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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #30-26

Here are the next five runs in a countdown of runs, as voted on by Comics Should Be Good readers!!

30. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Astro City – 323 points (4 first place votes)

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #1-6, Kurt Busiek’s Astro City Vol. 2 #1-22 (plus a #1/2), Astro City: Local Heroes #1-5, Astro City/Arrowsmith: The Flip Book #1, Astro City Special: Supersonic #1, Astro City: The Dark Age: Book One #1-4, Astro City: The Dark Age: Book Two #1-4, Astro City Special: Samaritan #1, Astro City: Beautie #1

Astro City was, in many ways, a follow-up to Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ acclaimed mini-series, Marvels, their tribute to the Golden and Silver Age of Marvel Comics. Astro City, too, was a bit of a tribute to that spirit, as, through a series of semi-analogous characters, Busiek repeated the formula that made Marvels such a popular book, having the stories of Astro City told mostly from “Point of View” characters, although sometimes, the superheroes themselves were the point of view characters!

Astro City, which is the actual city in the book, is filled with a ton of superheroes, and Busiek takes his time introducing readers to a ton of them over the long run of the title (it’s been going on since 1995). Helping him on his journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram…okay, actually, artist Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross, who helped design the superheroes of Astro City, as well as draw the covers for the book.

What makes the book so notable is the way that Busiek really seems to grasp the depiction of a standard person, and how awing it must be to live in this world of superheroes, without ever really going to the cynical, “well, if superheroes actually existed, all sorts of bad stuff would happen” routine, which is greatly appreciated.

The current storyline, The Dark Age, is Busiek’s take on the later years of superheroes, told through the eyes of two brothers – one a crook and one a cop, and through them, seeing how superheroes slowly got darker during the 1970s and 1980s.

Perhaps the two most notable heroes in Astro City are Samaritan, the Superman analogue, who Busiek gave an origin so great that it was later an inspiration for the ending of Red Son, and The Confessor, who we learn has a tragic secret that makes his heroism even more notable.

Astro City does not always come out in the most timely fashion, but you know you are going to get a well-told story with deep humanity each time you crack open an issue of Astro City, so it is well worth the wait.

29. Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen’s 1st Legion of Superheroes Run – 328 points (10 first place votes)

Legion of Superheroes #281-313, Legion of Superheroes #1-5

Paul Levitz had already had a short, but well-liked, run on the Legion of Superheroes during the 1970s, so when he returned to the book in 1981, readers had reason to be excited, but after a short run with Pat Broderick, Keith Giffen joined Levitz, and when the got together, they clicked in a way no one could imagine – and soon, the Legion was probably DC’s second biggest title, next to the New Teen Titans.

It was not long on the book before Levitz and Giffen began the epic storyline that became their most notable work, the Great Darkness Saga, which introduced Jack Kirby’s Darkseid as a villain of the Legion, in a brilliantly moody action adventure story that saw the Legion involved in a battle greater than any they had seen before (or at least more visceral). Giffen’s artwork handled both action scenes and character moments with equal greatness, and Levitz was sure to give him a lot of both, keeping the book extremely grounded in humanity, while also keeping the action at a breakneck measure.

Giffen and his inker, Larry Mahlstedt, were also quite good at depicting the future as a Kirby-esque place of bizarre devices and places.

After the Great Darkness Saga, and a few character pieces, they had the landmark 300th issue, after which Giffen began to experiment with his artwork while, at the same time, he began to have more of an influence in the writing department.

Levitz and Giffen launched a brand-new Legion series together, a brutal storyline that left one Legionnaire dead, and Giffen departing the book.

Levitz continued his run with artists Steve Lightle and Greg LaRocque, until eventually Giffen returned for the conclusion of the new volume of the Legion, at which point Levitz more or less retired from writing (Levitz was already a higher-up at DC when he began his run, by the time he finished, he was, for lack of a better term, even higher up).

28. John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad – 336 points (5 first place votes)

Suicide Squad #1-66

The Suicide Squad is a rare comic that stars mostly supervillain characters, although with some superhero characters mixed in, and it is quite impressive that it managed to last five whole years, and wow, what a good five years it was.

Based on an old comic series (which was a backup in Brave and the Bold in the late 50s) that was a lot like the Challengers of the Unknown, the Suicide Squad a group of adventurers who had missions that one would term were, well, suicide missions.

When he joined DC in the late 80s, writer John Ostrander revamped the series as a Dirty Dozen-style comic, where a group of supervillains were given time off (or their freedom outright) if they would go on missions for the government.

