31 Days of Comics Challenge Day 14: Comic You Love That You’ll Never Read Again

Untold_Tales_of_Spider-Man_18This one was a genuine challenge because one of my favorite things to do is reread comic book stories I’ve read many times before. This is because I’m a big fan of long form storytelling and interesting continuity. So today’s comic is the Untold Tales of Spider-Man. Untold Tales takes place during the early days of Amazing Spider-Man despite coming out in the late 1990s. This is something that happens on a fairly regular basis in comics. (Just today it was announced that there’s going to be a new mini-series that takes place between Amazing Spider-Man #1 & #2.) These pieces of retroactive continuity or ‘retcons’ are commonplace.

What set Untold Tales of Spider-Man apart was writer Kurt Busiek’s flawless plotting. Untold Tales takes place between early issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Reading them together they flow easily despite the fact that they were written 30 years apart. It’s an attention to detail rarely implemented in retcons.

As for why I’ll never read it again, it’s simply a matter of me having way too many other things to read. While I really enjoyed the weaving of modern stories with classic stories, I don’t have any real reason to reread them, but I did thoroughly enjoy them when I did.

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Tomorrow: A Comic That Makes You Smile

– Jack Cameron

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31 Days of Comics Challenge Day 2: A Comic You Recommend to Everyone No Matter What

astro cityAstro City #1/2. I’m a big fan of long-form storytelling but sometimes a great story only need eight pages. For almost 20 years Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have been publishing Astro City and there hasn’t been a bad issue in the bunch, but their promotional issue, Astro City #1/2 is an eight page masterpiece.

The story is about an average guy who dreams of the same girl every night. He seems to know everything about her and yet in his waking world, she doesn’t seem to exist. He asks around to see if maybe he somehow forgot an old girlfriend or something but no one knows what he’s talking about until one night a spooky supernatural hero known as The Hanged Man shows up and tells him about a group of heroes who fought a time-traveling villain. And then he finds out who the woman in his dreams was. (You can read the answer in the image if you like.) The answer is heartbreaking and powerful and everything that makes comics great. I recommend this issue in particular and the series in general to anyone interested in comics both because of its quality and because you don’t need to know any back story to pick up an issue of Astro City and enjoy it.

Click here to download a Kindle Edition of Astro City 1/2 for Free.

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– Jack Cameron

Why Comics Indeed

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.