I realize that this is probably only interesting to me, although I also know that whenever I see anything like this, I read it, as I am a sucker for nostalgia...which is probably why I'm writing this.
Anyway, here are the comics I was reading 10, 20, and 30 years ago this month.
Alpha Flight #58
Man, I loved Alpha Flight. I just love superhero comics that are set aside from the mainstream, although I realize referring to any comic published by the Big Two, let alone one featuring a team that debuted in the pages of X-Men, as "aside from the mainstream" is a stretch. Still, AF had its own tiny corner of the Marvel Universe and it was more or less allowed to exist there.
A few notes about this issue: 1) Jim Lee! Jim Lee penciled this comic! Alpha Flight was, I believe, his first regular assignment 2) Jim Shooter's legacy lived on during the course of this arc, which featured AF living a nomadic existence. Why do I say that? Well, every single issue began with a recap of their situation. Even at 12 year old, this got on my nerves. 3) We meeting the Dreamqueen in this issue, a villain who would play a large part in AF's story for the next few years.
Amazing Spider-man #300
I had actually stopped reading Amazing Spider-man by this point, but came back because it was an anniversary issue, not to mention the return of the red and blue costume. The issue itself was fine, but I was immediately sucked in by Todd McFarlane's art, to the point that I was back on board reading Spider-man again.
Captain America #341
Oh, yeah, The Captain era! This issue features not one, not two, but three stories! In the first, The Captain returns the shield Tony Stark made for him and we get Cap vs Iron Man one more time. In the second story, the world meets the new Captain America and his sidekick, Battle Star! And the final story is the start of the civil war within the Serpent Society. Just great stuff all around.
This was just after the New Universe had been cut in half and switched to better paper stock, more pages, and a higher price. I'd been reading DP7 from the start. The series wouldn't last much longer, but it was enjoyable up until the end. There were a lot of problems with the New Universe, that's for sure.
New Mutants #63
This was more or less a fill-in issue, back when they had fill-in issues, even though it was plotted by Chris Claremont and scripted by Louise Simonson (the regular writer). I remember this issue annoying me for the aforementioned reason and because it was a second month in a row that didn't focus on the main team, who had just lost one of their own during Fall of the Mutants. I was anxious to get back to that story, particularly since the team now had cool new costumes.
Power Pack #37
At some point the character introduced in this issue was referred to as Light Tracker, but for the life of me I don't know when. Maybe I dreamed it. Anyway, this was a stand alone story, but I liked it, if only because I really wanted the Power Pack team to expand and this was another kid their age with powers. They were really poorly thought out powers. She could teleport to bright lights, although she couldn't control it, so she wore dark glasses wherever she went. How did they even figure that out? How did she not teleport into the sun when her powers first manifested? Anyway, I was hoping she'd stick around, but I don't think I've read a comic about her since.
See? I told you I was still all in on the New Universe. For as much as I loved DP7, Psi-Force was my favorite New Universe book. Fabian Nicieza and Ron Lim were doing great work, giving the team real personalities and upping the stakes. This issue gives us a better look at the Medusa Web, an international organization of paranormals. Nicieza would have a long history of making his comics global and introducing his audiences to characters from other countries and that's what he does here, in one of his earliest works. Lim's designs are great, particularly Skybreaker and Relampago (Spanish for Lightning). This is another great issue of a run that would become epic.
I was never a big fan of Starbrand, but the cover to his was cool so I gave it a shot. I don't really even remember much about it. I think a baby with superpowers was born. And I think it literally shot out of its mother. John Byrne wrote and pencilled this book, I believe, and he was a fitting replacement for Jim Shooter. Take that as you will.
Strikeforce: Morituri #18
This is one of my favorite series of all time. Srikeforce: Morituri is on my desert island list. This series started in 1986, the same year the first Squadron Supreme limited series ended. I would hold those two books up against Watchmen and the Dark Knight Returns any day of the week. They are that good. I think the Squadron Supreme has started to get the recognition it deserves, but it seems like Strikeforce: Morituri will forever be under the radar.
Uncanny X-Men #229
I know that the Claremont/Byrne era is supposed to be the gold standard for the Uncanny X-Men and that Claremont/Cockrum gets a fair amount of love, as does Claremont/Lee, but for my money there was no better period that Claremont/Silvestri. And maybe I'm just trying to be a contrarian, but there were some dynamite issues during Silvestri's time as penciller, including this one, which introduced us to the Reavers and set up the X-Men in their new Australian HQ.
Web of Spider-man #38
Those who followed the Spider-man books in the 80s know that Web fell apart pretty early on. I don't know if it ever had a regular creative team beyond a handful of issues. I'd stopped reading it well before this point for that very reason. But I bought this issue because I was bored and I had a few extra bucks. And it was fantastic. Spider-man fights the Hobgoblin which doesn't sound all that interesting, except that Peter is drunk. Some solid Alex Saviuk art, to boot.
West Coast Avengers #32
You know, the West Coast Avengers was not a particularly good comic. I can say that now, of course, but in 1988 I thought it was great. My understanding on how messed up Mockingbird's storyline with the Phantom Stranger was reflected my age. But everything seemed to be high stakes with this group, which I liked, and by the time it slowed down they'd added Moon Knight, which was more than enough for me to stick around.
Oh, man, the Simonson and Simonson era of X-Factor was some great stuff (and let's not forget Bob Wiacek's inks which were perfect with Walt Simonson's pencils). Really, from Louise Simonson's first issue as writer (#6) through Walter's last issue as penciller (#39), this was a great comic. It lost its way after that, though, in part because it had always been about the evolution of the individual characters, and by #39 they'd all evolved.
