Friday, February 10, 2012

It's My Favorite, and I'm Sticking to It!

Doug: Today we are asking for your favorite comic book of all time -- whether you own it now or not. This topic spins (somewhat) out of several comments left in our request for creativity that we ran last week. What is that one book that if lost, stolen, or hopelessly misplaced, you'd miss the most? Is it your most valuable book, the one with which you a) plan to send your kids to college on or b) retire on (good luck with either!)? Is it the first book you ever bought/received? Is it just one you love for whatever reason? We're going to hold you to just one book, so perhaps a pinch of pontification prior to posting would be prudent. This question is different from the Open Forum we ran a while ago where we asked you what was the best done-in-one ever -- that was a critical analysis. This one's just a personal, self-absorbed favorite of yours.

Doug: For this guy, I think if you really pressed me on the subject (which I guess today we are...), I'd go with Avengers #28 -- the introduction of Goliath. As I've said many, many times around here I am a sucker for giants and for that tortured soul of all tortured souls: Dr. Henry Pym. I really love this story -- it's got all of the early Marvel action and angst, with words by Stan "the Man" Lee and some nifty pre-rigormortis pencils by "Dashing" Don Heck. I liked the idea of the Collector when I was a waif, and the Kirby cover is just a killer. I come back to this tale often, and it never gets old. So, while this is one of the first comics I can remember owning, it's also one that holds up for me. And that is perhaps the hallmark of a favorite comic book!

Karen: This is an easy one for me: Avengers #92. This book has had the single largest impact on me of any comic book. It was the right book at the right time. The Neal Adams cover is burned into my brain. It was my first Avengers issue, and the beginning of the greatest (IMO) comic saga of all time, the Kree Skrull War. I've told the husband, when I die, put Avengers 92 on my funeral pyre. I mean it.


Redartz said...

This is an easy one: Amazing Spiderman Annual #1. This issue defines everything that a special book should be. Start with the feature story, an extended tale introducing the Sinister Six (and what a group of foes!), and with cameos by most of the Marvel heroes of the day. Add a classic Stan Lee conundrum: apparently Peter has lost his powers just as Dr. Octopus has captured Aunt May and Betty Brant! Mix with great Ditko artwork; he was really on top of his game with this one; many of the several battle pages ended up as pin-ups in a reprint annual years later. Toss in a few fun special features, and you have a true classic.

This story was also my first introduction to Steve Ditko's work; I bought Spiderman Annual 6 (which reprinted the above story) not long after I discovered comic books. All I had read to that point was Romita work, and seeing Ditko's treatment was a real eye-opener.

Anthony said...

Incredible Hulk 155. I'm a huge Hulk fan and this was one of my first Hulk comics. I got Marvel Super Heroes 32 the same day back in 1972.
I love the story by Archie Goodwin and the art by Herb Trimpe and John Severin is just perfect. It introduced the Shaper Of Worlds who would become the Skrull Cosmic Cube years later. To this day I still feel it is a wonderfully original story that typifies the Bronze Age.

Weird WWII said...

Its "The Dark Knight Returns" issue 4 for me. The finale battle between Sup and Bats was epic and the small wink by Kent to Robin when he hears Wayne's heartbeat at the funeral is brilliant and still makes me tear up. A true epic book in my massive collection.

Number 2 would be a signed Avengers 4 by Stan Lee and Joe Simon and CGCed as authentic sigs and graded as a 4.5.

pete doree said...

Marvel Preview 4 introducing Star-Lord. It's all about place and time. A month before this comic came out, me & my family moved to a completely different part of the country, and for the first time in my life, I was in a completely new world, away from my friends and everything I knew.

To say I identified with the angry, alienated Peter Quill in this epic is the understatment of all time!
I remember like yesterday walking into what I decided was going to be my new comic shop in my new home and seeing that stunning Gray Morrow cover with Star-Lord soaring over the earth, the universe above him. And that tagline! " He stalks the galaxies! One Man...On a mission of cosmic vengeance! "
THE most magical, imagination inspiring cover ever.
I still think it's one of the best things Englehart's ever done, plus the ludicrously forgotten Steve Gan turns in a fantastic art job. Even as an adult, it's a great character study of a misanthrope as well as a cracking good space / revenge yarn. And how many heroes meet GOD in their first outing?

david_b said...

More than listing the issues, today's column is pure joy for the stories alone..

Mine are FF 138 and MTU 13.

