Greetings from the Odinson,
Avengers Assemble! I absolutely love that battle cry. I have spent my comic book reading life thrilling to the amazing adventures of heroes like the Avengers, Justice League, and Teen Titans. I have always gravitated to team books. WildCATts was always my favorite early Image book. Of course it didn’t hurt that Jim Lee was the creator. I love team books. Reading about a group of individuals that overcome their personal differences to gel and work as a team to defeat the foes no one super hero can defeat alone has always been my favorite kind of comic book.
You get more bang for your buck with a team book. In the pages of JLA, you don’t just get to read about Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, you get to see them all in action. In the Avengers, it’s not just Captain America, Iron Man or Thor saving the day, it’s all of them in one book. Part of the fun is watching a room full of people that have no reason being together become friends and a cohesive team. Cap is from the 1940s, Iron Man is an industrialist/futurist and inventor, Thor is a Viking god of thunder, the Hulk is a monster, and the Wasp is a socialite. These people have nothing in common. However, when they come together they are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and woe to any villain that would stand against them.
The Odinson decided to handpick his perfect super human strike force. Since I am not bound to any one universe, I am able to pick and choose from the best of the best from all corners of the Comic Book Multiverse. This is the team of heroes to beat all others and I know that once they assemble there will no threat too big, no challenge unmet, and no scenario un-winnable, no matter how cosmic, even if they had to endure the Crisis on Infinite Secret Annihilation.
So who makes the list?
Superman – Any list like this has to start with the Last Son of Krypton. He’s the first, he’s the best, and he is arguably the greatest super hero ever. Superman brings a power set that is off the charts – super strength, endurance, speed, nigh-invulnerability, flight, super hearing, intelligence and heat vision are just for starters. I truly believe that one day we will learn that the Man of Steel can do anything as long as he thinks he can.
Captain America – No way was the Odinson making a list like this and not including his all time favorite hero. Steve Rogers is the ultimate fighter, a brilliant strategist, and a natural born leader. Anyone that can get a Norse god, a high tech wizard, an African king, and former members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to toe the line has the stones to lead my team into battle.
Thor – The mighty thunder god brings a power level undreamed of to the table, and courage to back it up. Even on a team that already has Superman, Thor adds a dimension that no one else can match. As the mightiest hero in the Marvel cannon, Thor has faced down Thanos, Galactus, and the nigh omnipotent Celestials. He does not possess a weakness to magic and he can teleport and travel between dimensions, a skill that will prove very useful to this team. Thor respects warriors, and because he holds Cap in such high regard, I can only imagine how well he and Kal-El would get along. Thor would welcome the company of a comrade whose powers rival his own. It would push him to even greater heights as he and Superman would try to out do each other. Thor’s super human strength knows no bounds, he is very resistant to physical harm, and he can call down lightning bolts and the fury of the storm to smite his opponents. Plus, when all else fails, he just hits them with the hammer.
Nightwing – Dick Grayson is unquestionably one of the most likable characters in comics. I choose him over Batman because not only does he bring to the table the same talents and skills, but I need someone that is going to draw the people in this room together, not divide them with paranoia, conspiracies, and delusions of grandeur. Not that Batman isn’t smarter, a better fighter, or a better detective than Grayson, it’s just that he is such a sour puss. Give me the guy that actually likes being a super hero and enjoys what he does. There are few things in comics more enjoyable than watching Nightwing bounce around using his near super human level acrobatics, pummeling bad guys, and doing it all with a smile on his face. Thank you, DC Comics, for getting him out of the Bat-suit and back into his Nightwing guise for the upcoming New 52 launch.
Rom – He is the greatest of the Spaceknights of Galador. Incased in nearly indestructible alien armor, Rom uses his super human strength and courage to battle the forces of evil and end the threat of the alien Dire Wraiths. His Universal Translator allows him to communicate with any life form throughout the cosmos. His Analyzer allows him to see through deceptions, including lies, illusions, and shape-changing. And his Neutralizer is a powerful weapon that can, depending on its setting, either stun, pulverize, or disintegrate an opponent. As an alien unaccustomed to the ways of others, Rom can provide the outsider’s perspective and come at problems from a different angle than others on the team. Rom is a hero through and through and he will always have a spot on my ultimate team of heroes.
