I loved comic books as a kid. And of course the really memorable stories are the arc’s. Those story lines that span several issues or are part of a multi-part crossover with another book or even the whole company. As great as those are, what gets forgotten are the single issues of regular books. While it’s fun to read a crossover which involves a dozen issues of the comic to get through, it’s also fun just to sit with a single issue. When I was a kid I would sit back and just be absorbed in the story, I loved it.

So I wanted to talk about my favorite single issue comic stories, but there is one problem. I stopped reading comics a long time ago. All of these issues will be from the 80’s. So, I am aware that many who may read this will not be familiar with some or all of the stories I discuss here. But, maybe this will inspire some to seek them out and see what they missed back in the day. Comics were paced differently than they are now, when I do read something more recent I find it hard to read because I am not used to it. However the comics I read were better paced than they were in the 70’s, when comics would have way too much narration telling us what was going rather than showing. I don’t even like the really old stuff.

 

OK, enough rambling here are five of my favorite single issue comics ever.

 

#5. Superman Annual #10 (1985)

I considered not including this because it’s an annual, which is a little larger than a single issue. But I figured as long as it was not an event tie-in it would be ok. This story is pre-crisis so the fact I love it is remarkable (will explain why later). I remember the first time I read this in a trade collection, and wow! Alan Moore wrote this story, and man is it a good one. Everything is sharp in this, from the pacing to the artwork. This is available in trade form so if you never read it, check it out. The story is simple; Batman and Wonder Woman discover Superman has been trapped by an alien creature which can create the illusion of the victim’s heart’s desire. We see Superman as his life may have been on the never destroyed Krypton and flash back and forth as the heroes try to save him. Mongul is the villain, and as I said this is a story where everything just works. And if anyone knows the episode of Justice League Unlimited this was adapted into, please let me know.

 

#4. The New Teen Titans #38 (1984)

The Titans in the 80’s were a very strong comic. I almost thought I wouldn’t get them on this list because story arcs ran through every issue. Very few stand out all by themselves. Here is an exception, and a very well written one. Who is Donna Troy? was designed as a way to clear up Wonder Girl’s backstory. This was pre-crisis so Wonder Woman is still there, and many of the things in this story were invalidated years later. However, if you forget all that this is one good story. The remarkable thing is there is no action, no real villain, and only Robin and Wonder Girl are even in it! This should be a snooze fest at the least, but it isn’t because of the beautiful writing. If you ever wondered why Marv Wolfman and George Perez are so regarded, here is a nice little example. This has been reprinted in a trade, so should be easy to find.

 

#3. Justice League #1 (1987)

Keith Giffen wasn’t a house hold name in comics when this book came out. For those who may not know, the old JLA was cancelled after the idiotic “Detroit Justice League” killed the book (look it up, one of the dumbest ideas ever). This was an attempt to re-launch the title. First of all, it has a cover which has been copied to death. I always wonder if Linkara likes that cover or hates it? But the real appeal to the book was the way the heroes were written. Like people. They made jokes and were allowed to be normal people. That was the appeal of this (until the humor got to silly, but that’s another story). The first issue is one of the greatest first issues I ever read, it introduces the characters, sets up the premise, and gives enough action. It also introduces us to Maxwell Lord, who was an idea I was never crazy with. The book got silly as it went on but it’s first issue (first several issues actually) were really fun to read. These are all available in paperback now, so check it out. By the way, the new JLI was the one book I almost wanted to read in the new relaunch. Then they cancelled it.

 

 

#2. Batman #412 (1987)

I put this on here for two reasons. One is that this is a perfect example of what I was talking about. This is a simple one issue story; it begins and ends in the same issue. It has interesting character moments/development. It has an interesting villain with a well explained backstory. The supporting cast is here to contribute to the story. And it has enough action. It’s just a very strong single issue. The villain is a character known as “The Mime”, a woman who detests noise. The second reason, I just love this story. Max Allan Collins gives a very well told tale (and looking at his writing credits, this is no surprise). I was never a huge Batman fan, but this is a strong issue. This is probably not the easiest issue to find, don’t think it’s ever been reprinted, but after losing it years ago I stumbled upon it at a comic shop a few months ago and was happy I did. This is not part of massive arc or huge event; it’s just a strong, well-told Batman story in one single issue. If you can track it down, you won’t regret it.

 

 

#1.Superman #2 (1986)

So in 1986 I was a passive comic fan, if that. Then one day I was in a little store getting candy to bring into the movies, and happened to spy this little issue of Superman. It has Lex Luthor looking at a computer revealing Clark Kent was Superman! I was a naïve kid, so I had no idea about John Byrne and the re-launch of Superman. I had seen The Man of Steel but didn’t realize what I was looking at (I read it later and loved it). This is the issue that hooked me, on comics and on Superman. Before the Crisis Superman was not only boring, but a bit of a jerk. Ever read those old stories? He acts like he’s superior! The stories were also silly and campy, even into the 80’s. Then John Byrne came along and changed it. Superman was powered down, they made Clark Kent the real person and Superman a name he used to do his work, made Lois Lane into a likable character, Lex Luthor into a believable villain, and they made him a happy farm boy from Kansas! So this story is a favorite because it was my real introduction to a character I love. I could have put any of John Byrne’s run on Superman, I loved everything he did (well, except the Action Comics issues featured on AT4W. Linkara was on the money with that one). The story has Lex sending men out to get all evidence they can on Superman. This issue also introduces the kryptonite ring Luthor would wear (I sense I am losing you….). The best part of this issue? The ending isn’t the clichéd “have someone pretend to be the hero to fool them” cop out. It is a brilliant ending which really shows Luthor’s character, and I won’t ruin it. This is an easy issue to find in trade re-prints. Check it out, and maybe discover what I did 25 years ago.

 

 

 

Now of course this all opinion and I have hardly read every comic ever made. There are dozens of single issues which deserve to be on this list but are not. Also, not a Marvel fan, sorry. Next time, my favorite event stories

By richb

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