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Scott Beatty on “Six Stories That Changed How I Read (and Write) Comics”

by Scott Beatty

As a kid growing up during the Seventies and Eighties, my comics “world-view” was dominated by the so-called Bronze Age of storytelling. I didn’t discover back-issues until my 11th birthday, and what I knew of comics “continuity” (i.e. the long rich history that came before my newsstand purchases) was limited to the reprints in DC Comics’ BEST OF… and DC SPECIAL digest series. The following are a handful of stories that fundamentally changed how I read comics, and made me realize that both the tales and the tellers (both writer and artist) were working in a medium that had the power to move readers in ways that transcend its parts, prose and art, each made better in the melding…

SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #24 (May 1984)

“Roots”

Most fans reference Alan Moore’s “Anatomy Lesson” as the story where the worm really turned for DC Comics’ seminal bog beast. For me, Alan’s genius culminated in this tale, where the Plant Master (or Floronic Man… or Jason Woodrue… take your pick) used all his ill-gotten knowledge vivisecting Swamp Thing to take a tiny Louisiana town hostage, and—by extension—humble the Justice League of America. Alan’s narrative depicted the superheroes as the demigods we’ve always known them to be, above humanity—both figuratively and literally—in their shiny, happy satellite perched some 22,300 miles over our heads.

And when Woodrue struck, turning the flora against mankind and having all those rebellious plants increase the oxygen content to create a potentially conflagrative atmosphere, you could feel the impotent frustration of the assembled JLA, powerless to do a damn thing about it. Firestorm offered to transmute the air back to a nice, non-combustive form. And Superman, in a rare outburst of sarcasm, asked the young Nuclear Man if he knew just how many oxygen molecules he’d need, offering to count said O2 if necessary. Rarely had we ever seen the Man of Steel show anything less than grace under pressure. Green Arrow punctuated the inconsequentiality of the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes by snapping one of his arrows in one of his trademark hissy-fits. Of course, since it was Swampy’s book, the creature formerly known as the monster who thought he might have been Alec Holland, proved that he had the greener thumb and saved the day. Woodrue didn’t bend like a reed in the wind, as they say. His mind snapped after Swamp Thing broke his wood-ish arm. The final coda, with Superman and Green Lantern descending from on high to take custody of Woodrue, illustrated what a changing world the superheroes had in store for them. You can see Alan building towards the ideas that became WATCHMEN. But I see this as less a deconstruction of the superhero archetype as a reminder that the capes and cowls are merely glamours. Underneath it all, those “Overpeople” are as flawed and scared and human as Swamp Thing thought he was…

DETECTIVE COMICS #441 (June-July 1974)

“Cathedral Perilous”

As an unabashed geek fan stalker, I regularly regale Walt Simonson via Facebook about my absolute adoration for his and writer Archie Goodwin’s Manhunter serial featured in early Seventies issues of DETECTIVE COMICS. For the uninitiated, the seven-part storyline—reprinted just a handful of times and desperately due for an ABSOLUTE EDITION—followed the trials and travails of Manhunter Paul Kirk, a Golden Age hero resurrected in modern times by a criminal consortium of evil scientists called the Council. Bequeathed with a healing factor and trained as a modern-day ninja, Kirk was brought back to life to serve the Council as head of its enforcement branch, staffed solely by a seemingly endless number of clones of Manhunter himself. Made nigh-immortal, but still possessing a pesky conscience, Kirk set about dismantling the Council’s insidious infrastructure to prevent its leadership from taking over the world. Think James Bond with superheroes and you barely scratch the surface of Manhunter’s appeal. I won’t spoil the ending—with Batman, no less—not to mention the clone body count along the way. But I will go so far to say that “Cathedral Perilous,” midway toward the serial’s conclusion, is a rare diamond in a dustbin full of nothing but diamonds. Set within an Istanbul cathedral with clones to the left of Kirk and clones to the right, and clueless American tourists in the middle, “Cathedral Perilous” illustrates just how far ahead of its time in story and art Manhunter was. The clone combating action largely occurs in the margins of panels as the Americans (father, mother, and cowboy costumed kid) meander through the cathedral.

