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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #40-36

Here are the next five runs!

40. Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III’s Promethea – 220 points (4 first place votes)

Promethea #1-32

Promethea was an extremely interesting comic in the way that it was such a malleable concept that writer Alan Moore himself used the book to tell two dramatically different types of stories, all ably aided by the burgeoning artistic brilliance of artist J.H. Williams III, who went from being a strong artist to being one of the best artists in the entire comic book business.

Promethea was a young girl who was taken by two Gods into “Immateria,” a land of imagination, where she continues to exist as a living story. She can appear on Earth when someone calls to her by writing about her – when someone does so, either they (or their muse) can BECOME Promethea.

That is what happens to student Sophie Bangs, who becomes Promethea, and soon gets caught up in the crazy superhero world and the much larger world of Immateria.

The first book or so of Promethea is heavily influenced by literature, especially as Moore takes us through the Prometheas of the past, including a poet, a cartoonist, a book cover painter and a pair of comic book writers.

Then Moore used Promethea to take the reader on a journey through the Sephiroth of the Qabbalistic Tree of Life, where Moore more or less uses about 15 issues of Promethea to give a series of lectures to the readers about philosophy. Williams really shines during this run, as Moore gives him a whole lot of strange things to draw.

After this storyline ends, we’re treated to an extended storyline about the Apocalypse, which also signaled the end of Moore’s America’s Best Comic book line, so Moore used this storyline to say goodbye not only to the ABC line of comics, but also to the characters within them.

It all culminates in a stunning final issue, which can be read as a 32-page comic book, but can also be read by taking out the pages and arranging them to form two posters (back to back).

It’s a truly brilliant work.

39. Mark Waid’s 1st Flash Run – 228 points (2 first place votes)

Flash #62-129, plus a #0 (#118-129 co-written with Brian Augustyn, and interestingly enough, the book actually changed titles from Flash to The Flash at #101)

Mark Waid burst on the scene with Flash by giving readers “Kid Flash – Year One,” which was a touching tribute to the beginnings of Wally’s career, and a clear note that Waid’s stories were going to be ones that stressed characterization first.

One piece of characterization that Waid picked up from outgoing writer, Bill Loebs, was the relationship between Wally and his friend, Linda Park. Loebs had slowly built up an intriguing friendship between the two, but it was Waid who made the friendship a full-fledged romance, leading to the centerpiece of Waid’s run on Flash – the love between Wally and Linda.

After a storyline with Abra Kadabra (if I picked up a random issue of Waid’s run and asked you, “Who’s the villain?,” you’d have about a 50/50 shot if you said Abra Kadabra), Waid launched probably his most memorable storyline, where he had Barry Allen seemingly return from the dead. Seeing Wally’s reactions to both Barry’s return and the realization that bad things were happening was probably the point where Waid’s Wally West became a true adult. It was a beautiful coming of age storyline, and it also introduced Max Mercury, a cool new character that Waid had come up with, a zen-like fellow (who is ostensibly based on some old Golden Age hero).

Waid’s next big storyline introduced Impulse, the young cousin of Wally from the future, who was raised in virtual reality, so he had, well, an impulse problem. Young Bart Allen became Wally’s sorta sidekick, and soon gained his own spin-off title (bringing Max with him as his guardian).

Perhaps the masterstroke of his run was the development of the “Speed Force,” an almost mystical energy field that gave all speedsters their powers. During a big storyline leading up to #100, Wally was absorbed into the Speed Force, leaving Bart and the other speedsters (Johnny Quick, Max Mercury, the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, and Johnny Quick’s daughter, Jesse) to defend the Flash’s city, along with Linda.

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However, Flash manages to pull himself out of the force, all based on the power of his love for Linda.


After that moment, I’ll be frank, the book’s momentum slows a bit for the rest of Waid’s run. There’s a storyline with this guy who can steal the Speed Force from people, and then there’s a story where Wally gets lost in time and replaced by John Fox, the Flash from the future, who is a bit of a jerk. Then there’s a few short storylines before Waid and Augustyn (originally Waid’s editor on the book, and became his co-writer with #118) took a break with #129. They would return in a year’s time for a new run that ended with #159 (#162 for Augustyn), and the marriage of Wally and Linda, but Waid would return to the book with #231 for a short run with Wally, Linda, and their two children (who also had powers).

Waid began the book with incumbent artist, Greg LaRocque, who stayed on the book until the end of the Return of Barry Allen. The late, great Mike Wieringo would take over, and draw the book for about 20 issues or so, helping to create Impulse with Waid. After #100, Waid had a string of young artists work on the book (most of whom would go on to big things after their time on Flash, like Salvador Larroca and Jimmy Cheung), and his first run finished with Paul Ryan supplying the artwork.

38. Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men – 229 points (2 first place votes)

Astonishing X-Men #1-current (#24)

With Grant Morrison departing New X-Men, Marvel had some big shoes to fill, luckily, Joss Whedon, popular writer and creator of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (plus Firefly), was a big X-Men fan, so he accepted the task of following Grant Morrison’s run, and Marvel gave him his own title to do so, pairing him with acclaimed artist, John Cassaday.

Whedon’s first task was to introduce the idea that the X-Men felt that they needed to be more public as superheroes, so Cyclops insisted that Kitty Pryde, one of the best public faces of the X-Men, join the main team (made up of Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast and Emma Frost).

Whedon’s first storyline dealt with a “cure” for the mutant gene being developed, and how such a cure would effect mutants all over. This turned out to be some plot involving some bad aliens, and it all tied to the return of…Colossus!!

See, the Russian mutant, long thought dead (or, rather, fairly recently thought dead) was not actually dead, he was caught up in some big alien conspiracy.

Colossus and Kitty had a tearful reunion.

The next storyline involved the Danger Room coming to life and fighting the X-Men. This storyline involved Professor X, as well.

Next, Whedon and Cassaday began a really long storyline that is still going on involving the big alien conspiracy.

Whedon’s sense of humor and his good ear for dialogue makes the book a great place to look for nice character interactions.

Cassaday’s artwork, meanwhile, is good for both character work AND for action scenes, making the book a visual delight.

The finale of Whedon’s run is coming out soon.

37. Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman – 232 points (6 first place votes)

Hitman #1-60, plus a #1,000,000 and an Annual

The old saying goes, when you’re given a bunch of lemons, make lemonade!

Well, fifteen years ago, Garth Ennis and John McCrea were given a bunch of lemons, and they made Hitman.

Hitman was introduced as part of a storyline where the writers of each DC title would introduce a brand-new character in the Annual that year (oddly enough, Marvel did the same thing that same year), all of whom would have the shared origin of being bit by aliens whose bite, if it does not kill you, gives you strange powers. Most of these new characters disappeared faster than you could say Adam-X, the X-Treme, but Hitman, who debuted in the pages of Ennis and McCrea’s The Demon Annual, was the notable exception.

Tommy Monaghan. was just your typical, run of the mill hitmen, until the aliens gave him powers, and now Tommy was a SUPER-POWERED Hitman, with X-ray vision and telepathy.

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With his powers, Tommy had a new confidence, and then decided to specialize in killing superpowered targets, the types most other hitmen would never attempt, due to the danger. Despite the bizarre nature of Tommy’s targets, Ennis really downplayed his superpowers, and played up the friendship between Tommy and the people of his Gotham neighborhood, “The Cauldron,” a place so bad that when No Man’s Land happened, no one noticed anything different in the Cauldron!

Most of the action in the series centered around Sean Noonan’s bar, where Tommy and his partner and best friend, Natt, hung out in with other hitmen, such as Ringo Chen and Hacken. Often visiting the bar was the drunk Sixpack, who was a superhero of sorts himself, leading the bizarre Section 8 (this is where Dogwelder came from).

The series was filled with hilariously bizarre storylines, like the one where Tommy and his friends have to take down an aquarium that was filled with zombie animals. However, the series was ALSO filled with dramatic scenes of friendship, particularly between Tommy and Natt.

There is a classic issue where Superman comes across Tommy during a hit (Superman does not realize that is why Tommy is on a rooftop), and the pair chat for the whole issue, and it is a wonderful tribute to superheroes from a writer, Ennis, who is not usually too fond of superheroes.

Ennis and McCrea worked on the book for five years, and they finished it in a wonderfully poetic final issue.

Recently, Ennis and McCrea reunited to tell an “untold tale” of Tommy and the JLA, and it was awesome.

Here is why The Mutt had this run #1…

What makes for a great run? Action, adventure, humor, drama, characterization, consistency and, above all else, fun. You’ll find all that and more in the brilliant run of Garth Ennis and John McCrea on Hitman. A Bloodlines spin-off, no less. High drama, low comedy, tragedy, farce and Kanigher-level craziness all in one comic, and all in just five years. But what else would you expect from a comic that begins with our hero puking on Batman’s boots and ends with one of the most heart-breaking issues of a comic I’ve ever read?

Tommy Monaghan was one of the most fully-realized characters ever captured between the pages of a comic book. His large supporting cast was deeper and richer and more full of life than the likes of Lois
Lane and Alfred ever achieved in their 70 years of trying.

Ennis could switch from brutal realism to bat-shite insanity from issue to issue, yet nothing ever felt forced or out of place. This was in large part due to McCrea’s brilliant art; realistic enough to bring tears to your eyes and cartoonish enough to make you laugh out loud.

We got stories about the mob, the SAS, the IRA, African dictators, spousal abuse, war, sacrifice, honor, loyalty and heroism. We also got stories about dinosaurs, vampires, demons and zombie penguins. In the midst of all that, we got possibly the best Superman story ever written. And we got Dogwelder.

It was everything that makes comics great, all in one package. In my opinion, the greatest comic book ever.

Thanks, Mutt!
36. Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman – 234 points (3 first place votes)

Warrior #1-21, Miracleman #7-16 (#1-6 reprinted the Warrior stories)

Marvelman was invented in the 1950s when Fawcett quit making Captain Marvel stories, leaving L. Miller & Son, who reprinted the Marvel Family titles in England, without a star character. Mick Anglo whipped up a new character (without being TOO new, if you know what I mean), and Marvelman continued in the place of Captain Marvel until the comic was canceled in the early 60s.

Two decades later, in the pages of Quality International’s anthology, the Warrior, Alan Moore and Garry Leach brought Marvelman back, only with a postmodern edge. Reporter Michael Moran keeps having crazy dreams about superpowers, until he says the magic word, “Kimota!” and is transformed into Marvelman!

It is soon revealed that the Marvelman stories of the past were part of a government experiment with fusing alien technology with humans, to create superhumans, and the government filled the heads of Marvelman, Young Marvelman, Marvelwoman and Kid Marvelman with memories of superpowered adventures, and then tried to kill them when their experiments were over. The nuke meant to kill them all only killed Young Marvelman. Marvelman just became Michael Moran, and forgot about it all, until his memory returned.

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Kid Marvelman, meanwhile, had gone mad with power, and was now a sociopathic killer. Marvelman fights him, and gets him to say HIS magic word, turning back to a young boy named Johnny Bates. Bates is placed into a group home.

The rest of the Warrior run detailed the history of how Miracleman formed, as well as learning that Moran’s girlfriend, Liz, was pregnant. During the Warrior run, Alan Davis also drew a great deal of the stories.

After legal problems from Marvel over the name “Marvelman,” Quality sold their rights to Eclipse Comics, who changed the name of the title to Miracleman, and started a new title, first reprinting the Warrior stories (which were done in black and white originally) and then starting new stories, this time with different artists, such as Chuck Beckum (Chuck Austen), Rick Veitch and most notably Moore’s former Swamp Thing inker, John Totleben, who drew perhaps the most famous Miracleman storyline, where young Johnny Bates is sexually assaulted during his stay in the group home, forcing him to turn into Kid Marvelman again, who has now just totally snapped, leading to an amazingly graphic single-handed destruction of London – it’s waaaaaaaaaay beyond the pale.

Moore left the book to Neil Gaiman after this storyline, with Moore’s last issue being #16. Gaiman wrote the book until Eclipse went out of business after #24.

Here is why Rene picked it #1…

“Alan Moore has always been my favorite comic book writer, and Miracleman has always been my favorite work of his. It seems like in his later, more famous works, such as Watchmen and From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that Moore’s powerful intelect always holds his subject matter at a certain distance. These later works seem carefully crafted, obsessively planned even. But Miracleman is different. It’s more organic, more visceral, and much more emotional as a result.

It has a very simple initial concept: Mike Moran is the middle-aged everyman that discovers he is a godlike superhuman. Moore takes this concept to its inevitable conclusion, examining how Moran’s superhuman status affects his life, his marriage, and eventually the entire world. One of the more interesting ideas in the series is that Mike Moran’s search for the origin of his powers takes us into increasingly harrowing, grander situations.

First Miracleman’s meeting and battle with Johnny Bates, another superhuman with similar powers, but completely corrupted by his abilities; then his encounter with Dr. Gargunza, the creepy, complex, South American genius that may be responsible for his powers; and finally the Qys, a bizarre alien species whose technology may have been used to make Miracleman what he is. Each of these encounters is an arc, each of them written majestically. Best of all, Miracleman’s ending, unlike other works by Moore, really is as good as the beginning.

Finally, Miracleman also is noteworthy in that it contains most of the themes that would be found in other Moore’s works. The deconstruction of the superhero (Watchmen), the human woman married to a god (Swamp Thing), the political commentary on utopian societies (V for Vendetta), the metafiction of comics inside comics (Promethea), even the lighter, retro-modern approach to superheroes (Tom Strong, Supreme) can be found in Miracleman’s pages. I can’t recommend this book enough.”

Thanks, Rene!

That’s it for today!!


Promethea’s one of my favourite comics ever. Didn’t make my 10, but I considered it.

Never read Hitman or Flash. Probably never will.

Astonishing X-Men was one of my favourite recent comics, particularly in its first arc. One of the better X-Men runs ever for sure. Though it falls under the group of things where its high placement probably has more to do with it being recent and good than anything to do with it. It will probably fare less well when Brian does this same poll 20 years from now.

Miracleman… man I wish the legal issues would settle and the trades would be rereleased. I’m just too poor to spend a hundred bucks on a trade. I assume that when I finally read it, it will be one of my favourite comics ever.

It may be a tad pedantic, but: #1-6 of Miracleman reprint MOST of the Warrior stories. #4’s “The Yesterday Gambit” was never reprinted.

5 more runs and I’m still 0 for 10.

Whedon’s X-Men is surprising. It is nostalgiatastic.

There IS one issue in the Danger run that I loved because Whedon set up a fight that was very well thought out which had each X-Men fighting in a way that let their personality shine through.

But yeah, I’m surprised this is so high.

Some day I’ll read Promethea.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 17, 2008 at 3:33 am

With the exception of Waid’s The Flash, I’ve read all of the above.

I would have put Moore’ s Promethea at # 37, tho’.

Patrick Joseph

April 17, 2008 at 4:20 am

This run points out a major mistake I made in my rankings. I totally forgot to vote for Promethea or Miracleman, and selected a different Alan Moore run instead. Whoops.

Well, vegetables need love too.

I went back and forth on Waid’s Flash, but opted out of putting any runs of my favorite character in the top 10. Waid’s work after issue 100 left me cold. It’s like all of his passion went out of the book. Once Augustyn started co-writing, I dropped the book entirely for a while.

Hitman may be DC’s best in-continuity book of the late 90’s. It was amazing.

I’ve not read Hitman, but the others are certainly worthy. I may even have voted for a couple these—memory’s foggy, probably should have kept some sort of notes…

Another Miracleman nitpick: due to the Eclipse office flooding, #8 was a reprint issue. Page 1 may or may not have been written by Moore, Page 2 (and maybe 3) are a framing sequence by the EiC, and then we get into a reprint.

Man, I screwed up with my Miracleman collection. After about a year hunting down the individual issues, I sold them when it looked like Gaiman and Marvel were going to release them in trades—it’s a good enough story that I wanted the nice, bound edition with better colors, etc. A few years later, still no collections, and I got ridiculously lowballed on the price. Ah well, at least I got to read them.

Waid’s Flash is terrific (particularly up to #100). I couldn’t decide if I like it or Messner-Loebs’s run better, so I ended up voting for neither, but that era is the best the Flash has ever been, easily.

I can’t be the only Alan Moore who didn’t like Promethea, can I? I really liked the first trade, and after that I thought it went downhill fast and never recovered. Remember that issue where she has sex with that old guy and they talk about how much of a metaphor it is? That plays like a parody of Moore’s meta-fictional work. A terrible, terrible parody.

Hitman absolutely would have made my list. I think it may actually be my favorite Garth Ennis work. Good to see that it and Ostrander’s Spectre got some love.

