The success of The Walking Dead TV series brought to mind one of the first successful comic books featuring the supernatural and zombies -- DC's House of Mystery. It was DC's long-running horror comic book with a publication history spanning 321 issues over 32 years (1951 to 1983).
Within this one series, a reader can watch as fear of U.S. government censorship forced DC to drastically alter the content of the series.
The series began as a horror anthology, featuring tales of the supernatural. However, in the mid-1950s, when restrictions on horror-themed stories were imposed by the Comics Code Authority (banning stores with werewolves and vampires), the series evolved into stories featuring science-fiction monsters.
By the mid-1960s, superheroes infiltrated the title, including J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, followed by Dial H for Hero.
Finally, in the early 1970s, after nearly 20 years of self-censorship, DC began challenging the Authority and starting with issue #174, the series returned to horror stories. These stories were well-respected and won numerous awards. "The Demon Within", a story in issue #201 won the Shazam Award for Best Individual Short Story.
Later issues (#290 to #319) featured "I...Vampire", about a heroic vampire.
Dazzler was Marvel's 1980s entry in its never-ending quest to attract female readers. Dazzler was a mutant who could convert sound vibrations into light and energy beams. As part of Marvel's strategy, some stories focussed on her career and her family relationships, rather than typical "fight the bad guy" plots.
In the series, which followed her debut in X-Men (1963 series) #130, Dazzler is an aspiring singer and uses her light powers to enhance her performances. In fact, she turns down an invitation to join the X-Men to continue her music career.
The 42 issue series is easy to collect -- a limited number of issues and a low cost for each (issue #1 in Near Mint- condition is only $4).
The first Star Trek comic series was published by Gold Key starting in 1967. They're unique among our collection of comic books we like because they were illustrated by an Italian artist -- Alberto Giolitti. But that's not what's unique. Giolitti had never seen the TV show and he used publicity photos of Star Trek's cast to draw the characters.
Most stories are original and not adaptations of the TV shows. This series is popular among Star Trek fans and people looking for gifts for a Star Trek fan, because it was the first Star Trek series. The look is unmistakenly 1960s.
The series only has 61 issues. If you're not a Star Trek fan, don't bother. If you are Star Trek fan, don't miss it.
When Marvel hit it big in the early 1960s, they changed the entire comic book industry by creating superheroes with faults as well as virtues. Their characters had "attitude".
In contrast, DC's superheroes were just vanilla "good guys" through and through. Marvel's success gave them a certain swagger. And Marvel enhanced that attitude by making fun, not only of DC's characters, but their own. The result -- Not Brand Echh, a satirical look at the entire world of superheroes.
Marvel's top artists and writers -- Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gen Colan, Bill Everett, John and Marie Severin and Roy Thomas -- flocked to the series to take jabs at the entire genre of superheroes as well as the characters they created. There are only 13 issues, but there are lots of laughs in each one.
When the first Spider-Man movie was released, Spider-Man comics starting to sell like hotcakes and now, years later, they are still the biggest selling comic at NewKadia. Then, when the Batman and Iron Man movies came out, they moved up about 20 spots in our top sellers.
And, about a year after each of the movies, the prices of the original series of these comics began to skyrocket as interest in the characters, and thus the demand for their comics, increased.
Well, the same thing is happening to Avengers comics because of its 2012 blockbuster movie. One of the big movie events of the year -- it starred Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Add Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and the movie created a giant media frenzy
which turbo-charged interest in Avengers comics.
The movie, a blockbuster, was written by Josh Wheedon, who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and who wrote the original Toy Story movie.
Avengers (1963 series) is the comic book series that inspired the movie and the series has always been one of the most popular in the Marvel universe. Created by (here we go again), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Avengers were the counter-Justice League. While everyone loved everyone else in the JLA, the Avengers interacted with each other more naturally, and everyone wasn't quite lovey-dovey with each other.
The original Avengers series is a pre-requisite for any collector who wants to explore the Avengers universe, with spin off titles like West Coast Avengers and the current New Avengers and Mighty Avengers.
The Black Panther is yet another creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and as usual, they created an uniquely original hero.
Unlike DC characters of the 1960s, Marvel's characters had complex, multi-dimensional motivations and none more so than the Black Panther.
As king of the African country of Wakanda, he invites the Fantastic Four to Wakanda. There, he attacks and defeats each one. Why? To conquer the world? Nope. For revenge? Nope. For money and riches? Nope.
The Black Panther (T'Challa) was the ruler of a spiritually-based warrior cult -- and Wakanda was the most technologically advanced nation on Earth. As a 19-year old (in issues #52 and #53 of Fantastic Four 1961 series
he battled the Fantastic Four to test his own powers and to test the Fantastic Four to see if they would be an effective ally to help him protect his kingdom and people from their mortal enemy Klaw.
This was the beauty of Kirby and Lee. They actually created motivations for their heroes, other than the cliched irrationality seen in DC comics -- "I want to rule world, for no apparent reason, other than, why not?".
After his first appearance in Fantastic Four, he starred in Jungle Action #5-24 and then in his own series. The Black Panther was Marvel's first black superhero (a novelty in the 1960s) and beyond that, the series is recognized as the first successful series using mult-issue story arcs. The first arc, "The Panther's Rage" ran for 13 issues in Jungle Action.
Acclaimed writer Dwayne McDuffie raved:
"This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it ... sit down and read the whole thing. It's damn-near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You'll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully
developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero's skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion."
The series is an under-appreciated madcap combination of comic book genres: part superhero spoof, part black comedy, part magic and fantasy.
Some stories were light-hearted, some were violent. Some readers objected to the series' star -- Norbert Sykes a Vietnam war veteran suffering from multiple personality disorder. Regardless, the title was strong enough to survive for 70 issues and also survived the bankruptcy of its first publisher, Capital Comics.
He is THE original superhero. If not for Superman, there probably would never have been a Batman, Spider-Man, or any other superhero. In fact, we take for granted the existence of superheroes as a fictional genre, but before Superman comics, most people did not. (unless you studied ancient mythology).
So, while fantasizing about swinging through the streets of New York like Spider-Man, or donning the caped crusader's outfit may now be commonplace, readers in 1938 had no such frame of reference.
That's how amazing Superman was. He was totally original, sparking an entire industry. For those old enough to remember the first Star Wars movie, you can appreciate the spectacular breakthrough that film was for cinema. The same can be said for Superman with regard to the breakthrough his creation caused for magazines and fiction writing.
For those who can remember the first time they saw an iPod, or a computer, and that amazing awe that permeated your soul, well...that's what the debut of Superman did, too.
