If you're looking to collect a series, and you're on a budget, then the original Iron Man series should be one of your first stops for several reasons.
First, the popularity of Iron Man has been spiking due to the success of the Iron Man movies. Thank you Robert Downey, Jr. And, if experience is any guide, good movies fuel continuing interest in a character.
Second, the series is relatively inexpensive since its first issue was May of 1968. Unlike the Fantastic Four (1961) and Amazing Spider-Man (1963), Iron Man's title was begun years after the first big wave of the Marvel era. As a result, the cost of the series is way less than those two titles, or Avengers (1963), X-Men (1963) or Daredevil (1964).
Third, the series is "expandable". Once you finish collecting all 332 issues or "Iron Man" , you can go back and get issues of Tales of Suspense (1959 series), where Iron Man first appeared as one of two stories (starting with issue #39).
Iron Man was relegated to Tales of Suspense because in those days Marvel's distribution deal limited the number of titles it could publish. For a while Marvel gave Iron Man the entire book, but later he shared it with Captain America stories. Iron Man stories appeared 61 issues of Tales of Suspense, before Marvel got a new distribution deal and was able to give old Ironhead his own comic book.
If you're a comic book fan who has been away from comics for awhile, the series "52" is must reading so you can catch up with life in the DC universe of super-heroes.
52 consists of 52 issues, which were published weekly for one year. Each details the events that took place in one week of the year after the groundbreaking "Infinite Crisis" series.
What makes this series so interesting is that it includes most every character from DC comic books. And, of course, DC found a way to connect a lot of characters in surprising ways.
So, to make up for lost time in the DC universe, pick up 52 and the series that preceeded it, Countdown to Infinite Crisis and Infinite Crisis.
What do William Shatner, Jim Carrey and Alpha Flight have in common? They're all from Canada! So, if you love everything Canadian, this series is for you.
The Canadian mutants included Nothstar, Aurora, Sasquatch, Snowbird and Guardian... talk about your stereotypes! What, no Hockeyman?
In any event, the famous John Byrne wrote and drew the first 28 issues.
The series hit during the comic book boom of the 1980s and as a result, you can get all 130 issues for about $1.33 each at NewKadia. We generally have nearly every issue in stock.
So, if you grew up playing in the snow in June, this is a series for you. But even if you live in the Sahara as long as you're a fan of the X-Men, this is one of the better supporting series in the X-Men family. After all, no bad comic lasts 130 issues.
In the 1970s, good guys were the heroes of most fiction genres, comics included. Bad guys were the villains. So, it was a radical step when DC comics featured a villain as the star of his own book. Today, bad guys are often featured as stars (think Walter White in TV's Breaking Bad).
In DC comics, the Joker was the baddest, most villainous hombre of them all. In the Batman TV show, he appeared more often than any other villain.
This series led the way in featuring bad guys in comics. Its popularity led to other Batman adversaries, like Catwoman and Harley Quinn, getting their own comic books decades later.
DC discovered that having a bad guy as the star allowed for a different kind of thrill ride. While Batman, Superman, and others were doing the usual save-the-world thing, this comic had its title character plotting to steal, kill, and threaten his way to the top without batting an eye.
The Joker faced off against a crime-fighter or fellow villain in each issue, trying to prove his status as a master criminal extraordinaire. Two-Face, Catwoman, Scarecrow, Lex Luthor, and Green Arrow all appeared. In one issue, the Joker even developed a crush on Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, and tried to kill her. Talk about a bad date. Although the series only lasted nine issues, it carved out a piece of history as the first time a villain was the star.
If you're a Batman fan or collector, this series is a natural extension for your collection.
When the Incredible Hulk TV show ignited interest in the Hulk, the lawyers at Marvel noted that anyone could lay claim to a female version of our favorite Frankenstein-like character. To preempt any such pilfering, Marvel created a female counterpart to Bruce Banner's alterego. Thus, the She-Hulk was born.
The Savage She-Hulk was created by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Jennifer Banner, the crusading attorney of Bruce Banner is shot and Bruce having come to the hospital to visit, becomes her blood donor for a life saving transfusion. Duh, Bruce, didn't the hospital have anyone else to donate blood that wasn't full of gamma rays?
Well, talk about serious side effects. The Hulk's blood gives Jennifer Hulk-like powers. But, there's a big twist. Unlike her cousin, Jennifer retains her consciousness when she's She-Hulk. And whereas some Marvel superheroes view their abilities as a curse and hindrance, she embraces her talents and green wild side.
She-Hulk became wildly popular and would later join, for a time, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
She-Hulk remained popular after this series, and a later series, Sensational She-Hulk ran for 60 issues followed by She-Hulk (2004 series).
Collecting this series is easy (there are plenty of Near Mint copies available). For some reason, any character which is an off-shoot of a major star, never gets pricing respect by the Overstreet Price Guide. As a result the first issue (like all 25 issues) is quite inexpensive.
