4. Metamorphosis Odyssey by Jim Starlin (1980-1981)
serialized in Epic Illustrated #1-9 (1980-1981)
Jim Starlin's cosmic epic of the struggle between life and death with the fate of a galaxy on the line. Aknaton, whose race the Osirosians are the ancestors of all humanoid life in the Milky Way seeds a long term plan to try to save the galaxy from the oncoming destruction at the hands of their long-time enemies the Zygoteans. He returns centuries later to collect the fruits of his efforts, 3 special beings and recruits the stone-cold killer Vanth Dreadstar to be their protector until they can see his plan to fruition. I disocvered these stories in high school and they turned my world upside down. I had been a fan of Starlin's stuff since I first encountered it in the Death of Thanos story running in Avengers Annual 7 & Marvel Two In One Annual 2, and heard about Dreadstar when I finally discovered comic shops, and soon tracked down these stories to see how it all began.
This is quintessential Starlin in its pure form, not filtered through the lens of the Marvel mythos. Here you will find all the thematic core ideas he riffs on throughout his oeuvre, all his strengths, weaknesses, tics and tendencies, the pure cosmic mind-trip that is a Starlin story unchecked by the needs of editors to maintain their IP, to keep the illusion of change in their characters/stories while in reality telling a never-ending story that maintains a status quo, or to meet the standards of the Comics Code. This one has it all for the Starlin fan, and for others seeking to go on a cosmic mindtrip of an adventure in comic book form.
8. “Red Nails” Savage Tales 2-3 (October 1973; February 1974); reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition 4 (on sale February 1975)
I first read “Red Nails” in the Lancer Conan the Warrior paperback, and I’ll be honest, have not re-read it in print form since. (A mistake soon to be corrected.) It may be that I relish the memory of reading it back when I was an impressionable 13-year-old and don’t want to “see the man behind the curtain.” That’s because I can still remember how eerie and frightening it was to read of a kind of a Mayanesque, vacuum-sealed city in the middle of nowhere whose tangled maze of streets was haunted by rival tribesmen – zombies? Undead creatures? Ghouls? – were locked in eternal bloody combat.
When Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith adapted one of Howard’s best stories for Savage Tales in resplendent black and white, I was like a bee in clover, pig in slop, a barbarian knee-deep in gore. BWS was evolving right before our eyes, at light speed. Nothing like his combination of Pre-Raphaelite, super-detailed illustration, graceful violence and dynamic, fluid storytelling existed in mainstream comics. Even a relative newcomer to the ins and outs of comic books like me found it hard to believe that he had transformed his artwork from this…
in less than four years.
I said in my first post that I was choosing sagas that I couldn’t wait to see chapter by chapter. Only two of them in this saga, but the months between June and October 1973 were interminable.
I can't think of any comic book story that was any better at capturing atmosphere, character and mood better than this Thomas-Smith masterpiece.
PS: The color version in Marvel Treasury? Need you ask? Take alook at the front and back covers...
And a page to whet your appetites...
A feast… a feast.
Saw only one copy of it anywhere when I was hunting for it, in a store I never had visited before or ever would have occasion to again. Just was driving by and thought, what the hell, I’ll see if they have it. They did, and I still do. A great moment in my collecting history! ☺
"The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance." -- The Tempest, 5.1
Rosa and Barks Ducks are a glaring hole in my comics reading. I've sampled a few Gemstone issues over the years and dug them, and I loved Duck Tales, but I have never really dug into the Ducks comics.
-Moore's Swamp Thing -Starlin's Thanos saga (again) -Kree/Skrull War -JLA Year One -Death of Superman and follow-ups -part of the 50s Cap story -Elfquest -Usagi (in part) -Claremont X-Men -V for Vendetta -Red Nails
yup except for Dsney Ducks, I've covered a lot of the foundational comics...
4. Superman: Secret Identity #1-4 (2004) by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen
Story Overview: Superman struggles to live a normal life in the face of governmental and public intrusions.
My Two Cents: I already have a whole thread about this series here, so I won’t rehash it all here. But for those reading this thread first: Secret Identity is a wonderful non-canonical Superman story that takes our hero from adolescence into old age, with a focus on his family life as he marries and has children. The only villain in sight is the United States government, which wants to find out what makes him tick or at least co-opt him for covert missions. But mainly Busiek gives us a beautiful series of slice of life snapshots, complemented by Immomen’s expressive art.