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My Favorite Comic Books of All-Time
With the soon-to-be-released Adventures of Ryan complete collection coming, I thought I'd take a moment to let you in on my favorite comics. Growing up, I was always a fan of DC Comics, so you won't see much Marvel stuff in this list (except for a little Marvel imprint called "Star Comics"). As I got older, I became interested in self-published books, and they're more my flavor these days. So without further adieu, check 'em out! And make sure you check out those Adventures of Ryan samples too.
#11 - DC Comics Presents Annual #2 (1983)
Here we have one of those old-time comics that were shunned from about 1989 until 1999, when it wasn't cool to like retarded "what if..." style stories. This one takes place in the future, and is about a woman named Kristin Wells. She's a descendant of Jimmy Olsen and is studying a super-hero from the 20th century named Superwoman, who had a very brief stint as a costumed hero. So she travels back in time to where Superwoman makes her first appearance helping Superman stop some lame villain. Kristin realizes then and there that it's actually herself who becomes Superwoman and saves the day. Nice little story.
I'm a big fan of this book because I love redheads (they're awesome), and I really dig the characterization of Superwoman. I've always been a big Superman fan, but he gets a lot of flack for being lame. Yet, if you put any woman in a variation of his costume, and she's fucking awesome to everyone. Go figure.
#10 - Green Lantern #25 (1992)
It's the battle of the century! Well, pretty close to it anyway. So there's this group of emerald warriors known as the Green Lantern Corps. They're the guardians of the galaxy. And each area of the galaxy is assigned a specific Green Lantern. Well, Earth was given this douche-bag named Guy Gardner (one of the all-time greatest written characters in comics) and everyone hated him. So a GL named Hal Jordan, who used to be the protector of Earth, comes back to claim his territory after being a whining bitch for a few years. So basically it's two heroes duking it out for an entire book. Hal Jordan wins, but not through sheer strength and force. He actually takes a pathetic beating for most of the book, and we the reader realize that he's just letting Gardner beat on him to wear himself out. When Gardner is totally burned out, Jordan kicks some ass. As much as I like Gardner, it was nice to see his ass handed to him by another Lantern. I love this book purely for the smart fight and the climax.
#9 - Superman #84 (1993)
Long-haired Superman is sent into space to do some cosmic debris clean-up, or something boring, so he's barely actually in this book! No, this story centers around Adam Grant, son of television star Cat Grant. He's at a children's party and his bad attitude gets him into trouble when The Toyman sneaks in and kidnaps all the children. The Toyman used to always be this cooky dude who used toys to attack Superman, and he was pretty stupid for the most part. But this issue took the weirdo into a deeper psychosis of crime. All of the kids manage to escape thanks to the help of Adam Grant (dressed as Superboy). Unfortunately, Adam's fate isn't so secure as The Toyman manages to get to him at the last second. This was all back when death in comics was still pretty rare, and especially the death of a child. Adam Grant bites the dust, and Superman shows up at the end of the book to hear the bad news. All those things he can do... all those powers... and he couldn't even save him.
#8 - The Black Bastard
Here's one of those independant books that I absolutely loved. I stumbled across The Black Bastard in the summer of 2004 when I was in Toronto at the Fan Expo. And there was a pimp selling comics. I kid you not, the guy who created The Black Bastard IS The Black Bastard. Sorta reminds me of my own Adventures of Ryan. The Bastard's comic is really a satire on racism, and the book is full of all those jokes you're afraid to say but laugh at anyway. I love this series of books simply because of it's absurdity. And because I bought them from a pimp. If you can find these anywhere, check them out.
#7 - Shadowman #19 (1993)
Okay, Valiant comics (the publisher) were total shit. They didn't have anything worth checking out until 1993 when Aerosmith guest-starred in this issue of Shadowman. And really, the only reason I ever even opened the book up for a look was because Aerosmith is in it. This was the year Aerosmith released their "Get A Grip" record and the band was everywhere, so why not comic books too? So the villain of the story wants to become Steven Tyler so bad that he goes crazy... or something. The story involves Steven Tyler chasing down the villain and punching him out, so that's cool. Could you imagine if Tyler were a super-hero? He'd be called Leopard Pants Man. You probably should never read this book, but I'll be holding on to it forever.
#6 - Masters of the Universe #12-13 (1988)
Towards the end of He-Man's supreme control over kids' lives, there was this short-lived comic. It was a damn good series. Possibly the best thing Star Comics ever published. This two-part story was loosely based on the He-Man movie and featured some of the bad guys that were only ever in the flick. In the future, He-Man is dead and Skeletor rules with an iron fist. It's up to the good-guys of Eternia to do something about it.
I don't really remember the story so much. I haven't read it since I was a kid. I was eight when this book came out. I'd like to get my hands on it now and read it again, because my memory of the story is so fond. I enjoyed this book the most out of the three I picked up that day at Mac's Milk. I also bought an Archie book and a Heathcliff book. You know, the funny cat that wasn't Garfield. Maybe I'll ask about this He-Man story next time I'm in the comic book store.
