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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #50-46

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!

50. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World – 180 points (2 first place votes)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #133-148, New Gods #1-11, Forever People #1-11 and Mister Miracle #1-18

In 1970, when Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC, he brought with him his plans for the Fourth World, which was an entire line of comics that Kirby had envisioned which would, when finished, could be repackaged as collected works.

To introduce this new line of comics, Kirby took over as writer/artist on Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, where the battles of the Fourth World were first seen. In Olsen, Kirby first showed the world the evil power of Darkseid, who was the ruler of an awful planet called Apokolips, which was caught in a ancient war with a nice planet called New Genesis.

Darkseid’s main goal was to retrieve the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow him to control all living beings.

Their war had been stalled for many a year by a pact done decades before where Darkseid and Highfather, the leader of New Genesis, swapped sons. Highfather raised Orion, while Darkseid “raised” Scott Free. When Scott escaped Apokolips (all according to Darkseid’s plan), Darkseid had reason to restart the war.

However, standing up to fight him was his own son, Orion, who was now more or less tamed by Highfather.

These rip-roaring adventure yarns filled with over-the-top plots and larger-than-life characters were told through three main titles, New Gods (which starred Orion, mostly), Mister Miracle (which was the name Scott Free took when he escaped to Earth, as he became the world’s greatest escape artist) and the Forever People, who were a gang of young New Gods who had wacky adventures – but could merge into the powerful Infinity Man if need be.

The books were a ton of fun, but sales were not particularly great, and each title was canceled. Kirby wrapped up all the plotlines, and then went to work on other DC titles.

Years later, Kirby was given the chance to wrap up the stories in The Hunger Dogs, but DC seems to just ignore that story, as Darkseid has become a major part of the DC Universe now, as has Mister Miracle and Orion.

49. Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics – 184 points (3 first place votes)

Detective Comics #469-476

For whatever reason, Steve Englehart decided to leave Marvel in the late 70s, and quickly found work at DC, which was totally fine with taking on one of Marvel’s most prominent writers. Englehart began an acclaimed run on Justice League of America, and an equally acclaimed run on Detective Comics, with issue #469.

Working with Walt Simonson and Marshall Rogers (Rogers for the bulk of the run), Englehart re-introduced the notable Bat-villains, Hugo Strange and Deadshot, with Deadshot getting a significant revamp, including an amazing new costume from Rogers.

The pair also introduced Silver St. Cloud, one of the best love interests Batman has ever had.

It was only a short run, but it was so well-liked that Englehart and Rogers reunited a few years back to do a sequel mini-series.

Sadly, Marshall Rogers died last year.

Reader McKit gave his reasons for voting Englehart’s run #1…

The splash title page of Detective Comics #469 announces “The Batman you’ve been waiting for,” and that statement truly sums up this memorable and influential run on the title. In the span of eight issues on Detective Comics, writer Steve Englehart created two villains – Dr. Phosphorus and corrupt politician “Boss Thorne” – and revamped two villains – Hugo Strange and Deadshot – that had not been in the comics since 1940 and 1950, respectfully. Furthermore, within this series Englehart featured two “definite” takes on Batman’s arch-foes, the Penguin and the Joker. Englehart’s Joker is the final step towards the unpredictable, homicidal madman that stemmed from Denny O’Neill’s own revitalization of the character from only a few years prior. Englehart’s Joker is scary and murderous, but you can’t help but laugh at his outlandish plan to turn the world’s fish into “Joker fish.” This story was memorably adapted for an episode of the critically acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series,” and I would argue that the brilliant version of the Joker depicted on the series came straight from Englehart.

Englehart did not use all these villains in the Jeph Loeb “let’s throw all the villains together in one big conspiracy” style, but rather in individual stories connected by the common thread of the “crime villain” Thorne attempting to discover Batman’s identity and run him out of town, and how the Gotham “super villains” react to that. This is the comic book “arc” at its finest, a group of “done-in-one” and two part stories that form a narrative storyline, something that is very commonplace today (such as Morrison’s current run on Batman) but had been done rarely in the Batman titles prior to Englehart’s run. What Englehart brought to the character was the cohesive vision of a master storyteller.


Perhaps the highlight of Englehart’s run was his introduction of Bruce Wayne’s most credible and intelligent love interest, Silver St. Cloud, the only woman intelligent enough to figure out that he is Batman and smart enough to leave him because of his mission. Writers have created numerous love interests for Bruce Wayne over the years, but none of them were as strong or beautifully drawn as Silver.


That brings me to the art, by Walt Simonson and Al Milgrom (469 and 470) and Marshall Rogers (471-476). Prior to this run most Batman comics were drawn by a number of Neal Adams clones. Simonson’s Kirby-style art is dynamic enough on the first two issues, but it is Rogers and Austin who really take all the attention, and rightfully so. Rogers’ Batman exudes as much athletic raw power as Adams’ does, yet his facial detail and emotion are unparalleled. Unfortunately, Rogers would only draw Batman a few times outside of these issues (‘Tec #468, 477-479, 481, DC Special Series #15, the 1989 comic strip, Legends of the Dark Knight #132-136, and the Englehart/Rogers/Austin reunion “Dark Detective” miniseries) before his death in 2007. Reportedly a second “Dark Detective” miniseries was in the works at the time of his passing. That, however, is a true testament to this original run – thirty years later, readers still looked forward to more. While the original run has been reprinted often, I feel a “Marvel Visionaries” style volume of all Roger’s Batman work is long overdue.

Thanks, McKit!!

48. Geoff Johns’ JSA – 192 points (1 first place votes)

JSA #6-77, 81, Justice Society of America #1-current (#14)

Soon into the revamped version of the JSA, which was about the remaining members of the Justice Society serving with new legacy versions of classic JSA members (while also serving as mentors to the newer heroes), co-writer James Robinson left the title, leaving David Goyer, who co-launched the title with Robinson in need of someone else to script the comic.

When Goyer added Geoff Johns as his co-writer, it is likely that few people knew what to expect, but the result was a long partnership on the JSA (with some breaks here and there), ending with Goyer leaving the book for good with #51.

During their run, Johns and Goyer’s most significant storyline was probably the return of Hawkman, who had been stuck in limbo for a number of years due to confusing continuity surrounding the character. Johns helped strip the character down a bit, and relaunch him in JSA, with a return so popular that Hawkman was soon given his own titled (which Johns also wrote for awhile).

During the run, the book’s main artists were first Steve Sadowski, then Leonard Kirk and finally Don Kramer.

The book was so popular that it received its own spin-off, JSA Classified, which ran for a number of years (it is ending in a couple of months).

After Infinite Crisis, JSA was relaunched as Justice Society of America, with Johns writing and Dale Eaglesham drawing it (Alex Ross did covers and was a story advisor). This current run has the Justice Society stressing their mentoring a good deal more, searching out young, inexperienced heroes that they can tutor – because of this, the Society has grown quite large.

Recently, the Superman from Kingdom Come has shown up and joined the team. This current story arc involves the villain who inspired the main villain from Kingdom Come, Gog.

47. Joe Kelly’s Deadpool – 202 points (6 first place votes)

Deadpool #1-33

Deadpool was first introduced by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza in the closing issues of New Mutants. The “merc with a mouth,” Deadpool was an amusing mercenary who often encountered Cable and his gang of mutant mercenaries. He has healing powers, but his body is horribly disfigured.