Only the kid gets what is happening all around, an epic battle for world supremacy, clones versus Manhunter and his (yeah, I’ll say it) one true love, Interpol agent Christine St. Clair. This time, however, a clone Kirk actually gets the drop on his DNA donor, and only a pint-sized cowpoke can save the day. The late great Archie Goodwin wrote it and Walt drew the hell out of it. It’s a back-up story that does more in 8 pages than an entire issue. I love it dearly and I think of it every time I sit down to write a story that’s ten pages or less.

FANTASTIC FOUR #267 (June 1984)

“A Small Loss”

I should have seen it coming. The premise had nowhere else to go but to take a dark turn: Late in her pregnancy with her second child, Sue Storm Richards (the FF’s lovely Invisible Girl/Woman) developed complications requiring an expert in—wait for it—radiation. Yeah, I know… but all of this four-colored literature requires not just willing but mandatory suspension of disbelief. Strangely, Sue’s husband—über-genius Reed Richards—didn’t minor in this particular scientific savvy necessary to save the life of his unborn child. But… Dr. Otto Octavius did. I’m not (and never have been) a rocket scientist, but I knew from the cover that the story would somehow involve Mr. Fantastic versus Doctor Octopus. And writer/artist John Byrne delivered… for the bulk of the story. When Reed did manage to wrestle Spidey’s eight-armed foe to the hospital, it was all for naught, as the OB/GYN informed an uncharacteristically speechless Reed.

Two years ahead of Ozymandias’ big “I did it 30 minutes ago” jaw-dropper in WATCHMEN, Mister Fantastic learned the hard way what might be lost in the ticks of a clock while wasting time battling Doc Ock.

ALPHA FLIGHT #12 (July 1984)

“And One Shall Surely Die!”

Clearly not content to let his fans get over the shock of his FF climax the previous month (see above), writer/artist John Byrne shocked readers within the pages of his Canadian super-group. Following an epic battle with the treacherous “Omega Flight,” Byrne made good on the title’s promise (the story I mean, not the book itself) by killing a member of the team. All of us conscientious fiction makers are instructed in the value of “killing our darlings, but Jesus…
Twenty-one pages in, the membership of Alpha Flight survived the conflict. But as team leader James MacDonald Hudson flew home, his Guardian suit deconstructing in explosive fits and starts from the assault it had taken during the flight, Byrne delivered another shocker ending. Struggling to disarm his suit before a catastrophic meltdown, Mac ran out of time when his wife Heather distracted him in the final seconds. Beloved wife. Happily married wife. Not estranged wife or emotionally unresponsive wife. These two were happy. But not for long. Guardian imploded before Heather’s horrified eyes. It was a game-changer for me, not just learning that the heroes don’t always win—even after WINNING—but that any character is fair game. John wasn’t in any way afraid to kill his darlings. And since then, neither have I.

P.S. Heather became Vindicator, donned in another of Mac’s Maple leaf flavored power-suits, an even more interesting variation on the Guardian character (and abilities). Nicely done, John.

SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL #2 (December 1988)
Starring The Flash

“The Unforgiving Minute”

And it wasn’t even the primary story. In a back-up feature, Wally West vented his frustrations to his therapist (yes, you heard right) during a tale that retold his origin (same as The Flash: rinse and repeat), but focused more on what it means to be a hero-in-waiting. In Wally’s case, at least post-CRISIS, the story was about what it means for a sidekick to replace his mentor. Wally’s ennui manifested in his fears that he wasn’t measuring up to the legacy of the Scarlet Speedster he replaced, the late great Barry Allen. Add to that Wally’s “de-powering” (he could only match the speed of sound, not quite as fast as his predecessor), and the story—guided by psychiatrist’s memory of Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem “If”—made Wally really seriously consider the actual good he accomplished by reflecting on the number of people he had saved during his superhero career.

