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Comics Should Be Good Top 50 Countdown! – #4

Here’s #4! Click here for the master list!

Enjoy!

Quasar #4

In this issue, writer Mark Gruenwald tried to tie up a plot-line from a storyline he co-wrote with Ralph Macchio in Marvel Two-in-One a decade earlier, by giving us more background on a character he and Macchio had adopted from a 1973 Steve Gerber story. In this issue, we learn that Aquarian (the Sensational Character Find of 1979) is an alien from the planet Dakkam, the same as the Quasar villain, Quantum.

This is major stuff here, people!!

Easy call, right?

Oh, okay, okay, so who shall it be?

Showcase #4, the first appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash (and the issue generally recognized as the beginning of the Silver Age?) or Avengers #4, the return of Captain America?

The work of Julie Schwartz, Carmine Infantino, Robert Kanigher and John Broome or the work of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby?

This is by far the toughest call, not so much because it is a tough decision (there have been closer calls, I think) but because both issues are HUGE parts of comic book history – we really haven’t had that with that many earlier issues, except for all the other #1s out there, and in those instances, Action Comics #1 was such an obvious choice that none of the other issues really had much reason to complain, ya know?

So before I reveal the choice, let me note some of the many other great choices for #4…

Fantastic Four #4 was ALSO the return of a great Golden Age hero, as the Human Torch crazily brought back the Sub-Mariner, causing Namor to become a long-time cast member of the Fantastic Four (most of the time as a villain).

X-Men #4 was the introduction of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which included two notable future Avengers, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (as well as the villainous Toad and Mastermind).

One of the most notable superhero fights of all time took place in The Dark Knight Returns #4, as Batman and Superman go at it.

Spider-Man 3 villain, The Sandman, first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #4.

Buttler and Ajit mentioned an issue I totally meant to mention but forgot, Green Arrow joining the Justice League in Justice League of America #4.

Also, Buttler made a great call with the beginning of the great Zatanna storyline (that began with her first appearance) in Hawkman #4. Big Barda’s first appearance is not bad, either, in Mister Miracle #4.

Do feel free to send me more notable #4s, people!

Okay, as to the choice, I think it basically comes down to the fact that while both issues are extremely well known, and I honestly think Avengers #4 is slightly MORE well known than Showcase #4, in the end, the cultural and historical importance of the beginning of the Silver Age outweighs the slight recognizability factor of Avengers #4 (and, again, if it is there at all, it is only slight).

So that makes the pick…

Showcase #4

The first appearance of Barry Allen, a pretty good first story, an iconic cover and the beginning of the Silver Age.

That is one notable issue.

Okay, that’s the countdown!

Hope you folks had fun!!

55 Comments

They actually brought back the Aquarian?! I’ve only read about him in the Official Handbook, but I never imagined he’d re-appear in a title.

And yes, Showcase #4 is bigger then Avengers #4. As iconic as Captain America is, Showcase #4 launches the Silver Age, and without the Silver Age, there’d be no Fantastic Four, no Marvel, and certainly no Avengers #4! I mean, the idea of updating a golden age hero for the 1960s, (like, say, re-animating Captain America?) that started with Showcase #4.

I can’t believe it’s all over…

*sniff*

What’s next??

Did you actually pick the ordering randomly Brian? And this one came up last!? Amazing.

I have to say, while the Avengers mean more to me than the Flash does, this was definitely the heavier hitter.

And about Quasar… brilliant.. bwa ha ha all the way.

Nah, Stefan, I picked the order randomly EXCEPT making sure that a couple of good ones would last to the end (like this one and #8).

Definitely the right choice. After Action Comics #1, this is probably the second most important comic book in history.

I’d say Showcase 4 is more well known than Avengers 4, but yeah, the difference would be slight.

Man, I love that Quasar series.
And all those Aquarian stories are gold.
It has made me want to grow a beard.

More options for #4:

The Justice League invited Green Arrow to sign up in Justice League of America #4.

