web stats

CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #65-61

Here are the next five runs in the countdown of the top 100 favorite runs, based on the votes of about 700 readers of Comics Should Be Good, who chose their favorite runs, voted for them, I tabulated the results, and now we’re counting them down.

Enjoy!

65. Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s Batman – 146 points (2 first place votes)

Detective Comics #583-594, 601-621, 627, Batman #455-466, 470-476, Shadow of the Bat #1-5

As I related in an installment of Urban Legends Revealed, when Alan Grant began his run on Detective Comics with co-writer, John Wagner, the two were not even making royalties on the comic, that’s how low Detective Comics was selling. Then the Batman movie hit, and suddenly, the books were goldmines again.

So to a whole generation of new Batman readers, the creative team of Alan Grant (Wagner left right before the movie kicked in) and artist Norm Breyfogle were their introduction to the world of Batman, and what an introduction it was!

Grant’s specialty during his run on Detective Comics was to introduce new Batman characters, including the memorable Ventriloquist and Scarface, Cornelius Stirk, Anarky and more.

Breyfogle’s stylized Batman soon became the Batman for the aforementioned new generation of Batman fans, and Breyfogle’s professionalism did him proud, as well, as he did an extraordinary amount of issues in a day and age when six monthly issues in a row is an achievement.

DC moved the pair from Detective to their flagship book, Batman, in 1990, where they introduced the new costume for Robin (designed by Neal Adams, but first drawn by Breyfogle).

In 1992, DC launched a brand new Batman book, The Shadow of the Bat, which was, in a way, a bit of a make-up for taking the pair off of Detective Comics right before #600 (imagine the royalties on that baby! The 600th issue of Batman right after the movie came out? Yowsa!), as a new Batman comic on the eve of the Batman film sequel was a good combination.

In this arc, their last sustained effort on Batman together, they introduced their last memorable new villain, the sadistic Mr. Zsasz.

64. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – 148 points (2 first place votes)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1-6, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2 #1-6, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier Original Graphic Novel

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the ultimate Wold Newton experience, as writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill have put together a team of heroes consisting of characters from notable works of fiction, all from the same time period.

In the initial team, there was Mina Murray (from Dracula), Mr. Hyde (duh), The Invisible Man (again, duh), Captain Nemo (still duh) and Allan Quatermain (perhaps not duh).

What was notable about the book was the attention to detail. O’Neill made sure to draw the book as though it was set during the late 1890s, and Moore made sure to fit all of the stories so that they would flow fairly seamlessly with the actual stories, based on when they were published (Moore would later do much of the same with his Lost Girls series).

In addition, the story was filled to the brim with little references to other stories, be it Poe or Pollyanna.

If this were not enough, the stories were just plain interesting in and of themselves! They were awfully fun adventure stories, particularly in the second volume, where Moore integrates all the various depictions of Mars into one cohesive idea of the planet and its inhabitants, just in time for Mars to invade Earth.

Moore has announced plans to continue the League throughout time, keeping Quatermain and Murray as his constants (having given both of them a measure of immortality).

The book was originally published by DC, but now Top Shelf will make new installments.

There was a forgettable movie version made awhile back.

62. Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s Fantastic Four – 150 points (1 first place votes)

Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #60-70, Fantastic Four #500-524 (Wieringo as artist of 27 of the 36 issues)

The Fantastic Four was Mark Waid’s triumphant return to Marvel, after some time at DC and Crossgen.

His run, along with the late, great Mike Wieringo, tried to inject new life and verve into the world of the Fantastic Four, through way-out stories and superheroics that were truly fantastic.

After introducing some new characters in his first few issues, Waid probably made his most notable addition to the Fantastic Four mythos when he revamped Doctor Doom, having the power-mad villain kill his childhood love to gain mystical powers, including a new suit of armor made out of her flesh (gruesome, eh?).

At the end of the battle, Doom was left in hell, so Waid had a story where the Fantastic Four essentially take over Doom’s country of Latveria to dispose of Doom’s weapon stock – this does not go over well with the governments of the world. Meanwhile, Doom also returns as a ghost of sorts, and after a kerfluffle, the Fantastic Four are forced to travel to heaven itself to win back the soul of a deceased member of the team.

This trip to heaven includes a nod to Jack Kirby (having him be God).

Later stories included a Galactus story, where Galactus becomes human for a time.

Waid and Wieringo were then to launch a Spider-Man title together, but that fell through for whatever reason.

62. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets – 150 points (3 first place votes)

100 Bullets #1-current (#89)

At first glance, 100 Bullets was a simple concept. A guy named Agent Graves would come up to people with an attache case containing a gun with 100 bullets, plus a photograph of a target, including proof that the target was responsible for whatever woes existed in the person’s life. The offer? Use the gun to get revenge, and if you use the bullets given, you will never be arrested for the crime.

