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POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #1: The Girl On The Ledge

If You Focus On The “Super” Then You Will Never Understand The “Man”

“You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”

Those two sentences sum up why I chose All-Star Superman for The Greatest Moment in Comics. Two simple sentences that not only define what makes Superman a great character but what makes me understand him on so many levels. It is a scene in a book that is filled with great Superman moments, in a series already full of those. It is a scene that is quiet and subdued in an issue of a comic that is equal parts dialogue and equal parts action. It is a moment that helps you remember that though he is “Superman”, it really is the “Man” aspect of the character and not the “Super” that makes him incredible. His endless compassion and love for humanity is what makes him great. Not the ability to fly. Not the fact that he has heat, x-ray, microscopic and telescopic vision. Not the fact that he can essentially bench the moon. What makes him great is his humanity, which considering the fact he is an alien is pretty damn beautiful when you think about it.

From the moment I came up with the idea for writing this list, picking #7-3 was the hardest part. I had my numbers 1 and 2 from the outset. There wasn’t even a great mental debate about which was which, All-Star Superman #10 written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quietly was far and away my #1. More specifically page 12, panel 4. It speaks volumes about the impact one person can have on your life and how them being there at the time you need them most is all that matters in the long run. It just so happens that in the scene in question the right person at that moment is Superman. But what is the scene? Why is it so important and how is it supposed to make the reader better understand this “strange visitor from another world”?

How does it help to define the character of Superman?

Well the overall issue deals with a day in the life of Superman. Not just any day in the life however, you see since the first issue Superman has been slowly dying due to overexposure to solar radiation when he went to rescue a manned space flight to the sun. Given that Superman is just a giant walking solar battery, his little trip to his power source supercharged his cells to the point that they can no longer regenerate. With that in mind, Superman‘s time left on Earth is limited and he knows he has to make the most of it, every second of everyday. All-Star Superman #10 is a day in the life of Superman. In a span of 24 hours he finally resolves the fate of the Bottled City of Kandor, stops a rampaging robot in Metropolis, takes a bunch of school children on a field trip to Egypt and visits terminally ill children in the hospital. He also sets up a simulated universe in the Fortress of Solitude; a simulation to see what life would be like if he had never existed. He does all of these things between pages 1 and 23. So it is smack dab in the middle of the comic itself that we see the moment that makes Superman so crystal clear and amazing.

It is all right there on Page 12, Panel 4.

But it is so much better than just the one panel. All of page 12 is a scene full of drama and potential tragedy and it is all set-up 5 pages before that in a moment that would almost seem trivial. Superman had just saved a runaway Metrorail car from crashing. He flies away, waving to those that are cheering and thanking him. But there is one man on a cell phone telling someone named Regan frantically to not leave their apartment and that he would be on his way directly. According to the page all of this happened at 4:35PM. It seemed like a throwaway bit of dialogue the first time I read the issue and I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I re-read All-Star Superman in a collected format that I connected the dots between page 7, panel 2 and everything that happens on page 12. It never dawned on me that Superman had listened to the conversation on the cell phone. Of course he heard the situation, he has super-charged super-hearing.

So what happens on Page 12 that is so monumental and moving all at once? Well, here is the panel by panel analysis.

Page 12, Panel 1: It turns out Regan is a troubled young woman and the man on the phone was her Doctor/Psychiatrist. He wanted her to stay inside because she was suicidal. She is crying as she stands on the ledge of a building. There is no question of what her intent is as she stands crying on the ledge. This is human drama; this is a person in pain that cannot cope with the pain of life. We don’t even know what her problems specifically are. All we see is a girl, on a ledge with clear intent.

Page 12, Panel 2: Regan is taking a deep breath. This is the moment. Tear stained face, running mascara, clasped hands, possibly in prayer.

Page 12, Panel 3: He is there. A broad chest clad in blue red and yellow. He talks to her, not harshly, not yelling. My lord as you read the words put in his mouth by Grant Morrison you can almost hear the voice of Christopher Reeve calmly speaking to this poor girl. “Your Doctor really did get held up Regan. It is never as bad as it seems”. Her look has changed from despair to startled. Not a horrified startled mind you, but nor is it one of suddenly being filled with hope. It is a look of genuine astonishment that someone is there on this roof with her and that someone cares. It doesn’t matter that it’s Superman. The fact that it is, is amazing unto itself but it isn’t like Regan specifically wanted Superman to reach out to her. She really just wanted someone, anyone to show that they genuinely cared. The fact that someone did is a blessing. The fact that it is Superman, that is miraculous.

Page 12, Panel 4: The “Moment” itself, the defining moment with that pure distilled ring of truth. Regan is still in shock that someone is there and in awe because that someone is Superman. “You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me”. Here is The Last Son of Krypton, knowing he is going to die any day now, doing everything in his power to make the world a better place. Why? Because despite being an alien; Superman is Human. Human in how he was raised, human in emotion and human how he relates to people, all people, be they human or not. He believes the world can be a better place for all humanity and, because of that, he views every human life as precious. It doesn’t matter what Regan’s problems are at that moment, it’s the fact that she is someone in pain that matters to him. “You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me” is sending a message to Regan about how fragile all life is. Superman wrestling with his own mortality is one of the themes of All-Star Superman and here, on Page 12, panel 4 a representation of that mortality turns and looks him in the face. How could he not reach out and help? His message in those two sentences is that life is worth living but time is short so do not throw the gift of life away.

Page 12, Panel 5: Probably the most emotional moment in any comic I have ever read. Superman takes Regan in his arms and holds her close. Two people, both on the brink of death, opting to choose life. In one page and 5 panels Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have told this moment of human drama. It is a story all its own. Regan is relatable to any reader because so many people have been in her shoes, they’ve been that depressed, that desperate and felt that alone where they thought taking their lives was their only option. In five panels we have a story of intense drama, desperation and eventually relief. There have been writers who have spent years writing Superman and not told such a completely gripping story as Morrison and Quitely did in one page and five panels.

“You’re Much Stronger Than You Think You Are. Trust Me.”

Honestly, it has never been about the powers and abilities Superman has. Those are just “Macguffins” to make you realize you are reading a comic about the world view of one individual and how that world view causes others to look at him. Superman maybe an alien but he counts himself a member of the human race. Just because he can fly doesn’t mean he is looking down on us. If anything Superman being able to fly is a metaphor for him being able to take that awesome step back and always be able to see the bigger picture. Hell the culmination of Morrison and Quitely’s All-Star Superman is that Superman‘s ultimate enemy Lex Luthor finally has the powers of Superman. Luthor finally has the power to do what he wants but having those powers is his undoing as he is able to finally grasp how Superman sees time, space, the Earth and the entire Universe. It is so overwhelming to Luthor that he nearly breaks down at the sheer scope of it all. No mere mortal can cope with being Superman, hell Superman can barely cope with being Superman. It is the price of being “Super” so it is better to be just the “Man”.

Superman isn’t hiding as Clark Kent so he can “experience” being human. He isn’t even really hiding. It isn’t an alter-ego, they are the same person. There is no fake identity like Batman pretending to be Bruce Wayne. Superman is Clerk Kent, Clark Kent is Superman. Same man, same view of the world. The public persona of Superman isn’t any different than Clark Kent. On page 12, panel 4 Superman says exactly the same thing to Regan that Clark Kent would. In Comics a Hero’s secret identity/persona can be drastically different from their private one, especially if we’re talking about Batman. This is a case of one human being reaching out to another human being to let them know they aren’t alone. Superman’s “Never Ending battle” isn’t just about “Truth, Justice and The American Way”. The real never-ending battle is Life and Superman cherishes all Life!

The only argument I can find against this being the Greatest Moment in Comics is simply that it is a very recent story, less than 5 years old actually. The thing is, the age of the story shouldn’t matter. It is the weight of the story and the message that matter. This message in All-Star Superman #10 is already a classic; you just know that it will stand the test of time with comic book historians as well as casual fans. Hell, you can say that about ALL of All Star Superman. In the end, page 12 of All Star Superman #10 in its entirety tells a story within a story that should reach out to every person that reads it. In fact, the entire comic itself does that. What the message ends up being is left to each individual reader. I know how I interpret it may not be how the person reading this article interprets it, but through it, you should be able to get a better understanding of the concepts of love, compassion and the overall concept of Superman. That’s what any great moment should do regardless of the people or characters involved.

Until Next Time, Fight The Never Ending Battle…

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #2: The Death of Supergirl

One Image Says It All!

Crisis On Infinite Earths was NECESSARY. Do not let anyone tell you different. The reason why DC Comics was getting its ass handed to them month in and month out was because of it nigh-impenetrable continuity which could, for the most part, be attributed to the DC Multiverse. How is a 5 year old supposed to wrap his head around the idea of 2 versions of Superman teaming up in the yearly JLA/JSA crossover? Why does Wonder Woman have gray hair in an issue of Infinity Inc. yet look completely youthful in her own ongoing book? Batman and Catwoman had a daughter? See the problem? Hell I didn’t even bring up the confusion over Captain Marvel and why his giant butterfly collar was appearing in World’s Finest even though DC Editorial continued to claim the Marvel Family was regulated to Earth-S. The “S” stood for SHAZAM because DC Editorial as too clever for its own good it seems.

Do I need to bring up Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew to confuse people further?