#5 - Reign of the Supermen (1993)
After Superman was killed by Doomsday the world needed a hero. They needed a Superman. Well, we got four of them. Each one with different personalities, and slight similarities to the Man of Steel, but none of which were really him. There was a Cyborg, a Superboy, a cold-blooded Kryptonian, and a black dude in a big steel suit. Well, it turned out none of them were the real boy scout and he actually rose from the dead to save the day. The Cyborg turned out to be a former villain of Supes' and went crazy, destroying an entire city and trying to kill the other Supermen. When the real Superman returned he was weakened and had to take on the Cyborg with no powers, showing us why he was really Superman and the others were just a bunch of phoney-baloney pretenders to the throne.
In the Spring/Summer of '93 everybody was reading this story. Non-comics fans got turned on by the Death of Superman, and the whole thing was a big event. The whole "Reign" story still holds up today as a great read, and back then it was fun to have conversations with others about who we all thought was the real Superman. Good times indeed.
#4 - Ambush Bug (mini-series)
Comics should have a sense of humor. And nothing is funnier (and more bizarre) than Ambush Bug. Sometimes it's hard to tell if Ambush Bug really exists in those DC Comics, or if he's an onlooker to them. Whoa... that's deep. Anyway, the whole Ambush Bug mini-series of the 80's was great for those of us with really bad A.D.D. You never knew what was coming from page to page. Sometimes you'd get straight forward strips, then out of nowhere would be fake advertisements for other DC Comics. Issue #3 is a big mess of fun, featuring Ambush Bug's guide to collecting comics, and profiles on other lesser-known DC characters. One issue even feautred a page by the artists' son (done in crayon) because he wasn't feeling well. Yeah, that's where my Adventures of Ryan In Kindergarten inspiration came from. Ambush Bug can be a downright asshole at times, and that makes him fun to read.
#3 - A Death In The Family (1989)
Imagine it's 1989 and the Batman movie is coming out. Everyone is going Bat-crazy. Then you hear that DC Comics might kill Robin. What??? You can't kill Robin! You think to yourself this is a travesty. Then you do some digging and find out that it's not the original Robin. It's some kid replacement. And nobody likes him (except for Batman). This became such a big deal that DC Comics let the readers decide. For one weekend you could call two different 900-numbers. One would vote "live". The other would vote "die". The Bat-Fans spoke and Robin bit the bullet. Not literally though. Robin (Jason Todd) was murdered by the Joker, who didn't use a gun. He beat the snot out of the kid with a crowbar then blew up the building he was in. Again, this was a time when a death in comics meant something. We never thought Robin would be back. But Batman got himself a new Robin named Tim Drake about a year later. Batman just likes having little boys around. At least Tim Drake covered his legs with full pants.
I wanted to vote but my mother wouldn't let me. She didn't want me calling any 900-numbers at such a young age just in case I'd accidently hit a wrong button and end up on a sex chat line. For nearly twenty years I've felt partially responsible for the death of Robin. Sorry.
#2 - The Supergirl Saga (1988)
John Byrne re-visioned Superman in 1986 for a whole new generation. He got rid of stuff like Superboy and any other Kryptonians and made the character a lot more interesting and readable. But he ended his contract with a bang. Supergirl. Everyone loves Supergirl. I mentioned before about that costume on a woman. You know you love it. But this was no girl from Krypton. This Supergirl was a piece of proto-matter from a parallel dimension. She was created by a good Lex Luthor to save their world from General Zod and his flunkies. So Supergirl comes to "our" dimension to get Superman, because in her dimension he was killed as Superboy. Confused yet? Doesn't matter. Superman returns with her to fight Zod and save the day. Zod has already destroyed most of Earth, leaving Superman and company as the last remnants of a dead planet. The battle ensues. Luthor dies. Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen die too. Supergirl is burned to a crisp by Zod's heat vision. When Zod threatens to find Superman's parallel universe and destroy it too, Superman is left with no choice but to unleash some green Kryptonite on Zod and his goons, killing them to death. Uh... wait. Superman doesn't kill, does he? Well, I guess there really is an exception to every rule, and this decision left The Man of Steel scarred for life. He even went crazy for a while because of it.
I can read this one over and over because it reminds me so much of Superman II. Any time Zod is mentioned, I'll be there.
#1 - Bone
Without a doubt, Bone is the single greatest comic series ever written. I'm not even going to tell you the story because I want you to appreciate it yourself. I stumbled across a couple issues at a flea market once and thought I'd give it a try. I was hooked by the end of issue #1. Trust me, the snowfall sequence will have you hooked too. Bone is full of charm. And charm is really hard to come by these days. It's great for kids (which is evident by the fact that Scholastic books is now reprinting them in full color) and it's great for adults too. The art is reminiscent of classic Disney-style characters, but the story material draws from fantasy and history. There's swords, secret cults, cow racing, black magic, secret crushes, and a giant inflatable Phoney Bone. Just read it.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this look into my favorite comic books.
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