This was the simple concept at first, as Graves went to random people making the offer, and each person would have different reactions to the offer.

However, over time, readers learn that there is a method to the seemingly random offers, and it all ties to a msysterious group called the Minutemen who are tied to an equally mysterious Trust.

Writer Brian Azzarello has created a sprawling and engaging mystery comic that will truly take the full 100 issues alloted to him to tell the whole story, which is an impressively ambitious feat on his part.

Azzarello’s partner in crime is artist Eduardo Risso, who is a master of noir art, so he fits in perfectly on this style of comic. When I say partner, I mean partner, as the two have worked together on every single issue of 100 Bullets, which is an impressive level of commitment by DC to the creative team, as they are on a schedule of “when you get the issues done, you get them done.”

In fact, the book even went on hiatus for a time when the entire creative team (colorist, letterer, editor, all of them) took over Batman for six months when DC hired Azzarello and Risso to do an arc of Batman.

This is a book made by a creative team that cares about each other.

The story of the comic is filled with characters that readers grow to care about, even if they are enigmatic and hard to understand.

I must not forget to mention cover artist, Dave Johnson, who is as much a part of the book’s success as anyone else, with his absolutely stunning cover work.

When this comic ends within the next year or so at #100, we will be losing one of the best crime comics out there. I hope Azzarello and Risso have something worked up for a follow-up.

61. Bob Layton and David Michelinie’s 1st Run on Iron Man – 152 points (2 first place votes)

Iron Man #114-157

When David Michelinie and Bob Layton took over the writing chores on Iron Man, it was in the middle of a storyline – so they were not even in control of the plot they were writing. By the time they left the book, however, they had more than made their stamp on the title.

Easily the most memorable aspect of their run was their storyline where they had Tony Stark develop a problem with alcoholism. The “Demon in a Bottle” storyline was one of the most notable stories of the 1980s, resulting in one of the very first trade paperback collections (along with Dark Phoenix Saga) of a modern comic book story.

If all they did was the “Demon in a Bottle” story, Layton and David Michelinie’ would be notable, but their run had plenty of other notable stories, highlighted throughout by strong artwork, first by John Romita Jr., and eventually by Bob Layton himself.

Even before he began penciling the book, Layton’s strong inks gave the book a consistent feel, no matter who was drawing the book.

Their run had a great deal of memorable action stories, as the pair attempted to develop Tony Stark more, and in doing so, developed a new creation of theirs, Stark pilot and friend, James Rhodes. Rhodey would become important during their run, and would become even MORE important after they left, as he would fill in for Tony as Iron Man for awhile. Besides Rhodey, the writing pair stressed Tony’s ass-kicking girlfriend, Bethany Cabe.

During the run, Michelinie and Layton also introduced Justin Hammer, the rich industrialist who was secretly funding all the low-level supervillains who used technology for their powers.

Towards the end of their first run (they would return four or so years after they left for an extended second run, during which they would have the noted Armor Wars storyline, and debuted a new Iron Man armor), Layton and Michelinie had one of their most notable stories, which was just reprinted this past week (and a sequel to the story is due out next week), where Iron Man and Doctor Doom were trapped in the time of King Arthur. It was a total classic.

Just like their run.

61 Comments

I expected LoEG to rank higher. Still nothing from my list.

Wow, it’s surprising to see Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle up there. It’s a fantastic read, but I’d virtually forgotten all about it. :D Definitely comics I’ll have to pull out again.

I had hoped the Grant/Breyfogle Batman pairing would be higher up. Definitely the strongest run the character has had in years and for the life of me I can’t understand why DC won’t collect this in trade.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 11, 2008 at 3:33 am

I would have thought that 100 Bullets and LofEG would both be higher up.

Lots of outstanding work in this installment!

Dark Knight Returns had primed me to return to comics, which led (via Batman: Year One in Batman) to collecting ‘Tec at the beginning of the Grant/Breyfogle run. It was a wonderful way to be re-introduced to the Bat! Ventriloquist was one of the best new Bat-villains of the decade, and I was sad to see Wesker get killed a while back, in the middle of what seemed a period of Bat-management dedicated to undoing or anulling everything Denny O’Neil’s tenure as writer and editor had wrought (Ra’s Al Ghul and Ventriloqusit dying, and Jason Todd(!) coming back to life(!!!), etc.).

The Doom revamp issue of FF was one of Waid/Weiringo’s career highlights, up there with the return of Barry Allen (the latter of had me dying of suspense as it was coming out).

Michilinie/Layton’s Iron Man was one of Marvel’s jewels in the crown, too.

Argh, I totally forgot about Alan Grant’s Batman

Historical fanboy notes; Grant and Breyfogle also presided over the introduction of Tim Drake as Robin, with Breyfogle designing Tim’s costume.

