For most of my life, I never thought I would ever stop reading comic books. But these days I find myself buying fewer periodical comics than ever before. That’s because every time I pick up a highly-touted first issue in a new direction, I flip through it and think, “That’s not [FILL IN THE BLANK] to me,” and put it back on the shelf. I have a “point” for almost every long-running title from the “Big Two” I can think of. Some of them are decades old and I only realized what they were in hindsight; others I knew immediately. It’s sometimes difficult to determine because, sometimes, runs on this side of the line can be quite good.

For example, the Wolverine limited series might have been a good stopping point for some.as far as that character’s story arc is concerned.

I personally feel that the “Elektra Saga” should have ended after her resurrection in Daredevil #190.


Like I said, I have “stopping points” for just about every major series, but right now I want to hear from you. Mine are all spread out, but yours can be a particular year (“1968”) or an event (Crisis on Infinite Earths), or it can be a specific storyline (“Sins Past”) or creative team or whatever. I’ll be back to this topic from time to time going forward, but after today I’m going to be offline until next week, so let’s hear it. Where do YOU draw the line (assuming you do)? Also, if you disagree at any time where I draw the line, I invite rebuttal.

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"Post Crisis doesn't count."

I never did really understand that POV… until Flashpoint, that is. One of these days I’m going to do a comparison/contrast between Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint pointing out the differences between the two (as I see them).

“Byrne's Man of Steel is emblematic of that. I hated that series.”

Man, we differ on that, ‘Tec! “My” Superman doesn’t really begin until Man of Steel. Beyond that, I’m pretty “liberous” as to what I include. [If DC ever sees fit to reprint more Silver/Bronze age material, that situation may change.] Having started so late, I pretty much go right up to Flashpoint (yes, I stopped a few issues shy).

In order not to drive myself crazy, I separate Superman into these versions:

  • Superman I (Golden Age/Earth-Two)
  • Superman II (Silver/Bronze Age/Earth-One) aka "my" Superman or the "real" one!
  • Superman III (Post-Crisis) he did grow on me but his "death" complicated things
  • Superman IV (Zero-Hour/Earth-Zero) Mullets and Multiple forms and Marriage...Oh My!
  • Superman V (New 52/Rebirth)

You may want to add a version or two if that makes things easier!

In that case, I would draw the following lines:

SUPERMAN I:

SUPERMAN II: SUPERMAN V:

Thinking of Superman, and where I draw the line in a different way. For me, and my reading experience, Superman isn’t really “my” Superman until the Bronze Age. When I met Clark (in the comics, as opposed to TV), he was working at WGBS, but had lots of friends and co-workers at the Daily Planet. Before that -- the Golden and Silver Ages, basically -- there are some brilliant stories, but I can take or leave them as canon.

This Superman is valid for me through Crisis.

Then, after that, there’s the post-Crisis Superman. And those stories ALSO work for me, and gradually HE becomes “my” Superman too. And I think he persists until the Jurgens/Ordway/Stern/Simonson run ends. When Loeb, Johns, Kelly and DeMatteis take the reins, the magic is over, and he’s a character being written by people again. And it’s not till Kurt Busiek takes over for a bit, in a run that recalls when I first met Superman in the 70s, that he feels “real” to me again. (Then again, the Johns stories over in Action don’t have that same feeling, and still seem concoted to me, rather than true. As fun as some of them were.)

Then my post-Crisis Superman came back with Rebirth, and hasn't left.

This. My thoughts exactly.

I can give examples of why I disliked the Loeb/Kelly/DeMatteis runs, and I agree about Johns's work as well. It just felt off, and you could just see him get his dream come true of writing Superman, but it read that way too. 

But the Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson run? Jeez, that was pure magic. The books were somehow cohesive, with an understanding of the fact that a great big chunk of what makes Superman Superman are the people around him in his life. And it was steeped in the Fourth World characters introduced in Jimmy Olsen, along with the importance of Ma and Pa Kent.

Damn, so much of that work still needs to be reprinted!

And I am so glad the feeling has returned in the Bendis runs on the Superman titles. I'm full of glee.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Thinking of Superman, and where I draw the line in a different way. For me, and my reading experience, Superman isn’t really “my” Superman until the Bronze Age. When I met Clark (in the comics, as opposed to TV), he was working at WGBS, but had lots of friends and co-workers at the Daily Planet. Before that -- the Golden and Silver Ages, basically -- there are some brilliant stories, but I can take or leave them as canon.

