3 Lists of 3 Faithful and Unfaithful Comic Book and Manga Movies

Cause it takes a strong man, baby, but I’m showing you the door. Cause I gotta have faith. I gotta have faith. Or do you?

Your uncle Geekly is back with more comic book movie magic and a three list of three. This week we’ll concentrate on comic book movies that are the most and least faithful adaptations to their source material and throw in a third, fun list for kicks.

Usually, a faithful adaptation is better than one that isn’t, but that’s not always the case. 2011’s Green Lantern made the short list for faithful adaptations, and it stunk. Regardless, the following lists will let you know which ones have geek cred, and which ones don’t.

Most Faithful Comic Book or Manga Movies (so far)

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Iron Man (2008)

All the main points for Tony’s character are present in 2008’s Iron Man, except that he’s more of a social drinker than an alcoholic. That may be the one part that I’ve never liked about the movie version, but I get it. Marvel/Disney wants to make Iron Man more accessible for a greater audience. But alcoholism is a common problem and that’s one of the things that makes Tony accessible for people.

Oh well, like I said, the main character points are there: billionaire playboy, womanizer, purveyor of the best weapons, regrets the creation of such weapons, and needs a suit to stay alive. One must take the omission of alcoholism with stride. The cinematic Iron Man deals with his alcoholism as much as cinematic versions of Batman deal with the loss of his parents. It’s a peripheral thing.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Yes. This is the second Marvel movie in a row, but it’s a good one that’s very faithful to its source material. The only things the movie Winter Soldier changes are plot points that wouldn’t fit within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Sharon Carter wasn’t introduced until this movie, so Black Widow is part of Cap’s team) and some of the more fantastic or mystical elements (sorry, no Cosmic Cube, this version is more grounded).

Again, the main points are there. Cap’s team investigate the mysterious Winter Soldier, who turns out to be Cap’s former sidekick Bucky. At the end, Bucky sneaks away to find himself. The few deviations make sense and don’t detract from the movie capturing the characters and the feel of the comics.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Some source material was cut or condensed to fit a two-hour runtime, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World captures the original story perfectly. Over-the-top video game battles? Check. A frenetic pace? Check. Extremely expressive characters? Have you seen Michael Cera’s face? He may have eyes as large as the title character in the manga. The supporting characters are equally over-the-top and animated—but in the best possible way.

Edgar Wright did a fantastic job translating the Canadian manga into a cult classic. Unfortunately, cult classic means that it didn’t do as well as it should have in theaters.

Least Faithful Comic Book or Manga Movies (so far)

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Catwoman (2004)

Catwoman. Ugh, Catwoman! It’s so different from the source material that I wouldn’t be surprised if a film distributor other than Warner Brothers released this one. The anti-hero’s moniker and character appearance (sort of) are the only commonalities between the two entities.

Patience Philips is Catwoman’s real name instead of Selina Kyle. Patience drowns and comes back to life with the help of a magical cat instead of being a world-class cat burglar. There’s an Egyptian goddess Bastet angle that’s just awful. Who wrote this? How could the actors read the script and think this would be a good movie? Who allowed this to exist?

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The Spirit (2008)

The Spirit comic may have had some issues with Ebony White (it’s a product of its age), but the story is a great blend of crime and humor with strong characterization. I like how Will Eisner portrayed The Spirit as an everyman. It made him relatable and accessible.

The movie strips the characters of their personality and clothes. Comic book fans have known for years that Frank Miller (the movie’s director) doesn’t have the most enlightened opinion of women, and it shows here. I would say that 2008’s The Spirit should only be aired on Skinamax, but soft-core porn has more story and does more with their characters. Also, The Spirit can heal like Wolverine, so that everyman quality is lost.

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Death Note (2017)

Fans didn’t like the announcement that Netflix would release a live action Death Note and set it in the United States. While I agree that changing the setting and other cosmetic alterations damaged the movie, Death Note’s biggest sin is that the characters are dumb. It’s not that they’re dumb as in they make little sense or have limited characterization, which they do make little sense and have limited characterization, but the main characters have a collected IQ of 30. That’s not ideal for a series that’s main draw is that it plays out like a high-stakes Chess match.

