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9/10 – Curious Cat Asks…

With Jim Shooter returning to Legion of Superheroes, what was the best return of a writer to a book that you can think of? Formerly Known as the Justice League? Waid’s Captain America? Waid’s post-Morrison/Millar run on Flash? Mike Grell’s return to Jon Sable?

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47 Comments

I’ll probably be the only person to mention it, but I really enjoyed Howard Chaykin’s *second* American Flagg! series:

http://comics.org/series.lasso?SeriesID=3722

Not as good as his first run, but it had a special over-the-top loopy energy all its own, and was a huge improvement over the often-terribly-wrongheaded post-Chaykin Flagg stories.

The return of Love and Rockets.

I love the Super Buddies. As far as I’m concerned, the “pop” of JLI was still there, and it didn’t get a chance to get stale this time.

So I’d say that.

I’d go with Matt Wagner doing the second Mage series in the late 90′s.

The worst would have to be Frank Miller returning to Batman with the Spawn/Batman crossover.

Roy Thomas’ return to The Avengers & Dr. Strange, or any other title he wrote more than once. His second runs were almost always better than the first.

Really, that SHOULD be true of anu second runs. The writer should have grown and developed into a better storyteller and have a greater understanding of the character.

Shouldn’t the question be “Why is the second run not as good as the first?”

How about Paul Levitz’s return to the Legion? It was so good that it’s easy to forget that he had a first run.

Probably either Giffen/DeMatteis’ return in Formerly Known as the Justice League and I Can’t Believe it’s not the Justice League. It really is a pity that they only did those two stories (and that the latter was soured by coming out at the same time as Identity Crisis).

I’d also give a nod to Roy Thomas’ return to the X-Men with Neal Adams. Again, it didn’t last long, but it was the best the book had ever been at that point.

Shooter’s return to the Legion has me apprehensive. It could be very good (the fact that he’s read and enjoyed Waid and Kitson’s run is a good sign), but I’ve been extremely leery about high-profile returns ever since Claremont’s disastrous return to the X-Men.

Frank Miller’s Born Again arc on Daredevil is probably the best superhero comic he ever did.

Superbuddies was a huge disappointment for me. They may have been decent comics and possibly even a good “return,” but they pale in comparison to the originals. I couldn’t enjoy them at all. The humor was stale, and repeated over and over again…the storylines were too threadbare and dependent on the comedy (until the ‘bring back Ice from hell’ bit, which only worked because of our previous attachment to the characters)…I dunno. A big “no” vote on that one for me.

Also a “no” on Waid’s return to Flash…after about #100 on that title (with some exceptions), Waid’s work just wasn’t as good as his first few stories, which were impossible to top.

I’ll second Love & Rockets and Levitz on Legion, though.

Topically enough,
What about Waid’s return to the LSH?

Byrne’s return to She-Hulk is pretty good too, but that’s mainly because there were some really bad issues by the british Transformers guy whose name I can’t remember for some reason.

I’ll second Frank Miller’s Born Again. Greatest Daredevil story ever

I enjoyed Giffen & DeMatteis’ return to the Justice League/Superbuddies, but not as much as the first time around.

The ones I’ve enjoyed the most have been Mike Grell on JON SABLE, Mike Baron on NEXUS, and John Ostrander on GRIMJACK. All 3 have felt like there was no 10+ year gap between issues. It was like 1991 all over again…(and I mean that in a good way)

I’m REALLY looking forward to Ostrander coming back to SUICIDE SQUAD.

I also think Peter David’s return to X-FACTOR has also been lightyears better than his first run on the book.

I’ll second the recommendation of Peter David’s X-Factor. However, if I’m not mistaken, David had to put up with serious editorial interference on his first run, which became bad enough to cause him to quit the book.

This question makes me realize how generally underwhelming I usually find a writer’s return to a book after a long absence. Which, in turn, begs the question: Is the second run REALLY worse than the first, or am I just letting my perceptions being colored nostalgia?

Let me do the rundown:

Englehart & Rogers on Batman: I definitely still prefer the first run, but their reunion wasn’t bad.

Frank Miller on Daredevil: Born Again is great, and definitely at least on a par with his first run. Haven’t really cared for anything he’s done with DD since.

Frank Miller on Batman: He should’ve quit after Dark Knight & Year One. Everything since then has been just awful.

Giffen, DeMatteis & Maguire on JLA: Fun, but I probably like their first run better.

Baron & Rude on Nexus: Excellent so far. Feels like there hasn’t been any gap.

Waid & Garney on Captain America: Somehow, they just lost the momentum they established during their first run & couldn’t get it back. Shame.

