Ten Comics That Need to Return!

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m getting old …errr I have just a couple of grey hairs starting to poke through my manly beard, but I’d like to think that I’ve earned them. It’s this hard-earned wisdom that has seen a lot of things come and go in this industry, be it creators, characters, or titles. I’m reaching back through my memory and bringing you a list of ten comic series that need to be brought back.

  1. Battle Chasers

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So in the mid-late 90’s Joe Madureira was THEE artist. His work on Uncanny X-Men catapulted him into comic’s super stardom and fans were clamoring for anything he drew. In a move that was almost as shocking as the initial launching of Image, “Joe Mad” joined forces with Gen 13 creator J. Scott Campbell and Humberto Ramos in launching their own Image sponsored line of books under the banner of Cliffhanger. Madureira’s offering to this new venture was a fantasy epic named Battle Chasers.

Part Lord of the Rings, part steam punk, part Dungeons and Dragons-this title was a hit from the start. It didn’t hurt that it was the first monthly book that Madureira had worked on since leaving Marvel. (Save one batman/superman backup story) Fans swarmed to the new series in droves and sales went through the roof.

It wasn’t very long after the launch of Battle Chasers that the title began to suffer from late and delayed releases, sometimes going for months before the next issue was released. The fans drifted away and sales lagged. The comic only ran for nine issues but it took four years to produce those books! Madureira would eventually put the book on indefinite hiatus, and there it remains to this day.

Joe Mad made headlines earlier this year as he unveiled a new RPG video game based on the old Cliffhanger property; The first signs of life for the franchise in years. The game was successfully crowd funded via Kickstarter and is set for a Dec. 2016 release. There were also rumors that the comic might be re-launched to coincide with the release of the game. No word yet on the progress of the series, so until the comic is in my hands this series is on my list.

 

  1. Ash

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This is one of the most underappreciated series in comic book history. If this book didn’t exist then we might not have Marvel comics.

Confused? Allow me to explain. In the mid-90’s the comic industry was in a very weird place. Image had just launched as a company to wild fanfare and amazing sales, but it would be just three years later that the comic boom would turn to bust.

Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy and filed chapter 11. The House of Ideas would turn to Ash co-creator and founder of Event comics, Joe Quesada to start a series of more adult themed books, labeled Marvel Knights. Titles like the re-launch of Daredevil brought fans back in droves. The rest is comic lore as Quesada played a vital role in becoming Marvel’s editor-in-chief and turning around sales, saving the company, and beginning the Marvel cinematic universe.

The comic of Ash was a fantastic story of a firefighter that gets imbued with the power of fire. The comic was expertly written by Quesada’s longtime friend and co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti. While the series was short-lived and crossed over with a number of other Event characters, Ash always stood out as the banner bearer for the Event Comics brand. It was a well-produced and interesting story that deserves a re-launch in the modern age.

 

  1. Pitt

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When the birth of Image is covered in the media you often hear about the staples of the time. Spawn, Youngblood, Shadowhawk, Savage Dragon, Cyberforce and WildC.A.T.S are the titles that get the headlines and attention, but fans that lived during that celebrated period of history fondly remember another title that launched just after the founders released their books. Pitt. Pitt was a bigger, nastier version of the Incredible Hulk; one that had claws and fangs. The character looked terrifying.  Pitt was built as a human/alien hybrid killing machine, which fought against his violent nature and befriended a small boy named Timmy.

The visuals on Pitt were done by Canadian superstar artist Dale Keown and the second that the fans caught a glimpse of this behemoth they were instantly hooked. While the sales on the first few issues were extremely strong, it was a title that was bitten by the late shipping bug. Delays caused the fans to lose interest and drift back to other Image titles.

Keown has resurfaced from time to time to work on other titles, but Pitt has remained tucked away and forgotten in the long boxes of 90’s fanboys. With technology now able to add another level of art to the title, a CGI enhanced comic of the big brute might be just what nostalgic fans have been waiting for.

 

  1. Justice Society of America

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The JSA is one of those titles that never stays dead for long –but never hangs around long enough to catch on with fans. While I’m sure that most readers are aware of who and what the JSA is, it would be nice to see a new iteration of the title that is closer in roster and feel to what Justice League Unlimited did in the cartoon world; a giant roster of characters that rarely get together, short mini-series style stories that focus on a handful of members at a time, and cross generational heroes fighting together. Bring me that comic and I’ll gladly hand you my wallet.

