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Comics Should Be Good Top 50 Countdown! – #36

Here’s #36! Click here for the master list!


Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #36

This is one of the tricky ones on the list, as there are very likely more important comic issues, in the sense that important things happened in other books.

To wit, The Brave and the Bold #36 gave us the first Shadow Thief, Fantastic Four #36 was the first appearance of the Frightful Four (as well as the first appearance of Medusa) and finally, perhaps most notably, Hugo Strange debuted in Detective Comics #36.

However, I don’t think any of them are as memorable of an issue as Amazing Spider-Man #36, which was the 9/11 tribute issue by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna.

Not everyone likes this story (I know quite a few people who absolutely hate it), but everyone can concede that this issue was NOTABLE, at least.

Whether you agree with me that it is the MOST notable 36th issue, well, that’s a separate matter!

Anyhow, that’s the pick! Any other good #36s that should get an honorable mention? Perhaps an issue of Sandman or Swamp Thing or Doom Patrol?


Ive never read this issue but believe (through cultural osmosis) that Doctor Doom shed a tear for “America” in this??

Is that correct?

Yes, that’s the issue.

See, it’s so notable that you know tiny plot elements of it without having read it!!

I enjoyed it until I saw the villains crying for New York. It really pulled me out of the story. Guess JMS got a bit swept up.

I’d have to agree, love it or hate it this is definitely a memorable book.

I could totally see -Kingpin- crying for New York, but Magneto and Doom? Not so much.

Magneto was a Holocaust survivor, wasn’t he? He might well have wept at memories of innocents being killed in the middle of a war.

Doctor Doom? Um, no, I can’t see him crying over anything, not in public at any rate.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 23, 2008 at 5:30 am

It still makes my eyes water especially when you see Doc Doom crying.

Quasar #36 dealt with all the billions of Kree blown up at the end of Operation Galactic Storm. Their souls were all eaten by (guess who?) an old Thor villain called the Soul-Eater. Who is now so big he’s mistaken for a trinary star. That’s big. Great job to Greg Capullo for drawing such a monstrous-scaled villain that planets look like marbles floating around him.

Patrick Joseph

July 23, 2008 at 6:56 am

Swamp Ting #36 was the second part of the Nukeface Papers, and marked the second time Alan Moore would “kill” the title character. It lead into the first full appearance of Constantine in #37.

Issue #36 of the 80s Question was the last issue, which saw Vic Sage leave Hub City. One of the best final issues of any series I’ve ever read.

There is no other choice. This is the only contender.
I am a fervent advocate of reading comics, not plasticking them up and stuffing them away… but Amazing Spider-Man 36 is the only book I’ve ever had CGC’ed in my collection. I considered Watchmen 1-12, but never did it. Just Amazing Spider-Man 36.
(…and yes, I did read it before CGCing it. And I still got a 9.4!)

Oh! I didn’t recognize this at all, but I heard a snark ripple effect about the Doom tear, sure.

Random Stranger

July 23, 2008 at 8:29 am

I think it’s a terrible, pandering story that is horribly out of place trying to shove it into Marvel continuity.

But it’s also the right pick. It’s definitely the famous #36.

DC Comics Presents #36 was the Fully-Absorbed Finale of the ‘Prince Gayvn’ version of Starman’s story, with Mongul thrown in to give Superman something to do in it.

Cerebus #36 was “The Night Before” (The one in High Society where Jaka comes back, a particularly memorable and important individual issue in the overall story.)

Dark Horse Presents #36 was the first ever story featuring both Aliens and Predators, a crossover idea (admittedly hinted at in Predator 2) that would go on to spawn several comic miniseries and eventually two movies…

I just kind of chuckled at people who read the story and the Doctor Doom moment took them out of it. At no point during my reading of it was I even trying to figure out how this fit in to the Marvel Universe.

I agree with Random Stranger. It’s likely the right issue for the #, but it’s a terrible pandering book.

I once heard someone suggest Doom was crying because there were Latverian nationals in the building.

Whatever. The story (illustrated essay, really) was much more about tone and emotion than about Marvel continuity. The scope of the reader’s reaction to 9/11 is, in my mind, more important than a fictional character’s reputation as a cold, unfeeling badass.

I personally would have given it to Cerebus 36, because I think “The Night Before” is quite simply the best work Dave Sim has ever done in the same way that . Deeply moving, it was the one issue of Cerebus I think anyone I knew back in the day would know by number. Sim even felt it was his favourite and never sold the original art from it.

And I was prepared to argue with you about any other choice you might have made … except this one. Because, yeah, Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #36 was probably the most memorable #36. And I actually liked it at the time, unlike many.

But I still think the best one is Cerebus 36. I think Cerebus 36 is among the greatest comic stories ever done.

Today we are all Latverians.

Rob, it’s less about being pulled out of the Marvel Universe and more about being pulled out of the moment.

