Greetings from the Odinson,
I invite you to join me in the Wonderful World of Comics!
The Odinson has been reading comics now since the late 70s. I have over thirty years of comic reading experience and a vast knowledge of the Modern Age of Comics. I consider myself very blessed to be able to make a living in this world at a job working with the medium I love so much.
Over the years, there has been one question that I get asked over and over again – “Where do I get started?” It’s usually asked by those that have never read a comic, used to read comics and want to get back into it, or somebody that wants to buy something for a friend or loved one but doesn’t know what to get.
Comics history starts over 75 years ago and trying to decipher that history and its convoluted continuity for a non or lapsed reader can be a daunting task to be sure. So here is The Odinson’s Guide to the Wonderful World of Comics – a 3-Part column where I will share my Top 5 Creator Runs on a Title, my Top 5 Big Event Crossovers, and my Top 5 Must Read Comic Book Stories.
NOTE: On this list, I point out the comics that had major impacts on MY reading habits and the comics that shaped me into the fanboy I am today. That means the Big Two are getting a lot of love today, so apologies to those expecting to see the smaller and independent publishers on this list.
Part 1: The Odinson’s Top 5 Creator Runs on a Title
There have been many great runs by creators on titles. Then there are those defining moments in comics history. So much so that one can hardly even talk about a certain title without mentioning a certain creator’s name.
First, the Honorable Mentions:
Fantastic Four by John Byrne, Superman by John Byrne, Amazing Spider-Man by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, Incredible Hulk by Peter David, GI Joe by Larry Hama, Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, Captain America by Ed Brubaker, Batman by Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams, and Daredevil by Frank Miller.
5 – The Mighty Thor by Walt Simonson – Featuring storylines that saw the mighty Thor storm the gates of Hel (Thor #362), avert Ragnarok (Thor #353), and face down the titanic Midgard Serpent (Thor #380), Simonson’s epic run brought the mythology back to the modern legend. Part of the charm of this run is Simonson’s amazing and powerful art. When Thor swings his mighty hammer, the very air around it ignites. When Thor smacks a giant or monstrous wyrm with Mjolnir, the comic book shakes and vibrates in your hands with the power of the blow. This is the run that made me a Thor fan for life. He gave us Beta Ray Bill!
4 – The Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, and John Byrne – It’s hard to believe that once upon a time the X-Men were on the verge of cancellation and an all but forgotten corner of the Marvel Universe. That was until Giant-Size X-Men #1 and Uncanny X-Men #94 which introduction of the All New, All Different (and multinational) X-Men. With the introduction of new characters like Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Wolverine and genre-defining storylines like The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past, this run established the Children of the Atom as the number one comic book on the rack for years to come and paved the way for the modern day Marvel Movie explosion. NOTE: GSXM#1 was scripted by Len Wein.
3 – JLA by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter – The first half of the 1990s was the Dark Ages for comics. In a time of big pecks, big guns, shoot first and ask questions later antiheroes, Morrison and Porter made comics fun again. JLA reunites the Super Friends of my youth, the icons of the DCU, the Big Seven! Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter assemble for one of the greatest super hero runs in comics history. Grant Morrison’s over-the-top and mind-blowing stories are complimented by Howard Porter’s unique art style. These stories, my friends, are what comic books are all about!
2 – The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez – New Teen Titans #1-50 are, without a doubt, some of the greatest super hero comics every made. This amazing run took two-dimensional sidekicks (Robin, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash), added a few new and interesting faces (Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg), threw in a cast off C-List character (Beast Boy/Changeling), stirred in some teenage melodrama and created a modern day legend that stands up to this day. From the outer space epic Kidnapped, to a clash with the Titans of Myth to the mind-blowing betrayal of The Judas Contract, this is one comic run that is an absolute must read for any comic book fan. What else can I say about a run that gave us Nightwing and introduced us to Deathstroke the Terminator?
1 – Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby – Fantastic Four #1 launched the Marvel Age and over the course of the next 100+ issues, the creators known far and wide as The Man and The King created, developed, and defined what the Marvel Universe was and is to this very day – LEGENDARY. It all comes from these very pages, boys and girls. Doctor Doom, Black Panther, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Inhumans, the Kree, the Skrulls, and the Watcher all made their first appearances in the pages of FF during this run. Legendary landmarks around the Marvel U like Attilan, Latveria, Wakanda, the Negative Zone, and the Blue Area of the Moon all first appeared in the pages of FF during this run. Not to mention the never-before-seen dynamics of Marvel’s First Family, super heroes with complex personalities and emotions and reactions to fantastic situations that feel real. This is the run that defined what the modern comic book would become and without Stan Lee and Jack Kirby leading the way, we would not be enjoying the amazing comics and movies of today.
These are the Creator Runs that shaped the Odinson into the mega comic fan he is today. Any one of the links in this column will lead you to an amazing world of discovery, a world of heroes, villains, monsters, super science, magic, and high adventure.
Welcome to the Wonderful World of Comics!
Be sure to be here next week when the Odinson shares his Top 5 Big Event Crossovers.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell