PREVIEW: Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom"
Here are the next five runs!
35. Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets – 236 points (5 first place votes)
Love and Rockets #1-50, Love and Rockets Vol. 2 #1-current (#20, which is it for the regular series – now they’re going to do Annuals instead of individual issues)
Love and Rockets is one of the greatest comic book anthologies ever, and it’s quite impressive to note that it is an anthology that is made up of just one family – the Hernandez brothers, primarily Gilbert and Jaime, although brother Mario occasionally chips in, as well.
Each brother primarily tells their own epic tale, while occasionally peppering in one-off stories.
Gilbert’s was Palomar, which was the goings-on of a fictional South American village. Gilbert later used one of the characters from Palomar, Luba, exclusively.
Jaimes was Hoppers 13 (which, when the stories were collected, was titled Locas), about two women, Maggie and Hopey, and their developing friendship.
As you can tell, both brothers are known for the work they do with strong female characters, but they’re mostly known for their ability to tell stories about realistic characters, while using a seemingly simplistic art style to do so, sort of sneaking the deep stuff past you with the simple artwork.
The second Love and Rockets series was a good deal of time after the first one, so it probably shouldn’t count, but eh, if you’re interested in these characters, you might as well know that there is a current comic book series with them coming out.
34. Stan Lee and John Romita’s Spider-Man – 270 points (3 first place votes)
Amazing Spider-Man #39-71, 74-75, 81 (as inker), 82-88, 89-92 (as inker), 93-95, 96 (as inker)
When John Romita took over from Steve Ditko, he was clearly trying not to change too much of what was, at the time, quite a winning formula, but soon, Romita had changed the book’s visuals dramatically, specifically his depiction of Peter Parker. Gone was the skinny, goofy looking kid of Ditko’s run – Romita’s Peter was quite handsome.
Tying in with Romita’s ability to draw attractive people, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson became major characters during this time, as Romita sure did love to draw pretty girls. His depiction of Peter’s first meeting with Mary Jane has become the stuff of comic book legend.
Meanwhile, Romita was also quite fluent in the world of superhero action, so the book was filled with a lot of action, as well. What Romita did differently from Ditko was to both make the book a bit more colorful, and most importantly, open up the book a bit more – Ditko was all about economy – Ditko liked to tell a long story through extensive panel usage. Romita used less panels, and opened up the look of the comic – much more expansive.
During his tenure with Stan Lee, the book saw the introduction of the Kingpin, who has become one of the most notable Marvel villains of all time, as well as the famous storyline where Peter decides to quit becoming Spider-Man.
John Romita’s run opened up with the cover you see above, which has become an iconic drawing, and continued with more iconic drawings than you could shake a stick at, if you wanted to shake a stick at iconic drawings, that is.
“Face it, Tiger…” and the shot of Spider-Man walking away from his costume in the trash are just two of many.
As he was preparing to leave the book, Romita even inked incoming artist, Gil Kane, so that the transition would go smoothly. Romita would do this for later artists, as well, so Romita’s influence on the comic lasted for quite a long time.
33. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways – 307 points (3 first place votes)
Runaways #1-18, Runaways Vol. 2 #1-24
Part of a new line of Marvel comics, Runaways is the only one still coming out, and that has all to do with the ability of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona to create likable characters that people want to see more of.
The concept of Runaways was a clever one – a group of teens (and one pre-teen) meet each other every year when their parents have some sort of meeting. When they decide to snoop around, they discover the unthinkable – their parents are supervillains!!! With this knowledge in mind, the kids decide to (wait for it..) run away, each taking something with them from their parents, whether it be Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)’s magical powers, Karolina Dean (Lucy in the Sky)’s alien abilities, Gertrude Yorkes (Arsenic)’s pet dinosaur, Chase Stein (Talkback)’s gadgets, Molly Hayes (Bruiser/Princess Powerful)’s mutant strength or Alex Wilder’s cunning and tactical abilities.
On the run, they try to both foil their parents’ schemes while also trying to do some good.
The key to this series, like most great series, is the character interaction between the group. Vaughan created some in-depth intriguing personalities here, whether it be Karolina struggling with her sexual identity, Chase and Gert’s burgeoning relationship, Nico and Alex’s flirtation, or Molly’s amusing comments (as the youngest, Molly was the comic relief of the series, although she often had serious moments, too).
The first volume ended with tragedy, and in the second volume, the group added two new members, a Skrull (Xavin) who was engaged to Karolina (via her parents, of course) and Victor, who was sort of the son of Ultron.
Vaughan and Alphona (who was a wonder to see on the comic, as he just got better and better and better as the series progressed) left the book to Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan after #24 of the current series.
32. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates – 315 points (5 first place votes)
Ultimates #1-13, Ultimates 2 #1-13
The Ultimates is essentially a post-modern take on the Avengers, with all of the characters filled with all sorts of neuroses, while the realistic artwork of Bryan Hitch helps to show what it would look like if there were actual superheroes in the world.
Captain America is recovered at the end of the first issue, and he is brought in to lead a team of superheroes, consisting of Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp.
Nick Fury, head of SHIELD, is also involved.
The book is noted for its widescreen action, courtesy of Bryan Hitch (taking the same style he used to such great effect on The Authority), and the soap opera drama that occurs throughout the series, such as when Giant Man physically abuses his wife, the Wasp, and is thrown off the team. When Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk and goes on a rampage in New York, the team is forces to go into action for the first time against one of their own colleagues! This is when Thor joins the team, although through odd means.
The rest of the series involves an alien invasion, and the addition of new members, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Writer Mark Millar ramps up the drama in the second volume, doubts have been raised as to whether Thor is a real god, or if he is just insane. Meanwhile, there is a traitor in the Ultimates’ midsts, and another invasion is coming – this time from other countries on Earth.
The finale ended with some beautiful Bryan Hitch artwork. The two are currently working on Fantastic Four together.
31. Jeff Smith’s Bone – 321 points (7 first place votes)
Jeff Smith’s Bone is the epic tale of three cousins, Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoney Bone, and their adventures when they are thrown out of their hometown of Boneville, and end up in The Valley. The series is filled with drama and fantasy, but with a great deal of humor involved. It is one of the best All Ages comic book series that there is in the comic book world.
Smith’s cartoonish artwork is inspired by the work of the great Walt Kelly, and certainly, Bone owes a visual heritage to Kelly’s Pogo, but Bone is a worthy successor to Pogo in more than just great artwork, for Bone is filled with the same sense of humanity that made Pogo such an amazing series.
In the Valley, the Bones interact mostly with Thorne, a young woman, and her grandmother. They mostly try not to run up against the evil giant rat creatures who wish to kill them.
Phoney Bone is a bit of a con man, so a lot of Bone stories involve one of his get rich schemes. Smiley Bone is a dumb galoot who ends up going along with Phoney’s schemes.
Fone, on the other hand, is a virtuous, romantic figure, who tries to do good in the world, while also staying true to his cousins.
While there is a great deal of fantasy, adventure and humor, like Kelly’s work, there is also a great deal of social commentary, but it’s not over-the-top, and it’s never preachy.
This is a great work that is fun for the whole family, and the entire series is available in one over-sized black and white book!
Buy it already!!
Okay, that’s it!! More runs later!!
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