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The Comics 8 Ball 11.18.13: Top 8 Essential Comic Book Issues
Posted by Anthony Kennedy on 11.18.2013



Welcome back to the Comic 8 Ball in the Movie Zone everyone!

Quick Thor: The Dark World Review. Sooooooooo finally saw the newest Marvel movie and honestly, was very disappointed. I know I watched a movie, but the plot was too convoluted and, at times, boring. Stuff was happening, but did not get any sense of purpose nor had a sense of how this would lead to a next Thor film or to the greater Avengers franchise. A Marvel films based on a Norse God should not leave me feeling bored. Far be it for me to give multi-million dollar Hollywood decision makers advice, but watching the world they created for Asgard had me wondering why are they not taking Thor in the same visual direction and feel that Peter Jackson has for the Lords of the Rings and the Hobbit films? I understand Thor has source material that lends itself well to adaptation, however if there is a Marvel franchise that probably should deter heavily from the source material, there is no better franchise than the Asgardian world of Thor that is ripe for a more fantasy take. Also, why was the film shot so dark to look at?

Those are just my thoughts, maybe I just don't get Thor, however the box office isn't proven me wrong.

Before we get to this week's 8 Ball….READER FEEDBACK

Kyle: "In wrestling terminology, this is how you get a monster heel over."

Really now? well let's be thankful that Batman is not the Hulk Hogan of DC comics and use his backstage political power instead of agreeing to cleanly put Bane over.

Hilarious take. However I think that applies more to HHH than Hogan. Hogan would get over his opponent(s) to build him up for the eventual money match where he vanquished the monster heel of the month. HHH would buried his opponent making sure he never got over to a level that threatened his spot.

jon:The Thunderbolts being revealed as the Masters of Evil.

Big omission on my part, it at least warranted an honorable mention. One of the biggest shockers in comic book history, that's been so talked about that I took it for granted when compiling this list.

CyberVenom:Awesome list! I agree with one, maybe two, so let us begin, as always in no order.

10. Lori and the baby die. Agreed. That was crazy. I was blown away at the brutality.
9. "I did it 35 minutes ago." Ozymandias saying that completely turned the bad guy speech on its head.
8. Thanos breaks Captain America's neck. Even after all the death, Cap gives one of his best "You'll never win" speeches. This was Thanes' reply.
7. The Night Gwen Stacy Died. No one would have thought Peter's love would be taken so cruelly.
6. The nuke that ended the war in Kingdom Come. The shot of Superman among the skeletons.
5. Joker shoots Barbara. I think the artwork did it there. The "oof!" look on her face.
4. Joker kills Robin with a crowbar. We knew it was a possibility, but not the glee on Joker's face as he was doing it.
3. The Masters of Evil beat Jarvis. No armor, shield, or hammer. Just a loyal butler.
2. It's not Weapon X. The whole idea that X is a roman numeral and that there were more experiments.
1. Peter is the clone. While ultimately not popular, the revelation that the Spider-Man we've been reading for decades was a clone was shocking!

Like your list. I always felt the Thanos-Cap confrontation has been a bit overrated, but understand why people have great reverence for this moment from Infinity Gauntlet.

Mike Phillips: green lanterns girlfriend in the fridge was more shocking than that...jean dewolf was worse than number 1...I think you chose to score political points with your readers...safe and simple. Whats the biggest show on tv? why its walking dead by definition the walking dead tv show is much bigger than the comic book. in fact its fair to say that 75 percent of the people who watch walking dead have no idea that there is a comic

Really dude you went there? So you're calling me a lemming? I'm a fan of the comic book first and foremost. I will readily admit that I have been disappointed, at times, with the television show. As I stated in a comment, "Lori running from the prison with her baby in her arms thinking she was going to escape only to be shot with a gun powerful enough to nearly rip her in half and leaving the baby damn near being obliterated in the process" was a powerful WTF moment. Nobody saw that coming. The fact that 75% of TWD's viewers aren't aware it's based on comic does nor should not diminish this moment.

