Cullen’s #fourcomics

Jerry and John already posted their selections for the #fourcomics hashtag started by Jim Zub. The topic asks people to pick four comics which were influential to them. So without further ado, I present my selections.

I’ll start off by saying this was a lot harder than I thought it would be for something as silly as picking out four comics and talking about them. Comics have been a part of my everyday life for 32 years so picking out just four of my “babies”, (as Grandma Frances used to call them), was incredibly difficult. So I decided to keep my selections in the early phase of my love affair spanning the ’80s and the first part of the ’90s. Here we go!

Batman and the Outsiders #1 (August 1983) I was fairly new to comics as a scene, but had enough spinner rack purchases to know most of the players even if I didn’t know the difference between Marvel and DC. So when Jerry’s parents took us to the shopping mall so we could go to Clint’s South, (my first time in a direct sales store!), my head exploded and I literally didn’t know what to buy.  The options were limitless. So I looked around and picked up a few books mostly on the cover art. Batman and the Outsiders was one of those books. I mean, just LOOK at that Aparo cover and look at Batman! So iconic. Then you open the book and it’s panel to panel Aparo art from the first to the last page. It was beautiful. I didn’t understand the business of comics, the trajectory of careers, or the concept of tiers of super heroes when I was 13 but this book made so much sense to me at the time and I treasure it for many nostalgic reasons still today.

Alpha Flight #12 (July 1984) The ’80s were a great time to read comics because stories were written with decisions and consequences. Secret Wars, The Judas Contract, Crisis! All with very defining moments! What a great time to be reading comics! The biggest surprise for me happened while reading Alpha Flight #12. After a prolonged battle with Omega Flight, Guardian finds his exo-suit overheating, and with a dramatic countdown page we see Jim disconnecting his power supplies in an effort to halt the meltdown. Only to have his wife walk into the room, just as the suit is catching fire and exploding, bearing witness to his demise. Byrne’s art and words were incomparable and I think he was at the top of his game during this era.

Crisis On Infinite Earths #8 (November 1985) I didn’t collect a lot of DC in the ’80s beyond BatO, the first volume of Super Powers with those wacky Kirby interpretations, and some occasional Brave and the Bold to get my Aparo fix. So when Jerry and John told me I should pick up ‘Crisis’ I was pretty hesitant to spend my money on it. Then I bought issue number one and my head exploded again. You couldn’t catch your breath. Between Perez’ jam-packed pages and the panic Wolfman brought to the dialogue and story every issue left you spent and bummed out you had another four weeks to wait to get the next one. Then issue eight hit the stands. The death of Flash. People die in comics all of the time, right? But there was something different about this one. It was meaningful to the story, it was heartbreaking, and it was heroic. And in hindsight I believe DC did it’s finest work growing the mythos, and the Flash family, after Barry was gone which continued to give weight to this poignant issue instead of using it as just another meaningless death.

Understanding Comics (July 1993) I was never awesome academically. It was too hard to sit still and I was too busy being the classroom distraction to l-e-a-r-n. So when I tried to go to college, for the third time, I started off slow and easy with only two classes including another try at freshman Composition I. Except this time I really embraced the opportunity to write a research paper on a topic I could pick, and I chose comics. Little did I know as I began looking for reference materials in the library of Johnson County Community College I would find a new acquisition which would impact me for years to come. It was Scott McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’. It was the deconstruction manual for comics teaching me terms like gutters, sequential art, and ‘juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer’ to describe my babies. It was in the form of a comic and I couldn’t put it down. I sat down and read the entire book in one setting in the library and then checked it out to read again at home. It was the ‘how’ behind the magic and I felt like I understood something for the first time in my life. I still have a copy of it on my bookshelf today. And I’m still in college.

Those are my #fourcomics. Let us know what your four comics are and why they are influential to you so we can celebrate New Comic Book Day in style!

Categories: Cullen, Worst Comic Podcast Ever

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1 reply

  1. Great Issues Cullen! Batman and the Outsiders was a great book. It followed up on the success of the New Teen Titans with a similar formula, take a few underused but known characters and combine them with some newbies to make the mix feel new and unpredictable. It might be Aparo’s best work.

    The Flash death was huge but the Supergirl death hit me a bit harder because of my love for the Super Family and how it hit Superman personally. Both were great issues about sacrifice and heroism.

    I need to read Understanding Comics again. The first time I didn’t really have a chance to sit down really spend time with it. It would be amazing to have McCloud in Kansas City for one of the cons!


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