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Comic Book Collecting Ideas
Page   1     2     3

Why you should collect...


 
Lone Ranger Comic Books Lone Ranger
1948 series


    Johnny Depp, who created the behemoth Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise tried his magic again when he starred in a new version of the Lone Ranger in 2013.

    And even though the movie was a box office disaster, each time a motion picture has been released, the demand for its comics and their value, have increased.

    The Lone Ranger's exploits started on network radio back in the 1930s and successfully transitioned to TV in the 1950s. As we've said before, when a character holds the interest of the public for 80 years, there has to be great storytelling connected to that character. A classic is a classic only if the character strikes a chord in the soul of his readers.

    The Lone Ranger was an ex-Texas Ranger (not the baseball player, but the law enforcement officer) who fights injustice in the Old West. Lone Ranger comic books The first issues of the 1948 series reprinted syndicated newspaper comic strips. New stories began in #38.

Lone Ranger
2006 series


    The 2006 series was a critical success. Some criticized it for its excessive violence.



Savage Sword Conan comic books Savage Sword of Conan
1974 series


    For fans of Conan the Barbarian, this series is a must. Printed in an over-sized magazine format, the magazine was not subject to the Comics Code Authority. The CCA was formed in the 1950's to monitor the comic book content to eliminate salacious or overly violent comic books.

    As a result, the Savage Sword of Conan could present Robert E. Howard's Conan without the Marvel's self-censorship in its 1970 Conan the Barbarian comic book series.

    The series was created for an adult audience. The battles are gorier, the ladies sexier and scantily dressed, and the language rougher than its comic book counterpart.

    The series is considered a cult classic. With 235 issues, it's one of the longest running magazine-sized comics. The covers are in color, but the interiors are black and white. The size of each page is about 40% larger than a comic book, and frankly, I love the larger format.


Warlord comic booksWarlord
1976 series


    A person trapped in a hostile environment or lost civilization is a common literary theme. It was the theme of the original "Planet of the Apes" movies and countless others.

    One of the best comic book versions is "Warlord", the story of U.S. Air Force pilot Travis Morgan who crashes in the underground world of Skartaris. Quickly he becomes leader, due in part, to his fully loaded .44 caliber pistol.

    With its first issue in 1976, the series lasted 12 years (133 issues) which is a testament to its popularity. But somehow, the series never entered pop culture. Perhaps it was that Morgan was a Viet Nam veteran and the series debuted at a time when the war was still extremely 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.


Superman
1987 series

    Created in 1938, Superman was the world's first comic book superhero. By 1985, 47 years later, a new generation of readers was buying comics and it was nearly impossible for a new reader to pick up a copy of Superman comics and know about all of Superman's history to put the story in perspective.

    The same was true for other DC heroes with decades of history. So, in 1985, in hopes of eliminating inconsistencies in storylines and simplifying the DC universe, DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985 series), 12 issues that simultaneously destroyed and rebuilt the mythos of many DC superheroes and (spoiler alert!) which included the death of Supergirl and The Flash.

    The next year, John Byrne- the artist and writer famous for revamping key Marvel titles like Uncanny X-Men (1981 series) and Fantastic Four (1961 series) -- updated Superman's famous origin story in the now classic six-issue mini-series Man of Steel.

   The mini-series took big risks with big changes: In Byrne's new world of Superman, Superman began displaying his super powers only as an adult in Metropolis. As a result, Superboy's exploits were retroactively erased. Lex Luthor went from being a mad genius to a rotund, billionaire businessman. Lois Lane's main endeavor of getting Clark Kent to admit he was Superman was discarded.

    The follow-up to the Man of Steel mini-series was a complete rebooting of Superman's comics in four different titles. The lead title was Superman (1987 series) with the first issue numbered #1. With Byrne and Terry Austin at the helm, the series featured great artwork and self-contained stories. Early issues are a delight for anyone looking for Superman championing truth, justice and the American way. The original Superman (1939 series) ended with issue #423 and in its place Adventures of Superman (1987 series) began with #424. Stories with Superman's new history also appeared in Superman: Man of Steel and of course Action Comics (1938 series).