There I was, on a 2wk summer road trip 'cross country through TX and AZ in the back seat of a '67 Buick, no A/C, my parents insisting I look out the window.. at desert. Sweltering days of it. (..'how exiting'..) I was stuck behind the rack of clothes and suitcases, you name it. Stopped at a gas station, I picked up ish 138, with a faint remembrance of the fun FF cartoon years ago. I remained glued to each and every Buscema/Sinnott panel for weeks. Their art was stylish and perfect. Despite the C-type baddie, it made for wonderful reading fodder.

MTU 13 was grabbed on another road trip, loving both Spidey and Cap at the time, it had energy bleeding off the pages. I've since bought a NM copy of it, I still have both this and 138 as my most valued comics.

Not quite my first introduction to the Marvel Universe, but the most lasting.

dbutler16 said...

Tough question, and rather than give it serious thought, I'm going to go with the answer that pops into my head. I loved the tabloid-sized Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes with the wedding of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. Unfortunately, my father threw that, and all of my tabloid-sized comics, away years ago. However, I just purchased this on ebay and am anxiously awaiting its arrival next week!

Anonymous said...

Going with "personal" - Iron Man #60. Why? Cetainly not a classic. Not even a very good story really. But it was one of the first comics I bought that ended with those infamous words "To Be Continued". That was it! I was hooked! Where's the next one??? I gotta have it! I bugged my parents for a month to let me subscribe so I would be sure to never miss an issue but they told me I was crazy to pay something like $2.40 for a comic book subscription. When I finally found #61 on a spinner rack, it was a feeling not unlike waking up on Christmas morning.

Also liked "To Be Hulk-inued". your comment about looking out the window. No kid looks out the window anymore. Between videos, hand-held games, smartphones, ipods, etc. there's always something else to do. But just like your parents did, when my son was young and claimed to be "bored", I would always respond "Just look out the window".


Lemnoc said...

Spider-Man #33-- Often imitated, never surpassed.

I think the thing that makes this one special is Spidey is at this point only a fairly mid-powered hero—hadn't yet beaten a Herald of Galactus into a coma—and they had not done the "devotion to Aunt May" schtick to death.

Great issue.

david_b said...


My folks often teased me about 'how to keep me quiet' as a kid, just put a comic in front of my face...

And I always sardonically countered them with how they *didn't* exactly have intellectual conversations to keep my interest either.


Matthew Bradley said...

Ooh, that's a toughie. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking I'd have to go with either a quintessential issue of my long-term favorite book, THE AVENGERS, or an example of what I consider an artistic high-water mark, like Starlin's first Thanos saga in CAPTAIN MARVEL. I'd have to look back over the saga to pick a single issue of the latter.

When it comes to THE AVENGERS, I like Redartz's thinking about annuals, and for me the definitive one would be AVENGERS SPECIAL #1 (1967). Okay, it didn't have a John Buscema or Neal Adams drawing it, but I've always considered Don Heck a major AVENGERS artist. I'm sure that's partly because in my youth, I was exposed to his work simultaneously in MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION reprints and then-current issues such as #109 (a silly story with an awesome Hawkeye cover).

I like how the characters paired off in the individual chapters of AVENGERS uber-writer Roy Thomas's script. And you certainly can't beat that line-up of heroes (Iron Man, Thor, Goliath, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Hercules) and villains (Mandarin, Executioner, Enchantress, Living Laser, Power Man, Swordsman, Ultimo). That's a book I come back to time and again as epitomizing Marvel at its best.

Doug said...

So if I have to delve into that next tier of faves, Redartz reminds me how much I liked Daredevil Annual #1, featuring the Emissaries of Evil. And how the heck could I have left off Silver Surfer #4? Oh dear -- and what of Fantastic Four Annual #6?

See, this is why the initial query was for one top comic only!


starfoxxx said...

I have Avengers #100 in really good shape, I think I picked it up for a couple bucks back in the mid-80s. I love that cover. It would be pretty hard to replace. It not my favorite comic book story, by far, not even in my top 20, but as far as irreplacable (sp?), its my favorite.

William Preston said...

Adventure Comics #369, which I still own, was one of my earliest superhero comics. How I came by it, I don't recall. The story was haunting, with the Legion and Superboy having to hide out in Smallville circa . . . I dunno . . . in order to stay safe from Mordru. There was a backstory referenced as well as a cliffhanger ending (and I've never seen the follow-up issue), elements that fired my imagination the way Marvel would years later. Very little happens in the comic, but it's suspenseful. And I liked the blue girl.

humanbelly said...

Actually, Doug, I'm thinking that the truest response to this question will occur when the pontification, as it were, is kept to an absolute minimum.

Like psychiatry's cliche'd word-association exercise.

"What's your favorite comic book issue of all time? Quick!!"

