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Nose Norton


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I've been revisiting (and visiting for the first time) Marvel's -1 books which were coverdated for the summer of 1997.

First of all, these books had a hand in starting the untraditional numbering of comic books, which I've grown to hate. I know stuff like Tales To Astonish becoming The Incredible Hulk happened but after all the #0's and #-1's, all the reboots and returns to the old numbering have taken the magic out of anniversary issues. But anyway...

So far, I've read -1 issues for Ka-Zar, Daredevil, Untold Tales Of Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man. I'd forgotten that Stan Lee makes cameos in each ish, pretty good ones, actually. A nice preview of what would come in the movies.

Daredevil -1 was written by Joe Kelly with art by Gene Colan. Stan plays the bus driver as Matt Murdock and his dad Jack are traveling to State University, after Matt's accident but before he becomes Daredevil. There are plenty of honest and touching moments between the over-protective but guilty-feeling single father and the eager-to-be-independant son with a secret which overpower the somewhat ridiculous scuffle at the local bar. Colan's artwork is fluid and classic but not his best work.

Ka-Zar -1 tells a disjointed story of young brothers Kevin and Parnival Plunder. Kevin's story is early Ka-Zar learning a lesson and Parnival shows his evil side before he became The Plunderer. The artwork has a Golden Age feel but the problem is both stories are kind of cliche and, as far as I know, the Plunderer has been forgotten over the years. But I'm more of a fan of Ka-Zar as a guest star in other books rather than in his infrequent series.

Untold Tales Of Spider-Man -1 goes even further back than an early Peter Parker story, telling a tale of Richard and Mary Parker, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. With Roger Stern and John Romita Sr. at the helm, you know you're getting a good tale. I don't know if Stern or Lee wrote Stan's self-depreciating humor but it's classic Stan. I'm a bit iffy on Peter Parker's parents being spies but it is an established storyline and, of course, well done given the talent involved. Wolverine makes a surprise guest appearance as Baron Strucker's captive. I don't really like the idea that Wolverine interacted with every Marvel character in the pre-FF #1 days but I don't think anyone draws a better Wolverine than JR Sr.

In ASM -1, Peter Parker becomes even more relatable to us comic book fans as he discovers Uncle Ben's Golden Age comic book collection. Tom Defalco and Joe Bennett deliver a mostly on-the-nose comic, drawing on Golden and Silver Age nostalgia in a 90s style, but it feels more like a What If...? story with a rushed plot and an unnecessary explanation of how Peter came up with the idea for his webshooters. The story features a gangster story with Kingpin, Fortunato and one-timer Rigoletto. Stan appears in a Spider-Man costume.


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Superman's Pal

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    Quote:
    I've been revisiting (and visiting for the first time) Marvel's -1 books which were coverdated for the summer of 1997.


The only ones I picked up related to titles I was already collecting like Generation X, can't remember any others.


    Quote:
    First of all, these books had a hand in starting the untraditional numbering of comic books, which I've grown to hate. I know stuff like Tales To Astonish becoming The Incredible Hulk happened but after all the #0's and #-1's, all the reboots and returns to the old numbering have taken the magic out of anniversary issues. But anyway...

Zero issues became big. Image had a hand in it when they jumped all their single-digit books forward to #25 and then back again, just a little preview of things to come. DC topped it with issue #1,000,000 of every title.



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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624



    Quote:

      Quote:
      I've been revisiting (and visiting for the first time) Marvel's -1 books which were coverdated for the summer of 1997.



    Quote:
    The only ones I picked up related to titles I was already collecting like Generation X, can't remember any others.


Same here. The only books I picked up at the time were the Spider-Man books (of course there were like 5 of those).


    Quote:

      Quote:
      First of all, these books had a hand in starting the untraditional numbering of comic books, which I've grown to hate. I know stuff like Tales To Astonish becoming The Incredible Hulk happened but after all the #0's and #-1's, all the reboots and returns to the old numbering have taken the magic out of anniversary issues. But anyway...

    Zero issues became big. Image had a hand in it when they jumped all their single-digit books forward to #25 and then back again, just a little preview of things to come. DC topped it with issue #1,000,000 of every title.


Wizard was to blame for this phenomenon, too, with Zero and 1/2 issues. I was ok with it back then. I just hate what it has become.



