Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Here are the next five runs in a list of the Top 100 Comic Book Runs, as voted on by about 700 Comics Should Be Good readers, who voted on their favorite runs, I tabulated their votes, and now, here they are!
60. Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s Authority – 159 points (2 first place votes)
The Authority #1-12
The Authority is interesting, because the pedigree of the comic is based on so much happenstance. If Oscar Jiminez could only have hit his deadlines, the Authority likely would never have occurred.
Instead, Jiminez did have problems with deadlines while the artist for Stormwatch Vol. 2, so Bryan Hitch was brought in to fill-in for him. Do note that Bryan Hitch, at the time, was extremely disillusioned with comics due to the lack of good assignments, so Hitch had actually already planned on applying for film production work after his Stromwatch run finished. Seeing these issues as a chance to at least put together a nice resume, Hitch changed his art up a bit, trying a more detailed, “widescreen” style.
Writer Warren Ellis, who was also feeling a bit disillusioned with Stormwatch, was completely reinvigorated when paired with Hitch, and Hitch also enjoyed working with Ellis, as Ellis had a great ability to work with his artists.
Now refreshed by an engaging working relationship, the two huddled up and came up with the idea for The Authority, which would be a comic based around Hitch’s new style of artwork. By this time, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter had already sorta done the whole “widescreen” approach to action in comics, but not to the scale Hitch and Ellis were about to do with The Authority.
This was completely “summer blockbuster within a comic book,” and readers ate it up. People often forget that the whole political aspects of The Authority really did not come about until Mark Millar took over. Ellis and Hitch were more about wowing the audience with over-the-top, dynamic stories (with nice character work still, of course).
It’s a shame they only did a years worth of stories together.
59. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern (co-starring Green Arrow)- 162 points (1 first place votes)
Green Lantern #76-87, 89, Flash #217-219 (as a backup story)
It’s pretty much industry lore by now, about how Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ classic run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow was critically acclaimed, but did not sell that well, but what’s interesting is that, from a historical perspective, that probably helped us readers out a bit, as the relative poor sales resulted in the book remaining bi-monthly, which allowed Adams to hit his deadlines, which allowed Adams to draw the whole run, which likely would have been impossible if the book was popular enough to make the book a monthly title. See? Silver linings, people!! Silver linings!!
Justice League writer Denny O’Neil was inspired by the new costume Neal Adams gave Green Arrow in the pages of the Brave and the Bold, so O’Neil decided to give Green Arrow a new personality to match his new duds, having the archer lose his fortune and become socially conscious.
Figuring they landed on an interesting idea, O’Neil and Adams teamed up to add Green Arrow to the pages of Green Lantern’s title, teaming the social conscious Green Arrow with the more conservative Green Lantern, then sending the pair on a trip around America, where O’Neil and Adams were able to come up with a number of topical discussions (or, at least, more topical than a typical comic book of the day).
The comic was unlike anything else attempted at the time, and has been the basis for a number of stories ever since, especially the storyline where Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy is revealed to be using drugs.
The book did not sell that well (by the by, an urban legend I’ve never been able to prove one way or the other is that the book DID sell well, but DC didn’t realize it, or something like that – maybe the book’s sales had boomed towards the end, but it was too late as the book had already been canceled? Something like that), and the stories ended up being backups in Flash for a time before ending period.
A few years later, O’Neil picked the series up again, with artist Mike Grell, but this time the stories were standard superhero stuff.
58. Roger Stern’s Avengers – 164 points (3 first place votes)
Avengers #227-279, 281-288
I actually did not remember that Roger Stern’s first issue of Avengers was also the first issue with Captain Marvel, I thought he was on the book already when he added her. Huh. Interesting.
In any event, when Avengers writer Jim Shooter stepped down, Roger Stern picked the book up and finished Shooter’s Hank Pym storyline, then began a long and eventful run on the book himself.
Perhaps Stern’s most notable achievement was the introduction of Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), where Stern really made her one of the bigger characters in the Marvel universe.
Stern also introduced the West Coast Avengers during his run.
The most notable artist working with Stern on his Avengers run was John Buscema, who took over penciling chores around #250 or so, and stayed on for the rest of Stern’s run (and beyond). In #256, Tom Palmer began inking the book, and Palmer stayed on as Avengers inker until the book ended in #402.
Stern’s most famous storyline was Under Siege, where a large group of the Masters of Evil systematically took the Avengers down, including taking control of Avengers Mansion. A lot of Kurt Busiek’s Thunderbolts run had its roots in the Masters of Evil during this storyline (as Stern heavily featured a character he created during his run on Hulk, Moonstone).
Sadly, due to a difference of opinion over how to handle the book, Stern was fired from the title, and left Marvel to work for DC for the rest of the 1980s.
56 (tie). Alan Moore’s Supreme – 168 points (2 first place votes)
Supreme #41-56, Supreme: The Return #1-5
One of Alan Moore’s most famous works in Watchmen, where Moore helped launch the “Grim and gritty” movement of comic book superhero deconstruction. Moore, himself, was aware of what he had spawned, so his run on Supreme was designed as a sort of counter to the work he, himself, had done.
In Supreme, Moore took over a Superman analogue, and told basically all of his favorite Superman stories.
The book was a delightful exercise in comic book fun (and I believe you can get it for free on Wowio), and it was a nice breath of fresh air for those readers who enjoy their superheroes with a touch of the Silver Age mixed in.
The comic ignored all the previous stories of Supreme (who was also sort of a Superman analog, but not a particularly interesting one), but also acknowledged them, in a metafiction tactic by Moore to show that this Supreme (Moore’s Supreme, that is) was just the latest in a series of iterations of Supreme.
It was a clever move, which also matched the story of Supreme’s secret identity, comic book creator Ethan Crane, who worked on a comic called Omniman, who was ALSO going through a revamp at the same time.
Sadly, after relaunching the book with Supreme: The Return, the comic company publishing Supreme fell apart, leaving Moore’s story unfinished.
Checker Books has a collection of all the stories that did make it into print, and like I said, Wowio has them up, online, too!
56 (tie). Geoff Johns’ Flash – 168 points (2 first place votes)
It’s rare to see a writer follow up an immensely popular run on a title with an immensely popular run of their own, but that’s exactly what Geoff Johns did after Mark Waid finished his run on the Flash.
Johns opened up with a storyline that was only supposed to bridge the gap between the end of Waid’s run and whoever took over the book after Waid. Instead, the storyline was so well received that Johns himself was given the assignment, along with artist Scott Kolins (who had developed a new art style at the time just for this new run).
Johns set out to do two things with his run. The first was to really establish Flash’s city of Keystone City as an actual city with its own personality, and the second was to re-establish Flash’s Rogues Galley, which Waid had mostly left alone (save for Abra Kadabra, boy did Waid love Abra Kadabra), while also introducing a number of new Rogues himself.
Johns definitely achieved his goals on both fronts, particularly with the Rogues. Perhaps Johns’ best issue of his run was a spotlight on Captain Cold. Spot on characterization work. As for new Rogues, Johns best addition was Zoom, who originally began as a friend of Wally’s, a police profiler named Hunter Zolomon, but whose mind became totally twisted, and decided that he would help Wally by giving him a personal tragedy. That has been his MO ever since, “helping” Wally by making him a stronger person via torture.
After Zoom caused Wally’s wife to miscarriage, Wally asked the Spectre to erase his secret identity from the minds of the world. A Brand New Day began for Wally and his wife, Linda.
At the end of Johns’ run, Linda’s miscarriage was reversed, and she gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl).
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