For me, Miracleman is the great missed opportunity of Moore’s career. The British stuff in Warrior is awesome, but the conclusion in the Eclipse published stuff is let down by the artwork. Chuck Austen’s artwork was absolutely atrocious in ways that I can’t begin to describe– particularly for a book which follows from Garry Leach and Alan Davis on art. Veitch and Totleben were certainly an improvement, but it looked too much like Swamp Thing for me rather than Miracleman. I think a great thing about the Marvelman strips in Warrior was how English they looked, for lack of a better term– they come from a comics drawing tradition, as Dave Gibbons once explained, where they were trained to draw ordinary humans doing ordinary things. And even though there’s bells, whistles and pyrotechnics in the Leach/Davis art it starts with very human scaled drawings. The spate of US artists schooled in superheroes or horror didn’t really help in my view.

But they also broke the 7-8 page chapter format, which admittedly was a legacy from the weekly Warrior strip but it also provided the story with a certain rhythm that when they started doing standard US comic length story stuck out.

To this day, I think when DC approached Moore to finish V for Vendetta, either him or DC said “but let’s not do it like Eclipse did it with Marvelman”. And they got the original artist and they stuck to the 7-8 page format and they even got one of the letterers from Warrior to do the final chapters.

Even so, I find it fascinating how Moore’s great epic stories of the ’80s all end with vastly different utopias: Watchmen it’s a tenuous one based on fear and deception; V for Vendetta it’s based in anarchy and Miracleman it’s one based in a benign, theocratic totalitarianism, only with an actual God on earth at the centre of it.

Gaiman and Buckingham’s Miracleman was brilliant too.

I bought all the Miracleman trades…to give them as birthday presents to my best friend. I thought I’d get around to buying for myself eventually– and never did!

Astonishing X-Men? Really? While I won’t argue that the first arc was brilliant, the writing on the book took a pretty severe nosedive during the Dangerous storyline and never recovered. Whedon might have a gift for sparkling and witty dialogue, but his plotting (outside of the occasional “OMG” moment) leaves a lot to be desired and the book’s pacing is simply atrocious.

Hitman is a book I’ve been meaning to read. I loved the recent 2-issue JLA crossover and the really bizarre One Million tie-in, but I haven’t had a chance to read more. I’m usually not a big Ennis fan, but Hitman really looks fun.

Waid’s Flash run was on my list. The man is pretty much the definitive Wally West writer.

My earlier comment should read “the only Alan Moore fan”. Obviously, I am not Alan Moore. And Alan Moore probably likes Promethea.

I didn’t vote for any of the winners in this installment (which is unsurprising — only 3 of my picks have made it so far, and I’m only counting on 2 more to eventually make it, although I’m perfectly willing to be surprised by one or more of my other 5 picks proving itself more popular than I anticipated), but I’m reasonably familiar — sometimes extremely familiar! — with each of them. In four cases out of five, I can at least understand the urge to vote for them. But in the case of Whedon’s run: I’ve read the first and second story arcs in TPB, and I thought the basic premise of the second was just plain awful.

Ah, well. I’ve already seen other things make it into the Top 100 when I never would have bet on them to have so many ardent supporters! I’ll live with it. Mark Twain once said: It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.

Dang Gummit, I guessed in the contest that Waid’s flash would be in the top 5– based on the high placement of Johns’ run and Wally’s VERY high placement in the character contest. It wasn’t based on personal preference or anything– I haven’t read them. I was just trying to game the room. Oh well.

Damn, it’s good to see Hitman in there. Why this fantastically written, poignant, funny and bizarre series isn’t talked about more I don’t know. Preacher will, of course, be right up the top but I loved some of these characters even more.

Miracleman! At last, one of my picks makes it. And Miracleman was my first place vote (and 2 other people too, I see), so it’s ironic that it’s the first one from my list to appear. Brian, did you get my text about why I chose Miracleman? I’ll send it again.

And as much as Mark Waid is rightfully celebrated, was I (and Anthony Strand) the only ones who really loved Messner-Loebs on the Flash? It was so quirky and unusual with a sort of humor that is pretty much unique, while Waid, while brilliant, was a bit more traditional. A pity that Messner-Loebs never managed to do good work again. Never liked his Thor or Wonder Woman much.

Promethea is occasionaly awesome, but I agree that it’s marred by Alan Moore getting too didatic in some issues. Still, I always loved some issues very much. The one that Promethea goes against the Temple is wonderful (the big Christian threat is a band of old geezers and a pack of children celebrating birthday, and Promethea shows them the power of imagination), and the one about the transgendered Promethea who has a tragic affair with the straight guy is also pretty good.

Whedon’s X-Men. Good. Readable. Fun. But vastly over-rated. I never watched Buffy or any of his shows, so I never really saw for myself that Whedon was the genius so many people say he is. Maybe someday I’ll see it.

Nice to see Promethea ranked this high; it got overlooked a lot when it was actually coming out. Even though Moore kinda tucked Williams under his arm and went straight up his own ass towards the end, it was an amazing, one of a kind series.

And Hitman deserves its ranking simply because of the already-legendary scene in which Tommy puked on Batman. Made me laugh out loud, that one did.

Miracleman is the 3rd book on my list to make it. Astonishing made my top 20 but I just couldn’t find room in the top 10. I need to pick up the Promethea trades on of these days.

Kind of surprised to see AXM there; it was actually the first comics run I ever read in single issues, but I’ve come to think it’s very, very overrated.

Although I didn’t rank Hitman as high as Spectre, I’m even happier to see it on the list. It’s so damn fun. And that recent JLA special was much better than I’d dared hope.

Read someone else’s copy of Alan Moore’s run on Miracleman many years back. (And agree it was excellent.) Nothing else on this list. You’d think I’d have read Promothea, what with usually enjoying both Moore and most any magic book, but it just always looked to New Age-y or something for me.

TOO New Age-y, darn it.

Anthony: no, you’re not the only Alan Moore fan who feels that way about Promethea.

Bernard the Poet

April 17, 2008 at 7:08 am

I didn’t read any of Mark Waid’s run. I was pretty bereft when Messner-Loebs left the book and when I saw Waid was beginning his run with Year One, I just thought West’s origins didn’t need to be raked over again, so I dropped it. Seeing it has done so well here, maybe I’ll give it a go.

I voted for Alan Davis and Alan Moore’s Captain Britain collaboration, rather than Marvelman, though I was tempted to put them both on my list. Does anyone know why they haven’t worked together in over twenty five years? I’d like to think there is some scrurrilous reason, that’s just the way I am.

New Totals.

Alan Moore takes his rightful place as the top creator. A new influx of 1990s titles also put that decade at the top of the list (though with less runs than the 1980s, the 90s runs have more points). Marvel has 9 runs more than DC. We have only 3 titles with female protagonists (Alias, Promethea, and Strangers in Paradise).

We have 67 runs so far (and 9815 pts)

– 25 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (3579 pts)
– 9 runs are X-Titles (1422 pts)
– 16 runs are set in the DC Universe (2699 pts)
– 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
– 4 are Vertigo comics (507 pts)
– 20 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (2919 pts)
– 4 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (501 pts)
– 3 runs have female protagonists (417 pts)

– 58 are superheroes or close enough (8733 pts)
– 9 are non-superhero (1082 pts)

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

– 1990s (18 runs – 2925 pts)
– 1980s (20 runs – 2800 pts)
– 2000s (16 runs – 2262 pts)
– 1970s (8 runs – 1200 pts)
– 1960s (3 runs – 329 pts)
– 1940s (2 runs – 299 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Alan Moore (5 runs – 909 pts)
– Chris Claremont (5 runs – 638 pts)
– Geoff Johns (3 runs – 534 pts)
– Mark Waid (2 runs – 378 pts)
– Warren Ellis (3 runs – 374 pts)
– Roger Stern (2 runs – 334 pts)
– Garth Ennis (2 runs – 333 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)
– John McCrea (232 pts)
– Joss Whedon (229 pts)
– John Cassaday (229 pts)
– Stan Lee (2 runs – 220 pts)
– Steve Gerber (218 pts)
– Kurt Busiek (218 pts)
– Frank Miller (211 pts)
– David Mazzucchelli (211 pts)
– Keith Giffen (208 pts)
– Tom and Mary Bierbaum (208 pts)
– John Ostrander (205 pts)
– Tom Mandrake (205 pts)
– Will Eisner (204 pts)
– Joe Kelly (202 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)
– 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)
– 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)

– 58 are superheroes or close enough (8733 pts)
– 31 are traditional superheroes (4858 pts)
– 27 are non-traditional superheroes (3865 pts)
– 10 are nonpowered superheroes (1289 pts)
– 7 are comedic superheroes (1007 pts)
– 21 are team books (3033 pts)
– 9 are non-superhero (1082 pts)

I probably wouldn’t have included Whedon’s X-Men. It’s not awful, but I can think of plenty of runs that are far better.

