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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Runs #2 and 1!

We’ve gone through the rest, now here’s the top two comic runs, as chosen by a vote by about 700 Comics Should Be Good readers, who each chose their ten favorite ongoing comic book runs, and then I both assigned point totals to their votes (10 points for 1st on their list, 9 points for 2nd, etc.) and compiled the point totals to make this here list!


2. Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men – 1182 points (28 first place votes)

X-Men/Uncanny X-Men #108-109, 111-143

X-Men was already an up and coming series from Marvel before John Byrne took over as penciler from Dave Cockrum. It was not exactly lighting the sales charts on fire, but there was a buzz about the book. It was at the end of a storyline when Byrne was brought on to replace Cockrum in Uncanny X-Men #108.

After one more Cockrum issue with #110, Byrne was back for good with #111, and he and Claremont went on an incredible journey, taking the X-Men all over the world, with nice character work and excellent artwork by Byrne.

They had a great story with Magneto against the team…

plus a dramatic story where the X-Men are feared dead, this allowed Jean Grey to go off on her own storyline that eventually led to the Dark Phoenix Saga much more down the road…

What’s amazing about the Dark Phoenix saga was just how slowly it build up to a head, and all the while, Claremont and Byrne were telling strong stories, including the Proteus storyline.

The Hellfire Club was probably one of the more notable parts of the run, as it also introduced Kitty Pryde. They had already established, early in the run, that Wolverine was willing to kill if need be, but the Hellfire Club took that to a bigger level – due to Byrne’s involvement with Wolverine, Wolverine soon became one of the most popular characters in all of comics – this story has one of the most famous single panels in comic history.

And, of course, the Dark Phoenix Saga happened, which was amazing, even though Claremont and Byrne did not have the ending they initially planned on having…

However, Jean Grey’s death made the story even more famous than it probably would have been. It was at this point that the book really started to take a sales upswing (hitting its acme under Paul Smith’s tenure on the book).

How do you follow up an amazing storyline like the Dark Phoenix Saga?

Well, how about ANOTHER famous storyline, Days of Future Past, with an alternate future.

Byrne finished his run with yet ANOTHER classic story, the famous Christmas issue starring Kitty Pryde.

Byrne left to take over Fantastic Four, while Claremont stayed on for another decade or so.

But they had already made their mark on the comics world.

Here’s Mister Midnight (from zonetrooper.com) with his explanation for why he picked Claremont and Byrne #1 on his list…

12. The conclusion of the loose ends left behind by the cancellation of the Ka-Zar series….which turned out to be one of the best Ka-Zar stories ever !!!!
11. Alpha Flight…..yes at one time they were cool.
10. Guest appearances by the Beast and Angel……loved the Beast in the Magneto story and Angel towards the end of Claremont/Byrne’s run.
9. The Hellfire Club……yeah…at one time they were cool too.
8. Mutant X/Proteus.
7. Killer characterization……Kitty and Peter…..Jean and Scott…..Logan and Kurt…..(Oh God does that make Logan and Kurt sound gay?)
6. Professor X…flashback…”P.S.I War”.
5. Days of Future Past
4. Dark Phoenix Saga…………awesome even to this day…..too bad they ruined one of the best endings ever by bringing Jean back only to kill her again.
3. Terry Austin……without a doubt the best inker EVER.
2. John Byrne…….at the height of a comic career that will one day rival many of the greats……George Perez and Frank Miller being his only peers at that point in time. Terry inking his pencils always brought out the best of John’s work….but Terry on any pencilwork period always brings the artwork to an entire new level.
1. Arcade…………just kidding……of course Chris Claremont. This particular run will always be brought up in any similar type of top stories, runs, whatever you want to call it list. Although it’s difficult to tell where Chris ended and John began on some of the storylines. Claremont and Byrne blurred together so well and have never been touched. (not just on X-Men…but on Iron Fist, Marvel Team-Up,Power Man, and even Star-Lord)The work that both of them have done without the other just never acheived the same greatness. The Lee and Kirby of their day…Lennon/McCartney, Plant/Page, Waters/Gilmour…Jay/Silent Bob…you get the picture.

Story continues below

Thanks, Mister Midnight!

1. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – 1318 points (42 first place votes)

The Sandman #1-75

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman opened up fairly oddly, as the book was meant to tied into the DC Universe, which was a bit awkward at the beginning, but Gaiman’s excellent writing made the book still work, enough so that DC began to let him have more freedom with his work, and then the book got amazing.

One of the first notable issues was Sandman #8, which introduced the star of the series, Morpheus (known as “Dream” of the Endless)’s sister, Death. Death became one of the most popular characters DC had. In fact, when DC had a poll for which characters should get their own mini-series, Death was the winner (or second, I forget – or was she second amongst the people who did not already have a mini-series planned? What was it?).

Essentially, having Morpheus be the king of dreams allowed Gaiman to tell whatever stories he wanted to, with a specific bent towards stories involving mythology and folklore. It was a fantasy lover’s dream. Not only did he come up with clever story ideas, what was remarkable about Gaiman was that his stories also were extremely character-driven. Gaiman would introduce new characters constantly, and within an issue, you felt like you knew the character your whole life.

Gaiman also picked up some established DC characters, in a little metafictive bit, had the established characters exist in Dream’s world. Like Cain and Abel and Lucien. Matthew the Raven came from Swamp Thing. Dream’s brother Destiny was an established DC character.

Prominent NEW characters included the immortal Hob Gobling, Mervyn Pumpkinhead, the witch (and former girlfriend of Morpheus) Thessaly, the evil Corinthian, plus Gaiman’s personal take on Lucifer, which was picked up by Mike Carey in his classic Lucifer run.

It’s truly amazing how many amazing characters Gaiman had in this series. Wow.

One of the most notable issue was #19 “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which won the World Fantasy Award in 1991 for Best Short Fiction (being a bit lame, they decided to change the rules the next day to make comics ineligible – what the heck?!).

Sandman won a tremendous eighteen Eisner Awards, including three Eisners for Best Ongoing Series and four Eisners for Gaiman as Best Writer.

Dave McKean did the amazing covers for the series, but the interiors were by many different artists.

Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Kelley Jones, Jill Thompson, Marc Hempel, Michael Zulli and Charles Vess all did notable issues, but there were many more great artists on the series.

P. Craig Russell drew an impressive 50th issue of the series…

The story ended with a new Dream taking over, and the celebration of Morpheus. Superman and Batman even guest-starred to pay their tributes.

Gaiman has done work since then on Sandman, and they’ve also been quite good. He’s a good writer, that Gaiman.

Okay, that’s the list!

Thanks for reading! Special thanks to Rene for the stat-keeping he’s done!

We’ll see you all next time we do one of these things.


Sandman is a worthy #1.

But I’m very proud of my X-men having such a strong showing, too.

Good, fun survey, Brian, thank you.

I was almost ready to go to bed when I saw this had popped up. I’ll just say that I was actually a bit surprised at myself when I found I wasn’t voting for the Claremont/Byrne X-Men in my Top 10 Favorites. But that run didn’t quite make the cut when I asked myself how often I had actually gone back and reread that stuff in the last several years. (I have read at least 3 TPBs of Gaiman’s Sandman, I believe, but it has not inspired in me a feverish desire to actually collect the full run. Most of what I’ve read, I borrowed from libraries.)

As I’ve promised before, I intend to post a copy of my own ballot, along with additional explanatory text for the 5 items on it which didn’t score anywhere in the Top 100, but I don’t have that text prepared yet, so I’ll have to come back with it later. Expect to hear from me again in a couple of days, still in this thread! :)

You forgot the introduction of Dazzler. For shame, sir, for shame!

Brian Cronin

May 2, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Dazzler wasn’t a Byrne/Claremont creation, so it seemed wrong mentioning her.

Yeah, I was just heading to bed too. My thoughts tomorrow.

Thanks again, Brian.

Re: X-men

Can’t resist pointing out that all Claremont’s runs made this list with two notable exceptions:

1) Runs with Cockrum, who co-created the franchise as we know it today (and who would be my #2 pick after Byrne)


2) Jim Lee. I find this kind of funny when you consider that Lee was the hottest, best-paid megastar artist at the time, to the extent (if I recall correctly) that Marvel valued keeping him on the book more than they valued Claremont, ultimately leading to Claremont finally leaving the book he’d built up over the last decade while Lee stayed on board (but not for much longer).

Guess it just seems funny that the most hyped run didn’t stand the test of time (at least for this blog’s readers). Although I don’t recall there being much memorable story to it, so I guess it’s only fitting.

Shame Cockrum didn’t get more love, though, as I think he earned it (even just for the Xavier’s Dream saga alone. Still a favorite arc for me).

Well, so long as Claremont and Byrne didn’t win…

What? Me? Evil? Pshaw.

Yeah, but Dazzler first appeared in these pages, so even though they didn’t create her, they gave her LIFE!!!! Just like Victor von Frankenstein!!!!!

