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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #55-51

Here are the next five runs! I’ll keep the explanations brief! Just capsules!!

55. Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man – 170 points (4 first place votes)

Amazing Spider-Man #224-227, 229-252

– A lot of classic adventure stories.

– Great John Romita Jr. artwork

– Character-driven comics, as well as action-packed

– The classic Juggernaut vs. Spider-Man story, which Burgas recently wrote about

– The introduction of the Hobgoblin, who was one of the coolest Spider-Man villains ever, at the time (he’s since been basically ruined)

– The mystery of who was the Hobgoblin was great.

– The Boy Who Collected Spider-Man – almost ‘Nuff Said, right there.

53. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern – 174 points (1 first place vote)

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6, Green Lantern #1-current (#29)

– Brought back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern

– Brought back Guy Gardner as Green Lantern

– Brought back John Stewart as Green Lantern

– Brought back Hal Jordan as a test pilot again

– Brought back Coast City

– Brought back the Green Lantern Corps, period.

– Wrote a bunch of nice adventure stories.

– Wrote one of the better recent crossovers, the sprawling Sinestro Corps War, where Sinestro forms his own Corps of yellow-ringed bad guys who all inspire fear.

53. Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus – 174 points (4 first place votes)

Nexus #1-current (#101, I believe)

– Stunning Steve Rude artwork.

– Nice morality questions, as Nexus (who is forced to hunt down mass murderers and execute them) often questions his purpose

– Great action sequences, as Nexus is often, despite his clever premise, just a straightforward action book – hunt down the bad guys and kill them.

– A LOT of nice social and political satire by writer Mike Baron

– An engaging array of supporting characters

– An in-depth new futuristic society, well-researched and well-executed by Baron and Rude.

– Lasting power, as Nexus has been around for over 25 years, and numerous comic book companies – now Rude and Baron make it themselves.

– Great Rude artwork (its so good, I have to mention it twice)

Here’s why it topped Matt Bird’s list:

Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s first run on “Nexus” (issues 1-55, plus the three issues of the original series and the “Next Nexus” miniseries) is, in my opinion, the highest achievement yet reached in the comic book format.

For number two on my list, I voted for Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s “Doom Patrol”. Both series are deep, complex, novelistic, tragic, funny, epic in scope, and boundless in imagination. But “Nexus” edged out “Doom Patrol” for one simple reason: it’s never for one instant ashamed to be a comic book (and, let’s face it, there’s always a hint of embarrassment about the whole business lurking just under the surface of Morrison’s work.) Nexus is ECSTATIC to be a comic book. Nexus never gets tired of wearing tights and puts on a trenchcoat.

Nexus is the story of Horatio Hellpop, son of a Soviet General five hundred years from now (hey, who knew?) who is empowered by a shadowy alien to become the “conscience of humanity”, which means that he’s supposed to fly around and zap mass murderers and tyrants to death. This burden weighs greatly on his mind, as he’s a sensitive intellectual at heart. Things get complicated when the refugees Hellpop creates all ask him for asylum. Hellpop lives in a mysterious, abandoned city inside a hollowed-out moon, Ylum, so he reluctantly allows a community of refugees to build up around him.

Over the five years we see an accidental community start from scratch, then slowly become populated with DOZENS of fully rounded, morally complex characters. Ylum’s struggle to survive without losing its soul becomes the counterpoint to Hellpop’s own internal strife. In the end, Hellpop fails, but, far more importantly, Ylum succeeds, making all Hellpop’s suffering worthwhile.

Nexus would have been great no matter who drew it, but, joy of joys, it just so happened that Mike Baron grew up with one of the greatest comic artists of all time, Steve Rude. Rude takes all the best elements from comics: the big, the colorful, the dynamic, the surreal; but he also relied heavily on life drawing and his own relentless urge to explore new methods of representation. I have often wondered: could it be sheer coincidence that John Lennon and Paul McCartney, so great but so different, found each other, or must we conclude that each became as great as he was only because he was lucky enough to find the other? Likewise with Nexus: would either of these guys have achieved this level of greatness without challenging each other? Certainly, as with Lennon and McCartney, neither has gone on to achieve the same level of greatness separately.

I could also go on about the other great collaborators, especially editor Rick Oliver, colorist Les Dorschied and regular fill-in artist Paul Smith, but this contest is auteurist by nature, so let’s give the auteurs their due: Baron and Rude are the creators, and they should be very, very proud of their creation.

52. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman- 176 points (3 first place votes)

#1-current (#10)

– Amazing Quitely artwork.

– Great stories with a Silver Age bent to them.

– Almost each issue is a done-in-one story, while all being part of a 12-issue-arc.

– Nice character moments, but also large otherworldly moments

51. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy – 179 points (2 first place votes)

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1-4 in 1995, then lots of mini-series ever since then.

– For most of the run, great Mignola artwork.

– An impressive lead character, who had enough depth to hang a number of bizarre stories on, as the idea of a demon working for the good of humanity is a great hook.

– An impressive array of folklore shows up in the comic run

– An equally impressive influence of great literature is clearly present in Mignola’s work.

– A group of supporting characters in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) who are so good that THEY have supported their OWN classic run of comics (which almost made the Top 100! Okay, not almost, but still!).

If anyone wants to elaborate if you voted for these runs, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com – otherwise, the countdown continues Monday!!

84 Comments

Bernard the Poet

April 12, 2008 at 4:37 am

Hmmm, Roger Stern has two entrys in the 100 greatest comic runs of all time (and maybe more to come, his collaboration with John Byrne on Captain America is very popular). Again hmmm.

Don’t get me wrong, I bought both his Avengers and Spiderman runs at the time and enjoyed them very much. He is undoubtedly a very consistent and competent writer, who could turn his hand to any superhero and produce consistent and competent work. No troughs. No peaks. Just good solid storytelling.

But. this is a list for the greatest comic book runs of all time. He shouldn’t be in this exalted company.

Who decided to use up one of their precious votes on him? Surely, they must have read at least ten comic runs superior to either his Avengers or Spiderman.

Ha! Nexus is the first run on the list I have not read one single issue of.

(But I think the library has some trades. I will fix this. :))

Bernard, Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern is 53, and someone feels it’s the best run of any comic ever.
It should not surprise you that Stern gets love.
Different strokes for different folks. (I voted for a Cable run, which I doubt anyone else had on their list)

Patrick Joseph

April 12, 2008 at 5:01 am

Half done, and with the exception of David’s X-Factor and the Silvestri X-Men, I’ve read at least a sampling of everything on the list.

Numbers 53-51 are a pretty potent dose of amazing art and great story. I lost interest in Nexus after issue 55 or so, but the first 4 years of that series stand tall from a time when American Flagg!, Mage, Love and Rockets, Grim Jack, Cerebus, Elfquest, and Neat Stuff and other gems were making it really hard to pay attention to Marvel and DC. The mid-80’s were pretty nice.

That’s 2 from my list so far, Hellboy and LoEG, which both should have higher. C’mon people!

Wow, I like Geoff Johns probably more than most but I have to imagine that the Green Lantern votes were based mainly on the goodwill created by the Sinestro Corps War. I am enjoying the current direction and, probably when all is said and done it will rank pretty high on my personal list of great runs, but for right now it hasn’t impressed me as a whole like the Flash did.

