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Thanks, guys.

Any thoughts on Waid's tenure with the lighter tone, new setting, etc?

What about Soule?

Regardless, I'm starting with Bendis (thought about giving Guardian Devil a shot, although I'm not real big on Smith) just for the sake of reading almost all the modern stuff in one big binge. But I may try to devour the prime selections first, and then go back to fill in the gaps if I've still got an appetite for more DD.

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You should consider starting with Smith because that entire run builds off of the vents there. His run is only 6 issues and then you get David Mack's issues which are surprisingly decent.

Waid's run is a nice palette cleanser after some really dark times in the book. It's almost a relief in some ways to get a Matt that's sort of happy. It has some weak arcs in that initial run but it's a fun read. I haven't read Soule's stuff yet.

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Isn't there some stuff between Bendis' initial run and his longer, more "iconic" stuff that gets talked about?

I'm on board for starting way back with Smith and Guardian Devil. I just wasn't sure if there was a lengthy trench in between that and the quality Bendis stuff that gets so much hype.

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The Mack stuff is pretty solid. It's really a good series as each writer comes in and just keeps building on what the other did. I just read it a few years ago. I actually thought the Brubaker stuff was better than what Bendis did. 

It's also a nice bit of side flavor but the White Tiger is a good mini-series to toss in when you get to her showing up. Daredevil Yellow and Daredevil Ninja are also okay side series to read. 

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On 4/10/2021 at 6:47 PM, Ricky Jackson said:

What do folks think about Remender/JR Jr's 2012-13 10 issue Captain America "Dimension Z" story? I powered through it this morning and was pleasantly surprised actually. I've always been a JR Jr fan and he's in full on Kirby New Gods mode here, especially with the Big Barda-inspired Jet Black character. A science fiction/cosmic/fantasy take on Cap is definitely unique and the story is actually pretty cool, mixed with flashbacks to his youth in depression era New York, and the end leaves him a man out of time again with his life totally turned upside down. Not sure if I'll continue with it, as JR Jr is done after #10. Really good stuff. Next up on my 2012 Marvel trip is Fraction's Fantastic Four and FF

First half/book set up an intriguing setting and story, but the second part is the epitome of the modern decompression trend. Everything grinds to a halt, and literally 5 issues are all about Cap attacking Zola's base, with page after page of different variants of the same ideas spouted over and over. It's the type of story that could have been done in 2-3 issues years ago. JRJ's art is always worth looking at, but Remender's purple prose had me skimming large chunks by the time Cap and Jet Black went back and forth about guilt and being good for the fifth time.

The second half eschews the '30s flashbacks as well, which I think went a long way in masking the pacing issues in the first half.Without them it's a very basic and straightforward story which loses its momentum as it drags on and on.

Fantastic idea, mediocre execution in my opinion. Love that it was able to be made and released though. Give me an attempt at something unique rather than same old same old any time.

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Yeah, those are good points. Honestly, I skimmed a lot of the dialogue throughout. That's just how I read a lot of modern (for me, last 10-15 years) comics, and some of the old comics too. I'm a "let the art tell the story" guy at heart, especially with traditional superhero comics. And the point about decompression is absolutely correct. The last few issues were extremely drawn out, with Jet Black flip flopping back and forth. Definitely a story that could've been told in 5-6 issues instead of 10

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I finished James Robinson's Starman today. I started off unsure whether I liked the main character and Robinson's dialogue and wound up heavily invested in the relationships between Jack, his father and brother, and the rest of the supporting cast. It was definitely a comic book for folks who grew up reading comic books, but it had plenty of heart. I was really impressed by the overall structure of the series and how all of the pieces fit. Robinson wasn't the first British writer to take DC property and reinvent it, but the way he built a mythos behind Starman was impressive. I'd definitely rank the series alongside any other series of its ilk, and I'll probably check out the spinoff titles at some point, but for now, I want to reflect on the journey. Starman is one of those books where there's a lot of foreshadowing and it's clear that things have been carefully planned in advance, but it's the emotional core of the book that truly matters. I feel like that was something that grew as the series developed. It went from being a book about collectibles, pop culture references, and comic book history callbacks, to a series about friendship, and family, and relationships, and children, and the sacrifices that heroes and their loved ones make, and mortality and death, and legacies and memories, and so many grand concepts. It was a heck of a book and a testament to Robinson's imagination. 

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I've been debating tackling Starman for a while now. It seems like something I would like. I really enjoyed Robinson's Golden Age back in the day. Probably need to go through a few more series before I start hitting up some of the 80s and 90s stuff I missed

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22 hours ago, Ricky Jackson said:

I've been debating tackling Starman for a while now. It seems like something I would like. I really enjoyed Robinson's Golden Age back in the day. Probably need to go through a few more series before I start hitting up some of the 80s and 90s stuff I missed

When the time comes, I can make a list of the DC stuff you should check out from the late 80s to early 00s.