And the 1939 series is Superman's original series. Although he first appeared in Action Comics (where he was one of several features), DC quickly gave him his own title, where he starred in every story.
In a very real way, the stories chronicle America from 1939 to today, and as a result, should be required reading for any superhero fan or social anthropologist. In fact, the number of Ph.D. dissertations dedicated to the real meaning of Superman number is in the hundreds.
There are many ways to collect this series. As the oldest comic book superhero, the oldest copies are very expensive. One customer wrote me that he only collects issues #200 and higher. Another told me he collects every 50th issue... #50, #100, #150, etc, to chart how the creative teams changed and evolved all the characters in the series.
The first series ran for 423 issues and then DC changed the name of the series to the Adventures of Superman for issues #424 to #649. From issue #650 to #714, the name changed back to Superman (2006 series). After that, DC re-booted the Superman character and his current adventures appear in Superman (2011 series).
If you're a John Byrne fan, this series is required reading. In it he weaved mature topics -- including sex, abortion and the pains of child abuse -- into his stories. This series is definitely not for young readers.
A group of youngsters given up for adoption by single mothers were experimented on by a team of scientists to create a group of super humans. The five escape from the scientists, only to be taken in by a U.S. Government agent.
Byrne broke with conventional comic story telling, that's for sure. In addition to mature themes, he eliminated thought balloons and sound effects. Looking for a different, more mature reading experience? This series is worth a look.
This is our best selling mini-series. We constantly get more copies and they consistantly fly off the shelves. That's what happens to a series that some consider the most important DC mini-series of all time.
Published in 1985, the series was designed to simplify the then 50-year old DC universe. The problem originated when DC re-booted their superheroes starting in 1956 with a re-introduction of a new Flash. To reconcile the new Flash with the Golden Age Flash, DC said that the two superheroes existed on "alternate" earths. In fact, DC threw all of their Golden Age heroes (including a duplicate Superman with gray hair) into that alternate
universe, named Earth-Two. That opened up a pandora's box of alternate worlds, like Earth-Three (where heroes were villains and vice versa) and Earth Prime.
By 1985, it was pretty hard for readers, and DC's writers, to keep track of all the different worlds. Crisis on Infinite Earths tackled the problem by combining all the worlds into one universe in this 12-issue mega event. In the process, DC consolidated everyone into one universe and killed off about 30 characters.
The series was very successful in sparking renewed interest in comics and popularizing "crossover" events, where one story line spans every title of a publisher's line of comics, which is now an annual event for both DC and Marvel.
Quick -- name the most popular comic book character created since 1990. For many, that question is a no-brainer. For them, the answer is Spawn.
Created by Todd McFarlane, who attained superstar comic book status writing and drawing Spider-Man in the 1980s, Spawn was his first creation when he left Marvel to form Image comics.
Spawn is Francis Simmons, a CIA officer who was transferred to the super-secret U.S. Security Group and becomes an assassin. After Simmons is murdered during an assignment and sent to hell, he makes a deal with the devil to serve Satan in return for being returned to Earth to see his wife one more time.
Spawn is certainly not your typical American teenager bitten by a spider origin. Geared to older readers, the title sacrificed a young boy audience in exchange for darker, more adult themes, which made it extremely popular with its more mature audience. You won't find Jimmy Olsen saying, "Jeepers, Mr. Kent" in this series.
So, if you're looking for darker, less childish story lines, this just might be the series for you.
Although Hollywood still can't get the Incredible Hulk right, he remains one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. The first Hulk series in 1962 lasted only six issues. And, like most comics from the early days of the Marvel revolution, the price for each of those six comics is quite high. Even though Marvel cancelled the title, Marvel re-introduced the Hulk in Tales to Astonish #50 just 17 months later. Hulk stories ran through #101 and these issues of Tales to Astonish can also get a bit pricey.
Finally, in 1968, Marvel changed the title of Tales to Astonish to the Incredible Hulk (1968 series) and devoted the entire issue to the Hulk. This series ran for 38 years, until March of 1999 and contains some of the best Hulk story lines.
The Hulk was created by Jack Kirby and Kevin Watson and editor-in-chief Stan Lee summarized the appeal of the Hulk by comparing him to Frankenstein. Said Lee, "I had always loved the movie Frankenstein and it seemed to me that the monster wasn't really a bad guy. He was the good guy. He didn't want to hurt anybody. It's just those idiots with torches who kept running up and down the mountains, chasing him and getting him angry. And I thought, 'Wouldn't
it be fun to create a monster and make him the good guy?'"
So, in a very real way, the Hulk is literature's descendant of Frankenstein. It's a good thing that the copyright for Frankenstein ran out a long time ago, because it gave Marvel the ability to adapt some of his features for its own character. That probably couldn't happen today.
Ever since the U.S. Congress extended the length of copyrights from 28 to 150 years, the ability of new authors to craft characters from existing characters has pretty much been destroyed. You may not think that's a bad thing, but consider the Walt Disney company's use of characters whose copyrights had expired -- Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Beauty and the Beast and on and on. Disney created new classic versions of these old stories
And that's what Marvel did, too. It makes you appreciate Mary Shelley all the more. She "invented" the idea, and then Marvel really massaged it and fostered it for the next 50 years.
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, then you should give Dr. Strange a try. Or, if you know someone who is a big Harry Potter fan, this is a series you should turn them on to.
He's a master magician, the "Sorcerer Supreme" of the cosmos. He can achieve most any effect -- telepathy, energy blasts, and teleportation. Originally billed as the "Master of Black Magic", potions, spells and strange, often bizarre settings fill his stories.
The series showcased surrealistic mystical landscapes and readers often analyzed the stories for their relationship to ancient myths. The series delved into very abstract realms. Dr. Strange's adventures take place in bizarre worlds and twisting dimensions that resembled Salvador Dali paintings.
Dr. Strange has always had a niche following among readers seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superheroes. That's the reason that Dr. Strange has never made it in the movies, although Marvel comics constantly tries to figure out exactly how to move the character to the big screen. A Dr. Strange movie has "been in the works" for what seems like a decade. On the heels of the phenomenal success of Harry Potter, it would seem that Marvel's Dr.
Strange could find a home in Hollywood, too.
If you are young at heart (and after all, you are a comic book collector so there's a greater liklihood that you are) then this is a great series for you. Before there was Sponge Bob Square Pants, or Bart Simpson, there were Looney Tunes -- Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd... now come on, these guys WERE the essence of childhood back in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Anyone born from 1925 to 1965 is a big fan of these characters and Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics capture these nutty guys at the peak of their popularity.
