web stats

CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #75-71

Here are the next five! Remember, this is all based on a vote by almost 700 people, who chose their favorite runs, and now I’m revealing the results!


74 (tie). Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central – 122 (1 first place vote)

Gotham Central #1-40

Chuck Dixon featured the Gotham police department quite a lot in his Batman comics, and Doug Moench has a soft spot for both Harvey Bullock and Commissioner Gordon, but even compared to them, Greg Rucka seemed to have an uncanny interest in the Gotham police department. His level of interest was equaled by incoming Batman writer (Rucka wrote Detective Comics), Ed Brubaker, who also specialized in the sort of down-to-Earth police stories that also interested Rucka.

Therefore, after a storyline about the Gotham police department (where Commissioner Gordon is almost killed), the pair launched the acclaimed police procedural, Gotham Central.

The book had an intriguing concept – while the two writers would work together, mostly, it would split the book into a “night” shift and a “day” shift, and each writer would handle a shift. The book was ably drawn by the great Michael Lark.

The book gave readers insight into what it would be like to work in the police department of a city that is mostly known for needing a dude dressed as a bat to help stop crime. As you might imagine, it gets a bit galling.

The book was filled with nice characterizations (Bullock, excepted, of course) and intriguing mysteries and drama.

Lark departed the book with #25, but due to artist Stefano Gaudiano staying on, the new penciler, Kano, was inked in such a way that the book maintained a high level of art quality.

Brubaker departed with issue #36, and rather than carry on all by himself, Rucka decided to close shop with issue #40.

Brubaker and Lark later went to work together on a memorable Daredevil run (that is still ongoing), and Rucka is set to co-write an arc very soon! The band is back together!!

74 (tie). Chris Claremont and Alan Davis’ Excalibur – 122 (3 first place votes)

Excalibur #1-24, 42-52, 54-58, 61-67

Okay, this is the trickiest one for me, as most of the votes I got either said “Alan Davis’ Excalibur” or “Claremont/Davis’ Excalibur,” which could both mean the first run or they could mean the second run and the first run, respectively, ya know? VERY few specified that they meant Davis’ second run, so rather than guess what each person meant, I figured I’d just count it all as one run, which I really think is fair, as the the book basically became “fill-ins ‘r’ us” between Davis leaving the book and his return, so I think I am safe crediting all of Davis’ Excalibur here as one run. If a lot of people specified they meant ONLY Davis’ second run, then maybe I’d do it otherwise, but, well, they didn’t, so here it is – Alan Davis’ Excalibur!

Excalibur began when Chris Claremont and Alan Davis, both former Captain Britain creators, brought over a few X-Men transplants, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers, and had them end up in England, where they teamed up with Captain Britain and Captain Britain’s special lady friend, Meggan, in forming the superhero team, Excalibur.

Claremont and Davis clearly had a great deal of fun with the title, as it was much more of a humor book than the other X-Books of the time, with the highlight coming in the monumental Cross-Time Caper, which sent the team through a series of alternate universes, in one of the longest storylines this side of Dave Sim.

After the Cross-Time Caper, Davis left the book for a year (and Claremont did only about half the stories in that year), and then Davis came back and wrote and drew the book for another twenty or so issues, also bringing the trademark fun of the early Claremont/Davis issues. That’s also why I don’t feel too bad counting this as one run, as it really just feels like a continuation of the Claremont/Davis issues, which is why I think most voters just said “Alan Davis’ Excalbur.”

73. Christopher Priest’s Black Panther – 130 (4 first place votes)

Black Panther Vol. 2 #1-62

Story continues below

Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada’s Daredevil was certainly the most eye-catching of all the Marvel Knights revamps of the late 90s, but it was Christopher Priest’s Black Panther that was the underrated success of the group.

Priest’s clever revamp of Panther was built around the concept of introducing a character named Everett Ross, who was sent to Black Panther as a State Department attorney. The creation of Ross, one of the best POV characters out there, allowed Priest to truly play up the almost Batman-like nature of Black Panther, for as distant and Machiavellian as T’Challa might seem, the book always had Ross to ground it in reality (usually with a greet deal of humor, which Priest is quite good at doing).

Priest transformed Panther’s book into a hotbed of political intrigue, especially one notable storyline where Panther has to negotiate with Namor, Magneto AND Dr. Doom to avery a possible World War.

In Black Panther, dialogue and characterization was the key, not action, although there was plenty of that. Under Priest, Panther’s brilliance and his strength became more pronounced – no more was Panther a background character – Priest made him a major player in the Marvel Universe.

A variety of artists worked with Priest during this run, starting with Mark Texeira and Mike Manley, but probably most notably, Sal Velluto and Bob Almond, who, I believe, are responsible for the most issues of Black Panther drawn than ANY other art team!

In a desperate gambit to keep the book from cancellation (as it was never a particularly high-selling comic), Priest spent the last year or so of the book introducing a NEW character as the Black Panther, a New York cop who had taken a Black Panther costume he had found and used it to fight crime in New York, before ultimately taking the name of White Tiger (and starring in the short-lived Priest follow-up series, The Crew).

71 (tie). Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s Uncanny X-Men – 133 (1 first place vote)

Uncanny X-Men #165-170, 172-175

For the first 70 or so issues of Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men, the book had only two artists, Dave Cockrum and John Byrne, and following up Byrne’s run was sidestepped by bringing back the artist who had PRECEDED Byrne, Cockrum. So when a new artist was needed, for a book that was slowly becoming one of Marvel’s biggest sellers (although not yet AT that point), it was a good gig, but a scary one.

