Looking for a new title to add to your collection featuring famous super-heroes, at a great price? Then, look no further than X-Force (1991 series).
It's a spin-off from the X-Men, one of Marvel's top lines (and the subject of 5 recent movies). X-Force was a re-invention of the 1980s 'New Mutants' team. Led by Cable, X-Force was a bit more aggressive than the X-Men.
Rob Liefield's great artwork propelled the series through its first 9 issues. Throughout its 129-issue run, the series was one of Marvel's best sellers. The series was so popular that Toy Biz launched a line of action figures based on the series.
Because the series was one of Marvel's best sellers, and because the earliest issues are still only 20 years old, there are lots of copies available at a low cost. The average cost for the first 25 issues& is only about $1.60 each.
If you have a youngster who is interested in collecting comics, or if you want to encourage one, this is a great starter series, since no issue is expensive, every issue is easily available somewhere and the stories are really good.
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight is a great series to collect because it attracted great writers and artists including Dennis O'Neil, Grant Morrison, Mike Mignola, Bill Willingham, Matt Wagern and Doug Moench.
The idea was to create a graphic novel, but split it into 5 issues. So, if you buy issues #1-5 you get a full story. Same with #6-10, #11-15 and #16-20. After that the size of the stories changed.
So, even if we don't have the entire series in stock, there's a great chance that we'll have ALL the issues of most of the storylines. Keep a copy of the above list handy and you'll never finish one issue and be left hanging.
With the exception of Superman, Batman is the longest running title in comic book history. Issue #1 was published in 1940 and here we are 7 decades later and it's still going strong.
That's longer than any radio character or television character has been around. Just simply, an incredible run.
What makes the original Batman series so interesting is you can see its transformation through the years and pick and choose what era is right for you.
The original stories in the 1940s featured a dark, brooding hero. By the 1950's, with the addition of Robin, many stories had a science fiction theme and focussed on the dynamic duo's exploits with extra-terrestial beings. In the 1960s, once the famous TV show starring Adam West hit the screens, the series changed yet again, with Batman's "New Look" and it swung back to its original roots.
I've heard so many stories from so many people on how they collect the series. One fellow only collects issues from the year he was born, 1965 to the present. Another only collects from #1 to the year he was born. And yet another guy only collects issues with can be divided by the number 25. He goes after issue #25, #50, #75, #100, #125, #150, #20 etc. In that way, he can see the changes over the years and not break his bank.
One other guy only collects issues with The Joker and the Riddler, while another only collects issues with Catwoman or Batwoman on the cover. Yet another customer told me he only collects issues where the word "death" or "dies" appears on the cover. I wonder if he's an undertaker?
But my favorite was the guy who said he was going to find every issue where Batman was tied up. (I didn't ask why).
In addition, collecting Batman can fit pretty much any budget. Of course the original Batman series is the most expensive to collect, but other Batman series, more recent in vintage, can be collected within most any budget. There are tons of good titles available, including
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Batman: Shadow of the Bat Batman Chronicles Batman and the Outsiders Batman Family Batman: Gotham Knights
Lots of customers ask what comic book titles will go up in value. I can't answer that specifically because no one has a crystal ball. But, I have observed that prices of old comics are based in the continued interest in that character by today's audience.
So, if that's an indication of future value, Batman might be one of the safer bets out there. If he can survive and prosper for 71 years, then I'd say there must be something in the character and story line that has appealed to three generations. It might be a good bet that the universal themes and story lines of Batman comics will be of continuing interest in the future.
If you're looking to read the original stories of Marvel's greatest heroes, like Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but don't want to spend a fortune on the original issues, you can get the same stories for a fraction of the cost by buying these reprints of the original issues. Spider-Man's earliest stories were reprinted in Marvel Tales. The early issues reprinted early Spider-Man stories and early stories of other heroes, but as the series progressed, Marvel cut it back to just Spider-Man.
Issue #137 reprints Spider-Man's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 and the next 50 issues, reprint the first 50 issues of Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series).
Hey, Marvel did it again. Realizing that they didn't have to pay a writer or artist if they merely reprinted their original stories, the Fantastic Four got the same treatment... great reprints at a fraction of the cost of the originals. The FF reprints started in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics and continued in Marvel's Greatest Comics.
If our civilization is dumbing down, Classics Illustrated may just be our last hope, or a part of the contribution.
As its title suggests, the title highlights a classic piece of literature and illustrates it. Hamlet, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and 166 other of the greatest books in history are given the comic book treatment.
Back in high school, I had a teacher who used to assign some of these books and he always said, "And, don't rely on Classics Illustrated for the exam, because all of the test questions are going to be based on items not in the comic book." Oh, well. But, the series did give you a pretty good outline of the plot, so that reading the actual book went a lot easier.
Here at NewKadia, we've also found a lot of parents buying these for their younger children. I can't see an 8 year old slogging through the novel The Time Machine, but many parents have told me that a Classics Illustrated makes for a good change of pace for a bedtime story for kids once they grow out of Green Eggs and Ham.
And, for older readers, who passed high school English as a result of Classics Illustrated, the series can be a great gift for them... they both re-live their adolescence and get a bit of a culture boost, too.
To collect the series, you do have to know a bit about its strange numerology. Each issue of Classics Illustrated was re-printed many times. The easiest way to figure out which reprint a copy is, is to look at the re-order form, either on the inside front cover, inside back cover, or on the back cover. On the re-order form, each issue that had been published up until that time is shown. So, for example, for issue #72, the highest re-order number on the 1st
edition is #72. Later re-prints have a highest-reorder-number (HRN) higher than #72. So, for each issue, the LOWER the HRN, the older the copy.
