#1 - [B]Rocket Raccoon[/B] #1-4 by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola (Marvel, 1985)
Rocket Raccoon is the series that rocked my world and introduced this idea that there was more than just superhero drama in the comic book medium. It completely changed my pespective, and led me off into a whole new world of independent comics -- where the thrill was in zany, offbeat characters lost on incredibly strange worlds.
In this one we have Halfworld, an abandoned colony for mentally ill humans who rely on genetically manipulated animals with high intelligence as their caretakers. Rocket Raccoon is the Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant, the cosmic Galacian Wall that protects Halfworld from the rest of the universe.
There's a war going on between two toymakers, the mole Judson Jake vs. reptilian Lord Dyvyne, the latter whom controls an army of insane robot Clowns. Rocket gets involved when his otter girlfriend Lylla is kidnapped by Blackjack O'Hare on Dyvyne's orders. The animals find out that the Halfworld bible is actually a journal documenting their purpose and that the planet is one big lunatic asylum, and no longer wanting to care for the crazy humans it's up to Rocket to find a solution.
Mantlo's imagination shined in this series, and there are all kinds of easter egg moments just like when Keith Giffen introduced the character in Marvel Preview #7. I believe this is Mike Mignola's first work, and although his style has changed tremendously I really love the art style he did for Rocket Raccoon. It's perfect.
Rocket Raccoon ends up as my personal #1 favorite. Merry Christmas everyone!
(8 issues, 1974-1975)
People rightly praise the Fourth World books for their epic mythology, and Kamandi for being a cracking good adventure yarn. But for my money, OMAC is the most potent, and relevant, piece of Kirby's 1970s output. OMAC's "World That's Coming" looks more and more like "The World That's Already Here": Technology run amok. Weapons of mass destruction. Genetic engineering and body-swapping. Warlords with private armies who threaten the world. An elite class of "super-rich" who can buy entire towns on a whim. And at the other end of the spectrum, a working class that's so alienated and dehumanized that they can barely function (my favorite detail of issue #1 is the corporation that has a special room set aside where their workers can go to have a good cry). In the middle of this brave new world is OMAC, grabbed seemingly at random (and certainly without consent) by the shadowy Global Peace Agency, transformed into a killing machine, and sent out to try and bring some order to this chaos. Those 8 issues are jam-packed, and yet it felt like the story had barely begun...my mind boggles at the thought of what Kirby might have done with another 50, 100 issues. Alas, we'll never know.
[b]#1 Steven #1-8, 1989-1991, by Doug Allen[/b]
To my own surprise, [b]Steven[/b] comes out on top of my list this year. Any other comic book in my collection, if I see it, I may or may not pick it up and look through it. But when I happen across an issue of [b]Steven[/b], I am compelled to open it and read at least a few pages.
[b]Steven[/b] is absurd, but not abstract. It defies easy synopsis, but I'll try: Steven is an uncooperative man-child living as the star of his own comic strip, which he egotistically guards against the intrusion of the supporting cast, many of whom yearn for the spotlight that Steven hoards. No, that's not quite right. That's part of it, but it doesn't convey the feel. It's a comic that can only be experienced, not described. It's humor that may not work for you, but then it may.
I love it for the array of bizarre characters, many of whom are based on 60's era kitsch and commercial products, including Snap-E-Tom, Schuman (the teddy bear with the plastic face; I'd forgotten these existed until I read this comic!), Tiki-man, Brock (Steven's friend who lives in a Tardis-like cardboard box in an alley, poodle Fifi Doodle, the alcoholic cactus, Steven's editors, Woodrow, Professor Owl, Ph.D....oh, I love just thinking about each crazy one of them when I type their names (except the cactus...I didn't like him, but I don't think we were supposed to).
[b]Steven[/b] is usually structured as individual strips, two per page, sometimes sustaining an ongoing narrative, other times on a single incident, which could only rarely be called a "gag"; the humor is more avant garde, or possible absurdist, or reductionist or some other fancy term that means "not like Archie". The art is refined to an intentional crudity, and the character designs are memorable and intriguing, the stories are awesomely mundane or freakishly outrageous without ever losing an internal coherence that makes stepping into Steven's universe (where the supporting cast lounge around in a limbo-like "Characters Lounge" until they are called for in a given strip!) a unique experience, and an unmistakably "Steven" one.
As Steven himself would say, "Eat some paste."
On the last day of Christmas my LCS owner gave to me...
Published by Marvel's Epic imprint in 1984 and written by Steve Perry with art by Tom Yeats.
This is a bitter sweet one for me, and I suppose a little back story is needed to explain the why. I guess I'll start with the sweet; Timespirits is the first comic I actually remember buying with money I actually earned myself. There may have been one or two others before hand that I snagged out of the quarter bin, but this was the first that I recall spending real money, real money of course meaning 15 dollars back then. I was hesitant to plunk down that kind of cash at the time, especially on a book I'd never heard of before, but the cover looked like a bad ass like something from an awesome meatloaf album so I though, "Why the hell not?"
I was not disappointed.
The comic chronicles the adventure of a pair of indians through time and space and their journeys they go to Atlantis, a dimension where Dinosaurs aren't extinct and they resurrect Jimi Hendrix and help save the future from corporate greed with the help of his rockin' guitar riffs.
Yeah, what's not to love?