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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


Incredible Hulk -1 gives an important look into the history of Bruce Banner. Peter David tells the story of Banner's abusive and murderous father with art by Adam Kubert. The issue is significant but the mishmash of styles doesn't work for me. The story is dark and serious but Stan Lee breaking the third wall as some sort of...I don't know what...(he's like the cool teen characters from the X-Men books of the time) narrator presenting a play of what's going on simultaneously in the main story is just weird and not engaging. It's not a good mix of dark and humorous themes.

Wolverine -1, by Larry Hama, doesn't really add anything new to Wolverine's mythos. He doesn't remember his past and he has retroactive history with several characters from the Silver Age: Nick Fury, Carol Danvers, Black Widow and Ben Grimm. Sabretooth is in the story too. It's not terrible, but it's a bit too much for me.

Deadpool -1 talks a lot about Wade Wilson but it's all about Zoe Culloden and Deadpool's girlfriend Vanessa. The story by Joe Kelly is ok though a bit predictable. Aaron Lopresti's artwork pays homage to Sterenko's Nick Fury Agent Of SHIELD work. Stan Lee's intro and outro are more emotional rather than lighthearted, which is kind of funny since Stan has no creative connection to Deadpool at all.

Scott Lodbell and Bryan Hitch present Uncanny X-Men -1 in which Rachel Summers and Sanctity go back in time to when Bolivar Trask was creating the Master Mold. I was hoping for an original X-Men story but it did touch on an important aspect of X-Men history and did so nicely connecting it to modern X-Men history. Stan appears as the Watcher, possibly for the first time ever?

These issues weren't as much fun as the previous 4. Other than the Wolverine issue, the plots were inspired, but I question how much the creators were into the project. Peter David obviously had the Hulk story already in mind but it seems like the Flashback theme flustered him and he tried to do too much. The Sternko-style in Deadpool seems like a copy, adding nothing to the book. The X-Men issue features characters that hadn't been seen in years (were they in X-Calibur?). If I had been a new fan at the time, I would've been very confused and disappointed. Definitely a mixed-bag.


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Superman's Pal

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I was trying to think of when I started hating it. I think when Team Titans debuted and they did 5 variants of issue #1. Each variant had a different cover (that's another thing I hate, variant covers) and had a "team" story for half the book and a "solo origin" story for the other half. The "team" story was the same in each variant and the "solo" story was different in each one. So you had six half-issues or three issues worth of story spread over five issues.

Just do a double-sized first issue and be done with it. Ridiculous.



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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


Wow! That’s the worst example of customer gouging I’ve heard of in the comic industry. I don’t like all the variant covers either but at least you can still get the whole story without chasing variants. But what you just described was awful.


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Superman's Pal

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Variant covers wouldn't bother me so much but since I didn't scan Previews or Wizard religiously I didn't always know when variants were coming, and didn't have my clerk pull the one I wanted. If I had a pull list going, the clerk would make the choice for me or I could substitute with a copy off the rack but generally, the choice I would have made was not what I ended up with.



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Trent Trueheart


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 1,102


I wonder how many times that gimmick has been tried. I know Marvel did it with Slingers #1. That might have been a worse offender since it was 48 page comic to begin with, meaning it was $1 more than a regular issue. To get the whole story, you needed to by 4 copies, so price wise, it was the equivalent of buying 6 regular issues.


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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


That's right. I remember that. Didn't buy it, but I remember Slingers, mostly because of the variant covers in the Spider-Man books. The good news is you can get them for cheap now.


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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


Venom: Seed Of Darkness -1, by Len Kaminski, was surprisingly good. It's an homage to Marvel's monster comics as well as to Kolchak, The Night Stalker, which fits perfectly for pre-Venom Eddie Brock. And the monster, Krobaa, is symbiote-ic enough to appease the Venom fans. The artwork by James Fry and Chris Ivy is very Ditko-esque and Stan has a cameo like a Golden Age horror host. As I was reading the narration, I couldn't help but hear it in Darren McGavin's voice, and then, lo and behold, Eddie seeks advice from veteran but disgraced reporter Cal Karlchok. Barney Bushkin (from ASM) even makes a very Ditko inspired cameo. This one might not be for everyone but it hit all the right notes for me.

