Mag­nif­i­cent mile­stone mags

With Ac­tion Comics #1000 com­ing out next week, we look back at some of the best comic book an­niver­sary is­sues.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Culture - By KALEON RAHAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

NEXT week is a mo­men­tous week for Su­per­man – it is the re­lease of Ac­tion Comics #1000, which marks the Man Of Steel’s 80th birth­day!

The mile­stone is­sue will be new Su­per­man scribe Brian Michael Bendis’ de­but for DC Comics af­ter his much-vaunted move from Marvel Comics, and will fea­ture a host of vari­ant cov­ers as well as a new Jim Lee-de­signed cos­tume which will see the re­turn of Su­per­man’s, er, red un­der­pants.

The big­ger ques­tion for me, how­ever, is whether Ac­tion Comics #1,000 will be an is­sue to re­mem­ber.

For the record, Ac­tion Comics isn’t the long­est-run­ning comic book ti­tle ever, as that hon­our goes to Beano Comics (presently at #3,913), fol­lowed by 2000 A.D. (#2,060).

To­day’s fo­cus is very much on the qual­ity of an­niver­sary is­sues, as the stan­dard of such mile­stone re­leases has been gen­er­ally poor over the last decade. This is very un­like the prod­ucts of the 1970s to the 1990s, when the ef­fort put into the is­sue can be seen from cover to cover, and no ex­pense was spared in re­cruit­ing the finest and big­gest cre­ative tal­ents. Best of all, there was also a suf­fi­cient im­pact to com­mem­o­rate the aus­pi­cious mo­ment.

While these are sorely miss­ing in to­day’s an­niver­sary is­sues, what irks me most is the ad­di­tion of reprinted tales just to make the book thicker, which also in­creases the cover price!

Any­way, to jus­tify my point that old is in­deed gold, let’s re­visit 10 past an­niver­sary is­sues that set the bench­mark for all an­niver­sary is­sues.

Bat­man #400 (1986)

Writer: Doug Moench Artists: Ge­orge Perez, Art Adams, Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Ku­bert, Brian Bol­land, Rick Leonardi, John Byrne & oth­ers

The Stephen King in­tro­duc­tion is al­ready worth the cover price, but what’s most im­por­tant in this mile­stone is Ra’s al Ghul’s state­ment of in­tent in be­com­ing the Dark Knight’s big­gest vil­lain, as he or­ches­trates two full scale break­outs at Arkham Asy­lum and the Gotham State Peni-ten­tiary.

To fur­ther up the stakes, loved ones and key peo­ple re­lated to the Bat­man are also kid­napped, forc­ing our hero (and his side­kicks) to em­bark on a marathon gaunt­let ses­sion!

The Amaz­ing Spi­der Man #200 (1980)

Writer: Marv Wolf­man Artists: Keith Pol­lard & Jim Mooney

The long awaited se­quel to Amaz­ing

Fan­tasy #15 fi­nally takes place here (af­ter 17 years!) as Peter Parker takes on the burglar who killed Un­cle Ben. With the odds evened cour­tesy of Mys­te­rio’s de­pres­sants, a pow­er­less Peter’s quest for re­venge is made more dif­fi­cult. To make things worse, Aunt May’s life is at stake!

To en­sure that clo­sure is fi­nally achieved, the burglar dies from a heart at­tack, putting a full stop to the event that marks the Park­ers’ dark­est hour.

The Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #300 (1988)

Writer: David Miche­linie Artist: Todd McFar­lane

Fea­tur­ing the first full ap­pear­ance of Venom, McFar­lane at his finest, and the re­turn of the red-and-blue duds!

And there’s also a mile­stone-within-a-mile­stone, as the Spidey pose on the cover set the tem­plate for many fu­ture il­lus­tra­tions to come.

Jus­tice League Of Amer­ica #200 (1982)

Writer: Gerry Con­way

Artists: Ge­orge Perez, Jim Aparo, Dick Gior­dano, Gil Kane, Carmine In­fantino, Brian Bol­land, Joe Ku­bert & Pat Brod­er­ick

If there’s one is­sue that best sums up the diver­sity and chem­istry within the League, this has to be it!

