Welcome Back Heroes! Our transmission we have in front of us today is one that I remember with fondness. The era of the limited series..the era of the event..the era of the solo hero! Thanks for joining us team..lets jump right into issue 2 of 4 of our limited series!
One of the great joys of being a comic book fan back in the early to mid 80s was standing in a drug store at the spinner rack, combing through the pages of comic book after comic book scanning page after page, book after book decide where to spend my 20 dollar a week allowance. Grocery night for my family was always Thursday night and it was always an important evening on the calendar of this anxious 12 yr old as it yielded me another 20 bucks to spend. 20 dollars in that day went a long way and would often equal more than 20 books per week!! One of the better joys was when you would see the first issue of a brand new mini series!! Marvel dubbed these finite issue books a Limited Series and these would bring countless hours of entertainment to me as a kid and as a stark raving comic fan boy of the 80s. What made the Limited Series better in my mind as a child? They were usually Event books or contained characters that I loved finally getting their own books!!
The limited series that first grabbed my young attention was the 4 issue Hawkeye limited series from Marvel! It focused on a highly recognizable Avenger who up until now had not had solo spotlight! From the front cover to the final panel of issue 4 I was hooked! The limited series acted as a perfect avenue to explore this character with a long history. It changed Hawkeye’s status quo as did many of the limited series focusing on individual characters. Hawkeye and Mockingbirds relationship was explored and this lasted several years in the history of this character. We will talk about a few of my favorite individual limited series a bit later..The Limited series was original created for one purpose..
Events were usually the perfect vehicle for the EVENT limited series Marvels Contest Of Champions was the first of such efforts to bring together a large group of Superheros in one book. The majority of the heroes of the Marvel universe are abducted to a strange world where they must compete in competitive competitions. Sound familiar? I was not a fan of Contest but my faith in Limited series books would not waver! The Secret Wars would become the bar that was set that all other books would have to follow.
Secret Wars was a series in which the Heroes and Villans of the Marvel Universe are abducted and sent to wage a Secret War on the Home World Of The new Marvel Super Bad The Beyonder! Hey that sounds a lot like Contest Of Champions huh? Yep sure does except Secret Wars was done correctly!! It had far-reaching effects on the Marvel Universe and crossed over with a number of Marvel titles. This was the BIG one! Secret Wars is known for its far-reaching effects on the character of Spiderman! The infamous Black suit or the Symbiote that would eventually become Venom would appear here first in the pages of Secret Wars! For more on Secret Wars check out this post from one of my Twitter friends incredible blog The LongBox GraveYard! http://longboxgraveyard.com/2013/05/08/a-secret-wars-apologist/
Sometimes however when a series was successful a sequel would follow! In the case of Secret Wars however we were not so blessed. Secret wars had lit the industry on fire with its sweeping all out war event..Secret Wars 2 blew out that fire. The Beyonder returns to Earth this time in search of answers as to how humans live. Yes he was seeking enlightenment? Who would have known the folks at Marvel would envision this cosmic being as a Micheal Jackson clone equipped with Geri curl and white jump suit! Yikes! This series was for most 9 issues too long. Secretly I loved Secret Wars 2! I know I know bring the hate! My young mind loved Beyonder being able to fend off all Marvels heroes! Great stuff! Disagree if you must!
The Limited series was a great launching point for many characters as well and did their job in developing a back story that may have been lost if seen in the pages of another heroes title. Characters such as Longshot for example were born out of the pages of a Limited series. Somehow the stores in my area missed out on Longshot and I just drooled when one of my friends had the complete set up for trade. He wanted almost half my collection for these books and I almost gave in too but my better sense prevailed at this time! The crafty local basement dwelling Entrepreneur Keith Newman, who held his Overstreet Price Guide close by would always point out that all his books were HOT at the time and he would be rich if he sold his collection! Guess what? Longshots prices dropped like a rock and Newman’s dreams were shattered! I still wanted this series to this day though. One of my few comic trading regrets!
The Limited Series also brought to life several influential long standing characters such as Cloak and Dagger! While never a fan of the characters mini 4 part stories sometimes elevated the value of some characters that may have been throw aways if featured as a back up in another books. As is the case with these mysterious friends!
My main love for the limited series was in the throw aways! Heroes who would never support their own book but were heroes who I loved and could not wait to see them solo! As was the case with these heroes. The NightCrawler series is and has always been one of my faves! NightCrawler was featured in a one off Swashbuckling adventure that I read over and over!
The Limited Series always allowed for the expansion of universes. The best examples were the Ice Man and FireStar mini series. Riding on the heels of the popular Spiderman and his Amazing Friends Cartoon both characters were somewhat retooled to carryover their cartoon popularity into the comic world. FireStar was a character that did NOT exist outside of the cartoon so the Limited series acted as a catapult for the character to become integrated into the Marvel Universe.