Comic Book Guy: Hyde raped him because the Invisible Man raped Mina Harker. It was sadistic eye for an eye justice. Also if you think this is WTF stuff you're missing out on the child eating a corpse's hand in the Warsaw ghetto in Enemy Ace, Swamp Thing having "sex" with Abigal Arcane, Anton Arcane's stomach turning reveal that he's been possessing Abbie's husband for months to have sex with his own daughter, Ms Marvel birthing her own lover and the Avengers letting her run off with her super aging son, the Superman/Barda sex tape, the toilet rape scene and all of the Battle of London in Miracleman/Marvelman, pretty much all of The Other arc of Amazing Spider-Man... I think making it rain severed limbs and cars full of families beats a simple shotgun blast of a mother and infant.

The WTF of the Ms. Marvel wasn't that she "birthed" her boyfriend/lover, it's that she was manipulated into falling in love with him in the first place, had sex with him, birthed him in the Marvel 616 world, found out about all of this and THEN still went off to live happily ever after with him. That was a very demented storyarc. Definitely worth an honorable mention.

Jeremy Thomas: Awesome list as always Anthony! If I had to throw one in for inclusion, it would be the death of Alex DeWitt in Green Lantern, which led the great Gail Simone to coin the term "Women in Refrigerators." But I can't argue with any of these.

A heck of a kick-off to the Kyle Rayner GL era. As shocking as "women in refrigerators" is, always thought this was a forced, shock killing to give Kyle his Uncle Ben/Gwen Stacy moment to leave him a traumatized and torture superhero.

Al_Lobama: I think one of the top (if not THE top) Comic Book WTF moments is one that most people probably wouldn't consider because it happened almost forty years and modern fans now take it for granted; the Green Goblin being unmasked as Norman Osborn. I'm sure that most of today's fans don't remember that the Goblin's identity WAS a secret for years until the big reveal in Amazing Spiderman #39, but I assure you that the final page depicting Spidey's greatest enemy revealing himself to be the father of Peter Parker's best friend caught everyone who read it off guard when the book was first published. If the scenario seems clichéd now, it's only because this moment CREATED the cliché.

This is actually a heck of a choice. The benefit of hindsight knowing who the Green Goblin is, today's comic readers don't appreciate what a WTF it was to learn that Norman Osborn was Petey's greatest nemesis.

Thanks for the feedback, keep ‘em coming. Now on to this week's column.

Top 8 Essential Comic Book Issues

comic 8 ball

As a kid, reading Wizard magazine or, on those rare occasions, picking up an Overstreet Price Guide, I would hear about moments from certain issues that made these comics so valuable, so momentous, so ICONIC. Issues like Giant Size X-Men #1, or the Amazing Spider-Man issue that had the Death of Gwen Stacy, or first appearance of Wolverine in Incredible Hulk. Issues like these were deemed the must-have, essential comics for our generation. If you were a comic book collector these were the issues you had to have read and absolutely needed in your comic book collection.

This week's column, I'm turning the clock back to a time period where ‘comic book collecting' was at its peak and listing the 8 Essential Comic Issues. Of course the biggies (i.e. Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, Amazing Fantasy #15) aren't on this list, as only a rare few would be audacious enough (and wealthy enough) to try to collect those comics. Also no first issues as, c'mon, that's way too easy. No, I focused on those back issues that were actually within the purchasing ability of the average collector at one point and were the essential comic issue you had to read and possess in your collection. Mint or Near Mint only (remember that term?)

With those caveats out of the way, on to this week's Comic 8 Ball!
***Comic Book issue source from Comic Book Price Guide

Honorable Mentions:
  • Amazing Spider-Man #129: Punisher's First Appearance
  • Amazing Spider-Man #300: Return of Classic Spidey costume, first full appearance of Venom
  • Batman #428: Jason Todd's death
  • The Dark Knight Returns #1-4: The Frank Miller Classic
  • Superman #75: Death of Superman

    #8 Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #36


    Milestone: 9/11 Issue
    What It's Worth: $40/$80 (Reflect Variant Cover)
    Why It's Here: It was a rare case of comic book publisher calling an audible and quickly churning out an issue to address a topical situation at the time. With many of Marvel's superheroes based in New York City, it was a bold move to have their flagship character's title address the World Trade Center terrorist attack. And J. Michael Straczynski with John Romita Jr. did just that with this issue. No action, just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man depicted as being helpless as he looked over the destruction of his city. It was a powerful story and with a limited pressing, became a sought after issue in the early 00's.