DC had made themselves inaccessible to new readers and it was their own damn fault. Hell, I remember trying to explain the DC Multiverse to a friend of mine that was a stalwart Marvel Comics backer and his only reply was “But why? What is the point of it?”. That question left me with no rebuttal. I mean sure it was so all the stories that came before changes that Julius Schwartz implemented in the late 50s and early 60s still “happened” but in the end it just led to more confusion for a budding market of new readers that DC desperately craved and had been losing since the advent of the Marvel Age with Amazing Fantasy #15 and The Fantastic Four #1. It wasn’t that kids didn’t want to read Batman and Superman, it’s that kids weren’t relating to Batman and Superman. They WERE relating to the everday problems of Spider-Man and the family atmosphere of The Fantastic Four. It’s not that the readership of The Justice League of America didn’t love grand scale Superheroic stories but honestly, when you’ve got a team with the Big Blue Boy Scout on it in the Silver Age of comics, no villain or team of villains stands a chance at winning. By the mid-70s DC was losing the war against Marvel and the implosion of the comics market hit them much harder than it did Smilin’ Stan Lee and his Marvel Bullpen.

By the mid-1980s DC was being crushed by the weight of its own confusing continuity. It didn’t help that since the mid-1970s only one new DC comic could be called a runaway smash hit and that was George Perez and Marv Wolfman’s New Teen Titans in 1980. Marvel was killing DC on a monthly basis, as they even took a book that had been cancelled in the early 70s due to low sales and made it into the hottest comic on the market. The mere thought of The Uncanny X-Men being flat out cancelled for low sales is unfathomable in this day and age. DC needed to get readers back and they had to do it in a major way. Enter Marv Wolfman and Len Wein, who had been asked by DC to do a companywide crossover for DC’s 50th Anniversary. Wein had been instrumental in re-launching the X-Men for Marvel and had returned to DC to write Batman and also created the original Swamp Thing. Wolfman was DC’s go to guy for good stories thanks to New Teen Titans and its magnum opus “The Judas Contract”. Together they realized this company-wide crossover was a chance to clean-up the mess of DC’s disparate continuity problems.

Supergirl To The Rescue!

So was born Crisis on Infinite Earths, the 12 issue “Maxi-Series” that used pretty much EVERY character DC had its disposal. The story wasn’t simple. The long and the short if it was the Multiverse was shrinking because a being called the Anti-Monitor was destroying Parallel Earths. The Anti-Monitor traced his origin back to the creation of the current Universe, as Krona of Maltus created a machine that allowed him to look at the creation of time and space. This resulted in the Big Bang and the creation of the current Universe and an alternate Anti-Matter Universe known as Qward. The Universe gave birth to its defender in The Monitor and Qward had the Anti-Monitor. The Monitor had been introduced in New Teen Titans as what seemed to be a broker for Super-Villains and mercenaries. Even more intriguing he seemed to be able to do this across the DC Multiverse. It turns out he was doing this to find heroes capable enough to fight the Anti-Monitor who was destroying the Multiverse one Earth at a time. For seven issues the forces of the Monitor clashed with Anti-Monitor and it just seemed like the good guys couldn’t win. Even worse is that The Monitor was killed early on in the series. Even worse than that was the Anti-Monitor had created a device that would destroy the Multiverse in one fell swoop. The only solution was to take the most powerful heroes to Qward to stop him.

Pure Silver Age Kryptonian Power Unleashed!

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is the issue where it all went down. A strike team featuring 2 incarnations of Superman, Supergirl, Captain Marvel, Firestorm, the Superboy of Earth-Prime (don’t ask), Lady Quark, Wildfire and countless other heavy hitters was assembled to go to Qward to stop the Anti-monitor. Seriously there were so many of DC’s “Big Guns” on the power scale involved in this I can’t begin to name them all. Of course it is a trap and when Superman of Earth-1 (i.e. The Big Blue we all know and love) comes face to face with the Anti-Monitor, Supes has finally met an adversary that even he was overmatched against. Stop and think about that for a moment. The Silver Age version of Superman was overmatched!

Her Fight...

So when his only living relative, Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl hears him cry in agony, she does everything in her power to save him and stop the Anti-Monitor. What ensued was a brutal asskicking, as Supergirl unleashed her full might on the Anti-Monitor. Her only mistake was to turn her attention away and tell the rest of the heroes to get out of Qward and save Superman. That one moment was her undoing. That was the moment the Anti-Monitor had to save his own skin as he blasted Supergirl with a dose of pure anti-matter and then flees. Whereas he was torturing Superman moments before, with Supergirl’s beatdown he unleashed so much raw energy that it resulted in the moment that serves as the epilogue to the End of The Silver Age of Comics.

Her Fall...

It was DC that kicked off the Silver Age in the first place. Showcase #4 in 1956 with the debut of Barry Allen as The Flash was what did it. The Flash begat the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern, who begat the Martian Manhunter, which led to the Justice League of America. All these re-imagining of characters from the 40s led to a renewed interest in Superhero comics. It was the success the Justice League of America that led to Martin Goodman, then the owner of Marvel Comics, telling Stan Lee to come up with a team of superheroes to cash in on the JLA‘s success for Marvel. Thus Lee and cohort Jack Kirby gave us The Fantastic Four. The Silver Age lasted from 1956 until 1973 when Marvel published “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” in The Amazing Spider-Man #122. When Gerry Conway and Gil Kane killed Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s (aka Spider-Man’s) fiancé, the Silver Age lost its innocence. The Silver Age limped along until 1985 and had its bookend in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 with the silhouette of Superman weeping over the corpse of his dead cousin.

His Grief!

One could say that the Silver Age actually ended in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 the very next month as Barry Allen, the man who kicked off the Silver Age in the first place died next. That is not an unfair argument but Supergirl‘s death had for deeper impact for one simple reason. There was a time that Supergirl rivaled Wonder Woman in popularity for female Superheroes with comic book readers. But something happened with the advent of the Silver Age. Supergirl wasn’t a relatable character to most girls, let alone teenage girls. Supergirl’s popularity took a hit and she somehow got cast a secondary hero, a “weak sister” if you will to her cousin. Several attempts were made by DC during the Silver Age and even before Crisis on Infinite Earths to shore up her fan base but no matter what was done she couldn’t keep afloat in her own monthly comic. Marvel had really changed the game with how comics were written. It wasn’t just Action/Adventure escapism for little boys. Stan Lee, as a dialogue writer had turned Superhero comics into monthly Soap Opera installments. Monthly Soap Opera installments with lots of people in brightly colored costumes hitting each other. DC wasn’t going to change how they portrayed Supergirl anymore than Marvel would suddenly decided to portray Spider-Man as a meth-addicted pimp. Supergirl was Supergirl and nothing would change that, not even declining interest in the character.

As a comic book reader one expects the hero to overcome and be victorious time and again, especially if that character bears the bold emblem of the Kryptonian House of El. Killing Supergirl was not only shocking, it was heartbreaking. Superman crying was nothing new. We had seen him cry out of sympathy for others before, out of genuine sadness and melancholy over a situation he couldn’t help. This was the first time Superman was crying tears of rage and personal loss. We saw The Man of Steel at his most vulnerable. It remains, to my knowledge, the onetime Superman has ever said he was going to KILL someone for the sake of vengeance. The death of Supergirl ensured that Clark Kent, Kal-El of Krypton, truly was the last survivor of a doomed planet. It was the one time where not only was Superman truly grieving, but you, as a reader, were grieving for him.

The death of Supergirl made me cry. To this day, I cannot read Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 and not be moved. Supergirl‘s dying words were letting us know that she loved her cousin, not just for being her only living relative, but for the same reasons we as readers love him. His infinite compassion and love for humanity, his innate ability to always uphold the virtue of truth and justice; these are the things that Kara Zor-El loved about her cousin Kal-El. These are the things we still love about him, whether as Clark Kent or as Superman. Supergirl‘s death was tragic, but it made us remember why we love Superman and why he remains the most iconic fictional character of the 20th century.

We are almost on the 30th anniversary of Supergirl‘s death and while she has been brought back post-Crisis, it is in fact a completely different character. Ironically, the Silver Age begat scores of writers in comics that realized making the protagonist relatable actually makes for better comics. Stan Lee was really onto something there. I love the DCU version of Supergirl (I haven’t touched the DCnU version) as she is a well written teenaged character. This is a vastly different Supergirl than the one who would have goofy adventures with Streaky the Supercat or Comet the Superhorse. Arguing about who was a better Supergirl though is pointless because what is important is the core of the character. We love Supergirl for the same reasons we love Superman and watching those reasons die, watching HER die and what she represents, panel by panel in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, is why the death of Supergirl is the second greatest moment in comics!

Until Next Time...

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics: Just Missed It…

Do You Realize How Many Great Comic Moments This Fucker Has?

There are only two moments left on this little list of mine and with that in mind I’d thought I’d take a moment to explain myself. POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments in Comics is, in case you couldn’t piece it together, an entirely subjective list. That is because it is MY list, the 7 moments that stick out in my head as the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a comics reader. So while you may not have been affected by the death of Guardian in Alpha Flight #12, it was definitely a big deal to me when I read it. The list is subjective because, well I’m the subject in question. The only thing harder than making the selections from this list was having to discard other moments that I had an just as much impact on me. There are some defining moments in comics that are just not on the list period. I mean there are some moments that are glaringly obvious that I just pretty much avoided simply because I wanted this list to be more personal than just an argument over whether the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne is more important than a kindly Kansas couple finding a baby in field in rural Kansas. This list is MINE, it is personal and I chose to share it.

I'm Almost Ashamed Uncle Scrooge Isn't On This List!