Instead of schemes becoming more complex throughout the movie, they get dumb and dumber and dumberer and dumberest. This movie is so stupid that I’m making up words.

Awesome Animated Comic Book Movies

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All-Star Superman (2011)

It helps when the source material is excellent, but 2011’s All-Star Superman is amazing. It captures the essence of the character in a way other Superman films haven’t been able to. It shows what Superman would do if he knew he didn’t have much time left on this planet. He continues to protect the Earth and his loved ones because that’s who he is. There’s even a great Lex Luthor character moment when he sees the world as Superman does, ever the optimist. All-Star Superman is a must watch.

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Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Batman: Under the Red Hood was released early in DC’s animated line, but it may be the best animated Batman film ever. Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) is Jason Todd and he may own the role for some time to come. Bruce Greenwood’s Dark Knight and John DiMaggio’s Joker are almost as good as Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, and that’s saying a lot.

This film explores the complex relationship Batman has with killing and with the Robins who have joined him in his crusade. Yes. Under the Red Hood has the prerequisite action and crime fighting, but it’s a surprisingly deep movie.

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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

I could’ve gone with a lot of other DC animated films with this final move—DC Animated movies are far better than most Marvel ones, they’re the inverse of the live action films—but I had to go with one of the first Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. To me, Kevin Conroy is Batman. Mark Hamill has given one of the most memorable performances as The Joker. There’s a reason the pair have been playing these characters for over two decades.

The original characters in this film are well done too, and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm holds the distinction of being the first Batman: The Animated Series film. Any Batman newbie should watch at least the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, followed by Mask of the Phantasm.

I can only list 9 movies in this 3 lists of 3, so I’m sure some readers will differ in their opinions. Turn on the Geek Signal and I may come running if you leave within a fifty-mile radius or leave a comment.

Fantastic Four Starter Stories

Fantastic Four began the Marvel Age of Comics, but that doesn’t mean that it’s had as much luck with its movies as other Marvel properties. The ugliness brought on by less-than-stellar films and the fallout from contract disputes led to the comic book getting cancelled before 2015’s Fant4stic. The FF’s omission spread to other projects like Marvel: Dice Masters. I’m still waiting for the Fantastic Four set we were supposed to get shortly after launch.

Anyway. With Disney buying out Fox that should all change. Heck, the Fantastic Four comic book was relaunched in August 2018, so positive things have already happened. This is only the beginning.

Your uncle Geekly’s sure Marvel’s first family will make its Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the not-so-distant future, and it may be a good time to catch up with some of the stories new fans will want to read to get to know Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny better. These are good stories for new fans.

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The Galactus Trilogy Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #48-50 (written by Stan Lee/art by Jack Kirby; 1966)

Uncle Geekly could’ve started with the Fantastic Four’s origin story, and that would be a good enough place to begin, but it’s been covered in film and cartoon a lot. Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #1 is as good as any of the reboots and relaunches, but I talk about origins all the time with these starter stories. Let’s start with something different. Let’s begin with the ultimate in Fantastic Four required reading: Galactus.

First, the Galactus story came out in the middle of Lee and Kirby’s collaboration, so they’re at the height of their storytelling powers. You’ll see more of this in the next entry.

Second, the peerless pair didn’t hit the brakes once after this story got started. Silver Surfer arrives. Uatu warns the family. Galactus looms large above Earth, preparing to eat it. It was loud and bombastic. This story was one of the longest comic book stories at the time. The pacing worked, and it led to comic books adopting longer story arcs.

Finally, the legend of how this story came about is telling of the pair’s storytelling technique and of Galactus. Kirby asked Lee “What if the Fantastic Four met God?” I’m not sure if this conversation ever happened, but presumably Lee responded with a “yes, and.” One would get the ball rolling and the other would always add to original idea, and the original idea of Galactus was an enemy that was above good and evil: a force of nature.