Popular enough to receive a pair of mini-series in the early 90s, it was still a bit surprising when Deadpool was given his own series, but within a year or so, Joe Kelly’s Deadpool was an acclaimed series.

The original artist on the book was Ed McGuinness, in one of his very first comic assignments. Later artists included Pete Woods and Walter McDaniel.

Kelly played Deadpool up for laughs, including one of the funniest single issues you’ll see, where Deadpool travels back in time…to an issue of Amazing Spider-Man!! Through Deadpool, Kelly plays Mystery Science Theater 3000, of sorts, on an old issue of Stan Lee and John Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man. Classic comedy.

During his run, Kelly introduced a new supporting cast member for Deadpool, an old blind woman named Blind Alfred who apparently was being kept hostage by Deadpool, even though they seemed like friends. Kelly also increased the role that Deadpool’s weapons supplier, Weasel, had.

The book was amusing, but Kelly also would bring in drama from time to time, particularly the notable Annual where we learned the meaning behind Deadpool’s name – when he was being experimented on by Weapon X, fellow prisoners would often bet on who would die next, since Deadpool had regenerative powers, they all knew he would likely never die, so he was the king of the “dead pool.”

Kelly wrote Daredevil at the same time as Deadpool, so he intertwined a lot of the same plots and characters, including having Deadpool win Matt Murdock’s seeing eye dog in a poker game and naming him Deuce the Devil Dog. Also, Typhoid Mary was a major character in Deadpool, too (I especially enjoyed how Kelly surreptitiously retconned Frank Miller’s The Man Without Fear, in using Typhoid Mary).

During Kelly’s tenure on the book, the sales were never exactly stellar, and the book was actually canceled TWICE during Kelly’s run, only to be brought back from cancellation by fan support BOTH times.

The second time, though, was enough for Kelly. As you might imagine, it’s not fun to work on a title that was canceled out from under you, only to have it brought back (so you have to suddenly come up with a new storyline), only for it to be canceled AGAIN, so Kelly took the second cancellation as his cue to leave.

46. Will Eisner’s The Spirit – 204 points (7 first place votes)

The Spirit Newspaper Strips 1940-1942, 1945-1950

The Spirit was an example of the comic strip business trying to cash in on the comic book business, and Will Eisner provided them with their way in, with his Spirit, which was a seven-page comic book that came as part of the comic book funnies section of the paper for over a decade (although Eisner did not work on the strip the whole time).

The Spirit was Denny Colt, a private investigator who was thought murdered, but was actually just in a state of suspended animation. Now thought dead, Colt put on a domino mask and fought crime as The Spirit!

During his run on the Spirit, Eisner developed many techniques that would become commonplace in comics of the future, most notably his stylistic double-page spreads, but also his more adult-themed sense of storytelling. Each issue of the Spirit had Eisner work the title of the comic into the story in some way or fashion, often with amazing results.

The stories in the Spirit were mostly noir crime fiction, but Eisner experimented with all sorts of different stories, from horror to romance to comedy to mysteries.

When Eisner went into the Armed Services during World War II, a number of ghost-artists kept up the series for him. He returned to the strip after the war, but eventually gave it up in 1950. Wally Wood drew the strip for the last year, and he got REALLY adventurous, with the story barely resembling Eisner’s early work.

The Spirit may be the most influential comic book ever, in terms of artistic techniques.

All the Spirit stories have been collected into trades.

Okay, that’s it for today! The next five will be tomorrow!

85 Comments

“The second time, though, was enough for Kelly. As you might imagine, it’s not fun to work on a title that was canceled out from under you, only to have it brought back (so you have to suddenly come up with a new storyline), only for it to be canceled AGAIN, so Kelly took the second cancellation as his cue to leave.”

Still, I’m baffled as to why Marvel isn’t reprinting the trades, it’s doing insane numbers on Ebay so there clearly is a market.

Oooh – bad batch for me. I kind of like The Spirit and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World and recognise their importance, but at the same time I rarely actually enjoy the stories.

Deadpool’s on my list of things to try, but Joe Kelly’s Superman, Steampunk and JLA runs put me off…

JSA and Englehart’s Batman really did nothing for me. Englehart’s Batman is no surprise as I know people love that, but I really wonder what JSA is doing on the list – I found it to be incredibly dull after James Robinson left.

Surprised New Gods is so low. Also surprised Kelly’s Deadpool is so high, but it deserves it.

I’m so happy to see Kelly’s Deadpool here!!! Right underneath the Spirit. That rawks.

I wish the article here would’ve focused a bit less on the humor. Yes, Deadpool was the funniest book the Big Two were publishing, but the drama was more than just “here and there.” One thing that made this series so amazing is that the belly-laughing was nearly always arm in arm with some of the heaviest psychodrama around. Deadpool was possibly the funniest Marvel, character that had ever been given an ongoing series, but he was also one of the most deeply traumatized (and traumatizING) and that juxtaposition is worked wonders for both sides of the equation.

Kelly also walked a fine balance between micro- and macro-storytelling. You had these little funny bouts with the GLA, and street-level confrontations with daredevil villains, and then it all came to a head in a “Cosmic Messiah” story and a showdown with a Zoroastrian deity. Unforgettable.

It would be wonderful if Marvel reprinted these. I don’t know how they would break up this run — 1-25 are kind of all one story. But that was true of Invisibles vol. 1, and Vertigo managed to do that, so it’s no excuse. This was the best book on the shelves just before Quesada took over and it seems to’ve fallen through the cracks, somehow, in the transition. It’s 10 years now since that landmark DP number 11, which ranks for me as one of the greatest single-issues of all-time. C’mon, Marvel, what are you waiting for?

Bernard the Poet

April 15, 2008 at 2:50 am

Delighted to see Englehart & Rogers’ Batman made the list.

This is how I like my Dark Knight, brooding and tinged with melancholy rather than that rude, bellicose bully boy who currently wears the ears.

Silver St Cloud was the best superhero girlfriend ever. The moment she sees Bruce Wayne in costume, she recognises him (take that Lois) and then she dumps him because dancing around on rooftops with the Joker is no way for a grown up to behave. Class.

Still not one of my picks has made the list, but the inclusion of Eisner and Kirby gives me hope that there is going to be a late run of Sixties’ titles.

You’re wrong about Kelly’s Superman run. I’d place it in the top 50 DC runs of all time.

“You’re wrong about Kelly’s Superman run. I’d place it in the top 50 DC runs of all time.”

I wouldn’t place it in the top 5,000

47. Joe Kelly’s Deadpool – 202 points
46. Will Eisner’s The Spirit – 200 points

Shouldn’t this be the other way round?

I didn’t include The Spirit on my list because I arbitrarily decided to only include comics that were published in my lifetime. A big part of what made the runs I picked stand out to me was how achingly eager I was for the next issue to come out. One of the big reasons my #1 was my #1 (Hitman) was because I think it came closest to capturing the magic that Eisner created on The Spirit.

Englehart/Rogers Detective just missed the cut. It contains my single favorite Joker moment ever; Joker pushing his henchman in front of a truck for the temerity of having a good idea.

