Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Discuss: Your Favorite Characters In Your Favorite Stories

Doug: The title is a little wonky. Here's what I'm getting at today, and I guess I'll use an example or two to get the ball rolling. Let's say one of your favorite characters is the Vision. What's your favorite issue with a plot line that heavily features the Vision? If I were to claim him, I'd probably want to discuss the iconic two-part intro. in Avengers #s 57-58, or maybe the last issue of the Count Nefaria arc (Avengers #166). If my favorite character is Captain America then I'm thinking there's a heckuva lot to choose from. But you cannot beat Cap (literally) in the concluding chapter of the "Under Siege" arc, Avengers #277.

Doug: So who you got, and where you got 'em?


Redartz said...

There are many candidates for this topic, but my choice was a quick and easy one. As my favorite character is Spiderman, that reduces the story choices to only the many he has starred in! Yet that choice is easy as well: "The Kid Who Collects Spiderman" from ASM 248. A classic gem from Roger Stern, with beautiful art by Ron Frenz and Terry Austin. It's a short story, but goes right to the heart of everything that makes Peter Parker so appealing to so many. This may be my favorite comic story, period. Still get a lump in the throat after reading it; no spoilers in case anyone here hasn't read it (hard to imagine); if you haven't, give it a go. You won't be sorry...

William said...

Spider-Man in ASM #229-230 "Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut" (except for a really determined Spider-Man apparently). The ultimate David & Goliath story that showcases everything that is great about Spider-Man/Peter Parker. His selfless heroism, his sense of responsibility, his never say die attitude, and all the while keeping his trademark sense of humor in tact.

It's plain and simply Spider-Man at his absolute best. A very very fun story that perfectly illustrates what a monthly superhero comic should be.

I've seen this on more than one list as the best Spider-Man story ever, and there's a very good reason for that -- because it might just well be the case.

Doug said...

My favorite Superman story is Kurt Busiek's and Stuart Immonen's "Secret Identity" prestige mini. It is so good.


Humanbelly said...

The tricky part, of course, is that trying to nail down your favorite issue or plotline or moment for your favorite character is almost in the realm of being oxymoron-like ("Hey- whuzzat you call'd me-??")-- ya gotta figure it's a whole preponderance o' moments like that which make them your favorite character in the first place.

As the all-in Hulk guy 'round these parts, I'll go ahead and cite once again my love for issue #111 for it's near-perfect depiction of a determined, relentless Hulk who simply will not go down or go away despite the escalating efforts of his unwittingly-doomed antagonists. I do believe one of my very earliest posts on this blog was a lengthy love-letter to that issue, yes?

But for an issue that's more along the lines of the Spidey story that Redartz mentions? One that reveals an extraordinary level of Greenskin's inner vulnerability? The latter half of #147-- "Heaven Is a Very Small Place". It's predictable and highly sentimental-- and breaks a guy's heart nevertheless.

Similarly, a moment that EVERYONE who takes a look at the Hulk should read occurs in issue #170. A bit of a Robinson Crusoe scenario where Hulk does his best to take care of an injured and semi-deranged Betty, there's a wonderfully-depicted scene where Hulk (who perpetually talks out loud to himself in the third person, of course) simply cannot bring himself to kill a deer for food for Betty. He explains to the deer, apologies to it. . . but ultimately cannot make himself kill it in cold blood. "Monster", indeed. . .

And of course, there's the end of Hulk #207, when after a grief-crazed rampage and skirmish with his fellow Defenders, his heart is utterly broken by the acceptance that Jarella's death is indeed irrevocable. And that moment and issue can be seen as an early turning-point for the character, as it was clearly a true loss-of-innocence moment for the "child-like" Hulk that so many of us think of as the base-line personality for the character. Subsequent writers after Len Wein tended to harden him more and more until Peter David just flat-out got rid of that character completely and explored other personalities. There were still many great moments and stories after that-- but the emotional investment for me never quite reached the same level.


Edo Bosnar said...

Well, two of my suggestions for great Spidey stories/moments have been taken already.

So I'll pick another character, my favorite X-man Cyclops. It's hard to find a story that focuses on him alone, but X-men Annual #3 really showcases his finest qualities as a team leader.

Anonymous said...
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J.A. Morris said...

I'm a huge fan of Roger Stern's run on Amazing Spider-Man, so that's sort of "my" Spider-Man. It doesn't hurt that I was 10-11 years old at the time, but those stories really hold up (just re-read the reprint). The first few Hobgoblin tales alone are classics, plus the Juggernaut story William mentioned. Great stuff.

Speaking of Stern, his Cap is also my Cap. I read those prior to picking up the Secret Empire stories, so the Stern/Byre/Rubenstein issues are my favorite.

My Avengers would be the Zodiac story (120-123) up through the Celestial Madonna arc.

My Black Panther is, was and always shall be the T'Challa featured in 'The Panther's Rage'.

My X-men are, sorry to be obvious, but the team featured during the Claremont/Byrne/Austin era. Having said that, I didn't read all of those issues in "real time", I bought some as back issues.
But the best post-Byrne/Austin X-tales for my money can be found in the 1982 Brood saga. The X-men know they're as good as dead, implanted with Brood eggs. But they're heroes and they do whatever they can to stop the Brood from destroying Earth (SPOILER ALERT:The X-men don't die).

On a lighter note, Jo Duffy wrote the definitive Power Man/Iron Fist stories. I'm reading them right now in a new tpb, silly but fun street-level tales!

