After a short break, I’m back with another installment of On My Bookshelf in which I look at all of the original graphic novels and trade paperback collections sitting on my bookshelf and write whatever I want to about them. The first two shelves stored Dark Horse and DC books. The third shelf is the home to the House of Ideas: Marvel Comics.

Essential Avengers Vol. 1-2

My low tolerance for DC’s Silver Age material- which I wrote about in an earlier installment- doesn’t extend to Marvel. I really like these early Avengers stories, especially after Stan Lee abandons the formulaic approach of the first year and a half. Cap’s Kooky Quartet is one of my favorite runs on this title from any era. You had no idea what to expect next, from either the villains or the heroes. The only reason why my collection stops after the second volume is that I have most of the rest as
back issues.

Exiles Vol. 1

Thank you, Tony Bedard. I bought the very first issue of Exiles, written by Judd Winick, and wasn’t impressed. I came back much later when Bedard took over as the series’ third regular writer. Bedard helped me appreciate the concept and the core cast of characters. I liked the variety of stories and the sense that anything could happen. I admired the way that previously discarded characters like Mimic, Morph and Blink were becoming stars in their own right. I enjoyed Bedard’s new Exiles so much that I picked up most of the earlier issues, including a trade of the first arc. And, this time, I was able to enjoy them as a fan.

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America

I’ve been a big fan of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America from the first issue, though I initially bought the series more for the Steve Epting art than for Brubaker. However, Brubaker
won me over quickly and Captain America has been one of my favorite titles of the past 5 years. But that doesn’t mean I trusted Marvel to produce spin-off stories. I skipped this
Jeph Loeb written mini-series when it first came out. It seemed more like a marketing gimmick than anything else. But a number of reviews (including some negative ones) and a discount sale at Barnes & Noble convinced me to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It’s a solid story, shepherding a variety of Marvel characters through the five stages of grief while raising many of the questions the readers have themselves.

Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Perez Vol. 1-2

These books were on my wish list for a long time before I was able to snag them as part of a big online discount sale. I’m a huge George Perez fan and I like his work here but these are not the best stories I’ve ever read.

GI Joe Vol. 1-5, Classic GI Joe Vol. 6-8

Devil’s Due kicked off an ‘80s nostalgia binge when they published a new GI Joe series in 2001 through Image Comics. The series was so successful that even Marvel got in on the act, reprinting their earlier GI Joe comics in a series of trades. They even used the same cover artist for the trades that Devil’s Due had on the series- J. Scott Campbell. I was a little late to the bandwagon but that only added to the fun. The trades were out of

print by the time I wanted to buy them and I had to search high and low for several of the middle volumes. But Anacoqui and I found them all and they were a rewarding read during the move to Rochester a couple of years ago. IDW now has both the publishing and reprinting rights to GI Joe. They picked up where Marvel left off, reissuing the earlier volumes and printing new ones beginning with #6. #9 comes out this month and #10 is scheduled for December.

The Golden Age of Marvel Comics Vol. 1-2

I have a little bit of a historian in me and it comes out in most of my hobbies including comics. Among other things, that means that I’m fascinated by Golden Age comics. There usually isn’t enough
direct enjoyment in them for me to splurge on DC’s Archives or Marvel’s Masterworks. But the price point on a softcover is just about right. These anthologies introduced me to Venus, the original Vision, Citizen V and the Fin.

New Warriors: Reality Check

I’m a fan of Fabian Nicieza’s original New Warriors. And I’m a fan of reality TV, faithfully following The Amazing Race, American Idol and Survivor. So I was skeptical about this series which seemed to be making fun of both the New Warriors and reality TV. I’m glad that fellow Legionnaire Doc Beechler
convinced me I was wrong. Reality Check is a humorous take on these characters but it isn’t disdainful of them. Instead, it was a lot of fun and very funny.

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD: Scorpio

These two volumes include the entire Jim Steranko run on Nick Fury. The first volume collects his work on Strange Tales, the anthology that Nick Fury shared with Dr. Strange. The second volume collects his work on Nick Fury’s solo series. It was
a real treat to watch Steranko develop as an artist over the course of this series. He started out working in Marvel’s house style, essentially aping Jack Kirby. But he quickly developed his own style, bringing a completely look to Nick Fury and to comics.