Waid’s involvement in the launch of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was cut off, I believe, by his involvement in Infinite Crisis and 52.

When I was starting to collect back issues of Detective, I needed a good starting pointing (since there are way too many issues!) so I chose the Grant/Breyfogle era. I’ve slowly been filling in the gaps, and have been pleasantly surprised how well they stand up today. It’s a shame that they seem to be the only ones capable of (or interested in) writing Anarky – I really liked him. Hopefully someone else will pick up on him in the future.

Michael –
Tim Drake was introduced as Robin in “A Lonely Place of Dying,” written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Jim Aparo.
Neal Adams designed the costume, but as it says above, Breyfogle was the first to draw it in a story.

Finally something from my list. I expected LoEG to be much higher as well, maybe that’s just hubris since it’s on my list though.

Huh. This is the first installment with nothing I’ve read and nothing I’ve ever wanted to read.

Lemon Scented Yeti

April 11, 2008 at 6:44 am

There should be a minimum amount of issues for something to be considered a run. Like around 20. LoEG is 13 or so. I hardly consider that a run.

New Totals:

We have 42 runs so far (and 4956 pts)

– 18 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (2167 pts)
– 5 runs are set in the DC Universe (590 pts)
– 4 are Vertigo comics (507 pts)
– 3 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (342 pts)

– 34 are superheroes or close enough (4092 pts)
– 8 are non-superhero (864 pts)

Sorted by decade the first issue in the run was published, we have:

– 1980s (14 runs – 1639 pts)
– 2000s (11 runs – 1323 pts)
– 1990s (9 runs – 1114 pts)
– 1970s (4 runs – 456 pts)
– 1960s (3 runs – 329 pts)
– 1940s (1 run – 95 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Chris Claremont (5 runs – 638 pts)
– Alan Moore (2 runs – 287 pts)
– Peter Milligan (2 runs – 255 pts)
– Ed Brubaker (2 runs – 235 pts)
– Brian Michael Bendis (2 runs – 235 pts)
– Stan Lee (2 runs – 220 pts)
– Warren Ellis (2 runs – 215 pts)
– David Michelinie (152 pts)
– Bob Layton (152 pts)
– Mark Waid (150 pts)
– Mike Wieringo (150 pts)
– Brian Azzarello (150 pts)
– Eduardo Risso (150 pts)
– Kevin O’Neill (148 pts)
– Alan Grant (146 pts)
– Norm Breyfogle (146 pts)
– Peter David (140 pts)
– Michael Avon Oeming (134 pts)
– Paul Smith (133 pts)
– Marc Silvestri (133 pts)
– Christopher Priest (130 pts)
– Greg Rucka (122 pts)
– Alan Davis (122 pts)
– Paul Chadwick (120 pts)
– John Byrne (119 pts)
– Joe Casey (117 pts)
– Robert Kirkman (115 pts)
– Mike Carey (114 pts)
– Peter Gross (114 pts)
– Ryan Kelly (114 pts)
– Mike Allred (113 pts)
– Sean Phillips (113 pts)
– Jack Kirby (112 pts)
РSergio Aragon̩s (110 pts)
– Mark Evanier (110 pts)
– Roy Thomas (109 pts)
– Jim Starlin (109 pts)
– Steve Ditko (108 pts)
– Mark Gruenwald (107 pts)
– John Romita Jr. (106 pts)
– Mike Grell (104 pts)
– Stuart Immonen (103 pts)
– Garth Ennis (101 pts)
– Michael Gaydos (101 pts)
– Kazuo Koike (100 pts)
– Goseki Kojima (100 pts)
– Denny O’Neil (99 pts)
– Denys Cowan (99 pts)
– Matt Wagner (98 pts)
– Stan Sakai (98 pts)
– Terry Moore (96 pts)
– Chris Ware (95 pts)
– Doug Moench (95 pts)
– Jack Cole (95 pts)

Now that’s more like it! Yeah! Good comics. Breyfogle’s Batman was on my runner-up list.

BUT, I gotta say, now that we’ve seen both Michelinie and Gruenwald show up, there had BETTA be some MANTLO comin’. I mean, if we’re the including the “humble workhorses” of Marvel in the ’80s, he’s the best there was. There IS some Mantlo coming up, right? Right?

What the shortest run we’ve had? It has to be Paul Smith’s 9 and a half issues of X-Men, right?

I’m very familiar with 3 out of 5 of these. I’m a little bit surprised to see Grant and Breyfogle here, even though I LOVED that Detective/Batman run.

Bob Layton’s Iron Man is the definitive look for the character. I don’t know how he does it, but his inks actually look metallic!

I considered the Grant/Breyfogle run but left it off since I haven’t read all of it (one of those rules I placed on myself to help narrow things down).