The head of this group was a new creation, a middle-aged, stout black woman named Amanda Waller (the “Wall”), who was one of the most engrossing new characters that DC had at the time. Due to the fact that the members could easily die, membership in the Squad was always changing, although there were a few members who hung around for mostly the whole run, such as Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, and the heroic Bronze Tiger and Vixen.

The book had a lot of political storylines, and had a LOT of great action stories, but what the book is probably most remembered for is the character work that Ostrander did with these characters, who were such minor characters (or new ones, entirely) that he was able to do whatever he wanted with them, so he was able to make them, well, HUMAN – and it was such a great thing to see. He would routinely have “downtime” issues, where we would see the characters when they were NOT on missions.

Deadshot became a major character in the DC Universe thanks to Suicide Squad, even gaining his own mini-series.

The artists on the series were Luke McDonnell for the first half of the run, and Geoff Isherwood for the latter half of the run (with a number of fill-in artists, as well).

Luckily (for me, at least), Ostrander recently returned to the Squad for a mini-series that just wrapped up this week. It was good, just like the original.

27. Grant Morrison’s Invisibles – 349 points (10 first place votes)

The Invisibles #1-25, The Invisibles Vol. 2 #1-22, The Invisibles Vol. 3 #12-1

Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles was designed to deal with the edges of society, in a post-modern explosion/examination of pop culture and paranoia. It was a trippy series that was also a lot of fun.

We are introduced to the world of the Invisibles through the eyes of the latest addition to the Invisible College (a group designed to fight against evil, whether it be physical or mental), or more specifically, the specific cell of the Invisible College that is led by King Mob, Dane McGowan, who is a young man who disbelieves until he is confronted with the reality (or rather, unreality) of the world. He takes the name Jack Frost, and joins up with King Mob and their other members, Ragged Robin, Lord Fanny and Boy.

The series opens with a time travel story involving the Marquis de Sade and then…you know what, giving the “plot” of the Invisibles really does not do it justice – it’s not really a plot-driven book, as the plot goes in all sorts of directions, and at times, Morrison even drops the main characters to focus on other people before returning to the main Invisibles.

So let’s just say that the Invisibles is an ambitious mind-blowing experience that you must see to believe.

So many artists have worked on the Invisibles that it is almost impossible to name them all, but I’d say Steve Yeowell, Phil Jimenez and Jill Thompson drew the most issues of the series.

26. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man – 364 points (3 first place votes)

Ultimate Spider-Man #1-110

While it seems like such an obvious idea now, when Ultimate Spider-Man came out, very few people gave it a chance, thinking it was just another revamp of Spider-Man for kids, which had been tried before, and flopped. So it was with some great surprise that Ultimate Spider-Man not only became a hit, but it was the highest selling Spider-Man title for quite awhile (until JMS took over Amazing Spider-Man, I believe).

The key to the book was writer Brian Michael Bendis’ ability to depict the humanity of both Peter Parker and the characters around him, in this Spider-Man reboot that started over from scratch, and left Peter a perennial teenager.

One of the earliest major changes was the way that Bendis stretched out the origin of Spider-Man. By giving us more scenes with Uncle Ben, his death is that much more tragic.

Another major change in the comic was Mary Jane Watson. In the original series, it was almost three years before Mary Jane showed up – here, she not only shows up right away, but she is completely different from the MJ from the 60s, as this MJ is almost as brainy as Peter. In a landmark early issue of the series, Bendis has Peter reveal his identity to Mary Jane in an issue that is made up entirely of dialogue.

Throughout the series, Bendis introduces new versions of classic Spider-Man villains, as well as different versions of supporting characters, like Ben Urich, J. Jonah Jameson and Aunt May. The Kingpin is a major villain, as is Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin.

Aiding Bendis during his run was Mark Bagley, who already had had a substantial tenure as the artist on Amazing Spider-Man, so Bagley was only going to do the first story arc, almost as a favor – instead, he ended up doing 110 issues!! Not only did he do 110 issues, but that was with the book releasing about 18 issues a year, as opposed to the standard 12. The consistency that Bagley gave the title was also a great boon to the title.

A few years into the run, Bendis shook up the title by adding Kitty Pryde to the cast as Peter’s new girlfriend (as Peter feels his life is too dangerous for a normal girl like Mary Jane), which was a brilliant move by Bendis.

Bagley eventually left last year, but his replacement was Stuart Immonen, who is also an amazing artist (who can also work fast), so the book is in good hands.

That’s it! More tomorrow!

59 Comments

Ultimate Spider-Man over the Stan Lee/Romita version? Blasphemy!

