Comics Creators

Old Comics Thread


I love Kirby’s art but have always had difficulty reading the comics it is used in. The wordy style of the era isn’t something I care for. It feels heightened in the issues where he collaborates with Lee like Lee is trying to prove the weight of his contribution like a bit of a frustrated novelist.

That said, I think the recommendation to give the Galactus Trilogy (Fantastic Four #48-50) a shot. It’s 3 issues and gives a good glimpse of Kirby’s genius.


I started with the original Uncanny X-Men run. It’s a pretty short run, but was still pretty entertaining. The original 5, the brotherhood of evil mutants, and so on …


Getting into comics in the early 90s, my exposure to Kirby was primarily through all of the Image founders referring to him constantly and citing him as a huge influence.

Around this time Marvel were experimenting with 99c comics (on newsprint paper) such as Busiek’s Untold tales of Spider-man - the rest of the line was reprints; BWS Conan stuff and the Lee/Kirby X-Men. I picked up a few issues to sample this Kirby fellow’s work and it didn’t really take.

Since then I realised that X-Men wasn’t either Lee or Kirby’s best work, but don’t feel any compulsion to track down anything else. I have Marvel Unlimited so could read most of Kirby’s work at any time.

What I’d seen of this always appealed to me and legal issues keep it from being widely available - my childhood comic shop closed last year and among the assorted floppies they had on some sale shelves were several issues - I grabbed them and they’ve been sitting on my bookshelf at home ever since (I haven’t really looked through them, but am glad to have them).


I Finished Ellis’ Astonishing X-Men run and I put it up there as one of the best things he’s done at Marvel. Great character moments and interactions, especially Wolverine and Armour (where can I read more stories where she features heavily?), some thought provoking stories, some sciencey stuff but not too much and some cracking art throughout. Check out these Phil Jimenez pages.

Then I moved onto the 5 issue mini Xenogenesis. I enjoyed it quite a bit but some of Kaare Andrews’ art is a bit too extreme. How anorexic is Storm…

…and did Emma get a boob job?


Marvel Two-In-One #51

For years, I’ve had a vague but persistent memory of one of the first Marvel comics I ever read. All I could remember was that it started with a load of random heroes (who I didn’t know as a kid) playing cards together at night; that one of them was Beast; and that they all jumped in the Fantasti-Car halfway through the story to go off and take care of a load of bad guys.

After decades - and as part of my trawl through some of the lesser-known works of Frank Miller - I’ve recently stumbled across it again with Marvel Two-In-One #51. And to my surprise, it’s actually much better than my hazy memories gave it credit for.

Written by Peter Gillis (who I don’t know as a writer, but who turns in a really fun story here), the issue starts with Ben Grimm arguing with a security drone on the roof of Avengers Mansion, insisting that he hasn’t got time to look for I.D. due to some kind of “emergency”.

The emergency, of course, ends up being that he’s late for a card game, which sets up a fun ‘downtime’ scenario for the Avengers and Nick Fury of the type that we’ve seen in a lot of classic comics.

I love the dingy, slightly seedy vibe of the cramped room that they play in, which Miller emphasises in a beautifully-designed page that gives us glimpses of the key characters as they play (as well as a line each to flesh out their personalities a little for the uninitiated), all built around a smoky and atmospheric central image.

While all this is going on, though, there’s a criminal plot playing out at a secret SHIELD facility, which we see interspersed with the beginnings of the card game. I love the little moment between The Thing and Wonder Man here - a great mixture of humour and weirdness:

As the subplot involving the bad guys hots up, though - and Fury starts to realise exactly what they’re after - the issue kicks into high gear. The heroes jump into the Fantasti-Car and fly into action, only to be confronted with their enemy in an awesome giant panel that spreads across both pages, takes place on multiple planes of perspective, and almost encapsulates a little mini-story in its own right.

These two pages would be worth the cover price alone (as well as the great splash panel, that final image of Beast bouncing off the Fantasti-Car is just great, and is one of the few images that stuck in my mind from my first reading, what must be around 30 years ago).

The big brawl plays out pretty much as you’d expect, with some great early-era Miller art (this was May 1979, so almost exactly the same time has his debut on Daredevil) giving us some wonderful fight choreography and action moments.

