That’s STUCK, not suck.  🙂

10 Comics that’ll never leave me.

This list is based on a facebook posting I read from the great Neil Vokes.  I figured I’d roll it over and my head and give you my own list.  (Neil’s was 15, I’ll keep mine to 10)

In no particular order:

The Dark Knight Returns #1

1)      The Dark Knight Returns – This mini-series (along with The Watchmen) really changed comic books forever.  Not that comics were ever just for children, but with this series Frank Miller took an iconic character and really cranked up the maturity.  The media took notice and the rest is history.  I can remember the first time I opened the pages of book one like it was yesterday.  Not only was the content unlike anything I’d seen before, the format of the book was as well.  Thick card stock cover, heavy slick paper, and the colors, oh those wonderful colors!  Thank you Lynn Varley!

Watchmen #12

2)      The Watchmen – Yep, as I mentioned above – these two series changed everything.  Where The Dark Knight got most of the mainstream press, it was The Watchmen that was the critics’ darling – and rightly so.  Where The Dark Knight could be compared to a high-style action flick, Moore’s Watchmen is a thinking person’s tale.  I was only 14 when they came out and Dark Knight blew me away then…it was some time later that I picked up Watchmen.  Probably a good thing.  At 14 most of it would have sailed right over me.  Heck, I could likely read it three more times now and find something new each and every time.

Tomb of Dracula #18

3)      Tomb of Dracula – This may seem a bit of a cheat, as it’s an entire 70 issue series, but without doubt this is one of comic’s greatest achievements.  70 issues with virtually the same writer, penciler and inker.  Unheard of!  It was this continuity of talent which held the series together.  You can sit down and read the entire series and it reads as one giant tale.  At the same time, you can pick up any one issue, and get a great quick read.  That’s not easy!  Here’s to the giant talents of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan , and Tom Palmer.

Swamp Thing #9

4)      Swamp Thing #1-10 – Does comic book artwork get any better?  Every single page of these ten issues is a masterpiece.  Has there ever been a better drawn werewolf than the creature in issue #4?  You like Batman’s big flowing cape and big pointy ears?  Thank Bernie – he did it first in the classic cross-over issue #7.  And bar none, the most iconic image of Swamp Thing EVER has got to be the cover to #9.

Daredevil #163

5)      Daredevil #163 – This story really resonated with me.  It really instilled in me what being a “hero” is really all about.  It wasn’t about beating up the bad guys.  It wasn’t about good triumphing over evil.  It was really about doing what’s right – even in the face of certain failure.

dd33

6)      Daredevil #33 – To be honest I don’t remember the story much more than it was DD battling the Beetle.  But there’s a splash page of DD in this book that etched itself in my memory.  When I finally stopped staring at it, I immediately had to turn to the front of the book to see who the artist was.  Gene Colan.  ‘Nuff said.

daredevil230

7)      Daredevil – Born Again (#227-233) – What can I really say that hasn’t already been said about this masterpiece?  If you haven’t read it, why not?  Seriously.  Buy it, read it, and pass it to a friend.

The Weird #4

8)      The Weird – This little know mini-series from DC was published in 1988.  Written by Jim Starlin and penciled by Bernie Wrightson (yep, him again!), this series has really stuck with me.  I think it has a combination of stunning artwork (obviously), but the story is more than a simple super-hero tale.  There’s some nice sentimental moments in there.  You can find this four issue series in the bargain bins, or eBay for next to nothing.  Well worth picking up and reading.

sandman_vol1_preludes

9)      Sandman – Neil Gaiman’s epic series is another title that makes this list not so much for any one particular issue or artist, or even Gaiman’s terrific ability to spin a yarn.  It’s here because it introduced me, and I’m certain many others, to non-superhero comics.  There’s an entire world of comics out there that don’t feature men in tights.  Imagine that!  This is just one of them, and boy-oh-boy is it good stuff!

asm231

10)  Amazing Spider-Man #229-232 – JRJR…always a favorite of mine, but with these few issues of Spidey, I don’t know what it was, but if you ask just about anyone who grew up reading comics in the 80’s, they’ll tell you that these are special.  Juggernaut, Cobra & Mr. Hyde…wow…makes me want to read them again right now.

There are countless others.  I’d LOVE to hear your top 10!  It’s a great way for us all to discover comic gem’s we may have missed!

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  2. Craig
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9 Comments

  1. Interesting choices, Craig. Some were obvious, but others like The Weird are really intriguing. I’ll have to try to track down that series on ebay some time. Great call on the Tomb of Dracula run and DD 163.