Ultimate Spider-Man just made my list. It’s seriously one of the most consistently enjoyable super-hero books I’ve read. I’ve been getting USM in the over-sized hardcovers that come out like once a year or so and getting two or more story arcs in a single purchase completely obliterates the most common complaint I’ve heard about the book—that it’s stories are artificially long. I realize it might feel like that when you’re getting a chapter a month, but really, taken from the long view, if there’s anything the matter, it’s that the arcs are too short. As well, USM is the kind of super-hero book I feel fine about recommending to kids (probably 4th grade and up); while the subject mater can get rather dark at times, it does so in a way that is more digestible. Plus, Bagley doesn’t come off as a horndog. (Which helps the kid-friendly recommendation.)

Astro City and Suicide Squad both came very close for me. In the 11-15 range.

Tried Invisibles, but too trippy and academic for me. After reading the Douglas Wolk book, I’m thinking about giving it another shot.

No exposure to the other two.

Astro City was one of my top 10; a great series, where Busiek’s writing clicks much more than I’ve ever found it to on a mainstream Big Two title. Probably my favourite single stories are the date between the Superman and Wonder Woman analogues and the story of the villain Junkman.

Ultimate Spider-Man is probably Bendis’ best Marvel work; it’s the kind of title where he’s best suited, and it became a major trendsetter for the next decade’s worth of Marvel Comics (and other companies’ comics, too).

No big surprises for me, this time — I have some familiarity with each of these five runs — but there’s nothing here I actually voted for. Although there were a couple of close calls!

I admit that Levitz’s work on the Legion crossed my mind as a serious contender (although if I’d voted for anything by Levitz, I probably would have gone for his full run on the Legion and not just the period of his collaboration with Giffen). “Astro City” is also near and dear to my heart, but I finally decided I don’t go back and reread my back issues of it often enough to demonstrate that it is in my “Top Ten Favorites.” I like Ostrander’s “Suicide Squad” too, but I don’t think I came as close to voting for it as I did for the other two I just mentioned.

Grant Morrison’s invisibles — I read the first TPB collection a while back, without being swept off my feet by it. I can see why some people would love it, but it just doesn’t click with me. “Ultimate Spider-Man” — I’ve read at least 5 or 6 TPBs of it, but without becoming addicted. If It were cancelled tomorrow morning I’d stay calm.

Astro City and Suicide Squad are ALSO int he 11-15 area for me. (of course so were 20 other comics).

I love the Levitz/Giffen run on LSH, especially the LSV arc.

But I love the first two years post-Zero Hour more. It’s just really hard to hammer that down since it’s two books with multiple creators, or else it would have absolutely been on my list.

USM is so hit or miss. 1-25 is very strong. 25-50 is Ok. 50-75 is pretty week. 75-100 is pretty strong, etc. etc.
That’s just estimates. There’s a lot of heart to it though.

And i still have not a single one of my ten on the list. This is getting silly. i’m fairly sure at least four of them will make it eventually though. We’ll see.

Ultimate Spider-Man got me into comics…but it’s not really all that good. Certainly not as good as Lee/Romita.

10 first place votes for the Legion?

I can’t stand the Legion of Super Heroes, and Ive sampled issues and stories from all points of their history, including the Great Darkness Saga TPB, which went unfinished.

I just don’t get it.

Astro City! Another one of my votes. If I remember right, it’s #3 or #4, I have to check it later. Such a great series. Astro City is what brought me back to comics after I gave it up in the early 90s, due to the “Image” style becoming the new standard in the industry. So I’ll love it forever, and it’s one of the series I’m always re-reading, and always with joy. The one thing that holds it back a little is how sporadic it comes out. A story that I love very much is Steeljack’s, the sympathetic blue-collar supervillain trying to reform. It was very hurt by delay between issues, but it reads so great in TPB.

Kurt Busiek manages at the same time to delve into all sorts of rarely seem corners of a superhero universe, AND to tell very human stories.

The Invisibles is another favorite series of mine, but didn’t make my Top 10 list because of the last couple of issues. It has always been challenging, but until the end it was mostly accessible (at least to me). But the last 5 or 6 issues go from challenging to cryptic. It takes someone smarter (or more drugged out) than me to understand everything that is going on.

LSH and Suicide Squad are both great works that certainly would be in my Top 25, but not my Top 10. Ultimate Spider-Man I only read the first issue, but the thought of revisiting a younger, less experience Peter Parker doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather re-read the Stan Lee issues.

Sweet! Two of my top Ten here.

USM was one of the great suprises. When I read the first trade off my nephew’s shelf, I couldn’t believe I’d been ignoring it.

hey brian! great list. i love this kind of things becuase it really gives you a head start in what new things to read.

when are w going to get top 100 miniseries and oneshots!!!!!!

i would love to see the battle betwen the dark knight and watchmen. it would be awesome.