The Enchantress turned Barbara Norris into the new Valkyrie in Defenders #4.

Both the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were introduced in Uncanny X-Men #4 (along with the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants).

Conan the Barbarian #4 was the classic adaptation of ‘Tower of the Elephant’.

Silver Surfer #4 was his famous battle with Thor.

Stephen went his fellow Defender one better by battling Death herself in Doctor Strange #4.

And, arguably, *none* of them was as important as Showcase #4!

Er, how about doing 51 through 100? :-)

Yeah, tough call, but the right one by a nose.

The Avengers weren’t the only ones to take on their first new member in issue 4, by the way. Green Arrow became the first non-founding member of the Justice League in JLA #4.

Some other big debuts: Zatanna in Hawkman #4, Big Barda in Mister Miracle #4. And what, I say, what about Elrod the Albino, introduced in Cerebus #4?

Also Star-Lord in Marvel Preview #4, Judomaster in Special War Series #4, the Thin Man in Mystic Comics #4, Detective Chimp in Rex the Wonder Dog #4, and Lady Cop in DC 1st Issue Special #4! And let’s not forget about Garko the Man-Frog’s thunderous debut in Giant-Size Man-Thing #4.

Brian, I seriously though you were going to list Aquarian’s return for #4 for a second there. Wow! More important than Cap’s unfreezing OR the first Barry Allen Flash!

The metal of this fishhook in my mouth feels nice and cool. I feel like one of Biff’s gang in Back to the Future, who can relaibly be assured will in fact look over there when Marty says “Look over there!”

Forever, for always, #4 is Bobby Orr.

For the benefit of everyone reading Final Crisis, Fourthworlder’s comment reminded me that Sonny Sumo was introduced in Forever People #4.

The fourth Tintin book was Cigars of the Pharaoh. It was the first appearance of the Thompsons, FAR more famous characters than the Flash (OK, Captain America probably trumps them). Also the fist appearance of portuguese character Oliveira da Figueira, who just MIGHT be less famous than Barry Allen. Those were the first recurring characters on the Tintin series besides Tintin and Snowy.

Still an earlier effort by Hergé, it’s not a very good album (not that Showcase #4 is a masterpiece of literature, of course…), but has that historical importance. It was serialized from late 1932 to 1934 and first published in album form later that year. The redrawn color version was published on 1955.

I’ll give you even a second option: The fourth Spirou and Fantasio book, Spirou et les héritiers (Spirou and the Heirs) marks the first appearance of the Marsupilami. The cartoon animal became HUGELY famous all over the world, even more than Spirou himself, and eventually got his own comic series. It was even licensed by Disney (yup, licensed by Disney!) to star on his own cartoon series. Later the french did his own Marsupilami toon, more faithful to the original.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

‘Cigars of the Pharaoh’ may be the first adventure where Hergé really came into his own, not least because of the emergence of a recurring cast. (I would add Rastapopoulos to the detectives and de Figueira.)

Are Thomson and Thompson better known across the world than Barry Allen? Probably, except perhaps in America.

By the way, I rather prefer ‘Asterix the Gladiator’ to ‘Cigars of the Pharaoh’ as a #4.

Jack Kirby did a lot of fourth issues. Here are a few, pretty much chronologically.

Captain America #4 contains a fight with Ivan The Terrible.

Amazing Fantasy #4 continues the adventures of Doctor Droom.

Fantastic Four #4 is the first Silver Age appearance of the Sub-mariner, which precedes the Captain America revival by a couple of years.

Hulk #4 has a battle with Mongu, The Gladiator From Outer Space.

X-Men #4 is the first appearance of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which doubles as the first appearances of Toad, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Mastermind.

The Fourth issues of the Fourth World comics defy simple description, but sure were awesome.

Kamandi #4 features meta commentary, as the last boy on Earth reads the Demon #1.

