Last month, I wrote about 10 trade paperback collections that didn’t need to exist; collections of comic books that were too terrible or too unimportant to reprint in book form. So naturally, I got to thinking about the opposite idea. What comic book series and stories should be collected, but haven’t? Recent years have seen reprints of normalman, American Flagg, and Beanworld-comics I thought would never be reprinted. So here are 10 comics I think should be collected. These comics all have two things in common: I’ve heard great things about them, and I’ve never read them.
Often cited as one of the best comic books of the 1980’s, John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad followed a team of captured villains assembled by the US government to perform missions considered too dangerous for anyone else. The series developed complex personalities for many minor league DC villains. It also developed the covert agencies and espionage groups operating behind the scenes in the DC universe.
Despite its long-time popularity, a collection of these comics has never been published. A B&W Showcase Presents was announced in 2007, but was soon cancelled. According to Amazon.com, a color collection has been scheduled for February, 2011. Let’s hope this one actually gets made.
9. ROM the Spaceknight
ROM the Spaceknight began life as a toy doll from Parker Brothers. Marvel agreed to publish a comic book based on ROM that would hopefully raise toy sales and inspire the creation of more figures. It didn’t. But the comic book did last for 75 issues. The villains of the series, Dire Wraiths, magical shape-shifting aliens, appeared in other Marvel series during ROM‘s run. It inspired the creation of other “Spaceknights” who remain an active part of Marvel’s sci-fi based comics. ROM is fondly remembered by comics fans and toy collectors.
So why haven’t we seen any ROM reprints? Why can’t Marvel even reprint issues of other series where ROM guest-stars? Why can’t ROM even be mentioned by name in Marvel comic book? Why is ROM being kept from the public?
No idea. I can only assume that Parker Brothers have no interest in reprinting the old comics. Which means Parker Brothers hate money. Seriously, how many copies of an Essential ROM collection would Marvel sell? How neat would the ROM toy look now, with modern technology to update its flashing lights and sounds? I honestly see no good reason to not renew the ROM license with Marvel. If anyone has the inside dope on the original deal between Parker and Marvel, we’d love to hear it.
8. Legion of Super-Heroes: 1994-2004
The Legion of Super-Heroes has attracted fans for generations. But writers and editors have taken advantage of the team’s existence in the distant future to alter its history. This has resulted in multiple versions of the Legion and its history.
In 1994, DC comics tried to simplify the future by giving the Legion a fresh start. The Zero Hour crossover had rewritten the timeline, resulting in a brand new future and a brand new Legion. The revamped Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires were initially written by Mark Waid. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning later came onboard as both series ended. Their final stories led to mini-series and a new series that took the Legion in a darker direction. This version of the Legion, and its world, were destroyed in Infinite Crisis to make way for another reboot in 2007.
There is an audience for these Legion stories. Abnett and Lanning have attracted a loyal following based on their work from these Legion comics and Marvel’s sci-fi books. And a generation of comics fans grew up reading this incarnation of the future’s greatest heroes. But best of all, this version of the Legion has a definitive beginning and ending. The original, pre-Crisis Legion has returned to comics with all of its confusing and contradictory histories. And since DC has reprinted so many of the original Legion’s stories, as well as the 2007-2009 “Threeboot” series, why not represent this decade of Legion history? A complete collection would be unrealistic. But the stories by Abnett and Lanning can find an audience. There will always be people who want to read good science fiction comics.
7. Scourge of the Underworld
The Scourge of the Underworld was a masked killer of supervillians who would appear in disguise, kill someone, and leave with his signature line, “Justice is Served”. He would appear at random in Marvel Comics in the mid 1980’s. No one knew who he was or where he’d strike next. It was like a secret crossover. Scourge even struck duringSecret Wars II and “Avengers: Under Siege”. His most famous attack was killing nearly 20 villains at the Bar with No Name in Captain America #319. The Scourge storyline was one of the more unusual stories in comics. The mystery of his identity continued for years. It was eventually revealed there was a network of Scourges working for retired superhero the Golden Age Angel.
References to Scourge still appear in Marvel comics, most recently in Punisher War Journal where many of Scourge’s victims were raised from the dead. The character of Scourge is perfect for a modern reinvention. In any case, the Scourge of the Underworld was a unique and entertaining story idea from Marvel’s long history. One that I would like to revisit.
6. Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge
Carl Barks created an entire world around Disney’s Donald Duck. He gave us Uncle Scrooge McDuck, the villainous Beagle Boys, tinkerer Gyro Gearloose, and most everything I saw on the cartoon series DuckTales. He’s been acclaimed as one of the greatest comics illustrators of the 20th Century. His style has influenced generations of funny animal artists. So why can’t I find cheap copies of his work?! How can stories so popular be so rare? Donald Duck is one of my favorite cartoon characters. I loved the DuckTales series, with its adventures, characters, and cultural satire. I would LOVE to see the comics that inspired it. Gemstone collected these stories in color albums in the 1990s, but they went out of business in 1998. BOOM! Studios has just released a collection of Barks’ Donald Duck stories. Hopefully this will be the beginning of more classic stories I can read with my son.
5. Negation War
When CrossGen Comics began publishing in 2000, their comics features mysterious hooded figures giving superpowers to random people across the universe. Clues about these figures identities and their ultimate goal where dropped throughout the CrossGen line over the next 4 years. Finally, these figures ultimate plan was revealed: They were preparing their universe for an invasion from the anti-matter Negation Empire. Negation Warwasn’t just CrossGen’s first company-wide crossover. It was the culmination of 4 years’ worth of stories. The big reveal to the mystery hinted at for years. Finally, everything would be explained!
And then the company went bankrupt and Negation War was cancelled after 2 issues.
Now that Marvel is reviving the CrossGen characters, I’d like to seeNegation War completed. It would be great to see this story, and the story of the entire CrossGen Universe, finally completed. Especially if Marvel decides to reprint the original series.
“Zenith” was a super-hero/social satire originally published in 2000 A.D. , by Grant Morrison, Brendan McCarthy and Steve Yeowell. Zenith was the son of superheroes who used his powers mainly to promote his career as a pop idol. He reluctantly becomes a crime fighter when England is threatened by alien invaders. It was an early success for Morrison and a real career booster for artist Yeowell. Five TPBs were published in the late ’80s, but the entire saga remains uncollected. Unfortunately, Morrison is still in a legal dispute with Titan Publishing, owners of 2000 A.D. , over ownership of Zenith. Until this is resolved, Zenith will remain Morrison’s “lost classic”.
Every list of the great comic strips includes Walt Kelly’s “Pogo”. This lushly illustrated series was about talking animals living in a swamp in the southern United States. Pogo was an average, good-natured possum often caught up in the excitement brought on by the other animals. Before “Doonesbury”, “Pogo” was the most controversial comic strip on the funny pages.
I read a couple of “Pogo” collections from Simon and Schuster. They each featured a year’s worth of “Pogo” strips, plus assorted other material, including other strips, illustrations, articles and interviews. They were a true joy. I also kept an eye out for more books, but alas. Although 45 volumes of “Pogo” books were published by Simon & Schuster from 1951-1989, all are out of print and getting harder to find. Fantagraphics announced they would publish a complete collection of the strip in 2007. It’s been delayed until later this year. So why am I still including it? Because I hope Fantagraphics will commit to the project. And I’m also hoping they reprint the Kelly and Pogo-related material from the S&S books.
2. Zap Comix
Zap Comix is the best known of the early underground comics. (Or “Comix”). It introduced Robert Crumb and his character Mr. Natural to the world. Other contributing artists include S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, and “Spain” Rodriguez. Zap‘s publication has been sporadic to say the least. A total of 16 issues have been published between 1967 and 2005. I say it’s time we got a definitive Zap Comix collection! Reprint the original comics as they appeared! Include interviews with R. Crumb and other contributors! Package it in a deluxe hardcover and sell it for $99.99! Yes, there’s no better way to commemorate this counterculture masterpiece than by turning it into a collectible!
Or they could just, you know, bring the original comics back into print and sell them dirt cheap.
1. 1980s Marvelman/Miracleman
In 20 years of reading comics, I have only read one issue of Miracleman. ONE! I was lucky to afford even that! This British knock-off of Captain Marvel was reinvented by Alan Moore in 1982. It is considered the first example of superhero deconstruction. Moore explored the horror and dangers of a superhuman in the real world. Published in Britain as Marvelman, it was reprinted in America as Miracleman by Eclipse comics. When Eclipse Comics went out of business, rights to the character were split amongst different parties. True ownership of Marvelman has always been contested. It’s possible Dez Skinn, original publisher of the Alan Moore reboot, never had the rights to the character in the first place.
Marvel Comics has begun reprinting the original Marvelman stories from the 1950s. Hopefully this will aid them in acquiring the rights to the 80’s comics. But if they do, royalties could be paid to one of the series’ former artists: Chuck Beckum, a.k.a., CHUCK AUSTEN!