The Jim Lee run was fairly disjointed, and he wasn’t on the book all that long, so I wonder if people didn’t consider it. Those were some damned good issues, though.

Brilliant. The #1 spot couldn’t have gone to a more deserving candidate.

Thanks for doing this! It’s been a really great feature and the “100 Greatest Comic Book Runs” Master List is actually like an all-time “must read” list. It’s really staggering how much great work has come out of comics… this list proves it.


Not surprised. But still, glad to see X-men, with these creators, making it so high in the run.

Anthony Coleman

May 2, 2008 at 9:11 pm


I was so close with my prediction, but the right run won. I love the Claremont/ Byrne X-men, but Sandman is the highest echelon a monthly comic book can ever achieve.

The Jim Lee run was fairly disjointed, and he wasn’t on the book all that long, so I wonder if people didn’t consider it. Those were some damned good issues, though.

Wait.. What!?

I just want to say that I really enjoyed this list. I know there was some argument in a few of the other threads about the purpose of this list (and about lists like this in general), but I want to say that for those of us who haven’t had a chance to read all of these comics a list like this is very helpful.

Sure, I’ve read Sandman, I’ve read Preacher, I’ve read Frank Miller’s Daredevil, I’ve read bits of pieces of all the important X-men and Spidey runs, etc…you know, “the basics”. But, even though I’d heard about almost everything on this list, I never got around to reading Starman, or finishing up Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, or Geoff John’s JSA, or Warlock, or Alias, or Nexus, or…well, a lot of things on this list.

But, now I will. So, thank you. :)

This list helped point me in the direction of some really great comics. So, thank you Brian, and to everyone else who posted in the comments about other runs that didn’t make the list. I now have lots on my read pile, and that’s a great result for a project like this. Thanx so much!

Every step of this countodwn had me more and more worried that Sandman would make the top spot, but I have to count myself amongst the few who just don’t get it.
Not saying it’s bad, just that I’m not one of the weird kids at school who thought it was the be-all and end-all of graphic novels :).

I’m pretty satisfied too. #1 is one of the best comic books of all time. #2 is one of the best straightforward superhero comics of all time. Very deserving.

And I’d like to point out that I guessed correctly the #1 and #2 in the Top 100 runs contest. :) But I switched #3 and #4, and missed #5 completely.

It’s also cool (I suppose) that 9 of my 10 pics appeared in the list. More comments tomorrow.

I also guessed 4 out of 5 entries in the contest, but not in the right order (except for DD at #4).

Oh yeah, and the one I didn’t guess was Sandman.

So, yeah, I’m a blockhead.

I agree with Joe. I’m a huge nerd, but I don’t have the time or money to read everything great that’s out there. This list is an introduction to some comics that are new to me, a reminder to pick up some classics that I have been angling for but didn’t get around to reading, and a celebration of stuff I’ve loved for years now.

Plus, it’s actually quite GOOD. Very, very nicely done.

Annoyed Grunt

May 2, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for putting the list together, Brian.

Personally, I’m most surprised that Sin City didn’t make the list. You can debate its merits but after the movie you’d think it would be more popular than Master of Kung Fu. I figure people used their Miller vote for Daredevil and then decided to spread things out with other creators.

I should add my thanks to Brian for starting this off, and also cursing him, since I will end up spending massive amounts of cash on stuff I would otherwise have never bothered with. (I’d never even heard of Concrete, let alone known where to go about getting hold of a collection of the run).

I hope all the people who’ve commented that they didn’t vote will get their arses in gear for the next one!

Yes, MarkAndrew. The three-part Psylocke story was excellent, and the Captain America flashback was cool, and the issues in space were pretty neat, and Rogue in Antarctica was fantastic. When he switched to X-Men, the stories weren’t as good, but before that, they were really good.

I find it interesting that Starman had more 1st place votes than any book except Sandman (best I can tell). As a huge fan of Starman I can’t say I’m surprised that people who read it tend to love it. I would love to see the top 100 by the 1st place votes.

YAY! Thanks, Brian! You always come up with fun stuff to do on the blog.

I think I’ve read exactly one issue of the Claremont/Byrne run and that was Classic X-men #8 that I picked up at a convenience store. And I should really get Sandman out of the library because my memory is so fuzzy that about all I can remember is telephone ice cream and that I liked the serial killers’ convention issue. Da Fug has no geek cred :(

Before going to bed, a final tally. Comments later.

We have 102 runs (and 29877 pts)

– 38 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (11862 pts)
– 11 runs are X-Titles (3305 pts)
– 2 runs are Ultimate titles (679 pts)
– 40 runs if you get Marvel plus Ultimate Universe (12541 pts)

– 26 runs are set in the DC Universe (9457 pts)
– 3 runs are Bat-Titles (452 pts)
– 10 are Vertigo comics (4424 pts)
– 30 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (9677 pts)

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

– 84 are superheroes or close enough (23951 pts)
– 18 are non-superhero (5926 pts)

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

– 1980s (32 runs – 9805 pts)
– 1990s (26 runs – 7181 pts)
– 2000s (25 runs – 6297 pts)
– 1970s (11 runs – 3740 pts)
– 1960s (6 runs – 2555 pts)
– 1940s (2 runs – 299 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Grant Morrison (6 runs – 2754 pts)
– Stan Lee (5 runs – 2446 pts)
– Alan Moore (6 runs – 1851 pts)
– Chris Claremont (6 runs – 1820 pts)
– John Byrne (3 runs – 1809 pts)
– Garth Ennis (4 runs – 1579 pts)
– Jack Kirby (3 runs – 1322 pts)
– Neil Gaiman (1318 pts)
– Warren Ellis (5 runs – 1285 pts)
– Keith Giffen (3 runs – 1278 pts)
– Frank Miller (2 runs – 1199 pts)
– Brian Michael Bendis (4 runs – 1079 pts)
– Steve Ditko (2 runs – 1034 pts)
– James Robinson (921 pts)
– Brian K. Vaughan (2 runs – 854 pts)
– J. M. de Matteis (742 pts)
– Ed Brubaker (3 runs – 739 pts)
– John Cassaday (2 runs – 722 pts)
– Marv Wolfman (643 pts)
– George Perez (643 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)
– Geoff Johns (3 runs – 534 pts)
– Walt Simonson (514 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)
– 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)
– 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)
– 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)

– 84 are superheroes or close enough (23951 pts)
– 48 are traditional superheroes (15419 pts)
– 36 are non-traditional superheroes (8522 pts)
– 12 are nonpowered superheroes (2182 pts)
– 8 are comedic superheroes (1749 pts)
– 35 are team books (11065 pts)
– 18 are non-superhero (5926 pts)

Thanks for the list!

Byrne’s X-Men was on my list until the very end, when I re-arranged things and it ended up at number 11. Looks like it didn’t need my vote. It’s really, really great.

Every couple of years I give into the pressure and try again to read Sandman but I don’t think I’ve ever made it past issue ten. Too goth-y, too sentimental and too derivative of Moore’s Swamp Thing for my taste.

Should we post our lists? Maybe Brian could start a “what did you vote for?” thread.

This was more fun than forty cakes!

Hey! I used to wince every time I read it, but only now, after the very last entry, do I like all of the top five vote-getters on Rene’s “top creators” list. A happy ending!

THanks so much for putting this list together. It’s been fun.
Too bad about Young Justice and Birds of Prey, though.

I do like that a Cockrum cover kicks off the Claremont/Byrne entry.

Burgas – OK. I don’t think I’ve read any of the Pre X-men run.

Those… were not good, though.


May 2, 2008 at 10:58 pm

So are we all going to share our top tens now?

Just in case, let me. I’ve already said what most of them were.

