Graphic Novels, I Love Them or ... The Death of Demolition Man

Cover art by Kieron Dwyer and Al Milgrom.
Cover art by Kieron Dwyer and Al Milgrom. | Source
Demolition Man Created by Mike Carlin and Ron Wilson
Demolition Man Created by Mike Carlin and Ron Wilson | Source

Clearance Vs. Graphic Novels

The cure for not liking the current state of comic book? Digging in the crates (I am the TruSoulDJ after all) and finding clearance books -- back issues if you will -- that remind you of another time and another place.

With new books priced at $2.99 and $3.99, I tend to gravitate towards the clearance bins at my favorite comic book stores (R.I.P. Stand Up Comics in Lansing, Illinois). But unfortunately, more often than not, the clearance bins are filled with books that are so obscure that the 25 cents price tag still seems like too much to pay.

If you move to the back issue racks, you will find some good older comics, but unless it is completely amazing, the idea of spending 2 to 5 bucks on a book I once paid only 60 cents doesn't fill me with enthusiasm.

That's why graphic novels are so appealing. The idea of getting a complete story line in one sitting vs waiting until next month ... The idea of paying possibly 10 to 30 bucks for a series of stories that could cost $100 to thousands of bucks if bought individually (depending on the condition) ... Spectacular.

The Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four | Source
The Falcon Created by Stan Lee & Gene Colan
The Falcon Created by Stan Lee & Gene Colan | Source
The Von Erich family of wrestlers
The Von Erich family of wrestlers | Source
Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan | Source
Macho Man Randy Savage
Macho Man Randy Savage | Source
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One Man's Clearance is Another Man's Treasure

What if you can combine the love for clearance with the love for graphic novels? Whether it be a discount book store -- overstock that is unwrapped or used even. That's how I was reintroduced to D-Man.

Demolition Man [Dennis Dunphy ] was a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe who first appeared in The Thing #28 (October 1985); written by Mike Carlin and illustrated by Ron Wilson. However, he didn't actually appear as Demolition Man until he appeared in Captain America #328 (April 1987).

I do remember collecting several issues of The Thing, even though I wasn't necessarily a fan of Fantastic Four at the time. But what drew me to the solo adventures of the man made of bricks was that he upset with his team for some reason. This led him to strike out on his own for a while.

While trekking around the country on his solo tour, The Thing became a member of the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation , which is where he met Dunphy. And now that I think about, maybe that's another reason I was drawn to the book. Since the fictional wrestling organization was a reminder of the real organizations I used to watch on television -- the WCCW (featuring THE FABULOUS FREEBIRDS, as well as The VON ERICHfamily). Some of the characters even brought to mind the the popular WWF that my friends watched featuring larger than life showmen, HULK HOGAN and MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE.

All of this was forgotten over the last 28 years until I stared reading a graphic novel called, Captain America : The Captain; written by Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer and Tom Morgan which collects Captain America #332 - 350 and Iron Man #228.

I'm halfway through the collection ... Well, maybe about a fourth way through. But I was kind of taken with obscure ex wrestler/hero who cares enough about Steve Rogers that he is willing to fund him during a time of identity crisis; a time when the government has given him an ultimatum -- be Captain America our way or not at all.

Dunphy joins with other Cap allies (Falcoln, Nomad and Nomad's girlfriend, Vagabond) to continue being a hero -- even if he has to assume a secret identity. Dunphy goes so far to get his tailor to cook some new threads for Rogers to fight crime in.

So that part of me that wants to look towards the end of the book to get an indication of the future decided to do some research. See, it occurred to me that with the wave of merchandise, abundance of Marvel Comics paraphernalia in mainstream culture thanks to the recent influx of blockbuster films ... I wondered why the name of Demolition Man was not bouncing off the consciousness of men, women, boys and girls all across the nation.

Why? Because at some point, some writer or editor got lazy. They disbanded this impromptu band of brothers, made Demolition Man lesser than and eventually erased him from the Marvel Universe altogether. No spoilers here. Do your own reseach.

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An Argument Favoring Graphic Novels

My never ending problem with collecting comic books in my later years deals with snap decisions that change the entire status quo of 75 years of history. Not amazing undertakings like Crisis on Infinite Earths (though I had some problems with this, namely the death of Supergirl) or Civil War where every hero was required to register their secret identities, supposedly for the good of the trust of mankind in super powered beings. No, I mean taking the easy way; making stupid editorial moves in order to boost sales, or make brand new fans by angering all of the core fans that helped to build the house that you are creating from.

How dare you kill off Peter Parker and replace him with Dr. Octopus? How dare you end Peter and MJ's marriage, have their baby kidnapped, give her a series in another future continuity, make fans love her, then cancel her book and make some other chick the Amazing Spider Girl? Seriously? What are you guys smoking?

You killed off Supergirl, brought her back as an alien with no relation to Superman, bring her back again as his cousin as originally created with a great run of books, but then you reboot the whole universe and change her personality again. Seriously?

Turning Jason Todd from a nice kid to a brat, having the Joker kill him, but then bringing him back years later as the Joker's former criminal alias ... Oh, did I mention that everything the character was supposed to be originally was repackaged in the form of Tim Drake --- probably the best version of Robin the Boy Wonder. And let's not forget that the original Robin never received his own book until he changed his identity from Robin to Nightwing. Can you tell that I don't like it when people tamper with history?

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The Final Analysis

What it comes down to is ... If you have a preference for a certain incarnation of your favorite hero or you preferred storylines, graphic novels are the way to go.

With graphic novels, like any good work of fiction, you are allowed to travel back in time and relive your favorite moments over and over again. And that's the path I'm choosing. Thank you and good night.

TruSoulDJ is a self proclaimed expert on all things trivial to the Mainstream. He is an avid classic comic book reader, non popular music lover and tv-show-on-dvd binge watcher who shops the clearance racks near and far to find the best deals. He would like to think he knows everything important within the realm of Pop culture. But in actuality, he only knows about 99.9 percent of what he thinks he knows.

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