There are the ones you'd expect like Sandman Mystery Theater or Spectre or PAD's Supergirl, and then the sort of middle of the road long runs like Ostrander's Martian Manhunter or Ordway's Power of SHAZAM, but there's also all kinds of weird stuff out of DC like the Arcudi Doom Patrol or Vext or Major Bummer, or Chase, or Chronos, or the Peyer Hourman, or Aztek, etc.

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22 hours ago, Ricky Jackson said:

I've been debating tackling Starman for a while now. It seems like something I would like. I really enjoyed Robinson's Golden Age back in the day. Probably need to go through a few more series before I start hitting up some of the 80s and 90s stuff I missed

You should check it out. I would rank it alongside the best DC Stuff I've read: Moore's Swamp Thing, Morrison's Doom Patrol and Animal Man, Gaiman's Sandman, Elllis' Transmetropolitan, and Ennis' runs on Preacher and Hellblazer. 

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I've been slowly bookmarking different 90s books on Zip Comics I want to eventually tackle, like Ostrander's Spectre, JSA, Starman and a few other things. Recently grabbed the DC Alan Moore collection off Comixology to read some of his stories I missed. I was a huge Moore fan back in the 90s. Also read a fair amount of Morrison's Animal Man and Doom Patrol back then, plus Preacher. Loved the Power of Shazam graphic novel by Ordway. Read a few volumes of Sandman Mystery Theater about 15 years ago.

There is so much to read! Good thing I'm a semi retired country gentleman now. Still going through classic Marvel--Lee/Kirby Thor, Tomb, late 60s/early 70s Hulk (not good, but I needed to finally go through it because I loved it as a kid and never had all the issues at my disposal like I do now), eventually 70s FF and 60s DD (mostly just skimming through like I do with the Hulk), plus still Omega and Master of Kung Fu, and soon more 2012 Marvel...

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I too plan to go back to Starman, I did like it quite a bit and it deserves a re-read. I'm not sure where I would rank it. Back in the day I collected - and still have - a nearly complete run of all the DC Vertigo imprint titles for its first decade, along with 100 issues of Hellblazer that included all of Ennis' work obviously. It'll be interesting to see what I make of Starman now.

I'm still in classic Marvel mode, so it'll be a while.

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Thoughts on the Hulk, 1960s/70s...

Next to Spider Man, the Hulk was most responsible for me getting into comics as a kid. I'm not sure which exactly came first, my dad bringing home comics after work or me discovering superheroes through TV, but watching reruns of the 60s Spidey cartoon and new broadcasts of the late 70s/early 80s Hulk TV show definitely helped make me a huge fan of comics and those characters specifically. As a 3-4 year old I had t-shirts, pajamas, stuffed dolls, and action figures of both characters, in addition to the monthly comics. The classic "dumb" Hulk in tattered purple pants was very appealing to me as a child. As I got older I started to get into the history of the character, first through Marvel Saga (huge influence on my lifelong love of Silver Age Marvel) and then buying cheap reprints of the late 60s/early 70s Hulk ("Marvel Super Heroes"). I was into the Peter David version of the Hulk until the beginning of the Pantheon era and then I checked out, to only briefly dabble with the character since. (looking forward to eventually getting to Immortal Hulk!) Anyway, with MU I've recently gone back to the late 60s/early 70s era. Combined with reading the original stories years ago, here are some random thoughts on the early years of Hulk comics.

--Marvel Saga was my intro to the original 6 issue Lee-Kirby Hulk in the mid 80s. A few years later I got the first volume of the Hulk Marvel Masterworks as a gift, which reprinted the original 6 issues. Not much to say about these issues other than it's not surprising the book was axed after issue 6. The idea for the character is fascinating, but the execution was weak. Feels very much like the early Thor issues in Journey Into Mystery that were very uninspired. Kirby definitely wasn't super into the character like he was with others, which usually meant one was in for a dull read. The best issue of the bunch is actually the final one done by Ditko

--Despite the lackluster original run, the character proved popular with enough letterhacks to be revived as a guest star time and again. He was of course a founding member of the Avengers, which led eventually to a great two part story in FF (#s 25-26) which featured the first real Hulk vs Thing battle (brief confrontation in FF #12) and a team up with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers (with a freshly thawed Captain America) in a desperate attempt to contain the rampaging brute

--Eventually Ol' Greenskin joins Tales to Astonish, split at first with Giant Man, then Sub Mariner. The early issues are by Lee-Ditko and they are a ton of fun. Eventually Kirby comes back, but not for long, and things slowly become extremely formulaic after he leaves, despite good art from Bill Everett (although far from his best due to major issues with alcoholism) and Gil Kane. The great, and hugely underrated, Marie Severin takes over, but the stories are mostly one dimensional. Granted I've never read the entire Tales to Astonish run. I own the first Essential volume, which ends with #81. I've read a few random issues between 82-101, and it's a lot of Thunderbolt Ross' neverending obsession with the Hulk type stuff, which dominated the book for the worse for years. With issue 102 the book becomes the Incredible Hulk