"Incredible Hulk #111-! Wait, what--??"

BAM! And there you have it!

What's been neat to see so far is the recognition that the irreplacable comic retains that status more because of the sentimental association it bears, rather than just for its artistic merits. And Hulk #111 (which I must confess, I once rambled on about at length on another board) is precisely mine.

My buddy loaned me a huge stack of his older brother's (!) comic books while I was laid up w/ consecutive child-hood illnesses in third grade (chicken pox, mumps, a couple of bad influenzas. . . ), and Incredible Hulk #110 through #123 was a part of that stack. Loved 'em all-- but the Hulk made a permanent claim upon me. And #111 was the specific claim ticket used. No point in talking about Herb Trimpe's dynamic, hyper-dramatic style; or Stan's crisp, breathless Starship-crew-in-trouble dialog---'cause all I knew was that this was a GREAT comic book story about a malevolant crew of aliens trying to kill/lose/shake-off/rid-themselves-of this hopelessly tenacious engine of destruction that they had unwittingly abducted aboard their ship. The Hulk's refusal to die; the Captain & crew's enexorable perspective shift, from arrogance to panic & desperation; the continuously escalating arc of wholesale destruction. . .


Ha! Brothers and sisters, I never get tired of talking about it, and it STILL gives me those terrific tingles that I remember from 40+ years ago!

Ultimately, that very stack of books came into my posession. Yes, I still have that very same copy. Yes, the cover is partly held together by decades-old scotch tape. Yes, it is in completely un-collectable condition. And no, I would never, ever replace it with a "better" or higher-grade copy. 'Cause that very copy is the one that pulled a bored, bed-ridden 3rd-grader plumb into a world and hobby that's brought him MUCH joy over the intevening years! Man, it's 'way too valuable to ever let go of. . .


J.A. Morris said...

I'll go with Marvel Two-In-One #75. The Thing and the Avengers battle Annihilus,Blastarr and the Super Adaptoid! Need I say more!

Fred W. Hill said...

After thinking this over a few minutes, the one issue that came to mind was Captain Marvel #27 which I picked off the spinner rack in mini-mart in Salt Lake City in 1973. My copy got rather battered looking pretty quickly from re-reading so often. The only other comic I had with C.M. in it was #22, his rather lackluster comeback, and I'd never seen the Super Skrull before, but none of that mattered. Starlin's art and story pulled me in instantly. This was the first comics epic I'd ever read and I wanted more! Even though I'd missed the previous two issues where it started, and of course I hadn't even heard of the Kree-Skrull War previously, Starlin provided enough background info through creative flashbacks that I understood what was going on and although the story was complex it wasn't hopelessly convoluted and at this point I hadn't seen the entire universe on the verge of destruction so often that it was getting boring. Anyhow, C.M. #27 was a great intro to the cosmic side of Marvel Comics.

Karen said...

William: Doug and I reviewed Adventure 369 in this post: We also reviewed the next issue: It's a fun story!

Lemnoc said...

Another favorite of mine: Action Comics #385, "The Immortal Superman."

This is actually one of the first comics I ever received, plucked out of a spinner rack by a distracted parent with a sick kid on her hands.

I didn't read much Superman, so I was unfamiliar with a lot of the elements and tropes, but the story creeped me out. From the giant hand scrawling a message on the Fortress door to the weird electric plasma creature that gave even Superman some rough punishment...

At some point in the story, an aged Superman falling into the atmosphere of a poioned Earth wonders if he is dying, and throughout the book there is this somber oppression like there is not going to be a happy ending for this one. No easy exit for the man for whom feats come easily.

I guess the rest of the story arc didn't hold up so well (did not get a chance to look through them until many years later), but I thought this one captured the helplessness and loneliness of old age rather well.

Rip Jagger said...

This is tough.

But despite my ardor for E-Man, my affection for vintage Avengers, and my pure love for all things Charlton, I'd have to say the one single comic book I most adore is...

...New Gods #1!

I can still remember seeing this blockbuster peeking out of the top of a spinner rack in the local drug store, and it opened up my comics reading in ways I'd never experienced before as I followed Kirby over to the DCU from the House of Ideas.

From the opening pages after the epilogue about the doomed gods of yore, where Orion arrives out of the depths of space and announces "I have heard the word--it is battle!" I knew that I was plunked right down in a new and wonderful environment.

It was the comic book equivalent of the first time I saw Star Wars, or the first time I read Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was transformational, it was life changing.

I own this comic in a myriad of formats, but that first single issue is the one, the alpha!

