Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stop This Ride! I Want to Get Off!

Doug:  As we've discussed over the past week in our review of Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, there were certain times throughout the company's history when creativity, marketing, and/or developing trends really pushed the envelope as far as your BAB moderators' patience was concerned.  Karen and our friends Edo Bosnar, David B., Tom, and Fred W. Hill all remarked that the Secret Wars mini-series was sort of the "beginning of the end" for them as true fans in the 1980's.  I think every one of our readers, at least from the comments we've received over the past four years, has been in and out of collecting at one time or another.  We've even had discussions in the past as to what might be considered canon and what should be dumped in regard to various titles.  And, you may also recall that we ran two series of posts called "Marvel and DC -- Side-by-Side in..." where we examined doings at the Big Two in the Silver Age and in the Bronze Age, focusing on trends and assumed market share.

Doug:  So today's questions should elicit good conversation on their own, yet I'm guessing they will breed some nice tangential comments:  Please take us through the various titles you collected and tell us when your breaking point occurred -- can you remember the exact issue or at least specific storyline which made you cry, "Enough!"?  Or, if you're really feeling beaten down by the Big Two, was there a year when you scrapped everything?  Not just a title or two -- flat out walked away!  Is there a specific point when you feel a company should have ceased production, because everything that came after was just garbage (remember, Jim Shooter wanted to end the entire Marvel Universe as we know it, back in 1985 or so)?  Be sure, in your reminiscences, to tell us why you felt so fed up.  And thanks!

Bomber jackets, anyone??

63 comments:

dbutler16 said...

Unfortunately, I was a bit of a completist back in the day. If I had, say, over a hundred in a row of a title, I’d continue to buy it, even if I wasn’t enjoying it all that much. Anyway, I really wanted to jump off the X-Men ride when they started bringing characters from the Days of Future Past alternate future (or at least that’s what we thought it was at the time) into the title as regular characters, starting with Rachel Summers. Sure, the book wasn’t as good when Byrne & Austin left – there were still some very good issues but not the consistent brilliance – but things really went downhill for me at that point. I didn’t much care for the Morlock stuff, either, but at the time, the alternate future timeline characters bugged me more.

Redartz said...

Up through the early 80's, I ccllected most of the Marvel titles and numerous DC books. My three favorites were Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers and the X-Men. Avengers was the first to go, immediately following the Trial of Yellowjacket storyline. The art and story were lacking, and the book's direction didn't look promising. X-men was the next to go; when X-Factor was introduced. Marvel seemed intent on flooding the market with X-books (little did I know what lay ahead), and I had neither the money or inclination to follow them all.

Spider-man was the last I gave up, about the end of McFarlane's run. I did enjoy most of his work on Amazing, but when the new Spider-Man title came out with all the variant "collectible" versions, I felt the company had cheapened the character more than I could stomach. Marvel was doing to the Web-slinger the same thing they did to the X-men: painful overexposure.

I had already given up most other books; Batman went after "Killing Joke"- the level of violence and grim atmosphere was simply too much. Actually, by about 1990, I wrote of comics; between disillusionment ( reading comics simply wasn't 'fun' anymore), and the financial obligations of parenthood.

What brought me back to comics years later was the influence of my sons, and their interest in Comics-based television ( specifically, the Batman Animated Series and Fox's "Spider-Man". But that's another story...

Doug said...

I initially liked the idea of X-Factor for two reasons - it would seemed to have restored some stability to what was then a careening-out-of-control X-Universe, and pure nostalgia. Unfortunately when Walt Simonson took over the art I didn't care for it, and the way they transformed the Beast back to human form (yea!) but then made him lose intelligence each time he used his powers (or something like that - boo!) were distasteful to me.

I know writers are always trying to shake up the status quo, but sometimes the readers just like the normalcy. Am I wrong?

Doug

Doug said...

Today's the 300th issue of Super-Team Family. I love these fantasy covers, daily! You should, too! Check it out, here:

http://braveandboldlost.blogspot.com/2013/02/justice-league-of-america-vs-avengers.html

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Man, those jackets. And should I even ask why the Black Knight is holding a malfunctioning light sabre?
Like I sort of alluded to in that previous comment, it wasn't just that comics were losing their luster for me, but other aspects of my life were taking a priority: I was moving into my teens, i.e., becoming more "mature", and also just spending more of what disposable income I had on music, movies and books - I remained a voracious reader, but my focus turned more towards books without pictures.
Even so, the comics themselves were becoming generally less interesting to me; I gradually even started dropping titles that were still going pretty strong, like Byrne's FF or Simonson's Thor (and this coincided with the appearance of Secret Wars), but soldiered on with X-men for a while longer. I think the real last straw was that much-lauded story "Lifedeath" in issue #186. I know a lot of people love this story, but for me the de-powering of Storm as a plot point was just too much. I read a few more issues and then dropped it. Although I went back to reading comics a few times in college and just afterward, it was never to the same extent as before, and never with the same enthusiasm.

david_b said...

Couple of items.. I too mentioned that Marvel sold out with 'Secret Wars', blatantly.

(Another full day of hosting training, so I won't have much to add today either..)

X-Factor..? I was yearning to get in on the mutant material, after all the hype and hoopla my roommate (and others) where talkin' up. I really wanted the original SMALL team back together like old days and thought (like most) that this would do it. Like Doug mentioned, after the first 6 issues, it just seemed too dour and dismal, plus the art (like most titles now..) was too sketchy. So that potential ended quickly.

The biggest disappointment I hung on to by buying useless, depressing issues was the post-Perez Titans. The arc lanquished with the stupid chapters featuring individual team members, just a year of wasted time and $$.

I gave CA&F up with Robbins and Kirby at the helm, I got tired of Spidey and all the animal villains after ish 140. If I had collected the Avengers regularly between ish 200 and 240, I would have screamed by the YJ trial myself. Luckily I was spared that until collecting back issues much later.

Like Redartz, I tried Batman post 'Killing Joke' since I enjoyed that very well as a 'done-in-one' story, but by that time everyone was mimicing Miller, and like he said, none of these comics 'were fun anymore'.

Anonymous said...

In the early 80s I was gradually phasing out of buying comics. The stories didn't seem as fun anymore and there were too many changes. I was still buying more out of inertia than actual enjoyment.

My last DC title was the Legion of Superheroes. I hung on until shortly after the hyped issue 300 in 83, the year I started high school.

