Tag Archives: George Perez

A little listmania! part 1: favorite stories

Blogger wwayne got me thinking about my favorites;  Favorite story arcs and favorite single issues.  Putting the definitions as simply as possible ( since us geeks love to argue about the definitions ) we get….

Story arc:  a  story occurring within an ongoing series.  OK, that is not going to work for me, dammit!  Since I am a trade waiter and have been for 2 decades, some of this will have to be at least a little in the self-contained series vein.  But I will try to justify and explain as I go.

Single issue:  Just like it says on the tin, a single issue of an ongoing series.

So, in no particular order except the order if find them on the shelf….

Concrete:  Strange Armor.  (1997)  This is where the definition gave me trouble as Concrete creator Paul Chadwick didn’t really DO an ongoing Concrete series, just connected limited series, the definition became an issue.  Also in the age of trades and collections the actual issues of a particular arc are harder to recall.  This one I did read as the single issues when they came out in late 97 and early 98.  A 5-issue limited in the continuing story of Ron Lithgow, this was the story that finally gave the full and definitive origin of the character, and fleshed out the back story greatly.  The “series” of concrete stories that Chadwick has done are an amazing character study with its roots in the sci-fi and super hero stories he grew up with and have more heart than any other book(s) I have read since.  All but the most recent DHP series have been collected as trades and are still powerful today.

Cerebus #139 to 150 (Melmoth). (1990) The was the story that followed Jaka’s Story and is one of the shorter Cerebus arcs.  A beautifully written and drawn book, it explores the final days of Oscar Wilde as seen in this fictionalized universe.  Taken directly from contemporary accounts of friends of the dying writer, this is a powerful and sad story.  It is available in “phone book” number 6 of the Cerebus run.

Action Comics  #866 to 870. (2008) Geoff Johns and Gary Frank update and redefine the Brainiac character.  One of the most successful updates DC has ever done.  Gary frank’s art is at its very best here.  Available as the Superman Brainiac trade.

Justice League of America#1 to 7  (2006)  Brad Meltzer is a polarizing figure in comics thanks in large part to the love it or hate it Identity Crisis series.  (loved it)  This arc started up the new volume of JL with artist Ed Benes, and is a story that actually made me interested in JL.  What got me into the story in the first place was my affection for Red Tornado, and this story focuses on him and his existence heavily and is a great team book to boot.  Available as The Tornado’s Path trade collection.

Planetary #7 to 12 (2000)  After setting up the world of Elijah Snow and his team in the first arc, Warren Ellis and John Cassaday outdid themselves on this arc (available as Planetary:  The Fourth Man collection).  The jumped into the homages of the comics with both feet here.  They did versions of Transmepolitan, Hellblazer, Doc Savage and touched on the origins of the big three at DC and still managed to keep the main story moving forward without the meanderings that affected some of the later issues.

My Jill Thompson sketch in my Absolute edition

Sandman #41 to 49 (1992)  This was the arc that really made the series sing for me.  After the A Game of You arc cooled me on the series (It took me years to learn to appreciate it) this series just sang with life.  Gaiman was really flying here and this is the run that made me love Jill Thompson’s art.  This is available in the Brief Lives collection or in Absolute Sandman vol 3.

Fantastic Four #242 to 244 (1982)  I still go back and read these every few months.  In fact the whole #240 to 250 part of John Byrne’s run is just crazy fun to read!  This was the first Galactus story I read that I actually liked.  Available in several reprint volumes from FF Visionaries vol 2 to the big-ass omnibus collection of the Byrne run.

Uncanny X-Men #165 to 168 (1982)  Paul Smith’s first issues on this title were the wrap up to Chris Claremont’s Brood story.  ( I include 168 here as the epilogue to that story–because I CAN!) To this day, his art in these issues is amazing to look at.  Collected in too many versions to count.

Mage #1 to 15 (1984)  Technically this was a limited series, but to my mind, when you know that you are just going to do a series of limited series, it is just a series with breaks.  In the case of Mage the break between the first and second series was a little more than just a break.  The same is true with the ongoing wait for the third series.  This story by Matt Wagner was lightning in a bottle.

Avengers #198 to 200 (1980)  This was David Michelinie and George Perez’s last regular issues on the title(in a run anyway) and they rent out with a great story that was a follow-up to the Claremont/Golden story in Avengers Annual #10.  This run is not yet collected.  Hopefully the Marvel Masterworks will continue long enough to get to these.

Well, I stuck to 10.  I omitted runs where there was a single good issue that MADE that run, and I avoided genuine limited series.  Maybe that will be another list.  Next up…

Favorite single issues…

 

 

 

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Not a review of the Avengers film

There is no point in adding my 2 cents to the pile on this film, except to say, “WOW!”  This was far more fun, silly and action packed that I could have ever hoped for.  Go see it.  I don’t care if you don’t like comics, go see it.  You will have fun, and that is all that matters with a film like this.  I never thought this would be a failure, but I never expected it could be this good, or this successful at the box office.  With an opening weekend of $207 million (blowing past HP 7 pt 2), it will be a hard opening weekend to beat.  This movie is almost certainly going to hit half a billion dollars in domestic box office, and could challenge Avatar if it doesn’t falter too much in the next two weeks.  Not likely, but it is possible.

