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August of 1962 and then got his own comic in March of 1963. Still to this day my favorite stories of the wall crawler were the originals and that also goes for Hulk and Fantastic Four. The storytelling and the artwork were excellent and captured the essence of the character. The 70ís Spider-man, still had the same feel at times but the stories and adventures wasnít as good as the previous decade, but they still delivered. With reading both Spider-Man of the 60ís and Spider-Man of the 70ís at the same time didnít really confuse me, but what did was other different Spidey comics out. There was Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up (Spidey and another Marvel super-hero), and Marvel Tales, which was still reprints, but now it was just Spider-Man alone. With having all these different comics, I didnít know which was the main comic or what. If it had Spider-Man on the cover I would get it.

During the 70ís and into the 80ís, Spider-Man was everywhere. From cartoons to TV shows, I can remember watching reruns of the old Spider-Man cartoon from the late-60ís and then Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends in the 80ís. I use to watch the short-lived live action series from 1978 and would often catch The Electric Company to see the segments with Spidey. In the comic, one story that stood out was The Death of Gwen Stacy, which was a two-parter and also had the death of The Green Goblin. I first read this in a reprint in Marvel Tales and it has always been one of my favorites.

The many comics of Spider-Man.

A major turnoff for me came during the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars (a limited comic series that had all the Marvel Universe battle villains from space) when Spider-Man got his cosmic black costume and ditches the red and blue suit. I hated the suit and I guess others did, because he would often go back and forth between the two costumes until the black costume tired to take him over and later on suit went on Eddie Brock and he became Venom, but by that time I didnít really collect much of Spider-Man and it wasnít just because I didnít like the new suit, the stories just didnít interested me as much anymore.

The Incredible Hulk has always been my second favorite. Discovering him around the same time as Spider-Man, I was hooked on his comics. The Hulkís first comic book debuted in May of 1962, but was canceled after 6 issues. Then later he was one of the first Avengers with Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Wasp Woman, but then left the group after two issues. Hulk made guest appearances in Spider-Man and Fantastic Four issues, until he was brought back with his own series sharing a comic with Giant-Man in Tales to Astonish. I was a big fan of Astonish on their own, which started as a sci-fi comic then Ant-Man/Giant-Man and Wasp Woman took it over during Marvelís super hero boom. My uncle must have been just a Hulk fan, because he started collecting them once the Hulk debuted in 1964. I did enjoy both featured super heroes, even the Sub-Mariner comics when he debuted in Astonish in August of 1965, but Hulk was always my favorite. The tales from 1964-65 were some of the best with Hulkís arch rival The Leader.

Hulk, Fantastic Four, G.I. Joe, Transformers comics.

Like Spider-Man, Hulk was everywhere in the 70ís and 80ís. The classic TV series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno and the 60ís and 80ís cartoon. It was cool to see Hulk in all types of media. Just like Spidey, I collected Hulk comics when I was reading the old ones. Eventually, Tales to Astonish stopped in 1968, and Hulk had his own comic once again. He didnít have that many spin-offs like Spider-Man, but there was a reprint comic of old Hulk stories titled Marvel Super Heroes, which I also collected.

There was a time in the early 80ís where I didnít get that many Hulk comics, but I kind of rediscovered him in 1984 and followed him in an interesting story line. Bruce Banner finally was able to control The Hulk and could change at will and still have the mind of Banner, when before The Hulk was an uncontrollable monster. During the course of a year, Banner started to loose his mind and The Hulk became more uncontrollable then he ever was before. To a point where he didnít change back to Banner and every super hero had to stop him. Dr. Strange later vanished him to another world, where he stayed for awhile. After that I stopped collected the comic.

Star Wars and Indiana Jones comics.

The Fantastic Four was another one I started to collect after reading many of my Uncleís old comics. The Fantastic Four made their first appearance in November of 1961 and the group included Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Girl, The Thing, and The Human Torch. Not a big fan as I was of Spider-Man and Hulk or other super heroes, but I enjoyed their comics very much. Just like Spider-Man and Hulk, I often collected the new ones at the time when I would be reading older stories. There were a couple cartoon series of The Fantastic Four at the time. One from the late-60ís and the other was from the late-70ís that included a stupid robot H.E.R.B.I.E., which they later put in the comic briefly. Once The Thing left and She-Hulk joined the group, I was done. I remember picking up a few issues in the late-80ís and seeing the whole line-up changed except for maybe just one character.

