The Classic Comics Forum has started their "12 Days of Classic Comics Christmas" event. This year, people are posting their 12 favorite single issues. You can follow along at classiccomics.boards.net/board…
My choices for Day 1 and 2:
1) Justice League of America #61 (1968)
I don't recall where I picked up a beat-to-hell copy of this back issue, but it instantly became one of my favorite JLA stories, and remains so to this day. It's typical of Gardner Fox's scripts in that it's convoluted, contrived, and more than a little ridiculous, yet completely enthralling. Green Arrow announces to the rest of the team that he's quitting and going into hiding for reasons he can't reveal. The rest of the JLAers decide that they will all dress up as Green Arrow in order to draw out whatever menace is after him. This backfires spectacularly, as each disguised hero ends up getting defeated by one of their own villains (the Penguin, Luthor, Plant Master, Captain Boomerang, et. al.). And in a further twist, the villains somehow switch identities with the heroes, so the JLAers all end up in jail. Eventually the real Green Arrow manages to sort things out, and the story ends with a big sprawling hero-vs.-villain free-for-all. Great goofy fun from Fox and Sekowsky.
2) Captain America #153 (1972)
I had already seen Captain America in reruns of the "Merry Marvel Marching Society" cartoons, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that there were comic books about him, too. I couldn't have picked a better jumping-on point: This was the first issue of Steve Englehart's legendary run, and served as a great introduction to Cap and his supporting cast. Nick Fury shows up at Steve Rogers' apartment, spoiling for a fight because he thinks (mistakenly) that Cap is making a play for his girlfriend Val. As the two battle, we find out there are deeper layers to Fury's resentment: As a career military man, he considers Cap a dilletante, working with SHIELD only when it suits him. And perhaps most importantly, he's jealous becasue they're both WWII veterans, but Cap was frozen for 20 years and is therefore still young. Once all the cards are on the table, they're able to finally come to terms before they knock each others' blocks off. Heroes working out their emotional problems by fighting is a Marvel Comics cliche, but this was certainly a deeper level of characterization than I was used to in my entertainment. This issue also has one of the all-time great cliffhangers, with the Falcon running into an "evil" Captain America and Bucky, who the narrative captions assure us are not any kind of robots, aliens, or imposters. Needless to say, I was hooked!