Didn’t read much of those, except for JSA, that I like and think is the best enduring team book of the 2000s. There have been other great (maybe better) team books recently, but JSA is the one that has been consistently good for longer, maybe that is why it placed so high when one thinks of favorite runs.

I’ve read only a few issues of Englehart’s Batman, Kirby’s Fourth World, and Deadpool. Funny, but Jack Kirby is a taste that came to me late in life. When I was a teenager I found his art ugly and his stories clumsy. As I got older I learned to look past his unusual style and recognize the greatness of his ideas.

I think the DC runs will start to catch up with the Marvel ones.

Welllll.. we’re more than halfway through and so far as I can tell I haven’t seen one of my runs so far.

Geoff Johns’ JSA was on my honorable mention list in my head (as was Stern’s Avengers and a bunch of other stuff). I love what Johns did in JSA with Captain Marvel and Black Adam and the development of Courtney and the huge cast and Princes of Darkness which is one of my absolute favorite superhero stories in the last ten-fifteen years. I read issue 48 or 49 of JSA and thought to myself “HOW THE HELL IS THE JSA GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS ONE?” which is something I never think to myself, as jaded and concerned with process instead of plot, that I have become.

I think the Ultra-Humanite Arc is really great too. Likewise the way he developed Icicle to the point where you actually sort of want him to joint he team at one point.

In the end, though, for me it’s all about using Black Adam as the world’s absolute best possible Namor.

Add in Atom Smasher and the Thanksgiving issues and the elevation of Mid-Nite and Terrific and there’s just so much great character work in JSA. I don’t get why some people don’t like it. I really don’t. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it gives you the nicest darn wheel that you could hope for.

————
Things on my run that I figure absolutely won’t show up by now:
2. Nicieza on Thunderbolts (specifically 51-75): The work he does with Zemo here is the most slept upon bit of character development in my lifetime, probably.
3. Peter David on Supergirl (1-50 especially). There’s just so much heart and spirituality . I’m still hoping it shows up somewhere.
5. Mark Oakley on Thieves and Kings (my third party pick/wasted vote). Thieves and Kings really should be as beloved as Bone but no one’s read it.
7. John Ostrander on Martian Manhunter: I should have just voted for Suicide Squad or the Spectre but I was so impressed with this series and the work he did on developing J’onn’s life and fleshing him out.

Everything else might make it. We’ll see.

I didn’t include the Spirit because I saw it as a comic strip first and a comic book second, but I’m glad others didn’t pick the same nits.

Deadpool may be Joe Kelly’s best work, and it is a cut above his Superman and JLA (which I liked). It is up there with Impulse as one of the funniest Big 2 super-hero comics of recent years.

For only the second time, one of my picks has actually made the list! I voted for Will Eisner’s run on the Spirit; it was the only Golden Age material that made the cut for my Top Ten. It’s embarrassing when I think about how much stuff I’ve seen from the last few decades lacks the same skills in humor, characterization, surprise twists, occasional tearjerker endings, etc., that Eisner was demonstrating way back in the 1940s (in seven-page stories!). Seems to go against the common conception that each new generation of creators learns how to improve upon the cruder efforts of their predecessors . . .

I don’t think I’ve ever read any of Kelly’s “Deadpool” run. I saw Deadpool’s first appearance and didn’t see much need for him then. I’ve seen a few of his later appearances and didn’t fall in love with him later, either. But I admit that I’ve never actually given Kelly’s take on the character a chance to wow me; maybe I ought to change that? Was any of his Deadpool stuff ever collected in TPB?

I didn’t vote for any of the other three runs mentioned in this installment, but I’ve read most or all of them and usually find them to be decently entertaining (with the painful exception of the rather pointless and hypocritical behavior of the “heroes” in the “JSA: Black Reign” TPB collection, which I once mocked shamelessly in a humor piece I wrote — but Johns usually does much better than that; I guess he was just having a really bad day where “coherent and self-consistent motivations for the characters” was concerned). I can easily understand why people might vote for them.

I’m just thrilled to see Joe Kelly’s Deadpool run on this list. Still one of my favorites after all these years. While I do agree that the Spider-man Gump issue is a classic, roeshamboing Captain America for the fate of the planet still stands as one of my favorite comic book moments, ever. Oh and when Deadpool “sharokens” Kitty Pride. Daniel Way, read these comics and learn.

The Spirit and the Fourth World are two runs that I appreciate for their influence, cultural significance and style but have a harder time just enjoying the stories. Though to be fair, I haven’t read ALL of the Fourth World stuff yet (just waiting to get my hands on some of those hardcovers) or too much of the Spirit beyond an Archive here or there.

If I had voted for a Johns run, it would have been JSA. Solid superhero fun mixed with some great character work. I enjoy the legacy aspect of the book. And it may be remembered for making Hawkman somewhat viable again, but really, Hawkman was just one of a dozen characters that were developed/made prominent/made interesting during the run.

Despite almost universal acclaim, I have yet to read Kelly’s Deadpool. Without trades, it just never made it far enough up my “back issue bin” hunting list. If Marvel is indeed going to get around to reprinting it, I may get another chance to check it out.

Englehart’s Batman was quite good. It’s a shame the run didn’t last longer. I really liked what McKit said about it being a good example of the comic book arc, done-in-ones and two parters that tie together into an overarching narrative whole.

“I wouldn’t place it in the top 5,000″
Why? Action 761 has to be the best insight into the Superman / Wonder Woman relationship that I’ve seen so far.

I’m reading the Fourth World in the hardcovers DC has been releasing now; it’s interesting, and you can see why later writers were interested in some parts of it (although, for my money, the most interesting stories in the collections themselves involve the Forever People, the most overlooked element in future stories).

It was immensely frustrating to follow Deadpool as a READER when all of this was going on. I can only imagine how Kelly felt as the creator.

New Gods easily made it to my initial list, and even past the first cut, but didn’t quite make it to the top ten. It’s all really good stuff.

I’m more than a little annoyed at the overmarketing the X-titles got in the early 90’s. It, along with a consistently bad product, pushed me away from all X-books completely. I know I’ve missed a lot of good runs like Deadpool, but I just can’t bring myself to even consider them in trades.

New Totals.

Third time in a row that Marvel has only 1 title, the “bias” is correcting itself, DC is catching up. This time we also had no 1980s title, surprisingly.

We have 57 runs so far (and 7608 pts)

– 21 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (2703 pts)
– 8 runs are X-Titles (1193 pts)
– 12 runs are set in the DC Universe (1826 pts)
– 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
– 4 are Vertigo comics (507 pts)
– 16 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (2278 pts)
– 4 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (501 pts)
– 2 run have female protagonists (197 pts)

– 49 are superheroes or close enough (6744 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 (15 runs – 2033 pts)
– 1990s (13 runs – 1822 pts)
– 1970s (7 runs – 982 pts)
– 1960s (3 runs – 329 pts)
– 1940s (2 runs – 295 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Chris Claremont (5 runs – 638 pts)
– Geoff Johns (3 runs – 534 pts)
– Alan Moore (3 runs – 455 pts)
– Warren Ellis (3 runs – 374 pts)
– Roger Stern (2 runs – 334 pts)
– Jack Kirby (2 runs – 292 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)
– Joe Kelly (202 pts)
– Will Eisner (200 pts)
– Steve Englehart (184 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)
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)

– 49 are superheroes or close enough (6744 pts)

– 26 are traditional superheroes (3764 pts)
– 23 are non-traditional superheroes (2970 pts)

– 10 are nonpowered superheroes (1285 pts)
– 6 are comedic superheroes (775 pts)
– 18 are team books (2378 pts)

– 8 are non-superhero (864 pts)

Matt, Lorendiac, I agree, JSA is always entertaining, sometimes even great. I think it is much better than Busiek’s Avengers, the other big retro team group comics from the late 1990s-2000s, but it seems Busiek’s Avengers in higher on the Top 100.

