If you're a fan of Superman or DC comics, this is a title that you shouldn't miss, since it provides an interesting eye into the culture of the USA from 1940 to the 1970s.
It was one of DC's longest running titles. It started in 1935 as New Comics, with a name change to New Adventure Comics and then finally Adventure Comics starting with issue #32. The series is one of a dozen in comic book history to publish more than 500 issues (503 to be exact).
But for me, the series really got interesting with #103, when Superboy became the lead story. I like both this series and Superboy (1949 series) because they contain the entire history of the original Superboy. In 1986, the Superman history was changed and it eliminated Superman's exploits as a super-hero before he got to Metropolis. As a result, there are no new Superboy stories (at least not the
Clark Kent Superboy), so that it was one of the few "finite" series. You can actually "finish" a complete series, without buying new books currently being publihed.
In addition to the Superboy stories, I love this series because of the variety of the back-up stories. The back-ups featured an array of heroes, with the Legion of Super-Heroes, Green Arrow, Johnny Quick, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter, among many others.
For years, what Action Comics was to Superman (with Superman in the featured position) and Detective Comics was to Batman (Batman as the star), Superboy was to Adventure Comics.
Eventually, Supergirl became the feature story. The format changed starting with #425 from super-heroes to fantasy/adventure stories.
In 1981, Marvel changed the name of its 'X-Men' comic to 'The Uncanny X-Men". Then, 10 years later, it created this new 'X-Men series'. The hype for this new series was so great that issue #1 sold more than 8 million copies, making it the best selling comic book of all time.
In hyping issue #1, Marvel hit upon a novel idea -- they printed issue #1 with five different covers. It was the same story, only the cover was different. One cover was the "deluxe cover", printed on heavy-duty paper. The other four covers each featured one of the X-Men, and when placed adjacent to each other, formed a mural-like larger picture.
Initially, what made the series so desired was the teaming of writer Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, two creative super-stars in the comic book universe. By 1991, the original team of X-Men, Cyclops, the Beast and Iceman had all drifted away from the X-Men story line. The 1991 series brought them back.
The series is now in its third decade. The series ran for 113 issues and was renamed "New X-Men" for issues #114 through #156. It reverted to its "X-Men" title for issues #156 to #207. Then, starting with issue #208 in 2008, it was renamed "X-Men: Legacy".
Since its first issue is 'recent' by comic book standards, every issue is relatively inexpensive. The deluxe version of Issue #1, is usually available at NewKadia for less than $2.50. So, if you're looking for an "A-list" title, that is affordable and broad in scope, or if you're looking for a gift for an X-Men fan, this is the one.
This is my favorite Aquaman series. Peter David gave Aquaman an entirely new look in this series, forsaking his former clean-cut appearance. Following his discoveries reading the Atlantis Chronicles during the Time and Tide series, Aquaman withdraws from the world. Garth finds him weeks later, with his hair and beard grown long, brooding in his cave.
In issue #2, Aquaman loses his left hand when the madman Charybdis steals Aquaman's ability to communicate with sea life and sticks& Aquaman's hand into a piranah infested pool. Man, not even Spider-Man ever had it this bad.
Delving deep into the hero's emotions, author David give Aquaman prophetic dreams, and then, in need of a "symbol", attaches a harpoonspearhead to his left arm in place of his missing hand.
But the dark and strange side of this new Aquaman doesn't end there. His classic orange shirt is shredded in a battle with Lobo in issue #4, and rather than going to "Superhero Uniforms Unlimited" for a replacement, he goes topless for a while before donning a gladiatorial manica. Oh, it gets much worse. His harpoon hand is destroyed...well, it's just not an easy time for Aquaman.
And that's why I like this series. It's never very predictable. If ever DC wanted to shed its image from the 1960s as a predictable good-guy with no neuroses comic book company, this series certainly accomplished that.
My only gripe is that if you spent your entire day swimming, you'd shave your head like Michael Jordan, rather than keep it as long as Jon Bon Jovi. Well, I guess Aquaman must own a blow-dryer company or something. Long hair seems a bit ill-conceived in this case.
Twenty years after the successful launch of the X-Men, Marvel writers had aged the original X-Men from teenagers to young adults.
So, what could Marvel do to attract the teenage reader again? Simple, they took the long-time writer of the X-Men, Chris Claremont, and had him create the New Mutants, a teenage team of X-Men in training.
After being launched in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, the group moved to their own title that lasted 100 issues.
The New Mutants highlighted interpersonal and group conflict as well as action and adventure, and featured a large ensemble cast. When the series ended in April of 1991, the characters were relaunched as X-Force (1991 series) and that series ran for another 129 issues until 2002.
Like most series from the 1980's, there are plenty of issues in great condition still floating around and at pretty low prices. For example, as I'm writing this the price of the first 50 issues is as low as $60.80 (or $1.22 each - of course our prices change daily). The low cost reflects the large quantity available. The only issue that is not easy to find is #98, which features the first appearance of Deadpool.
So, if you're looking for a well-written super-hero series where you can pretty much get the entire series easily, and a very low price, this is the one.
