In our last episode, Tim saw the G.I. Joe comic book that would change his life forever, but his brother told him not to buy it!
I looked at Kevin stupidly, desperately. Cobra Commander was in his battle armor! Insulting Voltar! Destro had his gold helmet! His GOLD helmet! Darklon unloaded his (non-lethal) weapon into Road Pig! The show was in reruns, and we would never see these characters animated in our entire lives! The cartoon adventures of this most engaging brand ever was over, doomed to eternal repeats and diminished relevance like those horrible 1960s Flintstones reruns we caught where there was nothing else on.
“It’s a dollar.”
The emphasis: “It’s a dollar.” What he was saying was “It’s a third of another figure. We could be going to Toy”R”Us again any week now, and you wouldn’t want to be there without enough money to buy your next G.I. Joe figure, would you? It will be a wasted trip, and I’ll buy my next figure, and our next game – the best games happen on the days we bring home new figures (O! The inspiration!) – will be lopsided. And all you will have to show for it is this flimsy paper THING. Whereas a figure is interesting forever because it’s poseable and a concrete object. But a comic book – whatever that is – can’t be any more evergreen than any book, and how often do we reread books? Never.”
That’s what he was really saying. And he was right. It was a waste. It might be a waste.
But on the other hand, a dollar felt like a great trade for this significant amount of entertainment. (And sadly, today the standard cover price of four dollars is not a commensurate exchange for the satisfaction offered by the average single comic book of 2011 – improved paper stock and color production, inflation, improved wages, and corporate greed having ruined today’s comic.) And it was just a dollar. A third of an action figure wasn’t all that much. Plus I was feeling experimental. Contrary, even. I might have made the decision just to spite my brother’s admonition.
So I bought it. I can still remember standing at the register – Waldenbooks had three side by side, the counters higher than most bank tellers, the woman selling me this gateway drug, a giant black placard high up on the white wall behind her listing all important up-coming book releases by date.
I don’t remember telling (or showing) Kevin that I’d bought the comic anyway, but it must have happened on the way out of the store. He probably just said “Oh,” a non-committal reaction that would neither encourage nor pity my decision to vote out of lockstep with my political party. (I tended to do whatever Kevin did. A little brother, my independent streak arrived in high school.) I probably did not look through this comic book – whatever it was – on the ride home since I couldn’t read in a car (still can’t) without stomach discomfort. I don’t remember reading G.I. Joe issue #90 on the family room floor at home 45 minutes later, but I probably did. I don’t remember enjoying every moment of it, but I certainly did.
How did my brother come around? Tune in next week to find out!