Going head-to-head with Disney, Warner Bros. studios created this group as a more irreverent gaggle of characters than the Disney characters. Any sharp bite that Mickey Mouse had was pretty much gone by the 50s. Really, can you tell me any character trait of Mickey other than a "nice guy". Now compare that with Bugs Bunny and the crew -- they had spirit, they had foibles, they were... well crazy! Gosh, I can still hear Mel Blanc's voice
any day of the week for any of these great characters. And, I do mean CHARACTERS.
Here's a sample cartoon:
If you're looking for a gift for anyone over 50, this will do the trick and bring a giant smile to their face. After all, I've never seen an adult see a picture of Daffy or Bugs, or Elmer Fudd or Porky Pig and not smile. I'm not sure why, but I think I once read that cartoon characters with over-sized heads remind lots of people of infants (whose heads are proportionately larger than those of adults) and as a result, it brings a smile to lots
of people's faces.
By the way, and younger readers might not believe this, but it's true, from 1930 to 1969, when you went to the movies, not only did you get coming attractions and a movie, but you usually also got an original Looney Tunes cartoon. A full 7-minutes of crazy, wacky behavior. The library of these old films later became a staple of kids' TV in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
In any event, if you're a collector this is a great series because there are loads of copies out there, so getting the full set is possible. And, without the Disney hype and the hordes attracted to Disney memorabilia, the prices are much less than comparable Disney titles (like "Walt Disney's Comics and Stories").
So give this title a try. From first glance, you'll start asking everyone around you, "What's Up, Doc?
One of the most frustrating things for a comic book reader is enjoying one issue of a mini-series and then being unable to find the next issue. We've solved that problem because we have over 1,000 complete sets in stock and many sell for under $3 for the entire set (that's $3 for the entire set, not for each issue).
You might ask, "How good can a series be if it costs under $3?" Well, the answer is surprising -- it can be very good. Here's why.
First, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has a bias for pricing continuing series much higher than limited mini-series. And conversly, they have the bias towards pricing limited series much lower. As a result, the prices of limited series complete sets seem arbitrarily low.
Second, because the mini-series is a recent phenomenon (most less than 30 years old) most of their prices have stayed pretty low. Third, you can order the entire series with 1-click. You'll get the entire story and won't be left hanging.
Walt Disney's Comics and Stories is the longest running continuously published comic book in history.
The first issue was published in October 1940 and fresh issues are still coming off the presses today. This is a truly amazing achievement. No radio or television show has had anywhere near that longevity. No other magazine featuring fictional stories has had a longer run either.
It's a tribute to Walt Disney's brand of wholesome family entertainment.
There are alot of ways to collect the series. Some people collect only the earliest issues, while others collect issues starting with those published in the year that they were born. Still others only buy the most recent issues which are the least expensive.
One of our customers only buys issues which end in a zero -- 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, so she can enjoy seeing how the art styles and the story themes have evolved over the past 70 years.
One customer only collects issues with Donald Duck on the cover, another only collects issues featuring Minnie Mouse.
We don't generally highlight cowboy comics but Jonah Hex is a worthwhile exception. IGN, a great comic book website, voted him the best western comic book character of all time.
Don't let Hollywood's lousy movie adaptation fool you. The comic book series is very good. Hex was the only DC western character to flourish in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite being blind in the right eye, he's an incredibly fast and accurate marksman, an excellent tracker, with a reputation as a ruthless killer, making him a ferociously successful bounty hunter in the Old West.
It's partially set during the American Civil War and the only successful comic book character I can think of who fought for the losing South in the war.
This is the first series named for him and it lasted 92 issues. His earlier adventures appeared in Weird Western Tales (1972 series) issues #12 to #38 and before that in All-Star Western #10 and #11.
In the late 1980's, the character was revived and transported to the 20th century in Hex, which was well received in Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Japan, but mostly ignored in the United States.
So, if you're seeking to broaden your horizons beyond superheroes and willing to try something different, check out Jonah Hex.
Looking for a new title to add to your collection featuring famous superheroes, at a great price? Then, look no further than X-Force (1991 series).
It's a spin-off from the X-Men, one of Marvel's top lines (and the subject of 5 recent movies). X-Force was a re-invention of the 1980s 'New Mutants' team. Led by Cable, X-Force was a bit more aggressive than the X-Men.
Rob Liefield's great artwork propelled the series through its first 9 issues. Throughout its 129-issue run, the series was one of Marvel's best sellers. The series was so popular that Toy Biz launched a line of action figures based on the series.
Because the series was one of Marvel's best sellers, and because the earliest issues are still only 20 years old, there are lots of copies available at a low cost. The average cost for the first 25 issues is only about $1.60 each.
If you have a youngster who is interested in collecting comics, or if you want to encourage one, this is a great starter series, since no issue is expensive, every issue is easily available somewhere and the stories are really good.
The Eternals were Jack Kirby's first creation after he jumped back to Marvel from DC comics. The Eternals were an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created man. The story line was similar to the New Gods in that it mixed mythology with science fiction.
Pros 1. Another Jack Kirby creastion.
2. Only 19 issues to collect.
3. Cost for the entire set runs from $70 to $111.
Cons 1. If you hated Kirby's 4th World Saga (New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle), you won't like this either.
2. Only 19 issues. Readers of the 1970s didn't think this was one of Kirby's best works.
If our civilization is dumbing down, Classics Illustrated may just be our last hope, or a part of the contribution.
As its title suggests, the title highlights a classic piece of literature and illustrates it. Hamlet, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and 166 other of the greatest books in history are given the comic book treatment.
Back in high school, I had a teacher who used to assign some of these books and he always said, "And, don't rely on Classics Illustrated for the exam, because all of the test questions are going to be based on items not in the comic book." Oh, well. But, the series did give you a pretty good outline of the plot, so that reading the actual book went a lot easier.
Here at NewKadia, we've also found a lot of parents buying these for their younger children. I can't see an 8 year old slogging through the novel The Time Machine, but many parents have told me that a Classics Illustrated makes for a good change of pace for a bedtime story for kids once they grow out of Green Eggs and Ham.
And, for older readers, who passed high school English as a result of Classics Illustrated, the series can be a great gift for them... they both re-live their adolescence and get a bit of a culture boost, too.
