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  1. #1
    Frugal fanboy Cei-U!'s Avatar
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    Default The Fourth Day of Classic Comics Christmas 2012

    I was on board with First Comics from the get-go, buying everything they published in their first year and most of their output after. What a fantastic line-up of brilliant creator-owned series: Nexus, American Flagg, Jon Sable, Starslayer, E-Man, Badger and my personal favorite

    #9. Mars #1-12

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    The six-man crew of a terraforming mission to Mars are stranded after Earth is apparently destroyed in a nuclear war. Their only chance of survival is to spend 10,000 years in suspended animation and hope that Mars will be habitable by then. Sounds like a pretty standard, even cliched, science fiction premise, right? Trust me: what they (and we) find on awakening is anything but old school.

    Co-creators Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel propel their cast of quirky characters through a surreal saga in which dreams, illusions, hallucinations, computer simulations and reality intertwine, with deceptively "cartoony" art that serves and complements its narrative far more effectively than the classic illustrative approach seen in most science fiction comics would. Planned from its inception as a limited series, Mars has the always welcome virtue of having a beginning, middle and honest-to-Ares ending, an ending that satisfies intellectually, emotionally and aesthetically.

    With its charming (and occasionally disturbing) blend of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, offbeat humor and Swiftian satire, Mars defies easy categorization... and easy description. It can't really be appreciated secondhand so I urge all of you to experience it for yourself

    Cei-U!
    I summon the red planet!
    It's hardly a secret that something is badly wrong with me. - Dan B. in the Underworld
    I am ... a condescending prick sometimes. But I usually mean to be. - Paradox
    I'm not infallible. I just act like it. - Me

  2. #2
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    On the fourth day of Christmas I present unto thee...the best of both worlds

    Sword of the Atom #1-4 (Sept-Dec 1983)

    Super-heroes meet sword and sorcery. A story that features soap opera, palace intrigue, super-heroic action, sword and sorcery adventure, and the Atom riding frogs all in a package superbly illustrated by Gil Kane doing some of the finest work of the latter part of his career. The biggest drawback of this series is the legacy it left to be used in the appalling Identity Crisis series, but I can’t blame this series for what later creators chose to do with it after the fact.

    I read this long ago and liked it, but hadn’t thought of it for a long time until recently when DC Nation adapted the stories in a series of shorts on the Saturday morning block of cartoons, reminding me how much I loved this story. I dug it out of my boxes of comics and reread it, exulting in the sheer artistry of Gil Kane’s work here.

    For those not familiar with the story, after his marriage hits the rocks, Ray Palmer goes on a scientific expedition to the Amazon region seeking traces of more white dwarf star metal, but ruins afoul of coca growers. He confronts the drug growers on a small plane, but the pilot is shot in the fray, and the plane is struck by lightning before crashing into the Amazon rain forest. As a result, The Atom is stuck at a height of six inches as the mechanisms to control his size and mass are destroyed by the lightning strike. He discovers a transplanted alien civilization (miniature size) that is in decline and ruled by a despot. Atom sides with the rebels, overcomes many palace intrigues, falls in love with their princess, and helps the rebels overthrow the despot and his scheming, traitorous advisor. However, as a last gasp plot, the advisor activates the star drive of their ancient spacecraft, powered by the white dwarf fragment Ray Palmer had been seeking initially, but the drive is faulty and leaking lethal radiation. Atom leaps in to save the day, buying tome for the people to escape, but the white dwarf radiation cause shim to grow back to normal size. After he is rescued and recuperates, he and Jean are reunited, but it is a cold reunion and Ray wants to abandon his life here and return to the princess he fell in love with. Three specials followed up this mini, but to me none of them ever measured up to the original series. They were good, but lacked a certain spark the original tale did for me.

    Cover to #1

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    Sword and sorcery super-heroes, not quite as good a combo as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but a great combo for this fan of both genres.