I usually like Geoff Johns’s writing. Didn’t like Green Lantern Rebirth much, but I don’t think that was Johns fault; it was just that the story was just in service of bringing everything back to the roots as soon as possible in the GL franchise.

So far, Master of Kung Fu is my only pick on the list. A couple of mine are shoe-ins for the top ten, but I suspect that if I haven’t seen the others yet, I’m not going to.

“Englehart’s Batman was quite good. It’s a shame the run didn’t last longer. I really liked what McKit said about it being a good example of the comic book arc, done-in-ones and two parters that tie together into an overarching narrative whole.”

You’re welcome, thank you for recognizing the greatness of my comments!

In all seriousness, this is my favorite aspect of Englehart’s run. If you read any Batman/Detective issues immediately preceding his run they rarely have any sort of connection — in fact, the writers/artists were different every issue, and they could have just come out in any order, with the exception of the few Denny O’Neill issues that continued to come out once in a blue moon. Englehart brought a sense of scope to both Batman and JLA on a level that wasn’t there previously. It makes you obligated to read the whole Strange Apparitions trade http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Strange-Apparitions-Steve-Englehart/dp/1563895005/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208269892&sr=1-1 in one sitting .

And here’s a bit from Englehart’s website about the next batch of issues before Rogers’ unfortunate passing:
http://www.steveenglehart.com/Comics/Dark%20Detective%20III.html

Man, already in the 21st century Batman fans have lost Dick Sprang, Jim Aparo, and Marshall Rogers…

I just got that you’re showing the first issue of each respective run here, Brian. Can’t believe it took me this long to catch that.

A third choice of mine shows on the list here, the Steve Englehart Detective run. I’m seriously doubting that much else from my picks will be showing up, though.

Deadpool, people? Really?

Deadpool!
Alright! That was my number one pick. I was worried when I didn’t see it lower in the list that it hadn’t made it at all. Glad to see other people enjoyed it as much as me. Anybody remember the guy with the exploding head running gag from the series?

“I’m more than a little annoyed at the overmarketing the X-titles got in the early 90’s. It, along with a consistently bad product, pushed me away from all X-books completely. I know I’ve missed a lot of good runs like Deadpool, but I just can’t bring myself to even consider them in trades.”

Kelly’s Deadpool was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an X-book!

First, Deadpool’s not a mutant; never was. Second, he had his own fully functioning supporting cast that weren’t mutants, and never appeared in any of the X-books. Third, his villains weren’t mutants or X-related either.

There were a couple small appearances by a couple of X-Men; not that often. Siryn’s the only one I can even think of who showed up at one point, although I do vaguely remember the Kitty Pryde moment another poster alluded to.

The character did first appear in New Mutants, and then of course after Kelly’s series they sort of tried to incoporate him more into the mutant verse, with “Agent X” and Cable/Deadpool and so on… but the run we’re all talking about was no more an X-book than Chirstopher Priest’s Black Panther was a Fantastic Four spinoff. It completely stood on its own.

I was never really one for comedy, so Deadpool never appealed to me much, but the few issues I read were pretty well-written despite not being my cup of tea. I liked a lot that story with Typhoid Mary, that wasn’t comedic at all. And yeah, the only thing that made it an X-book was that Deadpool had been formerly connected to the Weapon X thing.

About Rene’s idea that the previously established Marvel-over-DC bias is gradually correcting itself: I fear I’m skeptical about whether DC will really manage to narrow the gap significantly.

I say this even though my own “Top Ten” favorites included 4 votes for DC runs and 2 votes for Marvel runs, and none of those six runs have been mentioned in the Top 100 so far!

But does that mean all six of them will still score high in the Top 100? In my heart, I hope so — which would help DC narrow the gap further — but in my brain, I’m dubious. When I try to look at it objectively, I’m virtually certain that both of the Marvel runs I voted for must have gotten enough votes from other fans to make the Top 100. Since they haven’t been mentioned yet, I imagine they’ll be popping up later this week!

But I only feel that same degree of certainty about the popularity of just one of the 4 DC runs I voted for. One problem is that two of my DC picks have never had significant portion of their material collected in TPB reprint volumes for the benefit of any “modern readers” who weren’t actually paying attention at the time the material was first published, way back in the 1980s. I can hardly count on people to vote for something they’ve never even seen displayed on the shelves of a comics shop or Borders at any time in the last two decades, can I? (On the other hand: The Marvel runs I voted for have both been available in reprint volumes for a long time.)

So even though I think DC has, over the decades, “earned” at least as much attention in a “Top 100 Runs” list as Marvel has, I doubt that the rising generation of fans is in a position to be aware of many of the older qualified candidates from DC’s side of the fence the way I am. :(

Hey, one of mine made it! Jack Kirby’s Fourth World!

Wow, there are people who don’t like Kelly’s Superman? It’s shocking to me that a run that got to the core of the character and reminded both us and Superman of who he is and why he’s important, could ever be considered an inferior run.

In 1970, when Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC, he brought with him his plans for the Fourth World, which was an entire line of comics that Kirby had envisioned which would, when finished, could be repackaged as collected works.

Good god, Jack Kirby was just so ahead of his time. It’s really sad that he died before the rise of a viable trade paperback/graphic novel market. Imagine if he was still alive today, doing creator-owned projects, releasing them as novel-length epics on sale at Borders and Barnes & Noble, read by a wide audience. So much potential lost, because it took the American comics industry so look to catch up to Kirby’s foresight.

In any case, the Fourth World titles were amazing. they are some of my all time favorite comic books ever, and I enjoy re-reading them again and again.

If I voted for Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen as it’s own entry, did it get counted in the 4th World votes? I get the reasoning behind counting the Fourth World comics as a piece, because they all tie together (and they’d probably otherwise be ranked too low), but it seems wierd to consider them all together as a “run.” Particularly since each of the books is a different animal.

JSA and Deadpool are ranked way too high for my tastes, but it’s not exactly surprising to see them here.

Unusual Suspect

April 15, 2008 at 11:16 am

I am now 5 for 10 with JSA (Wildcats, Gotham Central, Black Panther, Green Lantern) and even though I enjoyed the run I agree it should not be so high.

47. Joe Kelly’s Deadpool – 202 points
46. Will Eisner’s The Spirit – 200 points

Shouldn’t this be the other way round?

Oops! Yeah, that was a mistake. Eisner had 204 points. Thanks for the pick-up!!

Lorendiac, you arise a pretty good point about the relative “vintage” of the Top DC runs vs. Marvel. I love Superman, but when I want to catch up with that character it is through the movies, or ‘Smallville’, or some other media. When I reach for a Superman COMIC, it is usually a re-print of something edited by Mort Weisinger. Morrison and Quitley’s “All-Star Superman” is the first time in a long time that I have picked up the floppies with regularity.

