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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #12-10

Here are the next three runs!!


12. Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA – 574 points (7 first place votes)

Morrison – JLA #1-17, 22-26, 28-31, 34, 36-41, plus a #1,000,000 and a Secret Files
Porter – 1-7, 10-16, 18-19, 22-25, 28-31, 34, 36-41, plus a #1,000,000 and a Secret Files

Way back when Keith Giffen began work on the relaunched Justice League title in 1987, he wanted to do a “big gun” Justice League – Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern – the whole nine yards.

They told him no.

He could have Batman, and that’s it (and even Batman was taken from him soon after).

That was much the case for the rest of the tenure of the Justice League International – Superman was accessible when Dan Jurgenes was writing the book, but afterwards, nope. Wonder Woman was accessible for a good long while, but that was it. In 1996, Peter David even did an issue of Aquaman where Aquaman specifically said he would not join the League.

However, outside of Giffen, Giffen’s take on the League was not particularly popular, so when DC was debating on how to revamp the title, they finally caved in – Grant Morrison could have the “Big Guns” League, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions DC made in the 1990s.

With the JLA, Morrison basically invented the widescreen action comic (which Authority probably perfected, but with much less famous characters), as each Morrison arc was a BIG…DRAMATIC…ACTION EPIC!!! It was his ode to the Silver Age, where the Justice League would go on bizarre adventures all the time, only with modern comics, Morrison (and artist Howard Porter) were able to do everything BIGGER than they did back in the 60s, and it resonated with fans, making JLA the most popular superhero comic at DC, taking a franchise that was in the pits and making it relevant again.

Perhaps most importantly, Morrison had a story where he used the Blue Superman and did something COOL with him, which is probably the most impressive part of Morrison’s whole run.

This really was not some deep comic book, it was pure entertainment, but it was well-written, well-executed entertainment that created a practical cottage industry of tie-ins for DC.

11. Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s Teen Titans – 643 points (15 first place votes)

Wolfman – New Teen Titans #1-40, Tales of the New Teen Titans #41-50, New Teen Titans #1-5 (co-wrote #6) plus three Annuals
P̩rez РNew Teen Titans #1-5, 6-34, 37-40, Tales of the New Teen Titans #41-50, New Teen Titans #1-5 (co-wrote #6) plus three Annuals

Marv Wolfman left Marvel in the late 70s over a contract dispute, and he came to DC with the mindset of bringing some of the Marvel style of comics to DC, and that’s just what he did when he teamed up with George Pérez to do the New Teen Titans (a book Wolfman had worked on in the past).

First, they introduced three significant new characters, the alien Starfire, the robotic Cyborg and the half-demon Raven. They also changed Changeling enough that he was essentially a new character. Pairing these heroes up with Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash as the holdovers, and they had one of the most consistent superhero lineups in comic history (more or less the entire lineup stood in place for their whole run on New Teen Titans, with Kid Flash leaving four years in).

Pérez’s detailed art was a delight to readers, especially as he was able to draw so many of the issues, giving him an amazing run on the title 6-34? In the 1980s? With THAT detail? That’s nuts!

But probably the biggest part of the book was the soap opera feel that Wolfman gave the title, in the same way that Chris Claremont was doing a soap opera-esque feel on the X-Men, the clear counterpart to the New Teen Titans.

Soon, the title was the highest-selling DC title, and I believe in the early goings was even out-selling the X-Men (I’m almost positive, actually, that it outsold Uncanny X-Men at least until 1981, at which point X-Men took off and left them in the dust, but that’s neither here nor there).

In the second issue, Wolfman and Pérez created one of DC’s best villains, Deathstroke the Terminator.

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Later on, they allowed Robin to graduate to a new identity, they introduced the anti-Kitty Pryde, Terra, they added Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, to the team and a lot of other stuff. It was all really quite good, and very soap opera-y! Especially the “special moment” issues, like the story about runaways, which was so powerful that they were hired to do a special Anti-Drugs giveaway comic that must have been read by, like, a gazillion schoolchildren in the 80s.

Not a bad legacy, huh?

The pair launched a new title, but Pérez left to work on the mini-series (that Wolfman wrote) Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that was it for the run, although Pérez would return four years later for a quick reunion run.

10. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men – 701 points (14 first place votes)

New X-Men #114-154, plus an Annual

Marvel was in bankruptcy when they hired Grant Morrison to become the main X-Men writer, and they basically gave him total freedom to do what he wanted, and what he wanted to do was to make some major changes in the title, from eliminating the traditional costumes (going with a “leather jackets” look), which is similar to what the movies did, to making Beast look like the Beast from the famous Jean Cocteau film from the 1940s, having all the mutants on Genosha murdered, adding Emma Frost to the X-Men, and having it be revealed that home sapiens were on the verge of extinction.

And that was just the first story arc!!!

After there, Morrison kept the pace quick and the new characters a-plenty, from Xorn, Angel, Beak and the Stepford Cuckoos to John Sublime, Fantomex and Kid Omega.

The book was set-up as a sort of homage to Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run, in that Morrison would attempt to address the same stories they did, just in a different manner. They had a Sentinel story? Morrison would do a Sentinel story. They had a Shi’ar story? Morrison would do a Shi’ar story. And so on and so forth.

Sadly, the amazing artwork of Frank Quitely, which was meant to be a regular feature on the comic, only showed up about 15 of the 40 issues (if that), and the “regular” backup artist, Ethan Van Sciver, also only did a couple of issues. This led to fill-in artist Igor Kordey being forced to draw some quiiiiiiick comic books, and the result is some ugly looking artwork at times (not Kordey’s fault, of course, as he had VERY little time to get the books out), which is a shame, as the stories were top-drawer.

Morrison’s final story arc (set in the present) was a big Magneto story where Morrison mocked the very nature of comic cycles of death and resurrection. He also killed off a few characters, and had Emma Frost and Scott Summers end up together.

The final arc, period, was set in the future, drawn by Marc Silvestri.

That’s it for today! More tomorrow!


Bernard the Poet

April 25, 2008 at 1:51 am

Hmmm, yesterday I predict that the Titans and Morrison’s X-Men wouldn’t make the list and today….Well, don’t I feel silly.

I do have to admit that it was kinda funny when I got to your comment. :)

Morrison’s X-Men is the most overrated run ever.

I really liked it I read it in TPB form, but as Brian said Quitely’s art was amazing, but there were some shocking changes in art “tone” from issue to issue. I remember being really psyched at the end of the Quitely drawn issue when Lilandra and the Shiar Imperial Guard come to the X-mansion. Then the next page it was like “What the hell is this!!!!….”

Whoever said Sin Cty won’t make it is probably right. I can’t see it in the top nine.

Looks like that’s it for Mr Morrison. An impresive howing, with pretty much all his ongoing American runs making the list. His Batman doen’t seem to be floating people’s boats, but I believe he’s still going to turn it into something special.

He’s certainly got the most points now,ut he may be overtaken by Stan Lee or Chris Claremont. Idon’t think Ennis can top, as he’s only got Preacher left to come, though that’s certain to make the top five.

Don’t go taking any weekend breaks now, Mr Cronin. The suspense is killing me.

I guess BDaly is right about Sin City… though I enjoyed it a lot more than 3 or 4 of the other remaining runs. Anybody care to speculate on top spot? My guess is Sandman…. but I’d like to see Preacher, Starman, or Swampy topple the Lord of the Night.

Bernard the Poet

April 25, 2008 at 4:03 am

Well Jackdaw, before this countdown started, I expected Lee/Dikto’s Spiderman to be a shoo-in for number 1. But then I thought Steranko and Neal Adams would easily make the top ten. Now, I’m not so confident with my predictions (see above).

Sandman seems as good a guess as any.

Davey Boy Smith

April 25, 2008 at 4:07 am

‘Riot at Xavier’s’ is one of my favourite story arcs of all time. A unique blend of humour (the Special Class on a field trip!), action (Cyclops, Beast and Xorn chasing down Blob Hermann – excellent pacing courtesy of Mr Quietly) and downright horror (Xorn/Magneto murders Quentin in full view of Xavier and Beast, who believe him to have ascended to a higher plain of existence). ‘Murder at the Mansion’ was equally awesome, and introduced us to the coolest version of Bishop ever – Lucas Bishop, mutant detective (while reading those issues I kept hearing Isaac Hayes in the background). And ‘Planet X’, while flawed in places, had many standout moments and moving death-scenes (Emma comforting proud Esme while she lay dying, Magneto’s last stand,…) As Jean bade farwell to Scott, her ‘best friend’, I almost cried.
The last arc was ill-served by Silvestri’s pencils, but had enough great ideas to keep us loyal readers satisfied. And the ending, again featuring Jean, was beautiful.
A great run by any standards.

I’m shocked to see Steranko not making the top 100, which he apparently isn’t at this point.

Kirby FF remains my prediction for #1, but I see the logic behind thinking it will be Sandman. Lot of Vertigo fans around here. And it’s quite likely more people have read Sandman than ’60s Marvel stuff.

Actually I have a complaint, but it’s not what you think.

All the other entries in this poll use the cover from the first issue in the run. I thought it was a good plan because it spares us from aesthetic complaints about using the ‘really great’ cover.

These you’ve picked whatever cover. And I don’t like your choices at all. The DC Archive edition cover for New Teen Titans? That’s not even an actual cover by Perez– that’s paste-up from other artwork he did.

I want the same rule applied here as for the other 87 entries!

(Watch as I learn these are all temporary because comics.org is down or something)

The Blue Superman was incredible cool, during Morrison’s run on JLA and he handled the whole new look thing, so good, that when Supes turned pink again, i quicky began to miss the blue look.

I would have easily voted for Steranko’s Cap run except for the fact that it’s so freaking short.

If he did another twenty issues, then sure.

As it was, it was barely a run at all.

Patrick Joseph

April 25, 2008 at 4:50 am

Good batch. I’ve read and loved all 3 of these. I find it kind of funny that the Grant Morrison books are appearing on this list in more or less the opposite order I would have ranked them. Invisibles was my number 1 choice, and here we are with X-Men getting the most votes for his work.

I’m going to assume at this point that Sugar and Spike and the Helfer/Baker/Sienkievich’s Shadow aren’t going to make it. Swamp Ting and FF probably will.

Top 9 guesses?

Fantastic Four by Lee Kirby
Spider-Man by Lee Ditko
X-Men by Claremont Byrne
Sandman Gaimen et al
Preacher Ellis Dillon
Authority Ennis Hitch
Swamp Thing Moore Bissette Totleben
I’m at a loss.

Man, since there are only nine spots left, I can’t believe that Hama’s G.I.Joe is going to place so high. Can’t wait.

I think I phrased my vote as “the Wolfman/Perez run on the ‘first New Teen Titans’ series” (which I meant to include the issues published in that first series after its title changed to “Tales of the Teen Titans,” but I suspect Brian merged my vote into the total score for #11 on this list. This list includes their work on the first several issues of the second, direct-market series that also began with the title “The New Teen Titans.”

The gap between #11 and #10 on this list is wide enough that it doesn’t really matter how he counted my single vote, come to think of it . . . it still would have finished behind Morrison’s X-Men run.

