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Comic Book Collecting Ideas
Page   1     2     3

Why you should collect...


 
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.


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 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 comic book during WW 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 because compared with the original Captain Marvel comics, these are very inexpensive. 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.


Superior
Spider-Man


    What happens when one of Spider-Man's deadliest enemies, Dr. Octopus, gains control of Spider-Man's mind and body? That's the unique premise of Superior Spider-Man.

    The series directly follows Amazing Spider-Man (2003 series), where a dying Doc Ock manages to transfer his consciousness into Spider-Man/Peter Parker's body (in issue #697) to get revenge against his greatest foe. In that series' final issue #700, Peter Parker "dies" in Doc Ock's deteriorating  body, but his essence still co-exists with Dr. Octupus' mind.

    Superior Spider-Man's concept is refreshingly original. "Spider-Man" becomes an anti-hero with Doc Ock in his body allowing for stories that couldn't have been told in a regular Spider-Man tale. For instance, in Superior Spider-Man #3, Doc Ock in Spidey's body inflicts serious injury on the Vulture, leaving the Vulture burned, bloodied, and blinded. This level of violence is something Peter Parker would never have committed.

    It's also interesting seeing Doc Ock living Peter Parker's everyday life with interactions with Parker's friends leading to some humor. Because Doc Ock is so arrogant and conceited, he curses anyone he thinks is trying to undermine him, such as Peter's boss at Horizon Labs, whom he derides as being small-minded for daring to order him around. And in issue #10, Doc Ock as Peter humiliates his professor, calling his mid-term exam "child's play".

    Also compelling is Peter's struggle to regain control of his body. In issue #9 Doc Ock and Spidey engage in a memorable battle in Parker's head. With Parker's consciousness still lurking in his body, he attempts to turn Doc Ock on the straight and narrow path and to make the right decisions.

    Adding to Ock's character evolution is Anna Maria Marconi (first appearing in issue #5), a tutor Ock falls for. Through her we see a tender side of Doc Ock we've never quite known before, which gives the character and the series more depth.

    The series is also big for fans of Spider-Man 2099, who returned in issue #17. Spider-Man 2099 has always been a popular character since his debut in Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #365 (with a hologram cover). Spider-Man 2099's stint in Superior Spider-Man #17-19 is not only the first time Spider-Man 2099 meets the "new" Spidey but it helps lay the groundwork for Spider-Man 2099 (2014 series).

    The title is relatively new so it's easy to find copies. It also sets up and leads into Amazing Spider-Man (2014 series).


Queen Country comic booksQueen & Country

    Here's a very good, but often overlooked, 32 issue series. It's overlooked because it was based on a TV show which 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. Published by Oni, I wonder how much more popular it would be if it was published by Marvel or DC, both of whom could have given it a much stronger marketing push.


Punisher
1987 series


    First appearing in Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #129, the Punisher quickly became a breakout sensation, in large part due to his tough, no-nonsense attitude and his gripping origin story: Vietnam vet Frank Castle becomes a vigilante after his wife and two children are gunned down by the mob.

    What separates the Punisher is that he's willing to kill bad guys, having lost faith in a flawed justice system which allows some bad guys to walk free. I mean, how many times has Batman captured the Joker and had him imprisoned, only for him to escape and wreak havock yet again?

    Typical was issue #10 where he and Daredevil were both pursuing the same criminal. The two heroes square off against each other because Daredevil wants the criminal alive to stand trial, and the Punisher wants him dead.

    This series is the first ongoing Punisher series. It followed the successful five-issue mini-series, Punisher (1986 series).

    Most stories have a gritty, real-life feel, which makes us believe the Punisher's world could really exist. Generally, he battled everyday criminals like drug dealers, terrorists, gangs, assassins, and the mob rather than steroid-enhanced super-powered aliens wanting to take over the planet.

    The premise was so popular that Marvel spun off two other series: Punisher: War Zone (1992 series) and Punisher War Journal (1988 series).
    The series also introduced the Microchip, who provided the Punisher with weapons and advanced technology, and later became a solid, recurring villain in other Marvel titles.