Action Comics #742
I love the Triangle Years of the Superman books, but even I can admit that they had a few dry spells and this was one of them. It's not that I don't appreciate the updating of the Superman Red/Superman Blue story, but I just didn't care about any of it. It seemed like the Superman books, at this point, had moved from good, solid superhero stories to a gimmick, and that was unfortunate.
Busiek and Perez make a heck of a team when it comes to superhero teams and I am a sucker for stories that lead to new line-ups being formed, as this one did. It was ultimately a more traditional line-up than I would have preferred, but the New Warriors fan in me loved the addition of Justice and Firestar.
Harbinger: Acts of God #1
I was full blown into Acclaim/Valiant at this point, so much so that I bought this one without really knowing anything about it. I honestly still couldn't tell you anything about it.
And speaking of stories that lead to new line-ups, this issue is the debut of Morrison and Porter's expanded JLA roster: the original seven plus four more, with an open seat for a twelfth member as missions dictate. For this arc, the final spot would go to Catwoman, but thankfully it was only for this arc. The roster would actually expand to three more spots when the New Gods decided that Orion and Big Barda needed to be on the team as a first line of defense and when Batman brought in Oracle as their main source of intel.
As the story goes, Morrison wanted the JLA to parallel the pantheon of Greek gods. That was fine if a little forced. And using Huntress as the Artemis stand in was strange given the existence of Green Arrow, particularly the new Green Arrow who had been in earlier issues. I don't think genders had to match (particularly given that the gods are usually gender fluid).
It's too bad these issues had to incorporate electric blue Superman.
JLA: Paradise Lost #3
The rebirth of the JLA had made anything with those letters on them an instant buy for me. This was a a perfectly fine story about Zuriel coming to Earth. It's probably most notable for being written by Mark Millar.
JLA: Year One #3
Another attempt by DC to explain exactly who formed the Justice League, necessary because for some reason they didn't want the Trinity to be a part of the team from the start. I have no idea why they kept fighting this idea.
This is a good series in its own right and gives some quality screen time to the lesser parts of the Big Seven as well as the stand-in for Wonder Woman, Black Canary.
Legends of the Legion #2
It's hard to believe there was another Legion series being published at this time given that the two regular books were fizzling out. But I'm a devout Legion fanboy, so I bought this, even if I don't remember much about it.
Legion of Superheros #102
The Legion had finally reunited its two teams in issue #100 and I honestly don't remember much after that aside from Saturn Girl and Livewire finally getting together. I do know that I only stuck with these books for another couple of issues, which is funny given that they'd end in the next two years.
Quantum and Woody #12
Such a great series.
I've never been a fan of Captain Marvel, so this entire arc was somewhat lost on me.
See my comments about Action Comics.
Superman: The Man of Steel #77
See my comments about Action Comics.
Superman: Man of Tomorrow #10
Oh, hey, see my comments about Action Comics!
Man, remember Thunderbolts? Remember how great it was? Remember that reveal? That could have been the last great comic book twist, if only because the internet didn't have the reach that it does now.
Thunderbolts was great beyond the initial concept. It was such a deeply nerdy book, even after Busiek left and Nicieza joined Bagley. This series mined Marvel history and didn't really care if it brought back diamonds or shale, it found a way to make it work regardless. For a series about a bunch of criminals, it was unabashedly joyful with regards to superhero stories.
Still a part of the Helix line! I love Transmet. I should reread it, but I'm afraid it will ring too true now.
I enjoyed Troublemakers, although I admit that it's not the best of what Acclaim published. It's definitely a Fabian Nicieza book, as you can see threads from Psi-Force and the New Warriors playing out, which was great for me, as I loved both of those books.
Turok: Tales of the Lost Land #1
Again, I was on board the Acclaim train and the Turok books were some of the best.
Bought this on a whim, as I often do with anniversary issues. I liked Polina's art. I liked that the New Mutants -- sorry, X-Force -- were acting like twentysomethings. I don't think I liked it enough to start buying the book, though.
I just can't read comics written by Grant Morrison in the collected form. I mean, I can, but only after the fact. My initial read always has to be the monthly format simply because I think he does enough non-linear things that getting them at that pace allows for more freedom of the format.
Plus, it's hard to wait.
Suburban Glamour #3
I'm a big fan of Phonogram so buying Suburban Glamour from Jamie McKelvie was a no brainer. I think this his first writing work and while it wasn't the most complicated comic on the stands, it was an enjoyable series.
Teen Titans Lost Annual #1
So, a story of the original Teen Titans, written by Bob Haney, drawn by Jay Stephens, Mike Allread, and Laura Allred, plus sketches from Nick Cardy? No way I was passing this up.
I'm a big Joe Casey fan (I'm working on a series of posts about his work, because clearly I know what drives traffic) which is the main reason I bought this. I also bought it because Youngblood is such a ridiculous title. It has been through so many different permutations, each one supposedly making it a "legitimate" comic. And every one fails.
This one did, too. I only bought the first issue, but I'd eventually buy the rest of Casey's run in trades.
It is amazing to me that I went from buying 13 comics in 1988 (when I was still getting an allowance, no less) to 19 comics in 1998 (when I was paying my own way) to just FOUR in 2008. But I was doing a lot of trade waiting by the time '08 rolled around. And a month later, I would be engaged. Four months later, I'd be unemployed, so money had to start going elsewhere.
Still, it's a pretty good indicator how the comic book market has changed.