PREZ #4 March 1974 Some people might think I'm out of my mind to put this one here, but it's the holidays, so I'm feeling like sharing gems in the history of comics, especially by any of the cornerstone creators of the comic book genre.. I do own a copy of this gem, though. As a matter of fact, I have every issue of this series and only lack the comic that has Supergirl carrying Prez on the cover to have every appearance of this character. SYNOPSIS: After returning from a state trip to the European nation of Moravia, where Prez's administration has helped build a billion-dollar canal for irrigation, Prez and Eagle Free (head of the CIA) remark on the Moravians' strange custom of wearing garlic wreaths. That night, the White House is unexpectedly visited by a bat shaped helicopter carrying Wolfman, the Transylvanian ambassador. It seems that the Moravian canal has drained the lakes of Transylvania. When Prez refuses to destroy the canal, the Wolfman delivers a formal declaration of war on behalf of his country's leader, Count Dracula. Wolfman storms out, with no one realizing that he has left his coffin-shaped briefcase behind.
STAR WARS #38 August 1980 I remember waiting for the comic book adaption of The Empire Strikes Back to show up in the next issue of Star Wars, and when I saw it on the spinner rack, I was so excited that I started to read it when I got home. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't the start of the film adaptation. However, if my expectations aren't going to be met, there's no better way than by giving the nine-year-old version of me a fill-in issue drawn by Mike Golden. I hadn't yet really paid attention to the artists drawing comics, but was really disappointed in the quality of the artwork on Star Wars (done by Carmine Infantino, whom I now really appreciate), but with this issue, I realized that there was a difference and that Mike Golden was one of the artists I liked best. When he started doing covers for G.I. Joe and Saga of Crystar, I was really excited, and over the years, seeing his artwork on a book makes me give it a second look. SYNOPSIS: Luke and Leia are being attacked by an Imperial Star Destroyer while transporting medical supplies for the Rebel Alliance. The smugglers that sold them the supplies must've double-crossed them. Just as the Imperial attack is about to overwhelm them, Luke makes the jump to hyperspace, but they find themselves outside the galaxy, lost in the black void of space in a crippled ship.
CLOAK AND DAGGER #1 October 1983 As I remember, in 1983, there was a lot of buzz around Cloak and Dagger. They had appeared a handful of times in Peter Parker, Spider-Man and seemed to be on the fast track to a series of their own. Now it might just have been my friends, but looking back, they had only appeared a few times before, and were already getting a mini-series. Like I said, this could just be what it seemed like at the time, but it certainly seemed like they had a buzz. SYNOPSIS: A priest walks through the New York Port Authority and is hassled by pimps, drug dealers and prostitutes that get chased away by the police. He goes to his church on 42nd Street to pray for guidance but is greeted by the sudden appearance of Cloak and Dagger They are looking for a place to rest, explaining that they were once runaways that gained their powers after being abducted and given experimental drugs. They now wage a war on those that would prey on the innocent, but are growing weary and need a place to rest.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ANNUAL #10 September 1983 I'm a huge fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and before I brought this column over to Needless Essentials, I had started, on my own blog, a series covering a run of issues on the Legion's issues from this time period, where I came into the ranks of Legion fans. I was hesitating on continuing it here, but for the brief time that I've been writing here, the most viewed review of an old comic has been consistently the issue of Legion of Super-Heroes that I reviewed about a month ago. Therefore, until I see a drop in interest for my Legion reviews, the majority of the DC Comics that I'll review will be from the Legion, and in order. When I was younger, and first buying comics at the convenience store, Annuals were extremely hard to find. This was a real problem with the Teen Titans' story "The Judas Contract." I remember stumbling across this one at a different store than my regular haunt, still on the spinner rack after a couple more issues of the Legion had come out. I was thrilled and tried for days to figure out where it fit in until I read the notes at the end of this issue. I was twelve and didn't have the patience to read a lot of captions, especially after the story was over.
