Didn’t read the rest of your post, this was enough to get an instant like from me
Looks like they’re a bit pricey now (although not crazy like some OOP books can be).
Comixology may be a good alternative. If you buy volume 1 via Amazon it’s only £3.36 for 13 issues! Too good to pass up I think.
Madman Comics #6 & #7
I mentioned in the Trades Thread that I’d read these recently. Co-written by Michael Allred and Frank Miller, the two issues feature a guest-appearance from Big Guy (and actually predate his own title with Rusty The Boy Robot). Miller contributes Big Guy’s dialogue and Allred does everything else.
It’s a fun little story that features some amusing time-travel shenanigans in the first issue, as well as an enjoyably odd mystery plot that initially pits Madman against Big Guy, before (in the finest team-up traditions) a big action sequence in the second part sees the pair join forces against a common enemy.
There isn’t really a huge amount to say about these issues, other than that Allred is as great as ever, and Big Guy feels ‘right’ with Miller’s dialogue. There’s not much characterisation here, though, or explanation of who the character is - if this was my first experience with him, I don’t know if I’d be interested in picking up the main series on the strength of this appearance. (Although I probably would once I saw Darrow’s art.)
It’s a fun ride, anyway, that features some nice team-up moments, and plenty of inventive and dynamic action (especially in the second part), with a general sense of absurdity and silliness underpinning it all.
Some of the Madman subplots that continued through these issues were a bit lost on me - I’ve dipped into the series now and again, but never followed it closely - but that didn’t detract from an enjoyable couple of comics.
Of particular interest outside of the story itself is a text column at the back of the second issue, which gives Miller a platform to offer his thoughts on the Marvel/Heroes World debacle that was playing out at the time of publication. One of the reasons I enjoy reading old issues (as opposed to collections) is coming across stuff like this, which gives a bit of context and situates the book at a very specific time for the comics industry.
Some of the comments are pretty damning of Marvel (and one or two of the criticisms are oddly echoed by comments being thrown the company’s way today).
If you ever want to wind up an LCS owner who has been in the business for a while, ask them about Heroes World. It’ll sound like a love letter to Diamond in comparison.
Yeah, I’m a little too young to have really been aware of what was going on at the time, but I know the history of it.
There were obviously a lot of factors to the near collapse of the comic industry in the mid-90’s. I think Marvel’s acquisition of Heroes World is one that often gets ignored. It’s also what set up Diamond as we know it today as the sole distributor of comics. It’s something that likely saved the industry at the time but I think has stifled growth since.
I never got the impression you were that much younger than me.
It was interesting; it’s why for a time Image became a safe-haven and was home to books like Bone.
I would have been 12 when Marvel bought Heroes World.
If there is an upside to Heroes World failing, and Diamond basically securing a monopoly on major comics distribution, it’s that I only have to visit my LCS once a week instead of twice a week.
Adventure Comics #318
‘The Mutiny of the Legionnaires’
By Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
I’ll say right at the start that this is one of my favourite Legion stories. This showcases everything I love about silver-age comics. There’s high-concept SF and Legionnaires using their powers in clever ways and working together to solve a series of problems.
The set-up positions Sun Boy as the villain—he is the tyrannical leader that the Legionnaires ‘mutiny’ against—but the (heavily foreshadowed) twist is that he’s not the villain at all. Here’s the set up:
Can you tell what it is yet?
Here’s the last panel:
Space fatigue! Yes, it’s a story about mental health. And it ends in a surprisingly ‘modern’ way—by recognising the cause, and putting checks in place so that it ‘can never happen again to any other member’.
There is no actual villain in this story; the threat is the hostile environment of space. And so nothing is won by punching anything, the victory is achieved through teamwork, intelligence, determination, friendship and loyalty.
And I haven’t even mentioned the bulk of the story, which is about Sun Boy casting the ‘mutineers’ adrift in an uncharted part of the galaxy in a tiny life boat with no supplies or fuel (or Superboy), and how they then pool their abilities to rescue themselves and return to rescue Sun Boy. Just page-after-page of clever ideas, with their nobility and heroism shining throughout.
Honestly, it’s the perfect super-hero story.
I’ve just read 1985. It was not easy to find, although I imagine it would have been easier had I read it closer to its release date.
I loved every second of it. I pored over comics as a kid and gave them up for similar reasons as Toby, although my mother didn’t destroy my collection. In this era of nostalgia properties, I suppose it is not so unusual, but this one really took me back to the wonder of reading a story at 11 or 12. I downloaded it, but have tracked down a a hard copy and am excited to read and re-read it when life offers some free time.
Most of all, I wanted to thank Mr. Millar for making this happen. I understand it was a process and I’m surprised it hasn’t had more of an impact (this was a game-changer). I do believe that scene with a brooding Vulture carrying menace from a perch played a part in his villain choice for the latest Spider-Man.
1985 is probably my favourite thing Millar has done and for must of the reason you indicate here
It really took me back to my childhood when I read it, it’s probably achieved that better than anything else I’ve ever read
That period of Mark’s work where we got this? Old Man Logan and Fantastic Four was pure gold.
My Batman reread which started with 1992’s Knightfall has now reached 2004. I smashed through this lost other the last month. Here are some quick snapshot thoughts.
Hama/McDaniel Batman run - This often gets viewed as one of the worst runs of the last 20 years but I kind of enjoyed it.
Brubaker Batman run - Massively overrated run. I don’t think Brubaker fits the Bat-universe. It’s not bad but it’s nothing to write home about. I suspect Rucka did all the heavy lifting on Gotham Central.