Prior to the Sinestro War, what storylines really stand out for everyone? I kind of remember the Shark in an early issue with some space gremlins and Mongul breaking out the black mercy on GL and Batman (but that is only because the newest GL Corps issue primed the memory pump). Besides the limited series that brought back Hal, I would rank Johns’ actual run on par with his Hawkman work, solid but not amazing. If anything, I would hope Johns’ JSA gets more recognition. Is it just me?

I’ve never read “All-Star Superman.” These days, on nearly everything I hear about, I am “waiting for the trade.” Other than that, I have some familiarity with each of the other 4 items on this list. Frankly, I’ve given Nexus a fair chance and he’s just never managed to make a great impression on me. We are now halfway through the list (or 52/102 of the way through, which is a hair over half), and just one of my picks has made it so far. I’m hoping to see several of the other 9 do better in the second half! :)

Nexus! My number one! One the one hand, I’m horrified that it’s so low, on the other hand, I had become terrified that it wouldn’t make the list at all. Baron, Rude, and Paul Smith’s first run on the book (up to 55) really really is the greatest comic book of all time.

The series is FINALLY getting reprinted in its entirety, but unfortunately it’s only in those laughably expensive Dark Horse Archives 50-buck monsters. And just to make sure that we know the joke is on us, they make us pay for not only the Nexus stories, but they also reprint the low-quality back-up stories as well. Why? Why? Won’t somebody PLEASE reprint the GREATEST COMICS MASTERPIECE OF ALL TIME in affordable paperbacks WITHOUT including the back-up stories to pad out the page count?

If you haven’t read Nexus, you’re in for a treat. Every other comic you’ve read was just the drum roll leading up to this one.

I really wish currently ongoing runs had been disqualified, while I can imagine All-Star Superman making a list like this in five years, I have a hard time believing Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern would place so high (or, really, at all) if it didn’t happen to be in front of eyeballs now.

winterteeth, you have to factor in that Johns got (and gets) oodles of goodwill just for retconning Emerald Twilight and putting a ring back on Hal’s finger. (Yeah, Rebirth sucked harder than Dani Woodward {don’t Google that at work}, but it was the comics equivalent of Michael Jordan coming back to the Bulls. So many people were going to love it just for happening that quality didn’t matter.)

Lynxara — if it’s any comfort to hear this, I only voted for one run that’s still happening “right now” . . . and it’s been near and dear to my heart for about a decade already, so it’s not a case of simply asking myself, “What have I read within the last week or two that I particularly enjoyed?” when I was trying to create a list of “Top Ten Favorites.”

You’ve got me really curious about what your “ongoing” run is, Lorendiac. I may ask you about it after everything’s up, if it doesn’t make the Top 100 cut.

(I didn’t vote– while I like reading features like this and seeing what other people think, I never like trying to come up with a list of things to send in.)

Halfway through the list and still not a single one of my picks. I must be Matt mainstream over here.

Bernard,

I think it’s a big distinction that people voted for their top ten FAVORITES and not necessarily the top ten GREATEST. In which case, it makes sense Stern might make lots of people’s lists. ‘Cause several years worth of quality, entertaining Avengers and Spidey stories would stick out as a great time to be collecting those titles, even if there’s no pinnacle moment that changed comic storytelling forever. Almost picked Stern myself, then decided to go with the first Shooter run instead, not ’cause it was technically better, but ’cause the memories were fonder (yay, Nefaria trilogy).

So far only Warlock’s shown up from my list, but I expect that’ll change, as I’ve got a lot of obvious choices coming up (probably ’cause they are regarded as some of the GREATEST runs ever).

Thanks for this top 100. Very fun.

New totals, this time adding 10 new picks. I’ll post some comments separately.

We have 52 runs so far (and 6650 pts)

– 20 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (2501 pts)
– 7 runs are X-Titles (991 pts)
– 9 runs are set in the DC Universe (1270 pts)
– 2 runs are Bat-Titles (268 pts)
– 4 are Vertigo comics (507 pts)
– 13 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (1722 pts)
– 4 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (501 pts)
– 2 run have female protagonists (197 pts)

– 44 are superheroes or close enough (5786 pts)
– 8 are non-superhero (864 pts)

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

– 1980s (17 runs – 2147 pts)
– 2000s (14 runs – 1841 pts)
– 1990s (12 runs – 1620 pts)
– 1970s (5 runs – 618 pts)
– 1960s (3 runs – 329 pts)
– 1940s (1 run – 95 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Chris Claremont (5 runs – 638 pts)
– Alan Moore (3 runs – 455 pts)
– Warren Ellis (3 runs – 374 pts)
– Geoff Johns (2 runs – 342 pts)
– Roger Stern (2 runs – 334 pts)
– John Romita Jr. (2 runs – 276 pts)
– Denny O’Neil (2 runs – 261 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)
– Mike Mignola (179 pts)
– Grant Morrison (176 pts)
– Frank Quitely (176 pts)
– Mike Baron (174 pts)
– Steve Rude (174 pts)
– Neal Adams (162 pts)
– Bryan Hitch (159 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)
– Mike Grell (104 pts)
– Stuart Immonen (103 pts)
– Garth Ennis (101 pts)
– Michael Gaydos (101 pts)
– Kazuo Koike (100 pts)
– Goseki Kojima (100 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)

– 44 are superheroes or close enough (5786 pts)

– 23 are traditional superheroes (3208 pts)
– 21 are non-traditional superheroes (2568 pts)

– 8 are nonpowered superheroes (901 pts)
– 5 are comedic superheroes (573 pts)
– 17 are team books (2186 pts)

– 8 are non-superhero (864 pts)

“Who decided to use up one of their precious votes on him?”

Well I know I shouldn’t do this as in will just come across as silly and petulant but hey the Stern Avengers run is the only one of my ten to make it so far so I’ll take the bait and jump to its defense (Especially as I think only 2 more of my other runs will make it now the John’s Flash run is in and I think that’s more popular than the Flash run I went for???).

Anyway why did I waste my precious vote, well here’s three reasons.

While I have read many runs that I think are artistically better this run, I have not read many that mean as much to me for a host of reasons. Amongst them the fact that this was the first American comic book run I really got into after years of reading 2000ad and other British and European comics (the many runs from which I suspect are not going to make the list alas). It means a lot to me personally and therefore makes it into my top 10.

Secondly maybe, just maybe, if he has two runs in the top 100 at least, he is in fact a very good writer whose writing really works for a large number of people. So some people don’t get it ,which is cool and all good and all, but for some people his solid superhero storytelling is just what they’re after in comics (I know I love a bit of solid superhero storytelling amongst other things).

Third the John Buscema art that made up half the run is in my mind some of the best superhero art ever seen. I guess (and I am just speculating here) that a number of the votes cast for this run are also a nod of the hat to the art.

Anyway that’s why I ‘wasted’ my ‘precious’ vote on the run ‘cos to me (and a number of others to boot) its one of my top ten favorite runs of all time. Wasn’t that kinda what we were meant to vote for?

We got halfway through the countdown, and what can we say about the results?

– Marvel Comics still clearly dominates with almost a third of the points, even though these last 10 picks dimished it a little, with only 2 Marvel runs (the Roger Stern ones, showing surprising support). Marvel still has twice the points assigned to DC runs (I considered All-Star Superman a DC universe run, even though it isn’t set in the DC universe proper, and speaking of it, I thought All-Star Superman would score higher).

– Complain all you want about the lack of diversity, but it seems comic book fans really, really like their superheroes. Works somehow related to superheroes received eight times as many points as works that have nothing to do with superheroes. And almost half of the total points were given to “traditional” superheroes at that (you all know who they are).

– People are really fond of the 1980s. This decade gets almost a third of all the points. There is an overwhelming preference for modern comics on the whole. Comics from the 1980s-2000s got almost 85% of votes! So far, the mythical 1960s are very poorly represented, with only 3 runs. Expect at least 4 more 60s runs to make the top 100.

– I get a perverse pleasure by seeing Roger Stern and Geoff Johns scoring so high and standing side-by-side with Alan Moore. Down with elitism, the fans like what they like, and all that… This is just people choosing their favorites, and many people just like the archetypical superhero runs. There is no crime in that.

– And none of my picks has appeared yet…

I don’t understand the distinction between “favorite” and “greatest”.

Comics are produced to entertain. If you are entertained by something in the medium (in this case, a stint by a particular writer and/or artist on a title), it is successful. The more people entertained by a particular work, the more successful it is, and more likely it will be praised as “good” or even “great” across the board. There should not be a distinction between “guilty pleasure” and “intellectual product”.

As a child, stories by Roger Stern and Chris Claremont are the stories that piqued my interest in the medium. They opened the doors for me to read mainstream product during the 90’s, when storytelling wasn’t that great. As I grew older, I picked up works by Alan Moore, and I appreciated their place in the industry. I now work at a comic book store because of my intense, long-term love of comics. Even today, I’ll read a Fred Van Lente or a Judd Winick as often, probably much more than, a Grant Morrison or a Garth Ennis. Does that make my selections not as good? Do they not deserve to be read?

This is a blog called “Comics Should Be Good”. Many, many comics *are* good, regardless of publisher. If you look beyond Marvel and DC, you will see some good stuff, but I feel like some people take that to an extreme (even here, at times). The Big Two are still producing great work. The child that picks up Teen Titans Go today will be reading Teen Titans in the future, and perhaps JLA down the road. It is IMPERATIVE that we don’t draw invisible barriers and segregate our fandom. Heavy, layered, intellectual fare is but one side of the industry. There is still a market for garish spandex and meaningless splash-page slugfests.

To say that Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman don’t deserve to be desecrated or watered down by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Roger Stern and Geoff Johns is ludicrous.

A huge part of the Marvel domination of this list can be ascribed to dividing Claremont’s work on the X-Men by artist, while counting entire runs by a writer on a title as a whole. It is really comparing apples and oranges. Claremont wrote the X-Men for so long, so well and with so many collaborators that dividing by artist becomes an exercise in picking your favorite story, or stories.

The irony is that it will probably hurt the overall support for “Claremont’s X-Men” as a whole. His work with Byrne and Jim Lee is still to come, but my guess is that he tops out several spots lower than he otherwise would have if you just totaled the first place votes for all the different pieces of his overall run.

In retrospect, the “Top 100 runs” might have been better defined. Voting for just a run by a writer, or just an artist, or only a writer-artist combo would have been a more accurate comparison. I am still enjoying the list a great deal.

Also, I wonder if this is the last we will see of Superman. Given the slant toward recent comics, I doubt that we will be seeing Siegel-Shuster “Superman”, not Weisenger “Superman”, making the list. It is amazing that the Man of Steel is by far my favorite comic book character, but I have followed his adventures far more in other media.

None of my votes here, but I love All Star Superman (another Morrison/Quitely run got a high place on my list, hint hint ;) ). Not a reader of Johns’ GL, but Rebirth was pretty fine and the Sinestro Corps Special #1 was bombastic (so I agree with the notion that the recent event is a big factor in the votes).

Could never get into Hellboy (only read the 25 cent-reprint of The Corpse when it was released years ago. The film was okay) and Nexus (read an FCBD issue from last year).

I think that the only ASM story from that run I have read is the one which its cover is featured here. It was collected in an old trade called Spider-Man’s Greatest Villains and in my opinion is the definite Vulture story.

Rene, maybe the fact that such a high proportion of the runs in this list are superhero comics stems from the fact that such a high proportion of (American) comics are superhero comics.
Also, maybe the level of eighties love says more about the folks who frequent this blog than it does about the decade itself. (I’m sure many of you will disagree with me on that, but I’m sue it’s a contributing factor.)

I don’t think anyone should have to justify voting for Stern. If you voted for Johns’s Green Lantern though…

I’ll also take this oportunity to point out to Brian, as I’ve done before, that the possessive form of a singular noun (be it proper or common) should have an s after the apostrophe, whereas a plural wouldn’t. Thus it’s my boss’s car but my bosses’ cars. I know it looks a bit strange, but that’s the way it should be. Sorry to nitpick. Please don’t punish me like you did Jeff Ryan.

Loving the list so far, even though none of my picks have come up yet.

Ha. None of my runs have appeared yet.

I mentioned this in one of the previous posts, but saying someone “wasted” a vote on something you personally don’t like is so moronic. This entire list is people’s opinion of what their favorite comic runs are. Saying someone’s pick is wrong is the same as telling them their favorite food is wrong or their favorite movie is wrong. It’s stupid, and it pretty much just makes you come across as an elitist ass. Different strokes for different folks.

I tend to agree with jazzbo. I usually say something about which runs in each installment of winners I haven’t even looked at, and which ones I did or didn’t seriously consider voting for (when I had read enough to have an opinion on the run’s appeal for me), but I don’t go out of my way to insult other voters for disagreeing with me by voting for stuff I wasn’t likely to vote for (and in some cases didn’t even like).

Heck, so far we’ve only had one “winner” that I voted for, which means 51 other runs have been voted for by lots of people who obviously disagreed with me on many of their picks! Just going around telling those people they were “wrong” to vote for their favorites instead of my favorites would be a full-time job! And as various others (in this thread and probably in others) have suggested, we’re not just voting for “runs with the most complicated long-term plot development showing careful planning by the writer,” or “runs that most deserved literary prizes,” or “runs that dealt cleverly with the most profound themes and shocking character development,” or whatever. We’re voting for our personal favorites.

“Favorites.” That’s going to be incredibly subjective, and why would anyone expect it to be otherwise? The runs I most enjoy rereading, and thus have actually reread the most times, are not necessarily the ones I most “admire” on an intellectual basis. For instance, I greatly admire some aspects of what I’ve seen of Neil Gaiman’s work on “Sandman,” but I’ve never fallen sufficiently in love with it to make me feel the irresistible urge to spend whatever it takes to collect a full set and then reread it every year . . . so I didn’t vote for it! Same statement applies for Dave Sim’s “Cerebus,” and various other items which may very well end up on the Top 100 when all is said and done — but if they do, it won’t be because of my votes!

Hooray Great Nexus!

