As a child, I actually enjoyed getting braces (and endured the pain that came along with them) because it meant we got to go to town, and I could go to the comic book store?!? Ah…comic books! Was there ever a more perfect medium of expression. I’d spend as much of my hard-earned money as was feasible on them. Then, of course, somebody had to catalog, seal, sort, and value that comic book collection!!?! A nerd’s paradise! No computers were involved (since they didn’t exist yet). I’d get out the paper and pencil and the Overstreet Price Guide on Friday nights. I’d listen to my recorded MTV tapes and document the condition and value of the entire collection. So freaking fun! Not to mention I’ll be worth millions someday!!! This was, of course, during the comic speculation bubble of the late 80’s/early 90’s!
Around the time I turned 40, I wondered, “Now where in the heck is that comic book collection?” I was a lucky one…my Mom didn’t throw away my comic collection as soon as I left my bedroom for college (thanks Mom!). I wondered what they were worth now? I wondered why I had never read them? I wondered how many I was missing? I wondered if my wife would let me spend some of our hard-earned money on comic books now? Should I fake a mid-life crisis? Was I actually having a mid-life crisis?!?
I got out my 3 boxes of comics. I assessed the situation. I realized I was now in my 40s and had a lot more money than I had when I was in middle school. I could buy all the comics I wanted now! I would fill in all the holes in my collection…I would add to my collection…I would build the most powerful comic collection ever! I would never be stopped! I would… Oops! Sorry! I was just monologuing…wasn’t I!?!
My Favorite Characters (Force Ranked)
- GI Joe – In middle school I was basically John Rambo. My buddies and I would dress in full camo and watch Rambo, Commando, Red Dawn, Firefox…anything having to do with war. My GI Joe collection of action figures and vehicles could have easily ended the Cold War if Reagan had just let me have a go at them darn Russians. One day at the Kroger grocery store in Springfield TN I noticed a round rack of comic books. “No Mom, go ahead I’ll be right here…” I spun the rack and all of the sudden issue #42 of the GI Joe comic book appeared. Storm Shadow (a ninja who wore all white and was a general badass) was on the cover with his sword raised over his head about to rain down one heck of a headache on some poor chap. My friends, in our desire to be super commandos, knew Storm Shadow well. What on earth was I witnessing?!?! I mean I knew there were comic books in the world but I thought they were just silly baby stuff like Walt Disney or Archie and Jughead stuff. Comic books have freakin’ ninjas?!!? Commando warrior ninjas?!?! No way! I purchased the issue and started researching this whole comic book thing further. My life/world was changed on this day in mid-1985!
- Wolverine – I didn’t really discover my love (not that way) for Wolverine until I dusted off my collection and was in my mid-40s. Somewhere along the way, I had picked up some Wolverine issues and they were now worth a decent sum of money. I like money so I wondered who in the heck this guy was and why did people like him. Well the more I learned about him the more I thought this has to be my favorite superhero of all time! There is a whole lot going on with this one! He is more of a badass than that Storm Shadow guy!
- Spiderman – I watched the Spiderman cartoon (the 1981 version I think) as reruns on television as a kid after school. I loved the Todd McFarlane Spiderman of the 1990s. Then Spiderman launched the entire comic book movie genre in 2002. I think Spiderman is the most personable of all the superheroes and always a fun story to digest. The art and stories across the different Spiderman titles in my collection are diverse and some of my favorites from any title I collect.
- X-Men – Another title I never collected at a young age was X-Men. I knew of them but not really. I knew they were popular—very popular! By the time I discovered Wolverine I figured if he was a mutant. I needed to research these other mutants and see what they were all about. I had seen a few of the X-Men movies and I had been introduced to them when I read the Marvel Saga (and they seemed pretty interesting). I decided there were so many of them and they had so many different powers and storylines that they were worth my time. I cranked up my X-Men collecting. There are about 59,000 X-Men/X-Men Teams/X-Men spin-offs. Marvel really knows how to milk a success. My collection’s largest issue count now belongs to mutants.
- Deadpool – I don’t have a single Deadpool comic book in my collection. I put him at number 5 on my character ranking based solely on his appearance in movies. No not that one! I don’t know what in the heck anyone was thinking in his first movie appearance. I am glad they corrected the situation when they got to his very own feature films. I like both those movies very much. I know of the Deadpool comics and the concept (and writing style) and will add all the Deadpool series to my collection at some point. I have pledged to read a large part of my existing collection before adding a new title/character/series. But I have a few watched items on eBay…just in case!
