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Mad Dog

Comic books and Manga Thread

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I always loved how Earth X tied in various licensed Marvel titles like 2001 and Conan, but without actually saying any names that could get them in trouble. I think it holds up as fun but not anything special. I like my Marvel comics as soap operas so these "bookshelf" comics never make a permanent impression. The sequels though, ooh boy. They're like a weird anime ending but for hundreds of pages. Much funnier to just read the wikipedia summaries.

90s Marvel comics I like:

Alan Davis on Excalibur - When Davis was writing it felt like a successful attempt at tying up loose ends from Claremont's X-Men run. Davis had an incredible artistic range back then.

Mike Baron on Punisher - Baron basically kept up with deadlines by writing on cocaine and it shows. It's pure 80s/90s action schlock but written by a psychopath who never takes the stories in the direction you'd expect. Kind of Bob Haney-esque but more tasteless.

Ladronn on Cable - before he went all in on the Franco-Belgian sci-fi aesthetics Ladronn's mix of Kirby and Moebius was really pleasing. We never got a classic in this style but the art elevates passable writing by Joe Casey.

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21 hours ago, Ricky Jackson said:

I loved Earth X in real time. I've never read it again. I could see it being a slog, since it was like 14 total issues, and reading it all in a short period is different than spacing it out monthly one issue at a time. I was really taken by the epic scope of it all, and at the time I totally bought the "origin of everything" conclusion and how they tied the ending to the original Human Torch, the beginning of the MU. 

Busiek and Perez's Avengers from the late 90s may be worth a look OJ, even if just to contrast it with Busiek's Astro City as two different approaches to super hero comics. That was another series I loved at the time. Looks great if nothing else

Thunderbolts is a good read along with Busiek and Perez's Avengers run. Really cool idea for s book that was a lot of fun for a few years. 

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23 minutes ago, Mad Dog said:

Thunderbolts is a good read along with Busiek and Perez's Avengers run. Really cool idea for s book that was a lot of fun for a few years. 

Nicieza's character development of Zemo in the back half of Thundbolts v1 is one of the most interesting bits of writing you'll get out of Marvel in that period.

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Speaking of George Perez I have to speak up for his Wonder Woman run. I'm much more of a Marvel guy but that series holds up well, although he eventually runs out of steam as he was both writing and illustrating the title most of the time.

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Updates...

Monster of Frankenstein by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog from 1973 sure looks great but the story is nothing special. And yes I know the first four issues adapt Shelly's novel. The main problem for me is the Monster is a tough character to like. Kinda hard to sympathize with your plight when you keep brutally murdering innocent people! The supporting cast is mediocre. The best issue was #5, with a werewolf story. Ploog is done after #6 and so am I for now. John Buschema takes over the art (briefly) and a 3-part Dracula story is coming up, so I'll probably resume at some point.

Englehart's JLA run (139-150, minus issues 147-148) was good but nothing must read. I haven't read much old school JLA ever, although I'm relatively knowledgeable with a general overview of the 60s/70s history of the book. The consensus seems to be this run was a return to form after a very up and down previous dozen or so years. The extra pages afforded Englehart (about 10-12, per his request when he took over) the room to develop the characters in a way for the most part not attempted previously, basically imbuing the book with the spirit of the Avengers. The early issues in the run, dealing with the Manhunters (later adapted into a Justice League animated series multi-parter), a story featuring a cheeky appearance by a "character" from his Avengers run, and a secret origin of the JLA that definitely inspired New Frontier from 2004, were my favorites. Featuring a lot of Marvel-style arguing amongst team members, art by longtime JLA mainstay Dick Dillin that will not be everyone's cup of tea (I'm not a hater, but I'm also not a big fan), plus the return of Red Tornado and random appearances by the Phantom Stranger 

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Also, attn folks out there with Marvel comic collections from, mostly, the 60s-80s, the back issue market is booming for the first time in forever. The success of the Marvel movies, but really accelerated by WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Soldier, is causing first appearance books to skyrocket. If anyone has any key Captain America issues associated with characters from Falcon and Winter Soldier, and you're not attached to them, now is the time sell

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I can report that the original Captain Marvel run (1968) is not really worth anyone's time, unless you want to see the earliest incarnation of Carol Danvers.

