Wednesday Comments – Comics I Love

Happy (day after) Valentine’s Day! Since I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day I figured that I’d take the time to sit down and gush about some comic runs that I love.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading comics for a few decades and I’ll be honest; not everything I’ve read has been perfect. Not every comic I’ve read has stoked my fire. Some comics I buy and read out of routine. While they might not be terribly offensive, they also didn’t knock my socks off. But I read them, put them in a bag and stuff them in a longbox.

However there are some runs that I really ended up enjoying. Now, most of the time you don’t really notice how much you enjoyed a run until it’s over. When the new creative team takes over, either you don’t like the new direction or you miss the dynamic that the old team had. Occasionally you’re aware while you’re in the middle of the run, but generally it’s a hindsight type affair.

(For the sake of this column, I’m considering a “run” as a series of issues on a title that the creators didn’t originate. For instance Geoff Johns’ run on the two most recent Green Lantern series wouldn’t count because he started on #1, but his initial run on The Flash would because he started well past #100.)

One of the first runs that I really loved was William Messner-Loebs’ run on The Flash. It lasted from The Flash #15-61. #15 has the awesome cover of Wally getting beaten up by a Velocity-9 junkie in a Flash costume. It’s such a great start.

It’s during Messner-Loebs’ run that Wally West’s supporting cast grows. He give Tina Mcgee some depth and makes Jerry Mcgee sympathetic. He also gives us Mason Trollbridge and The Clipper.

It’s also during this run that I get two of my favorite Flash stories of all time. In issue #30 while watching a movie in a movie theatre Wally realizes that his speed has kicked in because the movie frame has stopped. The reason his speed has kicked in; a bullet is pressing on his neck. Wally tries to find out who is firing shots in the theatre and grab all of the bullets before they do any damage.

In issue #54 Wally tries to thwart a plane hijaking and save a stewardess life after she’s ejected from the plane. But what good is his speed when he’s plummeting to the earth below? I really love both of those issues.

And there are plenty of other good stories in this run including Wally losing his powers and getting a new costume. It’s really a great run.

Jim Starlin’s run on Batman (#414-430) was also thoroughly enjoyable. Granted it seems a bit dated now, with all of the cold war politics running throughout. “Ten Nights of the Beast” is a great story, if you can get past the dated politics. I really think that one of my favorite parts of the run were the actions taken by Jason Todd in regards to the rapist from Columbia with diplomatic immunity. I loved all of the ambiguity in those issues.

One more run that I found to be awesome was Brian Azzarello’s run on Hellblazer. Now I know that’s not really a popular position to take, but allow me to defend myself; Azz’s run on Hellblazer was the first time that I’d read John Constantine, so it was my introduction to the character. I loved it so much that I’m still reading Hellblazer to this day.

I liked how Constantine was working his way across America. I loved the game he was playing with S.W. Manor and how Manor was a sort of bizarro Bruce Wayne (get it, “Stately Wayne Manor?) I liked how twisted things got for John including the backwoods adult films and the horrors of prison. And Agent Frank Turro was fun too.

And those are just three of my favorite runs. I’ve got more runs that I could share, but I don’t want to take up all of your time. My point is that when an author or creative team is allowed an extended run on a book they can do great things and explore more. If you’re worried about your job it comes through in the work, just look at the clusterfluff that is Static Shock.

Of course the industry has changed so much since the days when I first began reading comics it’s sort of pointless to wish for change. But I’ve still got those runs and they’re still as enjoyable and impressive as they were when they were fresh.

Do you have any runs of books that you hold near and dear?

As always, enjoy the rest of your Wednesday. Hit up your local comic book shop and get some comics.

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