If you enjoy WWII stories of the Allies battling Nazis, then this is series for you. The first stories featured stories set during WWII, with the team of the original android Human Torch (not the Fantastic Four Torch), the Sub-Mariner and Captain America -- the top heroes from Marvel's golden age fighting the Axis powers.
It's an inexpensive series since the first issue appeared in 1975 and there are only 41 issues.
Don't confuse this series with the 2004 series, which is a different team featuring Union Jack, U.S. Agent, Thin Man and Tara. Those stories can't hold a candle to the original.
The first Flash TV series was cancelled way back in 1990 and there's never been a Flash movie. Regardless, this Flash series is our second best-selling DC series from the copper age, behind only Superman.
One reason is that this Flash was more flawed than his predecessors. Barry Allen, the alterego of the 1960 Flash series could move quickly without limitation. When he was killed off during DC's 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths series, he was replaced as the Flash by his nephew, Wally West. The Wally West Flash could not maintain his fast speed indefinitely. Instead, he'd have to eat like a glutton to build up his metabolism. A marathon
runner beefs up on carbs before a big race. And Wally West needs to eat a house to keep up his speed. By limiting this Flash's endurance, the stories became more nuanced and threatening.
The series was also successful because the artwork is great and the villains memorable -- Reverse Flash, Gorilla Grod, Razer, and more.
The series ran for 247 issues. And now, more decades after his dismal television show, the character remains one of our best sellers of the era. You can get issue #1 for less than $10 in Near Mint- condition, and every other issue is less expensive. With the early issues published in the late 1980s and early 1990s, issues are easy to find at low prices.
Tales to Astonish
I like this series because there are so many ways you can collect it.
It was a horror anthology for its first 34 issues. So you can pick up any issue and get several self-contained stories, with no need to find the previous or next issue.
Starting with #35, and with Marvel's success with its newly created superhero comics, the series started to feature Ant Man. So you can either collect the first 34 issues, or the Ant Man issues. Then, starting with #49, Ant Man became Giant-Man (and I guess he had to buy a whole new wardrobe). Giant-Man stories ran until issue #69 . So, the 21 Giant-Man stories are another way to collect.
But wait, there's more. Incredible Hulk stories were a feature from issue #60 to #101 (Then, the series was renamed The Incredible Hulk (1968 series) starting with issue #102). Sub-Mariner replaced Giant Man in #70 and appeared through #101. Then, Marvel moved Sub-Mariner to Sub-Mariner (1968 series).
So let's count the ways you can collect this series:
1. The entire run #1-#101.
2. Just the Ant-Man stories
3. Just the Giant Man stories
4. Ant-Man and Giant Man stories
5. Just issues with Sub-Mariner
6. Just issues with the Incredible Hulk
7. Just Ant Man and Sub-Mariner
8. Just Ant Man and the Incredible Hulk
9. Just Sub-Mariner and Incredible Hulk
10. Sub-Mariner in Tales to Astonish plus Sub-Mariner (1968 series).
11. Incredible Hulk in Tales to Astonish plus Incredible Hulk (1968 series).
DC Comics Presents
DC Comics Presents featured Superman teamed with a different hero each issue. Not only did the Man of Steel team up with the usual cavalcade of DC superheroes, like the Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, but he also teamed with heroes you normally didn't see him paired with, like the Metal Men, the Swamp Thing, and even the Joker!
The typical villains that Superman and his co-star faced each issue included the usual assortment of alien creatures and vengeful gods. Other stories featured deadly epidemics, planets in peril, and powerful curses.
In one issue, Superman and Wonder Woman are put under a spell by a love god and kiss, which predates by decades their famous lip-lock in Justice League (2011 series) #12.
The series contains plenty of first appearances. In issue #27 the supervillain Mongul made his debut. In issue #47, He-Man made his first appearance in a full, ongoing comic book series (not counting the small, limited, mini comics he was in before). And the New Teen Titans made their debut as a special preview in issue #26, which many call their first comic appearance.
A true standout about this series is the list of its of writers and artists, including writers Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Denny O'Neil and artists Gil Kane, Jim Starlin, and George Perez.
There are lots of ways to collect this series. You can collect issues where your favorite hero or villain co-stars with Superman. Or collect issues featuring a specific writer or artist. Most stories are resolved in one issue, so missing an issue or two doesn't hurt.
With the phenomenal success of The Avengers movie and the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, superhero team-ups are becoming more popular, which should make this series a bit more expensive to collect in the future.
DC Comics Presents is a must for a Superman fan and important for collectors of DC comics.
Horror comics became extinct in the mid-1950s due to harsh restrictions of the Comics Code Authority. The Authority, created after the anti-comic book campaign of the 1950s, censored comic book publishers and eliminated horror and gore from comics. Also banned were graphic depictions of excessive violence and sexual innuendo.
