1994. A skinny 12-year old girl stands in the magazine aisle at a chain grocery store amid motorcycle and fashion magazines. She’s holding a comic book with all the clumsiness of the uninitiated. She thumbs through the pages for the fourth or fifth time. It’s not the first time she’s stood here. In fact, she was here just two days before, holding the very same issue and facing the same dilemma.
She watches the Saturday morning cartoon, X-Men the Animated Series, with excitement bordering on fervor. She’s mastered the esoteric controls of her family VCR and treasures her collection of episodes recorded on VHS. She even pauses her favorite episodes, navigating frame by frame to line up her favorite stills which she then reproduces with pencil and paper. She has a well-worn copy of The Marvel X-Men Guidebook given to her by a friend that she’s read cover-to-cover several times and a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of X-Men and Marvel-related clippings from catalogs and magazines. Still, all of these things have been free. If she makes the choice to buy the issue she holds in her hands, it will be the first monetary investment she’s made.
She checks the front of the issue for its cover price: $1.50. A big commitment for a kid whose parents don’t give an allowance. It will be her first comic book purchase. But she knows that it won’t be her last. With an odd mixture of resignation and triumph, she leaves the aisle to find her father, comic book in hand. She’s going to need more Ziploc bags.