Over on the John Byrne Forum, they have a set of 12 questions for posters to answer. The questions offer a chance to think back to those hazy, crazy first days of comics reading, when everything was new and memorable.

For this group, thinking back that far may take some fog-cutting lamps and heavy machetes to cut through the underbrush. I found some of the questions pretty easy to answer immediately, and others I had to think about and say, "It must've been..."

No doubt, some of the answers might change tomorrow if I have a change of mood, or I think of another example (or someone posts one I forgot).

In any event, I thought it was a fun exercise. Here are the questions you can cut and paste:

1. What was the first comic book you remember reading?

2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month?

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you?

4. Who was the first villain to give you the creeps or scare you?

5. What was the first story to have a big emotional impact on you?

6. What was the first action scene to really impress you, make you go "Wow!"?

7. Who was the first artist whose style you learned to recognize immediately?

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most?

9. What title's debut excited you the most?

10. What was the line-up the first time you saw the Avengers? 

11. Who was the first character whose "death" upset you?  (Yes, I've put death in quotes; you aren't responsible if the person didn't actually end up dying.)

12. What was the first back issue you went hunting for? 

In some ways, the questions that were selected are interesting in themselves. Are there others that would be fun to answer? 

If you need some prompts, there's the GCD (www.comics.org) and Mike's Newsstand (http://www.dcindexes.com/timemachine/index.php?site=)

My answers are below. See what you come up with!

-- MSA

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Kirk: The origin of Alpha Flight was based upon what the "suits" at Marvel wanted to publish, cause they felt they had a market in Canada that was going untapped. John Byrne has said that he hated doing the series,

That’s why I was surprised the debut really excited you. I can see that the series, as it progressed, proved interesting and you could enjoy it, but I’m not sure your explanation addresses why you were looking forward to this or were excited by its debut. 

It’s the title’s concept or the characters that have us looking forward to a series, and this didn’t seem to have that. It’s probably surprising it lasted as long as it did, given all the strikes against it. It’s probably a tribute to Byrne’s star power that he could bring it off while still not enjoying doing it.

Then I searched wikipedia for Composite Superman and got the low down. Very impressive.

 For as well remembered as he is, he really didn't get much exposure. It's really surprising they didn't turn him into a more recurring arch foe or bring him back against other heroes--even the JLA. I think they really missed a bet by using him a couple times in WF and then dropping him.

Richard 1. What was the first comic book you remember reading? One of the Barks Ducks books. Not sure which one.

I still say that if you don’t remember which one, it's not the first you remember reading. A lot of us had that experience of reading “comic books” before we read a Comic Book.

2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month? Justice League, beginning with Brave and Bold 28

Now that’s hard-core! Did you see the house ads for it in advance? I was too young to know they existed that early, so my first issue was #11 (and I later found a coverless copy of #10), but I’ve seen plenty of those ads for B&B #28 in comics since then. That was probably a pretty exciting concept to kids at the time. I know Roy Thomas liked it…

3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you? Spider-Man. So much of his life (except the scientific genius and spider-bite) was very like mine.

Cool! You drove a motorcycle, had a part-time job at the local newspaper and had two gorgeous girls competing for your time and affection? We really had to look past John Romita’s concept of hard luck to appreciate Spidey by the late 1960s. Stan once said he kept telling Romita to stop drawing Gwen and MJ so beautiful, and Romita said, “I can’t!”

the witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs scared the hell out of me.

I felt that way about Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. That shape-changing, fire-blasting stuff was pretty scary. I even had a Prince Philip (plastic) sword and shield, just in case she showed up some night. Today, I've got the Barbie figure (oh yes) and her t-shirt from Disney World. She's probably my favorite villain of all time, since she was my first--I must've been five when I saw that. Disney could scare the hell out of five-year-olds.

8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most? The original Doom Patrol.

I wasn’t saddened so much, as they didn’t appeal to me that much (although I bought all their issues), but I was astonished that they actually killed them all in the final issue—especially since I didn’t realize it was the final issue. That kind of shock doesn’t happen any more.

-- MSA

1) An issue of Little Archie where the gang is playing in the yard and a helicopter crashes into their tree. After saving the pilot the use the helicopter as a tree house.

2) Fantastic Four. I started following it just after Ben lost his powers because he stayed too close to the Hulk. I think the title of that first story was “Where have all the powers gone”

3) Spiderman. Back in the 1970’s Marvel Team Up really showed him at his best.

4) Dracula in Tomb of Dracula. Since he was the star of the book I always had the feeling he’d win and that was creepy.