Lots of movies have been adapted to comic books, but it's only fitting that one of the greatest movie series of all times spawned one of the greatest comic book franchises of all times. The original Star Wars comic book series was issued in July of 1977 and ran for a decade, with 107 issues and three annuals. Return of the Jedi was printed in a separate mini-series.
Issues #1-6 are an adaptation of the original movie (since renamed: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope), and Issues #39-#44 adapted the Empire Strikes Back. All the other 95 issues are original stories starring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the other characters from the original movie trilogy.
The stories are a great read, and for the collector on a budget, these issues won't cost that much. It seems that comic books, even good ones like these, which contain basic story lines adapted from another medium (in this case, the movies), never seem to cost quite as much as comics where the characters got their birth directly in the comics.
By the way, I couldn't resist sharing the video below with you. It's the original movie trailer for the first Star Wars movie. Compared to trailers today, it moves at a snail's pace but it's VERY 1977 in style.
So, if you're a fan of space science fiction, this is the series for you. Or, if you're looking for a gift for the Star Wars fanatic, this is it. In fact, the first issues of this series will be OLDER than any Star Wars fanatic under the age of 33.
The first six issues were reprinted as Classic Star Wars: A New Hope.
"Sgt. Rock" in Feburary of 1977 starting with issue #302. Sgt. Rock ran until issue #422 in July of 1988. The run of 342 issues is the longest for any WWII comic book character.
Created by Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher, Rock was a tough-as-nails master sergeant in the U.S. Army in the European Theatre of Operations during WWII. His tough character, along with realistic story lines created enough interest among readers that his exploits continued for 43 years after the end of WWII. This alone, is amazing.
It means that three generations of readers picked up on his stories over the years. The original market for his exploits included veterans who had fought in WWII. By the end, many of their grandchildren were reading the stories.
Only in the world of comics can there be two characters with the same name, published by different companies. But, that's the case with "Captain Marvel".
The original Captain Marvel appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures published by Fawcett Comics and this "Shazam" series features his adventures as brought back by DC in 1972.
The story is a long and tortured legal tale, but in a nutshell, DC owns the rights to the character, but only Marvel can use the character's name -- "Captain Marvel" -- in a comic book title. Marvel's Captain Marvel is a totally different character.
The original Captain Marvel character, as featured in Shazam comics features 12-year old Billy Batson. Whenever Billy speaks the name Shazam, he is struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into a super-hero.
Billy Batson's Captain Marvel Adventures was the top selling ocmic book during World War II. But, once DC comics sued Fawcett, claiming the character infringed the copyright of Superman, his popularity waned, until Fawcett went out of business.
The series is popular with collectors, becausde the original Captain Marvel comics are incredibly expensive. DC's Shazam series recaptures the feel of the 1940's and 1950's stories, but at a fraction of their cost. The new series featured both new stories and reprints form the 1940s and 50s. In most cases, the stories were set on "Earth S", a separate universe from where Superman and other DC characters existed.
This is the series for you if you want to start with a clean slate and not be burdened with 40 years of X-Men background.
With the first X-Men film as his only reference, Mark Millar completely reinvented the X-Men. As a result, if you've seen that movie (and if not, go rent it), you have all the background you need. I love that. After all, who can remember everything that has happened in 500+ issues of Uncanny X-Men.
This alone is a great reason to collect this series, and as a result, it's easy reading. You are not burdened with heaps of X-Men lore from past issues.
Millar's Ultimate X-Men consisted of telepath Professor X, Cyclops, whose eyes shoot concussive beams, telepathic and telekinetic Jean Grey, weather-manipulating Storm, simian genius Beast, metal-skinned Colossus, and cryokinetic Iceman.
In this series, the X-Men have no secret identities, and as mutants, they are mistrusted and hunted. Millar's work is edgy, featuring quick action-driven plots and fewer morality plays. For instance, Wolverine tries to kill Cyclops in "Return of the King" because he is envious of Jean Gray's love.
Millar shaped Ultimate X-Men into a commercial hit, consistently outselling other X-Men titles such as X-Treme X-Men and the original Uncanny X-Men.
After Millar's run, writer Brian Michael Bendis took over year. Bendis' run was marked by the death of the Beast.
Brian K. Vaughan, best known at the time for his work on Y: The Last Man, followed Bendis. He re-imagined second-string characters he felt were underused. He introduced Mr. Sinister as a mutant-killing scientist with hypnosis and stealth powers as well as Mojo and Longshot as a corrupt TV producer and a mutant felon.
Ultimate X-Men established itself as a hit, lauded by critics and popular with the fans. And the series is relatively easy to complete since there are only 100 issues, and lots of copies in great condition are easily found.
If you like Spider-Man comics from the 1970s, then Marvel Team-Up, one of the most under-appreciated comics in Marvel's line-up, should interest you. It teams Spider-Man with a different 'guest star' each issue. As a result, the stories are always original, never get stale, because the guest star appears and is gone. Also, you can read most every issue as a stand alone story, without the need to have read the previous issues to understand what's
The series ran for 150 issues over 13 years, a testament to the quality of the series. If the stories had not been compelling, the series would never have lasted that long.