The same is true for a huge number of DC characters. Batman ran from Englehart & Rogers to Grant & Breyfogle for me. I’ve never been able to work up any interest in the post-Waid JLA, nor the post-Perez Wonder Woman, nor the post-Wolfman Titans. Most of the energy at DC has been outside the DCU for a while. I read and enjoy Vertigo and various Elseworld minis, but the DCU is getting a bit moldy.

Conversely, Marvel is currently (or recently) producing some great stuff. A lot of their best stuff is even in continuity in the 616 Universe. It is amazing to me, given how horrible many of their comics were in the late 80s and 90s when compared to DC. However, they are clearly the better publisher of the Big Two from a quality perspective over the last decade.

Hey Brian,

Great series! You may not be aware of it but Marshall Rogers also drew the origin of the Golden Age Batman for Secret Origins #6.

Take it easy,
Steven

Bernard the Poet

April 15, 2008 at 11:36 am

Hey Dan, you’re right. I saw the cover for New Gods and assumed that got the vote. I hadn’t noticed the entry was a combined score for the entire Fourth World. That’s sad.

Lorendiac is probably right and Marvel are going to continue to dominate the countdown. The way I see it, we can reasonably expect to see three more X-Men, four Spiderman, three Daredevil, two more Fantastic Four, two Hulk, one more Thor, two more Captain America and another Avengers. On top of that, throw in about five I-can’t-believe-they-voted-for-that-what-were-they-thinking and we have 23 of the remaining 45 places going to Marvel.

three Daredevil

Miller, Bendis, and ?

Or are you counting Miller’s main run and “Born Again” separately?

There had better be some Haney and Kanigher on this list, dadgummit!

I believe I had NEW GODS and FOREVER PEOPLE as separate entries. I’ve always thought the latter was overlooked- it was at least a couple of years too late for the hippie scene, but it explored the basic idea of idealistic youthful struggle quite well. Even the end had a certain elegiac quality- our world was not fit for them.

THE SPIRIT was a choice of mine too. But I can’t think of anything to say about it that hasn’t been said already.

Bernard, it is partly an annoying bias in the methodology, since it doesn’t exactly reflect a true preference for Marvel runs. The often wonderful work of Chris Claremont on “X-Men” is going to get counted probably a minimum of 5-6 times, while James Robinson’s “Starman”, Alan Moore’s “Swamp Thing” and Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” probably get counted once each. Frank Miller’s “Daredevil” probably make the list twice, but his equally great work on Batman likely won’t as it was done mostly in mini-series that are outside DCU continuity.

However, I think it says more about where (and WHEN) the best work from DC and Marvel have been done than the relative quality of the output from each company. DC would probably dominate a list of the Top limited series and graphic novels. Marvel really has nothing to stack next to “Watchmen”, “Dark Knight Returns”, “Kingdom Come” and “The New Frontier”, but none of those were ‘runs’ in the sense we are talking about here.

I would stack Squadron Supreme against Watchmen. But, I agree with you on the others.

Personally, I’d rather see a Top 100 story arcs than a Top 100 Limited Series list. Because I would stack Kraven’s Last Hunt against DKR.

Theno

Bernard the Poet

April 15, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Yes Sean, I’m expecting Miller’s Daredevil to be counted twice. I think they are very distinct runs – certainly as distinct as Peter David’s X-Factor runs.

Good point Dean, the methodology seems to favour Marvel. Reading the comments, it appears that no-one is 100% clear on what constitutes a run – for example, how many people were like Mike Laughlin and didn’t vote for the Spirit because it was a newspaper strip?

Personality, I only voted for runs with a clear artist – as well as writer – attached. I dunno, that just seemed more to fit my idea of what the term “run” means.

Dean, I’m not sure that Claremont’s X-Men is benefiting Marvel so much. If all the people that voted on the various X-Men runs had voted only on “Claremont’s X-Men” it probably would have gotten a lot more total points. The number of points assigned is a more valid measure of preference than the number of individual runs, and the higher we get on the list, the more points each run gets.

I wonder what are the three X-Men and four Spidey Bernard counted? Claremont/Byrne and Grant Morrison and Claremont/Cockrum? With Spider-Man, obviously Lee/Ditko, and maybe Bendis’s Ultimate Spidey? Though I’m not too sure about Bendis. I’m drawing a blank on the other two. We’ll probably have two more Avengers, if you count Millar’s The Ultimates as an Avengers title.

Duh… Lee/Buscema and/or Lee/Romita. Of course.

Rene, I don’t know that it is benefiting Marvel, so much as skewing the count of runs. Claremont has shown up five times for his work on (in essence) the same cast of characters. He is going to check in at least two more times, since his widely loved work with both John Byrne and Jim Lee have yet to appear. That is one title in fourteen.

Contrast that with Kirby’s Fourth World. Like Claremont’s X-Men, it involved multiple titles. However, it was counted once. Gaiman’s Sandman had distinct periods largely determined by a change in artist, but my guess is that it checks in once. Not the end of the world, but it is inconsistent and it adds several runs to the Marvel column.

Spider-Man runs: definitely Lee/Ditko & Lee/ Romita

possibly Conway/ whoever drew those books (Ross Andru? never read them;people have strong memories of the Death of Gwen Stacy), Bendis/ Bagley, Micheline/ McFarlane (another run that’s looked down on today, but people liked when they were younger), Jenkins/ Buckingham (really! I loved those books!), Untold Tales of Spider-Man, JMS/ Romita Jr. (again, not a favorite of most of the bloggers here, but I suspect the JR Jr. issues may get some votes).

Someone wrote that they liked Johns’ JSA better than Busiek’s Avengers. I liked both, roughly equally, but I could see Busiek’s Avengers getting more votes because of George Perez’s artwork. Johns & Goyer had several good (or good enough) artists on JSA, but never a stylist as distinct as Perez.

Claremont’s X-Men read differently depending on the artist. Of course, writing Marvel method (which Claremont did during the Byrne and Jim Lee years, at least) will make the artist’s vision at least as important as the writer’s. With Cockrum, it was more of a traditional super-hero book, in which they fought demons, robots, super-villains, and aliens. Byrne brought a greater degree of characterization (compare the Wolverine of Cockrum to Byrne’s take on the character) and a more open imagination. Paul Smith’s art was perfect for slick action and occasional surreal imagery. With Jim Lee, it was action, action, action. Although Claremont’s style was recognizable throughout, a Byrne X-Men comic doesn’t read like, say, a Silvestri X-Men comic.

“One problem is that two of my DC picks have never had significant portion of their material collected in TPB reprint volumes for the benefit of any “modern readers” who weren’t actually paying attention at the time the material was first published, way back in the 1980s. I can hardly count on people to vote for something they’ve never even seen displayed on the shelves of a comics shop or Borders at any time in the last two decades, can I? (On the other hand: The Marvel runs I voted for have both been available in reprint volumes for a long time.) ”

DC has put a lot of effort into reprinting Golden and Silver Age material (which I greatly appreciate), but they’re still sitting on a a lot of great stuff from the (relatively) recent past. They seem to be finally addressing this as they rethink their collected editions policy, beginning to bring out a lot of their Kirby stuff, The Question, JLI, Starman… But they’ve got a long way to go to catch up with Marvel. (DC does a better job of keeping collections in print once they come out, however…)

Dean, the number of individual runs should not be considered. Only the number of total points should matter to access which publisher is the most popular. So it doesn’t really matter that Kirby’s Fourth World titles were counted once. If we counted Claremont’s X-Men only once (by adding all the points it got in many different runs), it would still total a much bigger number of points than Kirby’s Fourth World.