    Before the current glut of Marvel superhero movies, a Punisher movie bombed. But not even a Hollywood dud could diminish interest in the Punisher and Marvel has pretty much kept publishing Punisher comics for most of the 25+ years since this series began.


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 sergeant in the U.S. Army during WWII. His tough character, along with realistic stories created enough interest that his exploits continued for 43 years after the end of WWII. This alone, is amazing.

    It means that three generations enjoyed his stories. The original market for his exploits included veterans who had fought in WWII. By the end, many of their grandchildren were reading the stories.


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 watch 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.

    So, by starting fresh, the series is easy reading. You're not burdened with 50 years of X-Men lore from past issues.

    Millar's Ultimate X-Men were telepath Professor X, Cyclops, whose eyes shoot concussive beams, telepathic/telekinetic Jean Grey, weather-manipulating Storm, simian genius Beast, metal-skinned Colossus, and cryokinetic Iceman.

    Here, 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, 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. 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 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 art is spectacular.


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 Wikipedia.org and lo and behold I found a 5,000 word doctoral thesis-like biography of Donald Duck's uncle. It's scholarly in tone, serious in nature, and delves into Uncle Scrooge's motivations, psychology and morals and the reading public's fascination with him.

    Wait a second! He's just a funny duck!

    I thought he was popular because the stories were light and funny. But, no! To read the Wikipedia treatise, go to Scrooge McDuck

    But, you don't need to be concerned that you never considered all the social implications of good old Uncle Scrooge and some overblown psychoanalysis of him. Just pick up a copy and enjoy this wacky old uncle.


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 should like this series. If you're not a fan, skip it.

    The 11 issues adapt the first two Planet of the Apes movies. The stories are full-color reprints of stories from Planet of the Apes (1974 series), the magazine-sized series.


Uncanny X-Men
1981 series


    The Uncanny X-Men comic book series is more than merely a continuation of X-Men (1963 series). Rather, it is important because of the influence of writer Chris Claremont, who wrote the series for 16 years.

    The X-Men featured teenagers born with genetic mutations that gave them super powers. Different from most humans, they were viewed as outcasts. The X-Men stories explored themes of hate, prejudice and public fear and intolerance toward mutants. Although the concept was original, sales were mediocre. But Stan Lee, the co-creator of the series and Marvel's editor -in-chief salvaged the series. Rather than cancel it, he merely reprinted stories in issues #67 to #93.

    The X-Men's popularity soared when Chris Claremont (writer) and John Byrne (artist) began as the creative team in issue #108 of X-Men (1963 series). The series was re-titled Uncanny X-Men with issue #142. That issue featured the second part of Claremont and Byrne's acclaimed Days of Future Past storyline which formed the basis of the 2014 X-Men movie.

    Together, they created the greatest, most epic stories of our time, such as the riveting Dark Phoenix Saga (issues #129-137) in which Jean Grey fully turns to the dark side. That storyline introduced Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost (in issue #129). And Claremont and Byrne created the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight (#120), which also shed more light on the ever-popular Wolverine who was once affiliated with them.

    In 2008, Comic Book Resources ranked Claremont and Byrne's work on Uncanny X-Men the second best creative team-up in comic book history. (Only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby topped them). In May 2014 Rolling Stone gushed, "Claremont combined soapy angst with cosmic scope, while hitting the prejudice theme harder than ever: Now the teenage outsiders who had begun to dominate comic-book readership saw the mutant struggle as their own."

    Byrne left after issue #143, but Claremont continued for another 10 years - an incredible run. He created Rogue, who first appeared in Avengers (1963 series) Annual #10. Originally a villain and a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she flipped sides and joined the X-Men in #171.

    Claremont developed strong female heroes and introduced complex literary themes with deep, emotional stories that went beyond the usual action-adventure fare in comics. Claremont also created Jubilee (#244), Gambit (#266), the time-traveling Bishop (#282) as well as dozens of other X-Men characters, including Sabretooth, Captain Britain, Rachel Summers, and Madeline Pryor.

    For example, in #303 Colossus' little sister, Illyana, dies from a fatal virus. A heartbroken Jubilee rages over the loss. Jean Grey comforts her, and in poignant writing rarely seen in comics says, "We come into this world alone and we leave the same way. The time we spend in between time spent alive, sharing, learning together is all that makes life worth living."