Buffy – Buffy Summers is the Chosen One. She is the one girl in all the world that can protect mankind from the vampires and the forces of darkness. As the slayer, Buffy possesses super human strength and speed and a talent for killing the things that go bump in the night. Also, Buffy brings with her to the table the Scooby Gang - Willow, a powerful witch, Xander, a brave young man that laughs in the face of danger, Giles, a wise educator with a history of magic use, Oz, a werewolf, and not one but two vampire heroes with a soul in Angel and Spike. So when it comes to handling any threat from the underworld or dealing with chaos caused by magic, Buffy and her friends will prove an invaluable asset to my team.
Phoenix – Jean Grey was already a powerful telepath and telekinetic. But when she is combined with the Phoenix Force she is a force of nature. Her mutant mind will be able to keep the entire team in contact with each other and help them coordinate their strategies. Her cosmic powers put her on the level of Superman and Thor. But it is her heart and soul that will win her teammates over and cause them all to fall in love with her. Plus, if the Phoenix Force’s dark side ever were to emerge again, wouldn’t it be better to have a cadre of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes on hand to deal with it? Phoenix rounds out my roster and definitely makes this the greatest super team ever assembled.
But now the question arises: Who could possibly challenge this Justice League of Avengers?
Answer: The Cabal of Doom!
Lex Luthor – Lex Luthor is on this team because he simply would not allow it exist unless he was. Luthor is a brilliant scientist and successful business man with the wealth to finance his never-ending war against Superman. In Luthor’s mind, he is the hero, and Superman is the alien threat that is lulling mankind into relying on a space “god” to solve all of their problems for them. He is cold, calculating, and he will use every asset at his disposal and sacrifice everything, including his associates in the Cabal, to destroy the Man of Steel once and for all.
Doctor Doom – He is arguably the most brilliant man alive. Encased in state-of-the-art battle armor, Doom has an array of high tech weapons at his disposal. He just so happens to also be, next to Stephen Strange, the most powerful sorcerer in the world. With all the powers of science and magic at his disposal and the indomitable will to use them, Victor Von Doom is quite possibly the most dangerous man alive.
Magneto – The Master of Magnetism operates on a power level that is almost beyond description. He has stood toe-to-toe with the deadliest mutants around – Proteus and Apocalypse – and he defeated them both. He has gone heads up with both Phoenix and the mighty Thor and held his own. So powerful is Magneto, that he even has the ability to shift the entire Earth on its axis causing a worldwide cataclysm (see Ultimatum). The only problem with having Magneto, Doctor Doom and Lex Luthor all the same room is that each of them believes they are the hero and that the rest of the world should be under their rule. The back and forth between these three egos would be worth the price of admission alone.
Loki – Loki, however, is not burdened with an overabundant ego. No, his lust for life comes from mischief and causing problems in general for mankind and especially his step-brother Thor. The Lord of Lies is as powerful with the forces of magic as Thor is physically strong. Loki would have the time of his life as a member of this dark team of villains. And once they have stopped entertaining him he’ll simply play one final prank on everyone, good guys and bad guys, and move on to the next one.
Doctor Octopus – Dr. Otto Octavius is a brilliant man that also just happens to be insane. The combined intellectual power of Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom, Magneto, and Doctor Octopus is, simply put, staggering. They would always be two steps ahead of our heroes and the diabolical schemes they would concoct would be mind-blowing. Armed with four mechanical arms that can crush bones and rend steel, Octavius also proves to be a physical threat, but the thing that makes him more dangerous than anyone else on this list is his fragile mental state. This is a man that is willing to destroy an entire city and murder millions of innocent people to get what he wants. The unpredictability of insanity is always an x-factor when dealing with a guy like this.
Dracula – Arguably the greatest super villain in history, Dracula has been visiting evil on mankind for over five hundred years. He is the Lord of the Undead! The King of the Vampires possesses an array of macabre powers and abilities. He has the strength of twenty men. He can shape-shift into mist, wolf or bat. All the vermin that crawl or slither on the earth are his to command. And he has centuries of knowledge and life experience to use against his would be adversaries. Dracula has the ability to render his victims into a hypnotic trance with the power of his mind. He is immortal, with his only weaknesses being fire, sunlight or a wooden stake through the heart. Dracula is easily one of the most dangerous villains to ever stalk the earth.
