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.
NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Both Dr. Strange and Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. were a part of my discovery of Marvel Comics in 1966. They were the two co-features in the split book Strange Tales, a master of the mystic arts and the head of a superspy organization. I was ultimately more taken with Dr. Strange (although I thought the character Umar had to be The Sub-Mariner's sister or something), but I liked both, and continued to follow them when they got their own separate books in 1968. I remember Strange Tales # 150 for sure, and that was likely my first exposure to Stephen Strange and Nick Fury.
Ninjas! They're wacky. Long before The Tick offered his take on those darn ninjas, there was a time when these feudal Japanese shadow warriors were nearly unknown in Western culture. A quick Wikipedia hit suggests a ninja presence in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, but the first place I recall hearing the word ninja was in the pages of DC Comics' The Shadow # 6 in 1974. "Night Of The Ninja" was artist Michael Kaluta's last work on The Shadow for DC (though he and writer Denny O'Neil reunited many years later on a Shadow graphic novel for Marvel). Kaluta went out in style with this issue, which is possibly my favorite single Shadow adventure ever. Ninjas became all the rage in comics in the early '80s (due in large part to Frank Miller's work on Daredevil. and Eastman and Laird's subsequent parody work Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the staggering popular success of which surprised everyone). But for me, ninjamania started here. Amazing the stuff ya learn about once you know what evil lurks in the hearts of men.
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