Let’s revisit the early 1980s this week with a review of Iron Man #152, which featured one of the first specialized suits of armor, his all-black Stealth Armor. The first was his Space Armor ten issues earlier, and at this time it seemed that Bob Layton and David Michelinie were using the logic behind Tony Stark custom
Let's see if we can't get this tradition of reviewing old comics started again with an issue of the short-lived Legion spin-off, Valor. When DC editorial decrees necessitated the Legion of Super-Heroes writing Superboy out of their history, the inspiration for the Legion's founding shifted to Mon-El, but renamed him Valor. This series followed the crossover event Eclipso which ended with a young Lar Gand earning the name Valor from Superman.
With us being only days away from the seventh Star Wars movie, it seemed like a good time to review an old Star Wars comic. I could have gone with a Dark Horse comic, but when Marvel took back over the Star Wars license this year, a lot of people made references to forgotten character from the original Marvel series. Jaxxon the six foot tall green space rabbit is one of those characters that comes across as a joke. I thought that I should go back and read his first appearance in 1977's Star Wars #8.
THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #2 September 1984 Let's continue with reviewing the Legion of Super-Heroes comics that helped hook me on comics. Here we continue with the five issue Legion of Super-Villains story. The super-villains are now a full-fledged Legion each with a sworn oath to kill a Legionnaire. The threat is much more dire than the last time that they showed up running a school for super-villains. Now, they have some really powerful and dangerous super-villains, some just recruited in the previous issue. While they have some Legion rejects, they have the power of Lightning Lord, Sun Emperor and the mad Daxamite Ol-Vir. Dream Girl has even had a vision of a Legionnaire dying, making this threat really foreboding.
This week's review of an old comic is All Star Squadron #22, part two of a long storyline that featured almost every Golden Age hero that DC had the rights to. It also featured them facing off against the Ultra-Humanite, who would later in the series pull in the children of the Justice Society, Infinity, Inc., in their very first appearance.
We're back with an new review of an old comic, Excalibur #1. This time we go back to the late 80s when Marvel started spinning off its popular Uncanny X-Men title. Wolverine's regular series came along about this same time. After the X-Men had apparently died in their own title, a few of the team members left behind joined with Captain Britain to form Excalibur, complete with a new series written by Chris Claremont and drawn by a fan favorite artist who just happened to have a history with Captain Britain, Alan Davis.
FANTASTIC FOUR #258 September 1983 With his prominence in Secret Wars, and the endless speculation about how he could be done better in film, Doctor Doom has been on my mind a lot lately. However, for all of my recent disappointment with John Byrne, he was the first writer, for me, that made Doctor Doom a real character instead of a stereotypical comic book villain. It first started in Fantastic Four 247 where he enlisted the Fantastic Four to aid him in overthrowing the ruler of Latveria that they had helped put in place, a ruler that had gone mad and paranoid with power. We saw then that Doctor Doom had room in his heart for the people of his homeland, and only ruled them because he truly wanted what was best for them.
Morningstar Special #8 April 1990 Wouldn't you know that I went to find an independent comic to review, and I end up picking Morningstar Special from 1990, another Elementals issue. This one features story and art from creator Bill Willingham from later in his career when his art style was maturing and becoming a thing of beauty. If you only know of Bill Willingham as a writer on books like Fables, then you're missing out on a great artist. SYNOPSIS: In Avalon, Morningstar has just returned from her honeymoon with her new husband, Ambrose. Fantasia Faust is taking her on an excursion while he catches up on some work he has as regent of Avalon. Unknown to them, they are being followed by a cloaked figure. Their journey takes them by one of Avalon's biggest tourist attractions, King Arthur's tomb.
FANTASTIC FOUR #1 November 1996 With the newest Fantastic Four movie being given horrible reviews on its opening weekend, it seemed like the time to review another reboot of the Fantastic Four. In 1996, the crash of the comic book industry started, with sales for that year dropping by about a third. Marvel, making an effort to capitalize on the popularity of comics bought it's own distributor and took four of its flagship books, all of which had done horribly in sales compared to the speculator-fueled frenzy in its X-Men titles and handed over creative control to Image founders Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. Within three months of this reboot of those titles, called Heroes Reborn, Marvel would file for bankruptcy. Jim Lee was given control over two titles, Iron Man and Fantastic Four. While Iron Man was handled primarily by Scott Lobdell and Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee personally rebooted Fantastic Four. How was it? To be honest, I've never read it, despite it being in my digital collection for about ten years. Let's take a look at Heroes Reborn Fantastic Four and see if it handled rebooting the Fantastic Four any better than the films have.
THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1 August 1984 My reviews of the Legion of Super-Heroes comics that helped hook me not only on the Legion, but on comics as a whole continues. Today, we have the first issue of their series that featured printing on better paper that was initially sold only to comics shops. Yes, back in 1984, this was a big deal. At Marvel, when a comic went direct sales only, it was usually the kiss of death, but DC bet that comic shops and the direct sales market was the future for the industry. We'll argue the ramifications of that another time, but in 1984, this was a big deal. Unfortunately for me at the time, I was only thirteen at the time and did not know of a comic shop that wasn't two hours away. It would be almost a year before I would read this issue, but I'm reviewing it roughly as it came out, so the narrative is preserved.
AVENGERS #214 December 1981 Ant-Man came out this weekend, and knowing at what period in Hank Pym's history this issue came out, I thought I'd give it a review, so we don't get confused about the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Hank Pym being entirely a good guy. As a matter of fact, it's because of the events that affect this issue that I was very glad to learn that Ant-Man would feature Scott Lang. SYNOPSIS: Captain America is working out some frustrations in the Avengers' training room. Tigra, realizing that Cap would prefer to be left alone, encounters Jarvis in the hall and discuss the recent expulsion of Yellowjacket after he disgraced himself twice over. Tigra is glad to see him gone, but Jarvis misses the good man inside of the disgraced man Hank Pym had become.