LofEG was fantastic, especially the concept, but I didn’t vote for it since it didn’t meet my personal definition of a run. And I figured it didn’t really need my support.

I greatly enjoyed the Galactus story in Waid/Wieringo’s FF, but then, I’m a sucker for Galactus stories.

If I had voted for an Iron Man run, it probably would have been Armor Wars, but the first Layton/Michelinie run was still all kinds of good stuff, though that’s another one I haven’t read completely.

100 Bullets has been near the top of my “seriously, why haven’t you read this yet?” pile for a good long while, but somehow keeps getting passed over. I even have the first couple trades laying around…

Never cared for the Grant/Breyfogle Batman personally, but I think you could’ve chosen a Breyfogle cover to represent the run, Brian.

I’d also disagree with the idea of LOEG fitting “seamlessly” into the original stories when Moore had to say that Hyde, Nemo, the Invisible Man and Quatermain ALL faked their deaths just to have the book be possible.

Still enjoying the list, in spite of hardly any of my choices making it. Will there be any sort of round-up of the runners up?

CHRIS W.: Effectively drawing metal is all about high-contrast. If you look at shaped, reflective metal side by side with the same shape of another material, the way the light reflects is WAY different. With just about everything else, light has a gradual blending from light to dark, with small reflections underneath. Hard corners are the exceptions. With metal, extreme light & dark are side by side. There are always points of extreme reflection at the point where the light source reflects directly into the viewers eye. It’s a tricky thing to pull off effectively and consistantly.

Knowing this, anf that Layton could do it pretty much every time, he’s really under-rated as a comic artist. His anatomy & proportions are always dead-on, and he can do these difficult techniques like clockwork.

Hey Cronin – How ’bout a Layton Appreciation Day?

Somewhat surprised to see Detective this high (though I love Breyfogle’s art) and a little surprised to see LoEG this low.

Grant /Breyfogle made my list. Like many people, it was when I started collecting Batman comics, thanks to the movie. I still love them to this day, and have been searching for some good original Breyfogle Batman artwork for a while now. I would have thought it would place higher, but reading the comments it seems like a lot of people overlooked it. Just glad it showed up.

I loved the first 5 trades of 100 Bullets, but since I’ve been buying it as singles it doesn’t hold up as well. Once it’s all done I need to just go back and read them straight through. It definitely doesn’t read as well in one issue bites, even though overall it is a great story. Although Agent Graves has only given the case with 100 bullets in it to what, maybe one person in the last 40 issues?

Two more of mine have shown up… 100 BULLETS and LOEG. So of course I expected them higher….

Seriously, I could be proven wrong as this continues, but I would think that mainstream super heroes will be dominate most of the top positions, and that is why books like this slipped down. (As others have said, since these are in my top ten, I’m probably biased.)

In the case of LOEG though, it could be as low as it is because people weren’t sure if they could put it into their list. I mean, I know I wasn’t sure and put a replacement title in just in case.

JR

Avengers63: thanks for the detailed description of Layton’s technique, which makes me admire him all the more. Another great list segment, and I’m happily surprised to see the Waid FF here. And as an Iron Man geek, I’m always happy to read about Michelinie and Layton (although I thought that run might place a little higher, to be honest).

One request: under the issue runs, could you maybe place the dates they ran? You mention this sometimes in the text (“So and so started in 1990…” or whatever), but as someone who’s always curious to know when things came out and to get a sense of history and context, I’d love to see it run with every entry.

Okay, I’m sorry, but I have to cry foul. LOEG was clearly a mini series. The covers even say”…of 6″. Unlike Top Ten and the other ABC books, which were open ended, LOEG was always solicited and marketed as a mini series. By the criteria we were given, this should NOT be included.

“LOEG was always solicited and marketed as a mini series. By the criteria we were given, this should NOT be included.”

“Series of mini-series” were specifically allowed.

Someone said it was too soon for discussing any “Marvel-bias”, and I agree. But Marvel runs (particularly Jim Shooter-era runs) are consistently scoring much higher than most people expected. Michelinie’s Iron Man beating League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? New Mutants beating Top 10? I mean, I’m glad to see Michelinie’s Iron Man here. It’s probably the best Iron Man ever, and also the best thing Michelinie ever wrote, but…

It invites thought.

I guess that, unlike professional critics, many fans just vote with their hearts. The Marvel superheroes have always inspired a deep love in some fans. I always thought that the DC heroes are characters you look up to, while the Marvel heroes are characters you feel for. It can’t be denied that the combination of superpowers and soap opera-ish personal troubles strikes a deep chord when it’s done right.

I also thought League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Top 10 would rank higher. But it may be because Alan Moore has so many great stuff, that many people left his “lesser” works out of their lists. Or maybe because many considered these works as mini-series (even though Brian DID say “series of mini-series” are eligible as runs).

