Death of Superman

Becoming a Fan of Comic Books in the ’90s

Ever since I was young, I’ve enjoyed comic books.  Although I’ve never been a hardcore comics buyer or reader, I have dabbled in them from time to time, and my collection has expanded and retracted a lot through the years.

In the beginning, my older brother had a large collection of comic books that were kept under a table on our carport in the house I grew up in.  During the summer months, I would pull out random issues and read through them.  In his large pile of comics, there were superhero comics like Justice League America, Superfriends, Unknown Soldier, Sgt. Rock, Fantastic Four, Batman, and Incredible Hulk. There were the more kid-friendly books too like Richie Rich and Uncle Scrooge comics. And then there was also a nice little selection of Cracked and Mad Magazines to enjoy as well.

Rainy days were whiled away kicked back on a sofa we had on the carport, watching and listening to it rain and reading issue after issue.  Since they were kept in the carport, they ended up drawing moisture, and thus any monetary value they had vanished.  But that didn’t matter to me.  What mattered was the content inside.

We eventually let my Uncle come and take them all away when we were moving to a new house.  I never saw any of those old issues again, and when we arrived at the new house, I no longer had any comic books to read.

Eventually, I was turned on to the joys of reading Archie Comics.  During the summers, the family would travel with my old man on his business trips, and on one trip somewhere, my mom picked up an Archie Comics digest to kill time while riding.  Once she was done with it, she passed it back and I settled into the back seat and blew through the whole thing and loved it.

The characters of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie populated a fun world that was filled with great supporting characters like Moose, Midge, Dilton, Josie, Big Ethel, and others.  I soon found myself spending allowance money on new issues of the Digests and Double Digests of the Archie world, but it wasn’t long before a superhero comic once again caught my eye.

While at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store on a weekly shopping trip with Mom, an issue of Green Lantern caught my eye.  Now there was nothing really grabbing about this book, but the local grocery store was never known for its variety of comic books on the rack. In most cases, there were usually only 4 or 5 titles to choose from each week. I had been a fan of Green Lantern since the Superfriends cartoons, so I picked up this issue of Emerald Dawn #5.  Unfortunately, I had no point of reference to the story since I picked up the 5th issue from a 6-issue mini-series.

Even though I had no clue what was going on in the story, I went back and picked up the 6th issue the following month.  To this day, I’m a fan of Green Lantern and have picked up a lot of GL comics through the years when I’ve been back on the collecting wagon or was intrigued by different storylines. But again, nothing about this particular story or issue begged me to buy it. It was just there among the few other titles available, and it was the best pick of the bunch I guess.

I didn’t really pick up many more comics from that point on for a while. FOr a long time, I had spent my weekly allowance on wrestling magazines, and I went back to ready those. That is unntil the hype surrounding the Death of Superman storyline came out.

The Death of Superman was one of the biggest storyline events in the history of comic books.  The hype surrounding it was unreal, and thus, the first print copies of Superman #75 sold out in record time.  My brother had an interest in picking up the issue as a collector’s issue, and I had an interest in reading it.

Wax Pack Flashback | Watch me open an old pack of Doomsday: Death of Superman trading cards!

He took me to a local comic book and card store to pick up a copy, but they were already sold out.  The dealer told us he would be getting more copies in and we should keep checking back.  We went back every few days to see if he had gotten any in.  My brother kept getting disappointed, but I just kept seeing more and more cool comics to pick up that I hadn’t seen before.

While he nor I was able to get a copy of Superman #75, I did get a chance to read a copy at school. I was hooked. Then I started actively seeking out the follow-up issues that DC Comics labeled collectively as “Funeral For a Friend”, and the follow-up to that, “Reign of the Supermen”. I wasn’t picking those issues up from a collector’s perspective, but rather I was really into the story. I eventually continued on with the Superman family of books beyond the whole saga for quite a while and really enjoyed being immersed in the world of all things Metropolis through the various titles.

Before the whole Death of Superman saga was complete, it was Batman’s turn to be put through the wringer, as the Knighfall storyline was starting up. You remember the story right? When Batman got his back broken, someone else had to take over, and when Bruce Wayne was eventually healthy enough again he returned and had to reclaim the mantle of Batman. It was another huge storyline, and another one I was all in on. Between this and the Superman storyline, I was a comic book fiend.

Another contributing factor to my fandom at the time was a title I saw while visiting that little comic and card shop trying to get a copy of Superman #75. That title was Wizard Magazine.

The issue that was out at that time was #17.  There was really nothing special about the issue, but I was hooked on the contents of this magazine from the beginning.  I could see all of the comics that were currently on the market and the ones set to come out. I could read details on various comic events, and also learn the histories of various characters and stories through the years. It was also where I first learned about Valiant Comics and Image comics. Neither of which I ever picked up issues from, but it was fun to keep up with the goings-on in the offerings from those companies. From then on, I picked up every new issue and would read it from cover to cover within a week of getting it.

I was turned on to several characters and storylines that I liked, and my friend Geoffrey and I would get on the phone and discuss the cool-looking issues that were coming out, and just talk about comic books in general that we were learning about from reading Wizard every month.

This seems like a good time for a little sidebar in here. If you were a fan of Wizard magazine back in the day, or just comic books in the ’90s in general, you owe it to yourself to check out the podcast, Wizards: The Podcast Guide to Comics. It’s hosted by my good friend Adam and is part of The Retro Network’s universe of nostalgia-themed podcasts. In each episode, Adam and his co-hosts go through an issue of Wizard magazine and talk about everything between its covers. There’s tons of great discussion on comic books of that era, the regular features found each month in the magazine. In addition to that, Adam also does special issues where he interviews various writers and editors that worked on the magazine through the years. You can even hear me on a special episode discussing the Death of Superman storyline!

Now back to the story…that little old comic book shop went out of business at the tail end of the speculator market, but I had the opportunity to pick up a good many books there, some of which I still have in my collection.  I’ve never stopped reading comics since picking them up all those years ago.  I still read the occasional Superman title, but Batman took over the spot as my favorite years ago.  Today, I like to go back to that era and read these issues over again, and also finally check out books I missed back then through the DC Universe Infinite and Marvel Universe apps.

So that’s how fell into comic books, and why now I’m a huge fan of superheroes in all mediums.  But what about you?  Do you enjoy comics?  If so, how did you get into them?  What was the first comic you read?  Tell me about it in the comments section below and we’ll reminisce together.

2 thoughts on “Becoming a Fan of Comic Books in the ’90s

  1. I first got into comics back in the ’80s. First it was Transformers, then when I heard Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was based on a comic, I started looking and came across Archie’s TMNT Adventures. Then Sonic the Hedgehog, and Knights of the Dinner Table.

    I did get to check out some DC stuff through a friend of mine who collected, but those were my main books for a while, but I started checking out other stuff more when my dad got into collecting in the late ’90s and we’d go out to this comic book shop as a bit of a weekly ritual. Ultimate Spider-Man, Batman Adventures, and it kind of grew out from there, especially when I was working at a book store with a comic rack for a short time.

    And I’m still reading lots of Transformers, Sonic, and TMNT, too. =)

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