Saturday, August 25, 2012

Defining #1 and #1A

Doug:  Here's one for you to ponder, and this is pretty wide open -- books, characters, teams, writers and artists -- you name it!  If the Avengers is your favorite superhero team and the Fantastic Four is your next best, what's the difference?  What, in all of the years of publishing, separates these two teams for you?  Why do you prefer Earth's Mightiest Heroes to the denizens of the World's Greatest Comic Magazine?

Doug:  I like John Buscema and George Perez, with Buscema being my favorite.  Why?  I guess it's the power and majesty of his characters, particularly from the Silver and early Bronze Ages.  And his Conan...  just "wow".  But, on the other hand that Perez guy, as he evolved, really became a detail guy.  Every character looked different, and how about his attention to detail on backgrounds?  Tough call.

Doug:  So today we'd like you to muse on some of these sorts of dilemmas and dig deep into you inner preferences.  It should be an interesting share!


Chuck Wells said...

Yeah, Gentleman George has certainly become known as a detail-oriented type of artist over the years, but the days when I preferred to see him toss in everything up to the kitchen sink in every single project that he tackles have long grown tiresome. I WOULD like to see him devote himself to a series with a more limited cast. Sadly, that being the case, the New 52 doesn't sit well with me, so I've taken a pass on World's Finest!

david_b said...

A couple of things come to mind. I thought this was 'way too geeky' to mention to everyone here, but in college during the mid 80s, eager to progress in my academics, and network for business jobs, I had pledged to both a business frat and this new up-coming competing, younger group on campus. Well, this was 'controversial' for most of my upper-cut colleagues, but the prestigious bylaws-infested frat was 'the Avengers' for me, the other hot dynamic younger team was the Wein's Defenders (Felt like YJ or Hawkeye..). That was the difference for me. Mostly it was Sal Buscema, and how majestic he always drew characters like Thor, Hulk, Captain America, you name it especially during the Avengers-Defenders Clash, which incidentally I was reading again this morning (will always be my FAV 'comfort food'...).

I loved Perez on DC's NTT, not as much in Marvel in the Bronze Age. His level of detail is of course legendary, but to me, never *quite* showed the greatness of the classic Marvel artists back then. I feel he was really 'before his time', since his later work on Avengers with Kurt was superb.

Others here have mentioned that the greatness of Neal Adams had mixed results during the K-S War, but was great on X-Men. To me, the Marvel Universe never had better friends than the Buscema brothers for making our heroes seem 'heroic'.. Personally the FF was best served by both John Buscema and Kirby, contributing similar majestic 'presence'.

The FF seemed more as a personal relationship, tight-knit group than 'a team'.

Garett said...

I've always thought of Byrne and Miller as Day and Night. Byrne bright and appealing but sometimes too "nice", Miller dark and edgy but sometimes not warm enough.

I like Gil Kane right now, and compare him to Kirby. Both great figure dynamism, Kane more anatomical and Kirby explosive energy. I'm appreciating Kane's approach now for his calm and curious method of discovering new poses.

I'm reading Elektra Assassin, and remembering my fondness for Bill Sienkiewicz's art. He's an edgier version of Neal Adams, Adams + modern art. Sienkiewicz is a far better painter, but there's a bright, clean appeal to Adams. Something like the Byrne/Miller comparison, bright vs edgy. Both are intelligent and quirky, mad scientists.

J.A. Morris said...

Just to be a b@$tard, why is it "1 and 1A" and not "1A and 1B"? That's always bugged me, but back to the topic:

1.Neal Adams. Most of his work (late 60s-early 70s)still looks amazing, even all these years later. He set a higher standard for the industry.
1A.This may surprise some, but I'm going with Sal Buscema. Simply because his work just looks like comics "should" look to my eyes. Reading a Sal B. story is like going back home again, very comforting. That's why I rank him over some "better" artists of the Bronze Age like Byrne,Perez or Brunner. Plus, Sal is the "Patron Saint" of one of my blogs, so he HAS to be 1A in my book.

Anonymous said...

For me, all the way back to the 70s (and right up to today) Spider-Man has always been number one...Batman would be a close second.

Why Spidey over Batman? I guess to me Spidey is more relatable...he got his powers by accident (which could theoretically happen to anyone, including me) whereas Batman got where he is through sheer mental and physical determination. Even if I had Bruce Wayne's monetary resources, I still wouldn't have the drive (or the physical ability) to become Batman.

So, to me, Spider-Man is the "everyman" hero, while Batman is one-in-a-million.

