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Comics Mean Favorite Stories and Characters

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

batman442I’ve spent the last few days sharing some brief, loose thoughts on some of the things that comics mean to me, have been to my life.

But I haven’t talked about my favorite stories, my favorite characters. And truly, anything actually comprehensive on that front could be an entire blog in itself, something far larger than the scope and intent of this week’s posts. So I’ll touch on a few only.

Superman was the first–Superman is the reason I was introduced to comics. I touched a few weeks ago on the significance of the Death and Return of Superman Omnibus, aos500collecting that entire saga under one cover, as the ultimate story from my childhood is presently the ultimate single volume in my collection.

Another Superman story that holds a lot of meaning for me is Man of Steel, the John Byrne series that reintroduced Superman to the world, introduced the version of Superman that I consider “my Superman.”

Over on the Batman side, there’s A Lonely Place of Dying. Tim Drake–the third Robin (or now, Red Robin in the New 52)–had only JUST been introduced as I got into comics. So the character has been around the xmen041entire time I’ve been into comics, had comics of my own…but while I was new to comics, Tim Drake the character was new to being Robin. As he grew up, I grew up; as he gained experience, I’ve gained experience. Sadly, where Tim was once several years OLDER than me…even if they portray him as being 20 or so and not mid-teens…I’ve now got nearly a decade and a half on the character. And for that, Robin–the Tim Drake version–is also one of my favorite characters.

With Batman, significant stories that I think of quickly include A rune000Death in the Family, as well as Knightfall, KnightQuest, and KnightsEnd. No Man’s Land was also quite important as it got me back into the Bat-verse for awhile, sampling the various titles since they tied in, and I tried to follow the entire thing (though trailed off when I went off to college).

On the Marvel side, while I kinda loosely followed some of the X-Stuff (particularly Fatal Attractions, the X-Men 30th Anniversary crossover/event) I didn’t actually start trying to follow ALL of the X-books until Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse. I got all the issues in batman497December 1994 that ended with the cliffhangers as those titles seemed to rather abruptly END…and then followed all the Age of Apocalypse titles for the 4-month event…and then for a few months afterward, I tried to keep up with the entirety of the X-books, learning about the characters I didn’t already know, learning about their “real versions” as opposed to their AoA counterparts, etc.

And of course, there are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was introduced to them by other boys in my Cub Scouts group having the interest, but their interest soon became my own. The comics, the cartoons, the movies, etc.–the tmnt050TMNT have actually been part of my life longer than comics, I believe. 

The Avengers and the non-X-related Marvel characters became a much larger part of my life in the late-1990s, having grabbed my attention with Heroes Reborn, but it was the Heroes Return where–for a brief time–I was buying everything Marvel that I could, while offhand sticking solely with Superman books from DC. I followed Avengers through Busiek‘s entire run, and a couple years each of Fantastic Four and Iron Man, and stuck with Thor a couple years longer than Avengers.

mantra001And significant as Marvel and DC were, I jumped onboard the Ultraverse with its launch in June 1993, and had the intention of following it in its entirety, though that quickly fell by the wayside due to the price ($1.95 to the $1.50 of the Superman books!) and sheer volume of titles. Ultimately, I followed Prime from the beginning to the very end, as well as Mantra, and I jumped on the Rune #0 promotion and so followed the Rune stuff in that entirety as best I could (I’m STILL missing one of the crossover issues with Conan!). Over the past couple years I’ve worked on tracking down the Ultraverse issues and titles I’d missed, and I’m down to a (relatively) small list of xo000missing issues from having a complete story collection of the Ultraverse…or at least, complete enough for me.

There have been book series and authors that I’ve followed–Brad Meltzer, Aliens, Dragonlance, Magic: The Gathering, Left Behind, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians–but ultimately…quantity-wise, it’s comics that have had the most impact on me, the greater variety and writers of stories that I carry with me.

