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31 Days of Comics – Your Comfort Comic

Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you’re given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!

We continue with Day 7, which is Your Comfort Comic.

Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!

My comfort comic book is John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad.

I’ve read each of these comics (Ostrander’s run was 66 issues long, plus a tie-in mini-series and a tie-in one-shot and a not-quite-as-good crossover with Captain Atom and Checkmate) at least five times apiece (and many more times for my favorite issues – okay, maybe I haven’t read the Checkmate crossover five times) and I can still re-read these issues and enjoy them just as much today as I did two decades ago.

There are soooooo many cool moments that I could spotlight from the series, and believe me, I’ve spotlighted many of them over the years, but I figure I’ll go with one of my favorites, from the epic storyline in the mid-#30s.

To set the scene, Lashina, the head of the Female Furies, has been on the Suicide Squad for a year or so (she lost her memory). Once she regained her memory, she decided to go back to Apokolips to regain her place as the leader of the group – and she brought along (via kidnapping) the most powerful members of the Squad and Big Barda to help her as cannon fodder in her quest to get her position back (meanwhile, the rest of the Squad is trying to find a way to get to Apokolips to save their friends).

The Squad did not fare exactly well against Darkseid’s minions, as seen here when Kanto takes down Count Vertigo…

Well, at the end of Suicide Squad #35, Lashina has her job back and she’s asked by Granny Goodness what to do with the Squad, and she says to kill them.

This leads to a great sequence courtesy of the issue’s writers, John Ostrander and Kim Yale, and some nice art from John K. Snyder and Geof Isherwood…

But Ostrander was also great at subtler, more political stuff, too, like when Batman broke into Belle Reve Prison in Suicide Squad #10 (by Ostrander and Luke McDonnell) to prove that the government was using supervillains as government agents (the whole concept behind Suicide Squad). Amanda Waller, head of the Squad, must find a way to keep Batman from revealing the secrets he’s learned. Colonel Rick Flagg, one of the few good guys on the Squad, is tasked to stop Batman before he makes his escape…

Awesome showdown.

These comics are so fun to re-read.

59 Comments

Scott McCloud’s “Zot!”

As soon as I saw the title of today’s category, I thought of “Zot!”. I have almost all the single issues and the two collections – one of the ten color issues, and the other with the 26 black and white issues. Any given issue is a gem and I go back to dip into it all the time, reading a storyline here or a single issue there.

Has to be “Zot!” for me.

Ostrander’s “Suicide Squad” is an excellent choice. The characterization is the series strength. It was one of those “I can’t believe I care about these characters!” series where the writer really made everything that was happening to them all so compelling.

Untold Tales of Spider-Man for me. I can read that thing until I die.

Mike Mignola’s HELLBOY. It doesn’t matter what issue or story arc. That’s why I like the Library editions. I can grab any one off the shelf and enjoy it all over again. It’s fresh at every reading.

TRANSMETROPOLITAN by Warren Ellis and Darrick Robertson. Full stop.

I love Suicide Squad too. For me it’s probably Uncanny X-Men circa 1984-until about the Mutant Massacre. It’s not the best part of Claremont’s run, but they’re probably my favorites. I’ve read these issues more times than just about anything else.

The original Batman Adventures series, the one with the Mike Parobeck art. Some of the most under-rated Batman stories of all time, all fun, smart, and beautiful.

Is this run well-collected anywhere? I feel like DC hasn’t yet put it all out in a good format. I’d snatch up an omnibus in a heartbeat, as I’ve always wanted to read it and have never been let down by the snippets I’ve seen online.

As for me, my comfort comics are usually shorter affairs — I KILL GIANTS and WE3 come to mind. For those times you need to be seriously impressed with the medium, fall in love with comics all over again, and get a good, heaving sob going, there’s nothing better than those two.

Probably a tie between Sandman and Morrison’s New X-Men. I’ve probably read each one once a year or so since I was in high school.

Probably Green Arrow: Quiver for me. I’ve read that thing so many times, and I just love the equal mix of humor, continuity winks, and really affecting character moments. I certainly see its flaws and it’s definitely not a comic for everyone, but for people who really appreciate and know the rich history of the DCU, this was a comic just for us, and it’s a constantly rewarding reread.

What a neat category.