In OMAC#4 the hero fights the cruel dictator Kafka, and a giant purple bug.

Devil Dinosaur #4 pits Moon Boy and DD against the fist alien invasion ever.

Eternals #4 takes the war between Eternals and Deviants into the heart of NYC.

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 11, 2008 at 9:31 am

“Er, how about doing 51 through 100? ”

I can just hear Mr. B.C. sobbing and banging his head on a wall in the background. ;-)

I just don’t see how a reasonable #51-100 list could be done.

I’m not against doing it in principle, but in practice, I think we’d get way too many cases like #43.

Warrior #4 contained the rare and un-reprinted-elsewhere Alan Moore Marvelman story “The Yesterday Gambit”.

Cerebus #4 was the actual first appearance of Elrod (Not #7 as I reported earlier)

You could do a list of 50 other notable numbers (which would let you catch 0′s, -1′s, 1/2′s, and 1,000,000s as well as more reasonable big numbers like 500 or 247 and the like…)

I just don’t see how a reasonable #51-100 list could be done

If you are in a truly masochistic mood, here is something to start you off:

51 — ‘This Man, This Monster‘ in ‘Fantastic Four
52 — Black Panther is introduced, in ‘Fantastic Four
53 — Barry Windsor Smith’s first work, in ‘X-Men
54 — Teen Titans appear in ‘Brave and the Bold
55 — Golden Age Robin returns in ‘Justice League of America
56 — First complete account of Bucky’s death in ‘Avengers’
57 — Hawkeye is introduced in ‘Tales of Suspense
58 — Origin of the Vision in ‘Avengers
59 — Captain America gets his own series in ‘Tales of Suspense
60 — Swamp Thing switches to new format

And there’s Thor, the Doom Patrol, the Cosmic Cube, and a slew of Showcase introductions to follow…

Hah, yeah, #50-60 I have, roughly, in my mind.

It’s the 70s and 80s that I’m having trouble with coming up with offhand (with a few exceptions, of course).

I bet if I sat down and really dwelled on it, I could come up with something. Maybe I should!

NO BRIAN!! DON’T!!!!!!!!!!!!

STEP AWAY FORM THE ARCHIVES!

PUT THAT OVERSTREET DOWN!!

CLOSE THE COMICS.ORG WINDOW!

GET SOME SLEEP!!!!

At least give us a week or two to get over this lot!
;-)

When you started this series, I tried to think of any Flash issues that might fit the criteria. Unfortunately, Barry’s series started at #105 and Wally’s series didn’t really get noticed until Waid took over with #62.

Bart’s series? Mainly notable for the murder in #13. Still can’t compare to Barry’s death in COIE #8.

Going back to Flash Comics, what major events were there? Flash and Hawkman debuted in #1, but that spot had already gone to Action Comics. Black Canary? Way too late.

For the most part, all the big, notable Flash events were either in a #1 or well after #50.

One of the problems with making a list is that what looks great bit by bit looks like glaring omissions in retrospect. Too much FF, too much Spidey, not enough Flash, etc. But trying to compensate for that means that all fo the sudden the list feels like it has its own agenda. The way that top-100 movie lists feel wrong, since they try to give as much attention to as many people as possible(I meanlimiting Korosawa or Spielberg or Fellini to one movie, while giving the Blair Witch Project a spot…?) , or list every piece of work by one or two particualr people (James Joyce, Hemingway, Henry James, etc.)

I think Brian did the right thing by focusing number by number, instead of trying to make a cohesive whole. (Or trying to fit 50 different titles in. Something like Cerebus is great for its cohesiveness, not always for any individiual issue. Besides, I don’t know anyone who read the issues, just the phone books.) Although it denied Quasar a spot, it’s still a fine, solid list.

“‘Cigars of the Pharaoh’ may be the first adventure where Hergé really came into his own, not least because of the emergence of a recurring cast. (I would add Rastapopoulos to the detectives and de Figueira.)”