Mike, it was I who said I liked Johns’s JSA more than Busiek’s Avengers. For one simple reason: for all that I love Busiek, in the Avengers he still used a old-fashioned way of dialogue (the dreaded “overexplanation”) that I was able to ignore a lot better back when comics being written that way was the norm. Johns’s dialogue made JSA’s stories a little more “realistic”. But I also enjoyed Busiek’s Avengers a lot, ironically I liked the later party (the epic Kang Dinasty storyline) better than the George Perez issues, that were pretty, but the story was just a bit TOO traditional.

Brian: Tremendous job researching these runs, especially at the rate you’re going. Small quibble: I can’t help but feel you just gave The Spirit the brush-off. (Yes, The Spirit was in my top 5; I’m just looking for a little more love). There’s no lack of readily available info on the tremendous influence Eisner’s work on The Spirit has had the medium. Also, I’m unsure of what you mean by “double-page spreads”; I can’t think of an instance when Eisner ran a single image over two pages, as opposed to Darwyn Cooke, who made it a major calling card of his revival. … But, again, great work on this feature.

STEFAN: “Kelly’s Deadpool was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an X-book!… The character did first appear in New Mutants…”

You actually defeated your entire arguement right there.

Here’s the scenario: I stopped reading all X-books. A few years later, I’m paging through Previews and see that Deadpool is getting a series. Up to this point, he debuted in New Mutants, continued into X-Force, and cameos in other X-books. Rarely, of ever, is he seen in any non X-books. At that point, he is primarily if not exclusively an X-character. Now he’s getting his own series. What else is there to think other than it’s yet another X-spinoff.

Not by any stretch of the imagination an X-book? Until the series actually ran, that’s all it could possibly be classified as.

I won’t argue whether it stayed as an X-spinoff, but I CAN say that he started as one. And THAT is why I dismissed the series. The market was waaaay flooded with X-crap.

Oh, and just another thing I’d like to mention about Johns’s JSA. It’s not the kind of comic that is groundbreaking, but Johns display at least one ability that is pretty awe-inspiring: he is able to work with a ever-changing cast that seems to be five times as big as your typical superhero group, yet each one of the characters has their moment to shiny and their personal issues. It never feels like any character is just there being ignored.

As a way of comparision, in Bendis’s Avengers titles, with teams that are much smaller, there are characters that still feel under-used and not as integrated into the stories.

Good point Dean, the methodology seems to favour Marvel. Reading the comments, it appears that no-one is 100% clear on what constitutes a run – for example, how many people were like Mike Laughlin and didn’t vote for the Spirit because it was a newspaper strip?

The Spirit wasn’t a newspaper strip. It was a comic book that came with newspapers.

I love the notion that DC is being hurt by Kirby’s Fourth World being counted together. If it was counted separately, it wouldn’t be on the list at all.

How that helps DC is beyond me.

And if you really want to count Claremont’s seventeen year run on X-Men as one run and Lee’s Spider-Man as one run, then DC wouldn’t even benefit. If you were paying attention, you’d notice there was a three-way tie for 100. So there are 102 comics on the list on the list already. Take away a couple of Claremont runs, and the list wouldn’t even change – the tie would just come at #98 instead of #100. And guess which runs were #103 and 104? Not DC Comics.

So if we condense Claremont’s X-Men run to one spot and Lee’s Spider-Man to one spot, DC gains PERHAPS one extra run, and in the process, we’d count seventeen years of drastically different X-Men comics as one run, and count Ditko Spider-Man and Romita Spider-Man as the same run.

The way the list was done is fairer overall, and it does not hurt DC, besides perhaps adding one more run at the tail end of the list.

The words “count Ditko Spider-Man and Romita Spider-Man as the same run” shouldn’t horrify me as much as they do. Those two runs are night and day.

True, Mike. It wouldn’t be fair to consider them the same run., which is why I’m not. ;)

Yay! JSA! That’s the first of my picks to make it. I voted for the Goyer/Johns run specifically, because I don’t think the book was ever quite as good after Goyer left, but it’s still great to see it.

It managed to balance action and character stuff in a way few comics ever have. It was a thrill ride, but you really got to know the characters at the same time.

Englehart’s Detective Run is great too, and so is the Fourth World. I’ve only read one of the Spirit Archives, but it was good stuff. And Deadpool is one of those Marvel books that I’ve thought about reading before, but I never have.

Brian: Tremendous job researching these runs, especially at the rate you’re going. Small quibble: I can’t help but feel you just gave The Spirit the brush-off. (Yes, The Spirit was in my top 5; I’m just looking for a little more love). There’s no lack of readily available info on the tremendous influence Eisner’s work on The Spirit has had the medium. Also, I’m unsure of what you mean by “double-page spreads”; I can’t think of an instance when Eisner ran a single image over two pages, as opposed to Darwyn Cooke, who made it a major calling card of his revival. … But, again, great work on this feature.

Thanks, Mason.

The double-page spread stuff was just stressed because while Eisner did not do it often, it seems to be (to me, at least) a clear influence upon later artists such as Steranko (who in turn were influential upon other artists).

But yeah, it’s fair to note that it was not something Eisner did often – with only seven pages or so to work with, he usually did not go past one pagers.

As for the relative brevity, Eisner had such a long run on the title, I couldn’t think of anything to specifically address, unlike the shorter runs, where the plots are more noticeable. If you’d care to write something up about The Spirit, I’d gladly include it in the piece!

Bernard the Poet

April 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Brian, I wrote that I thought it was “sad” that Kirby’s Fourth World was counted as one, not because I thought that this somehow “hurt” DC, but precisely because his separate works wouldn’t have made the top 100 without you combining them.

I don’t feel any special loyalty to DC, and I certainly don’t think you have deliberately conspired to put Marvel on top. However, I do take Dean’s point that DC have often pushed their best writers and artists into mini-series rather than continuing series and this skewers the vote in favour of Marvel.

When I wrote that people weren’t 100% clear on what constituted a run, I probably meant to write ‘I’m not 100% clear on what constitutes a run’. I had five Marvel series on my top ten, but would have probably lost one of them if I had realised that the League of Extroadinary Gentlemen was eligible.

Of course, Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men is different from Claremont/Silvestri’s X-Men and should be counted separately.

I didn’t realize this was a competition between Marvel and DC. Weird.

Yeah, Bernard, I get that. You weren’t making the “DC is being hurt by this” argument, so my reply was not directed to you.

Well, to me it isn’t a competition. It’s just a matter of satisfying my curiosity, to see how many votes and run each universe got in the list. Even though I grew up a Marvel Zombie, nowadays I have no great loyalty to Marvel.

Brian, thanks for all your hard work on this. I am really enjoying it despite my complaints. My point on the methodology is threefold.

