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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #25-21

Here’s the next five runs (as voted upon by about 700 Comics Should Be Good readers).

Enjoy!

25. Dave Sim and Gerhard’s Cerebus – 370 points (8 first place votes)

Cerebus #1-300 (Gerhard from #65-300)

Dave Sim’s Cerebus, which stars the short grey-skinned anthropomorphic aardvark, Cerebus, originally debuted as, if not a take-off, at least similar in tone to Steve Gerber’s Marvel comic, Howard the Duck, in that it was an anthropomorphic animal used for satirical purposes. In the original storyline in the late 1970s, Conan the Barbarian was the main target, although other pop culture figures were featured. Cerebus was a hard-living mercenary with little morality who got involved in various adventures.

This changed with the second storyline, the 25-part epic, High Society, where Cerebus gets involved with politics, applying his rough and tumble style to the world of, well, high society. Through this, he ends up becoming Prime Minister, although that does not exactly work out, leading to the massive two-part epic, Church & State, which took about 60 issues, and involved Cerebus becoming Pope.

These stories saw a change in the series to becoming one of the most intelligent ongoing comic book series out there, with a great deal of wit and wisdom.

The rest of the series 300 issues (Sim noted that he would do exactly 300 issues, with Cerebus dying in the last issue) have a series of slightly-less focused stories, although, as the title continued, the work took on an approach more similar to Sim’s own life, which included heavier religious overtones, plus specific attacks upon feminism/homosexualism.

From #65 on, Sim drew the book with artist Gerhard, whose detailed backgrounds were absolutely stunning, and became a major attraction of the series.

Cerebus never stopped doing parodies, though, and throughout the run, comics and pop culture and life, in general, were given parody treatment (The Punisher and Sandman being two notable examples).

In 2004, the series ended, as promised, with issue #300.

Sim is currently set for a new comic book series!!

24. Garth Ennis’ Punisher – 389 points (5 first place votes)

The Punisher #1-12, The Punisher #1-37, Punisher MAX #1-current (#56) plus Punisher: Born #1-4 and a bunch of one-shots

As famous as the Punisher is, do note that when Garth Ennis took over the character, Marvel was not even PUBLISHING a Punisher comic, and the last revival attempt involved the Punisher working as an Avenging Angel for Heaven fighting against demons with supernatural weapons.

So Garth Ennis was taking on a bit of a challenge when he and fellow Preacher creator, Steve Dillon, took on the character in 2000 with an initial 12-issue mini-series, “Welcome Back, Frank,” which quickly dispensed of the Angel approach, instead bringing a dark sense of humor to the comic. The result was a sales success, and Ennis and Dillon (and later a series of other artists, including Ennis’ fellow Hitman creator, John McCrea) continued the humorous approach on a Punisher ongoing series, with diminishing results, until the series ended after 37 issues. Then Ennis’ greatest work with the character began, with the creation of Punisher MAX, a serious look at the character, which (since it is a MAX title, or otherwise, an R-Rated comic) included a great deal of graphic violence and graphic language, but also a great deal of stunning character work (with new supporting characters added to the cast), engaging storylines, and a rich connected story that, with Ennis’ run now coming to a close, the whole 60 issue or so run reads like one big story.

It is a fascinating, and powerful work.

The artwork for the series has been by a few different artists, but mostly Leandro Fernandez and Goran Parlov.

Reader David Germano (who, sadly, refused to let me post his phone number and SSN here) gave me his reasons for why Punisher was his #1 choice…

I’m going to start this out by admitting that Garth Ennis ranks among my favorite authors, comics or otherwise, and is the main reason I’m still reading comics today. I will always love and respect the work of Gaiman and Moore, but it was Preacher that got me back into reading comics and invested in the idea of serialized storytelling, and almost all of my comics collection of the past 10 years can be traced back to the day I picked up the first two trades of Preacher on a whim.

That said, for me, Punisher MAX is Ennis’s masterpiece. It’s some of the tightest, best-paced writing he’s ever done, and despite not having a single artist to define the run, he’s had an amazing group of artists to work with, ranging from lesser-known artists like Leandro Fernandez and Goran Parlov – who turn in some of the best work of their careers here – to legends like Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, and even John Severin.

It was a hard decision for me to come to, because I’ve loved the experiences of reading and rereading Preacher, Hitman, and much of Ennis’s canon again and again, and much of what I loved about those series was their overall sense of hope. Preacher ends with all of its protagonists escaping their past and finding redemption. Tommy may die at the end of Hitman, but he dies without compromising his principles, he dies with his closest friend, and he finally finds a kind of peace. By contrast, Punisher is a series devoid of hope. Frank Castle is a man who willingly places himself beyond redemption, who endeavors to bury anything human inside himself. What sets it apart is that moreso than any other of Ennis’s work, I’ve found myself unable to stop thinking about the series whenever I put an issue down.

Ennis takes what should be a one-note character and mines a surprising amount of depth and poignancy from what could in lesser hands be little more than a murderous caricature. We see sides of Castle rarely seen before in such installments as Born and The Tyger, which show Castle’s upbringing and his first steps down the path leading him to become the Punisher (and just who was it Frank said “yes” to?) Meanwhile, we see poignant flashes of humanity and the life Frank left behind in such arcs as Mother Russia, and The Long Cold Dark, not to mention last two pages of The Slavers (which show the life left to a woman freed from the titular villains, and to this day they rank among the most heartbreaking sequences I’ve ever seen in comics.)

This is a relentlessly dark series, largely devoid of the humor that made the carnage of Ennis’s previous Marvel Knights runs of Punisher more palatable, but not entirely without comedy. Kitchen Irish and Barracuda both touch on the black humor Ennis is famous for, although admittedly interspersed with far more disturbing violence. Meanwhile, on the more somber side of the series, Man of Stone ranks up there with Ennis’s Avatar series 303 as the closest he has come to capturing the tone of Cormac McCarthy, of whom Ennis is an admitted fan. After the massive shootout that we have been expecting comes early, the sudden, anticlimactic brutality that exemplifies the deaths of all the major and players both satisfies and cheats our expectations for them. We know they are going to die, but we never expect how random, how inevitable, and how ultimately unsatisfying those deaths are. Varick, an outsider to this world, is killed before he can even start to pursue his expose on Zakharov, Dolnovich dies before he even knows the fight between him and Rawlins has begun, Zakharov is crippled by Rawlins and killed with a rock by Frank, and O’Brien is randomly killed by a landmine. Even Rawlins, one of the most heinous recurring villains of the series to that point, dies on a bathroom floor, unable to comprehend how he could find himself in a situation he couldn’t talk his way out of. As in McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, we are shown a world of violence, where anyone who participates must pay the price, with Frank as a barely sympathetic version of Chigurh, the force of nature that persists on, walking away from everything at the end of the day regardless of wounds.

And among the darkness and sheer brutality of this series, we are shown again and again that only Frank Castle can live this life, only he can deal with this darkness. Widowmaker and The Long Cold Dark serves as a series of unrelentingly brutal tales that remind of us just how dark, just how horrible this world is, and just what kind of a person Castle has to be to deal with it. Widowmaker shows Budiansky and Jenny Cesare’s reactions in the face of Castle’s world and their own struggles to deal with their desires for vengeance in the face of their lives being destroyed. Jenny embraces it to the point of self-destruction and Budiansky turns away from it to find some small measure of hope with what is left of his life, but tellingly, both of their final lines of dialogue are rejections of Frank’s quest. Meanwhile, The Long Cold Dark features what is in my mind the greatest cliffhanger I’ve ever read (nothing I’ve experienced in reading comics can compare to waiting a month between issue #52 and #53,) and both series take their conclusions to unimaginable acts of violence, whether it be Jenny Cesare’s killing of Annabella Gorrini or Frank’s execution of Barracuda. The darkness, the violence of this world demands extreme measures, and Frank’s ability to thrive in this world is made all the more poignant by O’Brien’s presence tying Punisher MAX to Hitman. This is the same world of that killed Tommy Monaghan because he clung to his humanity, and the precise reason why Frank Castle survives in it is because of his drive, his constant endeavors to be something less than human.

Finally, with The End, Ennis takes the series and the character to its inevitable conclusion, as Frank Castle kills the members of an Illuminati-like society, single-handedly bringing the extinction of the human race following a nuclear war.

It’s a dark, ugly series for a dark, ugly world. It’s violent, thought-provoking, and ultimately heart-breaking. With his run on The Punisher MAX, Ennis and his collaborators has given us a front row seat to the heart of darkness and the definitive comic book portrait of the urban vigilante.

Thanks, David!

23. Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan – 418 points (11 first place votes)

Transmetropolitan #1-60

Originally a part of a failed new line of comics (Helix), Transmetropolitan was soon the only comic left standing, and moved to Vertigo, where creators Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson told the adventures of journalist Spider Jerusalem (a tribute to the founder of “gonzo journalist,” the late Hunter S. Thompson) for five eventful years.

The basic concept of the series was simple – famed writer Spider Jerusalem has disappeared for five years, living a hermit existence, until the money he was paid in advance for writing two books dries up, and since he doesn’t have the books written, to avoid lawsuits, he returns to his job as a journalist to support himself while he finishes the books – and in the process, becomes involved in the life of The City once again.