AVENGERS ANNUAL #10 August 1981 I've had a habit of reviewing overlooked comics, but when I came across this one, I just had to include it. It's also one of the most expensive back issues that I've ever reviewed. The fact that it's a key issue also makes for a unique experience. This comic is the first appearance of Rogue, the X-Men character that has become a fan favorite over the thirty years she's been with the team, being one of the first members to join the second X-Men team that stuck around, almost becoming synonymous with the franchise, to the point of being in the first three films and the upcoming film that's supposed to tie together the franchise. SYNOPSIS: Spider-Woman catches an unconscious woman falling from the Golden Gate Bridge. At the hospital it's discovered that she's Carol Danvers, but her mind is completely gone. She also completely vanished six months earlier. Needing someone who can get inside her mind to find out what happened, Spider-Woman calls Professor X of the X-Men, who comes to San Fransisco as quick as he can. The police have also uncovered a connection Carol Danvers has with the Avengers and the super-hero known as Ms. Marvel. Professor X telepathically lets Spider-Woman know that Carol's mind was wiped clean by an assailant named Rogue.
Elementals #2 April 1989 It was 1989, and I was graduating from High School. In my home town, there were only two places to buy comics, a Convenience store with a spinner rack and just down the road from there at the town's only shopping mall, a B. Dalton booksellers that also had a spinner rack, but featured better comics. The plan was just after graduating and just prior to a party, to stop by the mall and get a t-shirt for the college I would be attending (and subsequently dropping out of) in the fall. Being the comics fan that I am, I decided to stop by the bookstore and pick up a comic or two. For some reason on that afternoon, I decided to pick up something new, and that was where I was introduced to Elementals.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #303 September 1983 Unashamedly, I am a huge fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The period that I first fell in love with the Legion was about the same time a lot of people did, the period around 1983-1984 when Legion of Super-Heroes became DC's second best-selling title, right behind New Teen Titans. This issue comes from that period, almost smack in the middle of the Great Darkness Saga and the launch of the Legion's Baxter series. I decided to go forward with this review after this site featured the excellent cosplay of Badluck Kitty as Supergirl. I had already started it but planned to finish it at a later date, as I'm in the middle of moving. SYNOPSIS: On Weber's World, The Emerald Empress and a Dark Circle sympathizer Ontiir have captured and immobilized a team of Legionnaires, Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy, Sun Boy, Brainiac 5 and Supergirl. The empress tortures the Legionnaires, breaking Sun Boy's jaw in the process. The Empress orders their execution. At Legion HQ, reservists Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are left manning the monitor board as the remaining active Legionnaires take the new Legion cruisers to Karate Kid and Queen Projectra's wedding. On the cruisers, Timber Wolf takes the opportunity to sulk at the communication console, confusing Blok, who is still not completely versed on human emotions, as noted by Shadow Lass and Phantom Girl, in a very catty fashion.
Hansi, the Girl Who Loved The Swastika February 1994 The trick in talking about Religiously-themed comics is doing so without inserting my own feelings about said religion into the commentary. Hansi was published in 1976 by Spire Christian Comics, who also produced a series of Christian-themed comics featuring Archie. It is the biographical story of
UNCANNY X-MEN #152 December 1981 This is one of the first X-Men comics that I can remember buying, although not the first. That honor goes to the issue before this one which sports a classic "Kitty leaving Xavier's school crying" cover. I remember buying this and taking with me to read while my mom did the laundry at the laundromat. I got other comics as well, including an issue of Adventure Comics, but to save the life of me, I don't recall anything else. SYNOPSIS: Storm is chasing a red sports car driven by the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost, throwing lightning at it, unable to stop it from going off the curvy mountain road. Inside the car, Kitty wakes up and phases out the car door, as Emma tries to grab her, she loses control and goes off the edge of a cliff, crashing and erupting into flames. Storm panics and flies away haphazardly on a gust of wind. Kitty is fine from the crash, and remembers being taken by Storm to Emma Frost's Massachusetts Academy by Storm until she was kidnapped by a panicked Emma Frost. She sees that Emma was thrown clear of the crash and against her baser instincts, decides to rescue her.