    -M
    A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
    -Umberto Eco

  3. #3
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    9. Rai (8 issues and a #0 issue, cancelled/rebranded series, Valiant 1992)



    It’s always been my belief that the early Valiant Universe consisted mostly of concepts conceived of by Jim Shooter and then handed off to staff writers and artists to shape into reality. In most cases, this system appeared to have worked quite well, but Rai is possibly the sole example in which a truly original Shooter concept was thoroughly squandered on a writer who just didn’t have the tools necessary to make the premise fly (in this case, David Michelinie).

    In concept, Rai was pretty much the coolest comic book premise ever. Japan in the year 4001 AD as a floating space station above the Earth, operated by a sentient computer named “Grandmother,” and defended by a long line of superhuman samurai with cybernetic blood who are treated as demigods by the people of Japan. Indeed, Tohru Nakadai (the Rai of this series), follows in his father’s footsteps as the sole protector of Japan, capable of wielding an energy sword from his body, of traveling through energy barriers and information streams, and residing in the lap of luxury in his “Rai Dome,” emerging only when summoned by “Grandmother” to defend the people of Japan once again. Feudal Japan meets futuristic sci-fi at its best.

    Unfortunately, much of that goes out the window in Rai #1, as “Grandmother”’s departure in the pages of Magnus: Robot Fighter (just prior to this issue) has plunged Japan into civil war, with Rai being cursed for not having convinced her to stay. As the war plunges on, Rai quickly gets caught in the middle and becomes a sort of Charlie Brown: despised and rejected, self-loathing, unable to do anything right, thoroughly wishy-washy, and upstaged by his loyal companion (in this case his wife in the military rather than a sassy beagle). Watching every single person in Rai’s life giving him repeated dress-downs, watching him continually fail while trying to do what’s right, and ultimately realizing that you don’t like either side of the civil war anymore than Rai does, makes for a pretty depressing read, and that’s probably why Rai was cancelled and replaced with a related, but entirely different, feature entitled “Rai and the Future Force” as of issue #9. Prior to that, we’d gotten five issues of Rai screwing up, one of him trying to exile himself from Japan in an attempt to placate everyone, two spent on the Unity crossover event (culminating in Rai dying), and an epilogue issue that wraps up the loose ends of storylines nobody much cared about and without anyone seeming to miss Rai all that much.

    Yeah, it was never a good series, but it contained an AMAZING concept that I still think back on very fondly. Had another writer been given a chance to make this series work, I think Rai would be a character that is better remembered today. As it stands, the Rai concept was finally recycled/reworked into the character of Bloodshot in the posthumously published Rai #0, and Bloodshot became enormously popular because all the wrong people automatically love a hero with big guns. As a result, given the choice between the two, any owner of the Valiant properties is always going to go for Bloodshot as opposed to Rai, and so it may be a long time before this character/concept is ever done the proper justice it so richly deserves. Sadly, Rai #1-7 is the closest anyone has gotten to date.

    So, to clarify, this was an amazingly fun and imaginative concept and a barely adequate execution, but it still makes my list based on the concept alone.
    Last edited by shaxper; 12-16-2012 at 07:20 AM.

  4. #4
    Kicking the hornet's nest Jezebel Bond's Avatar
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    Day 4...Giant-Size Spider-Man 1-6

    One of the first books I ever read was GSSM #2 and absolutely adored it. I carried it to kindergarten and remember hitting some boy in the face. Took about 15 years to finally get all 6 copies in NM, with #4 being the most expensive but now I own 3 copies. The odd thing is, as much as I like Shang-Chi in that book, I never bought a MOKF...
    1 Kings 21:23

    And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

  5. #5
    I say thee nay! icctrombone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    On the fourth day of Christmas I present unto thee...the best of both worlds

    Sword of the Atom #1-4 (Sept-Dec 1983)

    Super-heroes meet sword and sorcery. A story that features soap opera, palace intrigue, super-heroic action, sword and sorcery adventure, and the Atom riding frogs all in a package superbly illustrated by Gil Kane doing some of the finest work of the latter part of his career. The biggest drawback of this series is the legacy it left to be used in the appalling Identity Crisis series, but I can’t blame this series for what later creators chose to do with it after the fact.