To collect the series, you do have to know a bit about its strange numerology. Each issue of Classics Illustrated was re-printed many times. The easiest way to figure out which reprint a copy is, is to look at the re-order form, either on the inside front cover, inside back cover, or on the back cover. On the re-order form, each issue that had been published up until that time is shown. So, for example, for issue #72, the highest re-order number on the 1st
edition is #72. Later re-prints have a highest-reorder-number (HRN) higher than #72. So, for each issue, the LOWER the HRN, the older the copy.
Classics Illustrated Junior actually makes pretty good bedtime reading to youngsters. And although I personally enjoy Horton Hears a Who, a classic from any age remains a classic. I doubt there's any rigorous scientific study, but I'd bet that a child exposed to classics from ages before Star Wars and Dr. Seuss, will grow up with a broader appreciation of the arts. No proof, but it sorta makes sense.
Classics Illustrated Special Issue features stories, but not based on a specific classic piece of literature, but rather stories from many sources... The Story of Jesus, or Prehistoric World, for example.
The World Around Us can still be relevant with titles like the Illustrated Story of Dogs, or can be somewhat less relevant, like the Illustrated Story of Indians. No, not Mahatma Gandhi, more like Cochise. I haven't reviewed it lately, but I'd guess there might be some vintage 40's era racist stuff in that one. I don't know, but comics of the 40s and early 50s certainly paid little attention to being politically correct.
So, if you're a bit tired of talking about Snooki, or Lindsay Lohan, those two shining examples of what our civilization thinks merit interest today, check out Classics Illustrated. In the days of superhero movies catapulting comics like Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman to the top of the heap in terms of sales figures, Classics Illustrated is the only non-superhero comic to crack our Top 10 in sales on a consistent basis.
So, even if we don't have the entire series in stock, there's a great chance that we'll have ALL the issues of most of the storylines. Keep a copy of the above list handy and you'll never finish one issue and be left hanging.
With the exception of Superman, Batman is the longest running title in comic book history. Issue #1 was published in 1940 and here we are over 75 years later and he's still going strong.
That's longer than any radio character or television character has been around. Just simply, an incredible run.
What makes the original Batman series so interesting is you can see its transformation through the years and pick and choose what era is right for you.
The original stories in the 1940s featured a dark, brooding hero. By the 1950's, with the addition of Robin, many stories had a science fiction theme and focussed on the dynamic duo's exploits with extra-terrestial beings.
In June of 1964, once the famous TV show starring Adam West hit the screens, the series changed yet again, with Batman's "New Look" and it swung back to its original roots.
I've heard so many stories from so many people on how they collect the series. One fellow only collects issues from the year he was born, 1965 to the present. Another only collects from #1 to the year he was born. And yet another guy only collects issues with can be divided by the number 25. He goes after issue #25, #50, #75, #100, #125, #150, #20 etc. In that way, he can see the changes over the years and not break his bank.
One other guy only collects issues with The Joker and the Riddler, while another only collects issues with Catwoman or Batwoman on the cover. Yet another customer told me he only collects issues where the word "death" or "dies" appears on the cover. I wonder if he's an undertaker?
But my favorite was the guy who said he was going to find every issue where Batman was tied up. (I didn't ask why).
In addition, collecting Batman can fit pretty much any budget. Of course the original Batman series is the most expensive to collect, but other Batman series, more recent in vintage, can be collected within most any budget. There are tons of good titles available, including
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Batman: Shadow of the Bat Batman Chronicles Batman and the Outsiders Batman Family Batman: Gotham Knights
Lots of customers ask what comics will go up in value. I can't answer that specifically because no one has a crystal ball. But, I have observed that prices of old comics are based in the continued interest in that character by today's audience.
So, if that's an indication of future value, Batman might be one of the safer bets out there. If he can survive and prosper for 71 years, then I'd say there must be something in the character and story line that has appealed to three generations. It might be a good bet that the universal themes and story lines of Batman comics will be of continuing interest in the future.
If you're looking for the original stories of Marvel's greatest heroes, like Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but don't want to spend a fortune on the original issues, you can get the same stories for a fraction of the cost by buying these reprints of the original issues. Spider-Man's earliest stories were reprinted in Marvel Tales. The early issues reprinted early Spider-Man stories and early stories of other heroes, but as the series progressed, Marvel cut it back to just Spider-Man.
Issue #137 reprints Spider-Man's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and the next 50 issues, reprint the first 50 issues of Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series).
Hey, Marvel did it again. Realizing that they didn't have to pay a writer or artist if they merely reprinted their original stories, the Fantastic Four got the same treatment... great reprints at a fraction of the cost of the originals. The FF reprints started in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics and continued in Marvel's Greatest Comics.
Marvel Premiere also featured tryouts for new characters. Warlock's first appeared in issues #1 and 2, and Iron Fist first appeared in #15 to #25. Today, no collection of the original Warlock or Iron Fist series is complete without those issues.
If you're a fan of either, get them.
The series ran for 61 issues and included runs of Doctor Strange (issues 3 to 14), and an eclectic mix of other heroes and monsters, including Hercules, Satana - the Devil's Daughter, the Legion of Monsters, the Liberty Legion, Woodgod, Monark Starstalker, the Mark of Kane, 3-D Man, Weird World, Torpedo, Seeker 3000, Tigra, Palladin, Jack of Hearts, Man-Wolf, Ant-Man, the Falcon, the Black Panther, Caleb Hammer, Dominic Fortune, Dr. Who, Star-Lord, and even rock star Alice Cooper.
During the early 1950s, as a result of the concern that comic books were a negative influence on adolescents, hundreds of comic books featuring bloodshed and gore ceased publication and the the comic book industry nearly died. By 1955, DC comics was looking for a way to introduce new characters with minimum financial risk. To minimize the number of new publications, DC featured new characters in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) and
If the "tryout" was successful as measured by the number of copies sold, DC would spin off the character into their own comic book.
The method worked. Showcase #4, for example, starred a revamped Flash (modernized from the 1940s hero), and it was so successful, DC gave the Flash his own comic book. Showcase #4 is widely viewed as the first comic of the "Silver Age" since led to DC's revamping of many of its then-defunct Golden Age superheroes.
Similarly, Showcase #22 through #24 launched the new Green Lantern and other superheroes followed: Aquaman (#30-33), the Atom (#34-36), Metal Men (#37-40), The Spectre (#60-61), The Phantom Stranger (#80). All had strong enough sales to launch their own series. Other good series, almost totally forgotten today, also got their start in Showcase, such as Rip Hunter, Time Master (#25-26), Sea Devil (#27-29), and the Inferior Five
(#62-63 and 65).
