Wednesday, June 29, 2022

My Favorite Comics Character Revamp Series

 In the post-Crisis era, revamps of characters became common. Perhaps too common. But for all the ill-conceived ones and ones done for no good reason, there have been a number of good ones, they really did something interesting with the character. Here are a few of my favorites, roughly chronological particular order:

Chaykin's masterful and historically rooted take on the Blackhawks. Chaykin has brought this sort of approach to other characters (The Phantom Eagle, Dominic Fortune, and the Young Allies) but never as effectively or as beautifully rendered as here.

Hawkworld (1989)
I suppose this could be considered part of the 80s-early 90s "grim and gritty" wave, but Truman's art (abetted by Alcatena) does gritty so well! Thanagar is dystopian and Katar Hol is a murderer and a drug addict--at first. Still, the themes of inequality and class remain as relevant as ever.

This isn't technically a revamp, but it's something more than a retelling. A refinement or streamlining perhaps? Nicieza's story in Kevin Maguire's art (on the first two issues, then Kevin West on the last two) is the best Captain America origin movie Joe Johnston never got to direct.

Ostrander brings all of Marvel's Western characters together for a Magnificent Seven-esque last stand. Manco's art is gorgeous if you can excuse his very Young Guns design sensibilities regarding the the characters.

I would have also included the DeMatteis/Badger 1988 Martian Manhunter limited series on this list, that overturned the Silver Age Planetary Romance version and set the template in part for all portrayals to follow, but it has criminally never been collected. This 2019 "maxi-series" by Orlando and Rossmo takes the 1988 series' ideas, but in some ways moves it back in the direction of the Silver Age version--while giving it a fresh, science fiction veneer. Never has Mars seemed so alien, but also had a series made you feel the death its civilization so keenly. Like many of the best Martian Manhunter stories, this one mixes detective work with an exploration of how outsiders from society can stop being on the outside.


Dick McGee said...

I rather liked the 2008 Vertigo Haunted Tank mini-series myself. Moved the story forward to "Operation Iraqi Freedom" with an M-1 Abrams replacing the WW2 vehicles. The painful interactions between Jamal Stuart and his racist-as-hell ghostly ancestor made for an interesting read.

Trey said...

I think I only read the first issue of that for some reason. I liked what I read though.

JB said...

Hey, I thought the original "Winter Soldier" series was a pretty good re-telling of the Cap & Bucky story...but I'm a sucker for any Captain America stuff.

[I suppose I should say I also liked the "Ultimates" revamp of the Avengers quite least the first couple story arcs]

That Blaze of Glory looks pretty sweet...does it have the Two-Gun Kid with his leopard-print vest? I always loved the TGK...
; )

For DC, my favorite re-boot was John Byrne's four-issue OMAC series. I don't think I've ever seen a character (and a series setting) so well least as far as my limited comic knowledge goes.

Mike David Jr. said...

I did enjoy the Hawkworld incarnation of Hawkman for it's grittiness and upturning of the Hawkman/Hawkwoman relationship. My favorite issue of the series is Hawkworld #15 (September 91) , a tie in to the War of the Gods event. A pantheon of ancient Thangarian Gods called the Celae are awakened on Earth via their sacred objects. The Celae fascinated me, presented as a blend of Celtic-esque deities who usually possessed willing worshipers not unlike the Loa of Voudoun.