TOP 5 HOLY GRAIL COMICS
Since I started collecting comics I have been pretty fortunate that the characters I pursue aren’t that old. So I haven’t run myself into the poor house collecting back issues. I have accumulated a wide selection of key issues but never spend more than £30 for a single issue. It’s worth pointing out at this stage I predominantly collect comics to read. So buying high end wall books may seem extravagant when I can read the issue in trade. But I do still appreciate the dedication and pride that comes with amassing a sizeable collection. In no particular order here are my five holy grail comics. Get in touch via Twitter @IanWells87 with yours.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
Year: 1984 Mirage Studios
By: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Now I have never seen one of this out in the wild and I have been going to cons for nearly twenty years now. I actually have two versions of reprints of this but because of its importance in the world of comics it still makes the list. The two versions I have are a colour reprint that came out in a book to coincide with the release of the first movie in 1990. It was a large format book and contained the first three issues of the original series. I just saw one on eBay for £120! I paid £3 for mine its not mint but in okay condition. The other version is an exact replica that came with the book ‘TMNT The Ultimate Visual History’. Eastman and Laird would joke about being left with boxes and boxes of the first issue. In the end they couldn’t keep up with demand. Am I right in thinking TMNT #1 is the highest priced modern age book on the market? This comic represents a resurgence in underground comics and a massive win for self publishing. It was an instant success that went from black and white comic, to animated series, to big summer movie. From the late 80’s through the 90’s the Turtles were everywhere. To own this comic would be to own and bask in the greatness of their success. What other widely successful comic had the major villain killed in the first issue? Owning this issue goes hand in hand with collecting Daredevil too. The same accident that robbed a young Matt Murdock of his sight led to the boy dropping his four pet Turtles down the sewer. When I read about this a bit of pee came out and when you read the actual comic its is pretty blatant as well not a well disguised Easter egg. It’s amazing to think the Turltes have endured years of popularity from something that began with two guys trying to out do each other in drawing the best ninja turtle.
Year: 1965 Marvel Comics
By: Stan Lee and Wally Wood
Frank Miller has described Daredevil’s red costume as the sexiest it comics. Before #7 Matt Murdock had fought crime decked out in red and yellow. The same colours his Dad wore as a boxer. Which is a nice touch from a story point of view but the guy has devil in his name he should be all in red. It makes perfect sense for the man without fear to be dressed head to toe in one colour. Also the horns work better in red! I wonder if Daredevil would have had the same success if he had stuck with the yellow duds? Frank Miller really used the suit to his advantage during his tenure on the title. He played with the shade and at times the costume would appear near black with red highlighting. A perfect fit for the tone of the title under Miller. The issue itself is standard hero vs hero fodder. As Daredevil takes on Namor a powerful more experienced opponent. It represents one of the first instances the reader discovers Matt is just like his Dad. Relentless in battle even staring down the barrel of defeat. Daredevil #7 is one of the few comics that Wally Wood worked on for the big two and yet he made a massive contribution. He also played a part in creating Stilt-man, Matador and Mister Fear. If you get the chance you should read ‘Wally’s World’ by Steven Starger it is a a raw insight into a creative genius who had his problems in life. The cover is beautiful and would look brilliant displayed on a wall if the chance to by a CGC Daredevil #7 ever came up.