I did no more than toy with the idea of voting for Morrison’s JLA run, and never considered voting for his X-Men run (I’ve read both runs, and like the JLA run a lot better, but “a lot better” still didn’t translate into “anywhere near Top 10 Favorites material.”)

So with just 9 items left to go, I guess I’ve seen 4 of my picks make the grade, and I only seriously expect 1 more of them to go the distance.

One nitpick — according to comics.org, Steve Rude did the pencils on most (not all) of the pages of “Tales of the Teen Titans #48,” and Carmine Infantino did the pencils on most (not all) of the pages of “Tales of the Teen Titans #49.” George Perez did contribute some pages of penciled art for each, as well as helping co-plot, apparently. I thought I remembered those issues right before the wedding of Donna Troy having some different art styles in them. I don’t know offhand how (or if) you like to reflect it when an artist’s run included some but not all of certain issues he also co-plotted, but I just thought I’d better mention it.

Good summary, Davey Boy.

I’ll just add my personal favorite memory of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (but SPOILER WARNING for those who haven’t read the run) —
John Xorn had become my favorite X-Man. I’d been a die-hard fan of X-Men since around 1990, knew all the characters and all the continuity, and then in less than three years John Xorn had basically become my favorite character in comics. I thought Morrison was giving us the richest, most enduring new mutant the books had seen in ages. Grant Morrison writing X-Men was a dream come true for me. I knew it would be such a perfect fit, I literally used to pray for it. This book was a whole new way to do mutants, and each character Morrison used was a key aspect of that, and I guess Xorn represented the most explicitly side of the evolution Morrison showcasing in this book. And that appealed to me. Xorn was just the coolest guy. I dreamt about writing a John Xorn spin-off series someday.

And then in one issue, without absolutely any warning that I could see, we found out… he was Magneto. All along he was Magneto. It was the biggest surprise I have ever read in a comic – bigger than Thunderbolts 1, bigger than Ozymandias’ “30 minutes ago,” bigger than Bucky coming back.

I wanted to be pissed off, because in a heartbeat my favorite character had been taken away from me. But the sheer exhilaration of being so completely blindsided (and the tremendous quality of the storytelling in the issue in question) far overrode my inner fanboy’s protests. It was pure genius, and Morrison’s X-Men is still my favorite superhero run to date.

And that’s 7 of my top 10 done. Only Sandman and Starman left, plus of course Donna Barr’s extraordinarily popular Desert Peach. Heh. Okay, I gave up on that one being on the top 100 before I even voted for it, but I’d heartily recommend it to anyone who likes to read stories.

at this moment whilst I’m sure to be wrong I’m hoping the top 5 will be
5 james Robinson’s Starman
4 Sandman
3 Lee/Ditko Spider-man
2 Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing
and 1 will be lee/Kirby FF no question.
as far as today’s picks I love them all so no complaints or criticisms from here

Morrison’s JLA is…well, awfully high considering it was just ‘good’ and not ‘great’, in my opinion.

Turns out I was right. Titans is on the list, both of Morrison’s runs are on the list.

Except, I was wrong too. I guessed JLA would be #5, so I lost the contest! Damn it. :(

I didn’t take into account the “Silver Age Internet effect”. JLA is more praised than New X-Men in the Internet because it’s more Silver Age-y, so I thought it would be much higher. Turns out New X-Men is more popular.

Now I can only win the contest if no one else guesses the Top 5, and it turns out I was right about the Top 4.

Gotta go. Comments and tally later.

Now the guessing gets really fun, because the stakes are higher. I’m shocked to see that at least two of these runs won’t make the top 100 (in no particular order).

Lee/Kirby FF
Lee/Ditko ASM
Claremont/Byrne X-Men
Claremont/Lee X-Men
Gaiman Sandman
Miller Daredevil
Ellis/Dillon Preacher
Moore Swamp Thing
Robinson/Harris Starman
Hama G.I.Joe
Steranko’s Nick Fury

And I’m really sad that my all-time favorite comic book series, Sandman Mystery Theatre, won’t make the top 100 either. For shame, comic blogosphere, for shame!

With 9 to go I can safel say only 3 of my picks made it, and one of those three was Kirbys Mr. Miracle lumped in with the Fourth World. (The other two were Peter Davids X-Factor and Alan Grant Batman).

I’m goint to go out on the limb here but I guess Mantlo didn’t make it. I had both his Rom and Alpha Flight runs on my list. Oh, well bring on the top nine.

Davey Boy Smith

April 25, 2008 at 6:00 am

Agreed, Stefan, Xorn was awesome. And then Marvel let (had?) Chuck Austen introduce the ‘real’ Xorn (or was it Xorn’s brother?), and in the process undermined what Morrison had tried to explain with his run – namely, that the X-Men had evolved as a concept, and could thrive without the presence of both Magneto and Xavier, whose rivalry had determined the course of the X-books since their inception.

At the end of his run, Magneto is dead and irrelevant, Professor X has left the school, and Cyclops has by virtue of Jean’s death and his romance with Emma become the center point of the X-franchise (which he has, thankfully, remained under the guidance of Whedon in Astonishing X-Men).

It is understandable that Marvel wouldn’t let a villain as compelling as Magneto die an irreversible death. But Morrison gave us the definite version of Magneto, and I rather doubt that there is much more that can be said or done with the character in the wake of his run.

I, too, wonder how how these three entries got this high. NTT is fun and worth re-reading every few years. The Omega Men arc is the most underrated arc. People tend to forget though that Perez suffered under a lot of inappropriate inkers for a lot of this run. Other than the occasional issue he inked himself, it frequently lacked the “wow” factor we associate with him.

The Morrison runs? They’re okay, I guess, though I never bothered to finish either. So strange that they finished so high, as he clearly never grew to love either set of characters and therefore put in about half the effort he did on Animal Man and Doom Patrol. I assume that no one who actually read all four runs would ever rank JLA or NXM higher. If you know anyone who loves JLA or NXM, please force the trades of the earlier runs into their hands! They’re in for a pleasant shock.

If I were to vote for one thing by Bill Mantlo which I’ve read, it would probably be his collaboration with Michael Golden on the first year of Marvel’s “Micronauts” title, way back when. Near as I can recall, they were obviously trying to imitate the general feel of the “Star Wars” space opera approach — which was the “hot new thing” when the series started in the late 70s — and they did a surprisingly good job! (Granted, I haven’t actually reread that material in years, so if I dug out the back issues now, my opinion might change. Come to think of it, I believe I will dig it out over this coming weekend!)

Good to hear some Mantlo love from mrjayberry and Lorendiac. It now looks the only vote of mine that won’t make it was my #10: Mantlo and Buscema’s Hulk. It sounds like one thing that hurt Mantlo is that his votes were split over several good runs. Maybe Brian should rename the whole thing “Top 100 Comic Book Runs Other Than Those Written By Bill Mantlo”.

Those Hulks deserves a series of Marvel Visionaries trades.

DB – It’s funny, because I always dug Claremont’s rather long redemption arc with Magneto, and I didn’t like the way Marvel recast him as a Big Bad at the end of his run. Morrison’s story was good enough, though, that I finaly let Magneto go (just like I let Xorn go).

But the wonderful l thing about the cyclical nature of comics is that even after Marvel did its best to gut the X-books of everything Morrison did to elevate them, the phoenix will rise from the ashes. And now in X-Men: Legacy, Mike Carey’s giving us “the real Magneto” in a way that really works for me. He’s able to showcase the marvelous interplay between those two characters without saddling the X-Men ethos in their old rivalry, which has more or less become irrelevant.

I’ve been saying “hope, thy name is Mike Carey” ever since he came aboard two years ago, and now with Fraction and Ellis joining up, I think the whole line (well, at least the core actual “X-Men titles) could turn around. I still lament that the expansion of the concept as Morrison saw it is lost to time, because it was breathtakingly beautiful, but it seems like something else really cool is rising in its place.

My picks and where they’ve rated so far

1 Clairmont/Byrne – X-Men (*)
2 Frank Miller – Daredevil (*)
3 Walt Simonson – Thor (#15)
4 Thomas/Adams – X-Men
5 Kurt Buisek – Avengers (#41)
6 O’Neil/Adams – Green Lantern/Green Arrow (#59)
7 Jim Starlin – Silver Surfer/Thanos Quest
8 Clairmont/Smith – X-Men (#71)
9 J. M.S. – Thor
10 Simon/Shuster – Superman (importance over quality)
*Agreed to be in the top 9

Overall, I’ll end up with 6/10 making it. I gave a vote on #10 KNOWING that it would never make it, so maybe I could say I’m 6/9. Honestly, I didn’t expect my #8 to make it at all.

I’m still hoping for the Thomas/Adams X-Men to make it, but I’m not holding my breath. That run really deserves more attention than it gets.

With some of the other stuff that’s shown up, I’m a little surprised that my #s 7 & 9 didn’t make it. Then again, Thor got cancelled, so I guess I’m in the vast minoroty on tha tone. It did really go to pot at the end. The Infinity Gem saga, however, was awsome. Much better than Starlin’s original Warlock.

Can’t wait to see where Herb Trimpe’s Fantastic Four Unlimited places!

Huh. So both JLA and New X-Men made the list. I’m more surprised than I should be, probably.

I voted for JLA. The first comics I read were Marvel and that’s what I kept reading for many years. Until JLA came along the only DC stuff I really read was some Batman and Superman. But JLA really served as a gateway into the world of DC (the characters, of course, had always been more than familiar thanks to all the other media they appeared in). So Morrison’s JLA was responsible not only for getting me more fully immersed in the DC universe of the present, but the past as well, as JLA led me to go back and read a lot of the old Justice League/DCU stuff as well.

I know a lot of people don’t like him now, but I loved Morrison’s “I can take down anyone” Batman; the scene in the first JLA story, when he takes on the Martians because he knows their secrets, is one of my favorite comic book moments.

Haven’t read much of New Teen Titans beyond a few trades of the big arcs. I enjoyed what I read, but didn’t feel compelled to read much more than that.

Morrison’s X-Men is, of course, pretty awesome, packed full of great ideas: Xorn, the Special Class, Cassandra Nova, Xavier “outing” himself as a mutant, Beak. I loved that the school was a school, with random kids all over. The Xorn/Magneto reveal was a truly surprising revelation (I too found myself really enjoying Xorn as a character. The funny thing is, Chuck Austen ruined that character, not the Magneto reveal). The only real drawback of the run is the inconsistent art (and yes, I know, Kordey was rushed and really isn’t that bad. Still, it would have been nice if Quietly had been paired with another artist on a consistent rotation).

Titans at #11?! What is wrong with you people? It was #2 on my list and should have easily been top 10, if just for The Judas Contract alone.

Anyway that makes 7 of my 10 on the list so far. The only ones left are Preacher, Moore’s Swamp Thing and Sandman. If all of those don’t make the top 10 then somethings seriously wrong.

My list was done ina hurry to stop me from constantly changing it and consists of

1 James Robinsons – Starman
2 Doug Moench – Master of Kung Fu
3 Giffen/Bierbaums – Legion of Superheroes √
4 Steve Engleharts Avengers
5 Frank Miller- Daredevil
6 Grant Morrison – Doom patrol
7 Steve Gerber – Man-Thing
8 Alan Moore- Swamp Thing
9 Geoff Johns – The Flash
10 Roy Thomas – Conan

I can’t really imagine Engleharts Avengers, Thomas’s Conan or Gerbers Man-Thing displacing Lee/Kirby or Lee/Ditko at the top so I’m looking to Starman, Miller’s Daredevil and Swampy to make the grade to give me a reasonably respectable 6 out of 10. And Now I look at my list again How on earth have I missed off Sandman??