Yup, Rastapolous too. Although there is still the debate if it was him on the Tintin in America dinner scene (I do not believe so myself).

“Are Thomson and Thompson better known across the world than Barry Allen? Probably, except perhaps in America.”

Yeah, but Barry Allen is also an unknown quantity in the US, so it’s not much better…

“By the way, I rather prefer ‘Asterix the Gladiator’ to ‘Cigars of the Pharaoh’ as a #4.”

Me too, but I was doing that for Tintin…

Also, Asterix was published completely out of order in Brazil, where I grew up, so I never really knew the true order of the books. Tintin was on a similar situation, but I’ve read so many books ABOUT the character that I now know it by heart…

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

IIt’s the 70s and 80s that I’m having trouble with coming up with offhand (with a few exceptions, of course).

Here you go:

61 — Starman introduced in Adventure Comics
62 — Orson Welles stages a Martian invasion courtesy of Superman
63 — Mike Sekowsky leaves the Justice League of America
64 — Red Tornado (and Dick Dillin) join the Justice League of America
65 — Simon & Kirby’s Boy Commandos appear in Detective Comics
66 — Adamantium is created, in Avengers
67 — Complete origin of Doctor Fate in More Fun Comics
68 — Paul Sloane becomes Two-Face, in Batman
69 — The Grandmaster and Kang use the services of the Avengers
70 — Justice League (a.k.a Squadron Sinister), in Avengers
71 — Superman and Batman start teaming up, in World’s Finest Comics
72 — Sleepers awake to fight Captain America, in Tales of Suspense
73 — ‘The Coming of the Creeper‘, in Showcase
74 — Golden and Silver Age Supermen meet, in Justice League of America
75 — Hawk and Dove introduced, in Showcase
76 — O’Neil & Adams put Green Lantern on the path of “relevance”
77 — Snapper Carr betrays the Justice League of America
78 — Satellite HQ built for, and by, the Justice League of America
79 — Red Skull lives again, in Tales of Suspense
80 — Doom Patrol introduced, in My Greatest Adventure
81 — Cosmic Cube saga ends, in Tales of Suspense
82 — Sub-Mariner faces off against Iron Man, in Tales to Astonish
83 — Thor battles the Stone Men, in Journey Into Mystery
84 — Bruce Wayne meets Clark Kent in Smallville, in World’s Finest Comics
85 — ‘Snowbirds Don’t Fly‘, in Green Lantern
86 — Black Canary appears, in Flash Comics
87 — Superboy Prime is introduced, in DC Comics Presents
88 — Shining Knight introduced, in Adventure Comics
89 — Kree-Skrull War begins, in Avengers
90 — Origin of the Abomination, in Tales to Astonish

I have a bias toward the Golden-Silver-Bronze periods; I bet there are others in later comics too but I can’t think of any specifics just now. (Sandman?)

I think with Cerebus, the issues vs. phone books may be a generational thing, Jeff.

I picked it up issue by issue until Latter Days, when I finally felt like there wasn’t enough happening in any particular issue to justify reading them invidually anymore.

I agree that, more and more as the series went on, it reads better in the collections than it does issue by issue, although the excruciatingly slow pace of “Jaka’s Story” had me on the edge of my seat at the time (less so with “Melmoth”). But toward the end I felt like it was being written more for the phone book than for the individual issue, so i didn’t bother to collect ‘em all.

You were sitting on the Quasar joke for how long….????

Did any DC hero premiere in their own book? I know later they all had #1s but I mean original appearance in a solo story? Superman was in Action, Batman was in Detective, Flash in Showcase. Hawkman, Atom, Aquaman…Even JLA wasn’t a “Justice League #1″ was it? It’s on the list here somewhere.

52 — Black Panther is introduced, in ‘Fantastic Four‘

I’m pretty sure 52 52 would be the choice for 52, simply because of the “what comic do you think of when you hear that number” criterion.

