Today is Comic Book Day. This is the one day of the year you can have a legitimate reason for arguing the finer points of why Batman could beat Captain America. We at Fandom definitely love our comic books. To celebrate this event, we recall the first comics that we each remember loving.
Calvin and Hobbes
When I was a little boy my grandma called me over to show me a comic strip. It showed a little messy-haired blond kid ranting about how unfair his bedtime was. But then he passed out dead asleep in the punchline. “This is you”, Grandma said to me. I think she meant it just to tease but I took it a bit too literally. Even as an adult, my primary philosophical influence is still a bratty six-year-old and his stuffed tiger best friend.
Calvin and Hobbes is widely thought of as one of – if not the – greatest comic strips of all time. The strip was darkly humorous and subversive to a grammar school world. It was beautifully drawn, with Watterson going all out for Sunday strips. It was also a bold series of stories that covered ranges from death, morality, and environmentalism.
Teachers had to tear the books out of my hands during the more boring parts of grammar school. Watterson – through the pair – tells you clearly not to trust what you hear on TV. These are important lessons for children to learn: cynicism is an essential survival skill in the modern world. Question everything. [Eric Fuchs]
Raised on monster movies as a product of the 1970’s no creature stood taller than Godzilla. So, when the rickety comic book turnstile at the local grocery store displayed this first issue of a Godzilla comic in 1977 my five-year-old mind was blown. To see new stories written for an American audience about Godzilla was the right thing at the right time.
Merchandising was finally starting to seep into the culture and the onslaught of new monsters for the giant lizard to fight opened so many doors. It was a special time for comics and then when a certain space opera hit the screens everything changed. [Nick Nunziata]
Superman: Man of Steel Annual #2
Bloodlines: “Cutting Edge!”
Bloodlines was the New 52 when DC wanted to be hip in the 90s. The majority of the comics released under this banner were meant to introduce brand new superheroes alongside well-established brands. I’ve read and own a few of the Bloodlines Annuals, but the only one that stands out as a perfect one shot that I can revisit anytime is the Superman: The Man of Steel featuring Edge.
During the time that John Henry Irons was filling in for Supes while the big blue was six feet under, the world was being invaded by a race of parasitic xenomorph wannabes. An alien pod crash lands outside Metropolis, kills a biker gang and morphs into humanoid form. When one of the creatures attempts to kill a friend of John Henry, a razor-sharp cenobite knockoff is born.
This is a gritty 90s comic that takes all of the R-rated elements of the time and makes soup. Edge is a decent character with a fairly cool superpower. His ability to sprout bladed shards out of his skin and fire them at enemies is effective, but honestly the whole appeal of this story for me is seeing one of the best superheroes in DC fighting giant aliens. Maybe Bloodlines should make a comeback. [Andrew Hawkins]
Starting off small, the first comic I remember loving was Top Cow’s Necromancer. A short series based on the troubled life of a cursed young woman called Abigail Van Alstine or simply ‘Abby’. What was meant to be a fun party joke raised a formerly bound demon to slaughter her family and friends. Abby was infected with entropic magic and thrust into a world of demons, danger, and death.
Abby would learn to fight demons under the training of the mage Locke, find a secret society hiding in sunny Los Angeles and eventually play a vital role in the Top Cow Rebirth event. The moment that really made me love this series was on the last page. “Love is the key to all magic. Life is love and love is magic.” It’s a simple idea but wonderfully put. Had I not stumbled across this little book in my library one time, I probably would not have become so interested in comics. [Graham Host]
At 13, I was a weird loner kid whose only real social life existed at my local comic book shop. I enjoyed X-Men and some bad manga, but otherwise only read whatever I could find in the dollar bin. The shop’s owner pointed me toward Kabuki, a series about a Japanese secret agent who ends up in a mental institution for damaged agents. The book he handed me, Metamorphosis, featured some of the most gorgeous watercolors I had ever seen.
The series had a unique layout, and the pages felt more like art than anything else I was reading. The story about outcasts spoke to me, and I ended up seeking out even more indie comics. Kabuki made me fall in love with unconventional comics. It inspired me to read whatever I could get my hands on, from more conventional Marvel fare to really weird stuff like Dogwitch, Strangers in Paradise, and Tank Girl. [Danielle Ryan]
The first and only comic I ever loved was Dark Horse’s Aliens. Back when I was a very impressionable little twerp, Kenner tucked mini-comics into the packaging for many of their Aliens action figures. Having fallen in love with the Alien films way before I was ever supposed to see them, I had to get my hands on these action figures. But the little comics inside opened a gateway to something much more substantial.
I’m not sure how I came to own Dark Horse’s Aliens: Newt’s Tale. The two-volume graphic novel is a completist’s companion piece to Aliens. But it was yet another gateway to Dark Horse’s popular Aliens, Predator, and Aliens vs. Predator comics. They, in turn, showed me my favorite monsters as I’d never seen them before: in weird and wonderful stories that still sit on my bookshelves today. [Travis Newton]
Transformers has been in the public consciousness ever since Michael Bay decided to produce more than a whole trilogy of films, and everyone knows that these robots constantly fight and can transform into cars or planes. But the Transformers fandom doesn’t end with the movies, or with the cartoons we all know from the 80’s or the newer ones on Cartoon Network and The Hub.
In 2005, IDW Publishing started to expand the Transformers universe with a number of comic books, culminating in the two parallel ongoing sagas called The Transformers and More than Meets the Eye. While The Transformers stays with its focus on our beloved hero Optimus Prime on Earth and Cybertron, More than Meets the Eye focuses on an expedition with a misfit ragtag up crew led by the hot-headed Rodimus.
The war between the Autobots and the Decepticons over, the Transformers have to learn to live in peace and rebuild their planet. Problems and conflicts of interests still dominate the storyline; politics, immigration, and integration all play a crucial role. [Cyanide]
Jedi: Aayla Secura
I came to comic books by way of Star Wars, and I’ve since become an avid reader of DC Comics. However, the first comic I remember loving was Jedi: Aayla Secura. Back in 2003, Dark Horse owned the rights to publish Star Wars comics, and Marvel hadn’t yet regained the license. Jan Duursema and John Ostrander originally created Jedi Knight Aayla Secura for the Star Wars: Republic monthly series. During the lead-up to Revenge of the Sith, Duursema and Ostrander gave Aayla her very own graphic novel.
Besides having Duursema’s beautiful artwork, Jedi: Aayla Secura provided some compelling commentary on the Jedi Order. Ostrander brought Aayla into conflict with the bounty hunter Aurra Sing, a failed Jedi Padawan. What is the personal cost of being a Jedi, and what does it mean to have no attachments? Jedi: Aayla Secura contains an intriguing set of answers to those questions. [James Akinaka]