  2. In random order :
    1- The Dark Knight Returns : I can still quote bunches of Batman’s monologue…
    2- Daredevil Born Again : “Never Give Up. Never”
    3- Death : The High Cost of living by Gaiman and Bachalo
    4- Preacher by Ennis and Dillon : “You gotta be one of the good guys, cause there’s way too many of the bad ones”
    5- 100 Bullets by Azzarello and Risso: “It’s how it’s played that make it so goddamn special”
    6- Scalped by Aaron and Guera : not finished and already a classic
    7- Sleeper by Brubaker and Phillips
    8- Kingdom Come by Waid and Ross : Wow, DC Universe can be readable !
    9- Daredevil by Miller and Janson : I read and reread the issues countless times
    10-The Life and Times of Scrooge Mac Duck by Don Rosa. Well crafted and clever comic-book for children but not only.

  3. Death: The High Cost of Living was very close to making my list as well. That was a great read.

    Reminds me of another…the original four issue mini-series “Books of Magic”. Wow. That was good stuff.

    I’ve heard a ton of people say 100 Bullets is great. I’ll have to pick up the tpbs.

    Kingdom Come is already on my list of “to read”.

    Thanks for your list!

  4. I can only think of superhero-yarns at the moment … multi-generational (40’s – Present) …

    #10 TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS. ANNUAL #2 (1986) Alan Moore weaves this twisted mind-#$%@ of a tale featuring Abin Sur (Hal Jordan’s noble predecessor) and his encounter with the demonic 5 Inversions of Ysmault (in Sector 666, no less.) Their malignant psychological influence eventually causes Sur’s power-ring to fail him just as he needs it the most. Very Outer Space Gothic!!! It also lays the groundwork for all the current BLACKEST NIGHT stuff … 25 years later!!! Brilliant!

    #9 ADVENTURE COMICS #271 “How Luthor Met Superboy” (1960) Like a Greek tragedy for 8-year-olds! Written by Supe’s own creator, Jerry Siegel, this iconic tale recounts how BFF’s Lex Luthor & Superboy ended up becoming bitter enemies … after Kal-El accidentally causes young Lex’s hair to fall out!!! I miss the “adventures of Superman when he was a boy…” and I’m glad they’re bringing that aspect of the mythology back to comics in a few months.

    #8 BATMAN #1 (Spring 1940) When I was around 5 or 6, and just starting to read stuff from the library, I brought home this book of BATMAN reprints which showed the first 2 stories featured in BATMAN #1 … The Legend of The Batman (“Who He is and How He Came to Be”) and the first meeting with The Joker. My only exposure to Bats up to that point was the dorky SUPERFRIENDS-Batman and Adam West-Batman. I had no idea why this rich buffoon would run around in a ridiculous get-up in the middle of the day, hang out with near-god-like beings who were obviously his betters (not to mention 20-year-old “sidekicks”) What’s his motivation? Why would a normal shmoe subject himself to this nonsense? Was he just bored? Insane?!!? Who did he think he was?!!? When I first looked upon Bob Kane’s creation … at its absolute purest … this was the first time I saw Batman … the REAL Batman … and it rocked my Kindergarten-world! It made perfect sense: little rich kid watches his parents get wasted by a petty crook, devotes the the rest of his life to intense study and training, “criminals are a superstitious & cowardly lot …” and all that jazz, and that ‘weird figure of the night” panel at the very end of the origin … OH, I GET IT … HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE SCARY!!! It was a complete revelation. That, coupled with the first … and arguably … one of the BEST appearances of The Joker made for a life-changing event. (Oh, and Robin was like 10 or 11… which was how it should have been!!! Why would Bruce Wayne “adopt” a kid in his late teens? That would be downright creepy.)

    #7 MR. MONSTER and HIS BOOKS OF FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE (VOLUME 1 – 1983-1986) It celebrates all that weird juvenile comic book magic from the late 40’s and early 50’s … stuff you’d see with guys like Captain Marvel or Plastic-Man … with all those simple pulpy grade-Z plots … it’s not quite making fun of them, because it’s too heartfelt … it just oozes fun and imagination with a self-awareness that’s never condescending. It kinda reminds me of early Tim Burton, in a way …

    #6 DOCTOR STRANGE & DOCTOR DOOM: TRIUMPH AND TORMENT (1989) This graphic novel is a great team-up drawn by an amazing artist, Mike Mignola … and features the definitive representation of both of these characters. Doom has a great origin story which makes him STILL one of the best comic book villains ever. The tragedy … the nobility … the Lovecraftian-netherworld beasties (as only Mignola can draw them)… NUFF SAID!!!

    #5 THE INHUMANS (12-issue “Marvel Knights” series by Jenkins & Lee) If someone like Ridley Scott decided to make a superhero epic … it would probably look like this. Sumptuous … Grand … Majestic … those would be some of the adjectives to describe Jae Lee’s artwork in this. And all these beautifully written characters … and the otherworldly society they reside in … it’s true Marvel Mythology!!! I read every one of those comics about 20 times each when they first came out!