Classics Illustrated Junior actually makes pretty good bedtime reading to youngsters. And although I personally enjoy Horton Hears a Who, a classic from any age remains a classic. I doubt there's any rigorous scientific study, but I'd bet that a child exposed to classics from ages before Star Wars and Dr. Seuss, will grow up with a broader appreciation of the arts. No proof, but it sorta makes sense.
Classics Illustrated Special Issue features stories, but not based on a specific classic piece of literature, but rather stories from many sources... The Story of Jesus, or Prehistoric World, for example.
The World Around Us can still be relevant with titles like the Illustrated Story of Dogs, or can be somewhat less relevant, like the Illustrated Story of Indians. No, not Mahatma Gandhi, more like Cochise. I haven't reviewed it lately, but I'd guess there might be some vintage 40's era racist stuff in that one. I don't know, but comics of the 40s and early 50s certainly paid little attention to being politically correct.
So, if you're a bit tired of talking about Snooki, or Lindsay Lohan, those two shining examples of what our civilization thinks merit interest today, check out Classics Illustrated. In the days of super-hero movies catapulting comics like Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman to the top of the heap in terms of sales figures, Classics Illustrated is the only non-superhero comic to crack our Top 10 in sales on a consistent basis.
In the 1970's Marvel launched Marvel Feature and Marvel Premiere to showcase new heroes. If successful, Marvel would spin-off the character into his own series.
Marvel Feature debuted with the Defenders, a new super-hero team. Today, no collection of Defenders comics is complete without their first 3 appearances in Marvel Feature.
Issues #4 to 10 featured an existing hero, Ant-Man, who had appeared years earlier as one of the two features in Tales to Astonish. Sales of these issues were never high enough to merit a spin-off into his own comic.
Marvel re-launched Marvel Feature in 1975 with Red Sonja and she fared better, with Marvel spinning her off into her own Red Sonja series in 1977.
Some collectors go after the entire 12-issue series, but most go after issues of the characters they primarily collect.
Marvel Premiere also featured tryouts for new characters and was successful in launching new heroes. Warlock's first appearances were in issues #1 and 2, and Iron Fist's first appearances were in issues #15 to #25. Today, no collection of the original Warlock or Iron Fist series is complete without those issues.
If you're a fan of either, get the issues.
The series ran for 61 issues and included runs of Doctor Strange (issues 3 to 14), and an eclectic mix of other super-heroes and monsters, including Hercules, Satana - the Devil's Daughter, the Legion of Monsters, the Liberty Legion, Woodgod, Monark Starstalker, the Mark of Kane, 3-D Man, Weird World, Torpedo, Seeker 3000, Tigra, Palladin, Jack of Hearts, Man-Wolf, Ant-Man, the Falcon, the Black Panther, Caleb Hammer, Dominic Fortune, Dr. Who, Star-Lord, and even rock star Alice Cooper.
If you're a fan of Star Trek, this is the series you should be collecting because it gives you a sense of place since it interweaves the Star Trek movies into its timeline.
The series starts right after the events of the second Star Trek Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Then, starting with issue #9, the series moves to events after Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
The series also integrated some characters from Star Trek: The Animated Series. If you're not a fan of Star Trek, stay away.
During the early 1950s, as a result of the concern that comic books were a negative influence on adolescents, hundreds of comic books featuring bloodshed and gore ceased publication and the the comic book industry nearly died. By 1955, DC comics was looking for a way to introduce new characters with minimum financial risk. To minimize the number of new publications, DC featured new characters in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) and
If the "tryout" was successful as measured by the number of copies sold, DC would spin off the character into their own comic book.
The method worked. Showcase #4, for example, starred a revamped Flash (modernized from the 1940s hero), and it was so successful, DC gave the Flash his own comic book. Showcase #4 is widely viewed as the first comic of the "Silver Age" since led to DC's revamping of many of its then-defunct Golden Age superheroes.
Similarly, Showcase #22 through #24 launched the new Green Lantern and other super-heroes followed: Aquaman (#30-33), the Atom (#34-36), Metal Men (#37-40), The Spectre (#60-61), The Phantom Stranger (#80). All had strong enough sales to launch their own series. Other good series, almost totally forgotten today, also got their start in Showcase, such as Rip Hunter, Time Master (#25-26), Sea Devil (#27-29), and the Inferior Five
(#62-63 and 65).
The Brave and the Bold featured the same "tryout" format from issue #1 to #60. The Suicide Squad (#25-26, 37-39), the Justice League of America (#28-30), Hawkman (#34-36), Strange Sports Stories (#45-49), the Teen Titans (#54 and 60), and Metamorpho (#57-58) all earned their own books from the success of their Brave and the Bold tryouts.
The format changed starting with issue #61 when DC changed the format to superhero "team-ups" -- two DC superheroes working together in one story.
Then, with the Batman TV show creating incredible interest in the Caped Crusader, DC changed the format again and issues #67 to # 200 starred Batman in most every issue, along with a different superhero each issue.
Some people collect the entire series, while others collect only those which feature a hero they're interested in. So, for example, most collectors would agree that a Justice League of America collection is not complete without Brave and the Bold #28 through #30.
But beware! Because both titles featured so many first appearances of characters, these issues are generally more expensive than issue #1 of their own series, which were published after the tryouts.