    I read this long ago and liked it, but hadn’t thought of it for a long time until recently when DC Nation adapted the stories in a series of shorts on the Saturday morning block of cartoons, reminding me how much I loved this story. I dug it out of my boxes of comics and reread it, exulting in the sheer artistry of Gil Kane’s work here.

    For those not familiar with the story, after his marriage hits the rocks, Ray Palmer goes on a scientific expedition to the Amazon region seeking traces of more white dwarf star metal, but ruins afoul of coca growers. He confronts the drug growers on a small plane, but the pilot is shot in the fray, and the plane is struck by lightning before crashing into the Amazon rain forest. As a result, The Atom is stuck at a height of six inches as the mechanisms to control his size and mass are destroyed by the lightning strike. He discovers a transplanted alien civilization (miniature size) that is in decline and ruled by a despot. Atom sides with the rebels, overcomes many palace intrigues, falls in love with their princess, and helps the rebels overthrow the despot and his scheming, traitorous advisor. However, as a last gasp plot, the advisor activates the star drive of their ancient spacecraft, powered by the white dwarf fragment Ray Palmer had been seeking initially, but the drive is faulty and leaking lethal radiation. Atom leaps in to save the day, buying tome for the people to escape, but the white dwarf radiation cause shim to grow back to normal size. After he is rescued and recuperates, he and Jean are reunited, but it is a cold reunion and Ray wants to abandon his life here and return to the princess he fell in love with. Three specials followed up this mini, but to me none of them ever measured up to the original series. They were good, but lacked a certain spark the original tale did for me.

    Cover to #1

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Sword and sorcery super-heroes, not quite as good a combo as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but a great combo for this fan of both genres.

    -M
    I can't get the image of an adulterous jean smooching in a car with her lover out of my mind. It was a nice pick.
    Life is what you make it.

  6. #6
    I say thee nay! icctrombone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    9. Rai (8 issues and a #0 issue, cancelled/rebranded series, Valiant 1992)



    It’s always been my belief that the early Valiant Universe consisted mostly of concepts conceived of by Jim Shooter and then handed off to staff writers and artists to shape into reality. In most cases, this system appeared to have worked quite well, but Rai is possibly the sole example in which a truly original Shooter concept was thoroughly squandered on a writer who just didn’t have the tools necessary to make the premise fly (in this case, David Michelinie).

    In concept, Rai was pretty much the coolest comic book premise ever. Japan in the year 4001 AD as a floating space station above the Earth, operated by a sentient computer named “Grandmother,” and defended by a long line of superhuman samurai with cybernetic blood who are treated as demigods by the people of Japan. Indeed, Tohru Nakadai (the Rai of this series), follows in his father’s footsteps as the sole protector of Japan, capable of wielding an energy sword from his body, of traveling through energy barriers and information streams, and residing in the lap of luxury in his “Rai Dome,” emerging only when summoned by “Grandmother” to defend the people of Japan once again. Feudal Japan meets futuristic sci-fi at its best.

    Unfortunately, much of that goes out the window in Rai #1, as “Grandmother”’s departure in the pages of Magnus: Robot Fighter (just prior to this issue) has plunged Japan into civil war, with Rai being cursed for not having convinced her to stay. As the war plunges on, Rai quickly gets caught in the middle and becomes a sort of Charlie Brown: despised and rejected, self-loathing, unable to do anything right, thoroughly wishy-washy, and upstaged by his loyal companion (in this case his wife in the military rather than a sassy beagle). Watching every single person in Rai’s life giving him repeated dress-downs, watching him continually fail while trying to do what’s right, and ultimately realizing that you don’t like either side of the civil war anymore than Rai does, makes for a pretty depressing read, and that’s probably why Rai was cancelled and replaced with a related, but entirely different, feature entitled “Rai and the Future Force” as of issue #9. Prior to that, we’d gotten five issues of Rai screwing up, one of him trying to exile himself from Japan in an attempt to placate everyone, two spent on the Unity crossover event (culminating in Rai dying), and an epilogue issue that wraps up the loose ends of storylines nobody much cared about and without anyone seeming to miss Rai all that much.