What made the Authority successful was that no store would sell a comic unless it passed the Authority's censorship tests.
So, comics said goodbye to beheadings, torture, vampires, werewolves, and women with cleavage. As a result, every comic book featuring these themes was put out of business -- and ground breaking titles like Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear ceased publication. Others, like DC's House of Mystery were watered down to less violent genres to abide by the new guidelines.
To avoid the censorship of the Authority, the artwork and stories of the banned content moved out of comic books into larger, magazine-sized publications, which were not subject to Authority censorship.
Creepy was the most successful successor to the banned content of those EC horror comics. Since Creepy wasn't under the scrutiny of the CCA, no horror tale, no matter how violent or horrifying, was off the table. Plots involving monsters, vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and even classic stories based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson appeared.
The inside pages of each issue were black and white, reminding you of old horror movies, setting up just the perfect gothic mood. It's a technique still used today in other horror and terror magazines, including The Walking Dead (2003 series) comic books.
Creepy attracted top talent and featured the artwork and storytelling of many famous names in comics. Archie Goodwin, Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, and Otto Binder were among the artists featured. The series inspired other horror magazines such as Eerie and Vampirella (1969 series).
Creepy was published for over 20 years and is regarded as a classic in the horror industry. So if you're searching for bone-chilling horror stories in the style of those old EC stories, then Creepy is for you.
Although Wolverine had previously appeared in both X-Men (1961 series) (starting with issue #94) and in Marvel Comics Presents (1988 series), this is the first series specifically titled "Wolverine".
That alone makes the issues valuable, but it is the story by Chris Claremont, the long-running writer for X-Men, and the artwork by the exceptionally talented Frank Miller that makes this a standout series.
Miller's work has been phenomenal and diversified for years. Most all of his works have dramatically risen in value. In addition to this series, he is best known for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Daredevil (1964 series) #158-#191 which included the first appearance of Elektra.
In this Wolverine series, Miller expanded on Wolverine's character and as a result, it was another industry success. It further cemented Miller's place as an industry super-star.
There are only 4 issues, and each one is a bit pricey, but if you're looking to collect everything by Frank Miller, this series along with his Daredevil run and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, are the places to start.
What if Peter Parker and Mary Jane had a daughter? And what if she inherited the same awesome abilities of her father and became a crime-fighter? That's the premise behind this series.
Created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, Spider-Girl first appeared in What If (1989 series) #105 and received such accolades that she was given her own title. Set in an alternate timeline, the series followed the adventures of teenager May 'Mayday' Parker , who like her father, has to balance her personal life with the life of a hero battling an array of super villains.
What makes this series so interesting is its refreshingly original premise. In this new world, Peter Parker is no longer Spider-Man. In the world of comics, we rarely see a hero grow older and have children. Heck, Superman has been 28 years old since 1939! However, in this series, we see an aged Peter as a parent, with a different concerns than he ever had before, mainly constantly worrying about his little girl's safety.
What's more, new allies and villains are introduced, along with some appearances of bad guys from Spider-Man's past. Fresh, new characters such as Darkdevil (a twisted take on Daredevil) and the Fantastic Five (featuring some new members mixed with old ones). Spider-Girl even battles a villain by the name of Aftershock, who just so happens to be Electro's daughter. And on a few occasions, Spider-Girl even teamed up with her old man!
This is a great series for any Spider-Man fan, because as an alternate timeline series, it comes without any heavy load of back stories. And as is the case with most derivative series, it doesn't get the respect it deserves from the Overstreet Price Guide and as a result it is much more affordable than most other Spidey titles.
Justice League of America
If there was no Justice League of America, there would have been no Fantastic Four and perhaps no Marvel Age of Comics.
According to comic book legend, in 1962 the president of Marvel Comics was looking for the next hot idea in comics and learned that DC's hottest new book was the Justice League of America. As a result, he told Stan Lee to create a super-hero team. And, the Fantastic Four was born.
But, that's not the real reason you should collect Justice League of America. Rather, it's because it was the first comic book series in the Silver Age of comics to regularly bring together a team of super-heroes. And, once it put Superman off into a corner of the galaxy (after all, with old Superman in the picture, any villain seemed puny), the stories were ripe with great teamwork. You can see how that teamwork created the framework of
how the Fantastic Four and X-Men later worked together.
Writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky created the first 8 years of issues. The original line-up included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter. Eventually Green Arrow, Atom and Hawkman joined, and in one memorable issue, Metamorpho actually said, "No thanks". The early issues had a real frat-house atmosphere, a cool clubhouse (for the 1960s at least), and even a mascot. No, it wasn't a dog, but a
teenager named Snapper Carr. He tried to be "groovy"...oh the 1960s!!
After Fox and Sekowsky left, the group expanded and membership became sort of a revolving door of DC's secondary heroes like Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkwoman, Zatanna anf Firestorm.