When a new Three Stooges movie was released in 2012, it fueled renewed interest in their comic books.
The Three Stooges were famous for their slapstick movies, each about 20 minutes in length. That's back in the day when you went to the movies you saw a feature film and a 20 minute "bonus" short subject film. The Stooges churned out 190 of these short movies. In the 50's the movies became the stock in trade for afternoon kids' TV.
I've found that most people either love the Stooges, or hate them. So, if you're thinking of giving them as gifts, make sure the person you're getting them for laughs when he hears the immortal words, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk".
Here's the movie's trailer:
Even though Wolverine wasn't one of the original X-Men, he is the most popular. A central character in the X-Men movie series, now a new Wolverine movie is in the works.
He first appeared in Incredible Hulk (1968 series) #181 in November of 1974. He is clearly the most popular comic book character created in that decade and Marvel has reacted to the demand for his stories by featuring him in the main X-Men series -- X-Men (1963 series) and Uncanny X-Men -- as well as giving him the starring role in his own series.
In May of 2008, Wolverine was ranked #1 by Wizard Magazine as the Top Comic Book Character of All Time. And this Wolverine series, with 189 issues, is the longest series starring Wolverine.
The first Wolverine series, Wolverine (1982 series) was a 4-issue mini-series, but it is this ongoing series that more deeply developed his award-winning character.
Wolverine was typical of the anti-authority antihero that emerged in American culture after the Vietnam War.
All-Star Superman won the 2007 Eisner Award (the Oscars of comic books) for the best continuing comic books series. Written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Morrison's aim was to write a "collection of timeless" Superman stories.
The 12 issues were published between 2006 and 2008, making it one of the first "classic" series of the 21st century.
If you were a Superman fan before 1986 you know that Superman left Smallville after his parents died, that Krypto was his super dog and Luthor was an evil scientest. Well, guess what? Everything you learned was wrong!
In 1986, DC decided to revise the Superman mythology, junked his entire previous history and started from scratch. He never was Superboy (instead he only learned to control his powers and went public in Metropolis) and Lex Luthor became an evil Donald Trump without hair, or without a toupee, or hair-weave, or whatever is sitting on the Donald's head.
So, if you've been away from Superman for awhile, check out this inexpensive 6-issue series and see what's been new for Superman for the past 25 years
Written by Frank Miller (who also created the Dark Knight Returns mini-series), with artwork by Jim Lee, this was the first title in DC's "All-Star" line-up. The stories are self-contained story arcs existing outside of official DC Comics continuity. Translation: You don't need to know what's going on in other Batman comics to enjoy these. The series features Miller's non-traditional interpretation of Batman.
With only 10 issues and all of recent vintage (between 2005 and 2008), it's a relatively inexpensive series which re-tells most of the Batman saga.
In the entire history of comic books, no single title has launched more spin-off comics than the original X-Men series. The popularity of the characters have spawned titles such as X-Force, X-Factor, New Mutants, Generation X, and on and on. In fact, most every comic book that begins with the letter X is probably an offset of this series.
What makes the original X-Men a great series? It's the storyline which strikes a chord with its readers. In this case, it's the alienation of a group of teenagers who are ostracized by their peers due to their differences. There may be no more enduring them that nearly everyone can relate to.
In the case of the X-Men, it's their mutant powers, which set them apart from the ordinary teenager.
And, as most every breakthrough comic of the early 1960's, the writing/artist team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of comics) provided the creative spark for the series.
The universality of the stories has made the series one of the best reads in comic history and has launched an animated TV series, video games and a very successful film series which includes X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011), with four more films in the pipeline.
As for the comics, the X-Men's most feared foe was Magneto, who survived the Nazi concentration camps of the 1940s, only to pursue hatred for humanity. (Hey, who can blame him). But that's the point of the Marvel Age of comics. Villains had real motivations. In DC comics of the era, a villain just wanted to "rule the world". Why? Well, why not? But, in the Marvel universe, there was always a real motivation for the villain's evil
The series ran for 141 issues and then was renamed Uncanny X-Men. Combined, that's 48 years of continuous publishing, which is an amazing string which again proves the exceptional story telling the series has always provided.
If you're a fan of the movie "Alien" or any of its sequels, or of the movie "Promotheus", (and hey, who doesn't love a creature exploding out of a man's stomach?) then you should check out Dark Horse Comics' comic books based on the "Alien" movie series. Most are original stories which expand on the themes and creatures in the films.
Most series are only 3 or 4 issues, so it's an inexpensive way to get your fix of man-killing monsters.
If you're not a fan of the Aliens movies, there's nothing here for you. Move on.
There have been several different Captain Marvels published by Marvel comics, but this is my favorite, by far.
An alien, Captian Mar-Vell of the Kree Imperia Militia is sent to spy on Earth. Tired of his commander's malicious intent, he allies himself with the Earth. The Kree brand him a traitor.
We've seen this plot device before. Think of all the movies you've seen where some government agent turns against his former govenment agency. Well, same plot device here but it's exceptionally well-developed in this series.
This Captain Marvel was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. His first appearance was in Marvel Super-Heroes #12. The first 16 issues are the best ones. After that, other creators monkeyed around with the character, changed story lines, and even his costume, and for me the series was never as good.
