by Adam Thas and Mike Pomaro
Dear Growing Up Nerdy,
The both of you seem to really have a long history of comics. I was wondering what was the very first comic you bought?
-Colin in Wyoming
Adam: There is something about your first. It might be the intoxicating smell or the anticipation of what is about to happen. But once you feel how smooth and easy it rests in your hands, you know you made the right decision -- even if you did have to pay for it.
It's the first comic that you've decided to take out your money, put it on the counter and purchase. It’s a big deal in the life of a nerd, and for me it began with a television show.
In September of 1990, CBS aired the TV show The Flash in the hopes of piggy-backing some ratings from the success of Batman. I LOVED that show as a kid. It was live action and had an awesome character with a great costume and super speed. Being a track kid, I really identified with the show and thought it was the coolest thing on TV. The Flash had this really cool effect that whenever Flash was running, they would show it as a first person view of running down the street and then speed up the camera so it felt like you were the one running. Eleven year old Adam was hooked and wanted to get everything Flash related.
Unfortunately for 11-year old Adam, I didn’t understand the little things in television like “ratings”. The Flash that I had loved so much was expensive to make, and CBS put it on Thursdays against two little shows called The Cosby Show and The Simpsons (whatever those shows are?). The Flash lasted one season; soon after its cancellation, Jim Lee penciled X-Men #1 and the rest is history.
Sadly I went back and bought The Flash on DVD a few years ago. Terrible doesn’t even begin to explain that show. As for The Flash #49, unfortunately my first -- I mean the literal first comic I ever bought -- is now lost for the ages. I’m not sure what happened to it. I know I had it. We were so in love, and then sometime in high school we drifted apart. I’d like to think that she found someone else and that she’s married, has a few kids…she’s happy. I found another copy of The Flash #49 at a con a few years ago and got it for sentimental reasons. However, it is nothing but a cheap whore compared to my first. She was my first. My very first.
Like my nerdy life partner Adam, I went to a Catholic grade school. In the second grade, we all made our first communion, and to come talk to our class about receiving that sacrament was a young priest whom I never saw before a since. I don’t remember a thing about what he had to say about making our first communion, but what I do remember is that he brought us all comic books!
I have no recollection whether or not we got to pick which book we received, or if it was random, but I got Captain Atom #5. I’d love to be able to tell everyone that I remember the story like the back of my hand, but the truth is I don’t remember what it was about. What I do remember is that great cover: Firestorm slamming his head into Captain Atom’s chest, with the words “Captain Atom vs. Firestorm The Nuclear Man” written in big bold letters. Mind you I had no idea who these characters were at the time, but that cover made such an impression on me, especially Firestorm. Here’s a man with FLAMES COMING OUT OF HIS HEAD, bashing another dude with his noggin. It was awesome.
While I’m sure that the priest who visited my classroom that day would love to think that his speech or the act of receiving communion for the first time would have had a profound impact on my life, but the truth is that it was Captain Atom #5 that had a big impact on me. Our mutual love of comic books brought Adam and me together as friends. We walked to Dreamland Comics every week on new comic book day and spent the afternoon pouring over the racks, checking out the week's new books. We developed other life-long friendships through the comic store and our similar nerdy interests. Comic books helped lead me down a path that provided me with friendships that I’ll always cherish. Captain Atom #5 is where that path began.