Giant-Size X-Men #1
Year: 1975 Marvel |Comics
By: Len Wein and Dave Cockrum
Giant-Size X-Men #1 is an issue that began something beautiful. Without it the X-Men never would have endured for the years they have, eventually leading to big screen success. The young student stories had grown stagnant. It was time for change. Wein and Cockrum introduced n older more international cast to interact with Xavier’s original students and everything just clicked. Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler all became household names. At one time or another they popped up in other media versions of the X-Men whilst be mainstays of the comics. The X-Men movie was what got me into comics. At the time though I was put off by years of continuity so I pursued Wolverine. A few years ago I brought a lovely canvas depicting Gil Kane’s iconic cover to GSXM #1. It rekindled my love for the merry mutants and I remembered the fondness for the family feel that started in this issue. In a corny way the X-Men are like a family to me. So I started collecting Classic X-Men which collects Claremont and Byrne’s run on Uncanny starting with GSXM #1. So yes I have in one way read the contents of this issue but if the opportunity ever arose to buy it I would. It is one of the key books of comics history. Not only did it rejuvenate the franchise but it changed the way comics were written. Story telling for team dynamics were changed after this issue across Marvel and DC. At its peak you were either an X-Men fan or a Teen Titans fan. For a generation it defined you allegiance.
Detective Comics #38
Year: 1940 DC Comics
By: Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson
I wanted to throw a curve ball onto the list. A comic that would really break the bank if I were to actually buy it! Plus I wanted something outside of my usual wheelhouse. I am at best a casual Nightwing fan so it made sense for a holy grail issue to be the place where it all began for Dick Grayson. I was always transfixed by any episode of Batman The Animated Series that focused on Robin and later Nightwing. Dick Grayson’s origin story has largely remained intact and near enough the same for seventy seven years now and in all forms of media. That is testament to good story telling. Admittedly the legalities of Bruce Wayne taking on a twelve year old ward are contentious to say the least. That’s without even questioning the morality of training him to fight crime. One recent addition to Dicks past and is worth reading in conjunction with this are #8-9 of the New52 Nightwing series. It was part of the Night of Owls story line and tells the history of the Grayson lineage. Reading these together will put a whole new spin on the origins of Dick Grayson. Also Detective Comics #38 comes with some historical baggage. It is now widely regarded that Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson had a much larger creative input for the conception of Robin as Bob Kane led people to believe. If you are lucky enough to own this comic you own history and it would be better if the world finally knew the whole truth.
The Incredible Hulk #181
Year: 1974 Marvel Comics
By: Len Wein and Herb Trimpe
As a Wolverine completest this is the single issue I crave more than any other. For me it is the definition of a holy grail comic. If I’m honest if the chance ever came up I would buy this comic in any condition. Battered and torn I would buy it. Then I can say I own Incredible Hulk #181! The first full appearance of Wolverine! Like GSXM #1 this issue is a very humble beginning for a character that would go on to gain mega star status. The creators could have had no idea what path Wolverine would go on leading all the way to headlining an R rated movie. As well as Hulk this issue features heavy hitters Wendigo and The Enchantress. Its surprising Wolverine was even remembered for playing a part let a lone being so memorable that a year later he would join the ranks of the X-Men. It is what I call a classic Marvel story. Bordering on hokey three people fight after a misunderstanding, the conflict is resolved and in this case history was made. I mean the costume man, come on! Whiskers! Yes it has a sense of nostalgia but it is not what you think of when you think of Wolverine. It doesn’t fit with his menacing persona. Wein and Trimpe admit to treating Wolverine like a tertiary character in this issue. Wolverine would eventually find his voice under the pen of Chris Claremont when he struck upon the failed samurai idea. I have read the issue in a prestige format reprint but its just not the same. I know I’ve called the issue hokey but when ever Wolverine and Hulk face off in comics its never the same. All it does is raise an air of nostalgia but rarely if ever doe it top this. I always see Incredible Hulk #181 at conventions. Ranging anywhere between £1000-£3000. I get tingly looking at it. I love the cover Wolverines costume as designed by legend John Romita snr pops against the red background. Two years ago I brought a replica of the cover by talented artist David Golding. It take pride of place in my collection and at present remains my closet link to owning the comic.
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
About Language of Bromance
Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
To become a LOBarmy Contributed
If you are interested in writing an article for the LOBarmy Intelligent Reports please contact Richard and Shawn at EatTheBeaver@LanguageOfBromance.Com or reach out to us via twitter @LanguageOfBro.