Saturday, January 3, 2015

I Just Sold My Last Box of Comics (for a while), Which Was My First Box of Comics

It's fair to say the comic book in particular that set me on my course of really getting into comics was Uncanny X-Men #210, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Romita Jr.

The issue took place in a period between a big fight with Mutant hunting robot from the future, Nimrod, and issue 211, which would begin the Mutant Massacre saga in the X-books and a few unaffiliated books (Thor and Power Pack, for reasons I do not understand).

Can't tell you how much I miss an era where superheroes smoked
I'll talk a lot more about this in the near future (because, ha ha...  this is The Signal Watch and verbosity is not a problem here), but I released about 2/3rds of my single-issue comics back into the wild in the second half of 2014.

I was not hanging onto this box out of romance or nostalgia.  I planned to sell it on eBay.  Or, rather, Jamie's been selling some of my stuff on eBay, and I was going to sell these issues off in lots of ten, but it just never happened, so...  The good folks at Austin Books and Comics were able to take this off for my hands for in store credit.*

My first great comics love, the book that turned me into a collector, was Claremont's Uncanny X-Men.  And, man, that is not a unique story among comic folk my age who got into the comics game.

I mention the plot of the story where I jumped in because it's 24 pages of X-Men standing around talking, and I don't know that a single punch is thrown all issue.  Rogue goes to the mall and goes shopping for new clothes.  It's one of those "baseball" issues of X-Men you hear about where Claremont takes a break from fisticuffs, let's the characters breathe and remind you that these are supposed to be humans/ characters who are more fleshed out than the lead in, say, Elevator Action (something DC has struggled with for decades at this point).

But it was also an issue where Kitty Pryde (backed up by Colossus) confronts a mob about to perform some serious hate-crimes on Nightcrawler.  I've seen people refer to this scene as hacky in recent years, and I kind of wanted to kick those people in the teeth.  Sure, it's a very Claremontian scene, but I can't remember the last time I saw a writer at the Big 2 show much of a social conscience, in story.

Anyway, point being - even when I was a kid, that really sold me on X-Men.  Even back when I had never kissed a girl and was still mastering a ten-speed, I was already aware that characterization in comics - and the writing itself - was often not of the highest calibre, but I liked seeing the weirdness on the page, so I kept buying them off the rack.

X-Men rang in my head like a tuning fork.  I immediately got into collecting back issues and picked up the subsequent issues, winding up with a run that spanned from about issue 168-350 or so.  But ask me about anything that happened in X-Men that wasn't written by Claremont and I couldn't really tell you.

Owning that many issues of X-Men led to my first longbox purchases, my first obsessive chasing around of comics both new and back-issues, and, inevitably, my first heartbreak with comics.  Once Claremont left, it genuinely felt like Marvel felt like the guy who had their number 1 selling book, a book that had drawn in thousands of readers not just to X-Men but to comics in general, had been doing it wrong all along.  I kept up with the series for a long time, because that's what we comic folk do, even when we're aware the salad days are long since past.

Eventually, I remember some b.s. with Cyclops in some underground cavern with some wizard or something - and this was years after Claremont left X-Men - and I was thinking "what the holy hell does this have to do with the mission of the X-Men as mutants doing good to create a better world where mutants and humans live in peace?"  You know, the metaphor bit that had hooked me when Kitty Pryde faced down an angry mob.  Not with super powers, but with an argument in favor of living together peacefully.  It struck me it had been a long, long, long time since anyone in the X-Offices seemed to remember what the hell the point was to this title.

So, I bailed.

Anyway, today I sold that longbox.  It contained Uncanny X-Men Volume 1, X-Men and a few stray issues of New X-Men.

I also picked up Jimmy Olsen #68 and Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes, because, seriously, if I didn't pick that up, I'd just hate myself.

*and, thusly, I am now the proud owner of a Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon figural bank!


Simon MacDonald said...

Your jump onto the X-Men almost mirrors mine. I think I started collecting it with issue 198 and never missed an issue until well over 300. IIRC the issues leading up to 200 were the trial of Magneto.

The reason Power Pack and Thor were in the Mutant Massacre was Louise Simonson. She was the X-editor at the time and her husband Walt of course was writing Thor and Louise was writing Power Pack. The two of them dreamed up the idea for the summer cross over and pitched it to Chris Claremont. I can confirm this is the case as I'm met both the Simonson's and CC and they owned up to it. It was all about getting more sales for their titles.

The League said...

I remember buying Uncanny 200 as a back-issue. That was an inspired issue and it made for some good character stuff for a long time.

You MET all of those people? Man. I'm not surprised they were trying to catch some of Uncanny's fire, but as someone pretty new to comics, I looked at that chart in the back of the Mutant Massacre issues and was like "uh... I'll read New Mutants, X-Factor and Uncanny. If I read all of these, it'd set me back, like $10, and I am not made out of money, Mr. Stan Lee".

Simon MacDonald said...


Yeah, I was very lucky to meet Walt and Louise at a Comic Geek Speak show in PA one year. I'm not going to lie it was super intimidating to talk to Walt Simonson, I mean he is like a god among comics. They were doing a panel at the CGS show an went in depth on the whole Mutant Massacre deal. Basically, they apologized for the whole company cross over deal as it is there fault.

I really lucked out one time visiting my Dad in Fort Myers. There was a book show and Chris Claremont was there. I showed up and got to talk to his wife Beth for a bit who is a sweetheart. Then I got to talk to Claremont for a long, long time. He was awesome. When he found out I was from Canada he told me a story about the Mounties breaking up a Marvel party in Quebec City. Let's just say they were having a good time.

I feel particularly blessed that I got to meet all of these folks who were such a huge part of my childhood.

The League said...

That's the kind of stuff that makes sticking with comics an amazing ride. In my few experiences, your heroes aren't untouchable celebrities, they're working folks who actually want to talk to you. I confess, I still have nothing to say when I do meet someone (I have learned in recent years), but I still enjoy it.

By the way, you planning to pick up the Walt Simonson "Orion" collection coming out?

Simon MacDonald said...

Yeah, I'd say 85% of the comic professionals I've met have been great to talk to.

Regarding the Orion omnibus, I'm not sure. I guess it depends on how cheap I can get it for. I recently completed a run of all the issues. So it's not like I'm missing any of the story.

Jake Shore said...

I never got got totally hooked on X-Men enough to regularly collect it. I was more of a Spiderman guy. I remember when Claremont left X-Men and remember thinking it was a big deal, but only really appreciated him after the crap that followed.

By the way, you better do a review on Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes.

The League said...

I did pick up the first issue of Star Trek/ Apes, and the second one awaits me at my LCS. No worries there.