Mike W.

david_b said...


Really liked your comparison of Byrne and Miller.. Much better said than I could sum it up.

Miller's take on DD was noteworthy, but frankly, I was more old school, preferring both Colan ('the heralded Master of Shadows'), and Bob Brown, when DD wasn't as dark/brooding.

William said...

I'll start with Super Teams. My #1 would be the Fantastic Four. Because the FF isn't so all-powerful as a lot of other groups. They always had real limitations to their powers and usually had to rely their wits as much as their super human abilities to win the day. Plus I have always loved the Thing.

The Avengers is my 1A, but they aren't #1 because they are basically the Marvel equivalent of the Justice League. So, they are not quite as original as the FF. Don't get me wrong, I love the Avengers, but the FF are just something special.

As far as single characters go Spider-Man is pretty far and away my #1. Daredevil would be #2. Spider-Man wins over DD because he's just more fun. I've always liked his sense of humor, his powers and his rogues gallery better than DD as well.

My favorite Artist is definitely John Byrne. No one else comes close enough for it to be much of a contest. I really couldn't even say who is my definite #2 in that one. If I had to pick, I guess I'd say Bruce Timm, (but he doesn't do much comic work). I also like George Perez, Art Adams, Ron Frenz, Mike Mignola, Mike Parobeck and Mike Wieringo.

Anonymous said...

Big John Buscema all the way baby! Younger brother Our Pal Sal comes in second.

Number one Marvel superhero - Ol' webhead himself. Stan and Steve Ditko hit the jackpot (all apologies to Mary Jane!) back in the day with this one - a teenaged superhero as the star of his own mag? Gasp - would the impressionable minds of young comic book readers dig it? Countless issues and 50 years later, Spidey is still going strong.

My number two would be a toss up between Hulk and Thor; always loved the inner turmoil between Banner and his monstrous alter ego. As for our favourite Thunder God, who doesn't love faux Shakespearean dialogue? "Have at thee, base villain!"

During the Claremont/Byrne/Austin era, uncanny X-men was my #1 team, FF a close second.

- Mike "#1 is Marvel, #2b is DC" from Trinidad & Tobago

Edo Bosnar said...

Super-teams: late '70s/early '80s X-men are #1, while early '80s New Teen Titans are #1A.
Individual character: I'll be amazingly original and say Spider-man as #1, with no one really coming to mind as a #1A (the Thing maybe, or perhaps E-man?)
Artist: John Byrne is #1, Walt Simonson is #1A.
Writer: Steve Gerber is #1, Don McGregor is #1A (while my favorite artists are basically set in stone, my preferences in writers are often influenced by stuff I've more recently (re)read).
And branching out, favorite Star Trek series: original series is #1, while Voyager is #1A (I understand that my unbridled fondness for Voyager puts me in a very miniscule minority).
Favorite comedy movie: Monty Python's Holy Grail is #1, This is Spinal Tap is #1A.
Favorite Pixar movie: A Bug's Life is #1, Incredibles is #1A.
...and I'll cut it off here, because I think I can go on making up categories like this all day...

Rip Jagger said...

Here's my list.

Artist - Jack Kirby #1 / John Buscema #1A

Writer - Roy Thomas #1 / Kurt Busiek #1A

Superhero - E-Man #1 / Captain Marvel #1A

Superteam - Avengers #1 / Justice League of America #1A

Rip Off

Doug said...

J.A. --

To the best of my knowledge, the term "#1 and #1A" refers to a dilemma for the chooser when they like two things almost equally well. There is such a fine line, that there is a hesitation to call one the "second best". My original query was geared toward choices like that -- two "whatevers" that you like almost equally well and why one gets the nod over the other.

I have no idea what a "1B" would be or even mean...


david_b said...

Doug, I think it's pretty much the same. For the longest time, Avengers and FF were my '1 and 1A'. I just love 'em for different reasons, at different times or story arcs which was great: If the Avengers disappointed with Don Heck art (GS Avengers 4, anyone..?), I could enjoy the Reed/Sue's strife with Franklin's potentially volatile power.

I like what William had to say about the FF. The lack of power they had (compared to Avengers or Defenders...) they made up with either science, or tactics especially against Doctor Doom or Galactus, with a side order of Benjy's funny remarks. You had Reed Richards with near perfect intellect and knowledge, but other than stretching had no 'super power'. Once ol' Benjy was out of commission for some reason, the Torch had the 2nd most lethal power.

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