July 09, 2012

Best comicbook time travel stories

Who else but the master of the lists, Newsarama, would come up with this one? It's actually titled "10 Mind-Bending Time Travel Stories," and I found this one particularly intriguing due to my affinity for such yarns. Admittedly, I was not familiar with half of the list (because some are DC, natch), but I also have my own thoughts (of course) regarding the choices, and ones that missed the cut.

At #10 is DC's Legion of Super-Heroes. I was donated a large quantity of this title several years ago, and I always hated how "easy" DC treated the concept of time travel. In this case, Superboy would frequently dash to the future (around the year 3000) to assist the Legion, and then dash back to the past. But!! He had no memory of what he did in the future.

At #9 is Fantastic Four #5 -- the first appearance of Dr. Doom. In this ish (one of Jack Kirby's best penciling efforts ever, by the way), Doom uses his iconic time platform to shunt three of the quartet to Blackbeard's time to heist a treasure chest. The outcast Thing enjoys playing Blackbeard ... so much so that he doesn't wanna go back to the 1960s!

#8 is the West Coast Avengers story "Lost In Space-Time." This is second time I've read about this arc at Newsarama and now I am officially beyond intrigued. So much so that I'm gonna have to order this trade paperback. I never was a big fan of the WCA, mainly because Al Milgrom's art usually sucked. But if Steve Englehart's story is this highly recommended ...

Coming in at #7 is one of my all-time faves: Iron Man creators David Michelinie and Bob Layton's "Doomquest." Shellhead and Doc Doom are shunted back to Camelot -- King Arthur's era -- where the former becomes the king's champion and the latter conspires with the evil Morgan Le Fey. Michelinie and Layton followed this up with two sequels: one in 1989 and the other in 2008.

At #3 is the supremely awesome Avengers Forever. I recently dedicated an entire post to this Kurt Busiek-scripted series.

The top spot is a terrific pick: "Days of Future Past" featuring the Uncanny X-Men. Two of my favorite comics editions ever (yep, it spanned only two issues, but countless stories later spun off of it), Kitty Pryde travels back to 1980 from a dystopian future where the Sentinels have taken over North America and murdered just about all mutants (and other superheroes). Her objective is to have the X-Men prevent the murder of presidential contender Senator Robert Kelly; his assassination led to the future she comes from.

What did Newsarama miss?

Giant-Size Avengers #2 and #3. The Marvel master of time travel, Kang the Conqueror, attempts to thwart his ultimate destiny in the former, and uses time-plucked villains (and heroes) to battle Earth's Mightiest in the latter. Both are written by Steve Englehart and both are drawn by Dave Cockrum, which means you know these issues are incredibly high quality.

Fantastic Four Annual #11 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #1. The quartet travel back in time to retrieve a cylinder of vibranium that was accidentally shunted to Nazi Germany -- allowing Hitler to prolong, if not win, World War II. They meet up with the Invaders to do battle with the Third Reich, and later, the Thing journeys back solo to help finish the job.

Avengers (vol. 1) #56 -- "Death Be Not Proud." Earth's Mightiest agree to meet Capt. America inside Dr. Doom's castle in order to travel back in time to see if Cap's old partner, Bucky, somehow managed to survive Baron Zemo's exploding rocket. The conclusion is touching for its time, and it leads directly to one of the team's greatest alternate reality stories ever (Avengers Annual #2).

Posted by Hube at July 9, 2012 11:43 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Some great choices there, and I agree that Days of Future Past is the best of them.

I just, as odd as it sounds, almost wish it hadn't been done. It, and the Dark Phoenix Saga, are truly excellent stories -- and I wish that they had stayed unique, but Marvel went back to the well on them so many times.

Sometimes, it really worked. I liked Nimrod the future Sentinel (until after his big fight with the X-Men and Lords Cardinal, when the book really started to sink).

I loved Rachel Summers, especially when she got to shine in the first volume of Excalibur.

But they went back too many times. Jean was dead, then a clone (Maddie), then back, then dead, and all belittling that first, awesome story (and they ALMOST made it work the second time, with X-Factor 1, when they said the Phoenix was a molecular clone of Jean, that it was in essence her, somewhat keeping that sacrifice on the Moon intact).

Like Watchmen and Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns, I think later writers saw that the Days of Future Past worked, and took from it, but they didn't understand WHAT worked, so they just shamelessly aped it without seeing the craft or message (or care) beneath.

Take it and run

Posted by: Earl Allison at July 9, 2012 04:32 PM

There's quite a few stories on the list I haven't read, either, but I've definitely read the awesome Days of Future past storyline, Doc Doom's first appearance (it's in an Essential Fantastic Four volume I own)... I've been thinking about reading Doomquest for quite some time. I'm also a big "Legion of Super-Heroes" fan, even though as you say time travel was a bit too easy for them. It got better when Jim Shooter started writing it, though, and Giffen's run in the 1980s was pretty good.

Posted by: Carl at July 10, 2012 01:20 AM