Suicide Squad belongs on the list if only for introducing Amanda Waller, DC best new character since the Silver Age.

Ah, ok, Invisibles, my number 2, at 27. It’s so bizarre for me to think about people trying it and not liking it… ’cause once you really open the door to it you get completely wrapped up in it. But I guess it takes a while to open that door.

This is a book that becomes part of your life. I recommend it to anyone who wants to go beyond the mundane.

Thanks for posting another set of runs, Brian!
You spoil us with the whole two-in-one-day thing, ya know…
:)

One thing, b/c I’ve never seen this before: what’s up with these “Livesearch advertisement” things randomly embedded in the text? Anyone else see them? Or do I have some weird kinks in my machine?

Invisibles is the third run from my list.

I think. I don’t remember if I put it on there or not.

I’m in the “pro-Ultimate Spidey” camp. The Bendis/Bagley run was pretty magical, especially that first year which was some of the best I’ve read. A bit high? Yeah, but this is subjective and as we’ve seen so far more recent work tends to benefit from the “What Have You Done For Me Lately” rule.

New Totals.

We have 77 runs so far (and 12964 pts)

- 27 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (4156 pts)
- 9 runs are X-Titles (1422 pts)
- 2 runs are Ultimate titles (679 pts)
- 29 runs if you get Marvel plus Ultimate Universe (4835 pts)

- 18 runs are set in the DC Universe (3363 pts)
- 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
- 5 are Vertigo comics (856 pts)
- 22 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (3583 pts)

- 4 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (501 pts)
- 5 runs have female protagonists (960 pts)

- 65 are superheroes or close enough (10976 pts)
- 12 are non-superhero (1988 pts)

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

- 1990s (21 runs – 3918 pts)
- 1980s (23 runs – 3700 pts)
- 2000s (19 runs – 3248 pts)
- 1970s (8 runs – 1200 pts)
- 1960s (4 runs – 599 pts)
- 1940s (2 runs – 299 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

- Alan Moore (5 runs – 909 pts)
- Chris Claremont (5 runs – 638 pts)
- Brian Michael Bendis (3 runs – 599 pts)
- Kurt Busiek (2 runs – 541 pts)
- John Ostrander (2 runs – 541 pts)
- Keith Giffen (2 runs – 536 pts)
- Geoff Johns (3 runs – 534 pts)
- Grant Morrison (2 runs – 525 pts)
- Stan Lee (3 runs – 490 pts)
- Bryan Hitch (2 runs – 474 pts)
- Mark Waid (2 runs – 378 pts)
- Warren Ellis (3 runs – 374 pts)
- Mark Bagley (364 pts)
- Roger Stern (2 runs – 334 pts)
- Garth Ennis (2 runs – 333 pts)
- Paul Levitz (328 pts)
- Brent Anderson (323 pts)
- Jeff Smith (321 pts)
- Mark Millar (315 pts)
- Brian K. Vaughan (307 pts)
- Adrian Alphona (307 pts)
- Jack Kirby (2 runs – 292 pts)
- John Romita Jr. (2 runs – 276 pts)
- John Romita (270 pts)
- Denny O’Neil (2 runs – 261 pts)
- Peter Milligan (2 runs – 255 pts)
- Brothers Hernandez (236 pts)
- Ed Brubaker (2 runs – 235 pts)
- John McCrea (232 pts)
- Joss Whedon (229 pts)
- John Cassaday (229 pts)
- Steve Gerber (218 pts)
- Frank Miller (211 pts)
- David Mazzucchelli (211 pts)
- Tom and Mary Bierbaum (208 pts)
- Tom Mandrake (205 pts)
- Will Eisner (204 pts)
- Joe Kelly (202 pts)
- Steve Englehart (184 pts)
- Mike Mignola (179 pts)
- Frank Quitely (176 pts)
- Mike Baron (174 pts)
- Steve Rude (174 pts)
- Neal Adams (162 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)
- Sergio Aragonés (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)

- 65 are superheroes or close enough (10976 pts)
- 35 are traditional superheroes (6143 pts)
- 30 are non-traditional superheroes (4823 pts)
- 10 are nonpowered superheroes (1289 pts)
- 7 are comedic superheroes (1007 pts)
- 26 are team books (4668 pts)
- 12 are non-superhero (1988 pts)

I think Invisibles was my #1. I would’ve liked to see it higher, but I’m actually surprised to see it place as high as it did. Suicide Squad would probably make my top 20, so it’s nice to see it get some love too.

