Monday, February 22, 2010

Which books have I forgotten?

I decided that one of the forgotten places to look for series that need to be included in our discussion of best comic series ever is my box of autographed comics (all waiting for their turn to take a rotation spot in my glass display cases or on the wall in my basement!)

Here are some terrific things I found:

1. Barry Allen: The Life Story of The Flash
2. Crimson
3. Next Men & 2112
4. Marvels
5. Mutant X

Barry Allen: The Life Story Of The Flash
If ever you needed a primer in The Flash, this is the book you would start with.  It begins, pretty much, at the beginning and talks about the life and times of Barry Allen, who for those of you who don't know, is the one true Flash.  I'm not knocking Wally West, who really grew into the role and certainly took a quantum leap forward because he was written by Mark Waid and Geoff Johns.  His issues were some of the greatest Flash issues I've ever read.  But history just has to mean something, and in the case of the lineage of The Flash, it means that Barry Allen is THE man. The book, at the time it was written, gave us an intricate look into Barry's history and taunted us with the idea that there were more stories to come.  Then, just this past year, he ran back out of the speed force during Final Crisis. This is an excellent blend of prose and comics.

Before the world of tweens went nuts for Vampires who glitter in the sun, Brian Augustyn and Humberto Ramos did two years of a series about a young teen bitten by a Vampire and saved by a seemingly immortal survivor of the race God created before mankind. Alex Elder is the Chosen One, according to Ekimus, and his role will save all of humanity. This is an interesting and fun glimpse into the crossing of the horror genre with many elements of Judeo-Christian beliefs tied into it. Over the course of the series we find out about races we never knew existed, and we see the day that Dragons return to claim the earth, and through it all Ekimus shepherds Alex towards his destiny. It's a good fun read, and for me was a very original story.

Next Men & 2112
2112 is the graphic novel that serves as a prequel to John Byrne's exceptional spin on mutants from Dark Horse Comics. After 2112 sets the stage, and lets us know what we're dealing with, we step into Next Men and come face to face with a government conspiracy to create super soldiers in a contained environment.  Imagine that one day your friends simply faded out of existence, and then a moment later your entire perception of reality changed when you woke up to find them standing over you, complete with a cybernetic suit that keeps you all in a state of unconsciousness while your minds remain stimulated and active in a virtual reality.  Set loose in the real world, what would you do?  Would you save the world......or doom it? These questions barely scratch the surface of what John did on this book before low sales and finances put an end to it.  A terrific read.

Before there was Astro City or Kingdome Come, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross teamed up to give us this beautiful four issue series that examines the emergence of the super-humans into the Marvel Universe from the eyes of an ordinary person named Phil Sheldon. It is the change of perspective which makes this a truly interesting and unique project that everyone should really get a look at at least once. Too often in comics it becomes difficult to consider or even think about the impact that super humans have on the world around them in a real sense.  Marvels does that, and it happens at some of the most famous moments in Marvel history.  Truly fantastic.

Mutant X
Long before the television show rights lead them to cancel this series it had started to lose some of its steam for me.  But at its inception, I was engaged and intrigued by the idea of Alex Summers waking up on a parallel world where he leads The Six.  Everything about the world seems wrong though, including the methods of his teammates.  In truth he is on a world where Reed Richards and Nick Fury are the villains and Doctor Doom and Apocalypse are the heroes. Howard Mackie crafts an interesting 'alternate universe' story with this premise and takes us on some unexpected twists and turns as he steers us towards the series ultimate conclusion.  As I said, by the time the book finished it had become heavy with time traveling, alternate world interference in the story and omnipotent powers that had to be dealt with.  It got tired and formulaic by the end, but in the beginning, it was fun to read a different version of world history, and what the X-Men might have looked like.  Probably doesn't make the top 10 debate, but it deserves a look.

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