The book is set in the future, although most of the events of the comic shadow events of the past, usually events from when Thompson first began reporting (so the late 60s/early 70s). Jerusalem has two female assistants who he refers to as his “filthy assistants.” The series is mostly built around the audience enjoying Jerusalem, so here is the explanation reader Camilio Maheca gave for why Spider was his #1 pick in the Top Characters vote I had last year:

Well…Spider is the only cynic who can afford to give a damn, a sick miserable bastard that nobody should like (but hell…you can’t help but like him, he’s fun to watch). Screw the role models; in a future that smells as bad as our present, he represents the piss-off voice of the people who cant speak for themselves, (usually in a blasphemous fashion)

The series ended with a very cool twist ending.

22. Bill Willingham’s Fables – 428 points (6 first place votes)

Fables #1-current (#71)

Fables is Bill Willingham’s epic story concerning the adventures of the inhabitants of Fabletown, all characters who come from fairy tales and folklore, like Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.

They live in Fabletown because they were driven out of the magical world that they used to live in (called the Homelands), by an evil villain known as the Adversary, who has conquered most of the Homelands.

The early stories followed mostly Snow White, who was the aide to the Mayor of Fabletown (Old King Cole) and Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf), who was the Sheriff of Fabletown, and their Sam and Diane relationship.

Later storylines revolve around the inevitable war between Fabletown and the Adversary’s forces.

While the storylines of the book result in the basic framework of the comic, the key to the book is the character work that writer Bill Willingham does with the characters. To this end, he was greatly helped by the addition to the book of artist Mark Buckingham with the second storyline (with some breaks here and there, Buckingham has remained the artist of the book ever since), whose attention to characterization is perhaps his greatest artistic talent.

Willingham slowly develops characters, and moves them from small roles to big roles without any real warning, so pretty much every character in Fables could be considered the star of the book. In fact, Snow White and Bigby Wolf are currently relatively minor characters in the comic after being the clear leads for the first part of the title.

The book is currently gearing up for a major storyline, so now wouldn’t be a bad time to start picking it up!

21. Grant Morrison’s Animal Man – 430 points (13 first place votes)

Animal Man #1-26

When Grant Morrison started on Animal Man, the character was such a minor hero that even Morrison’s intriguing take on the character was only approved for a four-issue mini-series. However, once the series came out, the response was so positive that it was quickly turned into an ongoing series, which Morrison would work on for 26 issues, with artwork by Chas Truog and Tom Grummett (in some of his earliest comic book work!).

The two most remembered aspects of Morrison’s run were his work with environmentalism (which Animal Man, who gains his powers by a connection to animals, was obviously a big proponent of) and metafiction.

The former led to the classic issue where Animal Man is about to kill a guy who was mass-murdering animals, until a dolphin saves him, explaining that dolphins don’t believe in revenge. During these early issues, Morrison also had Animal Man encounter a number of other animal-themed heroes, such as Vixen, B’wana Beast and Dolphin.

The latter led to the concluding arc, which involved characters in limbo, the acknowledgement that DC’s Crisis had actually happened and that there used to be a different continuity, and even an introduction between Animal Man and Morrison himself, who discussed the problems Morrison had given Animal Man during the series.

Probably the backbone of the series, though, was Animal Man’s status as an “Everyman” figure. Buddy Baker had a wife and two children, and he was a lot more normal than other superheroes (which is presumably why Morrison tried to downplay Animal Man becoming a member of Justice League Europe).

By the time Morrison was finished, he took a hero who was so forgettable that he was even in a group CALLED the Forgotten Heroes, and made him a stalwart member of the DC Universe.

That’s it for today! More runs tomorrow!!

102 Comments

animal man was something I expected to make top 5! I love the rest of these runs, too. this is real fun keeping up with!

None of my votes here, but all good stuff.

Glad Transmet is so high. That’s 7 of my top 10 down, and I think 2 of the other 3 are still to come.

Now, why on earth is Fables here!?!? I just can’t believe it rated so high. I wouldn’t even put it near the top 100. Yeah, the character-work is good, but the story itself just feels empty. In the Vertigo kingdom, Fables is the emporer’s new clothes. I feel like Willingham has virtually nothing to say… I’ve given this book several chances and it’s never taken me any deeper than the central gimmick arond which it’s crafted — which is a good gimmick, but what next? I can’t believe it rated higher than Transmet, or most of the other books we’ve seen so far. Maybe I just haven’t read enough, but I’ve given it enough chances now that I’m not likely to try again.

And actually, I take that back, about the character-work being good. He does get his points across, in the sense that Willingham shows us very clearly who he thinks these characters are. In that sense, his characterisations are quite effective. But I don’t buy them. They ring don’t ring true and they seem overly inconsistent with their origins in the fables which brought them to our attention in the first place.

Hah! I’m really surprised that I’ve found something to rant about here, ’cause I generally just figure that everybody has their favorites, and I wouldn’t want to diminish someone else’s love for a comic they enjoy. Maybe I’m just pissed off because American Virgin got cancelled, and Fables gets so much support. It just seems me to like the generally sophisticated Vertigo audience has fallen for some really cheap tricks with this series. I love the concept of the series as much as anyone else. It doesn’t surprise me that the book’s found an audience, because conceptually it panders to everything Vertigo fans look for. But it seems to me that month after month they’re buying this clever concept, this idea of a book about fairytales in a world of their own for adults, and they’re so into that concept that they ignore its shoddy execution.

Ok, rant over! :-)

If I hadn’t chosen to think of Cerebus as a 300 issue limited series and excluded it , it would have been so far ahead of my other entires that I may not have bothered to vote. The others are all good solid choices but I eventually discounted Animal man in favour of Grant morrison’s Doom Patrol.
so 20 still to come and I’m confident that 4 of my remaining top 10 entries will make it onto the list.

Love Fables, a beautiful modern classic. A definite recommendation to anyone interested in it.

I tried Transmet, but never got into and stopped reading after the first 6 issues or so.

Ennis’s Punisher is a great take on the character, but as it’s been said, diminishing returns set in. Ennis is a one trick pony, and no matter how well that one trick is, and no matter how well executed it is, it still gets boring after a while. Well, maybe boring isn’t the best word…more like meh. But, as I said, prob one of the best takes I’ve seen on the character.

I really should check out Animalman, here’s hoping it lives up to the hype.

Don’t modern readers have memories longer than a couple of years? I keep waiting for more classic 60s and 70s runs to show up but they’re increasingly overlooked by recent series that have yet to warrant classic status (they may over time but it’s far too early to tell). It seems Morrison, Ennis and Ellis just have to sneeze to get included. How anybody could consider Ennis’ Punisher gore-fest and expletive-fest the best comics run of all time is beyond me. Preacher, yes it was a great series. But Ennis’ Punisher and Hellblazer, God no.

I’m enjoying the list and I get heartened whenever a true classic gets a mention – Starlin’s 70s work, O’Neil/Adams collaborations, the early Lee & Kirby/Ditko runs, Stern’s 80s work, even Roy Thomas’ Avengers (a very welcome and fully-justified surprise) – but I guess I should have known the writing was on the wall when my favorite run of all time – Moench’s Master of Kung Fu – only came in at Number 100! And judging by the glaring omissions since then, it was probably lucky to get included at all.
I admire pretty much all the runs on this list but, Christ, I’ve rarely felt more out of step. Let’s hope the Top 20 features a few runs earlier than 1990. Believe it or not, guys, comics did exist in those days. And more often than not, they were a damn sight better than today’s offerings.

It’s the first time one of my picks has shown up – Ennis’s Punisher. (I notice that Brian is still not putting the s after the apostrophe in the singular possessive. I give up.) It was my number one choice, no less.

All the points made above sum up why I think it’s brilliant, although I was a bit disappointed by The End and I haven’t read Born yet (I’m trying to pick up the singels on the cheap).

“Ennis’s Punisher is a great take on the character, but as it’s been said, diminishing returns set in. Ennis is a one trick pony, and no matter how well that one trick is, and no matter how well executed it is, it still gets boring after a while. ”

Well, even if you count the whole Max run as one trick, you can’t deny that it’s an entirely different trick from the Marvel Knights run. Therefore, he’s at least a two-trick pony :-)

Seriously though, it’s an amazing run, where each arc can be read and enjoyed on its own or enjoyed as part of the overall Max story. In fact, it’s only now, with the run nearing its end, that we are realising how linked all the storylines really are.

Like David, I enjoy Moore, Gaiman, Morrison and others, but Ennis is my god.

Apparently I need to read Cerebus. One day.

Transmet definitely deserves to be at least this high. I’m surprised it was beaten by Fables.

I’ll be getting the Animal Man trades soon.

Nah, he’s still a one-trick pony. The pony is just dressed up differently to make you think it’s a different pony :D

Animal Man was my number two after another Morrison run I actually don’t expect to chart (his Zenith series in 2000ad). Would have loved it to have done better but 21 ain’t bad at all when you think of some of the other runs I assume are about to come up. The must human superhero story I’ve ever read, all the more amazing when you consider the plot was so Morrisonesque in its bizarre and imaginative twists and turns. Alongside making a DC star of a z-list character it also made stars out of his supporting cast and of course his family (the introduction of the new Mirror Master was also a big point of note to me).

I remember crying on the Tunnel bus between Liverpool and Birkenhead when I read issue 19 – which when you’re in your late teens and from Merseyside is quite a thing to do.

Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

Bernard the Poet

April 22, 2008 at 4:59 am

Was issue 19 the one when he goes back in time to try and save his family? That made me cry as well – although I very wisely read it in the privacy of my bedroom.

Stefan—not every book is going to appeal to everybody. Most reviewers think Fables is pretty good. Many fans think so. And the general public LOVES it, so much so that the trades are hard to keep in stock. All of the trades were in the Top 100 trades sold last year. So maybe it’s just not your thing.

Now, that Spider-Man run back in the 80s where Spider-Man had a car that drove up the side of buildings? THAT was classic! ;-)

I never read Cerebus. Read a lot about it (and about Dave Sim), but never read the comic itself.

I’m glad Animal Man and Fables are this high. Both deserve it. Animal Man is still one of Morrison’s better works. For once, Morrison is not so hyper-active, he allows himself to be emotional and take his time to tell the story, and it works great. A little classic.

Fables also is quite unique. I didn’t read the whole series yet (stopped at the third TPB), but it’s always a joy. Willingham is very inventive. It’s one of those titles that has enough of a superhero-y vibe to please superhero fans, but it’s also a pretty awesome fantasy story.

I’m less fond of Punisher and Transmetropolitan. I usually like Ellis a lot, but I liked Transmet less than I thought I would, for some reason. Perhaps it’s too preachy? Perhaps it’s because I found it surprisingly manichean in it’s politics? And it’s funny, because it’s not like I actually disagree with Ellis’s politics. I dunno, I liked the early issues a lot, with the highlights on several aspects of future society. When it became all about fighting the corrupt, totally evil President, I liked it less. But I still think Transmet deserves to be here, obviously. I just don’t love it as much as expected.

The Punisher. Dunno. I think I’m sorta burned out when it comes to Garth Ennis. I once loved his stuff, but the last thing of his I loved was Preacher and some issues of Hitman. Still, the Punisher is a good series, I only think it should be a score of positions lower on the list, but it’s a good series.

None of my picks, though. So far, I’ve had only 2 in the Top 100.

And at #22, I finally have something on my list. Fables was towards the end of it. I’m not entirely sure why it was so high for me, why I put it over a lot of things that I love. I think part of it is that it’s something I can share more easily and enjoy with others more easily. The fiancee will read whatever I toss in front of her, but she’ll bug me to go out and get the next Fables trade.

In general, what it feels like to me is the very best of Claremont’s Uncanny. Long running subplots(which is one of my absolute favorite things in comics), a big cast with a lot of interaction and development, a few mysteries, real stakes, and a lot of fun and clever little ticks.

Is Willingham “saying something?” Maybe not, but the comics are good and enjoyable.

Animal Man might have made it but I loathe the ending. It comes off as ironic and very self-aware and maybe if I was reading it monthly I would have sympathized with it, but looking back it’s such a colossal waste. Morrison had the ability to really say something and all he could come up with was “Well, now that we’ve made this incredible journey, I’m not quite sure what I want, so let’s just pack it in, huh?” It’s one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever come across in comics.

Oh, and re: Garth Ennis.

If you’ve read one Garth Ennis comic, you’ve read most of them. It doesn’t mean they’re not good, but compare him to someone with real range like Mike Carey and there’s just no question who’s more talented. I do check back with him every now and again. I picked up the first issue of the Phantom Eagle mini and nope, same old Garth Ennis. I don’t think I ever need to read one of his comics again since I’ve already read Preacher and Hitman and most of his Punisher run.

Read a large chunk of Cerebus in two door stop sized collections. Not surprised to see it so high up, because I know it has a shed load of ardent admirers.

But I didn’t like it that much. For me it appeared to have two significant problems. First it didn’t feature any character that I could empathize with. Second the story line baffled me… at times I wondered if there was one, or if it just moved very, very slowly. What kept me ploughing on? Not too sure… the artwork was darn good, and just felt I should give it my best shot, given the critical acclaim the series has received.

Cerebus is such a weird comic. The first book is all parody and when I suggest the title to people, most can never get past it, but a lot of what you need for later on is set up there. You can go without it but you’re better off not to.

High Society is wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Church and State I is very good. Church and State II has the most depressing ending in the world. It kills you. It saps any possible joy out of the rest of the series.

By the time I finished the next two books (or so), I just gave up because it was all too bleak for me.

But I love High Society as much as almost any comic i’ve read.

And it gave me the Marx Brothers. I had never really had any reason to watch their stuff up until then and now I have the box sets and the Groucho letters and just finished “Hello, I Must Be Going.”

It’s sort of how Starman gave me Philip Marlowe. But that’s for a later time.

———
As for Transmet, I found that when I was 17 or so and it was the perfect time for me to come into it. I had just enough angst and frustration about popular culture and the people that ate it up. I associate it so much with a specific time of my life that I really can’t go back and read it now. I’m not sure I’d want to, really. Of course, just like Cerebus and Starman, it gave me something. Without it, I might not have tracked down any of Thompson’s works.

Wow. 3 of those 5, Punisher, Fables and Animal Man, were on my list which makes 6 total. That just leaves 4 more and I am confident all 4 will be top 10 or close. I really didn’t expect Animal Man to be so high. Once we got past 50 I wasn’t expecting to see it at all. Glad to see I was wrong.

Another one of my pics :

6. FABLES — Bill Willingham

Transmet and Cerebus fall into the “have some trades, need to get around to reading them” category for me.

I’m surprised Animal Man didn’t place higher; I’m pretty sure some other Morrison runs will have to be higher up then (Doom Patrol, maybe? We haven’t seen his X-Men run yet either…).

I actually enjoyed Ennis’s Marvel Knights Punisher (at least the first 12 issue Welcome Back Frank) more than the MAX stuff. I actually dropped the Max stuff a while back because it felt like “second verse, same as the first” in that the arcs and issues were blurring together. Maybe I just wasn’t giving it enough mental attention when I read it.

I didn’t vote for Fables (I didn’t allow myself to vote for ongoing runs) but if I had, it’d be damn near the top of my list. Love the concept, love the characters, love the, as Matt D said, Claremontian-style subplots, love its cross genre appeal (at the bookstore I’ve sold it to Sandman fans and superhero fans and fans of fantasy novels who have never read a comic book before). Hands down one of the titles to which I most look forward month in and month out.

Now, why on earth is Fables here!?!? I just can’t believe it rated so high. I wouldn’t even put it near the top 100. Yeah, the character-work is good, but the story itself just feels empty. In the Vertigo kingdom, Fables is the emporer’s new clothes. I feel like Willingham has virtually nothing to say… I’ve given this book several chances and it’s never taken me any deeper than the central gimmick arond which it’s crafted — which is a good gimmick, but what next? I can’t believe it rated higher than Transmet, or most of the other books we’ve seen so far. Maybe I just haven’t read enough, but I’ve given it enough chances now that I’m not likely to try again.

I think this is the first I’ve heard from someone who feels the same way I do about Fables. I enjoyed it for the first 20-30 issues or so (which is not insignificant), but after a while it just started to feel flat. The concept, to me, had been exhausted. It might have enough merit to rank in the top 100, but I’ll admit some surprise at seeing Fables this high.

I think Fables is getting a bit of the “shiny new” point boost that’s also pumping Johns’s GL and All-Star Superman probably much higher on the list than they’d be if they were already complete runs and, say, five years older.

That said, while I don’t really enjoy Fables (reading Wicked on an airplane completely soured me on that sort of fairy tale revisionism), the level of craft involved in it demands respect. It is a more technically proficient work than some other runs that have made the top 100, and not one where I’d be inclined to argue it had no place based on quality.

Not sure whether Fables would be so high 5 years from now, but it certainly would still be in the Top 50. Unlike Johns’s GL or Preacher’s Punisher, it is a comic that has enough unique elements to make its mark in the long-term. But perhaps that is just me. Something about fantastical characters thrown into the “real world” always appealed to me. The same thrill I got from reading deconstructionist superheroes like Miracleman and Supreme Power, I get from Fables. But Fables also has a larger audience by avoiding spandex.

“I admire pretty much all the runs on this list but, Christ, I’ve rarely felt more out of step. Let’s hope the Top 20 features a few runs earlier than 1990. Believe it or not, guys, comics did exist in those days. And more often than not, they were a damn sight better than today’s offerings.”

Neil, while I sympathize with you to some extent (I love all of that stuff you mentioned as classics), I would disagree that they were better than today’s stuff. For one thing, the yesterday stuff you mention is all superheroes. For another, most of them are superheroes done in a certain way. Not much in the way of variety, when you compare to these 5 runs here.

And I AM a huge superhero fan.

Rene – I like the idea that Garth Ennis is “Preacher”.

I voted for Fables. It’s one of the few comics ever to be funny, exciting, dramatic and romantic in pretty much equal measures. Just a big, giant, amazing epic. I can hardly wait for it every month.

Andrew Collins

April 22, 2008 at 7:32 am

Well, guys, there’s still 20 spots to go so I think it’s a little premature to start bitching about what books aren’t making the list when you haven’t seen the whole list yet.

And as for older comics from the 1960’s and 70’s not showing up more frequently so far…well, yes, people DO have short memories by and large but also so many of those stories (such as Master Of Kung Fu) aren’t available in reprints, or if they were, they are out of print, or in expensive archive collections, etc. They just haven’t been as widely read by younger readers.