My last straw with Marvel was Secret Wars II in 1985. I kind of enjoyed Secret Wars I. But I got turned off with SW2 that you basically had to buy every Marvel comic to follow the story. I got to the second issue and got so fed up I stopped buying comics altogether.

Alan

Bruce said...

After being an X-Men fan for years, I finally said "No mas" during the Inferno storyline. This was around issue #242.

During the book's best days, Claremont & company had a knack for being able to juggle multiple subplots at the same time. It may take a while, but eventually, those storylines came together.

But after issue #200 or so, the plotting became much more disjointed. Important storylines (the Marauders/mutant massacre) were just dropped mid-stream. The team abruptly moved to Australia. The endless Marvel crossovers certainly didn't help. To follow the main X-Men storyline, you had to pick up a bunch of tangentially related books, and that didn't have much appeal to me.

Also, familiar faces (Nightcrawler, Kitty, Colossus) were replaced with characters (Dazzler, Longshot) who weren't as well-defined. The X-Men had always been a family, but by this point, it felt like the family had drifted apart. Doug, I think this speaks to the "normalcy" idea you mentioned.

I didn't intend to stop reading the book, but I got busy and missed an issue - and it didn't bother me much, as it would've a few years earlier. It became easier to skip it the next month and by the third month, I'd moved on. My run as an X-fan ended with the proverbial whimper, not a bang.

Karen said...

As I said before, Secret Wars was the first time I felt things were being contrived purely for money. But by that time I had already felt like the quality on many of the titles I enjoyed had declined (X-Men in a major way, Avengers too). I was off to college and had little time for comics anyway.

But I still read a few books through college, and in the years after I graduated. The dark and gritty era had already begun with Miller and Daredevil in the early 80s, the Punisher too, but really took over comics with Dark Knight Returns in 1986. After that monster, it just seemed like everything became so insufferably depressing and serious that it made comics a lot less fun.

I tried to get back into comics time and again. I actually did get back for several years, from about 2003 to 2010. But our local store folded in 2010, and although we have other stores here that I go to for back issues, I never buy anything new now. I just look at the new stuff and it doesn't appeal to me any more. I see all these characters I once read but I feel like I don't "know" them any more. There's too much grey, and not enough black and white for me. Grey is fine in the real world; but in super-heroes, I like black and white.

William Preston said...

I went off to college in 1980, bemoaning the potential end of comic-buying. I did find a comic shop near Northwestern's campus and managed to keep up with some things (including Cerebus the Aardvark, of which I had signed copies of the first few issues), and comics were still easy to get at home. But the price jumped somewhere in there, and, as others have said, the quality dipped horribly. Art took a dive (and the printing often looked terrible). Stories weren't interesting. X-Men stayed strong until we got to the underground dwellers. Spidey, who'd pulled me into the Marvel universe, lost his appeal. I missed an issue or two of Iron Man, and suddenly Tony Stark wasn't the star (and the Romita/Layton art had stopped). The last thing I bought, I believe, was the FF, as Byrne made that mag fun and attractive. Probably around 1985, I bought my last comic. I occasionally looked at things on the rack, but one day I saw they'd resurrected the Green Goblin, and I was glad I'd moved on.

Doug said...

William, I'll never forget that scene where ol' Norman rips open his shirt to reveal this huge, ugly, bubbly scarred X across his chest. Yeah, he could have survived that... Duh.

Doug

humanbelly said...

Ohhhh, I do get taken kindly to task for this when it comes up on the AvengersAssemble board. . . but I liked the bomber jackets- I really did. I always feel compelled to speak up for them when they're derided. They may have been a little silly and even a bit impractical if pondered deeply at all-- but I think they were a neat nod to "real world" practices of establishing a team identity. My daughter's dance company has team jackets. A national tour I did had "team" jackets for the company. Every high school and college has iterations of team jackets for almost every athletic team and even non-athletic disciplines. Most marching bands have them. It's such a fundamental, easy way to stake one's place and wear one's colors (as it were) in a positive way. And it was a small detail that many, many readers could probably identify with in some way.
Now, was that how it was really intended at the time? I dunno-- but that was totally my reaction upon seeing them that first time.

This is a great topic, by the way. Man, for some titles there'll be more than one "Get Off" moment for some of us older types who kept habitually buying titles even when we didn't like them anymore.

I'll start with an early one, and hopefully come back at lunchtime.

Conan the Barbarian: Started to enjoy it less with the introduction of Belit, Queen of the Pirates. I thought she really took the life out of the book and the character. And even though she died after several months, it had dulled my interest in the book to the point that I let my subscription lapse.

HB

Mike said...

Right on, Karen. On certain things I sometimes feel like I'm your Bizarro clone or something! I was a HUGE Miller fan back in the day. It is literally what got me in the hobby, I still love his Daredevil stuff, and I tremendously enjoyed DK Returns and Batman: Year One (which are still in my top 10 comic stories). But the industry never let it go and they just kept getting darker and darker. I don't know if its creative laziness, profitability, or what!

I have a 4-yr old little boy who is Batcrazy too just like me, but I'm keeping him away from the new titles because the writing and art is just so grim and mean. My son will learn that real life is tough enough on his own, he doesn't need a darker reality shoved in his face by a "super-hero" comic book which is supposed to be a fantasy escape. I wish they would stop tearing super-heroes down.

What killed collecting for me back then was the McFarlane craze. That Spider-man #1 in 1990 drove me crazy. People where buying mega-multiples of the book telling me its going to skyrocket in value. Those people would have earned more in interest if they would have just put their money in their bank rather than Marvel's coffers. All the X-titles too became a little much. I dropped collecting any Marvel titles and just stuck to the Batman and some Independent titles I enjoyed reading ... until I couldn't take what they were doing with Batman anymore sometime in the early/mid-nineties. I keep track of what's going on today for my boy, but I really hope they lighten it up soon or else my son won't have the same kind of fun experiences collecting like I did.

Matt Celis said...

I dropped comics and gave away 95% of what I has collected in '87 or '88. Turned off by the dismal tone everyone thought was "mature." Plus I had better things to spend my time and money on with comics' prices going up 25% or more every year or so.

Anonymous said...

I think MORE superheroes should wear jackets. They should also have lots of pouches, belts, and straps all over their costumes.

