05: New Teen Titans 1 - 44
After several clumsy attempts to copy the Marvel style, DC finally had a book with the type of characterization and banter that fans at that time were clamoring for. While the rest of the DC Universe seemed sort of stuck in stasis, Marv Wolfman introduced characters and concepts that most got fandom talking about DC again. Some of the legendary arcs and characters from this run include: The Search for the Doom Patrol
- Terra Incognito
- The Judas Contract
- The Terror of Trigon
- Who Is Donna Troy
- Brother Blood
- Without a doubt, the all time best account of the glory of this era was written by Crime Novelist, Comics Writer, History Channel Host and Childhood Memory Deflowerer(jk) Brad Metzler: How I Spent My Summer Vacation With The Judas Contract
- While Omnibuses of this era exist, they are overly price as a result of being out of print AND I have heard mixed reviews of their binding quality so I would recommend going with the DC Archive Editions: New Teen Titans, The - Archives, Vol. 1
It might seem a bit unfair to include three separate titles as one entry, but since Jack was interweaving the storylines so closely, I count his Fourth World titles as one big run. I don't think I can adequately encapsulate the brilliance of Jack's Fourth World comics, so I'll present this video documentary on the King:
I have one thing to add: I remember the first time I saw a Kirby Fourth World Comics. It was issue 9, which featured Forager. My friend Jim Triplett had it at his house and I read it while on a sleep over back in 1972. Jim had a stack of comics, many of which I wasn't familiar with, but the New Gods was the one I picked up to read while he slept in on Saturday morning (I've always been an early riser).
I remember reading the first couple of pages and just being awestruck at the richness of the world and characters. I think this may have been my second actual encounter with Kirby's artwork (the first being Fantastic Four 92 which was one of my first five comics) and I could tell he was on a completely different plane than the artists who drew most of my favorite comics (Dick Dillin, Ross Andru, Jim Aparo, John Buscema) Looking back on this event now, I realize that my local newstand most likely was not carrying the Kirby Fourth World books as I don't recall ever seeing any of them anywhere but in house ads. When Mister Miracle or The Demon showed up in Batman Brave and the Bold, I recognized them as being by Kirby, but I always wondered why their own titles weren't on the racks.
No link to a collected edition on this one because I kind of think the DC 4th World Omnibuses have sucky paper and bad bindings and I'm not alone on this.
03: Daredevil 158 - 191
The first (acknolwedge) artist as storyteller comic at Marvel. Miller redefined the genre with his grim and gritty storytelling and lean artistic style. As a kid, I had actually bought 158, Miller's first issue on the title, and thought it was pretty ho-hum, but as he continued on the series, he loosened up on his line work. By the time I tried another issue (171) Miller's style had evolved into an almost Alex Tothian simplicity. What really struck me though was how Miller was telling the story. The panel work felt like movie storyboards with an experienced noir director calling the shots on the setup. It's no wonder this run is a favorite among folks in Hollywood.
- Our friends at The Comics Reporter reminds us what it was like to be a fan when this series was coming out.
- The complete run has been collected in Omnibus format: Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson Omnibus
02: Strange Tales #178-181, Adam Warlock 9 - 16, Avengers Annual #7 (Nov. 1977) and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (Dec. 1977)
While he turned out some fine work on Captain Marvel, this is the comic that Jim Starlin is most associated with - and for good reason. It's easy to see that this became a very personal book for Starlin as the stories often tackled unusual topics for comics books (the questionable authority of the Church being the most prominent.) Looking back, it's almost hard to believe that Marvel gave this series to time to unfold. Especially since I suspect it only came out bimonthly (check this) still the editors must have realized Starlin was working on something great here.
I'm putting this over Miller Daredevil run for two reasons. 1) It's shorter and as a result delivers more impact because of that. 2) It covers more ground thematically. 3) The characters introduced, especially Thanos have become more influential in Marvel over the years whereas many of Miller's characters, with the exception of Bullseye, have completely disappeared.
- Sequart.org has an awesome analysis of Jim Starlin's run
- The best collection of this run is theMarvel Masterworks: Warlock - Volume 2 which is currently $85 on Amazon (and I expect that price to continue to climb as the buzz around Thanos grows in the Marvel Movieverse!)
In many ways, this run was the end of the Bronze Age in my opinion. In it we saw the rise of the hero as killer with Wolverine, the beginning of the X-men dynasty, longer, more complicated storylines and the first death to rock the industry since, what? Gwen Stacy? Byrne was turning out incredible artwork and Claremont brought a whole new level of pathos to the old mutant gang. This run was so popular that it was picked by the readers of ComicBookResources as THE number one comics run of all time.
In many ways, this series rewrote the book on what superhero comics should be like. After this, both DC and Marvel would put out a multitude of team books. DC scored a hit with New Teen Titans. Marvel found gold in X-men spinoffs. One has to wonder, would this current era of superteam spin off comics exist without the massive success of the X-men series?
- This run has been collected several different ways, but I highly recommend going the Omnibus route on this one: The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 1
- GobbledyGeekPodcast covers this era in more depth than one could dare hope.