So what are some of the moments that didn’t make the cut then? I really wanted to put an Uncle Scrooge moment on this list. I love the work of Carl Barks and his “disciples” like Don Rosa. The problem was picking one. Uncle Scrooge is the most prolific of the Disney comics and there are so many great stories to choose from. Should it involve Magica De Spell? Should it be the introduction of Flintheart Glomgold? Which Beagle Boy heist sticks out more than the others? The problem boils down to picking just one. So many questions one has to ask oneself when picking just one Uncle Scrooge moment. I really wanted it to be from a Carl Barks story too. The problem was, the Uncle Scrooge moment I wanted to use wasn’t by Barks, it was by Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge #297), not that Don Rosa didn’t write a good story. Hell if I wanted to read an Uncle Scrooge by someone other than Barks, Don Rosa is the go to guy. The moment is the catalyst for 90% of Uncle Scrooge’s adventures, the moment Scrooge McDuck first gets his Number One Dime is THE defining moment for the character. The first dime Scrooge ever made is something others believe is responsible for maintaining his vast fortune. Magica, Glomgold and Ma Beagle and her boys have all tried stealing it and in some cases have succeeded, but Number 1 always finds its way back to Scrooge. It isn’t that the Dime is a good luck charm; it is more a representation of honesty and hard work paying off. Uncle Scrooge is comic’s BEST representation of the American Dream coming true and it was damn near heartbreaking for me to not put that one story on the list.

Cerebus: An Example Of When Personal Issues Affect Your Creative Work

Almost as heartbreaking was leaving off my favorite moment from Cerebus the Aardvark. There was no moment I was torn up more over than leaving Cerebus off the list altogether. Dave Sim poured himself into Cerebus for 300 issues. There was a time in the 80s when one talked about influential independent comics you were pretty much talking about Cerebus. Now when I say Independent Comics, I don’t mean Underground Comics like the work of Robert Crumb. I mean self-publishers that had vision and drive that ended up building publishing empires simply by not being in the “mainstream” of comics i.e. Superhero and Funny Animal comics. Sure Cerebus became the flag waver for the Independent comics scene, hell Sim even had the chance to take Cerebus to wider audience in the late 80s but opted not to. Sim wanted to remain true to his vision of the independent comics publisher and his vision for Cerebus. Sure, his vision for Cerebus ended up being not what his readership expected. I mean I can’t think of a writer who did more to alienate his core fan base more than Sim did. He would write entire sections with no art, relying strictly on prose (asking comic book readers to read? The Cad!). He would take long stretches where seemingly nothing would happen only to end it with something horrifically violent. He took an entire section to tell a fictionalized retelling of the last days of Oscar Wilde. In reality, Sim alienated his readers simply by letting his personal life affect his work, though Sim denies this to this day. Sim also tries to say his latter half of Cerebus isn’t misogynistic when it is hard to say it isn’t [Editor’s Note: IT IS!]. So what was the moment in Cerebus I had in mind? It happens during “Flight”, which was in itself a segment of a larger story arc called “Mothers & Daughters”. In it, Cerebus retaliates against the Cirinists, a militaristic feminist group that is in power, when he hears one of them brag that the Cirinists have physically abused the woman who actually holds his heart, Jaka. His retaliation is to kill the Cirinists and urge the men to rise up against all the Cirinists. This revolution is short-lived, as in less than 2 pages. The result is that those that rise up are cut down by the Cirinists in no time. I was deep into Cerebus at this point, reading the volumes thanks to my buddy Bill Wrigley. It was that moment, a 2 page splash showing a team of Cirinist soldiers surrounded by hacked and bloody corpses that actually shocked me. Just 2 pages earlier I had thrown my fist up in the air in support as Cerebus urged his followers to “Rise Up and KILL THE CIRINISTS!”. Then, in a blink of an eye, the rebellion was over. I wanted to put this on the list, I really did. But Cerebus is so dense as a narrative that asking people to get through 150+ issues of a continuous story, that can be very tough to penetrate, is asking a bit much just to get to one moment. Especially when you consider not everyone is ready to read an entire volume about the final days of Oscar Wilde. Even worse, it might lead to a person trying to read the rest of Cerebus 300 issue run and that might leave one with a bad taste in their mouth or more than likely wanting to punch you in the mouth for insisting they read it.

Batman: Out Of These Villains Exactly 1 Defining Moment!

Bringing things back to the realm of Superheroes, you’ve probably noticed a serious lack of Batman on this list. Well, not to spoil things for you, but you aren’t getting any Batman for the top 2 moments either. Weird, given my love of Batman. I mean Batman is my favorite character in all of fiction. I’m not talking about any specific period of Batman by any specific artist or writer. I mean Batman, as both a character and concept. So why no Batman on the list? Because, in his 73 year history, there are possibly only 3-4 DEFINING moments for Batman as a character. Hell it is really just 3 moments since one of them happened to Barbara Gordon and not Batman himself (If you have to ask what moment happened to Barbara Gordon, SURPRISE! You just proved you are NOT a Batman fan). The first moment is obvious I would think. I mean if you saw parents gunned down right in front of you, it is pretty much going to fuck you up for life and I don’t mean the “dress up like a bat and fight crime” kinda messed up either. I mean we are talking about the main drive for why Bruce Wayne is Batman. Many make the argument that Batman’s story is one of revenge and that is totally not the case. It isn’t about revenge, it is about Justice. It is about one man trying to make a difference in a city without hope. It is about making sure that there won’t be another 8 year old boy left crying in an alley over the bodies of his dead, murdered parents. I sympathize with Bruce Wayne but come on; there was no way I could put that on the list simply because it isn’t exactly a jaw dropping moment for me. The same thing can be said for the second defining moment for Batman, a moment so simple and seemingly stupid but is so important because without it you don’t have Batman as a persona. It is all that damn bat’s fault. Bruce Wayne was lamenting that he has spent his young life training to fight crime but not having an actual method to do it and then because his butler is too lazy to close the window a flying rodent flies into the den and gives him inspiration. Oh fine, go with the Batman Year One interpretation, it doesn’t matter. The bat coming through the window is the second biggest catalyst for why we have Batman. I mean if a panda had crawled through his window, our boy Bruce would be eating bamboo and jumping from rooftop to rooftop as Panda-Man. The third moment brings up the subject of Jason Todd and honestly, that is a whole separate issue unto itself that I refuse to get muddled up in this conversation.

The Horny Teenage Boy In Me Really Wanted To Put Cherry On The List

In the end, there are tons of moments that from my vast comic reading experience that could have made the list. The thing is, I’m not really trying to cater to anyone with this list but myself. Like I said, the list is completely subjective and the subject giving you the list is me. I could’ve written 1800 words on Watchmen and how the opening page gives you clues about all the major players in that story. I could’ve really gone in depth on your asses about why Secret Wars #12 has a moment so moving and packed with emotion that you almost forget it is an intimate moment between Captain America and his oldest sidekick (i.e. it ain’t Bucky or Rick Jones and sure as fuck ain’t Nomad). I want to tell you so much about Secret Origins Annual #12 left me with a smile on my face yet also left me the sad and yet joyful reminder of “Electricity always travels in a circuit”, thus telling us that Barry Allen is responsible for his own creation as The Flash. Hell I made a conscious choice to avoid non-family friendly material like Omaha the Cat Dancer, which despite being erotic/pornographic furry comics, is actually a pretty great story. Hell when my #1 and #2 choices get written up you’ll be getting one reaction of something I read when I was 13 years old and another from when I was in my 30s. You see this list isn’t about insisting my picks are the be all and end all for great comics moments. It is about showing anyone who will listen that comics are a medium for everyone, be they young or old. You don’t have to be 10 years old to be moved by a Green Lantern story or 55 to look at Donald Duck with a sort of fondness you reserve for an old friend. Comics as a storytelling medium remain the mythology of the 20th Century and in the end the best myths stand the test of time and are shared from generation to generation.

So what are the top 2 Moments In Comics as far as Yours Truly is concerned?

Well they both involve members of one family. Here is your only hint…

Until Next Time...

The DCnU: 1 Out Of 52 Ain’t Bad… Right?

So NOT What You Expect It To Be!

I tried as hard as I could to avoid everything that DC is trying to do with the “The New 52”. I’m still furious that instead of trying to tell good stories through existing continuity, DC’s response has been to give up on continuity altogether citing the plea of “it was too confusing for new readers”. First of all, that is such utter nonsense. These days all mainstream superhero comics are written for collected trade publication. In some cases it is only a few weeks turn around between the last issue of a story being published and then that issue getting reprinted in a trade collection. This brings up point number 2. Not all of DC’s titles are bogged down by multi-issue stories or continuity issues. Look at what was being done in Detective Comics BEFORE they killed Bruce Wayne. Single issue stories with Batman every single damn month. It boggles the mind to think that with its stable of writers and artists that only Paul Dini was the only person capable of telling single issue stories. Sure things were a bit screwy after Infinite Crisis but it is the fault of DC Editorial as a whole that their writers and artists aren’t reigned in more for the sake of neater storytelling. Someone should have sat down with every writer on every DC book and reminded them not every story has to be epic and that not everyone writer is Grant Morrisson, able to tell complex over-arching narrative that encompasses the entire history of a character*. The moment Dan Didio and Geoff Johns came up with the idea to “re-invent” Superman and everything that was a result of him (The DC Universe, if not all of Superhero comics in general), both men should have been fired. There was nothing wrong with Superman and the DCU to warrant changing them so drastically. Hell it was Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis that led to things being not “new reader friendly” in the first place. Minor tweaks were needed, nothing so drastic as destroying 70+ years of storytelling.

The problem is that I’m not here to rip the DCnU, as it has been dubbed, to shreds. I’d like to, I mean I’d REALLY like to, but that isn’t why I’m here. See for every piece of shit title that the DCnU has generated there has been one diamond. One title out of 52 that played enough to my sense of nostalgia that I was compelled to at least read the first issue* and then the second issue and… well you get the idea. So DC deserves some congratulations I guess. One book out of fifty-two made the cut. That is only a .019230769% success ratio with a long-time comics reader. Break open the champagne, I only feel less than 99% alienated as a loyal customer now. So what is this amazing tale? What comic got me to sit and accept at least one aspect of the DCnU? What played with my sense of nostalgia enough to actually read something to do with the worst conceived reboot in comics history that doesn’t involve Spider-Man?