Andrew Collins

April 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Yes, another one of mine makes the list with Suicide Squad.

LOSH and Ultimate Spider-Man both just missed my list.

I agree on shaking heads at Ultimate Spidey beating Romita’s. Though I love Ultimate Spidey and would have mightily considered it if we had to name 20. But lots of things didn’t make my list just because I haven’t read them in their entirety (Kirby FF and Ditko’s Dr. Strange most notably) so I guess I shouldn’t throw stones. And presumably some people have read both Romita’s Spidey and Ultimate and still chose the latter, but I bet they’re in the minority by a wide margin.

With Astro City showing up now, I’ve seen 7of my choices appear: Starlin’s Warlock, Romita’s Spider-Man, Astro City, Stern’s Spider-Man, Thomas’ Avengers, Usagi and Usagi. Two of the remaining I still expect to show up.

Oh, and on the others, I’m giving myself away as somebody who doesn’t read much DC, but I don’t know LOSH or Suicide Squad. The former I’ll never get to, the latter I’d like to get to because I like a lot of Ostrander’s work, but I’d finish reading Spectre first and it doesn’t seem like I’m getting to that soon.

Astro City was my #5. And Ultimate Spider-Man is in my top 50, and possibly in my top 20, though I haven’t quite figured out how to sort those yet.

Invisibles I loved, but not quite in my top 50, let alone my top 10. Only one Vertigo-ish book made my 10, but a few came close.

I voted for The Invisibles as my number 3. It could easily have been my number 1 as I don’t discriminate between my top 3 favorite comic books run, but ordered them here in a strategic way (ie the run I ranked number 1 is the one I thought would get the least votes, so I tried to give it more points and make sure it gets in the top 100)

I would have liked to see The Invisibles higher, but I’m guessing Morrisson fans might vote for his X-Men or his JLA, which are admitedly also era defining work.

But as Stefan said, The Invisibles indeed becomes a part of your life, once you do read it all and get it. (And it is not as cryptic and undecypherable as people make it out to be). Morrison said that after reading The Invisibles, your brain should be bleeding. And believe me, it does.

Well, 1 on the last list (Lee & Romita’s Spidey) and one on this (Suicide Squad)–so I have 4 so far–and then 6 in the top 25, right?

Okay–probably not–but nice to see the ones I voted for here.

Suicide Squad was one of my favorite titles–at one point, if I’d have had to cut my comics to 2 titles, it would have been the Squad and DeMatteis’s/Giffen’s JLA.

And Suicide Squad actually published some of my letters.

LSH #287: Why are they standing on top of the Starship Enterprise? :)

Read the first trade of USM — meh. But I suppose I will have to give it at least one more shot since everyone so adores the darn thing.

Given how the voting has seemed to favor books that fairly recent, easily found in trade and published by Marvel, I am a bit amazed that Ultimate Spidey posted so low. The trends made it seem like a mortal lock for the top 5. Anyway, you have to respect a creative team that can stay together of 100+ issues.

People need to realize that 364 points aren’t a lot. That’s 61 5th place votes, for example (out of around 700 people voting). The top run will probably break 1000 points with plenty of room to spare.

Ultimate Spider-Man almost got a vote from me in recognition of the longevity of the Bendis/Bagley collaboration alone. But as much as Ultimate Spidey is my current favorite version of Spidey, in the end I had to vote for the original.

Love Astro City but it didn’t meet my personal voting criteria.

Tried Invisibles once and it hurt my head. I think I was too young, too inexperienced in the true “reading” of comics to “get” it. I should really revisit it now.

Ostrander’s Suicide Squad is easily the #1 most recommended run that I’ve never read. Why won’t DC publish some trades to save me the trouble of tracking it down?!?

Well, that’s my one (Invisibles) and my three or four (I can’t recall if I put Suicide Squad before or after Animal Man. Hopefully Cerebus is still to come.

Wow, two of my runs made it to the list this time: Astro City and Suicide Squad. I was kind of afraid Suicide Squad wouldn’t make it, having only a small (but loyal) following. It’s nice to know my fellow comic fans appreciate quality when they see it. But I think I’ll have to reconcile myself to the fact that neither Ms. Tree or The Maze Agency are going to make the final list.

The Astro City story “Show ‘Em All” contains the single best explanation of what motivates a supervillain that I’ve ever seen. And it was done in a single issue.

Astro City #1-6 was on my list (the only AC I read, besides Dark Age: Book One #1) and I truly love that story.

Bendis/Bagley’s USM was also on my list (though I included #111, since it partially had a Bagley art, so I consider it part of their run).