The Brave and the Bold featured the same "tryout" format from issue #1 to #60. The Suicide Squad (#25-26, 37-39), the Justice League of America (#28-30), Hawkman (#34-36), Strange Sports Stories (#45-49), the Teen Titans (#54 and 60), and Metamorpho (#57-58) all earned their own books from the success of their Brave and the Bold tryouts.
The format changed starting with issue #61 when DC changed the format to superhero "team-ups" -- two DC superheroes working together in one story.
Then, with the Batman TV show creating incredible interest in the Caped Crusader, DC changed the format again and issues #67 to # 200 starred Batman in most every issue, along with a different superhero each issue.
Some people collect the entire series, while others collect only those which feature a hero they're interested in. So, for example, most collectors would agree that a Justice League of America collection is not complete without Brave and the Bold #28 through #30.
But beware! Because both titles featured so many first appearances of characters, these issues are generally more expensive than issue #1 of their own series, which were published after the tryouts.
If you're a fan of Star Trek, this is the series you should be collecting because it gives you a sense of place since it interweaves the Star Trek movies into its timeline.
The series starts right after the events of the second Star Trek Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Then, starting with issue #9, the series moves to events after Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
The series also integrated some characters from Star Trek: The Animated Series. If you're not a fan of Star Trek, stay away.
Even though Wolverine wasn't one of the original X-Men, he is the most popular. A central character in the X-Men movie series, now a new Wolverine movie is in the works.
He first appeared in Incredible Hulk (1968 series) #181 in November of 1974. He is clearly the most popular comic book character created in that decade and Marvel has reacted to the demand for his stories by featuring him in the main X-Men series -- X-Men (1963 series) and Uncanny X-Men -- as well as giving him the starring role in his own series.
In May of 2008, Wolverine was ranked #1 by Wizard Magazine as the Top Comic Book Character of All Time. And this Wolverine series, with 189 issues, is the longest series starring Wolverine.
The first Wolverine series, Wolverine (1982 series) was a 4-issue mini-series, but it is this ongoing series that more deeply developed his award-winning character.
Wolverine was typical of the anti-authority antihero that emerged in American culture after the Vietnam War.
When a new Three Stooges movie was released in 2012, it renewed interest in their comics.
The Three Stooges were famous for their slapstick movies, each about 20 minutes in length. That's back in the day when you went to the movies you saw a feature film and a 20 minute "bonus" short film. The Stooges churned out 190 of these one reelers. In the 50's the movies became the stock in trade for afternoon kids' TV.
I've found that most people either love the Stooges, or hate them. So, if you're thinking of giving them as gifts, make sure the person you're getting them for laughs when he hears the immortal words, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk".
Here's the movie's trailer:
If you were a Superman fan before 1986 you know that Superman left Smallville after his parents died, Krypto was his super dog and Lex Luthor was an evil scientist. Guess what? Everything you learned was wrong!
In 1986, DC revised the Superman mythology, junked his entire previous history and started from scratch. He never was Superboy (instead he only learned to control his powers and went public in Metropolis) and Luthor became an evil Donald Trump without hair, or hair-weave, or whatever is sitting on the Donald's head.
So, if you've been away from Superman, check out this inexpensive 6-issue series and see what Superman has been all about since 1986.
All-Star Superman won the 2007 Eisner Award (the Oscars of comic books) for the best continuing comic books series. Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Morrison's aim was to write a "collection of timeless" Superman stories.
The 12 issues were published between 2006 and 2008, making it one of the first "classic" series of the 21st century.
In the entire history of comic books, no single title has launched more spin-off comics than the original X-Men series. The popularity of the characters have spawned titles such as X-Force, X-Factor, New Mutants, Generation X, and on and on. In fact, most every comic book that begins with the letter X is probably an offset of this series.
What makes the original X-Men a great series? It's the storyline which strikes a chord with its readers. In this case, it's the alienation of a group of teenagers who are ostracized by their peers due to their differences. There may be no more enduring them that nearly everyone can relate to.
In the case of the X-Men, it's their mutant powers, which set them apart from the ordinary teenager.
And, as most every breakthrough comic of the early 1960's, the writing/artist team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of comics) provided the creative spark for the series.
The universality of the stories has made the series one of the best reads in comic history and has launched an animated TV series, video games and a very successful film series which includes X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011), with four more films in the pipeline.
As for the comics, the X-Men's most feared foe was Magneto, who survived the Nazi concentration camps of the 1940s, only to pursue hatred for humanity. (Hey, who can blame him). But that's the point of the Marvel Age of comics. Villains had real motivations. In DC comics of the era, a villain just wanted to "rule the world". Why? Well, why not? But, in the Marvel universe, there was always a real motivation for the villain's evil
The series ran for 141 issues and then was renamed Uncanny X-Men. Combined, that's 48 years of continuous publishing, which is an amazing string which again proves the exceptional story telling the series has always provided.
Written by Frank Miller (who also created the Dark Knight Returns mini-series), with artwork by Jim Lee, this was the first title in DC's "All-Star" line-up. The stories are self-contained story arcs existing outside of official DC Comics continuity. Translation: You don't need to know what's going on in other Batman comics to enjoy these. The series features Miller's non-traditional interpretation of Batman.
With only 10 issues and all of recent vintage (between 2005 and 2008), it's a relatively inexpensive series which re-tells most of the Batman saga.
There have been several different Captain Marvels published by Marvel comics, but this is my favorite, by far.
An alien, Captian Mar-Vell of the Kree Imperia Militia is sent to spy on Earth. Tired of his commander's malicious intent, he allies himself with the Earth. The Kree brand him a traitor.
We've seen this plot device before. Think of all the movies you've seen where some government agent turns against his former govenment agency. Well, same plot device here but it's exceptionally well-developed in this series.
This Captain Marvel was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. His first appearance was in Marvel Super-Heroes (1967 series) #12. The first 16 issues are the best ones. After that, other creators monkeyed around with the character, changed story lines, and even his costume, and for me the series was never as good.
Don't confuse this Captain Marvel with the original Captain Marvel from the 1940s. That's the Billy Batson guy who said "Shazam" and became a superhero. DC comics sued the original publisher of that series claiming copyright infringement on its Superman character. DC won the case and the rights to that character. But Marvel won a different lawsuit winning the right to use the name "Captain Marvel", but not the character. You gotta love
those lawyers?! So, Marvel created a new character. And he's a very under-rated part of the Marvel universe.
If you're a fan of the movie "Alien" or its sequels (and hey, who doesn't love a creature exploding out of a man's stomach?) then you should check out Dark Horse Comics' comics based on "Alien" movies. Most are original stories which expand on the themes and creatures in the films.
