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
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.