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7 hours ago, Ricky Jackson said:

Also, attn folks out there with Marvel comic collections from, mostly, the 60s-80s, the back issue market is booming for the first time in forever. The success of the Marvel movies, but really accelerated by WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Soldier, is causing first appearance books to skyrocket. If anyone has any key Captain America issues associated with characters from Falcon and Winter Soldier, and you're not attached to them, now is the time sell

I am a lazy fuck that has considered selling my collection the last couple of years. I don't have these. But I have a massive X-Men collection and several issues early in the Claremont/Cockrum run signed by Cockrum. I really just want them gone but it's really hard to deal with a collection of any size.

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Yeah, I was considering trying to sell my collection a few months ago, it's been mostly collecting dust for the last 20 years, but when I started going through it for inventory I fell in love with it again. It's not a huge collection or anything, at least by hardcore standards, maybe at most 1200 books. There are some going for decent money on ebay. If I do sell I'd like to do it in the least amount of transactions possible. We'll see, part of me wants to take advantage of the boom, but another is still too attached to the damn things 

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I think I have maybe 15-18 longboxes. I think the highlights of my collection are Giant Size X-Men #1, the first appearance of the Punisher and most important first appearances for X-Men characters outside of the original 5, Magneto and Juggernaut. I believe the earliest X-Men issues I own are 5, 10 and 13. I got a ton of old stuff in the late 90s and early 00s when people were trying to get out after the collector bubble burst. I wish I had stuck to my guns and got a copy of X-Men 1 back then. 

I think I would probably just sell for a lump sum, say $1000 or so.

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I've been 98% digital only since I graduated college in 03 (don't do the math on that), with a few trades I picked up here or there after. So the collection I have, which is pretty huge and primarily 70s-early 00s, is still in my parent's house back in MA. At some point, after the crash, I stopped caring and putting things in bags, so who knows what the condition of anything is anymore, but I have a lot of issues (thousands, easily), though not a ton that I think would be hugely valuable on  their own. I had a bunch of "wall comics" that are probably in better shape, though nothing too old. My favorite is probably a beat up Hawkeye first appearance. My parents ask now and again and I dodge because I don't want to deal with it and tell them they can just sell the stuff if they want. They're down here fairly often (pre-pandemic) to see the kids, but I haven't been back up there since 2013, so it's sort of out of sight/out of mind.

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I have a decent collection which has been properly stored so it's in good shape but can't really imagine taking the trouble to inventory and try to sell anything. Highlights of what I have are a very long run of Amazing Spider-Man (180 or so past 400) and the complete run of Sandman (which has lots of sentimental value not much secondary value since it was reprinted a lot), Hellblazer, Excalibur etc. 

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BTW, if you guys ever want to get out of the 70s, I'm 9 issues in to the current run of Daredevil and it's been excellent so far. Al Ewing is such a fun writer across the MU but he's really digging in here with a lot of depth and he keeps twisting things and taking it in a different direction than you think. I've been avoiding it because Daredevil is almost always work but it's very good.

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I read very little current stuff - I'm currently diving into more Defenders, and Thor & Avengers from the beginning but I can say what I've read from the last couple years in the mutant titles aka House of X has been really good. Very coherent across the various titles.

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Honestly, most of Marvel's output hasn't been good for a long time. You get some gems like the Conan stuff but they have horribly neglected some of their books like Fantasticsl Four and keep pushing just way too much symbiote stuff. 

DC has had a lot of issues, especially in the main Batman title. But by and large they have been acceptable stories and seem to be on a positive track with Didio gone and seemingly giving almost a completely new set of writers the keys to the kingdom. 

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I'd argue that Marvel's general output is about as good as it's always been. Some great stuff, some good stuff, some not good stuff, some bad stuff. The stuff that sells the best isn't always the best. There are some completely under the radar gems that are great. It's how it always is and how it's basically always has been. I'm less impressed with Cebulski as EIC than I was Alonso but even there you'd get plenty of misses to go along with the hits.

Future State was absolutely dreadful out of DC, but I agree the new "Infinite Frontier" relaunch has been quite good. But you figure they'll go to gloom and doom and destroy it in two years.

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I should add a postscript to my earlier remarks about Captain Marvel, it does pick up significantly once Jim Starlin takes over. His writing can be an acquired taste for some but it is hard to overstate just how much his art stands out for the period. It's pretty outstanding with rich colours and much better detail than what went before it on this title.

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2 hours ago, Matt D said:

I'd argue that Marvel's general output is about as good as it's always been. Some great stuff, some good stuff, some not good stuff, some bad stuff. The stuff that sells the best isn't always the best. There are some completely under the radar gems that are great. It's how it always is and how it's basically always has been. I'm less impressed with Cebulski as EIC than I was Alonso but even there you'd get plenty of misses to go along with the hits.