    Yeah, it was never a good series, but it contained an AMAZING concept that I still think back on very fondly. Had another writer been given a chance to make this series work, I think Rai would be a character that is better remembered today. As it stands, the Rai concept was finally recycled/reworked into the character of Bloodshot in the posthumously published Rai #0, and Bloodshot became enormously popular because all the wrong people automatically love a hero with big guns. As a result, given the choice between the two, any owner of the Valiant properties is always going to go for Bloodshot as opposed to Rai, and so it may be a long time before this character/concept is ever done the proper justice it so richly deserves. Sadly, Rai #1-7 is the closest anyone has gotten to date.
    I'm kind of confused. Sounds like your panning this book. Why make it one of your twelve?
    Life is what you make it.

  7. #7
    Bronze Age Fan AZBarbarian's Avatar
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    9. Kitty Pryde & Wolverine (1984) - #1-6

    Early on, as a teenager first collecting comics, this was my introduction to the wonderful world of the X-men. Later I just reflect on the importance of this series in characterization and my understanding of two of my favorite characters. Kitty Pryde, who was pretty lame at the time of this book's introduction was suddenly interesting. Wolverine was a BMF with a heart.

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  8. #8
    *blink* Chris N's Avatar
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    Default 9. AKA Goldfish

    AKA Goldfish #1-5
    by Brian Michael Bendis

    A little over a dozen years ago, I discovered crime noir comics. The discovery began with some independent crime writers making their way to superheroes. Rucka was doing excellent work on Detective Comics and Bendis was doing excellent work on Ultimate Spider-Man. (Brubaker was doing mediocre work on Batman, but he would rise in the superhero world as the other two would fall).

    This led to reading Whiteout, Scene of the Crime, and today's chosen entry: Goldfish. Between the three, I was hooked on a genre.

    Goldfish is the story of a con man. A former small time con man returns to town to find his former girlfriend a virtual kingpin. He comes and asks for his son back. When she refuses, he devises an elaborate plan to tear down her empire, so that he can walk away with his son. An excellent read. We meet the character again in the equally excellent follow-up, Jinx.

    What makes Bendis' storytelling style unique is his interest in dialogue. There is a conventional line of thought in comics that the pictures should tell the story, and that the story should be arranged to fit the visual nature of the medium. I've always preferred the idea that comics allow the opportunity to tell a story with words and pictures in whatever combination seems appropriate. Bendis agrees here. Dialogue is his bag, so he is comfortable having long scenes of people sitting around talking. He finds a variety of ways to fit words around the pictures. The pictures serve their purpose. Setting the scene, showing us the characters, giving a sense of facial expression. And the words serve theirs. I find Goldfish a beautiful and unique blending of visuals with dialogue.
    Last edited by Chris N; 12-16-2012 at 07:38 AM.
    formerly coke & comics

    Sleepwalker is Sandman done right. ~Tadhg

  9. #9
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icctrombone View Post
    I'm kind of confused. Sounds like your panning this book. Why make it one of your twelve?
    Because the concept would probably make my top 5 of all time.

