5BC: Five Best Comics of 1983

Another instant masterwork from the typewriter of Alan Brennert, this issue of BRAVE AND THE BOLD brings the story of the original Batman of the 1930s and 40s (i.e. the Earth-2 model) to a satisfying and emotional conclusion, as he finds his soulmate in Selina Kyle as the two battle the Scarecrow. As usual, Brennert makes excellent use of the history of the characters but does it in such a way that it’s all in service to the emotions of the moment. Some fine artwork from Joe Staton as well.

In 1983, no comic book was more cutting edge than Howard Chaykin’s AMERICAN FLAGG, a political science fiction adventure series that employed an approach to graphics that was unlike anything else being done at the time–and which has been subsumed into the larger language of comics by the present. It’s also a super-fun read, as while Chaykin does a ton of world-building along the way, he populates that world with fascinating characters and allows them to take center stage.

This issue hit like a bombshell before it even came out, with dealers’ runs selling out in advance of release, causing fans to hustle to their local newsstand outlets in the hopes of finding a copy. Writer/artist Walt Simonson takes a character who had been suffering through hard times creatively and immediately turns everything around with both a visual flair that hearkens back to both Jack Kirby and the original Norse mythology and a playful approach to the narrative that defies convention and breaks rules. It’s not such a big deal today, now that a dozen other characters have done it, but in 1983, the notion that some new character that we’d never seen before could lift Mjolnir and become Thor was almost blasphemous–but it was damned exciting.

Over in the pages of DC’s most popular series, creators Marv Wolfman and George Perez stretched their legs with a story that was more detective procedural than super hero tale. Having promised his friend and teammate Wonder Girl that he would track down the truth of her parentage, Robin proceeds to do just that in true investigative style. Its events have been overturned so often now that the question “Who Is Donna Troy” has become a joke, but this story is the root of why anybody cares in the first place.

One of the greatest and definitely one of the most emulated comic book stories of all time, British wunderkind Alan Moore comes out of the box and immediately establishes himself as the finest writer working in the field. In a work of cold horror, expertly illustrated by Stephen Bissette, Moore kicks over the table, throws out everything that we think we know about his title character and sets his stage for a grand and thorough reinvention of the Swamp Thing, his mythos and his world. It’s also genuinely unsettling, in a way that the many staid supernatural anthology comics had never been.

One thought on “5BC: Five Best Comics of 1983

  1. 1983 was the year I fully recommitted to comics after having thought I had grown out of them. I had 3 of these 5, and two of them were big leaps forward into making comics I could enjoy as a so-called adult.

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