In the running tallies he provides, Rene said:

- 18 runs are set in the DC Universe (3363 pts)
- 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
- 5 are Vertigo comics (856 pts)
- 22 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (3583 pts)

I’m a bit confused about the arithmetic. Doesn’t 18 + 5 = 23 runs for DC + Vertigo? Or is there at least one run which you count as a) being a Vertigo title, but b) being set in the DCU proper instead of just in what you call the Vertigo sub-universe?

(As a side note, I also wonder if you should remind people that DC can add the Wildstorm runs to its tally, which I admit would help narrow the gap between DC and Marvel.)

Beyond that, I’ll just mention that although 7 of my picks have not yet made it, I’m only counting on 2 of them to still appear in the Top 100. They happen to be 1 Marvel run (1960s) and 1 DC run (1980s) . . . the other 5 include 3 more DC runs and 2 by smaller publishers (but I’m willing to be surprised if any of those other 5 go the distance).

Ostrander’s “Suicide Squad” was just an amazing title. It never had a bad issue, but it was always undermined a bit by the art. I loved the Luke McDonnell work on the first 24 issues (and the “Deadshot” mini), but he never had his own fan-base. When “Suicide Squad” was coming out, the Image style was really rising and it didn’t look at all like the ‘hot’ books of the time. McDonnell left and the art chores bounced around a bit. Isherwood had a murky style and the characters stopped wearing costumes later on. It was very out-of-touch with the times from a visual perspective. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to that title if had an artist with a bit more buzz joining after McDonnell.

Busiek and Anderson’s “Astro City” is always a joy to read. It is also really frustrating, since you wonder whether it is same guy working on these amazing superhero stories and his very average mainstream work.

Dean said:
Busiek and Anderson’s “Astro City” is always a joy to read. It is also really frustrating, since you wonder whether it is same guy working on these amazing superhero stories and his very average mainstream work.

That’s ambiguous. You name two guys in the first sentence of that paragraph, then you just mention one guy in your second sentence — leaving me to wonder whether it’s Busiek or Anderson whom you feel is less inspiring in the mainstream work than in the special project of “Astro City.” I suspect you mean Busiek, but it’s far from clear, and I’ve been wrong before!

ryan southwick

April 19, 2008 at 4:37 am

I love the Junkman story from Astro City too, it’s on my short list of best single issues ever.

I think Invisibles was my #1. I would’ve liked to see it higher, but I’m actually surprised to see it place as high as it did.

Same here.

Sorry, should have been clearer, Lorendiac.

I only added to the tally those comics that had their beginnings as DC Universe titles and/or could somehow be considered part of a “greater” DC Universe or had ties to it. That is the case of Hellblazer, Lucifer, and Shade. That was NOT the case of the Invisibles, for instance, that has absolutely nothing to do with the DC Universe.

Lorendiac, you are right on both counts. I meant that Busiek’s work was less than inspiring, but it was hardly clear. Posting when trying to get an infant back to sleep is dicey.

Bernard the Poet

April 19, 2008 at 8:07 am

Dean, we know what a artist with a bit more “buzz” would have done to the Suicide Squad. It was called X-Force and it was rubbish.

Patrick Lemaire

April 19, 2008 at 8:43 am

Suicide Squad made it. Incredible!! It deserves it of course, it’s just that the series seemed to be on the verge if cancellation all the time and I had teh impression too few people had read it to make it on the list. So now I hope that Sandman Mystery Theatre can make it as well

“So now I hope that Sandman Mystery Theatre can make it as well.”

Oh hell. How did I forget that one?

Suicide Squad should have made my list, but I forgot about it entirely! Oops. Saying a hot artist would have made it X-Force, however, doesn’t ring true to me. Ostrander wrote full-script, with an emphasis on characterization and inspired plot mechanics. Nicieza, unfortunately, had to put words into the mouths of Liefeld’s ciphers. Mouths full of clenched teeth, in tiny heads on bodies clogged with misdrawn muscles. Several hot or semi-hot artists would have been able to draw Suicide Squad in the late-80s/ early-’90s, and retain Ostrander’s tone. George Perez, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Keith Giffen, Dale Keown (really!), Marc Silvestri (no, really!!), Chris Sprouse, Mark Texiera, Javier Saltares (sp?), Kieron Dwyer, Alan Davis, Mike Mignola, John Buscema, Tom Mandrake… Not everyone in 1989 was Liefeld or McFarlane.

I know one reason Astro City has the most “heart” of any Busiek series- it’s creator owned. I’m a teacher. I like my students, I want what’s best for them, and I will put in my best efforts on their behalf. When it comes to my own children, however, there’s no comparison.