Rucka/Martinbrough Tec run - Not quite as great as I remembered but still very good. These guys created a quality stylised book. This run also introduces one of my fave Bat allies and the person that Bruce should have ended up with instead of the ridiculous Catwoman hookup in the current book. I’m obviously talking about Sasha.
BKV Batman - Wow, that Matches Malone story is rough. Really bad. He even has Bruce go black face at one point.
Officer Down - Meh. Didn’t feel this story.
Bruce Wayne Murderer - I thought this was quite good. Neat premise with plenty of intrigue.
Bruce Wayne Fugitive - This on the other hand was pretty bad. The worst of it is that Batman comes across as a complete dick.
Hush - This is not good. Poor writing and Jim Lee’s art looks so dated. He use to be one of my favourite artists but he has no pulling power with me now.
Broken City (Azz/Risso) - This is literally Batman in the 100 Bullets world. It’s almost an elseworlds tale. There are definitely bits to like but on the whole it feels a bit lazy especially on the part of Azzarello.
Josie Mac - What a surprise this was. A great little story that hit all the right notes. A likeable character, good writing and perfectly suited art. The only downer was the fate of one of the cast which was a real gut punch.
Garbych/Woods Batman run - Meh. Pretty average stuff that isn’t bad but is instantly forgetable.
City of Crime - I think this could be the darkest, most bleak Batman story ever. Lapham drills right down into the scumiest parts of Gotham and shows us the ugly side of some of the citizens. Also Batman is hardly even in it as Bruce takes centre stage. I can’t decide if I like it or not. I think I do.
War Games - This story is 24 issues which is way too many. I actually quite like the plot of gang warfare but the execution is sadly lacking. I also don’t understand completely how Black Mask became so all powerful.
I loved that post-NML era on the Bat-books, with Rucka and Brubaker (Ed’s Batman was okay, but his Catwoman and Gotham Central stuff was pretty spectacular). “Murderer” and “Fugitive” were a rare misfire; nice idea, but a poorly co-ordinated mess of meaningless tue ins.
“Hush” onwards was an absolute train wreck. Willingham’s run was just one bad idea after another, and Lapham’s incredibly depressing.
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #76
‘Elastic Lad Jimmy and His Legion Romances’
By Jerry Siegel and John Forte
I’m not entirely sure what the point of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is. Is Jimmy really so popular that readers are clamouring for more of him? And I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a humour comic or not. The issue in question seems to be trying to be funny, but the punchline doesn’t really work and the whole story becomes a bit uncomfortable because of it. The story features the Legion of Super-Heroes, but by making Jimmy the focus we completely lose the wonder of the Legion’s galaxy, the wild SF ideas that (regular Legion writer) Edmond Hamilton crams into his pages. What we’re left with is a … well, the title and splash page say it all really:
So, the story: Jimmy is preparing for a hot date with Lucy Lane, splashing out a fortune on food and drink and stylish clothes. When Lucy turns up, she’s such a bitch that you wonder what the poor lad sees in her.
In desperation, Jimmy tries to impress her with his Legion ‘time monitor’ and—
—wait a minute! He’s got a device that lets him tune into any location 1000 years hence and he’s using it to impress girls?
Ok, now I know this is a humour comic, because even by Jerry Siegel standards that’s ridiculous.
Anyway, on with the plot. Members of the Legion arrive by time bubble and whisk him away to the future for some unspecified ‘important’ reason, because he’s an honorary Legionnaire of course (since Jimmy Olsen #72).
In the future, Jimmy teams up with Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl and Light Lass on a number of missions that see him using his Elastic Lad powers in, frankly, pretty silly ways to stop a villain and avert disasters.
Bizarrely, all three girls are soon swooning over Jimmy, who appears to have complete forgotten Lucy Lane, the cad (but there again, wouldn’t you, given the choice?)
Eventually Jimmy has to return to 1964, and we see the punchline:
Geez, Jimmy doesn’t have much luck with women, does he? But hold on, there’s a twist:
Aha! It was all for Jimmy’s benefit. Let’s hope that’s put Lucy Lane in her place.
Nooooooooooooooo! Poor Jimmy!
Ah well, it’s not all bad. He’s better off without her anyway. Plus he got to smooch three Legion lasses, even if they were faking it. I’d say that’s a pretty successful day all round for young Jimmy.
Yeah, Lois could be an unmitigated bitch, too.
Adventure Comics #319
‘The Legion’s Suicide Squad’
By Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
This story has two of my three favourite Legion things. It doesn’t have Super-Pets, but it does have the Legion of Substitute Heroes saving the day, and even more importantly it has the Planetary Chance-Machine!
The plot is as follows: the people of the planet Throon have developed a ray that disables any space ship. They use this to stop all interstellar travel, which would of course be a disaster for 30th-century society. So—
No, you know what? Forget the plot. Let’s focus on what really matters here. The Planetary Chance-Machine:
It picks people by throwing balls randomly until someone gets bonked on the head!
Isn’t that just the best thing ever?
I can’t … I can’t even express how insane this idea is. Put any thought into it at all and it’s obvious that there’s no way this makes any sense at all. No matter how many hoops you jump through to try and rationalise it, it makes no sense. There is no universe where this could ever be a sane idea.
That’s why I love it. It’s Edmond Hamilton not even trying to rationalise it, he’s just saying, look at this crazy thing, it’s awesome.
I can’t … I just can’t …
Look, if you haven’t fallen in love with the Silver Age of comics after learning that an idea like the Planetary Chance-Machine exists, well, there’s no hope for you and probably no hope for the soul of humanity.
It’s just so perfect.
This is why I love the Legion.