Please Reprint These! Some Real Rarities & Personal Faves

Please Reprint These! Some Real Rarities

Click here for part one

Click here for part two

Welcome to the conclusion of our look at comics we wish were collected! This has proven to be a fun little project, and titles keep getting added to our list.

Already one of our requests has come to pass – BOOM! just announced in the new Previews catalog that it will reprint Mike Ploog’s 1970s tale Terror on the Planet of the Apes in a series of monthly books! Granted, this was in the works before our article came out, but let’s hope that these pieces maybe presage a few more volumes coming back into print…

We’d also like to mention an email we got after the first installment of this ran about a Facebook group devoted to getting Marvel and Parker Brothers to agree to some reprints or new issues of ROM to benefit series writer Bill Mantlo, who is in assisted living after suffering brain damage in an accident. Here's is a link to the group, And here’s some more information about them.

For this last installment, we’re going to look at some general series that deserve reprinting, and also include some ideas that were sent in by readers and friends after the first installment of this series ran. Let’s go! 

 

Grant Morrison’s Zenith:
The last volume of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s spoiled superhero has never been published due to a dispute with the publisher, but if Flex Mentallo can finally be reprinted, there might be hope for Zenith yet. It’s a gaping hole in the collection of many Morrison fans, but cross your fingers, folks. 

 

Hourman:
One of the best spin-offs from Grant Morrison’s JLA, this tale of an android – sorry, “intelligent machine colony” – from the 853rd century trying to learn how to relate to non-powered humans in our time was a cult favorite when DC originally published it.

The witty-yet-heartfelt writing by Tom Peyer and clean art by Rags Morales took readers on a journey that introduced them to cheesecake-loving demons, ex-mad scientists, a realm where the JFK assassination replayed endlessly, and an entire century of pop culture devoted to our caffeine-loving hero.

Still beloved by many fans, Hourman’s time, pardon the pun, may finally have come. Incidentally, fans of the series are advised to check out the 12 issues of Stan Lee’s The Traveler from BOOM! Studios, which Peyer co-wrote, and which featured a few Hourman-type characters and situations throughout its run. 

 

Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey:
Nearly a decade after Stanley Kurbrick’s film hit theaters, Jack Kirby had the idea to adapt it for a tabloid-sized comic for Marvel. The mixture of Kurbrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s restrained narrative with Kirby’s hyperbolic narration and visuals was, needless to say, odd. And awesome.

Following the adaptation, Kirby went even weirder with a 10-issue series that chronicled the film’s monolith touching individuals throughout time and space, giving him an excuse to tell whatever crazy SF/fantasy story he wanted. For the last few issues, he introduced the character of Machine Man, and went on to do the first nine issues of that character’s series after his 2001 book was canceled.

Still, 2001 remains some of the most mental and inventive issues from Kirby’s career, and that’s saying something. A reprint of the adaptation would be great fun – and hey, while we’re at it, what about Walt Simonson’s adaptations of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Alien? 

 

Comprehensive Collection of The Various Batman Adventures Series:
For years, DC’s best Bat-books were their various series adapting Batman: The Animated Series. Much of the material by the show’s Paul Dini and Bruce Timm was recently collected in Batman: Mad Love, but the other tales are well worth compiling – and the last batch featured some great stories by Dan Slott that did some unique things with the continuity of the animated Bat-universe. A series of Showcase or comprehensive collections would be a great Bat-gift to readers of all ages. 

 

Daniel Way and Darick Robertson’s Deathlok: Detour:
Here’s an unusual one on this list, because this request is for a comic that was never actually published. Before he created Daken, Wolverine’s long-lost evil bisexual son (a description we will never, ever stop using), Daniel Way earned a ton of buzz at Marvel for this MAX miniseries reviving the 1970s future cyborg.

Drawn by Transmetropolitan’s Darick Robertson, it was praised occasionally by editorial at cons, and even solicited back in late 2003 as “the Farrelly Brothers directing The Road Warrior”…but never came out. After some googling, I found an archive of an interview this very site did about it at the time.

Why wasn’t it released? Well, the dark satire suggested by the premise might have pushed the wrong buttons back in the politically-devise days of ’04 (remember, stuff that had a critical view of America didn’t exactly make you popular back then), or its sheer darkness might have been too much for Marvel. I asked Way about this some years back, and while he didn’t want to share his theories, he did call it some of his favorite work, “But Jesus f***ing Christ was it offensive!”