A five-part release composed entirely of mature/indie titles.

Of these five, I’ve only read “Fables”, and that I read ardently; a great, great series. I just love the breadth and depth of the world Willingham has created, and the expansive cast (interpolating the two different Snow Whites and all the various Prince Charmings were genius moves). “The Last Castle” is one of my all-time favourite comics; really, really moving. I felt the recent “The Good Prince” arc really dragged, but the stuff that’s been happening since has gotten the series back on track. The war with the Adversary looks to be a great story.

Regarding Ennis, I’ve found his style of writing too dependent on gruesome shocks and puerile depictions of sex, violence, and cursing. He has talent, but his preferred genre is off-putting.

Of these 5 items, 3 I’ve never really read, and the other two I’ve given a fair chance without being swept off my feet by them.

I’ve never read “Transmetropolitan” — from what I’ve heard about it, I seriously doubt I’d like it. (I may have glanced through the first few pages of the first TPB collection once, but now I can’t even remember a single detail of whatever it was I sawt.)

I haven’t read “Fables” either, but I’ll probably try it someday. I have read other things by Willingham without being wildly impressed, though.

A long, long time ago, in the mid-90s, I read just about all of Cerebus that had been reprinted in those big fat TPBs up until that point . . . borrowed most of them from a generous friend. I haven’t really gone back to it since; haven’t tried to acquire a full collection for myself. I could admire much of what I saw, but it didn’t get me addicted, obviously.

I own a copy of the 12-part “Welcome Back, Frank” TPB collection. It had its amusing moments, but that wasn’t really my kind of humor. I never even considered voting for Ennis’s Punisher run . . . I didn’t vote for anything by Ennis, but if I had, I think his Hitman run (what I’ve seen of it) would have been a somewhat likelier candidate for my attention (although in actuality it didn’t even come close to making my list of favorites).

I once looked through an “Animal Man” TPB collection in a story without developing an overwhelming need to buy it based on whatever it was I read at the time.

Neil64 — for what it’s worth (as far as comforting you is concerned), 7 of the 10 items on my ballot were published before the 1990 cutoff date you alluded to. Breaking it down by the decade in which each run began, I had 1 from the 40s, 1 from the 60s, 5 from the 80s, and 3 from the 90s. I didn’t vote for anything that began publication in or after the year 2000. (This wasn’t a rigid policy; it just happened to work out that way when I was culling the herd, trying to boil down a longer list of “serious candidates” to a short list of 10 I especially enjoy rereading, again and again.)

The one from the 1940s has already appeared in the Top 100. The one from the 60s hasn’t. Just 1 of my 5 from the 80s has already appeared . . . and I’ve said before that there’s only one more of my 1980s-vintage picks which I seriously expect to see in the Top 100 as well. I’ve also said that two of my other picks are DC runs from the 1980s which have never had any significant portions reprinted in TPB (nor hardcover). That being the case, I’m not surprised that they haven’t shown up so far and probably won’t, because anybody who only started reading comics within the last 20 years has literally never seen portions of those runs prominently displayed when he visits his comics shop or Borders to see what’s “Just In” as monthly issues or as TPB collections. If he’s never had this stuff brought to his attention, then he’s hardly likely to think about voting for it, is he? I blame that on DC (for not reprinting) rather than on the modern readers, of course.

RE: Shaun’s take on iFables:

The concept, to me, had been exhausted.

Actually, this is right when a series becomes good and viable and worth more than the paper its printed on. When it finally exhausts its central conceit and finally begins developing on its own. The first volume of Fables completely underwhelmed me. It was so gimmicky. It felt far to in love with its concept. The second volume was definitely a bit better—and just gave me a taste that things might improve—but still wasn’t amazing. In fact, it wasn’t until the fourth volume that I was completely sold on the series.

It’s now one of my favourites (though I didn’t vote for it because I can’t consider Willingham’s work on it a “run”) and one of those books that I actively look forward to in the long months between releases. While the conceit is still there, the story has grown so far beyond it’s original cute that I really admire Willingham’s strength of vision. Other commentors have remarked on the books similarity to the best of Claremont and I think they’re right. Fables is not only just good comics, but Fables is, probably more than anything, fun comics.

I haven’t read “Fables” either, but I’ll probably try it someday. I have read other things by Willingham without being wildly impressed, though.

For what it’s worth, as I see it there is a quantum leap between Fables and all the DC superhero stuff I’ve read by Willingham; nowhere near as good. If you were looking to try it out, I’d recommend reading the second volume (“Animal Farm”) first, because the first is kind of weak, and doesn’t really communicate the potential of the series very well, although there are some great moments (Pinocchio’s introduction, for example).

New Totals.

Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, and Garth Ennis shoot to the top, and we didn’t even get to their most famous works yet. 3 strong non-superhero titles make the list, now 22% of points are non-superhero. The last 3 decades are almost tied, when you consider that this high on the list any one title will bring a lot of points.

We have 82 runs so far (and 14240 pts)

– 28 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (4545 pts)
– 9 runs are X-Titles (1422 pts)
– 2 runs are Ultimate titles (679 pts)
– 30 runs if you get Marvel plus Ultimate Universe (5224 pts)

– 19 runs are set in the DC Universe (3793 pts)
– 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
– 7 are Vertigo comics (1702 pts)
– 23 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (4013 pts)

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

– 67 are superheroes or close enough (11795 pts)
– 15 are non-superhero (3204 pts)

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

– 1990s (22 runs – 4336 pts)
– 1980s (24 runs – 4130 pts)
– 2000s (21 runs – 4065 pts)
– 1970s (9 runs – 1570 pts)
– 1960s (4 runs – 599 pts)
– 1940s (2 runs – 299 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Grant Morrison (3 runs – 955 pts)
– Alan Moore (5 runs – 909 pts)
– Warren Ellis (4 runs – 792 pts)
– Garth Ennis (3 runs – 722 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)
– Stan Lee (3 runs – 490 pts)
– Bryan Hitch (2 runs – 474 pts)
– Bill Willimgham (428 pts)
– Darick Robertson (418 pts)
– Mark Waid (2 runs – 378 pts)
– Dave Sim (370 pts)
– Gerhard (370 pts)
– Mark Bagley (364 pts)
– Roger Stern (2 runs – 334 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)
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)

– 67 are superheroes or close enough (11795 pts)
– 35 are traditional superheroes (6143 pts)
– 32 are non-traditional superheroes (5642 pts)
– 11 are nonpowered superheroes (1678 pts)
– 7 are comedic superheroes (1007 pts)
– 26 are team books (4668 pts)
– 15 are non-superhero (3204 pts)

“Neil, while I sympathize with you to some extent (I love all of that stuff you mentioned as classics), I would disagree that they were better than today’s stuff. For one thing, the yesterday stuff you mention is all superheroes. For another, most of them are superheroes done in a certain way. Not much in the way of variety, when you compare to these 5 runs here.

And I AM a huge superhero fan.”

Fair point, Rene. Perhaps I’m biased. But, even though I loved Transmet and I think it’s absolutely the kind of thing Ellis should write (keep both him and Ennis well away from super-heroes, IMHO), I can’t see why it rates above truly seminal, ground-breaking (albeit superhero) works such as Starlin’s Warlock or Lee & Ditko’s Dr Strange. Same with Punisher.

On the non standard superhero front, where are Grell’s Jon Sable, Ostrander’s GrimJack, Barr’s Maze Agency, Collins & Beatty’s Ms Tree, Gerber’s Man-Thing, Moore’s Swamp Thing and Wein/Wrightson’s Swamp Thing? And there must be room for Tomb of Dracula, 70 issues of Colan perfection. With only 20 left to go, they make not make it.

On the superhero front, I’m still hoping that Englehart & Buscema’s Captain America gets an honorable mention. And maybe even Gerber & Buscema’s Defenders. And there must be entries for Lee/Kirby FF, Lee/Ditko Spidey, Miller’s first DD run, Claremont/Byrne X-Men, Simonson Thor and Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans.

That remaining 20 will need to be remarkably flexible!

Although I don’t agree with many entries on this list, it’s pretty compulsive. Many thanks for running it and vive la difference.

Neil,

I still hope to see some of the stuff you’ve mentioned. Stan Lee’s Spidey and FF, Miller’s DD, Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men, Simonson’s Thor, Wolfman/Perez’s Teen Titans, and Moore’s Swamp Thing will all be in the Top 10 (okay, perhaps Simonson’s Thor won’t make the Top 10, it will be more like Top 15, but the others will).

Other cool, pre-1990 superhero runs that should be mentioned, but probably won’t make the cut:

– Mantlo/Buscema’s Hulk
– Lee/Buscema’s Silver Surfer
– Steranko’s Nick Fury
– Nocenti/Romita Jr.’s Daredevil
– McGregor’s Black Panther
– Truman/Ostrander’s Hawkworld
– Perez’s Wonder Woman
– Messner-Loebs’s Flash
– Moench/Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight
– Claremont/Byrne’s Marvel Team-Up
– Peter David’s Spider-Man
– Kesel’s Hawk and Dove
– Stern’s Starman (the Will Payton one)

And probably a lot more!

What the hell is “homosexualism?”

According to dictionary.com, “homosexualism” is a synonym for “homosexuality.”