    #4 SUPERMAN #129 (1958) This tells how Superman almost never was Superman, because he hooked up with this hot mermaid chick in college named Lori Lemaris. I’ll admit, I dig mermaids! I like beautiful women, I like the ocean, I like fish, I like fantasy … so it would make sense that I would dig mermaids. It also makes sense that an otherworldly siren like Lori would bewitch an otherworldly humanoid like Superman. I never bought into his whole stupid love affair with Lois Lane. She’s kind of an elitist bitch … and there’s absolutely nothing special about her … nothing that Superman should relate to anyway … but the “Girl from Superman’s Past” tells the ultimate “one that got away” story in grand Silver-Age Superman fashion!

    #3 The Complete Berni Wrightson SWAMP THING (Early 70’s) Craig Rogers ain’t kidding! Amazing EC Comics-on-Steroids artwork by Berni Wrightson, classic Universal/Hammer-style Monster-Mashes, and just overall great writing by Len Wein make this the comic-run to remember. I also dig Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING (Mid 80’s). I love the first appearance of Arcane and his Un-men in Wrightson’s run. I love the ‘Murder of Crows”/War of the Sorcerers storyline from Moore’s run. And I’m absolutely ga-ga over both versions’ inevitable run-in with the dread Batman!!! It’s a beautiful melding of southern gothic horror and superheroes!

    #2 DC COMICS PRESENTS #97 “The Last Phantom Zone Story” (1985) This was like the last hurrah for the Silver Age Superman before John Byrne “improved” him by taking 3/4’s of his mythology and dumping it down the shitter. They’re finally undoing most of Byrne’s damage at the dawn of the 21st Century, Thank Christ! It should have happened sooner! This, written by Steve Gerber, along with Alan Moore’s more-famous “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” showcases what talented writers and artists do when they’re allowed to have adventures in Superman’s playground. A playground that has Bizarro-World, the Buck Rogers-style Krypton, the bottle-city of Kandor and dome-preserved Argo City (birthplace of Supergirl), Krypto the Superdog, Mr. Mxyzptlk and the land of Zriff, and of course, my favorite place (which SUPERMAN II never did justice to) … The Phantom Zone, an eternal dimensional limbo that imprisons the enlightened Krypton’s exiled renegades and deviants!!! This double-sized issue, told the whole history of the Phantom Zone; how Jor-El discovered it and revolutionized Krypton’s penal system, the the 40-or-so baddies that got sent there and all their terrible crimes, and what happens when an ancient Kryptonian wizard named Aethyr possesses Mr. Mxyzptlk and forces him to free all the bad guys, and sic ’em on poor old Superman. This blew my 10-year-old mind.

    #1 ANYTHING BY GRANT MORRISON!!! This guy … drug-abuser, that he is … forgets more amazing ideas than most writers are ever struck with!!! ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, THE 7 SOLDIERS, MARVEL BOY, THE NEW X-MEN, THE DOOM PATROL, 52, THE INVISIBLES, and his current BATMAN (Dick Grayson) & ROBIN (Damian, bad little scion of Bruce Wayne). This guy is my idol … despite the questionable mind-expanding activities he sometimes takes part in. He’s like the bastard son of Jack Kirby, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut … X1000!!!

  5. Wow Matt…now THAT’S what I’m looking for around here. Great stuff man! There’s a bunch of gems there I’m going to have to track down. Thanks!

  6. I GOT 3 Worthy of Mentions …

    I’m sure you’ll agree with this first one, Craig … DAREDEVIL-GANGWAR by Miller & Janson. I’m not a huge DD fan but “In the Clutches of the Kingpin” is freakin’ sweet! That’s where the 2 duke it out for the first time and we come to realize that Kingpin’s not really FAT, just REALLY REALLY MUSCULAR!!! That bit with the safe, that only Kingpin can open is pretty nifty, as well. Plus … BULLSEYE!!!

    AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED. Advice to guys: If you’re gonna lie to a chick, make sure it’s not a chick that can bend reality with her mind. Case in point, The Scarlet Witch (always one of my favorite superbabes) goes ballistic when she finds out a dirty little secret the other Avengers have kept from her and does everything from making Tony Stark drunk during a UN Assembly to conjuring up an entire Kree-invasion. Big body-count in this one!!! Moral: Don’t #@^% with Magneto’s little girl!!!

    THE FLASH OF 2 WORLDS … This is the first DC tale to reveal to us the Multiverse … namely Earth 1 (modern heroes, or in this case 1960’s) and Earth 2 (World War II-era heroes.) We have Barry Allen teaming up with Jay Garrick to fight some very colorful rogues. A true gem that creatively accounts for where all your Pappy’s superheroes went! I love the Multiverse stories DC puts out now. Endless possibilities … and it all started here!!!

  7. I thought of another that really should have been in my first list. “The Death of Jean DeWolff” which originally appeared in Spectacular Spider-man #107 – 110. In fact I need to find these issues again an re-read them. Peter David at his finest.

  8. Okay, I have to share my stupidity…When I first read the thread, I thought is was “Comics that SUCK”! I started reading the lists and thought, “Wait, what’s wrong with those?” LOL

    As Emily Latella used to say, “Never mind.”

    Best,
    Mike

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