Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Desert Island Comics.

British readers will no doubt be familiar with the national institution that is Desert Island Discs, which the Internet tells me is the world's second longest-running radio show. But, for those not in the know, each week a well-known guest's invited in to talk about their life and choose eight songs they'd most like to have with them if stranded on a desert island.

Well, I'm not going to talk about my life here. I fear such Lovecraftian terror would chill the soul of even the hardiest explorer  in the land of Blog. I am however going to risk choosing eight comics I'd want to have with me if the world finally sees sense and banishes me to a desert island.

Given the zillions of comics that've been published over the last century, this is no easy task but that's not going to stop me trying.

Origins of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee

Origins of Marvel Comics.

I know it gets stick because of Stan Lee's tendency to fill it with anecdotes about how he single-handedly thought of everything while the likes of Jack Kirby could only sit and gawp, in no-doubt slack-jawed awe, at his limitless creativity but I don't care. The thing features the first appearances of the first round of Marvel's Silver Age heroes - and even flings in samples of their later appearances too.

Not only that but, unlike the Essentials, it's all in colour.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #1, Thor, Marvel UK

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #1.

I never had Mighty World of Marvel #1 but I did have Spidey's equivalent Marvel UK issue - and the free red paper bag that tried to pass itself off as a Spider-Man mask.

I have no memory whatsoever of what the Spider-Man story was in that fateful issue but I know it introduced us to Thor and the Stone Men from Saturn, so that's good enough for me.

Not only that but it revealed at last the startling secret of FOOM!

Conan the Barbarian #24, Red Sonja

Conan the Barbarian #24.

Barry Smith's last issue, as Conan and Red Sonja decide to go stealing things that aren't rightfully theirs.

I first read this in Marvel UK's weekly Avengers comic, which meant I got to see it reproduced on a larger scale than the original. Having read a reprint in the Essential Conan, I know Smith's detailed art suffers when seen on the smaller page but that can't take away from the lusciousness of it all.

Marvels Greatest Comics #34, Fantastic Four, Inhumans and the Great Refuge

Marvel's Greatest Comics #34.

A comic that certainly lived up to its title for me, as the mag reprints the Fantastic Four's first ever meeting with the Inhumans. It's still arguably my favourite Fantastic Four story of them all, even though it doesn't make much sense.

And dig that Gil Kane cover. He's doing that visual depth thing again.

X-Men #137, death of Phoenix/Jean Grey
X-Men #137.

While the original X-Men never appealed to me at all - even when drawn by the likes of Steranko and Adams - there's a whole bucket-load of tales to treasure from the Dave Cockrum/John Byrne era.

Personally I preferred the Cockrum run to Byrne's, as his art was less cartoony, but the Byrne stuff was all pretty fab too.

For my favourite, I have to choose the one where poor old Phoenix, having turned evil, gets to pop her clogs, by order of Jim Shooter.

Of course, some might argue the whole thing was made redundant by Marvel later bringing Jean Grey back to life in typically unlikely fashion, but I still remember how great it was at the time.

marvel Spotlight #12, Son of Satan, origin, first appearance

Marvel Spotlight #12.

I don't have a clue just what it is about the Son of Satan's first appearance that grabs me so much. Maybe it's just because I'm a corny old horror fan or maybe it's just the melodrama of Herb Trimpe's tortured-looking pencils but it still has a strange allure for me after all these years.

Thor #130, Hercules, Pluto, Hades

The Mighty Thor #130.

Thor and Hercules team up to take on Pluto and the hordes of Hades. What more needs be said? It's all epic stuff and I love Vince Colletta's inks on the title.

Silver Surfer #3, first appearance Mephisto

Silver Surfer #3.

I can't deny I've never been a Surfer fan - all that hanging around whingeing and whining about everything - but I love this tale.

My Satan fixation's clearly taking me over again, as the Surfer finds himself tackling the Devil while doing his usual pining for Shalla Bal.

Mephisto's a cut above the usual super-villain, and what kind of madman could fail to be grabbed by John Buscema's art on this issue?


joe bloke said...

That's a great list. For my own, I think I'd have to cheat a bit and throw in the one collection.

1. The 2011 released Howard the Duck Omnibus.
2. Captain Marvel ( Mar-vell ) # 17.
3. Planet of the Apes ( UK ) # 1.
4. Marvel Premier # 32 ( Monark Starstalker by Howard Chaykin ).
5. DC 100-page Super Spectacular # 20 ( Batman ).
6. Marvel Treasury Edition # 2 ( Fantastic Four ).
7. Secret Origins v1 # 5 ( the origin of the Spectre, with that beautiful Nick Cardy cover ).
8. The Brave and the Bold v1 # 118 ( Batman and Wildcat go toe to toe in the ring, and the Joker's the referee! ).

