Monday, 20 October 2008

Magik in Pittance

My first entrepreneurial slant, developed when I was 14 years old, was fueled by my thirst for comics.

I had sort of a Comics Club going at the college I was studying in, charging some nominal fee to finance the monthly subscription of several titles, namely Uncanny X-Men and some others.

Comics were relatively cheap back then – a bumper issue would set you back RM4.50 to RM6 at most – and they were delivered to the College office so they were pretty secure.

And as chief entrepreneur, I get the first read.

Alas, the same idea also dealt me with the loss of a major portion of those very comics from friends who – on hindsight – couldn’t care less about collections and being able to re-read the issues again and again.

(Incidentally, my better half is also always chiding me about reading again and again my collections of comics dating back to god-how-many years! She would ask how many times I needed to read the same thing. Sigh… )

Amongst the comics I lost were issues 186 to 188 of the Uncanny X-Men featuring the team against an alien breed called the dire wraiths (a spin off from another title : Rom The Spaceknight, which I didn’t read).

Chris Claremont's Lifedeath
The story arc started with “Lifedeath” ; a love-hate story involving Storm, of the X-Men, and Forge – the inventor who created the weapon which stole her mutant powers.

It was also the same weapon that saw the dire wraiths making an assault against Forge’s building in a bid to destroy not only the gun but its inventor along with it, and soon the battle is joined by members of the X-Men, namely Rogue, Colossus and, later, his younger sister, Illyana aka Magik.

The ending of the X-Men versus dire wraiths battle was a cliffhanger in another adversary being introduced who would only emerged again in later issues, a seemingly favored tact of writer Chris Claremont which I highly detest.

Claremont however makes this (admittedly small) flaw with huge degrees of characterization, imaginative storylines and down-to-earth issues of love, death and heroics.

I was rummaging through the boxes of old comics I have not unpacked and found a single copy from the ill-conceived, but worthwhile Comics Club batch; issue 192 of the Uncanny X-Men.
Enter: Magus!
The cover was worn out; the edges frayed and torn, and when I flipped through the pages, I found the tracing with a pen of Nightcrawler in one of the panels before the heroes – this time involving Kurt (the aforementioned Nightcrawler), Colossus and Rogue – went against another alien named Magus.

This issue also ended in a cliffhanger with Professor Charles Xavier – the X-Team founder and mentor – beaten unconscious by his students and dragged away to parts unknown.

Wow... Does anyone have issue 193?

I felt sad in seeing the issue’s condition but also elated the magic that drew me to comics were still very much alive in the yellowed pages 24 year later.

Best yet, it was only RM1.90.

A price tag that gets you pretty much nothing these days.

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