--My current Hulk-read started with #102. The next 20 issues feature great art from Severin and Herb Trimpe (plus occasional inking from Marie's equally talented brother John) coupled with some of the most formulaic and uninspired writing Stan Lee ever affixed his name to. Gary Friedrich wrote the early stories, though, and they aren't bad. When Stan takes over, yikes. But the art is great

--Fortunately Roy Thomas takes over with #121 and, while not setting the world on fire, he turns the book around to the point where it becomes a very solid and fun superhero title. Trimpe really gets into a groove as one of the world's greatest Kirby imitators, the villains are a blast (including my fave, the Rhino), and with the introduction of young Jim Wilson, we are firmly into the 70s and the dawn of a new era for the character

This is where I am right now (#132) and I'm relived. With the Lee written issues I was beginning to think I should've left the childhood memories alone, but Thomas saved the book and now I'm actually looking forward to reading the issues instead of just skimming them. Long live Jade Jaws! 

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That first 6 issue run of Hulk really stood out to me when I read all of the 60s Marvel output. It was the one series that IMO completely fell on it's face and you could tell by issue 3 that they were just flailing around trying to find some setup for the character that worked. You wouldn't even know it's the same character when he shows up in the Avengers a year or so later.

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I'm reading Thor from the very beginning and it's been a slog even when Lee and Kirby take over. It should improve once Simonson takes over. 

From the get-go The Defenders is silly fun, though I may be biased because it features three of my all-time favourite Marvel characters in Namor, Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange.

I'm also going back to my introduction to comics as a child with Amazing Spider-Man - from the very beginning - and it's reminded me that it really is my all-time favourite comic series.

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Early Thor is a tough read. I think Spider-Man is far and away the best title of that early Marvel stuff. Iron Man and Doctor Strange are probably the next best stories. 

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I'm doing Lee-Kirby Thor as well and I'm mostly enjoying it. Yeah, the Jane Foster "romance" is the pits, but Thor kicking ass and all the Asgardian stuff is a blast. Loving the whole Black Galaxy storyline and the crazy Ego reveal. AFIK it only gets better, at least until Kirby decides to stop providing new characters and concepts. Not sure exactly when that happens, but maybe it's not as stark a drop off as his FF run 

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On 4/26/2021 at 9:19 PM, Mad Dog said:

That first 6 issue run of Hulk really stood out to me when I read all of the 60s Marvel output. It was the one series that IMO completely fell on it's face and you could tell by issue 3 that they were just flailing around trying to find some setup for the character that worked. You wouldn't even know it's the same character when he shows up in the Avengers a year or so later.

One of those early Hulks, Kirby clearly is drawing the Hulk as having the ability to fly, and Stan is just sort of ignoring it. It's really weird. 

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I thoroughly enjoyed Grant Morrison's New X-Men once I accepted it for what it was -- "new" X-Men. It's the most modern take on the X-Men that I've read, which is kind of amusing given it's twenty years old. I didn't mind the art. A lot of the art on writer driven Vertigo/DC stuff can be just as inconsistent. The covers bothered me more than the interiors. Are modern covers usually like that or was it particular to New X-Men? I wasn't thrilled with the final couple of arcs, especially the big reveal, but I was keen to read more right up until Morrison walked. I'd have to read a hell of a lot more modern comics to know where the run stands in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was a unique and enlightening experience even if it's not really a modern comic anymore.

I also finished Michael Golden's run on The 'Nam. Not bad. Is there a compelling reason why I should keep reading it now that Golden is gone?

JRJR's run on Punisher War Zone was fun. It was blatantly exploitative -- the Punisher was jacked, his guns were huge, and he had relations with women, but I liked Dixon's scripts. It was grim, but the mental anguish was kept to a minimum, the action was good, and it was a pretty good story arc considering it was the third bloody Punisher title on the market. Your mileage will vary, however. 

I was less keen on Weapon X. I know everyone was gaga for Wolverine's origin story back in the day, but it didn't do much for me as a read. I suppose the art was nice, but is it really what I want to see BWS pencil? I dunno. He seemed to borrow a lot of writing tics from Claremont as well, especially snippets of conversation that take place offscreen. 

Another title I read was Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee's Inhumans. I've been trying to find good Marvel comics from the 90s since it's such an unpopular era. I appreciate that they tried to do something with the Inhumans, but I have to question whether there was enough story to justify a 12 issue mini-series, and the entire thing felt too dark. Jae Lee does some beautiful looking close-ups, but his storytelling lacks fluidity. So often it looks like characters are standing around posing (usually grimly.) The series had its moments, but not a favorite. Lee drew a great Lockjaw, though.

