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Comic books and Manga Thread

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20 hours ago, Ricky Jackson said:

Ok, I'm officially back as a mega comic book fan after basically taking the previous decade off. The final nudge was signing up for Marvel Unlimited a few weeks ago. Holy fuck, what a service! I started by diving into the 70s, something I've thought about doing for years. I grew up in the 80s, and eventually read a ton of 60s Marvel, but the 70s was mostly a blind spot. Starting with Tomb of Dracula, Englehart's Captain America, Man-Thing, and Starlin's Captain Marvel (also reading scans of Kirby's The Demon). Having a blast!

Also dipping my toes into some new stuff, although just the retro type books that have come out in the last year or so, like Fantastic Four: Grand Design (telling the FF story from the beginning as if everything had been planned out from start to finish from day one, with cool Kirby-style indie art by Tom Scioli) and Spider Man: Life Story (telling the story from 1962 forward with the characters aging in real time, so Spidey is in his 70s by the end). Anyone else reading these? I plan on trying out some of the series @SomethingSavage recommended, specifically ones featuring old faves like Thor, FF, Captain America, etc. Also listening to a ton of comic book history pods lately.

Who needs wrestling? 

I've just started following My Marvelous Year from the beginning on Spotify. What other pods are out there, man? I'd absolutely be into giving some more a try.

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Yeah, My Marvelous Year is one. Others I've been listening to...

The Epic Marvel Podcast: been listening to this one since the start. Each episode looks at a different Marvel Epic collection, which generally reprint runs that haven't been reprinted a ton (or at all) over the years, such as Englehart and Brunner's Dr. Strange, the "drunk Tony Stark" Iron Man, late-60s/early 70s Hulk, Master of Kung Fu, etc. Tons of episodes 

The Comics Canon: good show that looks at a different classic comic book each ep, ranging from Marvel and DC superheroes to indie titles and everything in between

Into the Weird: just started this one a few weeks ago. Alternates between looking at 70s Dr Strange and other " weird" 70s Marvel characters, like Ghost Rider, Morbius, Man Thing, etc 

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Appreciate the recommendations, brutha. I jumped right into The Comics Canon today. The sheer variety in topics, time periods, and story arcs covered in their lineup looked refreshing to the year-by-year analysis I'm getting from My Marvelous Year.

I know you're a fan of the classic stuff. But if you ever get around to reading some of Hickman's Fantastic Four, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

 

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49 minutes ago, Ricky Jackson said:

Plan on starting Hickman's Fantastic Four run soon. It's going to be my starting point for exploring the 2010s

It’s a great run. Much easier to devour than his Avengers run. Do Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery after that.

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I think my favorite Hickman work has been East of West. 

Also, on the manga front, you can subscribe to Shonen Jump for $1.99 a month and get access to some extensive archives. The entire Dragon Ball series is on there and I think all of One Piece is. 

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Is that the stuff he wrote as a kid with the Curt Swan pencils? That stuff is good. 

My daughter is super into Kimetsu no Yaiba at the moment like most Japanese kids. We have been watching the anime together on Netflix. Today I bought her the first volume of the manga. It's the first time she's really been into a manga or anime of any sort. I remember I was the same age when my father bought me my first proper comics. It was at the airport and I got a copy of Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man. Needless to say, I was glad to follow in my father's footsteps. 

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Yeah. I think Shooter was like 16-18 years old when he was doing a lot of these. I think a lot of those Shooter era Legion comics hold up really well. 

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I couldn't remember exactly because I think he wad contributing ideas before he was writing ot full time. I know he came up with Karate Kid when he was 14. 

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Hellblazer is great, but I thought it went downhill after Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis.  I thought the Delano arc was the best, with a lot more "see how cool Constantine is" stuff thrown in by later authors.  Admittedly over some great story arcs, but the first run was the most consistent.

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Bringing him into the mainstream DCU is one of the worst things they ever did. I fucking hate the sanitized John we get now. 

I think Milligan's run is pretty good too. 

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I dove into Marvel Unlimited in the last month and have been reading Doctor Strange, and have had loads of fun with the various runs (I collected Sorcerer Supreme back in the day).

Diving into John Byrne's FF run now and will be exploring later iterations of FF soon.

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You know what, now that I go back over some of it the Andy Diggle run ended really well on Hellblazer.  That seemed like it should have been the ending for the character as  a whole to me, as much as I love Constantine.

The Books of Magic and Trenchcoat Brigade are must-reads if you like Constantine.

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Ok, since i brought up my rejuvenated comics fandom in the Conrad thread i thought I'd update what I've been reading the last five months or so.