I voted for the Messner Loebs Flash run too, but I guess these three votes will hardly qualify for the Top 30 we have upcoming. A shame, really.
This run also includes one of my favorite stand alone issues, #24, one of the best explorations of Wally’s powers ( before the Speed Force crap, that I never really bought ), his character and the shadow that Barry cast over him.
And also featuring the McGee’s, a Baron creation that Loebs run away with.

Huh. I’m a huge X-Men fan. Claremont/Jrjr’s run was #1 pick. And I love Whedon’s TV shows. I greatly enjoy Astonishing X-Men (when it bothers to come out), but not enough to vote for it. I am very surprised it showed up, at all, let alone this high. All I seem to ever hear on the internet is how overrated it is, how people don’t understand the love for Whedon, at best, how its a good book but not great, and not without its problems. I just figured with all that, there was no way it would make the list.

Maybe I’m just hanging out away from all the people that LOVE it. Or maybe it’s one of those cases where the people that love it just keep it to themselves.

For whatever reason, I read all of Moore’s ABC titles except Promethea. Not sure why.. May have to check it out at some point. The premise sure sounds interesting, if a bit heady.

I came relatively late to reading Flash on a regular basis, so I missed Waid’s run the first time through. Of course I’ve heard good things about it (and the Loebs run that preceded it). I’ll have to do some back issue diving and check them out sometime.

Isn’t DC on the verge of re-releasing and finishing off the Hitman trades?

And will the legal brouhaha surrounding Marvelman/Miracleman ever get resolved?

No, Rene (and Anthony Strand) I have to say I love the Messner-Loebs run on the Flash. Have to be honest I voted for the Waid run in the end as the ‘Return of Barry Allen’ tips it for me, though the Messner-Loeb Grood arc is one of my favourite stories.

Another reason I went for the Waid Flash is actually I really like the issues in this second run with Augustyn (142 – 160ish) even though I know they’re not too popular, and kinda lumped that in. Have to say I’m surprised Waid turned up higher than Johns, very pleased but surprised. On any number of boards I’ve visited Johns’ seems to be by far and away the most popular of the two. While I enjoyed his run I don’t think its a batch on either of the two runs mentioned above. I must be ‘hangin’ out’ in the worng places!

How well served has the Flash was for almost the entire 230 issues of the series (before the various relaunches) where written by 5 writers (one of whom was a co-writer only). Between Baron, Messnor-Loeb, Waid (and Augustyn) and Johns, and with a lovely little interlude from no lesser lights than Morrison and Miller, the consistancy they gave the character over the 18 or so years they were writing meant Wally become one of the most wonderfully developed of mainstream characters.

Now if only the powers that be could learn a lesson from that these days…

With V for Vendetta and Marvelman in the book, it’s Axel Pressbutton that get’s the big cover splash. Amazing.

Hitman was #1 on my list. It comes closest to capturing the spirit of Eisner’s The Spirit. Heart, humor and heroics.

Tommy Monaghan was one of the most fully-realized characters ever captured between the pages of a “superhero” comic book. His large supporting cast was deeper and richer and more full of life than the likes of Lois Lane and Alfred ever achieved in their 70 years of trying.

Garth Ennis could switch from brutal realism to bat-shite insanity from issue to issue, yet nothing ever felt forced or out of place. This was in large part due to John McCrea’s brilliant art; realistic enough to bring tears to your eyes and cartoonish enough to make you laugh out loud.

Hands down, my favorite comic book ever.

How much do I love Promethea? It was the only run from the last 15 years to make it onto my extended list. It didn’t crack the top ten, though. I also had Moore and Davis’s Captain Britain on the extended list. I guess that’s not going to make it in. I, too, wonder why they’ve never worked together again.

Andrew Collins

April 17, 2008 at 8:11 am

Nice to see the love Hitman is getting. It really deserves the recognition, especially when it was so overshadowed by Garth’s work on Preacher at the time. Now if only DC would take notice of that and maybe give us the rest of the series in trades…

Miracleman. Poor MM. I wish they would just work the rights out and get on with it. It’s long since been a farce, but adding an idiot like McFarlane into the mix only made it worse. I had the full run for a long time until I sold them on eBay (for a nice profit, too) and I have to say, it really is a brilliant comic and I think one that lives up to the infamous legend it’s become because of the ownership issues.

That said, I voted for Moore’s Swampie over his MM, and I would be surprised to not see ST the top 10 at the very least…

I’m also chuffed to see Mircaleman in there (though I have to be honest I thought it would be higher). Its good to see some representation from British and European comics. By that I mean there are plenty of European creators on the list, but their work for European comics, not surprisingly doesn’t seem to be showing up. I’ve no beef with this as this is a list being run in America, from an American fansite and therefore will of course have a strong leaning towards American comics.

I was hoping though that there might be a more international feel to the list. With the exception of a few Japanese titles at the back end of the list and Miracleman (which I’ll court as it started in Warrior, even though its probably here due to the Eclipse editions) nothing to date that I can think of. From here on in I can only think of on International comics that might make it (another Japanese book) and even that I’m not sure about. From my very British perspective (with all the British bias that brings) I had hoped there’d be some representation from 2000ad, Moore’s Captain Britain, Tank Girl and any number of French material I can think of (I went for the Asterix books but wasn’t holding out too much hope.). Thats not to say that none of these will be seen here just not expecting it anymore.

I MIGHT have voted for Miracleman if i could read it. But in 10 years, if we do another Top 100 Comic Book Runs, who knows..?

I was one of the four who picked Promethea as number one, so I’m glad to see it as high as it is. It’s not only my favorite story to come through this medium, but it also dynamically realized the potential of the medium as a teaching tool for concepts of philosophy and spiritual understanding that you can’t just express in words alone. Moore was the perfect writer for the job and no one could have rendered it quite as breathtakingly as J.H. Williams.

Miracleman wouldn’t been in my top 25, certainly, but I realize that now everything that above number 40 on that list is going to evoke a sense of disappointment. “Ok guys, it was good, but… better than Promethea!??” Then again, I’m sure everyone feels that way about their own top picks. :-)

I was lucky enough to have a chance to buy the first 7 issues of Eclipse’s “Miracleman” very cheap back in the early 90s — I’m not sure, but I think they were squeezed in with a zillion other things in the “back issues for $1″ bin at a sale, or maybe even cheaper than that? I’m positive I didn’t pay anything special for them. Maybe the dealer assumed that any day now, Todd McFarlane’s TPB reprints would be flooding the market anyway?

Now I occasionally notice the later issues of the run at comics shows, going for maybe $10 or $12 apiece. Ain’t worth it to me to fill out my run. “Miracleman” is just one of the more extreme cases of a good product which constantly amazes me by not being readily available in a reprint version for the benefit of the rising generation of fans who might love it to distraction if only they could, y’know, ever get the chance to see it and buy it in a local comics shop or Borders?

There’s something frighteningly self-destructive about the way American comic book publishers take this “hit-or-miss” attitude regarding whether or not to reprint some of their great runs of yesteryear.

I mean, you don’t see prose publishers saying to each other, “Ho hum, maybe we’ll reprint Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy sometime in the next twenty or thirty years . . . if a time comes when we have nothing better to do. But of course right now we need to concentrate on publishing brand new paperback novels every month, by a bunch of newcomers to their respective genres, and that’s far more important than keeping any of the goldie oldies of SF and Fantasy in print!”

As I’ve mentioned in previous rounds, two of my votes were for DC runs from the 1980s which I still reread from time to time because I have all the back issues, but which have never had any significant portion of the original material reprinted for anyone who wasn’t buying those titles over two decades ago but might be interesting in seeing exactly what they’d been missing! A stray issue here or there may have ended up as part of a collection of “best” stories about one thing or another, but that’s not the same thing as several consecutive installments from a single writer’s run being conveniently offered in a package deal. That being the case, I strongly doubted either of those old DC runs would make the Top 100, because it doesn’t matter how great the storytelling was if the fans who only started reading comics seriously at any time within the last 10 or 20 years have never seen those runs offered for sale on the shelves of a store — in any format!

