Taking a look back at ten, twenty-five, fifty and even seventy-five years of June comicbook anniversaries!
CRISIS! Novelist Brad Meltzer returns to DC Comics after his short Green Arrow run to write the controversial mystery story Identity Crisis! The events inside these seven issues, and in the tie-ins, would have huge ramifications on the DC Universe leading all the way up to Infinite Crisis and beyond. Before this, the last major DCU event was in 2001 with “Our Worlds at War”. In the three years between the two, it really felt as if DC was holding off for awhile in order to land with something big. DC was also putting a face out in front of their readership by promoting Dan Didio to Executive Editor, countering their rival over at Marvel, Joe Quesada. The DCU was never more cohesive than it was in 2004-2006. Artist Rags Morales became even more of a known artist. And this “smaller” event became the talked about story of the time finally putting DC squarely in contention with their main rival. I know of several new readers to DC and comics that started with this event – with quite a few of them being female. Regardless of the backlash this story eventually received (don’t they all in one way or another?), there is no denying what this story did for DC: how it ignited the company, the rivalry with Marvel and how it set the tone for years to come both in content, storytelling and in sales.
EX MACHINA! With Swamp Thing, Y the Last Man, and Runaways already completed or running concurrently (as well as Mystique and Ultimate X-Men), Brian K. Vaughan gives us the first issue of Ex Machina with Tony Harris and company. Released through Wildstorm, this is another one of those series that I always mean to read. Someday. Someday.
DISASSEMBLED! With Thor #80, Iron Man #84 and Spectacular Spider-Man #15, the prologue to “Avengers Disassembled” begins! Just as Geoff Johns was about to inherit the DC Universe, Brian Michael Bendis, who was already writing Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil, Alias, Secret War and others, was just about to inherit the Avengers title. All of the major Avengers characters were getting reshuffled, rebranded or were taken off the map for awhile, kicking off a new era for Marvel, one that would see the X-books replaced in popularity with the A-books. From these Disassembled tie-ins would come New Avengers, House of M and eventually Civil War. Just as DC was ramping up their line, so was Marvel.
OTHER: Amazing Spider-Man #509 caused major uproar with the start of the “Sins Past” storyarc retconning a huge Gwen Stacy revelation into Peter Parker’s life; spinning out of JLA, John Byrne’s Doom Patrol run begins; Amazing Fantasy #1 features the first appearance of Anya “Araña” Corazon; John Romita Jr. draws Gray Area for Image; Mary Jane #1 written by Sean McKeever would eventually lead into the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane series in 2006; and wanting to horn in on the buzz and mystery around Identity Crisis, Marvel releases Identity Disc #1 – a five issue mini that tried (and failed) to steal the spotlight from DC’s event.
THE SOUND OF HER WINGS…! I almost missed this one. The first appearance of Neil Gaiman’s Death character from Sandman #8! Probably the most beloved character of the series, enough to warrant a few mini-series and standalone stories. I especially appreciated when she was used outside of Sandman and the Vertigo line, such as in Legion of Super-Heroes #38 (1992) or Paul Cornell’s Lex Luthor story in Action Comics (2010).
COSMIC AVENGER! Quasar lands his own series, which would last for sixty issues, with all but one issue written by Mark Gruenwald. Considering how much I dig cosmic comics, I’m surprised I haven’t back issue binned this baby. I have the “Operation Galactic Storm” issues, and issue #17 featuring a race among various Marvel speedsters to determine who is the fastest (with a cameo appearance by Barry Allen believe it or not). Only 55 more to go!
WORLD! Dark Knight Returns. The Longbow Hunters. Blackhawk Blood and Iron. The Prestige format line of more mature DC stories eventually made its way to Hawkman when Tim Truman and company retooled his origins for a modern readership. Hawkworld was beautifully drawn and gave Katar Hol much more character than he ever had before. The exploration of Thanagar provided much potential for DC space and it did wonders for the character of Shayera Thal as well. I really enjoyed both this three issue mini and the series that followed, regardless of the continuity mix-up it caused. A mix-up that could’ve been easily avoided in the first issue of the ongoing series by three opening words: “Ten Years Later”. Ah well.
OTHER: Legion of Super-Heroes #63 brings a close to the much beloved Baxter-era run; the Punisher was such a popular character that even his supporting cast was getting titles. Shadowmasters by writer Carl Potts had their own four issue mini-series; spinning out of its third Annual, Action Comics #643 features the start of George Perez’ writer/artist run; and the official adaptation of the Batman movie was released.
“KAJI DHA!”! The Silver Age version of the Blue Beetle has his first appearance in Blue Beetle vol.2 #1 from Charlton Comics, revamping the character from his Golden Age run (see below), changing his last name from Garret to Garrett and officially giving him superpowers, including the famed Beetle Scarab and the magic words of “Kaji Dha!”. This version would only last for about two years when he’ll be replaced by Ted Kord.
THE MARKSMAN! Tales of Suspense #57 features the first appearance of Clint “Hawkeye” Barton as a villain before he’s quickly brought over to the hero side. Fifty years of the purple archer!
CRIME! Both Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate of America make their first appearance in Justice League of America #29 featuring the second team-up between the JLA and JSA. Is it any wonder the recent Forever Evil event features the group?
OTHER: The Marvel Universe gains some familiar villains with the Sinister Six (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1), El Diablo (Fantastic Four #30), the Owl (Daredevil #3), and the Grey Gargoyle (Journey Into Mystery #107); the Masters of Evil were introduced last month, which I missed, and had their second appearance this month in Avengers #7.
THE BLUE BEETLE! From Fox Feature Syndicate, the original Dan Garet/Blue Beetle debuted in Mystery Men Comics #1 and would be featured on/off in that title while also appearing in his own series that ran for sixty issues. The character was fairly popular at the time spawning a newspaper comic strip, a radio serial, even a Blue Beetle Day! in 1940 at the NY World’s Fair. In the comics, the character would go from a regular mystery man, to a strongman, to one with all kinds of superpowers before the nosedive of super-heroes pushed him into limbo as of 1950.
OTHER: Adventure Comics #40 features the second “first appearance” of the Golden Age Sandman; and Detective Comics #29 features Dr. Death, arguably Batman’s oldest rogue.