5) An issue of Spiderman, it was a Christmas issue where Peter spends the entire story trying –with hints from the Watcher- to re-unite a father and daughter.

6) Can’t really remember, but I think it was seeing the Thing shout “Its clobberin time”.

7) John Buscema.

8) Ms. Marvel. The title was just starting to pick up.

9) I think it was Spiderwoman. It was a book that sort of hovered on the edge between superhero and horror.

10) Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, Captain America, Iron Man, Beast… I started reading just before Wonder Man came back to life for the first time.

11) Jean Gray. I really thought she’d stay dead.

12) The issue of Fantastic Four where Reed has to shut down Franklin’s mind.

Mr. Silver Age said:

 

 For as well remembered as [the Composite Superman] is, he really didn't get much exposure. It's really surprising they didn't turn him into a more recurring arch foe or bring him back against other heroes--even the JLA. I think they really missed a bet by using him a couple times in WF and then dropping him.

I have to respectfully disagree with you here, Mr. S. A.  I think using the Composite Superman any more than the two times he appeared in the Silver Age would have diluted his cache as a genuine sphincter-puckering menace.  More than that and the Galactus Syndrome would have kicked in.

 

You know what I mean.  The first time Galactus appeared, he had the Fantastic Four shaking down to the soles of their black booties.  It was only through the Watcher's intervention and a genuine sweat-pumps-on-line tactic by Mr. Fantastic that enabled the Earth to survive the experience.  The F.F. knew they had gotten lucky.  Real lucky.

 

Then, Galactus appears, again.  And the F.F. manage to stave him off a second time.  O.K., we'll buy that; it was a good enough plot to do so.

 

But when the Big G kept returning and kept getting beaten away, then you have to start wondering just how all-powerful a threat is he, really?  At the least, there's no longer that spine-freezing sense of "oh %$#@# we're screwed!" whenever he pops up.

 

By contrast, the Composite Superman showed up only twice (in the Silver Age), and neither time did Superman and Batman actually beat him; rather, they simply managed to keep from getting killed by him.  This maintained the C.S.'s cachet as a truly foreboding threat.

 

No doubt Our Two Favorite Heroes felt a chill down their spines whenever they got reminded of him.

More than that and the Galactus Syndrome would have kicked in.

Yeah, we'll have to disagree on that one. I don't put Joe Meach anywhere near the power level of Galactus. I agree it's a problem when the Big G keeps showing up and is stymied, if not beaten. That's something you get away with once, but if it happens frequently, he's not that all that.

It's the Gold Kryptonite problem; it's a nice threat, but it's such a nuclear option we knew it would never actually be used. Now, if GK took away powers for 24 hours or something, it would have been hugely valuable, both to crooks and to Supes when he needed that option (if only to avoid a Green K or identity problem), although it would've created other fun challenges. But I digress.

I think creative writers could've used that vast array of powers in a lot of interesting ways that were completely untouched in his two appearances. And seeing a guy with the Legion's powers take on the JLA would have been a cool approximation of the real thing--and even better, we wouldn't have had the de rigeur WW vs. Duo Damsel fight to deal with.

The JLA faced Dr. Destiny multiple times, and all he could do is impersonate them; they fought Amazo, who had their own powers, three times and he fought Superman another time. I consider CS closer in comparison to him than to Galactus.

I think Amazo could've destroyed the world with his powers; I'm not sure CS could have. But he was scary. It doesn't help to have cachet if he never got to use it.

Plus, how could they restrain themselves from using a guy with that cool costume? It boggles my mind.

-- MSA

It's always sort of bothered me that supervillain power levels seem to go up and down according to the needs of the story.

What other way is there to do a story?


"Oh dear, here comes Galactus... quick, call in the Avengers..."

"Oh God, we can't stop him, he's overwhelming us...  HE'S EATING THE PLANET....Look out!"

End of book, end of series. End of heroes...end of writer's asignment.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

It's always sort of bothered me that supervillain power levels seem to go up and down according to the needs of the story.

Mr. Silver Age said:
Composite Superman:
For as well remembered as he is, he really didn't get much exposure. It's really surprising they didn't turn him into a more recurring arch foe or bring him back against other heroes--even the JLA. I think they really missed a bet by using him a couple times in WF and then dropping him.


Maybe he was even harder to write than Superman, being so overwhelmingly powerful.


