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Maritimus

The Best Forgotten Comics

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If you could recommend a comic run or a storyline that you think is really great, but is nowadays largely overlooked or completely buried in the past, but you want people to find out about it, what would it be?

 

I find myself digging through the old issues of a lot of titles, whether it's trying to get into Denny O'Neill's and Ann Nocenti's Daredevil runs, or catching up on Judge Dredd.. there's just so much stuff out there. And these are just the obvious, classic ones. So, regardless of hype and how many issues it sold, what are some of the outstanding older titles you read and want to share the experience? I'm thinking 70s and 80s mostly, we all know what happened in the 90s.. and 00s i'm guessing we are mostly familiar with.

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Oh, god, talk about a topic right up my alley. I could spend hours replying with the ideas that come into my head.

I'm the old guy at the comic shop, still buying all his comic collections, but complaining about how comics just aren't like they used to be.

All these youngsters these days with their Brian Bendis and their Geoff Jones...Why, in my day, comic writers knew how to write a fun story, and they didn't take six months to get around to the plot either.

The young folk just roll their eyes and buy their Image and their "New 52", heedless of the history.

And, worst of all, they grow up in the age of Marvel Essentials and tons of TPBs. Back in the 1980s, I had to frequent different comic stores, and dig through back-issue bins, and pay too much money to get those issues I needed to fill in the holes in my collections. All these kids have to do is buy one book and they get two years worth of classic comic books between the covers.

...Not that I don't have my share of Marvel Essentials too, mind.

 

OK, getting in the way-back machine and hitting the lever for that long-ago decade known as the 1980s, the days I started reading comic books, let's see what we can come up with....

You're making the right decision to go after Denny O'Neil's* and Anne Nocenti's runs on Daredevil.

*Check out Denny O'Neil's The Question also.

Why, just mentioning that you want to read Nocenti's DD puts you in good company...away from those misguided people who think that JMS was the best thing to ever happen to Spider Man.

The Nocenti run on Daredevil is my favourite work on DD.

 

Iron Man-The Denny O'Neil run.

 

Hulk-Bill Mantlo's run...Right before Peter David. It gets lost due to the genius of David, but such fun should not be forgotten.

 

Spectacular Spider Man-Bill Mantlo again. Often neglected, both as the "lesser" Spider title and by comparison to Roger Stern's run, both ideas are wrong. Spectacular was usually superior to Amazing, and Mantlo's work on Spectacular held up very well next to Stern's.

 

Defenders-J.M. DeMatteis-DeMatteis has always been one of my very favourite comic writers. There's plenty of good work from his pen (Dr. Fate from the 1980s is another safe bet), but I decided to just choose one DeMatteis run (at least for now, and I cheated too!), and today, that's going to be this one.

 

Not to totally leave out DC, Steven Engelhart had a really great run on Green Lantern.

Oh, and since I met him, and told him how much I loved it, William Messner-Loeb's run on Flash. Far superior to Mark Waid's run, in my opinion.

 

OK, that's off the top of my head for the 1980s, now, moving back to my favourite decade in the world of comics, the 1970s...

Basically, read everything Marvel published, dammit! I did, and I'm a better man for it today.

 

Get everything by Engelhart from the 1970s. You will not go wrong. You will only be rewarded.

Avengers, Dr. Strange, Captain America, etc. etc. etc.

Needless to say, anything I say about Engelhart goes even double for Steve Gerber.

Defenders, Man Thing, Son of Satan, Omega The Unknown...Pure gold.

 

Gerry Conway's run on Fantastic Four...Sure, it's not Lee & Kirby, nor is it Byrne, so many just don't seem to care, but I really enjoyed what Conway did on the FF title in the '70s.

The same with his run on Thor. As much as I love Walt Simonson's run, I just have to give Conway's run the extra nod, as it just screamed "epic".

 

Bill Mantlo's run on Iron Man.

 

I seem to be leaning heavily on Mantlo comics...and the reason is that I think he's probably the most neglected comic book writer.

Was he on the level of Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, or Steve Gerber? No. But, he almost never disappointed, turning in plenty of fun comic books all through the '70s and '80s, until his tragic accident.

Mantlo has been easy to forget for too long. He needs to be read by more comic fans with an appreciation for the good ol' days before everything had to be "realistic".

 

Moving outside the Big Two-

Puma Blues (Murphy and Zulli)-Almost no one has heard of this comic anymore, but it was such an amazing series.

Very poetic and intelligent.

 

Grimjack from John Ostrander-Why this series isn't still more popular, I'll never know.

People need to jump to this after exhausting Watchmen and V For Vendetta.

 

So many great books...the discovery is so much a part of the fun.

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Arak by Roy Thomas. See, I told you I'd keep thinking of more and need to keep coming back.

DC Comics. 1980s. 50 issues, one annual. A true forgotten gem.