I've been reading comics for a long time, so I remember when comics were something you waited for and every week you were surprised. I remember when you trekked to the convenience store, or drug store, or grocery store, where ever you bought comics because there was no store that conveniently pulled your comics for you every week. I remember the one time a year you went to the closest comic book convention to you to get the issues that you missed because the other kids in town got there before you. This is the ongoing story of recapturing that feeling by reading some comics that haven't been cracked in some time. Perhaps they live in some long-neglected long box in your spare room. Perhaps they are discovered at the bottom of that last box you haven't unpacked since your last move two years ago, and perhaps they're just waiting in some comic shops back stock waiting for you to discover them the next time they drag them to some mini-convention in a hotel ballroom looking to score some quick cash with cheap back issues. Sometimes they'll be gems, sometimes the memory is fonder than the reality, but my goal is to share with you my spoiler-ridden reviews of old comics. JOHN BYRNE'S NEXT MEN #6 July 1992 John Byrne was one of my earliest influences. In the 1990s, after bouncing between Marvel and DC over a decade, he turned a proposal for Marvel's 2099 line into 2112, a graphic novel that became the basis for Next Men. This was the issue that tied those two together, because after reading 2112 and the first six issues (there was a Next Men #0) of John Byrne's Next Men, it was not apparent that they were linked in any way except that both had a character named Sathanas, which could or could not be the same character. They certainly didn't look alike. Enter this issue. SYNOPSIS: In an Antarctic research station, an earthquake rocks four scientists who quickly deduce it came from an explosion 30 miles away. They go to investigate to discover at the site, around a hundred mangled, mutilated and not quite human bodies. One of them is alive and it quickly attacks the group draining their life-force to save itself. Recognizing one of the scientists as Fleming Jorgenson, the creature, horribly injured relishes in that the year is 1955. Cut to the States and the home of Congressman Aldus Hilltop who his hosting Dr. Jorgenson who's returned from an apparent explosion of the research station that killed all other scientists there. Jorgenson is bringing Aldus Hilltop who places his political career above all else. Jorgenson has Hilltop help retrieve a case from Antarctica in the most confusing and complicated way possible. Inside the case, is the creature he discovered in Antarctica, named Sathanas, an energy vampire that awakes and brings Hilltop into his grand plan with the promise of power.
I've been reading comics for a long time, so I remember when comics were something you waited for and every week you were surprised. I remember when you trekked to the convenience store, or drug store, or grocery store, where ever you bought comics because there was no store that conveniently pulled your comics for you every week. I remember the one time a year you went to the closest comic book convention to you to get the issues that you missed because the other kids in town got there before you. This is the ongoing story of recapturing that feeling by reading some comics that haven't been cracked in some time. Perhaps they live in some long-neglected long box in your spare room. Perhaps they are discovered at the bottom of that last box you haven't unpacked since your last move two years ago, and perhaps they're just waiting in some comic shops back stock waiting for you to discover them the next time they drag them to some mini-convention in a hotel ballroom looking to score some quick cash with cheap back issues. Sometimes they'll be gems, sometimes the memory is fonder than the reality, but my goal is to share with you my spoiler-ridden reviews of old comics. SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #31 September 1991 She-Hulk got her own title again in 1989, done by John Byrne, the writer/artist that brought new life to her character in Fantastic Four. Within a year, however, Byrne had left the book in a dispute over his artwork being redrawn. Story quality suffered until he was brought back to continue her adventures in much the same vein as he used when he started the book. Namely, She-Hulk knew she was in a comic book, faced heroes and villains largely forgotten because "serious" writers thought that they were too stupid to be resurrected, and never took any of it too seriously.
In the early 1990s, the speculation boom brought lots of new customers into comic shops. Some professionals in the industry though it might be a good time to create new universes to draw these new readers in, and some used purchased licenses to build those universes around. Valiant was one of those companies. Structured around purchased Silver Age Gold Key characters Solar, Man of the Atom and Magnus, Robot Fighter, Jim Shooter directed the construction of a universe complete with new characters, brought in creators like Barry Windsor-Smith and Dave Lapham, and engage readers on a level not seen in years. Valiant seemed like it might survive the eventual bursting of the speculation bubble, but alas, it was not to be.