Scott's Classic Comics Corner: Grand Finales and Quick Exits (pt. 3)

Here the 3rd and last look at some notable final issues.

Silver Surfer #18 proved that while you can go home again, it may be too late to do much good. The Silver Surfer series was Marvel's most ambitious project of the late 60s. It was a larger book targeted at a more mature audience. Stan Lee and John Buscema were trying to do something different and while it seemed quite novel at first, the leaden dialogue and 'villain of the month' storylines quickly sapped much of the energy out of the series. In an attempt to bring back some of the old magic, Jack Kirby was parachuted in for a showdown between two of his finest contributions to the Marvel Universe - the Surfer and the Inhumans. It's a decent issue, but nothing truly groundbreaking. I'm not sure what the overall gameplan was at Marvel with regard to this series as while a "Next Issue" was announced, so was Kirby's departure. A quick exit if I've ever seen one.

Unknown Soldier #268 ends up being one of those "Everybody Dies" issues (oops, did I spoil anything?). This is one of my all-time favourite series, but the stories did have a bit of a recycled feel toward the end of the run. This was the only real way to go out, and Haney, Ayers and Talaoc did it perfectly. Much as I said that Weird War Tales #124 cames across as Kanigher's farewell to the war genre, this seems to be Haney's. Although G.I. Combat and Sgt. Rock continued for another few years, I like to consider this to be the final DC war book.

Daredevil Comics #134 from 1956 is the final issue to this title with a long, strange history. To think that it all began with Daredevil battling Hitler, and somehow continued through the years, surviving the premature exits of the chief villain and even the title character. Hitler was gone in 1945, the Claw was killed that same year and Daredevil vacated the premises in 1950. Still, this title kept rolling along. The main story in this issue has the Little Wise Guys mistakenly thinking that some police trainees are up to no good. Ultimately, they help a rather bumbling candidate pass the test. It's typical post-Code fun - but not exactly a battle against Hitler. Much has been said about the impact of the Comics Code Authority on EC, but it could be argued that Gleason was hit even harder. They relied heavily on their crime comics but their one-time 'superhero' books such as this title and Boy Comics, stayed on the racks much longer than most would realize. In the end, they departed with far less fanfare than that which announced their arrival. This is a tough book to track down but a nice piece for your historical oddity shortbox.

Many, many jokes have been made about the last few years of the original Justice League of America title. Many of those are funny because they are true. That being said, I truly believe that the 'End of the Justice League' storyline, which culminated with Justice League of America #261, is pretty fine reading. It's technically a tie-in to the terrible 'Legends' crossover event, but it works quite well as a standalone story arc. It's obvious that this is a pretty lame JLA (and a lame-duck one considering the re-launch had already been announced), but with the right words and pictures almost anyone can be the subject of a compelling story. If the fans are calling out for Vibe's head, you can give it to them - but do it in such a way to make them realize a little too late that he may have had a place in the DCU. Steel's death is handle even more deftly, as it is hard not to feel a mixture of sorrow, pity and relief for him. This stuff is far from perfect, but it's a pretty damned good read and seems to be an appropriate way to brings and end to this tile that had enjoyed a 25-year run. My admiration for J.M. DeMatteis continues to grow. He was obviously giving the marching orders to shut down the JLA, and he fought off the temptation to avoid write something too nihilistic or, even worse, too sentimental. In the end, it's a decent, quiet story and the loss of life serves as an act of cleansing. A fitting end.

That's it for now, folks. I may return to this territory in the future. My brain tends to drift from topic to topic on an hourly basis, so it's hard to maintain focus for too long. There are a lot of great classic comics out there and a lot of topics to discuss.

For more classic comics talk, drop by my blog at Seduction of the Indifferent

Please send any comments or questions to scottshouldbegood (at) yahoo.ca

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