Robertson’s designs for the series that never were can be seen here, and they promise a gritty good time. Have times changed enough to let Deathlok’s darkest tale out of the vaults?

By the way, if you want to read the original Deathlok tales from the 1970s, Marvel reprinted them in a “Masterworks” edition a while back – along with Masterworks reprinting Don McGregor and Deathlok co-creator Rich Buckler’s influential Black Panther stories, and a one-volume reprint of Jim Starlin’s tales of Adam Warlock. Now you know! And knowing is half the battle. 

 

Steve Gerber’s Hard Time
: When writer Steve Gerber passed away a few years ago, the comics industry lost one of its most intelligent, surreal and eclectic creators. One of his last series was for DC’s short-lived Focus imprint with his longtime co-writer Mary Skrenes and artist Brian Hurtt.

The tale of a bullied teenager discovering superpowers after being sent to an adult prison for a prank that turned into a Columbine-esque massacre, the series ran a total of 19 issues across two “seasons,” ultimately telling a complete story.

Though the first six issues were collected, the rest of the series remains out of print – which is a shame, as it ultimately became some of Gerber’s best work, and in a strange way, a premature eulogy for its creator in its exploration of how to find a meaningful life despite terrible, crippling setbacks. Gerber’s work has been rediscovered by a new generation in the last few years, but this remains one of his last masterpieces. 

 

Complete Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew
: A favorite of Geoff Johns and others, this pun-filled funny animal hero by Scott Shaw! was a wonderfully silly all-ages book in the 1980s that’s still fondly remembered by many. A Showcase volume reprinting the series was scheduled a few years back, but was canceled due to creator royalty issues. Let’s hope the Zoo Crew gets to fight for justice again. 

 

Christopher Priest’s Xerø:
Christopher Priest’s offbeat takes on superheroes made him a cult favorite in the 1990s, with his runs on such DC books as Steel and The Ray offering some of the best use of those characters. However, one of his most inventive titles, Xerø, never got the chance to shine.

The tale of a (black) pro basketball player who doubled as an emotionless (white) assassin for a shadowy agency, Xerø featured twisty storylines, excellent art by ChrisCross, and an unusual narration in the form of a novel by Xerø’s brother that let us know the events of the story would eventually lead to the title character’s death.

On his website, Priest calls Xerø “the Apollo 13 of my career,” lamenting how a lack of editorial support led to a number of key scenes being ruined because of production trouble.

The series was co-owned by Priest and DC, and a reprint of Xerø’s 12 issues with corrected coloring (possibly from another publisher if there’s a re-do on the issue with Doctor Polaris, the only DC Universe character to appear in the series), might finally give this underrated series its due. 

 

‘Mazing Man:
A recent appearance on the Brave and the Bold cartoon is the first bit of action in years for this light-hearted urban superhero, who didn’t fight crime so much as he just tried to help his neighbors and his best friend, who for some reason looked like a dog. This series only ran 12 issues and three specials, but inspired fans such as Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane, who contributed guest artwork. Charming and fondly remembered by fans, ‘Maze and friends deserve to be preserved for posterity.  

 

The Lonely War of Willy Schultz
: In the late 1960s, writer Will Franz captured the ambivalence and anxiety of the Vietnam era with this feature for Charlton Comics’ Fightin’ Army about a WWII captain falsely accused of murder who hides out with the German army. In danger from both sides, Schultz’s desperate efforts to stay alive and not betray his country made this a uniquely psychological war story – and in the eyes of many comics fans and real-world soldiers, one of the best war comics ever.

The series was reprinted in 1999 and 2000 by a small press, and many of the original art pages were auctioned off a few years ago by artist Sam Glanzman to help pay for Franz’s medical bills. Schultz’s lonely war has never been collected into one volume, and his story remains resonant today. 

 

The Children’s Crusade
: Yes, there’s a 100-plus page Neil Gaiman comics story that’s never been collected. Although the circumstances of it make it a little tricky. Way back in 1993, Vertigo tried tying their books together in a “universe” by doing this crossover story through a series of annuals, bookended by two installments written by Gaiman.

Starring two dead boy detectives from The Sandman (later featured in stories by Ed Brubaker and Jill Thompson), it involved children being abducted to a mystical land called “Free Country,” and that land’s inhabitants going after the children in the numerous other Vertigo books.