--Rob Liefeld

Doug said...

Rob, how do you feel about grossly distorted anatomy, butt-floss as a covering for the lower abdomens of female characters, guns that weigh - like - 800 pounds, speed lines when there's no speed or even motion, the lack of backgrounds in any panel, and facial expressions of the worst constipative variety?

Just askin'...

Doug

Inkstained Wretch said...

Let's see:

Avengers -- I hung on to this one for a long time, including the #200-250 drought Doug has often mentioned (It wasn't all bad). I dropped the title after Dr. Druid joined the team. I remember thinking: "You're joking right? Of all the cool past team members you could bring back, you choose Dr. Winchester from M*A*S*H?" I decided Marvel was screwing with me and gave up on it.

X-Men -- I dropped it after Storm went punk with the black leather and mohawk haircut. It was so contrary to the character that I just could not take the comic seriously anymore. X-Mania was trying my patience anyway...

The New Mutants -- Dropped that one after Bill Sienkiewicz took over on art. The style was just too abstract for me.

Green Lantern -- Gave up on that one after it became Green Lantern Corps. A super-team where everybody has the same power? Uhh, no...

Superman -- Gave up after the Death of Superman storyline. It wasn't bad on its own but it just exhausted me regarding the character.

Batman -- I gave up after #400, when Doug Monech was kicked off the title. He was highly underrated. I didn't much care for the stories after that.

Justice League -- I stuck with this title right through the end of the "Justice League Detroit" years. The Bwa-ha-ha-era league had its moments but never held my interest.

Fury of Firestorm -- I dropped that one after they killed off Prof. Stein around issue #62 or so. Why were they changing the character so radically? What was broke that needed fixing? Hellooo?

I think the common thread here is two things: either the creative team I like left -- and with it the fun I had with the comic. That or they tried to revive an ailing by making fundamental changes to the characters rather than just writing and drawing better stories.

Inkstained Wretch said...

FWIW Rob,

I dropped out of comics buying just before the Rob Liefeld Era. The consensus from everyone I've ever talked to is I didn't miss much ...

dbutler16 said...

Mohawk Storm is definitely a good time to jump off of X-Men, also.

I was into X-Factor. I agree with Doug that it restored some stability to what was then a careening-out-of-control X-Universe, also dug the original X-Men nostalgia. I also didn't like the Simonson art, though.

And yes, Doug, I do like some normalcy in comics. One of the things I like about comics is that the characters don't age, that it's an escape from reality.

No, I don't care for the "team jackets" look either. That's one of the things I hated about when Giffen took over the Legion of Super-Heroes in the late 80's. I can handle the darker stories, but his art was awful, and everybody wearing jackets made them look like regular people, not superheroes, and it was often difficult to tell the characters apart. Not what I look for in a superhero comic.

Basically, though, I tended to stick with comics I had long runs of, and things like college and money were the reasons I stopped collecting.

humanbelly said...

So, I am the biggest sucker on the planet-- the type of fan that Marvel counted on to keep themselves afloat no matter what. There were titles that I kept subscribing to for MULTIPLE YEARS that I never bothered to even open. And sometimes I'd stop reading. . . and then years later come back to the title (only now to have dropped them all. . . pretty much for good).


X-MEN: Dropped for a period (Issues 132 to 142!!) because I was just buying to many comics. Storm's mohawk S&M biker chick transformation rattled me; the whole incomprehensible Siege Perilous/Australia/They're All Dead nonesense had me saying "I don't like this book anymore"; intro of Cable & Bishop left me dead-cold; Mutant Massacres and Falls of Mutants and Ages of Apocalpyses, etc made me stop reading completely; then there was a "Dark Beast" introduced in an issue a was leafing through, and that was sort of the big I'm Done moment. All mutant books I subscribed to? Lapse, baby, lapse. That was a big step for a maniac like myself.

NEW MUTANTS/X-FORCE: Did I stop or did it get cancelled? I loved the book until Bill Seink. took over. . . and I'm not sure I ever, ever liked it again. Probably a casualty, though, of the above X-moratorium.

X-FACTOR: I remember actually liking it in Peter David's hands-- but it likely lapsed as well.

AVENGERS: Well, hung on through times both good and not-so, but seriously? TIMESLIDE, anyone?? In a way, that was all part of the Force Works miasma that also gave us Teen Tony, among other things. But Timeslide did ultimately send the book over to Heroes Reborn (which, geeze, I still bought all of. . . ). No, it was finally the Bendis-ization of my favorite, favorite team that led me to abandon it. I believe my last issue came just two weeks ago.

SPIDERMAN: Good lord, so many chances to leave. . . so many reasons. Maximum Carnage; 2nd Clone Saga; reversing that first (nicely done) Death of Aunt May; loss of Pete & MJ's baby (I know I'm in a huge minority, but I would LOVE to have seen a truly good writer take on the RESPONSIBILITY of writing Spidey as a husband and father-- I've always been a fan of he and MJ being married); revival of Norman Osborn; Norman/Gwen disgust-o-fest (that was very, very close at that point); and then. . . Brand New Day appeared like a blazing exit sign in a burning warehouse. And to make the decision easier, all four Spidey titles combined into one WEEKLY title, so my subscription just burned up four times faster.

Ohhh, so many-- but I must get back to building stuff. . .

HB

david_b said...

This may be fairly common sense, but basically ALL the avid comic buyers in the 70s grew up and went to college in the 80s, so obviously Marvel didn't account for this sales drop in the 80s, hence the struggle for sales.

As some have surmised, 1973 was such a huge year for disposable income towards comics and Mad magazine, primarily due to Watergate plastered on the tube and newspapers. Megos helped as well.

It would have been funny if Marvel and DC was offered some tie-in strategy with Mego Corp (or, earlier, Captain Action to that extent..)back in the day, simply to sell toys. It's a double-edged sword for Shooter to write the initial mini-series, granted, but the idea of SW II weaving in-and-out of so many storylines (and the Beyonder coming to Earth being such a insipid concept to begin with..) ended up as a lose-lose concept, for no reason (no toy tie-in..). Baffling.

WardHill Terry said...