  10. #10
    *blink* Chris N's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZBarbarian View Post
    9. Kitty Pryde & Wolverine (1984) - #1-6

    Early on, as a teenager first collecting comics, this was my introduction to the wonderful world of the X-men. Later I just reflect on the importance of this series in characterization and my understanding of two of my favorite characters. Kitty Pryde, who was pretty lame at the time of this book's introduction was suddenly interesting. Wolverine was a BMF with a heart.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This was a near choice. I went with the Claremont/Miller Wolverine instead, but it was close. I read this Wednesday night and it's a great series. Kitty's coming of age story.
    formerly coke & comics

    Sleepwalker is Sandman done right. ~Tadhg

  11. #11
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZBarbarian View Post
    Kitty Pryde, who was pretty lame at the time of this book's introduction was suddenly interesting. Wolverine was a BMF with a heart.
    Funny how I saw it as the complete opposite. I loved Kitty when characterized as a young adult and, while I absolutely respected the need for her to eventually grow up, I inevitably found the transformation disappointing.

  12. #12
    Nice Melons DubipR's Avatar
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    10-XXENOPHILE
    1-11 (Palliard Press) 1989-1998



    Who says smut can't be a classic? Phil Foglio's adult comic was not only adult comics, its brilliant writing and great artwork. Foglio's love of the fantasy world shines in the various vignettes throughout his 11 issues; from sword and sorcery to outer space, the spice of life is displayed in black and white glory. What is also good is that Foglio got some of comics top talent to ink each story, giving the added individuality to the story. While Foglio might now be known for his wonderful Girl Genius and his much ballyhooed minis from DC, Foglio shows his chops as a fun storyteller and an exquisite artist.

    also I felt it was time we needed some T&A on the list somewhere...
    "If you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf."

  13. #13
    Bronze Age Fan AZBarbarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Funny how I saw it as the complete opposite. I loved Kitty when characterized as a young adult and, while I absolutely respected the need for her to eventually grow up, I inevitably found the transformation disappointing.
    I think it just really appealed to the 14 year old I was when I first read it.

  14. #14
    I say thee nay! icctrombone's Avatar
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    9. Fantastic Four 1234
    Writer: Grant Morrison Artist : Jae Lee




    This is the only book , so far, that apon re-reading was even better than before. The combination of the Morrison prose and Lee images remind me a bit of the Watchmen. I always love when the writer doesn’t describe what the art is showing. The art and writing should be two separate pieces of information that , once combined, become greater than the each individually. In this book, Doom uses a reality shaping device to tempt and confuse our heroes and thus attempting to defeat them by playing on their fears.
    Just an excellent book with ground breaking art by Lee. I have to read it soon after the 12 days are done in order to really absorb the artwork. The detail is so amazing that I want to study it further. I’m tempted to place this higher but this year, I kinda feel that all the books are separate and mostly equal experiences. My #1 is not necessarily “better” than my #12. If you haven’t read this mini, GET THIS BOOK!!!

    Yikes! Even Sue has control issues.



    Ben loses this arm in a car accident. Rough stuff indeed.

    Life is what you make it.

  15. #15
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DubipR View Post
    10-XXENOPHILE
    1-11 (Palliard Press) 1989-1998



    Who says smut can't be a classic? Phil Foglio's adult comic was not only adult comics, its brilliant writing and great artwork. Foglio's love of the fantasy world shines in the various vignettes throughout his 11 issues; from sword and sorcery to outer space, the spice of life is displayed in black and white glory. What is also good is that Foglio got some of comics top talent to ink each story, giving the added individuality to the story. While Foglio might now be known for his wonderful Girl Genius and his much ballyhooed minis from DC, Foglio shows his chops as a fun storyteller and an exquisite artist.

    also I felt it was time we needed some T&A on the list somewhere...
    It's funny, but for me Foglio will always be the guy who did What's New With Phil & Dixie, a strip that appeared in Dragon Magazine from TSR (the D&D mag)during my high school years. My wife loves his stuff (and has issues of both Xxxenophile and trades of Girl Genius-and a Girl Genius t-shirt to boot), but he will always be the Phil and Dixie guy for me.

    -M
    A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
    -Umberto Eco

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