Like a lot of comics fans, I’ve loved many titles over the years (current favorites: All-New X-Men, Lazarus, and Revival, among others). However, I can pinpoint the issues that literally changed my life forever: Classic X-Men #33 and Uncanny X-Men #245.
It was the year 1989. I was 14 and possessed by the calm, sure knowledge that someday, somehow, Axl Rose and I would meet and fall in love (I would then join the band on tour as their cook, of course). I was on a trip to Hawaii with my parents and younger brother. But while I was keeping an eye out for Axl, disaster struck: I realized I had read all the Archie comics they had at the convenience store near our rented condo.
This left me with no choice but to grudgingly read the only option immediately available to me: the “boy comics” my brother had picked up, the aforementioned Classic X-Men #33 and Uncanny X-Men #245.
Classic X-Men #33, a reprint of Uncanny X-Men #127, was an action-packed entry into the X-Men. Brief recap: the X-Men are in Scotland, fighting Proteus, a terrifying and powerful enemy who just happens to be the secret mutant son of their ally, Moira MacTaggart. And he kicks their butts, leaving the team shaken to the core, leading Cyclops to instigate a fight with Wolverine and the rest of the team that is visually fun to read and showcases each member’s strengths and personalities.
This was a great way to “meet” the team, and the drama of Moira steeling herself to kill her own son (who eventually took over the body of her estranged, abusive husband!) was intriguing to me. Chris Claremont’s character-focused writing style appealed to a girl who was ready to graduate from Anne of Green Gables. This issue also began my lifelong love of (some might say obsession with) the beautiful and iconic art of John Byrne.
Note: This issue also had a bizarre, gory backup story by Ann Nocenti and John Bolton starring Havok and Polaris that freaked me out: Havok basically imagines them dying horrific deaths over and over, and then rejects life with the X-Men. Because of this, Havok creeped me out for years!
After reading Classic X-Men #33, Uncanny X-Men #245 was totally confusing. To anyone who hasn’t read this gem, titled “Men!”: this was a comedic one-off–a breather after the drama of Inferno–drawn by a young Rob Liefeld, in which inept aliens decide to take over the planet–beginning with Australia, as you do–while the men of the X-Men have a guys’ night out. Oh, and the aliens have a “Jean Bomb” that looks just like Jean Grey, which they claim will “fatally disrupt any and all relationships.” Since I hadn’t yet read the Dark Phoenix Saga or Inferno (something I would quickly remedy) the humor was lost on me.
These two comics lit a fire in me that caused me to seek out my local comic shop for the very first time. I started a box; first with just Uncanny X-Men, later expanding to Excalibur, X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Force. From that moment on, all of my extra funds were funneled into a back-issue collection I still have today. No lip gloss or tapes for me–I was spending my money on cardboard boxes, bags and boards, and comics; family vacations now meant the chance to seek out new comic shops that just might have that back issue I was missing. I was on a quest!
How did this change my life? My love of comics led me to send a submission to Dark Horse Comics, which led to me becoming their very first marketing intern and introduced me to my future husband and father of my children (16 years before we tied the knot). It also resulted in six incredible years in marketing and public relations at Things From Another World, the world’s best online and brick-and-mortar comic book retailer.
So there’s my secret comic book origin: what’s yours? Post about the comic that started it all for you!