The Dread Dormammu – The Lord of the Dark Dimension is one of the most underrated and under used Big Bads in Marvel’s rogues gallery. It takes guys like Doctor Strange, the world’s most powerful wizard, to keep Dormammu in check, and that is only barely. Even All-Father Odin is wary when dealing with this demonic villain. An interesting aspect of Dormammu is that though he rules his dimension with an iron fist, he is also that dimension’s greatest protector. For it is his magic that keeps the Mindless Ones, prodding juggernauts of immeasurable destructive power, at bay. So if Dormammu were to ever fall, then the denizens of the Dark Dimension would surely be doomed. This gives this vile villain an edge when dealing with heroes, for they must be careful not to destroy him or his magic will fail, thus releasing the Mindless Ones and condemning an entire race of people to death.
Other villains my team would assemble to defeat would be Thanos, Darkseid, Mephisto, the Anti-Monitor and The First. But the Cabal of Doom would be their greatest threat. It’d be the Justice League of Avengers vs. the Cabal of Doom and fanboys and girls everywhere would be the winners!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries for month: August 2011
August 26, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
August 19, 2011 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
Last week I talked about the most imitated cover in comics history - Space Adventures #24. It has been brought to my attention by Lone Star Comics customer Andrew that this genre actually has a name. Apparently it’s called the “Pieta Cover” genre. By definition, Pieta is a depiction of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of Christ while holding his body across her lap. Check out the chat board on Captain Comics, a website with comic news, discussions, and videos. The Pieta Cover was a subject of one of their discussions. Reading over this discussion I learned that this genre was even bigger than I at first suspected.
Here are a few more Pieta Covers I discovered while perusing Captain Comics:
The Death of Captain Marvel – Next to Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 and Uncanny X-Men #136, this is probably the most famous cover of this kind. Not only is it a straight homage to the Pieta scene, but this is a poignant tale of the tragic end to the life of one of the bravest and most beloved super heroes of the Bronze Age. Along with Bucky (originally), Jean Grey (originally), and Gwen Stacy (let’s hope they don’t mess this one up), the death of Captain Marvel is one of the most significant milestones of its kind in Marvel History.
Flash (1959-1985 1st Series DC) #305 – Here we have not just one, but two Flashes dealing with tragedy. Even the Fastest Man Alive can’t outrun death.
Harbinger (1992-1995) #14 – Here we see an homage to the Death of Captain Marvel (see above).
Countdown to Infinite Crisis – This is one of those classic uses of silhouette. Clearly someone has fallen that effects everyone and the creative team is not quite ready to reveal who it is to the reader. I remember the rampant wave of speculation that washed over the comic shops and internet when this image first appeared in the January 2005 Previews. To learn the truth, if you don’t already know, you’ll have to open up this issue to find out.
Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men – Entertaining? Yes. Funny? Yes. Plausible? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, this cigar-chomping, disheveled, uncouth clown actually holds his own against the Children of the Atom. Obnoxio was an unpleasant jester that used to appear in Marvel’s humor magazine Crazy.
Amazing Spider-Man (1963-1998 1st Series) #90 – A major supporting cast member loses his life here and Spider-Man is blamed for his death. This issue has an amazing moment between these two, as right before he passes, it’s revealed to the reader that the cast member may have known Spidey’s biggest secret.
Thing (1983-1986 1st Series) #22 – Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to affairs of the heart. Even on a world where his deepest desires become reality, Ben Grimm must suffer the loss of someone he loves.
Wanderers #4 – Here’s a series from the ‘80s set in the same time period as the Legion of Super-Heroes, that follows a group of wandering heroes that roam the galaxy and help those in need.
Avengers West Coast (1985-1994) #73 – Simon’s true feelings come bubbling to the surface as he holds the injured Scarlet Witch in his mighty arms.
Captain Atom (1987-1991 DC 1st Series) #8 – Another homage from one Captain to another.
Avengers (1963-1996 1st Series) #393 – One of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has fallen!
Baffling Mysteries #7 – This image from the Golden Age actually precedes the classic Universal monster movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Monster of Frankenstein #2 – The Monster has his Bride and no one will come between them!
Guardians of the Galaxy (1990-1995 1st Series) #59 – In the far flung future of the Marvel Universe, has the Sentinel of the Spaceways finally met his end?