    Even with 30 years of issues, from 1981 to 2011, the series in quite affordable since there are plenty of copies of most every issue in most every condition.


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 co-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.

    Even their names -- Ace Morgan, Professor Haley, Rocky Davis and Red Ryan -- are 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 reprint earlier issues.


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.

For the full story, Click here



Journey into Mystery
1952 series


    Journey into Mystery had three distinct formats spanning 125 issues. From its first publication in 1952 through #22, it featured a horror anthology format.

    When the Comics Code Authority began censoring gore and extreme violenc from comic books, the title switched to science fiction and fantasy stories for issues #23 to #82. Stories in this era often featured prototypes of future Marvel heroes. For example, issue #43 contained a story about an invisible woman, which predated the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman by four years. Issue #66 featured a monster called "The Hulk" - no relation to the Hulk we know today.
And, one year before the first appearance of Spider-Man, issue #73 featured a story about a spider exposed to radiation who gains human powers, a backwards spin to Spider-Man.

    However, the series is best known for its third era which began with issue #83 with the first appearance of Thor. In the book "Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee", Lee explained, "I thought it would be fun to invent someone even more powerful than the Hulk. But how do you make someone stronger than the strongest human? It finally came to me; don't make him human, make him a god."

    Based on the Norse mythology, in Marvel's version Thor was sent to Earth by his father Odin so he could learn humility. He entered the body of Dr. Donald Blake, and whenever he struck his walking stick on the ground he'd transform into Thor, although the movies have ignored his dual identity. Issue #85 featured the first appearance of his evil adopted brother Loki and #118 introduced Destroyer, both of whom appeared in the 2011 Thor movie. 

    For any fan of Thor or the Avengers, this series is essential, because #83 to #125 feature the first 43 Thor stories. Most were written by Stan Lee with art by Jack Kirby. As a result, these issues are far more valuable than the first issues of Thor (1966 series), whose numbering begins when Marvel re-titled the series, starting with issue #126.


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



Hellblazer

    Hellblazer stars John Constantine, an occult detective who battles demons, spirits, cults, and serial killers. It takes a tough guy to fight these battles and Constantine even commented in his first appearance in Swamp Thing (1982 series) #37, "I'm a nasty piece of work".

    The series is Vertigo's longest-running title ever, lasting 300 issues over 25 years. Empire Magazine ranked Constantine #3 in their list of the 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters.

    Constantine often operates in morally gray areas, like pulling a con to thwart a catastrophe or sacrificing a friend. As a reminder their ghosts often haunt him.

    With scripts by greats like Neil Gaiman and Garth Ennis, the series featured engaging storylines, especially in 'Dangerous Habits' (issues 41-46) where Constantine is faced with his own mortality after he's diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. This arc showcases Constantine at his witty, deceitful best as devises a cure.

    The series offers plenty of realism -- no superhero appearances, indicating its world was a separate, more real-life universe. And, unlike most comic characters, Constantine aged throughout the series. Most stories take place near London and the settings offer a gritty atmosphere, perfect for the macabre storytelling.

    The series spawned the mediocre 2005 film Constantine starring Keanu Reeves, which deviated alot from the comics. A new Constantine TV show premieres in October of 2014. Metal Men
1963 series


    For me, this Metal Men comic book series is the most under-rated comic book of all time. The Metal Men were robots, not people. Created 25 years before Star Trek created the android named Data. The six Metal Men were Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Platinum (or Tina), and Tin.

    Each member's powers were based on the characteristics of their respective metals. Iron was strong and powerful, Mercury could change into a liquid, Lead could protect against harmful radiation and weak, pliable Tin, was the shy weakling of the bunch. Unlike other robots like the Transformers, the Metal Men had a wide range of emotions. They got angry, excited, sad, and even shed tears. A generation before Star Trek's Data brooded over his lack of an emotion chip, the Metal Men's only 'female' member, Tina, had to deal with having a crush on the team's creator, Dr. William Magnus.