Most series are only 3 or 4 issues, so it's inexpensive to get your fix of man-killing monsters.
If you're not a fan of Aliens movies, there's nothing here for you. Move on.
There are hundreds of mini-series featuring Spider-Man.
What is great about them is that each has a complete storyline. And, since mini-series are recent in origin (late 1970's to today) and since there are only 4 to 12 issues of each series, they're quite inexpensive.
If you're a Spider-Man fan, or if you're looking for a gift for a Spider-Man fan, this is a good place to start -- the reader isn't burdened by a long back-story, since most everything they need to know to get "into" the story is contained in the series itself.
And, if the gift recipient enjoys the series (about 22 pages per issue), then you've got the potential for great ongoing gift ideas -- for the holidays, birthdays, whatever.
We have alot of mini-series in stock and we have every issue of plenty of them.
In the 1950's and early 1960's, just a few years removed from the Allied victory in World War II, some of the best-selling comic books were DC's war comics, G.I. Combat and Our Fighting Forces. They appealed both to the adults who fought in the war, and to young baby boomers whose fathers served in the military.
When Marvel achieved incredible success with its superheroes starting in 1961, Stan Lee took aim at war comics. Bringing Marvel's unique creative approach to the genre, Marvel created Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos -- the first Marvel war title in years, and the only one that achieved success in the Silver Age.
The series ran for 167 issues, although new stories alternated with reprints from issues #80 to #120, and only reprints ran from #121 to #160.
What is so interesting is that the title's peak of popularity was during the Viet Nam War, when anti-war sentiment was at an all-time high in the United States. The success of the title was due, in part, to writers being able to incorporate 1960's anti-war sentiment within stories set in WWII -- which had little of the moral ambiguity of Viet Nam.
Sgt. Fury commanded the Howling Commandos, an elite special unit stationed in England during WWII.
Animal Man is one of DC's most under-appreciated heroes. Buddy Baker is Animal Man, who can, based on some exploding spaceship mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science, "borrow" the ability of any nearby animal. The result is an endless supply of novel and unique story lines.
He's also an example of a superhero that DC couldn't figure out how to properly utilize. His first appearance was in Strange Adventures #180 in 1965 and 10 more appearances in various DC comics followed over the next 20 years.
Then, in 1988, when DC re-launched Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, and Sandman by Neil Gaiman, DC also re-launched Animal Man with Grant Morrison writing the first 26 issues.
Intended as a four issue series, sales were so good, it lasted 89 issues. The series championed animal rights (which means it also championed vegetarianism -- since the best way to advance animal rights is not to EAT the animals).
I like the series because it's such an original premise, you never quite know where a story will lead. The possibilities are endless, stories rarely predictable. As with most comics from the this era, the supply of copies in great condition is large and their cost is low -- most copies in Near Mint- condition cost less than $3.
The original Tarzan series ran for 206 issues (Jan. 1948 to Feb. 1972). This series adapted most of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 24 Tarzan novels.
Tarzan was the orphaned son of English aristocrats marooned in Africa in the late 1890s. He is adoped and raised by a band of apes. So, if you're looking for adaptations of Burroughs' classic novels, you'll enjoy the early issues of the series.
Later issues featured photos of Ron Ely on the cover, who starred in the short-lived 1960's Tarzan TV show.
In 1972, DC obtained the rights to Tarzan and their series picked up the numbering with issue #207. This series also featured adaptations of Burroughs' original novels as well as original stories.
Joe Kubert's distinctive artwork was hailed by many as the best comic book depiction of Tarzan. These issues are as good as the 1948 series, but because they are not as old, they are generally less expensive.
This 2 issue series was so successful that it convinced Marvel to create the ongoing Cable series. This mini-series explored Cable's ongoing battle with Stryfe and its effect on the people that surround Cable.
Both issues generally cost less than $2 each. If you're an X-Men fan, pick it up. If you're not into the X-Men, take a pass.
Comics featuring a Hero's debut
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Before speculating buying and selling comic books, buy some stock in Apple, Inc.
If you bought 1 share of Apple in 2000 for $20, it would be worth about $630 today. That's a 31-fold profit -- a better return than most comic books.
But, if you buy comics to speculate, then you're probably better off buying a comic which features the first appearance of a hero, over any other type of comic.
If the past is an indicator of the future, then these books stand the best chance of beating inflation. It's easy to spot the first appearance of a hero -- the issue is usually numbered #1.
But, there are exceptions. Superman's first appeared in Action Comics (1938 series) #1. Batman first appeared in Detective Comics (1940 series) #27. Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15.
Many Silver Age DC heroes first appeared in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) or Showcase. So, you can find the first Justice League of America story in Brave and the Bold #28 and not in Justice League #1. The first Green Lantern story is Showcase #22, not Green Lantern #1.
It's not surprising that when actor Nicolas Cage began investing in comics, he bought Action #1.
If you're on a budget, enjoy the window shopping. But, if you just won the Mega Millions Lottery, start shopping for real.
This version of The Flash was so influential, comic book experts mark the beginning of the Silver Age of comics with his debut in 1956. That's right, without this series, there probably would never have been a Silver Age of comics. Superhero comics were at the bottom of their useful life by 1956. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and only a handful of others had survived Congressional hearings into the detrimental effects of some of the more graphic horror comics of the era. Then, in Showcase #4, DC comics re-launched The Flash, one of their heroes from the 1940s. But, instead of just writing stories about the old character, they created a brand new Flash. The 1956 Showcase appearance led
to more appearances in Showcase.
Even with the success of the Showcase appearances, DC was so unsure of the long-term appeal of superheroes, it took them 3 years, until 1959, to launch this series.
This series really is great. Flash's costume is sleek, unlike the original. The artwork is spectacular, by the legendary Carmine Infantino. (In 2006, I went to a comic convention and while the line to talk to Brian Michael Bendis stretched 1,500 feet, you could walk right up to Mr. Infantino and talk to him, which I did, for 1 hour. Crazy. It would be as if you went to a baseball convention
and there was no line to talk to Babe Ruth). Infantino is in the Comic Book Hall of fame and the Comic Book Buyer's Guide's 2000 fan poll elected him the best penciller of all time.
The success of Flash Comic books directly heralded the return of superheroes. DC dusted off other old heroes, and gave them new origins, new costumes and new stories. Without the Flash's success and DC's revival of the entire superhero category, Marvel would never have experimented with the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man.
In short, Flash sparked a revolution. In addition to the great art, the villains are among the most memorable of any superhero.