So in stepped Paul Smith, and by the time he left, just ten issues after he joined, Uncanny X-Men was definitively Marvel’s biggest superhero comic book.

Smith’s biggest strength was probably his biggest weakness, as well, which was his great attention to detail – his books were filled with such detail, that every emotion on every character was just bursting off the page – that you can understand how doing each issue like that, just throwing his whole self into the production, would take its toll on him.

And lucky for Smith, Claremont wrote a number of brilliant scripts during this run that took advantage of Smith’s penchant for characterization, most specifically the storyline of Wolverine’s marriage, which is PROBABLY the most acclaimed story Claremont wrote for Uncanny X-Men outside of the Byrne run. Such an amazing story, filled with rich character moments as well as Smith’s beautiful art, which Claremont, to his credit, used to great effect (there are a number of practically mute scenes during the storyline).

As I mentioned in the entry for John Romita Jr.’s run, when Romita took over from Smith, he had big shoes to fill.

71 (tie). Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri’s Uncanny X-Men – 133 (3 first place votes)

Uncanny X-Men #218, 220-222, 224-227, 229-230, 232-234, 236, 238-244, 246-247, 249-251, 253-255, 259-261

By the time Marc Silvestri took over as regular artist on Uncanny X-Men, the X-Books were, well, “the X-Books,” which was not the case for when Byrne and Smith took over. This was not just a comic book, this was a FRANCHISE, and Silvestri, not yet 30 years old, was being given a chance to draw the main book of the franchise.

Its interesting, I always thought of this time period as the Silvestri/Leonardi run of Uncanny X-Men, as they had a deal where artist Rich Leonardi would draw the issues Silvestri didn’t, so as to give Silvestri a break, as you can tell from the above list of titles, Silvestri did not often draw a lot of books in a row. HOWEVER, while Silvestri did not draw a lot of issues in a row, he was quite clearly THE penciler during this time period, drawing the vast majority of the issues during his tenure on the book from #218-261.

Silvestri used a different style back then then the one he would develop working for Image in the early 90s. On Uncanny, his art was a great deal more experimental, it seemed almost reminiscent of the work Mazzucchelli was doing on Daredevil around the same time.

This was the time when the Fall of Mutants occurred, and the world thought that the X-Men were dead, but instead, they went and lived in Australia for awhile. Then Inferno happened, and then the X-Men broke up and there was a long storyline where the group slowly got back together. By this time, Silvestri had left the book to begin a popular run on Wolverine with Larry Hama.


Even though I don’t read any X-books anymore, and haven’t for years, I’m a big fan of the Excalibur and both X-men runs on this list. Silvestri’s X-men is when I first started buying them, and I still find those stories fascinating to this day. Alan Davis is great on everything, so his Excalibur run would be no exception.

I’m not trying to be first on these posts, honest. I just happen to hit “refresh” at the right time.

Heh. That was a nice tie at 71, Brian. Smith was the X-Men run I finaly settled on for my top 10. Silvestri is also a favourite (along with Byrne and JRJr). Actually, Silvestri’s X-Men, Davis’ Excalibur and Gotham Central were all in my top 50. So cool.

I understand those who figured they were the only ones voting for Silvestri, as I feel like everybody but me hates that era most of the time.

And what I’ve read of Priest’s Black Panther, it’s excellent. So good choices.

But for these to rank higher than Warlock and Dr. Strange seems dubious…

Ooops I should have specified it was the second run of Excalibur I was voting for. I do think it was the better run than the Claremont/Davis teaming. The Cross-Time Caper fizzled out a little and suffered from some bad non Alan Davis work (except that Rick Leonardi issue). Also Captain Britain got much better treatment from Alan Davis than he did from Claremont. We get some decent justification was to why he comes off as a bit of a buffoon.

I’d have all those runs in my top 20. I’ve just discovered Gotham Central through the TPBs, and it’s quite possibly my favourite series of the last 5 years.

Gotham Central just missed being on my list, but is certainly worthy.

I really didn’t like the couple of trades I read of Blank Panther (or anything else I’ve read by Priest/Owsley).

I’ve haven’t liked much of what I’ve by Chris Claremont, but I do feel drawn to Excalibur. I picked up a few issues of the Cross Time Caper when they first came out and the art was probably the best I’ve seen from Alan Davis.

What happened to 80-76? Getting a bit ahead of yourself?

What happened to 80-76? Getting a bit ahead of yourself?

You had me scared there for a moment! :)

#80-76 was posted earlier in the day – just scroll down on the front page, you’ll see it.

Priest’s BP just missed my list.
I’m already craving the next hit Brian.

The Claremont/Silvestri run was on my original list, but after that got wiped I bumped it in favor of something else. Good to see it still make the top 100.

That Uncanny X-Men cover isn’t from Silvestri, but from Art Adams.

I didn’t love Silvestri and Paul Smith, and vastly prefered the John Romita Jr. run that ranked lower than both… But all three of them were good runs, I think.

I feel a bit torn. I agree that many of these runs deserved to be ranked lower than Kirby’s Thor, for instance.

On the other side, the 1980s were the time I grew up reading comics, and I have a fondness for all this stuff too. Claremont’s X-Titles, Byrne’s Superman. It’s kinda cool to see it well-represented here. With lots and lots of people badmouthing this stuff, sometimes I kinda thought everyone hated this stuff, except me.

In terms of what I’ve read, this batch is 0 for 5. Oh well, looking forward to the next batch.