I don’t remember what order I placed my runs in (Or even what my 10th run was), but of the ones I remember voting for, I’m 7 for 9 at the moment with one more (starman) I’m sure to appear. The only one from my list that never appeared is the Greg Rucka-run on Detective Comics (Although I think most people gave their votes to Gotham Central instead, as it kept much of the same feel and was less plagued with crossovers)

Well, it’s looking like the Marv Wolfman/Gene Colan Tomb of Dracula is gonna be shut out. Same for the Kubert/Kubert Tarzan of the Apes. And Haney/Aparo Brave&Bold.

That’s just sad.

My final 9:
9 – Robinson Starman
8 – Perez Wonder Woman
7 – Giffen / DeMattis JLI
6 – Swamp Thing Moore
5 – Gaiman Sandman
4 – Lee / Kirby FF
3 – Lee / Ditko Spidey
2 – Miller DD
1 – Claremont / Byrne X Men

For one, I’m not surprised that JLA and New X-Men are ranked higher that Animal Man and Doom Patrol. Obscure characters versus top superteams in each universe. No contest, even though I enjoyed Animal Man more than JLA and New X-Men (didn’t read Doom Patrol).

Even so, I think JLA and New X-Men are magnificent accomplishments that would have been even more praised bu the Internet if people didn’t already expect greatness and perfection from Morrison.

It’s also interesting how different they are from each other.

New X-Men is less of a superhero book, and more a science fiction / speculative fiction book. Morrison’s crazy thoughts on mutation, society, weird aliens, weirder mutants, psychic affairs, psychic twin sisters… it’s daring, surprisingly daring for a mainstream Marvel book. It gets a bit of flak for two things: the non-Quitely artwork (and I wonder how Ethan van Sciver could be so crappy in X-Men, and so great in Green Lantern), and the way Morrison makes household characters like Cyclops and Magneto more than a bit unsympathetic. The exception is Wolverine, that Morrison casts as smart-mouth comic relief.

JLA, obviously, is the superhero team book with all stops removed, bigger than any superteam book that came before. While Morrison likes to make Marvel characters darker and creepier than they usually are (see also his Fantastic Four mini), he is the opposite with the DC characters, making then even more heroic than they usually are. The Internet complaints here are the hyper-active pacing, the “God” Batman (that I rather liked), and the characterization-on-the-run. Still, the series is packed full of nice moments, like Superman standing there, sad and noble, as the US military opens fire at him.

Both runs definitely deserve to be here.

So does Teen Titans. It’s the comic that, together with Uncanny X-Men, defined the shape superheroes would have in the last three decades. For good or for ill. People can call me heretic, but Chris Claremont and Marv Wolfman had a bigger and more lasting influence on superhero comics than Alan Moore, even though Moore is infinitely more talented than them. People often forget that. The Teen Titans characters themselves didn’t become quite the media juggernauts that the X-Men have, but OTOH, many of these classic Teen Titans stories are still remembered and cherised.

Morrison appears to be benefitting from the relative freshness of his runs (i.e., all within last decade or so), but I have to admit his JLA and New X-Men were insanely READABLE. One thing I don’t think he gets much props for — as people tend to wow over the audacity of his plotting — is how expansive his emotional palette is. Not just the usual comic book emotions (happy, sad, worried), but the whole gamut and finely shaded. How paranoid his Batman is. Petty, proud and needy (Emma). Confused and wallowing in despair (Cyclops in the Hellfire Club; what an awesome ish with Wolverine). Jealous but increasingly ambivalent (Jean). Essentially insane (Plas). Self-doubting and quietly despairing (Beast). Admittedly, his JLAers were more action figures than his mutants, but that New X-Men run was really was all about those characters trying to find happiness (when they weren’t battling nigh-omnipotent villains). That’s still pretty rare.

On a tangent. Anybody else gone out and spent money as a direct result of this thread?

(Was so impressed with Punisher Max write up that I went out and bought the 4 hardback vols next day.)

Yeah, I’m looking pretty seriously at “Planetary.”

Matt Bird — I don’t think “Mantlo love” is the right way to describe my attitude. I really enjoyed his first year on Micronauts, but I thought the title went downhill from there after Golden left. I find what i’ve read of his “Rom” run to be boring at times, and I thought the way he butchered (or ignored) some of Byrne’s ideas when he took over from Byrne on Alpha Flight was just awful. I’ve read very little of his Hulk run (I never was much of a Hulk collector), so I can’t judge that one.

Well, it makes me want to go out and buy Doom Patrol, although that desire didn’t start with this list. And 2 of t3 this week. Read very little Titans, only read first book of New X-men

New Totals. Morrison. Marvel. Modern.

We have 93 runs so far (and 20971 pts)

– 34 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (7736 pts)
– 10 runs are X-Titles (2123 pts)
– 2 runs are Ultimate titles (679 pts)
– 36 runs if you get Marvel plus Ultimate Universe (8415 pts)

– 22 runs are set in the DC Universe (5534 pts)
– 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
– 8 are Vertigo comics (2249 pts)
– 26 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (5754 pts)

– 5 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (994 pts)
– 5 runs have female protagonists (960 pts)

– 77 are superheroes or close enough (17220 pts)
– 16 are non-superhero (3751 pts)

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

– 1980s (29 runs – 6803 pts)
– 2000s (25 runs – 6297 pts)
– 1990s (24 runs – 5403 pts)
– 1970s (9 runs – 1570 pts)
– 1960s (4 runs – 599 pts)
– 1940s (2 runs – 299 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Grant Morrison (6 runs – 2754 pts)
– Warren Ellis (5 runs – 1285 pts)
– Brian Michael Bendis (4 runs – 1079 pts)
– Alan Moore (5 runs – 909 pts)
– Brian K. Vaughan (2 runs – 854 pts)
– Ed Brubaker (3 runs – 739 pts)
– Garth Ennis (3 runs – 722 pts)
– John Cassaday (2 runs – 722 pts)
– Marv Wolfman (643 pts)
– George Perez (643 pts)
– Chris Claremont (5 runs – 638 pts)
– John Byrne (2 runs – 627 pts)
– Peter David (2 runs – 624 pts)
– Howard Porter (574 pts)
– Pia Guerra (547 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)
– Walt Simonson (514 pts)
– Stan Lee (3 runs – 490 pts)
– Alex Maleev (480 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)
– 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)
– John McCrea (232 pts)
– Joss Whedon (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)
– 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)
– 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)

– 77 are superheroes or close enough (17220 pts)
– 43 are traditional superheroes (10551 pts)
– 34 are non-traditional superheroes (6659 pts)
– 12 are nonpowered superheroes (2182 pts)
– 7 are comedic superheroes (1007 pts)
– 32 are team books (8111 pts)
– 16 are non-superhero (3751 pts)

all three of these were in my top 10. that makes 5 total so far (Runaways and the Giffen Legion being the other two).

Morrison’s New X-Men was one of my top votes, so yay for me. My favortie arc was ‘Riot at Xavier’s’, my least favorite was ‘Here Comes Tomorrow’ (weak story combined with Marc Silvestri’s boring art).

Never read Morrison’s JLA, other than JLA: Earth 2 which was mind blowing. But it’s not included in the vote above, so whatever.

Unfortuantely I never read Wolfman/Perez’s original collaboration and only found several issues of New Teen Titans (1984) years ago in a local book store. I think that other than issue #1 Perez only did a few covers.
By the way, couple of years ago I heard that DC is planning to publish a lost, never finished TT story by Wolfman and Perez in GN format. Never heard of it again and I’m not sure if it was an April Fool’s Day prank or real.

I’m also considering checking out Planetary now, and I had not been before. And I’ll echo the couple of people showing love for Hama’s GI Joe. I love that series, and it was 3rd or 4th on my list.

I liked Rom the Spaceknight. 1950s paranoia alien invasion movies plus Silver Surfer with a bit of Green Lantern Corps. The problem is that Bill Mantlo’s unrepentant sentimentality doesn’t play so well with modern, more cynical readerships. It’s interesting that he had some pretty creepy horror concepts in there too, like the Hybrid, and those dogs mutated by black magic and science.

I liked Mantlo’s Hulk more. The daring thing Mantlo did with the Hulk was to make his run a long, continuing storyline. That was pretty unusual for the Hulk, that traditionally had been just about the wandering monster smashing whatever got in his way that month. Bill Mantlo instead told a long story about Banner conquering the beast within, gaining acceptance, then tragically slipping back into savagery, and finally becoming more bestial than ever before.

It certainly deserves more recognition.

“Has anyone spent money…”

Not yet, but I am going to, once the list is finished.

No surprises here, though I thought Titans would place higher. I think Claremont/Byrne X-Men’s going to take the top spot handily.

i *almost* went out and bought The Authority the other day… i’d read it in the past and (like a good deal of Ellis’s work) didn’t get it, but the writeup here encouraged me to take another look.

(there was something else i wanted to buy because of this countdown… can’t remember what it was right now, though)

I think this needs to be said clearly for those who haven’t read the run: Grant Morrison tried to change the core concept of the x-men. Old concept: x-men fight for a world that hates and fears them. New concept: the x-men represent the evolution of humanity and will lead us boldly into the future.

In a recent interview, Grant Morrison mentioned that he doesn’t like killing characters – he likes leaving them with fates worse than death. Grant didn’t just kill Magneto, he killed Magneto’s argument, making him absolutely ridiculous in the process.

At the end of New X-men, Marvel was left in a position to either embrace the new concept or reject it. They could have gone back to the old concept or come up with something new. They went for something in the middle (which was probably what they thought their audience would best relate to). New/old concept: The X-men are a big superhero soap opera family without much purpose at all except for perpetuating that status quo. See: Astonishing X-men, House of M, Messiah Complex.

I miss New X-men, but I don’t know any current writer at Marvel who could have done the new concept justice. Oh, wait, Peter Milligan (who wrote some pretty bad post-New X-men stories, under the new/old concept) and Warren Ellis (we’ll see what he does with the x-men soon enough).

“However, outside of Giffen, Giffen’s take on the League was not particularly popular, so when DC was debating on how to revamp the title,….”

Not particularly popular? It re-energized the whole Justice League franchise, added a second monthly title, plus an oversized quarterly, plus a slew of annuals and specials.

Are you Dan DiDio in disguise?


Bizarro Beta Ray Steve

April 25, 2008 at 8:59 am

Reading about the origin of Morrson’s JLA run, it’s astonishing how stupid the DC powers that be can be. Every time they to mess with the JLA formula (the big guns, exteme threats) they come up with crap, or at least something that’s not the JLA anymore.

I’ll be using this list for input on what trades to buy. So yes, I’ll be spending money as a direct result of this list.

I LOVED Mantlo’s Micronauts. It almost made my list. I re-read the whole series a few years ago. Did you realize the entire first run only took a week in comic time? I’m sure that wasn’t on purpose, but DANG!

