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Comic Book Collecting Ideas
Page   1     2     3

Why you should collect...

All-Star Batman Robin: The Boy Wonder comic booksAll-Star Batman & Robin: The Boy Wonder

    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.

X-Men comic books X-Men
1963 series

    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 ways.

    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.

Aliens comic books Comics based on the movie "Alien"

    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.

Captain Marvel
1968 series

    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 superheroes #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.

Sgt. FurySgt. Fury

    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
1988 series

    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 a nearly 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).

    In 2011, when DC re-launched all of its comics, one of the titles was Animal Man (2011 series).

    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.

Spider-Man comic booksSpider-Man

starting with the Letter "S"
starting with the Letter "A"

    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.

Tarzan comic booksTarzan
1948 series

    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.

Tarzan comic booksTarzan
1972 series

    In 1972, DC obtained the rights to Tarzan and their series picked up the numbering with issue #207. This DC series also featured adaptations of some of Edgar Rice 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.

Cable comic books Cable -
Blood and Metal

    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.

Flash comic booksFlash
1959 series

    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. (About a decade ago, I went to a comic book show 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. That was insane. It would be as if you went to a baseball convention and there was no line to talk to Lou Gehrig). 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 time 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 would ever make a good movie based on the Flash, this series would get a lot more attention than it does. 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 era).

Comics featuring a Hero's debut

X-Men comic books     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.

Daredevil 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.

Fantastic Four comic books     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.

Justice League of America comics Brave and the Bold     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.

Sandman comic booksSandman
1989 series

    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.

Green Lantern comic booksGreen Lantern
1960 series

    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 getting their superheroes on the screen, but the Green Lantern move 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 team of superheroes (with the exceptions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (and a few others) simply disappeared. Then, in 1957, 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 its groundbreaking series of issues starting in 1970, with issue #76, (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 in the DC universe, superheroes became multi-faceted personalities. Of course, it took DC nine years to figure out why Marvel Comic characters had sky-rocketed in popularity, but with this series of Green Lantern 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".

Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane comic booksSuperman's
Girl Friend
Lois Lane

    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.

1986 series

    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.

Lone Ranger Comic Books Lone Ranger
1948 series

    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. Lone Ranger comic books The first issues of the 1948 series reprinted syndicated newspaper comic strips. New stories began in #38.

Lone Ranger
2006 series

    Dynamite Entertainment started a new series in 2006. A critical success, it encountered some criticism for its excessive violence.

Tomb of Dracula comic booksTomb of Dracula
1972 series

    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.

    Issues #69 and #70 are reprinted in "Requiem for Dracula". Issues #1 and #2 are reprinted in Savage Return of Dracula.

    So if you enjoy the Twilight movies, or True Blood, or just enjoy reading about anyone who likes to practice mouth-to-neck blood transfusions, this is one series you'll enjoy.

Warlord omic booksWarlord
1976 series

    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 crash lands in the underground world of Skartaris. Quickly he becomes leader of the people, 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.

Kamandi The Last Boy on Earth comic books Kamandi:
The Last Boy on Earth

    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.

Marvel Milestone Edition comic books Marvel Milestone Edition

DC Silver Age Classics

Millennium Edition

    If you want to enjoy the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man comic books, you can buy an original issue #1 for $50,000 or a reprint for about $3.

    Marvel Milestone Edition reprinted the most important Marvel comic books, including issue #1 of Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and others.

    DC Silver Age Classics reprinted classic titles from 1956 to 1969. Millennium Edition reprinted other top DC titles from other years.

    So, you can either rob a bank and get the originals, or you can open your piggy bank and read the same stories.

New Gods comic booksJack Kirby's
4th World Trilogy

New Gods

1971 series

Forever People
1971 series

Mister Miracle
1971 series

    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.

    New Gods #1-11 were reprinted in New Gods (1984 series).

    Soon after the series ended their runs, Kirby left DC to go back to Marvel. Then, in 1984 he returned to DC and continued the fourth world stories in Super Powers (1984 series) and Super Powers (1985 series).

    Kirby's work was awarded a Shazam Award for outstanding achievement. It wins my award for some of the best storytelling in comic history.

Transformers comic books Transformers
1984 series

newer series

    For Transformers fans, there are lots of comics to enjoy.

    The 1984 series was the first Transformers comic book. It was planned as a 4-part mini-series, but sales went through the roof and it became an 80-issue ongoing series. The series was based on the original Transformers animated TV show of the 1980s. And of course, the TV show was based on the Hasbro toys and action figures. So, if you're looking for the first stories of the Transformers, this is the place to look.

    In contrast, if you enjoy the movie series, then you should check out the more recent series. Because the blockbuster movies have been so successful, there have been dozens of mini-series created, most of which expand on the storylines of the movies.

    If you're not a fan of the movies, there's nothing here for you.

Swamp Thing comic books Swamp Thing
1982 series

also known as
Saga of the Swamp Thing

    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.

Adventure ComicsAdventure Comics
1938 series

    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.

    Twenty-seven years after the last issue, DC revived the title with Adventure Comics (2009 series), and started the numbering with #504.

1991 series

    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.

      Aquaman comic booksAquaman
1994 series

    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 give 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.

1949 series

    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.

New Mutants comic books New Mutants
1983 series

    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.

Star Wars comic books Star Wars
1977 series

    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.

Green Lantern comic booksIssues #76-86 of
Green Lantern  1960 series

    When Stan Lee created the Fantastic Four in 1961 and launched the "Marvel Age of Comics", he did so by giving his heroes real emotions, real foibles and real stress by confronting real-world problems. Spider-Man had to repair his tattered costume, The Thing went snow skiing and Harry Osborne (Peter Parker's pal), fell into drug addiction.

    By 1970, Marvel had surpassed DC in relevant storytelling, but when DC finally got the message in Green Lantern in #76, they made up for lost time.

    Teaming writer Dennis O'Neil with artist Neal Adams, the two created the most memorable story lines of the era in Green Lantern comics. The two pitted Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), an inter-galactic 'law and order' cop against Oliver Queen (as Green Arrow), an outspoken liberal.

    The series took on most of the big social issues of the day -- racism, the environment, sexism and heroin addiction. For the first time, DC characters shed their "goody two shoes" images.

    The series changed comics forever. Two generations of comic book creators have now adopted their outlook and melded what is really world events into the fictional universe of superheroes. The landmark issue #76 is often cited as the start of the "Bronze Age" of comics.

Mystery Space Comic Books Mystery in Space
1951 series

    Mystery in Space was DC's flagship science fiction anthology series from 1951 to 1966. It won several awards, including the 1962 Alley Award for best full issue story.

    Mystery in Space featured some of the top science fiction writers of the 1950s and 1960s including Gardner Fox, Otto binder, John Broom and Edmond Hamilton. Hall of Fame artists Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Alex Toth and Frank Frazetta were also featured.

    With the public fixated on space exploration in the 1950s and 1960s, the series appealed to that thread by featuring science-fiction based stories, many featuring stories in the future with exotic aliens. Before the advent of blockbuster space movies like Star Wars, if you were interested in delving into new worlds, this was the comic for you.

    Adam Strange became a continuing series starting in the early 1960s, appearing in 42 issues. Gardner Fox created the hero, in the best tradition of Flash Gordon.

    So, if you want to read some of the stories that influenced George Lucas and the current generation of moviemakers of space opera epics, you should enjoy Mystery in Space.

Our Army at War Comic BooksOur Army at War

   Sgt. Rock was DC's most popular army character for decades. He first appeared in Our Army at War #81 in 1959 and continued through #301 when the series was retitled ...

Sgt. Rock

"Sgt. Rock" in February 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.

Shazam! comic books Shazam!

    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 superhero.

    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.

Ultimate X-Men comic books Ultimate X-Men
2001 series

    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.

Marvel Team-Up comic books Marvel Team-Up
1972 series

    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 standalone story, without the need to have read the previous issues to understand what's going on.

    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 superhero 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.

Queen Country comic booksQueen & Country

    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 that 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.

Marvel comic books Marvels

    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 Phil 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.

Savage Sword Conan comic books Savage Sword of Conan
1974 series

    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.

Uncle Scrooge comic booksUncle Scrooge

    I was leafing through an old World Book Encyclopedia and couldn't find any mention of Uncle Scrooge. So, I surfed over to 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.

Adventures on the Planet of the Apes comic books Adventures on the Planet of the Apes

    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.

Daredevil comic booksDaredevil
1964 series

    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 superhero.

    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 Comic Books World's Finest Comics

    If you want to see the editorial difference between comic books from the Silver Age (1956-1969) and those of today, pick up some copies of World's Finest Comics and ...

Superman/Batman comic books Superman/Batman

    World's Finest featured Superman and Batman from 1941 to 1986, back in the days when superheroes 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 that 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 immensely 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

Challengers Unknown comic books Challengers
of the Unknown

1958 series

    If you're a fan of Indiana Jones or Jack Kirby, then check out Challengers of the Unknown, one of DC's secondary titles Kirby created 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.

    Issues #76 to #80 are reprints of earlier issues.

Mad MagazineMad Magazine

    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.

Demon comic books Demon
1972 series

   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 have).

    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.

Give Me Liberty comic booksGive Me Liberty

    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.

Call of Duty: The Precinct comic books Call of Duty: The Precinct

Call of Duty: The Brotherhood

Call of Duty: The Wagon

   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.

Kurt Busiek's Astro City comic booksKurt Busiek's Astro City
1996 series

    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.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For comic booksSin City:
A Dame to Kill For

    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..."

Excalibur comic booksExcalibur
1988 series

    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.

Fantastic Four -
Unstable Molecules

    Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules won the 2004 Eisner Award as best mini-series. It imagines that the Fantastic Four's creators were inspired by people they encountered in real life.

    The story is extremely clever and certainly deserved the accolades it received.

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