Not surprisingly, there’s a heavier emphasis on recent material then there probably should be… but that usually happens with lists like these, as we all have short memories (not to mention that the newer stuff is more readily available).

I was just thinking on my way in to work this morning about how many Claremont X-Men runs we can expect… There’s at least three more that I’m sure we’ll see. While I’ve never been much of a fan, you have to respect the large shadow Claremont cast over those characters, and thus the industry.

BTW Brian, is there a reason you chose to highlight Silvestri’s X-Men run with an Art Adams’ cover? Is this some kind of editorial comment? Anyway, I always liked that cover….

Stephane Savoie

April 10, 2008 at 6:26 am

I’m suprised by the popularity of the Silvestri run. I mean… really? Australia? The run with a team composed of Banshee, Forge, Plaris, and some other folk? (It doesn’t help that Silvestri’s artwork just came out as murky on that newsprint…) I guess I shouldn’t be: it IS the X-Men, and a lot of people’s intro tio the X-Men.
I’m happy to see Black Panther get some recognition.
None of my votes have shown up yet. Apparently I’m formulaic.

The Claremont/ Davis Excaliburs were fun, but Davis’ solo issues were funnier and more mature. All the principal characters experienced growth and change, as Nightcrawler came into his role as leader, Meggan became more than just a child-like love interest, Phoenix made the ultimate sacrifice, and Kitty grew up a little. Plus, the art was fantastic! Davis’ Excalibur remains a high point in super-hero comics.

So far, 3 of my top 10 have made the list (Alias, Milligan/Allred X-Force, Priest’s Black Panther), tho’ I’d expected them to place higher and in different company.

That is to say, tastes at this stage in the countdown are all over the map. I really am not interested in anything else suggested so far, tho’ I expect (and hope for) that to change as we work our way up the charts!

I’ll start out by disclosing that one of those Excalibur first place votes was mine…

I loved Excalibur and it was one of the books that really got me into comics. I had been reading Uncanny quite a bit, but Excalibur is the one that really drew me in and got me looking at the other titles that were out there. The mix of humor, action, and story in that first run was amazing. I still love issue #4 (I think it was 4) that was just a black cover with a janitor on it telling you that you had to look inside for all the action. Even during the Inferno crossover, they kept the humor intact (although in a very black way). Simply a brilliant run.

Man, Everett Ross selling his soul for pants has to be one of the funniest gags in comic book history.

And the Australian X-Men were, of course, awesome.

I specified just the second Davis-only run, but I had it down for a runner-up. I recently re-read the whole Alan Davis Captain Britain saga, starting with Dave Thorpe writing, then Alan Moore, then Jamie Delano, then Claremont’s Excalibur, and finally Davis writing the book himself. It forms an EXCELLENT “one big epic.” But I gotta say, as much as I have a soft spot for Claremont, compared to those other writers, his stuff sticks out like a sore thumb.

Black Panther almost made my list, so I’m glad to see it place.

Gotham Central did make my list. I still miss it.

My biggest problem with the Silvestri X-Men run is that, while he did contribute over a large span of issues (218-261) the issues he did pencil appeared so staccato-like, two issues here, four there, then maybe three, with fill-ins interspersed seemingly at random, sometimes mid-story. I dunno, maybe that was caused by the shorter arcs Claremont was writing at the time. After all, the longest consecutive number of issues Silvestri penciled was the six Inferno issues, which was one of Claremont’s longer, more involved stories during the weird “Australia years.”

On another topic, I’m starting to think that the only fair way to correct for the bias towards recent comics would be to subtract the decade from the score. If it was from the forties, take 40 points off; if it’s from the nineties, take 90 points off; and from this decade, take 100 points off. It’s only fair. When all is said and done, I might re-crunch the list that way.

Okay, here are the new totals. This batch of runs continues the trends that dominate the list so far: Marvel comics, superhero comics, and 1980s (and later) comics.

The X-Men are the first characters to have more than 1 run included (they have 3, 4 if you count Excalibur!)

We have 32 runs so far (and 3509 pts)

– 14 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (1581 pts)
– 4 runs are set in the DC Universe (444 pts)
– 3 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (342 pts)
– 2 are Vertigo comics (New: Lucifer – 215 pts)
– 2 are manga (198 pts)

– 25 are superheroes or close enough (2795 pts)
– 7 are non-superhero (714 pts)

Another thorny question: Is Gotham Central a superhero title? The focus clearly is on human cops, but it’s a superhero city, and there is the Bat-Signal in the cover, so I think it’s “close enough”.

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

– 1980s (12 runs – 1349 pts)
– 2000s (8 runs – 898 pts)
– 1990s (5 runs – 534 pts)
– 1960s (3 runs – 329 pts)
– 1970s (3 runs – 304 pts)
– 1940s (1 run – 95 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Chris Claremont (4 runs – 494 pts)
– Ed Brubaker (2 runs – 235 pts)
– Stan Lee (2 runs – 220 pts)
– Warren Ellis (2 runs – 215 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)
– Peter Milligan (113 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)
– Brian Michael Bendis (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)

Josh Alexander

April 10, 2008 at 7:29 am

I’m now 3 for 10 with the addition of Gotham Central and Black Panther (my #1 pick.) Glad to see a couple other people also picked it as there top choice.

Smith did some great work on X-men and Doctor Strange with Roger Stern. They both just missed on my list.

The Smith X-Men are the first of my picks to make it on the list. I had it at #8. He was drawing teh book when I started collecting comics with X-Men 166 (IIRC).

