Here’s a scary statistic for you. This week’s column marks the 400th column to be posted here at Comics 101.com.
Four hundred. That’s a lot of columns.
I’m hoping to get back to the longer history columns soon, as I’m just now coming out of a very deadline-crazy period, and expect to have a little more breathing room in the weeks to come, both for writing around these parts and to catch up on my reading so I can start commenting on the current comics landscape.
In the meantime, it still feels like a certain amount of recognition is due over hitting the four-century mark, so let’s delve into the magic 400 number, shall we?
SUPERMAN #400 from 1984, for example. While the story itself isn’t all that memorable, it boasted some amazing pinups from guest-artists you never expected to see drawing Superman, like Will Eisner:
And even more surprising, this beautiful piece by Moebius:
Of course, not every issue 400 is monumental. Some are just plain weird:
I don’t even know where to start with that one.
BATMAN #400 from 1986 is much more of a traditional big-event anniversary story, with Ra’s al Ghul busting all of Batman’s enemies out of Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.
That Sienkiewicz cover has always been a favorite. That jaunty Robin kills me.
DETECTIVE COMICS #400 had a less ambitious story, but a stunning Neal Adams cover featuring Batman facing off against the Man-Bat.
Some anniversary covers are just giant missed opportunities, like this foil-covered prismatic monstrosity that marred FANTASTIC FOUR #400.
Ah, the ’90s…
For AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400, Marvel went with a more subtle, tasteful approach: a GIANT TOMBSTONE!
In case you were wondering, it wasn’t Spidey who died in this issue, but rather the perennially ailing Aunt May, who finally shuffled off this mortal coil after telling Peter that she’d known he was Spider-Man for years. A touching story, actually, which was all undone a few years later when it was revealed that the Aunt May who dies was an impostor and the real May Parker had been kept in a tube by the Jackal for years.
Then there’s ADVENTURE COMICS #400, notable mostly for two things: Supergirl’s horrible new costume and her bewildering body position.
INCREDIBLE HULK #400 also suffers from a strong dose of the ’90s with the prismatic cover treatment here, but it’s better incorporated into the design here, and comes at the climax of a long and extremely well-done storyline during Peter David’s lengthy run of the series.
AVENGERS #400 didn’ t fare quite as well, as it came just at the beginning of the team’s “Image-ization” period.
Nothing screams ’90s like Hank Pym’s Tank Top O’ Pockets. What’s he need to carry around, anyway?
And finally, when it comes to issue 400 covers, Uncle Scrooge knows how to do it right:
Thanks to everyone who’s stuck around and listened to my nonsense for the last nine years. Four hundred more columns?
Why the hell not?
Scott Tipton thinks four hundred weeks is a lot of damn weeks. If you have questions about comics, send ’em here.