    The Metal Men first appeared in Showcase #37-#40, DC's tryout comic where characters debuted to test if they were popular enough to support their own title.

    Fun and humor made the series endearing to readers - in issue #12 the Beatles even made a brief cameo. And in issue #21, after being criticized for only fighting other robots, the team goes searching for humans to battle, only to find the Flash, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman already dealing with these non-robot threats.

    Ross Andru, a popular DC artist, whose work included Wonder Woman, drew the first 29 issues and Robert Kanigher wrote the series, which gave the series great continuity.

    The title grew more serious in issues #33-37, when the Metal Men became hunted after the public believes them to be a menace. They adopt human identities in #37 to stop the police from pursuing them. Issues #42 through #44 are reprints and are less expensive than the rest.

    In 1993 the team returned in a four-issue series, which generally costs around $10 for the entire series. The current DC editorial crew believes in this group. And they made their New 52 debut with Justice League (2011 series) #28.

    With the advances in special effects, a Metal Men movie is finally possible. Executed well, it could drive the Metal Men way up from its current "C" list status. There's great potential here.



Demon comic books Demon
1972 series


   We're big Jack Kirby fans and the Demon is one of his creations from his days at DC comics. It was his first new comic after his now-legendary 4th world epic trilogy 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 of 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.


      Marvel
Super-Heroes

1967 series


    In 1966 Marvel created Fantasy Masterpieces (1966 series), which reprinted Golden Age Marvel stories. After 11 issues, it was reformatted and renamed Marvel Super-Heroes.

    Issues #12-#20 featured one new story and Golden Age reprints of Captain America, Sub-Mariner, the Black Knight, and the Original Human Torch (not Johnny Storm).

    Two of the more sought issues are #12 and #18. Number 12 features the first appearance of the Silver Age Captain Marvel and #18 features the debut of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Although the originals aren't the current roster, this comic is in high demand.

    Other characters were spotlighted, like Medusa (#15), Ka-Zar (#19), and even Dr. Doom (#20). Starting with #21, the series featured only Silver Age reprints -- Iron Man and Daredevil (#28-#31), the Incredible Hulk and Sub-Mariner (#32-#55), and the Hulk (#56-#105)

    If you're a Hulk fan looking for his original stories at an affordable price, start here.


Web of Spider-Man comicsWeb of
Spider-Man

1985 series


    By the 1980s Spider-Man had become Marvel's most popular hero. His comics sold so well that Marvel was publishing multiple Spider-Man titles each month to meet demand. In addition to Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series), and Spectacular Spider-Man (1976 series), Marvel added Web of Spider-Man in 1985.

    Marvel treated Web of Spider-Man as an equal to the other titles, In fact, some story lines crossed over into all three. For example, issue #31 began the famous Kraven's Last Hunt storyline. In a 2012 poll conducted by Comic Book Resources, it was voted the best Spider-Man story of all-time. After starting in #31, it continued in Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #293, Spectacular Spider-Man (1976 series) #131, Web of Spider-Man #32, Amazing Spider-Man #294, and Spectacular Spider-Man #132.

    There are no major differences in the three series, but the Overstreet Price Guide has a bias against anything other than a hero's primary title. For example, Overstreet values Amazing Spider-Man issues of Kraven's Last Stand at $15 in NM- condition, while the value of Web of Spider-Man's issues are 33% less. Same story line, same time frame -- it makes no sense.

    Take advantage of it -- Web of Spider-Man is a bargain and it's a relatively inexpensive 129-issue series of Spider-Man comics.


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.

For the full story, Click here



Web of Spider-Man comicsWeb of
Spider-Man

1985 series


    By the 1980s Spider-Man had become Marvel's most popular hero. His comics sold so well that Marvel was publishing multiple Spider-Man titles each month to meet demand. In addition to Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series), and Spectacular Spider-Man (1976 series), Marvel added Web of Spider-Man in 1985.

    Marvel treated Web of Spider-Man as an equal to the other titles, In fact, some story lines crossed over into all three. For example, issue #31 began the famous Kraven's Last Hunt storyline. In a 2012 poll conducted by Comic Book Resources, it was voted the best Spider-Man story of all-time. After starting in #31, it continued in Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #293, Spectacular Spider-Man (1976 series) #131, Web of Spider-Man #32, Amazing Spider-Man #294, and Spectacular Spider-Man #132.