I don’t think I have a clear winner, but probably any Bronze Age Marvel that brings back fond memories. In the past year I’ve gone through a Miller DD phase, mid-80s X-Men, New Mutants…as comforting as the stories are, I really like perusing the Bullpen Bulletins, checklists, and even the video game ads on the back, just as reminders of what was happening at the time, and a sense of what was on my mind…
…so 80s Marvel is the comfort food for me.

I’d probably have to go with Kraven’s Last Hunt, The Last Iron Fist Story, and Guardian Devil. There’s great action, wonderful character moments, beautiful art and in my mind are a some classics.

When it comes down to a book that I can just settle into after a stressful week or when I’m down or when it’s cold out or when there’s just been too much rain or not enough rain, it doesn’t come much better for me than Cross Game. Whenever I loan out a copy, I’ll flip through the book (as I tend to do whenever I loan out any book) and experience a time skip in which I’ve accidentally read thirty or forty pages. Sometimes more.

These books are completely, entirely enjoyable. Mitsuru Adachi has had decades to perfect his storytelling craft and this is him playing at the top of his game. Cross Game is fun. Cross Game is funny. Cross Game is sad, is thrilling, is touching, is smart, is well told. Cross Game is about love and family and friends and loyalty to each—and is the most compulsively readable comic I own. I love it and it always helps me feel like I’m tapping into this thing that is intensely human.

And I don’t even like baseball.

Pretty much any Chris Claremont X-Men comic from the early 80’s to his departure in 1991. These were the first comics I ever read and they started a life-long X-Men addiction, so reading the series from what I consider its peak is always comforting. He was able to make these characters feel “real”, and I’ve had emotional investments with them that I’ve not felt in any other book with any other team.

My comfort comic is JLA/Avengers. Sometimes when I have trouble sleeping because my mind keeps fixating on some work-related stress, I get up and reread JLA/Avengers just to fill my brain with something more pleasant.

Ennis’s “Hitman” fits this to a T, for me. It just puts me right back to when it first came out.

Maybe because it came first in my collection by alphabet, but I would grab a copy of John Byrne’s Action Comics when I wanted a quick, fun story. Well told, one-and-done stories.

While completely different in feel, Tim Truman’s Scout is a book I return to again and again. It has its flaws but I love his ragged vision of post-apocalyptic America (in 1999!). It was one of the first non-Big Two books I ever picked up and it had a much edgier quality than the super hero stuff I was used to. Surprised that book doesn’t get more appreciation.

Ostrander’s Suicide Squad is an excellent choice and one of my favorite series. However, my comfort comic is one you mentioned on a previous post–the Justice Leage (no title/ America/ Eruope) run by Giffen and Dematteis. It always brings back good memories and makes me feel better.

Love this series of posts!

Moore’s Top 10 is so much fun and I go back to it again and again. Also Bone. Also Yotsuba.

Collected/run its course, no particular order: V and Watchmen, big yep to Suicide Squad, Byrne-era X-Men (esp. 109-113), Ice Haven. And maybe Sandman — but it’s so involved that effort can sometimes trump joy in reread (might call out “Season of Mists” and “Dream of You” arcs at that point).

Ongoings: Clyde Fans and Walking Dead (now THERE’s a weird pair)

Global Frequency. Either reading the paperbacks or even just watching the television pilot. Never fails.

@GregHatcher: Good call. Can’t believe I didn’t think of Ellis. Have never seen GF pilot; terrified that it will be average-at-best.

Levitz Legion of Super-Heroes

LouReedRichards

January 7, 2014 at 11:11 am

The Fantastic Four – esp. the Byrne and Kirby stuff

I’m going to have to pick two:
Justice League International and
Byrnes Man of Steel

Sandman, Suicide Squad, Peter David Hulk, Tomb of Dracula, and just about anything by Steve Gerber.

I’ve read Brubaker’s Cap a bunch of times. Any of the Loeb/Sale books, but especially the Long Halloween (really good airplane comics imo). And every couple of months, I’ll pull out a few issues of Ditko’s Spider-Man to read (ditto for Stern/JRJR Spider-Man).

Willie Everstop

January 7, 2014 at 1:36 pm

The Confessor storyline from Astro City, Squadron Supreme, and Nextwave.

