Friday, June 29, 2007

The Longbox of Love

Three comics posts in a row. I know I know. I'll do some Fresno stuff over the weekend. This is the first part of my multi-part series I call "The Longbox of Love"

A little background before we begin. I have been collecting comics for the better part of 30 years now, But I don't really collect. I read. I usually read my new books and then toss them or give them to someone else to read. The reason is simple. I don't want my house getting overrun with longboxes full of comics. I'd much rather have the space for DVD's, Books, and Superman paraphernalia. Aside from what has come out the last couple of weeks, the only comics I have are in 3 and half longboxes. These are comics that I really really liked and I re-read, or stuff that I thought was really good but that has not been collected into a trade yet. These boxes are mostly in order by title but not totally. I don't bag and board my comics so they are a little aged looking. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what is in these boxes and talk a bit about why I still have these particular issues.

Right out of the gate is one of the classic titles from the Silver and Bronze age

My second favorite superhero, Aquaman is featured here. Over the years, many heroes have been featured in runs on Adventure. Whenever I find one in a quarter bin I snag it. None of these stories had any continuity so if you just needed a quick fix of Aquaman (and lets face it, who doesn't?) it totally lets you ride the dragon. It is amazing how many big names from the era worked on these books. I think this one was Jim Aparo. Neal Adams, Camine Infantino, Dick Dillon, all of them did time on Adventure.

Oh Animal Man how I love you so. My second favorite run of a comic book ever. Animal Man broke all the rules in terms of storytelling and subject matter. This storyline was about experimenting on animals. This was the first regular run on an American book for Grant Morrison and just wow! You could not read this book and not get invested in Buddy as a character. Looking through my issues here, I am reminded how Buddy hardly ever won any of his battles. I don't mean that he always got the crapolla knocked out of him, which happened a lot, but if he was trying to save some animals or stop some corporate evil, in the end, the bad guys seemed to always go on. This has been coming out in trades so I may unload my floppies.

I have a wide variety of Aquaman books. This one features his two main rivals, Black Manta and Ocean Master. I'm having a hard time thinking of another Aquaman villain. Hmm... Aquaman fought a lot of Aliens and rebel Atlantean's. He never had an A List rogues gallery like Batman or Flash. But he sure could ride the dolphins!

Arsenic Lullaby. Mmmm. This title still comes out every now and again. Definitely not for everyone. Even though this has been traded (I have the trade), I hang onto my floppies to show my friends. Without any sex or bad language, Arsenic Lullaby manages to be more offensive than anything written by Garth Ennis. Here is a tame sample:

Man. By the way, what you are seeing on that cover up there is a dumpster full of aborted fetuses. They were re-animated to do the bidding of a Voodoo Priest named Joe. He uses them to fetch his beer and ruin lives. Yes. Arsenic Lullaby.

Astro City! What a great book this used to be. This happens to be issue 1/2 which was the Astroverse version of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Astro City was amazing because it managed to tell two stories in every arc. There was always the surface story which was usually about classic superhero action like fighting aliens or beating up bank robbers.

But underneath were these really powerful themes and allusions. For example; for me, the greatest arc in Astro City was the one that revolved around The Confessor. The Confessor was a superhero that was secretly a vampire. Through the arc, the reader is slowly let in on his secrets and you follow him as he evades hero and villain alike while training his young ward, Altar Boy (Best Sidekick name EVAR). But while all this is going on, there is a secret alien invasion going on, one which ultimately is foiled by The Confessor. The story of the aliens is moved along by background noise from TV news casts and newspaper headlines. The theme is trust. Who can you trust? A vampire who poses as a hero or an alien invader posing as your friend? I'm not doing it justice but it's complex. Read the original run of Astro City.

I knew there was some Marvel stuff in here somewhere. If you are an Avengers fanboy, this series was written for you. An epic tale of the Avengers moving though the ages to defeat Immortus. Along the way we see virtually every avenger ever. We are also introduced to the new Captain Marvel who was so cool they gave him his own series soon after this ended. Gorgeous Carlos Pacheco art. Has this been collected? I would love this in an absolute just for the art.

Superman is hands down my favorite character in comics (my number two is showing up in the next part(notice I differentiate between fav superhero and fav character (notice my third parenthetical reference))) but I am amazed by how much Batman crap I have. I guess I like a good story, no matter who is in it. No Mans Land was an interesting event. The main event was that an earthquake hits Gotham and the damage is so bad, the government puts up a barricade and closes the city off from the rest of the country. DUMB! Next thing you know superheroes will be fighting over registration.

From this dumb idea sprang a few months of amazing stories. All four Batman books had standalone stories of heroes and normal people surviving within the walls of Gotham. Heartbreaking stories. Rucka was definitely on top of his game for this one. I think these have now been collected in trades.

This was the followup series to The Long Halloween. Loeb and Sale create magic when they are on their game. This was such a rich story. So much of this tale is focused on Gotham's crime families. There are long parts where Batman is not even in it. I won't get too into the story but if you like The Long Halloween, you must read this and Catwoman: When in Rome. Both focus on the aftermath of Long Halloween.

Loeb/Lee Batman was a let down story wise. But it sure was pretty! I think the nest part was that Batman and Catwoman finally hook up. This marks the first appearance of Wayne-Tech footwear. That alone indicates I should have it graded.

Brubaker on Catwoman was one of my all time favorite runs of a regular book. What is great about Brubaker is that he can step into a character with an established history, and write great stories within the framework of what is there. He is not like Judd Winnick who has to re-invent some major aspect of a character to write a story (usually involving someone dying of AIDS or coming back from the dead or both). Great dialogue and early in the run he, had Darwin Cooke on the art. I know most of these are traded now and I urge you to check them out.

I know in one of the my other boxes the original Birds of Prey mini's are in there. I loved Birds of Prey when it first came out. It was quite different from the book that is out these days. When BoP started, it was a series of three mini's written by Chuck Dixon and they had a much more James Bond feel to them. There was a lot less of the characterizations found in Simones current run. Basically it was a bunch of girls kicking ass, drawn by Gary Frank who never met a bikini he didn't like. Simone has taken the concept so much further but these early runs are just fun. Check em out.

Well this is half way through box one so I will take a break for now. What's in your longbox?

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