As for the Silvestri run, I thought it was a slow, steady decline into a huge pile of crap. The whole thing just reeked.

While I liked Excalibur, it really depended on the reader knowing the Captain Britian & Meggan history. As these stories weren’t readily available in the U.S., a lot of it was lost on me. The cross-time caper didn’t help much.

I tried reading Black Panther when it came out. I’m a sucker for B & C list characters. It just came out a little too sporadically in the beginning for me. Same with the Daredevil relaunch. It’s a shame, too. The stories sem to have been worth the wait.

A rant:

I think it’s a bit shameful the way the comic book fandom, critics, and even some creators have treated Chris Claremont and his work. A newcomer to the fandom today would only hear two things about Claremont: that he wrote ludicrous overlong dialogue (as if other writers of the time and before didn’t all write like that too), and that his current comics are horrible (okay, I won’t argue with that one, he is past his prime as creator, it happens).

And what about the pop culture juggernaut that is the X-Men? It appeared from nowhere, apparently. And everyone who likes the X-Men is a zombie or something. No, the X-Men didn’t become huge overnight, and the old time guys who reminisce about the X-Men weren’t mind-controlled into it. It’s because of this Claremont guy. He was never a genius in the way Alan Moore is, but he was a solid storyteller that did entertaining work, and sometimes even innovative work, for more than a decade and created (or refined) some memorable characters.

All that hard work building one of comic’s most famour franchises should have earned him at least some respect.

End of rant.

I hate to be nitpicky but there were two issues towards the end of Black Panther that Preist didn’t write. I can’t remember the exact issues but feel that if you are going into detail about Marc Silvestri’s Uncanny issues it’s only fair you do the same for Preist. If someone already pointed this out than just ignore me.

“On another topic, I’m starting to think that the only fair way to correct for the bias towards recent comics would be to subtract the decade from the score. If it was from the forties, take 40 points off; if it’s from the nineties, take 90 points off; and from this decade, take 100 points off. It’s only fair. When all is said and done, I might re-crunch the list that way.”

If anything there’s a bias towards the 80’s.

Great fun so far! None of my votes are up yet.

I loved Paul Smith’s work on Uncanny X-Men, the Wolvie & Rogue in Japan issue is probably my single favourite X-men issue. Nice to see him garner a lot of love.

And let’s be fair to Silvestri, many of those gaps were because of Marvel’s foolish decision to make the book bi-weekly in the summers, a decision that hurt the quality of many books at the time. (Although, oddly, it seemed to raise the quality of Gruenwald’s Captain America– As many people over on that thread have noted that “The Bloodstone Hunt” and “Streets of Poison”, Cap’s two bi-weekly runs, were the best of Gruenwald’s writing.)

And hey, how about at the tail end of Silvestri’s run where he suddenly started to hardcore-emulate Mike Mignola? I loved that look. Really atmospheric and creepy.

Andrew Collins

April 10, 2008 at 9:25 am

I have a fondness for the Silvestri-era X-Men as well. Issue #236 was the first comic I ever bought with my own money and where I became an X-Men fan and a comic collector/fan. The latter half of his run confused the heck out of me at the time (where are the X-Men? What’s all this Muir Island stuff?) but I think ti holds up well today and that he provided some great visuals and atmosphere for one of the more turbulent periods in the book’s history. His Inferno issues alone are worth the price of admission.

I like the Smith issues as well.

The votes for Excalibur surprise me quite a bit as I just never enjoyed it all that much. I may need to go back and re-read those early issues…

I don’t mean to be “anti-Marvel guy”, but are all of these X-Men runs really that great? I mean, I read The Cross-Time Caper. It was weird and fun and I liked it. But one of the greatest comic runs of all time? I just don’t see it. And the other Claremont X-Men stuff I’ve reads seems so . . . soapy to me. Just not to my personal taste, I suppose.

We’ve gotta be getting all this stuff out of the way now, to make room for all the great DC stuff that needs to be on here. That’s gotta be it, doesn’t it? Morrison’s Animal Man and Ostrander’s Suicide Squad and Robinson’s Starman are all coming up, right?

I mean, right?


I do think these X-Men runs were great fun and deserve more recognition than they usually get nowadays, but I also think the three DC titles you mentioned were even better, and definetly shall appear higher in this list, I voted for one of them myself.

Anthony Strand: I don’t think anyone would argue that the best X-Men run was Clairmont/Byrne. An arguable second/tie MIGHT be the Roy Thomas/Neil Adams run. If you want to find out what the X-Men are REALLY all about, check these out in an Essential collection. Ate THOSE rins really that great? Yes, they are.

I know where you’re coming from, though. You’re a DC guy, so you don’t get what’s so great about Marvel. Likewise, I’m a Marvel guy, so it’s hard for me to care about anything DC. These really are worth the effort, though.

Hi Brian,

Ok I totally accept, its way to early to ask this, possibly even unreasonable with all the work your putting in, but hey if you don’t ask…. so I’d like to suggest something. If you have toted up all the points already would it be possible to simply list the other nominations (with scores if you have them) when the countdown is complete? Obviously I don’t expect for one minute to add any sort of write up but simply list them with their scores?

I’m finding the list absolutely fascinating and loving reading it to date (and I’m sure as it goes on) and its really given me a taste to see what else was nominated after the list we’ll see. I have a feeling that I might only get 4 or my nominations into the list and would love to see how mnay points the rest got and where they ranked etc etc. As a very rough approximation I’m thinking there might be as many as say 400 runs nominated and I’d love to see.