The Human Fly #18 – Seeing this cover make the list overwhelms the Odinson with a feeling of nostalgia. I remember this comic from my youth but it has been years since I revisited it. Now I must go into my archives and pull out these long lost issues and see if they hold up to my memory. Don’t be surprised to see a future column about the amazing exploits of the death-defying Human Fly.
Some other Lone Star Comics customers were very helpful in tracking down some covers of this type.
Ken pointed out Conan the Barbarian (1970-1993 Marvel) #100, a classic piece of art by the legendary John Buscema, a wonderful cover for a double-size issue that adapts Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s Queen of the Black Coast, a tale that features the demise of one of Conan’s greatest loves.
Shawn H. informed me about Ms. Marvel (2006-2010 2nd Series) #50, an homage to the classic Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel (see above).
Dave B. came strong with this list of Pieta Covers - Adventures of Superman #567, Uncanny X-Men Annual #6, Generation X Annual 1998, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #47, Adventure Comics (2009-2011 2nd Series) #5, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2007-2011 Season 8) #38.
As I got to thinking about this Cover Genre, I actually remembered a few more to add to the list.
Batman Annual #25 – This is an homage to the tragic Bat-Tale A Death in the Family. Instead of holding the lifeless body of Jason Todd (Robin II), Batman now holds the body of the Red Hood, Jason Todd grown up and returned from the dead
Infinite Crisis Secret Files – Superman of Earth-2, the original Man of Steel from Action Comics #1, the super hero that started it all, mourns the passing of his Lois Lane.
Final Crisis #6C – It was the moment that rocked the DCU, and the moment that Superman lost his greatest ally and best friend. The World’s Finest was no more.
Amazing Spider-Man (1963-1998 1st Series) #122 – Next to the death of Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy’s demise is the most significant moment in Spider-Man’s life.
I think I may have stumbled onto the king of the Pieta Cover and it is none other than the Lord of Vampires himself, Count Dracula. Check out the covers for Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979 1st Series) #1, 5, 10, 14, 16, 18, and 33. Now these may not fall into this category because this villain is obviously not mourning the loss of his victims, but the motif was close enough that I added them to the list.
Without a doubt, in the history of comic books, the Pieta Cover has to be the most used genre of its kind. If you know about others, please let me know. I’d love to see them.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
August 12, 2011 · 5 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Recently I was reading an old Wizard Magazine (Wizard #179) and I came across a marvelous article. It revealed an amazing motif from the history of comic books. As a comic fan, have you ever wondered what the most imitated cover of all time is? Well, this article provides the answer.
It all started back in 1958 with Space Adventures #24. This classic sci-fi image of an astronaut holding the apparently lifeless body of a comrade has been duplicated and imitated more times than any other in the history of comic books.
Need proof? Check this out…
Batman #156 – The Boy Wonder has apparently perished on a far off alien world. Just a another example of the wild and crazy adventures the DC heroes went on during the Silver Age.
Thor (1962-1996 1st Series) #127 – This is a classic Jack Kirby image of the All-Father Odin holding the motionless body of his fallen son.
Our Army at War #167 – In one shocking image, artist Joe Kubert beautifully illustrates the horrors of war. How will Sgt. Rock recover from this tragedy? This is the kind of cover that makes you want to pick up the book and find out.
Avengers (1963-1996 1st Series) #49 – This is a cover that tells a story. Quicksilver and his sister, the Scarlet Witch, used to be pawns in Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Now they are fighting his influence and trying to make a new, better life for themselves as Avengers. Artist John Buscema was, without a doubt, a master of his craft.
Our Army at War #193 – Artist Joe Kubert really has a way of capturing the reader’s attention. His covers are like old fashioned cliffhangers that make you want to find out what happens next. This is really a lost art by today’s cover artists.
Captain Action #3 – Artists Gil Kane and Dick Giordano can make even a scene based on a doll look dynamic.
Tomahawk #121 – The barrel of his gun still smoking, the Wild West hero holds the lifeless body of his victim in his hands and the shock, remorse, and regret are etched all over his tear-stained face. There’s a reason why artist Neal Adams is considered to be one of the all time greats.
Sub-Mariner #13 – This cover proves that even all the power at the Savage Sub-Mariner’s disposal cannot protect him from tragedy.