NYX: Wannabe and No Way Home

It’s come up a couple of times already indirectly but I was very skeptical of the New Marvel under Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada. There seemed to be disdain for everything that came before combined with a tendency to work in the gutter. So there was no way that I was going to buy this series about mutant runaways in New
York City, even if the covers sported beautiful Joshua Middleton art. I didn’t want to read
about mutants doing ecstasy or turning tricks. Over the years, I’ve softened my stance a little. I know that I shouldn’t necessarily judge the quality of a comic book by its choice of subject matter. A year or so ago, I finally relented and gave NYX a chance. I’m glad to say that my initial impressions were wrong. The street life of prostitution and drugs is part of the background, but the foreground is the very personal struggle of these down and out kids trying to make something of themselves. They even form their own family unit together. It’s an uplifting story, not a degrading one. And it’s so well done that I’ve read it more than once.

Amazing Spider-Man by J. Michael Straczynski Vol. 1-3

The title is officially only Amazing Spider-Man but Straczynski’s name is bannered across the top so it will always be AMS by JMS to me. I bought Amazing Spider-Man #500 because of the great J. Scott Campbell cover and thought the story was

magnificent. I started collecting the JMS run at that point, working both backwards (buying earlier issues and trades) and forwards (buying the new issues as they came out).

Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day

This was a gift from a friend. I had been burned by the latter half of the JMS run on Spider-Man and wasn’t interested in picking up the restart. A friend thought that I would like it if I only gave it a try so he sent me the first trade as a present. He was right (and by the way, it’s nice to have friends who are good at guessing my preferences). I raced through this first volume and spent the ensuing summer tracking down back issues until I was caught up with the current story.

The Thing: Idol of Millions

The Thing’s solo series was mistimed. The classic Mark Waid-Mike Wieringo run on the Fantastic Four had just ended. The critically panned JMS run had just begun. And the Thing suffered from the poor reviews of its parent title. I know that I wasn’t looking to add an FF spin-off just as I was dropping the main series. It’s too bad. Dan Slott and Andrea DiVito put together a great series. It was funny, filled with action and all kinds of crazy superhero stuff. It could have been the next She-Hulk (another surprise hit for Dan Slott) if only it had come out a year or so earlier.

Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson Vol. 1-5

If you read the earlier articles about the Dark Horse and DC shelves, then you know that I like to collect classic series from the ‘70s and
’80s via trade.

Thunderbolts: Justice, Like Lightning (Vol. 1)

If you read the earlier articles about the DC shelf, then you also know that I occasionally come late to a series. At that point, it’s usually easier (and cheaper) to buy the first trade than it is to track down the individual issues.

That takes us about half-way through the Marvel shelf and that seems like a good place to stop for now. I’ll be back next week with more Marvel trades.

Views: 186

Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on October 16, 2010 at 3:26pm
Early Avengers: A perennial favorite of mine as well.

Fallen Son: I read it at the time of its initial release, but although I have re-read much of Brubaker’s Captain America *(some of it more than twice), I have yet to re-read Fallen Son. I agree it’s a strong story, though.

FF Visionairies: GP: I re-read these earlier this year and posted about them here.

Golden Age of Marvel Comics, Vols. 1-2: Coincidentally, I am in the process of reading all of Bill Everett’s Golden Age Sub-Mariner from the beginning. The first story has been reprinted many times, but more often than not (including and perhaps most especially in the Masterworks), the re-production values are lousy. I have the two volumes under discussion as well, and the reprint contained therein is one of the best.

Reality Check: I’ve been reading a lot of New Warriors and Nova backissues as part of my Marvel’s Cosmic Comics discussion, but decided to give this one a pass. Now you and Bill say it’s better than it looks.

Nick Fury tpbs: One of my future discussions will be Agents of Atlas which, ealier this year, I untook reading from the beginning. Before I did that, though, I read all of the Yellow Claw from the ‘50s and SHIELD stories from the ‘60s. I really like Nick Fury and have re-read his series in Strange Tales quite frequently. I love the transition from Kirby’s cigar chompin’ unshaven ex-soldier to Steranko’s suave secret agent. I have both the arhives and the tpbs (as well as most of the originals) and could really stand to cull the tpbs from my collection. The only thing preventing me, though, is that great four-page spread fould-out!

NYX: Gave it a try. Didn’t like it.

