Impractical, Unlikely, but Who Cares, I’m Just Making It Up: the Return of the Big Fat Comic
When I was but a wee squirt in the late seventies, I purchased a comic that left a particularly fond memory. Not for the stories per se, but for the comic’s general content. It was World’s Finest #255.
From '73 to '82, DC produced something Young Harv adored: the big fat superhero anthology book.
That particular issue of World’s Finest, sixty-eight pages long and ad-free, contained a Superman-Batman story, a Green Arrow-Black Canary story, a Shazam story, and a Creeper story. None of these stories were reprints. And the series ran like that every issue.
Fork one of those over to a comic-crazed six-year old and watch the kid's eyes bulge.
DC did the same with Adventure Comics, providing four or five full-length stories of major and B-list heroes in each issue. Dammit, that’s excellent.
Other giant honkin’ multistory books of the seventies included Superman Family and House of Mystery. Sometimes the books were as long as eighty pages. Schweet. One buck for all that comic? All those different stories? They were the Shonen Jump of the seventies.
Okay, okay, it probably wouldn’t work today. I’m not even sure it worked back then. But man, it’s fun to throw around.
Say the Magical Comic Fairy gave you the chance to create a new title for one of the Big Two, and the company wanted a title in the manner of the Big Fat Comics of the seventies.
The schema you must follow is: Two a-list characters have their own stories, one b-lister, and one c-lister. No d-listers. Your Big Fat Comic cannot feature characters who have never carried their own title, however briefly. Marvel Comics Presents was a showcase for pet characters and never-weres, and it was underwhelming. The Big Fat Comic of my dreams would be no such thing. Oh, and team-ups are encouraged. Your lineup will be stable for six months, after which it may be tweaked.
Here’s my Big Fat Comic for Marvel, one I slaved over for six whole minutes:
A-list teamup: Marvel’s new odd couple, the Overexposed Duo, Spider-Man and Wolverine. Make their odd-couple nature a big part of the series. Sure, they’re in the Avengers together now anyway, but what the hell. Ride that gravy train!
”One’s an amnesiac mutant killing machine with a jones for redheads and a chip on his shoulder…the other’s a high school science teacher with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and a beautiful red-haired wife…together, they fight crime…and each other!”
A-list #2: Iron Man. His solo series, both of the regular and Ultimate varieties, come out infrequently. Give him a spot in the Big Fat Comic, dang it! Bright shiny adventures with the shiniest superhero around! Pass the turtle wax!
B-list: Doctor Strange. The perfect hero for this kind of book: he’s popular enough to have his own series from time to time, but not to the degree that he can sustain one through the thin times. The Doctor would pull in quite a few readers on his own, since this would be his only ongoing series.
Plus, he’s way cool.
C-list: Cloak and Dagger. C&D are popular enough that they won’t generate head-scratching from the fans, but not so entrenched that you can’t mess with them and make cool-o stories.
There you have it. A veritable sampler of goodies: One wacky hero team-up with Marvel’s biggest names, one straight-up flashy superhero story, one weird cult-favorite superhero story, and one “street-level” story, to indulge the fanboy’s neverending taste for “grit.”
This Big Fat Comic would be a much better title to market to the outside world than that fiasco All-Star Batman, and dang it, I think it’d be fun.*
Come on, blog-o-spherians…cast your own Big Fat Comics.
How about a DC book with the Flash/Nighwing team, Hawkman, the Martian Manhunter, and Kamandi?
*Please notice that I referenced All-Star Batman without resorting to the "What are you, retarded? I'm the goddamn Batman!" exchange so mocked across the internet. For I am above such petty shots.
Okay, I'm not. I just didn't think of a way to work it in. Except as a footnote.