And none of my picks has appeared yet.

very cool list. Thanks for doing this again Cronin. After the top characters, I would have thought you’d have avoided this sort of insanity again.

Rene,
Thanks for doing the number crunching. Could you count the x-titles and bat-titles separately (in addition to the marvel and dc totals)? I thought it was interesting that each accounts for roughly 40% of their universes’ runs on the list. (bat-titles are 2/5 and x-titles are 7/18)

I’m actually surprised that the x-men are showing up in such large numbers so low on the list. I thought that run of new mutants and some of those x-men would be higher. No spiderman yet, but I expect we’ll see more later on.

Like a number of others, I didn’t think to count the League oEG since it was a mini-series. (Even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have voted because while I really enjoyed the first one, but haven’t picked up the third volume up.)

Historical fanboy notes; Grant and Breyfogle also presided over the introduction of Tim Drake as Robin, with Breyfogle designing Tim’s costume.

Which is a funny note to make after I noted in the above piece that he didn’t. ;)

He did draw it first, though! :)

Waid’s involvement in the launch of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was cut off, I believe, by his involvement in Infinite Crisis and 52.

Thanks, that makes sense.

Never cared for the Grant/Breyfogle Batman personally, but I think you could’ve chosen a Breyfogle cover to represent the run, Brian.

Hehe, I did, John. Check it out!

Okay, I’m sorry, but I have to cry foul. LOEG was clearly a mini series. The covers even say”…of 6″. Unlike Top Ten and the other ABC books, which were open ended, LOEG was always solicited and marketed as a mini series. By the criteria we were given, this should NOT be included.

Besides the “series of mini-series” rule, I’d point out that they were, indeed, marketed as an ongoing series. It was just an ongoing series that everyone knew Kevin O’Neill could not draw too much of, so they split it up into a series of mini-series (which switched to original graphic novels afterwards).

There should be a minimum amount of issues for something to be considered a run. Like around 20. LoEG is 13 or so. I hardly consider that a run.

As I think I pointed out at the time, everyone considers Roger Stern and John Byrne to have had a “run” on Captain America (and a very nice one, at that), right?

So I figured any issue restriction had to be low enough so as to count that as a run. They did about 10 issues, but I made the limit 6.

So what are peoples’ predictions for the top ten? Lee/Ditko Spidey, Lee/Kirby FF, O’Neil/Adams Batman, DeMatteis/Giffen JLI (maybe top 25)? Jeff Smith/ Bone (not sure on this one)? And we still have to hit all the Morrison stuff.

If we’re making predictions, I’d say too that Byrne’s FF is gonna be up there, as will Kirby’s Fourth World and Gaiman’s Sandman

Once again, I still haven’t seen any of my picks turn up!

At least I have some familiarity with each of the runs in this installment. Some time ago — about two years, or a bit less? — I read the first TPB collection of “100 Bullets” and didn’t care for it at all.

To be perfectly frank, I never really liked the way Breyfoggle drew Batman — although I have liked his art better on some other stuff — and I usually wasn’t all that crazy about Grant’s scripts for the character, either.

I can more easily understand why each of the other 3 runs mentioned above got enough votes to place in the Top 100, even though none of them were on my short list of the most serious contenders for slots on my ballot. Come to think of it, it’s been several years since I read the Michelinie/Layton efforts on Iron Man straight through, and while I still remember the early stuff that built up to “Demon in a Bottle” pretty well (I’ve got the relevant TPB somewhere), I find I have trouble remembering just what happened in the next couple of years after it! Maybe it’s time to dig out those back issues and refresh my memory?

On the possibility of a Marvel or DC bias, I’ll just say this:

I dug out a copy of my ballot the other night and did some counting by company. It turns out I voted for 4 DC runs, 2 Marvel runs, and 4 runs from other companies (a different publisher for each!). I didn’t have any sort of “quota” system for Marvel or DC; it just turned out that way. There were several other Marvel runs on my “short list” that all had serious chances of making it into my personal Top Ten.

So the question is: Are some or all of my 4 picks from DC still going to score high, in later installments? If so, then we may see the apparent imbalance get itself straightened out.

I have three of mine listed already: Strangers in Paradise, Ennis’s Hellblazer, and 100 Bullets.

I didn’t think that Top 10 would be in this category, more in the limited series list. Heh.

To answer Da Fug, my predictions for top 10 (in no order):

Peter David: Incredible Hulk
Neil Gaiman: The Sandman
Alan Moore: Swamp Thing
Lee/Ditko: Spider-Man
Lee/Kirby: Fantastic Four
Claremont/Byrne: Uncanny X-Men
Ellis/Hitch: The Authority
Miller: Daredevil

and if I had to guess the remaining two, I’d go between the following:

Morrison/Quitely: New X-Men
Miller: Sin City
Bendis/Bagley: Ultimate Spider-Man
Dave Sim: Cerebus
Vaughan/Guerrera: Y The Last Man

Those are guesses, not opinions

Good idea, Danar. I’ll do it right now, and post an appendix in this very same thread, hold on.