-70s Marvel, and some DC, has been my main focus:

Really loved Starlin's Captain Marvel and Warlock. Starlin was definitely one of the best Marvel artists of the 70s. It helped that he worked on low selling, bimonthly books where he could take his time and do whatever he wanted with characters that were low priority 

I've always been a huge Kirby fan, so his 70s work has been another focus. Jimmy Olsen was fun and full of energy and craziness. I think I preferred the Demon though. I just really dig the character. I've been holding off on Kamandi and his return to Marvel stuff, waiting for the right mood to strike. Read the illustrated bio by Tom Scioli that came out a few months back. Really great and highly recommended.

-Speaking of Scioli, his Fantastic Four: Grand Design is really awesome. X Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor is also good. A hardcore X Men fan, which I've never been, would probably hold it in higher regard.

Been on a bit of a FF kick in general. Also read World's Greatest Comic Magazine from 2001 (12 issue series that coincided with the 40th anniversary of FF #1, meant to be the wrap up of the Lee-Kirby run if the two had planned on a finale, instead of Kirby leaving for DC in the middle of a storyline) and Unstable Molecules from 2003, done in an indie style and actually really good. I'm also about 2 years into Hickman's run and also really enjoying it. Johnny's "death" was handled really well and I love how they used that storyline as a way to kickstart a new chapter in the history of the team, as they go beyond being the Fantastic Four and become something bigger. Hickman's FF is my jumping on point for trying to get into "modern" (10 + years old) Marvel. Just started Journey Into Mystery based on the recommendation of @Matt D Also trying out Mark Waid's Daredevil. As for "modern" DC, I gave the first volume of Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing from 2011 a whirl and it's pretty good. 70s and 80s Swampy is one of my all-time faves but this is first I've read of the character outside of that time frame.

Also read vol 12 of Astro City (another all-time fave) and plan on finishing up the series when the titles become available digitally again. They were on Comixology and Kindle until a few months ago but have been removed. Rumours that Marvel may snag the rights. Also, going back to Scioli, tried out Godland from 2005 and it's pretty cool. It's done totally in the style of late-70s Kirby.

-Back to 70s Marvel, I've read...

Panther's Rage: Great art throughout, but McGregor's prose became so florid that I had to drop reading the text for the last few issues and just read the art. Still, a good story and much more ambitious than almost everything else coming out of Marvel at the time (Jungle Action 6-18)

Englehart's Captain America (#s 153-186): In the end, I enjoyed the first arc about the return of the 50s Cap and Bucky more than the later, and far lengthier, Secret Empire arc. I've enjoyed Englehart's runs on Dr. Strange and Avengers (both not finished yet) more tbh

Defenders has been a total blast. Just about to start Gerber's seminal run with #20. Speaking of Gerber, I've read about 75% of his Man-Thing and it's good, especially with Mike Ploog on art. 

I've also dipped my toes into Tomb of Dracula (#1-9) but haven't fully committed yet. Soon

-Currently reading Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier from 2004 on Comixology and am loving it. So great. Love Silver Age DC

Have a bunch of things planned for the future as far as reading goes. This is going to keep me busy for years. I love it.

And yes, also listening to a shit ton of comics pods. I'll maybe post about those later

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Did you already read the issues of Tomb with Blade in them? Or do you not like Blade? 1970s Marvel is great. I need to read more 1970s DC. It was those giant black and white Essentials books that got me interested in 70s Marvel. 

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I'd like to engage with you guys on this a bit more because I love the community in general. One thing I'd say and one thing that kept me from burnout over the years is that I've always had a lot of hobbies. Wrestling was just one of them. I don't know if it's the ADHD brain or what, but I need a lot of stuff on my plate. Work's a big part of that but I'd say I have 4-5 hobbies at any one time with various levels of engagement. I probably was most engaged with comics In 2004-8 or so, in as I was posting on comicbloc and very into what DC was doing in and around Infinite Crisis. It was surprising to me not that long ago in seeing my own profile from the wayback machine for DVDVR that in that era, I was most active on that board in the comics/books section by a big degree. I've read 2/3rds of the Marvel line (if not more) since the mid-90s pretty steadily and maybe 1/3 (if not more) of DC since a few years later, except for during the new 52-rebirth period where they pushed me away between gutting the continuity and so many artist-driven titles.I read my share of indy comics now and again too but the appeal at this stage of the game is the shared universe and the 50 years of ongoing stories driving things forward as much as anything else. Likewise the superhero genre. I'm not super visually minded, so I'm much more inclined to follow writers than artists.

Let me hit on a few things.

Re: Starlin's Captain Marvel. As a kid, I really liked Quasar because I could relate to him, the whole notion of being able to wield the quantum bands specifically because he didn't have killer instinct (I wouldn't realize until years later that it was Gruenwald doing a thought experiment of writing a Green Lantern who had fear). And I really liked and identified with the Genis-vell character, especially as Legacy. That appealed when I was 15 or whatever. I think a lot of that stemmed from the collections Marvel would put out occasionally of the Starlin Captain Marvel ("Life of Captain Marvel" were these two double issue prestige format comics). The color scheme, the whole cosmic awareness/protector of the universe thing, how it was surreal but still sort of grounded in his nobility. All of that appealed. I didn't realize (again) that they just put those out to keep DC from getting the trademark for the big red cheese. I don't think I had quite the same connection to Warlock, who was supposed to be more unknowable and alien. Mar-Vell bridged that gap better. Oh, yeah, also, one of my first ever comics was What If Captain Marvel had Lived, which like almost every What If? is horrifically tragic. I swear those comics were set up to help justify all the creative decisions they did by presenting much more tragic scenarios to the fans. Anyway, big connection to every aspect of the Mar-Vell character/legacy, whether it's Photon, Phylla, Quasar, etc. The PAD comic was a big favorite during those gloom and doom ground-level, decompressed days of the early 00s.

Re: Hickman. The current X-Books are bonkers. It's an amazing high concept but it's also so impenetrable to a normal audience. The way I'd explain it that we'd understand is that it's sort of having Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak main event Wrestlemania. The current crossover is something I hardly believe ever got greenlit. So much of it is based on Otherworld and Roma and all of this crazy Apocalypse mythos that has only been developed recently. On the other hand, the elevator pitch is basically "The X-Men have to gather powerful swords to fight a tournament against the ancient, original horsemen of Apocalypse" which really doesn't do it justice but there you go

More over the summer than now, I've been getting my 8 year old into somethings. She was sent, by an old friend of mine, about 10 of the Spider-Girl digests (the DeFalco MC2 ones).  Which are good but don't give you a great sense of the MU at all. She's struggled with reading older comics from the 80s because of how dense they are. They just don't hold her attention. I tried getting her to read the Simonson Power Packs because she likes the 00s digest Power Packs that my older kid enjoyed when he was that age. The difference this time around is that I then had her read a bunch of stuff online. The first series or two of Kamala Ms. Marvel. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. The first run of the Sam Nova series. A big chunk of the first Miles Morales in the MU proper stuff (and Bendis is hard for a kid so that was a mistake but she made it through). She's on Spider-Gwen now, but there's a lot less time for it since school is back on. She also reads a ton of prose and has made it to Phase III of the Marvel Movies and through Clone Wars and Revels for Star Wars but that's all beside the point. The plan is to get through Spider-Gwen and then finish up some of the other Champions books (the young Cyclops short series by Rucka, Ironheart, the new Wasp book, Maaaaaybe Squirrel Girl which I'm not a fan of but she might be). And then go on to Champions. We'll see. There are a lot of Marvel books from the last ten years that are great for a girl that age or a little older.

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9 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

What about Master of Kung Fu?

It's been on my read next pile since I bought the first Epic Collection at the beginning of the year but I've been totally sidetracked by reading digitally for months. I need to balance between digital and print because I have a bunch of unread trades full of great stuff sitting collecting dust

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2 hours ago, TheDuke said:

Did you already read the issues of Tomb with Blade in them? Or do you not like Blade? 1970s Marvel is great. I need to read more 1970s DC. It was those giant black and white Essentials books that got me interested in 70s Marvel. 

The next issue to read is #10 and Blade's first appearance. I thought that was a good time to pause, right before the title really got cooking. I've found myself more drawn to Englehart, Starlin and Gerber right out of the gate but will definitely resume Tomb soonish

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Oh, one more thing to add for now. I am not a big podcast guy and past MAYBE an interview with a creator, I've never listened to a comics podcast. The chemistry, to me, feels all off. With wrestling, you can listen to the backstage stuff in a BTS type podcast but I can't imagine there's a comics podcast that talks about how the editors and writers and artists all felt about each other and how a writer might have jumped exclusive from one company to another in June 1996 or whatever. Likewise, you don't get too many wresting podcasts that really go in depth on the storylines. Maybe you'll get one that really focuses on one angle or another, but a lot of that is focused on the performance. Do you get comics podcasts that talk about how an inker inked or a the trends of a writer in his work over time? I can barely even wrap my head around what a good comics podcast would look like, except for maybe to highlight certain runs people don't know about or maybe trying to make lists, but even then,  I can't imagine people are breaking down writers/artists/runs on a critical level using any sort of literary theory or anything else to the level that we do here on the match discussion forum. At best I imagine its a lot of "this had some clever use of continuity" or "this writer really didn't write character x consistent to his previous appearances." I don't know.

One thing I HAVE been reading and enjoying is Tom Brevoort's site: https://tombrevoort.com

He's probably my favorite editor of all time, someone who I've had a decent amount of small personal interaction with over the years (he gave me my no-prize for instance) and if you go back to the start, it reprints an earlier blog about what comics he read as a kid and a lot of his early work at Marvel. That's kind of where i am now.

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It's interesting how the two fandoms share many similarities and crossover but are also very different in the areas the hardest of the hardcores focus on. Like you pointed out Matt, hardcore wrestling fandom is very obsessed with behind the scenes details and the story of the "real" person beneath the character (to a degree that I believe has been totally overemphasized in importance and interest over the years, but that's neither here nor there) and, yes, that is often the driving force behind at least the most well known podcasts. I've been going increasingly deeper into comics fandom lately and becoming more in touch with the overall community interests of the history minded hardcores than I ever was when I was younger (I wasn't part of any online comics communities back then). There definitely isnt an obsession with the behind the scenes details of the lives of creators, although some folks are into that stuff. Wrestling has biographies/autobiographies, shoot interviews, etc, on a much larger scale than those devoted to comics creators. This speaks to the difference in mediums. There just isnt much money to be made from comic creator bios/interviews because only a niche within a niche group is interested in such knowledge, while many hardcore wrestling fans become transfixed, and often have their fandom rejuvenated or extended by the relentless quest to know the real people and the real stories behind the larger than life characters that drew them in to this amazing world in the first place. Even today, after Kayfabe dying years ago, there is a feeling of discovering forbidden knowledge, of finding out secrets you can never know just by watching the shows, that drives many fans to spend ridiculous amounts of time and money to become closer and closer to the "truth". It's both fascinating and disturbing, really.

Anyway, because comics fandom doesn't have this side, the podcasts related to the medium definitely have a different focus, but are just as enjoyable imo. As stated, I've only really been diving deep into the community of comics fandom for a few months now. I've been listening to a crazy amount of podcasts since early March (I dont think I've brought this up on here before, but I've had a ridiculous amount of free time since 2020 started. My wife and I sold our condo in the city and relocated to her family farm, both now unemployed and living off the money we made in the sale, with the luxury of not having to worry much about income at the moment) and there is a wealth of interesting shows focused on reviewing classic comic books. The Epic Marvel Podcast and the Comics Canon are my faves, along with the absolutely delightful Checkered Past, which ambitiously intends to review every single DC comic from 1966-67 that featured the infamous "go go checks" along the top. It's freaking great, as they cover everything from superheroes, to war, to romance, to Bob Hope comics. Anyway, these review shows either play it pretty straight, like Epic Marvel and the Comics Canon, or, like Checkered Past, go for the post modern, "this doesnt make logical sense", ironic approach to reviewing old school comics. One pod I've discovered that is more like a wrestling style look at the people behind the curtain is the Classic Comics Cavalcade. This show is far from perfect when it comes to production values (and often guest audio quality and chemistry), but the host, Jason Sacks, is a great historian and really knows his stuff when it comes to discussing the career of a certain creator. 

I'm still searching for better and more interesting comics pods. There is of course a shit ton of Marvel-related pods to wade through, just like there are a shit ton of WWE pods. @Matt D I would suggest giving one of those I mentioned a whirl

Ok, I've rambled on enough lol 

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All of that is very interesting, and the crossover between the fandoms and the very different focuses are as well. Thanks for the suggestions. There are definitely some interesting histories (I can't, in good faith, recommend Gerard Jones' book, but i will at least mention it). Thinking more upon it, I always deeply enjoy Brian Cronin's "Comics Should Be Good" work on cbr, especially the urban legends revealed, but not just. I've been reading his stuff since my days on Prodigy in the 90s.

https://www.cbr.com/author/brian_cronin/

I'm also not going to try to keep up with you because you definitely have some free time I don't! It's a trick to fit everything I follow into my week and the comics sometimes fall to the wayside for a few extra days, especially now that I don't have a commute.

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Jones and Jacobs' The Comic Book Heroes was my bible 20 years ago. I suppose it hasn't aged well in certain ways

Urban legends is fun for sure. One pod I forgot to mention that goes pretty deep into creator discussion, with tons of interviews, is the Comic Book Historians Podcast. Really interesting stuff usually focusing on more lesser-known/discussed works and creators 

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