Here’s a neat tidbit: Nexus #3 came with a flexi-disc that included dialogue, sound effects, and the “Nexus Song!” And people wonder why the 80s were so great!

I considered Stern’s Spider-Man run, but his Avengers run got my vote. Still, after the Spider-Man run I did vote for (which I’m sure we’ll see at some point), Stern’s would be my next favorite.

I greatly enjoy All-Star Superman, but I don’t love it as much as the rest of the internet does. Blasphemy, I know. I’m actually a little surprised it didn’t place higher.

I was honestly surprised to see Johns’s GL, until I read Brian’s list of everything he brought back. He could have stopped at “Hal Jordan” and it would have been enough of an explanation. Don’t get me wrong, I think Johns’s GL is some solid, fun, adventure stories, and the Sinestro War was the bee’s knees, but if I was going to vote for a Johns run, it would have been Flash, or more likely JSA. Hopefully JSA pops up here at some point.

I have never read any Nexus. Did Steve Rude really draw that entire run? If so, that’s danged impressive and pretty awesome. I’ll have to check it out.

Rude drew #1-3 of the Capital Comics volume, #1-16, 18-22, 24-27, 33-36, 39-42, 45-48, 50, 52-55, & 58-60 of the First series, all 19 issues of the various Dark Horse mini-series, and the first two issues of the current Rude Dude Studios run. So, no, but that’s still 69 issues of Rude awesomeness. (Thanks, Comic Book DB!)

Brian: the longer form explanations and descriptions were great, I miss them already. Seriously, they’ve helped me decide if I want to go track some of these down. Capsules are much less fun. Just sayin’.

There’s seems to be a bit of Roger Stern hatin’ going on lately, which makes me sad. I’m a big fan of Stern. His Avengers run is one of my personal favorites, and he always stood out as a Spider-man writer for me too. I thought he did a great job with the Hobgoblin storyline (until editorial effed it up), and his comics have always featured a terrific blend of action and character pieces. Just because he does mainstream super-hero books doesn’t make him any less of a craftsman. One of Stern’s strongest selling points is his ability to tell accessible stories. he can write (and write very well) for a wide audience. That’s a skill, and a lot of the writers hailed as brilliant in the industry can’t do it at all.

“It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken,” by Seth, was on some 100 greatest comics list (maybe the Comics Journal’s). I read it, thought the art was excellent, and found the story dull. My #1 run probably won’t make any critic’s top 100 list, but I love it because it brought me much joy. “Greatest” and “favorite” are distinctly different. I’m critical of some the runs making the lists, but it’s not right to attack people for people voting for them. I didn’t care for Man of Steel, Johns’ Flash or GL, or Romita Jr.’s X-Men art. Some people weren’t moved by my only pick to show up thus far (Lone Wolf & Cub) or my other favorites that other people voted for (Davis’ Excalibur, Ditko’s Dr. Strange, Concrete, Grell’s Green Arrow). Discussing differences of opinion makes the whole list more interesting.

Bernard the Poet

April 12, 2008 at 12:10 pm

“Saying someone’s pick is wrong is the same as telling them their favorite food is wrong or their favorite movie is wrong.”

Actually, I’m always telling people that their favorite food is wrong or their favorite movie is wrong. Am I not meant to do that?

I appreciate that there is a difference between favourite and greatest, but are we saying that all art is subjective and that there is no such thing as good and bad, and if we are, then why are we bothering to create a list of the Top 100 Runs?

Colin – an heroic defence of Stern, but I’m still not convinced.

Am I the only one that doesn’t like Quitely’s art? It does nothing for me.

I appreciate that there is a difference between favourite and greatest, but are we saying that all art is subjective and that there is no such thing as good and bad, and if we are, then why are we bothering to create a list of the Top 100 Runs?

Everyone posting comments (and Mr. Cronin himself) would probably have a diferent response to that question, but here’s mine:

1) Because it’s fun
2) Because lists are starting points for discussion, not endpoints

I remember Roger Ebert complaining about “ten best” lists at the end of every year, and how he disliked them because he felt like they somehow set movie history into stone, and excluded too much. I took his point (just as I take your thoughtful question, Bernard), but I’d also disagree with him: for me, the joy of these kinds of exercises is not that they somehow canonize 100 great runs or say, “This is it, folks,” but that they spur on the very thoughtful and fun exchanges we’ve seen in the comments sections thus far, and provoke people to think about what they really appreciate and enjoy about comics. As a comics omnivore, I like to see lots of different runs and artists and genres represented, and I wouldn’t want to exclude Seth or Stern, as they each offer me a different kind of pleasure. I do think calling it “favorites” is more useful than reading it as “greatest” (although neither is actually in the title, which uses the rather ambiguous word “top”); I prefer “favorites” precisely because it does highlight the subjectivity that’s a part of any critical judgment, and asks the voters/readers/commenters to think about their own actual desires, tastes, blind spots, etc., instead of just the more “official” (well, as official as something like the wonderfully loose critical discourse of comics on blogs and journals gets) criteria and accepted favorites. I’d also add that I think “accepted favorites” can be both Alan Moore, but also Green Lantern (was I the only one who felt out of the loop when so many blogs were praising Sinestro Corps last year?).

But that disagreement about Green Lantern is awesome, because it means some kind of dialogue is happening, which seems like the best part of fandom. I’ve loved this list because it reminds me of stuff I’ve read, and gives me oodles more ideas for stuff to put on my reading list. It’s a starting point, not an endpoint.

And yes, Roger Stern is an underrated craftsman, and his run was the one that got me hooked on the Avengers.

“but are we saying that all art is subjective and that there is no such thing as good and bad, and if we are, then why are we bothering to create a list of the Top 100 Runs?”

I wholeheartedly believe there is “good” art and “bad” art, and that the differences between the two can be determined through the use of some specific criteria (and that the determination and application of those criteria can often be heavily debated).

However, I did not apply those criteria when selecting my runs; I picked the ones that were my favorite, based on personal criteria and levels of enjoyment. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to do that when voting, but I imagine quite a few other people did the same thing.

For most of my selections, I would never argue that they meet agreed-upon criteria to be considered “good” art. Some of them may even meet the “bad” art criteria; doesn’t mean I still don’t enjoy them and consider them amongst favorites.

For some people, they only (or more highly) enjoy works of art that have met the “good” criteria, and that’s fine. But for some people, something can be “not good” and still enjoyable. My understanding (whether correct or not) of what this list is about is an attempt to determine what the voting audiences’ favorite runs are, not what the voting audience considers to be the “best” or “greatest” works of art.

Again, perhaps I misunderstand the intent of the list, but to me, it’s about “favorite” runs, not “best” runs, and I’d imagine for many people, “favorite” and “best” would be two different lists.

Yay for Nexus making it. Though I was hoping it would rank higher, I’m glad it made the list.

I think I voted for BPRD. It’s one of my favorite books right now. Ever since Acurdi and Davis took over it’s surpassed some of the best Hellboy stories.

Still Hellboy’s inclusions is well deserved.

Roger Stern is easily one of the all-time top comic book writers and grossly under-rated. He did great character stuff and always seemed to create a good supporting cast. His books often had a pretty good mystery and action stuff.