By putting that heroism in clear, quantifiable terms, and making that tally list of marks in the “win” column, Wally came to grips with what “sixty seconds of distance run” really meant in his race from kid sidekick to man. Despite their chiseled jaws, our heroes are (as I argued before) fatally human and—just like us—put their running shoes on one foot at a time.

THE NEW TEEN TITANS #26 (December 1982)

“Runaways, Part I”

I’ll end with an issue of THE NEW TEEN TITANS, which fueled my comics mania during the 1980s like no other title. Four weeks between issues was more than I could bear, but this title—in its long heyday—rewarded me every single issue with taut storytelling, high concept adventure, and characterization that every comics writer should aspire to create. Ask a fan about a good character-driven Titans story and you’ll likely hear about “A Day in the Life,” “Dear Mom and Dad…,” or the unforgettable “Who Is Donna Troy?” For me, the denouement of a long summer following the Titans epic journey to the Vegan star system to save their own Starfire from her evil sister (several issues of the regular title plus the books first Annual), was this issue, a return to Earth and consequently the kick-off of a very down-to-earth story involving desperate and doomed runaways in New York City (hence the title, natch). The second half of the story—the real conflict, as it were—proved just how resilient the team was, whether battling interstellar empires or drug-dealing goons. Regardless of the setting, the Titans fit the battle. But for me, the first few pages of the story are so very memorable. The tale begins with a conversation between Cyborg and Kid Flash as they pilot a borrowed spaceship back home. The Titans, somewhat unfazed by the stars streaking by them, are instead moribund as they make small talk about what’s really at stake, the relationship between Robin and Starfire, a flirtation (albeit one-sided) driving the series since its first issue.

The conversation isn’t exposition, but it gets the point (and emotion) across that—despite their powers—these teenagers wrestle with even greater conflicts: young love and the perils therein. Kid Flash and Cyborg don’t have an answer, but they do realize that their friends have crossed the Rubicon. And just a few pages later, that white-knuckled emotional turmoil is even more awkward as a Teen Wonder has to do something that no amount of training by an emotionally arrested Dark Knight has adequately prepared him: Face his feelings. Space opera. Soap Opera. But handled so deftly and deeply as to number among one of the few comics (and comics series) with which I’ll never part. It’s not only an all-time favorite, but a primer on how to write young heroes and (perhaps just as important) young heroes in love.

Scott Beatty is a longtime writer of both comics and books about comics. He is perhaps best known for his standout work with Chuck Dixon on works such as the Year Ones for Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing and for being Mark Waid’s successor on Ruse. He is currently writing Sherlock Holmes: Year One and The Last Phantom for Dynamite Entertainment.

49 Comments

I enjoyed this list, in part because I have most of these issues.

However, I never read Superman’s comment to Firestrom as “sarcastic” or an example of him cracking under pressure. I read it as an honest offer. Remember, this is back in the days of uber-Superman, where counting the number of oxygen molecules on Earth is well within his capability. But I recognize that I may have misread this particular exchange.

Well, I feel in the know. Ive actually read all six stories, And you hit the nail on the head. Early Alan Moore can’t be beat. Manhunter was (and remains) an amazing achievement. And Byrne during FF/Alpha Flight was his creative peak, no doubt. Finally, Wolfman/Perez…the Teen Titans was the first book I was able to get in on from teh ground floor up. I found issue 1 on the newsstand (no comic shop in my town, then) and doggedly pursued the book from then on. A really good article, and it’s nice that you brought out some creators who get overlooked these days. The 1980s weren’t all bad. When the books (even the super hero books) were good, they were honestly great.

