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CSBG Archive

When We First Met #19

Each day in June you’ll get an entry showing you the first appearance of seemingly minor characters, phrases, objects or events that later became notable parts of comic book lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of what I’ve featured so far.


First appearance of the Batmobile

The Batmobile first showed up in 1941’s Detective Comics #48…

However, it was soon after in 1941 that Batman #5 saw the first appearance of what we would really call the first Batmobile…


First appearance of Thing’s Aunt Petunia

In 1964’s Fantastic Four #26, we get our first mention of Thing’s Aunt Petunia…

Over the next eighteen years, Thing would often cite Aunt Petunia, but it was not clear if he wasn’t just being colorful.

In any event, in 1982’s Fantastic Four #238, John Byrne introduced a woman…

and in the next issue, we learn that SHE is, in fact, the Aunt Petunia of lore…

Pretty clever of Byrne messing with readers’ expectations of what Aunt Petunia would look like.

First mention of Superman as the “Man of Steel”

The term first showed up in newspaper headlines in 1938’s Action Comics #6…

And by 1939’s Action Comics #11, the term was being used by DC itself to promote Superman….

(It appeared in captions in the stories right afterwards)

Feel free to send in ideas for future debuts I should feature here to bcronin@comicbookresources.com!


Captain Comet

June 18, 2011 at 6:01 am

I am curious (man of steel)

Never knew that the first Batmobile was just an unadorned red car (but then again, it makes more sense for a hero who depends on *stealth*). Oh and I believe that the shield-thing on the second version is a battering ram?

I remember that Aunt Petunia story, and was surprised by how young she was. But wait, wasn’t she the person who helped rise Ben after his parents deaths? (I may have that wrong however.) Also, doesn’t she smoke cigars? Or was that just Ben pulling our legs? Heh.

I remember when I was like six and first heard that Superman was “A Man of Steel” and going, “Huh? He’s a robot?” :D Still, the term fits him wonderfully.

The Swedish name for Superman is “Stålmannen” — literally “The Steel Man”.

John Trumbull

June 18, 2011 at 8:09 am

The Aunt Petunia issue actually got a fan letter from Stan Lee, who loved the twist of her being a hot young babe.

Remember when Mark Millar killed Petunia off?

I’m trawling through old issues of the FF in Essentials. They keep referring to Ben’s feud with the Yancy Street Gang but when is it revealed that he’s *FROM* Yancy Street?

Nikolas Marinakis

June 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

“I know you can’t see on account of you’re blind…”
… Yeah…
“I know you can’t walk on account of having no legs…”
God I love the silver age!

Also, I love this column! Great job!

Nice! Thanks for showing the first “Man of Steel,” like I suggested. :)

1982 was a looong time after the Silver Age.

Talking about cars, what was the X Men first mean of transportation? I can’t remember if it was an unadorned Rolls Royce, or a Mercedes. I’m going with Rolls, though.

The John Byrne thing is a clever twist, except for the fact that Ben often called her his “dear OLD Aunt Petunia.” Even in his first time saying her name he called her old. Still, good twist.

The funniest part of it is Johnny’s repeated thought balloons, as he starts to realize that that is the legendary Aunt. Who said thought balloons are always a bad thing?

nice always wondered what the things aunt petinua looked like. plus never knew super man was called the man in steel in the comics.

Aunt Petunia = hottie! (A.I.L.F?)

Ben is from Yancy Street, but the gang from there gives him hell because no matter how ever-lovin’ famous he gets (or however big his rocky orange head gets), they always like to remind him where he’s from, like he’ll always be just from Yancy Street. Maybe they used to pick on him when he was just a short little kid, like Jack Kirby was. Ben is never seriously at war with them, they just razz each other.

As Omar Karindu mentioned, Mark Millar gave Aunt Petunia such an off-handed death that I would hope that Hickman finds a way to remedy that too. He’s taken care of a lot of Millar garbage. ;-) , firstly by having Galactus get rid of Nu Earth and most of the characters from it.

That Aunt Petunia thing is just another example of my John Byrne always baffles me. He thought it was so hilarious to have Ben’s Aunt Petunia turn out to be young and hot that he went ahead and wrote a whole issue about it.

What grown man talks about his uncle’s young wife like he’s always trusted her wisdom advice?

Example of *why* Byrne baffles me. Sorry.

Travis Pelkie

June 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Yes, but when did the Batmobile lose that wheel so that the Joker got away?

I always enjoy this series, especially this entry. On my website, Jor-Ellis Island (http://comicsroots.webs.com), which is a detailed and comprehensive as possible list of comic book canon immigrants, I had mistakenly listed “Man of Steel” as first appearing in the Superman radio show. Now since I know that info’s wrong, I can delete it.

What grown man talks about his uncle’s young wife like he’s always trusted her wisdom advice?

I agree with Anthony Strand. The Byrne twist is mildly clever, but the more you think about it and reread those old stories in the new context, the more you realize it takes away more than it adds.

When was Batman first referred to as” The Dark Knight?”

Edgar Liberty

June 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Wow, those two early Batmobiles almost look like . . . “continuity”.

Mark Millar killed Aunt Petunia? Does that man goes pocking at all comics, looking for minor character he can kill off? Sometimes I really don`t understand modern comics.

When was that?

Aunt Petunia was killed in the arc called “Masters of Doom”. I think it was the issue before the conclusion though….maybe FF#568?

Aunt Petunia was killed in the arc called “Masters of Doom”. I think it was the issue before the conclusion though….maybe FF#568?

Her death was one of the easier deaths to overturn, though. You easily could say that the bad guys made Thing THINK they killed her just to torment him. It is not like they had a funeral for her. Or ever mentioned the incident again after the fact.

Not even Ben saying “As my horribly murdered Aunt Petunia used ta say…”?

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