The idea of a villain that was neither good or evil was novel, and “The Galactus Trilogy” remains one of the best Fantastic Four stories.

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This Man, This Monster! Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #51 (written by Stan Lee/art by Jack Kirby; June 1966)

Just in case you missed the details of the last entry and this one, you’ll notice that Galactus was followed up immediately with “This Man, This Monster!.” Like the story it followed, “This Man, This Monster!” introduced more elements to superhero storytelling: focusing on a character’s humanity and interpersonal relationships.

The Thing’s powers are a blessing and a curse and no story by Lee and Kirby does a better job of illustrating that than this one. It’s a single-issue story that explores what happens when Ben Grimm loses his powers and culminates with him making a tragic personal sacrifice. It’s one of Lee and Kirby’s best and shows the pair’s range.

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The Trial of Reed Richards Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #262 (story and art by John Byrne; June 1984)

I’m not going to sugar coat this. The 1970s weren’t a good decade for Fantastic Four stories. John Byrne did a lot to reinvent and reinvigorate the team. “The Trial of Reed Richards” represents the best Byrne had to offer.

Reed must stand trial for allowing Galactus to live and devour more planets. This single-issue tale does a great job of exploring morality, catches readers up on what Galactus was doing for the past decade, and questions what the universe would be like without a force of nature that can eat entire planets. Byrne does a great job of defending Galactus’s right to exist.

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Fantastic Four: Unthinkable (written by Mark Waid/art by Mike Wieringo; 1998)

I’ve gone long enough without a Doctor Doom story, and that’s because I wanted to wait for the best Doctor Doom story “Unthinkable.”

Waid and Wieringo’s run on Fantastic Four captured the boundary pushing adventures of the FF’s past and is considered one of the best runs on the series. “Unthinkable” does a lot to solidify that claim. Unable to beat Reed as a scientist, Doom turns to the one “science” Reed was never able to comprehend: magic.

“Unthinkable” forced the Fantastic Four, and especially Reed, to stretch their capabilities. Doom reached new levels of villainy here that included dark arcane powers, a suit made of flesh. Despite Reed’s efforts, Doom still magically disfigured Reed and set him on a path that would lead to Ben’s death.

If a reader wants to know the depth of Doom’s hatred for Reed and the rest of the FF, look no further than “Unthinkable.”

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Fantastic Four: Hereafter (written by Mark Waid/art by Mike Wieringo; 2004)

I did it with Lee and Kirby and here I go again—sort of—with Waid and Wieringo. “Hereafter” follows “Authoritative Action” which happened because of “Unthinkable.” Let’s just say that Reed didn’t handle Ben’s death well, and it led to some ugliness in Latvaria. Reed decides to put his trust in something greater than himself in “Hereafter.” The surviving members of the Fantastic Four storm the gates of Heaven to rescue Ben. This story doesn’t question existence as much as exploring one’s consequences.

Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben don’t save the world in “Hereafter.” They don’t battle a huge villain or overcome a cosmic threat. This story focuses on love, friendship, and hope.

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Fantastic Four: Three (written by Jonathan Hickman/art by Steve Epting; 2010-2011)

What is with the Fantastic Four and wanting to be a trio? Hickman had a great run with Fantastic Four in the 2000s, and “Three” might be the best of his stories. Annihilus—an often-overlooked FF villain—poses the threat here, but the crux of the story comes in the form of Ben losing his powers and not being able to help his best friend Johnny during an invasion from the Negative Zone.

Johnny gets overrun by the Annihilation Wave as Ben seals the portal from the outside. Ben gets his wish of being normal, but he struggles with losing Johnny. If readers want to learn more about Johnny and Ben’s unique bond, give “Three” a read.

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Fantastic Four: 1234 (written by Grant Morrison/art by Jae Lee; 2011)

Grant Morrison likes to bend reality with his stories, so a Fantastic Four mini-series was inevitable. “1234” splits the family with four individual stories. Each member must suffer through a series of personal misfortunes and many of the team’s greatest enemies make appearances.