        Dan Jurgens took the helm of all the books in the 1990s and created the one of the most enduring and epic storylines in the history of comics -- The Death of Superman. He created the villain Doomsday, who ultimately killed Superman. The Death of Superman story in issue #75 was one of the best-selling issues of all time (selling over 2 million copies). Fans flocked to stores for a chance to buy this "once-in-a-lifetime" collector's item available in a both a regular format and a special collector's edition, which was sealed in a black wrapper with an imprinted Superman's logo. The bag contained the comic and a black mourning armband. Collector's beware -- the issue was reprinted three times.

    When Superman rose from the dead a year later, many fans were outraged, leaving the hobby (many for good). The implosion of the comic book industry in 1990s can be attributed, in part, to mass printings and shameless marketing stunts like this. Decades later, however, the "Death of Superman" storyline itself is still interesting, featuring a funeral, supporting heroes and friends, four mysterious "new Supermen" and ultimately the return of the one, true Man of Steel. Love it or hate it, the two-year "Death of Superman" saga remains a key storyline that fans remember.

    Collecting tip: Because Superman stories appeared in four comics (Superman, Action, Man of Steel and Adventures of Superman) and stories are continued from one title to another, DC began a secondary numbering system, known as "the triangles". For long storylines like "The Death of Superman", the triangular numbers on the covers of the four titles indicate the sequence of the storyline.


The Walking Dead
2003 series


    Once a generation a title comes along that captures everyone's imagination and sparks a frenzy. In the 1940s it was Superman. In the 1960s it was Spider-Man. At the start of this century it was The Walking Dead.

    Prior to its premiere in 2003, zombie comics and stories were not popular beyond a hardcore few. But the Walking Dead rekindled interest in the genre. Within a few years, The Walking Dead was one of the hottest properties in the world. The comics led to a ratings-busting TV show, tons of licensed merchandise, legions of fans, and many comic copycats.

    The series focuses on Rick Grimes, a sheriff's deputy who wakes from a coma to discover the world he knew is gone. Zombies are everywhere. Entire cities are overrun with the undead in search of a meal of human flesh. Nowhere is safe and mysteries remain: Why did this happen? Is there a cure? Can safety and peace ever be found?

    Various still-living people form alliances, but many of the people, and the alliances, do not survive for long. The Walking Dead repeatedly kills off its main characters, creating a real sense of danger for readers. Anyone and everyone is at risk of being permanently eliminated any time.

    The comics have gotten more popular as the TV show gains fans. Is it too late for a TV viewer to jump into the comic book series? Absolutely not. Like any serial drama, the appeal is the ever-changing hellish landscape that Rick and his group endure. A word of caution: The TV series does not follow the comic story line perfectly. Some comic book characters died earlier in the TV series, some later, some not at all.

    Written by Robert Kirkman (who later created Invincible), the stories focus on more than just bogeymen popping from behind a car. The interplay between the surviving members is fascinating. The roles they play in this new society, the leadership fights among them, how the group functions without laws, the moral dilemmas that each consider when facing life-and-death choices are great reasons to read this series.

    Fans of the TV show and comic are quick to point out that "The Walking Dead" refers not only to the zombies, but to the human survivors, forced to fend for themselves in this new world of dread and near certain death.

    Early issues are very expensive. But, Walking Dead trade paperbacks which compile about 6 issues each, are widely available, affordable, and a good way to catch up on the earliest issues.


Official Handbook of the
Marvel Universe

1983 series

    How are Rama-Tut, Kang the Conqueror and Dr. Doom related? Speaking of Doom-what exactly powers his medieval-looking armor?

    By the 1980s, the Marvel universe included thousands of characters. Keeping track of 25 years of stories, thousands of characters and storylines could get overwhelming and confusing.

