This month, Rand Bellavia takes a look at his growing longbox, and reflects on comics released in January 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016!

Rand Bellavia is back to share his fond memories of decades of comic collecting and reading in this month’s Random Access Memory.

January 1981

Move along, nothing to see here.  (1981 was a lean year for me — I wasn’t really collecting, and nearly stopped reading comics entirely.)

Comics I Read From January 1981

  • Marvel Team-Up 104
  • Moon Knight 6
  • What If 26

January 1986

Daredevil 230

No super-heroics here, as Matt spends the issue in a hospital bed.

…and maybe meets his mother?

We spend a lot of time with Ben Urich, whose investigation into what happened to Matt met some serious resistance.

Ben is understandably shaken, but J. Jonah Jamison is not having it.

Frank Miller turns the creepiness up to 11, as the Kingpin is seemingly everywhere at all times.

These pages are dripping with sullen menace.

Ben is hearing death on the phone, of course, but it lurks on either side of him — in the dialog of his co-workers — as well.

But Ben is a hearty sort — and the true hero of this story — and by the time his hand heals, his courage and sense of justice have healed as well.

Comics I Read From January 1986

  • Alien Legion 12
  • Aquaman 3
  • Avengers 266
  • Badger 11
  • Cerebus 82
  • Dreadstar 23
  • Incredible Hulk 318
  • Johnny Nemo Magazine 3
  • Miracleman 5
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 113
  • Punisher 4
  • Scout 3
  • Swamp Thing 47
  • Vigilante 28
  • Web of Spider-Man 14
  • West Coast Avengers 8
  • X-Factor 3

January 1991

Doom Patrol 42

Flex Mentallo shares his origin story!

Fans of seventies comics may find this part a little familiar:

His origin is a pretty much panel-by-panel recreation of the Charles Atlas “The Insult That Made a Man out of Mac” full-page ad that  I (and, apparently, Grant Morrison) saw in a lot of old comics.

As we’ve come to expect from Morrison, Flex’s world is filled with fantastic heroes that only exist for a panel or two:

The “Fact” was a supporting character in the eventual Flex Mentallo mini-series.

But Flex’s story soon turns dark, as he becomes mired in entertainingly insane conspiracy theories (all of which of course are horrifyingly true).

Other Comics I Read from January 1991

  • Animal Man 32, 33
  • Books of Magic 3
  • Cerebus 142
  • Hellblazer 39
  • Incredible Hulk 379
  • Nazz 3
  • Sandman 23, 24
  • Shade the Changing Man 8, 9

January 1996

Invisibles 18

King Mob has been captured by Sir Miles, who is trying to use the torture drug Key 17 to extract information.

This brilliant fictional application of synesthesia allows them to convince King Mob that horrible physical violence has been visited upon him.

…when in reality, he is unharmed.

The “World’s Greatest Dad” cup is later used to great effect when one of the “bad guys” is injected with Key 17.

Comics I Read from January 1996

  • Captain America 449
  • Cerebus 202
  • Daredevil 350
  • Doc Samson 3
  • Doctor Strange 87
  • Flash 111
  • Hate 21
  • Hellblazer 99
  • Impulse 12
  • Incredible Hulk 439
  • Kurt Busiek’s Astro City 6
  • Loaded
  • Madman Comics 10
  • Preacher 12
  • Sandman 75
  • Seekers: Into the Mystery 3
  • Shade the Changing Man 69
  • Spider-Man Team-Up 2
  • Starman 17
  • Swamp Thing 164
  • Untold Tales of Spider-Man 7
  • X-Men Unlimited 10

January 2001

JLA 50

Mark Waid’s first JLA storyline revealed that Batman had contingency plans in place to take out all the JLA members if they ever broke bad.  Unfortunately the JLA members found out about this the hard way — with Ra’s al Ghul using these plans against them.  As a result, Batman was voted out of the JLA and this story shows the fallout:  The JLA has split in two.

Superman thinks that only Batman can save them:

There are plenty of action set pieces illustrating the stories that Superman tells Batman, but the most compelling aspect of the story is their conversation.

One of the best parts of Superman and Batman’s relationship is that they both know that they are both right.  Ultimately, their relationship is centered on the idea that they each secretly think that the other is the better person (and the better hero).

Clark’s glasses are the key, and Batman knows what they both must do.