Would you believe I’m talking about I, Vampire?

Yes, I, Vampire, the original DC Horror pseudo-goth comic. The original ran as I… Vampire in DC’s main horror title House of Mystery beginning in issue #290, running for 24 issues, telling the story of a heroic, yet tragic Vampire named Lord Andrew Bennett fighting his former lover turned nemesis Mary. This was before Neil Gaiman came along and made it safe for adults to read horror tinged comics with Sandman. I… Vampire is what you wanted a Vampire-cum-Superhero to be. Tragic past, doomed love, never-ending life… I… Vampire had it all. Hell it even had Lord Andrew Bennett team-up with Batman in an issue of Brave & The Bold back when that was JUST a comic book**. It even had a resolution as House of Mystery was doomed for cancellation by 1983. The tale of Lord Andrew Bennett wrapped in House of Mystery #319, pretty fortuitous since House of Mystery was cancelled just 2 issues later with #321. Lord Andrew drifted around the fringe of the DCU for a bit, survived Crisis on Infinite Earths and even got a mention in the Marv Wolfman/George Perez History of The DC Universe prestige series. From there it was being a supporting player in the Doctor Fate book before being a bit player here and there or whenever something involving The Lords of Order would get mentioned in a story remotely related to the DC Horror pantheon.

Not even Close To Being The Weirdest Batman Team-Up!

So imagine my genuine shock when I, Vampire was announced as one of the DCnU 52. I actually read the initial release list back in June and my reaction was “I, Vampire? Is this a reprint of the old series?”. I couldn’t believe that DC would resurrect a title like I, Vampire. I mean, I can think of something like 10-20 DC War and Western Comic characters they could have put into a book before I ever would have dreamed of I, Vampire coming back. Yet, that nagging sense of nostalgia kept whispering in my ear. It reminded me that I… Vampire was awesome cheezy fun. It was like Dark Shadows but with more angst in an age in comics where angst ridden heroes were pretty much the domain of Marvel and The X-Men. It was one of the
earliest works of J.M. DeMatteis, he who would help relaunch the Justice League with Keith Giffen after Crisis on Infinite Earths. He who would give us “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, arguably the last GREAT Spider-Man story ever written. Instead, this version of Lord Andrew is written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, a guy whose work I am totally unfamiliar with. He is joined by Andrea Sorrentino, an Italian atist who I am also completely unfamiliar wit. So I decided to roll the dice. 2 unknown factors combined with an all but forgotten DC character and premise. If I was going to commit to anything in the DCnU, I would be better suited to the more obscure than risk punching a wall as DC fucks up Wonder Woman unnecessarily for the second time in 2 years.

Vampire Morrissey: Did I mention That He Cried?

The good news is, everything I loved about the original character was there. It is still Lord Andrew Bennett, he is still trying to stop his genocidial ex-lover Mary, Queen of Blood from making Vampires the dominant species on Earth. It is still a tale of two lovers with two different views of the world. It is still a tale of violence, love and betrayal. It is still dark. It is still violent and thanks to Andrea Sorrentino and Joshua Hale Fialkov, it is the BEST, new comic series I’ve read this year if not the past 5 years. The first issue alone drops one in the middle of carnage. It opens In Media Res, letting flashbacks tell the tale of how Lord Andrew Bennett and his lover, the former Mary Seward, got to the point they are at now. That point is a very volatile one, as Mary, the self titled “Queen of Blood” is now the leader of a vampiric cult who are determined to conquer the world and use its human population as a giant herd for breeding and food. This is not some new idea in vampire related fiction. But unlike other attempts to use this story hook, I, Vampire is setting this firmly in the new DC Universe. In fact, Lord Andrew points out that Mary’s plan has practically no chance of success simply because there are people like Superman, Wonder Woman and “a dozen Green Lanterns” on the planet to oppose them. Lord Andrew’s point falls on deaf ears though. Mary will conquer, Mary will rule and Mary will let no one stand in her way, especially not her lover.

The difference between Lord Andrew and Mary isn’t a matter of simply conquerer and opposer. It is how they view their vampiric nature. Lord Andrew sees it as a curse, something he has been fighting against since his initial affliction some 400 years before the start of the first issue. He was the one who brought Mary over to the world of the undead. Mary doesn’t share his view though. For her, from the moment he turned her, she was free. She embraced her immortality and her supernatural powers (shapeshifting, enhanced strength) and revelled in them from that moment forward. As vampirism is a curse to Lord Andrew, it was calling to Mary’s true-self. Her arguments for world conquest and herding are simple, with all the wars, crusades and holocausts that humanity has inflicted upon itself, it proves, as a species, humans can not rule themselves effectively so it is high time something higher on the food chain rules them instead. Lord Andrew’s argument against this is simple, by making the world aware of vampires, humanity will seek to rise up against them because it is mankind’s nature to resist change and even more so, resist oppression. To Lord Andrew, the only outcome of Mary’s uprising against humanity is death for all vampires.

The first 2 issues of I, Vampire are violent as Lord Andrew fights off a trap laid out for him by Mary in issue 1. Using both flashbacks of more intimate times between Lord Andrew and Mary and flash-forwards to Lord Andrew fighting off her trap of a horde of vampires coming to kill him, the reader gets to see exactly what the protagonist is capable of in combat. What Lord Andrew is a machine built for slaughtering his own kind. He has had more than 400 years to master his vampiric powers and one sees how effortlessly he changes form, from wolf, to man, to wolfman and into mist. This also goes hand in hand with Lord Andrew just slaughtering even more vampires in issue 2 as he gears up for his showdown with Mary. Issue one was told from Lord Andrew’s point of view (with some snippets from Mary), however issue 2 is entirely Mary’s view .

Mary is such a well written character, as she expounds on what her goal is in the long run while still keeping focus on Lord Andrew as he hacks and slashes his way through scores of vampires. In fact, her admiration and love for Lord Andrew shine through in her inner
monologue. It seems that watching Lord Andrew kill almost gets her off sexually, something that only makes sense for a vampire, a creature whose only true release as an Apex Predator is killing. Watching Lord Andrew kill is Mary’s foreplay. It is never said specifically but it is definitely implied.

The climax of the second issue is so well laid out, panel by panel, as Lord Andrew and Mary have it out in face to face combat. Just like Lord Andrew, Mary also has had 400 years to perfect her vampiric talents. This is not a case of a master and some neophyte dueling. These are masters of their powers going at it. Everything is move and counter move. Mary’s inner monologue reveals that this is what she wants, her well laid trap from issue one was dual layered. Lord Andrew has to fight her but her followers are there to allow for her escape. She knows that despite the sheer number of vampires there, that they have no chance against Lord Andrew given the mastery he has over his powers. This was her plan from the start. Lure Lord Andrew into battle and then have him kill a large force of vampires. How is that a plan exactly? Simple, that way she can spread the word about the rogue vampire that kills his own kind and make the most hated and sought after vampire amongst his species. Lord Andrew has become a marked man and that is what Mary, Queen of Blood wants.

Well damn, there I’ve laid out the first 2 issues of I, Vampire for you. You’ve got the story dammit, now go buy the book. Yes, I know you want DC to go to hell for treating its fanbase like it is disposable just to get new readers but if you boycott DC then you are missing just one of the best told stories out there. Hell it is one of the best drawn books out there too, with Andrea Sorrentino just killing it on every panel of this gorgeous goddamn comic. Great story and beautiful art make for GREAT comics people. So maybe the DCnU isn’t completely hopeless. Sure the new Catwoman is one of the worst comics to ever see print, essentially missing the point of the character. That doesn’t mean I, Vampire isn’t totally worth your money because it totally is!

The only question I have about this is: Couldn’t this story have been told without destroying the DC Universe?

*OK, I read ALL the #1 issues and still follow the Batman books. But I’m not paying for them. Read into that what you will.

**If anyone has topped Morrisson’s All-Star Superman or his run on Batman then I must’ve missed it.

***You know, before The Brave & The Bold animated series became the most fun I’ve had watching Batman since Adam West did the Bat-usi!

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #3: J. Jonah Jameson Comes Clean!

NOT The Moment You Think It Is!

I really wanted to sit and write something long and analytical about the death of Gwen Stacy for #3 on this list. I wanted to talk about what it meant to comics and meant to me personally. The problem with that is I didn’t read that story until years after the initial publication. Hell The Amazing Spider-Man #122-123 came out in 1973, I was only 16 months old when the story dropped originally. Even more important is that the story got referenced so much after it happened that to say I was shocked when I initially read it would pretty much be a lie. Everything I’ve listed so far in this has been something that upon first reading had an impact on me as a reader of comic books. Gwen Stacy dying didn’t have that kind of impact for me that it had for readers of the time it came out. By the time I finally got to read it, I knew what was coming. There was no shock or moment of realization that this was a shocking moment for Spider-Man and his fans. Thus I am going to save the 900+ words I’ve already written on “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” and finish that bad boy off another time as a special article.

So with having said this, what exactly is “POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #3??

It might not be as obvious as you think.