Sure, Rich, a number of them did, starting way back with Flash (Jay Garrick) in Flash Comics #1.

There are a ton of Bronze Age examples (The Demon, Mister Miracle, Shade the Changing Man), but fewer Silver Age ones.

Even Flash Comics was moreof an anthology book that happened to feature a character named the Flash than a Flash solobook (All-Flash came later).

Plenty of Marvel Characters didn’t debut in their own books either- Thor, Ironman, Spider-man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hulk. FF, X-Men, Avengers, and Daredevil were more the exception than the rule. Debuting a character in his or her own book didn’t really become all that common until the mid-60s.

“For the most part, all the big, notable Flash events were either in a #1 or well after #50.”

Yup. Wally’s biggest storyline was Return of Barry Allen, which was in the 80s.

“75 — Hawk and Dove introduced, in Showcase”

Something tells me #75′s not really in contention if Brian does this. Hawk and Dove get just a bit trumped by the death of Superman. :)

Back to #4 for a second – JLA #4 was the debut of the Watchtower, end of the White Martians arc, and the official re-establishment of the JLA as the biggest team in comics after years of neglect. The success of that first arc is what got the ball rolling as DC turned the JLA back into a major franchise, is arguably responsible for the greenlighting of Justice League years later. Probably deserves an honourable mention.

Random Stranger

August 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm

“I’m not against doing it in principle, but in practice, I think we’d get way too many cases like #43.”

Sure we would. That’s half the fun!

Fair enough, I’ll see what I can whip up!

Should it be one a day again?

Just a few modern agers here that I have to lobby for, some of which may be obvious. It’s pretty clear how much I slant toward Marvel though.

60, final Preacher
70, first Joe Kelly X-Men, for quality alone (though it did have an “all new, all different” team in it too).
71, first all-new-all-different X-Factor, the beginning of Peter David’s run
75, The Death of Superman OR the last Sandman; the end of the first mainsream ongoing series that showed us a begining, a middle and an end. And did Wolverine get his adamantium back, too?
87. First Cable in New Mutants
92, the start of Planet Hulk
97, beginning of Tischmann’s Cable
98, first Deadpool in New Mutants

Surely at least one of the 70s goes to Starman, and one of the 80s too.

Wow, really?! But Quasar only ran 60 issues!

From here do the BIG numbers above 50 (and also 0)

#0
#75
#100
#150
#200
#250
#500
#666!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 11, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Spider-Man 3 villain, The Sandman, first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #4.

Nah, as we learnt with #8, Sandman just isn’t as notable, as Wonder Woman, a character without a single stand out storyline in the decades she’s existed.

Anyway, I enjoyed the countdown Brian, it was interesting stuff.

Something tells me #75’s not really in contention if Brian does this. Hawk and Dove get just a bit trumped by the death of Superman.

Not to me! :-)

No kidding, I haven’t read any of the ‘Death of Superman’ saga.

I did think of the last issue of Sandman but the whole thing hangs together so well that it’s hard to single any one issue out. If I had to pick, I would have gone for either ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream or Façade. (Quick, without looking, which comics were at numbers 19 and 20?)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 11, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I’d go #75 of Sandman – it’s a landmark because a company owned series was allowed to finish when it’s creator/writer wanted it to finish, and hasn’t been touched since.

@DanLarkin: actually, Hulk debuted in “Incredible Hulk #1″, but by the time Marvel was sorta DC’s bitch and, as mentioned in one of the first “Urban Legends” had a limit of how many titles it could publish, so the first IH got cancelled after #6, and Hulk started appearing in “Tales to Astonish”.

Stefan:

Last issue of Preacher was #66

You’re absolutely right. Transmet went to 60 (and Y did too, didn’t it?), Preacher to 66.

Yep!
Y finished at 60…

I LOVE Herge’s Tintin series but I’d argue that FLASH is more well known in Asia.

I wouldn’t say Tintin is more well known around the world than Flash. You’d be surprised.
Especially with the advent of the Justice League cartoons.

