Welcome To My Nightmare

Letter page time! Lots of good choices from everyone who wrote in, and because they’re YOUR favorites, I’m not going to argue with anyone. I know, disappointing, ain’t it? Tell ya what, if anyone really champions the Captain America chapters of Heroes Reborn or anything to do with Gambit, I’ll blast ’em like a Summers brother. Deal? Here we go…

Colin says:

Hey man, here are a couple of my choices:

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga (only because #137 is the single greatest issue in comics. Just perfect). But really, my favourite story in X-Men was their trip to the Shi’ar galaxy to help Deathbird kill Xavier. Lee’s at the height of being the best artist ever, the team still doesn’t really know one another, X-Men acting Skrully, and Jubilee rules. It’s just awesome to see how much everyone distrusts Gambit, how the Jubilee/Wolverine relationship has all the heart and tenderness the Kitty/Wolvie relationship wishes it had 10 years before, Logan killing Xavier, and Jim Lee making Gladiator look like the coolest character ever drawn. Plus, the back stories have Magneto, a powerless Rogue and SHIELD fighting Zaladane in the Savage Land. Magnus totally wrecks the pum pum, so Gambit can only have his sloppy seconds. Uncanny #273-277 is the best.

Defenders: The Order. Wow. They take over the entire world! Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Hulk and Sub-Mariner decide the best way to protect the world (which is terribly inconvenient to them), is to take over and control it. So they do, and the combined “might” of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spidey and Daredevil can’t do a thing. It basically comes down to the scrub Defenders (Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat) to snap them out of it. Want to see Namor give Cap a beatdown (for at least the 2nd time – another was in the Avengers/Defenders War)? This has it. Kurt Busiek will always have my heart for this story.

Jeff says: Dude, what in the name of Bob and Doug McKenzie are “pum pums” and how does one wreck ’em?!? You Canadians…I mean, in all my years of reading comics, I don’t think John Byrne ever once called anything a pum pum. Wrecking pum pums. Man, that sounds like something Soak and Cory do together.

Brian Says:

Jeff,
First of all, thanks for the shout out in your new column! Glad to hear you liked my idea. You did great work as usual.

I do have to say I definitely of course agree with Kraven’s Last Hunt on Spidey. I also agree with Inferno on X-men and the whole Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet on Silver Surfer. Have you ever read “the Bloodstone Hunt” for Cap? For some reason that sticks out in my mind as being pretty good, as well as “Streets of Poison” where for some reason, Cap was accidentally on drugs?! But good choices, overall.

However, I disagree on two (one wholeheartedly).I haven’t read a whole lot of ‘recent’ books, so I never picked up Planet Hulk, but I still believe Future Imperfect is the best Hulk story. What a great read. How difficult would it be to fight a future version of yourself, and feel the realization that you could become a person like the Maestro.

But the other I feel even stronger about. To me, there is no story that defines Daredevil more than “Typhoid’s Kiss” and it didn’t even get a mention? Come on, Jeff! From Daredevil getting the crap kicked out of him to hallucinating, seeing his dad, you really pitied Daredevil in that story, you feel the Kingpin’s hatred for the red man, and you are intrigued and disgusted at the same time at Mary (not to mention the pain Karen must have felt). That was a truly awesome story.

I will give one for DC I feel strongly about. For Legion of Superheroes- the great Darkness Saga. No villain is cooler than Darkseid, period.

Jeff says: Streets of Poison seems particularly resonant today. With the sporting world looking over it’s collective shoulder for the next steroid case, it seems Gruenwald was ahead of his time on this one. Now some people thought this and Cap Wolf were some of the book’s lowest points, and while I can’t argue about the Cap Wolf arc, Streets of Poison wasn’t that bad and raised some very interesting questions. Is Cap basically a beneficiary of steroids? His powers (peak human physical abilities) are drug-induced, after all. Very interesting piece if you read it in the context of today’s headlines. And while I give you thanks for your praise, I have to deduct points for not fitting the term “pum pum” in your message somewhere. I get the feeling that ridiculous Metric System is involved in that somehow…

MCF says:

Hi Jeff…

Had to chime in with my 2-cents in regards to your latest article.

First of all, I’m not very familiar with Thor, Iron Man, Avengers, or even Spider-Man! Sure, I know the characters and basic history, but I rarely buy their comics (after all, me DC fanboy). But the Marvel Comics franchise I am most familiar with is the X-Men and associated spinoffs.