However, Stern never really had a defining moment. If you don’t like his Thor, then you probably don’t like Walt Simonson. The same is true a lot creators. There is that one moment when they sort become themselves, but Stern never really had that.

My theory is that comic writers sort of depend upon being paired with an artist who really works for their style to break-out. Claremont had that with Byrne. Mike Baron has it with Steve Rude. Marv Wolfman had it with Gene Colan (and later George Perez). Stern never really had that. He was the third best writer Byrne had (after Claremont and himself). John Buscema did better work ON THE AVENGERS with Roy Thomas. What artists really defined his career on a Stern written book?

That is what makes the votes for the Stern runs on The Avengers and Spider-Man hard to swallow. The stories were well-crafted enough. It is just that they don’t feel … essential.

I didn’t vote for Stern’s Avengers myself, but the “Under Siege” storyline and the following arc with the Greek Gods really are among the best Avengers’ stories ever. If you want to see solid sequential superhero action with a heart and perfectly executed, those two story arcs are the text book examples. And Stern’s pacing in these two 6-part stories is also flawless and puts to shame lots of writers that came before and after. There is no padding and no rushing things either (take that Bendis!)

It’s just that I didn’t find the rest of his run as good as these two storylines. There are some other stories of his that I loved (the Molecule Man issue, the one where a touchingly depressed Sub-Mariner is invited to the Avengers), but I think there are a lot of stories that weren’t anything special, so I just couldn’t vote for his run.

I have a lot of love for a lot of Stern’s work, but I have to say that his Avengers run is both my least favourite of his work and one of my least favourite Avengers runs. He had some truly terrible lineups in there at some points.
And really, what Bernard’s saying is not much more than that he disagrees with some other’s picks, so “different strokes for different folks” works more as an argument supporting him saying what he likes than it does as an argument that he should keep it to himself.

Well I did vote for Stern twice-once for Spider-Man and once for Dr. Strange. Why? Because I believe that those runs were the best I’ve ever read of those two characters.

The Avengers are my all-time favorite comic, but I didn’t think that his work was worthy of top tenness. (Shooter’s; however, was my number one.)

If it makes anyone feel better Stern’s runs were number 9 and 10 on my list, and there was a bit of a log jam at that point.

Craig, the difference between “likable” and “good” is the same as the difference between “entertainment” and “art”. Something that successfully entertains is not automatically good art, and vice-versa. If you don’t understand the difference between the two, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

There’s no harm in segregation among the fanbase, and, in fact, it’s what promotes a more diverse medium. If we only represent ourselves as the median of all voices, we get material that is mediocre and full of compromise, in order to attempt to please everyone. That never ends up well.

About diversity, nobody would refer to Chris Ware on Acme Novelty Library a ‘run’, or Art Spiegelman on Maus a ‘run’. Once they end those books, nobody is going to continue them. Its as much a run as Charles Dickens on ‘Oliver Stone’. A ‘run’ is just something pretty natural for the pulpier things in life, and in comics that’s detectives and superheroes..

Oooo, Nexus! I preferred Badger myself, but that was a good series.

Hmmm… the literature establishment became so elitist (and this elitism fed on itself, like it always does), that the average person is unable to enjoy (or sometimes even understand) what passes for “art” in literature. Is that one of the reasons why people read so little? Perhaps not, though I’ve heard many tales of horror from people who got turned off from reading novels at a young age after experiences in school. Still, the “genre” market of novels still exists, is varied, and has taken the role of “pleasure” reading.

But it’s funny that in comics, many of the works that are considered the pinnacle of the medium would still be frowned at by many in the literature establishment as “genre” stuff. Watchmen, Sandman, Sin City… I’m not even sure about Maus, and what kind of reception it would encounter were it written as prose. No matter how elitist you are, there are always people who are even more elitist, whole new levels of elitism to look down on us all. :)

So long as everyone understands what the point of this list is (which I try to stress in explicit detail at the opening of each entry ;)), I have no problem with “I don’t think that run is any good” or “That run was really good,” etc.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

April 12, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Brian, I’m puzzled.

Over on your Comic Alphabet post for Roger stern you say that Stern rec’d one vote in the greatest runs poll for Dr. Strange.

I had his Dr. Strange run at #9 on my list. And Black Manta says he voted for it as well. Did one of our lists not reach you?

I think super-hero comics will never to sell to a good number of adults because they can’t get past the idea that they’re about people in tights shooting lasers at each other. Even Watchmen, long considered the apex of the genre, may not be able to escape such stereotyping. The literature establishment may be better able to see past the genre conventions than the average consumer, as they may be more inclined to look at form and style over content. Alan Moore breaking conventions and writing super-heroes in a way they’d never been written before may be more enticing to a literary elitist than someone who reads John Grisham and Dan Brown novels.

Me, and elitist? Perish forbid.

As to art being subjective… I think everything is, on some level, subjective. There are minimum standards to define “good art.” In this case, “good comics” succeed in communicating their story. The art and stories contain no obvious errors (e.g. the McFarlane-drawn Hulk issue in which the Hulk’s actions depend on their not being a moon that night- and the full moon is shown in many panels). Beyond that, who knows?

Is Liefeld’s art bad because of its anatomy errors and over-dependence on posed figures drawn with too many lines? Well, Steranko had problems with anatomy and perspective, Neal Adams included a lot of “poster shots” in his work, Barry Windsor-Smith put a lot of lines into his art, etc. Are they bad artists? I *know* that Liefeld’s art is bad and the three artists I’ve mentioned are “good.” I know that there’s a contingent of readers who find the latter three artists’ work inferior because it looks old or isn’t flashy enough or doesn’t have enough “babes.”

Anyway, my point is that, beyond a very basic minimum criteria, art is subjective- I don’t care about Hal Jordan, but his many fans seem to like Johns’ take on the character. Who can say they’re absolutely wrong to vote a run their favorite based on that criterion? Of course, Lone Wolf & Cub, Plastic Man, and the Ditko Dr. Stranges being so much lower does not sit well with me (low-brow elitist that I am). I consider them “art,” but I can’t expect everyone to think like me.

Over on your Comic Alphabet post for Roger stern you say that Stern rec’d one vote in the greatest runs poll for Dr. Strange.

That was a Wizard thing.

Stern’s Dr. Strange did pretty well in this poll. Somewhere in the early 100s.

Nexus is on #100, right? I just received the issue in the mail from Steve. (*glee*)

Wow. I was excited to see my #1 vote on the list at #55 and then the first comment brings me down by saying I wasted my vote.
Just like Presidential elections…

Oh, also, I’m sure you’re a busy man, but could you do the normal full descriptions from here on out.? I’ve really enjoyed your comments on here. ( It’s like Hitch’s work on Ultimates. It’s worth the wait.)
Thanks.

And no one has submited essays about their first one picks of the runs from 102-50?

Rene, I’ve got to say, your argument that the ill-defined literary establishment you talk about wouldn’t accept Watchmen, Sin City, Sandman, and Maus based on their being comics seems kind of silly to me. It’s based on this idea that no one wants to read what is considered fine literature, but the local bookstores seem to have no trouble briskly selling Pulitzer Prize novels and other books that receive strong critical review; certainly something with strong reviews is most likely to end up in public libraries. It’s true that most people don’t read for leisure because of television, but that hardly means literature has somehow “failed” or that no one cares.

