Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who's the Best... Mini-Series You Ever Bought?


J.A. Morris said...

Wolverine (1982).

Fred W. Hill said...

I'll have to go with Watchmen, which I actually did get in the floppies version. A clerk at the comic shop I went to in Sunnyvale, CA, recommended it to me and so I checked it out before I'd heard any of the massive hype about the series that would come later. Gibbon's art and Moore's script and story each had so many intricate elements it deserves it's reputation as a comics masterpiece. And nearly 30 years later, I still enjoy reading it, which is really the most important part.

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, not one of those minis pictured can actually be considered Bronze Age... But I liked Man of Steel well enough.

Probably my favorite back then was the first Hercules mini-series by Bob Layton. I really enjoyed the often tongue-in-cheek stories, and I loved that it was set in outer space (with Herc traveling around in a chariot - priceless). Also liked the Rigellian Recorder as his sidekick.

Runners-up: the Phantom Zone by Gerber and Colan, and the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps three-part mini by Wein/Barr and Staton.
I also have a soft spot for the World of Krypton (so much better than Krypton Chronicles, which I mentioned last week). If I recall correctly, that was in fact the first mini-series put out by either of the big 2.

Humanbelly said...

Quick question-- is there a distinction between mini-series (like, 3 to 6 issues long) and "maxi" series (9 to 12 issues)? Or can we put them all on the same shelf for this discussion? Or the same bin. . . or long-box. . . (what's the metaphor I'm lookin' for, here. . .?)?


Doug said...

Edo, the question's wide open today. Sometimes I think we pigeonhole ourselves around here too much, hence the "What's So Golden...?" series and occasional dips into the Silver Age and the Dark Age. Yes, the focus will always be the Bronze Age, but we can let our hair down once in a while. I placed those three minis there today because they were three that I've really enjoyed at times.

HB - mini-, maxi-, limited, whatever. The series had a pre-set finite run.

So anyway, I loved Marvels and still do. I actually liked Crisis when I was reading it off the newsstand, but then that's back when I was naive about "permanence" and actually thought DC was really shaking things up. Follow that with Man of Steel and Legends, and DC was exciting for me for the first time since I was a tot watching Super Friends.

JA, Wolverine was decent enough. However, I got absolutely sick of Claremont telling us what Wolverine's power set was and that what he does "isn't nice", yadda yadda yadda at the beginning of each of the four issues.


Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, no worries. I didn't mean the discussion should have a narrow focus; I just meant that since there was no shortage of minis back in the Bronze Age, it might have been nice to include images of one (or two) of those. You know, something like Hercules ... ;)
And yes, I liked Legends as well, not as much as Man of Steel, but I thought it was pretty solid. And I also thought, and still do to some extent, that DC really was more exciting for a while there just after Crisis.

And I also agree about Wolverine, even though X-zuvembie that I was at the time, I was really excited about it initially. However, in hindsight, that mini can be seen as the first big step in Wolverine's overexposure.

david_b said...

Hmmm, I didn't collect much in the '80s, but a few titles perked my interest..:

1) WCA. Nice Hall art, very nice, small-scale story about Graviton. I really liked the cleverness of the story-telling, which was so extremely odd since the regular title sank the concept like a rock to me, primarily for the art, but also the lame Pandemonium and cat-people storylines that seemed endless (and that Pym suicide attempt didn't bode well with me either..). Nice cliff-hangers and dialog.

2) DC's Tales of the Titans (4-parter) of new member origins. When the title itself started going south after the first 30 issues, this 4-parter was very insightful and breezy. Helped greatly by Perez's masterful art.

3)DC's Legends. Not a big of Byrne fan as most here, but I liked the depictions of all main characters and the baddie. Lightweight, more for those of us who didn't want to start collecting Batman or Supes necessarily, just a limited investment.

4) Green Arrow's mini-series. Don't remember much of it at this sitting, but loved the covers and the story seemed fairly good.