I’ll go with Joss Whedon and John Cassady’s Astonishing X-Men run, volumes 1 through 4. I usually reread volume 1 and volume 4 whenever I’m board and want to pick up a comic.

A couple of years ago, I got the hardcover Thimble Theater collection for Christmas. When I need to snuggle in bed and just chuckle my butt off, that’s my go to.

@buttler I do this from time to time as well. An old favorite is perfect for settling down the mind. Lately Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory has been my go to book. If all else fails I’ll break out the Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts collections.

I was going to say Five Year Gap Legion of Super-Heroes, but I think maybe your answer is better. I think I need to dig these out and read them again.

I forgot to put Preacher in my list of almost annual rereads. I got the first volume for Christmas probably second year university from a girl I worked with who was a huge fan because Tulip’s father is exactly like her father. I then bought two trades a week for a month after that to finish it.

A few of mine have already been mentioned (you guys have great taste!), so I’ll add Tom Strong and Squadron Supreme to the pot.

Oops, Squad’s been taken. How about Punisher MAX? I’ll also second the love for Batman Adventures, but I love and have reread the first half of Gotham Adventures and the final volume of BA many many times. It’s just a great run of comics.

I like reading Jim Starlin’s cosmic Marvel stuff. Something about purple people with fros puts me in a better place.

Legion of Super Heroes. Adventure Comics original run.

The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.

Both blow me away every time I read them.

I LOVE the Ostrander Suicide Squad (which is what makes the current usage of the name so sad), but my pick would have to be the Roger Stern run on Avengers. They are the comics that turned me into a comic reader.

New Mutants was my gut reaction, but only because I’m re-reading it at the moment. A better answer would have to include Tintin, Asterix, and pretty much anything Wagner and Grant wrote together for 2000 AD, especially Robo-Hunter and Strontium Dog.

Dittoing Suicide Squad, Zot!, JLA/Avengers, Bronze Age Marvel (especially X-Men from about 96-175) and Tintin. I’ll add Larry Marder’s Beanworld and Pete Bagge’s Hate!

Hitman/JLA. Superman’s closing monologue is some of Garth Ennis’ most powerful and moving stuff.

Byrne’s Fantastic Four and Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. I also like to pull the Dark Phoenix Saga out from time to time.

Gahhh, you’re in my head. I loved the Suicide Squad. Like Argo above, I’d say a go to would be the JLI years. The Stern-DeFalco Amazing Spider-Man years I remember reading lots of times. Obviously Miller’s Daredevil. And David’s Hulk.

But for a kind of comfort reading story, even now that I have central air I still think back during any really hot, sweltering summer day to my youth without AC and picking up Dark Knight Returns, at night, of course, and feeling like you could feel the heat and tension of the city as you could smell the ink on the die cut comic pages. That’s comforting.

It’s been a while since I’ve done some comfort reading since due to my schedule I’m behind on comics I’m currently reading. Nevertheless, when I’ve time for comfort reading I turn to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Avengers, and New Teen Titans (Wolfman/Perez).

Man, I really should bust out Crisis again. That blew my mind in middles school when it came out. When I saw Dove get obliterated by a shadow creature I was slack-jawed with horror and excitement.

Dove, of all characters.

Too many to list, but the first one I thought of when I saw the topic is Morrison’s JLA run. Best run on any team series ever.

I skipped mentioning it on the “love story” entry, because it tends to be my stock answer for a lot of these, but it’s also true: “Scott Pilgrim”.

I actually wrote an e-mail to Bryan Lee O’Malley a few years ago thanking him, because that is the comic I go to when I feel down. Without getting too personal, I have had some issues with depression over the years, and that book has helped pull me out of some pretty dark pits. As with a lot of the choices above, when you care about characters enough that they feel like old friends, reading about them tends to help you feel like you have support around you.

Despite its decidedly non-comforting subject matter, I’d have to go with Watchmen. You can open it up to any random page and start reading, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

I always go back to either Goodwin/Simonson’s great Manhunter collected paperback or Cooke’s The New Frontier. Fast pace and juts plain goodness.

“To set the scene, Lashina, the head of the Female Furies, has been on the Suicide Squad for a year or so (she lost her memory). Once she regained her memory, she decided to go back to Apokolips to regain her place as the leader of the group – and she brought along (via kidnapping) the most powerful members of the Squad and Big Barda to help her as cannon fodder in her quest to get her position back (meanwhile, the rest of the Squad is trying to find a way to get to Apokolips to save their friends).”

Brian, I always got the impression that Lashina was FAKING her amnesia, and just waiting when the time was right to return to Apokolips.

(Either that or she enjoyed slumming with mortals for a while)

I even remember one issue where Amanda Waller calls her out on her lost memory, and Lashina just gives her a look that said, “you’re damn right I’m faking it” :-p

Someone already said mine: Alan Moore’s Top Ten, which I think is one of his most underrated books, I mean, know one says anything bad about it, but, understandably, it’s always the 80’s work or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Promethea that comes up. But what makes Top Ten so great is that it is a perfect storm of fan service (in a way that doesn’t pander, but instead rewards) and a completely solid, engaging story. I was so upset that there was never a completed season two (though it might be my fault for “waiting for the trades” and not picking it up off the shelf). It’s a series where you can enjoy the story, which is full of comedy and pathos and even some bad-ass action, or just spend an afternoon pouring over the art (Gene Ha is challenging George Perez for guy who can juggle how many people are in a scene).

For me, it is “Crisis On Infinite Earths”. Whenever I get a hankering for a good long sit down I always pull out that Maxi Series, and it’s accompanying issues. I used to have every tie in (no longer) but I do have the Crisis Cross over index, and the wonderful, meaty issue of Amazing Heroes that expounds on the series. The plot has as many holes as Swiss cheese, but the Perez artwork is breathtaking, and Wolfman gives it as much as he can with what he was given to write about.

For a single issue, I have to go with my go to, Bloodshot #12 (Valiant), “Bloodshot’s Day Off”. What a fun issue about how a hitman takes it easy, or at least tries to. Don Perlin is not at his best on artwork, but the tale is funny and entertaining.

Although I love Zot! to bits, for some reason the last few issues always get me a bit too emotional, so I sorta avoid re-reading it. It’s a weird relationship.

Now that I think about it, I’ve probably read both Squadron Supreme and Scott Pilgrim at least once a year each since I bought them, so those two are probably my comfort comics.

Joss Whedon, John Cassaday, and Laura Martin’s Astonishing X-Men. A breezy, funny, beautiful read where I know all the lines and decompressed stories by heart at this point, but I still feel the urge to just crack it open every now and again. This small selection of X-Men feel like family, and the beautiful red hues that dominate the Breakworld story arc just makes me feel like I’m snuggling into a blanket and some warm slippers.

Suicide Squad got a good run through above, so I’ll go with Avengers West Coast / Force Works. AWC after Bryne was the title that held the Avengers spirit, while the core book wanted to be X-Force. Hawkeye leading Agent, Wanda, Spi and the rest of the ‘secondary team’ just reminds me of a great fun run in comics and characters that haven’t quite gelled likewise since.

Astonishing X-Men is pretty much the definition for me. Okay story, little thematic complexity, but so many rewarding moments. I could have ten issues of that team sitting around ordering burgers the way Whedon wrote them, and then have it end with Cyclops blasting away the anti-mutant waiter. I’ve reread the whole thing about 6 times (two of which were during all-nighters) and I can’t stop smiling until the very end.

There’s a lot of more recent stuff I love but my real comfort comics would have to be from back in the 90s when I was growing up.

The Chuck Dixon/Graham Nolan run on Detective Comics post Knightfall has always been a favorite of mine…just good, monthly Batman stories with no major status quo changes or pointless shock value moments.

Another would be the Kurt Busiek run on Thunderbolts…it was amazing how he took a load of D-list villains and made them into great heroes and elevated Zemo to one of the great villains at Marvel (too bad it didn’t last)…once Hawkeye (my favorite Avenger) took over the team, I couldn’t have been happier…I only wish Busiek had stuck with the book as long as he did Avengers.

I also have a soft spot for the original Ron Marz GL run with Kyle Rayner. Its beginning was my intro to GL and it was a perfect jumping on point. I always love the idea of the artist GL so creative he would never use the same ring creation twice (even if the creators on the book weren’t always creative enough to pull that off)…I even loved the Judd Winick run that followed (preachy gay bashing story aside).

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