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Back to the Future
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Back to the Future: Emmett Brown Visits the Future Back to the Future
"Emmett Brown Visits the Future"
Back to the Future #4
Story by Bob Gale & Erik Burnham
Script by Bob Gale
Art by Erik Evensen
Colors by Jose Luis Rio
Letters by Shawn Lee


Doc makes his first visit to 2015.


Read the story summary at Futurepedia


Didja Know?


The inside front cover credits page of this issue notes that Action Comics #1 appears in this story courtesy of DC Comics.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Doc Brown



Mr. Clark (Southby's clerk)

Harry (mentioned on phone only)


Didja Notice?


The story opens with Doc recording a log into a tape recorder about his first visit to 2015. He records his name as Emmett L. Brown. Recall that in Back to the Future, the phone book listed his middle initial as "L" as well. His full middle name is finally revealed as Lathrop in an episode of the childrens 1991-1992 TV series Back to the Future: The Animated Series, "Put on Your Thinking Caps, Kids! It's Time for Mr. Wisdom!"


Doc's recording reveals that when he went to 2015 after dropping Marty off at home near the end of Back to the Future, he set the destination time for August 8, 2015. In Back to the Future, we don't see him set the time, he only tells Marty he's going about 30 years into the future. But in the DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual, Doc says he set the date for November 5, 2015, "the perfect way to celebrate the 60th anniversary" of his concept of the flux capacitor; this different date may be one of the pieces of information Doc changed (as hinted at in his introduction to the book) to prevent misuse of time travel.


    On page 3 of the story, Doc arrives in 2015 Hill Valley at a 1980s Car Expo, where his DeLorean wins first prize. He wins a coupon for 10% off a hover-conversion, which appears to be handed to him by Goldie Wilson III (in Back to the Future Part II, we see an advertisement for Goldie Wilson Hover Conversion Systems).

    In panel 1, a boy is seen wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume, his father is wearing a Michael Jackson "Thriller" jacket, and the daughter is wearing a Reagan/Bush '84 t-shirt. Ronald Reagan and George Bush were the U.S. president and vice president throughout the 1980s.

    In the background, a man is wearing a Ghostbusters outfit with proton pack. The woman with him is dressed as Dana Barrett from the same film.

    In panel 2, what appear to be a Lamborghini Countach and Pontiac Firebird are seen.


In the bottom panel of page 3, the "Welcome to Hill Valley" sign proclaims that Goldie Wilson, Jr. is mayor. Attached to the sign are logos of the 4H Club, Kiwanis, Lions Club, and National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. These are all real world community service organizations.


On page 4 of the story, a hoverboarder zooms past Doc, nearly bowling him over. The youth says, "Turk off, old man!" Apparently, "turk off" is a 2015 expletive phrase.


On page 5 of the story, to help fund his hover-conversion and Mr. Fusion power converter installation on the DeLorean, Doc gets an estimate on the value of his old silver dollar collection, which is $6300 at Hill Valley Stamp and Coin Shop.


Doc's audio log records that he'd realized he couldn't sell the secret of time travel back in 1962. That is a story not yet told.


    Also on page 5 of the story, Doc visits the Blast from the Past shop to see what old stuff might be worth high dollars, but he basically finds only cheap stuff there, like a VCR, a Macintosh Computer, an Atari 2600 game system, a Reagan/Bush '84 poster, and a Michael Jackson's "Thriller" poster.

    In panel 6, what appear to be a He-Man action figure and Teddy Ruxpin teddy bear are seen. 


An advertising poster for USAir "surf Vietnam" is seen on the outside wall of Blast from the Past. USAir was a U.S. airline that ran from 1979-2015.


Next to Blast from the Past is Cafe 80's. Cafe 80's is located where Lou's Cafe was in 1955 and Lou's Aerobic Fitness Center was in 1985.


On page 6, Doc visits the Hill Valley Public Library in 2015.


Doc travels to April 18, 1938 to buy a stack of Action Comics #1, calling it the single greatest investment in the history of man. Action Comics #1 was the first appearance of Superman. April 18, 1938 is the actual date it went on sale at newsstands. The aforementioned DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual has Doc travelling to May 25, 1938. Doc does provide something of an explanation of why he chose that date; he waited the extra month after the issue had been released so he could be comfortable that he had not deprived a child a copy of what was to become the most valuable collectors' item in history.


In 1938, Doc hides the DeLorean behind a billboard advertising the 1938 Studebaker. Studebaker was a U.S. automobile maker 1852-1967.


On page 7 of the story, in 1938, Doc purchases the comic books in the building that is Hill Valley Stationers in 1955. I'm not sure if stationery stores sold comic books back in the day, but in 1938, it might have been a different store like a general market (there's no name on the sign in this issue).


Doc sells one copy of Action Comics #1 to Southby's Auction House in 2015. The name is a play on the real world Sotheby's Auction House. He sells the near mint comic for 2.5 million dollars. In the real world, a pristine copy sold for over 3 million dollars in 2014.


Doc walks away from Southby's with a satchel full of cash and puts it in the DeLorean's hood-trunk. As he does, we see that he has the remaining copies of Action Comics #1 stacked in their as well...but they're just sitting loose where they can slide around and get damaged! When he bought them in 1938, the clerk asked if he'd like a bag and Doc said yes. So didn't he at least leave them in the bag?!


Having placed his satchel of cash in the trunk, Doc flies off in the DeLorean and we also see the Mr. Fusion power converter is installed.


The Southby's is located next to the Pontiac dealer in 2015. In 1985, the dealership was Toyota instead of Pontiac. The Pontiac sign seen here is different than the one seen in Back to the Future Part II. In the real world, the Pontiac brand was retired by General Motors in 2009.
Pontiac dealership Pontiac dealership
Pontiac dealer sign in this issue. Pontiac dealer sign in Back to the Future Part II.


DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual Notes from the DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, hardcover edition, published 2021)


The story Doc tells in his journal entry of his first arrival in 2015 on pages 83-88 more-or-less corresponds to that told in the comic book issue studied above.


Doc provides a crude sketch of his "River of Time" theory on page 85.

River of Time


Page 88 identifies the clerk at Southby's Auction House as Mr. Clark.


Page 88 states that the Mr. Fusion unit Doc buys for the DeLorean is 1.25 gigawatt model.


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