    The series solved the problem. It was an expanded version of an in-house guide used by Marvel's writers to keep things consistent with past adventures. The series was an all-inclusive encyclopedia for readers. It featured biographies of Marvel superheroes and villains, and detailed pictures of each character by leading artists like John Byrne and John Romita, Sr.

    Issues #1-12 are alphabetical listings of characters from A-Z, and the last three issues feature deceased heroes like the original Human Torch as well as weapons and hardware. You can enjoy close-up views (and descriptions) of Captain America's shield, the evil Mandarin's rings, or even Wolverine's adamantium skeleton.

    The handbooks have no storyline, but include detailed specs on major and minor Marvel players. The series was a huge help for those engaged in a favorite 1980s pastime: role-playing games. Similar to Dungeons & Dragons, the Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game was popular -- fans would play the roles of the Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-Men or even made-up aliens or mutants that they created. The Handbook became an invaluable tool for gamers.

    Although RPGs are not as popular now, the handbooks have retained their popularity because they're an inexpensive guide to biographies and detailed pictures of Marvel characters.

    As a fan, you can enjoy the biographies which rekindle memories of key storylines or teach you something new about your favorite characters. Did you know that Galactus had two different heralds? How many maniacs have called themselves the Green Goblin? Trivia fans love the series, too.

    The series proved so popular, a 20-issue sequel was released just two years later -- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1985 series). It featured covers that form an uninterrupted run of beautifully-illustrated characters. An update, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1989 series) was published three years later, and an updated All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z was published in 2006.

    Issues of all the series are inexpensive and a great way to learn something new about the rich history of Marvel. DC published a similar series in 1985, Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe.


Transformers
1984 series

    Recognize the catchphrase, "More than meets the eye?"

    If you do, you were probably young in the mid-1980s and a fan of the Transformers -- robots that could turn into vehicles.

    Marvel's Transformers comic books were based on the toys of the same name. The premise was simple: the good guys were automobiles, the bad guys were airplanes. It was one of the first large-scale cross promotions which included the toys, an after-school cartoon show and the comic books.

    The toys and comics were hot -- most every kid in North America had heard of Optimus Prime, Megatron and Bumblebee. Intended as a four-issue limited series, Transformers (1984 series) sold extremely well, and ran for 80 issues.  The original four issues are valued by collectors. Many early issues were reprinted.

    At the same time, Marvel was also publishing G.I. Joe, A Real American Hero (1982 series) and Marvel cross-promoted both properties in G.I. Joe and the Transformers (1987 series). With artwork by Herb Trimpe, the Autobots and the Joes work together to smash the Decepticons and Cobra.

    The Transformers storyline is simple: a spaceship crashes on Earth, and Optimus Prime and his heroic Autobots team with humans to thwart the evil Decepticons and their plans for domination. Major characters like Bumblebee, Shockwave and Starscream are staples. Transformers were extremely popular with an entire generation of youngsters, but when these fans aged, book sales suffered and the series ended in 1991. During the comic book run, many mainstays were introduced such as the Dinobots (issue #8) and Omega Supreme (issue #17).

    Twenty years after their debut, with the success of the Transformers movies, IDW revamped the line with Transformers (2005 series) and Transformers (2009 series), with stellar artwork and improved production (as is the case with most modern comics printed on higher-quality paper). So there is something for everyone -- enjoy the original series, or check out the newer, up-to-date Transformers in the IDW series.


X-Men
1991 series


    The X-Men were created in 1963. It's hard to believe now, but poor sales in the early 1970s almost led Marvel to cancel the series. As a last resort, Marvel just reprinted X-Men stories for five years before finally rebooting the team in 1975 in issue #94 and Giant-Size X-Men #1 with the new team of Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus.

    The new team reinvigorated the title. The team became so popular that in 1991, a second title, X-Men (1991 series) was launched with superstar artist Jim Lee at the helm.

    And what a launch it was! According to Guinness Book of World Records, X-Men #1 remains the best-selling comic book of all time (5 different cover versions sold 8 million copies).