In the series, alot of top writing talent can be found, from Denny O'Neill, Mike Friedrich, Len Wein, E. Nelson Bridwell,& Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart. Dick Dillon drew most of issues #64-#181, followed by George Perez, who became the go-to artist for any big super-hero mini-series, like Crisis on Infinite Earths or Justice League vs. the Avengers.
The series spawned lots of spin-offs, like Justice League America, Justice League Europe, JLA, Extreme Justice
So, if you're looking for good stories, and a better understanding of the comic book culture of the 1960s and 1970s, Justice League of America can be a great place to start.
Son of Satan
What do you get when Satan and a mortal woman have a son? You get a child with special, potent powers, burdened with fighting with the dark within (thanks, dad) -- a nature that could not only destroy him but possibly entire world. This is life for Daimon Hellstorm, the Son of Satan.
As the child of the most extreme "mixed marriage" in comics history -- his father was Satan and his mother an ordinary mortal -- Hellstorm had to constantly struggle against his inner dark nature -- his Darksoul.
After having appeared in Ghost Rider comics and Marvel Spotlight (1971 series), starting with issue #12, the character of Daimon Hellstrom was such a proven hot seller, Marvel spun him off into this series. Mostly written by John Warner, the series focused on Hellstrom combating the forces of evil (even going against his own demonic father) for the sake of good.
As a side note, his sister Satana, didn't exactly shy away from the family power. The family dynamic was always an interesting factor, as his own father would plot Hellstrom's defeat to stop his interference.
Yes, Hellstorm was unique. How many heroes have a home where the basement contains a portal to Hell? Guess it made it mighty convenient when he wanted to visit Daddy. It was another example of Marvel stretching the boundaries of comics, this time giving the hero the most severe "daddy issues" ever.
And unlike other characters who traveled around on motorcycles, in fancy automobiles, or invisible planes, Hellstorm got around on a chariot pulled by mean-looking, demonic steeds. How cool is that!
Often a first issue of a series can be very expensive and the issues hard to find. However, n this series is quite affordable. The first issue, in Near Mint minus condition is less than $50. And with only eight issues, it's a cinch for the completist who doesn't want to spend 20 years searching for every last issue.
This series, the first to be titled "Spider-Man" without any adjective before the name (Amazing, Spectacular, etc) is a great series to collect.
First, its early issues were drawn by Todd McFarlane, one of the most popular artists in the nearly 50 year run of Spider-Man stories. McFarlane went on to co-create Image comics and Spawn. (He also created McFarlane toys, one of the biggest manufacturers of super-hero statues and toys. With the profits, he paid $3 million for the the baseball hit by Mark McGwire for McGwire's 70th home run in 1998. The record, since tainted by the steroid scandals and Barry Bonds, is probably worth about $2 million dollars less today. Oh well, at least we know where our money went. Oh, where was I??)
Issue number #1 has several different covers, including the Green cover, Silver, Gold and extremely rare Platinum cover. The issue sold over 2.5 million comics, making it one of the Top 5 selling comics of all time. McFarlane's artwork on Spider-Man was unique and broke the mold, giving him a more spider-like posture. He drew issues #1-14 and #16.
McFarlane's work on Spider-Man turned him into a superstar in the comic book business and these early issues of the series are among his best work on Spider-Man
A good second reason to collect the series is that with only 98 issues, most of which are generally in stock, it is an inexpensive and relatively easy series to collect.
Following the success of the first two Batman movies directed by Tim Burton in 1989 and 1992, the folks at Warner Bros. Animation launched an animated TV show, Batman: The Animated Series. But this was no mere Batman cartoon. It combined the grim and gritty realism of the Burton flicks with the film noir look of the 1940's Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons.
The TV series was a big hit and so was the accompanying DC comic book series, Batman Adventures. The comic book series ran for 36 issues and also spawned Batman and Robin Adventures, Batman Adventures: The Lost Years (highlighting Dick Grayson's journey from Robin to Nightwing), Batman: Gotham Adventures and Batman Adventures (2003 series)
Dark Knight purists take heed - Batman Adventures does not follow the continuity of the DC Universe. sp; Instead, it strictly adheres to the television show. But if you are longing to read a regular series with Dick Grayson as Robin and Barbara Gordon as Batgirl you will be well rewarded. Other highlights include a free Batman: The Animated Series trading card (in the polybagged version of issue #7), the first comic book appearance by Harley Quinn (#12), and the first “animated
style” team-up of the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel (#25).
Speaking of Superman, he got his own animated series in 1996...and a tie-in comic series as well -- Superman Adventures. Here, we get a classic take on the Last Son of Krypton, in all of his pre-Crisis glory. Lois is still fooled by the glasses and the red briefs are right where they're supposed to be...on the outside! While this retro rendering certainly has appeal to old-school Superman fans, fresh takes on characters like Supergirl and Braniac, as well as the first comic book
appearance of Live Wire (#5), provide just the right balance of nostalgia and contemporary comics.
