Markley’s Fevered Brain: Grumpy Old Men

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

The Little Monsters #13

The Little Monsters #13


I have been reading comics for over fifty years now. The earliest book I remember was The Little Monsters at a barber shop when I was four. (Many years later I saw my first Playboy also at a barber shop, how odd). From there my mother would read me Tintin when we were visiting my Grandfather, a doctor, who always had Humpty Dumpty Magazine in his waiting room and Humpty Dumpty would serialize Tintin over a number of issues. I do not think I ever got the complete story at the time as the old issues were thrown away so we always were read what was current. I had the same issue with Paul Murry’s Mickey Mouse stories that were serialized over three issues of Walt Disney Comics and Stories; I was never able to find three issues in a row. Finally, the first comic I can remember collecting and fully understanding the concept of issues numbers that ran in sequence was Green Lantern #40 in 1965. This led me to a 53 year odyssey of reading comics and 35 years working in the business of comics.

I preface this blog with all this history because I thought I would look back at moments that really made an impression on me. I am going to focus on stories that have been collected so if you are so inclined, you can go back and read the comics that influenced me. And if you are really bold, you can let me know what influence they have on you, or better yet what books influenced you like these books did for me. Of course over the years these are only a few of the comics that have been part of my life, but they are enough for this blog. Sadly, The Little Monsters has not been reprinted so I cannot recommend them, unless you are willing to pay back issue prices and like the thrill of the hunt. (I do not think they hold up well enough to track, down to be honest.)

The Adventures Of Tintin: Prisoners Of The Sun

The Adventures Of Tintin: Prisoners Of The Sun


So let’s start with Tintin. Tintin was created by Herge in 1929. Tintin was a teenage reporter, who along with his dog Snowy, would travel the world in search of adventure and find all sorts of trouble. Herge did new stories until late in his life and there are over 24 different full length stories of Tintin and his cast of characters over fifty years. All of these stories are grand adventures in the vein of Carl Barks’ long Uncle Scrooge adventures. To a little kid, it was amazing a young boy (of 14 or 15) could get in so much trouble and have so much fun. To this day Tim Tin stories hold up as great adventure stories for all ages. Currently they are available in compact hardcover collections called The Adventures of Tintin. There are seven full color collections with each book having three complete adventures. Unfortunately, there are a few Tintin stories that due to content have not been collected in the official American cannon. These title include Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. Both of these books were, at the time they were done, not considered to be controversial, but over time the subject matter and the way some of the characters were portrayed are no longer consider appropriate for children and are not in the collections of Tintin, nor have they been in years (They are in European collections though). These excluded stories have been reprinted in deluxe black and white hardcovers for the true collector if you want to seek them out. There is also an excellent Tintin cartoon that ran on HBO in the 1990s and a very good film adaptation that came out in 2011. I feel any of these Tintin adventures, be it the comics, the cartoons or the movie should be in any comic fan’s collection. Or are a great chose for any parent looking for a story to share with their young ones.