    #7 New Mutants #87


    Milestone: First appearance of Cable
    What It's Worth: $60
    Why It's Here:Rob Liefeld along with longtime New Mutants scribe Louise Simonson (such an underappreciated comic writer) created this cyborg looking character, who knew they had created one of the most convoluted, complicated characters that would dominate the early 90's in popularity. Nathan Charles Christopher Dayspring Askani Summers was the shot in the arm that the book needed and this issue was the New Mutants issue that everyone wanted.

    #6 Birds of Prey #8


    Milestone:Nightwing-Oracle Date Night
    What It's Worth: $50
    Why It's Here: Yeah, go ahead and snicker. But this date night outing between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon was at one point DC Comics hard to find comic of the early millennia. Not much action, just two longtime crime fighting heroes finally stopping all the bull and giving in to their desires and budding love for one another.

    #5 Avengers Annual #10


    Milestone: Return of Carol Danvers/First Appearance of Rogue.
    What It's Worth: $110
    Why It's Here:You have Chris Claremont's rare turn writing the Avengers. Add to that it was the follow-up to the confusing rape and forced pregnancy of Carol Danvers' boyfriend story. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants 2.0 taking down Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, but screw all that. This is here because of the first appearance of what would become one of the most beloved X-Men members, Rogue. Besides these huge storylines, the Michael Golden's artwork is beautiful as will.

    #4 Uncanny X-Men #141-142


    Milestone: Days of Future Past
    What It's Worth: $720, $720
    Why It's Here: Kind of a cheat as it's two issues, but really you wouldn't collect one with out getting the other, unless you could only afford one at a time. After the Dark Phoenix Saga played itself out, X-fans thought they could catch their breath. Instead we got one of the darkest tales in X-Men history as Professor X realizes his greatest nightmare as mutants are hunted down and incarcerated or worse, killed. Issue #142 also marks the when the title became "The Uncanny X-Men".

    #3 Giant-Size X-Men #1


    Milestone: First appearance of the All-New X-Men.
    What It's Worth: $720
    Why It's Here: Longtime X-Men favorites Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Thunderbird debuted on the team along with the returns of Banshee and Sunfire. I know I said no first issues, but since it was nearly 30 years before Giant Size X-Men #2 this was more a one off than the launch of an on-going or annual series.

    #2 Amazing Spider-Man #121


    Milestone: The death of Gwen Stacy.
    What It's Worth: $450
    Why It's Here: The saddest issue in Spidey fan history. As I've commented before, the hero always saved the day, especially when it was for the woman he loved. But nope not this time. Spidey's failure to save Gwen Stacy became a turning point for the character and yielded one of must-read comics in the series' history.

    #1 Incredible Hulk #181


    Milestone: First appearance of Wolverine.
    What It's Worth: $2,000
    Why It's Here: Believe or not, there was a point in Marvel's history where Wolverine wasn't the over exposed character that he's become today. It's great to note that Chris Claremont, prior to his nearly two decade run on Uncanny X-Men made a scrappy lil' canuck that dared take on the Hulk. After refining and building on his character and mythology, Logan became the most popular X-Men, and, probably behind Spider-Man, the character who made the most cameo appearance in the Marvel Universe. And this Hulk issues was the comic to aspire to collect for true fans of Wolvie.

    Well that's my list. Agree, disagree, did I miss an issue that deserved to make this list? Let me know! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, I leave you with Screen Junkies awesome Honest Trailer for Man of Steel. And if you get a chance, listen to this week's Geeked Out Podcast I'm a part of weekly, this week we discussed Thor: The Dark World along with the Marvel-Netflix deal.

    Have a great week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! I'm done.

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