Once others start mentioning other titles, I'll probably chime in again. Sounds like I definitely do have to pick up that Herc mini-series..

Any love for the 1st Vish-Scarlet Witch 4-parter..? The 2nd maxi-series was TERRIBLE, again terrible art.

Mike said...

I want to second Edo on "Hercules". I vividly remember that mini back in the day of endless Marvel mini's. That one really stood out and I wished they started a Hercules monthly title with Layton at the helm.

I'm drawing a blank on anything else right now. If I think of anything later "I'll be back".

(Yes, I just quoted Arnold. I really don't think I got enough sleep last night.)

Doug said...

Like David, I was out of collecting in the heyday of the mini-series, so any further comments I make today will be about series that were published after 1985, or about series published prior to 1985 but that I came to much later.

I have the two Marvel Premier Hardcovers that reprint the two Hercules minis, but have not yet read either one. I've leafed through them, and the look great!


Anonymous said...

Ooookay, the whole bus trip home I'm singing "Mini-Series Day, it's Mini-Series Day, Mini Mini Mini Series Daaaay. IT'S MINI-SERIES DAY!!!!" Which explains why I always get my own seat. Riding the bus, gotta love it.

In reverse order:

6) Assault On Armor City a 3 part crossover involving Iron Man and the West Coast Avengers.

5) Spirit Of Wonder Kenji Tsuruta's turn of the century love story. It had such an old school H G Wells sci-fi feel to it.

4) Shirow's Dominion Conflict NO MORE NOISE. My first foray into anime and a flat out hilarious good cop/ "why are you my partner?" cop story.

3) Marvels. The MU seen through the eyes of reporter Phil Sheldon. I know it didn't work on film for Galactus but a sky on fire looked pretty cool.

2) Kingdom Come - not big into DC but had me interested from beginning to end. And the mind worm in Capt Marvel!?! (KHAN!!!! Poor Chekov.)

1) Wolverine. Loved the story at the time. But I do have to agree with Edo. Right on the cusp of Logan's complete and utter dominance of all things Marvel.

What is great about today's topic bookending with the worst from last week is being able to see how quickly things can get out of hand. In looking up Roy Thomas from last week's question, one of the things he started was Marvel Team Up. I loved those stories. But I have to think that led to Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider Man to Web Of Spider Man to Tales of the untold spiderman and his superspider friends and all those X-Men titles and etc etc etc and so on and such...

What I'm trying to say is before you knew it the Kool-Aid was just water with food coloring in it. And we were still drinking it.

Doug, comic book tale of woe. I was in Fry's about 15 years ago and saw the DVDs for Spider-Man The Avengers and X-Men. I think they were 29.95 each. "I'll get 'em next time," I thought. Never saw them there again!!!

The Prowler (never got a title but could have been a contender...STELLAAAAA).

Doc Savage said...

Undoubtedly "1963" by Alan Moore & co. A whole Marvel Universe in 6 issues. Dead-on writing and art. The fake ads are hilarious. Came out in '93 as the antithesis of what Marvel had become. By that time I'd much rather read No One Escapes the Fury than Amazing Spider-Man, or Horus: Lord of Light in lieu of Thor. Great stuff. And you'll probably never see it collected due to Alan Moore being Alan Moorish about things.

dbutler16 said...

I liked Hawkeye's mini quite a bit. I liked West Coast Avengers, too, but I liked Hawkeye a bit more. Hercules was very good too.
I haven't read most of my mini's in such a long time, though (every Marvel character had one in the mod-80's!) that I'd need to read through some again. I enjoyed the Wolverine mini, but I did not like the art at all. Frank Miller is NOT to my liking.

I'll admit to liking Contest of the Champions and the first Secret Wars, especially Contest of the Champions.

I've just ordered the Squadron Supreme TPB (or is that a maxi-series?) so maybe that will make my list in a few weeks.

On the DC side, Tales of the New Teen Titans was very good, and I also liked the Secrets of the Legion, but I'm a sucker for anything Legion of Super-Heroes related (yes, I liked the Cosmic Boy mini too). I also liked the Aquaman mini from 1986(?)

dbutler16 said...