I hate to sound like the old guy in the room, but one of the joys of collecting comics in the pre-internet/pre-Wizard days was showing up at the comics shop of 7-Eleven and picking up a book that hadn’t been hyped for six months. I remember picking up a collected edition of Manhunter (I think in 1984), and I was blown away. This was such good stuff…I highly recommend it to anybody and everybody.

Unfortunately, I also have that Fantastic Four issue… one of the saddest moments in comics.

And believe it or not, I’ve never picked up a Swamp Thing book…I think I’ve only seen him in one or two crossovers with mainstream DC characters, but I suppose I’ll remedy that some day.

This article makes me think it would be interesting to do something similar that asks people of different comic generations what story moments were really influential on them, from the time that was their entrance into the genre. It’s just interesting to see these moments that are almost three decades old and to see how much has changed, but at the same time how strong the medium can be no matter the vintage of the story.

@ultras28

Swing by the Classic Comics forum sometime — we do that sort of thing all the time. It goes pretty naturally with harboring a propensity for living in the past… ; )

I have perhaps an interesting perspective in that literally the third comic book I ever wrote was X-Men #136 (The Fate of the Phoenix). I got into the medium with the culmination of one of the most famous and ground-breaking arcs in comics history. And it was immediately followed by #137 (Elegy) which in a wonderful bit of storytelling encapsulated the entire 20-year history of the X-Men in 22 pages. The X-men stayed in my pull list for the better part of two decades before Quesada-induced nerdrage led me to quit comics cold turkey right after Civil War.

“Once upon a time, there was a boy named Scott Summers and a girl named Jean Grey. They were young. They were in love. They were heroes. Today, they will prove it beyond any shadow of a doubt.” Still gets me, more than thirty years later.

[…] Scott Beatty on “Six Stories That Changed How I Read and Write Comics” | Comics Should Be Good! …. Previous topic: Writing Wednesdays: Hemingway on the Art of Fiction […]

First time I’ve ever seen Alpha Flight #12 on any best-of/essential list of comics, and I agree. Again, it probably has to do with where I was in the reading but that was an issue that made superheroes human for me. I bought into the team and its developing dynamic, only to see it torn apart. In some ways, more devastating than the betrayal of Terra in New Teen Titans.

Not to be an old fart, but where are these titles for my kids?

I read both of the Alpha Flight and Fantastic Four issues when they first came out and was shocked and blown away. I was a huge John Byrne fan thanked to the Uncanny X-Men back issues. I saved and saved my allowances to get my hands on all of his current and back issues, which were a lot.

At the time, the Fantastic Four issue and some other Marvel titles were being offered for free with the Oreo cookies UPC label mail-in. They took forever to arrive and being an impatient kid, I asked my Dad to take me to a comic boook store downtown in order to buy it. The issue made me cried my eyes out and I think I read it at least 100 times.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

I’m surprised and happy to see Bill Loebs’ Flash origin story on here. That piece had a huge impact on me when first read it back in junior high, and it’s a favorite, still. Loebs is one of the most underrated writers the medium and genre have ever seen.

Alpha Flight 12 was defintely a game-changer for me… very unexpected.

The best part of that was the follow-up “return” that came one year later… where Byrne presented a totally plausible explanation of Guardian surviving for a good part of issue 25, and then pulling the rug out from under our feet at the end of issue 26… pure genius as far as throwing curveballs go.

I wish they keep Guardian dead after that. It’s a shame they brought him back to life permanently 5 years later. It kinda glossed over the whole impact of Byrne’s run when they kept bringing characters back from the dead.

Despite all the complaints about Byrne’s attitude on the ‘net nowadays, I still have incredible respect for his storytelling abilities. He defined a lot of comics in the 80’s, and deserves the recognition for it.

Great list.

Swamp Thing Roots was such a fresh take on the JLA for me that it couldn’t fail to make an impression that only grew with each subsequent read

Manhunter was the only one I read after the fact , the entire run is an absolute classic with Cathedral Perilous being a real standout. Writer and artist in perfect harmony at the top of their games.