I stopped buying most of my favorites because they got cancelled. That tells you about my taste. I kept collecting while in college ('85), and immediately afterward. Once I started living with a couplae of friends who were not only fellow-collectors, but also comic-store employees, I started reading more of their comics and buying fewer of mine. Wiht the editorial changes taking away things like Earth-2 and mutant minimalism, it was pretty easy to just stop altogether. However, one title has a definite end date! I gradually gave up on Superman, Amazing, and Spectacular, but X-Men I dropped cold. I think it was issue 157. It ended with a panel of Peter with a freakin' spear through his chest! I knew he would survive, but that was too much. The story-line about Corsair the pater familias was also a huge turn-off. I think I got out just in time!

J.A. Morris said...

I collected every Amazing Spider-Man (plus, most issues of the other Spider-Man titles) and Uncanny X-men from the mid-70s until 1994. I'd already stopped collecting a few other series (FF being the only one I can think of).

But 2 "events" showed me it was time to quit:

Age Of Apocalypse-I'd considered quitting X-men several times before. I felt like they'd been assigning inferior artists for the series and the plots were boring. Why didn't I quit? Because I kept hoping "it might get better".

Around the same time, the 2nd Clone Saga was happening in the Spidey titles. That was it for comics.

I still pick up an odd issue here and there, but haven't collected new comics since 1994. Nowadays, I'm in it for the Bronze Age Reprint books. Speaking of which, I plan to (finally) get around to reviewing some of those on my reprint blog.

I haven't been here much lately, so let me belatedly welcome back Karen & Doug!

Doug said...

J.A. --

Thanks, and your absence has been noticed, yes.

What's the next tpb you're going to convince me to buy over on your own blog?

I'll still go on record as saying I liked the 1st Clone Saga.

Doug

Anonymous said...

In the late 70s-early 80s I liked comics from both companies: Spidey, Batman, Superman, DD, JLA, New Teen Titans, LSH, PM/IF, etc. I ended up dropping DC right around the time of the Crisis (1985-86), mainly for monetary reasons, but maybe their stories just weren't doing it for me either.

I continued with Marvel for a little while, but then basically stopped collecting altogether...again, mainly because of lack of money. One of my friends still collected Spider-Man and I read some of his issues, but wasn't buying any for myself.

After a couple of years I missed Spidey (and comics in general) too much, so I started collecting again (Amazing Spider-Man #299 was my first issue back). I collected for a few years and expanded my list of favourites, but eventually all the crossovers, deluxe editions, and super-duper platimun-radioactive-die cut covers were just too much. I couldn't handle the commercialism (or the prices...being in Canada the prices are a buck or so higher), so I quit completely.

I was out of touch for quite awhile, but nowadays with the internet and Essentials and so on, it's easy (and relatively cheap) to read comics, so I've been trying to go back and fill in those missing years. Unfortunately, all the reboots and crossovers and "events" are reminding me too much of the mid 90s, so I think I've basically given up on new comics (with one or two exceptions, like Waid's DD) and I'm content with reading more of the classic issues that I missed.

Mike W.

William said...

Great topic guys.

I've noticed the general consensus seems to be that comics started to become less fun and thus less enjoyable to read right around the mid to late 80's. I completely agree with that assessment. However, I am a certified comic book junkie and I hung in there way longer than I really should have-- or even wanted to.

This is actually a tough question, because I've picked up and dropped and picked up again, and dropped again, many different titles over the years. (Avengers, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, X-Men Captain America, Superman, Justice League, etc.)

I quit regularly reading Daredevil after Frank Miller was gone. I quit the FF shortly after Byrne left. The Avengers somewhere around issue #206, and so on.

However the only character that I collected continuously for most of my life was Spider-Man. The strange thing is that I recently took a look back at all the Spider-Man books over the years, and I came to the startling realization that I basically haven't' really LOVED any Spider-Man story since around 1987 (right after Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz were forced off of Amazing Spider-Man). I still liked reading Spider-Man for a while, but I just didn't love it like I once did. Then the marriage was really a turning point for me. I don't care what anyone says, that horrible decision fundamentally changed the entire concept of the character and pretty much ruined everything IMO. It was akin to taking a hot fudge sundae and squirting mustard all over it. Yeah, it's still basically a hot fudge sundae underneath, but there is an ingredient in there that just doesn't belong, and it's not nearly as good as it was. Despite that, I kept faithfully reading Spider-Man (all Spider-Man, even Ultimate) until about three years ago. My last issue was Amazing Spider-Man #650. :(

I had dropped all other Marvel Comics right after Civil War and Spider-Man was all that I was still picking up. But it finally got to the point where it was just so bad that it was all I could stands, 'cause I couldn't stands no more!! The only reason I stuck with it so long was because I had pretty much every Spider-Man comic ever published, (which I recently put up for sale at Comic Connect). Now I am free at last to give up on all modern comics and concentrate on my true love. Old comics from the Silver and Bronze Age. Rediscovering classic comics (through trades and back issues) that are actually fun to read again has been an awesome and liberating experience. They can keep the dark and grim comics of today. I have plenty of old-school stuff to keep my love of comics alive and to keep me entertained for many years to come. Excelsior!!!

J.A. Morris said...

Thanks Doug, I've got my takes 'Spider-Man:Return Of The Burglar' and 'Captain America:Dethlok Lives!' in progress, will post ASAP.

I want to echo what Anonymous Alan said about Secret Wars II. The first SW wasn't very good, but compared to its sequel, it's the Galactus Trilogy. All the tie-in issues, the immediately dated 80s look of the Beyonder, and the art isn't very good either.
I like Milgrom okay on series like Spectacular Spider-Man, but he wasn't cut out to draw a series that had 20+ characters and a cosmic god. Steve Leialoha's inks weren't so great either. Unpleasant to read and to look at.

Matt Celis said...

Never read Secret Wars 2. What was it about?

I enjoyed Secret Wars for what it was. I remember getting some of the dolls with the funky shields for Christmas. I remember wondering why Captain America didn't have his regular shield. I wish I still had those dolls, they were pretty nice sculpts!

Edo Bosnar said...

I feel I have to step in here to defend Simonson's art on X-factor - I rather liked it. When I mentioned above that I returned to comics a few times post-high school, on two occasions it was to read the Mutant Massacre and then Inferno - more morbid curiosity than anything else, as I really didn't like either story, but one thing I did like at the time was Simonson's art in the X-factor books. In fact, I thought X-factor was pretty decent for a while after Inferno (and I rather enjoyed Paul Smith's art on that title as well).
And Doug, for what it's worth, I liked the first Clone Saga, too, including the Carrion story from Spectacular Spider-man.