Alan Davis and Alan Moore had a falling-out in about 1983-84. In George Khoury’s excellent Kimota! The Miracleman Companion, there’s an interview with Davis that skirts the issue, but it seems like they had issues over the rights to Miracleman and also Captain Britain. Davis mentions he was pissed when Moore refused to allow Captain Britain to be reprinted, implying that he had some say in it. I assume it had something to do with rights, and Moore, who famously holds grudges, is still holding one against Davis. But I’m sure someone has better information than I do.

I knew that Miracleman back issues were rare due to the legal issues but I didn’t know they were that expensive. I might have to head over to ebay.
I don’t know if I could part with such a great series though.

Ah. Finally one of my votes (Astonishing X-Men) shows up for the first time since the Bottom 10 (Nextwave).
I must admit that I mostly voted for the strong first arc and partially for the second half of the series (“second season” post #13). Despite being a bit weak since ‘Gifted’. it’s still a good book.

Brian, I think you forgot to mention the Hellfire Club arc between ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Unstoppable’. Not that it matters much…

If Hitman is here, I guess there’s a high chance for Ennis’ other great epic to show up higher (hopefully much, much higher).

It’s great to see other fans of Messner-Loebs’s Flash here. It’s a pretty brilliant run that was unfairly “forgotten” by many fans just because the following run was so damned brilliant too (but more conventional and “upbeat”, no wonder it’s so popular).

Hitman. It’s great, but I have this love-hate thing with Garth Ennis. I usually love his work, but his savage attacks on superheroes make me uncomfortable. Yeah, I know, how unhip of me. But I can’t help how I feel. It’s worse when Garth portrays the targeted hero as a parody of himself, there is something a bit smug and strawman-like in it. Like with Kyle Rayner in Hitman, and Wolverine in Punisher.

The Boys don’t bother me all that much, because at least they’re characters Ennis created himself, even though they’re thinly-disguised parodies.

Hitman was my number one for most of the reasons already illuminated on above. Of course it was funny, but it also truly poignant. Ennis writes better dialogue than just about anybody, and Hitman is as good of an example as any other comic you can think of. When Tommy and Natt went down in that final issue, it was like losing two close friends. Few comics can really pull that off.


Promethea was only 40th? What ae you people thinking?!?

Well, at least we’re starting to see more of my list, so I look forward to the next installments!

Hey, Garth Ennis’ version of Wolverine is amazing. I’d buy an Ennis Wolverine comedy book.

I don’t think that Moore is going to keep that ‘rightful place’ through the end, considering that there are two more Claremont X-book runs and probably at least one Fantastic Four to come, and meanwhile, we’ve nearly exhausted Moore’s qualifying canon. (Swampy’s a lock, but I don’t see Tom Strong outdoing this batch’s runs, and the odds of the 2000AD serials making the top 35 seem only slightly higher than those of Maxwell the Magic Cat…his remaining major works (V, Watchmen, From Hell, Lost Girls) are all unqualifying limited series)

Three best guest appearances in Hitman

– Superman which has already been noted

– Green Lantern – Tommy reading his mind while shooting and throwing hand grenades at GL finding out what the ring can do. Then Kyle not having any money to buy his round in the bar.

– Catwoman – Tommy turning to Natt and saying weren’t there days you wished you had X-Ray vision after their first meeting with Catwoman.

That Loebs issue of the Flash, with the stewardess falling out of the airplane and Wally jumping out after her? Man, that was one of my favorite comics ever. “Nobody dies. It’s a rule.” That has stuck with me for twenty years.

No way in hell Chris Claremont’s Fantastic Four will make this list, Jeff. I bet my comic book collection. But maybe you’re refering to John Byrne? We’ll have X-Men, FF, probably She-Hulk and Captain America here too. So he can be the one to beat Alan Moore.

And yeah, Tom Strong will appear, beating Miracleman and Promethea. Never underestimate the love a more upbeat, “fun” comic can receive from the fans.

You want to hear my shameful confession, Rene? I at least toyed with the idea of voting for the Claremont FF run. There — I finally got that off my chest!

Granted: That was when I was mentally working my way through all the FF runs I’ve read, searching for any possibilities as I was brainstorming to build a list of possible candidates for my final ballot (Walt Simonson’s run was another which received serious consideration) . . . so it wasn’t like I seriously thought Claremont’s was The Best Fantastic Four Run In History . . . but the possibility of voting for it did cross my mind for several seconds!

Then I looked at whatever the other comic book runs were which I’d already added to the short list of “serious contenders” in a Notepad window, and I decided I liked rereading most of them significantly more than I like rereading Claremont’s FF run, and I dismissed the idea for good.


I was in a hurry and I used the tags I’d normally use on the regular CBR forums — which, of course, don’t work on here, and there isn’t a built-in “Preview” function to let me catch my mistakes at the last possible moment. Oh well, I don’t think it makes my post incomprehensible . . . :(

Whoever voted for anything Whedon should be ashamed of themselves.

it dawned on me today that I totally forgot about Giffen’s L.E.G.I.O.N. and that probably should have been in my top ten.

At least 1-50

I don’t think we’ll be seeing Tom Strong either.
I’m hoping Ennis sneaks up, as we’ve still got Preacher and (I hope) Punisher to come.

Weird, there are some things that are repeated so often, that everyone takes them as true, but…

Everyone keeps saying Joss Whedon’s X-Men is this big nostalgia thing, but when I finally got around to read, it didn’t feel as much like Claremont’s X-Men as I expected. Sure, you have Kitty Pryde and Colossus back, and people fixate on that, but with Cassandra Nova, the devasted Genosha, the cure for mutation, and that weird barbaric planet, it really reminded me more of Grant Morrison’s run, only not as “edgy”.

If anything, Brubaker’s X-Men are the ones closest to what Claremont used to do, in my oppinion.

I wish someone would articulate precisely why they dislike Whedon’s X-Men. It may be overrated, but it’s still good comic bookery. I’d call it some of the best work in superhero comics these days.

But most of the run’s criticism that I’ve read echoes what I’m reading here: “overrated” and “too nostalgic” before it descends into “that second arc sucked!” and “it’s always so late!” The best critiques say that it’s all dialogue/no pacing. But I find that’s mitigated in TPB, where the arcs are long but eventful.

Whedon doesn’t just write good dialogue, he shows character & relationships thru dialogue as well as thru action — which you need in a team book. Otherwise you get the indistinguishable, square heroes of Silver Age JLA. And Cassaday is genius at expression, pacing out story beats, & action. However, it didn’t make my top ten either.

“Promethea,” on the other hand, did. Okay: it’s weird, it’s not very accessible, and the issues about cosmology can feel digressive & (yes) didactic. But in it, Moore communicates not only theological beliefs, but an almost palpable and spiritual devotion to human creativity. If art is meant to reflect & explain life, then “Promethea” is a great work of art. If art’s meant to alter your perception of the world, then “Promethea” is a great work of art. And if art’s simply meant to look beautiful, “Promethea” is still a great work of art. I find it breathtaking.

Haven’t read “Hitman” but the love you all are showing may get me to check it out.

Hitman is the third run from my list to show up on the countdown.

Nat, Sean, Ringo, Hacken, Sixpack, Baytor… what a great supporting cast! Hitman One Million was one of the funniest comics I’ve ever read. Those of you who have not read the series, I urge you to try it, at least. Ennis wasn’t as over-the-top as he was with Preacher. He split the stories between outright comedy and that manly version of sentimentality he does so well. Even those of you who don’t read Ennis books normally may enjoy Hitman. John McCrea’s loopy art was always eye-catching, and he drew the funny bits and the serious bits equally well. Along with Steve Dillon, he’s the best collaborator Ennis has worked with to date.

Wow, none of my picks have come up yet. I was this close to voting for Hitman but an abrupt situation caused me to stop reading comics back in ’99, so the last thing I read was the story about the vampires during No Man’s Land. So until DC gets to and and reprints the rest of the run I couldn’t vote in good conscience. However, I did read a detailed summary of the final issue somewhere online and even THAT made me mist up, so I can only imagine what the real thing was like.

Bill Loebs’ Flash actually had decent levels of support.

Not decent enough to make the Top 100, but it did well enough that I thought, as counting them, “Wow, I bet a lot of these people think they’re the only ones voting for Loebs – but they’re not.” :)

Whedon’s X-Men shouldn’t have even made the top 100, much less a spot THIS high. My faith in the online comic fandom community has just taken as big a hit as it ever has, and I’m not even reading a Newsarama forum, good god.

