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New comics come out every week, by the dozens. Add that up by the month or the year, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track. Certain runs on some titles rise to the top by a mixture of critical acclaim, proper marketing and the right timing, but if all of those factors aren’t perfectly aligned, good comics fall by the wayside.
In this edition of ROBOT 6’s “Six by 6,” we look at six noteworthy creative runs on superhero comics worth a second look, even if that means a trip to the back-issue bin.
Wonder Man (1991-1994) by Gerard Jones, Jeff Johnson, et al. (Marvel)
Superhero/movie star, what’s not to love? Years before Marvel had a Hollywood hit, the red-eyed Simon Williams was king of the film world in the company’s fictional universe, balancing a string of starring roles in hit movies with a membership in various Avengers teams. At the peak of the 1990s speculator comics bubble, Gerard Jones teamed with the amazing Jeff Johnson to tell the story of a celebrity superhero dealing with fans who want to be sidekicks and villains out to make a name by beating the celluloid star. Jones and Johnson showed Wonder Man full of self-doubt but also with moments of boldness, fighting foes like Goliath, the Kree, the Sh’iar, Mephisto, and his brother the Grim Reaper. Jones wrote all 29 issues of the series, while Johnson was the regular artist until departing in Issue 25. Sadl,y this series was never collected nor is it available digitally, but can easily be had through the second-hand market; the entire run was recently listed on eBay for just $17.50.
Adventures of Superman (2001-2004) by Joe Casey, Derec Aucoin, Mike Wieringo, et al. (DC Comics)
Years before works like Godland and even Wildcats, Joe Casey spent three years with DC’s Man of Steel.The pinnacle of his 36-issue run is “The Hollow Men” storyline from issues 612-616, showing Clark Kent catching up with his teenage mentor in journalism after discovering those stories of his coming to life. The writer used that to compare and contrast the modern idea of Superman with that of the original, early depiction of the Man of Steel, to awesome effect. Casey’s run has been pigeonholed as showing a “pacifist” Superman because of his push to solve problems without violence, but this story doesn’t pull any punches.
Agent X (2003) by Evan Dorkin and Juan Bobillo (Marvel)
While this may not have been Deadpool in name, it was Deadpool in action. And after the original creative team left, someone with some excellent tastes and a sense of boldness thought up the great idea to hire Milk & Cheese‘s Evan Dorkin to script a two-issue tale. Paired with the great comedic superhero talents of artist Juan Bobillo, Dorkin takes Agent X on a tour of bad taste, gratuitious violence and dark humor — and introduces a homage to the excess of the 1990s in Fight-Man.