Superman summons the JLA, who are surprised to find themselves in the Batcave.  And ever more surprised to find Bruce Wayne…

…and Clark Kent.

As the JLA are reeling from these revelations, the Batmobile pulls in, and this time everyone is surprised to see who gets out.

See you next issue.

 

Other Comics I Read from January 2001

  • 100 Bullets 20
  • Action Comics 775
  • Avengers 38
  • Batman 587
  • Batman: Gotham Knights 13
  • Defenders 1
  • El Diablo 1
  • Fantastic Four 39
  • Flash 170
  • Geeksville 5
  • Hellblazer 158
  • Hourman 24
  • Hulk Smash 1
  • JSA 20
  • Justice Leagues: JL?
  • Justice Leagues: JLA
  • Lucifer 10
  • Marvel Boy 6
  • Powers 9
  • Punisher 12
  • Robin 86
  • Sam and Twitch 18
  • Sentry/Hulk
  • Sentry/Spider-Man
  • Sentry/The Void
  • Sentry/X-Men
  • Starman 75
  • Transmetropolitan 42
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 5
  • Ultimate X-Men 2
  • Zero Girl 2

January 2006

Nextwave 1

Nextwave is a superior example of how narrative tone can sell a comic.  It’s a shame how few people discovered this gem.

Fin Fang Foom is a classic Kirby monster from the earliest days of Marvel.  Warren Ellis clearly thinks he’s hilarious.

We are also introduced to Dirk Anger and the Agents of H.A.T.E.

Our team of superheroic misfits includes Monica Rambeau (formerly Captain Marvel, Photon, Daystar, Pulsar… she has some identity issues).  You might recognize her from WandaVision.

Nextwave also includes another tertiary character with too many names (anyone remember X-51?) who is no longer wearing their costume:

Other Comics I Read from January 2006

  • 100 Bullets 68
  • Adventures of Superman 648
  • All-Star Superman 2
  • Books of Doom 3
  • Daredevil 81
  • Desolation Jones 5
  • DMZ 3
  • Down 3
  • Ex Machina 17
  • Exterminators 1
  • Ghost Rider 5
  • Gotham Central 39
  • Green Lantern 7
  • Green Lantern: Recharge 4
  • Hellblazer 216
  • Infinite Crisis 4
  • Iron Man 5
  • JSA 81
  • JSA Classified 7
  • Losers 31
  • Lucifer 70
  • Marvel Zombies 2
  • New Avengers 15
  • Planetary 24
  • Pulse 13
  • Punisher 29
  • Runaways 12
  • Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein 2
  • Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle 3
  • She-Hulk 4
  • Swamp Thing 23
  • Teen Titans 31
  • Testament 2
  • Thing 3
  • Ultimate Extinction 1
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 89
  • Walking Dead 25
  • Wonder Woman 225
  • X-Men 181
  • X-Men: Deadly Genesis 3
  • X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl 1
  • Y: The Last Man 41

January 2011

Invincible Iron Man 500

Matt Fraction has written a lot of Marvel comics yet he’s never written an ongoing Spider-Man book, which is maddening, as he writes Peter Parker so well.  At this stage of Fraction’s story, Tony Stark has lost his memory and seeks out Peter to help him recall a weapon they worked on together.

Turns out the answer to another difficult question (“Who?”) is “the bastard sons of Wilbur Day.”

Of course Peter doesn’t listen to Tony.

Do you think “The Bastard Sons of Wilbur Day” is registered as an LLC?

By the time Tony returns, Peter is waiting with a solution.

“Remember the Spider” is a little meta, as one of the things Tony can’t remember is that Peter is Spider-Man.