This Superman is valid for me through Crisis.

Then, after that, there’s the post-Crisis Superman. And those stories ALSO work for me, and gradually HE becomes “my” Superman too. And I think he persists until the Jurgens/Ordway/Stern/Simonson run ends. When Loeb, Johns, Kelly and DeMatteis take the reins, the magic is over, and he’s a character being written by people again. And it’s not till Kurt Busiek takes over for a bit, in a run that recalls when I first met Superman in the 70s, that he feels “real” to me again. (Then again, the Johns stories over in Action don’t have that same feeling, and still seem concoted to me, rather than true. As fun as some of them were.)

Then my post-Crisis Superman came back with Rebirth, and hasn't left.

Yeah, that Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson run is one of the great works of comics continuity. The sheer editorial effort it must have taken to keep everything consistent! I don't think it gets enough credit for that. I don't think the O'Neil-edited Batman books ever quite managed it, and I think the Spider-Man books probably fell short, too. (At least content-wise, as they got mired in the clone saga, but considering how they wrote themselves into a corner with that, I think we can say they pretty visibly dropped the ball.) Maybe X-Men was the only other franchise of comparable size at the time... and I doubt that made such tight, issue-to-issue sense.

I hold the Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson version in high esteem as well (and I would throw Byrne into the mix). There is an omnibus which picks up immediately after the Byrne run, and a Byrne Superman omnibus (including Stern/Ordway, et al) has been solicited for July 22 release. I am less thrilled with what I call “the ponytail era,” but I don’t have a clear division in my mind, so I included everything up through Flashpoint. The recent and presumably-soon-to-be-completed Watchman series has done a lot to smooth out many of the post-Crisis/pre- and post-Flashpoint bumps (AFAIAC).

NEXT UP: Batman

This may come as a surprise, but I don’t have a line for Batman.

Batman #254 was one of the very first comic books I owned… not just “batman” but overall. Featuring, as it did, tales from “The Fabulous, Forties,” “The Furious Fifties,” “The Sizzling Sixties,” “The Swinging Seventies” and the “Fantastic Future,” I was weaned on the idea that multiple versions of the Batman have “always” (from my perspective) existed.

My first Batman was a year earlier with #247!

But I grew up in the 100 Page Era so I had no problem with past stories.

With Batman, it's easier to separate his versions through his various Robins:

  • Batman I (Golden Age/Earth-Two) with Robin the Boy Wonder, later the Man Wonder
  • Batman II (Silver/Bronze Age/Earth-One) with the Dick Grayson who was with the Teen Titans and later became Nightwing III then with the cheery Jason Todd who became Robin III.
  • Batman III (Post-Crisis) with new histories for Grayson and Todd who gets more gritty and killed off then Tim Drake as Robin IV.
  • Batman IV (Zero Hour/Earth-Zero) with Stephanie Brown as Robin V then with a whole Bat-Brigade of sidekicks ending with Damien Wayne as Robin VI.
  • Batman V (New 52/Rebirth) keeps all his Robins in a very short amount of time as they become Nightwing, Red Hood, Red Robin and Robin Al Ghul, respectively.

DEATHLOK:

Deathlok first appeared in Astonishing Tales (1974), set in the “futuristic” world of 1988. (Ooh!) When his solo series was cancelled, his adventures continued in Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Spotlight and Marvel Two-In-One. Deathlok’s world was ravaged by war in 1983. When 1983 rolled around, the dichotomy was dealt with in Captain America. Eventually Marvel created a second Deathlok, but Captain America #286-288 is where I draw the line.

JACK KIRBY’S “FOURTH WORLD”:

This is a great example to end the week (if I do say so myself) of “what happened” vs. stories others have told based on what happened. Think of all of the (contradictory) versions of post-Kirby “Fourth World” told over the years. That all hold those 40 issues as cannon.

OMAC would be another example, perhaps a better one because it had only eight issues to begin with. Those eight issues inspired 1) a series of back-ups culminating in DC Comics Presents #61, 2) a 1991 series by John Byrne, 3) the OMAC Project (2005) and spin-off series (2006), and 4) a “New 52” version (2001), all different, all drawing on those original eight issues as a source of inspiration.

Along the same lines as Kirby’s “Fourth World,” this one occurred to me last night while watching TV, but it crosses media.

WATCHMEN:

“Watchmen” is a 12-issue mini-series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock, the “Before Watchmen” series of limited series, the movie, the television show… all that is someone else’s “take” on Watchmen.

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