2. What was the first series you tried to follow every month? Justice League, beginning with Brave and Bold 28
Now that’s hard-core! Did you see the house ads for it in advance? I was too young to know they existed that early, so my first issue was #11 (and I later found a coverless copy of #10), but I’ve seen plenty of those ads for B&B #28 in comics since then. That was probably a pretty exciting concept to kids at the time. I know Roy Thomas liked it…


Actually, I just saw it on the shelf in the drug store. I know the cover was in full view. I recognized Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter from Adventure and Detective. I knew Wonder Woman by sight, though I hadn't read her comics. The intriguing thing in addition to their teaming up was the two strangers to me (Flash and GL). After jumping on the nascent JLA bandwagon I started buying Flash and GL and soon stopped getting the Superman and Batman titles. I didn’t return to Batman or Superman until Schwartz took them over.


3. Who was the first hero to really inspire you? Spider-Man. So much of his life (except the scientific genius and spider-bite) was very like mine.
Cool! You drove a motorcycle, had a part-time job at the local newspaper and had two gorgeous girls competing for your time and affection? We really had to look past John Romita’s concept of hard luck to appreciate Spidey by the late 1960s. Stan once said he kept telling Romita to stop drawing Gwen and MJ so beautiful, and Romita said, “I can’t!”


Cute! I actually meant the Ditko version.


the witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs scared the hell out of me.
I felt that way about Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. That shape-changing, fire-blasting stuff was pretty scary. I even had a Prince Philip (plastic) sword and shield, just in case she showed up some night. Today, I've got the Barbie figure (oh yes) and her t-shirt from Disney World. She's probably my favorite villain of all time, since she was my first--I must've been five when I saw that. Disney could scare the hell out of five-year-olds.


The female co-owner of my local comics store is very much into the Disney villainesses. I think she has figurines of all of them.


8. What title's cancellation saddened you the most? The original Doom Patrol.
I wasn’t saddened so much, as they didn’t appeal to me that much (although I bought all their issues), but I was astonished that they actually killed them all in the final issue—especially since I didn’t realize it was the final issue. That kind of shock doesn’t happen any more.


The stories were better before they included Mento and Beast Boy, but the complete run is in my very selective DC Archives collection.

  Oh I can understand the reason for it, but it's a bit like the guard being dumb and letting someone escape because the story needs too.  Good example is Crusher Creel, the Absorbing man.  I have a cover where he battled the Avengers and it took all of them to take him on, yet later on Ms. Marvel and Captain America handle him casually.  The writers always seem to want to top each other.  It's like Ok, you have a straight?  I have four aces?  You have four aces?  I have Five aces!  After a point the ace is nothing special anymore.

Kirk G said:

What other way is there to do a story?
"Oh dear, here comes Galactus... quick, call in the Avengers..."

"Oh God, we can't stop him, he's overwhelming us...  HE'S EATING THE PLANET....Look out!"

End of book, end of series. End of heroes...end of writer's asignment.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

It's always sort of bothered me that supervillain power levels seem to go up and down according to the needs of the story.

Alright to give a better answer to Question #1, I knew it had to be a Superman comic from '78 and I found it. Issue #329. I instantly recognized the cover.

ATLAS-SEABOARD: Was I excited about the Atlas-Seaboard line after it came out? Absolutely I was! (I was only, like, 10 or 11 at the time.) In fact, I didn’t know anything about it at all until I saw all those new #1s on the spinner rack at Ahmann’s Newsstand. I was a big fan of Marvel Comics, but I knew there was no way I’d ever be able 15 years of back issues. But here was my chance to get in on the ground floor of the next Marvel Comics. I can still tap into that excitement and I still look at those comics from time to time.

E-MAN: I should have mentioned E-Man, too. I was equally excited to find that “new #1,” but the next issue I found was #4, and I didn’t complete the collection until I was in college. I re-read them all not too long ago and y’know what? They still hold up…especially the original Charlton run.

DC REVISITED: The first DC comics I remember owning were Detective Comics #381 and #388.

MORT DRUCKER: Far from “wildly improbable,” one was released late last year: http://www.walmart.com/ip/20529449?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=222222...

ATLAS-SEABOARD: My experience was different from yours, Jeff. I had heard about this new line but never saw them on any of the spinner racks in my neighborhood. Much later I picked up some from the quarter-bin and quickly realized why they failed.

E-MAN: Again, I never saw the Charlton book until I bought some at a comic shop. I knew about the character and even met Nick Cuti once when he gave a lecture on writing for comics at my library. But it was First Comics' E-Man that I remember most.

DC REVISITED: I forgot to mention that my first Marvel comic was MARVEL TEAM-UP #7 (Ma'73).

 

As for the Composite Superman, I wrote about him here.

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