That's What I Want: My Top Requested Graphic Novels of '11 (2)

Here we go with the second of two entries about the graphic novel collections I'd most like to see. They include both existing collections which have sadly fallen out-of-print, as well as original collections that have never seen the light of day. Allow me to start with one out-of-alphabetical-order pick that honestly should have been in yesterday's entry, and then we'll continue with the final seven eight picks!

Batman: Prodigal (DC)
(Collecting Batman #512-514; Batman: Shadow of the Bat #32-34; Detective Comics #679-681; and Robin #0, 11-13.) After all that's happened in the world of Batman over the last year, with Dick Grayson inheriting the cowl in the wake of Bruce Wayne's apparent demise, then continuing as Batman in Gotham while the returned Bruce begins an international Batmen recruiting drive, it's truly a wonder to me that this collection can only be found at hyper-inflated costs on eBay and amazon.com. This storyline, released in the aftermath of everything that began with "Knightfall," showed what happened when Batman left the cowl in the hands of the man best qualified for the role, instead of the noob Azrael. It's an intriguing character study that touches on all the major bases such a storyline should. It's also, in context, an excellent prologue for current events. Because it's relevant to the beginning of "Prodigal," I've also taken the liberty of including one extra story here: "Brothers in Arms" from Robin #0, a Zero Month spotlight on Robin and Nightwing that paved the way for this arc. It's the single improvement in an otherwise terrific volume. (And hey, DC? While we're on the subject, it's well past time for that collection of "Batman: Year 3" by Wolfman & Perez. Okay?)

Iron Man: The Iron Scream (Marvel)
(Collecting Iron Man #163-170.) I'm really shocked that this collection hasn't already been done, considering its conclusion is already available in the Iron Man: Iron Monger Premiere Classic hardcover. Written by comics vet Denny O'Neil and drawn by Luke McDonnell, this is the storyline that introduced Tony Stark's chief competitor, Obadiah Stane (seen in the film!), and set the two on a collision course. Playing a game of chess with real people as the pieces, Stane takes Stark to the edge of sanity in a storyline that ends with our hero back to drowning his sorrows away, leading to Rhodey donning the steel-mesh armor for the first time. That's right, it's the start of the long road that leads to the birth of War Machine, and it all starts here! What better reason to bring this storyline in print?

Morbius the Living Vampire: A Stillborn Genesis (Marvel)
(Collecting Adventure Into Fear #20-31.) Since Marvel has been releasing the rest of what would be in an Essential Morbius volume in their Vampire Tales collections, it'd be great to see them release the other solo Morbius stories in living color, which brings me to this volume, written by Steve Gerber and Doug Moench, with art by Paul Gulacy and Frank Robbins. These are Morbius stories with a more sci-fi bent than in his Vampire Tales series. The series guest-stars Blade and Simon Stroud from the Tomb of Dracula and Creatures on the Loose strips, respectively. An entertaining diversion, this volume could even pave the way for more Morbius the Living Vampire collections from the 1990s series!

The Punisher: Purgatory & Revelation (Marvel)
(Collecting Punisher: Purgatory #1-4 and Punisher/Wolverine: Revelation #1-4.) Franken-Castle? One of my favorite Punisher stories. I'm not a typical Punisher fan, and I don't like typical Punisher stories. The last time I enjoyed the character before then was in these two storylines, which have an impressive pedigree. It's not often you get a Punisher story drawn by Bernie Wrightson, with covers by Joe Jusko. The story is about as ridiculous as Frank Castle's ever gotten, right up there with having his skin turned black. He commits suicide and gets brought back as an angel of vengeance, with an arsenal from God. He finds out his guardian angel screwed the pooch the day Maria and the kids were killed. This collection of eight issues over two miniseries, including a team-up with Wolverine, would easily fit in one volume. We've got Franken-Castle. Why not Angel Punisher?