Here’s where it gets tricky: While the Gaiman-scripted installments are quite good (and have art by Chris Bachalo), the middle installments are taken from a variety of now-canceled books and don’t make a lot of sense in context (one key part involves Animal Man’s daughter Maxine, setting up a plot point in the then-ongoing book that was resolved well before the new series started).

So you’d have to have either a very large hardcover collecting the multi-hundred-page story, or something collecting the beginning and end, possibly with selections from the middle installments. A “Vertigo Resurrected” one-off volume might work best. Still: It’s Gaiman, and a charming/creepy story with great art. 

 

George Carlson’s Jingle Jangle Tales
: The absurdist cartoons of cartoonist George Carlson – whose work included the dust jacket to the first edition of Gone with the Wind and a brochure given to those on the maiden voyage of the Queen Victoria – remain a favorite of fans of the Golden Age.

Carlson did two stories for every issue of Jingle Jangle Comics, every one full of bizarre characters, oddball wordplay, unique layouts, and a world where seemingly every object was alive. You can see some highlights from a story and read another full tale through this link.

Carlson’s work has been featured in a variety of anthologies of classic comics, and was even picked as one of the best examples of the medium by the Smithsonian in the 1980s, but there has never been a definitive collection and retrospective of his work. 

 

Thriller:
No, this wasn’t about Michael Jackson. Okay, with that joke out of the way, it’s time to sing the praises of this absolutely crazy pulp adventure comic DC produced in the early 1980s, written by Robert Loren Fleming and drawn by Trevor Von Eeden in its initial issues.

“She has 7 Seconds to Save the World!” was the tagline for this tale of Angie Thriller...who literally had a team called “The Seven Seconds” to help battle threats. A disembodied psychic entity, Angie would work with her brother and a genetically-engineered 7-foot-tall psychic priest to …look, this one’s a wee bit hard to describe. You can find out more at a fan site devoted to it.

The series only ran 12 issues, and the characters haven’t appeared since (though Fleming used its villain Scabbard in an issue of Ambush Bug, which you can read in the Showcase volume collecting all the character’s appearances). The initial seven issues by Fleming and Von Eeden are fast-paced, ruthlessly inventive, and in many ways still ahead of their time. Seek them out and find out for yourself. 

Sheldon Mayer’s Scribbly and the Red Tornado: There literally would not be a DC Universe without writer/artist/editor Sheldon Mayer. He was the one who picked Siegel and Shuster’s proposal for Superman from the slush pile, and who wrote the initial stories of the Justice Society of America – in fact, the team might well have been his idea.

But much of Mayer’s work remains out of print, including the concept that was dearest to his heart. Scribbly was a semi-autobiographical tale of a boy cartoonist, which became a superhero strip when his landlady, Ma Hunkle, donned a pot-helmet and some red long johns to become the Red Tornado, one of the first comical superheroes, and present at the first JSA meeting (at least until she split her pants).

Ma Hunkel has remained a part of the JSA to this day, with her granddaughter Maxine joining the team as Cyclone. And the Red Tornado has cameoed in everything from Smallville to Kingdom Come to a Minimate with the better-known android version from the Justice League. But the original Scribbly tales are still funny and charming, and a part of DC’s history.

Mayer’s better-known strip, the long-running Sugar and Spike, finally got an Archive edition this year from DC, and Ma’s first few adventures as the Red Tornado were reprinted in the JSA All-Stars Archives a few years back, but there’s never been a definitive reprinting of her adventures. And you wouldn’t want Ma Hunkel mad at you, would you?

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction:
Finally, here’s a short-lived Marvel magazine from the 1970s that was a labor of love for writer/editor Roy Thomas. Over its six issues and an annual, it adapted a number of SF tales from the 1920s to the then-present by such authors as Larry Niven, Michael Moorcock and Harlan Ellison, by such great creators as Howard Chaykin and Dick Giordano.

In addition, it reprinted small-press fanzine work from creators like Neal Adams and Richard Corben, and featured such original tales as the heartbreaking “War Toy” by Tony Isabella and George Perez (which you can read online here). The series was never very popular, but a number of fans fondly remember it, such as Nebula winner Allen Steele, who credits it as one of the books that got him into science fiction.

Though copyright difficulty might preclude many of the adaptations from being reprinted, it’s still worth tracking down, if only for Alex Nino’s insane art on his adaptations of Harlan Ellison’s “’Repent, Harlequin’” and Michael Moorcock’s “Behold the Man.”

Okay, that’s it for this feature! If there’s any other collections you’d like to see, let us know – and we hope to see some of these books back in print in the future.

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