When I glanced at a few issues, back around 1989/1990, I thought the Giffen DeMatteis collaboration on the Justice League was:

1. Often very funny, touching, whatever . . .

but also:

2. Totally unsuited to a series with Justice League in the title. If they had been writing exactly the same scripts, using a membership that ran heavily toward such previously-obscure and/or just-recenty-created characters as Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Oberon, Dmitiri (Rocket Red #whatever-the-heck-his-number-was), Animal Man, Max Lord, etc., along with bigger names such as Batman, Martian Manhunter, and even Guy Gardner to liven things up . . . and if they had called it something complely different, such as “Global Guardians” or “Unifiers” (in honor of their being chartered by the UN), then I might actually have become a regular buyer at the time. But to me it just didn’t feel right to see all this sitcom-style stuff going on in something that ought to have a bit more dignity if it called itself the Justice League.

(I have since collected and read full runs of the Giffen/DeMatteis stuff on JLI and later JLE, and while I generally enjoyed reading them, I still feel “It may be well-written in its own way, but it ain’t really the Justice League.)

“Not particularly popular? It re-energized the whole Justice League franchise, added a second monthly title, plus an oversized quarterly, plus a slew of annuals and specials. Are you Dan DiDio in disguise?”

I think Brian is right, Ed.

It was wildly popular for a while, then that particular type of comic book disappeared without a trace after Giffen left the books, and the JL franchise languished again until Morrison. The Giffen/deMatteis League, as unique and original as it was, didn’t seem to have left a lasting mark on comics.

Mark me among the people surprised at how low New Teen Titans was; I expected it to be one of the top two DC runs (along with Sandman) and to break 1000 votes.

Morrison’s JLA is like taking a 24 hour course in Quantum Mechanics. There are a lot of brilliant ideas, but a lot of it really rushes by quickly. Look at Rock of Ages: one issue you’re inside the maze that is Joker’s mind, the next issue is with Wonder World and giant New Gods and the next issue is a post-apocalyptic world with Darkseid. This is one of the few runs that could have benefited from a bit of decompression.

Morrison’s New X-Men was one of my top 10. Interesting to note the comment about Morrison being given carte blanche because Marvel was practically bankrupt. Does that mean there would have been more constraints if Marvel wasn’t looking down the crapper? Hmmm. There’s a lesson there, methinks.

Oh, one more thing. Giffen’s JLA – I’m not a big DC fan but a friend leant me this run and I thought it was hilarious. Really, really good. Guy Gardner forever!

“Never read Morrison’s JLA, other than JLA: Earth 2 which was mind blowing. But it’s not included in the vote above, so whatever.”

It probably should be, come to think of it – it was an Elseworlds story at first, but Busiek retconned it into a normal story when he took over JLA for his year.

I figured all three of these would be top-10s, actually, especially JLA. Kind of shocking to see it so low.

“Reading about the origin of Morrson’s JLA run, it’s astonishing how stupid the DC powers that be can be. Every time they to mess with the JLA formula (the big guns, exteme threats) they come up with crap, or at least something that’s not the JLA anymore.”

yeah, in retrospect it just sounds crazy, but at the same time you have to remember that it wasn’t just “editorial” per se… in some cases, the creators themselves didn’t want their characters in the League because they felt it messed with the new post-Crisis stata quo they were trying to establish for the characters.

John Byrne was redefining Superman as more of a loner and didn’t want him to be in the team… George Perez’s Wonder Woman reboot had her only recently arriving in Man’s World and still trying to learn its weird ways… Hal Jordan was dedicated to the Green Lantern Corps… Wally West was still pretty new as the Flash… Mike Grell was turning Green Arrow from a superhero to an urban vigilante… Hawkman and Hawkwoman, like Wonder Woman, were rebooted in the present…

I felt that Morrison’s JLA was the best JLA that DC had produced in decades. I’m in the camp that liked Giffen’s JL, but didn’t really compare it to the 70s Justice League America that I had enjoyed.

I especially loved how, about halfway through any given story arc, you could tell which character was the spotlight. Was this the story that Batman saved the day, or the one where Superman shone brighter than ever, or the one where Flash demonstrated why a former kid sidekick could hang with the big boys, or etc. He didn’t seem to have a favourite character.

Although, looking at the comments, am I the only one who was disappointed by his use of the Blue Superman? I felt while reading it, and since then re-reading it, that he wasn’t told that Superman was turning Electirc Blue, and that the stories really should have been set either just before or just after that arc in the Superman titles.

I didn’t read Morrison’s X-Men. I’d long become disillusioned with the franchise, and it took Whedon’s name to get me to even try an X title for a long time. Maybe I should go back and look for collections?

I am surprised that NTT is so low. I expected it to be neck and neck with Claremont/Byrne X-Men, hovering at around 7-5, either just in or just out of the Top 5.

My predictions for the next nine:

9. Hama’s GI Joe
8. Ellis’s Preacher
7. Moore’s Swamp Thing
6. David’s Aquaman
5. Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men
4. Miller’s Daredevil
3. Gaiman’s Sandman
2. Lee/Dikto’s Spider-Man
1. Lee/Kirby’s Fantastic Four


Funny that some people think these runs are too low, others think they’re too high, a few thought they wouldn’t even be here.

Let me see, in the earlier thread I guessed that New X-Men would be #12 (it was #10), I guessed that Titans would be #7 (it was #11), and I guessed that JLA would be #5 (it was #12).

I overestimated a bit the appeal of the DC superheroes, and underestimated the huge popularity of the X-Men. Hanging around in the Internet always makes you think that EVERYONE hates the X-Men. An illusion, of course.

Davey Boy Smith

April 25, 2008 at 10:22 am

Thanks, Stefan. I wasn’t sure about whether to check out Legacy or not, but now intend to do so following your recommendation. I guess I would have given Carey’s X-Men a read sooner due to the good reviews it was receiving early in the run, but lost interest when Messiah Complex was announced. I prefer runs where writers need not compromise their plans to such a degree as to accomodate crossovers.

And Thok, I agree with you on Morrison’s JLA; it would probably have benefitted from a less frenetic pace. But ‘Rock of Ages’ is my favourite story from his run by a wide margin.The issues set in the future were perfect. “Everything you know, everything you own: I’m taking it all.” Never has the Bat been cooler.

I should say that I don’t mean that Giffin’s JL “didn’t compare” to the 70s Justice League America that I read as a kid, in terms of quality. Quality-wise, Giffin’s was much better. What I meant to say was that the team dynamic, the sorts of situations they found themselves in, etc. wasn’t really what I considered “Justice League Material.”

I really consider that Giffin’s League was using the name ironically. The characters wanted to be the heavy hitters of the DCU, and named themselves thusly, but they really weren’t.


“Although, looking at the comments, am I the only one who was disappointed by his use of the Blue Superman? I felt while reading it, and since then re-reading it, that he wasn’t told that Superman was turning Electirc Blue, and that the stories really should have been set either just before or just after that arc in the Superman titles.”

I think it reads that way because the change happens so early in the run – #5, if memory serves – so he didn’t even have a chance to establish his version of Superman, let alone in relation to the rest of the League. But the Angels arc relies a bit too much on the presence of the Electric version to make me think that Morrison didn’t know what was coming.

“I overestimated a bit the appeal of the DC superheroes, and underestimated the huge popularity of the X-Men.”

I don’t think it’s necessarily an X-Men thing so much as people like me, who wouldn’t touch an X-Men comic UNLESS someone like Morrison was on the book and writing it in a completely opposite manner to how they’d been handled for years up until that point. My underestimation was that people would have a bit of a Bradley effect and talk up the Vertigo classics but then vote them lower than the big DC super hero titles. That apparently hasn’t happened (Sandman was the one I figured would take the biggest fall).

Of course, if Hama’s GI Joe DOES make the Top 9, I’ll be doing backflips and forgetting about Preacher apparently being more loved than Transmet.

Thenodin – I’m biased, of course, because JLI was my number one pick, but the league *were* the heavy hitters of the DCU. They faced big challenges, and they came out on top. It wasn’t laughs all the time, although people seem to think it was. I’m still holding out hope it’ll be in the top nine.

Too much of JLI’s humour was derived from the heroes’ incompetence (or at least the appearance of incompetence), that I don’t think people are mistaken when they say those heroes weren’t really respected or heavy hitters. Of course, the DCU had no other team at the time that could be called heavy hitters either.

The battles with Despero and the Extremists were the ones I remember that weren’t for laughs. The others were mostly stuff like Queen Bee or Manga Khan or Mr. Nebula or that Injustice Gang that wasn’t really heavy-hitter material.

I think Mantlo hasn’t appeared on the list because his work is (mostly) unavailable except as back issues. I don’t know if Mantlo’s Hulk, ROM, etc. were big sellers, and they don’t have the reputation of other ’80s series. I’ve read a few Mantlo Hulks, but very little else by the man because they only exist as back issues. When I was a big back issue buyer (around 1992-99, pre-my having access to the Internet, pre-bills), I got JLI, New Teen Titans (beat up copies real cheap), Suicide Squad, Howard the Duck, some Sandman Mystery Theatre, Animal Man, Spectre, Hawkworld, Green Arrow, early PAD Hulks… almost always comics that I had heard were good or were by writers or artists I was familiar with. Mantlo’s work didn’t have its proponents in my neck of the woods.

In New X-Men, the X-Men concept moved forward. The angst let up, Emma Frost was great, and Cyclops became interesting (a feat never beforte achieved, to me). I may be in the minority, but I thought Phil Jimenez did an admirable job filling in- his art wasn’t Quitely’s, but it was consistently good. How about those two John Paul Leon/ Sienkiewicz fill-ins? I wish they had done more work on the series.

Top 9:

Miller DD
Moore Swamp Thing
Ditko Spidey
Kirby FF
Claremont/ Byrne X-Men (the most common denominator among comic book readers, excluding manga-only or indy-only fans)

I had Watchmen at number 5 until I read that it could not qualify, so I’m 99.9% sure I lost the contest.

Rene – Yeah, but what about Darkseid? What about the time they raided Apokolips, rescued Mister Miracle and left victorious?!

Honestly, though, that’s fair enough. I think that series is tremendously entertaining, and the character work is so good. That’s my favorite Justice League book by so far that I don’t question it being called that. But for those who want the League to be Big and Epic and Important, I could see how it wouldn’t measure up.

But Morrison gave us the definite version of Magneto

I strongly disagree there; he completely missed the point of the character, and, had he had his way, he’d have utterly ruined Marvel Comics’ greatest antagonist and offered jack that was anywhere near as compelling. Now, Marvel’s retconning of his story was incredibly inept, but it most certainly had to be done.

Morrison’s NXM run is a mixed bag for me; there’s a lot of good stuff in there, such as the increased importance of the school, and the introduction of Emma to the X-Men, but other stuff I didn’t like, such as his treatment of Professor X and Jean Grey, the “human extinction gene”, and whole Xorn/Magneto thing. It’s cheap to destroy a lot of the franchise’s standard, successful features and then leave, saying “Do something new” on your way out the door.

