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31 Days of Comics – Old Comic You Love

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 11, which is an Old Comic You Love.

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

I’ll go with writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Orlando’s classic tale, “Judgment Day,” from Weird Fantasy #18 in 1953…

The story was about an astronaut sent by the Earth to examine a planet to see if it was up to snuff and worthy of joining Earth’s “Galactic Republic.”

Well, the planet of robots was found wanting, due to its treatment of different colored robots.

Then, of course, the big “twist”…

A good story in and of itself, but especially powerful for the era in which it came (check out this old Comic Book Legends Revealed to see how the Comics Code actually tried to make EC change the color of the astronaut’s skin!).

32 Comments

Oh, this is the easiest question yet. Y’all are probably tired of hearing me talk about it, but I don’t care.

Star Spangled War Stories #129. “My Brothers with Wings”

First of all, you have a Joe Kubert cover that I consider the single greatest comic book cover ever. It’s a guy in a loin cloth riding a Pterodactyl firing a tommy gun at a Jap Zero. C’mon!!!

Interior art by Russ Heath. Russ Heath!

It’s basically Tarzan, except with Pterodactyls and WWII and Monster Island.

If it wasn’t for this comic, I wouldn’t be here today. (Not like I’d be dead or anything. It’s the comic that made me a life-long comic fan.)

Kind of an obvious choice, but one of my most beloved comics is Batman #232. O’Neil script with Adams & Giordano art, and the introduction of my favorite Batman villain, Ra’s al Ghul. It’s a near-perfect comic. I’ve read it countless times, and I never get tired of it.

Don Rickles.

No, wait.

Old title would probably be Little Lulu.

Old specific comic would probably be “Ten Minutes” from the Spirit. A masterpiece in 7 short pages. Amazing stuff.

Okay, so I could go with an old comic I love that I haven’t read in twenty years so I can’t verify that I actually still love it or… I could go with Walt Simonson’s Thor, which I can guarantee is awesome and holds up pretty well to the three passing decades since its publication.

So Nth Man it is.

This was put together by Larry Hama, the guy who brought G.I. Joe to life. As a sophomore in high school, I felt I was too old for G.I. Joe and too old for ninjas (the series subtitle was The Ultimate Ninja). There was, however, a preview in the back of Marvel Age or something and I found it engaging enough. And the main character needn’t match the stereotype of the ninja that had been floating around in those days. He wasn’t Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, or even the pre-cartoon/pre-sterilization Ninja Turtles. He was a pretty average dude with some wacky space-bending abilities. And this nemesis of his was basically Franklin Richards but crazy, jealous, and a bit mean—and none of this took place in a superhero world.

The series was short, lasting about a year before getting cut off for poor sales. Hama had, I guess, enough notice to wrap his story abruptly in two final issues that jumped suddenly a year ahead, lopping off various plot threads in order to cut to the mind-boggling final Whoa Moment. I was stoked and satisfied. And no one I knew followed the series at all (which may be because no one I knew even read comics at all). But regardless, I felt as though I was on the inside of something special and rare. And it turns out, my instincts weren’t far off. I’ve been dying for Marvel to collect this thing so I could read it again. I suspect it will never ever happen.

“Little Nemo in Slumberland” was the first thing to come to mind. I wouldn’t be able to pick one single strip that is most beloved, but that’s my favorite old comic.

Was the typeface in the captions in “Judgment Day” a common thing back in the 1950s? It’s a great issue and the art is so detailed. I was reminded of the “2000 AD” comics I read as a kid – in terms of the art and the twist. Perhaps this is one of the places they took their inspiration from.

If we’re going old old, then it’s Little Nemo for me too. Especially early Little Nemo. Especially turkey-eating-the-house Little Nemo.

I wasn’t even thinking comic strips. If we went comic strips, then holy shit we would have a ton of great choices!

“Old” being a subjective term, there’s an issue of DC Presents where Superman and Starman team up to fight Mongul that I love rereading often. There’s also an old issue of Flash where he fights the Golden Glider that I have fond memories of. They’re both early 80s comics. So older than some, but not as old as others.

My Golden Age favorite: Plastic Man by Jack Cole. The writing was actually funny and the art was brilliantly inventive.

Silver Age: Too many to list. If I have a gun to my head, Steve Ditko/ Stan Lee Spider-Man. Ditko’s cartooning was so damn good.

Bronze Age: Howard the Duck, specifically issues 4-14. Steve Gerber’s writing was personal, biting, funny, and entertaining. Gene Colan’s art looked great when inked by Steve Lealoha. While firmly rooted in the ’70s (Kiss even shows up! And it works in the context of the story!!) the themes and characterization still resonate.

The first one that comes to mine for me is BATMAN #253, by Denny O’Neil, Irv Novick, and Dick Giordano. The awesome cover is by Kaluta. This book features a guest appearance of The Shadow. I love my books from the 70′s and this is probably my favorite because it’s BATMAN and THE SHADOW together!

Roy Thomas’ All Star Squadron. My Dad was always reading history books on WWII so I became interested in the subject as well and ended up reading most of the books on the the war in my grade school library. So All Star Squadron was right up my alley as a kid. Plus it had all these characters that I had never heard of and Jerry Ordway’s great art didn’t hurt either.

I’m going to interpret “old comic” as something you read back in the day, even if it only recently came out at the time you read it. And for me, all the old comics I read over and over belonged to my brother, before I started collecting.

Think I’ll go with Daredevil #154…”Arena”, where DD battles Jester, Mr. Hyde, Cobra, and Gladiator, all in the service of Purple Man (with guest appearance by Paladin). I pawed over that one over and over and over.

Others I was pawing over repeatedly back then were X-Men #112 where Magneto thrashes the team in the volcano…and Avengers #177, where Korvac really, really thrashes the team. Speaking of Korvac, Thor Annual #6 with the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting Korvac’s weird alien minions is another happy memory.

Basically, well-choreographed battles with a lot of take-downs captivated me back in the day…

I’ll go with Fantastic Four 55. It’s not the most celebrated Lee/Kirby FF, but it comes in the middle of their best stretch. Ben Grimm catches the Silver Surfer making time with Alicia (or so he thinks). They then go on to basically destroy Manhattan in classic Kirby fashion before a furious Reed dresses down Ben. It includes perhaps my favorite panel in all of comics: Ben responding to Norrin ‘s innocent question (“why do you enter in such a rage, my friend?”) by punching him (off panel) into next week, shouting “You figger it out!”

“Superboy” #195, where Wildfire of The Legion of Super-Heroes (here under his original name ‘Erg-1′) saves Colossal Boy from a runaway combine machine by making ‘the ultimate sacrifice’ (expending his anti-energy in a ‘one-time-only’ mega-blast). As a young boy, the sight of a cool new hero giving up his life was mind-blowing, and very sad to me. It resonated for years, and Wildfire has been one of my top 5 favorite Legionnaires ever since.

Fantastic Four #51. “This Man, This Monster.” Such a heartbreaker. Probably the best thing Stan Lee ever wrote, and Kirby was on fire at the time.

Probably my all-time favorite would be the Little Lulu classic, “Five Little Babies,” wherein Tubby and pals are given a fitting and hilarious comeuppance, but I’ll swing way to the other side and go with Crime Does Not Pay #53, July 1947. It’s crammed full of pre-Wertham nastiness! Even for a precode crime comic, the thing gives me pause. So, let’s breathe in those moldering pages and then let us count the ways…

Page 1: Death by drowning
Page 2: Teenager kicked in face, another kid hit with a sap
Page 3: Teen girl gets arm twisted, blind man gets shoved, young woman beaten with a belt, dry cleaner killed, blood dripping from cash register and counter
Page 4:Man slapped, “You dumb lard barrel! Get up the money or I’ll slice the fat off your belly!”
and another’s head is stomped
Page 5: Two people shot
..it goes on and on, and it’s not even the bloodiest story in the book!

The very next one’s based on the famous Holmes Murder Castle. On the splash page are two women in bondage: one is tied to a board, the other affixed to the wall as if in a dungeon. In the foreground is another woman’s skull with half the flesh still on, and a fourth woman’s skull with no flesh. In the story:
1. a woman is strangled
2. A man is stabbed in the neck
3. A woman is stabbed in the back
4. Her baby is stabbed “And this brat of yours is also in the way!”
5. Another woman is strangled
6. A woman is killed by poison gas
7. A woman is stabbed (this time, we uncharacteristically don’t see the knife go in)
8.Man is shot
9. 3 children are killed (we see their blood leaking out of a trunk)
10. A woman is freed from an iron maiden. Another’s skeleton has yet to be removed from the rack!

In the next story, at six people are burned to death on panel: “Mother! Mother! Help! I can’t get out ! Help! Yiii! Help! AAGH!”

It’s ridiculous. The stories take up 37 pages, and there are exactly 37 deaths within them. While one may think that a death per page isn’t too bad, remember, there are also beatings, tortures, disfigurements, etc. People even get killed in the ads, and even when they are not, the ads may be considered inappropriate: toy tommy guns, real knives, swastika patches (oh yes, they did) and in the same ad, an atomic bomb patch. Why, they even had an ad for a toy sewing machine!

Ah, maybe I should have gone with Little Lulu after all…for those sickos interested, CDNP can be found pretty cheaply if you don’t mind beat-up copies. As for CDNP # 53 in particular, two of the stories mentioned in my post also appear in the easy to find CDNP anthology, Blackjacked and Pistol Whipped.

nice pick for even after all this time and managing to read the full story the twist at the end where the astronaut shows that he is african american and that the planet of robots have segrated their society is still sad that some one would judge another person by their skin color including robots .

I find really old comics hard to read – but I think I maybe just scrape the 60s with The Joker’s Five Way Revenge.

That comic is excellent.

I could read “The Final Chapter!” forever if they let me.

I should say, not the ass-awful crossover that ended the original volume of Amazing Spider-Man, but rather, the classic finale to the Master Planner saga.

LouReedRichards

January 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Hard to choose, and “old” is such a subjective term, but I’d probably go with one of these:

Fantastic Four #68 – my first “old” FF comic, beat up as hell, got it for a dollar and it felt ANCIENT when I got it, it was almost 19 years old at that point.

Tales of Suspense #86 where Cap fights the Yashonka institute, or whatever they are called. There’s a sense of tension and desperation in this issue that makes it crackle with energy.

or Thor #135 Second Part of the High Evolutionary introduction, just a lot of fun.

When I was a kid, I had this ancient stack of old beat-up Gold Key Disney Comics, and there was one I always particularly loved where Uncle Scrooge and the boys investigated the disappearance of a bunch of sheep from a ranch that Scrooge owned in the Australian outback, and it turned out to be this wild woman who’d been raised by dingoes. It was freaking awesome. I read that comic so many times over the years.

The classic X-Men vs Teen Titans crossover. That was my first comic ever.

What is old, anyway? I’m thinking Golden Age, otherwise you’re probably dealing with issues that came out when someone was alive to see them released. The introduction of the Joker in Batman #1 still holds up as creepy when so many of the other Bat-bad guys then were forgettable and/or silly. Do covers count? Cap hitting Hitler in the jaw will always be classic.

Mid-early Little Nemo, yes. The very first ones were of course heads and shoulders above other things of the era but it still took some weeks to turn into freaking awesome, but I ended up losing interest towards the later years.

Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse , mid-to-late 30s. Another dose of freaking awesome rarely experienced since.

Those are my pre-WWII picks, 50s and 60s of course already produced loads of great stuff.

Not super old (early ’80s), but I remember re-reading the first issue of “Contest of Champions” from my older brother’s collection about a million times. Not only did it have all my favorite Marvel heroes and villains, but also a bunch of new international characters (most of which had no staying power, but I was a kid, so I thought they were awesome).

I’ve been really getting into old comics in the last 5 years or so. I LOVE the Fourth World and the original Deadman (I really don’t like latter day Deadman stories that try to shoehorn in so much magic and demons. Can’t it just be a ghost who helps people. You know, like Quantum Leap. But with a ghost.)

But for me, it is EC. I think even though Harvey Kurtzman is objectively better, Johnny Craig is my guy.

My favourite EC book? Shock SuspenStories. I love the horror books and the crime books, but when I finally got around to Shock SuspenStories, I was surprised. It was still thinly veiled retellings and re-imaginings of other stories, but I found the “karma” that fueled so many of the horror stories I loved wasn’t as clean as before. If you sin, then maybe it’s people who don’t deserve it who suffer. One of my favourite ones involves a wounded war vet who is beloved of the town and comes in and shames them all for their behaviour, with the revelation that the man who died saving his life when he was wounded is a black man, and wouldn’t be buried in the local cemetery. It might seem heavy handed, but I think it was handled beautifully.

I didn’t really know what I was looking at when I picked up the Archie Comics “To Riverdale And Back Again” one shot…..Double size, square bound was all I needed to appropriate it from the $.99 Cent box……Upon opening it, the Gene Colan (Gene Colan in Archie?) artwork made me cringe….(Granted, this was before my appreciation of Gene The Dean’s art style) But as I continued to turn the pages, the storyline and plot drew me in. By the end of the last page, I knew I had an instant classic in my collection, and one to enjoy for years to come…..(Boy, Ethyl really cleaned up good, didn’t she?)

http://comicstheblog.com/2011/08/02/drunk-comic-recaps-to-riverdale-and-back-again-15-years-later-pt-1/

And a John Byrne cover, to boot!

Lee/Ditko Spidey by far, although I also have a soft spot for Marv Wolfman’s run on Nova (although it did have more than a fair share of problems).

Amazing Spider-Man #50, “Spider-Man No More”, Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. Reading this made me realize Spider-Man was my favorite fictional character, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

When I hear old comics I instinctively think back to Walt Simonson’s Thor, which I thought were ancient at the time but were recent. If I wanna get actually old, I guess any Curt Swan-drawn Superman (although I wouldn’t count Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?).

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