Other Comics I Read from January 2011

  • Amazing Spider-Man 651, 652
  • American Vampire 11
  • Avengers 9
  • Avengers Academy 8
  • Avengers Prime 5
  • Avengers: The Children’s Crusade 4
  • Brightest Day 17, 18
  • Captain America 614
  • Captain America: Man Out of Time 3
  • Casanova: Gula 1
  • Chaos War 5
  • Chaos War: Dead Avengers 3
  • Chill
  • Daredevil: Reborn 1
  • Deadpool Max 4
  • Detective Comics 573
  • DMZ 61
  • Fantastic Four 587
  • Generation Hope 3
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors 6
  • Hellblazer 275
  • Incredible Hulks 620, 621
  • Infinite Vacation 1
  • Iron Man: Legacy 10
  • New Avengers 8
  • New York Five 1
  • Northlanders 36
  • Rat Catcher
  • Scalped 45
  • Scarlet 4
  • Secret Avengers 9
  • Superior 4
  • Superman 707
  • Sweet Tooth 17
  • Thor 619
  • Thor: The Mighty Avenger 8
  • Twenty-Seven 2
  • Ultimate Comics Avengers 18
  • Ultimate Captain America 1
  • Ultimate Doom 2
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 152
  • Uncanny X-Men 532
  • Who is Jake Ellis? 1
  • Wolverine 5
  • X-Factor 213, 214

January 2016

Grayson 16

While Grayson didn’t set any sales records, it was a pretty clear announcement that Tom King was here to stay.  While his Vertigo book The Sheriff of Babylon was a serious meditation on his work for the CIA in Iraq, Grayson was an extremely light-hearted look at the spy game.

In this series, Dick Grayson isn’t Robin or Nightwing but Agent 37 of Spyral.

His numerical designation is a running gag.

The series does a great job of inverting the heterosexual male gaze, finding many opportunities to have the male characters strip down, get tied up, etc.

This song goes on for four pages, and it’s hilarious.

It’s impossible for me to read these pages without hearing Homer Simpson singing “He’s the man whose name you’d love to touch / But you mustn’t touch!”

Other Comics I Read from January 2016

  • A-Force 1
  • Action Comics 48
  • All-New Hawkeye 3
  • All-New Wolverine 4
  • All-New, All-Different Avengers 3
  • Archie 5
  • Batman/Superman 28
  • Bitch Planet 6
  • Black Magick 4
  • Bloodshot Reborn 10
  • Chew 54
  • Cyborg 7
  • Daredevil 3
  • Deadly Class 18
  • Descender 9
  • Detective Comics 48
  • Doctor Strange 4
  • Dragon Age: Magekiller 2
  • East of West 24
  • Eve: Valkyrie 4
  • Fade Out 12
  • Faith 1
  • Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion 1
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 4
  • Huck 3
  • I Hate Fairyland 4
  • Injection 6
  • Invincible Iron Man 5
  • Jacked 3
  • Jupiter’s Circle 3
  • Legacy of Luther Strode 4
  • Midnighter 8
  • Mighty Thor 3
  • Monstress 3
  • Ms. Marvel 3
  • New Romancer 2
  • Ninjak 11
  • No Mercy 6
  • Nowhere Men 7
  • Ody-C 9
  • Old Man Logan 1
  • Omega Men 8
  • Paper Girls 4
  • Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl 6
  • Postal 9
  • Rebels 10
  • Red Wolf 2
  • Revival 36
  • Robin War 2
  • Saga 33
  • Secret Wars 9
  • Sheriff of Babylon 2
  • Silver Surfer 1
  • Southern Bastards 13
  • Spread 12
  • Superman/Wonder Woman 25
  • Superman: American Alien 3
  • Totally Awesome Hulk 2
  • Violent 2
  • Vision 3
  • Walking Dead 150
  • Wolf 5
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About Author

Rand Bellavia is half of the Filk Pop Nerd Rock band Ookla the Mok. They’ve been playing at science fiction and comic book conventions since 1994. Their clever, media-savvy lyrics, catchy melodies, and accessible power-pop sound have made them a cult-sensation with nerds everywhere. With song titles like Super Powers, Welcome to the Con, Arthur Curry, Kang the Conqueror, and Stop Talking About Comic Books or I’ll Kill You, it’s easy to see why. Rand and Ookla the Mok have won four Pegasus Awards, and the 2014 Logan Award for Outstanding Original Comedy Song. Ookla the Mok had the most requested song on Dr. Demento in 2012 (“Tantric Yoda”) and 2013 (“Mwahaha”). Rand co-wrote the theme song for the Disney cartoon Fillmore, and his vocals are the first thing you hear on Gym Class Heroes’ Top Five hit “Cupid’s Chokehold.” In his secret identity, Rand is the Director of the Montante Library at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York. He has lectured and presented at international conferences on the subject of comics and libraries. Rand is like the Internet, except he smells nice.

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