The first 13 or so issues of JLI balanced the wisecracks with the action. After that, you had Manga Khan, Injustice Gang, goofier Guy Gardner, Kooey Kooey Kooey, etc. The excellent Despero arc (illustrated by Adam Hughes?) was the only “unfunny” exception, and Breakdowns was a mess. Overall, I enjoyed the Giffen/ DeMatteis material, but I think the first half of the run holds up better.

New Teen Titans is WONDERFUL. I actually thought it would be a little higher, but hey, that’s DC’s stupid, stupid reprint policy. There should be 2-3 Showcases with all of it in there.

In 95 I had been reading Marvel comics for about 5 years. I was oh, we’ll see about 14 years old and I was looking to raid the back issue boxes at New England Comics in Brockton. I had heard such good things about New Teen Titans over the years and thought it would be a good way to get into the DCU (of which I only had 5-10 comics).

It was. I bought maybe half the run in one go. I was hooked by the “letters to home” issue. I was really engrossed by the Search for the Doom Patrol’s Killers arc.

And by the time I hit Who is Donna Troy, I felt such a connection to the characters already that I was moved.

And I knew broadly what was going to happen at the end of the Judas Contract. I knew Terra died. What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t the same black and white story that I had read so many times. She didn’t die, redeemed, saving the team. She died with hatred on her face and it was shocking, even ten years after the issue came out.

One of my favorite single issues ever is the one that follows with Gar Logan having coffee with Deathstroke.

It’s a shame how two dimensional Johns ended up making his character later. (And I usually like Johns).

It is ABSOLUTELY a Marvel style book at DC, probably the first, and that’s why it works so well. It’s the perfect gateway drug into the DCU.

I’m fairly sure it was #10 on my top ten list.
And then once I really got into buying DC monthlies, Morrison’s JLA started and it was huge and felt important and used Kyle, one of my favorite characters at the time, so well (He’s the best green lantern ever because he knows fear. Daniel said so and it makes so much sense), and it played with the entire DCU and looked at everything in a different way.

And none of the payoffs really work well except for at the end of Rock of Ages. I don’t think it should be this high but it was certainly a lot of fun at the time. It was even more fun when I reread it a few years ago and knew all the references this time around. I had no idea who Triumph was the first time. The second time I was just confused about why he was acting like he was.
On the other hand, I wish I had come into New X-Men blind. I have a real hard time moving past my bias and enjoying it. I grew up with X-Men and Morrison’s X-Men don’t act quite like I want/expect them to and it gets in the way of all the big ideas for me.

Anthony, I honestly don’t remember. Did the JLI actually fight Darkseid, or just made some sort of deal with him to get Scott Free back? I don’t remember that story very well.

I have mixed feelings for the JLI. You gotta respect a comic book that managed to be so unique while being also so successful, but the humour was hit-and-miss with me. I usually like humour in superhero books (David’s X-Factor, Wessner-Loebs’s Flash, Slott’s She-Hulk, Ennis’s Hitman are all faves of mine), but I’m not big on the sit-com style of humour.

I can see what Morrison tried to do with Magneto. When you get down to it, Magneto is a violent master race supremacist ideologue. Chris Claremont managed to make him sympathetic through his tragic past, but Grant Morrison’s point was that violent master race supremacists don’t deserve to be made sympathetic, they deserve to be ridiculed.

Makes sense, right? It’s true that it reduces a complex character to an unusable caricature too, but you can’t fault Morrison’s morals.

They made a deal with him.

Yep, they saved the day without violence. What a novel concept.

That is cool. But the team not being “respected” I think is something that the creators intended. I remember Booster Gold quitting the team because he thought no one took him seriously?

Not my cup of tea, but I’m sure the JLI will be in the Top 10, somewhere between 6 and 9, probably. Giffen and deMatteis have some of the most loyal fans I’ve ever seen.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily an X-Men thing so much as people like me, who wouldn’t touch an X-Men comic UNLESS someone like Morrison was on the book and writing it in a completely opposite manner to how they’d been handled for years up until that point.”

Was it the X-Men, or was it Morrison?

Personally, I think it was kismet. Morrison made his reputation by writing about freaks, going as far outside of the boundaries of traditional superheroics as he could while still lifting his characters and stories into the transcendent, the super-normal. The X-Men were mainstream comics’ ultimate freaks, outcasts, misunderstood heroes with special talents. Morrison was born to write X-Men, just as much as he was the Inisbles, and the X-Men were made to one day be led foward by Grant’s vision. You couldn’t ask for a more ideal pairing of an established superhero property and a top creator. He didn’t completely change the X-Men; he brought in a lot of transformation, but the ideas were already there, just waiting for someone to snatch them up and run with them. I remember getting into the X-Men as a teenager, and like every other X-fan I related to them because they were outsiders I remember thinking they could be so much more. They didn’t always have to be suffering under the feet of humans with petty minds; all it would take is a little charisma and a little unity and they’d be a movement to be reckonced with.” And under Morrison’s pen, they were. He wrote the X-Men as brilliant, educated, innovative, charismatic heroes who wouldn’t allow themselves to be victimized but instead held a vision that could move the whole planet forward. *Sigh*, getting emotional here… they really were glorious days.

When his run started I was a huge Morrison fan already; Invisibles was like a comics Bible to me. And the X-Men were my childhood favorites. When the run was done I was a bigger fan of Morrison than ever, and a bigger fan of the X-Men than ever.

It’s true that his ideas were too big for a lot of creators to follow up on. Even Grek Pak, who’s one of the more talented writers in the field today, and who tried to take Morrison’s ball and run with it in his Phoenix stories, didn’t get very far. and I guess Marvel just gave up and said “Okay, nobody but Grant knows how to write the X-Men as a thriving force in the world; we know how to write them as hunted outcasts, so let’s go back to that.” So it goes, my friends. So it goes.

I edited a tv series that did a segment on Morrison as a “re-inventor” of comics and it was quite amusing to hear him explain his approach.

Basically Grant goes back to what he thinks the creator of the character was thinking, what his/her goal was with the character and then he tries to update them. Then Grant said something along the lines of “With the JLA I can’t really take any credit, its not like it took a lot of work to say instead of have a league made up of characters no one has ever heard of, why not just take all the big names of the DC universe. ”

DC reluctantly let him do it, and the sales were huge….
Funny how DC needed some one with a track record of coming up with creative ways of updating characters to convince them of something the seems so obvious. :)

“On a tangent. Anybody else gone out and spent money as a direct result of this thread?”

Looking over the list, I have about half the runs already, including most of the DC, Vertigo, and independent stuff, and the Silver Age Marvels that made it. A few days ago some posters in a previous thread convinced me to try to get over my modern Marvel bias and try Peter David’s Hulk, so I ordered the Visionary volumes. And Nextwave. On another tangent, I tried the first two issues of the new Hulk series and would like my 15 minutes refunded. (I’m trying…really.)

As has been pointed out by our statistician, Morrison and superheroes rule the poll, so Morrison’s superheroes will place above his truly transcendent runs on Invisibles and Doom Patrol.

I’m hoping for Swamp Thing at #1 (or maybe Sandman, but I’m not sure I think of it as highly now as when it was coming out), but it has to be superheroes, right? In that case, I’ll take Kirby. Then Starman. Then Ditko.

One minor correction to the article New Teen Titans vol. 1 was retitled Tales of the Teen Titans, without the word “New”. Tales of the New Teen Titans was a mini-series published early in the Wolfman/Perez era that gave the origins of the 3 new characters and explained Gar’s change from Beast Boy to Changling. It was framed around a camping trip.

I second Mike Loughlin’s top 9 list, I don’t see how any other 9 are possible:

Miller DD
Moore Swamp Thing
Ditko Spidey
Kirby FF
Claremont/ Byrne X-Men

I don’t know which would be more surprising: Preacher in the top 10, or no Preacher in the top 100.

I also find the absence of a single DC War comic in the top 100 to be disturbing. Sgt. Rock? Enemy Ace? Haunted Tank? The War Time Forgot? Combat Cheeks: Frontline Medic?

09. – Miller – Sin City
08. – Ennis – Preacher
07. – Authority – Ennis/Hitch
06. – Claremont/Byrne – X-men
05. – Robinson – Star man
04. – Lee/Ditko – Amazing Spider-man
03. – Miller – Daredevil
02. – Lee/Kirby – Fantastic Four
01. – Gaimen – Sandman

The Mutt-I know I completely overlooked DCs war titles when compiling my list, some of my favorites.
My favorite is Haunted Tank although I don’t know if they would have cracked my top ten anyway.

these were all in my favorites list, and pretty high up. I think the thing that I find disappointing is what I imagine the rest of the list to be.

Just to send this out to the ether, I think Morrison’s JLA is the definition of how to make a great superhero comic. I was re-reading issue number three the other day, in the White Martian arc, and every side-comment redefines the personalities of the characters, without sacrificing plot or having ten pages of discussion (I’m looking at YOU, New Avengers.) The clarity with which he approaches these characters while pretty-much defining the widescreen approach expanded later by Ellis and Millar, who used to be big pals. It is this run that saved DC and redefined the DCU, and frankly started a time of creativity that I think hasn’t been reached again in the mainstream universe, until maybe Final Crisis.There are layers here that writers are still deconstructing and leveraging. While it’s popular to say that Frank Miller’s Batman was in play until Infinite Crisis, Morrison redefined the cool, James Bond surly avenger for a new age, and his JLA run influenced the entire direction from that point forward. His current run is doing it AGAIN.

Maybe a lame analogy, but if JLA is Morrison’s Sgt. Pepper, aped and copied and defining the palate for future hero team books, NEW X-MEN is his White Album, and, well, sure, it’s all over the place, with a few missteps, but no writer can look at the sprawling double-helix of plot, idea, character development and philosophy, and not want to go into the labyrinth again and again.

Finally, I love the NTT like no other book, and while I understand DC is awful about letting people access these great stories, it really was a book that was perfect for it’s time. Like X-Men of the time, you totally wanted to know and be around these people. They were cool, and interesting, and not full of maudlin melodrama, most of the time. Wolfman and Perez caught lightning in a bottle, and if you re-read the great stories (I like the Doom Patrol and Brotherhood of Evil stories as it grew into the great run it was) they may not hold up but they are the shoulders of giants that you can clearly see Geoff Johns and Bendis standing on.

So it looks like we’re between Sin City and JLI for what’s in and what isn’t.

Fun vs hyper-gritty.


Well I think a lot of people didn’t include Sin City because (even though it was in the rules) a bunch of minis doesn’t feel quite like a run.

I was and am still pretty disappointed in the Xorn reveal. Why didn’t Wolverine smell him? Why didn’t any of the telepaths detect him? I know he had that helmet on but even with it a Pheonixing Jean Grey or Cerebra’s Xavier should have been able to tell.

As much as I loved his Animal Man and Doom Patrol and his current Superman, JLA was incredibly unremarkable for me. Sound and fury but nothing happening. Which, for me, is a bit weakeness inherent in JLA: nothing important can happen. With all the characters appearing in other books there is nothing that can happen in JLA that can have any impact.

I guess that is why I’ve always liked the team books where the majority of the characters don’t have their own ongoing books.