Brave and the Bold (1955-1983 1st Series) #84 – This time it’s Sgt. Rock lying motionless, leaving a bewildered Batman to wonder, “What have I done?” A classic collaboration by Neal Adams and Joe Kubert.
Silver Surfer (1968-1970 1st Series) #11 – The Sentinel of the Spaceway’s only goal for a long time was to be reunited with his true love, the beautiful Shalla Bal, but I’m sure this isn’t what he had in mind.
Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #102 – Here the Man of Steel holds the lifeless body of Lois Lane in his arms as he shockingly admits to Lana Lang he has in fact killed her.
Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #128 – Only a few issues later, this cover proves that being the Last Son of Krypton’s girlfriend is hazardous to a young reporter’s health. You’d think Lois would have learned her lesson after issue #102.
Marvel Premiere #9 – Here the Master of the Mystic Arts holds the ailing form of his teacher, the Ancient one, in his arms as dark creatures from the abyss close in upon them.
Incredible Hulk (1962-1999 1st Series) #189 – Here somebody has hurt the Incredible Hulk’s friend. If I were the Mole Man and his little friends, I’d be getting out of Dodge, and quick. Longtime Hulk artist Herb Trempe does a good job here, framing the main character and the source of drama (the motionless little girl) in the center of the cover, meanwhile showing the danger lurking all around and in the background a cavernous underground cave with shadows that may hold even more danger for our hero.
Freedom Fighters #5 – Wonder Woman is dead?! And it’s the Freedom Fighters fault?! What horrible events could have transpired to lead our heroes to this shocking moment and revelation? Yet another mystery that can only be solved by picking up the book and reading it.
John Carter, Warlord of Mars (1977-1979 Marvel) #16 – No way! It’s not possible! John Carter is dead? Dejah Thoris doesn’t seem to be taking the news very well. Must investigate further and learn the truth.
Star Wars (1977-1986 Marvel) #18 – The most startling thing about this cover by Carmine Infantino is not the peril our rebellious heroes are in. No, it’s the fact that C-3PO can actually pick up Luke Skywalker and hold him off the ground. Heh-heh.
Daredevil (1964-1998 1st Series) #164 – In this issue, the reader gets to relive Daredevil’s origin and witness some of the tragic events that led Matt Murdock to become the Man without Fear. The cover is a classic DD image by artists and comic legends Frank Miller and Wally Wood.
Uncanny X-Men (1963-2011 1st Series) #136 – This is probably the second most famous cover image of this type. This stunning cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin depicts the tragic conclusion to the epic Dark Phoenix Saga.
Legion of Super Heroes (1980-1987 2nd Series) #296 – Tragedy strikes even in the 31st Century. Could Sun Boy really be responsible for the death and destruction depicted here?
Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 – Easily the most recognizable cover of this kind, George Perez captures the pain and anguish of the Man of Steel as he holds his fallen cousin’s lifeless body in his arms. And in true George Perez fashion, the background is littered with dozens and dozens of heroes from around the DCU. This cover is a true piece of eye-candy and an extremely important moment in the history of comics.
Batman #390 – Now this cover presents a mystery. Silhouetted against the flash of lightning in the back ground, it’s impossible to know who the Dark Knight holds limp in his mighty arms. Is she dead? Only by reading the tale within can we know for sure. Silhouettes are powerful tools that can be used by cover artist to set up a mystery and excite the reader’s imagination This is a technique that was also used recently when Marvel wanted to show but not reveal the identities of the New Avengers and the Dark Avengers.
Detective Comics #574 – Yet again, the Boy Wonder has fallen and Batman is left to carry his dead weight around, much like on the cover of Death in the Family. A motif within a motif?
Thor (1962-1996 1st Series) #425 – The mighty Thor has fallen and only the brave mortal Eric Masterson can save him. These are the kind of situations and character-defining moments that have made Marvel Comics the best in the business.
Mighty Mouse (1990 Marvel) #4 – George Perez does an homage to his own work from Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
What If…? (1989-1998 2nd Series) #32 – Albeit, this one is kind of pushing it to make the list, but I guess Jean Grey just isn’t quite strong enough to lift up Cyclops’ limp body. Even with the Phoenix force, huh?
Superman: Man of Steel #10 – Another homage to George Perez’s classic cover for Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 except this time it’s Supergirl doing the holding and wailing.