And along the way, Spidey met everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. Guest appearances included the typical Marvel super-hero galaxy -- Wolverine (#117) or Iron Man (#48, 49, 110), or Thor (#7, #26), as well as Marvel characters who weren't fighting crime and evil, like Frankenstein (#36) or Werewolf by Night (#12), or even the cast of Saturday Night Live (#74).
In short, the series is entertaining, different, and never slips into tedium.
More importantly, since it wasn't Spider-Man's primary title (Amazing Spider-Man), the people at the Overstreet Price Guide don't value it highly. That's a shame if you're selling it, but it means a big bargain if you're buying it. Most issues after #19 are less than $10 in Very Fine condition, and most of the later issues after #70 are less than $5 in Near Mint- condition.
And of course, like most Spider-Man titles other than the Amazing Spider-Man, issues in great condition remain plentiful and affordable.
Here's a very good, but often overlooked, comic book series. It's overlooked because it was based on a TV show and comic book adaptations of TV shows generally don't generate as much excitement as stories whioh first appeared in comic book form.
The series was based on the British ITV series, The Sandbaggers, which ran from 1978 to 1980. The series follows Tara Chance, a member of the Special Operations Section of the British military. What makes the series stand out is that it deals realistically, not only with the dangerous missions, but also with the bureaucracy and politics agents have to contend with.
It won the 2002 Eisner Award as best new comic book series. It ran for 32 issues and was published by Oni. I wonder how much longer it might have run had it been published by Marvel or DC, both of whom could have given the series a much stronger marketing push. In any event, industry professionals thought it was the best new series of the year -- and I agree, it's a good read.
The Marvels won the Eisner Award for best mini-series of 1994. It told the story of the Marvel Universe from the perspective of news photographer Phi Sheldon, portraying ordinary life in a world full of costumed superheroes. The series helped launch the careers of writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross, whose cover illustrations are quite spectacular.
For fans of Conan the Barbarian, this series is a must. Printed in an over-sized magazine format, the magazine was not subject to the Comics Code Authority. The CCA was formed in the 1950's to monitor the comic book content to eliminate salacious or overly violent comic books.
As a result, the Savage Sword of Conan could present Robert E. Howard's Conan without the Marvel's self-censorship in its 1970 Conan the Barbarian comic book series.
The series was created for an adult audience. The battles are gorier, the ladies sexier and scantily dressed, and the language rougher than its comic book counterpart.
The series is considered a cult classic. With 235 issues, it's one of the longest running magazine-sized comics. The covers are in color, but the interiors are black and white. The size of each page is about 40% larger than a comic book, and frankly, I love the larger format.
I was leafing through an old World Book Encyclopedia and couldn't find any mention of Uncle Scrooge. So, I surfed over to Wikipedia.org and lo and behold I found a 5,000 word doctoral thesis-like biography of Donald Duck's uncle. It's scholarly in tone, serious in nature, and delves into Uncle Scrooge's motivations, psychology and morals and the reading public's fascination with him.
Wait a second, he's just a funny duck!
I thought he was popular because the stories were light and funny. But, no! To read the Wikipedia treatise, go to Scrooge McDuck
But, you don't need to be concerned that you never considered all the social implications of good old Uncle Scrooge and some overblown psychoanalysis of him. Just pick up a copy and enjoy this wacky old uncle.
If you liked the original Planet of the Apes movies, then you probably will enjoy this series. If you're not a fan, skip it.
The series consists of 11 issues, which adapt the first two Planet of the Apes movies. The stories are full-color reprints of stories which appeared in the 1974 Planet of the Apes magazine-sized issues which were published by Marvel.
Before there was a 'Persons with Disability' law in the United States, before the blind were called "vision impaired" and in a time when such persons were sometimes ostracized and shunned, Stan Lee created Daredevil. Coming off his successes with the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men, Lee really hit a homerun with his newest super-hero.
The story is a basic theme of literature throughout the ages - someome overcoming great odds to achieve and succeed. In Matt Murdock's case, an accident blinds him, but enhances all his other senses, smell, hearing, etc. So, rather than bemoan his sightless state, he rises above the adversity to achieve incredible success.
Now, I have no idea whether Daredevil had any sort of impact on sightless individuals, but many people have some sort of disability, whether it's a physical, psychological or emotional. I have to believe that Daredevil's ongoing popularity (despite a horrible movie starring Ben Affleck) results from readers relating to a person who has to overcome obstacles every day. Think about every book you've read
or movie you've seen. In most every one, the protagonist has to overcome incredible odds.
So, the genius of Stan Lee is that he created a character where overcoming incredible odds is the norm, day in and day out. And after that, there are the super-villains to contend with.
The series is a good one to collect, because in addition to the great stories, the artwork is superior, especially the artwork by Gene Colan.
