Five Across

My office has a cut-out for what should be a closet. Instead it’s just a space set back from the rest of the room. Except for the fact that the fronting hides some hidden internal vertical space and there’s a bit of molding along the bottom edge of the upper drop. You can see it in the header image, and I am sure there are smart terms for what it is. Whatever.

It is a space I had nothing hanging in. Oddly sized I considered what I might want to hang there since I can see it from my desk all day. Finally, a while back, I did some quick measuring and realized I could fit five comics up there if I wanted.

But what five? I ended up choosing five comics that were special to me for various reasons. Not necessarily my favorite covers or favorite issues these are five comics that are important to me. Here’s why (also note I hung them in particular order or anything):


writer: David Michelinie

pencils: Carmine Infantino

inkers: Brett Breeding, Al Milgrom, Vince Colletta

color: Bob Sharen

letters: John Costanza

cover: George Perez, Bob McLeod

I had read other Avengers issues before this one, I know, but this one stuck in my head in a way that no issues had, to that point. It was, for me, all about the cover and what it promised. Instead of giant fights this issue promised to all be about the small things. Stuck in an elevator, going out at night, ans so on. It sold the Avengers, and super heroes as a concept, to me, as people who existed. They had downtime, they had lives. Like the X-Men playing baseball games, that pause between big moments is something I learned to cherish in stories.



writer: Chuck Dixon

pencils: Scott McDaniel

inks: Karl Story

color: Robert Tewes

letters: John Costanza

This is one of my favorite issues ever. The set-up is super simple: Nightwing and Robin (Tim Drake) are riding a train. That’s it, that’s the issue. Of course they’re riding on top of the train. And they’re blindfolded. And they’re just talking about life, and Batman, and life, and their own futures. And then things get dangerous. It’s an amazing done in one issue that really shows off how great these two characters are, and yet again, sets up  a pause but this is one that moves character forward, with action and joy.



writer: John Broome

pencils: Carmine Infantino

inker: Joe Giella

colors/letters: uncredited

This is flat out one of my favorite covers. Yes the joke idea of “Read this or else!” has been done a bunch since (She-Hulk and Power-Man and Iron Fist both come to mind) and probably before this as well.

Hell, I saw both those other two before this one. But those were played as jokes. This one is dead serious. And Infantino’s art sells it with the perspective and expression and…I adore this cover. It made me want to read the book, bad. The issue itself is fine, of course, Broome and Infantino were a great team – but that cover. To this day just looking at it makes me love comics more.



writer: Bob Layton

pencils: Jackson Guice

inkers: Bob Layton, Jackson Guice, Josef Rubinstein

colors: Petra Scotese, Max Scheele, Glynis Oliver

letters: uncredited

Growing up I read my dad’s old comics, way before I got any modern ones of my own. He had a ton of old Marvel stuff: Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, Tales of Suspense, Sternako Nick Fury stuff, Lee/Kirby X-Men, old Avengers issues, and so on. Just a good two short boxes worth of old Marvel from the 60s and 70s. I read them all.

After a while he decided to take me to get my own comics which is when I got into DC, but I also poked around Marvel more trying to see what happened, not thinking there was a ten year gap between many of the stories I read and what I would be picking up. That actually didn’t do much except in one case: the X-Men. I went from original X-Men right into the new X-Men (the first issue of modern X-Men I got Storm had just been turned into a vampire, it was part two of the first time they fought Dracula, so that didn’t help the confusion) and I wasn’t sold on the new team.

I got used to it but I always wanted what I thought of as my X-Men back for a bit. So when X-Factor got announced I was super excited. Did the book live up to that? Not really? But hey. I got, from a comic shop, a big poster of the cover of issue 1 before the issue came out. Had that shit on the wall of my room. So this cover is just steeped in memories and hope for some awesome story that existed, really, only in my head.



writers: Keith Giffen, Mary Bierbaum, Tom Bierbaum, Al Gordon

pencils: Keith Giffen

inks: Al Gordon

colors: Tom McGraw

letters: Todd Klien

When I was a kid growing up, I didn’t just read my dad’s old comics. I would also buy those Archie digests. The newsstand that sold them also carried the DC digests sometimes, those old Blue ribbon ones? They had, among other things, Legion stories and I quickly fell in love with the Legion. Teens in the future! In space!

I mean a lot of that stuff made no sense. One of the early stories I remember was Lex Luthor sending a robot to the future to join the Legion just to turn evil and kill them? Anyway! I loved the Legion, even as they grew up, when I started buying the newer issues eventually, which was right when the Baxter paper experiment happened (which dates any of you that also know what I’m talking about). And then continuity happened blahblahblah and we got this Legion book. “Five Years Later” with an adult Legion who have lost hope, disbanded, live in a darker, messed up version of the world we knew them in.

It, instantly, wasn’t the Legion I knew and loved, and yet also very much was, just hiding its light. I loved it. I know a lot of people did not, and I get why, but for me, at the time, it 100% worked. This cover sparks something in me, that hope of taking something you love and utterly changing it. I had heard about the supposed plans from the comic store owner and he had it probably 40% right, but that didn’t matter – it was exciting and spoke to change and risk.


So there you go: Five covers I have up in my office, and why. And I get to look at them whenever I want. Makes me happy.

MANSTER! Writing: Building from short stories to novels A First Time For Everything: Animal Man
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