All the madness in “1234” leads to the team’s greatest adversary Doctor Doom. “1234” is a great showdown between two of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe. This is a battle of will, wits, and intelligence.

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Fantastic Faux (written by Matt Fraction/art by Mike Allred; 2012-2014)

It may not look like it, but many heroes have donned the Fantastic Four uniform. The oddest group to wear Fantastic Four tights must be the team of Fantastic Faux.

Following Jonathan Hickman’s great run on Fantastic Four, Fraction took over both Fantastic Four and its sister title FF. The results were the team being sent through space and time, which left a vacancy in the Baxter Building for a substitute team to fill.

Ant-Man, Medusa, She-Hulk, and the newly introduced Ms. Thing (Johnny’s pop-star girlfriend Darla Deering who wore a mechanical Thing suit) were left in charge of the Future Foundation’s group of advanced science students. As Allred and Fraction are wont to do, they dial the sci-fi bizzarroness up to 50. A Voltron-style Doc Doom/Annihilus/Kang mash-up villain named Kang the Annihilating Conqueror, a one-eyed future Johnny, and the odd alien Foundation’s students graced this 16-issue run.

But like most great FF runs, “Fantastic Faux” challenges the idea of family. Not only are we born into a family, we have family that we choose.

That’s my list for readers who are new to Fantastic Four comics. If I didn’t get the list right, I’m sure it’s right in some alternate reality. I’ll have to ask Reed which one or you could let me know in comments.

My Favorite Storytelling Elements Spider-Man “Kraven’s Last Hunt”

Most critics dub “Kraven’s Last Hunt” the greatest Kraven story ever told and one of the best Spider-Man stories. It features plenty of comic book action, but the character studies are what set “Kraven’s Last Hunt” from other Spidey tales.

The world no longer appreciated Kraven’s physical prowess. It no longer marveled at his courage, and most animal rights activists condemned him—he was a hunter after all—and the world he lived in no longer made sense. Before he met Spider-Man he’d never known defeat or humiliation. Now Kraven has fallen ill. He knows the end is near, but before he goes, he vows to reclaim his honor and prove his superiority over Spider-Man. He went out for one last hunt.

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“Kraven’s Last Hunt” embraces Kraven’s personal struggles. It blends aspects from classic literature and recurring themes to find a deeper truth. Kraven doesn’t just want to kill Spider-Man. In fact, Kraven doesn’t kill Spidey when he has the chance. He buries Spidey alive on his complex and assumes his identity. There’s even a moment where Kraven rescued Mary Jane, Spidey’s new wife, and she can see through Kraven’s disguise. Kraven falls short of being a hero. He never was one. This is a story that questions what it means to be a hero.

Kraven also thinks he can drive Spider-Man past the point where he ceases to be a hero. A rat-like monster named Vermin stalks the streets of New York while Spidey rests six-feet under. Kraven beats the creature unconscious, brutalizes him, and takes him prisoner. After Spidey comes to, he wants revenge for the time Kraven took from him. His anger leads him to Vermin, who Kraven uses as pawn to see if Spidey is strong enough to do unto Vermin what he did. Spidey proves that he’s strong enough not to.

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There are so many themes of what makes a hero and what makes a good person that it’s easy to see why “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is high on most critics lists of Spider-Man stories. It not only portrays Kraven at both the height of his powers and the lowest, it does a great job in its portrayal of Peter and Mary Jane’s young marriage.

Readers see how MJ deals with Peter’s disappearance and how she’d react if Peter ever died in action. It’s a great window into the life of someone who must stay up late, worrying if their loved one is okay. In short, “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is a triumph and a must read for any Spider-Man fan or Spidey newbie.

Is there anything about “Kraven’s Last Hunt” that you liked that I didn’t mention? If there is, message me and I’ll give you Jim’s phone number to complain to him. Or you could let us know in comments.

Thor Starter Stories

Doth mine eyes deceive me? T’would be folly to journey the path of Asgardian tales alone.