And, since the first issue came after Fantastic Four #1, X-Men #1 and Spider-Man #1, the cost of the series is generally less than that of those series. With only 380 issues (as opposed to 441 for Spider-Man), the series is also easier to collect.
World's Finest featured Superman and Batman from 1941 to 1986, back in the days when super-heroes were always the best of pals. Seems like Batman and Superman went about 30 years without one argument or disagreement. Contrast that with Superman/Batman, where each has an edge and deep psychological scars which often clash with other. Superman/Batman has the interesting feature of "dual-narrators" which presents Superman's and Batman's
opposing takes of each other.
Superman/Batman was immensly popular, often one of the 10 best selling comics each month when first released. The series featured many long novel-length story arcs. Here is a list of the story arcs:
#1-6: Public Enemies #7: Protege #8-13: The Supergirl from Krypton #14-18: Absolute Power #19: Pilot issue for the new Supergirl series.
#20-25: With a Vengeance #26: Sam Loeb tribute issue #27: Never Mind #28-#33: The Enemies Among Us #34-36: A.I. (the Metal Men) #37-42: Torment #43: Darklight. #44-49: "K" (mission to rid Earth of all Kryptonite) #50: The Fathers (Superman & Batman's dads met) #51-52: "Lil Leaguers" (tiny versions of the JLA) #53-56: Super/Bat- Superman's powers go to Batman
#57-59: Nanopolis (featuring the Prankster). #60-61: Mash-up. #62: Sidekicked. Supergirl and Robin (Tim Drake) #63: Night and Day. (will Gorilla Grodd) #64: Prelude to the Big Noise #65: Sweet Dreams (Halloween issue with Luthor) #66-67: Night of the Cure #68-71: "the Big Noise" #72-74: Worship. #79-80: "World's Finest" #81-84: Sorcerer Kings #85-87: The Secret
If you're a fan of Indiana Jones or Jack Kirby, then check out Challengers of the Unknown, one of DC's secondary titles which Kirby created just a few years before he joined Marvel and created the Fantastic Four.
Reading the series is like traveling back to the golden age of 1950's action-adventure science fiction. The inspirations for the series were the action movies that attracted teenage audiences of the era -- stories about adventurers -- test pilots, mountain climbers, skin divers.
The names of the four team members -- Ace Morgan, Professor Haley, Rocky Davis and Red Ryan -- are the rugged, stereotypical adventurer names of the era.
The four did not have super powers, just super enthusiasm for adventure -- just four rugged individuals -- sort of a cross between Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible.
The series debuted in Showcase #6, with additional stories in #7, 11 and 12. From there, DC put the group in their title. Kirby drew the first dozen adventures, and many consider his work on this series among his best work of the 1950s. He then moved on to create the Fantastic Four.
So, if you enjoy adventures in exotic locales, check out this under-appreciated title. And, since it is unfairly under-appreciated, the prices are less than the headliner hero comics (like Superman and Batman) of the era.
Before there was a Saturday Night Live, The Onion, or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, there was Mad Magazine.
For two generations of adolescent boys, this was the irreverent, satirical hot spot in the American cultural world.
In a population of 180 million in the 1950's, Mad's circulation topped 1 million copies per month, with a readership of over 3 million.
Its success was widely imitated, but never surpassed in its first 25 years. Sick magazine, Plop!, and Cracked magazine all tried, without success, to come close to the biting satirical wit of Mad. If you ever want to study American culture in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's or 1980's, back issues of Mad is the place to go for the counter-culture's take on then current events.
Founded in 1952, early issues featured the writing of top comics and comedians from all media. Ernie Kovacs, an early of star of TV, and Bob & Ray, the great radio comedy team, all wrote for Mad, as did Charles Schulz who created 'Peanuts', Jules Feiffer, Wil Eisner, Danny Kay, Stan Freberg, and Sid Caesar. For many years it was THE place to be seen by the elite comedy superstars.
Mad had a near-monopoly stranglehold on political and social satire in the 50's through 70's. In fact, in 2009 The New York Times wrote, "Mad once defined American satire". If you want to understand the roots of American comedy today, Mad really is required reading.
If it was a social issue in America, Mad dissected it with more depth and bite than Saturday Night Live or the Daily Show combined.
For teenagers growing up from 1952 to 1975, it was clearly the most important reading in your life if you were a skeptic, politically or socially aware, or if you wanted a career in comedy.
Looking at any back issue today reminds me of my rebellious teenage years, which many people will say were the best years of their lives. So, if you're looking for a gift for someone who has "everything", transport them back to their youth. I'm telling you, an old Mad Magazine from the time they were 10 to 14 years old, can't be beat.
Or if you're looking for a full perspective of American society from 1952 to today, Mad Magazine is the place to start.
This is the comic book that saved the comic book industry.
The year was 1961 and DC had a virtual monopoly on super-hero comics, which have always been the bumper crop for publishers. Superman, Batman, and re-launches of The Flash and Green Lantern, along with Wonder Woman and several second-tier heros. But, all their characters were good guys, and none of their characters had any, well, character. They were good. Through and through.