The way the comic started out was perfect. The guy (or woman) shouting “Where were you?” was both an in-universe cry and a beyond-the-fourth-wall statement that put superheroes, and by extension our ideals, in perspective. It emphasized both the non-existence of these characters, and our desire for what they represent. It was a bit shocking to me, to be honest.

But in what context exactly is Doom’s crying supposed to be taken? JMS used the character to show that the tragedy disturbed even the coldest of hearts, but it just didn’t work. In fact I think it belittled the wider issue significantly. Peter Parker and other superheroes work because they’ve been established as everymen and heroes we can relate to. Doom doesn’t have that element. Magneto, yeah, but not Doom.

You can’t ask people to think on one page and then switch their minds off on the other.

Huh. I thought the villains crying was a symbolic thing. 9/11 was so tragic, even the most evil man in the world shed a tear. I’m not saying it worked, but I can see what JMS was going for.

Or, it’s a Doombot crying, and the story was originally titled “Even a Doombot Can Cry!”

…Which would mean that, despite being the ‘most evil man in the world’ Doom is still less evil than, say, Osama Bin Laden himself. Or the average Palestinian man-on-the-street, for that matter…

Jeff R.
your last comment was out of order. To brand the ‘average’ Palestinian as someone who celebrated what happened is reprehenisble and shows a lack of knowledge of news reporting and media outside of the clique that is the US. Agreed, there where plenty of Palestinians on the streets showing a sickening delight that day (which, when watching, was the single worst despair I have ever felt, outside of my imediate family), but the pictures displayed a bias in the same way as we, outside the US, are, at times given a perception that everyone in the US is a tobacco chewing redneck that thinks Dubya is the bees knees. I know that’s not true, but when I read some of the comments on a webiste devoted to comics, I do wonder…

Looking at my last comment, I notice that I have made a couple of small typing errors. D’Oh! I’ve never heard of a webiste either…

True enough; amend to the average Palestinian man on those particular streets at that particular time.

The general point being that the view of 9/11 as a sublimely affecting tragedy capable of bending the heart of even the most canonically evil supervillains around is one that ignores the fact that it was a deliberate, human act of political terrorism that plenty of actual human beings performed, arranged, abetted, and approved, not some kind of force of nature or act of God (as too much immediate-reaction artwork, including ASM #36, tended to view it.)

Yeah, I read this story a little while ago, and I liked it. I agree with Crash-Man’s statement about the woman asking “Where were you?,” and I was really impacted by the scene with Spider-Man and the little boy whose father was in the Towers.

I was even touched by the Kingpin (a ruthless criminal, sure, but still a New Yorker) and the others at the scene. But then I got to thinking about Doom and Magneto…didn’t they both, a bunch of times in their careers, attempt to kill just as many, if not more, innocents? I mean, I don’t think it was wrong for them to be written in, I like what JMS was going for; however, it seems kinda odd to me that someone like Doom (who would kill planets to rule the Earth or something similar) would show that kind of emotion.

Eh, whatever, I liked the story. I just wanted to deposit two cents.

The general point being that the view of 9/11 as a sublimely affecting tragedy capable of bending the heart of even the most canonically evil supervillains around is one that ignores the fact that it was a deliberate, human act of political terrorism that plenty of actual human beings performed, arranged, abetted, and approved, not some kind of force of nature or act of God (as too much immediate-reaction artwork, including ASM #36, tended to view it.)

Agreed. I didn’t like this issue that much, despite all the decently-written emotional overtones. It was a pandering and overly-simplistic look at a very serious event. And yes, the Doom scene was its most ridiculous moment – it’s not like Marvel has a shortage of evil men who would’ve been a better fit for that “single dramatic tear” scene. If any character in the Marvel Universe would have rejoyced at that tragedy, it would be Doom (well, maybe Thanos or the Mandarin would’ve enjoyed it too) . It was as inadequate as it would be if DC made a similar book and put the Joker crying over all the lost lives.

But I understand that it was more an expression of the Marvel bullpen’s feelings on the matter than anything else. And it was a touching little story, if we completely ignore the Doom scene.

At least this issue was handled better than Marvel’s short-lived Super-Villain Team-Up relaunch starring the Hate Monger and Osama bin Laden.

NO way…they had a comic that starred a fictional Nazi with a non-fictional modern terrorist (still at large)?

As my pastor used to say: “Who said ‘Yes’ to that?!”

Well, OK, not really — but after the Batman vs. Al Qaeda project Frank Miller’s supposedly working on (called, I shit you not, Holy Terror, Batman!), nothing surprises me anymore.

“At least this issue was handled better than Marvel’s short-lived Super-Villain Team-Up relaunch starring the Hate Monger and Osama bin Laden.”

Wait, WHAAA? Is that for real?

