Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.
The Limited Collectors' Editions were yet another attempt by DC Comics' Carmine Infantino to develop new comics formats that could carve out a space on retail racks. They were wonderful, oversized books for a dollar, usually crammed with reprints. The first one I noticed was this Shazam! book in 1973, and as a huge fan of the original Captain Marvel, I couldn't buy it fast enough to suit me. There were, I think, two more Shazam! books, some terrific Batman books, even an unexpected, incongruous Dick Tracy book, among many others. There were also the Famous First Edition books in the same format, reprinting collectors' items like Action Comics # 1 and Detective Comics # 27 in their entirety, Later on, the format was also used for some new adventures, including three of the DC/Marvel crossovers (Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, Superman And Spider-Man, and Batman Vs. The Incredible Hulk), as well as the landmark Superman Vs. Muhammed Ali. I still have most of my original copies of these.
THE LONE RANGER
I wasn't much into Westerns as a kid, so the readily-available reruns of The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, and Zorro weren't as big a thing for me as they should have been. My interest in The Masked Rider Of The Plains was sparked when he returned in 1966 as the star of a new Saturday morning cartoon series on CBS. I also bought The Lone Ranger's Big Little Book adventure when I was a fourth-grader in 1969-70. I became a full-fledged fan in the early to mid '70s. I recall our local PBS affiliate airing a Lone Ranger marathon one Saturday, as I sat there with a bowl of chili and immersed myself in the pure, action-packed appeal of Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. Some time after that, I saw a matinee showing of Moore and Silverheels feature film The Lone Ranger, and cable TV delivered me a daily diet of Batman, The Adventures Of Superman, and The Lone Ranger via WPIX in New York City. It was a welcome return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
Luke Cage, Hero For Hire, was the first black superhero to star in his own comic book. The character was heavily influenced by '70s blaxploitation movies, and while dialogue like Sweet Christmas! is dated now, Cage was cutting-edge for mainstream comics at the time. I'm not sure whether or not I started with the first issue of Luke Cage, Hero For Hire, or if I came back to that after reading subsequent issues, but I remember reading my coverless copy of the debut, purchased at Van Patten's Grocery in North Syracuse. The character's mercenary outlook, coupled with his origin as a wrongly-convicted felon, certainly differed from any other superhero book I was reading in 1972. But my favorite scene in that issue was when Cage was putting together his new hero garb, and a costume shop proprietor tried to sell him a Captain Marvel outfit--y'know, original Captain Marvel, Shazam!, etc.--telling our Luke that the costume's original owner had gotten involved in a lawsuit. Cage spurned the costume, saying something along the lines of More like union suit! The Cage character has evolved considerably over the decades, and I prefer the current incarnation (as seen on Netflix). But the original Cage was one bad mutha...Shut your mouth!
Just talkin' 'bout Cage. Can you dig it?
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