And then, along came Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's brilliant collaboration, the Fantastic Four. The four squabbled like real people, had villains with good sides and heroes with dark sides. Their characters did things that real people did -- went to the barber shop, went on vacation, nearly went bankrupt. It was a family story in a super-hero context.
Yes, the Fantastic Four totally re-energized comics, and was the first title in the "Marvel Age of Comics". The Fantastic Four's success led to everything else in the Marvel family. Without a successful Fantastic Four, there would never have been a Spider-Man, or Iron Man or Captain America or Thor.
The series was the definition of innovative. The characters had no secret identities, they actually lived in New York City, (no "Metropolis" for them), and they fought like siblings...in fact, two of the characters, Sue Storm (the Invisible Girl) and Johnny Storm (the Human Torch), WERE siblings. And they squabbled, just like you did with your siblings.
And bad guys had a good side. In one sequence, which has stayed with me for 40 years, the evil Dr. Doom and Reed Richards are about to blow each other's brains out and the collateral damage would be the destruction of a valuable painting by an old master. Neither Richards or the detestable Doom could bare to see that happen. The result? An agreement to end the fight to save the painting. Great Caesar's Ghost.... there were no characters like
that in& DC comics!!!
And, Johnny Storm, a leading star, was a teenager. In DC-land, the teenagers were the sidekicks, Robin to Batman, Speedy to Green Arrow, and Kid Flash to... well, you know.
But here, a teenager was a star. His success bred the other great Marvel teenage star....Spider-Man. If the readers of comics in the 1960s were kids and teenagers, well, why not discuss their problems... like being bullied in school, or an upcoming Chemistry test. Meanwhile, Superman was concerned with how best to camouflage this giant key to his Fortress of Solitude.
And, the Fantastic Four lived in a real city, New York, and Reed Richards was wondering how he could kiss Sue Storm.
The 'reality' of the series was how it intermingled real people reacting to ordinary situations with the bad guys trying to take over the world. Bad guy coming after me? Well, hold on, while I pay the rent.
Today, most every super-hero comic has taken this enduring quality from Fantastic Four's original series.
The continuity was staggering. In a day when an artist will sign to draw 12 issues of a series, Kirby and Lee teamed up for 102 consecutive issues. And the characters they created, from the Silver Surfer and Galactus to the Inhumans and zillions more populate the Marvel universe to this day.
So, if you're looking for a title with great stories, great art (Kirby and Lee and their absolute best), the Fantastic Four is the place to do.
When you get tired of super-heroes flying, or stopping bullets with their teeth, or emitting death rays with their eyes, and you merely yearn for the days when men were men, then this is the comic for you.
Conan the Barbarian (1970 series) is based on the pulp hero created by Robert E. Howard, and he doesn't have invulnerability, he can't turn into a ball of flame and he can't communicate with fish. He's just a guy, a really strong, ferocious guy.
If you were ever stranded alone in the New York City subway at 3 a.m. during the crime-riddled 1970s, he's the guy you'd want at your side.
The continuity of the series is spectacular since Roy Thomas wrote issues #1 to #115. Barry Smith drew issues #1-24 and John Buscema drew most all of issues #25 to #190. Many issues were adapted from stories written by Robert E. Howard, and as a result, the series holds true the original author's intent.
Like other comics whose run started after 1967, the cost of the set is pretty reasonable. And, since Conan isn't a super-hero in the sense of Spider-Man and Superman, the cost of the books is a bit lower than a comparable set of super-hero issues.
And Hollywood is dusting Conan off for another cinematic comeback. The original Conan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, well, whatever happened to him?
We've been tracking the biggest selling comics at NewKadia for 12 years -- 144 months, and incredible as it may seem, Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) has been the best selling comic here for 142 of the 144 months. That's right, this title has outsold every other title in 142 of 144 months.
So, the natural question is: "Why?" Well, my friends, the answer is pretty easy. It's because the stories and plots of the original series are among the best ever written and drawn.
Starting with the story of the high-school aged Peter Parker, boy-nerd, turning into a super-hero, the basic themes of the character have touched two generations of readers. The early issues, drawn by Steve Ditko, captured the skinny little Parker character just perfectly. This super-hero was so different, in so many ways, the creative blast was overwhelming to readers then, and remains strong even now.
The movie "Spider-Man 2" captured Parker's angst nearly perfectly (and that's why Roger Ebert called it "the best super-hero movie ever filmed"). Even if you took the big action scenes out of the film, the remaining emotional story line -- Parker's inability to relate to girls -- perfectly captured the spirit of the comic book series and the reality of young adulthood.
If you haven't jumped on board the bandwagon, you should. It is ground-breaking, and often imitated. Whenever a super-hero has had self doubts, or a befuddled state of mind, it's a rip off of this series.
Strip away the super-hero theatrics and the series has great love stories (Peter and the ill-fated Gwen Stacy; Peter and Mary Jane), and the never-ending tale of Peter's blaming himself for his uncle's death.
This original series ran for 441 issues, until they re-started the series in 1999 with issue #1. But, 58 issues later Marvel came back to its senses, and starting with issue #500 re-adopted the original numbering system.
