Top 100 Comic Book Runs #85-81
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85. Sergio AragonÃ©s and Mark Evanier’s Groo – 110 points (1 first place vote)
Groo #1-8 (Pacific), Groo Special #1 (Eclipse), Groo #1-120 (Epic/Marvel), Groo #1-12 (Image), Groo #1-4, Groo and Rufferto #1-4, Groo: Mightier Than the Sword #1-4, Groo: Hell on Earth #1-4 (Dark Horse)
Groo might very well be the best comic book that is based on essentially one joke – Groo the Wanderer is a Conan the Barbarian parody who wanders the world and constantly getting into trouble due to his stupidity. That’s the plot of basically every issue of Groo.
Groo wanders in to a situation, and because of his stupidity, hilarity ensues.
But Sergio AragonÃ©s and Mark Evanier are so talented that they make that one joke seem totally different in each issue.
Perhaps the biggest treat in every issue of Groo is AragonÃ©s’ artwork, which is so detailed that it is like you are viewing an actual cartoon world in each issue. And AragonÃ©s and Evanier fill that cartoon world with so many interesting characters for Groo to interact with, most notably being Rufferto (Groo’s dog) and the Sage (who says the smart things the reader is likely thinking).
The book has a ton of gags that it has repeated on and off for over twenty-five years, but the stories are so fun, that Groo seems as fresh today as it did when it began in 1982.
Twenty-five years of hilarity is quite a feat!!
83. Lee and Kirby’s Thor/Tales of Asgard – 112 points (1 first place vote)
Journey Into Mystery #97-125, Thor #126-177,179
As great of a creator as Jack Kirby was, he was that much better when he actually felt a specific interest in the work he was doing, so readers of Journey Into Mystery and Thor were quite lucky that Kirby definitely seemed to be into the idea of the gods of Asgard!
Neither Lee nor Kirby even worked on the original Thor stories in Journey Into Mystery, but both slowly worked their way into the comic, and starting in #97, they worked on every issue together for about eighty issues, all told.
In their very first issue together, they began what they are probably most known for during their run, their classic “Tales of Asgard” backup, which allowed them to expand the mythology of Thor and Asgard. All the work Walt Simonson did on Thor would have been for naught if Lee and Kirby had not established all the great characters and situations they did during their run. And that’s just counting the Asgardian characters! When you factor in the characters they introduced when they began working on the superhero stories of Thor as well as the Tales of Asgard and the results are legendary.
Here’s a sampling of some of the characters Lee and Kirby introduced during this run –
Sif, The Warriors Three, Hercules, Surtur, The Enchantress, The Destroyer, The Wrecker, The Absorbing Man, The Grey Gargoyle
And that’s just the main guys!!
The run ended when Kirby left to lay the groundwork for a whole NEW generation of gods, the New Gods of the Fourth World.
83. Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch – 112 points (1 first place vote)
Stormwatch Vol. 1 #37-51, Stormwatch Vol. 2 #1-10, WildC.A.T.S / Aliens #1
Talk about a turnaround!!
When Warren Ellis took over Stormwatch with 1996′s #37, the book was by no means a disaster. In fact, it was one of the few Wildstorm books to make it as far as #37. However, the book was pretty standard fare (I did like both Jeff Mariotte and Ron Marz’s runs on the title) until Warren Ellis became the book’s writer, and in one of the more compelling in-continuity turnarounds of a comic book, totally revamped the style of the comic book.
The book was still a superhero book, but it was darker and edgier, and the characters had a great deal more depth to them.
What I was impressed with when this run debuted was how well Ellis worked with past Stormwatch continuity. I figured he’d jettison all the established characters and just use new characters, but instead, he used the established characters beautifully, particularly Winter, Battalion and Henry Bendix.
Of course, towards the end of his run, Bendix became the main villain of the piece, and then, after a faltered beginning to Volume 2 (where the book was definitely hurt by the planned series artist not coming out on time), Ellis decided to scrap the book and go for a brand new title, so he…well…he jettisoned all the established characters in WildC.A.T.S/Aliens #1 (by having most of them be murdered by aliens) and started over with the new characters he had introduced in Stormwatch (plus one character from before his run, Swift) in a new book called The Authority.
Some voters felt that Stormwatch and The Authority are the same run – I don’t see that at all (and most voters didn’t, either, as I mostly got votes for either Stormwatch or Authority), so if someone said “Stormwatch/The Authority,” I split the points between both titles.
81. Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix – 113 points (2 first place votes)
X-Force #116-129, X-Statix #1-26 (Allred
Talk about a turnaround!
X-Force came about from the work of Rob Liefeld, but Liefeld had long departed the scene by the time X-Force #115 came out, which was part of a short “X-Revolution” revamp that involved Warren Ellis revamping titles and having other writers follow him up on the book. X-Force had Ian Edgington follow Ellis on a Black Ops take on X-Force that ended in #115 with all the team supposedly dying.
On that cheery note, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred entered the scene with #116 with an X-Force that no one had ever seen before, and it was good.
X-Force was now a bunch of publicity-seeking mutant heroes who were looking to cash in on their fame before they inevitably died during battle. The first issue’s team was almost all killed, including team leader, Zeitgeist, who secretly planned for the rest of the team to be killed.
The only two surviving members were Anarchist and U-Go-Girl. Along with incoming team leader, The Orphan (Mister Sensitive), these three members would become the nucleus upon which X-Force would revolve upon, although one of the three would die before the book was relaunched under the new name, X-Statix.
X-Statix was a lot more satirical than X-Force (and, heck, most comics, period), and as they say, “Satire is what closes on Saturday night,” so it should come as no surprise that this run ended prematurely with issue #26.
81. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Sleeper – 113 points (2 first place votes)
Sleeper #1-12, Sleeper: Season Two #1-12
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips turned the concept of superheroes and supervillains upside down with their two volumes of Sleeper, which is about a government operative who is a “sleeper” undercover operative in a supervillain group. The only problem is that the only guy who knows that he IS an undercover agent is in a coma!
So Holden Carver has to make his way in the world of supervillainy while questioning what exactly is the difference between being a “good guy” and a “bad guy”?
The main villain is named Tao, who was introduced during Alan Moore’s Wildcats run. During the series, Brubaker introduced many different supervillains, often going out of his way to come up with more and more bizarre powers (like the villain who gained powers if she was near gay men), but one of the strange powers characters became one of the best characters in the book, Miss Misery, a villain who became a villain because of her particular constitution – if she is “good,” she becomes weak, and could die – she gains strength by doing bad things.
Sean Phillips’ art is a perfect accentuation to Brubaker’s grimy world of supervillains, as the noir feel of Phillips’ artwork fits this style of story to a tee. It is not at all surprising to note that both men are doing wonderful current work in this exact field – the world of criminals, in their Icon title, Criminal.
That’s it for today!
Check back tomorrow for the next ten!!