I tried very hard to get into Invisibles. I really did. But it’s nearly impossible to read more than 2 issues in a row without having to spend the rest of the day lying on the floor, twitching and drooling while trying to figure out just what the heck you just absorbed into your head. Maybe that’s the appeal of it for a lot of people, I don’t know, but eventually I had to just give up on it. Someday I’ll return to it. Someday.

Anyway, I absolutely adore Astro City. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful book, in so many ways.

I hate to say this, but Invisibles only gets more and more “difficult” as the series goes on, BrianP. But the only issues I found impossible to get my head around are the last 6 ones or so.

And the last six issues got fixed, somewhat, when they were reprinted in trade. At least the Ashley Wood sections were redrawn by Cameron Stewart.

I dunno… Writer/artist disconnect really hurt the Invisibles for me. It didn’t seem like Morrison was tailoring his scripts to his artists at all, and therefore they had a hard time properly communicating his ideas. If Jill Thomson (for instance) had drawn the entire run and established a consistent visual style for the whole shebang, I think it would have been much, much stronger.

There’s still a lot to like about this series, mind. (Lord Fanny vs. Mr. Quimper is one of my favorite comic scenes ever.) But it’s also got some serious, crippling flaws.

Patrick Joseph

April 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Why did I vote for The Invisibles as my number one run? Why not Love and Rockets, or Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, or Cerebus, or Doctor Strange?

The Invisibles, more than any comic except possibly L&R, changed my life. Morrison captured the millennial fever, the mid-twenties creative energy and social dynamic, the DIY ethos, and a fascination with conspiracy, spirituality, and fashion and blended it all together into a package that looked like just a slight magnification of the life I was living from 1994-2000.

The Invisibles hook me out of my dull atheism and gave me the ability to admit that Universe is infinitely novel, and that some things may be what they seem, but we can’t see everything.

In the tattoo frenzy associated with the 1990′s I gave into the urge once, getting a tattoo of the Barbelith symbol on December 31 1999. I have had not a moment of regret.

Reading the Invisibles broadened my perspective, and I was driven to read over 50 books to enhance the experience. Books on conspiracy, quantum physics, consciousness theory, holographic theory, chaos magick, and work by Robert Anton Wilson, Terrence McKenna, and Aleistar Crowley along with re-readings of William S. Burroughs and the like.

No other comic has ever done so much to expand my intelligence.

Bernard the Poet

April 19, 2008 at 11:14 pm

“Several hot or semi-hot artists would have been able to draw Suicide Squad in the late-80s/ early-’90s, and retain Ostrander’s tone. George Perez, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Keith Giffen, Dale Keown (really!), Marc Silvestri (no, really!!), Chris Sprouse, Mark Texiera, Javier Saltares (sp?), Kieron Dwyer, Alan Davis, Mike Mignola, John Buscema, Tom Mandrake… Not everyone in 1989 was Liefeld or McFarlane.”

Mike, all of the artists you mention above are very good (even Liefeld and McFarlane), but if they had been drawing the Suicide Squad: then the women would have been more beautiful, the men would have been more muscular, the guns would have been shinier, the poses would have been more dynamic and the costumes would have been sharper. Everything would have been a little bit more superhero. It may have sold more issues (a lot more), but the comic would have lost the down-and-dirty quality, which made it so special.

Simply compare John Byrne’s depiction of them in the Legends mini-series. Specifically, look how he draws the Enchantress. She looks great. She has curves, curls and a naughty glint in her eye. Whereas Luke O’ Donnell draws her as a mentally ill woman.

Yay, 2 of my favorites made the list. Astro City is a great comic, and yeah, for some reason, Busiek does have a better handle on it than when he does stuff for the Big 2.

As for the Levitz/Giffen run, I loved it. It made me a LSH fan. Levitz was able to give the entire cast distinct personalities, something many writers are unable to do with a cast two-thirds the size of the Legion. I only wish the Steve Lightle and Greg LaRocque were included, as the title continued more or less on the same track with them. And as I mentioned in another post earlier, the LaRocque era had one of my favorite mini-eras of all time, around the time of the ‘Who is Sensor Girl?” story.

Interesting to note, though, Giffen’s style didn’t become Kirbyesque until well into this run. In the first half (maybe evern longer), his art was much more clean, smooth, and linear, whereas much later, he developed the blockier style of Kirby.

I think the Bendis/Bagly run is now officially one of the longest un-interrupted runs ever, right?