The real reason for this Avengers related post, is to do what comic book movies almost always fail to do.  I want you to read more comics, so I will mention a few Avengers comics that people who enjoyed the film might like.  This will be more or less divided into 2 groups, modern and classic.  The division is because the classic stuff, while a great read, is very dated and comes off as a bit silly at times.  While well written for comics of the day, these books just don’t pack the serious tone and darker, more realistic style of the newer ones.  Many modern readers will just not be able to connect with them as they will seem trite and simplistic, with too much over written dialog.

Cover to the Kree/Skrull Trade Collection

One of the more interesting classic books was The Kree/Skrull war, available as a trade or hardcover collection, the Chitauri of the film are a different version of the Skrulls.  Written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John and Sal Buscema and Neal Adams, this was the first really good cosmic Avengers story.  There are a few beats from this that ended up in the film.

Another classic story would be the Korvac Saga, written by Jim Shooter.  While not one that ages well, it is a decent story that showcases the team dynamic well.

The last of the great classic stories on my list, and one that is unfortunately not collected in any form yet is the runs of (primarily)writers David Micheline and Roger Stern.  With art by George Perez, this was the run of stories that really defined the title in the 1980’s and is still my favorite run on the book.  Now if Marvel would just get it into a reprint volume that would be great.  This run was from the 180’s to the early 200’s and also featured art by John Byrne, among others.

Staying with John Byrne as we go into the transition years where the stories started to develop the more modern sensibility, is Byrne’s run on a couple of Avengers titles.  The better, more noteworthy run is on the West Coast Avengers book where he redefined the Scarlet Witch and the Vision characters.  This run really pissed off some fans who didn’t like that Byrne upset the apple cart so dramatically, destroying a much-loved romance between these two characters that had lasted for over a decade.  The Darker than Scarlet and Vision Quest storylines have  been collected in trade format, and are well worth the read.

Then things went into the crapper in the 1990’s.  Lack of good stories and no real editorial direction lead to some pretty awful books.  The sales went so low as to allow Marvel to essentially hand the books over to the Image guys to revamp.  It was awful.  Many attempts are made to modernize comics for a new audience, but only a few succeed.  The Heroes Reborn books are available in trade collections if you want to see how NOT to reboot a classic title.  The Heroes Return books that came after and reset things to pre Reborn run continuity was a much better storyline by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, and is also available in trade and hardcover collections.

In 2004 the Avengers Disassembled story destroyed the team, literally.  Killing off several members, incapacitating others and destroying the team’s long time HQ, this story was designed to rip the concept to its’ foundations so it could be rebuilt.  Another run that really upset long time fans, this was the book that made the Avengers a top seller again for the first time in many years.  They essentially gutted the team like a fish and started over with a new mission and a new lineup.  One of the places they went was The Mighty Avengers by Brian Micheal Bendis.  The first arc, The Ultron Initiative drawn by Frank Cho is the best of the bunch and is a great look at defining a villain that is particularly hard to write well.

The hot new book is AvX, which is not what I call great, but it is selling well and will be the story that sets the status quo for the Avengers and the X-Men for the next couple of years.

There are also a number of good runs highlighting the Avengers from the movie in solo adventures.  One of the best is Captain America: The New Deal and The Extremists arcs written by John Ney Rieber.  A very modern take on Cap and Nick Fury and how they would function in a post 911 world.  Very powerful stuff, that takes a look at the very normal and human side of the living legend of WW2.  There is also an amazing run on the Thor solo book that is not dated at all.  Walt Simonson turned everything on its head with the Beta Ray Bill story line that started in #337 of the Thor monthly book.  Lots of thees and Thous and cosmic action, with a fair splash of humor, make this book exciting for all ages.  The Iron Man Extremis story by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov is also one of the more interesting attempts to modernize a classic character, and while it is not for everyone, this was a compelling book to read and a strong entry into the mythos.

Lastly there are The Ultimates books.  This is where the Nick Fury look you saw in the movie came from and a few other similarities such as the use of the Chitauri.  This is in a different continuity from the above books, and take a more modern approach in telling the Avengers stories right from the beginning.  The first 3 Ultimates trades are excellent versions of the characters and bear some definite similarities to the version you see in the films.  Fury, Hawkeye and the Black Widow in the movie are very much drawn from these volumes.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it is the list of books I have most powerful memories of reading in the 30+ years I have been reading comics, and they give a good snapshot of some of the best (or at least most popular) Avengers stories.  There are many others, but these would be a good place to start for anyone that liked the movie and may want a little more.

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So Far, So Good…

It has been 6 months since the New 52 started.  Mostly, it has been a spectacular success.  With the first few title cancellations announced (predicted here and reviewed after the fact here), and the second wave announced, it feels very much like there is a plan.  There may not be, but DC is really making it look as thought out as anything I’ve seen in comics in a long time.