So there you have it. if there ever was an "Academy Award" or "Nobel Prize" for the best ongoing series of the past 50 years, this is the winner if the voters are the customers who have spoken with their wallets, making this the best selling comic over the past 49 years.
Of the many reincarnations of The Shadow, this 12-issue series is my favorite. Written by Dennis O'Neil, this series was faithful to both the pulp magazine versions and the radio version of the Shadow.
O'Neil, for those of you who might not know, was recently nominated for induction into the Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.
If Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of comic book creators, then Dennis O'Neil is among the next generation of super-stars, sort of like Mickey Mantle. And of course, that actually makes some sense, since one of O'Neil's first jobs in the comic book industry was that of Stan Lee's editorial assistant.
Interestingly, although O'Neil has made a name for himself on many, many titles, this is one of the few titles where he wrote every issue.
Has it been 12 years already since the debut of Ultimate Spider-Man? Well, yes it has. The series is a re-imagining of Spider-Man, updated for this century. No longer is Peter Parker a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. Instead, he's a webmaster. You get the picture.
The series was so popular when first published, and so unexpectedly so, that the value of issue #1 hit $150 on eBay. Things have cooled off a bit, and the Overstreet Guide now lists #1 for $90. (Careful, there are several versions, including a $3 Free Comic Book Day version).
Artist Mark Baldy and writer Brian Michael Bendis collaborated on the series for a record 111 issues. That run topped the previous Marvel record for an artist/writer team of which had been held for over 45 years by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four (1961 series).
What I found interesting was Spider-Man's new origin. In the original version, Stan Lee took 11 pages to tell the story. Blady and Bendis took 180 pages, spanning the first 7 issues.
The series ended after 133 issues when Marvel re-booted the series with a new #1. Because the series is so recent there are lots of Near Mint copies available. And, after the first 7 issues, the cost of a Near Mint- copy is under $10, so it's an affordable series to collect, even in near perfect condition.
We're big Jack Kirby fans here at NewKadia. And the Demon is one of his creations from his days at DC comics. It was his first new comic book after the now-legendary 4th world series of The New Gods, Forever People, and Mister Miracle were cancelled. (By the way, if you haven't read those books, you should. After you do read them, you won't think that George Lucas' Star Wars series is quite as original as you always
In the Demon, the title character, named Etrigan, is a demon from hell who, despite his violent tendencies, usually finds himself allied to the forces of good, mainly because of the alliance between him and
Jason Blood, a human to whom Etrigan is bound. And this is why I love this series. The conflicts between good and evil, and the motivations behind the behavior of Blood/Etrigran are one of the great delights of this series.
As is typical with Kirby creations, Etrigan is physically unique -- a squat, muscular humanoid creature with orange (or yellow) skin, horns, red eyes, and ears resembling bat wings. In contrast, Jason Blood is a tall, thin, suave man with dark red hair and a lined face.
According to Kirby, Etrigan was inspired by a comic strip of Prince Valiant in which the title character dressed as a demon. Kirby gave his creation the same appearance as Valiant's mask.
Etrigan's origin is a vividly creative tale. He is bonded with Jason Blood, a knight in King Arthur's court. The bonding renders Jason immortal. And eventually he winds up in Batman's Gotham City, as a prominent demonologist. (Are there any demonologists who aren't prominent?)
Centuries later, Jason is called to the crypt of Merlin and discovers a poem that when recited, changes him into Etrigan. And yet, even as a demon, the series ongoing conflict is between good and evil. Etrigan both clashes with and occasionally aids Earth's heroes, guided by his own whims and Jason's attempts to turn his power to good use.
Finally, with only 16 issues to collect, you won't spend a decade tracking down every copy.
Whenever we discuss one of the top super-heroes, the name Jack Kirby usually pops up.
And it pops up here again since Captain America, is one of his creations (co-created with Joe Simon).
The movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, was released in 2011 and this increased interest in his comic books.
Here's the movie's trailer:
What sets Captain America apart in the Marvel universe is that he was one of the only heroes from the early 1940s resurrected in the 1960s (after the super-hero drought of the 50s). His first appearance in the Silver Age was in Avengers (1963 series) #4.
Kirby used the old "frozen in a block of ice trick" to bring him back after 20 years.
The first issue of the Captain America series is numbered #100, and not #1, because Captain America shared Tales of Suspense with Iron Man starting with issue #58. Marvel renamed the title "Captain America" with issue #100 and continued it until #454, with various artists, including Kirby (before and after he went to DC comics) and a brief run by Jim Steranko.
Looking for a creative and different gift for anyone who grew up in the 1950's or 1960's? Dell TV and movie comics are the place to start, even if that person isn't a collector.
In the 1950's and 60's most TV shows had a comic book. So, if you're looking for a clever gift for the 45 and over crowd, you can find one here. All you need is the name of one of their favorite television shows.
