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Comic books and Manga Thread

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I tried a more recent trade of Spawn because the 300th issue came out somewhat recently. It was nostalgic and fun but I had zero desire to keep going with it. There's just something so empty about Spawn. Of those super early Image titles, Savage Dragon is just a better read on a monthly basis. 

I am about 5 issues into The Sandman. It's been a long time since I have read it but it holds up and is still a great series. 

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Sandman is my all-time favourite series; Astro City would be a close second.

I've been reading tons of classic Marvel titles because of the pandemic and by far the most consistently good title for an extended period on re-reading now is Claremont's Uncanny X-Men.

Since I drifted away from comics around the turn of the millennium, I'm diving into the Ultimates Marvel era; I've been liking it so far.

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Sandman is up there for me. I think nothing will ever touch about the first 150 issues of Cerebus for me though. That book is just on a different level from anything else I have ever read.

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Cerebus is definitely a lost classic and a very good friend of mine who ran a comic shop for close to twenty years is a big fan of it as well. I need to go back to it, I never collected the series and only read a few issues here and there.

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Jaka's Story is one of the all-time great graphic novels. It's been a while since I re-read Sandman, but from memory, Brief Lives is my favorite arc.

You can find the behind-the-scenes info if you look for it. One of the first things I did when I got the internet was try to find out why Chris Claremont left the X-Men, which was a huge deal for me as a kid. I remember reading this interview where he outlined his plots for the next couple of years on the X-Men titles. I stopped reading comics for a long time and never got heavily involved into it online, but I did go down a couple of foxholes about Lee vs. Kirby or the Jim Shooter era at Marvel. The info is there if you're interested in that sort of thing. 

I am currently catching up on all the Stray Bullets I missed. I've almost finished Transmetropolitan and 100 Bullets. I'm slowly getting to the end of the Delano run on Hellblazer. I am trying to get up to date with Love and Rockets, but I always get confused with the chronology. I've been reading Man Thing and Son of Satan on that 70s Marvel kick. Not really digging Man Thing. Son of Satan is far better. IMO. I keep trying to do the Jim Starlin thing but I don't like his art as much as other people do. I have been trying to re-read Usagi Yojimbo as well, but I keep forgetting to continue with it. 

On the Japan side, I am slowly ploughing through Kingdom and still trying to keep up with new Berserk and Vinland Saga releases. I have been trying to hook my daughter on Attack on Titan. I think the anime is better than the manga, though.

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I thought the manga for Attack on Titan got better but that middle part of the story before the big reveal was a total slog to get through and the art was just terrible at times. 

I think Jaka's Story is great but Church and State is probably my high mark for the story. I think it's interesting and kind of brave creatively that he essentially sidelines Cerebus for most of Jaka's Story. Sim really is probably one of the best creators ever. 

Another good recommendation is Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson. Very good book and you can get the whole series for pretty cheap on ComiXology. 

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5 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Jaka's Story is one of the all-time great graphic novels. It's been a while since I re-read Sandman, but from memory, Brief Lives is my favorite arc.

You can find the behind-the-scenes info if you look for it. One of the first things I did when I got the internet was try to find out why Chris Claremont left the X-Men, which was a huge deal for me as a kid. I remember reading this interview where he outlined his plots for the next couple of years on the X-Men titles. I stopped reading comics for a long time and never got heavily involved into it online, but I did go down a couple of foxholes about Lee vs. Kirby or the Jim Shooter era at Marvel. The info is there if you're interested in that sort of thing. 

I am currently catching up on all the Stray Bullets I missed. I've almost finished Transmetropolitan and 100 Bullets. I'm slowly getting to the end of the Delano run on Hellblazer. I am trying to get up to date with Love and Rockets, but I always get confused with the chronology. I've been reading Man Thing and Son of Satan on that 70s Marvel kick. Not really digging Man Thing. Son of Satan is far better. IMO. I keep trying to do the Jim Starlin thing but I don't like his art as much as other people do. I have been trying to re-read Usagi Yojimbo as well, but I keep forgetting to continue with it. 

On the Japan side, I am slowly ploughing through Kingdom and still trying to keep up with new Berserk and Vagabond releases. I have been trying to hook my daughter on Attack on Titan. I think the anime is better than the manga, though.