Good issue. No need for it to fit into continuity. In fact, it works much better OUT of continuity.

I found it a useful tool to talk to my children about 9-11. It used powerful images without being quite so graphically REAL.

My understanding is that JMS wrote it in one take, right? I think that’s the way to look at it: JMS trying to capture his feelings immediately after 9-11. I can’t fault him for one panel that doesn’t make sense if you think about it.


July 23, 2008 at 5:37 pm

I thought the villains being there was a misstep, but not a gigantic one.

Reading the story now, I’m sure it would come across as overly sentimental and such, but I remember reading it when it came out and finding it quite affecting.

This beat out FF #36? This… this… this misbegotten story? Gah!


July 23, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Amen, F4F.

FF# 36 wasn’t just the intro of the Frightful Four and Medusa, which would be memorable enough.

Even more important, it was the beginning of an unprecedented ongoing story that included five issues of battling the Frightful Four, the wedding of Reed and Sue, four issues introducing the Inhumans, first appearances of the Surfer and Galactus (and Wyatt Wingfoot), “This Man, This Monster,” the Black Panther and Klaw, the two greatest Doctor Doom storylines of all time, and the intros of Blastaar, the Sentry, the Kree (Supreme Intel and Ronan), Quasimodo, and (whew) Him. It all started HERE, in FF# 36.

The 911 issue was worse than pandering. It was another little piece of a frighteningly concerted corporate media campaign designed to sway the American public into suddenly endorsing illegal and illogical wars.
Could we call it the most forgettably memorable #36 instead? The most infamous #36? Something like that?

Vote! Vote!


July 23, 2008 at 7:44 pm

I call shenanigans.

Yeah, it works better as an out-of-continuity tale. Doom for years has tried to blow up the world and shit, and has had how many innocents killed or murdered to achieve his goals? And didn’t give a crap about it? And now, all of a sudden, he does?

Yes, I realize Sept 11 was a horrible event (I was in the US when it happened), but the Doom crying thing was definitely pandering. I get what Doom was supposed to represent, but believe me, millions of people around the world felt bad about what happened, but didn’t shed any tears about it. Not everyone fell into both extremes – you either cried buckets or celebrated in the streets like a small minority of Palestinians – most outside the US saw it as a tragic event, but tragic events happens all over the world, all the time, whether or not it was orchestrated by terrorists or the number of people who died.

Doom’s reaction is very out of character, and considering how the character didn’t change or learn anything from this issue makes his reaction all the more hollow and pointless for it’s inclusion.

I hope noone was offended by what i said…I wasn’t trying to be insentative….

Pedro Bouça

July 24, 2008 at 3:44 am

That issue was terrible, even by Stravesty’s REALLY low standards. Went for cheap pandering. Nice art, though.

By the way, being a foreigner I can atest that most people in the world did not cry for 9-11 (although there wasn’t rejoicing on the streets or something like that). Most people simply didn’t care, as usually don’t care for the occasional genocides in Africa (Sudan, Rwanda, etc.) or the tsunami on Asia or whatever recent tragedy you may recall. Sad but true.

Which makes the Dr. Doom scene even more absurd.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

911 should never have been dealt with in the Marvel Universe especially in one issue. Most importantly it trivialized the event.

But as far as the Marvel Universe why wasn’t every costumed idiot in the Marvel Universe at Ground Zero for the next 18 months or working with SHIELD to find bin Laden. But by the next issue they were out braining each other in an alley. And in the Marvel Universe, after things like Galactus and Onslaught, 9-11 wouldn’t have had the same impact on people. I mean didn’t Kang wipe out all of Washington DC a couple years later?

The Doctor Doom thing could be the stupidest thing Marvel has ever done and JR Jr. must have gagged while drawing it.

The black cover is stupid too. Unless you already know what it is you would think there was a printing error.

This is a terrible choice. If you want to talk about pandering (see previous entry about Green Lantern: Rebirth) here’s one of the best examples. The whole thing feels cheap and is incredibly misguided, and well, lame. Villains who have tried to destroy bits of New York before weeping over the World Trade Center wreckage is just weird and silly and way too Hallmark Channel. Not only that, one of the major positive themes of 9/11 is that regular people banded together to search for and rescue each other, and here you have superheroes like the Thing and Thor taking that work out of people’s hands.

The whole thing was JMS working through his grief, and while I love the rest of his run, this ranks lower than the Green Goblin kids storyline.

The whole thing just feels so cheap.

By the way, when people use the word “innocents,” I kind of gag a little. That word is so strangely florid and overdramatic, and it’s only ever used in comic books.

No one real talks like that. The only reason anyone ever uses it is in discussing comic books.

Again, we’re not looking for “best written comics” or anything like that, just most memorable, and like I say in the piece (which is weird, because I say in the piece “like it or hate it, it’s NOTABLE” and your reply is “it is a bad choice because i hate it” – that’s an odd retort), this issue is quite memorable, even if it is known for BAD reasons.

It says “Top 50″. Despite discussing notability, there is no context in this post to explain that it is not based on a measure of quality.

There is plenty of context that the measurement is notability. Besides me referring to how this issue got the nod because of how notable and memorable it was, I say expressly:

In addition, I expressly state:

Not everyone likes this story (I know quite a few people who absolutely hate it), but everyone can concede that this issue was NOTABLE, at least.

That sentence is filled with context saying “this is not a measurement of quality, but of notability.”

That’s not even counting the fact that I’ve expressly laid out how I’m judging these things in the past.

I find it slightly strange that you are so interested in my opinions on this minor point.

“Top” tends to refer to quality rather than notability. At no point did you actually say clear up any confusion a reader of this post might have regarding the matter. I’m not judging this entry within the context of the greater frame you created because you don’t direct uninitiated readers to the explanation of the series within the post, something you do with other series you run.

Simply discussing notability is not the same as explicitly declaring this series to be based on notability. And the rather nonspecific term “important” is kind of redundant to the topic at hand and doesn’t necessarily indicate either notability or quality over the other. I think you might take the context as a given because you have been writing the series, but I don’t think you are attempting to look at it from the point of view of a reader who has only read this post and none of the others. While I enjoy features like Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, etc, I tend to skip the lists. I have nothing against them or anyone who worked on or enjoys them; they’re just not my favorite. This caught my eye because it seemed you were saying that Amazing Spider-Man #36 is the best issue #36, and I found that odd.

Please understand the reason that I was interested in responding to your comments is that I am finishing up a Master’s degree in journalism at a school that stresses precision writing and writing for the reader. I generally find your writing enjoyable; I just don’t think you covered the bases in this post, and I’m a little surprised you took offense at my lack of comprehension.

No offense was intended by any of this. I was simply expressing an opinion.

I generally like to reply to people if they ask a question or make an argument.

That said, if it was just someone simply stating “it is a terrible choice,” then that’s fine, I’ll almost always leave that be, because that is, as you say, an opinion, and you certainly shouldn’t take up public writing if you get irked when people have negative opinions about what you write. However, in your instance, you were backing up your opinion with what I found to be faulty reasoning, which is why I replied.

Good work, then. That’s definitely more than most bloggers do.

I’m sorry, I added a second paragraph to my last comment. My apologies – don’t want to give the impression that Chris was replying to my full comment. He was just replying to the “I like to reply to questions/arguments” point.

I think we have an understanding, then. This really wasn’t a big deal, not that I think either of us took it that way. I just respect your work, and I wanted you to understand why I had faulty reasoning.

Are we talking about the same Doom, here? Someone said that Doom tried to blow up the planet, and that he doesn’t care about innocents. Doom’s entire motivation is a desire to make things better for the average person, because Doom knows best and is willing to do whatever necessary, make any sacrifice, to make things better. He’s a classic villian because he is acting in what he thinks to be the best interests of the world.

Of course he would be upset that so many died in what was, at the bottom line, an attention-getting action.

The scene wasn’t saying that Bin Ladin was more evil than Doom. If Doom had to blow up a city to get at an enemy, he would do it. The scene was saying that this particular action was an act that Doom could not justify and, therefore, felt badly about. I can even imagine that if Doom could have, he would have stopped the tragedy, because he is smart enough to know that doing so would further his own agenda far more than letting it happen would.

I also don’t think that the story trivializes the event any more than the years of tv programmes or movies that came after it. Different people deal with tragedy different ways. Some write about it to help get it out of their systems. And, as a writer myself, I know that I want others to read what I wrote to help them deal with it as well. If this story didn’t help you, then it wasn’t intended for you.


The only possible way Doom would ever shed a tear is if something like this happened to Latveria. And if he was going to stop an attack like this, why doesn’t he ever bother to stop other major super-villains and plans, like the Red Skull or Magneto or Zemo? He doesn’t bother to stop every other villain who commits random acts of violence that kill thousands of innocents, whether they have a point or not. Sorry, I just don’t see your characterization of Doom in that way.


August 4, 2008 at 1:24 am

It was another little piece of a frighteningly concerted corporate media campaign designed to sway the American public into suddenly endorsing illegal and illogical wars.

I don’t remember any of that when the issue came out… I don’t think the administration had started it’s saber rattling at Iraq at this point.
I believe the only war going on was in Afghanistan, and that one was logical and legal (by international standards).

Regardless of that, it’s alright to express grief over a terrible event, without it being part of a propaganda machine.
If you can find one part about endorsing wars in there, let me know, and I’ll take this all back.
(If anything I remember it having points about not lashing out in hatred, and a part about how it shouldn’t be useed to further agenda’s).

the last issue of zot was #36. less notable perhaps, but worthy of a mention.

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