My friend Lance Weller listed his seven favorite single issue comics and a favorite piece of art and challenged others to do the same. Like Lance, I’m a Marvel guy. So most of my picks are Marvel.
1) GI Joe #21. I started collecting comics when I was twelve and ran out of ideas for my GI Joe action figures. It was fun but it wasn’t until I got this classic back issue that I realized how cool comics could be. This is arguably the most famous issue of GI Joe. Larry Hama’s entire script is silent. Great ninja stuff.
2) Uncanny X-Men #225. My first superhero comic book. My friend, Ted had borrowed some of my GI Joe comics and lost them. As an apology he gave me some X-Men comics. Little did I know that this was like someone losing your pot and giving you crack. I would be collecting X-Men and Marvel comics for the next 25 years. This issue was the beginning of a strange crossover called Fall of the Mutants where no titles actually crossed over. They just had three really bad things happen at the same time in three different comics. Over in X-Factor, Angel came back as Archangel. In New Mutants Doug Ramsey got killed, but in Uncanny X-Men, Colossus came back to the X-Men team just in time to face Freedom Force and what looked to be the end of the world. This is the issue that started that.
3) Uncanny X-Men #251. I could easily list my seven favorite issues of X-Men but I’ll try not to do that. This issue was shocking. Wolverine was literally crucified on a big X. The remains of his team had disappeared seemingly never to return. And the cyborg Reavers had taken over the abandoned Australian town that the X-Men called home. While crucified on the X, Wolverine has hallucinations of his past teammates and past loves.
4) Astro City #1/2. Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is a stunning achievement but my favorite bit of it is just an eight page story. It’s the story I show anyone who just thinks comics are for kids. Every night this man dreams of the same woman and he can’t get her out of his mind yet he knows she doesn’t exist. Eventually he finds out that some super-villain screwed with the timeline and when the heroes put it right, certain things were accidentally erased, such as this guy’s wife. She now never exists and was never meant to exist. One of the heroes arrives to help him but not in the way he wants. Great stuff.
5) Marvels #1. Before Kurt Busiek did Astro City, he and Alex Ross did Marvels. We didn’t always have great Marvel movies, but Alex Ross’ art was the next best thing. It felt real. Also, it was the first painted comic I ever bought.
6) Sleeper #1. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have been making crime comics for over a decade, but it all started with Sleeper. I’m a big fan of stories where the hero is screwed over and there have been fewer more screwed over characters than Holden. Holden is an undercover agent in a criminal organization. Only one guy on the good guy’s side knows he’s undercover and not a traitor…and that guy was just shot and is in a coma. So all of his enemies think he’s their friend and all of his friends think he’s an enemy. Great stuff.
7) Thanos Quest #1 & #2. Okay, I know it’s not a single issue but it might as well be. When I bought Thanos Quest I had no idea who the character was. Basically he’s a guy actually in love with the entity of Death. This is a story of how he literally outfights or outwits the Elders of the Universe to gain God-like power in an attempt to impress Death. With fantastic art by Ron Lim and some truly cosmic battles, this is one of my favorite stories ever.
8) Brent Anderson in God Loves, Man Kills. As for art this piece comes from the X-Men graphic novel, God Loves, Man Kills. This was a powerful epic and the first one where Magneto both seemed incredibly powerful and incredibly sympathetic. Brent Anderson’s image has long been my favorite image of Magneto. He’s entirely righteous in what he’s doing and at the same time obviously terrifying.