    There are no major differences in the three series, but the Overstreet Price Guide has a bias against anything other than a hero's primary title. For example, Overstreet values Amazing Spider-Man issues of Kraven's Last Stand at $15 in NM- condition, while the value of the Web of Spider-Man's issues are 33% less. Same story line, same time frame -- it makes no sense.

    Take advantage of it -- Web of Spider-Man is a bargain and it's a relatively inexpensive 129-issue series of Spider-Man comics.


Nick Fury Agent SHIELD comic books Nick Fury,
Agent of SHIELD in
Strange Tales
1951 series


    I frequently get asked, asked, "What's your favorite story line of all time?" So, I sat back and thought about it. It's Strange Tales #135 to #140, which featured the first battle of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD vs. Hydra.

    It was Jack Kirby at his gizmo-creating best, with a super-surprise ending that revealed the identity of the head of Hydra that still astounds me, 50 years later.

    These issues appeared in the mid-60s when James Bond first burst onto the big screen and The Man from UNCLE came to TV. So there was lots of competition for the secret agent entertainment dollar. Had today's movie special effects existed back then, this would have been THE hot movie series. But there was no way 1960's special effects could have done justice to Kirby's spectacular vision of high tech weaponry.

    Strange Tales started off as a Marvel mystery comic and featured The Thing from the Fantastic Four for a while. Dr. Strange ran from #169 to #183, but it is the Nick Fury series that I always thought was THE star of the book, and issues #135 to #140 were the MVP of the 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.


Strange Adventures
1959 series


and other comics with UFOs and aliens.

    In the 1950s, at the infancy of the space program, DC comics (along with other media) had a big interest in stories featuring alien.

    The mysteries of space were generally unsolved and writers and artists had a field day imagining strange creatures and alien worlds.

    According to David Clarke, co-author of "Out of the Shadows", the widespread believe in UFOs that began in the 1950s was a social phenomenon spearheaded by the start of the Cold War, when the threat of atomic war hung over the world. "It was just simple to want to believe in something up there in the sky that could come and rescue us," he wrote.

    Altough space stories existed before 1950 (think Buck Rogers and H.G. Wells), the 1950s was the genre's peak. Decades later moviemakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg paid homage to the era in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and Robert Zemekis mocked a UFO crazed world in "Back to the Future". The comic that best captures the space-crazy fanaticism was Strange Adventures, DC's first science fiction anthology from 1950, followed a year later by Mystery in Space (1951 series).

    Most early issues of Strange Adventures are a who's who of alien creatures. Although conceived as an anthology, Captain Comet, introduced in issue #9 proved so popular that he appeared in issues #9-44, 46 and 49. He was one of the few superheroes introduced in the early 1950s. Captain Comet was one of three stories in each issue. The others continued the anthology theme.

    His origin fits with the series' sci-fi theme. During birth, radiation from a comet affected his genes, giving him telekinesis, super strength, and psychic abilities. These mutations make him possibly the first mutant superhero predating the X-Men by a decade.

    The UFO craze wasn't confined to DC's anthology titles. The genre spilled over into nearly every DC title, including
Batman and Superman. Other comics also featured outer space stories, including
Unknown Worlds and Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds.

    When astronauts actually reached space in the 1960s, the UFO/alien fad faded and Strange Adventures returned to Earth, but retained plots propelled by science from other worlds. Animal Man first appeared in Strange Adventures. Caught in the explosion of an alien spacecraft, he could temporarily mimic the abilities of any nearby animal such as a tiger's leaping ability of a tiger or a gorilla's strength.

    Deadman made his first appearance in #205. A circus performer murdered during a performance, he came back from the dead to hunt his killer. Interestingly, the story was the first time the Comics Code Authority permitted a reference to illegal drugs -- four years BEFORE Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #96-98, the famous set of stories featuring drugs that Marvel published without CCA approval. The Deadman run is also noteworthy for showcasing some of the earliest work of famed artist Neal Adams. His cover for issue #207, shown here, received an Alley Award for Best Cover of 1967.