I picked up a Claremont X-Men a few years ago & found it absolutely incomprehensible.

Currently, I’m looking forward to more Ostrander Suicide Squad, more Mark Evanier-Dan Speigle Crossfire, more Aragones-Evanier Groo, and Aragones’ second run at Bat Lash. I’d love to see Mike W. Barr & Alan Davis do some more Batman stories.

The British Transformers guy is Simon Furman, I’ve been enjoying his work for IDW quite a bit. But to be fair, I can’t recall any non-Transformers work of his I’ve actually liked.

Frank MIller on Daredevil: Born Again

I’m always a bit wary of “reunion tour” comics, particulary because of Waid and Garney’s second Cap run. (To be fair, that was another bit of editorial frustration; apparently, Waid’s idea to make the book more about America was voted down with the logic of, ‘Well, Spider-Man isn’t about spiders…’.)

How about Jack Kirby returning to Captain American in the mid-70s?

Best: Levitz’s return to Legion
Worst: Giffen’s return to Legion

James said:
“I’ll second the recommendation of Peter David’s X-Factor. However, if I’m not mistaken, David had to put up with serious editorial interference on his first run, which became bad enough to cause him to quit the book.”

I believe you’re right James. David has also had his runs on Hulk and Spider-Man marred by editorial fiats too, if I remember correctly. I was afraid of David getting bogged down in crossover-itis again on X-Factor but so far he seems to be making the best of the Decimation/House Of M/Endangered Species tie-ins and maing them work in the book’s favor.

I’ll second Mage II. Also: Zot!, Hearts and Minds.

Don McGregor returning to write War of the Worlds featuring Killraven in 1983′s Marvel Graphic Novel #7, a gap of seven years.

Also, Bill Everett returning to the Sub-Mariner in the mid-70s, for a sadly too-brief time.

Returnees: Matt Wagner on MAGE II
Tim Truman on GRIM JACK
Mike Grell on JON SABLE FREELANCE
Steve Rude & Mike Baron on NEXUS

Does Mage II count? Wasn’t it planned from the get go? Just like the “will we ever get this?” Mage III.

Some very good ones, there. I’d have to agree with Levitz on the Legion, Miller on Daredevil Born Again, and John Ostrander on Grimjack. But the best return had
to be Tony Isabella returning to Black Lightning. Wow!

Disappointments: Byrne on Superman (whoops, guess his return was on art only), Miller on Batman, Barry Windsor-Smith’s non-return to Young Gods and Freebooters.

Hmmm… John Ostrander is returning to Suicide Squad, and Peter David has been back on X-Factor. That covers two of my biggest wishes right there.

First off, I would dearly love to see James Robinson return to JSA. It was such a logical extension of his Starman, and while it’s been some of Geoff Johns’ better work, he’s been doing it for quite a while now, and I’m not convinced he has anything new about any of the older characters.

I’d also love to see Joe Kelly or Gail Simone back on Deadpool again. Both were at the top of their game when writing this.

Oh, and it may go without saying, but Grant Morrison on JLA is always good – not that I’m not looking forward to Dwayne McDuffie taking the reins. If I had to play Guess Whose Speaking one more damn time…

Jerry Siegel’s return to writing Superman from 1959 – 1965 has to be a candiate for one of the all time best returns to a character by a writer. Many of his stories from this period have been reprinted multiple times. This run basically created the Superman continuity that lasted until the reboot in the 80′s.

EXCELLENT call on Siegel, Mark.

It’s debatable where it ranks, but it is clear that it should definitely be mentioned, and often, his return to the books is a bit forgotten.

And yes, to those who mentioned Born Again – wow, what a return THAT was!!!

Does Morrison’s JLA:Classifed count as a return? That was pretty good. Miller’s returns to Daredevil for Born Again and Man without Fear were both great.

I think that Morrison’s JLA: Classified was great as was Super Buddies (although I never read the original JLI). Oh, and PAD back on X-Factor has been amazing.

Alternatively PAD on Spider-Man… not so much.

Yep. There will be a MAGE III.
When? Well, I really don’t rightfully know.
According to M.Wagner, neither does he.

Definitely would LOVE to see Morrison and Case return to weird DOOM PATROL. ;-)

Levits on LSH, probably. Other strong contenders: Kurt Busiek on JLA, Jim Shooter, Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart on Avengers. It seems that PAD’s second run on X-Factor is rather nifty too.

I’d mention Byrne on FF, but his first run was in pencils only. Mark Evanier/Sergio Aragones on Groo does not count as a return because they never left the character in other hands. Ditto for Busiek’s Astro City.