Incredible Hulk #408 – Who has fallen and gotten the Hulk in such an uproar? Yet another example of a cover artist using a silhouette to set up a mystery.
Freak Force #13 – It’s a tragedy that could tear apart this bourgeoning team of super heroes.
Valor #18 – In yet another homage to Perez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, Valor, another Superman archetype, mourns the passing of…himself?! Isn’t time travel fun?
What If…? (1989-1998 2nd Series) #61 – Spider-Man faces his worst nightmare made real on this cover that has him standing over a murdered Aunt May and holding the lifeless body of Mary Jane in his arms.
Radioactive Man #412 – In a humorous turn of events, the sidekick, Fallout Boy, holds the limp form of the adult super hero, Radioactive Man. Now if only we could find the cover where Robin holds up a fallen Batman.
Captain America #439 – Here the Sentinel of Liberty stands garbed in his hideous battle armor (don’t ask) holding his ex-girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal in his arms and leaving himself vulnerable to the attack of a dangerous and deadly villain. How in the world is he going to get out of this jam?
Mars Attacks Image #4 – Those ghoulish little green men from Mars lay waste to the Image U and it looks like not even the super heroes are safe.
What If…? (1989-1998 2nd Series) #102 – In this homage to Daredevil #164 (see above), roles are reversed as it is Matt Murdock’s father holding the lifeless body of Daredevil in the ring as opposed to the other way around.
Major Bummer #12 – Even lazy heroes can have a bad day, as seen on this cover which is yet another homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
Supergirl (1996-2003 3rd Series) #79 – And the homages keep on coming, as Ed Benes pays tribute to George Perez with this cover featuring one Supergirl mourning the loss of another.
Toyfare #75 – Even the toys get in on the fun in this homage to, you guessed it, Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
Tom Strong #22 – I wasn’t kidding when I said that George Perez’s cover for Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 was the most recognizable and easily the most popular of its kind, as Alan Moore’s Tom Strong #22 pays tribute to it as well.
X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong #4 – Poor Cyclops has been through this scenario before (see Uncanny X-Men #136 above), only this time he has to do it with his new squeeze, Emma Frost.
Firestorm (2004-2006 3rd Series) #21 – And finally, in yet another homage to the ultimate cover of this kind (yes, Crisis on Infinite Earths #7), one Firestorm mourns the passing of another while a plethora of Firestorms look on in the background.
And just for good measure, Alex Ross recreated George Perez’s classic image and expanded on it for the Crisis on Infinite Earths Absolute Edition.
It all started way back in 1958 with Space Adventures #24. Who knew that this haunting image would go on to inspire 43 more of its kind, with Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 becoming the undisputed champion of this cover genre? Please, let me know if there are more covers like these or other cover genres out there that need to be explored.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
August 05, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
I love super heroes. Many have said they are the mythology of our time. Like mighty Hercules or noble King Arthur, the super heroes of the modern world inspire the readers to be better than they thought they could be and arouse their imaginations. I love reading about brave men and women who are faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I love to read about unparalleled detectives that can solve riddles that would turn an ordinary man’s brain to cream cheese. I love to read about extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, good vs. evil in exotic locales and far off worlds that excite my imagination. I read comic books because of super heroes. The following list is comprised of the tales that I keep coming back to over and over again. These are the reasons why I love comics so much. These are…
Top 10 Must Read Comic Stories of All Time
Watchmen – To say that Watchmen is a must read story is an enormous understatement. This is quite possibly the best executed visual storytelling ever put to paper. Artist Dave Gibbons is a master storyteller and Alan Moore’s script is mesmerizing, haunting, and unforgettable. So influential is this tale that the industry, as a whole, has been trying to capture that same lightning-in-a-bottle for over twenty-five years since Watchmen came out. Set against the backdrop of a real world setting, Watchmen is a murder mystery where the last remaining masked crime-fighters assemble to save the world, and themselves. Moore and Gibbons use juxtaposition and symbolism to explore politics, morals, and the human condition. Watchmen is a cautionary tale, a beautiful piece of literature and art, and it stars super heroes. Unprecedented…unparalleled…often imitated, but never duplicated…Watchmen is a masterpiece of modern literature and is one of the must read comic book stories of all time.
