One of the upsides to giving up on being the type of hopeless comic book addict that I am is that even though I don’t particularly care for what is coming out now (and boy is that a phrase I overuse these days) I still have a great deal of affection for the back issues I currently own.  Sometimes people turn their back on the present and want to burn down the past as well but not me.  Not only do I still like the stories that are in the comics I plan to keep but I also dig the memories they produce.  I am one of those people that can watch a film or listen to a song or look at a comic book cover and vividly recall the events surrounding the first or second or even sixteenth time I watched/listened/read the media in question though this is particularly true for comics.  I mean there are time where I just look at a cover and suddenly the Duncan McLeod sensing another immortal sound effect plays and I am suddenly thrown into a  full on, four alarm flashback.

Take this cover for instance.

This was one of the very first comics that I purchased from Mile High Comics.   At the time, circa 1988 or so, Mile High was the biggest mail order comic book service in the country, though I wasn’t aware of that at the time.  I just saw the ads in the comics I read and somehow convinced my Dad to order about ten bucks worth of books for me.  I remember sitting on the family room floor in the house on Promise Lane and opening that box when it finally arrived.  I was probably 11 or 12 years old at the time and this was a big deal.  Inside the box was this issue of Adventures of Superman, which I had not been able to find elsewhere, the three issue adaptation of Transformers the Movie that Marvel published and one or two other books.  I would order comics from Mile High three more times over the course of the next eighteen years or so but there was something really huge about that first time.  It was astounding to me at the time that you could order comic books through the mail.  For a few years after that I would get the Mile High catalogue in the mail, which was a pretty big deal for me as well.  Sure I couldn’t afford the books but man I could dream.

Then there’s this cover.

I bought this book in a shop called Classic Comics (or Comic Classics, it’s a little fuzzy at this point) that was near my Aunt Ginny’s house in Maryland back in my early teens  Finding this issue of Action Comics was rather exciting at the time because it was the last of the Post Crisis issues of Action that I had been looking for.  I bought the book and spent another twenty minutes or so waiting to be picked up.  For some reason I just stared at the new issue rack instead of, you know, reading the book that I just purchased.  I was a weird kid.

And then there is this legendary cover.

You would think that as big of a Superman fan as I am that I would have been first in line when Superman #75 came out in November of 1992 but I wasn’t.  I was busy that weekend with the senior class play, which ate up my Friday and Saturday.  The Sunday of that weekend I was sick as a dog because I barely slept the entire weekend and just wore myself out.  Good times, especially the cast party, but still.  So I was a bit distracted until that Monday when I was  home from school and started worrying that I might not be able to find a copy.  I called the Comic Vault, my shop of choice at the time, and sure enough because I had had a hold box there for nearly two years the whole story was just sitting there waiting for me.  I ended up having to use a little of my lunch money to buy the entire saga but by the end of the evening the Doomsday arc was mine.

Now you would think that this is such a fond memory because the death of Superman was such a big deal and there’s a lot of that sort of thing in there.  The main reason this and in all honesty the covers to the other books that make up the Doomsday arc are s0 memorable is that my Mom was the one that drove me to get them.  For various reasons that I won’t get into here I didn’t have a license at the time despite being sixteen at the time so Mom providing transport was important.  My Mom didn’t take me to buy comics very often after my discovery of the comic book speciality shop.  She would before that momentous day in the fall of 1988 but it wasn’t specifically to buy comics.  Usually she was going shopping, I would tag along and end up going off to the bookstore or newsstand in the Trexlertown Mall because I was bored.  After discovering comic shops either my Dad or one of my sisters would take me, which made it kind of a big deal for Mom to providing transport that night.

So that cover reminds me of Mom.  It is the same way with X-Men Classic #86.

This was one of the very last comics my mother bought for me before she lost her second bout with breast cancer.  It was about two months before she passed and she needed to go to the drug store.  I drove, which was the one and only time I ever drove my mother anywhere.  She complained the entire ride there and back but you won’t ever hear me complain about that fact for obvious reasons.  We went to the CVS and this book was in one of those three packs that drug stores and grocery stores and sometimes even toy stores would carry.  There were two other issues of X-Men Classic in that pack but this was the cover that was facing front when I took it off the peg hook.  I walked over and asked Mom to buy it for me.  I wasn’t absolutely sure at the time but I had a feeling it was close to the end and for some reason even though I was seventeen and buying comics with my own money at that point I wanted my Mom to buy me a comic one last time.

And she did.

So yeah.  Vivid memories just by looking at the covers.

Wow, this is kind of a downer way to end the post today.  I apologize.  I wasn’t even sure this was direction I was going in when I started this post.  Tomorrow I’ll be a little more upbeat I promise.

More to follow…


  1. This is a beautiful memory, Michael. I too share memories of my mother and comic books. She always fostered the act of reading – no matter what delivery method was employed. My earliest memory of comics includes my Mom reading me Spider-Man before afternoon naps.

    She read me quite a few books – whatever we’d pick up at the local 7-11 or pharmacy. I think the very first book was a Kirb Captain America. He was fighting the Red Skull and a blind Cap relied on Sharon Carter to lead. The art was not to my liking and I don’t think Mom liked the story (WW 2 battles with Nazis). But Peter Parker was a whole other story.

    Mom ended up beating Cancer 2x. Once when I was 3 yrs old she had been given 6 months to live.

    She made it to 65 – I was in my early 30s. I still have a longbox from when I was a kid. I’ve moved a few times under less than ideal circumstances, but those books remain. More important, the memories.

    I will never fully heal from her passing. It had a profound impact on me and memories sneak up when I least expect them.

    The Good thing is that many of them are very nice memories. The sentiment still retains a bittersweet tinge, but I take solace in knowing our feelings were always vocalized. There was nothing left unsaid. No ‘I wonders.’

    It’s never enough time. There’s never an acceptable ‘well, she lived to be X, so she had a good run.’

    I do know one thing. Comics and memories of Mom will always stay with me. And when I see her again, I’m going to have a heck of a time catching her up on Peter Parker ‘s latest adventures. I think I’ll leave out that whole Mephisto thing.

    Take care,

    Mike McLarty

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