Furthermore, the books you cite as likely for rejection by literary critics and other taste-makers generally haven’t been. Frank Miller has risen to auteur status in the film community based in no small part on his contributions to the Sin City film, Time Magazine named Watchmen one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century (and it was widely discussed by critics in the wake of Pixar’s The Incredibles), Neil Gaiman has gone on to an extremely successful career as a well-reviewed novelist based largely on the strength of his writing in Sandman, and the Pulitzer Prize committee– surely the definition of literary establishment?– created a special category purely for the sake of recognizing Maus’s genius in its medium. Watchmen and Maus were both specifically taught to me as part of advanced reading courses in school, for that matter. (Maus alongside Elie Wiesel’s Night, which made for one of the few school English essays I remember liking to write.)

There doesn’t seem to be any room, realistically, for saying “It’s okay to exalt mediocre comics” based on the idea that some invisible committee of boogeymen will always reject comics because of their capes n’ tights history. Libraries and teachers now view comics as a valuable tool for keeping kids reading during the teenage years and plenty of indy comics receive lavish praise from lit-crit mags like the New Yorker. The only way in which comics are not now a mainstream and accepted form of entertainment is in terms of overall sales; it’s true the average person will go most of their life without reading much in the way of comics. Arguing that has anything to do with a perceived lack of artistic quality seems, to me, an extremely difficult position to support when there are so many other factors one can credibly point to.

Now, this said, I don’t think this list is even trying to be about objective technical quality; anything with “top” in the title never is. It’s about what people have strong affection for at the time the votes are gathered. That said, I think there’s room for the “People like that?? Why??” reaction on a list like this. There are polite and impolite ways to express that sentiment, of course, but that’s true of almost everything you can say on a public forum.

I don’t like the brief format, especially on lesser known stuff like Nexus. I like the more in depth explanation from the previous entries in this list.

Didn’t Paul Smith do some fill in work on NExus?

Well 2 of mine have appeared now (Roger Stern’s ASM this time & Grell’s Green Arrow earlier–there were some others that just narrowly missed my top 10–like The Question.)
I don’t expect all my 10 to appear, but I’d be very surprised if some of them didn’t.

I agree about the Hobgoblin being ruined.
Stern’s run had the best Hobgoblin stories, and they had a lot of other great stories as well.

Again, a lot of vocal Johns haters here. [shrug] I wonder if they’re reading his current stuff? I’m not thrilled with JSA these days but I am a very happy, recent convert to GL. (I didn’t vote for it, though; I voted for his and Kolins’s “Flash,” iirc.) The reason it ranks where it does, I bet, is not only because of the Sinestro Corps summer blockbuster, but also the issues since have continued to smoke. (In fact, they’re even better because he doesn’t have to coordinate quite so tightly with GLC.) As evidenced by the recent introduction of the Red Lanterns, Johns (and Reis) is (are) really on a roll.

I’ve re-read issue #28 a half-dozen times. It rocks. Its perfect story beats include a nice advance of the plot, another good scene with one of comics’ greatest villains (Sinestro), the introduction of a new villain who aims to join those “greatest” ranks … and the climax offers a stunning twist in the story arc for a supporting character whom I suddenly care even more about. That issue just made me gleeful: This comic is both good AND fun.

I have always loved Green Lantern (not just Hal, but Kyle and John too) and yet I haven’t ever bought that title on an ongoing basis until this summer. (In fact, I tried it out for the first few issues after the Rebirth mini and dropped it. Two years ago, Hal — or what Johns was initially doing with him — bored me. Not so anymore.) Johns is mining elements from the past (ie, the Star Sapphire mythos, the Lost Lanterns, and — best of all — a little one-off by Alan Moore about the Empire of Tears) and turning them into the foundation for a rockin’ sci-fi epic. I am very happily on board.

I guess Brian is only going to run people’s thought on their number ones when we get higher on the list. I did submit one for Nexus. Here’s what I wrote:

Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s first run on “Nexus” (issues 1-55, plus the three issues of the original series and the “Next Nexus” miniseries) is, in my opinion, the highest achievement yet reached in the comic book format.

For number two on my list, I voted for Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s “Doom Patrol”. Both series are deep, complex, novelistic, tragic, funny, epic in scope, and boundless in imagination. But “Nexus” edged out “Doom Patrol” for one simple reason: it’s never for one instant ashamed to be a comic book (and, let’s face it, there’s always a hint of embarrassment about the whole business lurking just under the surface of Morrison’s work.) Nexus is ECSTATIC to be a comic book. Nexus never gets tired of wearing tights and puts on a trenchcoat.

Nexus is the story of Horatio Hellpop, son of a Soviet General five hundred years from now (hey, who knew?) who is empowered by a shadowy alien to become the “conscience of humanity”, which means that he’s supposed to fly around and zap mass murderers and tyrants to death. This burden weighs greatly on his mind, as he’s a sensitive intellectual at heart. Things get complicated when the refugees Hellpop creates all ask him for asylum. Hellpop lives in a mysterious, abandoned city inside a hollowed-out moon, Ylum, so he reluctantly allows a community of refugees to build up around him.

Over the five years we see an accidental community start from scratch, then slowly become populated with DOZENS of fully rounded, morally complex characters. Ylum’s struggle to survive without losing its soul becomes the counterpoint to Hellpop’s own internal strife. In the end, Hellpop fails, but, far more importantly, Ylum succeeds, making all Hellpop’s suffering worthwhile.

Nexus would have been great no matter who drew it, but, joy of joys, it just so happened that Mike Baron grew up with one of the greatest comic artists of all time, Steve Rude. Rude takes all the best elements from comics: the big, the colorful, the dynamic, the surreal; but he also relied heavily on life drawing and his own relentless urge to explore new methods of representation. I have often wondered: could it be sheer coincidence that John Lennon and Paul McCartney, so great but so different, found each other, or must we conclude that each became as great as he was only because he was lucky enough to find the other? Likewise with Nexus: would either of these guys have achieved this level of greatness without challenging each other? Certainly, as with Lennon and McCartney, neither has gone on to achieve the same level of greatness separately.

I could also go on about the other great collaborators, especially editor Rick Oliver, colorist Les Dorschied and regular fill-in artist Paul Smith, but this contest is auteurist by nature, so let’s give the auteurs their due: Baron and Rude are the creators, and they should be very, very proud of their creation.

Maybe I wasn’t very clear on what I said, Lynxara. I didn’t say those works (Sandman, Watchmen, Sin City)wouldn’t be accepted because they’re comics, or because they’d be seen as somehow linked to a tradition of capes and tights. I said they’d be rejected on account of being *genre* works. Respectively, they’re fantasy, science fiction, and crime fiction. Now, by being Brazilian, and not living in the US, did I miss something? Do science fiction and fantasy prose novels enjoy an age of respectability among the US literary establishment? Is Harold Bloom praising Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys and American Gods much?