And yes, I look forward to Ostrander’s return to Suicide Squad. And, for that matter, Shooter on LSH.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 10, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Jamie Delano, from what I’ve read, seemed to write better Hellblazer stories when he guest wrote the book, than when he launched it.

Busiek returned to Avengers?

I thought he only wrote a backup story or two for the Avengers before he became the ongoing writer. Am I incorrect in thinking that?

I don’t think you’re wrong, Brian.

Brian:

I believe Kurt Busiek’s first Avengers story was “The Day the Strangers Came” published in an Avengers annual, I think the Terminus Factor one. Besides that, I don’t remember any regular series issues he wrote prior to the series that spun out of Heroes Return.

If the annual counts as his first “run,” then yes, his second was better.

Patrick Hamilton

I’d just like to point out that Mike Baron never left NEXUS; it was NEXUS that left us. I don’t know that I would really count as a creator returning to a character, since the character didn’t continue without said creator. Steve Rude, however, would certainly count, and is a great nomination.

Two very good artistic ones: John Buscema returning to the Avengers in the late ’80s (with those great Tom Palmer inks) and JR JR returning to Spider- Man. As far as writers go, I really can’t think of one better than Miller on Born Again (which I think is both Miller’s best work and the best work with the character).

I’d also give my thumbs up to the Superbuddies and Batman: Dark Detective. Both brought back some great memories.

Probably the biggest disappointment I can think of (outside Miller’s post- Year One Batman, that is) is George Perez’ return to the New Teen Titans. Something just seemed… missing. And Perez didn’t really stay around long enough to have much of an impact.

I’ll echo Seamus G re: my hopes for Ostrander on _Suicide Squad_, and add that his recent return to _Grim Jack_ was every bit as excellent as his original run.

I’ll give an agreement to Isabella on Black Lightning. That was a great run..for the 7 and half issues it lasted.

I’ll also give an agreement to those giving the thumbs down to the “super buddies” It was a rather bad joke. It validated every uninformed complaint about the JLI days, that it was all just jokes. At the core of the original JLI books was heart. At the core of the superbuddies minis was getting to the next bwahhah joke.

Scavenger said:
“I’ll also give an agreement to those giving the thumbs down to the “super buddies” It was a rather bad joke. It validated every uninformed complaint about the JLI days, that it was all just jokes. At the core of the original JLI books was heart. At the core of the superbuddies minis was getting to the next bwahhah joke.”

I don’t know, I think the storyline in the second series where Guy and Fire were ‘reunited’ with Ice was all about the heart those original stories displayed. When Guy and Fire collapse in tears into each other’s arms, I really felt that too as I had come to care very much for those characters.

I also can’t help but wonder how much Giffen & DeMatteis were hamstrung by editorial. They probably couldn’t do much in the way of a really meaningful story, so they were left with a simple stroll down memory lane…

David Michelinie and Bob Layton followed their seminal first Iron Man run with an equally successful second run some years later. Of course, it was only a six or so year gap between the two runs, so it’s not like there was much time for their talents to change dramatically…

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 11, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Super Buddies ruled!

Don’t have a go at it because it was all jokes, it was a mini for crying out loud, and it sold enough to warrant a second one, which then got canned due to editorial decisions.
They had to get people in to read it, and so they went with the laughs.
And to be honest, go re-read the first issues of the Giffen & DeMatties original run – I stand by that Fomerly Known As was a better read than those.

Mark Waid’s return to the Legion (on the threeboot) was… okay, not best ever, but quite good.

Born Again definitely ranks up there; probably my favorite. Formerly Known as the Justice League too, but not so much it’s sequel, which kind of got plain depressing at one point.

David’s return to X-Factor has been pretty entertaining itself, and Grant Morrison’s return to JLA, though not quite as good as his original run, was still pretty fun.

First off, I would dearly love to see James Robinson return to JSA. It was such a logical extension of his Starman, and while it’s been some of Geoff Johns’ better work, he’s been doing it for quite a while now, and I’m not convinced he has anything new about any of the older characters.

I’d love to see Robinson back on JSA, maybe co-writing with Johns like he did on Hawkman.

Jamie Delano, from what I’ve read, seemed to write better Hellblazer stories when he guest wrote the book, than when he launched it.

I’d agree there, but then I think Bad Blood (or was it Royal Blood?) is the really good Hellblazer story that Delano’s written.

“Bad Blood” was by Jamie Delano, “Royal Blood” was a different Constantine story by Garth Ennis.

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