Regarding the Marvel bias: my experience with comics fans is that people who grew up reading Marvel books end up with a very strong preference for the Marvel brand names and other IP elements, even over preferences in subject matter and creative team. The Marvel zombie trend never died away, it simply became quieter.

People who grew up reading primarily DC seem to end up less attached to specific IP elements (probably a result of the Crisising and retconning), and instead often seem to let preferences for particular styles, subject matter, or creative teams inform their reading choices. Based on the limited data from this vote, I would assume that people with a Marvel affinity make up most of the comics-reading audience, and that the minority ends up diffusing a lot of money among Marvel, DC, and indy properties depending on taste.

Interestingly, I think this numerical minority of people with no particular affection for Marvel may be the majority of online bloggers and possibly columnists, while the Marvel-loving audience seems to dominate forums.

Yeah, I must be out of my mind, but I did a more complex breakdown of the votes, you guys tell me if I did the right choices by saying what is a traditional superhero comic and what isn’t, what is comedic and what isn’t, etc.

We have 42 runs so far (and 4956 pts)

– 18 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (2167 pts)
– 7 runs are X-Titles (X-Factor, New Mutants, Excalibur, 3 X-Men, X-Force – 991 pts)
– 5 runs are set in the DC Universe (590 pts)
– 2 runs are Bat-Titles (Gotham Central, Alan Grant – 268 pts)
– 4 are Vertigo comics (507 pts)
– 9 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (1042 pts)
– 3 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (342 pts)
– 2 run have female protagonists (Strangers in Paradise, Alias – 197 pts)

– 34 are superheroes or close enough (4092 pts)

– 16 are traditional superheroes (3 X-Men, Cap, Doc Strange, Avengers, Thor, Invincible, Superman, Excalibur, Black Panther, X-Factor, New Mutants, Batman, FF, Iron Man – 2026 pts)

– 18 are non-traditional superheroes (Shang Chi, Plas, Grendel, Question, Alias, Nextwave, Green Arrow, Warlock, Stormwatch, X-Force, Sleeper, Wildcats, Concrete, Gotham Central, Powers, Top 10, Shade, LOEG – 2056 pts)

– 8 are nonpowered superheroes (Shang Chi, Grendel, Question, Green Arrow, Cap, Gotham Central, Black Panther, Batman – 901 pts)

– 5 are comedic superheroes (Plas, Nextwave, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor – 573 pts)

– 15 are team books (Nextwave, 3 X-Men, Avengers, Stormwatch, X-Force, Wildcats, Gotham Central, Excalibur, X-Factor, Top 10, New Mutants, LOEG, FF – 1893 pts)

– 8 are non-superhero (864 pts)

Lynxara, I tend to agree with your analysis.

I grew up a Marvel Zombie, and while I think I’m far less fanatical than most (as I grew older I started to read a lot of DC Comics too, a lot of mature comics, etc.), I still tend to feel a certain loyalty to the Marvel characters. They’re just like old friends.

But my top 10 list isn’t all that dominated by Marvel. I have picked 4 Marvels, but they’re the bottom 4 of the list.

And yeah, I definetely agree also that online bloggers and columinists seem to come from this minority of comic book readers with no particular affinity for Marvel. There are two types of comics that tend to be most praised by the comic book critics: the goofy-but-fun DC Silver Age comics (and modern iterations that pay homage to them) and the mature, non-superhero comics. These two kinds usually get all the praise. Marvel-style comics usually are somewhere between goofy innocence and mature themes, and don’t get so much love.

The 1980s Marvel comics particularly seem to be loved by a big portion of the audience, and are also particularly ignored by the critics.

I read the first 5-7 trades of 100 Bullets before finally quitting cause I found the whole thing incomprehensible at some point. Of the readers who voted for 100 Bullets — is that something you liked in the series – the parsing of the narrative? Or was it just not confusing to you?

Lynxara: interesting observation. I would seem to fit your categorization of DC readers (and I thought I was wholly unique and original). To me, these Marvel runs are pretty entertaining, but are nowhere near the artistic level of writing and art found in the independent and Vertigo series showing up on the list with similar vote totals. I’d be curious how many of the 700 voters submitted lists with almost all Marvel superhero runs. I wouldn’t have expected that of regular CSBG readers. So maybe it’s not too early to consider the implications of Marvel-bias, as I suggested yesterday…

Number 1? Sandman? Doom Patrol? Flex Mentallo? Now I’m worried it might be Claremont/Byrne X-Men.