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

It's hard for me to say what my favorite is - although I admit that when I just see the covers of say, Marvel Tales #59, Marvel Team-up #38, or Super Team Family #4, I get hit with a wave of nostalgia because they were among the first comics I ever owned with stories that just captivated me for whatever reason, I can't really say I think they're my favorites.
However, speaking as someone who no longer has his once immense original comics collection, I'd have to say that probably the most treasured books I regret no longer having are "Son of Origins" and "Marvel's Greatest Super-hero Battles." I still remember how much I thoroughly enjoyed both of these when I received them, and how many times I went back and re-read all the great stories in them, esp. the "Super-hero Battles" book (I also had the "Super-hero Women" and "Bring on the Bad Guys" volumes, but those two came first and were much dearer to my heart).
Also in this category are the British annuals which I had purchased rather cheaply from Lone Star when I was already an "old hand" at about the age of 13. These were hardcovers printed on rather high-quality paper stock. I had three of them, Spider-man, X-men (reprinting the Thomas/Adams Sentinels story) and Captain America (reprinting the three Steranko issues). The last one in particular I regret not having, because it was the first time I had ever seen Steranko's work - I remember how transfixed I was by these stories and the amazing art.
Needless to say, all of these are now rather hard to find and always way too expensive for me to think about re-acquiring them...

William Preston said...

Thanks for the links, Karen!

Looks like (oh, my sieve-like memory) I read that first part on your blog before: I left a comment then! Sheesh. But I don't remember seeing the second part--maybe because I didn't read it . . . or because the story seems incomprehensible, thus causing it to slide off my brain. What a complicated tale. Seems like they made it up as they went.

My Bronze-age reading had a lot of gaps. I had a run of Batman issues, but missed the conclusion of the Ra's al Ghul epic. I had one of two issues in a JLA Earth 1/Earth 2 tale. One issue in Spidey's two-part fight with Man-Wolf . . .

dbutler16 said...

You're right, JA Morris, Marvel Two-In-One #75 was pretty awesome!

Inkstained Wretch said...

In my case I would say it is Marvel Super Action #24, which is a reprint of Avengers #63. I picked that one up off the spinner racks at a local 7-11 when I was a wee lad, mostly because of the dramatic cover. It was the first Avengers comic of any kind that I bought and it hooked me hard.

That is the one where Clint Barton gives up being Hawkeye and swipes Hank Pym's growth formula to become Goliath. It is a neat, complactly-told Roy Thomas story, part of a three-issue arc, but standing fine on its own.

As a little kid I could completely identify with Clint's desire to become big and strong. The art by Gene Colan is fantastic too. He uses some clever angles to make the scale of Goliath work in the story. It started regularly buying Marvel Super Action after that, (having no idea it was a reprint series) and then branched off into the regular series.

So, that was the gateway drug to subsequent addiction. Reading it today instantly takes me back to 1980.

P.S. JA, that issue of MTIO was another early purchase and a lot of fun too. Nice call.

DougK66 said...

The first comic that always pops into my mind when I think of my favorite as a kid was THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #115! It was one of the 60cent/100 page specials. The main story with a brain-dead Batman being animated by the Atom running across his brain to control Batman like a zombie on a mission for justice! It just blew my mind! And the Golden Age Green Lantern (1st I'd ever seen of him) and Dr Fate battling Solomon Grundy was fantastic! Plus it had an amazing Challengers of the Unknown story and a Viking Prince story. I've since collected all the 100 page B&B specials and to me they had some of the best Batman stories of the 70s. I still reread those specials every year or so to recapture the imagination and wonder they inspired in me back then.

Cheese Messiah said...

This is tough. I have a sentimental attachment to the first American comic I saw, I think it was JLA 106. It had on the cover Red Tornado saying "the day I joined the JLA, I killed them all". I remember seeing it vividly in my neighbour's house and how it offered so much promise of excitement. I think I eventually swapped it off him.
I also vividly remember those 100 pagers which came out in about 1973. As a series, they are my all time favourites, and I still get a thrill when I see the covers. I was bitterly disappointed when, a couple of months later, they disappeared, replaced by regular sized comics but with a hefty price tag.

Anonymous said...

I had to think about this one a couple of days....Probably my all time favorite was one that I got in the Summer of '71.....Batman #235. I was all of eight years old. When I was five or so, my Mom would always bring me a comic book home when she went to the grocery store....anything from Casper to Superman to that Adventure issue with Mordru that somebody else mentioned. She also got me several issues of Detective with Batman and Robin. This was all during the TV series days, so that was the Batman that was in my mind (drawn by Bob Brown). When I opened 235, I was amazed. It was Batman, solo, with long, flowing cape, long bat ears, and he was kicking butt and taking names in this issue. I read and read it until the cover fell off. It's still at my parents' home somewhere. I rarely missed an issue of Batman or Detective after that for the next few years.