By the way, I don't know how ling it's been there, but I love the "Still only 25 cents" logo on your banner.

Humanbelly said...

I think my "Favorite" preference likely changes a lot, depending on what's catching my fancy or touchning my nostalgia-bone-- but at the moment I'm going to go with Alan Moore's dead-brilliant TOP 10, which managed to be both Valentine to and straight-faced parody of the whole over-populated super-hero motif. . . wrapped up in a solid Hill Street Blues framework. It poked loving fun at EVERYTHING. . . and yet still created a compelling on-going storyline w/ wonderfully rich characterization and some truly disturbing and thought-provoking events. Such good stuff. Parodies aren't supposed to make tears well in one's eyes. . .

SQUADRON SUPREME is still probably my next go-to, I'd have to say. It's so surprisingly not-flashy in retrospect-- relies solely on solid clear visuals, character development, and thoughtful storytelling.

Oop-- gotta run HBGirl to Orth-- return later, hopefully?


Anonymous said...

The Books of Magic (am I allowed to mention it on this site or will I be sued).
It had great art and a young Neil Gaiman creating a character that in a roundabout way would ensure his future fame and fortune...oh, and someone else's!

mr. oyola said...

I've read a lot more limited/mini/max-series than I've bought - and when I do buy them I usually wait til they're collected.

I LOVED the original Wolverine limited series back in the day, but re-reading a few years ago it did nothing for me.

Watchmen of course is the Moby Dick of superhero comics - nothing is better in my opinion - formalistically at least, but I only ever had one or two of the individual issues - read a friend's and then got the collected edition years later. (I do love TOP TEN ss well I have never read "1963" - but I thought it was never finished?)

I quite like the setting for the original Machine Man limited series. sometimes called Machine Man 2020, these days(BWS did the art) - but the story itself ended to abruptly and made no sense.

No,if I am allowed to go beyond the 1980s, I'd say the best limited series I bought was SPIDER-MAN HUMAN TORCH by Dan Slott - fun, funny, touching look at their friendship over the years that also perfectly captures in a tongue-in-cheek way the different eras of Spider-Man comics

mr. oyola said...

BOOM!Found copies of all six issues of 1963 on my comic shop's website for $1.15 each (except for one which was some special cover version which was $3.40 - as it was the only one they had) - so all of them for less than $10!

Anonymous said...

I liked Legends (and even Crisis because of all the cameos) although I was pretty much done with DC at that point. I definitely liked the WCA mini and years later I enjoyed Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, which I think was Spidey's first mini-series, before they started cranking out 6 or 7 per year.

I definitely agree with Osvaldo about Spider-Man/Human Torch...a cool journey through years of their "friendship"; I especially loved the issue (#2 I think) with the Super Apes and the Spider Mobile!

Mike W.

William said...

My top 3 Marvel mini-series

1. SPIDER-MAN: LIFELINE - by Nicieza & Rude
Loved the artwork on this one, and it was a great homage to one of the first Spider-Man stories I ever read. I wish they would collect it in a trade already.

2. WOLVERINE - by Claremont & Miller
I actually didn't love this when it first came out, because I was so used to Byrne's art on Wolverine. But it's grown on me over the years, and now it's one of my favorite Wolverine solo stories.

3. DAREDEVIL: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR - by Miller & Romita Jr.
I usually don't like ret-con stories at all, but I thought Miller and Romita Jr. did a nice job of fleshing out and adding detail to Matt Murdock/Daredevil's origin and early years without damaging the original comics.

My Top 3 DC mini-series.

1. MAN OF STEEL - by John Byrne
I can't say enough about this one. I think that only John Byrne could have made me become a regular Superman reader. I had always liked the character, but I never bought his comic on a regular basis, because I don't think he was ever handled right. However, once Byrne rebooted him in MOS, it became one of my all-time favorite comic series.

