I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.
As I’ve occasionally acknowledged, it took me a bit of time before I plunged into the world of superhero comics. As was my wont at that age, I clung to the kiddie material I loved longer than I probably should have. At different times, I’ve probably retrospectively tagged various comics as my gateway into the supposedly more mature fare populated by the costumed do-gooders of the Marvel Universe, but it’s probably fair to say my most robust initial exposure to the characters came from a somewhat unlikely source: The Mighty Marvel Superheroes Fun Book.
Published by Fireside Books, these were big floppy slab of books, with page after page of relatively easy puzzles themed around the various colorful characters who populated Marvel’s magnificent monthly mags. I was already a sucker for crosswords, mazes, and other mental challenges designed to wear pencils down to nubs. It only made them a little more dynamic when they were themed around super-powered beings soaring through the sky.
“The answer called correct on page 116.”
Some of the puzzles were only tangentially related to the Marvel comics, but others ostensibly required a working knowledge of the four-color adventures that kept spinner racks handsomely stocked. The complete the Nova maze, I only needed to know how mazes worked. Playing fill-in-the-blank with Daily Bugle headlines was a different matter.
There’s no real reason to believe these sorts of exercises would have stirred my interest in the actual comics, but they did. I genuinely wanted to know the particulars of the story that would have gotten Daredevil identified as a killer by a major metropolitan newspaper, for example. There were similar head-scratchers that pulled panels straight from the comics or teased bygone storylines (back when there was a mere fifteen years of history to draw upon).
I know I wasn’t fully, properly connect to the Marvel Universe through these books, but the osmosis of my time lingering over the pages did its job. I wasn’t transformed into a devoted Marvel reader by these books, but, strangely, I can credit these books into priming me for the helpless fandom to come.
The images for this post were found elsewhere and used with gratitude.
Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.