Back Issue #132 December 2021 (magazine review).

In many respects, Marvel Comics led the way with limited series comicbooks in the 1980s. Editor Mike Eury points out that they had already covered 11 of them in previous ‘Back Issues’. With the 10 limited series here, I guess the sets are complete for that decade.

From a buyer’s perspective, a limited series meant you had a complete story exploring an aspect of a character’s life without making it an on-going series and a chance to measure how popular they are. With some, like Wolverine, this was a known quantity but Iceman and the Falcon was more of a surprise back then but showed it was whether the creators had a good idea or not.

Hardly surprising based off the cover here that we see Chris Claremont, Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein’s ‘Wolverine Limited Series’ leading the way as it did when it first happened back in the day. Much of what Christopher Larochelle accounts for is something I was familiar with as I was very active in UK fandom at the time but it revives old memories.

Doug Zawisza’s look at ‘The Falcon Limited Series’ by Jim Owsley and Paul Smith does tend to point out they had stories waiting for a position to be used and got rolled out as one. It was also the confirming point that the way the Falcon could communicate with his bird, Redwing, that he was a mutant. In some respects, it’s a shame that was never explored more as to whether he could do this with other birds.

There’s a lot of ground to be covered here and if you’ve got a nostalgic bent and I mention the odd character then there’s a fair bet you’ll want to read more. I mean, who can’t forget Illyana Rasputin gaining 7 years aging in Hell and coming back a teen in the X-Men in the ‘Magik Mini-Series’. Occasionally, there’s a reminder of something forgotten that the ‘Machine Man Mini-Series’ went to the future in 2020! Back in 1984, when it was released, that must have felt to be a long time and now we’ve passed it by a couple years.

Oh, the reason the ’Kitty Pryde And Wolverine 6-Issue Limited Series’ went to 6 issues was because writer Chris Claremont needed more space for the tale. I think what helped sell the ‘Iceman Mini-Series’ was Mike Zeck’s opening first issue cover. I agree with its writer, J.M. DeMatteis, that Bobby Drake is really a team player but his use of ice makes for dynamic illustrations. Like with Spidey’s webs, you still have to wonder what is holding up Iceman’s ice paths and why they don’t melt quickly in the hot temperatures.

Lest we forget, the Punisher got his first series, ‘Circle Of Blood’, as a mini-series and writer Steven Grant explains some of the problems getting it done. The Punisher was regarded as a 4th rate character and not deemed likely to sell, even with Mike Zeck on the art. As it turns out, # 1 practically sold out on its first day and history was born. Grant also came up with the Punisher’s real name, Frank Castle, even though he preferred for it not to be used very often.

Throughout all these mini-series, editor-in-chief Jim Shooter frequently gave go-ahead for series used lesser known characters and even ones less likely to sell. I’d have loved more insight on this from his point of view. There are elements of this when a package like having a particular artist on board, it does make it easier to sell the idea but it wasn’t like that all the time. There are a lot of lessons in here.

Stephen Friedt, with some help from Christopher Larochelle, takes a different tactic when it comes to the various Marvel X-Men teams-up mini-series with interviews with the key writers. Some of the consequences were also making sure that no upsets were made with the on-going series. What does come from all of this is combinations that probably couldn’t be done there and, as Chris Claremont pointed out in his own, a chance to write the Fantastic Four.

The squarebound ‘Nick Fury Vs,. S.H.I.E.L.D.’ six-parter served its purpose as a springboard the espionage unit back into the limelight from Ian Millsted’s article. Certainly without it, the presence of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the films and TV series would not be a reality which speaks for itself. I should point out for all the mini-series, there are pointers to get them as various reprints.

Don’t think everything was clear running. The ‘Black Panther’ mini-series written by Peter B. Gillis with art by Denys Cowan dealing with an apartheid ran into complications because there were fears of sales being affected in South Africa. I tend to go along with Cowan on this that it shouldn’t have been cancelled and would add why not simply don’t send there.

There was the quirky ‘Wolfpack’ 12-part mini-series that Patrick A. Reed explores interviewing its creators and how it changed from its basic inception with a more divergent cast. I have to confess that although I bought it at the time, it didn’t really sink in that much.

Finally, Jarrod Buttery looks over the ‘X-Terminators’ mini-series with its artist Jon Bogdanove and its ‘Inferno’ connections. I still puzzle at kids adopting such a team name.

On a sad note at the end, writer/historian David Anthony Kraft (1952-2021) died from pneumonia after covid complications. I had heard of this and I suspect we’ll get more about his life in a later edition.

‘Back Issue’ has a habit of dragging you into an issue when you think you might not like it and then wondering how it was read so fast as a page-turner. This issue is no exception to this, so get it while you can.

GF Willmetts

February 2022

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 9.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 9.95 (US))

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