Fair point, Rene. Perhaps I’m biased. But, even though I loved Transmet and I think it’s absolutely the kind of thing Ellis should write (keep both him and Ennis well away from super-heroes, IMHO), I can’t see why it rates above truly seminal, ground-breaking (albeit superhero) works such as Starlin’s Warlock or Lee & Ditko’s Dr Strange. Same with Punisher.

Because the list wasn’t about groundbreaking, but about favourites? I appreciate Ditko Dr Strange for what it is (lack of proper ending notwithstanding), but I’d much rather READ Ennis Punisher (even if I didn’t vote for it)

Groundbreaking isn’t always best.

Honestly, if something’s broken the ground, what follows should be able to build upon it and be even better, right?

A “Most influencial/important” list would be very different.

That’s definitely a valid point. Usually a groundbreaking work handles its new themes or formal innovations somewhat awkwardly. Works that follow in the footsteps of groundbreaking works can usually handle “new” elements with sophistication and subtlety.

This trend might explain why the 90’s and 00’s dominate the “favorites” list, beyond just being new. While the 80’s was unquestionably a decade where huge innovations were made in the forms and content of comics as a medium and superheroes as a genre, there was still a certain Bronze Age rawness to the proceedings. A lot of the great books of the 90’s and 00’s represent refinements of style, taking the possibilities introduced in the 80’s and exploring them with more depth and subtlety.

Now watch, someone’s going to ruin my beautiful theory with an ugly, inconvenient fact…

I’ve just started in on Fables over the last three issues, and I’m definitely intrigued. Perhaps, from what others are saying, not enough to go back and pick up on missed issues, but definitely enough to check the ride out from here on.

I can’t remember if I voted for Cerebus but if I did it was almost certainly for High Society which was, and is, a work of genius. It deftly juggles outright comedy with shrewd satire and heartbreaking drama and the scary part is how effortless Sim makes it all seem.

I gave up on Cerebus around Church and State, though there were individual arcs like Melmoth that interested me. Mostly, I found the stories just became less funny and intriguing and more strident and often dull.

I’m also not a fan of Gerhard. I’m not denying that Gerhard is immensely talented– I just found his ornate fine linework jarred with what Sim was doing. Plus what people often forget was that Sim was actually a damn good artist on his own.

And then there’s the wacky tirades…I’ve never seen an artist torpedo his reputation to smithereens the way Dave Sim did with his editorial on the feminist/homosexualist axis. He’s really gone all-out the past year to distance himself from all that in the push for Glamourpuss (I don’t know what those readers he’s attempting to romance are going to make of Glamourpuss, which judging from the preview edition is more an essay about comics themselves than a comic, although an intriguing one) but I don’t think he’s ever going to ever quite escape that.

Just wondering, Rene (by the way, I think your tallies are nearly as entertaining as the list itself)…did you count Cerebus as a superhero (or close enough) ? He does have “powers”, in a way…and he’s also a talking hermaphroditic aardvark in a world of men. Are you using the “Concrete question” rules outlined in an earlier post (I think by Cronin)?

-Plus .02: I think it’s great that lots of newer comics make the favorites list. Sure, I love it when other people appreciate my favorites from years past, and I think it’s wonderful when they get rediscovered again and again (which I think is a mark of a true classic). But I feel that comics are in a great place right now (superhero-only readers may disagree) and tons of favorites from the last decade tell me that our medium is constantly learning and growing, taking the lessons of the past (great points, Lynxara) and making even better comics. I’d like to give more benefit to history rather than lament the attention span of the current generation.

Hey, Transmetropolitian is the latest of my list to make this list.

I didn’t vote, but I think Fables is great.

Rene, I got to ask are you considering Fables and Transmetropolitian part of a sub-DCU? Those are among the Vertigo titles that aren’t inter-connected within the DC Universe.

I’m not sure if your totals were meant to reflect that or not.

No, I didn’t consider Cerebus a superhero comic, Black Rabbit. The two comics this time I counted as superheroes were Animal Man and Punisher.

I agree with Lynxara that the 80s was a decade of innovations. I see the 1980s as a sort of bridge between old and new in comics. Don’t know how much of it is my own personal experience, since I started reading comics in the 80s.

Billy, I didn’t consider Transmetropolitan and Fables as part of a “sub” DC Universe either. So far, the only Vertigo titles to be added to this tally were Lucifer, Hellblazer, and Shade.

Really high-quality works this time around. As we get toward the top 20, there does start to be some more concern over what won’t make the list. Englehart’s Captain America does seem like something that doesn’t have enough cachet to be in the top 20, but that I might have expected in the top 100. You’ve got to figure if Ennis’ Punisher is this high, that “Preacher” is yet to come. I’m also getting worried about “Tomb of Dracula” making it, which was maybe the best book of the whole 1970s. Still, when this thing is complete, it’s going to be one heck of a reference.

I find myself wondering if someday, someone will want to have us narrow our focus by having us vote in different threads for “Top Runs Which Began in the 1940s,” “Top Runs Which Began in the 1960s,” etc. One decade at a time, so that people who want to vote for a ton of Silver Age stuff won’t feel their votes are being “drowned out” by people who only want to vote for stuff by Ellis, Ennis, Morrison, Bendis, etc.?

Another approach, for calling more attention to the relatively obscure stuff that you can’t order in book format through Amazon.com any time you feel the urge, would be to vote on “Top Runs Which Haven’t Been Collected in TPB Yet.” (How would we classify it if, say, one or two TPBs existed with small portions of a much longer run, but the other 80 or 90 percent of the writer’s run had never been reprinted? Beats me!)

I enjoyed reading that essay on Punisher Max. Ennis is a master of exploring a theme through engaging and entertaining fiction and Punisher Max is probably his strongest example of that. The depth and range at which he looks at the nature of punishment and all that goes with it is stunning.

This series made me ask myself some tough questions about violence, punishment, and the place for both in the world. Punisher Max is worth a slow, thoughtful read.

I absolutely loved Cerebus right up until “Reads”. It wasn’t just Dave’s essays where he sounds like the killer in the Architecture chapter of “From Hell”, either. After Reads, he took out a bunch of my favorite characters and the whole comic took on a long, slouching feel. Still, from “High Society” to “Women”, that was one hell of a book.

Didn’t think Cerebus was this popular though I dig most of what other people like about it and have read everything up to Jaka’s Story (I think). LOVE Fables. Remember liking Animal Man. Meh – Transmet. Haven’t read Ennis’ Punisher. And can’t believe Preacher is going to rank higher than #21. How much set up bad guy, sprinkle liberally with potty humor, kill bad guy in memorable way can people take? Although, I just checked and apparently I can take 47 issues. And lots of minis. And the Arseface Special. Hmmmm… Maybe I need to complete my Preacher run. :)

Niel64, this is supposed to be the best runs, not the most classic runs. A lot of that ’60s and ’70s stuff just isn’t very good. The concepts were often brilliant, but the plotting, scripting, and art were still very raw. That being said I’d totally put Lee/Ditko’s Spider-Man and Lee/Kirby’s FF on the list, though significantly below the top 5 that I know they’ll end up in.

I’m a huge Fables fan (it’s actually the reason why I started posting around here) and I gotta say that I’m happy that it made it into the top 25.

It really does take up until the 3rd story arc to hook you, as much as the first arc is necessary and the second arc is very, very good. Sure, there are lulls here and there (didn’t care for the Bigby war stories, or the solo issues feature Jack) but on a whole the series delivers and even my least favourite issues add to the overall charm in hindsight. The twists that Willingham has put on these characters makes them interesting, and he manages to keep them consistent and complex. Little Hansel as a witch hunter, Cinderella as a deadly black-ops agent; heck, even having Prince Charming be the same womanizer from every tale that features a prince is interesting (and I’m sure that one’s been done before).

I actually think that this series will be even more popular 5 years after it ends. It’s really enjoyable to read as a whole story, and I think that is why it does so well in trade format. The Good Prince is a good example of this: it was a rather slowly paced story arc, but I think once it’s collected in trades it will read much better.

If solicitations mean anything, the world of Fables is heading for some major changes, but I would definitely suggest getting caught up on the entire series if you feel like you’re going to jump on for the long haul. I jumped on somewhere in the 40s, and even though I knew how most of the series would play out, actually reading the first 40 issues was so enjoyable.

On the superhero front, I’m still hoping that Englehart & Buscema’s Captain America gets an honorable mention. And maybe even Gerber & Buscema’s Defenders. And there must be entries for Lee/Kirby FF, Lee/Ditko Spidey, Miller’s first DD run, Claremont/Byrne X-Men, Simonson Thor and Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans.

Neil, I’d agree with you 100% about Lee/Kirby’s FF, Simonson’s Thor and Lee/Ditko’s Spidey, but… I’ve recently had the opportunity to re-read Gerber’s Defenders, and I’m sad to say that they have not aged well. They were fresh and radical when originally published, but re-reading that stuff nowadays makes me sad. Englehart & Buscema’s Captain America run was also bold for its time, but today it doesn’t hold up so well, with stilted dialogue and flat characterizations.

But you’re absolutely right about too many people favoring recent stuff over classics just because the recent stuff is fresher on their memories. That’s the only explanation I can see for Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern being in a “Top 100 Comic Book Runs” list.