Anyway even if this isn’t possible (or reasonable) thanks so much for all your hard work this has been a joy to read.


I enjoyed Silvestri’s run on Uncanny quite a bit. It was a bit scattershot, but had some amazing moments. The first Genosha storyline? terrific stuff, especially with Rogue’s Carol Danvers persona taking over and running the caper with Logan.

I always thought of this as Silvestri/Leonardi too, with Marc as the primary. Leonardi did one of my favorite one-offs during this run, just after Fall of the Mutants, the Dazzler/Wolvie spotlight with OZ Chase. Very nicely done.

Paul Smith’s run was terrific as well. Wolverine’s wedding and the Morlock saga were very well done, and there’s a reason so many X-fans still bow at the altar of Paul Smith.

Alan Davis on Excalibur was terrific, but Alan Davis is great on everything. But this is one of his few really extended runs on any title in the US, true? He drew terrific versions of all the characters in Excalibur, and really set the bar. After he was finally done, I wasn’t nearly as interested. Anyone else remember when Nick Fury showed up at Alysande’s Stuart’s funeral. Man, that was cool. And I loved the Kitty/Rachel friendship.

I missed out on the vote but CC/Paul Smith’s X-Men probably woulda been in my top 3, closely followed by CC/JRJR’s run. The Australia period was cooler than it ought to have been, but it misses my top 10 by quite a bit.

Again, we’re looking at an installment where I’ve read significant portions of each run mentioned (in at least two cases, I’ve read every single issue of the run). But once again, nothing I actually voted for has yet made it onto the list! Considering we’re now about 30 percent of the way through the list (well, actually 32/102 of the way through the list, if I’ve got this right), that’s a very disturbing trend. Sure, I figure at least a few of my picks were “obvious” enough that they’ve still got great chances of showing up later, but so far, I have no proof that my tastes really dovetail with anyone else’s, on any run at all!

I seriously considered the Claremont/Davis “Excalibur” run as a contender for one of my votes. But it didn’t quite make it into my top favorites. In such cases, I found it useful to ask myself: “How many times have I actually gone back and read/reread those stories since I completed a full collection of the run in question?” In this case, I think the answer was: “Only twice.”

I at least toyed with the idea of voting for the Claremont/Silvestri “X-Men” run, but frankly, I was never wildly happy about the art style Silvestri was using in those days. Sometimes I thought the characters just looked too flat. The writing had its points, but I ended up junking the idea.

The Claremont/Smith run was okay, but it doesn’t inspire me to go back and reread it every year or two. I don’t think I ever seriously considered voting for it.

(Granted, it’s very possible that some of my lack of enthusiasm for rereading it stems from the irritating knowledge that within that run, Claremont played mindgames with us by having Mastermind play mindgames with the X-Men regarding whether or not Madelyne Pryor was really Jean Grey making a comeback . . . and then Our Heroes finally figured out she Definitely Wasn’t Jean Grey all over again . . . and then a few years later it turned out she Definitely Was a Jean Grey Clone after all, except that those crackerjack geneticists, Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert, had implicitly never bothered to run DNA tests after the question was first raised regarding Maddie’s origins, or else they would have figured it all out ages ago! That implication of utter cluelessness on their parts was a bit too much for my suspension of disbelief; it finally just gave up the ghost and started whimpering, “Please, just make it all go away!” whenever I tortured it by thinking about Madelyne Pryor’s sad perpetually-retconned history in any detail.)

Anyway: Much to my own surprise: When I was finally done working out my ballot, Chris Claremont wasn’t represented on it anywhere! He has written various things which I’ve enjoyed rereading before and expect to enjoy rereading again, but none of them seem to have clawed their way up into the “Top Ten” in my affections. No, not even the Claremont/Byrne collaboration on the X-Men, although it was another serious contender as I was organizing my thoughts. If that strikes you as blasphemy, I’m sorry! (I was taken aback by that discovery, myself!)

“Gotham Central” and Priest’s “Black Panther” just never clicked with me. What I’ve read of them was not badly written, but it didn’t come anywhere near making me fall in love with those works. In each case, I think I’ve read the first relevant TPB collection and said to myself, “I can easily live without spending more money on these writers’ runs on these characters.”

Why am I not seeing 80-76?

By the way, now that I’ve taken the time to read other people’s comments on this page, I’ll add a few words on
the subject of a “bias” toward the 1980s:

I checked my own ballot and found that of my 10 votes, 5 went to runs from the 1980s. The early 1980s was also when I started reading certain comic book titles regularly, and three of my favorites from my childhood did end up on my ballot. On the other hand: 2 of my 5 votes for 1980s stuff are things I only bought and read many years after they were published (one in the mid-90s; one I finally completed some years later, I believe), so it’s not just that I’m reverting to my childhood by impulsively voting for all the things that first got their hooks into my tender psyche when I was just an impressionable young slip of a lad. Several of the other things I enjoyed in the early-to-mid 80s never came close to getting mentioned on my ballot (and I think a few others were seriously considered, but just couldn’t quite make the cut).

2 of my votes went to material from before the 1980s, and the other 3 all went to runs that began sometime in the 1990s. But the 1980s provided half of my “Top Ten Favorites” all by itself!

For whatever reason, there’s something weird about breaking up Claremont’s run based on artists, when other authors’ runs with multiple artists are counted whole (although given its size and the distinctive styles that different artists brought to different eras, it’s perhaps understandable).