The Spectre: Crimes and Punishments (DC)
(Collecting The Spectre (1992) #1-4.) John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake are one of the best duos in comics, with work ranging from the creator-owned Grimjack, to the Superman-as-western riff The Kents, to the elemental fury of Firestorm and the alien worlds of the Martian Manhunter. The apotheosis of their collaboration is this 62-issue series that lasted from 1992 to 1998. Noteworthy for its exploration of Christian mythology, its striking covers by fantasy's foremost artists, and its development of the Jim Corrigan character far beyond anything seen over the previous half a decade, Ostrander and Mandrake's Spectre stands with James Robinson's Starman as one of the most consistent creative visions in DC history. Not only does it deserve a re-release of the first volume, it also deserves the royal treatment: either a whole series of graphic novel collections, or a deluxe omnibus release. It's time to show the masses that the Spectre, when written well, was one of the best damn characters and one of the best damn comics, period.

Spider-Man: The Cosmic Adventures (Marvel)
(Collecting The Amazing Spider-Man #326-329; Quasar #7; The Spectacular Spider-Man #158-160; and Web of Spider-Man #59-61, 64-65.) While the majority of these issues are now available in the brand-new Acts of Vengeance Omnibus, let's face it: that collected edition is a $100 hardcover and hardly something the casual Spider-Man fan would feel comfortable purchasing. Instead, I strongly suggest Marvel release an updated version of this collection from 1993, with the original Ron Lim cover, and with the additions of Spidey's guest appearance in Quasar and the two-part event where all the bad guys came back to fight Spidey after his cosmic powers had left him. Certainly a $30 softcover is more economical than that epic tome that's already available.

Spider-Man: The Owl/Octopus War (Marvel)
(Collecting Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #72-79.) While it may be readily accessible in two Essential collections, a Premiere Classic hardcover edition of this eight-part storyline in full color would be welcome indeed. In 1983, Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom crafted what I consider to be among the best clashes between Spider-Man and one of his deadliest foes, Dr. Octopus. Guest-starring the Black Cat, and co-featuring the villainy of the Owl, this saga encapsulates just about everything I enjoyed about early 1980s Spidey books. I've already told listeners of Jon Westhoff's and my Spectacular Spider-Cast all about my love for this arc, but it bears repeating here. If you've never read this storyline, you're really missing out--as is Marvel by withholding this terrific collection. 'Nuff said.

Spider-Man Presents: The Mark of the Man-Wolf (Marvel)
(Collecting The Amazing Spider-Man #124-125, 189-190; Creatures on the Loose #30-37; Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1; Marvel Premiere #45-46; Marvel Team-Up #37; Peter Parker. the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #3; and Savage She-Hulk #13-14.) Of all the neglected monster characters, John Jameson as the Man-Wolf may rank atop the leader boards. Emblazoning Spider-Man's name on the top of this volume would, I hope, bring ample notice to this collection, filled with both battles with Spider-Man as well as the Man-Wolf's own solo adventures (some of which were drawn by a young George Perez--say, whatever happened to him?). Yes, the collection would also reprint all John Jameson's appearances as Stargod. I can't tell you how much I want to see this volume. Bark at the moon, kids!

Swamp Thing: Bad Gumbo (DC/Vertigo)
(Collecting Swamp Thing #140-143.) Especially topical considering today's return of Swamp Thing in Brightest Day (and possibly strongly a no-no to be reprinted because Swampy's back at mainstream DC), this storyline is by three industry giants and well deserves a collection. Was Swamp Thing only a dream, a hallucination of botanist Alec Holland, stoned out of his mind? This contrarian take on Swamp Thing had more than its share of psychological horror courtesy of co-writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar and artist Phil Hester. This is an utterly raw story by all talents, but something makes it work. Millar's plotlines may have meandered in later issues, leading down the long road to cancellation in issue #171, but this four-part storyline is solid and representative of some of the best of 1990s Vertigo that isn't Sandman. It actually led me to dive into the back-issue bins for Alan Moore's original run. How's that for inspiration?

Well, that's my list! What say you fellas?


1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting a Man-wolf collection for ages. Your suggestion really covers it quite well - heck, I would just be happy with slim volume that collects the Creatures on the Loose and Marvel Premiere issues...


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