Okay. I can’t do that for more than two sentences. Hi, it’s your uncle Geekly, and if you can’t tell, this week’s starter comic book stories will feature the Avenger who sounds as if he belongs to an oafish Shakespearean acting troupe. Thor!

Many comic fans wouldn’t place Thor as one of the most important Marvel creations, but I’d argue that the Jack “The King” Kirby and Stan “The Man” Lee character did as much for Marvel’s universe as the Fantastic Four or at least his tales gave context to the Fantastic Four’s. The dysfunctional, loving family may have introduced readers to the Marvel universe’s greatest reaches due to their exploits, but Thor is a citizen of one of these far reaches. He gives readers a different perspective.

It should come as no surprise that when the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs an alien perspective, it often turns to Thor or another Asgardian. Speaking of the movies and television shows, I’ll be focusing more on Thor stories for new readers who have been introduced to the character by the MCU and that means that there will be a notable omission: Kirby and Lee’s series run.

Boo! Hiss! Uncle Geekly isn’t a true believer.

Okay, I may not include it in the main list, but I’ll give Kirby and Lee’s run an honorable mention here because it’s some of their best work and does a great job of setting up most of the series’ regulars. Thor Epic Collection: The God of Thunder is a great place to find one of the best mixes of sci-fi and mythology. It’s like Thor and the other Norse gods were meant to be reinvented by Lee and Kirby.

With that out of the way let’s get to the stories that may remind readers of the movies.

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Thor: The Mighty Avenger Vol 1 (written by Roger Langridge/art by Chris Samnee; 2010-2011)

We’ll start with a short read. Thor: The Mighty Avenger didn’t last long enough, but it does a great job building the relationship between Thor and Jane Foster. Don’t worry. Readers can find some action, but it often takes a backseat to Thor’s personal life and that’s a major point in a lot of Thor books and a focus for the first Thor movie.

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Thor (written by J. Michael Straczynski/art by Olivier Coipel; 2007-2011)

Thor had disappeared from the Marvel Universe for many years before Straczynski and Coipel brought him back in a big way. He and the rest of the Asgardian gods were reborn in this run. Lady Loki—you’ll see plenty of people dressed as her at Comic Con—made her first appearance in this storyline as did changing the thunder god’s base of operations west of the Mississippi (specifically Broxton, Oklahoma), which helped combine elements of the fantastic and mundane.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe may have changed where Thor landed to New Mexico, but the earthly elements in this story are the basis for the earthly ones in Thor.

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Avengers Disassembled: Thor (written by Michael Oeming/art by Andrea Di Vito; 2004)

There’s a reason Thor vanished from the Marvel universe for several years before Straczynski and Coipel brought him back, and Avengers Disassembled: Thor is it. Ragnarok has been explored in the Marvel universe before, but the basis for Thor’s part of Thor: Ragnarok comes from this section of the crossover event.

This comic felt like a movie waiting to happen, but if you’re thinking that it’ll be as light-hearted as Thor: Ragnarok, think again. This is a much somber tale.

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Thor: God of Thunder (written by Jason Aaron/art by Esad Ribic; 2013-2014)

In deference to Jim I won’t include Jane Foster as Thor when I discuss Thor: God of Thunder. He may have to write an unpopular opinion or another article of that ilk explaining why he doesn’t care for different characters donning the costumes of classic superheroes in the future. But before Jane took the mantel, Thor: God of Thunder was epic.

It made Thor a rock star. It showcased the character’s raw power and with stories that explored Thor as a brazen youth, it reminds readers of the immaturity Thor sometimes displays in the movies.

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The Mighty Thor (stories and art by Walter Simonson; 1983-1986)

It’s hard to find a place for Walter Simonson’s run on Thor. Many fans would dub his series run as the definitive Thor.

Simonson built on what Lee and Kirby started. The fusion of sci-fi and mythology grew. Classic battles with villains like Hela and a version of Loki similar to the movies can be found here. Even the—shudder—villain of Thor: The Dark World Malekith comes from Simonson’s run. If you want a better Malekith tale, check him out in the original comics.

