I blame among other things the Big Bang Theory and Comic Book Men television shows. To someone who already loves comics and who loves going to the comic book shop I can see them for what they are, shows with the absolute nerd dial turned to 11. To someone who wants to get into comic books again or for the first time they are the best advertisements for going digital that you can get. Going digital is completely fine and is a great way to get new comics on a regular basis without much effort, but something gets lost in that method. Mainly the thrill of the hunt to search through the back issues and find something you have never seen and never heard of before. Back in the days before the internet, comic book collecting was much harder. Past stories were spoken about among friends and strangers in comic shops, about that time Wolverine first encountered Sabretooth, or the first appearance of Robin. If you had not read the issue you had no clue what had happened and had to rely on word of mouth. This would also set you on a quest of sorts to look for that issue in every shop you passed. Nothing in collecting rivals that anticipation of what you might find in a shop and the thrill of flipping through back issues getting closer and closer to that elusive number you need to read.
Life In the Quarter Bin.
It always amazes me that so many comic fans are obsessed with the next big thing and freaking out because someone they dislike is taking over monthly chores of a character they love. I mean it’s not as if anyone is making you buy those issues. If you need something new to read with your favorite character maybe you need to look backwards instead of forwards. Chances are you missed some great stories and moments in your favorite characters history. Plus with the comic shops dying out I am sure they would appreciate the business. Comic shops get a bad rap.
This week I am going to point out three series/runs that can be found at pretty cheap prices and are worth your time and effort to seek out.
Nightwing (series 2)
The Nightwing series from the late 90’s is one of the best series I have ever had the pleasure of following for more than forty issues. The comic had Chuck Dixon at the helm from issue 1 all the way to issue 70 until he handed the reigns over to Devin Grayson. Several artist were at the helm as well, but the best and most remembered of the bunch was Scott McDaniel who had an impressive run from issue 1 to 40. That is pretty much unheard of for an artist in this day and age. Not to be forgotten is inker Karl Story who helped make the art very memorable. While the writing was always top notch, the art was amazing for anyone who loves fight scenes. Considering this is a wrestling website, I’m betting that is referring to everyone reading this.
I’m usually not a fan of the minimalist art, but McDaniel’s art is just so fluid and exciting that it’s hard not to love. This is one of those series that you can just flip through and enjoy the fight scenes without even reading the issues, they are that damn good!
The first three issues are not usually found cheap, but from number four on, you can pretty much pick and choose for some cheap prices.
Highlights include one of the best Scarecrow stories in all of his appearances in the Bat-Universe.
Scarecrow Issues 9-11
Batman teaming up with is former protege in Nightwings town of Bludhaven. Dixon get’s the strained and yet respectful relationship of the former dynamic duo. What starts off as Batman telling Dick what to do, turns into Bruce recognizing Nightwing’s ability to strike out on his own and he lets his longitme sidekick take the lead.
Batman issues 13-15
Nightwing confronts his former arch-nemesis from the Teen Titans, Deathstroke. A villain he had never defeated in single combat, at least not until this issue.
As well as the three part No Man’s Land issues where Dick returns to Gotham and goes undercover into Blackgate prison.
These highlights are far from the only things worth reading but even after all these years I remember these issues the most.
–While the majority of the issues are cheap, some are downright elusive to find. Be prepared to search several locations to get a whole story.
–This is a comic run at it’s finest. One writer and one artist with zero fill ins spinning yarns.
– The art is so damn exciting to follow.
– While it is fun to see Nightwing face the Batman rogues, Dick get’s his own wretched hive of scum and villainy in a town that is the ugly sister of Gotham.
The next series I want to focus on is one that you can recommend for someone who knows nothing about comics.
Runaways was a comic by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona. The concept came about when Marvel approached Vaughn about heading up a new line of comics that would offer up crossover appeal to all the Manga readers out there. What Brian came up with was so much deeper then what they had in mind for the comic.
This one is going to be hard to write too much about as I do not want to spoil anything for first time readers. The premise is this, a group of kids who don’t get along very well are always brought together once a year while their parent have some sort of get-together. The curious nature of the group get’s the better of them and they discover that their parents are all super-villians. It’s of course taking the feeling that your parents are evil and trying to ruin your life and pushing it to the extreme. This could easily have just been your standard kids comic but Brian would not let it. His great characterization and adult sense of humor really put a shine on this series.
The series for the most part is in it’s own bubble of the Marvel universe, which is fantastic for newer readers who won’t be picking up the series and then having to stop to read up on the company wide crossover that their comic was just crammed into.
Being that the characters were just introduced in this series you don’t have to worry about reading up on tons of history to figure out what’s going on.