I enjoyed Cable -1, also. James Robinson (writer) didn't go to Cable's adventures in the future but rather to his earliest appearances in the then current Marvel timeline, which I appreciated. I think artist Ladronn was going for a Kirby look. He doesn't fully accomplish it, but there is a Golden/early Silver age pastiche style. It seems early Human Torch Strange Tales. Stan's cameo dressed as Cable seems goofier than when he dresses as Spider-Man, but, still, somehow, it works. It captures his ability to make the story seem important while also poking fun at it.

Spectacular Spider-Man -1 tells an early story of Peter Parker and Flash Thompson. JM DeMatteis and Luke Ross work well together and in this ish they do what they do best: mirror the lives of the two main characters and show how alike they really are. This issue worked particularly well because you didn't see what DeMatteis was doing until near the end and his characterizations of Peter and Flash made sense when you look at how their relationship developed from the early 60s into the 70s.

I'm not a big Elektra or Stick fan, but Elektra -1 was pretty good. Written by Peter Milligan with art by Mike Deodato, the issue does a good job of showing Elektra's personality before she becomes an assassin. She's very likable but you can see that she's going to be a badass. I liked her battles with the gangsters in the church, though it was somewhat repetitive except that Stick has to save her the second time. Stan looks classy introducing the story almost like a romance comic, though that aspect is limited to the cover and the first part of the book.

Overall, very good comics, especially when you consider that this was a company-wide event that most likely felt forced upon the creators.


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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


In Silver Surfer -1, JM DeMatteis and Ron Garney tell a flashback tale in which Stan Lee and a woman are abducted by aliens. Galactus notices a space anomaly near Earth and sends the Surfer to investigate. He finds the aliens and saves the woman, and Stan, erasing their memories of the event as well. It's pretty much what I see the Flashback event as being. It's an interesting story from the past that's not overly important but not unimportant either. Some might not like Stan's extended role in this ish but I think it worked well. Not as awesome as when the Impossible Man visited the Marvel offices but fun without making you groan.

Ghost Rider -1 was confusing and, for the most part, I'm familiar with Ghost Rider's history. Dan Ketch's mother is shown to have had a past as the Ghost Rider. Estranged from her family due to drinking and such, she fights the change as she looks in on her family, Johnny Blaze at a carnival and Dan Ketch at a birthday party. It's not a bad story but convolutes the longtime narrative a bit. I guess it fits in with the Flashback theme, though. I love the old-style corner box.

Spider-Man -1 unconventionally looks at young Capt. Stacy and his brother Arthur getting involved with Norman Osborn. A pre-teen Peter Parker has a small role, meeting Norman for the first time, as the Stacy's investigate a monster at Osborn's factory. Howard Mackie delivers a pretty good tale of these supporting characters, which is acceptable given that Spidey had so many -1 issues.

Generation X -1 also confused me, as I thought that the Dark Beast arrived on 616 Earth at the end of Age Of Apocalypse. Apparently, he had been on "our" Earth for a while and ran into Banshee and Emma Frost when he was a NY cop and she was a teen. The characterization of Emma Frost was very good, as she's the focus of the story as she adjusts to her powers and makes plans for her future. The framing was excellent as it cut right between a scene from the ongoing story.

Another good batch of comics for the most part.


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Superman's Pal

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    Quote:
    Ghost Rider -1 was confusing and, for the most part, I'm familiar with Ghost Rider's history. Dan Ketch's mother is shown to have had a past as the Ghost Rider. Estranged from her family due to drinking and such, she fights the change as she looks in on her family, Johnny Blaze at a carnival and Dan Ketch at a birthday party. It's not a bad story but convolutes the longtime narrative a bit. I guess it fits in with the Flashback theme, though. I love the old-style corner box.

Dan Ketch's mom is a Ghost Rider? It's a Ketch family legacy? Why not just make her Carter Slade's granddaughter too?


    Quote:
    Generation X -1 also confused me, as I thought that the Dark Beast arrived on 616 Earth at the end of Age Of Apocalypse. Apparently, he had been on "our" Earth for a while and ran into Banshee and Emma Frost when he was a NY cop and she was a teen. The characterization of Emma Frost was very good, as she's the focus of the story as she adjusts to her powers and makes plans for her future. The framing was excellent as it cut right between a scene from the ongoing story.