Wolverine: The Japan Adventure – In Hollywood the phrase “star-making-role” is used a lot. Well, this was a star-making story of the feral X-Man known as Wolverine. For years he was the stand-out character in the All-New, All-Different X-Men, which debuted in Giant-Size X-Men #1. He was the surly little tough guy that questioned authority, but always seemed to come through for his teammates in the end. Wolverine was popular, but The Japan Adventure made him a star, an A-Lister. Before this story, Wolverine was walking a thin line with a personality bordering on unlikable. This tale, however, pulls the veil back a bit and allows the reader to see Logan in a different light, a vulnerable one. Longtime X-Men scribe Chris Claremont explores Logan’s complex personality from all angles – feral berserker, noble samurai, and mutant hero. And artist Frank Miller creates a definitive look for Wolverine and a style that is still being emulated to this day. If they ever do another Wolverine movie (a good one anyway), this comic book tale should be used for the storyboards.
Thor: Alone against the Celestials – This three-issue arc from Thor (1962-1996 1st Series) #387-389 beautifully shows why we love super heroes. How does a writer challenge a hero as powerful as the mighty Thor? He is the god of thunder, wielder of invincible Mjolnir and the Prince of fabled Asgard for crying out loud. Easy, put him up against the Celestials. If you are unfamiliar or need to be reminded of just how immeasurably powerful these space-gods are, check out The Eternals Saga. Thor arrives on a far off world ruled by pirates. This is a vile planet where thieves, cutthroats and evil men reign supreme. Their planet will now be judged by the Celestials. Even though this is a world of evil, there are lives at stake and Thor will do everything in his power to save it. That is what a hero does, no matter what the odds. This tale allows the reader to see Thor’s incredible power unleashed like very few times in the history of comics and witness one of the greatest displays of courage ever. As the reader turns each page he is treated to a spectacle of wonderment rarely captured on the four color page. This tale unquestionably and firmly establishes the hierarchy of power in the Marvel Universe and, without a doubt, shows the mighty Odinson at his finest.
New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract – A super villain knowing a super hero’s secret identity is one of the worst possible things that can happen, and that is exactly what happens in this instant classic by the great Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Deathstroke the Terminator blames the Teen Titans for the death of his son, Ravager, and plots the teen heroes’ downfall. Betrayed by one of their own, the next generation of heroes is systematically and utterly defeated by one of the most dangerous men alive. In this tale the reader sees the death of a Titan, the debut of a new member, and watches as Dick Grayson makes the transition from Boy Wonder to the adult hero known as Nightwing. The Judas Contract is just super hero comics at their very best.
All-Star Superman – Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely unite to tell quite frankly the greatest Superman story of all time. This is an awe-inspiring, mind-blowing adventure that grabs hold of the reader’s imagination and never lets go. All the elements are here – Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, the Daily Planet, the Fortress of Solitude, the Kent Farm, Kryptonite, Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to reveal the unmistakable S shield of Superman! This tale explores Superman’s mythos in a way rarely seen in comics and beautifully illustrates why the Man of Steel is the greatest super hero of all time. One minute the reader is gasping, the next he is laughing out loud, and the next he is cheering. All-Star Superman is a perfect comic book and a definite must read.
The Dark Knight Returns – This is the story that defined the Caped Crusader for a whole generation of comic readers. Set in the not too distant future, Dark Knight Returns shows a world without super heroes. Crime is at an all time high, the United States is on the brink of nuclear war with Russia, and there seems to be no hope in sight. Vicious gangs have taken over the streets of Gotham City and the police are powerless to stop them. It is at this moment that Bruce Wayne, now an old man, decides that he has had enough. Batman returns after a ten year hiatus, and he sets out to take back the night with a vengeance. As storyteller Frank Miller puts it “…this is the story that gave Batman his [cojones] back.” This is the story that inspired Tim Burton’s take on Batman and set the stage for the character-defining Batman: The Animated Series. Featuring the ultimate Batman/Superman showdown, Dark Knight Returns also went a long way in establishing the relationship between these two icons for the next two decades. Before this story, Batman was already an A-List super hero, but this tale made Batman a legend.