As I said before I don’t want to say too much at the risk of spoiling anything but the one highlight I can tell you about is in Volume 2 when the Runaways travel to New York and meet up with the big guns of the Marvel universe and hilarity ensues.
Runaways Vol. (2) 7-12
Brian K. Vaughn writes all 18 issues of Vol. 1 and 24 issues of Vol. 2 at which time Joss Whedon of Buffy and Avengers fame, who was a huge fan of the series wrote the final story of the second volume. A third volume was created and written by Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo) and drawn by Humberto Ramos. This volume was a more accurate representation of what Marvel had in mind, an american Manga comic. By this time though the fans were already into the original vision and this third volume was canceled due to poor sales.
–The art can be a turnoff to people who dismiss it as a kids comic.
-As stated before the comic ran through three volumes and can be confusing to get in order if the shop owner does not have them that way.
-Comic must be read in order as it is practically soap operish in it’s storylines.
–All the issues are cheap!
-Gateway drug into other comics.
-All the storylines are written in 6 issue arcs. So it’s easy to know if you got the complete current tale.
Reboots are considered bad by longtime fans. Most think just because the stories you read no longer happened in the lives of the characters you love, that it means you never can enjoy them again. I am hereby officially declaring continuity dead! Yeah I barely believed that as I typed it. The upside of reboots is that on most occasions the issues from Earth B (The general term DC uses for anything that does not fit in anywhere.) usually drop like a stone in cost, which means cheap stories for you!
Geoff Johns Run on Action Comics was pretty spectacular and came about in a roundabout way. Geoff Johns never intended to write comics for a living. He had gone to college for screenwriting and other studies involving filmmaking. Johns favorite director is Richard Donner whose Superman films he felt were the best representations of the character. As an intern Johns worked with Donner on his film Conspiracy Theory and there they struck up a friendship. Fast forward 9 years and Johns talks Donner into co-writing a story arch involving the three Kryptonian super criminals that were featured in Superman 2.
The downfall of this first storyline is that Adam Kubert is drawing it. No offense to Adam Kubert, his art is pretty cool, but he suffers from the same affliction as Jim Lee. So what we got were fill in issues between the story arch. DC “sold” this complication by stating that in the olden days there were fill in writers and artist all the time. Yeah the olden days also featured smallpox and the plague so I’m not buying that excuse for one minute. That being said the issue for this storyline starts in Action comics 844 and go to 846. The next part is in 851 and then the finale takes place in Action comics annual 11 because they were finding diminished returns on the fill ins and needed to move forward.
Adam Kubert is commanded to kneel before Zod… and finish his assignments on time.
Every storyline in this short run was enjoyable.
Bizarro storyline 855-857 (drawn by Eric Powell of Goon fame.)
Legion issues 858-863 (Drawn by Gary Frank.)
This storyline brought back the fact that Clark was a member of the Legion as Superboy. This bit of history was retconned by John Byrne during his reboot in 1986. Although most of this history was before my time I always loved the idea of a young Clark Kent having adventures in his youth and I really appreciated Johns bringing this back into continuity atleast for a little while until the next reboot.
Brainiac issues 866-870 (Gary Frank art)
No great run would be complete without controversy as the cover of issue 869 was recalled because the original issue had Clark sharing a beer with his dad. Apparently to be perfectly good you can never drink alchohol ever… EVER! If you want to spend some quality family time with your dad it’s soda pop or bust!
Noooo! Now I can’t unsee this. Superman is drinking a beer!
Oh thank god, I thought I was gonna riot and start eating my neighbors for a second. All is right with world again. A fictional character is no longer drinking alcohol.
Geoff Johns run offically ends with issue 873, but he did not get out unscathed as he was in for the beginning of the New Krypton story and the less said about that one the better. I mean his specific issues for the start of that story are not bad, but they just might trick you into reading that whole crossover which will not endear you to the Superman franchise.
Just look at this pretty picture but do not read the story. (Alex Ross art)
– The first issues of Johns run have fill in’s which are not bad but they do nothing to enhance the story.
– If you are not a fan of “old school” then you already know that is what Johns is all about.
-Superman drinking a beer!
-Great characterization which amazingly is hard to come by in a lot of Superman comic runs.
-All the artist in the Johns issues are good, Gary Frank especially.
-It’s short and fairly easy to get the entire run.
Well that’s it for this week. Hurricane Sandy knocked my power out for a while and that threw me off the schedule I am trying to keep for my installments. My thoughts and prayers are for all those who got worse then a little inconvenience from the storm.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installments as I for once have a specific plan in mind as to what I will be writing about. I hope you will all enjoy them.
Till next time.
J. Ryan Buck ([email protected])
previous installments here http://lostscribe0.blogspot.com/