Didn't Dark Beast and Nate Grey both come through the M'Kraan Crystal? That could probably take them anywhere in space or time. I know Dark Beast showed up right after AOA but I thought they hinted he had been there a while.


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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624



    Quote:

      Quote:
      Ghost Rider -1 was confusing and, for the most part, I'm familiar with Ghost Rider's history. Dan Ketch's mother is shown to have had a past as the Ghost Rider. Estranged from her family due to drinking and such, she fights the change as she looks in on her family, Johnny Blaze at a carnival and Dan Ketch at a birthday party. It's not a bad story but convolutes the longtime narrative a bit. I guess it fits in with the Flashback theme, though. I love the old-style corner box.


      Quote:
      Dan Ketch's mom is a Ghost Rider? It's a Ketch family legacy? Why not just make her Carter Slade's granddaughter too?
        Quote:


On the one hand, I guess you could say that the bloodline is cursed, that's why they've all been Ghost Riders. On the other hand, it's just too much and unnecessary. As a Spider-Man fan, I've seen how tiresome it gets when everyone in the supporting cast has put on a costume of some sort.


    Quote:
    Generation X -1 also confused me, as I thought that the Dark Beast arrived on 616 Earth at the end of Age Of Apocalypse. Apparently, he had been on "our" Earth for a while and ran into Banshee and Emma Frost when he was a NY cop and she was a teen. The characterization of Emma Frost was very good, as she's the focus of the story as she adjusts to her powers and makes plans for her future. The framing was excellent as it cut right between a scene from the ongoing story.

Didn't Dark Beast and Nate Grey both come through the M'Kraan Crystal? That could probably take them anywhere in space or time. I know Dark Beast showed up right after AOA but I thought they hinted he had been there a while.


That would make sense and I probably missed that aspect of him crossing over. I like the Dark Beast but I feel like they dropped him into the story at full run instead of showing him adapting to the new situation and planning more. Again, it could just be that the issues that showed that didn't leave a big impression on me, though. Sometimes I read my comics right before sleep and the story gets fuzzy.


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The Silver Surfer


Member Since: Fri Jul 17, 2020
Posts: 129


This might be my favorite Marvel event ever. Just character building stories.

I especially love how, in some, they tried to make it genre-like... almost like it could have been an Atlas era comic.

My favorites are

-Spec. Spider-Man
-Daredevil
-Incredible Hulk
-X-Factor
-X-Men


Honorable mentions to Journey into Mystery and Venom for cool ideas and trying to mesh with pre-Marvel.



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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


Some of the books really were great at capturing that Golden/Silver Age feel while also remaining 90s book (good 90s books), which is really the trick.

The X-Titles did pretty well during this event. Generation X, Cable and X-Man told great character building tales that were necessary but not over-the-top. While Uncanny X-Men was a bit of a fail, featuring Rachel Summers going back to the start of the Sentinels, the secondary title, X-Men(1991) outshone it with a story of Prof. X and Magneto. Not really anything new, but always good when done well.

Incredible Hulk was, without a doubt, the most important story told during this event, but I just couldn't get on board with the storytelling technique.

My favorites are the Spider-Man books. The Spectacular Spider-Man story was great, as mentioned below, and the Venom issue was an unexpected pleasure. Sensational was probably the least of the stories, but still fun and a nice continuation of Amazing Spider-Man -1. I was expecting to dislike Spider-Man (1990) -1 but it was better than I remembered.


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The Black Guardian

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X-Men Prime, which introduced the changes from Age of Apocalypse, showed us adult Marrow bumping into Dark Beast in the Morlock tunnels. She called him "First One," and he told her how he genetically created the Morlocks "a generation or two" ago and how most of them were big disappointments to him.

Sugar Man arrived in the 616 twenty years in the past and significant altered the course of Genosha, turning it into what we already knew. The twenty years sort of made a bit of sense, considering the focal point of AOA was Xavier dying 20 years in the past.

Pretty sure Dark Beast's vague "generation or two" was 20 years, as well.




City of Heroes is BACK!
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Nose Norton


Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,624


Thanks for the info. I didn’t read X-Men Prime, so that lead to my confusion.


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