Jono11 — after seeing your question, I experimented. If I go over to the right-hand column here and click on “Top 100 Comic Book Runs” I don’t see the 80-76 installment. But if I scroll up to the top and run the mouse over “Blogs” and click to go to the general front page for recent “Comics Should Be Good” entries, I do see a link to the 80-76 material!

The URL for the 80-76 listings is at:


Somehow it hasn’t been properly “indexed” (or whatever the word is) under the category for this contest’s threads; but it did get posted! (I remember putting some comments in it last night.)

Well, it’s tricky.

I believe the 80s was the best decade for comics. That happens to be the decade that took me from age 5 to 15. This seems highly suspicious. Obviously, anybody is going to think that the comics from their own childhood are the best, right? Surely I can admit to myself that my view of this era is deeply skewed, right?

Well, no. I’ve decided to stop doubting myself. Comics in the 80s really were better.

One thing that convinced me was when I compared my feeling about comics with my feeling about music and movies. Though I had my favorites at the time, I would NEVER claim today that the 80s were the best decade for either music or movies. I’m not one of these guys who can’t tell the difference in quality between “Escape from New York” and “The Great Escape”.

And, of course, the other factor that convinced me I wasn’t crazy was looking at the history of the industry. The 80s was pretty much the only decade in which neither Marvel or DC had a financial crisis that severely compromised the quality of their books. Both companies just clicked on all cylinders throughout the decade, churning out great work. I don’t think that anyone could disagree that the comics industry as a whole plunged in quality in the 91-93 period, probably less as a result of the creative shake-ups of the period, and more the result of the sudden fealty the companies owed to the roller-coaster stock market. And the 80s was unquestionably the heydey of independent publishing. It’s not a stretch to say that First and Comico and Eclipse and Dark Horse were putting out higher quality stuff than Image.

So yeah, even though I’m self-aware enough to be highly suspicious of myself for saying this, I think a good case could be made for calling the 80s the best decade for comics, or at least a tie with the 60s.

Wow! Only one use of the word “basically” on the whole page.


Capt_57 — dare I point out that you ruined that statistic as soon as you said it, by mentioning that word again, thereby doubling its frequency on this page? :)

Priest on BP was my #11. I’m not actually sure if any of mine have come up yet.

The great thing about comics in the 80s: good editors.

The quality of comics in the 1980s was more uniform. You had some stellar works, but most of the Marvel/DC line of comics was at the very least readable and exciting. There were very few comics that were awful. Today, eveything is more uneven, and you have some amazing work side-by-side with awful stuff, sometimes done by the very same writer, because there is no editorial control.

In other words, Jim Shooter would never allow Brian Bendis to do some of the stuff he does, he would actually get Bendis to do only good work.

Agreed. The steadying influence of Shooter (and Levitz and Kahn) was huge.

There were a lot of great comics in the ’80s, no question. Jim Shooter did a lot to raise the standard of Marvel’s output. He did so, however, while alienating several notable talents, including Steve Gerber and Gene Colan. He was at least partly responsible for the infamous contract they wanted Jack Kirby to sign in order to get his art back. Sure, Shooter would not have let Bendis write the way he does, but I wouldn’t want him in charge of Marvel again.

BTW Brian, is there a reason you chose to highlight Silvestri’s X-Men run with an Art Adams’ cover? Is this some kind of editorial comment? Anyway, I always liked that cover….

It was Silvestri’s first issue.

I’m trying to go “first issue of the run” for these. It’s why Plastic Man’s featured cover was not even a Plastic Man cover! :)

“Well, it’s tricky.

I believe the 80s was the best decade for comics. That happens to be the decade that took me from age 5 to 15. This seems highly suspicious. Obviously, anybody is going to think that the comics from their own childhood are the best, right? Surely I can admit to myself that my view of this era is deeply skewed, right?

Well, no. I’ve decided to stop doubting myself. Comics in the 80s really were better. ”

Can’t both be right? The 80’s were great, but you skew it to be even greater. I’m a 80’s child myself – and voted for several titles from that area – but I can’t pretend that it’s ALL about subjective quality and NOTHING about the fact that it’s obviously much harder to wow me now as an adult as it was back then.

I maintain that the 80’s dominance here mirrors the age of the average CBSBG reader.

“I maintain that the 80’s dominance here mirrors the age of the average CBSBG reader.”

It’s funny, but it doesn’t seem that way, when I usually navigate the site and read the several discussions. I see a lot of bashing of 1980s stuff and typically 1980s themes, and a lot of adoration lavished to either the 1960s Silver Age or modern stuff, for instance.

Then again, it’s very possible that the Silver Agers are just louder and dominate discussions, while the lovers of the 80s are a silent majority.

It’s too early in the countdown to discuss Marvel-bias or ’80s-bias. Maybe the top 50 are all DC Golden and Silver Age, except for the top 10 consisting of all Grant Morrison. Or not. In any case, maybe that discussion can wait. I do agree that the ’80s was the best decade for comics, though, and I was in my 20s then, so it’s not teenage nostalgia.

Well, basically… (:

As another comics reader who came of age in the 80s (specifically, that period from 1982-1988, which was my most intense collecting/reading/drawing my own crappy stories phase), I’m certainly pleased to see 80s comics represented here (even if they wouldn’t necessarily be the ones I was reading at the time). And I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with loving some stuff because you loved it when you were ten or eleven or twelve or whatever– I wouldn’t want to return to that age, but there’s a lot to be said for it as a time when tastes and ideas and personality quirks start to form. It’s nothing to be embarrassed or apologetic about.

