Here’s an incredible classic Star Wars cover way back from 1984 that’s one of my favorites of the retro Marvel series. One quick look and it’s evident why it’s so damn epic, Bill Sienkiewicz and Cynthia Martin were responsible for issue #92’s unforgettable confrontation. In all the divisiveness amongst fans in the current landscape of Star Wars it’s nice to go back to an era where fans for the most part loved just the movies! This cover is making me seriously considering revisiting those classic comic book adventures!
Here’s the second installment of the all time greatest one shot comics, featuring small self contained stories that begin & end all within the span of one single issue! Today we’ve got an excellent story from 2001 in The Incredible Hulk #26 (vol. 2) written by Sean Mckeever and drawn by one of my personal favorites, the amazing Kyle Hotz. I immediately had a soft spot for this issue as it takes place in Wausau, Wisconsin (and even features ‘Eagle River’ on a highway sign, a place where my family’s had a cottage for ages) a state that we don’t normally see superhero adventures taking place. I had a feeling that Mckeever must’ve been a Wisconsin native to include such random small towns in this story and I was right as his Wiki page states he’s from Appleton (I used to live there!).
Anyway the story features The Hulk as he wanders aimlessly through the night on a lonely highway being drawn to a nearby city’s lights in the distance. The Hulk appears to be at peace in the quiet night, but hey we all know for the jade giant tranquility never lasts long. The cool thing about this particular issue is that Hulk kinda takes a back seat as the story really follows the exploits of b-lister down on his luck supervillain ‘The Killer Shrike’ and his wife Nadine who’re traveling the country aimlessly in his beat up van. I love what this one brings to the table as we’re able to see Simon Maddicks (The Killer Shrike) life as a real person. We witness the struggle of a woman who’s stuck by her mate as he’s chosen a life as a superhuman criminal constantly on the run from the law. She’s tired and ready to live a normal boring life. Shrike’s promising her soon he’ll be ready and willing to give up the life of crime and pulls into Wausau claiming that it could be the city for both of them to settle down in.
It doesn’t take long for her to realize Simon’s lying through his teeth as he eyes up a convenience store and tells her he’s got a new plan. Rather than looking for the big score like he has for years he’s gonna hit small towns hard where there’s no superhuman resistance. We get a real glimpse in to what life might really be like for a supervillain who at his core is just a regular small time crook. There haven’t been too many comics that have covered this topic so intimately and really given us a look at the starving supervillain’s daily life. It’s too bad The Killer Shrike doesn’t realize this small city’s also harboring the most powerful brute force on the planet-The Hulk. We get a compelling introspective into just what makes The Hulk tick and where his thoughts wander to when he’s in a state of peace with his surroundings. There’s a lot of great dialogue packed into this little story and Hotz’s unique artwork really brings this tale to life
The Killer Shrike suits up in his van and hit’s the convenience store with an easy small time score, or so he thinks. On his way out with the cash he nearly runs head on into you guessed it…good ol’ green jeans himself. The Shrike in sheer panic attacks The Hulk, who really just wants to be left alone. He’s doesn’t let up either as he’s convinced he can take down The Hulk himself, he keeps on striking until he levels an entire building upon the jade giant. The Killer Shrike however quickly realizes that very building also crushed his getaway van with his lover, Nadine inside. As things often go wrong when puny humans decide to pester the Hulk, this issue delivers a heartfelt punch to the gut as we witness one fateful night in the life of Simon Maddicks. I wish Marvel could capture this type of depth in their characters and villains more often as The Incredible Hulk #26 would be great issue to present to Marvel executives today as they ponder upon why their comic book sales have declined so much recently. Check this issue out next time you’re at the comic shop roaming through the back issue boxes, it’s a damn fine little slice of storytelling! P.S. here’s an old Marvel Universe profile for the Killer Shrike!
What If was one of the coolest Marvel Comic books ever, it was kinda like a weird ass Twilight Zone episode starring your favorite characters! This cover here to What If #13 is a personal favorite and it wouldn’t be the last time Conan grazed the pages of this particular title. He’d go on to face off with the likes of Thor and Wolverine as well here. But this at the time was a trippy idea-what if Conan walked the Earth today? You just know that he’d get into some major shit as it clearly shows by the situation arising on the cover here. This was way back in 1978(notice the Star Wars poster in the background!) and this cover was beautifully drawn by John Buscema and Ernie Chan! A true classic!!
It’s a fact, Brian Bolland is probably one of the BEST comic book artists of all time-his most famous work on The Killing Joke proves that, giving us arguably the most awesome representation of The Joker ever. He was also very popular for his comic covers, his work on the Flash are easily some of the best covers of all time. This particular issue # 571 of Action Comics from 1985 remains one of my favorites! Super simplistic but totally awesome as we get malfunctioning robotic version of Clark Kent on the cover, Bolland’s eye for detail always shows and this one is a classic!
Charles Vess is one of my favorite cover artists hands down. He did some of the best Spidey covers on the 1980’s mainly with Web of Spider-man. This one from The Amazing Spider-man #261 features The Hobgoblin in all of his awesome glory! To me he’s one of Webhead’s best villains. Vess is best known probably for his fantasy illustrations and his collaboration with Neil Gaiman on books like Sandman and Stardust. For me though he’s one of my favorite Spider-man artists, giving him a darker tone when he took on the classic amazing “Black Costume”.
Back in 1986 it was a real treat when John Byrne took over Superman starting with the mini series The Man of Steel. He rebooted the series with that limited series and then took over Superman and Action Comics entirely doing the writing and artwork. He gave the people of the 80’s a more adult version of Superman and drastically changed his arch nemesis Lex Luthor into simply an evil billionare instead of an adversary that would often times tangle physically with The Man of Steel.
Byrne was on top of his game artistically as well and here is one of my favorite covers from that era where Superman takes down my personal faves The Teen Titans in Action Comics #584. Damn may have to pull out my Superman back issues later tonight, I have every issue of the Byrne era and it still withstands the test of time…
Check out this rad article that gives you the full story on the John Byrne era Superman stuff, a fun read to say the least!