    In the comics, the X-Men were divided. Storm led the "gold team" in Uncanny X-Men (1981 series) while Cyclops was team captain of the "blue team" in X-Men (1991 series).

    If you're a Jim Lee fan, this series has it all -- big splash pages, lots of battles and plenty of action featuring Wolverine, the most popular X-Man. Lee left after only 11 issues, but Andy Kubert proved to be a worthy replacement, with strong, dynamic pacing and art. There are some great story arcs as well: the introduction of the villain Omega Red in issues #5-7, the X-Cutioner's Song storyline in issues #14-16, and X-Men #25, where Magneto pulls the adamantium skeleton out of Wolverine's body.

    This series ran for over 200 issues but the numbering can be confusing. With issue #114 it was renamed New X-Men, but then went back to X-Men (2004 series) with issue #157. For issues #208 through #275, the title changed to X-Men: Legacy (2008 series). Regardless of title, the book enjoyed a long run showcasing Marvel's popular team of teenage mutants.


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


    If you like Spider-Man comics from the 1970s, then Marvel Team-Up, one of the most under-appreciated comics in Marvel's line-up, should interest you.  It teams Spider-Man with a different 'guest star' each issue. As a result, the stories are always original, never get stale, because the guest star appears and is gone. Also, you can read most every issue as a standalone story, without the need to have read the previous issues to understand what's going on.

    The series ran for 150 issues over 13 years, a testament to the quality of the series. If the stories had not been compelling, the series would never have lasted that long.

    And along the way, Spidey met everyone.  And I mean EVERYONE. Guest appearances included the typical Marvel superhero galaxy -- Wolverine (#117) or Iron Man (#48, 49, 110), or Thor (#7, #26), as well as Marvel characters who weren't fighting crime and evil, like Frankenstein (#36) or Werewolf by Night (#12), or even the cast of Saturday Night Live (#74).

    In short, the series is entertaining, different, and never slips into tedium.

    More importantly, since it wasn't Spider-Man's primary title (Amazing Spider-Man), the people at the Overstreet Price Guide don't value it highly. That's a shame if you're selling it, but it means a big bargain if you're buying it. Most issues after #19 are less than $10 in Very Fine condition, and most of the later issues after #70 are less than $5 in Near Mint- condition.

    And of course, like most Spider-Man titles other than the Amazing Spider-Man, issues in great condition remain plentiful and affordable.


Groo the Wanderer
1985 series


    Looking for something a little different? How about a sword-wielding, dim-witted buffoon who means well but always gets into trouble? Meet Groo The Wanderer!

    Sergio Aragonés is the artist behind Groo. If the cartoony pencils look familiar, it may be from Aragonés' decades-long run at Mad Magazine (remember those little drawings in the margins?). Aragonés teamed up with writing partner (and comic-book historian) Mark Evanier to create Groo, one of the longest-running creator-owned characters in the business. This series ran from 1985 to 1995 (120 issues) under Marvel's Epic Comics line.

    If you've never read Groo, think "Conan the Barbarian" meets "The Simpsons". Because of Aragonés lightning-fast drawing style, the artwork in Groo is lavishly illustrated, with rich backgrounds and intricate cities and civilizations. The characters are often exaggerated in physical appearance and there are lots of comic gags.

    Some stories are goofy and funny, but some have surprisingly serious undertones and speak to larger issues, such as slavery, racism and wealth inequality. There are running jokes as well. Often, Groo will gleefully run into a fray, waving his sword around while not knowing (or even caring) why there is a battle to begin with!

    Just like Batman eventually needed a Robin, Groo found a loyal sidekick in his dog Rufferto. Originally a pampered pooch bored with the fancy life, Rufferto joined Groo's quest for adventure in issue #29. Fiercely loyal, the lovable Rufferto is the smartest character in the series - often bailing out Groo from a sticky predicament (usually without Groo ever figuring it out).