Garett said...

I was never a huge Captain America fan, but in the last couple years I've been devouring Kirby, and Marvel Masterworks #2 has a bunch of Cap stories I like. "To Be Reborn" from Tales of Suspense 96 is a fun one-- Cap has given up his superheroing to become a normal man who can fall in love. Every goof in the city decides that HE'S going to be the new Captain America, and puts on a suit. The underworld is gunning for all these fake Caps, including a specialist called The Sniper.

Steve Rogers can't just stand by and goes into action. There's a fun caption where he makes his decision: "But, as fate would have it (with an assist from Stan and Jack), Steve Rogers, at a nearby window, hears the commotion, and..." Nick Fury shows up as well. These are short stories, sometimes running into the next month, but packed with energy!

I also just read through Marvel Premiere 45 and 46 with Man-Wolf again. Interesting character, and especially with the Perez art, would've been cool to see more of these.

Karen said...

HB, I've been meaning to go back and re-read Hulk from the early 70s to the mid-to late 70s but haven't gotten around to it yet. But your comments today about his character growth really are pushing me! Very nice summary of the important moments for old Greenskin.

Anonymous said...

HB, you've also got me interested in reading more Bronze Age Hulk. I've read the Englehart issues, some Thomas, some Wein, some Stern, some Mantlo (with a whole heap of Trimpe & Buscema throughout) but I seem to have missed most of the issues you're talking about.

The Peter David & Dale Keown Hulk comics are what made me a collector. To this day, Hulk 372, in which the green Hulk returns, is my go-to Hulk story. The character is more savage in that story, but it makes sense in context. The ending reunion of Bruce & Betty is well-handled.

My other favorite super-hero is Nightcrawler. My favorite Nightcrawler story takes place throughout Excalibur 42-50. Sidelined after a broken leg, Kurt has to manage the unruly Technet and deal with multiple alien incursions intyo the lighthouse headquarters. Along the way, he demonstrates his smarts and heroism while never throwing a punch. Alan Davis wrote and drew the story, and it looks gorgeous.

- Mike Loughlin

ColinBray said...
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ColinBray said...

I have alwaya enjoyed seeing The Impossible Man and Marvel Two-In-One #60 in which Ben shares his title with the little green imp is the best of the bunch. Gruenwald and Macchio go for the slapstick with poor ol' Ben their unwitting straight man.

Perez art tops it out - this character and this comic make me very happy.

david_b said...

I've been wracking my brain for good suggestions today, but been a bit busy here at work. I always enjoyed Sam Wilson in the Secret Empire saga. I suspect it was tricky to write his subplot of 'being a pet like Nightwing' to the 'new and improved' powers ala T'Challa's help, intertwined in Cap's seemingly-overwhelming fight against the conspiracies defacing his national character.

The primo moment for me was ish 174, when Sam comments in complete amazement (paraphrasing thought balloons), "How does he keep going..?" and "Everything is against him and he never says 'Die'", etc. It succinctly captures Cap's spirit in a nutshell, and even though Sam's been Caps partner for a while now, he continues to be amazed at his partner.

To that I'll add Hank Pym as Yellowjacket in Defenders 23. Popping on the scene on the splash page, it was an excellent Gerber/Buscema story-arc and it was a true Bronze Age joy to see Hank at his avenging best.

Anonymous said...

Well, Spider-Man is probably my favourite character, but I don't think I can narrow it down to one storyline; when you're talking about stuff from Lee, Ditko, Romita, Conway, Kane, Andru, Wolfman, Wein, Stern, Romita Jr., Frenz, Michelinie, Zeck, Saviuk, Buscema, Peter David, and all the rest...how do you choose?

Mike Wilson

Humanbelly said...

Karen, Mike, Citizens--
HB thanks you. HB's work here is done.

Spidey's tough, 'cause he does have soooooo many great storylines, filled with great individual issues, hosting a vast wealth of memorable (and often iconic) moments for the character. The Juggernaut two-parter was right near the top of my list, as well. To go along with it as a companion story (sort of emphasizing Spidey's gonna-keep-goin'-no-matter-what drive)is the issue where he keeps after a seriously misguided Firelord, and ultimately takes him down even when he's stopped actually believing that he could really do it. It's Cap, I think, that finally pulls him off with something like a "You can stop now, son-", and for some reason it always gives me a lump in my throat.

Hawkeye's always been one of my favorite characters as well-- in a way, one of the most "real" characters in the Marvel Universe, 'cause he's definitely a guy who needs a whole lotta good traits to balance out his eye-rolling flaws. Oddly enough, though, the arc in Avengers #63-#65, where he becomes Goliath and we discover a HUGE amount of his (and Swordsman's) backstory is one of the strongest for Clint early on. The overcompensating fearless loudmouth who has unflinching-- and well-earned-- total confidence in his abilities is layered on top of a man whose background has CLEARLY saddled him with what would almost be cripplingly low self-esteem in anyone else. He's built much more like Peter Parker, in a way, than anyone else in the MU. And he grows so well over the years. Another favorite spotlight is when he gets trapped in time in the old West during the final coda of the whole Kang/Immortus/Celestial Madonna arc. Eventually Thor and a few others show up. . . and Clint is delighted to see them, but never yields an inch of deference to these vaaaaaastly more powerful peers of his. Because he indeed sees them as peers-- and continues to carry on as the quarterback of the situation. It's great and it's utterly delightful.


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