@Da Fug

“And can’t believe Preacher is going to rank higher than #21. How much set up bad guy, sprinkle liberally with potty humor, kill bad guy in memorable way can people take? Although, I just checked and apparently I can take 47 issues. And lots of minis. And the Arseface Special. Hmmmm… Maybe I need to complete my Preacher run. :)”

Really? I guarantee it’ll be top 10. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s top 5. I had at #1 on my list and I bet a hell of a lot of people feel the same.

As for older (silver age and back) runs getting overlooked I can only vote for the things I’ve read and I’m only 35. I grew up reading comics in the 80’s and 90’s and 7 of my top 10 are from those 2 decades. I bet most people voting are the same. It’s just the younger generations outnumbering the older. And anyway as several people have said this is “favorites” not “best” or “most influential”. That top 100 would be completely different from this one.

Ennis, Garth: Sophomoric ultra-violence for anti-social 14 year old boys (of all ages) to masturbate to.

I felt, at the time, that the 90s DC were better than 80s DC and the 80s Marvel were better than 90s Marvel (and, so far, the trend is continuing as I think that 00 DC is better than 80s Marvel and DC, and I think that 80s Marvel still beats the pants off most of what Marvel is publishing.) So, I’m not surprised by the trends Rene has mapped out so far.

I am surprised that Animal Man made the list. I liked it, but I never considered it popular enough that it would break 50 just on the merits of how good it was. I was a retailer when it came out, and I think my store orderd 5 of it per month, and one of those was for a guy who bought “All Vertigo” because he “wanted to support the concept,” (and, in discussions seemed to expect them all to turn out super-valuable like the early Sandmans) but he never read them. I’m surprised, but certainly not disappointed.

I am a bit disappointed that it doesn’t look like any of my other votes are going to make the list. I think that if Peter David’s Aquaman or Chuck Dixon’s Batman were going to make it, they would have by now.

Maybe Brian will do another “Everybody is Somebody’s Baby” as my #1 might have actually been not only the only vote for that run, but that entire line. ;-)

Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll ask the forum: No love for Louise Simpson’s Power Pack?? It was awesome.

Theno

A mistake. The correct total of points is 14999, not 14240.

Patrick Lemaire

April 22, 2008 at 11:41 am

I’m really glad Cerebus made it that high. I borrowed it from the library at a time when I had not enough money to buy comics and became a fan. The guy is an accomplished writer, artist, letterer and has lots of humor. He’s a genius. I hope to see more 70s stuff. Will gerber’s Man thing make it? To me that’s better than Howard the Duck but I’m doubtful. And Don McGregor? Most of the best 70s stuff weren’t super-heroes and I don’t like “super-hero or close enough” There is nothing in Ennis’s Punisher that is close to super-hero. Even McGregor’s Panther’s rage (which should be a top comics run) was more an adventure strip: no super-powers, no super-opponents, no secret identity, no colorful costume. But I guess we won’t see Killraven. Roy Thomas and Buscema Conan should still appear (especially with the Dark Horse reprint)

“I am surprised that Animal Man made the list. I liked it, but I never considered it popular enough that it would break 50 just on the merits of how good it was. I was a retailer when it came out, and I think my store orderd 5 of it per month, and one of those was for a guy who bought “All Vertigo” because he “wanted to support the concept,” (and, in discussions seemed to expect them all to turn out super-valuable like the early Sandmans) but he never read them. ”

you’re talking about later, right? Delano’s run and all that came thereafter?

because Animal Man was actually not a Vertigo title during Morrison’s run.

I’ve been meaning to read Fables for quite a while now…I’m still only 6 for 10, and with each passing 5 books, i am getting more of a sinking feeling that what still hasn’t shown up, in fact won’t.

I have to object to how Ennis’s Punisher is being counted on the list.

If you add everything together, as Brian did here, it’s over 100 issues and thus needs to be broken up by artist. Or does that rule only apply to Claremont?

Also, the first twelve issues were intended as miniseries, so they shouldn’t count because minis are ineligible, ditto Born.

Then there’s how radically different the Knights series is from the MAX. They should be seperated on principal.

Oh, and to ever said Morrison has to sneeze to get on the list: well, yeah. He’s only far and away the best writer in the medium’s history (at least, among English writers).

I read the first 2 trades of Fables, and it just didn’t do a lot for me. Decently written, interesting concept, but it didn’t wow me, and at the time I didn’t have the money to keep buying titles that I didn’t think were great. Maybe I need to give it another look, although I think I sold my first 2 trades.

I loved Transmet and I am loving Punisher, although neither made my list.

I really liked Animal Man, and I’m someone who has found Morrison’s writing to be average at best. Easily my favorite work of Morrison’s. It almost made my top 10.

Joe – That’s a good point about Punisher. Gruenwald’s Captain America, as I recall, also totals over 100 issues, and that made the list without being broken up.

I actually can’t remember where I ranked Animal Man (#1 or #2?). I would recommend this series to anybody, really (though having some passing knowledge of the original Crisis surely helps aid in the enjoyment). I, too, cried from some of the passages near the end of the run. And actually, Matt D., I believe Morrison ended the series in just about the only way that makes sense. How could not have ended it like he did, unless he hated those characters? Which he clearly did not. Morrison’s emotional honesty and the his metanarrative tack, combined, make that ending work. It’s probably the only time in comics when I have really embraced the old “back from the dead” trope. (Though as a wink-wink reprise/coda, so many years later, it made me smile and cheer in “52,” as well.)

Like him or hate him, Garth Ennis has a very strong, unique voice. Even if you omit the credits, you need only read 3 or 4 pages of any of his comics, and you know it’s Ennis. So I think his Punisher must have a more uniform tone than Claremont with his various pencillers in the X-Men.

Patrick, the classification of “superhero” is tricky, and probably every single person here would classify the books differently. A modern-day character with a codename, distinctive visuals, exceptional skills, that battles criminals for his own personal reasons is enough to qualify for me. But that is only me.

“Joe – That’s a good point about Punisher. Gruenwald’s Captain America, as I recall, also totals over 100 issues, and that made the list without being broken up.”

The rules specifically said that Ennis’s Punisher and Gruenwald’s Captain America were eligible without having to be broken up (along with David’ Hulk and Hama’s G.I. Joe). I quote in full, because a number of people seem to have missed this:

“2. If a writer is on a book for more than 100 issues, you have to match the writer with an artist (like, you can’t say Claremont’s X-Men, you have to say Claremont/Byrne, Claremont/Smith, etc. – heck, you can make up most of your list just with Claremont’s various X-Men runs!).

“There are three notable exceptions to this rule (so notable that really, this is only designed to apply to Lee’s Spider-Man and Claremont’s X-Men) – you can say Hama’s GI Joe, Gruenwald’s Captain America and David’s Hulk (and if Ennis has done 100 issues of The Punisher, then you can say Ennis’ Punisher, too).”

It’s right there in the voting thread, honest.

Huh. You’re right. How about that?

Color me sheepish.

No worries. It’s worth reiterating to save people the trouble of going back to the earlier thread, though.

Rebis:

I have NO problem with him hitting the reset button. I have no problem with the idea of an interesting and revolutionary metanarrative where he talks to the main character.

I have a problem with the execution of it.

There is something interesting in him saying “Well, I’m burnt out and I said what i’m going to say and now I’m going to put the pieces back and move on.” as a commentary on work-for-hire and company characters.

I just think there were a few thousand more interesting things he could have said in that encounter. If you’re going to make so ballsy a creative journey, don’t get there and get in front of the microphone and just shrug and have the curtain fall.

There’s a lot of anticipation in Buddy meeting Morrison and breaking the fourth-wall and just plays out as a whole lot of nothing. I’m sure it was a cute surprise at the time but it sure hasn’t aged well.

At least not for me, reading it a decade and a half after the fact.

Morrison, like Gaiman, sometimes delights too much in defying expectations. Sort of a passion for anti-climax? New X-Men had something of that too.

“I find myself wondering if someday, someone will want to have us narrow our focus by having us vote in different threads for “Top Runs Which Began in the 1940s,” “Top Runs Which Began in the 1960s,” etc. ”

I’d like to see this done, but I’m not the one who’ll have to tally all the votes…

I’d put Animal Man and Cerebus higher, and Fables lower though I enjoy it a lot. I really need to read Transmetropolitan, and I’ve never been interested in Punisher, though the huge disparity in opinion makes makes me want to at least take a look…

Continuing to enjoy the countdown… (much better than that other Countdown that’s about to end)…

One part of Morrison’s Animal Man that I suspect doesn’t play today the way it did when it first came out is the use of obscure and alternate-universe characters in “Crisis II”. At the time, DC was trying to put the alternate Earths behind them, and not using its older characters much (the JSA were in limbo at this point, for example), or sticking with new interpretations over the old (such as Bizarro). Including these characters was noteworthy because it went against the grain (and was a bit of a treat for students of DC history). Nowadays, after “Infinite Crisis” and with Ma Hunkel keeping house for the JSA, it doesn’t stand out as much.

"O" the Humanatee!

April 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

An alternative to the “Best Runs of the 1940s,” “Best Runs of the 1950s,” etc. strategy would be to have people voting on their favorite runs (or characters, writers, whatever) also supply such information as their ages or the (approximate) year when they first began seriously reading/collecting comics. Then one (and by “one,” I mean Brian) could, if he had the time and the will, do an after-the-fact breakdown of how different demographics voted.

Still no Kanigher. Still no Haney. Still no Joe Kubert. ~sigh~

“An alternative to the “Best Runs of the 1940s,” “Best Runs of the 1950s,” etc. strategy would be to have people voting on their favorite runs (or characters, writers, whatever) also supply such information as their ages or the (approximate) year when they first began seriously reading/collecting comics. Then one (and by “one,” I mean Brian) could, if he had the time and the will, do an after-the-fact breakdown of how different demographics voted.”

That would be quite an undertaking.

For the record, I’m 32 years old, I started reading comics in the late 1980s, but I’m Brazilian, and the Brazilian editions of most comics were 4 or more years “late” at the time I started reading as compared to what was being released in the US, so for pratical purposes it’s as if I had started reading in the early 1980s.

My Top 10 list was all post-1980s stuff. If I remember right, it had 5 runs from the 80s, and 5 runs from the 90s.

Minor niggle: Ennis didn’t write issues 8 to 12 of the Marvel Knights ongoing.

Also I wanted to say that I really enjoyed the review, but was disappointed that it did not mention that Ennis actually took on the Punisher (sort of) way back in ’95 with Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe (which will most definitely be in my top 10 if there’s ever a poll for favorite one-shots).

Hey, Rene!

I wanna say I really appreciate you keeping the scorecard. Could you list the titles too?

22 runs from the 90s! And everybody says 90s comics suck.

I’m curious as to which runs you considered “comedic superheroes” and “non-superheroes.” Any tough calls?

Thanks for the running totals. You are saving me a lot of time. I wait with breathless anticipation for the next
update.

Mutt

"O" the Humanatee!

April 22, 2008 at 3:50 pm

” “An alternative to the “Best Runs of the 1940s,” “Best Runs of the 1950s,” etc. strategy would be to have people voting on their favorite runs (or characters, writers, whatever) also supply such information as their ages or the (approximate) year when they first began seriously reading/collecting comics. Then one (and by “one,” I mean Brian) could, if he had the time and the will, do an after-the-fact breakdown of how different demographics voted.”

That would be quite an undertaking.”

You’ll get no disagreement from me on that. But it would also be quite an undertaking to do separate polls for “Best Runs [or whatever] of the 1950s,” and my strategy would have (what I see as) an advantage: If you do separate polls for each decade, younger readers who weren’t reading the material at the time will favor material that has been reprinted – the same bias affecting the current poll. But if you do it my way, votes for older material are more likely, on balance, to come from those voters who were around at the time and remember the comics whether they’ve been reprinted or not. (In the case of really old material, such as the Spirit, it’s of course unlikely that any reader of this blog was around to read it when it first came out.)

No approach is perfect, and no matter what you do, you can’t entirely compensate for the problem (if it is a problem) that more readers of this blog are relatively young – I’d guess in the early 20s to early 30s range. I myself am 49, and I simply can’t expect the tastes of my contemporaries to be well represented in this poll or any other on CSBG. (The fact that I didn’t get around to voting in this poll doesn’t help either.)

It’d be interesting, O, for you to tell me your Top 10 if you HAD voted, and I’ll tell you if any of your votes would have gotten a particular book on to the Top 100 (there was a LOT of books bunched together towards the end, as you folks saw with all the ties and books separated by a point or two).

Since some people are down on Transmetropolitan, and no one seems to be speaking up for it, I will:

Transmetropolitan was one of my favorite comics. Warren Ellis developed his characters and world wonderfully, used the future’s politics to satirize the present, and turned out some terrifically heartfelt stories. Ellis’ belief in the righteous power of journalism, coal-black sense of humor, sympathy for the common people, and love/hate relationship with the big city drove Transmet. The death of a major character (around the late-teens/ early 20s issues) was a true shock, the consequences of which lasted the entirety of the series. Darrick Robertson’s art was suitably expressive, gritty, and funny. Transmet’s final issue ranks among the best finales to any serialized story in any medium. Ellis and Robertson put both heart and grime into every issue, and created a compelling world populated by memorable characters.

So, yeah, not for everybody and sometimes juvenile, but I really liked Transmet.

Wow. Cerebus.

I… think I’m glad it was this high.

It is *the* defining, long-form, personal work in American comics. And it’s really, really good, a lot of the time.

Still, I didn’t even consider voting for it. Just watching Dave Sim, who always seemed like such a smart, funny, guy, completely lose his shit on paper was a fairly disturbing thing to watch. (And I wasn’t even there! I just read the trades, up ’till READS, in order.)

We still haven’t seen Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, Lee/ Kirby FF or Avengers, O’Neil/ Adams Batman, Steranko Nick Fury, Tomb of Dracula, Simonson Thor, Kubert Sgt. Rock, original Jonah Hex, Claremont/ Byrne X-Men, Miller DD, Englehart Captain America, Dr. Strange, or Avengers (I think), Shooter Avengers, Shooter Legion, Thomas/ BWS Conan, Infantino Flash, Moore Swamp Thing… I think there’s still room on the Countdown for plenty of pre-1990 comics. Of course, we still have to get to at least three Morrison series (Doom Patrol, New X-Men, JLA), Starman, Hellboy, PAD Hulk, Sandman…

We’ll see the Lee/Kirby FF, Lee/Ditko Avengers, Simonson Thor, Claremont/Byrne X-Men, Miller Daredevil (1st), and Moore Swamp Thing, but I wouldn’t count on any of those other pre-90s series; too high up at this point.

At this point as well, I think the only series still in production that we’ll see will be Brubaker’s Captain America and Ellis’ Planetary.

Hellboy was already listed.

I can’t imagine putting a title on this list if I hadn’t gone through the exquisite torture of waiting 30 days for the next issue to come out. All of my top ten were books I bought on the newsstand.

If I had discovered a title because of the trades I read years after the fact, they probably wouldn’t have registered in my mind as “runs” at all.

That’s why The Spirit is not on my list.

Never read “Cerebus” for whatever reason, even when I was trying EVERYTHING. The idea of a 300 issue story interested me, but …

Ennis’ “Punisher” is something that I have sampled, but can’t really speak to. However, I am AMAZED how lucky that character has been with the creators who have worked on it. “The Punisher” was a third-tier Spidey villain, but after Miller, Baron, Janson and Ennis there will always be a market for his adventures. It is amazing when you consider how many cool, under-used characters there are waiting to be cannon fodder in the next big event.

I have read some, but not all, of “Transmetropolitan”. It is good and I understand why people adore it. Ellis is better when he is doing his own stuff. He is such a natural cynic that he is a really poor fit at Marvel telling stories about their self-involved baby boomer heroes. I’m not sure he’d be much better at DC, although I’d wager he could write a killer Lex Luthor. On his own, it just all clicks.

“Fables” is a lot of fun. Wllingham was an under-rated writer for so long that it is nice to see him doing a break-out series. Being unfinished, it is hard to properly rate. He is working toward some type of conclusion. Hard to judge the movie before the end credits roll, but so far it is great.

Morrison’s “Animal Man” is probably my least favorite of his work. The ideas were better than the story for me.

I agree with Mutt, all my picks were runs that I either read as they came out or hunted down as back issues, (often read out of sequence, I came into the Moore Swamp Thing run in his last issue and basically read the forty-six issues in reverse). If I read something as a trade I tend to view it a bit differently.

I loved Animal Man but it came in finally at my #11, with Morrison’s DP in #12.

Four of my pix made it so far. The others are all locks (I’m pretty mainstream) with the possible exception of Shooter’s LSH, my #6.
C’mon Shooter’s LSH.

Hello, Mutt.

I’ll do a complete listing later. But since you’ve asked…

The 15 non-superhero books are: Transmetropolian, Fables, Cerebus, Bone, Acme Novelty Library, Strangers in Paradise, Howard the Duck, Hellblazer, Lucifer, 100 Bullets, Usagi Yojimbo, Lone Wolf & Cub, Love and Rockets, Invisibles, and Groo.

To spare myself the trouble of analyzing the books in depth, I used a simple rule: everything that even vaguely looks like superhero is put into the superhero-related column. Even so, some calls were hard. Invisibles is the most superhero-y book of all the books I didn’t consider “superhero”. On the other side of the frontier, Concrete and Punisher are only very borderline superheroes.

The comedic superheroes are: X-Factor, Deadpool, X-Statix, Plastic Man, Nextwave, Hitman, and Howard the Duck. I know, how can Howard the Duck be non-superhero and a comedic superhero at the same time? That is because Howard was partly a parody of Marvel heroes, was set in the Marvel Universe, etc. but Howard himself was very much not a superhero.

22 runs from the 1990s, but it’s not really surprising. When people think of the 90s as a disaster zone in comics, they’re really thinking only of the usual suspects: the crappy stuff that was going on in the major Marvel titles, the early Image titles, Heroes Reborn, the “bad girl” comics, the Death of Superman comics and other gimmicky stuff. But there was a lot of acclaimed comics in those years too: the titles at the borders of the Big-Two universes (Hitman, Starman, Thunderbolts), some non-superhero comics (Sin City), Dark Horse, the later Image titles by non-founders (Astro City), and the late-90s stuff (Busiek’s Avengers).

But note that none of the Image founders has appeared in this list, except for Marc Silvestri in the X-Men. And they’re the guys most representative of the “90s comics” people usually hate now.