    One of the first successful creator-owned characters, Groo has been published off and on by different companies including Pacific's Groo (1982 series) and Image's Groo (1994 series).
    Back issues are inexpensive and you can easily grab a large run. The stories are similar (epic adventure with a moral), and most issues are self-contained, so you can enjoy any issue in any order. Don't worry about long, complicated storylines. The only thing you need to know is that when Groo shows up with swords and his loyal dog, villagers run for their lives!


Tomb of Dracula comic booksTomb of Dracula
1972 series


    The popularity of the Twilight movie series and TV's True Blood, has got a lot of customers asking, "What's the best vampire comic book?" Hands down, it's Tomb of Dracula.

    Part of the reason is that from the 1950s to the early 1970s, the Comics Code Authority (the industry's self-imposed censorship body created due to the political pressure of the mid 1950s) didn't permit vampires in comic books for more than 15 years, so there wasn't much competition.

    Along with Werewolf By Night, this series was instrumental in the re-birth of Marvel's horror comics. And it is one of the longest running comic book series to star a villain.

    The entire series was drawn by Gene Colan, whose great work on the early issues of Daredevil propelled that character into the top levels of Marvel's sales chart. Colan once said he based Dracula's visual appearance, not on the movie actor Bela Lugosi, the first to play the role of Dracula in the movies, but on Jack Palance.

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

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


Silver Surfer
1968 series


    It's hard to fathom today, but the Silver Surfer's creation and first appearance was totally startling to readers.

    Before he first appeared in the mid-1960s, the typical superhero was almost always a spandex-clad human - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern. Their powers were generally the result of birth in a foreign world or environment (Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Thor) an accident (Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Daredevil, Captain America), or mutation (X-Men). Most every one was a Caucasian American.

    When Jack Kirby unveiled the Silver Surfer for the first time in Fantastic Four (1961 series) issues #48 to 50, he came as a seismic jolt to readers because he broke the mold of superhero stereotypes. He was an alien stranded on earth, but one who didn't desire to assimilate (like Superman). Instead, he was incredulous about the foibles of the human condition.

    He began life as an alien from a distant planet, which was threatened by the world-eater Galactus, who needed the energy of other worlds to survive. When Galactus was about to consume his home world, he agreed to become Galactus' herald and search for other planets for Galactus to destroy and consume.

    Eventually, he scouted Earth to prepare it for Galactus' destruction. But, moved by humanity's plea, he saved Earth. As punishment for this disloyalty to Galactus, Galactus created a barrier around Earth functional only to the Surfer, exiling him here, never to see his loved ones again.

    In 1968, Marvel launched the Surfer in his own series, which followed his attempts to escape Earth while saving people who mostly feared and despised him.  He saved them because of his morality and to create goodwill with humans.

    The series was a startling indictment of the violent nature in the human spirit. It offered insightful, thought-provoking dialogue. The Surfer spoke out against society's ills - like humankind's propensity for violence, fear and hate. Coming during the peak of the 1960s social revolution and the Vietnam war protests, the Surfer became one of the most popular contemporary fiction characters on college campuses.

    Just as the TV show Star Trek disguised contemporary issues in a science-fiction context, the Silver Surfer did the same. No TV show or magazine in the 1960s would dare to deal with a real discussion of current issues - to avoid antagonizing its audience. With the United States divided down the middle on issues like the war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement, a discussion could only be had by disguising it within a science fiction setting. The success of this series was due in no small part to dealing with these hot button issues when no other media would.

    To emphasize the importance of the message and the series, Marvel launched the series with 44 page stories compared to the typical 22 page comics of the era.

    In a 2007 interview with Comic Book Resources, comic writer Simon Spurrier noted, "The Surfer is a perpetual idealist: he can spot the potential for great things in the people around him, but can't understand why, in spite of it all, they're so petty, small-minded and intent on self-destruction." In a 2010 Newsarama interview, comic writer Greg Pak noted, "The Silver Surfer may be the most original character in superhero comics."

    The unique theme of the series created a cult following but never a mass audience, and the series was cancelled after just 18 issues. Decades later, the series remains a portal into the consciousness of the counter culture of the 1960s.