Anyway, it’s been fun following this list as it rolls out. Good idea not posting it all at once.

I’m betting on Sandman as number one. Flex Mentallo is just too obscure and probably isn’t on the top 100. Doom Patrol will be coming soon. Claremont/Byrne X-Men will probably make the top 10, but not the top 5.

And Flex is a miniseries. Oops, never mind. I’m most curious as to if/when Cerebus shows up.

“I read the first 5-7 trades of 100 Bullets before finally quitting cause I found the whole thing incomprehensible at some point. Of the readers who voted for 100 Bullets — is that something you liked in the series – the parsing of the narrative? Or was it just not confusing to you?”

I didn’t submit anything to the list, but 100 Bullets would have been my number one pick.

To me it reads more like a Noir version of the Wire (the acclaimed HBO series). Not so much in the story or plot, but the format. Watching one episode of the Wire doesn’t make you love the show. Its much slower paced and detailed than a typical “drama” on TV. But the story and the connections build and unfold over time and the more you watch it, the more you’re drawn in. And when things are revealed you can piece together what happened in the past and see it as a logical progression.

Now, some of 100 Bullets confused me. But it’s a build to reveals. Some of the things that were confusing, now make sense given what’s happened over time. Some of the other things remain confusing but we’re seeing the pieces fall into place and I’m pretty confident over the next 12 issues they will be resolved.

100 Bullets has an ending point, remember. Azz isn’t going to give away too much as he builds to it. I get the single issues but it does read better in trade (or by re-reading the arcs when they are done). I think the great thing that I love about 100 Bullets is that I can re-read it and learn new things or pick up new things each time.

slaz, I fit my stereotype of the DC reader, despite coming to comics through X-Men in the 90’s. I think I never got hooked into the wider Marvel universe because… well, I have no idea, but I got attached to DC thanks to Mark Waid’s various DC projects (yes, even Kingdom Come) and then quickly branched out into reading lots and lots of indy comics.

I love any Batman work by Grant and Breyfogle; as the article said when I started seriously reading the Bat (pre Burton) these guys were the guys who got me hooked; i don’t know whether it was because they were determined to not just mine the old villains we’d seen forever or the atmosphere they created in Gotham-but to me they did Batman perfectly.

Well, the X-Men in the 1990s aren’t something that will get you too hooked into Marvel, that is for sure…

Marvel has, historically, had a more cohesive universe. From Stan Lee to Chris Claremont, they’ve captured the feel of adolescent angst better than DC. Marvel’s had a more recognizable “house style” (watered down Kirby), while DC has been more diffuse. When DC tried to play catch up, they did so by bringing Marvel style angst with varied success (from the debacle of the ’70s Teen Titans to the success of the ’80s New Teen Titans).

Marvel was better at attracting and/or keeping the artists whose styles appealed to the adolescent male mindset (see: Jim Lee) in the ’80s and ’90s. Even though Suicide Squad, Green Arrow, and the Levitz & Giffen Legion were better written and technically better drawn than X-Men, the heavily-detailed, violent world of Marvel’s mutant titles caught the attention of pre-teen and teenage boys in the ’80s. That’s my take on the possible Marvel bias, anyway.

Plus they’ve been around a lot less, I mean Spider-Man and Fantastic Four are all from the 60’s, and Batman and Superman started in the Great Depression almost.

The thing was Marvel came out with semi-serious characterization , and took the whole thing seriously when Batman et el were still behaving like the Adam West TV show.

Kudos to Brian. When I saw the Grant/ Breyfogle run I did a double take. I mean, while what I have read of it’s fine…#65? Really? In the first sentence, Mr. Cronin explained it. I can’t begrudge anyone for havng a favorite not because it’s the BEST per se, it just has a warm place in their heart. (I’m not making fun, if it reads like I am.)

Also, I know I had that Fantastic 4 run on my list at some point, I just can’t remember if it ended up there.

Hah! Please! Attachment to Grant/Breyfogle’s Batman has nothing to do with sentiment. I grew up on Gerry Conway’s Batman ten years earlier, and I still love it, but those Grant/Breyfogle issues are simply Batman at his best, equalling even the Englehart/Rogers and O’Neill/Adams runs. It’s just high-quality comics: clever plots, iconic characterization, and dynamic, expressionistic pencils. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it, but don’t blame sentiment.

I had Grant/Beryfogles Batman on my ballot for almost one reason, Batman 471, it was the first issue I read by said creative team and in a time when characters mattered more than artists/writers I looked them up just to see who these cats were.

The thing that is so great about thier run is they are able to include things that, when used lazily are horrendus. In the aforementioned 471 we get an appereance of Ace the Bathound and your left thinking Batman having a dog is the coolest idea ever.

