Sunday, April 19, 2009

My First Time

I don't remember the first comic that I read, but I would guess that it was probably an issue of Richie Rich from a stack of Harvey comics my babysitter had when I was about 5 years old. Whatever the case, I do have the first comic I ever owned as a kid, which was this issue of Batman from 1975:

Batman 263, story by Denny O'Neil, art by Ernie Chua and Dick Giordano.

However, the actual comic itself did not look like this; instead, it was missing the cover and the first page, and all the pages were loose (More than likely, it never had a cover while I owned it. I got a lot of my comics that way back then.). At the age of 6, I read the comic so many times that it literally fell apart.

Since then, I've been able to replace the comic with a complete copy, though it took some doing as I did not know the date or the issue number. Luckily, the cover reflects a key scene in the story, so it was easy to figure out once I saw the cover.

In looking at this comic today, it's easy to see why it hooked me right in to comics in general, and Batman in particular.

This scene, from the bottom of page 2, was missing from my original copy, paying a visit on a Gotham mob boss while the boss and his gang eat at "Mama Bell's"--a Gotham restaurant known for having a phone at every table. Batman takes advantage of the restaurant's unique feature:

Even Batman's ring kicks ass. These guys know they're fucked even before they pick up the phone.

This was the opening page of my original copy, and here we see Batman take out the entire gang with a phone.

Clearly, Phone : Dr. K :: car battery : Chris Sims. Also, this page had the added benefit of educating 6-year-old Dr. K on the definition of "gaucho."

In the rest of the story, Batman fights the Riddler, and the villain is pretty consistent with Frank Gorshin's portrayal on the Batman TV series. During occasional interludes in the story, the Riddler accosts pedestrians on the street with riddles. If they get the riddles wrong, he robs them, and if they get them right, he gives them money. But in this scene, a little kid turns the tables on the Riddler:

For the final challenge in the story, the Riddler gets all Alex Trebek up in the place and gives Batman the answer to a riddle, leaving the Caped Crusader to guess the actual riddle. The answer: "A centipede with fallen arches."

The riddle is, of course, "What's worse than a giraffe with a sore throat?" Batman goes on to prove this riddle true by using a giraffe's neck to launch a devastating face kick:

That giraffe looks unimpressed.

Re-reading this story after several years, I've been inspired to go through the Batman comics from this era, and there are some great comics that got me hooked into Batman at a young age. Over the next few weeks, I'll be going through my Batman collection to highlight some of these comics.


Dean said...

I can't help but think that Batman sat up all night downloading ringtones, looking for the perfect one to strike fear into the hearts of criminals.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this - my first comic was Batman too just before this in the era of the 100 page giants (254). This is a welcome walk down memory lane

Anonymous said...

this was also one of the first comics i owned...

macsnafu said...

I got a stack of comics when I was a kid. Mostly Harveys, like Richie Rich and Casper and such. But Batman #249 was in the stack, so that was the first Batman comic I read. I didn't get the comic book bug until a few years later, though, so the first Batman comic I actually bought was Batman #304.