This month, Rand Bellavia takes a look at his growing longbox, and reflects on comics released in September 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015!

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

September 1980

Marvel Team-Up 100

In 1980 a comic book nerd couldn’t ask for more than a double-sized Marvel comic with two stories written by Chris Claremont — one illustrated by Frank Miller and the other by John Byrne.  The main feature introduced future New Mutant Karma in the inelegantly titled “And Introducing– Karma! She Possesses People!”

And wouldn’t you know it, Karma possesses Spider-Man!  Karma thinks Spidey is a bad guy (apparently she’s a Daily Bugle subscriber) so doesn’t feel badly about taking over his body.  This provides a great excuse for Frank Miller to draw an extended Spider/FF fight scene.

Karma realizes her error just in time for her twin brother to take control of poor Spidey.

Then we get a wonderfully rendered back-story:

Tran is not only bad news, but he’s (conveniently) powerful enough to possess up to four people at a time.

But Karma is not messing around.

She absorbs her brother, an ability which is never really explained.

The backup reveals the first meeting of Black Panther and Storm.

Back in the present, they realize they have to face that same jackass again.

He doesn’t pose much of a threat to them — this story is more about their relationship than the bad guy — and Claremont’s narration makes promises that future Marvel continuity can’t keep.

They were married, right?  Did I dream that?

Comics I Read From September 1980

  • Amazing Spider-Man 211, Annual 14
  • Avengers 202
  • Captain America 252
  • Cerebus 20
  • Moon Knight 2
  • New Teen Titans 2
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 49
  • Uncanny X-Men 140
  • What If 24

September 1985

Miracleman 2

In case you didn’t pick up on the whole “Kid Miracleman is a horrifically frightening monster” vibe from the end of the last issue, we open with this:

This issue features the first in a series of messy and violent fights between Miracleman and Kid Miracleman.  Suffice it to say that Kid Miracleman wins Round One.

Superman villain Mr. Mxyzptlk has a preposterous weakness: if he says his name backwards, he is banished back to the 5th dimension (where he presumably joins Marilyn McCoo in a beautiful balloon).  You’d think it would be hard to trick someone into saying their name backwards more than once, but Superman always finds a way.  This entertains me, and as is often the case, that lead to an Ookla song:

Mister Mxyzptlk

Provided to YouTube by CDBaby Mister Mxyzptlk · Ookla the Mok Vs. Evil ℗ 2013 Rand Bellavia and Adam English Released on: 2013-03-12 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Well, it turns out that it also sucks if your superhero name includes your secret body-switching code word.

And we learn that just as Michael Moran aged on earth while Miracleman’s body was in statis in another dimension, Kid Miracleman aged on earth while Johnny Bates’ body was in statis in another dimension.

Careful readers will not that Bates said his magic word without changing.  That doesn’t last long.

Swamp Thing 43

This issue introduces Chester Williams, an important character throughout the rest of this run of Swamp Thing.  Chester finds one of Swamp Thing’s tubers and quickly realizes it’s psychotropic attributes.  Just as Chester is trying to figure out what to do with the tuber, a friend shows up to ask for any drugs Chester might have to help his dying wife.

Then another “friend” shows up with less noble intent.

Milo has a bad trip.

…but Sandy has a much better experience.

The scene is reminiscent of Abby’s first encounter with Swamp Thing’s tubers.

Dave stops by to speak with Chester the following day.

Milo didn’t make it either, but Chester has a very different conversation about that.

Instant Karma’s gonna get ya.

There’s one piece of the tuber left.  Would you eat it?

Thor 362

There are many great issues of Walter Simonson’s Thor run, but this one is probably the sentimental favorite, and for good reasons.  Skurge the Executioner is kind of a one-note joke of a character, but here he finally gets his due.

This scene is echoed in Thor: Ragnarok, but (for me, at least) it lacked the emotional impact of the comic.

