Comics part 2 – What influenced me as a young boy

In Comics on 28 February, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Apart from the occasional copy of The Beano, I don’t really remember reading many British or American comics until I was about 7 or 8 years old… Until then, I was devouring Asterix and Tintin, reading them again and again.

When Fleetway relaunched Eagle in the late 70s/early 80s, I was hooked. Not on the photo stories that much (although Doomlord was stunning!) rather the New Dan Dare…

At the same time I spotted a couple of other books on the rack, Captain America, Superman and Batman… Captain America had me hooked. I don’t recall the actual issue number, but I remember the story. Rick Jones, Marvel’s perennial fanboy sidekick, has ended up following Captain America, and wants to be the new Bucky (Cap’s old partner, who died at the end of Word War II)… They end up fighting Hydra (a giant international terrorist organisation) in an underground base, hidden in the sewers (where else?) and one of them (might have been both of them – I haven’t read the story in nearly 30 years!!) gets drugged and starts to hallucinate… The artwork is stunning… I actually felt dizzy and mildly nauseous reading it, it was drawn so well, that it conveyed perfectly what was happening to our heroes’ minds… I think the artist was Steranko, but I could be wrong…

From that point I started getting Captain America, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man… whenever they popped-up on the rack…

The other issue, from the American comics, that sticks in my mind is from the Incredible Hulk… At that time, the Hulk (alias Bruce Banner, as I’m sure most people know by now) was wandering around, like a sort of Angry Green Lone Ranger, helping people and fighting monsters. He ends up helping a blind girl, who thanks him. I can’t remember if she was partly cured or if it was just how she read his face with her fingers, but she sees him as a handsome, almost noble version of Bruce Banner, NOT as the beast that he sees himself. He runs away. It really was a moving story, and I wish I still owned it so I could read it again. If anyone reading this article knows which issue I’m talking about, please let me know.

British comics appealed more to me for one simple reason. They were weekly as opposed to monthly! Comics like Battle, Hotspur, Tiger, Eagle and Action, all featured five or six stories per issue, ranging from short two- or three-page stories up to the more regular eight-page stories. Most were serials, continued each week, and ending with a cliffhanger that made you want to pick next week’s issue. They also had very few superheroes (none of which to my memory had special powers, they were just athletic, and had a few Bond-like gimmicks). The super-powered hero was, and mostly still is, a very American type of hero. British comic heroes were more likely to be private investigators, policemen, secret agents, bounty hunters, or soldiers… They seemed more grounded in reality. Even the new Dan Dare with his time-travelling and aliens (he was the grandson of the original Dan Dare) seemed more likely to me than Superman.

I guess that’s why of all the American superheroes, I preferred the non-powered heroes (admittedly most were billionaires, with loads of toys!) like Batman, who had merely(!) improved themselves to Olympian levels of fitness. Or the ones with just one power, like The Flash (able to move extremely fast), The Hulk (Super-strong), Iron Man (a genius who built a flying suit of armour) or The Thing (made of Rock).

[To be continued in part 3]


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