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Five Essential John Romita Jr. Comic Book Runs

This week, legendary comics artist John Romita Jr. visits the Comic Book Men. In honor of his surprise appearance at the Stash, here are our picks of Romita Jr.’s most iconic creative runs:

1. Daredevil: Man Without Fear, written by Frank Miller
Anyone who knows anything about comics will tell you that The Man Without Fear is one of the most influential miniseries. The comic is a retelling of Matt Murdock’s beginning, and often cited to as one of the best Daredevil stories ever written. Romita brings out the best from Frank Miller’s impressive Daredevil origin story; his panels are stunningly detailed and vibrant, and his fight scenes are bursting with wild, frenetic energy. The story ends with an iconic two-page spread of Daredevil leaping above the city, trailed by an homage to all the Matt Murdock’s works of the past.

2. The Uncanny X-Men, written by Chris Claremont
Chris Claremont’s The Uncanny X-Men brought the mutants to the forefront of the Marvel Universe, introducing characters like Storm, Nightcrawler and Phoenix, and memorable storylines like the revelation that Magneto and Professor Xavier were once friends. Romita’s harsh, vibrant illustrations — along with Claremont’s added depth to the mutant world — helped push the X-Men (and, it can be argued, comic books in general) into the broody and iconic Bronze Age.

3. Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton
Demon in a Bottle deals with Tony Stark’s alcoholism in a mature, surprisingly human way. In the ’70s, villains wore capes and masks, and threatened whole cities. Here was a different sort of demon, and its influence over Tony Stark has defined the character for decades.

4. Kick-Ass, written by Mark Millar
In many ways, Kick-Ass is the anti-superhero story; it’s more of a commentary on the insanity of the comic book universe than a vigilante story. Kick-Ass tells the story of high schooler Dave Lizewski, his frustration with crime and injustice, and his rise to superhero stardom (with the help of fellow vigilantes Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, of course). Romita’s blood-soaked teen killers make it clear that one would have to be crazy to put on a suit and hunt bad guys. The comic was adapted into a 2010 film of the same name starring Aaron Johnson (pictured above), Chloë Grace Moretz and Nicolas Cage.

5. Wolverine: Enemy of the State, written by Mark Millar
Enemy of the State marks the first time Romita collaborated with Mark Millar, and to fans of Wolverine, the partnership was a home run. Considered by many to be one of the best Wolverine stories ever written, Enemy of the State finds Wolverine brainwashed and acting out as one of the deadliest supervillains in the Marvel Universe. Romita’s iconic, gritty visuals mesh quite well with an evil Wolverine.

Read a Q&A with John Romita Jr. here.

Comic Book Men airs Sundays at Midnight/11c.

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