And I imagine that pretty much anyone’s list of Best 100 Comic Pages would include this next one:

Comics I Read From September 1985

  • Alien Legion 10
  • Amazing Spider-Man 271
  • Avengers 262
  • Badger 8
  • Bedlam 1, 2
  • Black Dragon 6
  • Cerebus 78
  • Cloak and Dagger 4
  • Conan the King 32
  • Daredevil 226
  • Defenders 150
  • Dreadstar 21
  • Fantastic Four 285
  • Heroes for Hope
  • Incredible Hulk 314
  • Johnny Nemo Magazine 1
  • Justice League of America 245
  • Longshot 4
  • Mage 9
  • Moon Knight 6
  • Moonshadow 5
  • New Mutants Special Edition 1
  • Nexus 16
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 109
  • Scout 1
  • Secret Wars II 6
  • Super Powers 4
  • Tales of Terror 2
  • Uncanny X-Men 200
  • Vigilante 24
  • Vision and the Scarlet Witch 3
  • Web of Spider-Man 10
  • West Coast Avengers 4
  • X-Men/Alpha Flight 1

September 1990

Doom Patrol 38

Our heroes find themselves trapped on another planet, smack dab in the middle of a religious war.

Did I mention that this war has been going on for centuries?

Sadly, The War of Nerves led to much more physical confrontations.  (And never let it be said that Grant Morrison is running out of ideas.)

These aspects of the War are described by the leader of the Hussites, who has the annoying habit of speaking like an amplified translation — offering multiple meanings of keys words — and pronouncing the forward slash (“stroke”) between each synonym.

Here he describes to Rebis and Rhea Jones some of the Zones that they must travel through.

They seek to destroy the Judge Rock and take possession of his flower.  As one does.

Other Comics I Read from September 1990

  • Animal Man 29
  • Cerebus 138
  • Dr. Fate 21
  • Dreadstar 62
  • Hellblazer 35
  • Incredible Hulk 375
  • Nazz 1
  • Question Quarterly 1
  • Shade the Changing Man 5
  • Spider-Man 4
  • Yummy Fur 22

September 1995

Preacher 8

This issue begins with Jesse and Tulip unexpectedly encountering Jesse’s childhood nemesis Jody.  This is the first time Jesse has seen Jody since merging with Genesis, and he is all too happy to use the Word of God on him.

But — for the first time — it doesn’t work.

Jesse and Tulip go with Jody, who takes a moment to dispose of the gentlemen Jesse and Tulip were confronting when he burst in.

Later in the series, and entire issue is dedicated to Jesse meeting comedian Bill Hicks, but this is the moment when I know Garth Ennis was a fan, as Hick pretty much owns the phrase “suck on the devil’s pecker.”

Jesse and Tulip are taken back to Angelville, where Jesse grew up.

Jesse has several choice words for Granny.

And we learn why the Word didn’t work on Jody.

Comics I Read from September 1995

  • Batman: Manbat 2
  • Big Book of Conspiracies
  • Captain America 445
  • Cerebus 198
  • Daredevil 346
  • Dark Horse Presents 100
  • Egypt 4
  • Flash 107
  • Goddess 6
  • Hellblazer 95
  • Impulse 8
  • Incredible Hulk 435
  • Invisibles 14
  • Kurt Busiek’s Astro City 2
  • Last Avengers 1
  • Mask 8
  • Sandman 72
  • Shade the Changing Man 65
  • Skrull Kill Krew 3
  • Spider-Man and Batman
  • Starman 13
  • Swamp Thing 160
  • Tank Girl: The Odyssey 4
  • Thor 492
  • Underwater 4
  • Underworld Unleashed 1
  • Untold Tales of Spider-Man 3
  • Vertigo Voices: The Eaters
  • Wildcats 23

September 2000

Sam and Twitch 14

Todd McFarlane was the first guy to trust Brian Michael Bendis with his intellectual property.  Generally speaking, Sam and Twitch was a successful run, which found Bendis (who up to this point had been supplying his own art) working with several solid artists (including his first pairing with Alex Maleev).

As we all have come to expect with Bendis, the dialog is the main attraction here.  The comic launched with a great hook (police investigators Sam and Twitch keep finding severed thumbs at crime scenes), but after eight decompressed issues the resolution fizzled, and the plot never really recovered.

Luckily, this done-in-one issue (illustrated by Clayton Crain) focuses on dialog:

We also get another weird murder scene.

The prime suspect is sitting silently in the next room.