Lorendiac, I didn’t think Claremont’s Fantastic Four was so horrible. Strange, yes. Felt a little “off”, yes. But I don’t hate it. Don’t love it either. I was mostly saying that I highly doubt the run is popular enough to make the Top 100.

Greg, I pretty much agree with your accessment of Whedon’s X-Men (well, except for your annoyance at a closer look at mutation, it doesn’t bother me none). But yeah, you articulated it well, this obsession with “awesome” moments. Another comic that feels a lot like that is Brad Meltzer’s JLA.

As a TV and film writer/director/producer, Joss Whedon really is brilliant: someone who uses the tropes of comics and fantasy in other forms and finds amazing ways to apply them to moving arts (TV, especially). As a comics writer, he’s…well, ok, I guess. I wish his comics work was better– Fray and the Buffy Season 8 book aren’t bad– but I think his work needs the pop that actors, sound effects, music and moving camera can give it (no crime in being better in one medium than another– reverse the equation, and make it comics-to-cinema, and everything I just wrote could apply to Frank MIller, whose movies are absurdly overrated). I”d hope his less- than-extraordinary run in the comics field doesn’t decrease admiration for his fine work in other areas (after all, we still love– and should love–“Born Again” in Daredevil even though Sin City the movie is remarkably bad).

Astonishing X-Men is enjoyable, particularly for someone like me who never had the mutant bug in a big way. But I do understand people who don’t get the fanaticism around it– I have the same response when I read about Green Lantern books on comics blogs– I love the enthusiasm people have for them, but I don’t share it, and there are moments when it puzzles me greatly.

Wonder if any non Marvel-DC books will make the list from here on out.

Bone is probably a shoo-in.

But there’s a bunch I expected to see:

Walking Dead is better than Invincible, right?

Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge – Seriously: Where are all our European Voters.

Tezuka’s Phoenix – And our Manga people?

Cerebus – It is, like, THE definitive run in comics, right? But maybe Dave Sim drove everybody away. I blame the female void.

Love and Rockets – Spectacularly good, but maybe too inaccessable? I was hoping the recent digest collections would give people an easy in. And maybe voters are put off by the split book format.

Hate – Of all the major indy comic runs of the nineties (Eightball, Palookaville, Yummy Fur, Frank. Naughty Bits etc.), this one probably reads best as an ongoing series and not as graphic novels. I really expected to see it circa the low eighties or thereabouts.

Kurtzman’s Mad – Maybe (probably, even) the single most culturally influential Western comic. But there’s probably precious little crossover with the Batman fans.

The Goon – Well, the only ongoing monthly series *I* buy that isn’t in danger of being dropped at any time. That’s gotta count for something.

I have a friend who loves Astonishing X-Men and it’s the only X-Men comic he’s reads. What do you think he’s nostalgic for? The first time he saw the movie? And so what if people did vote for something based on nostalgia? We fanboys are a nostalgic lot who are (much of the time) really just trying to recapture the same feeling that issue of Superman or Spider-Man or JLA or Groo or G.I. Joe gave us as a kid.

Honestly, when you tear down other people’s love of something, all you do is make it look like that’s all we fanboys do. The reason I don’t post on Newsarama is because it is mainly that sucks, this sucks, you suck. It’s not their “inferior opinion” that turns me off.

Astonishing X-Men?


MarkAndrew – I think a lot of the demographic here probably just haven’t read most of that stuff. I know I haven’t, although my library does have “Palomar”, and I actually have the first Cerebus book checked out right now (haven’t started it yet).

And I voted for Barks on Uncle Scrooge.

Hmm, so since everybody else here has great taste the 8 runs I voted for that haven’t appeared will appear in the top 35?

Probably not…

I’ll be quite surprisd if we don’t see Bone, Cerebus, Love And Rockets or Hate. Probably all shoo-ins. If Claremont’s FF makes it I’ll eat my mask.

It’s strange, because I haven’t seen a single Claremont run since he left the X-Men in 92 that was worth writing home about… but right up until he left he was writing just as well as he had been for 16 years. It’s like the light just switched off.

I’ll agree that Whedon’s X-Men doesn’t resonate so fully on the Claremont frequency. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, as we’ve had some wonderful X-runs that just brought in their own distinct energy — Morrison, Kelly, Carey — but did you guys see the Scalphunter story at the back of X-Men: Divided We Stand this week? THAT story captured Claremont’s spirit for me. And yet it was written by Matt Fraction so the dialogue was top-notch, and it wasn’t quite so soapy. I’ve been loving everything Fraction writes, but when I saw that story I felt so much hope for the X-Men! And it came as a complete surprise ’cause I didn’t know Fraction had anything in it (and it didn’t give the credits till the last page), and it came on the heels of a slew of disappointing shorts about various brooding New X-Men.

I’m probably off-topic a bit now, so I’ll say goodnight!

“The finale of Whedon’s run is coming out soon.”

There’s a typo in this sentence. I’ll let you find it.

Hint: you misspelled “maybe”. It doesn’t start with S, doesn’t have two O’s in it, and does not end with an N. :)

I have a friend who loves Astonishing X-Men and it’s the only X-Men comic he’s reads. What do you think he’s nostalgic for? The first time he saw the movie? And so what if people did vote for something based on nostalgia? We fanboys are a nostalgic lot who are (much of the time) really just trying to recapture the same feeling that issue of Superman or Spider-Man or JLA or Groo or G.I. Joe gave us as a kid.

Tommy, you raise two different issues. On the one hand, I would never dream of ripping someone for something they enjoy that is not my personal taste. Life is short and whatever makes you happy is fine by me. If more fanboys bought what they actually liked instead of buying stuff they hate and complaining about it, then comics might be better.

That said, this is a list of the top runs of all time. Given talent involved, “Astonishing X-Men” is better suited to a list of the most disappointing runs of all-time.

Josh Alexander

April 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm

I wonder…………If we were allowed to revote for 10 (or even 5) but were only allowed to choose from the 100 (or 102) titles that originally made the Top 100, if the rankings would change that drastically? Would Astonishing X-Men still be in the top 40 or no?

I don’t mind Astonishing X-Men’s ranking, simply because it makes the list very eclectic. Did I vote for it, no. Do I hate it, no. Would it have made my Top 20 or 30 even, probably not.

Nice to see the text I submited on “Miracleman”! I wish more people would send texts about their #1 choices.

I’m pretty sure Cerebus will make the list, and Bone too. The reason I never got into any of them is that I have this irrational prejudice against “funny animals”. Yeah, I know, I know the books are mature and probably as good as everyone says they are, but I said it was an irrational prejudice, didn’t I? (And the rumours that Dave Sim is homophobic scared me off a bit too). I also never liked zombie stories very much, and that is why I didn’t read Walking Dead when it started. But I hope to read all of those comics someday.

Love & Rockets I’ve read some issues, but they’re not easy to find here in Brazil. I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes the list, but not as certain as Bone and Cerebus.

Mad, when most people think about Mad today is about how the magazine decayed, not about the former glory of the Kurtzman’s years, unfortunately.

Tommy, criticizing stuff that other people love makes me uncomfortable, and a part of me think it’s petty. But I can’t help doing it sometimes. But really, “Astonishing X-Men” isn’t one my faves, but I don’t think there is anything too bad about it either. There are some great moments there. It’s just that I expected far more. I’d be more comfortable if it were in the bottom half of the list.

I like how apparently The Spirit is less popular than Joss Whedon X-Men.

Vic — maybe that should be “how the Spirit is far less available in affordable TPB collections than Joss Whedon’s X-Men”?

As I’ve said about some of my own favorites and their low prospects for cracking the Top 100 at all — people aren’t likely to be well-acquainted with something if significant portions of it haven’t been available on the shelves in stores, ready to catch their eye and going at a fairly cheap price, in the years since they started collecting comics. I know about the hardcover archives, but that’s the sort of thing a fan buys after he already knows he wants to collect it; I doubt those sky-high prices often lead to “impulse buys” on the part of fans who may have just vaguely heard: “Once upon a time there was a man called Will Eisner who wrote and drew something called ‘The Spirit.'”

And if they haven’t read it, then they certainly aren’t likely to vote for it! :(

(I voted for The Spirit, as a matter of fact, but I’ve read the lion’s share of the old Kitchen Sink series that reprinted Eisner’s Post-WWII years on the character, back around the late 80s. I’m afraid I wasn’t buying them at the time, but some years later I had chances to pick up some, and then more, of those issues at sales at nice affordable prices. If I hadn’t thus been exposed to it, then it would have had to struggle along without my vote!)