The Fantastic Four issue was so nicely paced and hit the emotional beats so well I actually remember tearing up at that black rimmed page

Alpha Flight at the time was the ultimate twist / sting . I knew someone was going to die and when I’d pretty much reached the end of the issue and it hadn’t happened I was almost convinced it wasn’t going to happen. I read it over and over at the time because it had such an impact.

I loved that issue of Fantastic Four when I first read it and I think I like it even more now.

Alpha Flight #12 was my first issue of Alpha Flight, which ended up becoming the first comic I ever “collected”: i.e. made a concerted effort each month to track down the latest issue. (This is slightly before dedicated comic shops were readily available in my area– lots of haunting drug stores and 7-11’s.) It’s also the first comic where I tracked down all the back issues, (the X-men 1st appearances were beyond my meager allowance.)

The only other comic that I can remember affecting me like this was Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, specifically the last dozen or so issues.

intersting choices for inspiration. espically the pain reed and sue wind up feeling when they lose their second child. perfect when a comic book writer would need for heavy emotional baggage for the characters or wanted to make a character suffer great pain.

“P.S. Heather became Vindicator, donned in another of Mac’s Maple leaf flavored power-suits, an even more interesting variation on the Guardian character (and abilities). Nicely done, John.”

Crediting Byrne for the transition of Heather into Vindicator is off-base; he vehemently opposed putting Heather in the Guardian costume and bent over backwards in issues #13-28 to justify her leadership role without falling into the trope of putting on her husband’s costume. By #32 Bill Mantlo had her in the suit.

NTT #26 has a special place in my heart for an unrelated reason — it was the first comic book that caught my eye when I stepped into a local comic shop for the first time. In those early days the direct market shops got comics 3 weeks earlier than the returnable distribution to drug/grocery/book stores. so I spent the next month doing my older brothers’ chores to make extra money to get “caught up” with the earlier timetable. But I walked out with NTT #26 (and Annual #1) that first day, because what could be better than 50+ pages of Wolfman/Perez Titans?

I love the fact that Nico (the cowpoke in the Manhunter story) has cameos in other comics (for both DC AND Marvel)

Terrific list, but they a share a quality that is sorely lacking in modern Big Two comics. They are willing to use the desires (and expectations) of the audience to take them to places that they might not otherwise be willing to go.

You are willing to give Alan Moore’s novel take on the JLA because readers who came of age reading Julie Schwartz influenced stories expected them to save the day. Manhunter worked because the Spy Fi sub-genre winning. Byrne played against the belief the reader had built in Reed Richards as the perfect super-genius that always pulled something out of his backside at the last minute. ALPHA FLIGHT took things a step further and built the whole first year of the title to cut against genre expectations. Messner-Loebs used the desire for Wally to get the full package of Flash powers back to pull the reader through a very talky, character-driven issue. Wolfman used the reader’s desire to see Dick and Kory to get together to examine the limitations of Batman.

The problem is that reader expectations have changed pretty dramatically in the last couple decades. Everything these days seems to be about which sub-segment of fans is being serviced and which sub-segment is being denied service. The comics themselves too often read like meta-debates in which the writer has an unfair advantage.

Manhunter was a revelation. It was maybe the most grown-up comic I had ever read. (I read them when they first came out.) I was actually pretty angry when I learned that the pay-off would be part of a Batman team-up. Until I read it, that is. It is just amazingly good. Right up there with Watchmen and TDKR.

Man, I miss the 100 Page Giants. Some great new back-up features, like Manhunter, plus an introduction to a bunch of Golden Age greats. Detective and Tarzan were the best.

A great list, Scott. Definitely some great stories told in those issues.I’ve read all but one of them. Will have to look up that Secret Origins issue.

Bobby
http://www.bobbynash.com

I agree with ShaunN. Superman wasn’t being sarcastic. He could easily count all the O2 molecules in Earth’s atmosphere. I always like to point to this moment to show how truly awesome Superman can be, and why I never cared for the de-powered version of the character that so many fans and writers seem to need.