I decided that it definitely NEEDED to be a Spider-Man moment. The problem there is that Spider-Man just might be the one character that has so many truly great moments, more than even Superman and Batman, that picking his best moment or most shocking is truly nigh-impossible for any fan. Heavy reflection made me think of every Spidey story I’ve read since the age of 5 onward. It was in this reflection that I realized that one thing Spider-Man has that makes him such an incredible character isn’t just his adventures and rogues gallery. It’s his incredible supporting cast. From Aunt May debuting along with Spidey in Amazing Fantasy #15 all the way to the modern era with his now ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper, Spidey’s supporting cast is unmatched. The best member of Spidey’s supporting cast though is his longest nemesis. It isn’t a super-villain. It is none other than J. Jonah Jameson, the former Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of The Daily Bugle. One impression of JJJ would be a blowhard, one-note character based on his demeanor and how he has been portrayed for the most part. However, that impression actually covers a very well written and thought out character. A Character that, despite appearing to be a petty, vengeful, skinflint, is actually one of the most principled characters in all the Marvel Universe.

Yes, Jonah can come off as an arrogant ass. But his role of being an honest newspaper man is nearly unimpeachable. Yes, he has an irrational hatred of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man but part of that is his commitment to honesty. He hates the fact that Spider-Man and other vigilantes go around breaking the law, even if it is for the public’s benefit. He believes Spider-Man to be a glory-hound, who if he were an honest citizen that wanted to help wouldn’t have to wear a mask. Jonah is committed to the truth. J. Jonah Jameson believes all men are equal and that a group of individuals who put themselves above the law are a dangerous thing. Jonah isn’t evil. Hell if anything he is one of the most commendable citizens one could come across.

You need examples?

Backed the Civil Rights Movement?
Jonah did it!
Believes in the rights of Labor Unions?
Jonah backs them!
Supports Mutant Rights?
You’re damn right Jonah does!
Believes that the truth is paramount?
To J. Jonah Jameson, the truth is everything, just ask Ben Urich!

Ben Urich is arguably Jonah’s best investigative reporter at The Daily Bugle. Ben Urich has this nasty habit of doing pieces on one Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin of Crime. Ben Urich has had his personal safety and that of his family come under attack multiple times. Hell the Kingpin even had a contract killer try to kill Urich’s wife via hanging. Urich was ready to give up his investigation but Jonah wouldn’t let him. Jonah knew the risks Urich was taking but felt that as a reporter, The Truth, as a whole was more important that it was worth dying for. It was something that Jonah needed Urich to understand the importance of. It was only after watching Daredevil fight Nuke that Urich realized that, of all things Jonah was right. The Truth is what matters and the purpose of a journalist is to get to the truth.

Which brings us to how “The Truth” ruined J. Jonah Jameson and why it led to The Greatest Moment In Comics #3. You see, in the early years of Spider-Man’s careers, Jonah was so obsessed with exposing Spider-Man that he bankrolled an experiment to create a super-human. Of course that backfired as he chose an unscrupulous private investigator named Mac Gargan as the subject and hey this is comic books so of course nothing goes the way it is supposed to. Gargan is driven insane by the experiments and the end result is Jonah has bankrolled the creation of one of Spider-man‘s most well known villain’s in The Scorpion. This on top of other failed projects Jonah bankrolled over the years like the first half-dozen or so Spider-Slayers. Of course Jonah let his own vanity get in the way of his beloved Truth, so he covered up his involvement in these projects. If only Jonah knew he was actually in a comic book he would’ve known that somehow these cover-ups would have come to light eventually. Thanks to the original Hobgoblin, they almost did.

Say what you want about Norman Osborn being brought back from the dead in 1996, the fact of the matter is Osborn as the Green Goblin is Spider-Man’s greatest foe. Keeping him dead for 20+ years couldn’t have been easy for any writer on any Spidey book. Editorial mandate of the 1980s was simple though, Norman Osborn was dead and was to stay that way. Luckily, reworking the concept of the Green Goblin was fair game. Enter The Hobgoblin, a low-life who stumbled upon one of Norman’s old weapon caches and was killed by Spidey second-string villain Roderick Kingsley after showing Kingsley the treasure trove of weapons. Kingsley then went about trying to rebrand the old Green Goblin uniform and began looking for other weapon caches, thus bringing him into conflict with Spider-Man. One of these caches also contained a blackmail dossier, compiled by Norman Osborn, and that dossier had the facts about J. Jonah Jameson being responsible for the creation of The Scorpion. Thus armed with that information, Kingsley blackmailed some of the most powerful men in New York City, including Wilson Fisk. Kingsley gathered all the blackmalees together in order to ransom the information off only to have Spider-Man interrupt the auction. Of course since this is a Spider-Man fight with someone with the name “Goblin” in their name, a fight breaks out.

The fight isn’t what is important though. It is the aftermath of the auction that is. Realizing that if a psychopath like Hobgoblin could blackmail him based on old information Norman Osborn had, Jonah realizes that he cannot claim to be an advocate of “The Truth” about his role in the creation of The Scorpion. So Jonah resigns as Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Bugle and spills the beans in his last editorial. It is when Spider-Man, having barely defeated Hobgoblin, confronts Jonah after the auction that we get to see that rare J. Jonah Jameson moment of true humility.

The Truth Is What Counts!

So don’t be fooled and think Jonah is a one note character. He might be an antagonist for Spider-Man but he is by no means a villain. J. Jonah Jameson is a character with “Character”. No character in comics is more dedicated to “The Truth” than Jonah. He had the choice between lying to the world, as he had been doing for years, or come clean and by doing so save the reputation of the newspaper he spent a lifetime building (and also probably saving hundreds, if not thousands of jobs). He did a thoroughly dishonest thing and realized the only means by which to make amends for it was to adhere to the one thing that was most sacred to him… THE TRUTH!

Until Next Time Remember... SPIDER-MAN IS A MENACE!

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #4: Kevin Matchstick Accepts His Fate!

"A Hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself" - Joseph Campbell

There are “Firsts” that always stay with you. Your first love, your first Baseball game and the first piece of literature that you remember reading that really resonated with you are all things that come to mind (for me at least). I also count the first non-mainstream comic book series to actively blow me away amongst those experiences. I spent so many of my formative years growing up reading just mainstream DC and Marvel comics that I was oblivious to such things as alternative or independent comics. The mid-1980s was a most fascinating time in comics because the independent scene seemed to unexpectedly explode with new publishers and titles. This was the wave of creators, writers and artists, that gave us some pop culture icons (Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), some rather interesting explicit material (Cherry Poptart and Omaha The Cat Dancer) and one writer/artist’s insanely dense vision for what independent comics could be (Cerebus The Aardvark). Of course for every really great piece of independent comics material, there was plenty of derivative crap or awful attempt to re-invent the Superhero genre (pretty much anything put out by Continuity Comics). Then there are the true gems of Independent Comics, like Matt Wagner’s Mage: The Hero Discovered.

Now I am going to talk at length about Mage and why it is great but first I need to talk about the company that originally published the book and why they were important to comics in general. Comico (The Comic Company), was a small publisher out of Norristown, Pennsylvania, started by friends Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta. Starting as a black and white comic publisher, they were responsible for many well known writers and artists getting their first or earliest breaks. This includes writers like Bill Willingham (the architect of Fables) and Mike W. Barr (who had a run with a lesser known character you may have heard of called Batman). They complemented this with artists who would become fan favorite throughout the 80s and 90s. Names like Adam Hughes, Bernie Mireult and Steve Rude. They also had a talented young writer/artist named Matt Wagner. Wagner made his debut in Comico Primer #2, where the comic world was introduced to Grendel for the first time.

Grendel was an anti-hero, a ruthless assassin who worked to control the East Coast Mafia while being opposed by a cursed Native American werewolf named Argent who worked with the NYPD (trust me it isn’t nearly as goofy as it sounds). That was the simplest form of the story imaginable. Grendel was supposed to get its own series, but plans on that got nixed due budgetary reasons. What ended up happening was Grendel became a back-up story… in Mage: The Hero Discovered!

Make no mistake; Mage put Matt Wagner and Comico on the map. Yes Comico was churning out titles like Justice Machine and The Elementals monthly. Hell they were putting out 6 monthly issues of Robotech over 3 separate series and I’m not talking reprinting manga. Comico HIRED actual Western comics professionals to mimic the art styles of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Calvary Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada, the 3 TV shows from Japan that comprised the western adaptation of Robotech. Still, it was Mage that made the hardcore comic book fans sit up and take notice. It seemed to be the perfect wish fulfillment story. It was well illustrated and tightly written, and had characters that you just had to see what happened to in the next issue. It was what you wanted your perfect comic book story to be. Wagner entered into partnership with Comico for the rights to Mage, each party getting 50% ownership of the property. Outside of self-publishing, no creator was given a greater deal with his publisher that I can think of. Of course good things for Comcio didn’t last and by the early 90s they were bankrupt and what would’ve been their biggest project (Wagner’s Batman/Grendel) sat on the shelf until 1993 when the rights for Grendel and Mage reverted back to Wagner, giving him 100% control. Make no mistake though, Mage helped build Comico into the #3 Comic company in the early 80s, before that position was assumed by Dark Horse and Image in the 90s.

Now that we’ve discussed Comico, the next Question is: what is Mage: The Hero Discovered?

Mage: The Hero Discovered was like Matt Wagner took every wish fulfillment superhero story and then fused it with Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth. It took the tale of a common man put into uncommon situations that end up being the catalyst for discovering what his true calling in life is supposed to be. It is a journey of self and an exploration of heroic themes that go back ages, to stories that were around before any of us were born. Mage is an old tale in modern clothing and yet doesn’t feel like something that has been rehashed. In the end What Mage: The Hero Discovered is, is Matt Wagner weaving a tale that is so rich, romantic and fun that it just might be the best comic series ever published. I say that with no small sense of hyperbole. Mage: The Hero Discovered is amazing. It gives you a hero you can relate to, villains that scare you and an ending so satisfying that you sit there at the end smiling with a warm fuzzy feeling. Mage: The Hero Discovered is like getting laid by a comic book. It is that good!

Oh you want the story?