Oh, and will def have to check out Suicide Run and the Invisibles…

Oh, and will def have to check out Suicide Squad and the Invisibles…

Bernard, I agree that McDonnel captured the “grit” in Suicide Squad as well as or better than other artists would have. Good point about Byrne’s Enchantress vs. McDonnel’s Enchantress. I just don’t think a different artist would have gone so far as to turn Suicide Squad into X-Force. Perez, for example, would have drawn the girls prettier, but he would have drawn the action better, and been able to retain Ostrander’s characterization and tone. He’s drsawn semi-super-hero or dark super-hero stories before (Ultraforce Avengers, CrossGen Chronicles, Hulk: Future Imperfect). Mandrake would have been perfect for the book. Likewise, Lee Weeks or John Buscema could have grounded the fantastical elements with realistic figurework. Silvestri proved he could do a dark, globe-trotting adventure series with Wolverine. Get an inker with a heavy or sketchy line (like Klaus Janson) and Saltares, Dwyer, even Sprouse would have been good fits. I think McDonnel did a good job on the series, but he’s not the only artist who could have drawn it and made it a creative success. Even with an inferior artist, Ostrander’s writing would have shown through (although not if he was forced to write the book Marvel-method, as most ’90s crap was).

Interesting to note, though, Giffen’s style didn’t become Kirbyesque until well into this run. In the first half (maybe evern longer), his art was much more clean, smooth, and linear, whereas much later, he developed the blockier style of Kirby.

Huh. I haven’t read any of this Legion run so that’s surprising. His earliest stuff, like Defenders in the seventies, is really, reeeaaaallly Kirby-esque.

The best comparison on Giffen’s work, if you want to read them side by side, is to check out the issues he did circa issue 300, and compare them side by side with the first 5 issues of the Baxter series. Of course, his 5YL art work is light years away from both styles as well.

Waller was not introduced in Suicide Squad. She debuted in Legends.

So far only 3 of my choices have made it. Hopefully that means there are 7 more to do.

busiek / anderson astro city, levitz / giffen lsh, ostrander suicide squad, morrison invisibles, bendis / bagley ult spidey

I’ve only read a little Astro City and liked it but just wasn’t falling down over it. It was ok and I’ll get more of it later.

Levitz / Giffen LSH !! – I voted for Levitz’ run on LSH as my # 1 vote, that way it not only included Giffen’s seminal work on the title, but also Greg LaRoque and Steve Lightle, who both did good work. The 5YG Legion by the Bierbaums, while entirely different in tone, took my # 2 vote. Obviously I’m a huge LSH fan and am elated that they’re getting some well deserved 50th anniversary love coming up with Johns & Perez as well as the return of Shooter to the franchise, which I never would have believed could happen. I would love to have Levitz take another crack at the team, but with his position as publisher, I doubt that’ll ever happen outside of an anniversary issue of a one-shot.

Suicide Squad is one of those very cultish fan fav titles I picked up years ago in a near complete run in one fell swoop but are tucked away in storage and I still haven’t gotten a chance to read.

I read the first couple issues of Invisibles and was not connecting all the dots. I’m waiting until I have the entire run and have almost done that before I go back and give it another shot. Knowing Morrison’s style I’m sure I’ll like it.

Ultimate Spidey – I’m sure I’m the only guy on the planet who has not read this. I’ve read the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up years ago (I think that’s what they called it) and liked it but never got around to going back and starting from the beginning on the Ult Spidey title. It sounds good but I can’t say anything more about it right now in all honesty. Considering that it’s success was the cornerstone for the Ultimate Universe, which I love, I’m looking forward to finally reading this.

Wow Hondo. You’re in for a treat. I wish I could go back and re-experience Ultimate Spidey for the first time. It really is the most consistent Spider-man series I’ve read, and Bendis’ dialogue is absolutely magnificent. Bagley’s art was fantastic, and for me, he has created the definitive character designs for Spider-man and all of the supporting characters in his world. I love this series so much!

And even though Bagley’s gone, and the series had maybe 15 – 20 somewhat boring issues somewere in the middle, things are looking up. Stuart Immonen’s art gets better with each issue, and his work really takes the book in a new direction. Definetely worth checking out.

Nothing against Stan Lee/Romita or Ditko, but I find that it is INCREDIBLE for Bendis and Bagley to stay together for 110 solid, consistent issues in this day and age, were most writers only stay on a title for an arc or two.

[...] Read why it’s sitting at number 26 in CBR’s 100 greatest comic book runs. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Comics Links For Yooz To Peruse 14/05/09I Never Liked You By Chester Brown Part 2Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt [...]

Man, the way you guys talk about the Invisibles it suggests maybe you need to stop reading so many comic books and try reading well… books.

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