First, the ambiguity over how to count makes the “scoreboard” type analysis kind of meaningless. “Runs” are being packaged together using differing criteria. If bundled the Fourth World stuff together because the individual titles got too little support to make the list and divided Claremont’s X-Men because the breadth of its support merited multiple entries, then it really is comparing Apples and Oranges.

Second, what is more interesting is the contrast all this underlines between how DC and Marvel have chosen to publish comics. In the Modern Era, DC has tended to neglect their regular monthly titles in favor of limited series and ones-shots. Marvel has tended to invest resources in growing their monthly franchise titles. Even “on-going” series (i.e. Starman and Sandman) were, in essence, extremely long limited series as they were long stories by one, primary creator.

Third, it raises a question of who the “author” of a comic book is. During the Silver Age, the voice that dominated all the Superman titles was Mort Weisinger, the Editor. Was that a Weisinger ‘run’? At Marvel, the contrast between Lee-Ditko Spider-Man and Lee-Romita Spider-Man was huge. However, the difference between Claremont-Smith X-Men and Claremont-Romita, Jr. X-Men was really, really small. Was Chris Claremont more the author of X-Men than Stan Lee was of Spider-Man?

These are the types of questions that occur to me when reading lists like this.

“Was Chris Claremont more the author of X-Men than Stan Lee was of Spider-Man?”

Yes!

The methodology of the survey was necessarily a little subjective, but you’ve got to draw some lines to do something like this. My own concern with the Marvel-centric results is just that I was hoping for a list of really good comic runs from “Comics Should Be Good” readers. Just kidding (sort of).

Josh Alexander

April 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Just cause Im curious, what extra DC run would have made it on the list if you had combined everything?? And can I say this countdown is addictive im checking 6 or 7 times a day for the next update

That’d give away that the run didn’t make the top 45, so I couldn’t do that. ;)

Glad you’re digging the countdown, Josh!

Rene, I hear you in regards to Busiek’s dialogue. I cringed when I read just about anything Hawkeye said. I don’t care if Stan Lee or Roy Thomas had Hawkeye call himself “Bre’er Hawkeye,” it still sounds dumb. I looked at both Busiek’s Avengers and Johns’ JSA as good “meat and potatoes” super-hero books, and I liked how both writers gave each character a chance to shine. I really liked the inclusion of Black Adam in the JSA cast, and I thought Johns did an excellent job writing the new Mr. Teriffic. I wish James Robinson had more to do with the book, but Johns & Goyer kept me entertained for 60-something issues (I had to drop JSA and some other titles shortly after Black Reign).

Slaz said:
My own concern with the Marvel-centric results is just that I was hoping for a list of really good comic runs from “Comics Should Be Good” readers. Just kidding (sort of).

As it now stands: After we’ve actually seen the full 100 runs listed, I’m planning to respond to the last installment (Numbers 5-1, I suppose) by posting a copy of my ballot of “Ten Top Favorites.” I have the impression that at least a few other participants — maybe a bunch of us! — are planning to do the same thing, after we all know exactly which of our picks scored in the Top 100 and which didn’t.

So far, I only specifically say “I voted for such-and-such” on those occasions when “such-and-such” has just been mentioned in a new installment of the winners, and that’s only happened twice! Of my 8 other picks, I’m virtually certain that at least 3 more are popular enough that they’re bound to gain their own places among the Top 100, but that means I also have 5 picks I’m less certain about.

So you can look forward, at the very end of the countdown, to seeing me mention some other runs — possibly as many as 5 — that won’t previously have been mentioned in Brian’s posts of the “winners.” If several other people do much the same thing, then you may end up seeing, all in one thread, lists including dozens of additional runs which some of us love with an undying love, but which didn’t quite have enough notoriety to make it to the Top 100. Gives you something to look forward to! Does the prospect make you feel any better? :)

“This current run has the Justice Society stressing their mentoring a good deal more, searching out young, inexperienced heroes that they can tutor – because of this, the Society has grown quite large.”

So, it’s like the lighter, funner way of doing an “Initiative”?

“Peter David on Supergirl (1-50 especially). There’s just so much heart and spirituality . I’m still hoping it shows up somewhere.”

I think there’s still some hope for that. I know there’s quit the cult following for that run.

“Deadpool’s on my list of things to try, but Joe Kelly’s Superman, Steampunk and JLA runs put me off…”

I was disappointed in those things, because of Deadpool. At that time, Joe Kelly was pretty much the precursor to Dan Slott. (Which I thought of before Slott started using the GLA.) Don’t get me wrong, I liked some of Kelly’s Action Comics and JLA fine, especially Action #750 (?). I could see a Supes movies that sort of combines that with the whole Byrne “Supergirl Saga”.(It makes sense in my head. Dangit, maybe I shoulfd just write a spec script.)

Mike, it was I who said I liked Johns’s JSA more than Busiek’s Avengers. For one simple reason: for all that I love Busiek, in the Avengers he still used a old-fashioned way of dialogue (the dreaded “overexplanation”) that I was able to ignore a lot better back when comics being written that way was the norm. Johns’s dialogue made JSA’s stories a little more “realistic”. But I also enjoyed Busiek’s Avengers a lot, ironically I liked the later party (the epic Kang Dinasty storyline) better than the George Perez issues, that were pretty, but the story was just a bit TOO traditional.

I definitely agree there; “Kang Dynasty” is my favourite Busiek storyline on Avengers, easily; his approach to the series (and, frankly, to a lot of the Big Two properties he does) is just too old-fashioned for my liking. It’s really strange because his “Astro City” made my top ten list, and it has all the sorts of creativity and life that so often I find lacking in his other stuff.

Are you going to do a ‘somebodys baby’ equivalent with this? (Are there all that many runs that got a #1 vote and northing more, for that matter?)

To continue the meat-and-potatoes analogy Mike used, I’d say Busiek’s Avengers and Johns’s JSA was very skillfully prepared, delicious, meat-and-potatoes.

Sean, sometimes I feel like Busiek knows extremely well how to write all the Marvel/DC characters you can name, because he knows everything about them, but it seems like he does it with more brains than heart. And also it seems like his tremendous respect for the characters forces him to keep a certain distance. Now Astro City, Astro City is where he cuts loose and does whatever he wants, and it’s usually gold.

But the Kang Dinasty was great, and it was when Busiek got a bit more adventurous with the title. Simultaneous big threats, multiple Avengers teams, Washington destroyed, the Earth conquered for an extended storyline. It was “widescreen” comics done surprisingly well, and all the while with pretty emotional stories too. The one with Simon and Wanda in the prisoners camp, the silent surrender issue, and the final confrontation between Kang and his son, were all pretty good.

I shouldn’t be talking so much about a run that didn’t even feature yet, though.

I liked the Kang story as well, although I think there was some major dragging during that story. I just did not care about the Triune Understanding or Triathlon or those Russian entities, and Yellowjacket got annoying fast… Kang conquering the world (and making the Wasp sign the surrender first!) and Captain America vs. Kang, however, were awesome. I wish Alan Davis had drawn more Avengers, but Kieron Dwyer did a good job completing the story.

Busiek’s writing had an old-fashioned vibe, but his plots moved at a good pace, and he worked with talented artists. I do think both he and Johns got bogged down by minutae. Forgotten characters like Dove or Whitney Frost appearing in the middle of a story did nothing for me, and I just wanted Busiek & Johns to get their stories moving.