Future State was absolutely dreadful out of DC, but I agree the new "Infinite Frontier" relaunch has been quite good. But you figure they'll go to gloom and doom and destroy it in two years.

I think the X-Men titles have been good with Hickman at the helm. As I said earlier, their output of Conan titles has been good. The new Iron Man title was better than the garbage IM title Slott put out. Gwenpool I think has been the best of the new characters they have tried pushing during the last decade. Stupid name that tanked her though because I think people just assume she's just a Deadpool knock off.

I actually kind of liked Future State. Not every book was good but I liked several of the books. The events around Gotham were generally interesting. I really liked Yara Flor as Wonder Woman. I liked how she's kind of just a dumbass that's quick to anger and thinks every situation can be punched out of. I am hopeful with Didio out that they learned their lesson and I am glad Wally is finally getting his rightful spot back as Flash. But I also know DC can't help themselves and will fuck this up.

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Good is tricky too. That's one thing about the current X-Men books. They're competently written. They have big ideas. People can (and do) complain about individual character decisions but they're all done with care and thought through. When you're dealing with decades of complex backstory, there are a lot of valid takes on these characters. But a lot of it is inward looking and circular. But that's what the X-Books are kind of supposed to be.

For instance, I liked this week's issue of Cable a lot, but I also am not sure it's objectively good, so I was going to explain why I liked it but I got two sentences in and decided it just wasn't worth it to set things up for everyone. But it's exactly what I'd like to read about: Cable doing what he might do logically in tracking down a character by going to six other characters in order, some of which are fairly obscure or interface with obscure elements of their own backstory; it didn't have much of a plot but it was useful in closing off all other avenues to get him to a more desperate point as a character. It was functional but probably could have been dealt with in a page with each scene being a panel, but was enjoyable to long-time X-Men readers because it really was enmeshed in the bigger world of the characters and answered a lot of those "Well, why didn't he do X first?" questions in a fun way. I wouldn't suggest it to any of you going through old issues of Micronauts or whatever really though, but I would hype it to my pal George who's bought every Marvel comic in the last 30 years but is usually about six months behind reading his new ones, or to the guys I talked to about X-Men comics in the 90s on Prodigy that I still talk to.

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See for me I am willing to forgive characterization and some continuity or retcons in the name of good storytelling. The better the book, the more I am willing to forgive that stuff. It more becomes an issue for me when you start breaking things or it's just obvious you don't know what you're doing. I am a fairly forgiving reader though, I think even bad runs like Chuck Austen's X-Men had redeeming qualities like Juggernaugt and squidboy. 

I think where I have really grown tired of Marvel and DC, moreseo Marvel, is both companies have just been absolutely allergic to changing the status quo even slightly. You get a lot less characterization now because of the decompression and writers don't stay on books long enough for a larger world to develop and new writers are never interested in continuing a previous writer's ideas. I have seen books in the 50s that were more willing to shift their status quo than Marvel and DC.

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I don't think you can compare Austen's run (I liked the single mother/Havok stuff and maybe Juggernaut, sure) to the current X-runs where people nitpick specific things. Austen was basically Vince Russo.

As for the change in status quo, it's not a healthy way of looking at things. With Marvel, the way they work over the last fifteen years, or so, is that they do thought experiments that last a couple of years. Superior Spider-Man was a thought experiment. Captain America: Secret Empire was a thought Experiment. Jane as Thor was a thought experiment. The Fantastic Four in Space/FF being the Allred team was a thought experiment. That's the model from now on. They'll run a story for a year or two, shake up the status quo, explore the consequences, and then go back to the middle with some impact/changes that work into the next status quo shake-up. I think it's a pretty effective way of doing things, to be honest. It lets a writer really explore things deeply while not breaking the toys.

Long runs still happen occasionally. Jason Aaron has long runs. Slott has long runs. Spencer has long runs. Bendis obviously did. A lot of it is that the writers don't want to do it since they would rather own their own properties and spiral them off to  Amazon/Netflix/Whatever.

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I am through the telling of A New Hope which is the first 6 issues. It's interesting and has Howard Chaykin on art.  It was really good. It was obvious they wrote this based on the script and not the actual movie as some deleted scenes are in there like Jabba confronting Han early on. Jabba was a real trip since he was just some weird looking guy. I am really interested to see what they do when they can do their own stuff.

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