I have a friend who loves Astonishing X-Men and it’s the only X-Men comic he’s reads.

Sure. A friend. :)

But, honestly, if Astonishing X-Men is the worst comic we’ve seen in the top fifty… Well, we’re doing pretty damn good.

I’ll only be sour about Astonishing if Morrison’s New X-Men isn’t ranked higher. Personally. I find Astonishing to be a lighter, less comlicated extension of New X-Men, on its good days. And I enjoy those days.

I think part of its massive support is Casssady. He really carries some of the scenes in the book just on art. (I’m sure Whedon understand this and knows when to back off in the scripting department)

That’s my two cents.

I think part of its massive support is Casssady. He really carries some of the scenes in the book just on art. (I’m sure Whedon understand this and knows when to back off in the scripting department)

I think that is likely right. It is interesting that we’ve seen runs by writer-artist teams and just writers with various artists, but none by just an artist.

“Miracleman”, “Astonishing X-Men” and (to a lesser extent) Waid’s “Flash” really are great examples of the relative power of the artist. “Miracleman” is easily one of the best written superhero runs, ever. Moore’s three arcs were a joy to read, but the changing roster of artists really hurt some issues. For example, the death of Dr. Gargunza was a brilliant scene that wasn’t well realized by the artist.

Conversely, Astonishing X-Men feels as though it were written by a focus group, but Cassaday always delivers the good from a visual stand-point. It is a matter of taste, but I considered it a waste of a great artist instead of a run mace good by great art.

Aw, man. I didn’t even think of Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge as a “run” because I read them in many formats over different comics over many years, but those are some of the finest comics ever produced. Sorry, Carl.

Yeah, Astonishing sure is pretty, isn’t it? The writing isn’t terrible, but it’s nothing special. The only thing really sad about is that we probably won’t see any other writer getting to work on Cassaday’s X-Men because Marvel will associate him with the Whedon run and he’ll retire from the book afterward. And Casey/Cassaday, or Fraction/Cassaday, or any-really-wonderful-comic-writer/Cassaday would be something special.

Ellis/Bianchi should be interesting though.

So now we have to defend our votes? I already said earlier why I voted for Astonishing X-Men. Anyone have a problem with my choice, so be it.

I won’t judge anyone’s votes, as long as it’s not something really awful like Rob Liefeld’s stuff. And even then, I’ll be nice about it. :)

Another Loebs Flash voter here! Obviously it’d be a lot of work for Mr Cronin, and is beyond the original scope, but if after all 100 runs have been published we were able to see even a bare listing of titles (and their votes) that missed the cutoff, it would be _very_ interesting. Others have expressed this hope before; I’ll add my voice. :)

And, yes, “Freefall in Scarlet” (#54(?)) is an absolute masterpiece. It would be my pick for best Wally West story of all time. Easily.

The Return of Barry Allen was electrifying stuff (like most of the first year of Waid’s post-HR Cap run), but (in both cases) it seemed the roller coaster ride was too good to last. High quality remained afterwards, but the edge-of-the-seat “did-that-really-happen?!?” wow-I-can’t-believe-how-good-this-is excitement faded.

The Loebs Flash run, for me, was more _consistently_ entertaining and inventive. Remember Wally watching a movie and wondering why everyone else around him in the cinema has suddenly stopped moving?

Promethea is outstandingly excellent, and it also scored one of my votes. It works on so many levels, and is so entertaining and thought-provoking and surprising, I’d not be surprised it’s being read 50 years from now. It repays multiple re-reading in a way few comics do.

2/3 of the way through now, it’s getting very exciting :D

“I have a friend who loves Astonishing X-Men and it’s the only X-Men comic he’s reads. What do you think he’s nostalgic for? The first time he saw the movie?”

I see a lot of this too. People who use that title as their first-ever comic. And I think that’s who it is written for, too. There are a zillion X-books. They don’t all have to be for the same fanbase. Hell, they shouldn’t be.

Did anyone else notice how Miracle Man seemed to be the largest single influence on the Matrix? People in fluid tanks hooked up to a virtual reality, with super-powered people in what’s supposed to be the world as we know it. Miracle Man waking up into what’s supposed to be the world as we know it vs Neo waking up from what’s supposed to be the world as we know it. The final battle scene with an antagonist wearing a suit.

Dunno about that, I think Matrix was more inspired by cyberpunk novels than by any comic book.

I know this may seem weird, but among all the other things I liked about Messner-Loebs’ run on the Flash was that Wally West was a young guy that meant well, but he was also a bit of slacker, immature, and not the sharpest tool in the shed. All in all, a much more realistic take on young people than the “little adults” that you often see in fiction. Peter Parker and Invincible and Smallville’s Clark Kentcan agonize about their choices, but when you get down to it, they’re really very responsible and mature. Even more than most adults.

Well, the Human Torch and Iceman are depicted as truly immature many times, but they’re also depicted as abrasive and jerk-ish. Messner-Loebs’ Wally was unique in that he was both amicable and immature, a mixture that contributed to a certain charm.

Mark Waid made Wally grow up, and maybe it was about time that he became more heroic and smart. But he also became a bit more conventional.

Mark Waid made Wally grow up, and maybe it was about time that he became more heroic and smart. But he also became a bit more conventional.

That was always my one complaint about Waid’s run. The impulsive, flirtatious Flash was a totally unique charater that Waid seemed over-eager to put into the past. Personally, I miss the Wally West that ate six cheeseburgers and cracked wise about it to the waitress. We were around the same age and I really related to him.

Dunno about that, I think Matrix was more inspired by cyberpunk novels than by any comic book.

Well, Miracle Man predated the term cyberpunk and the Wachowskis demonstrated their interest in Moore with their interest in adapting V for Vendetta beginning in the early 1990s. The cyberpunk influence seemed to have been employed as an introduction, however well, to a story they intended to end with a fight with Kid MiracleMan. I’m not sure what the virtue of denying this is except as comic-audience low-self-esteem

Well, again animation comes to the rescue ( re: Flash ): which version of Wally is the one that crossed over to the animation word in JL and JLU?

Mike, there is a mistake in what I’ve said. There IS a comic book that seemed to inspire Matrix a lot, it was The Invisibles. There are a couple of sites in the Internet that remark on the various similarities. The resemblance to Miracleman seems more incidental to me.

Here, for instance, is an essay about the similarities between Matrix and Invisibles:


Mutt – great write up of Hitman. I totally agree with everything you wrote :)

I’m pretty sure I put it third on my list.

Not my favorite grouping so far. Apart from Miracleman, this list is mostly ‘meh’ for me.

‘Promethea’ is a pretty title, for sure, but hard to get into. And I’d rather Moore told stories instead of lecturing to us uncultured hicks.

‘Flash’ introduced Impulse, who was an ok character but not someone I cared about all that much about, I felt nothing when they killed him off. There were 2 things I especially didn’t like about Waid’s run: 1)The introduction of the Speed Force (what, they can’t just be people who run fast?), and 2)The new status of the the worshiping of Saint Wally. Yeah, I preferred him more when he was a prick, as opposed to Waid’s “The bestest person evah!” version. Bad enough he fulfilled whatever masturbation fantasies Waid had about the character…but then everyone else in the DCU fell in line with worshipping Wally? I realize he needed to get him out of Barry’s shadow, but come on…

‘Hitman’ does have a bit too much superhero hatred (the Superman issue aside). If you’re that embaressed about superheroes or working in the comic book industry, find another job. Still, he gets points for taking a Bloodlines characters and writing a series that lasted 5 years.

‘AXM’ looks pretty, but the writing….’Danger’ seems like a rejected plot for Star Trek, Hellfire was a 6 issue fight scene which did nothing but lead into the current story, and the current story seems like a rehash of an old annual Claremont did better involving the X-men, the FF, Akron, and the Badoon. And he did in IN ONE ANNUAL. Then again, I find Whedon to be an overrated hack, so maybe it’s just me. Buffy and Angel were ok, but I never found them to be as exceptional as the critics and cult sized audience found them to be (the less said about Firefly, the better). But again, it looks pretty. Def not the run I would recommend to someone who wanted to discover the X-men.

BTW, i would love to read more on Axel Pressbutton, the Psychotic Cyborg…

Renee, while the influences cited in the article may very well have been picked up by the Wachowskis from reading the Invisibles, I think it’s worthwhile to note that what seems to have been picked up from Miracle Man seems to be more dependent on a reading of Miracle Man than what’s been picked up from the Invisibles is dependent on reading the Invisibles.