Kevin Matchstick is a man, who by his own account is very much alone. He views himself as isolated and covers up his own isolation by being loud and rambunctious. He confesses this to a man he meets for the first time on the street. It is Mirth who questions Matchstick’s isolation with the question of “Are you sure your life is worth so very little?”. From that moment you know Matchstick’s life is going to change. He breaks up what he thinks is a mugging of a homeless man only to find out he is fighting something not quite human. Even more surprising is when Matchstick, much to his own bewilderment, punches a hole in a brick wall during the fight. The fight ends with the mugger running away and Matchstick returning home, only to find the man he opened up to earlier sitting in his apartment. The man is Mirth, a mage, who explains to Matchstick what exactly he fought earlier and how it wasn’t a simple mugging. No, he fought one of the Grackleflint brothers, Agents of a Great Evil that, simply by acting against them, Matchstick has now found himself involved in conflict with. In fact after Mirth leaves Matchstick’s apartment, Matchstick encounters 2 more of the brothers at a local diner and ends up brawling with them on the subway.

This all happens in the first issue. The last panel of the first issue is Matchstick crashing out of a subway window with another train coming at him head-on from the opposite direction. I shouldn’t have to explain that Matchstick lives after that experience. He not only lives but encounters Mirth again, who agrees to guide him through the coming conflict. His nemesis is a being called the Umbra-sprite. The Grackleflints serve him, as do many other supernatural beings. You, as the reader, know that Mirth is only giving Matchstick enough information along the way because there is going to be some awful revelation later. Still Matchstick and Mirth join the fight, picking up allies like the girl named Edsel, whose baseball bat gets enchanted with magical energy by Mirth and Sean, the Public Defender who turns out is dead. But remember, this is a hero’s journey of self and in turn the hero always suffers loss along the way. It is this loss that brings us to Mage’s Moment that gives it the #4 spot as one of Comics Greatest Moments.

There Are Times...

The moment happens in Mage: The Hero Discovered #14 but it is the events of issue #13 leading up to it that put things in motion. Matchstick, Mirth and Edsel are attacked by a deranged man who had been given an enchanted stapler by the Umbrasprite resulting in Edsel getting shot. In the fray, her baseball bat that was enchanted by Mirth falls to the ground. Matchstick grabs it and uses it to beat their assailant. The aftermath is heart wrenching, as Matchstick demands Mirth help Edsel, who is on the ground dying from her wounds. Mirth explains to Matchstick that he cannot, it is Edsel’s fate to die at that moment just as she has died before while aiding Matchstick in his previous life. From the moment Matchstick met Mirth the 2 became friends, but Matchstick never stopped to ask himself why he stopped to speak to some seeming vagabond for no good reason. Mirth had been keeping secrets from Matchstick the whole time, mainly for Matchstick’s own protection.

But the moment Kevin Matchstick finally came into contact with the enchanted baseball bat, everything Mirth had been hiding became known to Kevin Matchstick. Kevin Matchstick is the re-incarnation of Arthur Pendragon and the glowing baseball bat is more than just enchanted, it is his weapon reborn in a new form, it is the holy sword Excalibur. Edsel was the re-incarnation of the Lady of The Lake, bearing Excalibur for him until he was ready to accept his destiny and become the hero he was meant to be.

You Just Cannot Deny...

Everything unravels for Kevin Matchstick at that point. He questions everything he had been doing up to that point, fighting the impossible, battling Grackleflints and even a dragon. He accepted those things not because he wanted to but because it was impossible NOT to believe it since he was living the experience. It is accepting that he isn’t entirely the master of his own destiny, that this was all fate that he has trouble coping with. For this he has Mirth, who has a counterpoint for every argument Matchstick has. Mirth can do this because he has lived through this experience as well, he knew what was going to happen for he is Merlin and is cursed with the knowledge of Matchstick’s heroic quest. Thus with all the arguments he could make countered by Mirth, Matchstick resolves that it isn’t about fighting against fate but about doing what is right. He has already been involved in the events until now so it is his obligation to see it through to the end. With that resolve in mind, Kevin Matchstick approaches the Excalibur-bat that is embedded in a dumpster due to the fight, and in one of the grandest symbolic moments in comics, accepts his fate.


Mind you, that isn’t the end of Kevin Matchstick’s story but it is the moment that sticks out most clearly as being the important moment. Everything that has been discussed about the Hero’s journey culminates in that moment when Kevin Matchstick finally takes everything that is going on around him seriously. It is essentially him growing up right there, in that exact moment. The symbolism in that moment is multi-layered, as good symbolism is. The bat coming out of the dumpster is an allusion to the sword in the stone, but it is also about taking responsibility of one’s self and one’s actions. It is about taking all the shortcomings and faults Kevin Matchstick finds within himself and accepting them so he can overcome them, so he can become not just a better hero, but a better human being. I love Mage:The Hero Discovered for this symbolism, for this playing with the concept of Campbell’s themes and Arthurian legend, and making them deeply psychological upon reflection.

Whether all of that was Matt Wagner’s intent is uncertain, though he has alluded to Mage, as a whole, being not just about Kevin Matchstick’s journey as hero but Wagner’s own journey and growth as a creator and person. In essence, Matt Wagner and Kevin Matchstick are one and the same. How utterly fitting, especially given the nature of the wish fulfillment aspect of Mage. I mean who doesn’t want to be King Arthur in some regards? Hey I’ve read Mort D’Arthur multiple times. Being King Arthur is no picnic but it is the ideal of King Arthur and what that represents to a child’s sense of adventure and imagination that matters. How that ideal applies to Kevin Matchstick, and Matt Wagner, is about maturation, albeit on a totally epic scale through the perfect medium for young boys to digest, comic books. I keep re-reading Mage: The Hero Discovered and I keep pulling back the layers to reveal depth I didn’t realize any of the previous times I’ve read it. Isn’t that proof enough of its greatness?

The scary part is Mage: The Hero Discovered is only the first part of a concienved trilogy that also includes Mage: The Hero Defined, which finally saw print in 1997 and the as yet unpublished (or even started on, as far as fans know) Mage: The Hero Denied. When it all finally sees its end, I truly believe Mage will stand os one of those crowning achievements of comics. Deeper in subtext than Watchmen and Wagner himself will be held in the same breath as the greats like Will Eisner and Alex Toth. So Matt Wagner’s journey is not done yet, which is kind of a good thing because it means that neither is Kevin Matchstick’s.

The Hero's Journey Remains Unfinished...

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #5: Wolverine Cries

Look At This Cover And Try Telling Me Some Shit Ain't Going Down!

I didn’t always hate Wolverine as a character. Hell there was a time he was my second favorite X-Man after Cyclops. Then something happened in the late 1980s, you couldn’t fucking escape Wolverine. He was in every damn Marvel comic, sometimes not even really serving a purpose othe than to put him on the cover to boost sales. It was this constant overexposure that made Wolverine my second least favorite X-Man ever, right behind Gambit. Man do I fucking hate Gambit… er… where was I?

The Defining Wolverine Issue - Uncanny X-Men #133

I cannot pinpoint the comic where I started loathing Wolverine but I can definitely pinpoint where my appreciation for him was at its apex. Uncanny X-Men issues 172-173. These comics followed up the dangling story points from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s amazing Wolverine 4 issue mini-series. Wolverine had been easily the mos popular characer overall since The X-Men came back from their forced hiatus with Giant Size X-Men #1. He was given the huge spotlight issue during the Hellfire Club/Dark Pheonix Saga in Uncanny X-Men 133. In it Wolvverine keeps his promise to get revenge on the Hellfire Club for ambushing the X-Men and he does so by just beating the hell out of everything in his path. The highlight comes early in the issue as one Hellfire Club agent is left alone with Wolverine and our man Logan taunts him into surrendering. It is was really the first time we, as readers, saw Wolverine use just his ability to talk to win a fight and it was pretty damn sweet.

So it went from that point onward, Wolverine was the official badass of The Marvel Universe. He was portrayed as this little berserker that when he entered a fight, could change the odds in the X-Men’s favor. But writer Chris Claremont had bigger ideas for Wolverine. Thus Wolverine travelled to Japan after the X-Men came back to Earth following their litle war in space with the Brood (Uncanny X-Men 155-168). See, before the X-Men went through the harrowing experience of having to kill Jean Grey, they had been to Japan to fight Moses Magnum. It’s better if you don’t ask who Moses Magnum is, he isn’t that important. The person who is important was Mariko Yashida, the daughter of Yakuza crimelord Shingen Yashida. It is Mariko who Wolverine becomes utterly smitten with and spends the entire 4 issue Wolverine miniseries trying to free from her father’s clutches. Our boy Logan succeeds and the mini-series ends with the wedding invitation of He and ariko being recieved by the X-Men in Westchester.

Ladies & Genltman...

Uncanny X-Men 172 picks up a few weeks later, as the rest of the X-Men arrive in Japan for the wedding. Needless to say shit goes south fast, as the Yakuza poison the X-Men and kidnap Mariko, thus leaving only Wolverine and Rogue, who only just joined the team 2 issues ago, as the last X-Men standing. The Yakuza don’t want Mariko, as Shingen’s only heir, to takeover the Yashida clan since she wants them to go legit. Instead the Yakuza would rather her cousin, Kenuichio Harada aka third string Daredevil nemesis The Silver Samurai, take the post since he has ties to Hydra via his partner Lady Viper (though this is during her “Just Viper” phase). So Uncanny X-Men 173 is all about Wolverine tearing apart Tokyo to get to Silver Samurai. Rogue is along for the ride, essentially playing the role Spider-Man would play if Spider-Man went to Tokyo with Wolverine i.e. wise-cracking smart-ass. It’s really all Wolverine will let Rogue do since he still had not learned to trust her at this point, what with her being an ex-member of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants just being the tip of the iceberg.