Matt Celis said...

I also enjoy Walt Simonson's art. I hear he'll be doing a new Hulk comic for Marvel now and Thor is putting in an appearance.

Garett said...

When the Yellow Kid started wearing a bomber jacket, I was outta there!

Doug said...

Simonson just does nothing for me. His figures just don't look right. I think my eyes see him as drawing somewhat like the "animated style" of the later Justice League cartoons (strange anatomical proportioning). That style works on television, but I prefer more realistic figure drawing in comics. Maybe just me... I don't have a problem with his storytelling -- he's a decent enough director.

Doug

Anonymous said...

Avengers Jackets did it for me...

I would read about anything with Marvel super-heroes when I was a kid, from 1983-1990, but I never stuck with a title like I did with the Avengers, starting at #240, I never missed an issue. My run ended at Avengers #343, a horrible line-up, increasingly bad art (and color), CRYSTAL joining (bleccch), and finally--those horrible, horrible jackets. I didn't pick up another Avngers comic until #4 of Busiek/Perez run. And I didn't miss anything during those lean years, IMHO!

starfoxxx

dbutler16 said...

Mmmmmm, hot fudge sundae with mustard.

Like a couple of others here, I've pretty much given up on newer comics and just focus on Bronze and Silver Age comics.

david_b said...

dbutler16, Hear, Hear..

Except for a cover with some cool scene well-drawn or even a cool glitsy novelty cover, no interest in anything since '87 save for Buseck/Perez's Avengers brief tenure, even then it's more a pleasant feeling that at least for a spell, our heroes were thoughtfully presented with some well-written stories for our younger readers, but no direct interest myself.

Give me the Bronze and Silver Age anyday. Just glad I spent the money to buy back issues in the 80s, and not too much of the current stuff.., even back then. My best mid-80s investment was buying a dozen early issues of Cardy Teen Titans, all NM quality for about $5 each.

Logan M said...

Avengers 89-201 are in my "desert island" long box and I stuck around through Avengers 250 or so. I left before the bomber jackets ever showed up. Mu question is, though: did the Vision get a bomber jacket? Or would it just have fallen off when he became intangible?

Matt Celis said...

Dr. Druid wasn't so bad. At least not while Roger Stern was doing the Avengers. His red kiddie pajamas costume was pretty awful, though.

Garett said...

I never really had that "I've had it with comics" event, but when certain creators leave a title I usually leave with them.

Dillin on JLA (although there were a few Perez issues that followed), Sienkiewicz on Moon Knight (couldn't get into his New Mutants after that--Moon Knight fit his expressive style better), Grell on Warlord/Starslayer/Jon Sable (immediate drop when he left them--he had a super 10 year run on these consecutive titles), Miller on DD (Romita Jr almost got me back, but...no), Byrne on X-Men (Paul Smith wasn't as good, and Jim Lee got me looking again briefly).

Teen Titans with Wolfman and Perez is an exception, as I left before they did--seemed like the energy fizzled in the mid-40s. Also left Dreadstar and American Flagg while Starlin and Chaykin were still on them--more dwindling returns.

I sold my collection and left comics in '87 to go to university, and when I returned in '91-'92, I thought I'd step right back in--but something was very different. It took me a while to find a new series I could read, and since then it's been a series here and there, plus exploring older silver/bronze series I missed the first time around.

I do think there have been some excellent writers and artists in the last 20 years, and the medium has expanded in various directions. But I do wish there was also room or the talents to produce bronze-style comics today.

humanbelly said...

Oh daggone it, Starfoxxx ol' pal-- you will always be my Bomber Jacket nemesis, won't you? *sigh* Someday, my car will break down in Death Valley, and I'll crawl across the desert, taking night-time shelter in an abandon silver mine which has been inhabited by a derelict old escaped convict from 1934, and as we share a roasted gila monster and a can of 70-year-old beans over the fire, I'll whisper to him, "Y'know, I always liked the Avengers' bomber jackets". . . and I know I'll be saved-- 'cause you'll be there in a flash, with a happy smile, to say, "Ha! Dude! The bomber jackets were the WORST!"
Ohhhhh, it's so delightfully karmic---! (I mean this ENTIRELY as affectionate ribbing, of course. . . !)

Uh-- let me cast a vote that Dr.Druid's painted-on red unitard was. . . utterly unfortunate. I mean, when you're reading a comic, it should NEVER cross your mind that you desparately hope one of the characters is wearing an athletic supporter or a dance belt. . .

I was one of the clue-free folks who didn't realize at the time that Secret Wars was a toy-drive tie-in. I actually bought into the whole idea of it well enough (and boy, that first cover was terrific), as it seemed like a cool attempt at big, huge "Ben-Hur/10 Commandments/How the West Was Won" level of epic tale. But of course the execution didn't quite live up to that high expectation. And there was the OBVIOUS problem with the fact that we knew the end and the aftermath before the second issue came out. Meh. So it was an epic exercise in futility.

INCREDIBLE HULK tried so very hard to lose me with the awful, awful, awful Bruce Jones run (Hatedhatedhated it. Despised what he did. Dreadful on multiple levels. Generally A+ art, though.)-- but being an enormous Hulkophile, I stuck it out. Ultimately, I was rewarded with Planet Hulk. After which, the wise subscription folks decided that what we fans REALLY wanted was the Red Hulk book-- not the green one. And then World War Hulk happened with 10 bajillion crossovers and specials and tie-ins--- and it was too hopelessly expensive to stay on top of, AND there were finally about 10 different iterations of the Hulk, so there was no core character to really attach to anymore. So I never got him back from subscription-switch limbo. . . (*sniff*). . .

HB

Anonymous said...

To me comics lost their appeal from the mid 80s onwards - too many X-teams, too many tie-ins, Secret Wars (ugh); in the 90s everyone seemed to be following the Godawful Rob Liefeld/Image comics model - lacklustre plots, characters drawn with muscles even the Hulk didn't have, and a general lack of care for the quality. The lone exception in my opinion was Simonson's run on Thor. Like Doug, I'm not a big fan of his art, but his plotting and reinvention of that title was exquisite.

