Spurred, no doubt, by the Entertainment Weekly feature in which various comics people divulge which comic "hooked" them, I've seen a few blogs here and there post their own, which qualifies it as a meme or something. And so since I'm always up for a good meme, here is mine. Kind of.
I must (as so often is the case) set this up before I proceed. I could read well before I started first grade- my small town school didn't have kindergarten or preschool back in the day. Somehow, I just managed to sound out and recognize words, and I would imagine quite often I looked at magazines and the pictures to help me out. My parents would have me read Bible chapters and stuff like that for friends and family to impress them, I guess, and this would be at age three or so. To be honest, I don't really remember the first time I realized I could do this; it seems like I've always had the ability...but I'm sure that at some point a light switch went off in my head and there I went. I'm dead certain comics had something to do with it, obviously because of the words/pictures connection- but I really don't remember the very first comic I ever owned and/or read. It could have been a Dell/Gold Key (bought at the local Ben Franklin Five and Dime), a Harvey, or a Charlton book- probably the first two before the latter. Anyway, the first comic that made a strong enough impression on me to stick in my memory, or that is to say the earliest, is the comic above: TALES TO ASTONISH #50, in which Giant-Man and the Wonderful Wasp battled- and failed to defeat, it was a two-parter- the Human Top. And yes, I got #51 too, if memory serves, I was that excited to find out if Giant-Man ever got his pride back. I don't recall the circumstances of my acquiring it; if pressed, I'd just say that my folks probably got it for me to keep me occupied when they were visiting one of the town drug stores. So, if I had been asked to participate in this survey, this is the comic I'd name. But my memory is fuzzy; when researching the cover dates for the comics I could remember owning (as opposed to reading them via reprint titles like Marvel Tales and Marvel's Collector's Item Classics) it's the earliest one I remember. Its cover date is December of 1963, which means it hit the racks sometime in early Autumn of that year. The more I think about it, the more I'm afraid I'm confusing it with this issue of TTA, #55, which also features a Giant-Man/Wasp/Human Top conflict.
This also ties in with the fact that most of the earliest comics I recall seem to have came out several months later, in late 1964 and early-mid 1965...and hey! Here's a convenient gallery of some of the earliest comics I remember owning:
All of which, combined, I'm sure, with a generous helping of the aforementioned Gold Key and Harvey product, helped make me into the pathetic example of drooling fanboy mush you see before you today.