Not all my comic book collecting was super heroes. I also collected Star Wars comics from Marvel. Since I was a huge fan of the film I had to start getting the comic. Marvel started with a comic book version of the film and then started writing original material in 1978. The stories that Marvel wrote were great and had Luke, Han, and Leia go through some awesome adventures. They also came up with some new characters as well that fit into the Star Wars Universe. It was also cool to have these on going stories while I waited for the new films to come out. Marvel also published a giant-sized issue of the first Star Wars film. Marvel would often put out these giant issues for comics based on movies. They also did one for The Empire Strikes Back, Battlestar Galactica, and many others.

Giant-size issues from Marvel.

The adventures between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were some of the best. It had a much different vibe to it with the absence of Han Solo, but still pumped out some great original stories. They also never really had any encounters with Darth Vader during that time. I guess Marvel didnít want to explore the Vader/Luke father and son relationship and just waited to see what was going to happen in Return of the Jedi. It would have been cool if they did more stories with that issue. Marvel did add some new characters, even a love interest for Luke, who later dies and Luke has to deal with her death. The comic ended in early 1986 and I pretty much stuck with the series all the way through.

Indiana Jones was another one I collected. Marvel did a great adaptation from film to comic with Raiders of the Lost Ark. In January of 1983 they gave Indy his own comic titled, The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones. Like Star Wars, Marvel came up with some very good original adventure stories for Dr. Jones. Indiana Jones was more of an issue-by-issue adventure, where Star Wars was an ongoing saga in the comics. I collected about almost every issue to that series until itís end in 1986. Marvel was always good about adapting films into comic books. Unlike Star Wars or Indiana Jones, most movie comics were just a limited series. I collected a few during the 80ís, such as Blade Runner, Krull, The Dark Crystal, and others.

The pages of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back.

Not only did Marvel adapt movies to comics, but they also adapted toy lines too. They did this with G.I. Joe in 1982 and Transformers in 1984. I was a fan of the toys and soon started collecting the comic to both. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero had some great stories to them. Way better then the ones from the cartoon. Transformers had the opposite affect on me where I thought the cartoon series was far better then the comics. G.I. Joe and Transformers comics I collected to my last days of collecting in 1987.

Another comic that I collected until the end was Marvel Saga. The comic which started in December of 1985 was kind of a best of or timeline of sorts of the Marvel Universe, mainly the 1960ís. It would have a quick overview of how characters like Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, X-Men, and others originated. It was a very cool comic that caught me up with old adventures of some of the super heroes I didnít collect. The comic ended in December of 1987, the same year I stopped collecting comics all together.

Other Marvel comics I would pick up here and there were other popular super heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men, The Avengers, Conan, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and countless others. I think I had at least one issue from every Marvel super hero of that time. I remember the three packs that they sold in department stores or toyshops that would have a variety of different super heroes of Marvel. During the 80ís I would go to a comic book store called Ravenswood that sold back issues. Thatís when I first discovered that I could buy old issues of Spider-Man or Hulk, the ones that my uncle missed or the period when my he wasnít collecting or before I started which was 1968-1975. Ravenswood was a great store in Utica and is still around up there. Iíve been meaning to pay a visit back there when I go up there on vacations. Hopefully this year Iíll do so.

After my years of collecting comics, I would still buy a comic here and there. There was one from Marvel I started collecting briefly was Freddy Kruegerís A Nightmare on Elm Street. The comic was printed in black and white and was published in a magazine-sized format. It was started in 1989 and only lasted 5 issues. I have the first two and I remember the first issue was the origin of Freddy, which was very cool. I like how they gave the history of Krueger, when he was born, how he was raised, and how he became a maniac and ultimately the master of nightmares.

Well, there you have it, the Marvel years for me. Some of the best stories I read came from the pages of Marvel Comics. Next month in part two, Iíll write about non-Marvel comics that I collected such as DC, Whitman, and many others. Until then, see you in the funny pages.

"Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2010 by Chris Woods.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.