Don't be thrown by the numbering of the series. The first issue is #105 because DC picked up the numbering where the old Flash series ended. If Hollywood ever makes a good movie or TV show based on the Flash, this series would get more attention. As a result, prices are now lower than they should be, making it a collector's dream.... great comics at slightly lower prices (especially when compared to other comics of the
In 2008, Brian Cronin conducted a survey of comic book readers asking them what their favorite comic book series of all time was. Hundreds responded and the winner was Sandman (1989 series). That alone is reason enough to collect this series.
Created by the now-legendary Neil Gaiman, this series helped make him the legend he has become. The series follows the adventures of Dream, who rules over the world of dreams. It is a great series.
The series is the only comic book to win the World Fantasy Award and the graphic novel which reprinted parts of the series was on the New York Times Best Seller List. It was also one of Entertainment Weekly's "100 best reads from 1983 to 2008".
This series is the comic book industry at its very best.
This one is easy. The 2011 Green Lantern movie moved this title way up the charts. DC is still behind Marvel when it comes to creating great movies, but the Green Lantern movie did well at the box office.
Here's its trailer.
Since the movie, the demand for Green Lantern comics has grown. The movie is based on DC's silver age Green Lantern, test pilot Hal Jordan. He was always at the top of DC's second-tier of heroes, behind Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
If you're a long-time collector, you know that Hal Jordan wasn't the first Green Lantern, nor the most recent.
The original Green Lantern appeared in All-American Comics #16 in April of 1940. When comic book sales sank in the early 1950s, DC's superheroes (with the exceptions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman simply disappeared. Then, in 1956, DC re-launched a new reincarnation of the Flash, followed in October of 1959 with a re-boot of Green Lantern. The next year, DC gave the character his own book, Green Lantern (1960 series).
The series is best known for groundbreaking issues #76-89, starting in 1970 (later reprinted in the series 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow). Writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams pitted the sensibilities of the law-and-order-oriented Lantern with the populist Green Arrow.
The 14-issues broke the 31-year DC tradition of every superhero being a goody two-shoes. For the first time, DC heroes had multi-faceted personalities. Of course, it took DC nine years to figure out why Marvel Comic characters had sky-rocketed in popularity, but with these issues, many readers believed that this DC team had taken exceeded the best efforts of Marvel.
The stories were critically acclaimed, with publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Newsweek citing it as an example of how comic books were "growing up".
In the 1950's and 1960's Superman was, by far, the most popular and most well-know comic book hero. And, to capitalize on that renown, DC Comics dedicated a comic to his girl friend. Part of the reason was DC's ever present desire to tap into a female audience.
What is amazing about this series, is the stereotypical way they treated women in the 1950's. Typically, the stories centered on Lois' romantic interest in Superman and to maneuver him into marriage (so 1950's!) and Lois' attempts to learn Superman's secret identity. Lois was always getting into some sort of trouble, and Superman was always bailing her out.
Once in while, the roles were reversed and Lois saved the day. If you were a fan of Terry Hatcher's performances in the TV show, "The Adventures of Lois and Clark", you'll see Hatcher's take on the character was partly grounded in the persona created in this comic book series.
Finally, by the late 1960's the stories shifted to Lois' growing social awareness.
Here's a great video treatment summarizing Lois Lane's impact on culture:
The first 81 issues were drawn by artist Kurt Schaffenberger and his rendition of Lois Lane became the definitive version of the character.
So, if you're looking for a series where you watch the evolution of the treatment of American women in pop culture, this is an interesting series to collect.
When the X-Men were created in 1963, the team consisted of Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey, a great mix. All of these characters appeared in the first X-Men movie. But as the comic series progressed, various writers ran out of ideas for them and the metamorphosis of the team began. By issue #94 of the original X-Men series, an entirely new group of mutants had taken their place.
By 1986, the originals were relegated to other Marvel titles, but not the original X-Men comics series. But the original characters were still great fuel for storytelling.
Enter the X-Factor team. Its members were the original X-Men but with a really interesting twist. Professor X had placed their old enemy, Magneto, in charge of the new team. The five set up a business which they advertised as mutant-hunters for hire.
The series is pretty good for a collector because there are plenty of issues in great condition and most all are $4 or less in Near Mint minus condition. But don't believe me, believe comic book fans -- X-Factor is consistantly among NewKadia's best-selling comic books.
Johnny Depp, who created the behemoth Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise tired his magic again when he starred in a new version of the Lone Ranger in 2013.
And even though the movie wasn't a box office blockbuster, each time a major motion picture has been released, the demand for its comics and their value, have increased.
The Lone Ranger was a character whose exploits started on network radio back in the 1930s and then successfully transitioned to TV in the 1950s. As we've said before, when a character holds the interest of the public for 80 years, there has to be great storytelling connected to that character. A classic is a classic only if the character strikes a chord in the soul of his readers.
The Lone Ranger was an ex-Texas Ranger (not the baseball player, but the law enforcement officer) who fights injustice in the Old West.
The first issues of the 1948 series reprinted syndicated newspaper comic strips. New stories began in #38.
The popularity of the Twilight movie series and TV's True Blood, has got a lot of customers asking, "What's the best vampire comic book?" Hands down, it's Tomb of Dracula.
Part of the reason is that from the 1950s to the early 1970s, the Comics Code Authority (the industry's self-imposed censorship body created due to the political pressure of the mid 1950s) didn't permit vampires in comic books for more than 15 years, so there wasn't much competition.
Along with Werewolf By Night, this series was instrumental in the re-birth of Marvel's horror comics. And it is one of the longest running comic book series to star a villain.
The entire series was drawn by Gene Colan, whose great work on the early issues of Daredevil propelled that character into the top levels of Marvel's sales chart. Colan once said he based Dracula's visual appearance, not on the movie actor Bela Lugosi, the first to play the role of Dracula in the movies, but on Jack Palance.
A common theme in literature is a person trapped in a hostile environment or lost civilization. It was the theme of the recently doomed TV series "Terra Nova", the original "Planet of the Apes" movie and countless others.
But one of the best comic book versions is "Warlord", the story of U.S. Air Force pilot Travis Morgan who crashes in the underground world of Skartaris. Quickly he becomes leader, due in part, to his fully loaded .44 caliber pistol.
With its first issue in 1976, the series lasted 12 years (133 issues) which is a testament to its popularity. But somehow, the series never entered pop culture. Perhaps it was that Morgan was a Viet Nam veteran and the series debuted at a time when the war was still extemely unpopular.