And at the end of the day, Showcase 4 brought back the Silver Age. It’s domino effect included the revival of DC and creation of the entire Marvel Superhero Universe.

Thompson and Thompson, while fun, are at the end of the day, Supporting characters to Tintin. The first appearance of Captain Haddock would have been more significant.

That wuold be “The Crab With The Golden Claws” wouldn’t it? What number was that Pedro?

Crab With The Golden Claws is the ninth story in the Tintin canon, but it’s a bit more problematic than that because Hergé started it after he was forced to abandon Land of Black Gold because of the German invasion of Belgium. (He redrew it later, and it is now considered the fifteenth book in the series as far as I remember.)

I LOVE Herge’s Tintin series but I’d argue that FLASH is more well known in Asia…Especially with the advent of the Justice League cartoons.

I won’t presume to speak for all of Asia but that is simply not true of India. If I mentioned ‘Flash’ and ‘comics’ more people are likely to think of ‘Flash Gordon’ than of either Barry Allen or Wally West.

Tintin and Asterix? Been around for 30 years or more, and still selling steadily.

Well, Tintin has a very sucessful cartoon series also. And the cartoon Flash is NOT Barry Allen, it’s Wally West! Arguably a much better character.

Tintin has sold over 200 million comics in the world. I doubt Flash – ANY Flash – can say the same. Superman maybe, but Flash?

Ajit, your numbering is correct. Crab is the ninth TIntin book and Black Gold is the 15th. But both Tintin and Asterix are much older than you think. Next year will be the 80th anniversary of the Tintin series! And Asterix will be pushing 50, no less! That a comic series is able to keep selling well (3 million books a year – more than The Flash…) for that many years – and not having new books for more than 20 years! – is a testament of its enduring popularity.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Crab is the ninth TIntin book and Black Gold is the 15th. But both Tintin and Asterix are much older than you think.

Ah, sorry, I didn’t make myself clear, I should have written “Been around for 30 years or more in India…”

And just to clarify further, I’m speaking only of the albums here; an older colleague told me that he can remember that Tintin appeared as a strip in Indian magazines as far back as the early 1970s (before my time).

and not having new books for more than 20 years!

Which may be a blessing in disguise, the quality of the Asterix tales has certainly dropped after Goscinny’s death… :-(

Don’t worry, Ajit. Uderzo has already said there won’t be any new Asterix stories after he dies.

But I DO wish he got a co-writer to hlp him with his own books. I even have the man for the job: Scotch Arleston (who does some very Asterix-inspired series for Soleil in France).

Just to help with story structure and to include some extra gags. Uderzo HAS some good ideas, but his execution is below par writing-wise.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

I always thought Avengers # 4 was more well known, but historically, I guess Showcase # 4 is more important. Oh well…

“Nah, as we learnt with #8, Sandman just isn’t as notable, as Wonder Woman, a character without a single stand out storyline in the decades she’s existed.”

Wow, you just can’t let that one go…

Ah, Cigars of the Pahroah. That, and the Blue Lotus, are probably my 2 favorite Tintin stories. Does anyone know a website listing all the times the Tintin stories have been redone?

wwk5d, the Wikipedia is a pretty good reference for that in english.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

“Just to help with story structure and to include some extra gags. Uderzo HAS some good ideas, but his execution is below par writing-wise.”
For the most part, yes, but I actually think Asterix and Son is one of the better books in the series.

And I dearly love Asterix and the Black Gold, even more than most Goscinny books. But those are the exception rather than the rule. Uderzo still kicks arse on visual gags (the one on the most recent book – as bad as it was – with Obelix vs. the alien “Zodiac Knight” made me laugh out loud) and has good plot ideas, but has been losing his hands on story structure (the last book clearly went much longer than it should be) and plot-based gags (the manga/US comics parody fell flat to most people and got him some of the most venomnous reviews of his entire career).

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

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