AMS by JMS: I liked JMS’s run despite some of the things imposed upon him by Joe Quesada. I’ve never go back and re-read any of it, but someday I will.

Brand New Day: I read it but I’ve been unable to enjoy Spider-Man since “One More Day.” When that story is eventually overturned (and I have no doubt that someday it will be), perhaps I’ll be able to enjoy new Spidey again.

Walt Simonson Thor: Good stuff. I’m seriously considering the Omnibus.

Thundebolts: I’ve recently been reading tpb collections of more recent Thunderbolts collections, but I had little interest in this series when it first came out. (I dropped it after three issues.) I’ve seen this tpb around at Half-Price Bookstores, though, and may give these early stories a second try.
Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on October 18, 2010 at 12:55pm
Avengers: I got the first of the softcover Masterworks, and I have almost finished that. It is just the first 10 issues, but I like the smaller books myself. The big black and white ones get to feel like a chore for me after a while. Even though I know what happens in most of the issues it is still fun to finally read them

Fallen Son: I passed on this, and I can't remember the last time I really enjoyed a Jeph Loeb comic. Maybe if I found it cheap...

G.I. Joe: I had a lot of the originals and liked them. I sold/traded them all years ago and I've never missed them, or felt like I wanted to go back re-read them. I'm glad you like them as well.

Nick Fury: Those were great. I got both of those trades a year or two ago, Steranko is of course masterful.

Amazing Spider-Man: Pretty much ditto.

Thor: Wow, I didn't even know there were that many volumes. I read the first two before deciding it wasn't for me.

Fantastic Four & Thing: I came to the conclusion a few years ago that I just don't like them.
Comment by Figserello on October 19, 2010 at 2:40am
Yeah, Fallen Son was a lot better than I expected it to be.

Two of my favourite single issue Marvel comics are in your list there.

One is Avengers #1. The plotting of that is such fun. They just moved all the pieces they already had into place so well: Loki, the Hulk, Rick Jones, the rest of the Avengers-to-be. It's a cracking story.

The other is probably in The Golden Age of Marvel Comics Vol. 1-2. Was it called All-Winners comic or something? It's essentially an Invaders story years before the Invaders. It was set against the backdrop of the very real World War Two, there is a visit to London during the Blitz. It does such a good job of using the world and politics as it was right then to such good effect. Most superhero comics today don't have that immediacy or relevancy at all. The other thing about it was that even though it's longer than usual, it was written and drawn in a weekend by all the writers and artists getting together and pitching in.

I second the invitation to discuss Reality Check on Jeff's thread. We've made many wild and unsubstantiated speculations about it, and need someone who's actually read it to pitch in...

I have both those Steranko Nick Fury books and they are stonking! If Marvel had produced more books like that in the 60's they would be more accepted as an insititute of American art than they are now, rather than just being the home of great superheroes.

AMS by JMS was the first comic that I decided to 'wait for the trades' on. People who say that the trade-waiting audience aren't dependable may be right. As the months passed by, it fell off my radar. Although I have many of the books by now, I've never sat down and read them systematically. I still can't believe that Sins Past was ever thought a good idea! It had beautiful art though, the little I've seen.

Brand New Day. These are gret comics in the mighty marvel manner, but that's all they are. I'm enjoying working my way through the trades, but they seem very mechanistically put out. Everything is very thought through. In some ways they've replicated the great Spider-man comics of the 60s and 70s, but the Brain -Trust here knew the parameters of what can be done in a Spidey comic, whereas with the old guys, you had the excitement of discovering those parameters as they went. There's a considerable difference.

The Thing: Idol of Millions I'm slowly putting this together from the 50c bins, and looking forward to reading it all in a sitting some day. Slott is a great writer, but I'm hoping we haven't seen his best yet. Good analysis of why the timing worked against it.

Simonson's Thor is great, isn't it. Longform comic storytelling at its best. Put my collection together in the 90s. It just seemed to fizzle out towards the end though didn't it? Another victory for Marvel editorial over a creator. They always win in the end...

Thunderbolts I read this not so long ago. It took a bit of getting used to the mid-nineties house-style of art and writing, but once I got over that I enjoyed it. I'd like to read the rest of Busiek's run, but I wouldn't pay top dollar to do so...
Comment by Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) on October 19, 2010 at 6:37pm
Boy, did I dig that Thing series.


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