Archive for May, 2007

That other comic book store

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

In 1983 we made our first purchases from Mile High Comics. We made our selections from a 32 page,  small typewriter-style font, recycled paper magazine that we’d look forward to every month as much as any single comic.

Back then, DC was king; although the vulnerability of Marvel’s characters was garnering them greater and greater appeal. Monthly issues were 65 cents a piece, with “annuals” costing $1.00 or sometimes $1.25. Most issues contained complete story arcs, and the term “cross-over” was reserved for the DC/Marvel joint ventures featuring Spiderman, the Hulk,Superman, and Wonderwoman or the “New Teen Titans and the X-Men”. When writers and artists hopped between the two companies, readers would folow – and the releases of graphic novels such as “The Death of Captain Marvel” or Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight” were major events.

Our first love was the Green Lantern. We’d bought a few issues at the local 7-11 and joined the series just as Hal Jordan was facing exile from Earth for having put his friends before “the greater good.” At the same time, we found the Flash (Barry Allen, not the former “Kid Flash”) battling the Reverse-Flash in one of those symmetric battles of true equals that left the outcome in doubt.

We subscribed to a variety of titles through Mile High Comics to ensure we’d never miss an issue. Our first bill was for $7.80, but over the next two years that bill would grow to more than $100 a month.

We were drawn to Mile High Comics’ discount back issue offerings. Classic stories of the Metal Men, Green Lantern, the Justice League, and (with the Juggernaut having caught our eye) many Marvel titles, could be had for less than $1.00 each.

When our paper route (how cliche) could no longer cover the cost of our habit, we worked mowing lawns and babysitting to finance our addiction.

Like many readers, we came to find great appeal in the vulnerability of Marvel’s characters… their humanity. Sure, Superman was vulnerable to Kryptonite AND Q-energy (oooh, two weaknesses), but Peter Parker had no money, no respect, bad luck, … the Hulk was a truly tortured soul who the villianous Nightmare ultimately forced Dr. Strange to banish to the dimesional crossroads where met the puffball collective AND encountered the U-Foes and… ha-ha-ha-ha, *snort*, yeah… well… , obviously, we grew to love Marvel just as much if not more than we’d loved DC.

Then came the Secret Wars. Not the 21st century “Secret War” but the Secret Wars mini-series where an omnipotent being called “the Beyonder” apparently stole a Star Trek script and pitted Good vs. Evil in a battle to the death. The Secret Wars were a great read, but they were the beginning of the end for us as Mile High Comic customers.

Mile High Comics had this little box you could check with your monthly order to “include cross-over issues.” It seemed innocent enough: for a measly 65 cents an issue, you got to see those three crucial panels in Captain America or other titles you might not normally subscribe to that referrenced this great storyline.

In all fairness to Mile High Comics, it was Marvel Comics who wrecked a godo thing when they released “Secret Wars 2”.  You pretty much had to click that little box in those pre-internet days to know what was going on with the Beyonder and his visit to Earth. Today you could just read Wikipedia or someone’s blog to catch the bits you might’ve missed, and if it sounded good – you’d pick up the issue. Heck, now a days, you’d know three months before the issue hit the shelves whether you wanted ot buy it or not. But, back then you needed to get that one page of “Power Man and Iron Fist” and those two pages of “Daredevil” and what grew to countless titles JUST IN CASE some vital tidbit was revealed.

We stayed with Mile High Comics throughout Secret Wars 2 and DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (another cross-over riddled series), and even briefly afterward. Quality writing made it easy to become invested in the story lines of those cross-over titles, and we added many of them to our “subscription list. Ultimately the price became too high (literally), and when a family move ended our paper route and temporarily disrupted our other sources of income – we quit, cold turkey.

These days, we overpay at Borders or Barnes & Noble for collections of New Avengers, or Green Lantern. Sometimes we buy back issues on Ebay, but in our absence comic books have become a hot collectors item and the market is now saturated with dozens of Spiderman titles. Charactes have been reinvented, OUR version of history has been rewritten (see “Infinite Crisis”).

We were big fans of Fox Kids’ Spiderman series and DC’s Justice League toons, but even they stray from OUR sense of canon at times.

Today, we rediscovered Mile High Comics – by accident, really. While looking for “Super Girl” action figures for our daughter’s birthday party, we encounted Mile High Comics as a link on another site. It’s not that we never thought to look for Mile High, but we never acted on it until now. And, we’re glad we ultimately did. We smiled at their 1977 catalog page scan, sighed wearily at how old that makes us, and wondered if they’d care to know a “semi-original” customer had rediscovered them today.

We’ve begun to share our comic book collection with our children. Not quite ready to read Secret Wars, Amazing Spiderman #258, or Web of Spiderman #1 on their own, we used Fox’s Spiderman “Venom Saga” DVD to set up the new Spiderman 3 movie. We hand picked some issues of DC Comics Presents and Marvel Team-Up to offer lighthearted, single issue stories. And the interest is definitely there – unfortunately, the product no longer is.

Today’s comics seemed aimed at a much more mature audience. Understandably, but were we more ambitious and better connected we’d love to be involved in creating a more youth friendly version of the comic characters we loved. It’s disappointing that our children cannot buy Green Lantern, Flash, or Spiderman comics and safely enter a world of fantasy the way we once did.

But, perhaps with the rediscovery of Mile High Comics and their back issue stocks we have found a source of the content we seek.

That other first post

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Welcome to that other blog: a source of content about… well… that other stuff.

(Note: this site is not affiliated with nor to be confused with – we don’t know anything about them other than we have same taste in blog names. We’re sure there are very nice people, but just to be clear: they are them, and we are us.)

Why don’t we christen this blog with some references to other sites worth visiting? Yeah, we thought that was a good idea too.

Do you watch Lost on ABC? If you don’t, you’re missing out. But if you do, we suggest making regular visits to DarkUFO’s Lost Mysteries and Jay and Jack’s Lost Podcast. There are spoilers… and it’s tempting to take a look, but you can avoid them if you want to, and even “spoiler free” visits to these sites will enrich your Lost experience.

One of the best reads online we’ve ever had was at the WWWF Grudge Match site. Although the WWWF no longer hosts battles to determine who wins in a “Rock vs. Paper vs. Scissors” battle or “James Bond vs. Indiana Jones”, the archives are still acessible and well worth repeated visits.

Dig deep through the archives of the Book of Ratings to learn which are the best and worst of everything. Read the review of Mc Donald’s Foods and see why Mc Nuggets earn a B+, or why the “Pause” button your remote control gets an A- but “Rewind” only earns a C. Breakfast cereals, superpowers, uses for potatoes, Jelly Belly flavors, stuff in the Airplane catalog, and more. You will definitely bookmark that site.

We say sites like these are what the internet is all about. We’ll be back soon with more thoughts about this and that other stuff.