Don't confuse this Captain Marvel with the original Captain Marvel from the 1940s. That's the Billy Batson guy who said "Shazam" and became a super-hero. DC comics sued the original publisher of that series claiming copyright infringement on its Superman character. DC won the case and the rights to that character. But Marvel won a different lawsuit winning the right to use the name "Captain Marvel", but not the character. You gotta love
those lawyers?! So, Marvel created a new character. And he's a very under-rated part of the Marvel universe.
Believe it or not, back in the 1940's and 1950's, heroes were heroes and bad guys were bad guys. The heroes wore white hats and bad guys wore black hats. It wasn't until the 1960's that "gray hats" emerged -- a hero with faults or a bad guy with some good virtues.
And, there is no better example of "good vs. evil" in super-hero comic books than the original Superboy series, which was geared to younger readers.
The series started in 1949, told stories of Clark Kent/Superman as a boy growing up in the small town of Smallville in the years before he left the Kent family farm and moved to the big city.
I enjoy the series because reading the stories is the closest you'll ever get to going into a time machine and landing in 1950s rural America. Whereas only 2% of Americans live on farm today, back in the 1950s, 50% of all Americans lived on farms. That's incredible. And the stories of Superboy in Smallville really capture the spirit of the times and the virtues of mid-20th century rural Americana.
There's no gray area anywhere. It's Superboy versus the bad guys. Period. Teenage angst? Sure. Is Clark Kent anxious that Lana Lang will discover his secret identity? Of course! Does Lana Lang have a sexually transmitted disease? Hey, just kidding, you'd never find that in Superboy comics.
So, if you want to return to the days when young adults helped the elderly cross the street, when lying was a sin, and respect for elders and policemen was at its zenith, this is the series to collect.
The series is also notable as the only example of DC being able to launch a successful super-hero series between WWII and 1956. Once the 1960s hit, though, the simple good vs. evil self-contained stories lost alot of their appeal and the Legion of Super-Heroes was elevated to the lead story, until finally in issue #222, the title of the series was changed to Legion of Super-Heroes (1980 series).
When DC re-wrote the Superman continuity in 1986, they discarded Superboy. Instead, Clark Kent became a superhero only as an adult in Metropolis. Poof... the entire story of Superboy was wiped out.
So, be aware that the current Superboy in DC comics is a different character. The current Superboy is a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, whose secret identity is Clark Kent's cousin, Conner Kent. Gosh, you need a degree in genetic biology to follow superhero family trees these days.
There are hundreds of mini-series that feature Spider-Man, and we've never discussed them here.
What is great about these mini-series is that each has a complete storyline. And, since mini-series are recent in origin (late 1970's to today) and since there are only 4 to 12 issues of each series, they're quite inexpensive.
If you're a Spider-Man fan, or if you're looking for a gift for a Spider-Man fan, this is a good place to start -- the reader isn't burdened by a long back-story, since most everything they need to know to get "into" the story is self-contained within the series itself.
And, if the gift recipient enjoys the series (about 22 pages per issue), then you've got the potential for great ongoing gift ideas -- for the holidays, birthdays, whatever.
We have alot of mini-series -- about 150 -- in stock and we have every issue of plenty of them.
This 2 issue mini-series was so successful that it convinced Marvel to create the ongoing Cable series. This mini-series explored Cable's ongoing battle with Stryfe and its effect on the people that surround Cable.
There are only 2 issues in the series, and both issues generally cost less than $2 each. If you're an X-Men fan, pick it up. If you're not into the X-Men, take a pass.
The original Tarzan series ran for 206 issues (Jan. 1948 to Feb. 1972). This series adapted most of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 24 Tarzan novels.
Tarzan was the orphaned son of English aristocrats marooned in Africa in the late 1890s. He is adoped and raised by a band of apes. So, if you're looking for adaptations of Burroughs' classic novels, you'll enjoy the early issues of the series.
Later issues featured photos of Ron Ely on the cover, who starred in the short-lived 1960's Tarzan TV show.
In 1972, DC obtained the rights to Tarzan and their series picked up the numbering with issue #207. This DC series also featured adaptations of some of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original novels as well as original stories.
Joe Kubert's distinctive artwork was hailed by many as the best comic book depiction of Tarzan. These issues are as good as the 1948 series, but because they are not as old, they are generally less expensive.
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 super-heroes. The landmark issue #76 is often cited as the start of the "Bronze Age" of comics.
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.
This version of The Flash was so influential, comic book experts mark the beginning of the Silver Age of comics with his debut in 1956. That's right, without this series, there probably would never have been a Silver Age of comics. Superhero comics were at the bottom of their useful life by 1956. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and only a handful of others had survived Congressional hearings into the detrimental effects of some of the more graphic horror comics of the era. Then, in Showcase #4, DC comics re-launched The Flash, one of their heroes from the 1940s. But, instead of just writing stories about the old character, they created a brand new Flash. The 1956 Showcase appearance led
to more appearances in Showcase.
Even with the success of the Showcase appearances, DC was so unsure of the long-term appeal of super-heroes, it took them 3 years, until 1959, to launch this series.
This series really is great. Flash's costume is sleek, unlike the original. The artwork is spectacular, by the legendary Carmine Infantino. (About a decade ago, I went to a comic book show and while the line to talk to Brian Michael Bendis stretched 1,500 feet, you could walk right up to Mr. Infantino and talk to him, which I did, for 1 hour. That was insane. It would be as if you went to a baseball convention
and there was no line to talk to Lou Gehrig). Infantino's in the Comic Book Hall of fame and the Comic Book Buyer's Guide's 2000 fan poll elected him the best penciller of all time.