Panel For Panel...

So after ripping every Yakuza owned business in Tokyo to shreds, he finally has his big showdown with Silver Samurai in one of the BEST comic book fights of the 80s. Its 3 pages of 2 guys just beating the crap out of each other. In other words, everything a great comic book fight should be. Even more impressive is that Silver Samurai gives as good as he gets in it. I mean this guy was barely a Daredevil villain and in 3 pages Chris Claremeont and artist Paul Smith have him go toe-to-toe with Wolverine, who at that point was the BADASS of Badasses at Marvel. Still, this is Wolverine, the character that was quickly becoming as much a poster-boy for Marvel as Spider-Man was. Ain’t no way our boy Logan was losing to The Silver Samurai. Even worse, this is Wolverine in one of his most brutal fights so you know he is going into it with the killing mindset, which is probably the most realisitc Wolverine had been written up to that point. I mean the guy had his friends poisoned and fiancee kidnapped just so the Yakuza could have ties to Hydra. So when it comes time for the coup-de-grace, Logan has no qualms about ending Silver Samurai once and for all.

One Of The GREATEST Fights In All Of Comics!

Of course there has to be a fly in the ointment and that fly is Mariko Yashida herself. With Silver Samurai at her mercy, she pleads with Logan for his life. Wolverine points out that by letting him live, this kind of thing will keep happening. Mariko points out that Harada has been shamed and will do what is necessary to redeem his honor (i.e. serve her willingly as her protector). That’s when Viper appears and unloads her laser pistol right at Wolverine and Mariko. It looks like its curtains for Wolverine and Mariko… but then it is Rogue to the rescue as she outraces the laser bolt and takes the shot for the two lovers, even shoving them into a separate room for safety. Viper keeps unloading until her pistol overloads, forcing her to retreat via teleportation but the damage she left behind actually seriously messes Rogue up. It was at that point Rogue earned Wolverine’s trust. It was also one of the last time I liked Rogue as a character as she went from being this scared little girl trying control her powers and deal with having absorbed Carol Danvers psyche/personality in Avengers Annual #10 to becoming a sexpot southern girl who can’t actually touch people. See how the latter personality is incongruous with the actual powers? Oh Chris Claremont and his wacky dichotomy of writing characters.

So Rogue ends up in the Hospital, Viper gets away and the X-Men go ahead with Wolverine’s very Japanese wedding ceremony. Of course, this is Superhero comics, which are just soap operas for little boys (with lots of punching). Even in a little boy’s soap opera a wedding is not going off without a hitch. The hitch here is that someone has hypnotized Mariko to stop the wedding right before the exchanging of vows. Her excuse? Logan-san is not worthy of her. She pretty much calls him an animal right in front of all the X-Men and her family (who were no doubt thrilled their clanswoman was choosing to marry a Gaijin) and then just walks off. The X-Men are stunned and each offer their sincerest apologies to Wolverine. The last page is just downright heartbreaking. Wolverine and Mariko pass each other, no words spoken between the two, then we see who is really responsible for this… Mastermind! This was during his evil little revenge scheme for what Jean Grey did to him during the Dark Phoenix Saga. Then the last panel of the page hits us… a single teardrop rolls down Wolverine’s cheek.

Even The Toughest Guys Get Their Hearts Broken

I was 12 or 13 when this comic hit the stands and to this day, it still brings a tear to my eye. It was the only time that I’ve felt sorry for Wolverine. He had the love of his life not only reject him but do it in public and demeaning him by calling him that which he struggled not to be. It was a giant gut-punch that knocked the wind out of me emotionally as a reader becasue here was this character I really liked letting his feelings for someone all hang out. He thought she accepted him for who he was, for what he went through just to be with her. Instead she tore his out and crushed it under her heel. Sure, the fallout from this all tied into the now famous “From The Ashes…” storyline. It was a storyline that really fucked with the X-Men on an emotional level by using the memories of the then dead Jean Grey against them. But this, this was really heart-wrenching thing to do to a favorite character. It was almost killing Gwen Stacy bad… almost. Wolverine cried in Uncanny X-Men 173. For that alone, it is a Great Moment in Comics. The fact that entire issue is first page to last AMAZING… well shit, that’s just icing on the cake!

Until Next Time...

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics #6: The Death of Guardian (He Got Better)

Alpha Flight Vol. 1 No. 12 - Someone's Gonna Die

There was a time when the best writer/artist in all of comics was John Byrne. Byrne and Chris Claremont made Uncanny X-Men Marvel’s hot book in the late 70s and early 80s. Byrne made The Fantastic Four the funnest comic book on the stands again simply by making it a giant love letter to the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby FF. John Byrne made us give a shit about Alpha Flight.

Wait… WHAT?


Yes, that team of Canadian Superheroes that can’t even make it past a full year on the stands in the new millennium was once one of the hottest comics of the 80s. John Byrne was the reason why. He took a throwaway concept from a two appearance stint in Uncanny X-Men and made it into one of the most entertaining comics for almost 3 years. He did this by spending the first year of the title telling individual stories of the team members of Alpha Flight. That’s right he gave you, the reader, solo stories for the first 10 issues in what was billed as a team comic book.

At least, that is how it seemed. The fact was Byrne was stringing the reader along for much of the first year of Alpha Flight’s run. He made you care about most of the characters. He was building to something that everyfan knew was going to go down in the twelfth issue of the series. Somehow, by issue 8 everyone who was reading Alpha Flight knew that someone on the team was going to die. Most fans had the annoying Marinna pegged for death because… well because no one really liked or cared about Marinna. All I knew was that if they killed Guardian, Puck, Shaman, Sasquatch or Snowbird I was going to be pissed. That right there is 5/8ths of Alpha Flight. That means I was pretty much A-OK with them killing Northstar, Aurora or Marinna.

Issue 12 hit the stands and grabbed it right away. I got sucked into the fight between Alpha Flight and their evil doppelganger group Omega Flight. The formation of Omega Flight had been a subplot brewing since issue 5, it was all part of a scheme by Jerome Jaxson to get revenge on Guardian for getting him fired from Department H. See Department H was the branch of the Canadian Government that dealt with superpowered individuals and was responsible for the formation of Alpha Flight. Jaxson blamed Guardian for costing him his job simply because Alpha Flight decided to go freelance and not be government operatives anymore.

So Jaxson assembled a crew of Department H castoffs and formed Omega Flight to essentially KILL Alpha Flight simply because he lost his cushy government job. The Omega Flight/Alpha Flight throwdown lasted the whole issue. But the moment everyone reading the book was waiting for was building. Page after page it was one big fight. Finally Guardian squared off with Box, a robot Guardian thought was controlled by his good friend Madison Jeffries. Imagine his surprise when Box revealed that it wasn’t Jeffries controlling Box but Jaxson.

Desperate Times...

Locked in an desperate fight, Guardian yanked on Box’s power supply which led to a big explosion. Box was totaled, Jaxson was fried and Guardian found himself in mortal danger as the power supply to his own power suit was about to go blammo. John Byrne did a marvelous job for a whole page of showing Guardian combing through his damaged suit/costume to get to the power supply in his costume which is still clinging to his body. Finally he gets to it with just a second to spare but then the unfortunate happens.

Guardian’s wife Heather, who had been kidnapped by Jaxson a few issues earlier, stumbles into other room, having escaped her own captivity. Guardian is totally caught off guard by this development and he then… well… see for yourself…

Guardian Goes Boom!

I was twelve when Alpha Flight #12 and it blew my mind. I mean Guardian died, right there on the last page. There was no denying it, he fucking blew up. I was pretty pissed off by that last page. I was so pissed off that I stopped buying Alpha Flight altogether. I still would read it but never again would I pay for it. Good thing too, because John Byrne decided that he had to fuck with the fans again by bringing Guardian back only to bait and switch the readers again by revealing it wasn’t really Guardian but Jaxson’s evil female robot rebuilt to look like Guardian. Man I love the fact I can write that last sentence and have it make some sort of sense because I’m talking about a comic book. I have to give John Byrne credit, when he wanted to fuck with his reader base he did it in a major way. Hell there is part of me that thinks Grant Morrison read Byrne’s Alpha Flight and that gave him the idea for the bait and switch with the Xorn/Magneto story in New X-Men 20 almost years later. That is one of the things about John Byrne as a writer that I loved, he could give you, as a reader, hop and then quickly dash that hope against the rocks of betrayal. I hated that John Byrne killed Guardian. Of course I didn’t hate him enough to stop reading the other books he was writing and drawing at the time, he just got me to stop buying one very specific book.

Eventually Guardian did come back for real. Byrne eventually left Alpha Flight and that book never quite regained its fan favorite appeal that it had in its first year. Hell since then Alpha Flight has been stated and been cancelled so many times that I’ve lost count. I’m pretty sure every member of Alpha Flight has died at least once and half the team has been brought back to life at least twice. The difference between Alpha Flight now and Alpha Flight when John Byrne wrote and drew it is this, as reader I was emotionally invested in Alpha Flight and its cast of somewhat goofy and slightly racist superheroes (What? You’re telling me Shaman ISN’T a giant Native American stereotype?). Now, every time Marvel dusts off Alpha Flight my reaction is “Really? Again?”. It is a “been there, done that” mentality and every writer that has tackled Alpha Flight since Byrne has to try and measure up to Byrne’s run on the book and that is a pretty high standard to live up to. It is the equivalent of trying to top the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four. Sure a writer can tell an EPIC FF story but can his entire run on FF math the imagination and quality of Lee/Kirby’s run on the title? Can it at least be as fun as Byrne’s or Walter Simonson’s?