  1. Planetary

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Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s dissection of the super hero genre really turned heads in the late 90’s thru the early 00’s. While the book centered around three mysterious figures that made up the planetary, Jakita Wagner, The Drummer, and Elijah Snow it was the travels of these adventurers that brought a new twist to comic story telling. With original looks at figures within the medium and pop culture the creators of Planetary never failed to surprise. Covering everything from Godzilla, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, and Doc Savage  to comic book characters like Batman and the trios evil counterparts; a villainous version of the Fantastic Four.

It was this outside-the-box approach to traditional comics that made this title a must read. Sadly the series was bitten by the late shipping bug, as Ellis suffered from an illness that delayed the project, and Cassaday’s exposure from the title would have him splitting time with other books.

It would be interesting to see what Ellis has to say about the current state of comics if this series was to make its way back to shelves.

 

  1. What If…

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This title always just made sense to me. It was the ultimate fan service. Take the story-lines that had the biggest impact in the Marvel universe and play with the idea of what might have been. What if… brought fans such gems like “What if… Daredevil had Killed the Kingpin?” and “What if… Uncle Ben had lived?”. It was these quarky and alternate looks at what Marvel could have been. The series was even successful in getting some ideas used as stories in regular Marvel continuity  later on.

It was also a place to see the return of fan favorites, like the X-Men character Blink, who had only made a handful of appearances in the regular books before she was initially killed, her reemergence in What If… was so well received that it wasn’t long before the character was back in the pages of Exiles.

With the series only returning in small samples over the last few years, it would be the perfect platform to pose alternative, non-canon options for the fans. How many summer events have come and gone without the What If… treatment? It’s time to bring this series back.

 

  1. The Authority

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This was Image’s answer to the superhero teams of Marvel and DC. Not only did Jenny Sparks and company beat and kill knockoff versions off the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Justice League; they did it while wagging their middle finger in the face of their opponents while they put boots to asses. This was the comic equivalent of Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was a violent, beer infused; kick to the sweets, while it screamed in your face that it screwed your girlfriend and then dared you to do something about it. Yeah, it was that badass.

The attitude of the Authority was a reflection that mirrored what society wanted and needed at the turn of the millennium. Surrounded with the uncertainty of what the year 2000 would bring, fans wanted a new breed of hero. The Authority was a renaissance of the anti-hero. The team took power into their own hands and molded the world closer to a semblance of Utopia; often placing them at odds with the world’s leaders.

Unlike other team books that constantly talked about making the world a better place, the Authority went out and actually did it. They removed evil dictators, ignored orders from the U.N., put a stop to mass genocide, and told the world that if it didn’t start shaping up then they would start kicking ass.

With the current political climate and with so many social issues ripe for parody and speculation, this is a book that NEEDS to come back now… maybe more than ever.

 

  1. Penthouse Comix

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That’s right. In the early-mid 90’s this happened and famous creators like Bart Sears, Adam Hughes, Garry Leach, Kevin Nowlan, Mike Harris, Arthur Suydam, Jordan Raskin, Richard Corben, Horacio Altuna, and Milo Manara all worked on it. It was threatened with being banned in Canada, and was altered in Europe when an issue came out that featured a cover with a swastika.

This venture was in the vein of Heavy Metal and adult themed pulp magazines. It was packed with off-the-wall stories from various genres and not always centered on sex; the comic was the closet offering the American market has ever seen to a successful outlaw comic. The book would run for 32 issues before falling into economic troubles thanks to alleged embezzlement by its Editor-in-Chief.

The modern era of comics has given fans current up-to-date offerings of every genre under the sun, but when it comes to comics that deal directly with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll the current market has lost its guts to tell the stories that border on taboo and explicit. What happened to the comics that dealt with subject matter so mature and graphic that you had to hide them under your bed? Who has the balls to publish the next generation of Mature comics?

I’m not talking about boobs and dicks; I’m talking about giving a comic audience that is getting older stories that have content that will make us stop and really invest in the story-lines. Publishing brands like Vertigo used to mean something. When you bought a book from that brand you knew you were not just picking up another cape and cowls comic. You were going to read some messed up shit and you were going to love it. We need some of that punk rock-outlaw mentality back in comics, if for no other reason than to kick the rest of the industry in the ass and remind creators that they can still push the boundaries with this art form.