The success of Flash Comic books directly heralded the return of super-heroes. DC dusted off other old time heroes, and gave them new origins, new costumes and new stories. Without the Flash's success and DC's revival of the entire superhero category, Marvel would never have experimented with the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man.
In short, Flash sparked a revolution. In addition to the great art, the villains are among the most memorable of any super-hero.
Don't be thrown by the numbering of the series. The first issue is #105 because DC picked up the numbering where the old Flash series ended. If Hollywood would ever make a good movie based on the Flash, this series would get a lot more attention than it does. As a result, prices are now lower than they should be, making it a collector's dream.... great comics at slightly lower prices (especially when compared to other comics of the
Comics featuring a Hero's debut
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Before speculating buying and selling comic books, buy some stock in Apple, Inc.
If you bought 1 share of Apple in 2000 for $20, it would be worth about $630 today. That's a 31-fold profit -- a better return than most comic books.
But, if you buy comics to speculate, then you're probably better off buying a comic which features the first appearance of a hero, over any other type of comic.
If the past is an indicator of the future, then these books stand the best chance of beating inflation. It's easy to spot the first appearance of a hero -- the issue is usually numbered #1.
But, there are exceptions. Superman's first appeared in Action Comics (1938 series) #1. Batman first appeared in Detective Comics (1940 series) #27. Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15.
Many Silver Age DC heroes first appeared in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) or Showcase. So, you can find the first Justice League of America story in Brave and the Bold #28 and not in Justice League #1. The first Green Lantern story is Showcase #22, not Green Lantern #1.
It's not surprising that when actor Nicolas Cage began investing in comics, he bought Action #1.
If you're on a budget, enjoy the window shopping. But, if you just won the Mega Millions Lottery, start shopping for real.
In 2008, Brian Cronin conducted a survey of comic book readers asking them what their favorite comic book series of all time was. Hundreds responded and the winner was Sandman (1989 series). That alone is reason enough to collect this series.
Created by the now-legendary Neil Gaiman, this series helped make him the legend he has become. The series follows the adventures of Dream, who rules over the world of dreams. It is a great series.
The series is the only comic book to win the World Fantasy Award and the graphic novel which reprinted parts of the series was on the New York Times Best Seller List. It was also one of Entertainment Weekly's "100 best reads from 1983 to 2008".
This series is the comic book industry at its very best.
I frequently get asked, asked, "What's your favorite story line of all time?" So, I sat back and thought about it, and I figure it is Strange Tales #135 to #140, which featured the first appearance 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 and that still astounds me, 45 years later.
These issues appeared in the mid-60s when James Bond first burst onto the big screen and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 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 film techniques could have done justice to Jack 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.
These same stories were reprinted in S.H.I.E.L.D. (1973 series), and since they're reprints, they are far less expensive than the original issues.
In the 1950's and 1960's Superman was, by far, the most popular and most well-know comic book hero. And, to capitalize on that renown, DC Comics dedicated a comic to his girl friend. Part of the reason was DC's ever present desire to tap into a female audience.
What is amazing about this series, is the stereotypical way they treated women in the 1950's. Typically, the stories centered on Lois' romantic interest in Superman and to maneuver him into marriage (so 1950's!) and Lois' attempts to learn Superman's secret identity. Lois was always getting into some sort of trouble, and Superman was always bailing her out.
Once in while, the roles were reversed and Lois saved the day. If you were a fan of Terry Hatcher's performances in the TV show, "The Adventures of Lois and Clark", you'll see Hatcher's take on the character was partly grounded in the persona created in this comic book series.
Finally, by the late 1960's the stories shifted to Lois' growing social awareness.
Here's a great video treatment summarizing Lois Lane's impact on culture:
The first 81 issues were drawn by artist Kurt Schaffenberger and his rendition of Lois Lane became the definitive version of the character.
So, if you're looking for a series where you watch the evolution of the treatment of American women in pop culture, this is an interesting series to collect.
When the X-Men were created in 1963, the team consisted of Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey, a great mix. All of these characters appeared in the first X-Men movie. But as the comic series progressed, various writers ran out of ideas for them and the metamorphosis of the team began. By issue #94 of the original X-Men series, an entirely new group of mutants had taken their place.
By 1986, the originals were relegated to other Marvel titles, but not the original X-Men comics series. But the original characters were still great fuel for storytelling.
Enter the X-Factor team. Its members were the original X-Men but with a really interesting twist. Professor X had placed their old enemy, Magneto, in charge of the new team. The five set up a business which they advertised as mutant-hunters for hire.
The series is pretty good for a collector because there are plenty of issues in great condition and most all are $4 or less in Near Mint minus condition. But don't believe me, believe comic book fans -- X-Factor is consistantly among NewKadia's best-selling comic books.
Johnny Depp, who created the behemoth Pirates of the Carribean movie franchise will try his magic again when he stars in a new version of the Lone Ranger in 2013.
In the past decade, each time a major motion picture has been successful, the demand for its comics and their value, have increased. Of course, when the movie has bombed, there hasn't been any movement in its value.
So, if you believe that Johnny Depp can work his magic again, you might give this title a shot.
The Lone Ranger was a character whose exploits started on network radio back in the 1930s and then successfully transitioned to TV in the 1950s. As we've said before, when a character holds the interest of the public for 80 years, there has to be great storytelling connected to that character. A classic is a classic only if the character strikes a chord in the soul of his readers.