William said...

O.K., after thinking about this for a day or so, I can only come up with a 2-part answer.

If I am picking my favorite comic for it's historic value, monetary value, and personal sentimental value it would have to be AMAZING FANTASY #15. I own a very nice copy, and it is without a doubt my most prized possession.

But, if I go with what is my favorite comic based solely on the content and joy it has given me to read, it would have to be MARVEL TWO-IN ONE ANNUAL #2. I remember buying that comic at a 7-11, when I was a kid, and I must have read it 5 times in a month. The funny thing is it is part 2 of a 2 parter, and I hadn't read part 1. But it didn't matter. That story had it all, IMO. My two favorite characters (Spider-Man and The Thing) teaming up to rescue The Avengers (holy cow) from one of the coolest villains ever, Thanos! It was total joy overload! That one issue was packed full of enough action, drama and humor for 10 issues of any other comic. I actually still pull that book out and read it again every once in a while, and I still love it just as much as the first time I ever picked it up.

Sharper13x said...

I seem to be a few years behind you guys, but for me it was New Teen Titans #23 ('82 is still Bronze Age, right?) I had stopped collecting comics well before this series even started, but this issue caught my eye for some reason. I was in 8th grade by then so that reason was most likely Starfire on the cover. I bought it from a local comic shop, was blown away by the story and the characters. It was in the middle of a huge intergalactic space opera, which also really forced me to start buying back issues for the first time. Ended up getting the previous 23 issues as well.

I realized that The New Teen Titans was meant to be DC's answer to the X-Men, and this also got me to go back and get a bunch of the X-Men saga I had missed tool. So NTT #23 was a pretty expensive mag for me.

Sharper13x said...

God... my auto spell is out of control. "Too." Not "tool."

Anonymous said...

Humanbelly - I love your posting. Absolutely made me want to read that issue, right now!

OK, for plot & writing, I’d pick the recently mentioned X men Annual #4, Nightcrawler’s Inferno. I’d seen comics borrow bits of classical literature before, but nothing like that.

But for sheer love....

To explain this, you need to understand the uniquely horrific phrase ‘Non-D’.

For the benefit of the colonials, what this means is..Non distributed. There are lots of comics which in the UK & Europe are worth a fortune because for one reason or another they were not distributed here. This means that every copy you find here was brought over ‘by hand’ by somebody.

Some comics would come over for a few issues, you’d get hooked and then they’d stop being imported. Thanks a bunch. My favourite comic was the Avengers. I was reading them in UK B&W reprints, but the proper American comics were ...NON D !... at that time. And then #154 turned up. I knew it was a one off, I knew #155 would be non D again. I knew I’d be left high & dry. I just couldn’t invest my precious pocket money in a comic that would drive me crazy forever, even if it was my beloved Avengers. I decided not to buy it. Days went by. It was too late now. It would be off the shelves and gone forever. I regretted not buying it. But it was too late. Then, joy of joys, my mum was driving my sister to a friend’s house. This would take them near Twickenham (railway) station, which always kept the American Marvels on the spinner until eleventh hour. I begged her to detour. Amidst groans of ‘more bloody comics’ ...she did. And it was there. And the Avengers carried on coming over. And 35 years later, I completed my Avengers collection, having begun with that single issue. In August, this year, my mum will be 75 and I’m going to give her that comic framed.


Doug said...

Richard --

That's a very good, and touching, story. Thanks for sharing.

Your quest for an Avengers run sounds a bit harder than mine was!


Joseph said...

Excellent question and I love reading these great comments.

I'm going with Marvel Two In One Annual #2. Such a great story and so many memories. And my cat even pee'd on my copy.

Anonymous said...

Found this through a recent retweet - LOVE these stories. These are the kinds of things I'd love to see written up as part of a blog - just people's stories about their relation to a favorite comic. Reminds me of The Long Box Project

As for my own, it'd be hard to say.

Maybe it'd be Hulk Annual #8 - when after crash-landing in Canada, Hulk is confronted by Sasquatch. I wrote about it some here, but the thing that really struck me was how Sasquatch was supposed to be a "good guy," but was such a jerk! I felt a lot of sympathy for the Hulk. He seemed bullied.

Also have a soft spot for Rom #21 (see cover here). It was one of the first superhero comics I ever got my hands on by means of a trade with another kid and I found the word balloon cover really arresting. It stated my love of all things ROM - still one of my favorite Marvel characters to this day.

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