The literal consideration of our emerging from a virtual world is at least 400 years old with George Berkeley, if you don’t count Plato. The notion of a society constructed to farm humanity doesn’t seem so dependent on the myrmidons with the Morlock/Eloi relationship standing by as the better analogy. The Morpheus/Cypher/Neo triangle fits the grail-king/pagan-king/grail-champion triangle as I remember Joseph Campbell describing it in Hero w/ 1000 Faces (as well as Freud’s ego, id, and superego, if that’s how you take your dialectics).

That leaves dramatising the jump scene from the Invisibles (which I haven’t read, if that disclosure is necessary, but if you’re going to offer the article as proof, that’s all I really need to address). Contrast that with the finale showdown in the last movie pitting Neo against Agent Smith performing for the most part as Kid MiracleMan, I feel comfortable saying the trilogy (which is what I’ve been casually referring to all this time, if that requires clarification) is more of a hostage to Miracle Man than the Invisibles.

Just to go off at a tangent regarding the whole “what did the Matrix steal from other sources” subject . . . a few years ago I saw a complaint being made the other way around. It was shortly after the Spider-Man 2 film came out; the one with Doctor Octopus.

I wrote a review of that one for Epinions.com. I also read a bunch of other reviews written by other participants on that site. One amateur film critic had said approximately the following (paraphrased from my memory):

Those scary metal tetacles thrashing about are so obviously swiped from the ones on the evil robots in the Matrix films that it’s just pathetic. Couldn’t they be more original in designing their villain’s gimmicks? [Or words to that general effect.]

As you could probably anticipate, I thought that was hilarious, and tried to break it to the guy gently that he probably had the chronology of the sequence of cause-and-effect mixed up! :)

I said something like this: “Evidently you aren’t very familiar with the Spider-Man comic books, or else you’d be aware that in the comics, Doctor Octopus has been depicted using metal tentacles — the basis for the ones seen in this film — on a regular basis ever since the early 1960s. If anything got swiped, it’s far more likely that the Wachowski Bros. are the ones who were inspired by fond memories of how scary Doc Ock’s tentacles could look, instead of the other way around!”

That is funny, Lorendiac. I think I’ve heard at least one person saying Doctor Doom was so obviously a Darth Vader copy…

It’s a strange feeling, some comic book characters that are so familiar to us fans, and yet so unknown to the general public, before a cartoon or a movie makes the characters “visible”. The X-Men are a case in point. I remember how it was in the 80s, how almost everyone who read superhero comic books was crazy about Claremont’s X-Men, but they were completely unknown to the general public.

Then the cartoons came in the early 90s, and later the movies, and now the characters are recognized.

Mike, having read both the Invisibles and Miracleman, I still think Matrix owes more to the Invisibles in general structure. The resemblance to Miracleman seems to be in couple of elements (the visuals of the villain, the virtual reality tanks), not the general plot, that sometimes seems to be lifted entirely from the Invisibles.

But this is the kind of thing that is hard to be “proved”.

Nevermind that DD predates DV by over a decade…;)

I once read something in which John Byrne complained about the following events in his life in the 1980s:

1. He did a comic book story — might have been in his FF run, I’m not sure — in which various characters spent most of the story wearing carved masks, apparently modeled on the ones out of the early dramas of Classic Greece, over two thousand years ago.

2. He later met a fan at a convention who said something like this: “It was shameless, the way you plagiarized that whole ‘carved masks’ concept from a ‘Doctor Who’ episode I saw, not so long before your story came out.”

3. When Byrne asked if the fan was aware that the basic concept of different characters wearing carved wooden masks as they recite their lines onstage went way back to the old Greeks, the fan claimed to have some awareness of that fact — but he was still absolutely convinced that a) Byrne must have seen the same “Doctor Who” episode the fan had seen, and b) must have shamelessly swiped the idea from that specific use of it in that episode, because c) if he hadn’t just recently seen that general idea being used, it “obviously” never would have occurred to him to do it that way himself in a new story!

In short, the fan was obsessed with the idea that the most recent use of this concept that he personally had observed (Byrne’s story) must have been plagiarized from the next-to-most-recent use of this concept which he personally had observed (the “Doctor Who”) episode. Any suggestion that Byrne and the script writer for that episode might have independently chosen to gleefully swipe the general concept from much older sources simply fell on deaf ears!

Mike, there is a mistake in what I’ve said. There IS a comic book that seemed to inspire Matrix a lot, it was The Invisibles. There are a couple of sites in the Internet that remark on the various similarities. The resemblance to Miracleman seems more incidental to me….

Mike, having read both the Invisibles and Miracleman, I still think Matrix owes more to the Invisibles in general structure.

I think it’s worth noting that that wasn’t your initial reaction to my observation.You demonstrated associating the Matrix with the Invisibles wasn’t intuitive to you, and now you seem to be citing your intuition as the basis of your opinion.

In contrast to this, my reaction watching Revolutions in the theater was, “holy crap, this is Miracle Man!” and was potent enough for me to be what may be a dick about it here 4½ years later.

Just to muddy the waters a bit: there’s an old trilogy of anime movies that goes by the name of Megazone 23. The Matrix is shockingly similar to the first two entries in the series (the third is pretty crap, and I don’t think even the Warshowskis would steal from it). There are entire scenes and major plot threads from the films more or less duplicated. The rough release date of these films in Japan was around 1985, but their availability in the US on DVD/VHS and in other countries has been incredibly spotty. You couldn’t get them reliably in the US until around 2005 or so, if memory serves.

Did Grant Morrison watch them? (There are quite a few parallels to the Invisibles.) Did Alan Moore somehow see them? (Quite a few parallels to Miracleman, though less so than Invisibles.) Did the Warshowskis see them? We know they like anime. Or did they just read comics based on them? Or were the comics inspired separately, but the Warshowskis also saw the anime? Or…

… well, this is why trying to argue that X was based on Y in any sort of conclusive way, as opposed to “X is very strikingly similar to Y” is something of a fruitless task on the internet.


April 21, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Sounds like you really love Whedon’s X-men run Brian.
That piece was bursting with enthusiasm.

promethea mark waid’s flash astonishing x-men hitman miracleman

Promethea ! Yes !! Of course a lot of Moore’s work will be on this list but this is one of my very favorites. It’s truly unique and I was crazy crazy about it. It’s about as perfect as a comic comes. It was trippy on a grand scale like the first time you’re reading Ditko’s Dr. Strange. I loved the last issue send off too. Sure Moore was full of himself, but if anyone’s earned the right I would say it’s him. It’s his world and we’re all just begging for him to tell us another story.

The Flash has always been one of my favorite characters but I hadn’t read it with any regularity until Johns took it over. Waid is overrated IMO but I must confess I haven’t read this run, but will. Impulse is cool but I cannot believe he held his own series for what, 6 years or so, including a two issue mini that I was pretty unimpressed with.

Astonishing X-Men : I still have not read this. In the last few years I’ve really carved back by purchases paying down bills and have been pretty hesitant to buy any mutants. I thought this series couldn’t lose and am stunned reading all the feedback with most saying it’s meh. The Cassaday eye candy is beautiful and if the story isn’t 90’s terrible I’m still guaranteed to buy this later.

Hitman ! I can’t believe what a retard I am. I know Ennis was behind this earlier in his career and I was introduced to the character via his first appearance in The Demon. I guess I’m the only guy that wasn’t wowed. McCrea’s art wasn’t my cup of tea either. I’ve bought a few issues here and there in the past and thought it was pretty meh. I’ve really dug almost every work Ennis has done with Preacher and Punisher both being some of my very favorites. Haven’t read The Boys yet but again, will down the road.

It’s awesome how high Miracleman ranked given how few people have read it. I would venture to guess that it had the closest proportion of people who have read it to people who voted for it of anything on this list. It would be interesting to see if this poll is done again 5 years from now, (presumably) after Miracleman is reprinted, how high it would rank. Top 20 for sure, I bet.

Although, I’m not completely sure it would be in my own top ten. Moore Swamp Thing, Miller Daredevil, Claremont X-Men, and Sandman, would definitely be my top 4 (in some order), then the other 6 would come from the following group: Preacher, JLI, Starman, Y, Morrison Animal Man, Miracleman, Moore Supreme, Ultimate Spidey, Hellboy, Sleeper, Simonson Thor, David Hulk, and Bone.

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