Simonson is the one Thor creator who had the stones to transform the main character into a frog and make it amazing. These stories remain arguably the character’s highest point.

That’s my list for readers who are new to Thor comics. Great Jim Plath’s beard those were terrible choices. Unleash hate mail on the writer from Broxton. Or you can leave a comment. If you’d like access to the Bifrost, subscribe for new content.

Wolverine Starter Stories

Uncle Geekly may be a little rusty with getting back into the swing of things, so I’ll kick off this year’s starter list with someone who’s the best at what he does, but what he does isn’t nice.

Wolverine invades the Marvel’s comic book universe. He may not have as long of a history in the comics or in films as characters like Spider-Man or even the Hulk (I’m including made-for-TV movies here), but Logan’s adventures bring droves of fans to comic book shops. It can get tricky with where new readers should start with the Canucklehead—for the newbie, that’s a fusion of the word Canuck or Canadian (Wolverine’s homeland) and knucklehead—but your uncle Geekly will set you on a good path to get to know Marvel’s number one furball.

Wolvie got his start in the Incredible Hulk #181 (1974), and he famously joined the X-Men with Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975, but I won’t focus too much on Logan’s X-Men stories. I’ll try and stick with his solo adventures as he’s become a comic book superstar in his own right.

I’ll also try and suggest a reading series that goes with the character’s timeline, instead of the dates in which the stories were released. This can get sticky as Marvel writers like to jump back and forth through time and space. I’ll do my best at navigating.

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Origin #1-6 (written by Bill Jemas, Paul Jenkins, and Joe Quesada/art by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove; 2001-2002)

For decades Marvel refused to reveal little about Logan’s past prior to the Weapon X Program, but that all changed after Hugh Jackson made Wolverine a household name in the X-Men movies. Marvel realized if they didn’t give Logan an origin, the movies might beat them to the punch. So, the mini-series Origin was born.

Origin goes back to Logan’s childhood in the 19th century. That’s right, he’s that old. I won’t go into too many details, but Origin shows most of the character’s ancient past: Wolverine’s real name, his parents, his first berserker rage, and how he became the mononymous Logan.

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Marvel Comics Presents #72-91: Weapon X (story and art by Barry Windsor-Smith; 1991)

Origin may have been Logan’s true origin story, but most of the character is defined by his time as Weapon X.

Only the prologue and part of the final chapter in this story are told from Wolverine’s perspective. The bulk of Weapon X follows three members of the Weapon X team and much of the story plays out like a slasher film, featuring the bladed berserker.

If you’ve seen the movies, but haven’t read the comics, you’ll notice references in X-Men 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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Wolverine Original 4-Part Mini-Series (written by Chris Claremont/art by Frank Miller; 1982)

When the X-Men was revamped in 1975 Wolverine wasn’t supposed to be the series’ star—heck, he wouldn’t show up on covers for months at a time—but Chris Claremont’s portrayal of the character made him a fan favorite. 1982’s Wolverine limited series marked the first time Marvel ever made a limited series—it’s a comic book industry standard now—and it’s the first time that Claremont used the words I mentioned in the beginning of this post to describe Logan: “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn’t very nice.”

In this series Logan travels to Japan. The story plays out like a samurai redemption, and many familiar elements find there way here. Logan’s love interest Mariko will appear several times in various timelines and universes. Frank Miller included The Hand in Wolverine, and they’ve been in numerous episodes from the Marvel/Netflix series of shows. The second Wolverine film (simply titled The Wolverine) also pulled a lot from this classic.

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Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #1-6 (written by Chris Claremont/art by Al Milgrom; 1984-85)

Wolverine has a thing for taking young, female members of the X-Men and becoming their mentors—in a non-creeper way, I swear. He mentored Jubilee in the comics and 1990s cartoon. He mentored Rogue in the first X-Men film. He would mentor Armor in the late 2000s. But Wolverine’s first mentee was Kitty Pryde in this mini-series.