Seems like an eternity since everyone was terrified by this image.

The plan as stated at DC is that the books will be on time, even if it means that they will replace creators (in mid arc if needed) to keep things moving.  So far only one book has been late, a Justice League book got pushed back a week or so, and now that book will go to a fifth week release schedule and will have an art fill in for a couple of issues to allow Jim Lee some catch up time.  I cannot say I like this emphasis.  I want the books on time, but if I have to chose, I want consistently good stories over an on time schedule.  There have been several very public changes and moves, most were always going to happen.  George Perez was really only ever going to do the first arc on Superman, but David Finch was behind on the Dark Knight book before he even started, so he got help on the writing, which can only help the book.  Dark Knight was a vanity project from the start to utilize a popular, now exclusive creator, to the greatest benefit.  If the changes make for an on time book that is actually better as well, then great, but that remains to be seen.

As the second arcs begin on the titles there have been other changes, most notably is Travel Foreman leaving Animal Man to do Birds of Prey.  AM was a huge surprise hit and has been the poster child for the success of the New 52, so his departure from the art duties there, may sting a little, and to be honest, I cannot picture him on BoP.  That mix seems off somehow.  But he is a good artist, and things may improve over there, as Birds has been in the middle, and floating down if the sales figures I have seen are accurate.  And there are the other surprise hits, like Detective Comics.  Was any fan out there all that excited?  But it is one of the standouts.

Having read about half of the new books, the only complaint I have is that the reboot, did not reboot enough.  Some of these books are seamless continuations of the pre New 52 titles, like Green Lantern and some of the bat-books.  JLI is a direct, but kind of clunky transition from Generation Lost, etc.  Action Comics, Superman, the Dark books etc, are much more of a reboot/revamp and are almost all much better for it, but the lack of a line wide wipe of old continuity bothers me.  I am something of an “in for a penny, in for a pound” kind of guy.  Go big or go home.  Insert whatever clichéd phrase you want.  While I may not have liked everything that was changed, had they really thrown caution to the wind, I think the overall response from the people that actually read the books (instead of just complaining about them) would have been even more positive.

I am going to defiantly pick up 8 of the new trades/hardcovers, and am deciding on 3 or 4 others that may make the cut.  As a trade waiter, that will be the big test.  If they read well as complete stories, I’m convinced.  The low page counts make them a not very enjoyable read month to month, so this will be the final test for me.  But at this point, I’m still enjoying the biggest and most controversial thing to happen in comics in years.

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Well, it is certainly hard to ignore…

52 #1’s in September.  The reactions have begun to get at least a little more varied.  Ranging from “Oh boy! 52 jumping off points!” to ” But I actually LIKED where Batman inc was going”.  There have been piles of announcements ahead of the full official list and there are a few interesting things.

George Perez writing and drawing Superman (confirmed).  Just freaking cool.  I’m there.

Grant Morrison doing another Superman book (still unconfirmed).  I loved his All-Star book.  I’m there.

Batman inc is on a break until sometime next year.  I went on a break from a girlfriend once.  That didn’t work out all that well.

David Finch on Dark Knight.  What?  He pumps out 2 cruddy issues in 6 months and they are “rebooting”?  I can see the solicitation for  September 2012 already…”superstar Finch to release 4th fabulous issue!”  Ooh!  Can hardly wait to miss this one.  But since it will not be on time much, we will all “miss” it.  On the whole the Batbooks seem to be getting kind of the short end of the stick.  There is a little shuffling of names from one book to another, but nothing really cool.  Greg Capullo on a Batman book is pretty cool.  He is always a fun artist and getting away from Todd MacFarlane will do nothing bad for his career.  Looks like Jason will still be around, and they will continue to clean him up and make him an anti-hero.  Damian is still Robin, and Dick Grayson will go back to being Nightwing.  The part that bugs me is that Barbara Gordon will be Batgirl again.  Not from a continuity point does it bug me (The Killing Joke was never intended to be in canon), but rather the fact that I liked the Oracle angle.

A couple of things HAVE gotten my interest though.  Justice League Dark looks to be written by Peter Milligan and has a fabulous cast.  Any chance to see Madame Xanadu back in a book, since her great series by Matt Wagner and mostly Amy Reeder on art, is a real treat.

Also looking good is Animal Man.  A possible cover is below, along with the third book that looks super cool, Resurrection Man, a character from the late 90’s being brought back by its creator’s Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

At least from the odd corners of the DCU, things are looking interesting.  But to be honest, the whole “women need to cover their legs” thing is really stupid, and Power Girl in pants is gonna suck.  It is as if DC thinks that no one will notice the huge boobage on all the femal characters if thier legs are covered.  Take PG out of the mix and the cup sizes are still pretty spectacular.  We shall see, but I’m guessing this last only as long as the readers keep coming.  Sale dip, and off come the pants!

Justice League Dark cover by Ryan Sook

The return -again- of resurrection Man

Animal Man

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