Mighty Thor Vol 2 #700, cover by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson, 2017The least earthbound of Earth’s Mightiest, the God of Thunder has for most of his Marvel comics history been very difficult to write. After all, how do you make an ageless god interesting? Give him a hammer and a big burly target? That’s proven at least an acceptable baseline for fans across the decades. But if I really wanted to convince a modern reader on the fence to love Thor, I’d have to look to those stories where the hammer blows and lightning strikes are balanced by something like character development. [Read more…] about Best 10 Thor Comics Of All Time!
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Captain America is as much a legacy and an ideal as an individual. Having such a split identity inherently creates problem—the stuff of dramatic tension; Cap’s not wholly unlike Spider-Man in that way. Add to that, however, the inextricably political and societal dimensions of Cap as a national treasure. Writers on the title have, since 1972 at least, dealt directly with America’s social and political ills, some more successfully than others, but none had ever explicitly addressed the deep-rootedness of our society’s systemic flaws until Mark Waid’s brief 1998/99 run. Yet it would take over another decade before they’d really be looked at again but without the naivete mainstream society could still afford in the 1990s.
Unlike the take-it-for-granted introduction of Cap to moviegoing audiences in 2011, the comics creators working on the monthly book over the decades knew that the concept of Captain America had increasingly become a hard sell. A superhero wearing a national flag screams nationalism, and yet Cap’s enemies—including his worst pretenders—are nationalists and ethno-fascists. He fights for “the American Dream,” and yet the last great run to seriously tout that idea without explicitly critiquing its foundations was Mark Waid’s in the late ’90s (although he does criticize how inaccessible it was becoming, leaving out a more honest look at American history until his superb Man Out of Time mini over a decade later).
In the 21st century, both concepts must struggle mightily for relevance. [Read more…] about 10 Best Captain America Comics of All Time!
The Star Wars comic book universe has spanned many decades (actually debuting right before A New Hope hit the theaters in 1977). The books have gone from canon to extended universe and back again, switched publishers multiple times, and often been mostly forgotten by fans of the films. Still, there are a heck of a lot of Star Wars comics that are easily on par with the films, and, with the exception of a few times during which the franchise lost its direction, there have always been great Star Wars comics.
Some Star Wars heroes and villains specifically benefit from their comic book counterparts receiving greater focus than the movies could allow, and one of those characters is Darth Vader. Despite his heavy focus in the films and The Clone Wars TV series, there are always going to be questions left unanswered when it comes to our tempestuous Anakin Skywalker. The comics delve further into his background, but perhaps more importantly, there are a whole lot of issues where he is fully the terrifying force of destruction we saw in the films. In the fleshing-out of his story, Vader only becomes more villainous. [Read more…] about The Best Darth Vader Comics!
With almost sixty years of publication history, comicdom’s friendliest of Friendly Neighborhood heroes has seen a staggering range of stories and interpretations—not all of them compatible. Indeed, Peter Parker has inspired some of the greatest superhero comics ever—and some of the absolute worst. There’s just so much content in Peter’s world that it can be difficult to know where to start.
But if I were to imagine a reader completely new to the Spider-Man of Marvel’s mainline universe, Earth-616, the ten story arcs and creator-run highlights listed below would be a most excellent entrée for beginners. Because there’s so much material to draw from, my criterion for this list is finding those moments where satisfying, entertaining storytelling endures not just on its own merits but through continued relevance to Spidey’s contemporary world and mythos.
And if you’re keeping up with Nick Spencer’s current Amazing run, you know that he’s been mining deep into seemingly all of Spidey’s endlessly layered history. His enthusiasm for the whole Spider-Man mythos is inspiring, proving that these classic stories have largely aged well, rich with material that continues to satisfy and provoke. [Read more…] about The Best Spider-Man (Peter Parker) Comics of All Time!
The Silver Age taught fans and creators at least one message: “heroes” are more important than the characters who play them. Counting only main continuity appearances, there are at there have been thirteen Thors, six Captains Marvel, maybe three or four Wolverines, and around a solar system’s worth of Spider-People.
The Green Lantern title is a perfect example of this message because Green Lantern isn’t a destiny, it’s a job title. It does away with the “destined” aspect, and goes a long way towards helping character transitions. But it also gives the stories ease and efficiency.
Green Lantern stories are vehicles that bring a new hero into adventure more quickly through smart use of the preexisting, easily comprehensible Lantern Corps. This craftsmanship makes the hero’s origin important, but not so heavy that it’s hard to progress beyond. Additionally, it means their start isn’t really a transformation. The moment the Fantastic Four are hit by cosmic rays, they change fundamentally and forever. Lanterns, on the other hand, feel more like the same people they always were, only with a new job. [Read more…] about The Best Green Lantern Comics of All Time!