Oh, there's definitely a comics history subsection of fandom. TwoMorrows publishing is kinda the equivalent of Crowbar Press and has been my go to place to grab history publications. The American Comic Book Chronicles series is top notch. They put out decade by decade volumes that cover American comic book history, mostly focusing on mainstream comics but also with plenty of info on smaller publishers/undergrounds. I've only read the 70s volume so far but it was excellent. What I've seen of the other volumes looks great. Going to tackle the 50s next. TwoMorrows also has various ongoing publications like Alter Ego and Back Issue that are great for creator interviews and obscure bits of history. Fantagraphics books also puts out a lot of history publications. Just finished the excellent Fire & Water book on the career of Bill Everett 

Yeah, Man-Thing isnt amazing or anything. Definitely fun and wacky. Ive been putting off Son of Satan but may dip into it soon based on your recommendation. Also about to start Gerber's Defenders run and perhaps his Omega the Unknown, which is pretty far out stuff.

In the context of a lot of mundane and mediocre 70s Marvel art, Starlin really stands out for me. It just feels like a fresh perspective, similar to Steranko, whom I've also always enjoyed, both despite a limited sample size. As I've been reading more and more 70s comics, one of the main themes of the decade is, because of the demands of newstand deadlines in a world where comic shops were just emerging and not large enough to make a difference in overall sales, Marvel and DC relied on speed freak artists (also writers), and a lot of the most interesting talent worked too slow, because they put so much into each panel. Guys like Starlin, Wrightson, Ploog, Smith, etc, would gravitate to poster work, paperback covers, advertising, independent publishing, where the deadline crunch was far less intense, plus they could make as much or more money than in comics, which overall were struggling sales wise compared to earlier decades. Some really great talent, like Colon and of course Kirby, could reliably make deadlines and produce high quality work, but so much of the Marvel and DC art from the 70s is very samey and rushed off looking. Starlin for me produced a real vibrant alternative compared to a lot of his peers in that environment 

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Doctor Strange featured some great art and I believe there were delays and some back and forth because Frank Brunner put out great pages but balked at the deadlines.

I have been meaning to look at the Chronicles but when I want to know history stuff I can just usually ask my comic store owner friend and he will just fill me in. ;)

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On 11/3/2020 at 9:32 PM, Mad Dog said:

Dave Sim goes backshit insane after Jaka's Story. It's still a good series but his emotional baggage starts to drag it down. 

You are not the first person to say so in my experience. I read some of Jaka's Story twenty years ago, I should give it another go.

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He offers digital downloads of all of his trades. I think you can get the whole series for $100 but he says on the site that you can pirate it and he doesn't care. 

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I don't know how people feel about Garth Ennis, but fuck me, was I glad to be finished with that Delano run on Hellblazer. Suddenly there's a plot. 

Despite being a huge X-Men fan growing up, I had never read God Loves, Man Kills. It's pretty good, but I guess Claremont went on to incorporate the core ideas into the monthly books because there was nothing revolutionary about it. 

I've been messing around reading Starlin's Captain Marvel & Warlock stuff, pre-Miller Daredevil, and J. M. DeMatteis' run on Spectacular Spider-Man. Starlin's stuff is okay, but doesn't really knock my socks off. I love Colan's art on Daredevil. DeMatteis gets heavily into the psychology of the characters in his run. There are some great stories, but it's very angst ridden. 

I finally finished 100 Bullets. The story wasn't that great but the art was fabulous. 

 

 

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I actually really liked the Delano run on Hellblazer.  It was less about the overall plot and more about defining who John Constantine was.  Not that writers who came after didn't change that all up anyway.  I was a fan though.

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Delano's writing feels outdated at points. I think it would have been fine for me at the time but it feels a little old now. If you look at Gaiman on Sandman, that feels very modern even when it's wordy. 

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Finished Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel & Warlock runs. They're good, but I wouldn't really rate them alongside my favorite stuff from the 70s. I can understand the appeal if you like cosmic superhero stories. I liked Starlin's work on Strange Tales best. What really impressed me was the Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel. That was a beautiful piece of work and deeply moving. Definitely up there with Dark Phoenix Saga, Miller's Daredevil, and the other great works of the era.  