There are several modern comic book fans who wouldn’t get why Kitty Pryde was that popular. Kitty Pryde and Wolverine brought her notoriety. Prior to this series, Kitty was little more than a spoiled, rich kid, but she grows up fast here as she’s torn down and built back up with the help of Logan. This is the moment Kitty Pryde became Shadowcat. It’s also the first time fans saw Logan’s “softer side.” Sure, he’s a killer, but he’s a killer with a heart of gold.

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Wolverine: Not Dead Yet (written by Warren Ellis/art by Leinil Francis Yu; 1998)

If you can’t tell, Logan is the king of Marvel mini-series, and Wolverine: Not Dead Yet is another example. I included this one mostly because there aren’t that many good Wolverine stories where Logan has bone claws and Logan’s bone claws added a leather-toughness to the character that goes missing whenever his claws have their adamantium.

Wolverine: Not Dead Yet takes place in a time after Fatal Attractions where Magneto sucks the adamantium out of Logan. This mini-series can be a little uneven at times, but it’s one of the best bone-claw Wolverine stories, and bone-claw Wolverine always had a more animal nature that made him more susceptible to his berserker rages. It’s a Wolverine that lives more on the edge.

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Old Man Logan from Wolverine #66-72 and Wolverine: Giant Size Old Man Logan #1 (written by Mark Millar/art by Steve McNiven; 2009)

Mark Millar may be one of comics most prominent creators this century, but his work is either a classic like The Ultimates and Kick-Ass, or it devolves into childish shock value. Old Man Logan can be characterized as both.

It’s set in an alternate, dystopian future where most superheroes are dead, and the United States has been conquered and divided up among the world’s supervillains. Wolvie gave up superhero work long ago, but he’s convinced by former Avenger Hawkeye to embark on a road trip and collect an item that could save humanity.

Yeah, this story can be bonkers and a mess, but it’s a great read. It also doesn’t hurt that the movie Logan borrows just enough from this story with its “road trip” and dystopian future. Old Man Logan just happens to be the current (current as of this write-up) version of Wolverine. This series is where this version of the character began.

That’s my list for readers who are new to Wolverine comics. Did I get the list right or did I pull a Canucklehead? Let me know in comments.

My Favorite Storytelling Element: Spider-Man “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”

Superheroes visiting terminally ill children may be a reality in the 2010s—Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Tom Holland has even visited children in the hospital—but in 1984 when “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” was first published (The Amazing Spider-Man #248), the Make A Wish foundation was barely three years old.

The story had some exploit of Spider-Man’s, but no one remembers what battle Spidey fought. Readers latched onto a kid named Tim who suffers from leukemia and only has a short time left. All Tim wants is to meet his hero. Spider-Man gives him his wish.

Part of what makes “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” great is Tim’s wish fulfillment. It’s a short human-interest story that writer Roger Stern made Will Eisneresque, and that is a fantastic element of the story, it dwarfs any battle, but I what I liked most happened after Spider-Man sees all the memorabilia the kid has collected (kinescopes of Spidey’s early TV appearances, a whole album of The Daily Bugle’s retractions, and bullets from a crime foiled by Spider-Man), and the kid asks Spidey who he is as Spider-Man’s about to leave. This kid loves him.

Spidey hesitates but figures the kid won’t tell anyone his identity, so he takes off his mask and identifies himself as Peter Parker. What Spidey didn’t expect was that by doing this it would lead to him telling the kid how he became Spider-Man. Part of him wants the kid or someone to know his secret.

He imagines the kid will hate him after he tells him how his negligence led to his uncle’s death, but it doesn’t. The kid hugs him and a reassures him. It’s okay for a hero to make mistakes. For a moment, it’s okay for Spider-Man to be Pete.

During this holiday season, I hope you know that it’s okay to make mistakes so long as you learn from them. It’s also okay to take off any mask you may wear and be yourself. Take care and be nice to each other.