Both series, the specials, the annuals and all of the follow-ups are amazingly affordable.
DC's New 52
Superman 2011 series
Action Comics 2011 series
Batman 2011 series
Detective Comics 2011 series
Flash 2011 series
Green Lantern 2011 series
Justice League 2011 series
The new series of Action Comics, Superman, Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League, Green Lantern and Flash created more news in 2011 than any other comic book event.
After 74 years, DC "re-launched" all its comics and characters.
Superman first appeared in Action Comics (1938 series) #1 and the new Action Comics (2011 series) #1 re-launched him with major changes to his background and powers.
Of course, Superman and Batman have evolved over the years. Back in 1939 Superman couldn't fly he could only "leap over buildings with a single bound" and early Batman comics had him holstering a pistol. However, since the mid 1940s the basic back stories have pretty much remained the same. Back in 1987, DC did a makeover of Superman, but on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the status quo and 10 being a total makeover, it was about a "2".
This time though, DC drastically shook up all their heroes -- changing story lines, characterizations and origins. Everything was up for grabs -- they even changed Superman's uniform -- now he wears jeans and work boots! Oh, what would Jor-el say?
For the current collector, the initial issues may well become collector items down the road. But more importantly, for the new collector, or parent or grandparent who wants to share the joys of a comic book collection with a youngster, this is the place to start.
All DC titles started with a new issue #1, so you can keep current without the need to buy expensive decades old back issues.
So, if you're looking for a landmark series, look no further than the new Action #1, or Superman #1 or for Batman, try Batman (2011 series) #1 or Detective Comics (2011 series) #1.
G.I. Joe: A Real
Although there was an earlier comic called G.I. Joe in the 1950s, this is the first series based on the Hasbro action figure.
The series had an incredibly successful run of 12 years and 155 issues, due in part to the great continuity of the series. Larry Hama, the writer for almost every issue, was known for his realistic, character-based storytelling style. Most of the stories involved G.I. Joe battling the evil terrorist organization, the Cobra Command.
The series was also successful because Hama paid close attention to detail and realism in the area of military tactics and procedures. In style and plot structure, the comic often used overlapping story threads.
There was a TV show in the 1980s with the same title, but the comic is unrelated to it.
When issue #1 was published in 1982, Hasbro created a TV commercial for it, making it the first TV ad for a comic book in television history.
The series was so popular, it led to several spin-off series, including G.I. Joe Special Missions, G.I. Joe Order of Battle and G.I. Joe and the Transformers.
Do you like the Fantastic Four? If you do, this is the most under-rated title in the Marvel lineup that features one of the Fantastic Four. It stars good ole Ben Grimm ("The Thing") from the Fantastic Four, teaming up with a different superhero each issue.
The series follows the same format as Marvel Team-Up, which paired Spider-Man with a different character each issue.
What makes this series great to collect is that since it is not THE primary title to feature a Fantastic Four character, the price of back issues is really low. And for a beginning collector, it showcases an array of Marvel characters. As a result, a new comic reader is exposed to a broad palette of characters to sample. So, if a reader gets issue #8 featuring the Thing and Ghost Rider, and likes it, he or she can go off and start collecting Ghost Rider issues.
Or, like the Thing alot? Then go pick up his own series, The Thing (1983 series)
If you're looking for a short (240 pages/12 issues), relatively inexpensive series for a young reader, that you're trying to interest in comic books, this it. Nearly every Marvel super-hero is included in the 12 issues, including Spider-Man, the Avengers, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Thor. The ladies are represented too, by Spider-Woman and the She-Hulk.
The series was tied-into a line of toys and action figures from Mattel. As a result, the series is a really good starter set. If a young reader is going to get interested in reading comics, then they'll definitely find one or more characters they really like in this series.
The series is also known for the Spider-Man's first appearance in his black costume, which is a really big deal in the Marvel universe, and was an important part of the 3rd Spider-Man movie
The series was so successful, that Marvel came back with a sequel, Secret Wars II, a year later.
"Spider-Man, where are you coming from? Spider-Man, nobody knows who you aaaaaaare!"
Those were the lyrics that greeted viewers of the children's TV show "The Electric Company" back in 1974. The program introduced a live action Spider-Man segment three years before the short-lived Nicholas Hammond CBS version.
However, this media crossover between the Children's Television Workshop and Marvel wasn't isolated to the small screen. Spidey Super Stories #1 hit comic book racks as well, designed to encourage youngsters to read. The size of the type in the word baloons was larger than in regular comics, to make the books all the more inviting for new readers.
The comic debuted with a dynamic cover pencilled by the legendary "Jazzy" John Romita, Sr. An affordable Bronze Age Spider-Man #1 issue with a cover by J.R., Sr.? Do you need another reason to start this collection?!