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Yeah, I just read Death of Captain Marvel about a week ago and have the the same feelings as you OJ. Really well done. I'm so glad I read all the 70s stuff beforehand instead of just reading the graphic novel, as I've definitely considered it at various points over the years knowing it was so highly regarded. Say what you will about the Rick Jones character, the scene where he finally breaks down over Marvel's impending demise was very moving (Jones here was basically a Starlin surrogate, and the story overall was deeply personal, as Starlin's father had passed away from cancer I believe a year earlier) 

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I've been meaning to do a deep dive on the Starlin stuff from the 70s I have not yet read (Captain Marvel and Warlock) and I'm encouraged by the opinions voiced here. Will move that towards the top of my list.

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I finally caught up with David Lapham's most recent work on Stray Bullets. Stray Bullets was one of the comics I bought when I was still collecting comics. I'm glad he's still producing it after all these years. His art and storytelling have improved immensely from the early issues. The most recent arc was bloated compared to the original series, especially given it was a prequel, and the obligatory Amy Racecar issues grated after a while, but when it was good, it was really, really good.

I also finished Transmetropolitan. Warren Ellis can be smug at times, and the humour didn't always wash with me, but overall it was an excellent series. And scarily prescient of the Trump administration. 

I started working through Gene Colan's run on Batman. There aren't any classic stories, but I simply love Colan's artwork. I was enjoying the stories by Gerry Conway and Klaus Janson inking the pencils, but I just reached the point where they changed the writer and inker, and the artwork is nowhere near as good. 

I began reading Astro City based on the recommendations in this thread and so far I can't get enough of it. I've also started reading the 90s reboot of Starman. And I am continuing to enjoy Ennis' run on Hellblazer. 

I'm slowly trudging my way through 70s Marvel -- trying to finish Man Thing and Son of Satan. I recently began reading Omega the Unknown. I'm not a huge fan of Steve Gerber, to be perfectly honest (except for his Defenders run), but if you like his take on superhero comic books then Omega is perhaps the best encapsulation of it. I added Conan the Barbarian to the 70s slate. I love Savage Sword of Conan, but I had never checked out the main title. So far, it's enjoyable. Barry Smith tries a bit too hard to be Kirby at times, but I usually enjoy Roy Thomas comic books. Sticking with 70s Marvel, I watched an interview with Byrne today, so suddenly I want to check out his 70s work, which was before my time. 

Similarly, I've been slowly making my way through Mark Waid's run on The Flash. At first, I couldn't understand what the hype was about as I preferred William Messner-Loebs' run on the title with its quirky cast of supporting characters. However, that arc where Barry Allen returns. That was a great story. So I'm glad I stuck with it. I have also been revisiting the 5 years later era of Legion of Superheroes, which I know a lot of people hate, but I've always loved those types of resets. Giffen's art hasn't aged that well, however. 

I started reading Squadron Supreme today. I can understand the Watchmen comparisons, but man, how many word bubbles can a guy read before his eyes dry out?

I also started reading Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's Wolverine. So 80s. Ninjas! Japan! Yakuza! Plus I've been reading J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck's Captain America, which has been a bit boring, but Zeck's art is nice. Captain America seems like a difficult character to write, to be fair, like Superman or Wonder Woman. 

 

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OJ, I'm also a bit of a Steve Gerber agnostic but I really like his Marvel Two-In-One run. It's very brief but I'd probably call them my favorite post Kirby Fantastic Four run.

I love Barry Windsor-Smith. The Conan run is a mixed bag as he's really finding himself throughout it. The Red Nails adaptation is the peak though. I have the Treasury edition with that and Rogues in the House. That was my dad's favorite comic.

Just got Perramus and Eternaut 1969 for Christmas. I don't know if any of you have been checking them out but I've really been enjoying Fantagraphics'  Argentinian comics reprints. The original Eternaut was great but this 1969 reboot with Breccia on art is an intriguing proposition, mostly because it's Breccia. The same team did Mort Cinder which got an English translation not too long ago.

I also pulled my Eerie Presents Richard Corben book off the shelf since hearing he'd passed away. I've been reading one story every night before bed. Corben is one of my comic book pillars along with Otomo, Chester Brown, and Basil Wolverton.

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12 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Similarly, I've been slowly making my way through Mark Waid's run on The Flash. At first, I couldn't understand what the hype was about as I preferred William Messner-Loebs' run on the title with its quirky cast of supporting characters. However, that arc where Barry Allen returns. That was a great story. So I'm glad I stuck with it.

