My First Comic Book: Marvel Tales #158

When my sister and I had both left my parents' house to go to college, our individual comic collections morphed into one larger one that stayed at my parents' house for many years. I eventually got the entire collection and was recently separating things back out between our respective collections when I came upon a comic I hadn't seen in years. 

This was Marvel Tales #158 from December 1983 and this is, I'm pretty sure, the first comic book I ever owned.

Around the time it was published I would have been three-and-a-half years old and my Mom would have been soon expecting the birth of my sister. As she has told me, she and I would take a walk up to the small local convenience store when it wasn't too cold out to pick up milk, groceries, etc. and as would become the ritual, she would buy me a comic book. 

Marvel Tales was one of my favorite titles of the 1980's as it was used as an opportunity to republish Marvel's best issues from its early days and Marvel Tales #158 is a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #20 which was the first appearance of the Scorpion. 

As you can see, this comic has been LOVED! I can't tell you how many times I've flipped through these pages and here are a few bits and pieces from the issue that I remember (and maybe a few I'm trying to forget!). 

The Scorpion's origin story is that he gains his powers through volunteering for a medical experiment that goes horribly wrong. After the Scorpion turns to a life of crime, the scientist who was responsible for his creation, Dr. Farley Stillwell, tries to stop him. He ends up falling to his death in the process and that middle image of the panel that features him falling off the side of the building really stuck with me as a kid.  

I really like this Dr. Strange subscription advertisement which allowed you to get a year's worth of comics for only $6.50. 

The issue also included a full page Marvel Masterwork Pin-Up of the Ol' Webhead drawn by Steve Ditko.

While I love the Spider-Man story of this issue, the thing that had the biggest impact of me was an advertisement for a role playing game called Star Frontiers which was put out by TSR Hobbies, creators and publishers of Dungeons and Dragons.

Here's the advertisement:

As I kid, I thought the ad was showing an alien forcing the Star Frontiers game onto an old man who I assumed was the toy and hobby shop owner. Now I realize the alien has a calling to buy the game for him/herself, rather than trying to spread the word about Star Frontiers. 

But it is the man's face that has always stuck with me.

What must the alien look like to result in such an expression? 

It is odd the things that really freak you out as a kid. Another odd thing that terrified me (that was also alien related...I think I am starting to see a pattern here) was this Sesame Street skit with a ringing telephone. Watching it again now, it seems completely harmless and a little funny but I would hate seeing it as a kid...and I've never liked answering telephones since!


defgav said…
Neat stuff. I keep meaning to bust out my old comics one of these days and take a look through them.

As far as aliens freaking you out as a kid, I remember once they showed us a UFO documentary in afterschool daycare, and man.. that screwed me up for like a year or two.. pulling the sheets up over my head. Silly to think about now.
Anonymous said…
Just like I enjoy looking at old yearbooks and scorecards, I enjoy looking at old comics... and in all of these, the ads are half the fun. As a kid, I would pore over the entire issue from front to back, including the letter column and the ads. There are two current comics I read, and now I don't even look at the ads and just barely glance at the lettercol.