Moving when you're a kid is rough. It's even rougher when move during the summer, doubly so if it's hot-ass Arizona. I went from living in a mildly hot climate with plenty of kids my age running around on their giant grassy lawns, to living on the surface of the sun with rock lawns and nary a kid in sight. Needless to say, it wasn't the best summer of my life.
I lucked out, however, and managed to meet the three boys my age that lived in the neighborhood. The kids were great, but very different than what I had been accustomed to growing up in Reno. Instead of loving GI Joe, Baseball, and outdoor adventuring, these kids were into video games, swimming, and most importantly, comics. It was here that the seeds that were planted on that faithful day at the airport came to fruition.
These kids weren't your typical comic nerds, especially for being indoor kids. They had a swagger about them, something that made reading comics the coolest thing in the world, and I wanted to be like them. Still with no good store nearby, and not a lot of extra income (those GI Joes didn't just grow on trees you know), I needed a boost into this new, exciting hobby. The solution presented itself decked out in red and white, reeking of mistletoe.
That year Santa did not disappoint, delivering a small cache of comics for this well-deserving ten year-old, the perfect starter kit. The gem of the collection had to be this:
GI Joe #104, a Snake Eyes solo story following everyone's favorite ninja commando as he lays the smack down on some European country all by himself. I was, on paper, the perfect bridge from my love of GI Joes to this new way to spend my money. Unfortunately, I didn't like it at all.
My version of GI Joe was informed by the cartoon and my own imagination, nothing like what this comic version was. While I appreciated the Snake Eyes action (and that he looked like the figure that I had, something that was rare with the cartoons), everything else was so out of whack I just couldn't get into it. If these books weren't the only comics I had, I surely would have gotten rid of them in a hurry. But alas, at that time, I just needed inventory so I could be cool. Quality be damned.
As a quick aside, I recently gave this issue a second look and it's really not bad. It's no diamond in the rough, but for a full on action issue involving Snake Eyes shooting random dudes in the face while under some kind of ninja trance that turned him into a one-man murder machine it was pretty fucking cool. Also, I was shocked to discover that Snake Eyes is sans mask for half of it, a fact that would have blown my ten year-old mind had I actually sat down to read the thing and not just look at the pictures.
Anyway, my feelings about these books notwithstanding, they did the trick and started me down the path to being a full on comic nerd. Those four GI Joe books quickly became an assortment of Marvel superhero books and my collection was in full swing. After a few months of buying whatever I could get my hands on - and, sigh, whatever I thought would be worth money in the future - I settled into a nice steady habit of X-Force, Amazing Spider-Man and Wizard Magazine, among others. Before you knew it, I had the biggest collection on the block with no signs of slowing down.
For a few years there, everything was peaches and cream with no love lost for this hobby in sight. That is, until The X-Men went off the rails, Spider-Man drowned in clones, and I was set to leave for college.
But the stories from those dark times will have to wait until tomorrow. See you then!