1. Kirby/Lee FF – and the Kirby name needs to go first. Lee’s dialogue was very effective, but ANY decent writer could have spun gold with those panels – I wish I could have a go at them. Whereas, as many have pointed out, Stan Lee really didn’t create or plot much of real significance without Kirby or Ditko (although the “New Avengers” with Don Heck was truly great).
Especially issues #35-65, with my very favorites #44 and 45, the intro of the Inhumans.Oh and 55 where Ben fought the Surfer. And, yeah, 48, 49, 50 51.
2. Kirby/Lee Thor and JIM – soooooo underrated, apparently. Especially #120-136 or so.
3. Sandman – I loved it from the first issue and followed it all the way breathlessly. I’ve read most of it over and over since. This winter I read it issue by issue to my wife when we’d go to bed each night. She especially liked the Calliope issue. It had so many highlights, (“Ramadan” breaks my heart a little more every time I read it) but I’d rank the Kindly Ones as my favorite. And 24 Hours. And Midsummer Night’s Dream. The whole of Brief Lives. Shit, all of it, I give up, make it number one and I’ll nod.
4. Kirby’s Fourth World – if it just had been allowed to continue for another year or two it probably would have ranked even higher. My vision of Heaven includes each lucky, righteous person coming through the Gate and getting their own free copy of the complete graphic novel, all 1111 pages, on oversize paper, with inks by Royer, Sinnott and Wally Wood. (Then Harpo Mark comes out with angel wings and runs around, somehow slipping his knee onto your hand while he honks his hidden horn, but that’s another story)
Some of my favorite moments ever in comics, especially “The Glory Boat”, “The Pact” and “Himon.”
5. Shooter and Swan’s Legion – deeply sentimental favorite for me, the comic that made me love comics as a little guy so verrrry long ago. It’s so terribly dated but so wonderfully nostalgic. I even love the ads. And part of me will carry a torch for Phantom Girl forever.
6. Ditko/Lee / Lee/Ditko’s Spider-Man – not sure whose name to put first there. So very brilliant, regardless.
7. Claremeont/Byrne’s X-Men – There was nothing else like this run, from when I was about seventeen to twenty. As a young Canadian, my favorites definitely included the intro of Alpha Flight (I think the first time I ever heard Vancouver mentioned in a comic, other than maybe in Captain Canuck). I was adolescently resentful but also thrilled that the story took place in Calgary. But really for me the greatest highlight of the run came early, issues #111, 112 and 113, with Mesmero and my favorite Magneto story ever. It set a bar that some subsequent X-Men issues matched but no, I think, surpassed.
8. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – in hindsight this is the vote that I think I’d lower a bit, but I enjoyed it so much, especially the War of the Worlds / Doctor Moreau issues. Along with LSH, I learned to first love reading from HG Wells, and no comic has ever adapted him so effectively and with such affection.
9. Moore’s Swamp Thing – and I call it that with a humble bow before the glory of Bissette and Totlebon.
Especially the Gotham City issues.
10. Thomas’s Avengers – along with old FF and then Thor, these were the back issues I hunted for most deliriously when I was fifteen and Vancouver got its first Comicshop. If you ever read this run in sequence you’ll see how it just gets better and better with John Buscema, and then Neal Adams comes in for the Kree/Skrull war and raises the bar another three notches, and then Barry Smith finishes it with a stunning three-parter, #98 – 100, my favorite Avengers issues of all.
My honorable mentions would go to Morrison’s Doom Patrol and Animal Man (both so good that I can’t believe they didn’t make my top ten), Moench’s Master of Kung Fu (I cherish my Gulacy-autographed “Cat”), Gerber’s Man-Thing (which helped make surviving adolescence possible), Kirby/Lee’s Captain America, and Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Hey Brian Cronin, I sincerely thank you for all you’ve done. I check your site with most morning coffees and with each ginger tea or whiskey at night. Thanks for adding a little extra quality to my ife, you’re truly part of what’s so cool about the internet.


May 2, 2008 at 11:05 pm

Hey, great call, buttler, that’s really funny. Brian I take it back , you need to work harder.

That’s the first issue of Byrne’s run, right?


May 2, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Oh crap I just dug it out to check and you’re right.
Never mind.
Um, keep up the good work, Bri.

Eh, it’s hardly the first time we’ve had a different cover artist for something like this. It’s just a moment of cognitive dissonance, that’s all.

I just want to make sure everyone’s aware of another great run that didn’t make the list:

Ty Templeton, Dan Slott, and Rick Burchett’s Batman Adventures. It only lasted 17 issues, but it was really great. It was based on the DC Animated Universe even though Batman no longer had his own show at this point. Any Batman fan should definitely check it out. :-)

The Chris Claremont/ John Byrne X-Men run I’ve simply never read. (Allergic to X-men, and not that keen on large teams. But given this showing may try a few trades sometime.)

I predicted Sandman winning. My reasoning was based on two main factors. First I’ve seen it win similar polls before. Second it is decidedly unusual, if you like it there is nothing else to “steal” the vote. (To give an example of what I mean. A Young Justice fan probably will like some Teen Titans runs, Runaways, Young Avengers, etc. When deciding final 10…. very doubtful if all the teen team runs will make the cut. Sandman… in my opinion… does not have any similar series of the same quality to provide “fraternal competition”)

Personal view on Sandman?? Undoubtedly a class series, don’t think it would have quite made my top 10. For me, my enjoyment of it varied hugely. I really, really enjoyed those issues that told short punchy self contained stories. But a lot of the very long sweeping story arcs left me baffled and bored. And ultimate problem? Didn’t strongly empathize with any of the characters…. now in Hitman…

Oh stop grouching… a darn good series won.

Andrew Collins

May 2, 2008 at 11:47 pm

One small nitpick in the X-Men write-up, Issue #110 didn’t feature Cockrum but instead was drawn by Tony DeZuniga. It was a one-off Mesmero story that left Claremont and Byrne able to start with a brand-new story/beginning in issue #111.

Not to nitpick myself, but that story featured a guy called Warhawk, I believe, who was installing bugs at the mansion. You didn’t find out until much later (during the Dark Phoenix saga) that the Hellfire Club had sent him for that purpose. The Mesmero story itself didn’t start till #111.

Damn, I am a fanboy.

Rene, I think you’ve undercounted DC. By my reckoning, we’ve got 40 Marvel runs and 36 DC runs.

This has probably been my favourite feature ever on CSBG Brian – so thanks for putting it together.
Particularly grateful for the issue numbers so I can actually track down some of the runs I’ve missed and try them out. (very much enjoying Garth Ennis’s Hellblazer at the moment)

hey! why rob liefeld didnt make it? he deserved #1!!!!!

(just kiddin. dont kill me)

I said this in another thread, but I just love this…

Claremont’s X-Men is what brought e to comics in the first place, when I was a kid. It wasn’t the first thing I read but it was the first thing that hooked me. I dug into the back issues and explored all the character histories, felt like I knew the team personally, knew the first appearance of every X-Man from Cyclops to Gambit. I’d stay up all night plotting fan fiction, and drawing the characters, and my love for the superhero genre, and for comics as a whole, blossomed out of that first love.

And then I went to high school out of state, and there was no comic shop nearby and I didn’t have much money and I stopped reading comics. And in college, a friend leant me the first Sandman trade. Needless to say, that’s what brought me back. I was’t so interested anymore in first appearances or secret identities, and I didn’t fantasize about having superpowers myself quite so often. I was into high concepts, stories about stories, the fundamental elements of existence and how they interact with each other, and the greatest mysteries of life.

And then eventually I came to love superhero comics again too, when I discovered Moore and Morrison and Robinson, rediscovered DeMatteis and Priest/Owlsey and so on, and embraced comics as a medium to the point where I was spending like 40 horus a week writing an e-mail newsletter about comics as literature and mythology (this was a decade ago and it was called Voice & Vision, just in case anyone should happen to remember it). These days I don’t spend so much time on comics but I go to the shop every week, and I read these boards, and comics are still a big love for me. And it feels really special that my childhood gateway, and my re-introduction to comics as an adult, are number 1 and 2 on the list!

(I didn’t actually vote for Clarmeont/Byrne, because I’ve discovered so many brilliant comics since that I just couldn’t squeeze it on… although Claremont’s 16-year-long run as a whole probably would have made the cut)

This has been loads of fun Brian. Thanks!

Neither of these made my list, but I can’t say I’m surprised or disapointed at where they placed. I like both, I just like a lot of other stuff more. The issue of Sandman with everyone trapped in the diner (I forget which number it was, I think in the teens) is probably the best single comic issue I’ve ever read, and one of the greatest horror stories in any medium I’ve ever experienced. Sheer brilliance.

Bernard the Poet

May 3, 2008 at 1:51 am

I re-read my Claremont/Byrne X-Men not so long ago and I was surprised at how well they stood up. So let me add some more points to Mister Midnight’s original 12 reasons as to why this run is so beloved by its fans: –

13) Every member had at least two definable characteristics. Okay, not such a big deal now, but in 1977, that was huge. Before the X-Men, teams were made up of three to five square-jawed, noble heroes, one woman and a hot-headed joker. Claremont and Byrne changed that forever.

14) The team was international, but the characters weren’t national stereo-types: The German had a sense of humour, the Russian never mentioned Communism, the Canadian wasn’t boring, the Irishman…okay, Banshee was a bit of a stereo-type but still a vast improvement on the Leprechaun-loving fellow of the earlier issues.

15) They were a family – they may have squabbled, but you knew that they loved each other and backed each other up to the hilt. Take the cameos by the Beast. He was at this stage a regular member of the Avengers, but Claremont and Byrne made it perfectly clear that they were just his co-workers, while the X-Men were blood.

16) They were terrible superheroes. A major theme of the series was that the X-Men were still learning to work as a team, they often got it wrong. They got captured by Arcade, Mesmero and Warhawk for god’s sake. Frog Man wouldn’t get captured by that shower. This gave the series tension, when they faced the really big-hitters like Magneto or the Hellfire Club, you really didn’t think they had it in them to win through.

17) It all happened in a self-contained universe. There were no crossovers with other heroes (except Power Man and Iron Fist), they only fought villains from their or Chris Claremont’s past. I think this helped in giving the reader the sense that they somehow part of a secret club. Certainly, the X-Men’s decline can be linked to their later over-exposure.