While I know part of it was growing older and persuing other interests, I really do think that comics underwent a fundamental change around that time period; sure, we have technological advances like computerized colouring now but somehow I think the craftsmanship nowadays is less compared to comics decades ago. There are perhaps a few modern titles I'll buy but most of my collection is vintage Bronze and Silver Age stuff.


- Mike 'the comics philosopher' from Trinidad & Tobago.

mr. oyola said...

Most of the comments here make me feel a little young, which is not a feeling I am used to these days. . . :)

It is hard to say that there were specific story elements or art directions that made me drop, b/c my waning interest in comics coincided with the end of my teen years, finishing high school, going away to college, developing other interests, in short. . . growing up or at least thinking that I was outgrowing comics. . .

In terms of titles, if I remember correctly, while I liked Mutant Massacre (and I loved mohawked Storm with no powers! - guess I am in the minority there), the whole Inferno and the dead X-Men in Australia thing was too much for me. So I gave it up (I also felt that Claremont was going way too afield from some plot elements, seeming to forget about them).

The end for Spider-Man came right after Kraven's Last Hunt (which I feel is overrated). I resented having to follow more than one title to read the whole story (even if they were all Spidey). I also missed the "dark and gritty" stories of PPTSSM (with the intro of Cloak & Dagger and the Sin-Eater storyline) and the switch in tone was not appealing to me.

I had already given up on Avengers around SWII, and only cared about Daredevil when Miller was writing it, so after his second stint I stopped that as well.

I stopped FF with Byrne's absence and the same goes with Simonson leaving Thor (which I also loved).

Other titles I liked were cancelled or had ended - like Rom.

So I would say I totally stopped by fall of 1988, and while I started reading some again in the late 90s (borrowing friends), I would not start buying comics regularly again (probably more regularly now than ever) until about 2002.

Redartz said...

HB- excellent point about the fundamental weakness of Secret Wars: within the first month the Secrets were pretty much out. I did enjoy the art, Mike Zeck is always pleasing. The story was ok, but not up to the expectation set by Shooter's admirable Avengers run.

Mike- Simonson's Thor was a high point of 80's comics, and I personally loved the art. Such fun with sound effects!

And like most of you, my attention now is on the Silver and Bronze Age stories. All is not hopeless, though. There are some good examples of comic art being produced currently. As noted above, Mark Waid's Daredevil , Shanower and Young's Oz books; for example. And the stories tend towards the Mature, but J. H. Williams art on Batwoman is strikingly inventive.

Fred W. Hill said...

Wow, lots of posts here as I enter at a quarter before The Witching Hour after a full work day, a weekly trivia game (which my team won, yay!) and then writing to a former high school friend I haven't seen in over 30 years but recently got back in touch with. Anyhow, my collecting habit tapered off gradually in the mid-80s. Early in the decade, I was probably getting at least 25 titles a month, but as it go so that I found I was buying titles I was no longer even reading or enjoying if I did read, I overcame the collector mania and just kept up with the few I really did like but as my life got busier I just stopped going to the comics store, except maybe every once in a blue moon or so. I liked Simonson's Thor, but dropped that shortly after his last ish; I quit Iron Man & X-Men around their 200th issues and the Spider-titles shortly after the marriage (but before McFarlane came on the scene), the Avengers a bit after the Trial of Yellowjacket but before Stern's run started; Mantlo was still on the Hulk and I believe Byrne was still on the FF.
I kept up with Moore's Swamp Thing until nearly the end of his run. After not really collecting much for a couple of years, I found out about Gaiman's Sandman and started getting that around the 40th issue (and got the collections of the previous issues) then in the late '90s I got into the parody series Too Much Coffee Man and that was the last title I collected as floppies, as opposed to collections. Strange but true.

William said...

I myself didn't have a problem with the first Secret Wars when it originally came out. I was pretty clueless as the the whole toy angel of the project. I remember they used the event to make "lasting" changes to most of the big selling titles. I actually liked the Spider-Man black costume years (mostly because of DeFalco and Frenz), but I wasn't too happy with She-Hulk replacing The Thing in the Fantastic Four. It wouldn't have been so bad if it only had lasted for 6 months or so, but it lasted for years and greatly diminished my enjoyment of the title.

As for comics today, I'd like to put my recommendation in for Mark Waid's current run Daredevil. It is literally the only currently published comic that I read. It has a nice old school feel in both story and art. Unfortunately I'm sure it won't last, but everyone should enjoy it while it while they can.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I feel a bit chagrined at how long I hung in there.

I dropped a number of Marvel books in the late 80s, as I started buying much the suddenly more interesting DC titles like Year One and Dark Knight, Watchmen, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, then Doom Patrol and Animal Man and soon Sandman. These all made the current Marvels seem utterly uninteresting, but I kept hanging in with my favorite titles like FF, X-Men and Avengers, right up until the Heroes Reborn. After going to such lengths to own every single issue of FF, how could I stop?
When they renumbered the Marvel U and made all the earlier continuity redundant, they lost me forever.
The DC titles became steadily less interesting in the mid-90s and I gave up for good with the final issue of Sandman.
Alan Moore rekindled a minor buying interest with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Top Ten,etc, but it faded. The last new comics I bought were (on a weird impulse after years and years of no Marvels, except for Gaiman's Eternals) the first five issues of Civil War (and I didn't even bother buying the last issue).
I would love to go back twenty-five years or so to my twenty-seven year-old self. I could have saved him a lot of wasted money, and really could use some of it now.

vancouver mark said...



That was me, I'm not anonymous.

Edo Bosnar said...

Fred, I'm a bit puzzled that you say you stopped reading Avengers after the Trial of Yellowjacket but before Stern's run started. The Trial of Yellowjacket was basically the beginning of Stern's run - and actually a good story: all things considered, he made a pretty solid attempt to clean up the mess Shooter made (and I still remember that rather touching scene when Hank and Jan part ways, it was very well done).
I also read Avengers for about a dozen issues into Stern's run, but dropped it with almost everything else for the reasons I mentioned above. However, if I had been in a different frame of mind, I probably would have kept reading Avengers at the time. The art was not that great (not even sterling inkers like Sinnott and Breeding could make Milgrom's pencils look anything more than acceptable), but Stern was writing pretty good stories from the get-go.

Rip Jagger said...

I know I'm tagging in at the end of this robust conversation, but here's my two cents.

I've checked in and out of comics a few times, usually not leaving them behind, but focusing on some new aspect of the hobby.