Well, here are a few more:
THRILL as the Electric Company regulars help Spidey take down the likes of Kraven the Hunter, Doc Ock, the Lizard...and many other vile villains!
MARVEL at the sight of mighty Marvel mainstays like Medusa, Captain America and Iron Man!
BASK in the glow of nostalgia as just about every character in the Marvel Universe of the 1970's makes an appearance, including Thanos (in a personalized helicopter) chasing down the Cosmic Cube!
Most issues included two original stories, an adaptation of an Electric Company feature and a quick Marvel character bio or two. Basically, it's a junior version of Marvel Team-Up, so if you like Spidey tag-teaming through an adventure, odds are you'll get a kick out of this series. And with only 57 issues, it won't take all of your time (or funds) to snag an entire run. Oh, and did we mention each issue has 36 power-packed pages with no advertisements? Uninterrupted
Sure, these tales are aimed at kids. Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader tells us so on each cover but what's wrong with being a kid? That's what comics are all about. Plus...what a great way to introduce a young one to the wild and wonderful world of comic books!
Miss the old TV series? If so, here's one of the TV segments, Spidey Meets The Spoiler.
I'm generally not a big fan of western comics, but for several good reasons, I really like the Rawhide Kid.
The initial series started in 1955 and the covers were drawn by some of the best comic book artists of all time, like Joe Maneely, John Severin Russ Health and Fred Kida.
And then, starting with issue #17 in 1960, proving they could handle any genre, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby took a stint as the creative team through issue #32 (although Kirby also drew the covers through #47)
Imagine, Kirby and Lee working on a western comic book hero. That would be like Steven Spielberg directing an Oscar-winning romantic love story starring Jennifer Aniston. Never happen! Or, it would be like Barry Bonds being an all-star in the NHL. Nope (well, with steroids, you'd never know). But Kirby and Lee did it, and did it in their amazing style! If there ever was a decathlon for comic book creators, they'd win hands down.
In 2003, Marvel made a splash and re-invented the character as gay. John Severin drew the series. Marvel was always at the forefront in connecting their books to current themes and being conscious of social mores of the day.
So, even if you're not a buckaroo, you might want to check out a few issues. Even the most die-hard super-hero fan will be a bit surprised at the quality of this title.
Do your ever wonder what it would have been like to have see Babe Ruth play in his prime? Well, guess what, it doesn't make a difference, because you can't.
But, 50 years later, you can still see what it was like to experience comic books' greatest writer/artist team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at their peak. And the early issues of Thor (1966 series) have some of their best work.
After creating a team of super-heroes bombarded with gamma rays (Fantastic Four) and a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider (Spider-Man), the Lee/Kirby team set their sights on Norse mythology to create the Mighty Thor.
On a mission from his father, Odin, Thor acted as a superhero while maintaining the secret identify of Dr. Donald Blake, a physician with a partially disabling leg injury. When he tapped his cane on the floor, it became the magical hammer Mjolnir and Black transformed into Thor.
So, you can either read the 1,600 page book, "The Complete History of Norse Mythology" or, pick up some issues of Thor (1966 series).
Howard the Duck 1976 series
"Trapped in a world he never made!"
That was the cover blurb for one of the craziest comic book series of all time. Forget the George Lucas-produced cinematic abomination from 1986 (which bears little resemblance to the comic) and focus instead on these entertaining tales.
Howard is an anthropomorphic duck plucked from his home planet, Duckworld, and transported to earth. Created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, the cynical, cigar-chomping fowl first appeared as a gimmick character alongside Man-Thing in Fear #19, moved to a backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing. One year later he had his own title.
The morose mallard waddled the streets of Cleveland, Ohio, providing satire and social commentary (not to mention Quack-Fu), thanks to the brilliant mind of Gerber, whose real-life world, at times, also crept onto the book.
Gerber perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the 1970's. He was a pioneering author who tacklied such touchy issues as the effects of violence in the media, politics (Howard for President? He got some write-in votes!), and even the comics industry. Gerber gave us a tremendously trippy time with Howard and his zany cast of characters, including companion/girlfriend Beverly Switzler and super villain Doctor Bong. Throw in some spiffy spoofs (including Star Wars) and pencils by
legendary artist Gene Colan (23 issues), and you've got the makings for a "must add" to your comic book collection.
Be warned, Howard may resemble Donald (enough that Disney threatened a lawsuit), but this is not a children's book. The series deals with adult themes, especially the Marvel Max series, Howard the Duck 2002 series, so you might need to check out an issue or two before committing to the collection.
In a comic book world dominated by male readers, Wonder Woman is the biggest selling comic book in history featuring a female hero.
I always realized the need the for role models for young girls, but it didn't hit home until my own daughter dressed up as Wonder Woman one Halloween.
I'm no psychiatrist nor psychologist, but it's pretty apparent that people always drift to idolizing heroes who are similar to them. Spider-Man was a teenager back in 1963, and guess who the biggest buyers of comic books were back then?
Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, created Wonder Woman because he believed in the educational potential of comics. Marston, a psychologist, struck upon the idea for a new superhero, one who could win any battle with love, rather than fists.;
You may think that the women's liberation movement began in the 1960s, but read what Marston wrote in 1943, in American Scholar magazine,
He wrote: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
For me, Wonder Woman comic books are important, not only as a positive role mode for female readers but as reinforcement to young men that their female counterparts are equally deserving of respect. (Except, of course, if you live in Saudi Arabia).
The 1942 series features the more expensive earlier issues, while the 1987 series is more affordable. In May of 2011, Wonder Woman was ranked as the 5th most popular comic book hero of all time by IGN.
What if...you could take your favorite comic book character and turn his or her world upside-down?
What if...you could rewrite classic adventures and alter the original outcomes?
Well, Marvel did just that in these two series of What If. They are imaginary tales built on the notion (and owing a bit to Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken') that if you take an event, find a point of divergence, then choose an alternate path, the consequences of that action (or inaction) could make for an equally compelling story. And the editors at Marvel were right!
The first series ran 47 issues and the second for 114, indicating the success of the concept.
From the very first issue (What If Spider-Man Joined The Fantastic Four? - a re-imagining of The Amazing Spider-Man #1), readers were hooked. What followed was an upending of the Marvel universe: What If...Conan The Barbarian Walked The Earth Today? (#13) ...Wolverine Had Killed The Hulk? (#31) ...Spider-Man's Uncle Ben Had Lived? (#46)
Some stories even found their way into Marvel continuity, in one form or another: What If...The Hulk Had The Brain Of Bruce Banner? (#2) ...Elektra Had Lived? (#35) ...Spider-Man's Clone Lived? (#30)
At times, What If was even able to inject some humor into the proceedings such as when Marvel's writers and artists gave themselves the powers of the Fantastic Four. (#11)
A series of one-shots and specials have kept the What If brand part of the Marvel Universe up until today, and they are readily available.
If you're not a fan of Marvel and aren't familiar with some of their classic tales, these issues could be a bit perplexing, so you might want to steer clear. But if you're the kind of fan that always wanted to know What If...Captain America Had Formed The Avengers? (1989 series #29), then these series are for you!
The price is right, too. Most issues of the 1989 series in NM- condition are priced between $3 and $6 and with the exception of the first 14 issues of the 1977 series, most every issue in NM- condition is priced below $8.
This is our biggest selling comic book from the Bronze Age (1970-1983), by far. It's also the most cost-effective way to get a full run of a Spider-Man series.
Whereas the original Spider-Man series (Amazing Spider-Man 1963 series) is pretty pricey, this series is an affordable way to get a long running series (263 issues). The first 10 issues of Amazing Spider-Man in Very Good condition will run you $7,346, but the first 10 issues of Spectacular Spider-Man in Very Good condition only cost $62. That's less than 1% of the cost of Amazing Spider-Man's first 10 issues.
The price disparity makes little sense because stories in Spectacular Spider-Man are all new (no reprints) and the same length as those in Amazing Spider-Man. But this series' prices are much lower. For example, look at the issues published in September 1977 -- Spectacular Spider-Man #10 and Amazing Spider-Man #172. Amazing Spider-Man #172 in NM- condition is $30 and Spectacular Spider-Man #10 in NM- condition is $14 -- less than half the cost.
Further Adventures of Indiana Jones
Archaeologist and adventurer Henry "Indiana" Jones discovers the lost Ark of the Covenant.
Paramount Pictures releases Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of four Indiana Jones movies.
Marvel launches The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones.
Back in 1981, when Indiana Jones took the world by storm, there was no Internet, no smart phone captures of behind-the-scenes pictures and no "spoiler alerts". In fact, the only way to find out what was going on in sci-fi was to get a copy of Starlog magazine. But, by the time you read it, the news was months old.
So we had no idea what was in store when we saw a movie poster with Harrison Ford (looking much scruffier than he did as Han Solo) wearing a fedora and slinging a bullwhip. But, by the time the boulder started to roll, we all had a new hero and we couldn't wait for his next adventure.
And boy, did we have had to wait! It took Paramount three years to release the second Indiana Jones movie.
And, although Marvel (hot on the heels of their smash comic series, Star Wars) adaptated Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, it took until 1983 for readers to get new Indiana Jones stories.
The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #1 hit the stands with superstar John Byrne at the helm. But he bailed by issue #2.
Regardless of the creative turmoil, the brand was too big for Marvel to give up, and, starting with issue #4, Indy's adventures fell to David Michelinie, who had a great reputation as the writer of Iron Man and The Avengers.
A self-professed huge Indy fan, Michelinie was the perfect choice. His penchant for snappy banter, slavish devotion to research, and adoration for the time period led to some of the series' most memorable tales. Ventures to Stonehenge, the Dark Continent, the Land Down Under and more were highlights.