Green Lantern #40

Green Lantern #40


Green Lantern #40 was the first comic I collected and it was a fantastic issue to start with. It not only introduced the origin of the Guardians of the Universe, but it featured the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. It was produced by the Green Lantern team of the time, John Broome, Gil Kane and Sid Greene. To a five year old kid it blew my mind. It was a mix of superheroes and science fiction unlike anything I had ever seen. From that issue until the New 52, I read Green Lantern religiously, through good and bad, and there were periods of both. I will never forget when I was ten and got Green Lantern #76 only to find it was renamed Green Lantern/Green Arrow and written by Denny O’Neil and drawn by some guys named Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. I hated it. As they say, time changes all things, and now I look at the O’Neil/Adams run with the respect and admiration it deserves. But to understand what this meant to a ten year old who was so proud of his five year run of Green Lantern, (which was not easy to do in the ‘60s as comics had far spottier distribution and I depended on trading with other kids or hoping my parents would buy me a Green Lantern in their travels. Thanks Dad.), we need to take a look back at the history of Green Lantern. The first seventy five issue of Green Lantern were filled with whimsy and charm telling the story of Hal Jordan, fearless test pilot, and his girlfriend Carol Farris, and his best friend, Pieface (I know). He would face criminals every issue and half the time there were aliens or invaders from the alien dimension of Qward. Plus there were his annual team up with his buddy Barry Allen, the Flash, and when you throw in the Guardians, other Green Lanterns (Tomar-Re was always my favorite), Gil Kane’s clean and crisp art, it was like a monthly escape from the humdrum of childhood. This lead me to read all sorts of other heroes, notably the Flash, the Justice League of America, Dial H for Hero (in the pages of House of Mystery) and the double your fun title, The Brave and the Bold that always featured at least TWO heroes for my 12 (and later 15 cents). In recent years DC has reprinted all 75 issues of Green Lantern (and all of his prior appearances in Showcase) in two beautiful oversized omnibuses. Given these books are pricey, DC has also been reprinting these early stories in a series of thick trade paperbacks called Green Lantern: The Silver Age. So far there are three of these paperbacks reprinting the first 35 issues (and Showcases). Having gone back and read these books again for the first time in close to fifty years it is a bit odd as they are dated, like your favorite sitcom from your youth, but they hold up as great comic book stories which are quick paced and beautiful to look at. Most issues have two stories, with the occasional full length epic, but never a continued story to the next issue. It still brings a sense of wonder and joy as I am sure Buck Rogers did to generations prior to me. It was good old fashioned good guy vs. bad guy with a lot of traditional science fiction thrown in.

Avengers Epic Collection: The Avengers/Defenders War

Avengers Epic Collection: The Avengers/Defenders War


Not to leave out Marvel Comics, even though I really did not discover them till the late ‘60s toward the end of Lee/Kirby’s Fantastic Four run. What really caught my attention was The Avengers, especially issues #102/103 with the Sentinels. I knew of the Sentinels from the X-Men, but for them to show up in the Avengers was earth shattering. And this was followed a year later by the Avengers/Defenders war. In my early Marvel years, The Defenders was my favorite book, with Doctor Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner and the Silver Surfer. It covered all the bases for me and replaced my long lost love of Green Lantern. From their first appearance in Marvel Feature (a giant sized comic!) the Defenders caught my attention. I loved the art Sal Buscema and Steve Englehart’s stories just thrilled me. Sadly these early Defenders stories are only available as a Marvel Masterwork at this point, but hopefully they will be collected into an Epic collection soon. But to get a taste of this material there is Avengers Epic Collection Vol. 7: The Avengers/Defenders War, but it collects much more than that. It reprints Avengers #115-128 as well as Defenders #8-11 and more. It also features stories with Thanos, the Zodiac, the Fantastic Four, and others. It is the early part of Steve Englehart’s epic run on The Avengers, and a year after The Avengers first caught my attention, but it is a great read, not only for the appearances of my beloved Defenders (the original group), but so much more. I would argue this was the second (or third) renascence of the Avengers as these stories introduced Mantis and the return of the All Winners Squad and much more. In re-reading these stories I may even rate them higher than those early issues of The Defenders. (Maybe.) Check out this Epic collection for a small sampling of what made me expand from a DC only fan to an equally big fan of Marvel.

This wraps it up once again for this blog. Thank you very much for going down memory lane with me. Over the years I have read far too many comics, and I still do to this day. I am always on the lookout for the trilling adventure of Tintin, or the wonder and awe I found in the pages of Green Lantern, or even the action and drama I later discovered in Marvel’s Avengers and Defenders. As I mentioned, I would love to hear about your memories, and your thoughts on my stories. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. Everything I have written here is my words and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. Before I go, a quick correction, a few blogs ago I wrote about Disney Masters and I said they did not include the where the original stories appeared, I was wrong. The original publication dates and titles are listed in the indicia page of the book.

As always…

Thank you.

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