18) They were misunderstood, unlucky and never got an even break. Amazing, how few writers realise how important it is for the heroes to be underdogs.

19) It was sexy. Okay, maybe this one was just me, but the whole seduction of Jean Grey away from the vanilla Scott Summers by the kinky Hellfire Club, stirred something in my prepubescent heart.

I’ve got nothing against the Sandman – it’s a fine comic, but if Dikto’s Spiderman couldn’t make number one, then it really should have been the X-Men. It is the most influential comic series of the last thirty years, in fact, I’d go further and say that every superhero comic written since 1980 has its roots in this run.

Black Rabbit

May 3, 2008 at 1:57 am

When the war started, and there were pictures of Baghdad in rubble and reports of the museum being looted and no one could get an accurate count of civilian casualties, I pulled out issue #50, ‘Ramadan’, and read it again. And I felt a little bit better.

“19) It was sexy. Okay, maybe this one was just me, but the whole seduction of Jean Grey away from the vanilla Scott Summers by the kinky Hellfire Club, stirred something in my prepubescent heart.”

I liked how Morrison flipped that around a bit during his run, making it the whole seduction of Scott Summers away from the vanilla Jean Grey by the kinky Emma Frost.

Haha. The whiny, kitsch flavored poetry Goth fest that is known as Sandman!

It’s official this blog’s readers don’t got no taste!

“Haha. The whiny, kitsch flavored poetry Goth fest that is known as Sandman!

It’s official this blog’s readers don’t got no taste!”

I suppose the people who give out the Eisners also have no taste, as well as the people ho give out the Hugos, the people who give out the Bram Stoker awards, or the people who give out the world fantasy award.


If you don’t like the run, say so. But don’t make an ignorant comment like that.

I’d like to add that I certainly don’t think awards (or polls for that matter) are the last word in quality, but the Eisners are usually pretty reliable, and wombat pissed me off.

Back on topic: Thanks aheap for this poll Mr Cronin. It’s been good fun and, for the most part, I can’t argue with the results. Sandman is definitely a deserving number one, though it was only three on my list.

Eight of my 10 made it, with seven in the top 10 (guess I’m one of the masses).

The two ofmine that didn’t make it were:

9. Robinson/Casey/Ladrönn/Cable (I think it counts as one run, as they worked together and the run flowed seamlessly. Both had the same artist anyway, so call it Ladrönn’s run if you like.)
10. David/X-Factor (Current series)

I’m not surpeised my number nine didn’t make it, but I can’t believe PAD’s first X-Factor run beat the current X-Factor. Oh well.

Stuff that maybe should have been on the list:
Lapham – Stray Bullets
Larsen – Savage Dragon
Straczynski – Rising Stars
Straczynski and Romita Jr – Amazing Spidey
Lee and Buscema – Silver Surfer
PAD – Aquaman
Jones/Romita Jr – Hulk
Vaughn/Harris – Ex Machina
Priest/Bright – Quantum & Woody
Kieth – The Maxx
Miller – Sin City
Slott – She-Hulk

Sorry there are a couple of typos above.

I’m also surprised that there’s no Buffy. I’ve never read it myself, but I thought the Whedonites would be out in full force. (Maybe they decided it was better to vote for Astonishing X-Men?)

This poll inspired me to pick up all three trades of Morrison’s Animal Man on Ebay. Can’t wait to get started.
I’ve also realised I really need to read SwampThing and Starman.
I’ve also realised I really really need to read Ennis’s Hellblazer and more of Hitman, because Ennis is my number one.

I hope this poll has reminded us that the 90s wasn’t all Liefeld and crap.

For the next poll, I think the villains idea and the film adaptations idea are both pretty good.

I know I’ve been saying I’d rather have a limited series poll than a storylines poll. I subsequently thought that, since ‘storylines’ is so broad, I’ll really get the best of the best recommended if we have a storylines poll. On the other hand, there is bound to be some overlap with this poll if we do storylines rather than limited series. For instance, what are the chances that the Dark Phoenix Saga, Season of Mists or the Judas Contract make the top storylines? So I’m sticking to my guns and advocating a limited series poll.

Only one of my Top 10* didn’t make the list, and that was THE DESERT PEACH by Donna Barr, a long-running piece of historical fiction starring Pfirsig Rommel, the gay brother of (WWII German army commander) the Desert Fox. It sounds like a farce, and as a war comedy it rivals MASH and Catch-22 without breaking a sweat, but it’s also extraordinarily human and powerfully moving, and it’s got some of the finest character work I’ve seen. And as a scripter and wordsmith Barr is out of this world.

If I had been completely honest I probably would have dropped one of my top 10 and also put in Barr’s other long-running series, STINZ, but I decided to just pick one because I knew she wouldn’t get nearly enough votes to be in the top 100 anywhere because hardly anyone seems to know her, and it’s always sort of a challenge finding her books in comic shops.

STINZ is the story of a central European “half-horse” (read: centaur) at the time of World War I; the first volume follows his life during wartime, and as the story progresses we get to know more about his culture, his family, his region… like in DP the book is full of rich characterizations and a mix of moving drama and (a little less) side-splitting humor, but this is book where Barr’s gift for words and language (in several different languages actually) bring her into a league of her own. And she also crafts an entire culture and story-world for Stinz that’s as unique and fascinating as just about any I’ve seen.

*Here are my other top picks, in case anyone looks at it and goes “hey, I love this books, I’m gonna check out Donna Barr’s work too! — 1. PROMETHEA 2. INVISIBLES 3. SANDMAN 4. Morrison’s X-MEN 5. DESERT PEACH 6. CONCRETE 7. STARMAN 8. TRANSMETROPOLITAN 9. BONE 10. STRANGERS IN PARADISE

“On the other hand, there is bound to be some overlap with this poll if we do storylines rather than limited series”

I think that would just help put things in perspective, gotta be a good thing.

I’d love a storylines poll! I think it’s the most evenhanded way to do it. Series, as we saw, work against writers who tend to tell smaller, complete stories like Alan Moore. Limited series poll’s work against almost any writer who’s done a significant amount of work at the Big Two, because most of their output is serial. But everyone writes storylines, y’know?

So basically, you want to engineer a list that fits more to your tastes? I don’t writers like Morrison or Moore were hurt at all by this list, they both made some very strong showings, actually.

Ummm, yeah, I want to engineer a list that fits more to my tastes, so that ALL writers are included, rather than just those who specialize in limited series, or just those who focus on ongoings. Me and my limited tastes.

Starting a sentence with Ummm is kinda rude. I was just pointing out that many writers were represented by this list, regardless of what type of comics they wrote. Moore being the best example. Plus, it could potentially discriminate against storylines that haven’t been reprinted as a graphic novel, since most of the well known and beloved serial storylines are the ones that have been reprinted. At the same time, titles like Sandman would be hurt, as all the well regarded storylines from that series would probably split the vote among it’s fans.

Hey Stefan, I thought I was the only other person who had ever heard of Deser Peach and Stinz, both EXCELLENT stories. I have the entire run of Desert Peach, and it is a hoot.

the only thing on my list that disappointed by not making the top 100 was the Roy Thomas/ Barry Windsor-Smith run on Conan. i think that the top 100 list worked out fairly well, though – there’s not a run on it that isn’t good.

let’s hear it for collective wisdom!

Haha. The whiny, kitsch flavored poetry Goth fest that is known as Sandman!

It’s official this blog’s readers don’t got no taste!

I’m sorry that cute l’il goth girl didn’t want to go to the prom with you in ninth grade.

On a completely unrelated note: Sandman is pretty good, and nothing like you imagine it’s like in your head. You should read it sometime.

Sally- Cool! Yeah, you’re the only person I’ve “met” too actually. I got into them because I used to write a review newsletter, and Donna Barr sent me an issue of DP for review. It was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen and I raved about it, and then she sent me a bunch more! It’s been years since I read it though ’cause I leant most of my collection to a friend across the country who never managed to get the back to me, and I’ve been traveling internationally ever since; we think those books are hard to find in the US, but try Ireland or Austria! :-) Anyway, do you know if they’re still being published? Feel free to e-mail me: “inspirus” at Gmail.

wwk5d- All right, no rudeness intended, I just thought we were snarking. You’re probably right that Sandman and most of my other favorite ongoings would get split six ways to Sunday, although I’m not sure that’s a problem. I just think it would be cool to do a thread where more or less all complete comic stories are on an even plane wih each other. And yeah, with some stories it’s tricky. Claremont’s outback stories are among my favorites from my childhood, but there were years though where it was just one sprawling story, impossible to break down into conventient trade-sized runs. Then you’ve got Invisibles, or Deadpool, which were both one big story for their first two years. But I still think it’s worth a shot.

One big reoccuring theme in the majority of books that are in the top 100 (not these two) is that the books were either not doing very well, or not much was expected out of them. This led to more creative freedom for the writers, which led to more popular stories for fans. Hmmm, creative freedom. Not that is an idea.