@James Baker: But then what? If Superman is God, why is there any crime? Why is there poverty? Hunger? Death?

Why, if there is a Super-God, plus a million Green Lanterns and a handful of Flashes, is there any strife or worry on Earth at all?

To me, the biggest problem with both the current DC and Marvel worlds is that there are TOO DAMNED MANY SUPERHEROES! And they are too powerful. Why can’t Zatanna say, “On erom regnuh?” Why can’t Superman fly an iceberg to Somalia? Why can’t Swamp Thing make the deserts bloom?

The best and worst thing that ever happened to comic books was the “shared universe” idea. I love seeing my heroes team up, but if The Flash can search every room in an entire city in the blink of an eye, then Batman is pointless.

Hey can someone answer me this? On that page from New Teen Titans–why does it say Volume 3 when this should be from volume 1 of the title? I don’t recall it being named the next volume following the previous Teen Titans series.

Hey can someone answer me this? On that page from New Teen Titans–why does it say Volume 3 when this should be from volume 1 of the title? I don’t recall it being named the next volume following the previous Teen Titans series.

It was.

When the original series returned with #44, it was Volume II, and then this became Volume III.

Wrong, Brian. Go through your indicias of 1970s-80s DC comics again. At DC, the volume number would go up by one every year of publication. For example, the indicia of Legion of Super-Heroes #284 (continuing on from the numbering of Superboy) lists is as “Vol.34. No. 284, February 1982″, whereas LSH #296’s indicia reads “Vol 35. No.296. February 1983.”

The above issue of NEW TEEN TITANS is “Vol. 3. No. 26″ because the title had entered its third year of publication the previous month, Vol.1 would’ve encompassed issues 1-12, and Vol. 2 issues 12-24 and so on,

I believe you, but that is a really dumb policy.

Why was 1976’s Teen Titans #44 Volume 2, then?

Following up on my last post, Marvel used a different system more in line with Brian’s reasoning, where the volume number would change if titles were canceled, then relaunched with number ones.

Does the idicia really read Volume 2 for #44? I’ve only owned two issues of the old Teen Titans revival (#48-49)and I lost those decades back, so I can’t double check what they did on those issues.

Looking at my copy of GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW #90, however, the indicia list that comic as “Vol. 15 No. 90. Aug-Sept, 1976″. As GL/GA and TEEN TITANS spent a similar amount of time dormant before being revived, I can’t find a reason for those two titles from the same company to use differing conventions in Volume numbers.

I just remembered that I acquired replacement copies of TEEN TITANS #48 and 49 some years back. After a quick rummage through the boxes, I find that the indicia for #48 reads “Vol. 12. No. 48. June, 1977″ The indicia for #49 also says that it’s Vol.12. Is it possible that the volume number for #44 as Vol 2 was a misprint?

Man, a great list. I only read that Alpha Flight issue a couple years ago, but I agree that it told a death in a way completely unique in comics. Great stuff.

Nick
http://www.metahumanpress.com

I dunno, Donald. I do believe you’re correct, though, that that is how DC handled things with their volumes.

A new volume every year, of course, is how it works with magazines. Comics are a little more peculiar.

If memory serves, DC increased the volume number each January, not when the comic had been published for a year. So a comic whose first issue was in December and second issue was in January would go “Vol 1, No 1″ then “Vol 2, No 2″ followed by “Vol 2, No 3″, etc. That is, if memory serves.

Yeah, every year it would change volume numbers. What a silly policy that was.

Great piece, the only tweak would be to add credits for the Wally story … I can’t remember who illustrated the Bill Loebs story (checks GCD …). Ah yes, Mike Collins, Frank McLaughlin and Donald Simpson.

I really liked how Wally struggled with his speed all through the Mike Baron and William Messner-Loebs issues. Then Mark Waid came along and blew the doors off.

Now they’ve brought Barry back.

One step forward, two steps back, IMHO…

Call me weird, but I used to think Alpha Flight was really lame. But I picked up the issue mentioned above and another…and now I’m intrigued.

Not only in the team, but specifically Guardian’s costume design…and the Fear Itself covers have only increased my interest.

[QUOTE]Yeah, every year it would change volume numbers. What a silly policy that was.[/QUOTE]

Certainly the notion of doing on the calendar year, regardless of the actual output of the magazine is silly, but volume numbers increasing with each year of publication is pretty standard procedure in publishing.

Of course most non-comic magazines would only have 12 issues per volume (so what would be in comics #44 would in most other magazines be Volume 4, issue 8).

Why was 1976?s Teen Titans #44 Volume 2, then?

Because, if I remember correctly, the ’70s revival of Teen Titans began the year before, in ’75. Even though it continued the numbering from the ’60s series, it was still considered a ‘new’ publication and therefore started with volume 1. So in ’76 it would have been volume 2.

Er, what I mean is it would have been “Volume 1″ for the first year of publication in 1975, and Volume 2 for the second year of publication in ’76. The volume numbers restarted at 1, even though the issue number was continuous from the ’60s series.

I read the critical scene in Alpha Flight slightly differently. Mac’s suit was indeed battered and on the verge of explosion. He knew his tech though, he had the power packs almost dismounted, he that he could get them away and throw them as far as he can, which is to say through the open door and he would live.

And then Heather appears in the doorway.

Mac wasn’t distracted, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than kill the woman he loved.

My comic book reading prime would have been around the same time so I remember all these comics (and remember buying them on first publication mostly). My main disagreement would be Manhunter choice. Cathedral Perilous is a great story, but the kid-watching-the-fight-scene-who-gets-everything is hardly radical as Will Eisner had done it a hundred times in The Spirit; hell I even knew this in the early ’80s at the time I first read Manhunter as Kitchen Sink was reprinting the Spirit as Baxter comic book.

The thing about “Roots” as a story that makes it even more radical is not just the god-like portrayal of the JLA or their impotence in the face of things, but how the Swamp Thing’s defeat of Woodrue is not down to a fight scene but the characters talking and reasoning. It’s a precursor to the even more radical ending to “The End” in Swamp Thing 50 (which I think changed the face of superhero comics, only everyone ignored it, or had to).

Okay, Graeme, my old friend, why are 1977’s TEEN TITANS #48 and 49 listed as Volume 12, then?

I have no idea Donald. I’m just speculating. It would require effort to actually get the issues out of storage.

Okay, new plan of action:

Step one: sneak into Canada.
Step two: raid Graeme’s comic storage facility.
Step three: “liberate” Graeme’s copy of TT #44.
Step four: ??????
Step five: profit!!!

I’m certain no one really cares about this but me, but a scan of the indicia to Teen Titans #44 has been posted at:

http://marvelmasterworksfansite.yuku.com/topic/18116/Scan-Needed-Teen-Titans-44-1976-indicia

Teen Titans #44 was in fact published as Vol. 11 No. 44, not Vol.2 No.44.

I know it’s ultimately not that important, but it’s nice to end up with a definitive answer without having to trouble the Answer Man.

Since this is way off-track, let me add a thought: Maybe there’s a difference between the storyteller’s “volume”, and the post office’s definition/requirement for “volume”…in other words, perhaps it had something to do with the shipping cost requirements of the day. Remember when the books had to publish a state of circulation every year or so?

FF issue knocked me for six when I first read it.
Something about that black border made it so much more bleak.
As much as I enjoy the FF currently, I can’t warm to Valeria, as she, to a degree, nullifies this story.
(truth be told, I can’t quite remember where she came from; I know it was during Claremont’s Heroes Return, but unable to locate the issues. Anyone care to remind me, please..?) :-)

Apparently, I need to do some back issue bin diving.

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