Or, if you want to collect comics which are more familiar to your friends and relatives, this is the way to go. Most people don't know anything about Green Arrow or the Metal Men, but most adults are aware of Lucille Ball as I Love Lucy. You can collect these TV comics in so many ways:
1. Collect comedies only, or westerns, or dramas.
2. Collect shows you watched regularly.
3. Collect one from every show, or all the comics from one show.
To search, click Dell TV & Movie Comics
or just click one the TV shows listed below, all of which were among the Top 25 TV shows in one or more seasons from 1958 to 1968.
Frank Miller, one of the most important comic creators of the late 20th century did it again with his 4-issue mini-series, Give Me Liberty.
Set in the near future, the United States has split into several extremist-controlled territories. It's part action story, part political satire. The series was one of the biggest selling mini-series of the era. And it won the 1991 Eisner Award for best mini-series.
The new series of Action Comics, Superman, Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League, Green Lantern and Flash created more news in 2011 than any other comic book event.
After 74 years, DC "re-launched" all its comics and characters.
Superman first appeared in Action Comics (1938 series) #1 and the new Action Comics (2011 series) #1 re-launched him with major changes to his background and powers.
Of course, Superman and Batman have evolved over the years. Back in 1939 Superman couldn't fly he could only "leap over buildings with a single bound" and early Batman comics had him holstering a pistol. However, since the mid 1940s the basic back stories have pretty much remained the same. Back in 1987, DC did a makeover of Superman, but on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the status quo and 10 being a total makeover, it was about a "2".
This time though, DC drastically shook up all their heroes -- changing story lines, characterizations and origins. Everything was up for grabs -- they even changed Superman's uniform -- now he wears jeans and work boots! Oh, what would Jor-el say?
For the current collector, the initial issues may well become collector items down the road. But more importantly, for the new collector, or parent or grandparent who wants to share the joys of a comic book collection with a youngster, this is the place to start.
All DC titles started with a new issue #1, so you can keep current without the need to buy expensive decades old back issues.
So, if you're looking for a landmark series, look no further than the new Action #1, or Superman #1 or for Batman, try Batman (2011 series) #1 or Detective Comics (2011 series) #1.
The original Metal Men series is one of my favorite comics from the silver age. Robert Kanigher wrote the series and he created a set of six robots with incredibly distinctive personalities, each based on the properties of the metal they were named after. Iron, was the "strong man"; Lead was loyal but a bit "thick" and dumb (maybe the only dumb super-hero ever); Tin (a comparatively weak metal) was weak and insecure; and Platinum was a lady. Ross Andru's
artwork was the perfect match for the story line.
The stories are clever with the characters well developed. And, if you're taking a high school chemistry course, it provides a good review of the properties of these 6 elements (Hey, I'm just kidding).
This series debuted in Showcase issues #37 to #40 and the popularity of the Metal Men led to this series in May of 1963. The group included a woman character - Platinum -- who was in love with her creator, Doc Magnus and wanted to be a "real" woman. Thirty years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation ripped off this idea and created the character of Data, an android who wanted to be human.
Of course, it's not the first time Hollywood ripped off comic book ideas (If you read Jack Kirby's 4th World Trilogy of New Gods, the Forever People and Mister Miracle, you can see how George Lucas ripped off the idea of Darth Vader being Luke's father. Gosh, go read New Gods (1971 series) #7, published long before Star Wars was released.
Now, the movies can give back to the Metal Men. With recent advances in special effects (I'm still amazed that the apes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes weren't real) I'd be surprised if some studio didn't snatch up the rights to the Metal Men. Although they were always a second tier DC title, the potential for this group in a TV or movie series is tremendous.
Issues #42 to 44 are reprints, but all others are original stories. As with most second tier DC characters, the cost of each issue is well within reach of most collectors and with only 56 issues, the cost for the entire series (plus the Showcase issues) is comparatively low.
Published in 2006, this Marvel series had a wonderfully creative premise. The United States enacted the "Superhuman Registration Act", which required any person with superhuman abilities to register with the government as a "human weapon of mass destruction," and reveal their true identity to the authorities.
The super-heroes in the Marvel universe split into two groups: one advocating the registration as a responsible obligation, and the other opposing the law on the grounds that it violated their civil liberties and the protection that secret identities provide.
But that's not all; several villains have also chose to take sides, some choosing to side with the registration, others against it. The story line, and the decisions the heroes made were clever. For example, Luke Cage(Power Man), an African-American, compared registration to slavery.
The series is only seven issues long, but the story line bled into many other Marvel titles. So you can start off with the basic series, and if you like it, you can follow the story line in these other issues:
If you're looking to collect a series, and you're on a budget, then the original Iron Man series should be one of your first stops for several reasons.
First, the popularity of Iron Man has been spiking due to the success of the Iron Man movies. Thank you Robert Downey, Jr. And, if experience is any guide, good movies fuel continuing interest in a character.
Second, the series is relatively inexpensive since its first issue was May of 1968. Unlike the Fantastic Four (1961) and Amazing Spider-Man (1963), Iron Man's title was begun years after the first big wave of the Marvel era. As a result, the cost of the series is way less than those two titles, or Avengers (1963), X-Men (1963) or Daredevil (1964).