As they examine the crime scene and make their arrest, they continue to discuss dumb laws.

So they learn the answer to one nagging question, but not the important one.

But then we get a backup story — a breakup tale that clears everything up.

Goo goo ga joob.

You Will Believe That Clayton Crain Has Access To a Photocopier:

“The wrong thing.”

Having finished his story, he assures his friend that his actions will have absolutely no negative consequences and heads back to his apartment for a frittata.

Other Comics I Read from September 2000

  • 100 Bullets 16
  • Adventures of the Rifle Brigade 2
  • Authority 19
  • Avengers Infinity 3
  • Batman 583
  • Batman: Dark Victory 12
  • Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood 6
  • Detective Comics 750
  • Dork 8
  • Fantastic Four 35
  • Flash 166
  • Flinch 15
  • Geeksville 3
  • Hellblazer Special: Bad Blood 3
  • Hitman 55
  • Hourman 20
  • JSA 16
  • Legends of the DC Universe 34
  • Louis Reil 5
  • Lucifer 6
  • Madman Comics 18
  • Marvel Boy 4
  • Midnight Nation 1
  • Powers 5
  • Sentry 3
  • Starman 71
  • Thunderbolts 44
  • Tom Strong 10
  • Transmetropolitan 38
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 1

September 2005

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder 2

Stand back everyone.  Give me some room.  I’m about to defend Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder.  Even more shockingly, I’m going to defend this panel:

Okay.  I can’t really defend that.  It’s offensive, and it’s not nearly as good as it seems to think it is.  And — let’s be honest — neither is ASBARTBW.  But I do feel the need to point out that we’re supposed to think Batman is an unhinged dick here.  I know this because I read the comic.

Here are two panels from the page preceding that famous panel:

And here are two panels from the page after that famous panel:

It’s not like Dick Grayson thinks Batman is cool.  And Bruce is pretty conflicted himself.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but one undeniably good change that Miller brings to this story is that Dick has absolutely no interest in fighting crime.  This isn’t Bucky discovering that Steve Rogers is Captain America and blackmailing him into becoming his sidekick.

Bruce wants Dick to join him.  He thinks joining Batman’s war on crime will keep Dick from sinking into despair, just like it helped Bruce.  (Nothing screams mental health quite like beating people while dressed as a flying rodent.)

And again, it should be clear to us as readers that Bruce is deeply disturbed. I mean, Dick susses it out before they even get to the Batcave.

Other Comics I Read from September 2005

  • 100 Bullets 64
  • Adventures of Superman 644
  • Amazing Spider-Man 524
  • Authority: The Magnificent Kevin 1, 2
  • Captain America 11
  • Daredevil 77
  • Desolation Jones 3
  • Fell 1
  • Ghost Rider 1
  • Goon 14
  • Gotham Central 35
  • Green Lantern Corps: Recharge 1
  • Hellblazer 212
  • House of M 7
  • Hulk: Destruction 3
  • Incredible Hulk 86
  • Invincible 26
  • Iron Man: House of M 3
  • Jack Cross 2
  • JLA 118, 119
  • JLA: Classified 12
  • JSA 77
  • JSA: Classified 3
  • Losers 28
  • Lucifer 66
  • New Avengers 10, 11
  • OMAC Project 6
  • Plastic Man 18
  • Pulse 11
  • Punisher 25
  • Runaways 8
  • Seven Soldiers: Guardian 4
  • Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle 1
  • Silent Dragon 3
  • Spider-Man: House of M 4
  • Swamp Thing 19
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four 23
  • Ultimate Secret 3
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 82, 83
  • Ultimate X-Men 63
  • Ultimates 2 8
  • Wolverine 32
  • Y: The Last Man 37
  • Young Avengers 8

September 2010

Batman and Robin 14

In this issue, Grant Morrison inverts the infamous crowbar scene from A Death in the Family.

Robin here is Damian Wayne rather than Jason Todd, but Joker is still Joker.

I’m not a huge fan of computer generated comic art, but can we talk about Frazier Irving?  Great stuff throughout.

The hook of this run is that Damian Wayne’s Robin is the short-tempered angry one.  Needless to say, Dick Grayson’s more light-hearted Batman isn’t nearly serious enough for Joker.