    Twenty years after his introduction, and long after the counter culture movement of the 1960s had ended, Marvel changed the basic conflict of the character and in Silver Surfer (1987 series) he escaped Earth to travel the galaxy. In a post Star Wars environment of strange new alien worlds to explore and absent the basic ideology of the original series, the new series appealed to a wider audience and lasted 11 years and 146 issues.

    Why a surfboard? Was it symbolic of the counter culture's free-wheeling vitality or anything like that? Uh, no. According to "The Ultimate Silver Surfer", Kirby put him on a surfboard because he was merely "tired of drawing spaceships."


New Gods comic booksJack Kirby's
4th World Trilogy

New Gods

1971 series


Forever People
1971 series


Mister Miracle
1971 series


    In 1971, when the great Jack Kirby left Marvel Comics and jumped to DC, he revolutionized comic storytelling when he created a new universe of characters, later named "The Fourth World" by comic book fans.

    It was breath-taking in scope, brilliant in its plotting and with all of Kirby's awe-inspiring artwork. It was the comic book event of its time. The books were published in sequence, with New Gods #1 followed by Forever People #1, followed by Mister Miracle #1, and then 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 occurred 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 he 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 drew and wrote Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (issues #133 to #148) and he connected the then-current stable of DC characters to the Fourth World. But, the connection was not an essential part of the Fourth World story.

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

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

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


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


    The TV show and comic book The Walking Dead has everyone talking about post-apocalyptic societies, so I thought you might be interested in "Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth", one of the first comic books to feature such a storyline.

    Created by (here we go again) the great Jack Kirby, Kamandi was his longest-running title when he went to DC comics in the early 1970s. Kirby drew 39 of the first 40 issues. The series lasted 19 more issues without Kirby.

    According to Wikipedia, DC attempted to get the rights to the Planet of the Apes movie, and when that failed (the rights went to Marvel), DC suggested to Kirby that he create a similar "end-of-the-world" adventure series.

    If you love Kirby, you'll love this series. If you love Planet of the Apes comics or movies, you'll hate it. If you like apocalyptic future worlds, try it.


Tomb of Dracula comic booksTomb of Dracula
1972 series


    The popularity of the Twilight movie series and TV's True Blood, has got a lot of customers asking, "What's the best vampire comic book?" Hands down, it's Tomb of Dracula.

    Part of the reason is that from the 1950s to the early 1970s, the Comics Code Authority (the industry's self-imposed censorship body created due to the political pressure of the mid 1950s) didn't permit vampires in comic books for more than 15 years, so there wasn't much competition.

    Along with Werewolf By Night, this series was instrumental in the re-birth of Marvel's horror comics. And it is one of the longest running comic book series to star a villain.

    The entire series was drawn by Gene Colan, whose great work on the early issues of Daredevil propelled that character into the top levels of Marvel's sales chart. Colan once said he based Dracula's visual appearance, not on the movie actor Bela Lugosi, the first to play the role of Dracula in the movies, but on Jack Palance.

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

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


X-Men comic books X-Men
1963 series


    In the history of comic books, no title has launched more spin-off comics than the original X-Men series. Its popularity 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.

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Adventure ComicsAdventure Comics
1938 series


    If you're a fan of Superman or DC comics, this is a title that you shouldn't miss, since it provides an interesting eye into the culture of the USA from 1940 to the 1970s.

    It was one of DC's longest running titles. It started in 1935 as New Comics, with a name change to New Adventure Comics and then finally Adventure Comics starting with issue #32. The series is one of a dozen in comic book history to publish more than 500 issues (503 to be exact).

    But for me, the series really got interesting with #103, when Superboy became the lead story. I like both this series and Superboy (1949 series) because they contain the entire history of the original Superboy. In 1986, the Superman history changed and it eliminated Superman's exploits as a superhero before he got to Metropolis. As a result, there are no new Superboy stories (at least not the Clark Kent Superboy), so it is one of the few "finite" series. You can actually "finish" a complete series, without buying new books currently being published.