Before I encountered Doctor Who, this was the pinnacle of Time Travel fiction. Heck, even now after loving Doctor Who I still look fondly on this book and can't help but feel that Yeats and Perry were aware of Who as much of the relationship between Cusick and Doot is reminiscent of the way the First Doctor related to his companions. Overall the book is just pure fun, the over arching plot is a little weak but the concepts that get raised in each issue are a blast and the surreal art by Yeats is just perfect for the tone of the story.
The bitter part though is a realization that only came to me a few years ago. Since picking this book up like 15 years ago I've encountered the art of Yeats many times, in Swamp Thing, Tarzan and a slew of comics based on old Greek Myths but I never saw anything else by Steve Perry and I often wondered what he was doing with himself. In 2008 I was shocked to read about his life on various comic sites like CBR, he had cancer and had been living in poverty for sometime and it saddened me terribly to think that a guy whose work gave me such joy was unfortunately living like that so I gladly donated to the Hero Initiative to try and help not only Perry but other creators like him.
Two years later I was shocked again. Steve Perry had been murdered by him roommates.
I never knew him and had only ever read his work in Timespirits(though I recently discovered he wrote a few episodes of the Thundercats) but his passing touched me. It's a strange part of the human condition; our ability to form bonds with people we've never even met. But I'm glad I formed that bond and because of it Timespirits will forever be special to me.
I was rereading "OMAC" for potential inclusion on my list, and I was very impressed to discover a Kirby innovation that, to the best of my knowledge, had not been done before but became ubiquitous in action movies ever since: in OMAC #1, he does the [URL="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnflinchingWalk"]Unflinching Walk[/URL]. If there's an earlier instance, I'd sure like to see it.
[QUOTE=MWGallaher;16357680]I was rereading "OMAC" for potential inclusion on my list, and I was very impressed to discover a Kirby innovation that, to the best of my knowledge, had not been done before but became ubiquitous in action movies ever since: in OMAC #1, he does the [URL="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnflinchingWalk"]Unflinching Walk[/URL]. If there's an earlier instance, I'd sure like to see it.[/QUOTE]
I think there was a scene in Get Mean like that, though that was the same year as OMAC.
My final choice is Raw Magazine #1-8
This series of magazines is pretty much everything I like about comics. It's artistic, it's experimental, it's oversized, it's black and white. It's the definitive alternative comic. It may be the comic that jumpstarted the alternative genre. And it serialized Maus.
[B]1. Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 1-6 1975[/B]
One of the quintessential SF series in comicdom. This has been selected a few times already so I would check those entries out as well.
The format here (magazine-size, B&W) ideally fits the subject matter... the larger panels and deeper textures really accentuate the stories.
This series includes a virtual Who's Who of classic creators and they do not disapoint.
#1. [B]Shade, the Changing Man[/B] #1-8 by Steve Ditko with Michael Fleisher
This guy couldn't buy a break. Hated and hunted by his best friend, his lover, his government, and the Meta-dimensional mob, Shade flitted back-and-forth across the dimensions with the aid of his M-Vest, which altered others' perceptions, and his uncanny ability to stay sane even in the terrifying Area of Madness, which drove all others who entered it irrevocably insane.
Riveting, political, philosophical, and personal, [I]Shade, the Changing Man[/I] (found in the much-missed Book Nook used bookstore I frequented in my childhood) is my favorite short-lived series of all time. Any fan of Ditko's trademark bizarre landscapes in [I]Strange Tales[/I] (Doctor Strange) need to pick up this title and delight in what you've been missing.
[QUOTE=METAROG;16357757][B]1. Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 1-6 1975[/B] [/QUOTE]
Okay, how many votes is that? Maybe I do have to break down and put these on my want list...
Grumble, grumble... :wink:
Thanks again, Kurt, for organizing this! Merry Christmas, all!
[B]1. Watchmen (1986) #1-12[/B]
I am surprised that I am the first person to have this at #1 on my list. In my opinion, this is the best comics story ever written, not only in the categories of this years list, but overall. This re-energized the super hero genre and brought the appeal of comic book stories to the masses. I understand that since this is so popular that many feel the need to tear it down. I am proud to have this at the top of my list. The only thing which may have made it better in my opinion would have been if it would have included the original Charleton characters it was designed around. That would have [I]really [/I]been groundbreaking.
Nice to see all those covers in one shot. They are so cool.
I'd say Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction and Shade the Changing Man were big winners this year with repeated entries.
Raw ! I don't have any of those issues and am so jealous. Have they been collected anywhere ?
[QUOTE=hondobrode;16358432]I'd say Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction and Shade the Changing Man were big winners this year with repeated entries.
Raw ! I don't have any of those issues and am so jealous. Have they been collected anywhere ?[/QUOTE]
I don't know about Shade, but Unknown World's isn't collected to my knowledge. However, the six issues are all pretty easy to find and pretty cheap in complete readable condition.
1-3 (Tundra Publishing) 1992
When the rules were set in place, this was my number one selection. There's a reason why Madman, out of everything I own is my number pick. Back in 1992, I became so disillusioned with how Marvel was turning out, and my reading of DC as still strong but I needed something a bit more out of the box. Wizard (oh, remember them) had a great monthly column by Todd Palmer, called Palmer's Picks and he chose Madman. I gave it a shot and thus began my admiration of Mike Allred. A true independent comic in the age of great indy reads. Frank Einstein was found from an auto wreckage and fixed by Dr. Flem and Dr. Boffried. Trying to figure what happened and who is really is made Madman a great read. Allred's snazzy dialogue along with his ever so brilliant artwork became that perfect storm of comic reading enjoyment I needed at that time. Oddball characters (street beatniks!), great duo coloring... this is why I live with for comics.