The Lone Ranger was an ex-Texas Ranger (not the baseball player, but the law enforcement officer) who fights injustice in the Old West.
The first issues of the 1948 series reprinted syndicated newspaper comic strips. New stories began in #38.
The popularity of the Twilight movie series and TV's True Blood, has got a lot of customers asking, "What's the best vampire comic book?" Hands down, it's Tomb of Dracula.
Part of the reason is that from the 1950s to the early 1970s, the Comics Code Authority (the industry's self-imposed censorship body created due to the political pressure of the mid 1950s) didn't permit vampires in comic books for more than 15 years, so there wasn't much competition.
Along with Werewolf By Night, this series was instrumental in the re-birth of Marvel's horror comics. And it is one of the longest running comic book series to star a villain.
The entire series was drawn by Gene Colan, whose great work on the early issues of Daredevil propelled that character into the top levels of Marvel's sales chart. Colan once said he based Dracula's visual appearance, not on the movie actor Bela Lugosi, the first to play the role of Dracula in the movies, but on Jack Palance.
A common theme in literature is a person trapped in a hostile environment or lost civilization. It was the theme of the recently doomed TV series "Terra Nova", the original "Planet of the Apes" movie and countless others.
But one of the best comic book versions is "Warlord", the story of U.S. Air Force pilot Travis Morgan who crash lands in the underground world of Skartaris. Quickly he becomes leader of the people, due in part, to his fully loaded .44 caliber pistol.
With its first issue in 1976, the series lasted 12 years (133 issues) which is a testament to its popularity. But somehow, the series never entered pop culture. Perhaps it was that Morgan was a Viet Nam veteran and the series debuted at a time when the war still extemely unpopular.
Most people know something about Superman or Spider-Man, but ask them about Warlord and a blank stare is returned. As a result, demand for the comic is relatively low as is its cost. But in any event, it is one of the best comic book examples of a hero trapped in a strange world.
During the series' run, several characters appeared in their own back-up stories, including Arion, Arak: Son of Thunder and OMAC.
The TV show and comic book The Walking Dead has everyone talking about post-apocalyptic societies, so I thought you might be interested in "Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth", one of the first comic books to feature such a storyline.
Created by (here we go again) the great Jack Kirby, Kamandi was his longest-running title when he went to DC comics in the early 1970s. Kirby drew 39 of the first 40 issues. The series lasted 19 more issues without Kirby.
According to Wikipedia, DC attempted to get the rights to the Planet of the Apes movie, and when that failed (the rights went to Marvel), DC suggested to Kirby that he create a similar "end-of-the-world" adventure series.
If you love Kirby, you'll love this series. If you love the Planet of the Apes comics or movies, you'll hate it. If you like apocalyptic future worlds, try it.
In 1971, when the great Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics and jumped to DC, he revolutionized comic storytelling when he created a new universe of characters, later named "The Fourth World" by comic book fans.
It was breath-taking in scope, brilliant in its plotting and with all of Kirby's awe-inspiring artwork. It was the comic book event of its time. The books were published in sequence, with New Gods #1 followed by Forever People #1, followed by Mister Miracle #1, followed by New Gods #2, etc.
At first, the Mister Miracle series seemed unconnected to the others, until we learned that Mister Miracle was .... oh, wait, I promised I wouldn't give away any secrets.
The stories dealt with the battle of good versus evil by two battling civilizations, each living on its own planet. The good guys lived on "New Genesis" and the bad guys on "Apokolips". "Darkseid", the evil lord of Apokolips was seeking the "Anti-Life Equation" which would enable him to control the thoughts of all people.
Now, let's take a step back. Darkseid, Darth Vader. See a connection? Kirby's work came five years before Star Wars and the bad guy's name is pretty much a play on his personality. Darkseid = Dark Side. Darth Vader = Death Father.
And there are lots more similarities. I won't give any away here, but when you read the series and spot them, don't think, "Gosh, what a rip off". After all, Kirby's work came BEFORE Star Wars.
A gigantic "wow" moment occured in New Gods #7. Read it, and you'll never watch 'Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' the same way again. But don't read the issues out of order. Don't spoil the surprise for yourself. The beauty of the original series was how the big reveal was 19 issues into the series. With each series series published every other month, Kirby hid the key plot point for a full year.
Another aspect of Kirby's "revolutionary" storytelling was that Kirby thought that comic book characters did not have to live forever. He saw the medium in a different light -- one in which a set of characters could exist for a short run and where the story could be completely wrapped up and ended.
Kirby ended all three titles lasted with issue #11. Years later, DC revived the New Gods and Mister Miracle with other artists and writers, picking up with issue #12, but none of these issues can hold a candle to Kirby's original 11 issues.
At the same time Kirby was writing these series, he also took over Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (from issues #133 to #148, which connected the then-current stable of DC characters to the Fourth World. But, the connection was not an essential part of the Fourth World story.
For Transformers fans, there are lots of comics to enjoy.
The 1984 series was the first Transformers comic book. It was planned as a 4-part mini-series, but sales went through the roof and it became an 80-issue ongoing series. The series was based on the original Transformers animated TV show of the 1980s. And of course, the TV show was based on the Hasbro toys and action figures. So, if you're looking for the first stories of the Transformers, this is the place to look.
In contrast, if you enjoy the movie series, then you should check out the more recent series. Because the blockbuster movies have been so successful, there have been dozens of mini-series created, most of which expand on the storylines of the movies.