Contrast JSA & Avengers with their contemporary and counterpoint, Morrison’s JLA. That comic didn’t slow down, even when Morrison’s plots got complex. I think Busiek & Johns went the distance with their respective titles and Morrison burned out after his first few stories, but those first 15 issues of JLA stick with me more than anything from Avengers or JSA.

I read Busiek’s Avengers in hardcover, and entry time I got a new one I was like “Okay, this will be the resolution to the Triune Understanding story” followed eventually by “Goddamnit, there’s more?” That was just a dull plot, from start to finish.

I really appreciate Busiek’s understanding of continuity, and obvious respect of character history, but too often his run became “20 Years Ago, in the Avengers…” or else he devoted a bunch of time to explaining continuity errors I don’t care about (the latter phrase sums up large chunks of “Avengers Forever”, although that did set the stage for the idea in “Kang Dynasty” that Kang was now looking to his own future, having prevented himself from becoming Immortus). Apart from “Kang Dynasty”, my favourites were the opening “Morgan Conquest” (a Johns-ian juggling of a huge cast) and “Ultron Unlimited”.

Nothing from my list this time, though I love Kelly’s Deadpool.

Also Englehart’s Batman and Eisner’s Spirit, but I haven’t read enough of either to vote for them.

John’s JSA is the first to make the list that I read, but didn’t work for me.

Lorendiac wrote: “If several other people do much the same thing, then you may end up seeing, all in one thread, lists including dozens of additional runs which some of us love with an undying love, but which didn’t quite have enough notoriety to make it to the Top 100. Gives you something to look forward to! Does the prospect make you feel any better? :)”

It does, actually. A fine idea. I’d also be interested in what Brian and the other CSBG writers voted for. By looking at people’s individual lists, it will be easier to find things I haven’t read that are liked by people with similar tastes. And someday I will plow through those X-Men Essentials. I’ve tried a couple of times!

Well, Morrison’s JLA was a completely different animal from JSA and Avengers. JSA is the kind of comic that gets all personal and makes you care for a third-string character you never paid attention to before. JLA was all big and crazy ideas moving at quantum speed. Very different experiences.

Deadpool was what got me reading comics after leaving them behind as a kid.

My all-time favorite series (for all the commenters’ aforementioned reasons), my number #1 Pick, and my first pick to appear on the list (followed thereafter by the Spirit).

I was getting worried – glad – and surprised – to see that I’m not the only one who put it as a #1.

# 50? For all the Fourth World combined? Sigh.

Well, i only had it at my #4. Much as I so dearly love some of the particular issues, it all seemed rather incomplete compared to my top three. I’ll always feel a real let-down/what-might-have-been thing with these titles. Imagine if he’d only had another year, especially if it could have been a year without the editorial (“use Deadman! Now!”) directives.
New Gods 6,7,8 and Mister Miracle 9 are about as good as comics get, to me.
I’d be curious to hear from the two voters who picked it number one.

I like many of the concepts of the Fourth World, and many of the characters. Too bad DC seems to be jettisoning the whole line…

Never cared much for Geoff Johns’ writing, and don’t like the fact that DC have handed him the keys to the kingdom. Prefer Mordu as a LSH villain, and hated how he tied his LSH to the DCU…isn’t their link to Superman enough? Dream Girl doesn’t need to be connected to the dreaming, Wildfire’s suit doesn’t need to be made from Red Tornado’s body, etc…but I can see home some would appreciate it.

To be honest, I don’t really care which company has more titles, or what runs outranked what…this is hardly a scientific survey, it’s just the votes of 700 people. Find another 700 fans and who knows how the list would change? I prefer to see it as a celebration of good comics. And, it’s also a way for people to discover series or titles they wouldn’t normally think of checking out before. Thanks to this list, I’m already looking forward to hunting down titles like Lucifer, Ellis’ Stormwatch, and Concrete, among others.

I know Will Eisner’s Spirit is a visual masterpiece, but how does the writing stack up?

Hey wwk5d,
I urge you to check out the “The Best of the Spirit” TPB that DC released in 2005. It’s a good representation of the run, and especially the post-War issues, where Eisner’s storytelling really broadened and deepened. As Brian pointed out, Eisner drew upon several genres — romance, humor, horror, fantasy, pulpy crime — and in his best moments was able to weave them into the same issues and storylines. He also was quite good at adapting storytelling devices, often writing a 7-pager from another character’s point of view (and leaving the Spirit out entirely until the last few panels), writing in verse, writing in the style of a fairy tale or parable, etc. Eisner was the master of the tight 7-pager, and also was comfortable with serialized plots, which were common in some of the great newspaper strips of the day (he really loved and was influenced by Caniff’s “Terry and the Pirates,” for one), but were all but absent in most traditional comics. His characters were distinctive, his plots were brisk and energized, his dialogued crackled, and he rarely told the same story twice. You probably can measure his influence as a writer by the number of homages (and blatant rip-offs) that we’ve seen since the run ended. “Life Below,” about criminals living in the sewers, is an obvious one, expanded upon in Miller’s original run of “Daredevil,” and countless other places.

new gods englehart detective johns jsa joe kelly’s deadpool will eisner’s spiirit

The Fourth World trilogy. Who doesn’t love some New Gods ? Like most people I know, I really didn’t like The Forever People, but the whole New Gods / Mr. Miracle thing rocks hard. I’ve been pumped since knowing that DC was finally going to do something big with them with the guy I’ve always said could do has not been done as well as it should have, Morrison. Sure, Kirby’s dialogue is painful, the women all have the same hairstyle, etc. but he was THE idea guy, and darn it, he was The King ! I loved Brian’s write up as I had no idea Kirby meant for that to be a separate line. Wow ! Of course the whole thing feels incomplete, which it is. What was Kirby leading towards ? I’m not sure Jack himself knew but it would’ve been great to see. Can’t say it would’ve made my 10 fav runs, much as I love it.

Englehart’s Detective – I can’t remember if I put this one down, but I think I did. The team supreme of Englehart / Rogers / Austin could do no wrong. Every issue in this run is priceless. I will never forget that splash of Hugo Strange pulling off his mask. What a great villain ! Silver St. Cloud was a huge turn on and sure fit that late 70’s style as Rogers and Austin made her look stunning. Rogers’ Batman is probably my very favorite version of all time. Still love me some Adams, Aparo, Miller, etc, but Rogers is at the top of the pile. Not a big surprise here.

Johns’ JSA : Yes, another one of my votes here. In recent times, I think this single title has held me mesmerized with great story and characterization, super smooth art, and characters I love love love as my two fav supergroups are tied being the JSA and LSH (funny, Levitz wrote both of those back in the 70’s when I first started reading them).

Joe Kelly’s Deadpool – Leaves me ice cold. Have never read and have no interest in it. Money I’ve spent buying things that appeal to me more.

Will Eisner’s Spirit – Big fan and I respect Eisner in the hugest huge. These stories are entertaining, and I love em, but I can’t say they made my Top 10 list. Would’ve been toward the bottom of my Top 100. Not to mad mouth it as I have most of the Warren and Kitchen Sink black and white as well as the Ken Pierce reprints, but there’s so much more I’ve enjoyed more fully than these on an overall scale.

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