I left Marvel and DC behind in 1975 to focus on Charlton and to a lesser extent Gold Key. I returned, then a few years later left DC to focus on building up my Marvel back collection. That gave way in the late 80's and early 90's when I got into Valiant and abandoned most of the Big Two save for the Avengers and Justice League books.

Then about five years ago, I dropped out of new comics entirely, driven off by the decompressed storytelling and the seeming endless array of dull artwork and ever higher unit prices. The epic Avengers-JLofA crossover is the marker, the end.

I focused on pulps, both old and new and have rarely looked back.

Old comics are fun to explore and discuss. New comics give me a pain.

Rip Off

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I knew it was all over after watching Jim Shooter's "Secret Wars" become a hit. I like Mike Zeck as an artist. However Secret Wars was not the best. Nor was it written well as a Marvel Saga should be. It was all designed to sell action figures!

Sure I went back to see Byrne's run on the Fantastic Four. He went on to Man of Steel in 1986. However after "Watchmen", "Dark Knight" and "Camelot 3000"...it was over. I was in my last year of college and couldn't afford titles like I used to. I had to make a living.

The actual "last" comic I got wasn't a comic at all. It was a $100 hardcover slip case edtion of Crisis on Infinate Earths. The comic book store manager that sold it to me was going out of business at the time. He got very upset with me when I asked why he was.... get this.......selling comics by the Pound!

I don't know how he came up with that crazy idea.He has since reopened under a different name. But after he did I never went back. All the comics buying I have now are reprints from the 1970's. I buy on Amazon now and if it isn't in paperback or hardcover, I forget about it because I can't afford it anyway!

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

The only comics I read today are my Kirby DC comics. The 4th World Saga in four paperback omnibus edtions, Kamadi Omnibus one and two, Omac omnibus, The Demon omnibus. I purchased them all last year.

I have the first 500 issues of Star Trek comics (from all five companies) on DVD. I read those on my computer.

The first 500 of Spidey and Fantastic Four all on DVD. It will take me forever to read those.

All the new stuff I can't relate to!

The comics I grew up with don't resemble the ones of today. They are meaner and more graphic for no purpose. I'm no prude, but you don't need to show blood and guts in the pages of a Wolverine comic or graphic novel.



Back when I was a kid in the 70's reading the Conan black and white Marvel Magazine comics, you never saw the brutality that you see in today's stories.

humanbelly said...

The responses on this post really do a remarkable job of sort of defining us as a group, don't they? And that is absolutely, positively not meant in anything like a critical way. First, I'm extremely impressed with the fact that diametrically opposing opinions can be expressed (for instance, some can't stand Simonson's THOR, others view it as a high water mark for Marvel; some flat-out loved DKR, others were driven from comics by it; and, heh, bomber jackets--!) ) and there's not a shred of personal vitriol expressed. No character judgments or assasinations, no ugly rants. This understanding and acceptance that different folks will ALWAYS have different tastes and opinions on anything as subjective as comics speaks amazingly well of the community that Doug and Karen have gathered here.
The other notable item is that, wow, we've all become The Old Coots Sitting On The Porch, Pinin' Fer The Old Days. Mind you, I don't think we're wrong, but if you pulled the subject matter out of the posts, we could be the guys defending horses over cars, silent films over talkies, radio over TV, 60's pop/rock over Disco, vinyl over 8-track over cassettes over CDs over MP3's, books over Kindle, black & white over color, and/or regular format films over supermegaultrablast 3-D. Note that on a number of those debates, time would have proved "us" on the right side of the argument. Well, hopefully. And it may be a pyrrhic victory at any rate, as there doesn't seem to be a path back to recapturing or recreating the kinds of comics that we loved so much. Economics (price point) are against it; market forces (youth market lost forever to other forms of entertainment media) are against it; tastes of the existing remaining market seem to be against it; and it would appear that long-range corporate strategies (focus on films and animation) are likely against it.

Rather than mourn too much, though, it may indeed be best to enjoy the fruits of what-was during the twilight. . .

HB

Matt Celis said...

I don't think Shooter made a mess, I think it's more some folks have a sentimental attachment to Ant-Man and his marriage and don't like the turn his career and personal life took. I though it was pretty good except for the art, but I never cared one way or the other about Henry Pym.

Matt Celis said...

You can say that again!

Anonymous said...

I love that HB comments on the fact that everything is so gentlemanly and respectful and then Matt says the one thing that is guaranteed to make Doug rip out of his shirt.


53 comments. Wow, here we go:

I actually didn’t hate the Secret Wars as much as everyone else. I thought something involving everyone was cool. I wouldn’t say I was a fan of it, but I remember expecting that, given the reasons it was done, it was going to be absolutely unreadably dire and I remember being pleasantly surprised.

Nonetheless, I got out pretty much altogether when they fished Jean out of the bay. I couldn’t believe that we’d gone through all that loss, grief and emotion for the last 6 years and suddenly it was “Bobby, I had the strangest dream....”

Prior to that: if I’d enjoyed a run, I would stay with it hoping for improvement in the troughs. I stayed with the Defenders for about 3 years hoping for a return to Englehart or Gerber glory.

Avengers....you know when I left.

I guess the reasons why each of us drops a title may be simply connected to the reason we started with it in the first place. Curiously, I collected every issue of Two In One, but very few of Team Up. No idea why.

Edo - I had the exact opposite experience with Xmen #186. I hadn’t read Xmen all that year and bought it off a spinner while waiting for a bus. I was more than slightly impressed.

Inkstained...the Justice League of Detroit? Really? Oh well, if anywhere ever needed a team of super heroes....

HB ...you dropped Xmen from 132 – 142 ??? That must have been an interesting moment when you caught up. Did you feel you’d missed much?

Is the Mutant Massacre actually a different thing from the Fall of the Mutants ?? Wow, those guys had a worse time than socialism in the late 80’s.

William – loved your post.

Regarding Dr.Druid – if you re-read your way through these posts, it seems one thing we all hate is when a great character is brought back in and then mangled for one silly story line (Storm, Gwen, Norman Osborne, Aunt May & others are mentioned). With Dr.Druid, Stern brought back a credible is-he-a-goodie-or-a-baddie type for a particular plotline, instead of mangling a beloved hero with a completely-out-of-character plotline. Finally, someone did it right, and we’re all still bloody moaning!!!!!