Finally, after a long, hard slog, I finished Gerber's Man-Thing. Well, that's not entirely true, I still have some of the Giant Size issues to go, but it's a series I'm glad to have put behind me. I get why Gerber wrote the series the way he did because of the inherent limitations of the main character, and I can understand why people thought his take on the comics medium was revolutionary at the time. I guess having grown up in the era of independent comics and creator owed titles that it's not as special as it was in the 70s. Some of the satire feels dated, or should I say of its time, and I never quite got into the mesh of fantasy elements, social commentary, and deconstruction of the comics medium. I feel like a bit of a philistine, but you can't enjoy 'em all. 

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DC One Million is my favorite big event storyline, probably because I was eleven and at the peak of my interest in DC superheroes when it happened. With it being a major font of nostalgia for me I was surprised I didn't recall DC Two Thousand, a 2000 miniseries with Val Semeiks art, design that evokes DC One Million, written by Morrison's buddy Tom Peyer, and another time travel plot. It's a post-crisis JLA/JSA crossover with the modern League traveling back to 1941 to retrieve year 2000 tech planted in 1941 by T.O. Morrow. It's no big revelation but I was really amused at the way the story is mostly viewed from the perspective of the 1941 Justice Society and how they view the modern tech and their future visitors as alien and frightening. My favorite scene involves the Spectre convincing the other JSA heroes that they just use the futuristic tech to prevent the League's grim future where The New Deal programs have been repealed and people listen to a horrible musical style called heavy metal. Certainly a novel approach.

I've never done a deep dive on the Hulk but the best Hulk comics I've read were the Walt Simonson stories from the black and white magazines. Simonson with Alcala finishes is a nice combination. I haven't read them yet but I have a friend whose favorite Marvel comic is Hulk but Mantlo/Buscema/Talaoc.

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I feel bad that I wasnt reading comics that DC One Million happened. I loved those big crossovers as a kid. I supposed I could pick up the collected version but those are never the same. I remember reading the collected version of Crisis on Infinite Earths and feeling like I was missing out on all the crossover issues and "pink sky" stories that are only tangentially related to the main story. I just remember walking past the comic rack in the grocery store as a kid and seeing all tie in comics with the logo for that year's big crossover on them and how cool that always seemed. And then of course going to the magazine section in the bookstore in the mall and  browsing through all the wrestling magazines, looking for bloody pictures.

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Update: Hulk, 1970-71

Since my last post I've read/skimmed issues 132-147, basically the second half of Thomas' run. It was a mixed bag. The main negative is the repetitiveness of certain tropes and conventions continued from the Lee issues. Multiple alien/space stories. Multiple stories set in Europe. Multiple stories featuring the Leader. Multiple far out, hip references scattered throughout, with Marvel late-60s cool peaking with a story by Harlen Ellison (introducing the Hulk's doomed lover, Jarella in 140) and one inspired by Tom Wolfe (142). And of course, tons more Thunderbolt Ross + Major Talbot + Betty Ross cut and paste Hulk/Banner obsessed melodrama. Highlights include a cool story featuring Kang and the WW I character the Phantom Eagle (135), the Moby Dick inspired two-parter in 136-37, the introduction of Doc Samson in 141, and the Dr. Doom two-parter in 143-44. Thomas arguably saves his best for last with the touching "Heaven is a Very Small Place" back-up story in 147, giving the tortured Hulk one of his most emotionally impactful moments.

Like I wrote before, this is not all-time great stuff, but as always the art is strong (John Severin does a lot of the inking here, and that's very welcome since I'm a big fan of his work) and there is enough charm and fun characters/stories to make it an easy read. Archie Goodwin takes over as writer with 148 and then Englehart with 159, which is considered by some to be the start of the Hulk's 70s peak 

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On 4/26/2021 at 8:24 PM, Shrike02 said:

I'm also going back to my introduction to comics as a child with Amazing Spider-Man - from the very beginning - and it's reminded me that it really is my all-time favourite comic series.

Have you listened to the Screw It, Let's Just Talk About Comics (formerly actually titled Screw It, Let's Just Talk About Spider-Man) podcast? It's excellent, and the original premise was just two brothers covering the entire Stan & Ditko run. Tremendous stuff and just a fun listen in general.

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Spider-Man stands out even all these decades later. All of the books in that era have some degree of merit but it's obvious from the first page of Amazing Fantasy #15 that Ditko and Lee had something special on their hands. I like how fearless they were in changing the status quo early on too. It's funny people want to always take him back to high school and he graduated by about issue 24. Great cast of villains as well.

I have been reading a lot of the new Marvel Conan comics. Those have all been fairly fun most months.

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