That tally for DC only included comic books with some tie to the DC Universe. They were for the DC UNIVERSE, not for DC COMICS. I didn’t count “Transmetropolitan”, for instance. Even if you want to count ALL the Vertigo titles, it still wouldn’t come to 36. Because some of those 10 Vertigo titles were already included in the “set in DC Universe” tally (like “Sandman”, for instance).

Now that the results are here, someone could do a tally by publisher, assigning all the Vertigo runs to DC comics, etc. And, I suppose, also assigning the an Icon comic like “Powers” to Marvel comics.

“I suppose the people who give out the Eisners also have no taste, as well as the people ho give out the Hugos, the people who give out the Bram Stoker awards, or the people who give out the world fantasy award.


If you don’t like the run, say so. But don’t make an ignorant comment like that.”

Jeph Loeb has won 4 Eisners

Both of these made my list! In fact, Sandman was my number one.

I think the only runs on my list that didn’t make it are:

Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory
Brian K Vaughan’s Ex Machina
and Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey.

I think the rest of my list made it. I don’t remember.

Brian, any chance of listing out a quick dump of the complete top 300 (or even just 150)? I’ve always enjoyed those lists when you’ve done them with your other “Top 100″ contests, especially seeing how many #1 votes never made it into the top 100.


Thank you for this poll. It’s inspired me to re-read some of the great runs I have in my collection and pointed me towards titles I need to give a try. Oh, and Sandman was an extremely deserving winner.

Hrm. I thought the order would’ve been reversed. I like both of these, though I don’t vote for either of them. Thanks for doing this Brian, it was fun.

Vic: I did qualify my statement in the following comment.

The Eisners do sometimes go to comics/crestors I think are undeserving, but generally Eisner winners are pretty good comics.

Loeb’s never actually won best writer (though Morrison hasn’t either). Two of those awards were Best Reprint Graphic Album – whoopey – and the other two were best limited series for Long Halloween and best single issue for Batman/The Spirit. Given that the artists on thos were, respectively, Tim Sale and Darwyn Cooke, I think the awards are justifiable (I think the work of Sale may also be a big factor in those Graphic Album awards too).

Speaking of Eisners: Brian, you forgot to big up Todd Klein for his work on the Sandman. It was sandtastic (sorry).

“this story has one of the most famous single panels in comic history.”

Ummm, a little help? For those of us that grew up DC fanboys and don’t know what panel you are talking about, anyone want to clue us (and by us I mean me) in?

Just threw this up on another thread, but I’ll put it here too!

One breakdown of the list that I haven’t seen yet is how many runs feature Marvel and DC’s flagship characters (I’m loosely defining “flagship” as the iconic ones that have maintained a presence in the comics since the beginning, or at least since around the silver age).


X-men – 6 runs
Avengers – 3 runs (4 if you count Ultimates)
Fantastic Four – 3 runs
Spider-Man – 3 runs (4 if you count Ultimate Spidey)
Daredevil – 3 runs
Captain America – 2 runs
Thor – 2 runs
Hulk – 1 run
Iron Man – 1 run
Dr. Strange – 1 run
Nick Fury – None
Silver Surfer – None
Sub-mariner – None


Justice League – 2 runs
Legion of Super-Heroes – 2 runs
Justice Society – 1 run
Teen Titans – 1 run
Batman – 2 runs
Flash – 2 runs
Green Lantern – 2 runs
Green Arrow – 2 runs
Superman – 1 run (2 if you count All-Star)
Wonder Woman – None
Aquaman – None
Captain Marvel – None

Don’t know what this proves exactly, besides I can’t get enough of these lists, but it’s kind of a (very) loose gauge of how inspiring the classic characters are for creators to generate memorable storylines.

About 60% of the master list is made up of lesser-known, often independent creations. Which may be why the general public don’t respect comics as much, maybe they assume that the above characters represent 100% of the market, when they’re really just a (diminishing) portion of the stuff out there.

Or maybe it’s all meaningless. Still, lists are fun.

JC — I assume Brian is talking about the reveal at the very end of #132. We believe that Logan has been sent plummeting to the center of the earth due to the gravity (?) powers of Shaw (?). As I remember, the first few panels are of an empty sewer tunnel, then we see a hand reach up from under the water to grab hold of something, and then in the last panel we see Wolverine pulling himself up, snarling and with claws out, vowing to kick some ass. (Sorry, I forget the actual words; I’m sure someone here has them.) It was the first time, I think, that Claremont and Byrne really nailed the classic take on Logan — feral, solitary, vengeful, vicious, and impossible to defeat.

The most significant thing about this run of the X-Men for me was that I had a torrid, year-long and completely imaginary relationship with Kitty Pryde when she first joined the group. I was 13. She was 13. We were perfect for each other. I had no trouble making myself fictional for her.

Haven’t seen any debate on best story arc in Sandman. I imagine there would be some votes for the Kindly Ones, but I’d lobby heavily for Brief Lives. An epic road trip, the whole dysfunctional family in crisis, a talking dog, love, sex, death, and the seeds of Dream’s demise. A story on such a wide scale that works because it’s driven by the inner lives of its characters. Cataclysmic, but in the end probably the least melodramatic and genre-specific of the story arcs. So adult. And Jill Thompson — seriously! I think it’s the high-point of the series.

My Top Ten…

1) Michael A. Stackpole on X-Wing Rogue Squadron – I owe that comic book series for getting me into comic books, man. I was a Star Wars nerd as a kid, so I read all the Star Wars comic books, and there was no series like that one that kept me coming back, poring over the art, rapt by the script and plotting. For me, there’s no possible other #1, even though I know there’s probably not another soul on the planet who agrees.

2) Jim Aparo on Batman – After Batman Begins came out, I decided to check out Batman, a character I’d always enjoyed on TV and in movies, as a comic-book character, since those were his origins. The first trade paperbacks I picked up were Death in the Family and Blind Justice, if memory serves. And I was hooked.

3) Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams on Batman – Obviously, I picked up more Batman after that, and you can’t get into Batman, either trades or single issues, without running across a whole lotta Denny and Neal. They really helped define the character.

4) Grant Morrison on JLA – Made me care about superheroes other than Batman. I couldn’t give a fig about a superhero if it wasn’t Batman. And by carefully making Batman the coolest character in his League, but also make every other character necessary and interesting and fun, Morrison made the JLA, and by extension, the DCU, matter to me.

5) Joss Whedon on Astonishing X-Men – Made me give the Marvel U. a try. My friend Matt forced me to try Astonishing, said it wasn’t wrapped up in MU continuity, didn’t interact much with the rest of the MU…”It’s basically out of continuity,” he told me (turns out he was wrong.) He handed me the first hardcover, and I really was astonished. No one and nothing had EVER made me care about a Marvel character. When I was growing up, Marvel’s characters were like the X-Men (hated the name), Spider-Man (hated the powers and the cartoon), and of course Captain America (grew up in a liberal home, so I thought I was supposed to hate America–I was disabused of that notion later by my parents, who explained to my the complexities of the liberal position). They were the enemy, because even though I didn’t read comics, I knew I liked Superman and Batman. Finally, I now had a reason to involve myself in the MU, which, although it will never appeal to me like the DCU does, has a richness to its tapestry, particularly in decades not starting with “199” or “196.”

6) Frank Miller on Sin City – In those days when I was a kid, comics was Dark Horse. I knew about DC and Marvel, and had even read the issue when Superman died when it first came out (on the bus on the way to school), but Dark Horse published Star Wars, so what Dark Horse published, I read. I read Concrete, I read The Mask, I read The Shadow…the one that stuck in my head the most, probably because I was way too young to appreciate it, was Sin City. I mean, all of the stuff Dark Horse was making (except Star Wars) was way over my head, but Sin City was so visceral and resonant that it reached me in a way that some of the other stuff didn’t.

7) Ed Brubaker on Captain America – Captain America, in a lot of ways, represents so many of the disappointing qualities of America to me. At least, his early stuff does. But go figure, for the last 30 years he’s been the bleedingest heart in the Marvel U.

8) Gerard Jones/Cully Hamner on Green Lantern Mosaic – Best Green Lantern book ever published, and nobody read it. Go out and hunt your bargain bin for it (which is where I found the entire series) and you won’t regret it. This is fantastic, fun GL storytelling, the kind that Hal Jordan had abandoned long before for brooding angst and self-doubt, and it’s really well put-together.

9) Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams on Green Lantern/Green Arrow – When Hal abandoned the fun storytelling that eventually became a part of Mosaic, this was where he went. This was a great series that introduced me to Green Arrow and really started expanding my DCU interests from the Big Seven to all the other ones. Books like this are the reason I’ll ravenously devour a book like Bloodhound; if it’s DCU, I’m giving it a chance. (Not to say Bloodhound didn’t deserve that chance–it was a damn good book.)

10) Geoff Johns on Flash – Geoff Johns’ Flash is the Flash to me. He’s the first writer I read on the Flash, and he defines the Flash. Well, he and Grant Morrison and Mark Waid.

