Excerpt: DOUGLAS: One of the things I love about this incarnation of Strange Tales is seeing how deeply rooted the Marvel characters are in certain cartoonists' DNA. James Stokoe's Galactus? Holy crap: the first page of Stokoe's story looks like something he's been waiting 20 years to have the opportunity to draw. Ditto for Dean Haspiel's Woodgod story. Because it's about Woodgod. (And is it me or is that story's final caption much more like something that would appear at the end of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book or an Infocom text game than your typical comic? I kind of love that too.)
Five days a week I was in charge of destroying an enemy cannon in outer space that hissed with white noise and was protected by rotating energy shields.
My brother, Mike, and I would play video games after school in the back room of the candy shop across the street from our upper west side apartment. Mike became an expert at Pac Man and I was partial to Star Castle. Sometimes, my brother was my co-pilot, cheering me on as I avoided mines and fired lasers from my spaceship. For 25-cents I could waste a couple hours on one game and would eventually hand over my extra men to whoever was watching me play when it was time for us to split and cram our homework before mom and dad made us dinner.
One day, a golem with a lazy eye, a reject from the local high school six years our senior, walked in and tried to rob my brother while he was playing a video game. He didn’t know we were brothers. Mike was blonde and small and I was taller with dark hair. So, the bully decided to pick on the kid less inclined to give him trouble.
I was enjoying an extraordinary run on Star Castle but I couldn’t let my brother be mugged despite the odds that we would probably get both our butts kicked. I mustered the courage to ball up my fist and told the bully to leave my brother alone. He cracked a smile and started to laugh. He was missing a front tooth. Without warning I threw a punch as hard as I could. The bully dodged my fist and standing right behind him was my brother who took the full brunt of the blow in his left eye.
Mike burst into tears from the pain. With no time to reflect on what I had just done, I repositioned myself towards the bully who looked at me like I was a super villain. Shocked and confused, the bully staggered backwards and ran out of the store. I dropped my fists and looked at Mike’s squinting red-eye to make sure he was okay and I apologized.
Suddenly, I heard an explosion come from my video game. My spaceship was blown to bits. I saw that I had five lives left to play. My brother grinned and gave me a knowing look. We went to save the universe.