Most people know something about Superman or Spider-Man, but ask them about Warlord and a blank stare is returned. As a result, demand for the comic is relatively low as is its cost. But in any event, it is one of the best comic book examples of a hero trapped in a strange world.
During the series' run, several characters appeared in their own back-up stories, including Arion, Arak: Son of Thunder and OMAC.
The TV show and comic book The Walking Dead has everyone talking about post-apocalyptic societies, so I thought you might be interested in "Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth", one of the first comic books to feature such a storyline.
Created by (here we go again) the great Jack Kirby, Kamandi was his longest-running title when he went to DC comics in the early 1970s. Kirby drew 39 of the first 40 issues. The series lasted 19 more issues without Kirby.
According to Wikipedia, DC attempted to get the rights to the Planet of the Apes movie, and when that failed (the rights went to Marvel), DC suggested to Kirby that he create a similar "end-of-the-world" adventure series.
If you love Kirby, you'll love this series. If you love the Planet of the Apes comics or movies, you'll hate it. If you like apocalyptic future worlds, try it.
In 1971, when the great Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics and jumped to DC, he revolutionized comic storytelling when he created a new universe of characters, later named "The Fourth World" by comic book fans.
It was breath-taking in scope, brilliant in its plotting and with all of Kirby's awe-inspiring artwork. It was the comic book event of its time. The books were published in sequence, with New Gods #1 followed by Forever People #1, followed by Mister Miracle #1, followed by New Gods #2, etc.
At first, the Mister Miracle series seemed unconnected to the others, until we learned that Mister Miracle was .... oh, wait, I promised I wouldn't give away any secrets.
The stories dealt with the battle of good versus evil by two battling civilizations, each living on its own planet. The good guys lived on "New Genesis" and the bad guys on "Apokolips". "Darkseid", the evil lord of Apokolips was seeking the "Anti-Life Equation" which would enable him to control the thoughts of all people.
Now, let's take a step back. Darkseid, Darth Vader. See a connection? Kirby's work came five years before Star Wars and the bad guy's name is pretty much a play on his personality. Darkseid = Dark Side. Darth Vader = Death Father.
And there are lots more similarities. I won't give any away here, but when you read the series and spot them, don't think, "Gosh, what a rip off". After all, Kirby's work came BEFORE Star Wars.
A gigantic "wow" moment occured in New Gods #7. Read it, and you'll never watch 'Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' the same way again. But don't read the issues out of order. Don't spoil the surprise for yourself. The beauty of the original series was how the big reveal was 19 issues into the series. With each series series published every other month, Kirby hid the key plot point for a full year.
Another aspect of Kirby's "revolutionary" storytelling was that Kirby thought that comic book characters did not have to live forever. He saw the medium in a different light -- one in which a set of characters could exist for a short run and where the story could be completely wrapped up and ended.
Kirby ended all three titles lasted with issue #11. Years later, DC revived the New Gods and Mister Miracle with other artists and writers, picking up with issue #12, but none of these issues can hold a candle to Kirby's original 11 issues.
At the same time Kirby was writing these series, he also took over Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (from issues #133 to #148, which connected the then-current stable of DC characters to the Fourth World. But, the connection was not an essential part of the Fourth World story.
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 superhero 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 superheroes, 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 superheroes to fantasy/adventure stories.
This is the second Swamp Thing series. It was launched in 1982 to coincide with the Wes Craven film. The stories are original, although Annual #1 is an adaptation of the movie.
In the original Swamp Thing comic series, Swamp Thing (1972 series), the Swamp Thing was a Louisanna-based creature. But, in this series, Martin Pasko, the writer, had the Swamp Thing roaming the globe.
The Swamp Thing first appeared in House of Secrets #92 in 1971 and the stories were set in the early 1900's, when scientest Alex Olsen was caught in a lab explosion. The character became a humanoid mass of vegetable matter, sort of a Superman of the salad set, who fights to protect his swamp and environment in general.
It's interesting to note that the Swamp Thing was created in 1971, at the onset of the environmental movement in the United States, just one year after the very first Earth Day was celebrated in May of 1970.
The series ran for 15 years -- a great run for a non-traditional superhero. As a second tier DC character, the series is a popular one for collectors because most issues are very inexpensive. A Near Mint- copy of issue #1 goes for under $6 and the rest of the series goes for less. Finding all the issues is pretty easy.
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 piranha infested pool. Man, not even Spider-Man ever had it this bad.
Delving deep into the hero's emotions, author David gives Aquaman prophetic dreams, and then, in need of a "symbol", attaches a harpoon spearhead 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.
Believe it or not, back in the 1940's and 1950's, heroes were heroes and bad guys were bad guys. The heroes wore white hats and bad guys wore black hats. It wasn't until the 1960's that "gray hats" emerged -- a hero with faults or a bad guy with some good virtues.
And, there is no better example of "good vs. evil" in superhero comic books than the original Superboy series, which was geared to younger readers.
The series started in 1949, told stories of Clark Kent/Superman as a boy growing up in the small town of Smallville in the years before he left the Kent family farm and moved to the big city.
I enjoy the series because reading the stories is the closest you'll ever get to going into a time machine and landing in 1950s rural America. Whereas only 2% of Americans live on farm today, back in the 1950s, 50% of all Americans lived on farms. That's incredible. And the stories of Superboy in Smallville really capture the spirit of the times and the virtues of mid-20th century rural Americana.
There's no gray area anywhere. It's Superboy versus the bad guys. Period. Teenage angst? Sure. Is Clark Kent anxious that Lana Lang will discover his secret identity? Of course! Does Lana Lang have a sexually transmitted disease? Hey, just kidding, you'd never find that in Superboy comics.
So, if you want to return to the days when young adults helped the elderly cross the street, when lying was a sin, and respect for elders and policemen was at its zenith, this is the series to collect.
The series is also notable as the only example of DC being able to launch a successful superhero series between WWII and 1956. Once the 1960s hit, though, the simple good vs. evil self-contained stories lost alot of their appeal and the Legion of superheroes was elevated to the lead story, until finally in issue #222, the title of the series was changed to Legion of superheroes (1980 series).
When DC re-wrote the Superman continuity in 1986, they discarded Superboy. Instead, Clark Kent became a superhero only as an adult in Metropolis. Poof... the entire story of Superboy was wiped out.
So, be aware that the current Superboy in DC comics is a different character. The current Superboy is a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, whose secret identity is Clark Kent's cousin, Conner Kent. Gosh, you need a degree in genetic biology to follow superhero family trees these days.
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 superhero 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.
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.
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 superhero 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.