Infection

OK… I’m old school when it comes to (DC) comic books. I was born in 1961. Comic books were on the periphery of my life for my earliest years. I would occasionally run across a comic book at a friend’s house, in the barber shop, doctor’s waiting rooms, etc. I would read them and enjoy them but they never were an important part of my life at those ages.

I did enjoy super-hero cartoons, movies and television shows. Since I was born in ’61, I was too late to have caught “The Adventures of Superman” on TV when it aired originally, but luckily there reruns available at various times on one of the local stations (WDRB in Louisville, KY). I always enjoyed super-heroes and especially Superman. Comic books were only a side item until one fateful day.

I don’t know exactly what day it was or the month, but it was most likely in December of 1973 when it happened. I was at the local supermarket (Coonie’s I believe) with my mother, doing some grocery shopping. Near the checkout, I passed by the comic book rack. (Yes, at one time, there were no stores dedicated to selling comic books but rather; they were sold at grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores and many other places that sold magazines.)

Anyway, as I passed the stand, I noticed a comic book with Superman on the cover. The cover showed three invisible people (we could see their outlines through the magic of Superman’s various vision powers) pulling Superman along, by the cape, through the air. The trio looked to be ordinary humans. What the heck was going on here!? As I said, I had read superman comic books in the past and had enjoyed them, but until that moment, I had never actually purchased one. I thought, “I haven’t read a comic book in a while, it might be fun.”

On the way home, I started examining my new prize. The cover told me that the book was Action Comics #433. Inside, I learned that the story referred to on the cover was called “The Man Who Was Buried on Page 64!”. I won’t get into the story here, but I will say that I enjoyed it very much. The second story in the book starred a character called “The Atom”. He was a hero who wore a colorful, skin-tight costume and could shrink to sub-atomic size. I had never seen this character in a comic book, but I did remember him from some cartoons in the 60s. I especially remember him from the old Justice League cartoons, where he often perched on one of the other heroes’ shoulders as they sped to confront a menace. The story was called “Affair of the Bouncing Chair!”. Again, I won’t go into the story here, but I enjoyed it as well.

I later realized that the Superman story was written by Cary Bates and the Atom story was written by a fellow named Elliot S! Maggin. (They would soon become two of my all-time favorite comic book writers.) Little did I know it, but I was infected by comic books that day and after 41 years, no cure is in sight!

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