2. COSMIC ODYSSEY - by Starlin & Mignola
Don't know why I love this one so much, but I do. I think Starlin is at his best when writing epic sci-fi adventures, and it was also the first time I realized that l really dig Mike Mignola's art. In fact the art in this series had a big influence on my own drawing style. (For what it's worth).

3. HARLEY AND IVY - by Dini & Timm
I seem to love anything that Bruce Timm does, and this series was no exception. A fun-filled romp of an adventure in the style of the beloved animated series.

Doc Savage said...


Green Arrow (NOT the Grell late '80s monstrosity)
Sword of the Atom
Shadow War of Hawkman
the original Who's Who
West Coast Avengers
Red Tornado

curious about:
DC Challenge

Doug said...

Edo and others have praised it before --

I love Kurt Busiek's and Stuart Immonen's Superman: Secret Identity.

I'd also throw out a kudo to a couple of other DC Elseworlds tales, JLA: The Nail and Superboy's Legion. Both were well done, with gorgeous art.


Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, if I start listing all of the Elseworlds minis I enjoyed, my list will be virtual endless. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed all three that you mentioned, and many, many (I mean many) more.

Otherwise, as I was writing my own original comment, I knew I would forget to mention some really obvious ones, and sure enough, several others here reminded me: Sword of the Atom and Squadron Supreme.
Matt also reminded me of one I regret missing at the time and really, really want to read: the Green Arrow mini from the early '80s (written by one of my favorite comics writers, Mike Barr, and drawn by one of my favorite artists, Trevor von Eeden). Similarly, I also want to read the Falcon mini by Owsley (Priest), Smith and Bright.

Matt, interesting that you mentioned 1963. After I first read it, I would have agreed with you wholeheartedly: it thought it was brilliant, funny, etc. from cover to cover. But I've found I like it less and less with each successive reading. I guess the charm wears off. Also - and I think you actually mentioned this before somewhere - the text pieces that spoof Stan's Bullpen Bulletins seem really mean-spirited at places. Even so, I still think it's really good and would recommend it to anyone.
And Osvaldo, yes, technically it's unfinished because in the last issue you find out that there was supposed to be some kind of crossover with other Image titles which never came about. However, that really has no bearing on the stories as a whole. You can read and fully enjoy them as they are on their own.

mr. oyola said...

I forgot about Secret Identity because I bought (and first read it) as a trade, so didn't think of it as a limited series. But yeah, great stuff.

I'd add All-Star Superman to that - though I don't think it was ever marketed as a limited series.

Humanbelly said...

Some quick chime-ins:

That first Vision/Scarlet Witch mini (w/ the Rick Leonardi art) was indeed a very enjoyable little outing. It's funny, we completely forget about it because of the troubling shadow cast by the maxi-series that followed.

There are a lot of other good ones, aren't there? My hand's up as well for Hawkeye, Hercules, WCA, Wolverine (haven't read it in awhile, though), Man of Steel, and Watchmen (I picked up the first three issues off the shelf on the same day at my then-LCS when it first came out!) as well. There was also a Plastic Man mini then that came about as close to capturing Plas' original fun, irreverant spirit as anyone's ever done. It was wonderfully true to Jack Cole's work.

"The Last Avengers Story"- a two-parter- is dark and rather unhappy, but is also a memorable piece of work.

What I like about DEADLY FOES OF SPIDERMAN is that it seemed practically like a throwaway. . . and then turned out to have such a goofy appeal, that you can't help but love it. So many villains! Spidey barely a guest star in a book with his name!


Garett said...

I'll go with Hercules by Layton. Really enjoyed the humour in this, and the art, after picking it up again last fall.

I remember being impressed by the experimental painted art in both Elektra Assassin (Sienkiewicz) and Blood: A Tale (Kent Williams).

I was disappointed by Miller's Wolverine mini at the time, so it's interesting that it's grown on you, William. Also Legends I've dabbled into, but haven't read it all. Have to check these both out again.