Is it even possible that, by being comics, Sandman and Watchmen actually “get a pass” from the literary critics? It would be ironic, and it smells of condescencion, like, these people don’t expect comics to be that good and complex and profound, so when they are, these people are awed, even if they contain a plethora of fantastic elements that they’d otherwise abhor in a prose novel?

My earlier, confused post was simply noting the irony of people considering Sandman and Watchmen fine art (as contrasted to your monthly Spider-Man comic), when there are literary critics of fine art out there who’d consider a prose novel with as many fantastic elements as “Watchmen” as trash, no matter how profound, well-written, or complex.

But maybe my perceptions are colored by my country. Brazilian’s literary establishment is extremely inimical to any fiction containing fantastic elements. Furthermore, as a nation with a Latin-derived language, many Brazilian critics seem to encourage novels with a meaning that is impenetrable to ordinary mortals. Not page-turners, I tell you. When I spoke of people scared of the habit of reading in school, I was talking of Brazilian schools. Maybe the American literature establishment is more friendly to fantastical fiction, and maybe they give awards and praise to modern novels that can be read by someone who isn’t an expert at deciphering complicated texts?

Jack Norris – I in no way meant to imply that I think people shouldn’t say they don’t like a run that made the list. For example, I am one of the few people on this site that is not a fan of Morrison, and I think Quietly draws everyone to look like old women. Chuck D, you’re not alone. What I had an issue with is claiming that someone was “wrong” to vote for something or that they wasted their vote. Favorite is subjective, and no matter what anyone thinks, no one can be wrong in something being their favorite.

I also just think it’s kind of silly when comic book fans get elitist on each other over what comics they read, considering that the vast majority of people in this country look at all comics as trash. Obviously, I think pretty much everyone here would disagree with that. And that doesn’t mean we need to all have a unified voice on what is good and what we all like, but it strikes me as a bit odd.

To speak of Stern specifically, I had his Avengers run as #3 on my list simply because I go back and re-read the majority of it every couple of years, and it is highly entertaining every time. And as mentioned, the Under Seige and Greek Gods follow up story might be the most thrilling 12 consectutive issues of a comic I’ve ever read. If this were a top 100 stories list those 2 stories would make my top ten.

Bloom has written afterwords for founding genre works like Frankenstein, and considers the ending of Duck Soup to be one of the most sublime works of 20th Century American art. He’s never spoken on comics to my knowledge, but there’s no reason to believe he would necessarily look down on any work because it was genre or in comic format simply because his usual focus of study is poetry and Shakespeare.

Honestly I think this may be a Brazilian culture disconnect, given what you described. American attitude toward literary criticism is more pluralistic and generally liberal in my experience. In my lifetime in schooling and college, Rene, I have to say I never saw any sort of bias against science fiction, fantasy, or other genre works outside of creative writing courses (where they want you to write primarily from life experience). They are reviewed alongside other types of novels and generally treated fairly, and occasionally praised very widely. Certainly authors like Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury are held in very high esteem and their works are on government-mandated required reading lists for schoolchildren in many regions of the country. In fact, I took one course that specifically required the reading of several founding works of sci-fi and fantasy, particularly Tokien and Bradbury, alongside Harlem Renaissance novels and also T.H. White’s Once and Future King.

When I was in courses to get my teaching license issued from the local government, a point rigidly emphasized in courses dealing with literature is that you absolutely cannot fail to teach sci-fi or fantasy simply because you don’t like it, because for much of a student’s school life they’re likely to be very receptive to those genres. The same emphasis was placed on making sure you used age-appropriate graphic novels and poetry, rather than relying on older novels. In American literary criticism, readability is prized as is experimenting with writing styles– one of the most popular science fiction books out now, about a post-apocalyptic situation, features no standard punctuation or quotation marks. It reads a bit like a very long livejournal entry. It’s sold in popular reading sections in grocery stores and department stores!

Honestly, after hearing some of the recent mainstream critical praise for Watchmen, I cannot believe American critics are shocked or surprised that it’s good despite being a comic book, and are “giving it a pass”. When Time magazine considered it one of the greatest 20th century novels, they ranked it alongside traditional novels and spoke about its contents just as seriously. Reviews of Pixar’s “The Incredibles” movie frequently pointed out its resemblance to Watchmen and urged viewers to read it and think about the themes. It is routine to let college students who wish to study it, and I wrote an ethics paper about it.

Now, it is true that Sandman was somewhat looked down upon at time of publication, since it was winning writing awards intended for fantasy novels. The awards committee in one case specifically changed the rules to disqualify Sandman. After Gaiman broke into novel publishing and his work was well-regarded, attitude toward his comics changed (and perhaps comics in general) changed. A lot of the praise I refer to with Watchmen is very recent, post-2000’s, and the current open and accepting attitude toward comics may have originated during that time period. I did most of my secondary schooling from 1994 to 2002, though, so at least by the late 90’s teachers were being encouraged to use comics like Maus in classrooms as appropriate.

And no one has submited essays about their first one picks of the runs from 102-50?

To be fair, I wasn’t hounding people like I did with the Top Characters list. ;)

Matt, no reason I didn’t include it besides the fact that i didn’t recall you sending it.

Sorry! It’s edited in now.

Awesome, with Nexus I can cross another one off my list.

Hey, cool. Feel free to delete my comment, then. Thanks for all your hard work on this, Brian.

Lynxara, thanks for the informative reply.

I assumed American critics and literates were a lot more inimical to fiction containing fantastical elements, but I got the idea mostly from reading accounts by science-fiction or fantasy writers and fans that spoke of how the establishment sometimes viewed them with prejudice in the years before the 1960s. I didn’t read much about how things are in more recent years. That, and also considering how critics of some other media (like cinema) can look down on works that feature fantastic elements, action scenes (like Sin City does), etc. I jumped to wrong assumptions.

While I read a fair amount of American fiction, and I also read interviews by my favorite writers, I usually don’t read critical reviews, and I’ve never set foot inside an American school of any kind, so my view is that of an outsider, and lots of it was suposition. But I’m glad to know that readability isn’t considered a flaw, and that fantastic elements aren’t shunned. I wish things were like that here too. But except for Magic Realism, South America never did have a strong science fiction/fantasy literature. It’s a bit like, because we live in a poor country with a lot of social inequality, “serious” fiction must never have any element that could be seen as escapist.

I remember Vonnegut complaining that literary critics put his work “into a drawer labeled Science Fiction… which was particularly often because they so often mistake that drawer for a urinal.” (paraphrased)

That was about 30 years ago though, and today Vonnegut’s one of the most honored American writers of his century.

Certainly, “genre” work does have its challenges in gaining acceptance, but it does break through sometimes. In terms of superhero novels, Soon I Will Be Invincible was well-received, and then you’ve got the Adventures of Kavalier & Clay…

On another topic, to me there is definitely a distinction, in any medium, between works I consider my “favorites” and works I’d consider “great.” I’m compiling my “favorite” songs of all-time and they include Weird Al Yankovic’s “Dare To Be Stupid,” Chris Deburg’s “Lady in Red,” Wham!’s “Careless Whisper,” because those songs have special memories to me. They’re not in the same league as “Nightswimming” or “Hallelujah,” and I’d never claim they were… at the same time, they’re still proudly on my list.