Like some others, my list was kind of trying to spread over different creators, so I let myself choose just one of Morrison’s big 4 runs. While Animal Man, Doom Patrol and New X-men were all more innovative, I just had to choose JLA as my favorite run. It restored my faith superheroes could still be entertaining (without irony or uber-grit). It was also the first of the four runs I read. I picked AM and DP as back issues and was chomping at the bit when his X-men came out (it restored my faith that X-books could still be entertaining).

I also doubt Sin City is making it, and am pretty stumped at what the ninth slot will be. JLI is a fair guess but I hope it’s something no one’s expecting.

Bring on Jim Owsley’s Conan!!!

I’ll make my comments about JLI when it shows up. And it will. It was 6 on my list.

All 3 of these are great, though looking over my list, none of them were in my Top 10. Morrison’s JLA & esp X-Men would be dangerously close as would his Doom Patrol. In fact, none of Grant Morrison’s works made my Top 10, but I would say he’s probably in my Top 10 favorite writers.

JLA Rock of Ages was mindbendingly cool when it came out. Morrison was all over the DCU and his Kyle is great. Yes, I too dug his Electro Superman. Porter’s work really gelled well with Morrison’s wild scripts too.

I loved NTT back in the day and it was right up there with X-Men at the time, but it has lost some of its lustre looking back IMO. They were good but they just don’t quite hold up. I’m sure it’s more of me changing as I mature in adulthood and less about the actual work of Wolfman and Perez.

BTW, the graphic novel to eventually be released someday, is Games. Perez has been working on it for about10 years or so now and keeps getting distracted by other projects. It’s his last great Titans story. Sounds super ambitious but I think I heard in the last year or so that it’s been abandoned, though at some point it’ll probably get dusted off and finished much like the JLAvengers project finally did.

Morrison’s X-Men would rank the highest of the three IMO. His take was so radical and did follow up on a lot of different elements that the famous Claremont / Byrne run had. I hadn’t read any mutant titles since the Uncanny # 281 when the Image guys had a mini reboot and I was completely lost and disappointed. Never picked up an issue again and wrote off the franchise as irrepairable until Morrison launched. I buzzed from the first issue like the old days. Priceless.

Someone much earlier in these comments rated Morrison’s X-Men as the most overrated run ever. Now, I disagree vehemently with this, but that is a good idea for another vote, most overrated ever.
Miller’s Daredevil, Gruenwald’s Cap, and Simonson’s FF would definitely make my list.

My guess:
9. Starman
8. Alan Moore and Steve Bissette’s Swamp Thing
7. Preacher
6. Justice League International
5. Sandman
4. Miller’s 1st Daredevil run
3. Lee/ Ditko Spider-Man
2. Claremont/ Byrne X-Men
1. Lee/ Kirby Fantastic 4

How can Simonson’s FF run be overrated? I don’t know anyone who loves it. If anything, it’s unfairly bashed. (Not that I love what I’ve read of it, it just seems to be bashed a lot.)

Most overrated on my list would definitely include Gruenwald’s Cap, McFarlane’s Spawn, Claremont’s X-Men past Uncanny # 175, Hitman, Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans, almost anything by Chuck Austen, Grell’s Green Arrow, and tons of manga.

I’ve heard lots of fans think Simonson’s run on FF was great. It was entertaining but by far some of the weaker stuff he’s produced IMO. I think overall it’s been liked by many more fans than not.

These you’ve picked whatever cover. And I don’t like your choices at all. The DC Archive edition cover for New Teen Titans? That’s not even an actual cover by Perez– that’s paste-up from other artwork he did.

As folks have mentioned, reading about these runs have gotten folks interested in purchasing the TPBs of the runs, so Andy Khouri mentioned to me that it probably made more sense to show them a book they actually COULD buy, and I think he’s right, so from here on in, I’m going to post the first TPB collecting these runs.

It’s great that most of these runs are indeed available in collected editions. This list has inspired me to later pick up some runs I otherwise would have probably passed on.

Not particularly popular? It re-energized the whole Justice League franchise, added a second monthly title, plus an oversized quarterly, plus a slew of annuals and specials.

Ed – “Outside of Giffen” – that means when Giffen was not working on the book – when he WAS working on the book, the book was a hit. But the attempts to follow up his run withOUT his particular brand of storytelling did not work from a popularity standpoint, it was just “the second-string JLA,” which is what they fixed with Morrison’s JLA.

OK, so out of the 93 runs we’ve had on the list so far, only 13 are from before the 1980s? That’s just sad. Haven’t you people even read any Silver Age reprints?

There’s lots of great stuff on this list, but it’s all of such recent vintage, I feel like I’m reading an issue of Wizard or something.

Matt D- NEC in Brockton was where I bought my comics, until I moved to a different town. I haven’t been there since Bill (glasses and beard, opinionated and cranky) left. They had such great back issue stock, in the years before everything got collected in trade.

I think Simonson’s FF was entertaining, by and large, with a couple great moments. Stacked against Simonson’s Thor, it pales. Stacked against most of the FF comics not by Kirby or Byrne, it’s a gem.

OK, so out of the 93 runs we’ve had on the list so far, only 13 are from before the 1980s? That’s just sad. Haven’t you people even read any Silver Age reprints?

Some, but even the best classic stuff is an acquired taste, as I see it, and that doesn’t necessarily make them favourites, which is what this is about. A lot of those are pretty 2D in terms of characterization and plot, with horrible dialogue. The ideas and concepts of the Lee/Kirby FF are great, for example, but I’d rather read Brubaker’s Cap any day, as a reading experience.

What Sean said. It’s an acquired taste, and even so some people just can’t read it. I’ve read most of the Silver Age Marvel stuff recently, and enjoyed most of it, but I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed it ten years ago. And even though I liked it a lot (particularly Thor, FF, Spidey, and Iron-Man), my natural affinities are for more modern stuff. It’s simply more naturalistic.

The Golden and Silver Ages live on this list as inspirations, I suppose. All-Star Superman, JLA, Byrne’s Fantastic Four, Supreme, Simonson’s Thor, there is a ton of stuff here that has a Silver Age sensibility filtered through more modern storytelling styles. To many people, that is the most comfortable way of experiencing the Silver Age vibe.

John Trumbull said:
OK, so out of the 93 runs we’ve had on the list so far, only 13 are from before the 1980s? That’s just sad. Haven’t you people even read any Silver Age reprints?

In my case? Zillions of them! I don’t know just how many of those big fat black-and-white “Showcase” and “Essential” volumes I’ve bought over the last several years, but it’s way up in the dozens (which means hundreds and hundreds of individual issues’ worth of material, right?). And I’ve seen and sometimes collected some full-color reprints of material from those days (the Lee/Ditko Spideys, for instance) in one format or another.

But just 2 of my 10 votes went to stuff published before 1980. Which still apparently puts me ahead of the mythical “average voter” where chronological diversity is concerned . . . it means I gave 20% of my votes to pre-1980 material, whereas overall we’ve only seen about 14% — 13/93, if your figures are accurate — of our elected runs make it into the Top 100 (and as far as that goes, I voted for one Silver Age item that hasn’t even appeared yet, but almost certainly will!).

That doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about what Marvel and DC were doing in previous decades. Since Brian Cronin said to vote our favorites, my way of culling the herd was to list a bunch of stuff I like and admire, and then to ask myself, “Which ones do I actually go back and reread, not just once, but repeatedly over the years? Which ones do I most look forward to rereading when I start digging through my long boxes, looking for them?” That sort of thing. One Golden Age run and one Silver Age run both scored very high by that test when compared to my feelings for various other runs in my collection. (And I have a large collection, so we’re talking a lot of competition here!)

There are several Silver Age reprint volumes I’m willing to reread someday — in theory — but I don’t feel the burning need to do so in the near future. There are other volumes (from both Marvel and DC) which I’m glad I’ve read at least once to see what various character and team concepts were “really like” when they were just starting out, but I don’t know if I will ever feel motivated to reread those volumes in their entirety again!

As one example: I am very grateful to Stan Lee for writing the early Daredevil stories, and I was glad to finally have the chance to read all of Stan’s run in the Essential reprints, but those early years weren’t the Daredevil run I actually voted for. I know there never would have been any other Daredevil runs if not for his early work on the character, but just because he laid the foundations doesn’t mean I like his writing of Matt Murdock best of all when it’s time to do some entertaining rereading!

(Although I actually did develop a bit of a soft spot for Matt Murdock’s alternate secret identity, his rambunctious, flirtatious, and supposedly-normally-sighted long-lost identical twin, Mike Murdock! I’d never even heard of that role before I got to read the reprints a few years ago! :) )

Hmmm. I made at least one typo in the previous post. I should have said, to clarify:

it means I gave 20% of my votes to pre-1980 material, whereas overall we’ve only seen about 14% — 13/93, if your figures are accurate — of our elected runs include stuff from all the years before 1980

It escapes me how Morrison’s run on JLA can be revered by so many. It was average at best. As for Howard Porter, he’s got to be one of the most overrated artists in the last XXX years. He has, or at least on his JLA run, no command of any pencilling fundamentals. His anatomy was ridiculous and he couldn’t tell a story visually to save his life. The Morrison issues really went nowhere. I actually think Waid and Hitch did a kick ass job on the book when they followed. There was a legitimate sense of grandeur to the characters while at the same time, engaging the reader with worthwhile and well crafted stories.
Folks….don’t settle for garbage just because Wizard tells you it’s good.

Morrison’s JLA deserves to be ranked that high if only because it is so influential. Comics today would not be what they are if that run had not happened (and I mean this in a good way). Plus, it’s a hell of a read too.

Morrison’s New X-Men also deserves to be up there. When I started reading comics, I was all about getting any X-Men comics with my favorite characters in them, or the Punisher. Then I discovered my holy Vertigo trinity of Morrison-Ennis-Milligan who made me realized that comics could be litterature too, and I was done with superheroes. Then Marvel got Morrisson and Milligan on X-Men titles, and Ennis on Punisher. I cracked and bought them and never regretted it.

While Milligan’s X-Force/X-Statix just did its own little perfect thing, and Ennis’ Punisher was at first just stupid fun but turned into something quite amazing, Morrison’s X-Men was just world-defining. Either through story-arcs like Riot at Xavier’s, or through single issues like the ‘Nuff Said or the Xorn and the Hamburger one, it used everything that ever made these characters good and multiplied it by how great these stories could be. Its only downside was the art on some issues. People often say that Morrison’s work is unintelligible, and I call BS on that. But some of the art from Kordey (I know, not his fault) had me scratching my heads at what was happening during some of that Shi’ar story.

Through my own demented rules I forced myself to follow when I did my top ten (pick only one run per creator, pick creator-owned or original characters over company-owned ones) I eneded up not voting for Morrison’s X-Men, but I defenitely believe it was litterature at its best.

Oh, and here’s a sentence I like to throw in a room full of comic book-savy people and see how much chaos I can create:

The three most influential comics of the 90’s – 00’s are Morrison’s JLA, Ennis’ Preacher, and Joe Casey’s WildC.A.T.s


But I’ll agree that Porter’s work on JLA was barely professional. I don’t know how precise Morrisson’s scripts were, but other then his sense of layout, Porter had barely any qualities that would make me go: “Wow, now that’s a penciller!”

I’d rate Simonson’s FF run as one of the best short runs on the book! The running time travel battle issue was constructed with a level of craft at Alan Moore’s level.