Runner-up: Mark Waid on JLA. Morrison was my first taste of a lot of DCU characters, and Waid gave me another dose. DC hit a home run with Morrison, and made it back-to-back by following him with such a solid winner of a writer.

Mason, the words are something to the effect of “Now it’s my turn.”

Favorite Sandman arc was Season of Mists. Gaiman’s depiction of Lucifer was so charismatic and original. Mike Carey did fantastic at keeping him cool in the Lucifer spin-off, which is also a great read.

I also liked his version of Loki introduced in this arc, who was used excellently later in Kindly Ones.

Favorite single issue: #13, Hob’s first appearance. Just a really neat journey through different times that also sets up a couple of future stories (like Johanna Constantine’s mission in France). The issue’s a nice commentary on never-changing human nature.

My only notable exception to the 100: where was Priest & Bright’s “Quantum & Woody”?

I think my list got lost in that big losing of lists at the beginning of the listing of lists.

But I’d still like to mention three really fine runs that I found highly entertaining back in the 70’s:

Don McGregor’s runs of Black Panther in Jungle action and Killraven: Warrior of the Worlds. I looked forward to these two titles every month and was totally immersed in the stories.

Steve Englehart’s and Frank Brunner’s run on Dr. Strange. It was so weird and wonderful; the Sorceror Supreme hadn’t been this good since the Ditko days.

As for the actual final list, I haven’t read them all, but I think — based on the ones I have read — that every single run deserves to be on this list.

Decades of entertainment value here!

The Claremont-Byrne run on “Uncanny X-Men” is a close second to Grant Morrison’s “New X-Men” in the running for best X-Men comic for people who hate X-Men comics.

If you’ve seen the first movie, then you know everything you need to pick up “Uncanny X-Men” #108. The premise and most of the characters are easily recognizable. If you read all the way to “Days of Future Past”, then never have to read another X-Men panel. Every character has had their arc resolved. Jean Grey is dead, Scott Summer optimistic view of the world is shattered and, yet, somehow they have a daughter. Wolverine has embraced Xavier’s vision and defends to his death. Kitty has married Peter, only to lose him to the Sentinels. Storm has matured from the self-involved “Godess” to the leader of the X-Men and Kitty’s mentor.

Moreover, they are all doomed and will never stop fighting. That is pretty much the X-Men in a nut-shell.

Claremont would beat these themes like a drum for the rest of his long, long tenure on the title. Marvel would spin-off a huge universe of mutants that would endlessly repeat variations on these stories. However, they were totally fresh when Claremont was working with Byrne.

The two really brought out the best in each other. Claremont loved strong women and Byrne knew how to make female characters sexy while having personalities. Claremont knew how to plot long story arcs, while Byrne was a master of tight issues. Claremont wrote Wolverine like a bad-ass, while Byrne made him physically unattractive.

Neither was ever quite as good without the other. Chris Claremont’s X-Men slowly devolved into a rambling mess post-Byrne. John Byrne never could figure out what to do with Superman after his masterful “The Man of Steel” mini-series.

The Claremont/Byrne X-Men was pretty much my favorite thing when I was 12, and it was a long way into the precipitous decline of Claremont’s writing in that series before I finally gave up on it for good (in the “dead in Australia” era).

Looking back on it now, I realize that a lot of what appealed to me was just soap opera writing — the zillion tiny subplots that were always left dangling — and I can’t read the angst-ridden, novel-length expository thought balloons without laughing anymore — and mind you, this was Claremont at his best. Seriously, it was enough to make even Gaiman’s gloomy Dream turn to Cyclops and say, “Oh go cry, emo kid.”

Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” kept me reading comics.

By the early ’90s, I was pretty burnt out on super-heroes. I hated the Marvel books from that period. They just seemed like one pin-up after another barely strung together by a plot. For me, the DCU was starting sputter. I was not a fan of the post-Byrne Superman, nor the post-Perez “Wonder Woman”, nor the post Messner-Loebs “Flash”. No one has ever figured out how to write the “JLI” except Giffen and DeMatties. Dixon and McDaniel’s “Nightwing” and Robinson’s “Starman” didn’t show up until the mid-90s.

That left the Grant-Breyfogle on “Detective” and the Vertigo books. There was no bigger Vertigo book than “Sandman”.

Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” is probably closer to my heart, but Gaiman kept me hooked. It was all very clearly going someplace. Every new issue felt like a new piece to a very large puzzle. More amazingly, it all paid off. Everything set up something that came later. Even the odd-in-retrospect Justice League cross-over had important information in it.

The approach to the art makes absurdly good sense. Using a change in artist to signal a change in story arc and, therefore, tone is just brilliant. I am amazed that is not common practice. Sam Kieth did a nice job with the early issues. His take on Morpheus himself is still my personal favorite. Kelley Jones was amazing on “Season of the Mists”. Jill Thompson did nice work on “Brief Lives”. The list includes nearly everyone who worked on the series.

What makes it a worthy top selection is that it really rewards re-reading. Knowing how it turns out makes earlier issues better. You see stuff that you missed the first time around. Like Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” or Vladimir Nabakov’s “Lolita”, it cannot really be spoiled. The big plot twists are totally beside the point.

I don’t know why I haven’t read Gaiman’s Sandman. Well…I’ll get up and go buy it

stephen cade

May 3, 2008 at 1:58 pm

I get that people really like the top 5, but none of them made my top 10–and frankly–none of them interest me, other than the historical value of the FF. But then that’s a matter of taste.

In any case 7 of my top 10 made the top 100. The 3 that didn’t make it didn’t surprise me.

Maybe I’ll list those somewhere else.

Mike Loughlin

May 3, 2008 at 2:17 pm

For me, Sandman was the bridge between super-hero comics and other types of comics. “Season of the Mist” and “Brief Lives” were my favorite arcs. I have a friend who used to remind me of Delerium, in a good way. She made a speech at my wedding in which she included a couple of funny Delerium quotes, knowing I would be the only person who got the references.

As someone who has never had any interest in the whole Goth thing, Sandman remains an enjoyable series populated by memorable characters and innovative ideas.

I’m surprised it beat Claremont/ Byrne X-Men, though.

The only run I can think of from my list that didn’t make it was Kabuki (specifically, the first Image series, collected in “Metamorphosis”).

Brief Lives and World’s End were my favorite Sandman arcs, by far.

Brief Lives’ “title scene,” if you will, with the chocolate lovers playing out their brief, borrowed lives… that’s perhaps my favorite single moment in comics ever. I’m glad to hear other voices chiming in for this arc too.

And then World’s End just goes deeper and deeper with each page of each issue, and that glimpse of the funeral procession toward the end brought me into a moment of sheer cosmic awareness that I’ll never forget. I remember the Prez issue was my single favorite issue at the time I read it; and I had never heard of Prez.

I wanna write more but I’ve a big day tomorrow, so g’night!

P.S. Count me among the astonished and disturbed that Quantum & Woody didn’t make the top 100. It didn’t make my top 10, but dammit, it should’ve made lots of other people’s lists! lol… probably number 13 for me or so.

Dean, it’s interesting that what you described of your relationship to the X-Men and Sandman and also of how the Marvel Universe started to degrade in the 90s and how the post-Byrne/Perez/Loebs DCU also started to degrade, was pretty much identical to my own experiences.

Who knows, maybe there are a lot of people out there who lived through this era and had the same reactions as me. And here I thought I was so unique.

Jono, it’s true, Captain America is the most liberal of all superheroes with the exception of Green Arrow, ever since the early 70s. I have no problem with that, since I’m a bit of a liberal myself, but I know many conservatives that are irked by how Cap has been depicted. For some reason, I think the best Cap stories are also the most “liberal”. Highlights:

– Englehart had the true Captain America fighting his 1950s counterpart, a “fake” Captain America, insane, paranoid, racist, and conservative. Englehart also had Cap foiling the plans of Richard Nixon, a devious master planner.

– deMatteis created Arnie Roth, a childhood friend of Captain America that was gay. Cap was very supportive and even made a speech defending Arnie from the rantings of a homophobic Red Skull.

– Gruenwald made Captain America give up his identity instead of serving the government directly.

And so on, and so on. It’s funny how provocative some of these ideas are, particularly when you note many people has this notion of Captain America as your typical flag-weaving dupe.

As for Sandman, considering it a “goth” comic book is very misleading, as the comic attracted a very varied readership: fantasy fans, horror fans, historic novel fans, intelectuals, women, and (yes) goths. It was published in the heyday of goth culture, the mid-to-late 90s, but it’s a lot more than that.

I always loved own Gaiman was able to make our own world a place of magic, mystery, and horror, with all these fantastic elements lurking in the shadows of everyday life, and throughout history. It’s more commonplace today, but it’s a liberating way of writing fantasy. When you’re sick and tired of the distance imposed by Tolkien and his elven languages, or Conan’s macho universe, Sandman seemed a lot closer to home and more versatile.

