Marvel's decision to put its comic archives online leads to the inevitable question: Which comics of the past should fans seek first? USA TODAY asked two of Marvel's celebrity writers to offer their top picks.
Damon Lindelof, Executive producer of ABC's Lost, wrote a recent Wolverine vs. Hulk comic:
1. Ultimates #1 (Marvel's reinvention of the Avengers, 2002). "This book changed all the rules. (It) took the familiar and made it unfamiliar and somehow, along the way, made superheroes REAL. I'd never read anything like it. This was the beginning of a dynasty — Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch are the Kobe and Shaq of comics."
2. Uncanny X-Men #94 (1975). "I saved up to buy this comic for two months when I was 11. I paid $35 for it in near mint condition. This is the new gang of X-Men against Count Nefaria, which is an excellent bad guy name. This one sizzles."
3. Incredible Hulk #181 (1974). "Nothing short of comic-book history. The introduction of Wolverine. No, he's not smoking cigars or dropping sarcastic remarks yet, but it's an iconic moment. And Hulk just rocks. When these two go at it, they're still Marvel's most evenly matched fight."
4. X-Statix #1 (2002). "This one's a little off the beaten track. By treating mutants like celebrities on a reality show and killing a team member off almost every issue, new ground was broken. Funny, tragic, somehow a commentary on our times. It doesn't get much better than this. Peter Milligan and Michael Allred's run on this book is one of my favorites."
5. Astonishing X-Men #1 (2004). "Josh Whedon and John Cassaday. Come on, this thing reads like a movie. And in a forum dominated by pure machismo, it's the girls who really shine here. Kitty Pryde. Emma Frost. This is classic X-Men redefined for a new generation of readers. If you've never picked up an X-book, start here."
Reginald Hudlin, TV executive who wrote House Party and directed The Bernie Mac Show, recently wrote Black Panther comics:
1. Black Panther #1-11 (2005). "Sure, they are my books, but they are damn good books. Just look at John Romita Jr.'s art in the first (story) arc."
2. Captain America #100-110 (1968). "Classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby greatness. And are the issues by Jim Steranko (beginning with #110), in there, too? C'mon, that's as good as it gets."
3. Fantastic Four #1-100 (1961). "The headline (on the comic) is right: the world's greatest comic. 'Nuff said."
4. Amazing Spider-Man #1-100 (1963). "Has there been a more dramatic change in style than a transition from the art of Steve Ditko to John Romita? It's a testimony to the brilliance of the character and the talents of all involved that both teams (Stan Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita) were brilliant."
5. Silver Surfer #1-6 (1968). "I was such a 'Kirby-head' when I was younger, I took (artist) John Buscema for granted. Now I know better."