But Gillis plays his part too, putting together a fun fight in which every character gets a moment to shine, and the banter flows freely between the characters to keep things light.

It all culminates in a very enjoyable (if slightly cheesy) denouement in which the villain finds his exits blocked on every side by our heroes, and Fury finds himself unable to resist dropping some clumsy poker metaphors into the conversation.

As the final page brings things to a close, we see the heroes return home as dawn breaks, and they find themselves thwarted by lack of sleep as they attempt to resume their card game.

Again, it’s a slightly cheesy moment, but the story gets away with it due to its sheer charm and likeability.

I feel like this is a real hidden gem of Marvel’s 1970s era - a great little story that throws together a slightly random bunch of characters, gives us an enjoyable taste of all of them (both on- and off-duty), zips along at a fair pace and is illustrated by one of the industry’s all-time top talents. It captures the essence of what a Marvel comic should be, for me: fun, irreverent, exciting, colourful and silly. If they made big-budget Marvel movies in the '70s, this is what they would look like.

My only question is how I ever read it in the first place: I can only assume Marvel UK featured it as a reprint in some annual (that’s how I usually came across the 1970s Marvel issues I read as a kid in the early '80s), but I can’t find any record of them having done so. It’s a bit of a mystery.


He’s most often credited as Peter B Gillis. He worked quite a bit for Marvel in the 80s and his stuff was quite off-beat, pretty much all very good. He was behind Strikeforce Morituri that I know @Jim is a big fan of as well as me, where the powers bestowed had a time limit and death sentence. He also wrote New Defenders and Micronauts and challenged quite a bit in those with mixed gender characters and the like.

He pretty much disappeared then, I assume into another industry or form of writing away from comics.


Thanks Gar. I know of those books but I never read them. Strikeforce Morituri is one I’ve been meaning to track down for a while due to its reputation.

His work is really good here like I say - I wonder why he didn’t become more popular and well-known.


I don’t know, it was maybe he was a bit ahead of his time, he pushed some boundaries for the 80s and I don’t think much of it sold very well even though I loved it. His runs on New Defenders and Micronauts ended in them being cancelled.

He’d be in my top 5 Marvel writers of the era but is mostly forgotten.


I think he’s forgotten because the stories are so legally murky. He had ideas way ahead of their time, ideas that would be fresh and interesting even today. Strikeforce is a good 80’s type of comic, the characters are interesting and fleshed out, but it’s still very 80’s. It could really do with a reboot.


The Micronauts stuff definitely is in legal quagmire. In New Defenders he had ‘Cloud’ who switched genders (which I think played a big part in the question of Iceman’s sexuality 30 years later).

True enough the delivery was very 80s with a lot of exposition and word balloons but the concepts are very intriguing.


I remember Matt Fraction using a sort-of-similar concept in The Order - it was one of the post Civil War ‘Initiative’ books where regular joes were given super powers but could only have them for a year because of the strain on their bodies (I don’t think they died after that year though - they just lost their powers).

It was quite a character-focused book and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t find an audience and was cancelled after about ten issues I think.


Strikeforce remains to me the single best comics setting of all time. Aliens take over Earth, kids recruited and experimented with to get new wild powers only to know they’ll die within a year. There’s so many dramatic angles to that idea.


No idea why that’s never been collected. I know it wasn’t a huge seller or flagship title, but it’s a self-contained fixed-length story that would fit ideally in a three-volume trade paperback.


Aren’t there legal issues with that too?


Really? I’ve no idea why. I don’t think there’s a toy tie-in or anything. And I’m positive Fu Manchu wasn’t in it :wink:


It’s nothing like The Order to be honest. I liked the Order alot but it couldn’t find a tone (JLI or more serious) and suffered from not having a proper villain.


Like I say, I haven’t read Strikeforce, the powers-for-a-year concept just sounded sort of similar.


That is something I think most 2000 onwards comics can miss out on and haven’t developed to be honest. They seem very plot driven in comparison to me. Quite often the plot stretching certain characters beyond credulity (modern Cyclops and Hydra Cap for example).


Having looked it up, maybe I’m wrong - it seems that Marvel did reprint the series in three TPBs in 2012.


Dammit I missed that :anguished: