Longbox Archeology is a continuing series of photo essays that feature the unique, rare, and amazing comic book treasures that are excavated from the comic shops, flea markets and yard sales across our great land.
Here in Carbondale, there are two places to go and dig around back issues. One of the places, Castle Perilous, isn’t really a comic shop, but a gaming store that holds Magic the Gathering, D&D and various other table top games and tournaments. They do sell new comics, and have a nice little room to the side that holds all of the back issues. The main comic shop, Campus Comics, has a very impressive back issue collection that I spend hours at a time going through. On this particular day i visited both places, and came home successful and had quenched my nerd thirst.
We will start with the best find first, FF #173 and #175. As a Galactus freak, i would say that any comic with him on the cover is worth owning, but on a FF cover from 1976? Hard to believe they were even in the 75 cent box, already bagged a boarded, the tape on the back so old it was disintegrating and turning into muck. Yep, 75 cents. Superior find.
Here is a nice trio of hulk comics that not only span 3 different eras for the comic and character, but hold 3 different levels of satisfaction for me now that i possess them. The earliest one, Hulk #272 from 1982, has an incredible cover design that shows off the different sizes of the characters, Hulk, Wendigo and Sasquatch. My friend in Jr. high owned this and it was always an object of envy, until now. The second one, Hulk #327 from 1987, was also a very sought out issue for myself. I had been collecting Hulk for a few years and never missed an issue, until one fateful month this issue wasn’t shipped to the grocery store by my house, the only place in my small town that had comics. For years I anguished over this. Now, as an adult, I have filled in that missing hole and I finally know how Thunderbolt Ross was manipulated into becoming Zzzax. I can die happy now. The third issue, Hulk #350 from 1988, came out about 2 months after I lost interest in comics as a kid and stopped collecting. At age 14 I was ready to move on to bigger and better things, like Boone’s Farm and talking about who finger-banged who in the back of the bus. I remember seeing it on the rack in the grocery store and thinking “I wonder why the Hulk is fighting the Thing and Dr. Doom this month ?” The thought left my mind quickly as I rode off on my mountain bike to go buy the new Poison album.
Somewhere along the line someone thought it would be cool to have a mutant witch and an and an android fall in love and get married. This 12 issue limited series was telling the story of their exit from being superheros and their honeymoon. Of course, shenanigans happened like they always do. I had 3 of the 12 issues as a kid, and as somewhat of a completest, i will always pick up the missing issues if I see them cheap (these were 75 cents). In the conclusion of this series it is discovered that Vision, the android, has gotten the witch preggers. They had twins, but years later John Byrne thought this was stupid and rewrote the whole thing, saying that the children were created subconsciously by the Scarlet Witch’s deranged mind.
Aaaaahhh comics. In the end, the Vision, one of the patron saints here at Laughing Android, was very sad his synthetic boys didn’t swim after all.
This was one of the most odd, unique and surprising finds of the day. In 1982 Marvel and DC decided to put their differences on hold and go for a cash grab together. I remember seeing this advertised as a kid and thinking…hmmm…that looks kind of cool I guess, and then never thinking about it again. The Walt Simonson art is beautiful, and though I have yet to read this, I’m sure the long time X-Men writer Chris Claremont came up with some plausible and interesting explanation why this needed to exist. Something to take note of…this is right before wolverine exploded in popularity and was every comic book fan’s new favorite character. Notice how Wolverine is basically hidden on the back cover, his image very small, following everyone else is some half-assed trot, and “I Like short shorts” ROBIN is featured on the front cover in a full blown sprint. This would never happen today. EVER.
Finally, here are the last 2 gems of the day. Let’s start with Daredevil #163 from 1980 first. this is a pretty iconic cover, and the copy is in excellent shape, so I shelled out 5 bucks for this. The story is great as well, this is during the early stages of Frank Miller’s legendary run on the character (before he went totally insane). At this stage in the run he hadn’t really hit his stride yet with the Electra/Bullseye arc, so most of these early issues were one and done stories, like this one. Basically, Daredevil and Hulk fight the whole issue while the Hulk tries to tell his opponent that he just wants to be left alone. Of course, Daredevil is too blind to see that. (Get it? Too Blind? OK let’s move on).
The Iron-Man issue, #178 from 1984, is during the famous “Demon in a Bottle” storyline where tony Stark lets his alcoholism get the best of him, and gives up being Iron-Man. there have always been rumors that they would adapt this storyline into a script for one of his movies, but we haven’t seen it yet. Maybe too dark for the kids. Anyway, “Iron-Man” isn’t even in this issue, Just a hungover Tony Stark laying around in a New York gutter, wearing a urine soiled, ripped up tuxedo, feeling sorry for himself. Now that’s comic magic at its best. One last thing to note, the New York cops are total dicks in this issue. They walk by him in the gutter and say “He makes them sick” and he is “Worthless”. Of course a cop would never do anything like that, I’m sure they were using reverse psychology……or something.
Damn kids, stay away from the Boone’s Farm.
And that concludes this episode of Longbox Archeology. I will always leave you with a piece of good old 70’s and 80’s comic book advertising. Mahallo.