I read the Romita Jr. and Smith runs of the x-men like a lot of twelve-year-old boys of that period, but mutants never fascinated me as much as they did some folks (still don’t, unless a writer I particularly like is working on them). That said, I’d agree with Rene that Claremont deserves respect for the large role he played in the title’s success (and by extension, Marvel’s, and that of the cartoons, movies, etc.) in the 1980s. He was always a little melodramatic to me, but the X-books are inherently melodramatic, anyway.

Still loving this list, although I curse you for adding to my reading lists with every new post…(:

Loved Paul Smith on X-Men, after the crushing disappointment that was Cockrum’s second run.
Silvestri almost exemplifies “the opposite of what I like in a comic art style”, but I’ve not had to deal with much of his stuff, having dropped X-Men sometime during JRJR’s run (not because of the art, mind you).

Enjoying the lists! Somewhat surprised to see “Excalibur” as high as it is, even though I enjoy Alan Davis a great deal. Maybe I should reread them!
And also a little surprised about Black Panther, but only because it seemed to constantly struggle with sales. I’ve read about half of that run and enjoyed it.

Not a single Alan Moore, Grant Morrison or Steve Gerber run yet. Those guys should make up a substantial proportion of what’s left.

I was gonna write something for Black Panther, since it was my top pick, but I kept putting it off. And thankfully, Brian covered the basics. Everett K. Ross was a great outlet for comic relief, but he was awesome at times, like when he negotiated a truce with Ghaur and defended T’Challa after he apparently killed Klaw. The supporting cast was great, and Priest could make jokes like Vibraxis and Man-Ape look cool. And even his version of President Bush kicked ass, as he debated his methods with Queen Divine Justice during “Enemy Of The State II.” I read the “Civil War” tpb from Hudlin’s run, and it’s basically Bush going “Looky here, Ross! Panther, Storn, Namor and Doom…they’s the Frightful Four!!!” And Ross did little there but refute. Bleh.

Matt Bird,

I was only 8 by the time the 80s were over. And I say it was the best time for comics, overall. (And aren’t we all just glad the 90s are over.)

Tommy — Hey, the 90s weren’t so bad! I mean, after you filter out the variant covers, and a lot of the early Image stuff, and Sovereign 7, and the Clone Saga of the Spider-Man titles, and just about any other Spider-Man stuff from that decade that I’ve looked at, and the long Dixon and Grant runs on key Batman titles, and all the overdone Bad Girls, and the way most of Superman’s “triangle years” stuff strikes me as well-intended mediocrity, and the way I quit the X-Men titles cold turkey for several years, and the way Marvel ruined the Ultraverse after buying out Malibu, and the way Hal Jordan was treated, and Jim Starlin’s “big universal events” that always had “Infinity” in the title of the miniseries, and the entire Heroes Reborn disaster, and the movie “Batman and Robin” . . . .

Wait. I think I lost my train of thought. What was I trying to prove, again? :(

Excuse me, that should have said “the long Dixon and Grant and Moench runs on key Batman titles.” I didn’t mean to exclude Doug Moench’s “second run on Batman” from my list of things in the 1990s that I found myself praying would eventually end . . .

3 on this list I absolutely loved : Smith’s X-Men (almost made my list), Priest’s Black Panther, and Gotham Central. All Star talent across the board.

Silvestri came after JR Jr, who’s work I normally like, but his X-Men didn’t work for me. Silvestri felt very similar to that, which was good for Marvel since apparently a lot of fans dug both these styles. I’ve since really dug some Silvestri art, esp his recent return to the characters.

Excaliber…. Davis’ stuff is way more hit than miss, and I love Rachel Summers, Kitty (horrible costume though – ugh), and Kurt, but somehow something just didn’t click for me. I think Brian nailed the humor aspect. I’d never thought of that, but it was just slightly askew; kinda whacky. That’s ok, but it just didn’t seem to fit this group. Right church, wrong pew. Didn’t work for me.

Brian compared the humor aspect of “Excalibur” to what Giffen/DeMatteis had previously started doing to “Justice League.” I remember looking at some of the latter for the first time in 1989, and thinking that while some of that Bwa-ha-ha! humor might really be funny . . . it just was totally inappropriate for any series with “Justice League” on the cover. If the exact same scripts had been written for a series titled “Global Guardians” or “Crusaders” or whatever, where I wouldn’t have strong preconceptions of what sort of tone such a series should take, then I wouldn’t have had any problem with it at all!

X-Factor, actually. :)

Excalibur had a different type of humor!

I specified ‘Alan Davis’ Excalibur’ because it was far and away at its best when he was involved with the title and really not all that when he wasn’t, IMO. Davis has a clear affection for the characters, and it shows. One reason I’m so glad to see them pop up again in the new Clan Destine series :)

” And the way most of Superman’s “triangle years” stuff strikes me as well-intended intended mediocrity”.
How many issues of Superman post Byrne have you read? Neither Death of Superman or Panic in the Sky were bad.

For me, those years of the X-Men in dissolution, in the outback and beyond, are actually the Claremont stories I’ve enjoyed most, out of his entire tenure. I started reading a few years later, but when I started digging into the back issues — what I loved is that it was so free-form. The stories were as wild as the outback itself. Claremont just went wherever his stories took him, and there basically were no X-Men for about three years, and it was just so brave. This was especially true from 248 to 279, so I’m not entirely talking about Silvestri’s run of course.

I think what I love about that time is that there was NO STATUS QUO WHATSOEVER in Uncanny X-Men, which was the best-selling comic book on the planet. It amazes me that they were able to go off on such bizarre tangents, given such a spotlight, and it says a lot that it was still such a consistent success.