Man, I absolutely LOVED that story during the peak of my Flash fandom about 20 years ago. "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it" (maybe not the exact wording) always gives me goosebumps when I think about it. I never read the whole Waid run, basically missed the middle part, but remember enjoying most of it. If you stick through it to the end, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the final 20 odd issues. Kind of the 90s equivalent of the Trial storyline as far as being divisive 

Lately I've been plugging along with 70s Avengers, Defenders, and Tomb and quite enjoying it. Other than that, still going through Hickman's FF (good but drawn out) and reading random mini series like Longbow Hunters (quite good), America vs the Justice Society from the mid-80s (talk about making your eyes dry out from an avalanche of text), and Daredevil:Yellow (good not great). The complete 8 issue run of Ditko's Shade the Changing Man from the late 70s arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm planning on getting to that tomorrow. The art looks great. I'm a huge Ditko fan but I've never read it. I remember it being bargin bin fodder with not much of a rep when I was younger but after seeing some praise for it here and there in the last few months I tracked it down 

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On 12/26/2020 at 3:25 AM, Graham Crackers said:

OJ, I'm also a bit of a Steve Gerber agnostic but I really like his Marvel Two-In-One run. It's very brief but I'd probably call them my favorite post Kirby Fantastic Four run.

I love Barry Windsor-Smith. The Conan run is a mixed bag as he's really finding himself throughout it. The Red Nails adaptation is the peak though. I have the Treasury edition with that and Rogues in the House. That was my dad's favorite comic.

Just got Perramus and Eternaut 1969 for Christmas. I don't know if any of you have been checking them out but I've really been enjoying Fantagraphics'  Argentinian comics reprints. The original Eternaut was great but this 1969 reboot with Breccia on art is an intriguing proposition, mostly because it's Breccia. The same team did Mort Cinder which got an English translation not too long ago.

I also pulled my Eerie Presents Richard Corben book off the shelf since hearing he'd passed away. I've been reading one story every night before bed. Corben is one of my comic book pillars along with Otomo, Chester Brown, and Basil Wolverton.

Graham! Haven't seen you around here in ages. You're not wrong about BWS. I am up to issue 8 and the art is phenomenal. My mind will explode if I start getting into Argentinian comics right now. I can barely keep up with all of the stuff I'm reading at the moment. 

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Been enjoying reading everyone's thoughts on comics. I did my own Starlin and Gerber deep dives the past couple years.

Starlin's Cosmic Epic is pretty readable up until Infinity Gauntlet/Warlock & The Infinity Watch, but loses something as he heads back to the Warlock/Thanos well over and over.

I've read most of Gerber's Man-Thing and found it interesting, but disappointing. The plots/scripts are hit or miss, and while I was hoping the ideas would at least be out there enough to carry me through, I guess he doesn't really hit upon the style he's known for until Defenders/Howard. I also read Hard Time, which was basically his last major work (early 2000's DC) and it kinda feels like it's from a totally different creator. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. More serialized I guess.

I recently finished John Byrne's Alpha Flight. I guess it's one of his least favorite runs, but boy is it pretty fun. It's unlike any other group book I've read in that he purposefully separates the characters most of the time, choosing instead to tell smaller stories featuring solo or small groups, then combining everyone for a big wrap up blockbuster story at the end of every year. It goes a long way in developing these relatively new characters into ones you love spending time with. One of his own criticisms is that the characters had no reason to exist past being quickly put together to give the X-Men "equal Canadian counterparts" to fight and further develop Wolverine's pre-X-Men backstory, but he truly does a fantastic job building them up over his 29 issues. Then it goes quickly downhill when Mantlo takes over, but those first 29 issues are real standouts in an already packed decade for Marvel (and Byrne's career in general).

Right now I'm reading both the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire JLI as well as Ostrander's Suicide Squad. I've read the first 20 or so JLI issues before and all of Squad, but not for a decade or so. Post-Crisis DC has some real gems, and the way these two books also play with the supergroup genre as well as reflect upon the time they were written is fascinating. Again, these are books that feel well-planned and almost like high quality modern cable shows. At around the same time, Moore, Gaiman and Morrison were (or had) revamped Swamp Thing, Sandman, and Doom Patrol and Animal Man, but these more mainstream books are just as innovative with their takes on DC characters and mythology, just more "comic booky" maybe...

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