I remember the first back issue that ever really caught my eye. I was vaguely familiar with the Deathstroke character from other media, and from what I had read in a couple of the most recent Teen Titans trades (as well as his wonderful part in Identity Crisis), but I had know idea he had ever had his own series. "Isn't Deathstroke a villain, though?" I wondered to myself. But there he was, on the title of his own comic. Issue #27, no less, which meant somebody had cared enough about this character to write at least 26 other issues. Needless to say, I picked it up, and it blew my mind. How could they fit so much action into one issue? I mean, I had read most of the classics in trade form before. I'd read all of the Crises, and the trendier Batman Storylines, but this was something entirely new to me. I bought every issue in that storyline, Deathstroke's World Tour, and I wasn't disappointed a single time. Every single issue had a gunfight, an explosion, a fistfight, a car chase, a woman, and international intrigue. And at the end of the arc, when they revealed that it had all been thanks to the villainous machinations of the diabolical Count Tavolara, it didn't matter that I had never heard of this guy before in my entire life. He had a moustache, and he was pointing a gun at a girl. I could easily tell that he was evil. And Deathstroke solved that problem the same way he solves all of his other problems. By jumping around weightlessly, and avoiding bullets in an unnecessarily bright and colorful suit, then firing what may or may not have been bullets out of a large metal pole at a bunch of faceless mercenaries, punching out the guy with the moustache, and leaving with his faithful manservant Wintergreen in a helicopter.
There's just something so wonderful about the back issue section of a comics store. Sure, the "New This Week" rack is enticing and shiny and pretty, but it can't match the allure of the back of the store. Thousands of stories, some delightful gems, some terrible like abominations, all packed and crammed together neatly in those little boxes, each one hiding in a sleek little plastic case just waiting to be unwrapped. They're not as "modern", but the stories are often just as good, and always cheaper. There are many, many worlds to be found in the back of your comics store, filled with murder mysteries, suspense, adventure, and tales of future past. I hear that the Question is dead, but he's still alive and well back there, along with all of those apparently destroyed realities. And they're all just sitting there, in their sometimes new and sometimes musty covers, waiting for me to enjoy them. Back issues probably make up the majority of my collection. I just can't stop myself. Coming home with a handful of Legion issues, and Batman One-Shots, I can barely keep from sliding them out of their cases on the way home and reading them on the sidewalk. It's all I can do to wait until I get home and in bed. There's a slowly growing pile of small pieces of tape on my bedside stand, compiled from all of the back issues I've ever owned there. And there are buses all over the city that have those two neat little pieces of tape right next to each other from the sealed backs of members of my collection. It's history of sequential art, and it's all at my fingertips for a ten-block walk and $1.50 a pop. I know, plenty of it is absolute dunder. I mean, have you ever picked up a back issue of Ragman? *shudder*
But there's something so fantastic, that not that many people know about, and it's right in my hometown, just past the halloween costumes and action figures!
How could I possibly resist?