I’ll be surprised and dismayed if Giffen’s JLI doesn’t appear.

Morrison’s JLA peaked for me with Rock of Ages, which must surely be in the top 10 JLA Arcs of all time.

I may seek out Morrison’s X-men now – not an X-fan in general.

Who’s rating Howard Porter highly? He always seems to get a lot of grief over his artwork.

Howard Porter gets grief because what he creates isn’t really art. Where’s the artistry in out of proportion anotomically incorrect remedial cartooning. Did he even study??? Why do people set their standards so low? An “iconic” splash page does not an artist make.
If you want real art, look to the works of Gil Kane, Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, John & Sal Buscema, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Steve Ditko, Al Williamson, and a wealth of others both old and new.

Morrison’s JLA – Nice but ok. Too big, too rushed, too chaotic, too many “Look-how-cool-we’re-trying-to-be” moments. I believe Morrison was simply at the right place at the right time. For almost a decade, the series hadn’t lived up to it’s history, that it was supposed to a team made up of the big guns of the DC universe. I can understand the argument people were making, that right after Crisis, with the status quo of DC being what it was at the time, that they couldn’t use any of the big guns, but they did have Batman for a brief bit, Flash came and went, and the Martian Manhunter was around till the end of Breakdowns. Post Breakdowns, the policy shifted a bit in that they’d only have 1 or 2 big guns at a time. “Let’s have Superman lead the League! Ok, he’s dead now, let’s have WonderWoman take his place!” The sad thing is, by that point, they could have brought in much of the old school League members. But for some reason, DC kept holding out and refused to do this, they’d just have 1 or 2 of the Big Guns and the rest were interesting B or C list characters…funny, one of the better stories of that era was during the Dan Jurgens run, where the team went up against a darker, alternate universe version of the classic Big Guns version (minus Superman and WonderWoman, but it was still a kick-ass lineup), and I remember reading that story thinking “Now *that* is the JLA as it *should* be, line-up wise”. Too bad it took DC another 3 or 4 years to realize this. As for Morrison’s version…it gets points for reinvigorating both DC and JL franchise, but it was hurt by some fugly artwork and too much ADD. A fun read but very overrated.

Glad to see the Wolfman/Perez Titans getting some love. This run def makes my Top 3. Special mention must be given to Romeo Tanghal (spelling?), IMO, one of the better people to ever ink Perez’s work. This version was a great mix of old and new characters, and it was also great seeing older characters make occasional guest appearences now and then, like Speedy and Aqualad.

Morrison’s X-men….while there are many details I didn’t like, I did like the overall direction of the title itself (crappy treatment of Magneto not-withstanding…glad to see Carey is doing some interesting stuff with him). I never saw exactly how the X-men the x-men represented the evolution of humanity and would lead us boldly into the future. All they did was talk and talk and talk and talk about it…but didn’t do much about that they hadn’t done before. The best thing about this run was Morrison introducing mutant culture. There was only so much one could do the Claremont status quo of Mutants as a persecuted minority, which Marvel ran into the ground after Claremont left. It was nice to see Morrison’s take; Magneto being marketed as a Che figure, a mutant neighberhood in Manhatten, mutant fashion designers, etc. And the expansion of the school was long overdue. Didn’t care much for the special class, I thought they were lame and took too much screen time away from the core characters, especially as he was finally making Scott and Jean more interesting than they had been in a long while. But the Cuckoos were a most welcome addition. Morrison did do the annoying habit of (as someone else mentioned) painting himself into a corner and then leaving the incoming writing staff trapped there, but T=the plusses did outweigh the minusses. Too bad Marvel pissed all over it when he left, especially with regards to the Mutant Culture idea via ‘Decimation’…

John Trumbull said:
OK, so out of the 93 runs we’ve had on the list so far, only 13 are from before the 1980s? That’s just sad. Haven’t you people even read any Silver Age reprints?

I love Silver Age reprints, and I think Roy Thomas’s X-men or Kirby/Lee’s Captain America should have been on the list, but less book were released in the silver age and you know two Silver Age runs will be in the top nine if not the top 3.

Let’s look at the bad:

Jim Lee
J. Scott Campbell
Mark Bagley
Tony Daniel
Ed Benes
Ian Churchill
Michael Turner
….you get the point. I can go on forever. These are guys who indulge in “cheesecake” fantasy of T & A.
They love big splash pages thus minimizing the amount of work they have to do. In the process, they sacrifice real storytelling for the sake of showing you how “beautiful” they can draw their “Maxim” inspired female characters.
It completely grosses me out that what is admired today is garbage and what is actually good takes a back seat..

Good overlooked artists…
John Paul Leon
Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Kevin Nowlan
Steve Rude

…at this point, I think I may be starting to annoy.

Brian, I was wondering if you are going to show some of the titles that didn’t make the cut. I have personally never heard of, much less read Tomb of Dracula (before my time), but after hearing others talking about on this post, I am now curious. I am curious about other things I might have missed that is not on the Top 100, but is in the Top 150.

Porter’s gotten better in recent years, but his work on JLA was just horrid, and it’s what has kept me from reading most of Grant’s JLA to this day. as Arkhangelsk said, it was barely professional. there’s a lot of talk these days about writers who churn out fan fiction; Porter’s work looked like very bad Image-era fan art, full of mangled anatomy, bizarre poses, head-scratching storytelling and flat-out ugly faces.

just thinking about it now still makes my eyes itch.

Howard Porter & Grant Morrison’s JLA is very influential.
It influenced me to have the nastiest bowel movement.

OK, so out of the 93 runs we’ve had on the list so far, only 13 are from before the 1980s? That’s just sad. Haven’t you people even read any Silver Age reprints?

I haven’t read any Silver Age reprints. I’d like to. Instead, when I was a child, I read Silver Age comics. And, one of the things that annoyed me was whenever a story was To Be Continued, because as a child, I never knew if I would get to read that next issue or not.

At that age, one of the things that I liked about the comics was that most single issues were self contained, sometimes with two or more different stories in it.

But, just because I liked them as a kid doesn’t mean that they are my favourites today. What took me from comic book reader to comic book collector was an ability to read more and more decompressed stories. Once I could reliably buy repeat comics, I came to adore X-Men, New Mutants, Spider-Man, and Avengers because they told stories that brought me back for more rather than leaving me sated by the single issue.

This is why no Silver Age books made my Top Ten. Although I liked Spider-Man #3 and the introduction of Doc Oc, it, and the stories that surrounded it, didn’t qualify for my criteria as Favourite.

Folks….don’t settle for garbage just because Wizard tells you it’s good.

I assure you, I don’t settle for garbage, and I don’t think that I’ve read an issue of Wizard since issue #1 without a hearty grain of salt and appreciation for irony.

I liked Morrison’s JLA because it had the heavy hitters of the DCU handling likewise heavy hitting opponents in an all or nothing stakes battle of force, wits, technique and determination. His JLA stories didn’t meet my personal qualifications for “mediocre” (which, I define as telling the same story over and over hoping to do it “right” eventually — I think all of you can name a few people I might be talking about) but instead presented different types of threat, all of which that required different types of response.

Yes, I liked that the JLI negotiated with Darkseid. Very nice, nonviolent solution. Very appropriate for, say, Titans or Doom Patrol or Outsiders. But, when I think of the Justice League of America, I think of the first issue I ever read (and, yes this is incredibly biased, but it is what I think of) where every DC superhero that my child-self had ever heard of, and at least a dozen that I hadn’t, were captured by The Key and Snapper Karr (as Star Tzar), and they all had to use their various different powers to escape, because no single one of them, Silver Age Superman included, could free them.

That’s the sort of situation that I expect from Justice League comics. And, while Morrison didn’t exactly deliver. Instead of requiring everyone to group together, he often had the Batman Saves the Day story, or the Green Lantern Saves the Day story, from an overview of the run, he didn’t do what some other runs of the League have done, and have everyone get whallomped by the enemy of the month, just to have the one heavy hitter on the team (or a guest spot from someone not on the team) swoop in and save the day.

Morrison wrote about the Big Seven. Not about the Big One and his team. And, you can’t say that about most writers of team books. And, the ones that you can say that about, were (lets face it) teams of second stringers whose Big One wasn’t all that big at the time (ahem .. Guy Gardner) and who didn’t really face earth or universe shattering threats.

And, I’m not saying that Giffin and DeMattis’s JL was bad. Just that it could have been called New Infinity Inc. and been just as good. But, Morrison’s team, without the logo, was clearly the JLA even after he expanded the team with a few semi-second stringers (Huntress, Plastic Man, Steel, Oracle, Green Arrow, who am I forgetting) were either other DCU characters with their own titles, or who used to have their own titles.

Morrison’s team consisted of people whom, if you were reading a DC title and wanted to see more of your favourite character, that character was likely in JLA, and that story could potentially carry you over into other titles, thus theoretically expanding readership. It is a very narrow ledge to walk, as a writer, as your characterization has to be ON in order to carry it off. And, I, for one, do not think that Morrison disappointed.


I’m not sure I approve of your description of Bagley, shelby. Man’s art is hardly T&A. A professional who gets work out rather than creative genius, certainly. But he knows how to tell a story with pictures.

shelby foote, you can never be too annoying when mentioning that Steve Rude and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez are good, overlooked artists…tho i would consider them great overlooked artists :)

Seriously, JLG should be doing an A-list team book like Avengers or JLA…he should have been doing Countdown.

I’m not sure Rude hasn’t got his due here though. Nexus made the list. Sure, it could have been higher. But for a non-big-two book of the ’80s, it did well.

Beyond that, most of what I think of when I think Rude is miniseries. Like that excellent World’s Finest one. Or Thor Godstorm etc.

As folks have mentioned, reading about these runs have gotten folks interested in purchasing the TPBs of the runs, so Andy Khouri mentioned to me that it probably made more sense to show them a book they actually COULD buy, and I think he’s right, so from here on in, I’m going to post the first TPB collecting these runs.

Even if I accept this logic– which I don’t, I think what’s good for the gander it’s good for the goose– why pick a hardback that retails at something like $75 when there are at least two or three trades?

Hey, at least I’m not moaning about how this list is inflated by current fads and people who love the ’80s. I’m at least offering some variety…

JL Garcia-Lopez would have a bigger fanbase if he had worked on bigger books, I think. I really like his art, and I’m not saying this as if to blame him. The guy’s work is excellent. If he had drawn JLA or Superman or Fantastic Four or something for an extended period of time, I think he would have gotten the respect he deserved. What did he draw, Atari Force? I’ve never read it, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but it doesn’t have as vocal a fanbase as, say, Suicide Squad. I hope he gets more work in the future.

Howard Porter’s JLA art had many, many flaws, but it did capture the “big moments.” That splash page of Superman wrestling an angel? I don’t care if the anatomy is off or if the faces aren’t great. It still blew me away. Again, he’s never going to be one of my favorite artists, but he wasn’t the worst guy for the job.

These are three great runs, which all achieved a lot on high “degree of difficulty” titles.

Prior to Wolfman and Perez, the “Teen Titans” were not exactly the hottest comic property around. Wolfman realized that being a former kid side-kick made someone a misfit in exactly the same sense as many Marvel characters. Taking in other misfits and turning their friends into a sort of family was sort of the trend of the late-80s and early 90s, so this was all a bit ahead of its time. Watching TV shows from “Friends” to “The Real World” always called to mind TNTT for me.