    In addition to the Superboy stories, I love this series because of the variety of the back-up stories. The back-ups featured an array of heroes, with the Legion of superheroes, Green Arrow, Johnny Quick, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter, among many others.

    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 lead character. The content changed starting with #425 from superheroes to fantasy/adventure stories.

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


Swamp Thing comic books Swamp Thing
1982 series


also known as
Saga of the Swamp Thing

    This is the second Swamp Thing series. Launched in 1982 to coincide with the Wes Craven film, the stories are original, although Annual #1 adapts 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 scientist 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.

    The Swamp Thing was created in 1971, at the onset of the environmental movement in the United States, just one year after the very first Earth Day was celebrated in May of 1970.

    The series ran for 15 years -- a great run for a non-traditional superhero. As a second tier DC character, the series is a popular one for collectors because most issues are very inexpensive. A Near Mint- copy of issue #1 goes for under $6 and the rest of the series goes for less. Finding all the issues is pretty easy.


Tarzan comic booksTarzan
1948 series


    The original Tarzan series ran for 206 issues (Jan. 1948 to Feb. 1972). This series adapted most of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 24 Tarzan novels.

    Tarzan was the orphaned son of English aristocrats marooned in Africa in the late 1890s. He is adopted 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 1960's Tarzan TV show.

Tarzan comic booksTarzan
1972 series


    In 1972, DC obtained the rights to Tarzan and their series picked up the numbering with issue #207. This series also featured adaptations of Burroughs' original novels as well as original stories.

    Joe Kubert's distinctive artwork was hailed by many as the best comic book depiction of Tarzan. These issues are as good as the 1948 series, but because they are not as old, they are generally less expensive.


New Mutants comic books New Mutants
1983 series


    Twenty years after the successful launch of the X-Men, Marvel writers had aged the original X-Men from teenagers to young adults.

    So, what could Marvel do to attract the teenage reader again? Simple, they took the long-time writer of the X-Men, Chris Claremont, and had him create the New Mutants, a teenage team of X-Men in training.

    After being launched in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, the group moved to this title that lasted 100 issues.

    The New Mutants highlighted interpersonal and group conflict as well as action and adventure, and featured a large ensemble cast. When the series ended in April of 1991, the characters were relaunched as X-Force (1991 series) and that series ran for another 129 issues until 2002.

    Like most series from the 1980's, there are plenty of issues in great condition still floating around and at pretty low prices. For example, as I'm writing this the price of the first 50 issues is as low as $60.80 (or $1.22 each - of course our prices change daily). The low cost reflects the large quantity available. The only issue that is not easy to find is #98, which features the first appearance of Deadpool.

    So, if you're looking for a well-written superhero series where you can pretty much get the entire series easily, and a very low price, this is the one.


X-Men
1991 series


    In 1981, Marvel changed the name of its 'X-Men' comic to 'The Uncanny X-Men". Then, 10 years later, it created this new 'X-Men series'. The hype for this new series was so great that issue #1 sold more than 8 million copies, making it the best selling comic book of all time.

    In hyping issue #1, Marvel hit upon a novel idea -- they printed issue #1 with five different covers. It was the same story, only the cover was different. One cover was the "deluxe cover", printed on heavy-duty paper. The other four 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 artist Jim Lee, two creative super-stars. 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 ran for 113 issues and was renamed New X-Men for issues #114 through #156. It reverted to its X-Men (2004 series) title for issues #156 to #207. Then, starting with issue #208 in 2008, it was renamed X-Men: Legacy (2008 series).

    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.


Star Wars comic books Star Wars
1977 series


    Lots of movies have been adapted to comic books, but it's only fitting that one of the greatest movie series of all times spawned one of the greatest comic book franchises of all times. The original Star Wars comic book series was issued in July of 1977 and ran for a decade, with 107 issues and three annuals. Return of the Jedi was printed in a separate mini-series.