Rene said:

“- 2 run have female protagonists (Strangers in Paradise, Alias – 197 pts)”

While only two have exclusively female protagonists, plenty of the other books on the list do have female protagonists. All the team books do, and a few (NextWave, New Mutants, Excalibur, and some incarnations of the X-Men that I know of; I don’t know about some of the others) have more female than male protagonists. And Toy Box, Dizzy Cordova, Mina Murray, and Rene Montoya are clearly central characters in their books most of the time (Dizzy tends to fade in and out and I honestly have never read Gotham Central so I can’t say how much time Montoya gets compared to the other characters, but I’d argue Mina was the main protagonist of LotG and Toy Box was the POV character for Top 10).

Which isn’t to say that the list isn’t dominated by male characters; it clearly is (and I know Rene just pointed it out and didn’t decry it as sexist or anything). I just think it’s overstating the matter to say that only two books have female protagonists. Like counting the number of books with child protagonists and discounting Lone Wolf and Cub because one of them is an adult.

I grew up on Marvel comics, and even though for the past 10 years I’ve read way more DC than Marvel, I still feel like I’m more familiar with the Marvel characters. I think part of the reason so many people have such a strong affinity/bias for the Marvel characters is that they weren’t gods for the most part, just people. Superman, especially before the Byrne reboot, could do virtually anything. Same with Martian Manhunter. Green Lantern has a ring that let’s him do whatever he imagines. Those things might all be cool, but in my opinion they make for dull storytelling possibilities. Iron Man and Hulk and Spider-Man might all be powerful, but they have flaws, and they have weaknesses. So even though you know they’re going to win in the end, it can at least seem like they don’t have a chance. Not surprisingly, I guess, Batman is my favorite character overall, simply because he’s not a god. At least that’s my take on why there might be more of a Marvel bias amongst the comic book public in general.

Bernard the Poet

April 12, 2008 at 1:55 am

ZZZ, I understand what you are saying about the central role women play in the team books, but if you deduct the 15 teams from the list, you still have 25 male protagonists to 2 female protagonists. Furthermore when the countdown is completed, I’m betting that there will only be 3 female protagonists in the top 100 (Promethea will probably be in the early fifties). Surely, that is something that’s worth noting.

Bernard the Poet

April 12, 2008 at 2:20 am

Oh, I forgot Love and Rockets.

I’m betting that there will only be 4 female protagonists in the top 100.

Rene said:
“Well, the X-Men in the 1990s aren’t something that will get you too hooked into Marvel, that is for sure…”

My first encounter with the X-Men was due to their animated show and my first American comics were X-Men and Spider-Man in the mid-late 90’s (“the shitty era”, if you want), and I still became comic book lover and read X-Men and Spider-Man books to this day. So at least I give that era the benefit for hooking me with the medium (I did read comics back then, but not in English or superheroes) and Marvel.

Still, I won’t remember any of the stories as the ones on top of my favorites list, perhaps with the exception of Dezago and Wieringo’s Spider-Man.

Bernard, I fully acknowledge that male characters dominate the list, I just think the phrase “2 runs have female protagonists” is overstating the case. If you say only two runs have female protagonists, that meanst that all the other runs DON’T have female protagonists, and is it really fair to say that of a book with a primary cast of three women and two men? If a team book where the women outnumber the men doesn’t have female protagonists, then it doesn’t have male protagonists either, making Excalibur and NextWave books with no protagonists.

And I’m sure Rene isn’t trying to be misleading or push an agenda or anything. I’d say it’s just a difference of opinion in what the word “protagonist” means. I’d say that the Fantastic Four has four protagonists; someone else might say it has no protagonists, because it doesn’t have a single main character; some might even say Reed Richards is the protagonist, because every story must have one and only one protagonist, so in a team book it’s the leader or the character who gets the most screen time.

In terms of writing structure, an ensemble cast that focuses on a variety of people is a very different type of writing than a story that focuses on a sole protagonist with a supporting cast in a clearly subordinate (if important) role. I suspect what Rene is trying to flag up is the number of books focusing on sole female as opposed to sole male protagonists, as opposed to books with a group dynamic, which the statistical breakdown treats separately. Sole female protagonists are extremely unusual in just about all genres of comics, as opposed to sole male protagonists and ensembles, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing it out. It’s like pointing out the number of non-superhero books, showing exceptions to a dominating trend.

Another good selection. With the exception of Iron Man (which I haven’t read) these are all good. LoEG might have made my list if I’d thought of it…

[…] 62. O Quarteto Fantástico de Waid e Wieringo. Histórias leves e engraçadas, conceitos novos e interessantes, senso de humor… mas nada de […]

The Michelinie/Layton Iron Man run was and still is staggeringly good. The artwork is incredible,the stories are so much fun, and its hilarious. Oceans better than the movies.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives