My fascination with a multiverse hasn't been to the forefront in a while. However, in going back over my coverage of the Multiversity Guidebook, I was really fond of Earth-38. That Earth is based entirely on the series of Elseworlds series Superman & Batman: Generations. The premise of the series is that Superman and Batman debuted in 1939 and aged in real time. Many of their adventures would mirror the stories as they were published. Of course, the fact that the characters and their supporting casts aged meant that some stories wouldn't be the same.
It's odd for me to get surprised by an old comic book. I tend to remember what comics were good, especially when it comes to legendary artists. I had completely forgotten that World of Krypton was drawn by Mike Mignola. Of course, this was a period in my life when I wasn't buying comics regularly. The books I had been buying before, like John Byrne's Superman were also not the ones that I ended up buying when I started up again. I recall reading Superman #18, where he returns to Krypton and has a vision of a world where all of Krypton evacuated to Earth. However, that was half a year later. Cue to one sleepless night when I was browsing DC Universe and came across World of Krypton, the 1987 mini-series that fleshed out the view of Post-Crisis Krypton we had seen in Man of Steel #1. I read the whole series in one night and to be honest, I enjoyed the first issue much more than the others, especially the last issue. The last issue actually did a lot of retelling from aforementioned Man of Steel #1. The first issue impressed me enough that I felt like I needed to review it.
Watching Avengers: Infinity War, I was taken with how powerful the Scarlet Witch was portrayed. This was a character shown to be powerful enough to shatter an Infinity Stone. Given that in the past two films that she's appeared in, her powers have been shown to be primarily telekinetic and mildly telepathic, but not so powerful that she can shatter one of the six most powerful items in the universe. This level of power is something that is not uncommon to long time comic fans. Most famously, she has completely rewritten reality in the House of M crossover event. She also stripped all but a handful of mutants of their powers at the end of that event. Writer John Byrne explored how her original power to alter probabilities in a great, albeit truncated story in Avengers West Coast collected in Darker Than Scarlet. On his forum, John Byrne explained that Wanda's powers worked backward through time, which brought the attention of Immortus. Immortus sought to exploit the most powerful aspect of her mutant power to change history, creating a timeline without an Avengers. This was a demonstration of how powerful Wanda could be, and that demonstration of power was the best part of what remained from the original story.
I was going to continue on the the mid-80s frenzy that I was in, visiting the dawn of the West Coast Avengers, but in looking at the series, I wanted to hit where the series had its greatest impact. The mini-series was not that point, and in the series itself, the high points seemed to coincide with John Byrne's run on the title. Those also tended to run with multi-issue stories, with a couple notable exceptions, and one of those is the introduction of some of the silliest heroes of the 1980s, the Great Lakes Avengers. They keep coming back and at one point in their evolution boasted among their members, Squirrel Girl. This is before everyone's favorite nut-eating, butt-kicking hero was invented, and features some heroes that if not silly, definitely were interesting, to say the least. So with the intro now long enough to wrap past the Reviews of Old Comics logo, let's get started.
It's a TWO-FER! For my first Review of Old Comics for the year, I'm going with two comics my wife gave me this last Christmas. To be honest, I got the comics about a month ago in a special sale at Heroes Aren't To Find, a shop that we've talked about here before. She forbade me from even ripping the tape on the bag and board, and instead wrapped them up and put them under the tree. I read them today, and was reminded of the time John Byrne used a Marvel comic to parody another creator for a wacky set of beliefs. More on that later.
It's Wolverine Month here at Needless Essentials Online, so I'm looking at one of the pivotal books for Wolverine, Uncanny X-Men #133. This issue spotlighted Wolverine in a way that featured him as quite possibly the only X-Man that could have rescued his teammates from a Hellfire Club that had corrupted and turned their most powerful member against them.
With Luke Cage now available on Netflix, I thought it would be nice to look at some of the character's comic book past. Instead of going with one of the issues that everyone refers to in looking at the character's past, such as his first appearance or the time that he to collect payment from Doctor Doom, I went with the first issue that Power Man officially shared with his long time partner, Iron Fist. For two issues, Iron Fist was a guest star, but this was the first time the cover logo changed to reflect a partnership. Legally, the title wouldn't officially change for a few issues thanks to way these things would happen in the 1970s, but this is the issue where the logo changed, making this the first issue of Power Man and Iron Fist.
So with Captain America: Civil War in theaters, I wanted to tie an Avengers review into it. Combine that with the guilt of running four consecutive DC Reviews, and it's time to review an issue of something by Marvel. Fans of the Indy titles should stick around for next time, because I haven't tackled one of those in months. If you have a suggestion, just contact me and I'll see what I can work in.
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.
John Byrne is a legend in the comic book industry and has maintained a large fan base, although the limit of his artwork in recent years has been private commissions, with his last published work being a Star Trek photomosaic story for IDW. He has maintained an Internet presence solely on his own forums, Byrne Robotics, where this controversy started. Notice that I haven't included a link there. There's a reason for that at the end of this article.
Over on our Facebook Page, We've been sharing the covers of the original What If? comic series, and among those was What If? #27, which is What If Phoenix had not died? within the comics, we get one story, but another unfolded in Phoenix: The Untold Story. The reason for the change is the role that Dark Phoenix played as a genocidal villain. In feeding her hunger, she consumed the star for the D'Bari causing it to go nova and destroy the planet. Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter recounts that when he saw that scene he asked to see the ending and demanded that it change. Chris Claremont and John Byrne then changed the ending to the one that was published with Jean Grey committing suicide rather than kill billions again.
Being that it’s Batman month here at Needless Essentials, it’s only appropriate that as Comics editor, I have a list of my favorite 5 Batman stories. In the interest of full disclosure, I really don’t like Batman as a character. He’s been spoiled for too long by writers who forget that he’s supposed to be