As a tangent, if it weren’t for what Grant Morrison did with Jean Grey, Forge would still be my favorite X-Man.

This 80’s contemplation has so far missed one very important point : The Direct Market was quite new and creators were unleashed with wild ideas they couldn’t use at the Big Two but now Pacific, First, Comico, Dark Horse, Eclipse, not to mention a branching out of alternative stuff from WaRP Graphics, Aardvark-Vanaheim, Fantagraphics, Epic, were all saying, come over here ! It’s not all Big Brother anymore. Cut loose and get crazy and that produced great stuff. The Golden Age started everything. The Silver Age breathed much needed new life and dimension into it, and the Bronze Age saw a burst of new creative talent unfettered by bureaucracy, politics and a plantation system that kept everyone in the dark. It really was the third wave, but with more modern sensibilities than the more dated previous ages. The royalties system was developed and creators could now fully own their creations. What a concept !

Loved those Art Adams X-Men covers. I miss Longshot, he was a great character.

I said:
And the way most of Superman’s “triangle years” stuff strikes me as well-intended mediocrity.

David said:
How many issues of Superman post Byrne have you read? Neither Death of Superman or Panic in the Sky were bad.

I believe I have read just about everything that was published in the titles “Superman,” “Action Comics,” “Adventures of Superman,” and “Superman: Man of Steel” (once it joined the others) from the time of the Post-COIE Reboot in the 1980s all the way up to around 2002. (And, of course, Byrne’s “Man of Steel” 6-part mini which jump-started the entire thing by laying the foundations of the new continuity for many years to come.)

It was roughly two years ago that I finally read “Panic in the Sky” at one sitting and decided I hadn’t been missing much by not getting my hands on a full set of it years earlier.

I think the material actually collected in the TPB “The Death of Superman” is downright lame. It did a remarkable job of failing to impress me, the first time I read it. Several years ago I posted an online review of that TPB collection; the review is still available at:


Of course, when you mention “the Death of Superman,” you may have meant to include the follow-up material with Superman dead and buried, and then with several different people with S-shields flying around competing for attention in “Reign of the Supermen,” and so forth.

Sure, I think the people at DC did significantly better with the material collected in “World Without a Superman” than they did with the actual story of Doomsday’s first appearance and the final slugfest that “killed” both Doomsday and Superman, and I think they did even better (most of the time) in the issues collected in “The Return of Superman” — but that doesn’t redeem the rest of the Superman stories of that era. I was buying those “Reign of the Supermen” issues as they came out, and shortly after that situation was finally over and done with (Clark Kent being officially “rescued” from where he’d been “trapped underground,” and Doctor Occult running Lois and Clark through a quick seminar on how Superman came back from the dead this time and why he really shouldn’t count on it ever happening that way again!), I found my interest flagging fast at the mediocre storytelling, now that it no longer had the rare circumstance of featuring lots of people trying to sort out which of several contenders was entitled to really call himself “Superman.”

So I dropped the Superman titles for several years. With the result that years later I finally started trying to fill in what I had missed, if I could pick things up for about fifty cents apiece at sales, and that’s about all most of his subsequent material from the 1990s was worth, I’m afraid. (As I verified after I filled in gaps until I could read years’ worth of the triangle-era stuff in sequence without missing any chapters.)

Lorendiac, the 1990s made me quit traditional superhero comics for years (and many of my friends did the same). They used to say that you lose interest in comics when you get interested in girls, with me it wasn’t girls, it was the 90s. Well, that, and I’m not straight, so girls couldn’t make me give comics up, but anyway…

Maybe it wasn’t so bad, because I really started to get into Sandman, Preacher, Starman, Astro City… And even Marvel still had a few readable stuff in the 90s, when you think about it (New Warriors, Excalibur, X-Factor, Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy…)

Whether the triangle Superman books were mediocre or not (I’ve only read a few, they didn’t grab me, but I’ve never been a big Superman fan), they were of a consistent quality, and better than a lot of the dross that passed for comics in the ’90s. Still, I think the ’90s get a bad rap. The late ’90s were significantly better than the early or mid-’90s, with Starman, Hellboy, Astro City, Black Panther, Thunderbolts, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, the “good” Bendis comics, and some excellent independent and Vertigo books coming out.

I’ve never taken a very dim view of comics in the 90’s, but the vast amount of my reading diet then was indy books (my mania for X-Men fizzled roughly when I was fourteen). So when other people bemoan how bad superhero books got, I mostly just think of Bone and Astro City and Dark Horse books and the DC series I liked. Also the countless Bronze Age books I ferreted out of quarter boxes.

Oh, and Thunderbolts. The Busiek Thunderbolts was good enough to leave me very attached to the characters, even when they passed inevitably into the hands of lesser writers.

As I have always said , Paul Smith is THE most under-rated X-Men artist.

Priest’s Panther became a lot weaker once it lost the Knights banner.

Jesus, I love Gotham Central. At one point a few years ago, I was only reading five or six titles monthly, and GC was one of them. Absolutely fantastic, and would be much higher on my list if I ever compiled such a thing. I don’t want to say it was the reason I’m now reading 55 titles monthly, but it did revitalize my interest in hitting the comic shop weekly.

[…] Subway is boring and not fattening enough. …http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article&article_id=7897Top 100 Comic Book Runs 75-71 Here are the next five! Remember, this is all based on a vote by almost 700 people, who chose their […]

Leave a Comment



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