And Sandman can’t be underestimated as one of the first comics that I read that presented not only female characters, but some story arcs (“Doll’s House” and a “Game of You”) that seemed told from a genuinely female point-of-view. I found it fascinating when I’ve read it, and remembered thinking that no other comic in my experience had done this before. Even someone as sophisticated as Alan Moore had a certain macho quality to him.

And Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men. I know many people have been sick of the X-Men for a long time, but don’t let this feeling diminish the appreciation for this run. Proteus, Hellfire Club, Phoenix, Days of Future Past, so many wonderful science fiction concepts, so much more daring and original than what you’d think as “only” superhero stories. If these concepts don’t look so new right now, it’s only because they were so hugely successful to the point of becoming the new cliches.

Here’s the list I submitted, with hindsight comments in square brackets.

1. Steve Gerber, Defenders (before this, I didn’t even have a concept of “favorite run”)
[Didn’t make it. Thought it was a shoo-in, but as the results came out I realized what a generational difference there was.]

2. Stan & Jack, Fantastic Four (Marvel’s Greatest Comics, with it’s inexpensive reprints of classic Lee/Kirby FF, was a real godsend when I was a kid in the seventies.)
[Made it! Yay!]

3. Grant Morrison, Doom Patrol (Still my favorite of Morrison’s. If you’re trying to get someone to get into his stuff who’s resistant, start with this, not Animal Man, you knob.)

4. Claremont, Cockrum (first run only) and Byrne, X-Men (Sure, maybe more for how good I though it was then than for how good I think it is now, but there’s no denying how much I liked it at the time). Does not include Cockrum’s disappointing return.
[I don’t know how much this would have counted as a vote for Cockrum, but as I said, first run only, I would deliberately withhold votes from his second.]

5. Giffen, DeMatteis & Maguire, Justice League/International (I had recently defected from Marvel zombie-dom, where grim n’ gritty was rearing its ugly head; this was the perfect antidote.)
[Another one that made it.]

6. Steve Englehart & Sal Buscema, Captain America (Evil 50s replacement Cap.The Secret Empire and “not Nixon” killing himself. The original resignation & Nomad arc. The all-time ultimate Cap run, period; only Brubaker’s recent run has come close to being nearly as interesting.)
[Didn’t make it. Bummer, especially when Gruenwald’s overrated and rather “blah” run did.]

7. Stan Lee & John Romita Sr., Spider-Man (Ditko will be getting plenty of love without my help, and there’s something about Romita’s look that’s just so evocative of the time it was made)
[Made it. I don’t feel like going back and checking the numbers for each of these, but at least it showed up.]

8. Steve Englehart, the Avengers. Another classic 70’s run from “the other great Steve of the 70s”. Hard to believe his tenure covered milestones like the Mantis/Celestial Madonna story, the Wanda/Vision marriage, the Vision’s secret origin (later vandalized by Byrne, and even later repaired by Busiek), several great Kang stories, the Beast joining, Hellcat, and so much more.
[Didn’t make it. Ah, well, individual tastes, age, and perspective count for quite a bit, don’ they?]

9. Ellis & Cassaday, Planetary. I really resisted including a one-team-over-its-whole-existence book as a “run”, but I’m including this because it’s the only one of its era & type that really qualified and I felt I was overloading my list with older stuff. There’s plenty of newer stuff that I like, but it’s mostly minis, or single issues & 2 to 3 issue spurts of brilliance more than anything sustained.
[I can’t for the life of me think why Sandman (which I rate pretty damn highly) was disqualified from my list for being a “one guy for it’s whole existence, therefore not a run” book but this was exempted. Guess I wasn’t thinking straight.]

10. Steve Englehart & Marshall Rodgers, Batman.
[Made it.]

Excellent choices for #1 & #2, I approve thoroughly.

I love Sandman. It covers so much territory and so many different ways. While “A Season of Mists” is probably my favorite long storyline in the series, “Three Septembers and a January” is still my favorite single issue (which Neil graciously signed for me). It’s such a brilliant story, marvelously done in one.

Claremont/Byrne remain the gold standard for the X-Men. It’s pretty impressive how well it holds up as a cohesive, long-form story, yet all of the individual pieces are still ripping good yarns as well. The way Cyclops held the team together and made them a real team and fighting unit made me respect him as a leader even through years where he barely seemed competent under lesser writers. Wolvie wasn’t an invulnerable caricature but a complicated mystery, almost a hero. And even more, it planted the seeds of Magneto as more than the somewhat boring megalomaniac, eventually creating the facinating anti-hero (that was frequently spoiled by the useless writers who couldn’t handle a character of this complexity). think about how many times “Days of Futures Past” has been ripped off in comics now! (and never surpassed.)

It’s great stuff. Also, I encourage people to read the “Phoenix Files” to get a look behind the screen at the cumulation of the Dark Phoenix saga and what almost was. Interesting comments from Claremont, Byrne, Shooter, and more.

“I suppose the people who give out the Eisners also have no taste, as well as the people ho give out the Hugos, the people who give out the Bram Stoker awards, or the people who give out the world fantasy award.


If you don’t like the run, say so. But don’t make an ignorant comment li

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Random Stranger

May 3, 2008 at 6:09 pm

“I suppose the people who give out the Eisners also have no taste, as well as the people ho give out the Hugos, the people who give out the Bram Stoker awards, or the people who give out the world fantasy award.”

Sandman has never won a Hugo. The only comic book to ever win a Hugo is Watchmen.


May 3, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Yay for Sandman! It sure deserves the top spot. I read it last year, thinking it couldn’t be as good as people said it was, but turns out it’s even better. An amazing experience, and the sadness I felt after finishing this series took a couple of weeks to completely vanish. The Ramadan issue is probably my favorite one-shot ever.

Looking at the finished list, it seems kinda weird that just one manga made it to the top 100 (Lone Wolf and Cub, if I’m not mistaken). I thought that at least classics like Akira or some of Osamu Tezuka’s work would make it, but apparently american readers don’t really like manga (most people that voted on Lone Wolf probably read it after reading about its influence on Frank Miller’s work) or, at least, those who read super-hero comic books.

“Gerard Jones/Cully Hamner on Green Lantern Mosaic – Best Green Lantern book ever published, and nobody read it. Go out and hunt your bargain bin for it (which is where I found the entire series) and you won’t regret it. This is fantastic, fun GL storytelling, the kind that Hal Jordan had abandoned long before for brooding angst and self-doubt, and it’s really well put-together.”

Well, this must’ve got at least two votes then! :D

Kudos to Brian Cronin for all his work in the presentation of the poll!

Actually, 2 of my favorite runs never sold well, and neither were ever fully completed as published. They were Hepcats and Akiko.

Eisner`? is that the same award that nominated a brad meltzer justice league issue this year?

Random Stranger: My bad. It was nominated but didn’t actually win.

David: What exactly do you mean? It seems you’re implying that I made an ignorant comment. The fact is, my comment was a suggestion, i.e. “If you don’t like the run just say so.” Where is the ignorance there?

I’m not going to run to the defence of polls or awards because, as I’ve stated above, they can often get it wrong (just look at the Oscars and the Grammies – oy).

I am, however, willing to defend a run that I think deserves all the accolades and appreciation it gets. I like Sandman, so do a lot of fans, and so do a lot of critics. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s fine. There’s plenty of stuff that’s made the list that I don’t like. But I don’t (I hope) voice my opinions in an uninformed and antagonistic way.

We all voted for runs that we like. Some made it, and some didn’t. If there’s something you think should have made it and didn’t, by all means suggest that people read it. If there are things that are on the list that you don’t think deserve to be there, then name them.

I’d also like to thank wombat for the compliment:

“It’s official this blog’s readers don’t got no taste!’

It seems he feels that this blog’s readers officially have taste (note his double negative).

Bit late in the day but can I just add my thanks to Brian for all this effort in putting this together. Right from the get go when you asked the question its been fun. Then you throw in the quiz to predict the top five while the fgood fun of seeing the answers revealed is ongoing. Top job all round (and well done to all who voted and added intelligent comments after each listing to add even more to the occasion!) but Brian thanks a lot you have gained at least one new regular visiter to you’re blog (I only use to check out Urban Legends) most the folk around here seem to be the kinda people I’m happy to hear the opinions off.

Great stuff (but I would love to see the rest of the nominated lists with points …. what selfish what…..)

Thanks Brian, now off to the other thread to lament my votes that didn’t make it.

Yeah, Rene, I was counting according to publisher and it’s definitely 36 to DC. I didn’t assign Powers to Marvel, but then again I didn’t assign Wildstorm titles to DC either.

Particularly with some of the older non-Marvel/DC stuff, like Nexus and Concrete, I think the stuff was published by several different parties, so I didn’t try a tally by publisher. I was too lazy. Now might be the time for it.

Colin: I totally agree. This list has really sucked me into the CBR site. I’m very impressed with the discourse among the regular posters. In particular, some of the debate over Stan Lee’s dialogue was worthy of master’s-level seminar. (Can I get it retroactively applied to my transcript?) I love that comics brings out this kind of passionate and far-ranging analysis. We respond to these books intellectually and emotionally, and (as we’ve been seeing in the posts), it’s often hard to reconcile the two sides. But all the expressions of that joy and frustration make for such compelling reading. Thanks to everybody.

