Contributor Bob Harrison posed the question in his first column here at Pop Culture Squad. Not what is the oldest comic in your collection, but rather what comic have you held onto the longest. I immediately knew my answer, and that it was 3 comics I had bought at the same time when I was in 3rd grade.
Now I don’t remember the actual date (I was 8 years old) but it was a snow day during the 1983/84 school year. Being raised by a single mother, snow days often meant I went to work with her when I was too young to stay home all day alone. At some point that day I walked from my mom’s office to the newstand around the corner and bought myself some books off the spinner rack. Zyn’s News & Cigars is still in the same spot on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich Connecticut today.
I was a voracious reader even then and a rather precocious child. I say that not to toot my own horn, it’s a thing I heard adults say about me and it often didn’t seem like they meant it as a compliment; I say it because the books I bought were not exactly the Archies that society seemingly wanted me, a little girl, to be reading.
As I look back at the 3 books that are the subject of this column I see so much of the foundation of my fandom laid out in these issues. Wonder Woman. Black Canary. The Huntress. Deadshot. Alfred Pennyworth. Doctor Strange.
I make no secret of my love of Wonder Woman to this day. And these days, it is a glorious time to be a fan of the Amazonian Princess. How fitting that the new movie is Wonder Woman 1984! But back then, the Lynda Carter series was off the air. Saturday morning’s Super Friends was the only WW dose I got on the regular.
Back to Wonder Woman #310: This issue had so much going on in it. It opens with Diana and Black Canary playing null-grav handball and discussing Diana’s plan to reveal her secret identity to love interest Steve Trevor, failing the Bechdel test on page on page 2, but giving me my first exposure to Black Canary, yet another one of my all time favorite characters. (I told you these books imprinted my fandom) On a break from the handball game, Diana tells Dinah the story of the first Wonder Woman, Artemis, who betrayed Themiscyra after falling for one of Ares’ schemes.
The fates must have been guiding me that day to Zyn’s. This issue was a perfect jumping on point! It gave me great insight into the Amazon’s back story and Diana’s character.
But there was even more to the book! A Huntress back up story!! The pre-Crisis Huntress was Helena Wayne, the daughter of Earth-2’s Batman and Catwoman. I was instantly hooked! I didn’t really understand the multiverse concept back then, all I knew was I loved her backstory and her attitude. Plus purple was my favorite color!
I bought this book for 2 reasons: everyone knows who Batman is and I found the cover so interesting. Batman is on the defensive. I didn’t know who Deadshot was, but him being back was obviously big trouble. Ed Hannigan did his job well. Though even at 8, I was confused as to how Batman’s cape could get shot in that pattern and he still have use of legs; ironic given how Deadshot gets captured in the issue.
Inside the story focused on Alfred and his daughter, which blew me away. I didn’t know Alfred has a daughter. I didn’t know they told stories about the characters whose names aren’t on the front of the book. This was my first lesson in character depth and development in comics.
And Deadshot. He scared the heck out of me! Hired killers with amazingly deadly aim were not a thing I’d been exposed to yet. He quickly became a selling point for me. I’d have to wait a few more years to be rewarded with John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad.
To this day I like Batman’s supporting characters, Alfred in particular, more than I like Batman.
I mean come on! Look at that Sienkiewicz cover and tell me you wouldn’t buy it if you saw it on the spinner rack. I think 3rd grade was the year I was Dracula for Halloween, having already developed an obsession with vampires. For me it’s not “put a bird on it” it is “put a vampire in it.”
I didn’t know Dracula was a character in the Marvel Universe, I saw this cover I immediately wanted to know more. I didn’t really know much about anyone in the Marvel Universe outside of Spider-man and His Amazing Friends. And the Firestar mini-series was still a few years off.
Now this book is the middle of a storyline but thanks to Doctor Strange I got a recap of what was going on. And it was easy enough to understand that Dracula had Thor’s girlfriend enthralled. I enjoyed that this incarnation of Dracula had all the cool powers of transmogrification, turning into a bat, mist and rats at different points in his battle with Thor.
This was also my first introduction to Sif and I while I wasn’t clear on her backstory or powers, I was certainly curious to know more the Asgardian goddess. I loved mythology, and just like with Wonder Woman, having it as the basis for these characters was a huge selling point. I also had no idea there was all this cool mysticism covered in comics and dove headlong into a Doctor Strange fandom that has yet to abate.
So I guess we could say one snowy trip to a newstand 34 years ago can be traced back as the secret origin of PopcultureSquad.com!