Fantastic Four comic books Fantastic Four
1961 series


    This is the comic book that saved the comic book industry. 

    The year was 1961 and DC had a virtual monopoly on superhero comics, which have always been the bumper crop for publishers. Superman, Batman, and re-launches of The Flash and Green Lantern, along with Wonder Woman and several second-tier heroes. But, all their characters were good guys, and none of their characters had any, well, character. They were good. Through and through.

For the full story, Click here




Justice League Europe

    This is an underappreciated gem. It was spun-off from the popular Justice League (1987 series), when the Justice League just got too big. The original European lineup included Captain Atom, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Power Girl, Elongated Man, Metamorpho, Animal Man, and Rocket Red. They were headquartered in Paris, France.

    The series was often pretty funny. For example, some of the heroes (in their civilian identities) go to night school to learn French. To their surprise, their enemies, the Injustice League, are enrolled in the same class (the insanity!). The juxtaposition of adult superheroes behaving like high schoolers provides the comic relief. For example, in the class, one of Injustice Leaguers is caught trying to pass a note to his team explaining that they need to escape. When the teacher intercepts it, he reads the note aloud.

    Even issue #1's cover winks at the reader. It mimics the cover of Justice League (1987 series) #1, with Metamorpho holding that same issue and breaking the fourth wall, saying, "Wow. Déjà vu!"

    The series also featured more action than the primary Justice League title. The January 2010 "Comics Should Be Good" blog at Comic Book Resources praised it as "a fascinating comic, not the least of which is its European location ... unique in a superhero landscape focused on the East Coast of the United States."

    Check it out; it's worth a look! Prices generally average about $2.50 per issue.


Werewolf by Night comic booksWerewolf By Night
1972 series


    After U.S. Congressional hearings in 1954, which included testimony from psychologists about the negative influence of horror comics on youngsters, the industry created the Comics Code Authority to censor violent material. As result, horror-themed comics featuring werewolves and vampires were banned. It took 20 years for the Authority to lift the ban on supernatural creatures like vampires and werewolves.

    In response, Marvel created Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night. The werewolf's alter ego was Jack Russell, who suffered from an ancient family curse. The series offered a unique take on werewolf mythology -- Jack didn't become a werewolf after getting bitten by one, but simply inherits the curse at age 18. And, he didn't only turn into a werewolf on the night of a full moon, but also on the nights before and after. I guess you could say he got 3 bites of the apple each month. He battled those who wanted to use the werewolf for their own evil purposes, power or sport. Other times he enlisted the werewolf to protect his loved ones from threats.

    He first appeared in Marvel Spotlight (1971 series) #2-#4 before getting his own series. He battled hunters, vigilantes, other werewolves, and even Dracula in issue #15 in a crossover with Tomb of Dracula (1972 series). Iron Man guest-starred in issues #42 and 43. The superhero Moon Knight made his first appearance in #32. Originally an adversary to the Werewolf by Night, the popular Moon Knight went from a supporting adversary to a solo star in Marvel Spotlight #28 and #29 before landing his own series. The series ran for 43 issues and sparked Marvel's resurgence into horror and paved the way for other supernatural Marvel characters like Ghost Rider.

    In 1998, Marvel created an even more violent version in a 6-issue mini-series, Werewolf by Night (1998 series)


Ultimate Spider-Man Comic Books Ultimate
Spider-Man

2000 series


    Has it been over a decade since the debut of Ultimate Spider-Man? Well, yes it has. The series is a re-imagining of Spider-Man, updated for this century. No longer is Peter Parker a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. Instead, he's a webmaster. You get the picture.

    The series was so popular when first published, and so unexpectedly so, that the value of issue #1 hit $150 on eBay. Things have cooled off a bit, and the Overstreet Guide now lists #1 for $90. (Careful, there are several versions, including a $3 Free Comic Book Day version).

    Artist Mark Baldy and writer Brian Michael Bendis collaborated on the series for a record 111 issues. That run topped the previous Marvel record for an artist/writer team of which had been held for over 45 years by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four (1961 series).

    What I found interesting was Spider-Man's new origin. In the original version, Stan Lee took 11 pages to tell the story. Blady and Bendis took 180 pages, spanning the first 7 issues.

    The series ended after 133 issues when Marvel re-booted the series with a new #1. Because the series is so recent there are lots of Near Mint copies available. And, after the first 7 issues, the cost of a Near Mint- copy is under $10, so it's an affordable series to collect, even in near perfect condition.


Amazing Adventures
1970 series


    When Marvel returned to publishing superhero comics in 1961, they were limited to only 8 comics each month by the company that shipped the comics to newsstands. As a result, when Marvel created new heroes, they often put two into one comic. Tales of Suspense featured Iron Man and Captain America, Tales to Astonish had the Hulk and Sub-Mariner and Strange Tales had Nick Fury and Dr. Strange.

    It took the distributor seven years to realize that strong Marvel comic sales warranted more titles. So, in 1968, Marvel split heroes into their own titles. That's why the first issues of Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD and Captain Marvel are all dated 1968.

    Just two years later, Marvel's "House of Ideas" had run out of room yet again. So, they once more put two series in one comic -- Amazing Adventures. The first were the Inhumans and Black Widow.

    First appearing in Fantastic Four (1961 series) #45, the Inhumans were superheroes whose ancestors gained powers when exposed to the DNA-altering chemicals by the Krees.

    What's special about the earliest stories in this series is they were written and drawn by the great Jack Kirby, who created them along with Stan Lee. By 1975, with Marvel getting even better distribution deals, the Inhumans got their own self-titled series, Inhumans (1975 series).

    The series also featured the first solo stories for Black Widow. For years a mid-level Marvel character, her popularity skyrocketed with the enormous success of movies like The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where she was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.

    One of the more sought after issues is #11, which began the X-Men's Beast run. It was the first time he was seen in his mutated, fur form, a look he's best known for today. This series offers something for everyone. Issues for fans of the Inhumans are #1-10; for the Black Widow (#1-8); and #11-17 for fans of the Beast and X-Men.

    Starting with #18, the series changed to sci-fi stories, with the War of the Worlds (#18-#28 and #35-#39) and Killraven (#29-#34).

    Don't confuse this series with Amazing Adventures (1961 series), an anthology of monster and adventure stories (with art by Jack Kirby), or Amazing Adventures (1979 series) which reprinted the original X-Men series.


Conan Barbarian comic books Conan the Barbarian
1970 series


    When you get tired of heroes flying, or stopping bullets with their teeth, or emitting death rays with their eyes, and you merely yearn for the days when men were men, then this is the comic for you.

    Conan the Barbarian (1970 series) is based on the pulp hero created by Robert E. Howard, and he doesn't have invulnerability, he can't turn into a ball of flame and he can't communicate with fish. He's just a guy, a really strong, ferocious guy.

    If you were ever stranded in the New York City subway at 3 a.m. during the crime-riddled 1970s, he's the guy you'd want at your side.

    The continuity of the series is spectacular since Roy Thomas wrote issues #1 to #115. Barry Smith drew issues #1-24 and John Buscema drew most all of issues #25 to #190. Many issues were adapted from stories written by Robert E. Howard, and as a result, the series holds true to the original author's intent.

    Like other comics whose run started after 1967, the cost of the set is pretty reasonable. And, since Conan isn't a super-hero in the sense of Spider-Man and Superman, the cost of the books is a bit lower than a comparable set of super-hero issues.


New Teen Titans comicsNew Teen Titans
1980 series

Tales of the
Teen Titans


    The New Teen Titans was a revival of the 1960's DC title, Teen Titans (1966 series).   The Titans were Robin, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash from the original series, along with newcomers Changeling, Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire.

    The series not only focused on the team's heroics, but also on their personal lives as well. Cyborg, the tormented half-man, half-machine, struggled to hold on to his humanity, and the mystic half-demon Raven fought against her dark destiny. And there was the budding romance between Robin and the alien princess Starfire.

    What also makes this series special is that stories included themes about growth into adulthood and self-discovery. In the book George Perez Storyteller, Perez explains, "There was a feeling of evolution to the characters. They were kids, but they were growing ... and having problems unique to young people."

