For the last 25 years, my personal Christmas tradition has been to travel to my local comic shop and buy me a stack of comics I normally wouldn’t buy. This could mean trying out a different publisher, a new series, or even a mini-series.
The first time I did this sort of thing was in 1991 at the old New England Comics in Quincy MA. My uncle dropped me off at the door, and told me “I’ll see you in an hour.” Armed with $30, and a list I knew I wouldn’t stick to, I headed in.
Now, $30 doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind that in 1991 you could go into a comic shop with that amount, and walk out with 30 comics.
Sigh, I miss the old days.
I browsed around for a while and picked up New Mutants #100, Avengers #329, Wonder Man #1-2, and War of the Gods #1-4. As I made the turn towards the other side of the store, I saw the comic I just had to own: Batman versus Predator #1.
The idea of a Batman versus Predator comic probably seems silly to many, but for 13-year-old me, it was like finding the Holy Grail. The only question now was, which version should I buy? BvP was released in two versions: The direct sales edition with a squarebound cover. And the newstand edition with a regular cover. I wanted the fancy edition, but then I saw it was $4.95. That seemed like a lot to spend on one comic (it still does), so I opted for the newstand version for a more reasonable $1.95.
The story began with the Predator in Gotham City on a ritual hunt. So far it has targeted a boxing champion, and some of Gotham’s crime-bosses. This ultimately leads him to a face to face battle with The Dark Knight who barely escapes with his life.
BvP was a comic with extraordinary production value for a three issue mini. What made it even more special, was that Batman versus Predator came with many comic book firsts for me. The mini-series was my introduction to the work of Dave Gibbons, years before I read Watchmen. Meanwhile, the art was provided by two guy I’d never heard of at the time: Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert. These brothers would become staples of my comic collecting throughout the 1990’s, and their Batman in BvP is by far one the best I’ve seen.
Batman versus Predator spawned a couple of sequels in the 1990’s, and while they are enjoyable, they’re nowhere near as good as the original. Against the odds, the mixing of the Batman universe and the Predator from the movie, worked. Gotham City felt like a real place, and the stakes felt real as well.
It’s no wonder I still have these comics today, and why in 1991, I read Batman versus Predator #1 at least 10 times on Christmas Eve. This is one of my favorite holiday memories from a time when I didn’t have a lot of good memories.