And I think Claremont made my top ten in this list, even though these days I’d have to take nearly all those classic stories with a grain of salt.

Josh Alexander

April 13, 2008 at 6:45 am

So I was one of the ones who voted for Geoff John’s run of Green Lantern. I’m now 4 for 10, (Wildcats, Black Panther, and Gotham Central also making it).

I figured alot of people would have issues with it being this high up, especially considering it’s so new. And I wrestled with putting it on my list or not. That being said, I wasn’t reading comics when Roger Stern was writing Spider-Man, and although I now will be getting back issues or tpbs of these runs, I admit I’m selfish and really only considered runs that I read from my childhood to present, and didn’t really consider the predecessors that were the foundations of the books I loved.

I was under the impression that we were going to be posting comments with our full individual lists, with descriptions & reasons for inclusion, in the post that ends this whole exercise…
(That seems the least messy way to me, you don’t have to check a bunch of different posts to see who voted for what & why.)

Why did I “waste” one of my votes on Roger Stern, Bernard? Because Stern is, simply put, one of the very best mainstream comic book writers I have ever read, and he is GROSSLY underrated. Stern’s stories are fun & inventive, his characterizations are solid, he hews to continuity without getting bogged down by it, and thanks in part to his wife Carmella Merlo, he mixes in some real-world science along with the comic book science.

Stern has had wonderful runs on Spider-Man, Captain America, The Avengers, Dr. Strange, Superman, The Legion of Super-Heroes and probably others I’m forgetting right now. Most writers would be lucky with just one classic run. Stern has a least a half-dozen. Oh, yeah, and he edited some of Claremont & Byrne’s best X-Men stories, too.

Stern’s work may not always be earthshaking, but it’s fun escapism, and isn’t that a large part of what mainstream comics are for? For my money, I’d rather read a Roger Stern story like Avengers #1 1/2, Dr. Strange/Dr. Doom Triumph & Torment, or Superman vs. The Incredible Hulk than anything something like The Authority any day of the week.

By the way, nice to see Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern & Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman on the list. It’s good to remember that some great comic book runs are happening RIGHT NOW.

–Do Not Like

–Bulletpoint style of writing

–Allows for limited expression

–Not that much quicker

–To Type

As we move further toward the top runs, we should see more and better description and analysis not less, but it seems that’ s what we’re getting.

Petulance is not a good look for you, Julius.

Or anyone for that matter.

Here’s a thought: If y’all want a more thorough write-up, submit one.

Here’s a thought: If y’all a more thorough write-up, submit one.

Eh, I don’t mind the dudes who just commented “I don’t like the capsules.” That was fair enough. It was capsules or no list, and I thought capsules was the better choice, but it’s totally fair to be “I don’t like them,” especially because, who WOULD prefer them to full paragraphs? :) So that’s okay.

Just avoid being petulant, and I’m cool with the complaining.

Brian,
Capsule or paragraph review, thanks for doing this– really super-fun project, and one I look forward to reading updates of every day. You are a comics blogging superhero, sir. (:

Stern’s Spider-Man is the 5th from my list to show up. I really think of those days as the best of Spider-Man since its beginning. And it’s kinda low on this list. I’m really beginning to wonder how happy I’m going to be with the top 50.

Nexus is something I really, really, really, really, really need to read. I recently lost an auction on ebay for a full run of it. I may just break down and buy the hardcovers. We’ll see.

I really must get around to reading the entire collection of Nexus that I’ve got in my loft…. Or at least selling them.

Hellboy’s a weird one for me. The art is some of the best ever, and I like the basic set-up of the story, but the writing does nothing for me. It just doesn’t flow right.

All Star Superman is the first book on the countdown that I actively DON’T like, so I am really enjoying this so far.

Chuck D, I’m with you on Frank Quitely’s art. I’ve never been high on the oatmeal look.

Apodaca, I feel like you missed my point, or maybe that we just disagree.

Brian’s original posts asking for votes included “Vote for your top 10 top (and by top, I mean your favorites) comic book runs by creators”. That’s why we’re seeing a “favorites” list as opposed to a “best art” list.

I suppose it could be argued that some creators in the comic book medium do NOT create and publish their comic books to entertain. However, those books are in the vast minority, and tend to be short-lived and/or financially unsuccessful.

Were we debating web comics, where the content is generally free to view, I would gladly embrace the idea that a notable amount of the product presented in that particular corner of the medium is art with an intent other than entertainment. However, the discussion here is based on physical comic books, which will be distributed and sold. People must have a reason to purchase a work within this genre, so entertainment is a definite factor.

Granted, that entertainment can be of a multitude of varieties. Aspen Studios still sells enough books that they haven’t gone away; is it because of compelling story and characterization, or is it more likely because Michael Turner and his stable have a visual style that people love? The Boys came back from cancellation at Wildstorm/DC to enjoy a new life at Dynamite. The story is only part of the appeal there; if Garth Ennis told a good story in that title without gerbils in rectums and compulsive masturbators, his sales would undoubtedly be lower than they are now. In that case, shock is a driving force in entertainment. Marvel adopted Powers and put it under their Icon imprint. The artwork is just fine, but I’m willing to believe most people discovered it because of Brian Michael Bendis’ entertaining story.

At the end of the day, something about the product needs to convince the customer to pay $3 or more for the product, and I don’t see a lot of comic book readers plugging their favorite “artistic” product without citing why they are ENTERTAINED by it.

I see where your point-of-view is coming from in a larger sense, but I don’t think it applies to the topic at hand. It’s good in theory, but not applicable in practice.

As for a more diverse medium, I completely agree, and never stated anything to the contrary. However, I feel that some people think they are acting in the interests of that more diverse medium but in fact are closing doors and purposefully excluding the majority to do so.

silly list. Geoff Johns’ run seems top 25 not number 53. history will say the truth. And the truth is it is one of the greatest runs ever.

stern & JR Jr’s Spidey johns gl nexus all star superman hellboy

Roger Stern & Johnny Romita Jr’s Spidey – I have yet to read anything that wasn’t really really good (B+) from Stern. After Stern left Spidey I dropped the book and never picked it up again until JMS shoke him up. Great stuff and I still love JR Jr’s Spidey. He’s got one of the best Spidey looks down cold, esp with Klaus Janson inking. Great pic.

Geoff Johns’ GL – I’m in there with everyone else. Johns is turning GL into one of the best titles in the DCU. In fact, I think this is the best GL has been since Englehart was at the helm. High praise.

Nexus – Baron & Rude. I voted for this. Comics don’t get any better than this. My complete run is one of my very favorites. Real sci-fi done extremely well in comics. Rare to have a really good sci-fi series esp one that has run for what ? 30-35 years. The quality has always been extremely top shelf. Can’t get enough Nexus.

All Star Superman – Couldn’t believe the rush from reading # 1. I was blown away. I knew it was going to be good but…. I immediately reread it the second time slowly savoring the whole thing and soaking the essence through my fingertips. SIlver Age inspired of course but oh the execution was like a symphony orchestra on paper. Can’t remember right off who colored that but they did one heck of a job. Voted for this one too.

Mignola’s Hellboy – Great series and it never ceases to impress but not in my Top 10, though probably in my Top 100.

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