    Another reason the series is so popular is for introducing the iconic villain Deathstroke in issue #2. Originally hired to defeat the Titans, Deathstroke became a fan favorite who got his own series in 1991.

    After #40, the series was retitled Tales of the Teen Titans and introduced Dick Grayson's new persona Nightwing.


Amazing Spider-Man comic books Amazing
Spider-Man

1963 series


    We've been tracking the biggest selling comics at NewKadia for 15 years -- 180 months, and incredible as it may seem, Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) has been the best selling comic here for 178 of the 180 months.

For the full story, Click here


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.


Captain America comic books Captain America
1968 series


    When we discuss a top super-hero, the name Jack Kirby usually pops up.

For the full story, Click here




Shadow comic books
Shadow
1973 series


    Of the many reincarnations of The Shadow, this 12-issue series is my favorite. Written by Dennis O'Neil, it was faithful to both the pulp magazine versions and the radio version of the Shadow.

    O'Neil, for those of you who might not know, was recently nominated for induction into the Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

    If Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of comic book creators, then Dennis O'Neil is among the next generation of super-stars, sort of like Mickey Mantle.And of course, that actually makes some sense, since one of O'Neil's first jobs in the comic book industry was that of Stan Lee's editorial assistant.

    Interestingly, although O'Neil has made a name for himself on many, many titles, this is one of the few titles where he wrote every issue.


I Love Lucy comic books TV Show comics

    Looking for a creative and different gift for anyone who grew up in the 1950's or 1960's? Dell TV and movie comics are the place to start, even if that person isn't a collector.

    In the 1950's and 60's most TV shows had a comic book. So, if you're looking for a clever gift for the 45 and over crowd, you can find one here. All you need is the name of one of their favorite television shows.

    Or, if you want to collect comics that are more familiar to your friends and relatives, this is the way to go. Most people don't know anything about the Metal Men, but most adults are aware of Lucille Ball as I Love Lucy. You can collect these TV comics in so many ways:

1.   Collect comedies only, or westerns, or dramas.
2.   Collect shows you watched regularly.
3.   Collect one from every show, or all the comics from one show.

    To search, click
Dell TV & Movie Comics
or just click one the TV shows listed below, all of which were among the Top 25 TV shows in one or more seasons from 1958 to 1968.

Sitcoms
Beverly Hillbillies
Car 54: Where Are You?
Hogan's Heroes
I Love Lucy
Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
The Munsters
My Favorite Martian
Real McCoys


Westerns
Bat Masterson
Bonanza
Cheyenne
Have Gun Will Travel
Maverick
Rawhide
Rifleman
Wagon Train
Wild Wild West

Dramas
Ben Casey
Checkmate
Daktari
Daniel Boone
The Defenders
Gentle Ben
Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Real McCoys
77 Sunset Strip
Untouchables


Ms. Marvel
1977 series


    Ms. Marvel is Marvel's answer to Supergirl and Wonder Woman.

    Carol Danvers was a U.S. Air Force officer and a supporting character to Captain Marvel when she was caught in an explosion. Her DNA altered, she gained super strength, durability and the ability to fly.

    Her creation was a response to the women's movement of the 1970s. She was a strong, powerful, independent woman - a force to be reckoned with. As a result, she has become a wildly popular role model for female readers. Go to a comic book convention and you'll generally see alot of ladies in Ms. Marvel costumes.

    But the comic is more than just a tribute to women. The legendary Chris Claremont wrote the stories starting with issue #3. His balancing of Ms. Marvel's work and romantic lives, while exploring her relationship with her family enhanced his already great reputation. Claremont also created memorable villains, such as the mutant Mystique, who would become one of the X-Men's top nemeses. Starting with issue #20, Marvel changed her costume, from the red and blue costume to the now famous black and gold with the lightning bolt on the chest.

    After the series ended, Ms. Marvel joined the Avengers and also had a brief stint with the X-Men. By 2006, she would get another title. But it was this 1977 series that put her on the map. She remains one of the more popular and powerful female heroes in the Marvel universe.


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