|Hey kids, remember these? I'm lucky enough to have a vintage one in my office.|
In hindsight, the comics must have been from a multi-pack, where 3 or more comics would be bundled together and sold (in a sealed plastic bag). It also seemed like the comics featured more of their licensed properties than actual Marvel characters, which might have made the multi-pack more appealing to a mass market. All 5 comics were cover dated Novemeber 1986, when every Marvel comic published that month was given a company-wide trade dress featuring many of their well-known properties. The pic below is a sampling of what some of those covers looked like that month.
|I can remember studying those multi-character covers for hours. They are definitely a time-capsule for how the heroes looked in the mid '80s.|
|I can remember mistaking the perspective of Batman walking on a ledge in the city for a giant Batman stalking through the streets! I purchased this at a party store, not far from Gun Lake, where my dad kept our pontoon boat.|
The story is a good one, and an excellent intro for an 8 year old into the world of Batman. In it, Batman has to stop a disgruntled banker turned sniper. At one point early on the sniper (named Tim Conrad) yells "I wish you were all dead!" At that moment, Batman has a flashback to a child on the verge of adolescence.
The story then reveals that in the days leading up to the death of his parents, his father, Thomas Wayne, had suffered some financial set-backs. Because of this, one day a frustrated Thomas lashed out at Bruce, striking him with the back of his hand. Bruce was then consoled by his mother Martha, who told him his father didn't mean it. Bruce then yells something out of anger he would later come to regret: "I wish he was dead!"
Father and son eventually made up, and as a peace offering Thomas decided to take Bruce and Martha out to the movies to see "The Mark of Zorro." Those of you familiar with Batman's origin probably see where this is going...walking out of the movie, a thug named Joe Chill attempts a robbery, kills his parents, and the rest is history. The reason they went to the movie could indirectly be traced back to Thomas becoming angry with Bruce.
This issue was also setting up the new status quo for the character, as the previous 4 issues were part of the storyline "A Death In the Family," which featured the Joker killing the second Robin, Jason Todd. When Batman arrives on the scene at the beginning, Commissioner Gordon asks him if Robin is coming tonight, to which Batman lowers his head and quietly says "no." Gordon then asks him if something is wrong, and again Batman quietly says "no." Powerful stuff.
Looking back, that first issue of Batman I ever picked up was a great way to get started in the world of Batman. The origin was retold and a new status quo, with Batman going out without a Robin by his side, was set firmly in place. It also featured art by legendary Batman artist Jim Aparo, whose rendition of the character will always be the most definitive. The following summer the Batman movie came out, featuring Michael Keaton. The summer of the bat was soon to be upon me. But that's a story for another time.