So, if you're a big Indy fan, this series is a must.
One of the drawbacks of the recent flurry of super-heroes movies is that the images from the movies can ruin your own image of a character. For example, for years I had a certain vision of Spider-Man and Peter Parker as a nerdy, zit-faced teenager. But once I saw the movie, that picture was replaced by Toby Maguire's face. And as much as they tried to make him look like a dork, he'd didn't.
So, one of wonderful things about the Sub-Mariner is that he's one of the few remaining Marvel characters who hasn't been portrayed in the movies, so whatever image you have of him is created in your own mind and subject to the nuances and biases of your own brain. No Hollywood casting director can formulate your image of the Sub-Mariner. And for that, I'm grateful.
His 1968 series is a wonderful one to collect for that reason and several others. First, since the earliest and most expensive Sub-Mariner stories were published in Tales to Astonish (1959 series) , the Sub-Mariner series is pretty inexpensive. Second, with only 72 issues in the series, it's a great starter set for a youngster to test to see whether he'd be interested in collecting comics. After all, it won't take a long time to find all the issues and that can fuel the interest of a new collector.
The Sub-Mariner is one of the first super-heroes. He debuted in 1939, and was one of Marvel's top three heroes, along with Captain America and the original Human Torch. He was the son of a sea captain and a princess of Atlantis. He has super-strength and aquatic abilities that dwarf that of Mark Spitz or Michael Phelps.
He has been alternatively portrayed as a short-fused superhero and a hostile invader from the sea seeking vengeance against us surface dwellers for slights against his underwater home. Hmmm... he might very well have been the first environmentalist superhero.
The Watchmen 12-part series is one of most sought after mini-series in comic book history. Written by Alan Moore, with art by Dave Gibbons, the series depcts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s, and where, by the mid-1980s, costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most former superheroes have retired or were working for the government.
Structured as a nonlinear story, the series skips through space, time and plot. Watchmen is frequently considered as the best mini-series in comic book history. The 2012 prequel, "Before Watchmen" was created without the involvement of Moore or Gibbons.
There aren't many comic books collected by non-comic book collectors, but Mickey Mouse is. If ever there was an icon for youthful enthusiasm and fun, it's Mickey.
Today, a comic book is a smash hit if it sells 100,000 copies. But back in the 1960s, Mickey Mouse's circulation topped 500,000 per issue.
The storylines are universal, but the specifics often mimic the times. For example, in 1966 at the peak of the James Bond's movie popularity, three issues (#107-109) were re-titled Mickey Mouse, Super Secret Agent. And, of course, Mickey never had a cell phone back in the 1950s.
If you have a friend who laments about missing the "good old days", then this is a great gift. Because nothing says endless childhood like Mickey Mouse.
Here's a Mickey Mouse animated cartoon from 1936 to give you a taste:
Weird War Tales
If you enjoy horror stories, science fiction stories, or war stories, you should check out this under-rated series because Weird War Tales combines all of these genres. Each issue is hosted by "Death", depicted in a different military uniform each issue. Stories included undead characters, paranormal characters and robot soldiers. It's like the Walking Dead meeting Patton meeting the Twilight Zone.
Since it's not a "superhero" comic, and since the series ran for 124 issues from 1971 to 1983, the prices are not in the stratosphere.
One of the reasons I enjoy comic book series that began in the 1960s is that you can chart society's changes by the way the comic book stories reflects the changing moral fiber of the country. Marvel had proven a few years earlier that putting real world issues into their stories made the fantasy of comic books far more interesting. DC was slow to follow, but the Teen Titans finally made the transition to a more politically aware
The original Teen Titan series teamed up the teenage sidekicks of Batman, the Flash Wonder Woman and Aquaman -- Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad. Their first appearance in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) #60, led to their ongoing series.
At first, the stories dealt with the group helping other teens, ignoring the politics of the day. But, as the raucus 1960s moved to a conclusion, the stories explored some of the real issues of the day -- racial tension, the Vietnam War.
The series is a bit under appreciated these days and as a result, the books are priced lower than they probably should be. With only 60 issues, its one of the more affordable superhero titles of the 1960s and 1970s.
The first four issues retell Mary Shelley's original novel. The remaining issues are original. Midway through the series, Frankenstein was put into suspended animation and revived in modern times.
Alas, the public was no better at coping with someone, or something, out of the ordinary in 1975 than they were in 1812 when Mary Shelley first wrote the story.
The series' original concept was to avoid having the monster chumming it up with Spider-Man or other Marvel superheroes. The series' original creators kept him off in a small corner of Marveldom, trying hard to live a life without interference from others. But alas, he finally did meet Spidey.
This series is an interesting take on Shelley's creation and with only 18 issues, is easily affordable.
House of Mystery
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).
Not Brand Echh
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.
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.
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