- Hulk – I don’t collect any Hulk comics, but I can’t leave him off the list of favorite characters. Why? Because I spent many a night at home in my childhood watching the Incredible Hulk television show (up until I was 10 in 1982). A top-ranked television show of all time for sure! I recently watched some of the Incredible Hulk movies from the early 80’s (the ones with Thor and Daredevil in them). Wow! Let’s just say 10-year-old me would have been impressed (and leave it there)! It was a nice trip down memory lane, however!
- Spawn – Another character that I haven’t read. How in the heck do I know I like him then? Well, I don’t. But I like the heck out of Todd McFarlane (my favorite comic artist) and Spawn is from his brain and pen. So, my guess is I will like Spawn. Plus, I needed a cool “indie” name for the list to show I have a sophisticated side and not just blind allegiance to Lord Marvel. We’ll see, but I bet this pick stands! I’ve started up a good-sized collection just to be sure.
- Batman – I’m not a DC guy at all…at all. Batman is the only DC character I even remotely follow (or care about). Part of this is from all the movies over the years (especially the Christopher Nolan ones) but part of it is because there are a lot of Batman comics that really caught my eye over the years. But to be honest, the movies are what have him on this list. I also felt like I needed a DC character, so I didn’t seem like such a Marvel fanboy.
- West Coast Avengers – Okay, these guys are not the greatest heroes in the world. I get that. They are on the list because I started collecting this title off of that round rack at the Springfield, TN Kroger store from issue #2. It was my first (non-GI Joe) superhero collection. They hold a special place in my heart. I might be the only one!
Series In My Collection
I have over 5,000 comic books across over 400 different titles. They are all in sealed bags and with comic book boards neatly aligned on a shelf system in boxes. At one point I had a whole room in the house dedicated to these which I referred to as Deano’s Comic Corner. When I forced our family to downsize into a condo in 2018 my beautiful bride “allowed” me to keep my collection—in my closet?!? One day I will come out of the closet…wait…that didn’t sound right!?! The big titles/series (those with more than 20 issues) are:
|Deano’s Comic Collection|
|Spectacular Spiderman (1976)||Marvel||221|
|Wolverine (1988 – Vol 2)||Marvel||186|
|Marvel Comics Presents (Vol 1 – 1998)||Marvel||175|
|X-Factor (1986) (1st Series)||Marvel||144|
|Ultimate Spiderman (2000)||Marvel||115|
|Amazing Spiderman (1963)||Marvel||107|
|X-Force (1991) 1st Series||Marvel||104|
|X-Factor (2005) (3rd Series)||Marvel||103|
|West Coast Avengers||Marvel||102|
|Amazing Spiderman (1998 – 2013)||Marvel||101|
|Ultimate X-Men (2001)||Marvel||100|
|X-Men (1991) (New X-Men)||Marvel||88|
|Web of Spiderman (1985)||Marvel||81|
|Wolverine (2003 – Vol 3)||Marvel||69|
|Astonishing X-Men 2004 (3rd)||Marvel||64|
|X-Men (1991) (Legacy)||Marvel||58|
|X-Men: Unlimited (1993) Vol 1||Marvel||50|
|Peter Parker Spiderman (1999)||Marvel||50|
|GI Joe: A Real American Hero (2010)||IDW||38|
|Wolverine and X-Men||Marvel Now||37|
|Wolverine (2010 – Vol 4)||Marvel||36|
|X-Treme X-Men (2001)||Marvel||36|
|GI Joe: A Real American Hero (2001)||Image / DDP||36|
|New X-Men (2004)||Marvel||35|
|All-New X-Men (2012)||Marvel||34|
|Sensational Spiderman (1996)||Marvel||33|
|GI Joe: Vol. 1 (Jan 2009)||IDW||32|
|Superior Spiderman (2012)||Marvel||32|
|X-Men (2010) Vol 2||Marvel||31|
|Uncanny X-Men (2013)||Marvel||29|
|GI Joe: America’s Elite (2005)||DDP||28|
|Spiderman 2099 (1992)||Marvel||28|
|Ultimate X-Men (2011)||Marvel||27|
|Weapon X (Series 2 2002)||Marvel||26|
|Gambit (1999) Vol 3||Marvel||25|
|Ultimate Spiderman (2011) (3rd)||Marvel||25|
|Amazing Spiderman (2015) (4th)||Marvel||24|
|X-Men: Legacy||Marvel Now||24|
|X-Men: Forever (2009) Vol 2||Marvel||24|
|Spectacular Spiderman (2003)||Marvel||23|
|GI Joe: Special Missions||Marvel||23|
|X-Men: The Hidden Years||Marvel||23|
|X-Men (2013) Vol 3||Marvel||23|
|Marvel Knights Spiderman (2004)||Marvel||21|
|GI Joe: Origins||IDW||20|
|All-New X-Factor (2014)||Marvel||20|
|X-Force (2008) 3rd Series||Marvel||20|
Series I’ve Read
As a kid, I had always just bought comics but had never read them. When I restarted collecting, I spent most of my time at $1 comic book sales searching through long boxes for issues I needed to complete runs. Then I’d have to bag/board them and update the spreadsheet…rinse repeat. I must have them all! All that (for 5,000ish comics) takes a great deal of time.