Being a comic fan also brought other benefits. The 80s was a world of the dawning of Home video. Beta and a little later the revolutionary VHS systems came to the mainstream and we could watch movies outside of a theater but right in our living rooms! This was a big deal in the day believe me! However if you lived in a small town in Newfoundland Canada like I did then you knew that the VHS delivery market was brutally slow and the movies available to rent were not always current and there was a good degree of lag time between the time of release to the time I could get these tapes in my machine on my home television.
Hence yet another use of the limited series! Marvel licenced a number of limited series based on Movies at the time! So if you didn’t make it to the theater or could not wait two years for it to be released on VHS then you had Marvels Official adaptations of the movies!! From Indiana Jones….
To Return Of The Jedi..I think everyone had these as a comic collector in the 80s! These were featured everywhere even in the classic 3 pack collector sets you would find at least one of these issue in the mix! Marvel dabbled in movies that were a little cerebral as well..
Dune…which was probably better in this adaptation than the actual movie itself..to my personal fave..
The Last StarFighter! These series kept the movie fresh in your mind..were a key piece of movie merchandise and were damn fun to read. occasionally Marvel would release a dud such as our next candidate..
Sheena?? The Limited Series had Hollywood covered. Usually the adaptations were very solid and faithful and of course spoiler filled! I loved the Marvel Movie adaptations and relied on them to offset my lack of VHS urgency in my town. Adaptations were the perfect format for the limited series!! I bought them up until my 20 dollars a week exploded at the cash register of my local drug store in my shopping mall!
Then we have the earth shakers. There were several limited series that not only highlighted certain characters but truly defined them. One of them was the now classic Wolverine Limited Series by Frank Miller. On a funny note I remember disliking this series as a kid because Wolverine was featured without his costume for the majority of the series and to be a Superhero costume loving fanboy a hero not wearing his suit was a no no! This book redefined the character and propelled the character eventually to support his own book. It did things with the character that no one else did. It factored in Logan rather than the Superhero Wolverine. It created a new love interest for the character and the events in the book forever impacted the origin of this hero. This was the springboard for future writers to bounce off off and now Logan was no longer a guy in a yellow suit who had nice claws he had depth!
It would be Mike Zeck and team who would blow the doors off off the Limited series format with the groundbreaking Punisher Limited Series. This was a character making landmark series in which a one supporting character took center stage in legendary fashion. Zeck drew the Punisher in a way that no one before had done. His detailed high velocity style made the gritty Punisher into a one man war machine that was on a clear path to his own book! The Punisher solo series would come a while later and the cover would sport the tag line “First Issue Of An Unlimited Series”. Punisher would be one of the first to graduate from a Limited Series to his own ongoing series. Personally the Punisher Limited series would be one that was on the top of my collection one of my favorite most treasured books!
Limited series are the foundation to checking the pulse of comic book fans and many series actually spawned from the limited series format. One in particular that is a favorite of mine that I wish would see a Marvel resurgence was Transformers!! Originally an awesome 4 issue limited series, Transformers went on to become an 80 plus issue regular series and even continued the numbering after the Limited series.
It’s also an excuse to show off the unbelievable cover to issue number 5!! I loved Transformers the Marvel comics series. It was one of those books I grew up on and could not wait to pick up every month! The first 25 issues are some of my favorite childhood comic memories!
In a funny homage to its limited series roots Transformers final issue #80 was headed by the line “#80 in a 4 Issue Limited Series” in a tip of the hat to its success and longer than anyone anticipated run!
In the end the Limited Series still exists in many companies..Some call it a mini series..or a maxi series or whatever you wish but the true heyday of the Limited series was the 80s and they broke ground! Heroes were created, Events exploded, and we just got to spend time with one of our favorite heroes we would not normally get to do outside of a group book. Many complain these days mini series flood the market, Look at series like the newer GI Joe, and Star Wars from DarkHorse. Too many unrelated minis flooded the market..its a different day now. I will always look back on my time spinning that spinner rack and figuring out how to maximize my 20 hard earned dollars on that grocery night on a Thursday in the 80s and treasure it!
Lock down the coordinates Heroes our transmission is complete. I know just the place where we are headed next! Till next time Heroes!
If you like what you see feel free to contact me on Twitter @Charlton_Hero and use #SuperHeroSatellite …
Thx Heroes! Till next time..
Satellite Extra: By demand what the heck here are a few more you may remember! Enjoy and let me know what your favorite Limited Series was..It may appear in our pages!