In 1975, I was an 8 year old immigrant child. I had older siblings, one of whom was a comic book fan. We didn’t have a lot of money, though, so the opportunity to acquire and read new comics was rare indeed.
My brother was a great lover of Spider-Man, thus I was able to read the few cast-offs he was able to acquire. But the first so-called “graphic novel” I got my hands on was my brother’s copy of Avengers 147.
Here’s the official summary:
“The Avengers and the Squadron Supreme have been transported to the Squadron’s Earth after a battle at the Brant Corporation in their own reality attracted the attention of the police, leading Roxxon Oil owner Hugh Jones to transport the two warring super-groups there. There the battle resumes in earnest. The Squadron makes the opening salvo and easily defeats the Avengers just as the military and the President of the United States arrives.”
This was my first entry into the world of comic books. I didn’t know who any of the characters were. I didn’t know what the back story was. I didn’t know any of the cultural references.
The first panel opens with trademark Marvel elan:
“Here are the latest boxscores, ladies and gentlemen! Four Avengers, one hairy applicant, and Patsy Walker, who three issues back found the discarded duds of the Cat!…”
And so on.
Now, as an immigrant boy from a foreign culture, with no previous exposure to comics books, this was all quite a mystery. What were “boxscores”? What is a “hairy applicant”? (I would much later learn that this referred to the Beast, who was applying for a job as an Avenger.) And what were “duds”?
That was just the beginning of my confusion.
I re-read that book probably a hundred times. It became my obsession. You need to understand: there was no Internet. I had no reference material. I also had no one in my life I could ask about these mysteries. I had to figure it all out myself.
I would later do a school project on comic book origins, based entirely on what I could glean from this particular book. (Which was not a lot.)