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Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Grand Finales and Quick Exits (pt. 1)

by  in Comic News Comment
Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Grand Finales and Quick Exits (pt. 1)

While so much of the collectibles market has been focused on 1st appearances and #1 issues, I have always been fascinated by final issues. Sometimes they are nicely mapped out and bring a series to a satisfying conclusion. Other times, they come to a sudden stop and have all of the finesse of an unfinished thought. These are fun to collect, but can be tough to track down as print runs are often quite low. I’ll discuss a few notables today – and then return later in the week with some additional books.

I’ll start with Brave and the Bold #200, as it was the final chapter of my all-time favourite series. It’s a wonderful book, and Mike Barr’s story is a fitting, if bittersweet, conclusion to this great title. The stories flip flops between Earths One and Two and Dave Gibbons is masterful in alternating between Golden and Bronze Age looks. This series concluded to make room for Batman and the Outsiders – and this issue feature a Barr/Aparo preview of that title (the story was included in the Showcase Presents volume. It was a sad day for me when this book hit the racks – but it is a wonderful issue and holds up very well 25 years later. It’s a must have.

Tarzan #29 represents the end of an era. I’m not talking about the simple fact that the Marvel series was canned just two years after it much hyped launch, but rather than a Tarzan title would no longer be on US newsstands. Since 1948, four different companies had produced nearly 300 issues full of Tarzan comics (and I’m not even getting into his pre-1948 or Charlton appearances). Personally, I feel that the decision by the people of ERB Inc. to pull the title from Gold Key and then bounce it around screwed all of us Tarzan fans in the long run. Sales were going to be poor, as the character’s popularity in North America had waned over the decades. The Burroughs people should have minimized their interference and offered the license for less money, if only to keep the character in the funnybooks. I have a double page spread from this issue – it’s Sal Buscema inked by P. Craig Russell. It is beyond gorgeous.

Daredevil #380 is indicative of all that was wrong with comics books in the 90s. That’s not to say that it’s a bad comic – it’s more that the powers that be felt it necessary to cancel a title with 40+ years of history, just to reboot the thing. Maybe I’m too ‘old school’, but I would have much rather see Smith & Quesasa start with issue #381 than a whole new series. The whole industry began to suffer from Relaunchitis. Let’s get back to the actual book. I think it’s a charming issue – as they’ve brought back some important characters and the whole thing has a bit of a retro vibe to it. Lee Weeks is an artist I hardly noticed back then – but I’m learning to appreciate his work more and more each day. A fitting end to a great series – but unnecessary in my books.

Eerie always seemed like the ugly stepsister to Creepy. Both Warren mags somehow chugged along until February of 1983, but for my money, Eerie #139 is the far superior finale. Why? Well, let’s start with the cover. Kelly Freas painting an Giger-like Alien – does it get any better than that. Inside, instead of the expected collection of second-rate reprints that haunted so many Warren books throughout the 70s and early 80s, we’ve got a long (we’re talking 40+ pages) adaptation of and AE Vogt story. This is a really nice change of pace from the short chapters of ongoing serials that were standard in the many b&w magazines of this period. There’s a so-so ‘Infinity Force’ color insert at the back but it’s nothing special. As Warren’s bankruptcy didn’t allow for much in the way of planning final issues – it’s blind luck that this one was the swansong. Compared to the last few years of poor quality books, Eerie went out with a bang and this one is worth picking up if you find it.

I’ll be back in a couple of days with some more final issues. For more random classic comics talk – check out my blog Seduction of the Indifferent

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