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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SHE-HULK & MS. MARVEL:

Sometimes the end of a character’s initial title signals “where I draw the line” regarding 1970s characters. Oftentimes, the Marvel Masterworks collection of a character’s seminal stories reflect a better stopping point than the actual end of the series itself.

The initial phase of She-Hulk, for example, is reflected in the last issue of her solo series as well as Marvel Masterworks. But in the case of Ms. Marvel, the initial phase of her seminal adventures come to a premature end in issue #23 of her own series, however, Marvel Masterworks. sees it through to its intended conclusion, complete with epilogue.

Next week: another 1970s series (or two) with no closure in the final issue.
NOVA:

A classic last issue blurb. After 24 issues of “He’s Here! The Human Rocket!” the catch phrase was changed to “He’s Gone! The Human Rocket!” But that wasn’t the end of Richard Ryder’s initial arc. From Nova #25 it continued into Fantastic Four and finally concluded in Rom #24.

MACHINE MAN:

Another classic last issue blurb. But again, not where I draw the line. X-51 had a couple of important appearances in Marvel Two-In-One #92-93 before the Machine Man limited series, which is where I draw the line. Although that series took place in an alternate future of 2020, every modern day appearance published after that point seems different to me somehow.

HULK:

I had a very clear idea of where I “draw the line” concerning the Hulk, which I’ve carried around in my head for many years. I haven’t posted it yet, but it was close to the one I have in mind for Daredevil… which I haven’ posted yet, either. It’s just as well I haven’t posted the Hulk one because, after re-reading that run of issues over the weekend, I’ve changed my mind.

For years I’ve though #319 was a pretty good stopping point: the hero gets the girl and they live happily ever after. But O see now that John Byrne’s run (beginning with #314), wasn’t the beginning of the end, but a whole new beginning of its own. I now “draw the line” at the last issue before it (also written by Byrne), Hulk Annual #14.

SPIDER-WOMAN:

I didn’t start collecting Spider-Woman until issue #47, the first issue of “The All-New” Spider-Woman. Too bad the series came to an end with #50, in which the character “died.” Her “death” was quickly reversed, however, in Avengers #240-241. Actually, I didn’t buy Spider-Woman #47-50 until after I had read Avengers #240-241. I “draw the line” for spider-Woman at Avengers #241 (but #249 has the better cover).

NEW MUTANTS: I started reading New Mutants from issue #1. It was good, though unremarkable, super-hero fare for the first 17 issues. Then Bill Seinkeveitz, fresh off Moon Knight (one of my favorite titles at the time) began illustrated with the 18th issue. Frankly, I thought his talent was wasted on such a… I don’t know, “frivolous”?... title, but I was already reading New Mutants and I would have followed Seinkeveitz to any title he chose to illustrate regardless. He stayed on through #31 and I wish that is where I stopped collecting. (The only issue beyond #31 I liked was #75.) Luckily, the two-volume “Epic” collection stops at that point.

X-MEN:

Tomorrow sees the release of Marvel Masterworks Uncanny X-Men v12, collecting issues #194-200 (among other things). There were quite a few “iffy” issues leading up to it, but #200 was like flipping a switch for me. It would be years before I read another issue I truly enjoyed.

Up until last month I had been leading a discussion of “Classic X-Men.” It had been my intention to go as far as issue #200. My purpose has since cooled, but I’m only a few issues shy of a natural stopping point. I’ll try to get to that point soon before putting the discussion on official hiatus.

DOCTOR FATE:

I remember reading this series in 1987 and really liking it, but I hadn’t read it since until last night. It still holds up pretty well. It is an excellent follow-up to the 1985 reprint series, The Immortal Doctor Fate, by Martin Pasko, Walt Simonson, Keith Giffen and others. (I have chosen to ost the cover of the first issue, although technically I suppose I “draw the line” at #4). What I like about it is that it completely redefines the role of Doctor Fate and Nabu going forward.

[SPOILERS] Up until this point, Nabu had used the body of Kent Nelson as his human host, with Nelson’s long-suffering girlfriend Inza hanging on. BUT… everything you know is wrong… because Nabu should have been using both Kent and Inza as sort of “co-hosts” all along. Inza had died sometime prior to the first issue, and Kent’s body was finally burning out. This limited series introduces the new couple who will serve as Doctor Fate, with Kent Nelson as their advisor. [END SPOILERS]

The reason I consider this to be an ending rather than a new beginning is that I didn’t read the 41-issue follow-up series. This status quo held until the 2003 five-issue limited series which redefined Hector Hall as Doctor Fate. That one was really good, too; that one I might consider to be a “new beginning.” Another Doctor Fate series began in 2015, but I have no idea who Doctor Fate is in that one.

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