I was busy during the voting process, but Animal Man is definitely in my top 3. My top 2 are still not on the list yet, although I expected both to hit the top 20 at least. Animal Man with Morrison was a great run and was one of those historical pre-Vertigo, Vertigo-ish books that got the ball rolling.

Mutt said:
I can’t imagine putting a title on this list if I hadn’t gone through the exquisite torture of waiting 30 days for the next issue to come out. All of my top ten were books I bought on the newsstand.

If I had discovered a title because of the trades I read years after the fact, they probably wouldn’t have registered in my mind as “runs” at all.

That’s why The Spirit is not on my list.

fourthworlder said:
I agree with Mutt, all my picks were runs that I either read as they came out or hunted down as back issues, (often read out of sequence, I came into the Moore Swamp Thing run in his last issue and basically read the forty-six issues in reverse). If I read something as a trade I tend to view it a bit differently.

Interesting. This triggered some introspection. Of the 10 picks on my ballot, I had 1 from the 40s, 1 from the 60s, 5 from the 80s, and 3 from the 90s (although at least 2, and maybe all 3, of those “90s runs” actually continued into the 2000s. Heck, one is still coming out today!)

I wasn’t even born until the 70s, so it’s obvious that I haven’t been in the “breathlessly wait another month to see how the plot threads develop from this cliffhanger” situation regarding my picks from the 40s and 60s. (My 40s pick was, in fact, the same Will Eisner Spirit run which Mutt rejected due to not having experienced those endless waits between installments.)

On the other hand, all 3 of the 90s runs are things that I started reading while they were actually coming out . . . although two of them had each been coming out for roughly a year and a half apiece before I actually bought and read any samples, and then I had to start shopping around to make up for lost time, of course!

Now let’s take a look at the 5 1980s runs that filled up half my ballot. 3 of them are, in fact, things I was eagerly buying at monthly intervals for awhile when I was a schoolboy (although it was only much later, in the 90s, that I managed to fill in a bunch of gaps and turn those into “complete” runs in my collection).

On the other hand, 2 of the 1980s runs are stuff that really only came to my attention many years later, in the 1990s. One around 1994, I think, and one some years later when I had the chance to buy a bunch of back issues at once. So in each case I ended up reading several consecutive issues very quickly now that I had them all in my possession — none of that stuff about sweating it out for long intervals between installments!

I think that makes a score of 60/40 – 6 of my “Top Ten” include many issues I collected as they arrived, “hot off the presses,” at some point in my life . . . and the other 4 are things I only discovered in hindsight, as back issues or reprint collections (or, in The Spirit’s case, both at once, when I bought numerous back issues of a reprint series, with each issue collecting, I think, 4 of those little “newspaper insert” stories from the Golden Age!), years or even decades after the source material had been “the hot new thing.” Whether or not these runs became some of my favorite things to reread after I’d first collected them seems to have been luck-of-the-draw in each case, rather than depending heavily upon my having fond memories of once suffering through those month-long gaps, asking myself, “How on earth is the hero going to wriggle out of this one?”

I think I’m with Neil that older stuff seems to be getting the shaft. But, I know some classics are still to come like Kirby’s FF, Ditko’s Spidey etc. And some of us voted for classic stuff.

My list leaned heavily non-present. I like Fables, but wouldn’t think of considering it for my favourite runs before it’s completed. The only two current-ish series to make my list were Astro City and Usagi Yojimbo. But they’ve both been around a while and Astro City was the newest comic to make my list.

But I had been saddened to see Warlock, my #2 choice, as low as it was. Only about 13 issues, but I’d stack them against any 13 issues of Fables.

That said, I understand that its exposure that determines things largely. I’ve read very little that predates 1960. I think I can count them on one hand, in fact (Superman, Batman, Marvel Comics, Toth’s Zorro, Spirit), so really old stuff got the shaft from me. The ’60s and ’80s were by far the best decades to be in to get my votes. And I’m not old or anything. Started reading comics around 1990.

And on the later discussion, exactly 1 of my top 10 did I get as it was coming out, and it made my list largely for that nostalgic factor. 3 I read in trades.

And 6 I collected in back issues (possibly with the help of masterworks)

Hmm. Love and Rockets is the only one of my ten I bought off the racks for an extended period of time.

There is one thing that bothers me about Transmetropolitan. Probably not what people who dislike it usually complain about.

I like Warren Ellis a lot. I admire his imagination. The guy is able to come up with more cool concepts per minute than most any other writers, and I also like it that he is brave enough to go into out of our comfort zone and show how the world can be an ugly place.

But the one thing that bothers me is that for all his sophistication, it seems like he is surprisingly manicheist, in a way. His hero, Spider Jerusalem, can be foul-mouthed and cynical and “street” and everything, but he is like Captain America and Superman, in that Spider Jerusalem is ALWAYS RIGHT. He just is. His moral compass is perfect. And his enemy, the bad President, is ABSOLUTE EVIL.

It was surprising when I realized that Transmetropolitan was like a Silver Age comic in that it was a good versus evil tale. The one comic in the whole run that shows Spider Jerusalem as not perfect is that one that tells us how he was careless with his former assistant and unwittingly helped ruin her life. But that is one issue in the whole run. The rest is all about how wonderful Spider is.

(And no, I don’t have a problem with an American president being portrayed as evil. I’m not one of those crazies who runs around defending George W. Bush or anything. I like it when authority figures are made fun of.)

It’s just that something about it bothers me, it’s like Warren Ellis loves his heroes too much. There is almost no shade of gray. In the Authority it doesn’t bother me that the baddies are EEEEVIL, because they’re usually dead soon. In Planetary it also doesn’t bother me that The Four are so satanic, because they’re kept shadowy for most of the series, and that is great. But in Transmetropolitan, the struggle of Spider versus the President takes center stage and becomes much of what the book is about, and this “flaw” in Warren Ellis’s writing comes to the fore.

The issues of Transmet that I most liked were the ones where Warren Ellis would show us these interesting facts about the future world he created. When the focus shifted completely to the President stuff, I started to like the book less.

I think that Garth Ennis is another writer that is supposed to be sophisticated, but has heroes that are always right, and bad guys set up to take a fall, but I think Ennis is still able to create sympathetic villains, like Herr Starr in Preacher, for instance.

Interesting, as some people saw Spirder as Ellis’ alter ego…;)

Rene, actually, the main thing that bothers me about Transmet is that Spider Jerusalem comes dangerously close to being able to pass the Gary Stu test. He’s always right, always cool, his enemies are absolute evil… fortunately I think the satirical tone Ellis uses for a lot of the series saves it from unreadability, while also keeping Spider from being able to pass that line. That satirical element of the writing, I imagine, would not read well at all to someone who wasn’t steeped in the American pop culture and political scene at the time.

(And even at his worst, Spider Jerusalem is still a huge improvement over Pete Wisdom, who not just passed the Gary Stu test but went screaming over the “Gary Stu” line in rocket-powered roller skates.)

Interesting points. I kinda chock it up to W.E.’s staunch idealistic streak, and maybe, just maybe, some superhero influenced moral … what’s the opposite of relativism?

(And, for the record, I really like Transmet.)

I read nearly the first 200 issues of Cerebus and I truly believed it peaked with High Society, a terrific political satire. Church and State was when things started to get messy and pretentious. If I were being kind, though, perhaps Sim achieved something akin to real life – that many of our accomplishments come early and then we slip into more mundane aspects of life. Perhaps if this had been a series of novels rather than comics it would have achieved more acclaim, I don’t know.

For me, post High Society, Sim became very concerned with regurgitating issues with scant regard to storyline or even coherence. It could be regarded as the ultimate self indulgent comic. For all that, let me also say that I did also enjoy ‘Melmouth’ – the storyline which focuses on the end of Oscar Wilde’s life (an amazing piece of shoehorning, if ever there was one – but an admirable piece at that.)

Rene, Ennis’ Punisher is a crime book, not superhero.

Thanks for doing the tallies.

Pun Max is not about gratuitous violence or sex, or language. If you can’t see past that…..

Each arc has explored a different aspect of crime or violence and how it can destroy people . Nothing repetitive.

cerebus, max punisher, transmet, fables, animal man

Cerebus is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever read, specifically, Church & State. The early Conan riffs are entertaining too as we see Sim really develop and mature as a storyteller. I don’t remember much after Church & State and traded my issues years later to get the collected editions which I still have to do, but Sim, controversial as some of his views are, is a truly gifted creator and I will be getting the entire Cerebus run in collected editions.

Garth Ennis does some of his best work on the Punisher and I’ve lent some of his collected works to non-comics reading friends who have loved it. Why isn’t this the Punisher based a movie franchise on ?! Entertaining as it’s been, I wouldn’t begin to put it in my Top 25.

I’ve only read a little bit of Transmetropolitan and liked it. The same with Fables. I’ll be getting both of these in collected editions later.

Animal Man leaves me with mixed emotions. It was of wildly varying ranges of sort of entertaining to gripping taut can’t put down the book greatness. I think the Bolland covers definitely helped to contribute to the fond memories and impressions of this run. Good, but overrated IMO.

[…] to the first letter. This means any real organization is impossible since I don’t want ‘aardvark dave sim‘ to abut ‘aardvark uci‘. I’d much rather have all sim’s clips […]

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