If you're not a fan of the movies, there's nothing here for you.
This is the second Swamp Thing series. It was launched in 1982 to coincide with the Wes Craven film. The stories are original, although Annual #1 is an adaptation of the movie.
In the original Swamp Thing comic series, Swamp Thing (1972 series), the Swamp Thing was a Louisanna-based creature. But, in this series, Martin Pasko, the writer, had the Swamp Thing roaming the globe.
The Swamp Thing first appeared in House of Secrets #92 in 1971 and the stories were set in the early 1900's, when scientest Alex Olsen was caught in a lab explosion. The character became a humanoid mass of vegetable matter, sort of a Superman of the salad set, who fights to protect his swamp and environment in general.
It's interesting to note that the Swamp Thing was created in 1971, at the onset of the environmental movement in the United States, just one year after the very first Earth Day was celebrated in May of 1970.
The series ran for 15 years, which is a great run for a non-traditional superhero. As a second tier character in the DC universe, the series is a popular one for collectors because none of the issues are very expensive. A Near Mint- copy of issue #1 goes for under $6 and the rest of the series goes for less. Finding all the issues is pretty easy.
If you're a fan of Superman or DC comics, this is a title that you shouldn't miss, since it provides an interesting eye into the culture of the USA from 1940 to the 1970s.
It was one of DC's longest running titles. It started in 1935 as New Comics, with a name change to New Adventure Comics and then finally Adventure Comics starting with issue #32. The series is one of a dozen in comic book history to publish more than 500 issues (503 to be exact).
But for me, the series really got interesting with #103, when Superboy became the lead story. I like both this series and Superboy (1949 series) because they contain the entire history of the original Superboy. In 1986, the Superman history was changed and it eliminated Superman's exploits as a super-hero before he got to Metropolis. As a result, there are no new Superboy stories (at least not the
Clark Kent Superboy), so that it was one of the few "finite" series. You can actually "finish" a complete series, without buying new books currently being publihed.
In addition to the Superboy stories, I love this series because of the variety of the back-up stories. The back-ups featured an array of heroes, with the Legion of Super-Heroes, Green Arrow, Johnny Quick, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter, among many others.
For years, what Action Comics was to Superman (with Superman in the featured position) and Detective Comics was to Batman (Batman as the star), Superboy was to Adventure Comics.
Eventually, Supergirl became the feature story. The format changed starting with #425 from super-heroes to fantasy/adventure stories.
In 1981, Marvel changed the name of its 'X-Men' comic to 'The Uncanny X-Men". Then, 10 years later, it created this new 'X-Men series'. The hype for this new series was so great that issue #1 sold more than 8 million copies, making it the best selling comic book of all time.
In hyping issue #1, Marvel hit upon a novel idea -- they printed issue #1 with five different covers. It was the same story, only the cover was different. One cover was the "deluxe cover", printed on heavy-duty paper. The other four covers each featured one of the X-Men, and when placed adjacent to each other, formed a mural-like larger picture.
Initially, what made the series so desired was the teaming of writer Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, two creative super-stars in the comic book universe. By 1991, the original team of X-Men, Cyclops, the Beast and Iceman had all drifted away from the X-Men story line. The 1991 series brought them back.
The series is now in its third decade. The series ran for 113 issues and was renamed "New X-Men" for issues #114 through #156. It reverted to its "X-Men" title for issues #156 to #207. Then, starting with issue #208 in 2008, it was renamed "X-Men: Legacy".
Since its first issue is 'recent' by comic book standards, every issue is relatively inexpensive. The deluxe version of Issue #1, is usually available at NewKadia for less than $2.50. So, if you're looking for an "A-list" title, that is affordable and broad in scope, or if you're looking for a gift for an X-Men fan, this is the one.
This is my favorite Aquaman series. Peter David gave Aquaman an entirely new look in this series, forsaking his former clean-cut appearance. Following his discoveries reading the Atlantis Chronicles during the Time and Tide series, Aquaman withdraws from the world. Garth finds him weeks later, with his hair and beard grown long, brooding in his cave.
In issue #2, Aquaman loses his left hand when the madman Charybdis steals Aquaman's ability to communicate with sea life and sticks& Aquaman's hand into a piranah infested pool. Man, not even Spider-Man ever had it this bad.
Delving deep into the hero's emotions, author David give Aquaman prophetic dreams, and then, in need of a "symbol", attaches a harpoonspearhead to his left arm in place of his missing hand.
But the dark and strange side of this new Aquaman doesn't end there. His classic orange shirt is shredded in a battle with Lobo in issue #4, and rather than going to "Superhero Uniforms Unlimited" for a replacement, he goes topless for a while before donning a gladiatorial manica. Oh, it gets much worse. His harpoon hand is destroyed...well, it's just not an easy time for Aquaman.
And that's why I like this series. It's never very predictable. If ever DC wanted to shed its image from the 1960s as a predictable good-guy with no neuroses comic book company, this series certainly accomplished that.
My only gripe is that if you spent your entire day swimming, you'd shave your head like Michael Jordan, rather than keep it as long as Jon Bon Jovi. Well, I guess Aquaman must own a blow-dryer company or something. Long hair seems a bit ill-conceived in this case.
Twenty years after the successful launch of the X-Men, Marvel writers had aged the original X-Men from teenagers to young adults.
So, what could Marvel do to attract the teenage reader again? Simple, they took the long-time writer of the X-Men, Chris Claremont, and had him create the New Mutants, a teenage team of X-Men in training.