Perez, of course, brought a big stick with the super-hero action, which certainly helped. Together, they created a bunch of memorable enemies. Trigon, Deathstroke and Brother Blood were all creepy and fun in their own way. Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing has to be the most successful change from one identity to another ever.

Sadly, Wolfman over-stayed on the title and it went into decline in the years after Perez left. There were some good issues during the Tom Grummett years, but never had the magic again.

So I hear the “would’ve been okay if it wasn’t called Justice League” argument about the Giffen-DeMattheis run a lot, and after re-reading a bit of it recently, I don’t think I can agree. Part of the core premise of that run, and what made its approach appealing, is what happens when someone tries to form a Justice League and none of the big guns show up (and the ones who did show, tended not to stay long).

Instead you had people who were acutely aware of how the mantle handed them was much too big. Much of the humor and character-building that defined that era grew out of the characters trying to cope both with each other and how far below expectations they really were as a Justice League. (And there certainly was character-building– more than a few of the Giffen-DeMattheis mainstays had little to no personality before their League appearances.)

I do think this is why the extremely silly arcs involving the likes of Manga Khan and Kooey Kooey Kooey damaged the book – once things got too silly, then you lost the uncomfortable tension created by a bunch of self-aware C-listers struggling to be something you could legitimately call a Justice League. The characters began to lose their humanity and felt more two-dimensional.

That said, if they’d simply been the Very Silly Superteam from the start, then I don’t think the run would have the same appeal – there wouldn’t be that sense of underdog nobodies trying to make themselves a Justice League out of pure pluck and effort, while demonstrating the weaknesses, vices, and frailties that are quite common in day-to-day life. LIkewise, I don’t think you would have gotten any of the character-building fans loved with the likes of J’onn, Ted, or Ice. That could only happen because there was a context in which some characters had reason to feel duty-bound and try hard.

I know this is going to spark some debate, but I don’t think Morrison’s run on “JLA” would have been possible without Giffen & DeMatties. For one thing, J’onn J’onzz status as a “Big Gun” in the DCU was really formed during that period. He shown to be both clearly a cut above characters like Booster Gold, but also sort of the soul of the League. For another, it demonstrated once and for all that no matter how many Marvel guys came over to DC that the Justice League and the Avengers were not the same book.

Giffen realized that for a threat to be worthy of the Justice League, it needed scale.

A lot of good writers had choked on this over the years. Giffen broke up is big threats (i.e. Despero, the Village of Vampires) with a lot of comedy and character development. By contrast, Morrison treated the JLA like a V12 BMW on the Autobahn and opened the throttle all the way.

Morrison’s “JLA” did not let up for 40 issues. There were more awesome super-hero action moments in one issue than in a year of most titles. It honored the Silver-Age tradition of the title by throwing brain bending threats at the characters, instead of problems that could be solved with force. It was constantly, utterly cool.

Howard Porter solid work on nearly every issue. His Image-y style is out-of-date now, but it suited the tone of the title. Porter meets my minimum standard for a Morrison artist in that I understood what was going on most of the time. It also made me happy that his figure work owed something to Mike Sekowsky.

Sadly, my interest in the title flagged as it wore along. The full throttle approach left very little room for characterization. Morrison can do more with a panel here and there than a lot writers can do with a full issue, but it has its limits. This became apparent once he expanded his cast to include lesser known characters. I don’t even remember half the characters that got added during the “Strength in Numbers” story. It was still amazing, but I wound up wishing that Morrison would give things some room to breathe.

Aside from Morrison building on the Giffen-DeMattheis version of J’onn (which he did), I also think his Big Seven reunion party wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact if ten years of struggling C-listers calling themselves the Justice League hadn’t come before.

JLA launched just before the giant Silver Age reprint lovefest currently ongoing, so unless you were an older reader or back issue lover, you had never seen that approach to the Justice League before. Where you once had down-to-earth, “blue collar” heroes, there was suddenly a pantheon of Earth-bound gods dealing with threats that could’ve driven an entire summer crossover in each issue. The approach didn’t last, and it’s one of the few comics that I will literally just get too tired to read, but it was still amazing and a much-needed palate-cleanser.

In its way, I think Morrison’s run actually casts a light on the Giffen-DeMattheis run and makes it even easier to enjoy in retrospect. Years of lousy stories and the Detroit fiasco had damaged the Justice League’s cachet before the Giffen-DeMattheis relaunch, but Morrison’s approach showed you how the “classic” League always should have seemed. It made it easier to imagine the long shadow guys like Blue Beetle were caught in, and makes their relationship to J’onn all the more touching for it.

Grant Morrison’s “New X-Men” might be his best plotted mainstream work.

Most of the comic properties that were crafted during the Silver Age were created with a two year audience turn-over in mind. Even the best ones had a finite number of unique stories that could emerge from their story-telling engines before they started to repeat. In that sense, comic runs past a certain point are inevitably cyclical. Reach a certain point in the story and almost forces a re-boot to a fresh take on the material unless you are willing to end the story itself. This is true of all the classic Marvels, including the X-Men.

The genius of Morrison is that he writes to that limitation. “New X-Men” takes a lot of cues from Claremont-Byrne but very few of the most frequently copied ones. Suddenly, mutants were weird again. Nobody is going to be drawing soft-core pin-ups of Beak anytime soon. Equally suddenly, Xavier’s actually seemed like a school again. There were students everywhere and they behaved like, well, kids. The cast was tight and the soap opera twists were actually twists, not a rehash the Scott Summers/Jean Grey/Wolverine triangle that stopped being fresh during the Disco era.

Oh, and they dressed cool. Wolverine no longer looked like a member of the Village People.

“E is for Extinction” may be one of the five best story arcs that I have ever read. It set up all the themes that Morrison wanted to establish and made it seem like this turn of the wheel would be the last. The X-Men were going to re-visit their old cliches one last time before moving forward. They were actually going to evolve.

Sadly, the title was brutally undermined by wildly inconsistent art. Frank Quietly is, in my opinion, the best artist for Morrison. He managed to find a totally fresh look for the title that was also appropriate. Not easy for a title that has been drawn by so many big name artists, but he did it. I’d wager that this run would rank much even higher had he drawn the majority of it, but he was barely a regular fill-in artist after the second arc. The artists who followed had vastly different styles and did very little to approximate what Quitely had done. A lot of Morrison’s writing got lost in the translation and the stories got harder to follow. Worse, some of the art was not just poor story-telling, but ugly as well.

It is too bad, really.

In its way, I think Morrison’s run actually casts a light on the Giffen-DeMattheis run and makes it even easier to enjoy in retrospect. Years of lousy stories and the Detroit fiasco had damaged the Justice League’s cachet before the Giffen-DeMattheis relaunch, but Morrison’s approach showed you how the “classic” League always should have seemed. It made it easier to imagine the long shadow guys like Blue Beetle were caught in, and makes their relationship to J’onn all the more touching for it.

That is a really good point.

I agree!

Cool arguments about how Morrison’s and Giffen’s Justice Leagues relate to each other.

I also must confess that, for all my mixed feelings for the JLI, I enjoyed it when the titled occasionaly veered from sitcom and entered the terrain of satire. The send-ups of Galactus and Captain America were hillarious, but it was a mistake to keep General Glory around. Satire doesn’t work as well when it become part of the regular cast.

But I still remember how General Glory would never stop with his grandiose speeches, even when he was falling to his death! That was one of the times JLI really made me laugh. That, and Mr. Nebula’s reaction when he saw Las Vegas. Didn’t like the sitcom stuff as much as many people, but loved the satire.

Rene, I’d consider those moments more out-and-out parody than satire. Giffen’s skill at writing superhero parody is second to none, so I can’t deny that I didn’t laugh at those moments at first. However, I think both Manga Khan and General Glory hung around the book way too long. Outright parody is a very different thing from situational or satirical humor, and if you give it a place in a running story, it tends to drag the tone down into the realm of the sophomoric.

(Well… moreso than usual.)

Had either character only appeared once and then never again, I would remember them far more kindly than I do. G’nort’s another pure parody character who would’ve been twice as funny had we seen him half as much. But, well, not much to be done with that – the problem with comedy in a serial format like comics is that fan feedback can, frankly, encourage creators to drag jokes out long beyond their shelf life.

Oh, right. Parody when you make fun of another work, satire when you make fun of society. Got the two confused.

But yeah, making General Glory a regular was a mistake.

“The Morrison issues really went nowhere. I actually think Waid and Hitch did a kick ass job on the book when they followed. There was a legitimate sense of grandeur to the characters while at the same time, engaging the reader with worthwhile and well crafted stories.”

Sorry, Shelby. I usually like Mark Waid, but I just couldn’t enjoy his stories right after Morrison. Waid’s JLA was just so traditional, so “back-to-business-as-usual”, so “we’ve-seen-it-all-before”. I really loved Grant Morrison’s take, and not because Wizard told me so (if I liked everything Wizard praised, I’d be reading a lot of early Image comics).

Went nowhere?


On the micro-sense, the heroes beat the villains.

On the macro-sense, humanity as a whole moved from needing to be sheltered and protected to, as a collective whole, being able to accept individual power and responsibility. (And loyalty.) Morrison’s JLA was always going somewhere – It’s just that the main cast of hereos were kind of tangental to the big theme/plot thing.

“I know he had that helmet on but even with it a Pheonixing Jean Grey or Cerebra’s Xavier should have been able to tell.”

I know that in the past Magneto was said to have some sort of “latent telepathy” which is why he was immune to Cerebro maybe that’s what hid him from Cerebra. With the Phoenix thing I just assumed the Phoenix (the entity not Jean) knew Xorn was Magneto all along and just didn’t care. The school needed to be destroyed, Magneto and Xavier had to see they were obsolete so that the “dream” could grow.

I don’t remember him having latent telepathy, Lawrence. I always assumed it was a combination of his powers and an extremely strong will that made his mind hard to read. But it could be read, that’s why he used to wear the helmet.

Interesting idea on the whole Phoenix idea, tho. But how does that explain Wolverine not picking up his scent? Did he always make sure to stay downwind of him? lol

One thing nobody mentioned about the Grant Morrison X-men is, nobody ever wrote the X-telepaths as well as Morrison. That alone would be enough to make his run special.

Morrison’s JLA just exploded with verve. The smallest moments are some of the best.
Green Arrow: “How about Just! One! Pointed! Arrow! Dad!”
The Atom and Green Lantern killing Darkseid.
Batman: “First time I’ve punched a man with motor neuron disease.”
Green Lantern: “Self-doubt? You’re throwing self-doubt at me? Dude, I’m from the MTV generation!”

Morrison had an issue narrated by the Red Dart; and another by Luthor. The series was wonderful.
(Except for the JLA/JSA 5th dimension arc, that was terrible.)

He did have pointed arrows, they just weren’t kept in the 60s-Silver-Age-Storage-Box-of-Fabulousness that Morrison loves ;)

[…] work has a history with a lot of comic book readers, enough so that he made the top 20 in the CSBG Top 100 Comic Book Runs. But, I don’t have that history with his work, so I’m reading it as a regular reader […]

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