In ad­di­tion to the Mag­nif­i­cent Seven (ie Su­per­man, Bat­man, Won­der Woman, Aqua­man, Green Lan­tern, Flash and Mar­tian Man­hunter), this star-stud­ded event also boasts the in­clu­sion of Atom, Green Ar­row, Black Ca­nary, Elon­gated Man, Firestorm, Hawk­man, Red Tor­nado, Zatanna, Adam Strange, Phan­tom Stranger – and even Snap­per Carr!

Co­nan The Bar­bar­ian #100 (1979)

Writer: Roy Thomas Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

The dream me­dieval cou­ple would have been Co­nan-Red Sonja BUT there is ac­tu­ally an­other who is wor­thier of the Cim­me­rian’s at­ten­tion, namely the late Belit aka the Queen of the Black Coast. Well, if you don’t know her, this mile­stone is­sue won’t help much, as it fea­tures Belit’s swan song.

Apart from her death, what makes this is­sue mem­o­rable is the rare glimpse of emo­tion from Co­nan.

Groo The Wan­derer #100 (1993)

Writ­ers: Ser­gio Aragones & Mark Evanier

Artist: Ser­gio Aragones

If I have to choose one sin­gle comic to be used to pro­mote the im­por­tance of read­ing – this is it! Since his in­tro­duc­tion, Groo has been type­cast as an im­be­cile men­di­cant with no log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to his sav­age ac­tions.

How­ever, a freak con­fine­ment ac­ci­dent in a li­brary proves that a lit­tle knowl­edge (and the abil­ity to read) can do won­ders, even for Groo!

Fan­tas­tic Four #500 (1998)

Writer: Mark Waid Artist: Mike Weiringo

Back when the Fan­tas­tic Four still had their own ti­tle, they al­ways knew how to cel­e­brate their an­niver­saries and in “Un­think­able” fash­ion too.

As part of the fi­nale of the Un­think­able story arc, Reed

Richards and Doom par­take in an­other duel to the death, with a few big dif­fer­ences –

Reed is now mys­ti­cally trained, Franklin is trapped in Hell, and both com­bat­ants emerge from the bat­tle scarred and burnt! This Reed-Doom face-off cer­tainly sets the bench­mark for all fu­ture en­coun­ters.

Un­canny X-Men #200 (1963)

Writer: Chris Clare­mont Artist: John Romita Jr The Trial of Mag­neto marks Mag­neto’s tran­si­tion from evil to good Mu­tant – and po­ten­tial leader of the

X-Men!

Af­ter (then) decades of bat­tles be­tween the X-Men and Mag­neto, this epic turn­ing point has them unit­ing for the sake of Mu­tan­tkind – af­ter they iron out some in­ter­nal ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences, that is.

In­cred­i­ble Hulk #300 (1962)

Writer: Bill Mantlo Artist: Sal Buscema

When it comes to Hulk-tales, it’s al­ways pre­dictable: amok and it takes a group of he­roes to stop him.

Well, this is the per­fect script for that sce­nario.

With Bruce Ban­ner no longer in conulk, trol of the Hulk the Green Go­liath is fu­elled by mind­less rage and it takes the com­bined might of the Avengers, Power Man and Iron Fist, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dr Strange to halt his trail of de­struc­tion.

To cap this hol­low vic­tory, the Hulk is ex­iled to the Cross­roads realm, which sounds a lot more hu­mane than what

the Il­lu­mi­nati did to him in Planet Hulk.

Ac­tion Comics #600 (1988)

Writer: John Byrne Artists: John Byrne, Ge­orge Perez, oth­ers

Apart from Byrne and Perez col­lab­o­rat­ing on the same tale, this 50th an­niver­sary trib­ute ad­dresses press­ing is­sues like “Why aren’t Su­per­man and Won­der Woman an item?” and “What are the risks of wear­ing a Kryp­tonite ring?”.

Best of all, this is where Su­per­man and Won­der Woman lock lips for the first time! Hope­fully, #1,000 will be just as good as this, or even bet­ter!

— DC Comics

Jus­tice League Of Amer­ica #200 fea­tured an ex­panded ros­ter of he­roes for the first time.

— Marvel Comics

Don’t mess with Mr Fan­tas­tic’s fam­ily, es­pe­cially when it’s clob­ber­ing time.

Things al­way s get re­ally noisy when­ever Hulk gets into a fight with Thor. — Marvel Comics

— Marvel Comics

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