After being launched in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, the group moved to their own title that lasted 100 issues.
The New Mutants highlighted interpersonal and group conflict as well as action and adventure, and featured a large ensemble cast. When the series ended in April of 1991, the characters were relaunched as X-Force (1991 series) and that series ran for another 129 issues until 2002.
Like most series from the 1980's, there are plenty of issues in great condition still floating around and at pretty low prices. For example, as I'm writing this the price of the first 50 issues is as low as $60.80 (or $1.22 each - of course our prices change daily). The low cost reflects the large quantity available. The only issue that is not easy to find is #98, which features the first appearance of Deadpool.
So, if you're looking for a well-written super-hero series where you can pretty much get the entire series easily, and a very low price, this is the one.
Lots of movies have been adapted to comic books, but it's only fitting that one of the greatest movie series of all times spawned one of the greatest comic book franchises of all times. The original Star Wars comic book series was issued in July of 1977 and ran for a decade, with 107 issues and three annuals. Return of the Jedi was printed in a separate mini-series.
Issues #1-6 are an adaptation of the original movie (since renamed: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope), and Issues #39-#44 adapted the Empire Strikes Back. All the other 95 issues are original stories starring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the other characters from the original movie trilogy.
The stories are a great read, and for the collector on a budget, these issues won't cost that much. It seems that comic books, even good ones like these, which contain basic story lines adapted from another medium (in this case, the movies), never seem to cost quite as much as comics where the characters got their birth directly in the comics.
By the way, I couldn't resist sharing the video below with you. It's the original movie trailer for the first Star Wars movie. Compared to trailers today, it moves at a snail's pace but it's VERY 1977 in style.
So, if you're a fan of space science fiction, this is the series for you. Or, if you're looking for a gift for the Star Wars fanatic, this is it. In fact, the first issues of this series will be OLDER than any Star Wars fanatic under the age of 33.
The first six issues were reprinted as Classic Star Wars: A New Hope.
"Sgt. Rock" in Feburary of 1977 starting with issue #302. Sgt. Rock ran until issue #422 in July of 1988. The run of 342 issues is the longest for any WWII comic book character.
Created by Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher, Rock was a tough-as-nails master sergeant in the U.S. Army in the European Theatre of Operations during WWII. His tough character, along with realistic story lines created enough interest among readers that his exploits continued for 43 years after the end of WWII. This alone, is amazing.
It means that three generations of readers picked up on his stories over the years. The original market for his exploits included veterans who had fought in WWII. By the end, many of their grandchildren were reading the stories.
Only in the world of comics can there be two characters with the same name, published by different companies. But, that's the case with "Captain Marvel".
The original Captain Marvel appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures published by Fawcett Comics and this "Shazam" series features his adventures as brought back by DC in 1972.
The story is a long and tortured legal tale, but in a nutshell, DC owns the rights to the character, but only Marvel can use the character's name -- "Captain Marvel" -- in a comic book title. Marvel's Captain Marvel is a totally different character.
The original Captain Marvel character, as featured in Shazam comics features 12-year old Billy Batson. Whenever Billy speaks the name Shazam, he is struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into a super-hero.
Billy Batson's Captain Marvel Adventures was the top selling ocmic book during World War II. But, once DC comics sued Fawcett, claiming the character infringed the copyright of Superman, his popularity waned, until Fawcett went out of business.
The series is popular with collectors, becausde the original Captain Marvel comics are incredibly expensive. DC's Shazam series recaptures the feel of the 1940's and 1950's stories, but at a fraction of their cost. The new series featured both new stories and reprints form the 1940s and 50s. In most cases, the stories were set on "Earth S", a separate universe from where Superman and other DC characters existed.
This is the series for you if you want to start with a clean slate and not be burdened with 40 years of X-Men background.
With the first X-Men film as his only reference, Mark Millar completely reinvented the X-Men. As a result, if you've seen that movie (and if not, go rent it), you have all the background you need. I love that. After all, who can remember everything that has happened in 500+ issues of Uncanny X-Men.
This alone is a great reason to collect this series, and as a result, it's easy reading. You are not burdened with heaps of X-Men lore from past issues.
Millar's Ultimate X-Men consisted of telepath Professor X, Cyclops, whose eyes shoot concussive beams, telepathic and telekinetic Jean Grey, weather-manipulating Storm, simian genius Beast, metal-skinned Colossus, and cryokinetic Iceman.
In this series, the X-Men have no secret identities, and as mutants, they are mistrusted and hunted. Millar's work is edgy, featuring quick action-driven plots and fewer morality plays. For instance, Wolverine tries to kill Cyclops in "Return of the King" because he is envious of Jean Gray's love.
Millar shaped Ultimate X-Men into a commercial hit, consistently outselling other X-Men titles such as X-Treme X-Men and the original Uncanny X-Men.
After Millar's run, writer Brian Michael Bendis took over year. Bendis' run was marked by the death of the Beast.
Brian K. Vaughan, best known at the time for his work on Y: The Last Man, followed Bendis. He re-imagined second-string characters he felt were underused. He introduced Mr. Sinister as a mutant-killing scientist with hypnosis and stealth powers as well as Mojo and Longshot as a corrupt TV producer and a mutant felon.
Ultimate X-Men established itself as a hit, lauded by critics and popular with the fans. And the series is relatively easy to complete since there are only 100 issues, and lots of copies in great condition are easily found.