Batman’s fins

Cover of Ryhmä-X 7/1988
Cover of Ryhmä-X 7/1988

I read my first superhero comics at my aunt’s where my sister used to live back then. I must have been tops five years old. She had one old Superman and one Batman comic, the last one in a sorry state.  In the Superman comic Superman was faced with a white blood cell that for some reason had developed into this huge white blob, swallowing people. Superman solved the problem by swinging the blob into outer space. In the other magazine Batman was injured and returned to the Batcave bleeding, where Alfred took care of him. I remember nothing else about the storyline, but I was utterly fascinated by the pictures. I can still see the images of a bleeding Batman leaning against the wall and the fins on his gloves and that torn cape. It was very dramatic and my little girl’s mind was mezmerized as I looked at the image.

I did purchase comics myself, too, but they were mostly some generic stuff like Hägar the Horrible and Garfield comics. But then, in 1989, I walked into an old books store that also sold comics and browsed through their selection. It was summer and my family and I were just about to leave for sailing in the Finnish archipelago for the next month. I was on a mission to buy some comics and books to read and I always went to that one place near the harbour.

There must have been many Marvel comics but one cover in particular caught my attention. It was the cover of Marvel 7/1988 (that’s the Marvel magazine published in Finland in Finnish, the original story is found in X-Men and Alpha Flight special #1-2). On the cover there was a red haired woman, floating in the air, flaming aura around her, and on the front, a man burning. There is snow on the ground and a few other costumed characrters are watching the woman in the middle. The image was packed with energy and the dramatic title only added to it:  “Marvel – Ryhmä-X – Alfalentue”.  I had to buy it. That summer on our sailing boat I read the magazine like a million times. I was totally engulfed in the story and the images and the world of mutant superheroes. And there were Scandinavian gods! 8-O

After the summer I began buying all the Marvel comics I could get my hands on. I loved the Alpha Flight and the X-Men. Soon I learned to like Daredevil and the Avengers, too. Thor was cool. Iron Man was an alcoholic with heart problems.  Rogue liked Remy, but she couldn’t touch him and he was not to be trusted. Professor Xavier had an X in his name and he lead the “Ryhmä-X” i.e. the X-men.  (This made things even more interesting, since even though the letter “X” is part of the Finnish alphabet, it’s not used in native Finnish words.) Wolverine was bloody cool! But he called girls “chicks”.