I discovered this title by chance at an used book store a couple of years back now and took a chance, because it was Roy Thomas. I immediately needed to hunt down the entire series.

I'd rank it as DC's best early-1980s comic.

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Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus, the Capital or First Comics Years, not the Dark Horse years.

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Sorry i disappeared, busy, i appreciate the recommendations, will begin the hunt soon! Thanks for your extensive list Christian! I am wondering - has anyone read Roy Thomas' "Conan" with Barry Windsor Smith? Is it good? Also, never heard of Bill Mantlo.. i feel like I'm missing a big, good chunk of comics history. Steve Gerber - another one I'm hearing about everywhere, but never had a chance to read anything.

Just purchased something called "Negative Burn - The Best from 1993 - 1998", a collection of short stories with an indie flavor from the likes of Alan Moore, Darko Macan, Brian Bolland.. not sure if i'm enjoying it yet, but the Godzilla story by Moore is pretty funny.

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You should be reading Marvel's Conan from the 1970s, yes!

Read the entire Roy Thomas run, that ran for over 100 issues, in fact.

The Windsor-Smith issues are considered to be the most classic, but it was an amazing run of comics after Windsor-Smith left too.

There was also the Savage Sword of Conan B&W companion magazine that was also written by Thomas for a good portion of its early years.

 

Negative Burn...yeah, I haven't heard that name in a while. I used to pick those up, intermittently.

Alan Moore usually had a poem rather than a story included though.

Gaiman had a couple of stories in there, I remember.

Ellis had a story in one issue, that I thought was pretty good at the time I read it.

I don't really have a lot of memories of Negative Burn though.

There was an anthology comic called A1 during the 1980s. That was an impressive comic anthology.

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Other must-reads of the 1970s include Jim Starlin's runs on Warlock and Captain Marvel.

The Warlock is the best, but Captain Marvel isn't too far behind. Classic cosmic that will blow your mind.

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Yeah, I was just going to mention Starlin! I haven't read much of his work, but i found a book in Barnes and Noble's, it had his art and interviews, and i wrote down a bunch of titles to seek out. Warlock was one of them. His art is great, no one draws space beings quite like him, glad to hear the stories hold up. I can't find many good cosmic stories. Looking forward to reading Starlin.

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Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus, the Capital or First Comics Years, not the Dark Horse years.

 

I've actually never read this. I picked up the Capital run at the store today.

I just never knew what to make of the book (don't even know the basic plot) and never bothered to try it. The characters showed up in Grimjack on occasion, but they didn't fit with the book at all, so I disliked the comic by proxy. I do like Rude's art.

This will be on your head, Mr. K. It better be good.

Or else I'm going to be forced to write a story where John Constantine fights werewolves and turns into a werewolf...oh, wait. Someone beat me to that.

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If you hate it I give you permission to cut off my head. I think you'll dig it.

 

And Steve Rude, The Artist's Artist, turns in his finest work.

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Are we sticking to long underwear stuff, or is The Saga Of The Victims worth a mention?

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Dog-Puma Blues and Grimjack aren't superhero titles.

Nor were most of the stories in A1.

 

Lou-Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

I do like it. Probably not as much as you seem to love it though. It's no Grimjack!

I like the issues that have the "science lesson" in the back, like "What is a blackhole?", which reminds me of Silver Age comics.

First Comics had such a strong line-up during its early days. Grimjack, American Flagg, Starslayer, Sable*, Nexus.

Some of the Elric adapatations were from First.

Dreadstar ended up there after Epic, and I think it was before Starlin left the book too, so still during its readable period.

 

*Oh, Sable is Jon Sable. I got that confused with Sabre, which was from Eclipse. I wasn't a fan of Jon Sable, but some people really liked it.

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I'd missed that you'd mentioned Puma Blues, Christian. My bad: the few issues of that I'd read were absolutely great.

(I'm not sure that Grimjack isn't, though. Huge intimidating trouble shooter with a gun instead of one hand who everybody's scared of? Superhero, whatever the setting is...)

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He's a private detective living in a Cyberpunk/mystical world who will basically do anything if the price is right...

By that type of criteria, just about anyone could be considered a superhero in genre fiction.

John Constantine would be a superhero by those standards, for example. All that's missing is the big gun, which John had a gun during the Family Man arc, at least.

Gaunt was also trained as a swords-man, besides just using a gun too.

Dirty Harry would be a superhero.

Han Solo. Etc. Etc.

The only reason Gaunt is so tough is because his parents left him as an orphan, and he got put into the gladiator arena that took care of the poor, where rich people paid to watch the plebs fight to the death. Then, he hired out as a mercenary during the Corporate Wars, so he had militia training.

So, if Harlan Ellison (for example) had fought on the streets as part of a gang and signed up for Vietnam, he'd be a superhero for sure?

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Last time I checked, Harlan Ellison never appeared in a comic.

:tongue:

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