Preacher – Preacher is a bold, in-your-face, and unapologetic epic that resonates with the reader long after the final page is turned. It is the ultimate road trip story of one man’s literal search for God. How can I possibly describe a tale with vampires, angels, demons, clandestine paramilitary secret empires, gun-toting girlfriends, two-fisted heroes, underground Goth societies, voodoo, evil racist business men, super cops, serial killers, religious zealots, Texas Rangers, a war in the sun, the Word of God and last stands at the Alamo and possibly do it justice. Writer Garth Ennis is at his wicked best and artist Steve Dillon visually delivers a story for the ages. Be warned, this is not for the kids or faint of heart. Preacher is an over-the-top action/adventure that makes a Quentin Tarantino movie seem tame by comparison. Why this guilty pleasure has not been turned into a movie trilogy or HBO TV series is beyond me. Preacher is a tale the Odinson revisits at least once a year and the best adult comic book story produced since Watchmen.
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga – The Dark Phoenix Saga is a great example of two creators at the height of their powers. Chris Claremont and John Byrne orchestrate the ultimate super hero story. The character-to-character interactions, the drama, the eye-popping action sequences, the mind-blowing displays of power and destruction make this tale unforgettable. They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is the challenge the Children of the Atom must face when Jean Grey, due in no small part to the manipulations of the vile Hellfire Club, loses control of her cosmic power known as the Phoenix. The heroes struggle with the dilemma of saving the universe at the cost of their beloved friend’s life. It’s a tale of ultimate sacrifice that does not talk down to its readers but rather invites them to experience the drama along with the X-Men as this modern day tragedy unfolds. I am not a big X-Men fan but this is, without a doubt, one of the must read comic book stories of all time. NOTE: It also doesn’t hurt that the wonderful Kitty Pryde makes her debut in this story as well.
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars – Long before Fear Itself, Civil War, or House of M, long before big company crossovers and big event storylines became everyday humdrum in the comic industry, there was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. This twelve issue maxi-series featured the world’s greatest heroes (the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man and the Hulk) as they are kidnapped by a being of ultimate power and whisked to the far side of the cosmos to engage in mortal combat against a small army of the Marvel U’s most dangerous super villains. Not only was Secret Wars one of the first Big Event stories but with its long lasting effects on the Marvel Universe, it encapsulated everything a Big Event should be. The Thing quits the FF and the She-Hulk joins the team, the next year for the Hulk is set-up, Colossus ends his romantic relationship with Kitty Pryde, we are introduced to a new hero (Spider-Woman) and new villains (Volcana and Titania), the Absorbing Man gets a girlfriend whom he is with to this very day, Magneto sides with the White Hats, and Spider-Man gets his black costume which later joins with Eddie Brock to become Venom. One of my favorite things about this story is the character-to-character interactions. This was at a time in Marvel’s history when the Marvel Age was still young enough where all the heroes didn’t know each other inside and out and quite frankly didn’t necessarily get along. Friendships and bonds that exist today can be traced back to this original ultimate team-up.
Crisis on Infinite Earths – Crisis is the biggest, best, most influential Big Event to ever be produced. It literally changed the landscape of the DC Universe. Heroes died, whole galaxies crumbled, and the DCU has never been the same since. When an unstoppable force starts to rip through the multiverse and destroy everything in its path, every single hero and villain on every single remaining parallel Earth in every single time era, from the dawn of mankind to the far-flung future, must unite to save all reality. Marv Wolfman and George Perez deliver the most epic super hero story ever told. And by the end of it, the DCU re-launched stronger and better than ever. For the next twenty-five years this would be known as the Post-Crisis DCU. Much like DC Comics is doing now with the New 52, Superman, Wonder Woman, SHAZAM, Aquaman, Flash and the Justice League all restarted from number one and reintroduced and revamped their characters for a whole new generation, my generation. Batman: Year One told the tale of how a young rooftop vigilante outlaw became a hero. And it was all set up by the mega-event that is Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis features the greatest super heroes in the world fighting against the greatest threat the world has ever seen. It’s just epic and a classic comic book story that absolutely must be read.
Other tales of great note include: Rom the Spaceknight, Avengers: Under Siege, JLA: Rock of Ages, The Sinestro Corps War, and Annihilation.
As I said, these are the tales that the Odinson revisits time and time again. They are the tales that inspire and thrill me to no end. Whether you are a new reader or a longtime fan, these are the Top 10 Must Read Comic Stories of All Time!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell