For more on this countdown so far, check out:
On with the list:
#85. Robin #46
Hey, I loved this title. Robin was the first DC book I ever started buying monthly (though that distinction is not truly amazing; it was very quickly followed up by The Flash, Green Lantern, JLA, and a few others in my college days).
The years have proven Chuck Dixon to be the kind of comic creator I’m not enamored of supporting, but the guy did great work, even if he would show himself to be a backwards fool. Robin was him at the height of his powers, too. There’s a reason that you can argue that Dick Grayson is the best CHARACTER of all of the Robins, but Tim Drake was the best ROBIN of them all.
This issue sees Tim, struggling with his secret identity and under heavy scrutiny from his father, able to sneak out to help Batman, even though his heart isn’t really in it. The two finish the night with some cross words, and Tim heads home. On the way there, he is waylaid by a few gang members. Over the course of trying to round them up, the leader of the group–a kid no older than Tim–ends up trapped in a flooding room. Tim tries his best, but the boy drowns.
DC loved doing this to Tim, man. There is a story at the very beginning of No Man’s Land that is all about Tim failing to save a guy (though Robin was unaware that man was even there). I actually think the latter story was better than this one, but… it’s from a run I loved, so I was happy to get to check it out here.
#84. Amazing Spider-Man #248
Is this low for this issue? This feels low. I have always assumed this is one of the more acclaimed Spider-Man comics ever published.
If you don’t know by now (AND HUGE SPOILERS FOR THIS ISSUE ARE COMING IF YOU DON’T!), this one-shot issue during Roger Stern’s tremendous Spidey run sees the webhead visit a boy who has gained some fame as “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”. Timothy is an admirer who has collected souvenirs from Spidey’s fights and has scrapbooks of all his good deeds. He even ultimately convinces Peter to unmask and tell him who he is! It’s bewildering to the reader until you get to the last page and find out Timmy has leukemia and not much time left.
As I re-read it… don’t get me wrong, the ending to this book is a hell of a gut punch… but this is ultimately just a retelling of the wall-crawler’s origin. It’s all here: the spider-bite, the brush with televised fame, the death of Uncle Ben. Ron Frenz does a decent Steve Ditko imitation by recreating famous images from Amazing Fantasy 15 as Peter Parker talks about his past.
This comic is the Sixth Sense. It’s all just a build to its own conclusion. And it’s a really good conclusion! But you have to wade through several pages of stuff you’ve read 50 times before to get there.
#83. Conan The Barbarian #100
Conan comic books (well, anything Conan) just makes me think of my dad, who was a huge, huge stan of the character, long before that term was ever a thing. I can think back to his apartment covered in Boris Vallejo art of the character and his adventures.
I’ve always had less of an affinity for the character. It’s weird; my dad got me into comics themselves, but he never managed to turn me on to most of his actual favorite characters (Hulk, Thor, Conan). Conan was, to me, just a guy who was in a pretty decent movie, but aside from that seemed to be a low-rent He-Man. Now He-Man! THAT’S where it’s at!
Anyway, in the 100th issue of Conan’s Marvel run, he and his pirate crew come upon a cursed land where the last survivor of a mutated race roams. Just known as The Winged One, the antagonist kills the crew… including Conan’s beloved Belit. That… goes about as well for The Winged One as you might figure.
At the end, Conan leaves the Black Coast and swears off the pirate’s life, the very idea of the sea now abhorrent to him.
If you are a Conan fan, and if you had already been enjoying this run, this book will likely mean more to you. For me, I had no idea who Belit was going into this, so her death did nothing for me. I just assume Conan slept with about 9000 women, and this is the tragic death of one of them (probably a fate shared by at least 7000 of the 9000).
This book is interesting because… it’s Conan, so it’s clearly based off of Robert E Howard’s novels, and BOY can you tell. This is super narratively driven, with a ton of words on each page describing everything that is going on. That’s not typically my flavor in comics; I prefer to let the art do the heavy lifting and leave the words to dialogue. But… based on a novel. So I get it and don’t hold it against this issue.
#82. Adventures of Superman #474
This is one of those comics that is just… trying so hard to be important or emotional. I’m not sure how well it succeeds.
Let me say first that Dan Jurgens’ run on Superman is another one I absolutely adore, like Dixon’s Robin and Stern’s Spider-Man before it here. And I get what they are going for: Superman flies back to Smallville to see a childhood friend (Scott Brubaker) one last time before the latter is taken off of life support. As Clark tells the boy’s family the story of that night, we see that a car accident left him in this state. And all of the kids had been drinking.
Clark Kent being Superman, the alcohol was not affecting him at all, and he is burdened by guilt that he didn’t force his classmate to let him drive… and now he is going to die all these years later over it.
Again: love Dan Jurgens. He is the author of a lot of Superman emotional moments that have stuck with me. But I feel like this book hits the wrong notes. There are two interesting stories to tell here:
-Scott’s parents seem to have petitioned to have him taken off of life support and allowed to die. This is a heavy issue that is just glossed over! What is Clark’s stance on this? The parents’ struggle? We never see them!
-Scott’s parents instantly forgive Clark and absolve him of his guilt. But what if they hadn’t? What if they shouted at him to get out of the room and that this was all his fault? How would that have affected the man of steel?
I kind of wish Jurgens had given us either of those stories instead of this one which is a bit maudlin with a forced peaceful ending.
But he would go on to write The Death And Return of Superman and Hunter/Prey, so all is forgiven!
#81. Legion of Superheroes #296
OH MY GOD with the Legion of Superheroes books on this list already! We are 20 issues deep, and this is the third–the THIRD–Legion of Superheroes book to appear.
This team just isn’t doing it for me. Sorry, LoS fans! I’m sure it was a great title if Wizard thought this highly of them, but I can’t really get into any of these. There are too many characters in any given issue, their names are all too silly to take seriously in stories like this, and I just… can’t bring myself to care.
This issue brought me no joy. It’s more or less an anthology of events seemingly in the wake of a major story in the Legion’s existence. We get the tales of “What Do You Do The Day After Doomsday” showing how various members of the Legion are coping with it all, but nothing stuck out to me.
I’ll be 100% honest: this is the most recent comic book I have read, and I couldn’t tell you a darn thing that happened in it. It just faded from my life as if it had never actually been there to begin with.
Maybe this title deserves to have been read in chunks rather than “Oh, a seemingly big deal issue here. A relatively momentous event there.”
Why do I keep getting bad endings to these lists? The last breakdown ended the same way! Everything was going fine, and then I hit #86 and it all fell apart. Let me sneak a peek at the list and see if this might get better next time…
Hmmm! #76 definitely seems more promising!
All right, let’s restack as of this current batch!
- Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)
- Amazing Spider-Man #248
- Hitman #22
- Uncanny X-Men #268
- Animal Man #16
- Robin #46
- Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
- Exiles #16
- Ghost Rider #68
- Legion of Superheroes #3
- Adventures of Superman #474
- Legion of Superheroes Annual #1
- Batman: Devil’s Asylum
- Conan The Barbarian #100
- Alias #3
- Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg
- Punisher #10
- Legion of Superheroes #296
- Demo #3
- Semper Fi #1
Coming up: #80 to #76. We’re almost through the first quarter!
Until next time… take care!