What’s my favorite for X-Men?
The frickin’ Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Amazing art. Grand cosmic adventures. And a terrible terrible tragedy at the end that really changed the X-Men for many many years! What’s not to like?

And the Grant Morrison run is a close 2nd favorite.

And I have to disagree with you on Inferno. I feel that everything surrounding Inferno > Fall of the Mutants > Australian adventures were the lowlights of Claremont’s original run. I just simply couldn’t get into the stories and the characters have changed way too much for my tastes. Everything was so bleak and alien.

An underappreciated arc is John Francis Moore and Adam Pollina’s run on X-Force in 1997-1999, especially the road trip issues from # 70 – 81. The team has split from Cable, and they travel around the US and go from one misadventure to another. Wonderful character moments, especially the return of Dani Moonstar. and great developments in Boom Boom and Sunspot.

And then there was the Fabian Nicieza/Mark Bagley run on New Warriors. Issues # 15-17 was just insane, with the return of Terrax, and the New Warriors being the only heroes around in New Jersey to try to stop him. And the surprise ending was absolutely brilliant.

The first 16 issues of Jim Valentino’s Guardians of the Galaxy deserves mention as well. I am not really a fan of sci-fi superheroics, but these comics were really effective in showing a plausible 31st century incarnation of the Marvel Universe. Issues 9-11 were great with the introduction of Rancor, Wolverine’s descendant as well as history lesson on what happened to the Mutants at the end of the 20th century.

And then there are random done-in-one stories that really drew my attention and I consider them personal highlights.

New Warriors # 14 (best Namorita story ever!)
Ultimate Spider-Man # 13 (Peter Parker and Mary Jane have “the talk”)
Uncanny X-Men # 308 (Jean Grey proposes to Scott Summers)
Web of Spider-Man annual # 5 (there’s a Silver Sable story here by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Propst that is a favorite of mine and a wonderful exploration of how the character thinks and the image she projects to the rest of the Wild Pack)
Wolverine # 75 (the last few pages with Logan writing his farewell letter to the X-Men was just gut wrenching)
X-Factor # 87 (the classic Doc Samson issue)
X-Factor # 147 (Shard hanging around town and getting to know 20th century USA)

Moving on from Marvel to the land of DC….

The first 26 issues of Animal Man by Grant Morrison and artist Chas Truog. Totally mind bending stuff, and criminally underappreciated in light of Morrison’s higher profile and wider recognized work on Doom Patrol. If you ask me, Animal Man was infinitely superior to Doom Patrol. The issue with the Wile E. Coyote analogue, or the one with the Sea Devils protesting whaling, or the 2nd Crisis are just some of the cleverest superhero comics ever published. Hell, Morrison even made the obligatory Invasion! crossover issue work by having Animal Man stopping a Thanagarian soldier who creates art from planetary destruction.

The first 4 issues of JLA by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter remains the best Justice League story ever written IMO. Big fun superhero action with great art and surprise villains, a new status quo for the League, and none of the emo mamby-pamby crap that marked almost every Justice League comic since Joe Kelly left.

The Officer Down crossover that ran across all Batman titles was a great introduction for me (I had just returned to comics then after spending a few years away) to Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Devin Grayson. It was a great mystery and seeing Batman going through all those emotional twists was interesting, especially having gotten used to the super-effective Grant Morrison version of the Dark Knight.

The Birds of Prey arc that had Black Canary and Wildcat go undercover in Singapore to stop a drug ring is my favorite story in that series, with wonderful characterization by Gail Simone (I fell in love with Dinah because of this story) and some of Joe Bennett’s finest work. (Birds of Prey # 81-83)

The first 24 issues of Wonder Woman by George Perez and Len Wein is a modern day classic as well. No Wonder Woman comic has come close to the amazing quality of these issues, although Phil Jimenez served admirably a decade and a half later. The 5 issue Challenge of the Gods arc was a highlight, and brought rich detail and history to not only Diana, but also to Themysciran history and civilization in general. Good stuff.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight # 6-10 by Grant Morrison (he shows up quite often here, doesn’t he) and Klaus Janson where Batman investigates a string of religious murders.