Richard

Doug said...

Richard --

I, too (sadly), quit the X-Men with #130. I didn't get back in until Storm had a mohawk. And I didn't read the complete Dark Phoenix Saga until many years later when I got the tpb. Duh to me.

Isn't it funny how in the same era, I missed Dark Phoenix and Byrne's run on the FF, but also the Milgrom years/destruction of YJ in the Avengers. Not exactly a balance there on quality among those three books, huh? Seems Earth's Mightiest got the shaft while I was in high school.

Doug

William said...

First I just noticed that I spelled the word "angle" wrong in my last post. Dammit, I could really use a proof reader.

Anyway, I read the last few posts and I found some things very interesting.

First Vancouver Mark, I probably hung there in longer than you did, so don't feel so bad. I read all of the original Ultimate Marvel stuff, and regular continuity books like "House of M", and "Astonishing X-Men", and I was on board from the beginning with "New Avengers #1". Not to mention I kept reading "Amazing Spider-Man" and all the other related Spider books until just a couple of years ago.

So you see, I tried to stay into comics as long as I could. I really did. But when "Civil War" came along, I just couldn't take it anymore and dropped everything on my pull list except for the Spider-Man stuff. But even after all that I tried again when Marvel launched their so-called "Heroic Age" with the promise of getting back to more light hearted superhero style stories. However, that wasn't really the case. I picked up the first 6 issues of the relaunched "New Avengers" and just plain "Avengers". But it just couldn't hold my interest. I just don't like the new computerized artwork, and the stories just seem to drag on forever, and nothing ever gets resolved. It's just all so damn tedious. Then when things like "Brand New Day" and "Spider-Island" came along, I finally just threw up my hands and gave up all-together. Now I only read collections of older material and back issues, and I only drop by my LCS once in a while to pick up a trade paperback, or an action figure or something.

And like Humanbelly pointed out, I don't want to start sounding like an old fart who pines away for the "good old days", but it's hard not to when something that was such a big part of your life has changed so radically that is almost unrecognizable compared to what it used to be. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug – I can’t imagine giving up Xmen at that point. I started from #97 and each month, I kept thinking this just can’t get any better, but it did and it did and it did. I remember going up to London to buy Xmen 136 and waiting patiently while they tore the boxes open. And, in case you think I was alone, it was pretty reminiscent of a George Romero movie in that not-so-local-LCS.

(Dark They Were...for the benefit of Steve and other southerly Brits).

Regarding the issue of old-farthood, I’m not sure it’s necessarily generational. I know kids grow up a lot faster than we did, but my niece still loves Dr. Seuss books. Maybe she’ll grow out of them a little faster than our generation did, but I think the level on which they appeal to her is absolutely the same as it would have been 30 or 40 years ago.

I think the thing that makes us love super powered people having heroic adventures is the same thing that had the ancients in the agora spellbound by the labours of Hercules or the voyage of the Argonauts. The invention of the printing press didn’t change that, and neither did the iPad.

Richard

mr. oyola said...

I just went back to an online cover gallery to check it out (as I sold all my old X-Men on eBay in 1999 when I wasn't back into comics yet) and determined that I bought X-men every month from 168 to 231 - a lot later than most people here it seems. I remember really loving it until some time in the 210s.

I had X-Men from before that, but I had to get them the old fashioned way - through trading and finds at garage sales and the like before people "realized" comics could be valuable.

Redartz said...

Can we hit 60 here? Richard, I like your take on the generational question. Yes, there is definitely a tendency to look back with some melancholy. And yes, the comics today are unlike those great books we discuss. Funny though, I remember thinking as a youth in the 70's that then- current comics would never be worth much as they paled in comparison to the Silver Age classics. To some degree, all is relative. In comics ( or music, film, etc.) today, there are gems to be found...and it is fun looking...

Edo Bosnar said...

Richard, does anybody really grow out of Dr. Suess? I still have a few of his books on my shelf which I occasionally take out and re-read. Let me tell you, "Green Eggs and Ham," among others, never gets old.

Redartz, interesting that you thought the '70s stuff paled compared to the Silver Age classics. For me, it was pretty much the opposite back then: while I respected the hell out of the classic stories I was reading in reprints, with the possible exception of Lee/Ditko's Spider-man I thought all of the current (i.e., 1970s and even early '80s) stuff was better. To a considerable extent, I still feel that way (hence the fact that I frequent the comment threads on a blog dedicated to the Bronze Age).

Redartz said...

Edo- another case of hindsight being better, I quite agree now about the relative quality of bronze vs. silver. My youthful eyes were blinded by Lee, Ditko, Kirby and Romita...

Garett said...

Hey FFF 4ever, I'm really getting into Kirby's DC stuff now as well. The Demon is a lot a fun. I'd seen one or two before, but reading them all in the omnibus is a great experience. Kirby's art is still powerful, and the writing is fun.

Greg said...

I got out of comics in the early 80's, so I missed Secret War and X- Factor and all that. Got back in late 80's and stayed until 94 or so, I think stuff like Phalanx Covenant was my fed-up point. When the crossovers were every year like clockwork and the not worth reading (at least in my view). I would pick up things on and off in the intervening years, but like so many others I rarely buy new comics anymore and mainly buy trades of the old stuff.

I stuck with Avengers for a long time, but I'm not really fond of anything after Acts of Vengeance, and frankly they weren't very good even before that. I did read Bob Harras' run at the time and liked some of it, guess that's the bomber jacket era, but looking back I don't think I would like it now. I looked at a few recently and kinda cringed.

To echo other comments here, there definetly seems to be a spark that was lost sometime after the early 80's. In many cases it seems to be the art, when I look at those mid-80's books the art is just so... I don't know, it didn't work for me. There were occasional things I liked after that time period though. I did like Mutant Massacre, I thought they were ditching some extraneous mutants and Thor actually took a Marauder out permanently, I rather liked that. Messed with the wrong guy. But I didn't like anything in the X-Men after that, so MM was definetly my last X- story that I liked.

Claremont was a mess at the end of his run but what came after was even worse. If I were recommending X-Men comics I would ignore everything after the 170's probably. For the Avengers I thought they sucked after 200, got OK during Stern's run, and then pretty much sucked again.

So yeah I'm pretty much a curmudgeon I guess. I'm having a blast revisiting the Bronze age though, Masterworks and trades...

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