Bruce has been “dead” since the end of Final Crisis.  I wonder if he’ll ever come back?  So does Joker.

Other Comics I Read from September 2010

  • Amazing Spider-Man 642, 643, 644
  • American Vampire 6
  • Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine 3
  • Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis 3
  • Astro City: Silver Agent 2
  • Avengers 5
  • Avengers Academy 4
  • Avengers Prime 3
  • Avengers: The Children’s Crusade 2
  • Brightest Day 9, 10
  • Captain America 610
  • Captain America: Forever Allies 2
  • Casanova 3
  • Chew 14
  • Daredevil 510
  • Daytripper 10
  • DMZ 57
  • DV8: Gods and Monsters 6
  • Fantastic Four 583
  • Flash 5
  • Greek Street 15
  • Green Lantern 57
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors 2
  • Hellblazer 271
  • Incredible Hulk 612, 613
  • Invaders Now 1
  • Invincible Iron Man 30
  • Iron Man: Legacy 6
  • Joe the Barbarian 7
  • Morning Glories 2
  • Nemesis 2
  • New Avengers 4
  • Northlanders 32
  • Palookaville 20
  • Powers 6
  • Scarlet 2
  • Secret Avengers 5
  • Secret Warriors 20
  • Shadowland 3
  • Shadowland: Power Man 2
  • Spider-Man/Fantastic Four 3
  • Spirit 6
  • Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier 3
  • Sweet Tooth 13
  • Taskmaster 1
  • Thor 614, 615
  • Thor: The Mighty Avenger 4
  • Ultimate Comics Avengers 14
  • Ultimate Mystery 3
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 14
  • Uncanny X-Men 528
  • Walking Dead 77
  • Weird War Tales 1
  • Wolverine 1
  • X-Factor 209

September 2015

Nameless 5

So we’ve been seeing this weird “Xibalba” shape everywhere for four issues, and here we finally get a sense of what it might be.

You didn’t think we were going to get out of a Grant Morrison-written science fiction occult story without a space seance, did you?

And here — perhaps four issues too late — we arrive at the central thesis of Nameless:

Ooo! Ooo! Pick me! I know!

God.  The answer is God.

Prez 4

Mark Russell is a national treasure and anything he publishes should be immediately read.  His stories are great.  His characters are engaging.  And pretty much every page has amazing observations like this:

Grab anything he’s written (like the recently completed Ahoy Comics book Billionaire Island).  You’ll be entertained.  You’ll be challenged.  You won’t be disappointed.

Other Comics I Read from September 2015

  • A-Force 4
  • Action Comics 44
  • All-New Hawkeye 5
  • All-Star Section Eight 4
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5
  • American Vampire: Second Cycle 10
  • Archie 3
  • Batman/Superman 24
  • Bitch Planet 5
  • Bloodshot Reborn 6
  • Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 11
  • Casanova: Acedia 4
  • Daredevil 18
  • Deadly Class 16
  • Fade Out 9
  • Fight Club 2  5
  • Grayson 12, Annual 2
  • Groot 4
  • Guardians of Knowhere 4
  • Injection 5
  • Invincible 123
  • Invisible Republic 6
  • Ivar Timewalker 9
  • Jupiter’s Circle 6
  • Justice League 44
  • Lando 4
  • Lazarus 19
  • Legacy of Luther Strode 3
  • Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars 3
  • Mantle 5
  • Material 4
  • Midnighter 4
  • Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions 5
  • Mockingbird 1
  • Ms. Marvel 18
  • Nameless 5
  • Ninak 7
  • Ody-C 7
  • Omega Men 4
  • Outcast 12
  • Plutona 1
  • Postal 7
  • Prez 4
  • Quake 1
  • Rebels 6
  • Revival 33
  • Secret Identities 7
  • Sex Criminals 12
  • SHIELD 10
  • Spread 10
  • Starve 4
  • Superman/Wonder Woman 21
  • They’re Not Like Us 8
  • Thief of Thieves 31
  • Thors 3
  • Tithe 5
  • Virgil
  • Walking Dead 146
  • We Stand on Guard 3
  • Weirdworld 4
  • Wolf 3

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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