Me, I’ve got an extra limitation because I simply couldn’t find the cover for the first comic I really remember buying and I’m also muddy on the details over which one of these two came first. My memory goes a little something like this:
And uh one, and uh two, and uh one, two, three, FOUR! (Sorry, that Scott Pilgrim is really getting to me with it’s sugary rockness).
I remember picking up a Fantastic Four comic during a summer vacation. I think everyone remembers their first comic as either a summer vacation or flea market experience. My theory is that these were generally exciting events in the life of a young person. You were not in school and generally leaving the house for an extended period to stay in a cottage, swim in the ocean and generally do things you imagined yourself doing all throughout the school year. Or you were in a dirt market full of AWESOME stuff like slot car tracks that had big-rig trucks you could buy and boxes of comics.
For me, we were going to my dad’s family cottage for like two weeks. It’s only about a half hour/forty minutes from where I grew up but the trip felt like it took FOOORRRR EEEEVVVVEERRRRRR! (forever) when I was younger. Also my younger sister didn’t travel well in the car. I was generally anxious to go swimming, running or having massive D-day type invasions up the huge rocky half of the beach with my cousins and our G.I. Joes. I kept losing Dusty because of his damned dessert camouflage. Eventually we clued in that we should only bring the bright orange and yellow guys in the water because everyone else sort of blended in too well and made their way to PEI. Or at least we assumed that’s where they went since it was just across the Northumberland Strait.
As per usual, we stopped at the gas station in Cape Pêlé (Cape Bald if you translate it into English or pronounced “cap peh-lay” not “cape paylay”). I rummaged through the slim selection of comics because my parents said I could and dark clouds were rolling in. I gave short thrift to Batman and Superman and was looking for a Spider-man comic only to find none. But there was a Extra-Large Fantastic Four comic with Spider-man on the cover. They were all running up to the edge of New York, it may have even been a pier, to fight back some large War of the Worlds looking machine and an army lead by Namor. I knew value when I saw it, plus Spider-man. We got to the cottage, the rain came down and I studied each panel with utter joy. It was aliens, but they’re machines were all full of water. At least that’s how I remember it. I’m pretty sure it was a Giant-Size special with some other stories in there but I can’t seem to find it anywhere online.
Now, the second comic doesn’t have such an introduction, but it too was bought at a gas station, this time close to my house.
I spent many a day trying to come up with Arcade's next big fun house trap. And I still can't figure out if the X-men are shocked at just how badass Wolverine is, at the fact he shredded the Hulk or that they're all shocked that the Hulk has been a robot all along - duh-duh-DUUUHHhhh!
It was around this time that I was going to my cousin’s house and he was feeding me comics like morphine to a junky. Every time I’d go we’d crack open the long box and I’d rip through stuff. He got me hooked on Excalibur, Wolverine, Moon Knight and Spider-Ham. I remember exactly zero of those stories except for a bit of Excalibur. I remember squat about Moon Knight. But my cousin had a hell of a collection so I got a steady and varied diet of comics.
Me, I remember picking up Fred Hembeck Kills the Marvel Universe because I thought it was pretty funny, an issue of Alf because I was slightly retarded and watched the show, I picked up a Dragon Lance issue where a dude got roasted by a dragon, an Insectoids comic because I got an Insectoids action figure for my birthday and it had a bug side-kick that functioned like a squirt gun so I wanted to read more about them, then my own Wolverine and Excalibur comics. There were various Spider-man, Batman, and X-men comics in there as well, but with my limited allowance I didn’t really budget well for comics.
I remember the first ever trade I bought. Batman: A Death in the Family. I didn’t know it was called a trade, but I remember how obsessively my cousin was collecting these issues and I just couldn’t afford that many comics (of the same comic). So I read like, half the story, then found the trade and I remember being blown away at how ballsy the story was. Killing off an established side-kick, and wondering how Batman would react to the whole process. Would he take a new Robin or go it alone? Later that year I discovered girls and Public Enemy.