The first 5 issues of the Vertigo relaunch of House of Secrets by Steven Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen. Best horror comic IMO, even better than Steve Niles’ 30 Days of Night.

Doom Patrol # 71 by Rachel Pollack and Tom Sutton (possible the only post-Grant Morrison issue that I enjoyed, and the introduction of loser villain Codpiece… who has weaponized… well his name implies it all doesn’t it?)

And last but not least, there’s the Fall of Metropolis crossover in the Superman monthlies in 1994 that had a dying Lex Luthor launch his final attack on Metropolis and all Superman could do is minimize damage while seeing his city fall apart.

And of course the random single issues here and there….
Action Comics # 761 (Superman and Wonder Woman spend 1000 years together in Asgard!)
Action Comics annual # 3 (what if Clark Kent was elected President of the United States?)
All Star Superman # 3 (Grant Morrison gives Lois Lane superpowers for a day… so romantic)
Batman: Black and White # 3 (the Bill Sienkiewicz story where Batman faces off with an abusive father)
House of Secrets vol.2 # 7 (a great insight into the history of the house of secrets interspersed with the architect’s descent into madness)
Justice League International # 8 (moving day for the Justice League embassies)
Shadow vol.2 # 7 (one-shot by Andy Helfer and Marshall Rogers with the Shadow encountering the warped child of a Nazi)
Superman vol.2 # 84 (Cat Grant’s son is murdered by the Toyman while Lois and Clark are on holiday in Paris)
Superman vol.2 # 184 (Clark Kent is fired from the Daily Planet, when his allegations against the corruption in President Luthor’s administration could not be proven by even the JLA)
Wonder Woman vol.2 # 170 (Lois Lane spends a day interviewing Wonder
Woman)

That’s it off the top of my head for now.

Jeff says: While thorough, MCF also fails the pum pum litmus test. However he manages to point out that Grant Morrison has written some good stuff despite my known objections to his X-Men run. I do love me some Animal Man. But don’t knock the emo Justice League stuff, you’ll make Daron cry. Watch out giving away that much off the top of your head, wouldn’t want your brains to spill out. Marvel’s really crazy for these zombies lately, and you know how they get when there’s brains to be had. Oh yeah, almost forgot, Guardians of the Galaxy was one of my favorites back in the day, and Fabian Nicieza’s New Warriors was a whole lotta fun. There, see? I can compliment Fabe too! That Terrax story was pretty sweet.

Colin comes back for his DC faves:

My DC experience is limited, but here goes…

Green Lantern: It may well go down as the Sinestro Corps War, but since it’s not completed yet, it’s without question Rebirth. While the Hard Travelling Heroes was great, it wasn’t so much a storyline as a series of stories that led to a bigger picture. Rebirth to me was just incredible. I’m a GL nut who thinks Hal is the bee’s knees, and the mini had so many great moments: John Stewart dressing down Batman after one Hal remark too many, Hal knocking Bruce out with one punch, Parallax-possessed Lanterns taking out the JLA, Ollie trying to finally use his ring, and the Corps being reborn were all just too great. On top of that, issue #4 is probably the greatest single issue of any comic that I may have ever read. It hit such a perfect note with Ganthet saying that Parallax chose the wrong guy to possess, just before Hal comes back to confront Sinestro.

Superman: Superman for all Seasons. I love the Loeb/Sale collabos, and this just got to the heart of Clark. He’s a pure superhero, in that all he wants to do is save people. I think he’s a bit different from Spider-Man, in that Peter thinks he has to help people because he can, but Clark really wants to help, and he knows he can. This series really showed that.

Jeff says: You know, I really don’t think I ever read “For All Seasons.” I don’t know how I missed it, I love the Loeb/Sale…OK you hoser, what the Hell is a “collabos?!?” Are you one of those Mexican-Canadians who try to put heavy cream on burritos? Fortunately I speak a little Spanish, for I AM EL GUAPO!*

*(El Guapo = The Shit. What, you thought is was something like S.H.I.E.L.D.? Tsk-tsk!)

And that is all for this week. I am preparing a very special Nightmare for next week. I asked for it and I got it. I asked for any editor to get in touch and explain to me just what in the world is going on and you’ll be amazed who answered. I know I was. It’s the surprise interview I never expected, coming next week, and it calls to mind the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Welcome to my nightmare.