Saturday, November 15, 2014

"It Is An Omen! I Shall Become--A COLLECTOR!"

Bryan W. Frazier Everyone has that one comic book--the one that turned them from a casual reader into a collector. Mine was Batman #311. Oh, I'd been reading comic books since 1974, but it was always just whatever caught my eye on the spinner rack. But, Batman #311 was different. "Dr. Phosphorus Is Back!!" The cover looked great , Batman shielding special guest star Batgirl from a burning "Skeleton Man!" I had to read this book! So, I paid my 40 cents and I couldn't wait to get home and read the book! I was not disappointed.

The artwork was clear, and yet moody all at the same time. Batman meets Commissioner Gordon on a foggy night. Batman's sudden appearance from the mist so unnerves a police officer, that he takes a shot at the Batman! Fortunately, Commissioner Gordon hits the rookie's hand, causing the shot to miss the Batman. "Officer --, What the Hell?!?!" It was the first time I'd ever seen the word "Hell" in a comic book. I read about Batman's first attempt to bring Dr. Phosphorus to justice when he attacked his former boss, (and the man who was responsible for making him Dr. Phosphorus in the first place--Rupert Thorne) I didn't know at the time of writer Steve Englehart's previous run on Detective Comics. Nor did I realize that this was a new story by Englehart. I just knew that I loved the book. The comic even had Batgirl (whom I knew from the 1966 Batman TV show) , who helped battle Dr. Phosphorus with Batman's own specially treated cape! I became a life long Batman fan thanks to that issue.

I still remember re-reading that comic book on my front porch one day. I was struck by a sudden realization. I already had a few issues in the Batman 300s (#'s 301, 303, and 307-311), what if I went back, filled in the gaps in my collection, and kept buying Batman every month? I could get an unbroken string of issues going all the way to Batman #400! And so, with that, I made sure to grab the newest issue of Batman every month from then onward. I bought (and enjoyed!) Batman month after month from elementary school, through junior high, and on into high school. I still remember the day I picked Batman #400 off of the stands at the Rock Bottom bookstore. I was ecstatic! I was collecting almost everything DC, Marvel, and just about everybody else was putting out by then. I might have started off as a reader but, it was Batman # 311 that made me a collector!


Anonymous said...

I agree, my first "turned me into a collector" comic was STAR WARS #1 (Marvel 1977). That led to ROM, Dazzler, Further Adventures of Indiana Jones and into the main Marvel Universe. I've never been the same since.

Bryan W. Frazier said...

That is the best way for it to happen !! That way , every new book , character , or story is an awesome discovery !!