Garcia Lopez has many minis and one-shots, as he didn't stay on one series very long. Deadman and also Cinder and Ashe are worth checking out, and I liked his Batman: Reign of Terror with Batman in revolutionary France.

Anonymous said...

Crisis on Infinite Earths, because I'm a middle-aged dude.
I agree with Doug that it's lost it's impact after all the DC reboots and resurrections that came after, but at the time it was pretty universe-shaking.
Great writing and art, and featuring every darn DC character(and some Charlton, making it a glorious, epic,confusing mess.

Bruce B. said...

Watchmen, without any hesitation. Like Fred, I bought the individual issues as it came out. Every month, the story got more and more interesting. And then issue #11 came out. I don't think I've ever been more blown away by a comic book than I was when Ozymandias says, "I did it thirty-five minutes ago."

But there are many other great ones I can think of. The original Claremont/Miller Wolverine mini-series is great. Byrne's Man of Steel. Crisis. Squadron Supreme. I didn't read Kingdom Come until it was collected, but it is great, too.

Doc Savage said...

Wish I hadn't thrown out my Byrne Superman comics...could've given them to some of you guys. Personally I liked nothing about the changes he made and the loss of all that great Weisinger mythology. Especially despised the new Luthor and Batman being unfriendly. Didn't care for the art, but I've never rated Byrne very highly. One face for every woman drives me more nuts than his reliance on self-swiped stock poses for every character.

The letters pages were indeed nasty and mean-spirited in "1963" but I skip over them and just enjoy the stories and artwork.

Hey, does every Atlas Comics title count as a miniseries? I think none lasted more than four (fabulous) issues.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, speaking of Garcia Lopez, that Deadman mini and Cinder & Ashe are finally being reprinted - they're due out this spring and summer.

Garett said...

Hey good news Edo! I'll probably pick those up as I like reading a story all in one book.

Garett said...

One miniseries I really enjoyed but haven't seen in a long time is The Black Dragon. Written by Chris Claremont, very nice art by John Bolton. Medieval tale.

Rip Jagger said...

Crisis on Infinite Earths remains the standard for me. The truly epic story unprecedented at the time, and the gorgeous George Perez artwork remain highlights.

On the Marvel side of the coin I go with the previously mentioned Squadron Supreme saga which had more than most comics a sense of reality to it despite the obsession with costumed supermen.

Rip Off

abraxas9971 said...

Crisis was great, it's what finally got me into DC. After that definitely Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns. Oh and Camelot 3000 also. At Marvel it would have to be Marvels, West Coast Avengers, Avengers Forever, and Hercules.

Doc Savage said...

Funny...Crisis and Byrne are what made me quit DC... all the ruined backstories and damage to characters I previously enjoyed...pretty sure I stopped buying anything from DC by '88. Gave the Blue Beetle and some others a shot for a while.

Ray Tomczak said...

True, the impact of Crisis on Infinite Earths on continuity has been diluted by the subsequent undoing of most of the changes it wrought, however, that doesn't diminish for me its impact as a great story. Even after all this time it remains the best company wide crossover ever and one of the greatest super-hero epics of all time.
1963 was very good but is marred by the fact that, to this day, it remains unfinished. The final issue ended on a cliffhanger that was supposed to lead into a 1963 Special where the story would be wrapped up and which never got published.
DC Challenge was a good idea, a round robin story with a different writer and artist continuing the story each issue. However, the final result, as I remember (its been years since I've read it), was a confusing mess.
My favorite mini-series is DC's Untold Legend of the Batman. Written by Len Wein, the first issue was penciled by John Byrne and inked by Jim Aparo with Aparo doing full art on the other two issues. The series retold the origins of the Batman and his friends and some of his top foes, including Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and even Jack Edison, the Hollywood stuntman who built the Batmobiles for the Caped Crusader. The first issue, which told Batman's complete backstory for the first time in one book, is the best. When Batman sheds a little tear in his parents' memory in the final panel, I'm right there with him.

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