Other posts in my participation in Comics Kick Ass week:
Comics Mean Memories | Comics Mean Connection | Comics Mean Education/Entertainment/Escape | Comics Mean Marking the Passing Time

Comics Mean Marking the Passing Time

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

aos453Comics in general–the whole of “comics,” collecting, reading, noticing–have provided an interesting way to mark the passage of time in my life. I’ve grown up with certain characters–literally and figuratively (most notably the third Robin, Tim Drake) and seen nearly a third of Superman’s existence, and more than half of most Marvel characters’ existence…and the entirety of many more.

But amidst that, going back to memories, connections, and education–a number of comics have coincided with events in my life, or major comic stories have been able to lend themselves to locking in memories that’d otherwise be forgotten.

tmnta025As I have memories of getting my first comics Spring 1989, basically 24 years ago…let’s use 24 years and not quibble over months and other highly-exactness that can make this more complicated than I’m already going to make it:

I’ve been into Superman for 24 years, or 32% of his existence. Batman, I’ve been into basically as long, so let’s say 32% there as well. Since my first four comics, I’ve been around for about 281 issues, give or take late issues, skip months, zero issues, etc. Superman #31-226, Adventures of Superman 453-649, Superman #650-714, and about 20 issues of the New 52 Superman. Action Comics would be 643-904 and 1-20 of the New 52. Batman I’ve seen from #439-700-something, and about 20 of the New 52. Detective Comics I’ve seen from #604-881, and about 20 issues of the New 52.

hunterprey001Amidst these: I was 11 when I got back into comics in spring/summer 1992 and turned 12 a couple weeks after The Death of Superman. The Death and Return of Superman saga, the rematch with Doomsday in Hunter/Prey; Zero Hour and the first year beyond that–made up my junior high years. The Electric Costume Superman came about toward the end of my sophomore year of high school. The soft relaunch of the Super-titles in fall 1999 coincided with my starting college.

The X-Men event Age of Apocalypse closed out my junior high years, and all the Onslaught, Heroes Reborn, and Heroes Return stuff came during xmenalpha001my high school years.

Batman: Knightfall, Knightquest, and Knights End were part of junior high for me, and all the stuff that came out of those were in my high school years. Wolverine lost his adamantium during my junior high years, and didn’t get it back until I’d started college.

X-Men #100, The Shattering, The Twelve–these were part of early college for me.

tec6759/11 and the “new look” of “Nu Marvel”–the more grim and gritty, hide-the-heroes, leather jackets and grittier logos were the thing through most of my college years, and it wasn’t until I was into grad school that things started to pull back together to a callback to my childhood/junior high days.

The Avengers were Disassembled at the start of grad school, and Johns has been THE Green Lantern writer of note since I started grad school. Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, 52, and Flashpoint have all been since I started grad school.thor085

Since moving into this apartment, I’ve seen Batman: RIP, Battle for the Cowl, and the return of Bruce Wayne.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures carried from junior high and into high school. The original TMNT run had ended and the second volume was ending about the time I was headed into high school. The Image run came along sometime in there, though I didn’t discover it until college…and the “volume 4” series kicked off partway through my junior year of college, running til shortly after my wolverine145grad school days.

The height of the Ultraverse was junior high for me, while Black September marked the start of high school for me.

While many look down on the ’90s era of comics…that’s when I grew up. Most of my favorite comics are from the 1990s.

Comics also cover a huge part of the timeline of my life: December 1980-Fall 1988 was the time before comics.

prime001Fall 1988-Spring 1989 I was reading Grandpa’s comics. Spring 1989-Fall 1990 or so was my first foray into comics. Summer 1992-December 1995 was my second. And while the number of comics I’ve been getting any given month has fluctuated WILDLY, I’ve been fairly steady in comics since March 1997. I came close to trailing off in college, and have been down to just a handful of titles on several occasions.

All of this to say: just as you can measure stuff by things going on in comics, and specific issues…I’ve been around and into comics for so long, they’ve been such a big part of my life (intentionally or in retrospect) that much of the time I’ve lived can be marked by the comics that were coming out simultaneously.

Other posts in my participation in Comics Kick Ass week:
Comics Mean Memories | Comics Mean Connection | Comics Mean Education/Entertainment/Escape

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