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Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Elusive Airboy

The Airboy series produced by Eclipse Comics in the 1980s was a revival of comics produced during the 1940s and '50s, when the idea of people flying in planes and protecting U.S. sovereignty thrilled a generation of young boys. The Eclipse series featured the son of the WWII hero, Davy Nelson, who flew the same plane as his father in fifty fabulous issues and a number of specials. This plane, named Birdie, had a mind of its own, and sometimes performed transport and combat maneuvers without the aid of a human pilot. The stories featured other Sci-fi elements such as zombies, intelligent rats, and robots. I started reading the series at issue 50, enjoyed it, and then sought more issues out in the discount rack. Visits to other comic book shops helped fill out the series, and gradually, the number of issues I possessed exceeded the number I needed to procure.

For more than a year, I collected issues of Airboy when I could find them. I read some, but saved most for when I filled the series and could read it in sequential order. I also found a hardcover book containing reprints of significant issues from the original 1940s & '50s, and devoured those stories in a few evenings. Eventually, I filled in the missing issues until I only needed one: Issue 5. And there, the collection remained incomplete, for a long time.

Last weekend, I visited the comic shop. Along with other series I was looking to fill, what should I find but Issue 5? And they only wanted a dollar for it, not six dollars the one place I had seen it elsewhere. Price is important to me, as I'm not purchasing these comics for resale value, but merely for my reading enjoyment. I could have purchased a trade paperback containing Issue 5 for fifteen dollars long ago, had I not set my heart on getting the original issue, along with the editor's preface, advertisements, and letter column. But now I've got the last missing issue. Hooray!

As you can see, Issue 5 features Valkyrie on the cover. She was a German villainess in the original series, who at times turned to good and aided Davy's father, and other times returned to her villainous ways. She returned for this sequel series, and as I recall, befriended the new Airboy. Don't ask me how she retained her youthful appearance: as I recall, that was another Sci-fi element that attracted me to the series. I look forward to discovering the answer to that, and much more, as I delve into the series now and read them in chronological order. You know, interspersing those Airboy issues with all the other series I collect, including Star Wars, Star Trek, and Conan The Barbarian.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to read Issue 1 for at least the third time. Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll tell you about it sometime.

Dragon Dave  

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