    Issues #1-6 are an adaptation of the original movie (since renamed: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope), and Issues #39-#44 adapted the Empire Strikes Back. All the others are original stories starring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and other characters from the original 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 a video of 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.


Superboy
1949 series


    Believe it or not, back in the 1940's and 1950's, heroes were heroes and bad guys were bad guys. The heroes wore white hats and bad guys wore black hats. It wasn't until the 1960's that "gray hats" emerged -- a hero with faults or a bad guy with some good virtues.

    There is no better example of "good vs. evil" in superhero comics than this 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 it's 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 a farm today, back in the 1950s, 50% of all Americans lived on farms. That's incredible. And the stories 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 was at its zenith, this is the series to collect.

    The series is also notable because it was DC's only successful launch of a superhero series between WWII and 1956. By the 1960s, the simple good vs. evil self-contained stories had lost their appeal and the Legion of Super-Heroes was elevated to the lead story. Finally in issue #222, the titled 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 Superboy's existance 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.


Aquaman comic booksAquaman
1994 series


    This is my favorite Aquaman series. Peter David gave Aquaman an entirely new look in this series, forsaking his former clean-cut appearance. Following his discoveries reading the Atlantis Chronicles during the Time and Tide series, Aquaman withdraws from the world. Garth finds him weeks later, with his hair and beard grown long, brooding in his cave.

    In issue #2, Aquaman loses his left hand when the madman Charybdis steals Aquaman's ability to communicate with sea life and sticks Aquaman's hand into a piranha infested pool. Man, not even Spider-Man ever had it this bad.

    Delving deep into the hero's emotions, author David gives Aquaman prophetic dreams, and then, in need of a "symbol", attaches a harpoon spearhead to his left arm in place of his missing hand.

    But the dark and strange side of this new Aquaman doesn't end there. His classic orange shirt is shredded in a battle with Lobo in issue #4, and rather than going to "Superhero Uniforms Unlimited" for a replacement, he goes topless for a while before donning a gladiatorial manica. Oh, it gets much worse. His harpoon hand is destroyed...well, it's just not an easy time for Aquaman.

    And that's why I like this series. It's never very predictable. If ever DC wanted to shed its image from the 1960s as a predictable good-guy with no neuroses comic book company, this series certainly accomplished that.

    My only gripe (and it's tiny) 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.


Hawkman comic booksHawkman
1964 series


    After DC successfully reintroduced its Golden Age heroes, the Flash (in 1956) and Green Lantern (in 1960), DC revitalized Hawkman in 1964.

    Unlike the original Hawkman who was Carter Hall, an archaeologist and a reincarnated Egyptian prince, the new Silver Age Hawkman, Katar Hol, was an alien police officer from the planet Thanagar.

    First introduced in Brave and the Bold (1955 series) #34, Hawkman came to Earth to capture a criminal from his home world and stayed to get his master's degree in "Earth police methods". After appearing in six issues of Brave and the Bold, and four issues of Mystery in Space (1951 series), DC gave him this title.

    What made Hawkman unique among DC superheroes was that he was married. Shayera Thal aka Hawkgirl, had the same super-powers. The series also introduced magical spell-caster Zatanna to the DC universe.

    So for old fashioned action stories that provide great escapism, this series is worth trying. It's a great read for young readers since you don't have to worry about anything too unsettling. No blood and guts here.

    And finally, a nod to Hall of Famer Murphy Anderson's artwork. His Hawkman is stylistic and intense. You would think a man dressed in wings and a hawk mask would look corny, but Anderson made it work!


Batman Family
1975 series


    Batman Family focused on Batman's supporting cast -- Batgirl, Robin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Man-Bat and others. It introduced Joker's daughter (issue #6) and revived Batwoman (#10).

    With only 20 issues, it's easy to collect and is an essential part of any Bronze Age Batman collection. Every issue was giant-sized and the fill-in stories at the back included reprints of key stories from the Golden and Silver Age.



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.


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



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.


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, 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.


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