Somewhere along the way (around 2013) as I was filling in holes (ie adding numerous boxes to my collection) I decided to actually start reading my comic books. Weird thought…I know?!?! What better time so START reading comic books than when you are over 40 years old!?!?
- Marvel Saga (Year 1985 / Issues #1-25) – One of the first comics I bought was Marvel Saga #1. I bought this because it had a #1 on it and I figured it would make me a millionaire one day. That didn’t happen but when I was trying to figure out what it was (and what to do with it) I learned that it was a series with history—literally. Specifically, it outlined the entire Marvel Universe comic book history in 25 issues. I figured this was the perfect series to start reading. I learned a lot: 1) Stan Lee is a freaking genius, and 2) I liked some characters and didn’t like others. Prior to reading this, I didn’t really understand that all the different titles in the Marvel Universe worked together with stories interweaving between titles. The fact that this was happening over the course of several decades should not be underestimated. I believe Stan Lee was indeed a superhero of his own kind. What a stud. I also figured out quickly which characters I was most interested in (Spiderman, Hulk, X-Men, Wolverine, Etc.). It also helped me weed out the characters that rubbed me the wrong way (Fantastic Four, Namor, Daredevil, Etc.). It was the perfect first series to read!
- Marvel Comics Presents (Year 1988 / Issues #1-175) – When I discovered Wolverine a readily available comic (and inexpensive one) with tons of stories about him by different artists was Marvel Comics Presents. Most of these comics were flip issues. One side has a cover (with a popular character like Wolverine) and half the book has that story. Then you flip it over for another cover and another story about some other less popular character. There were lots of self-contained stories about a lot of characters. Many were good, some not so good. But issue 72 kicked off the Weapon X storyline which told the story of how Wolverine became filled with metal over 14 issues. Magnificent storyline! Wolverine showed up a ton throughout the 175 issues…which made me happy!
- West Coast Avengers (Limited Series) (Year 1984 / Issues #1-4) – I had the second series of West Coast Avengers but had not read the prior limited series. The OCD completionist in me would not allow me to read the latter without reading the former. This is my cross to bear!
- West Coast Avengers (Year 1985 / Issues #1-102 + Tie-Ins) – I originally bought my first issue of West Coast Avengers from the Kroger grocery store comic turnstile. It was issue #2. My friend Dan read The Avengers comic book so I had heard of them. There were around 250 issues of that series. I was about to get in on the ground floor of a brand-new series with issue #2. I’d be worth millions! MILLIONS!!! I collected issues growing but not all of them. When I rebooted my “comic career” I found it easy to complete the series. The issues I was missing were not in high demand and easily found (or expensive). None of the issue were really in demand (they were not worth millions). It seems that I would not be made a millionaire by the West Coast Avengers. I read the whole series (with all the tie ins). It wasn’t horrible.
- Uncanny X-Men (Year 1963 / Issues #1-544) – IN PROCESS – After many, many trips to the comic store for $1 comic book sales and many, many auctions won on E-Bay I have amassed a very decent X-Men collection. The first issues from 1963 are a tad expensive for my budget to say the least. I got the Marvel Masterworks books which have issues #1-66. Issues #67-93 were just reprints of prior issues/stories. Issue #94 (in August 1975) follows Giant Sized X-men and is basically a reboot of the X-men. The first crew put together by Professor Xavier ran the first 66 issues: Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, and Angel. They are honestly not my favorite characters, but they are the originals. I think part of it is the story/writing was done back in the 60s and was ‘tame’ by today’s standards. The next crew Professor X pulled together was more my speed: The demonic acrobat Nightcrawler, the weather-controlling Storm, the iron-skinned strongman Colossus, the shrieking Banshee, the tribal warrior Thunderbird, and the dangerous Wolverine. There’s Wolverine…that’s why I’m here! I am working through those first 66 issues now (only 500 or so to go)!?!