Third, the series is "expandable". Once you finish collecting all 332 issues or "Iron Man" , you can go back and get issues of Tales of Suspense (1959 series), where Iron Man first appeared as one of two stories (starting with issue #39).
Iron Man was relegated to Tales of Suspense because in those days Marvel's distribution deal limited the number of titles it could publish. For a while Marvel gave Iron Man the entire book, but later he shared it with Captain America stories. Iron Man stories appeared 61 issues of Tales of Suspense, before Marvel got a new distribution deal and was able to give old Ironhead his own comic book.
What do William Shatner, Jim Carrey and Alpha Flight have in common? They're all from Canada! So, if you love everything Canadian, this series is for you.
The Canadian mutants included Nothstar, Aurora, Sasquatch, Snowbird and Guardian... talk about your stereotypes! What, no Hockeyman?
In any event, the famous John Byrne wrote and drew the first 28 issues.
The series hit during the comic book boom of the 1980s and as a result, you can get all 130 issues for about $1.33 each at NewKadia. We generally have nearly every issue in stock.
So, if you grew up playing in the snow in June, this is a series for you. But even if you live in the Sahara desert, if you're a fan of the X-Men, this is one of the more interesting supporting series in the X-Men family. After all, no bad comic lasts 130 issues.
If you enjoy WWII stories of the Allies battling Nazis, then this is series for you. The first stories featured stories set during WWII, with the team of the original android Human Torch (not the Fantastic Four Torch), the Sub-Mariner and Captain America -- the top heroes from Marvel's golden age fighting the Axis powers.
It's an inexpensive series since the first issue appeared in 1975 and there are only 41 issues.
Don't confuse this series with the 2004 series, which is a different team featuring Union Jack, U.S. Agent, Thin Man and Tara. Those stories can't hold a candle to the original.
In the aftermath of September 11, Marvel created three limited series honoring unsung heroes: Call of Duty: The Precinct honoring law enforcement,
Call of Duty: The Brotherhood honoring firefighters and Call of Duty: The Wagon honoring emergency services workers.
If ever you wanted to give a unique gift to a friend or family member who worked in these professions, this is it. One of the sets usually is priced under $6 and it makes a great gift.& But even if you don't need a great gift, the series are short, well-written and well-drawn and makes you appreciate these often unsung heroes. For that reason alone, it's worth the read.
It's tough enough to win an Eisner Award, comic's equivalent to the Oscars, even once. But this series did it three times in a row -- in 1997, 1998 and 1999 -- for best continuing series. And it won in 1996 as best new series. Issue #10 also won the Eisner Award for best single issue; issues #4 to #9 won the award for best serialized story. Industry professionals, who vote for the winners have rarely lavished such praise on any series.
Astro City is a mecca for super-powered beings. The series is an anthology -- some stories are told from the viewpoint of the heroes, some for the viewpoint of average people, and some from the point-of-view of villains.
With only 22 issues, it's an easy series to collect and since it was published from 1996 to 2000, there are plenty of Near Mint or Very Fine issues available. At NewKadia, the price for the entire set varies between $65 and $90, depending on the condition of each issue.
Frank Miller did it yet again! His "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" won the 1995 Eisner Award for best mini-series. In the Sin City universe, Dwight McCarthy is a clean-living photographer who tries to avoid trouble because he knows what he's capable of. When a girl from his past (who he can't say no to) shows up and professes her love, ;they're both in way over their heads. The website "ainitcool news" gushed in its review: "Dare I say the most perfect depictions of noir in illustrated literature form? yes indeedy..."
Not every comic series needs to cost a fortune, and for good stories and art, all 125 issues of Excalibur won't force you to take a second mortgage on your home. In fact, you can get each issue for an average cost of about $1.31 here at NewKadia.
And, it won't take you 30 years to track down each issue. Most issues are usually in stock, and for those that we don't have, come back into stock often.
Excalibur is a super-hero group, an offshoot of the X-Men based in England.
Chris Claremont, best known for his years of work on the original X-Men series, wrote the first 34 issues. So, if you enjoyed his work on the X-Men, you'll like this series, too.
Captain Britain is one of the key characters. With superhuman powers granted to him by the legendary wizard, Merlyn.
Excalibur also featured Captain Britain's emotionally unstable shapeshifter lover, Meggan. With the help of a manic, dimension-hopping robot named Widget, they embarked on adventures through parallel worlds.
Starting with issue #68, writer Scot Lobdell changed the focus of the series. Captain Britain was lost and Meggan became catatonic and the newer members were summarily dispatched.
In addition, the tone of the series changed from a lighthearted, fun comic to a grimmer, darker series. Marvel stationed the team on the fictitious Muir Island, off the coast of Scotland and tied the series closer to the X-Men family, casting off most Captain Britain-related elements entirely, in addition to the characters that did not have close ties to the X-Universe (like Kylun and Feron).
In 1994, the great Warren Ellis assumed writing duties with issue #83.