 

  1. Malibu Comics

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Right now younger comic fans are scratching their heads. Who? What? “Is that an Image thing?”

Nope. In fact when Image launched it was published through Malibu. Without this company there may have not been an Image. With a stable of characters that rivaled that of smaller publishers like Dark Horse and Valiant and at the time even Image, Malibu was working it’s way up the industry food chain and making serious progress … until the bottom fell out of the industry and the comic bubble burst.

Offering up characters like Prime, Hardcase, Mantra, Prototype, and the super group Ultraforce; these were characters that once teamed with the Avengers and multiple other Marvel properties in a crossover that predated the Amalgam cross over with DC by years.

Upon the company folding they were purchased by Marvel. That’s right! The house of ideas has a whole warehouse full of characters that they have not touched since buying up their competition in the 90’s. The lack of activity on these properties are not because they are bad comics or characters, but because rumor has it that Marvel doesn’t want to pay the creators of the previous works a percentage of sales. (The unverified number kicking around online is that creators whom are still alive would be owed 5% of all profits made) Marvel has denounced these rumors, but has failed to give any explanation as to why the company has yet to bring these titles and characters back to comic books.

With the Earth shattering success of the Marvel cinematic universe, it’s hard to believe that Marvel could be sitting on a potential goldmine of untapped characters that could be selling even more comics and media for the industry juggernaut. Given the companies habit of rebooting lately it seems like there is no better time than now to cash in on a wave of new characters. It’s now or never. The comic movie bubble is not going to last forever and Malibu has been burned by the bursting of a bubble once, don’t let too much more time slip by before it’s too late and the fans stop caring.

To paraphrase the words of Charlton Heston’s Moses, “Let my Malibu GO!

 

 

  1. Gen 13

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When Gen 13 launched back in day it was a game changer. It sat atop the Wizard hottest comic list for seemingly ever. The series was so hot that after the mini-series it launched into the regular series with 13 variant covers, which at the time was unheard of. It made a superstar out of J. Scott Campbell, and catapulted the topics of homosexuality and teen sex into the mainstream of comics.

There have been numerous lists that have tapped the characters and the title as one of the most influential and important of the 90’s, and while there have been attempts at bringing the title back by various artists and writers; most recently Gail Simone and Talent Caldwell took on the title in its fourth volume that was canceled in 2011. No one has been able to recapture the magic of what made Gen 13 special.

The characters of Gen 13 were young, sexy, and fun. There was energy about the title that was reflected perfectly in the vibrant artwork of Campbell. These were characters that used modern slang, dressed in the latest fashions, and related to each other more like kids then cardboard cutout superheroes. It took an offbeat approach to super hero comics that left the readers feeling like they had taken a journey with their favorite group of friends.

The entire team played off of one another in ways that made us care. With plots like Roxy harboring a secret crush on Grunge, to Fairchild wrestling with her sudden increase in physical attractiveness, to Rainmaker breaking down the walls of sexuality as she revealed that she was a member of the LGBTQ community. Each of these subplots and story-lines spoke to a younger teenage demographic that was left behind by traditional comics, too late for the x-men, and looking for a book that spoke for their generation.

While the title would morph and change in later installments, the readers that once held this book near and dear grew up and left, as the comic moved away from stories that focused on the characters and instead veered more toward the typical hero fare that the title had worked so hard to set itself apart from.

Comics like Gen 13 are the bread and butter of the comics industry. Playful enough to welcome new audience members, yet deep and action packed enough to keep stalwart fan boys coming back. The moment that the creators moved away from that formula was the minute that the sales and fan interest started to decline.

The team was supposed to return and become part of DC’s New 52 continuity. They even made an appearance in Supergirl #33, but before any action could be taken to bring back Gen 13 DC moved onto  Rebirth and the 13’ers were lost in the shuffle and yet to reappear.

While I’m sure more than one editor has thought about bringing the title back, they need to keep in mind the core of the story was more about teens coming of age, than it ever was about heroes in tights.

Thanks for reading my top ten list! Be sure to comment below with any titles you would have added. Also, you can follow me on Twitter @dangerdusty and don’t forget to like, share, and follow comic crusaders on the net. Until then!

Blessings,

Dusty

 

 

 

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