I mean people have been trying to match Chris Claremont’s X-Men run for the last 20 years and all it got us for the most part were some pretty shitty X-Men stories, though X-Men for the last few years has finally had that stink of a quality comic book about it again for a few years now. This is the curse of any writer taking up the reins of a once mighty franchise. They aren’t taking up something new, no matter what they think they are doing. They are taking up a mantle of every writer that has written those characters before they got their mitts on them. In the case of Alpha Flight it is matching him at the peak of his prowess and that my friends is a mighty task. To anyone trying to measure to Byrne’s Alpha Flight run all I can say is… Good luck!

Until Next Time...

POW~! Presents The 7 Greatest Moments In Comics History #7: Mon-El Reboots The Legion of Super-Heroes

Legion of Super-Heroes vol.4 no.4 My Favorite LSH Comic EVER!

I love The Legion of Super-Heroes a whole bunch. The concept is so simple yet far-reachingly epic that it was so ahead of its time for the Silver Age of Comics. I mean a group of teenagers from different planets in the 30th Century are inspired by the memory of Superman to form a club and fight evil throughout the universe. How can that not be awesome?

The problem was the origin of the LSH was so entangled in Superboy/Superman mythology that when DC reset everything after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, the Legion became a major stumbling block. The Legion looked to Superboy as a key inspiration but post-Crisis DC clearly stated that Superman never had a career as Superboy. So where the hell did the Legion come from then? How could you erase Superboy from continuity yet STILL have The Legion of Super-Heroes?

DC was left with so many post-Crisis continuity hiccups, the Legion was just the tip of the iceberg. Add to this that Legion of Super-Heroes was still a flagship title for DC in the mid-80s. They used both LSH and The New Teen Titans to launch the concept of the Direct Market i.e. comic books that were not available on newsstands but only available at the growing Comic Book Shop trade (i.e. your local comic book shop). To put it more simply, The Legion of Super-Heroes sold comics and in turn made money for DC.

Eventually The Legion’s popularity waned and the main book was cancelled. But this didn’t solve the continuity error of why the Legion existed. Enter Keith Giffen, the madman of modern superhero comics. Giffen had come to acclaim as the main artist on Legion of Super-Heroes during one of its most popular stories before the direct market experiment. The story was The Great Darkness Saga, Giffen and writer Paul Levitz great epic that incorporated Jack Kirby’s New Gods into the Legion mythos. DC gave Giffen the keys to Legion of Super-Heroes hoping he could clean up the mess that DC’s own editorial team couldn’t.

The End of An Era – The Death Of The Golden/Silver Age Superboy

Giffen took a cue from a 3 part story involving Superman and the Legion, which was the first post-Crisis attempt to fix Superboy conundrum. A big part of the Legion’s history involves them being able to time travel. So the solution was to say that every time the Legion went back in time to hang out with Superboy, they were in fact visiting a pocket dimension created by their nemesis The Time Trapper. It turns out The Time Trapper, who controls all time past, present and future, had manipulated the time stream to actually CREATE the Legion, because without the Legion their Arch-Nemesis Mordru would have ended up as ruler of the 30th century.

This brings us to the problem of Mon-El. Mon-El was introduced in 1961 in a Superboy story where a rocket from Krypton crashed near Smallville. Of course Superboy investigates and finds someone inside the rocket complete with a note from Jor-El. The traveller was roughly Superboy’s age, so in one of those leaps of logic that only seems to happen in DC Comics during the Silver Age, Superboy assumes this is his long lost brother. We also discover that Superboy wasn’t the most outside the box thinker, as he decides to name his new “Brother” Mon-El because he is of the house of El and Superboy found him on a Monday.

The story unfolds and it turns out that Mon-El is not Superboy’s brother, but rather an explorer from Krypton’s sister planet Daxam named Lar Gand. The problem is that even though both planets were under the red sun of Rao and give both Kryptonians and Daxamites the same powers, Daxamites do not share Kryptonians vulnerability to Kryptonite. Instead their weakness is lead. Needless to say, Earth is not the place for Mon-El. Dying from lead poisoning, Mon-El regains his full memory and reveals that it was Jor-El who gave him a map to get to Earth but the rocket he was in was damaged as Krypton exploded. Superboy doesn’t have time to whip up a cure for lead poisoning , so instead he has an alternate plan to save Mon-El’s life… Banish him to The Phantom Zone until he can devise a cure.

Now Superboy doesn’t have time to devise a cure for lead poisoning, so he eventually lets the Legion know that Mon-El is in the Phantom Zone and to use his Phantom Zone generator in the Legion’s club house to set him free. Thus Mon-El ends up in the 30th century, gets a cure for lead poisoning and becomes a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. All is well right?

Hold on there true believers, Mon-El was a pre-Crisis creation and should have no bearing on the post-Crisis DC Universe. Hence the pocket dimension idea coupled with the Time Trapper comes into play. Add to this right before the core Legion book got cancelled, Mon-El had actually died during a major story arc. Once again, enter Keith Giffen.

Giffen had restarted the Legion with a new series set 5 years after the end of the previous series. The Legion has disbanded, the Earth is secretly under the control of the alien Dominators and the Universe is on the edge of economic collapse not to mention war with Mordru and the alien Khunds. So what does Keith Giffen do?

Bring back Mon-El. See since Mon-El, and his origin, was part of the pocket universe, he can be directly manipulated by The Time Trapper. It is in Volume 4 issue 4 of Legion of Super-Heroes that Mon-El returns and confronts the Time Trapper once and for all. After beating the Time Trapper within an inch of his life, the Time Trapper points out that Mon-El cannot kill him, because doing so means that not only would Mon-El never exist but the pocket universe would never have existed either. No pocket universe means no Superboy and no Superboy means The Legion never exists and Mordru rules all.

Mon-El has 2 choices, let The Time Trapper live so the Legion can carry on under his manipulation or kill The Time Trapper and let the time stream reboot itself to what it should be. Knowing it is an ultimate no-win situation, Mon-El chooses to live free and be no man’s slave, no matter the consequences.

Mon-El’s Decision: Great Comic Moment #7

So why is this The 7th Greatest Moment In Comics?

It was the first logical story someone tried to tell that really attempted to clean-up the mess leftover from Crisis On Infinite Earths. Keith Giffen (along with Tom and Mary Bierbaum) really tried to fix the mistakes of rebooting Superman’s backstory. The Legion of Super-Heroes was one of those little problems that ended up being a big problem. Remember that this was attempt number 2 to fix the Superman/Legion problem, which means the first attempt failed miserably and in the process finally killed the Golden age/Silver Age version of Superboy (which would be my #8 moment by the way). Sure, it took only a few years and crappy mega-event or 2 to undo all the good work Giffen did to try and fix the issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes even existing. It doesn’t change the fact that no one did it as successfully or as sensically as Giffen did.

God, continuity fixes that make sense?

A story that draws on a comic company’s rich storied past to tell a great overall tale?

A satisfying end and simultaneous rebirth to a long loved franchise in comics?

Hard to believe we are talking about DC Comics isn’t it?

20 Years later and DC is still trying to fix the Legion of Super-Heroes. I really hope after all this “Relaunch” nonsense we can get back to what he Legion was shaping to be, one of the BEST comics on the main DC roster. Maybe DC should look to the past for inspiration and just have Keith Giffen run the show again. It can only mean great story telling and in the end, that is what the Legion of Super-Heroes has always thrived on.

Until Next Time, I’ll leave you with a proper send off for this article…


POW! Returns or Yet Anoter List!

Comic Books have been a huge part of my life. I can honestly say that in my 39 years on this planet that 34 of them have been spent reading Comic Books. No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of reading material and it’s not like I haven’t been picky. I mean I’ve been through the DC implosion of the 70s, the Marvel eruption of the 80s, 2 decades worth of the Independent Boom and the God Awful 90s. I’ve watched Superboy and Supergirl die twice each, The Avengers break-up and re-assemble more times than I can count and the Justice League do the same yet at even greater frequency.

Hell do you know just how many Aquaman relaunches I’ve had to go through?

So I was sitting here pondering on comics and wondered with the thousands upon thousands of comics I have read and re-read over the years, which individual comics rate above the others? I’m not talking storylines mind you but individual issues of any given series. Is it something that occurred in the middle of a specific story? Was it a standalone issue? Was it a particular character’s death that really stood out? Sweet crap! Just what the best individual issues in all of comics?

Of course this can only mean it is time for yet another Brave Blog List. I determined the number of individual comic books that will be discussed will be 7. This number was selected in the most Democratic way possible. I rolled a D20. Thank God I didn’t get something like 18 or this list would take forever. So over the next few weeks you, my dear readers, will be privy to POW! Presents: The 7 All Time Greatest Individual Comic Issues. This little project is going to take some serious thought and there might even be some comics that many of you will be surprised I chose. Either way this will be fun. O many comics to consider, not enough memory in my head to remember them all. Hell there is a good chance that this will end up being a very 80s heavy list, though the 60s have so much Lee/Kirby awesome moments that I might just have to save them for their own separate list at a later time.

7 Comics to be discussed at length, an experiment that should give you a more than good idea as to what I like in my comic books. I’ll keep this as clean as possible, so no issues of Cherry Poptart will be reviewed (also no Omaha The Cat Dancer either). I’ll definitely shy away from Manga as counting Tankoban’s is just choosing one graphic novel that first saw print in another format first. This also means reprint anthologies are right out, no matter how many volumes of Adventure Comics Digest I bought between the ages of 10 and 13. I’m debating whether to also leave out any and all DC War Comics because there is just no such thing as a bad DC War Comic and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty Pinko Commie!

So sit tight Brave Blog Backers! POW! Comics Presents The 7 Greatest Individual Comics Of All Time is coming your way!

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