Superman Starter Stories

Standard Issue Comic Book Geek Jim—that’s SICBG Jim to you—is back for another Starter Stories article. He rambled on about “truth, justice and the Geekly way,” and I told him he could commandeer the site if he didn’t preach Superman to me. Okay. Superman—the Standard Issue Comic Book Superhero—doesn’t get enough love. Shine on, you Crazy Kryptonian.

Superman is my favorite superhero. It’s hard to come up with a starters list for him, though, because so many of his best books are retellings of his origins, or Elseworlds stories that can’t be considered canon. With that in mind, here are the titles I recommend for approaching the character and better understanding where he is today.

Superman_Birthright

Birthright (written by Mark Waid/art by Leinil Yu; 2003-2004)

 Superman: Birthright is a good place to start with Superman. It’s a reimagining of Superman’s origin that includes a lot of what’s part of canon today. Maybe most notably, the idea that the “S” on his chest isn’t an “S,” as “Man of Steel” famously told us. Birthright sets the stage for Krypton to be used as more than a passing point of interest in Superman books. Mark Waid is always a good bet.

Superman_What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way

What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way? (written by Joe Kelly/art by Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo; 2001)

I love this one because it wrestles directly with so much of what people say is wrong with Superman. It’s a defense of his optimism and an example of how his real powers aren’t in his strength, speed, or invulnerability, but in what he has the power to show humanity about itself. It’s not an attempt to retrofit the character to make him more interesting to modern audiences, but an exploration of what everyone seems to overlook about him now. Lee Bermejo is also one of my favorite creators, so that doesn’t hurt.

Superman_Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come (written by Mark Waid/art by Alex Ross; 1996)

This book builds on what I’ve said about our second entry. Kingdom Come contrasts Superman with a lot of the more edgy characters in recent comics and makes a case for why Superman is not only relevant, but necessary. Mark Waid does what he does, rendering a faithful depiction of the character, and Alex Ross offers some of the definitive Superman art in recent history.

Superman_Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (written by Alan Moore/art by Curt Swan; 1986)

This book is meant to put a cap on the story of Superman. It’s told by Lois Lane ten years after the supposed death of the hero. It’s gloomy, especially by the standards of Superman comics, but there’s a bittersweet quality in seeing the character’s legacy laid out on the page.

The Death of Superman

The Death of Superman (written by various/ art by various; 1992-1993)

This arc was written and drawn by various creators, as it encapsulates a pretty long arc. I’ll be honest here and say it isn’t one of my favorite stories in Superman lore, but it’s on this list because it’s iconic, and it’s too important to comics history to leave off. This is the story of how Superman died defeating Doomsday. The image of Lois cradling Superman’s broken body, Jimmy Olsen in the background pleading for him to be okay is one of comics’ great panels. Of course, this was the moment that broke death in comics, as the resurrection of Superman set a trend and lowered the stakes moving forward.

All-Star Superman

All-Star Superman (written by Grant Morrison/art by Frank Quitely; 2005-2008)

This is my personal favorite. The story that gets to the heart of what makes Superman so special, that even in the face of his own mortality, he protects the people of Metropolis. He stops to comfort a troubled teen on the verge of suicide in another of recent comics’ great panels. Quitely’s art is serene, and Grant Morrison’s affection for the character comes through without making the story saccharine.

SICBG Jim has given your uncle Geekly the honor of writing a closing statement. I hope I can live up to the great example he set. Here it goes.

Superman’s portrayal in the DC Extended Universe—and I blame the writing and directing more than Henry Cavill—leaves a lot to be desired. The DCEU may be one of the largest targets Jim thought of when he said that creators “retrofit the character (Superman) to make him more interesting to modern audiences.”

The stories above, and especially All-Star Superman, do a great job of showing that the Man of Steel is more than a super-powered Batman in gunmetal blue tights. He represents hope, and the original comic book superhero is still one of the best. Do agree with SICBG Jim’s story selections? Let us know either way. I’ll just be in the corner doing my best Mister Mxyzptlk impersonation.