There's a whole heap more, but I'm guessing "every issue of House of Mystery/House of Secrets/Witching Hour/Weird War published between 1965 - 1975" might be pushing it, although I will give Marvel's Logans Run # 1 - thru 5 an honory nod.

Steve W. said...

I loved that Spectre Secret Origins one too.

Kid said...

The Spider-Man story in SMCW #1 was Spidey's first meeting with Electro.

Super-Duper ToyBox said...

that Silver Surfer #3 WAS a good one! All fun reading here :D

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the info, Kid.

Anonymous said...

I loved that issue of Secret Origins with the SPECTRE also (thought I was the only one) A few cimics I really liked are:

1: Mighty World of Marvel 1
2:Silver Surfer 12
3: Justice League of America 94
4: JLA 100
5; Kull THE destroyer 9
6:Conan the Barbarian 25
7:Amazing Spider-man - 80
8: Daredevil - 87
9; Capt America - 143
10; Capt America and Falcon - 166

Would add Ditkos Dr Strange, issues of Archie by Decarlo, Timms Mad Love, Adams Batman, Sterankos Cap America etc etc etc -McScotty

Boston Bill said...

Love the list, Steve. Especially some of the oddball ones like 'Son of Satan'. I'll give it a try. In no particular order:
1 Micronauts 11 (I LOVED the first 12 issues!)
2 Incredible Hulk 179 (My first ever comic)
3 JLA/Avengers (Fanboy's dream come true!)
4 Watchmen ('nuff said)
5 A pocketbook collection of Dr Strange collecting Ditko's Epic Strange/Mordo/Dormammu saga
6 Amazing Spider-Man 149 (end of the Jackal)
7 Captain Carrot 1 (I don't care, I loved it!)
8 Fantastic Four Annual 3 (Stan and Jack throw in everything but the kitchen sink.

Oh, and we Yanks are familiar with the concept of a desert island disc, if not the show proper!

Steve W. said...

Bill, I've just realised that Incredible Hulk #179 is the return of the Missing Link. I've always had a strange affection for Linky.

Dougie said...

I've been mulling over my eight for a couple of days. I like several of the picks by Joe Bloke and Anonymous so here are mine:

1) The Return of the Blob from X-Men 7.
2) The first and best half of Li'l Jim Shooter's Adult Legion story in Adventure 354
3) Marvel Treasury Edition 4:Barry Smith's Conan
4)JLA 110 (Super Spec)"The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus"
5)X-Men 97:"My Brother, My Enemy"
6)Avengers 154 "When Strikes Attuma?"
7)FF 239: "Wendy's Friends"
8)Infinity Inc. 1 "Generations".

Runners Up: The Batman Adventures Annual 2: "Demons" and the final issue of Billy Batson and The Power of Shazam

R. W. Watkins said...

With just a modicum of pondering; off the top of my head, in other words:

1. Marvel Treasury Edition No 14: oversized reprinting of Amazing Spider-Man Nos 100-102 (1977/1971)
2. Amazing Spider-Man No 53 (1967)
3. House of Mystery No 225 (1974)
4. Ghostly Haunts No 54 (1977)
5. Big Baby No 2: Blood Club by Charles Burns (1992)
6. Marvel Treasury Edition No 10: oversized reprinting of Thor Nos 154-157 (1976/1968)
7. Jungle Action featuring Black Panther No 15 (1975)
8. Tarzan No 179 (Gold Key, 1968)

This list is drawn primarily from those comics I absorbed and virtually committed to memory as a lad in the 1970s.

Steve W. said...

I do almost feel like there should be some way to permanently memorialise everyone's selections.

tharg said...

Its great to see my favourite work of art/literature on this list! I first came across "Song of Red Sonja" in the UK Avengers 1979 annual. Its still as mesmerising as ever.

I have never put a full desert island list together but one other favourite includes Thor #273 (Ragnarok! Midgard Serpent! John Buscema! Roy Thomas!).

Also 2000 AD - any early prog. Maybe prog #2, first appearance of Judge Dredd.

Although I might actually go for one of the later ones such as #9, or was it #10 ("Call me Kenneth") or #71 (Burger Wars). Prog #17 with a cover featuring three cowboy's heads fused to a T-Rex's head as a result of a time travel accident deserves a special mention.

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