Great work, Brian. You too, Rene. Have a great summer.

Sandman??? Really?????
It’s good, to be sure but the “Greatest Run”????

I have to say, I think Sandman deserves the top spot. It, like the #2 and #3 entries, fundamentally changed the way comics were sold, written, and marketed. It may be the run that single-handedly broke the glass ceiling that separated comics from genre literature, and made it possible for film and novel critics to start seriously discussing the merits of stuff like Watchmen in mainstream outlets. You could almost argue Sandman is the book that got comics into bookstores, since I recall it being fully available in TPB form and selling well back when very little was collected. This is one series that I’d expect to see back in a top 5 position in lists like this for decades.

Fun list!

I should’ve voted but just couldn’t decide on my ten favorite.

The only thing I think is missing is Mark Bagley & Fabian Nicieza’s New Warriors run (#1-25). Great plotting and characterization, and fun Bagley art.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! (Or do I mean “dreading”?) This post started out as a copy of my ballot of “Top 10 Favorites,” but it now has lots of extra commentary tossed in — mainly for the 5 picks out of 10 which failed to make it into the Top 100 Runs, which suggests they aren’t nearly as well known as they ought to be).

1. The Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run on “Amazing Spider-Man.” [This placed #3.]

2. The Marv Wolfman/George Perez run on the FIRST series to bear the proud title “The New Teen Titans” back in the early 1980s. [I didn’t mention their run on the earliest issues of the second series, but I suspect my vote got counted with any that did mention it, so I guess this one placed — more or less — as #11.]

3. Gerry Conway’s run in the early 1980s as the writer on two Bat-titles which became tied together in “permanent crossover mode” as a twice-monthly ongoing narrative. A sub-plot would start in one, get a few pages in the other, bounce back to the first one, et cetera. It would be downright silly to claim this was two separate runs; it was really one run flowing back and forth between two titles. The titles were, of course, “Batman” and “Detective Comics.”

It looks like Conway’s run as the regular writer included: “Batman #’s 337-346″ and “Batman #’s 348-359,” as well as “Detective Comics #497-499,” “Detective Comics #’s 501-513,” and “Detective Comics #’s 514-526.”

Some degree of childhood imprinting is probably involved here — Gerry Conway was writing “Batman” and “Detective Comics” when I first started buying those (and other monthly titles) regularly in 1982. Although it’s worth pointing out that only one other run from that year (actually began in 1980) made it to my list — even though there were others I greatly enjoyed at the same time. But I do enjoy going back and refreshing my memory of these issues on a pretty regular basis. When I was deciding what my “Top 10 Favorites” were, I decided that one of the key questions to help me “cull the herd” of possible candidates was: “How many times, over the years, have I gone back to reread the material, just for fun?” Conway’s run on two Batman titles scored very high in comparison to most of the other things on my list of “serious possibilities” for my ballot.

I tend to think of Conway’s run (and Moench’s first run, which immediately followed it) as a prime example of how Batman storytelling ought to be handled within the constraints of his ‘regular ongoing continuity’. As opposed, for example, to the things Frank Miller could get away with in “Dark Knight Returns,” which was set a couple of decades in the future, so that Miller didn’t have to worry about ‘scrupulously following’ the nitpicking details of a previous writer’s contributions to continuity, and didn’t have to worry about what any other writer would be able to do with the characters after Frank was done changing (and sometimes killing) a bunch of the old familiar faces.

Looking back on it, one thing that probably helps Conway’s run stick in my mind is the way he was willing to take his own sweet time about always having a couple of subplots on the back burner, slowly building up (sometimes without Batman having a clue that there was even a problem!) until such time as all of a sudden, the subplot suddenly became The Main Plot of one or two issues. Another thing that helped was that Conway appeared to have a sense of humor about the stuff he was writing — and so did his version of Batman, at times. I don’t mean Batman was constantly cracking jokes, but Bruce/Batman didn’t appear to take himself dead seriously 100 percent of the time, either, and he wasn’t quite so hard to get along with as the 90s Batman often proved to be.

4. Peter David’s full run on “Young Justice.”

This one had been coming out for something over a year and a half before I paid any attention to it. Once I did, I bought up back issues and kept collecting it for about 3 years after that, until it was canceled.

Five years ago I wrote an online review of the TPB collection of its first seven issues (plus a “special”) — the review is still available at Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl, Secret, Arrowette: Teen heroes who actually behave like teens?

5. Will Eisner’s Golden Age work on the Spirit. I’m talking about when he was both writer and penciler (as I understand it from what I’ve read — I don’t own reprints of every single installment of his long run). [This placed #46.]

6. Doug Moench’s first run as a Batman writer in the mid-1980s; this began when he took over as Conway’s successor on the titles mentioned above (which stayed just as tightly bound together all through this run): “Batman” and “Detective Comics.” Even if we count all the issues of both that he wrote, it adds up to less than 100 consecutive installments. Just over 80, I believe. (Obviously, this has nothing to do with my opinion of any Batman-related material written by Moench in his “second run” in the 1990s.)

This run evidently included: “Batman #’s 360-400,” “Detective Comics #’s 527-566,” and “Batman Annual #10.”

One thing I liked about this one was the way Moench handled Jason Todd, who was training to be the new Robin. This Pre-Crisis version of Jason was not the murderous little jerk Jim Starlin later offered us (and then killed off); instead, he was a fairly normal kid who had recently lost his parents and thus had some issues (but not particularly murderous ones) eating at him. It didn’t help that Bruce was willing to let the kid live at Wayne Manor, but was initially very reluctant to let him put on a costume and start tagging along at night on all that crimefighting stuff. Having the kid around helped a lot, from the storytelling perspective — it gave Batman someone to talk to besides Alfred (especially after Dick agreed to let Jason become the new Robin). If they were about to go up against Catman, for instance, then it made perfect sense for Moench to have Batman give Jason a very condensed one-page summary of Catman’s origin story and one or two of his previous schemes, because Jason (unlike Dick) wasn’t likely to know much more than the name at this early stage in his own crimefighting career.

Meanwhile, a few months into Moench’s run, the thing that really made me fall in love with his work was the introduction of The Thief of Night (also known as Night-Thief, and later as The Slayer of Night and Night-Slayer). By that time, from reading the last year or so of Conway’s run (I filled in the gaps in my collection later), I knew that Batman was very good at the following things (among others): Martial arts when he got within arm’s reach of the enemy, disappearing soundlessly into darkness, and playing mind games with his opponents — often by casting shadows (or arranging for something else to cast a similar bat-winged shadow) to panic and misdirect them, projecting an intimidating attitude of vast self-confidence when he was on the job, and generally encouraging wild and superstitious assumptions about his capabilities.

Then Batman met The Thief of Night, who — in his first appearance in “Detective Comics #529,” anyway — showed signs of being able to flummox Batman by skillfully “beating him at his own game” in those areas! When Batman delivered a wounded night watchman to a hospital after the first Batman/Night-Thief clash, a reporter who just happened to be hanging around started interviewing him on the spot. The dialogue went as follows:

REPORTER: My name’s Forrester, Batman — from Picture News. Did you see who did it?

BATMAN: Yes . . . I tangled with him.

REPORTER: Then you’ve already turned him over to the police. Know his name?

BATMAN: No . . . he . . . got away.

[New panel]

REPORTER: You tangled with him — and he got away?

BATMAN (already heading out the door): That’s right. Now if the watchman can receive some treatment . . .?

[New panel]

EDITOR (speaking into his telephone): No, you stay at the hospital until you find out the watchman’s condition — but you’re right, Forrester . . . this is our lead article and the front page of every paper in the city — “BATMAN FAILS.

(Implication: When you’re a winner, everybody loves you; when you’re a loser, you’re fair game?)

Of course, another thing that added extra flavor to Moench’s run was those lengthy, sometimes poetic narrative captions (written in the third person . . . not just Batman talking our ears off with endless first-person angst-fests as he goes about his daily business). Whatever happened to third-person narrative captions in superhero comics, anyway? I’m having trouble remembering the last time I saw any that really amounted to anything, as opposed to brief comments about just when and where a new scene is set (“CIA Headquarters, 4:10 PM” or whatever). The sort of thing that might pop up in subtitles in a movie . . . makes me wonder if modern comic book writers are under the mistaken impression that they’re just writing screenplays.

7. Alan Moore’s run as the writer of “Supreme.” I consider this to include several issues published after the title which had begun at Image and migrated through a couple of other publishers was technically “relaunched at #1″ by Liefeld — I never understood why he bothered. [This tied for #56.]

8. Frank Miller’s second run as a “Daredevil” writer, with Mazzucchelli penciling — that one is collected as “Born Again”; I believe it lasted 7 issues, so it barely qualifies under your rules. [This placed at #43].

9. Jolly R. Blackburn’s run on “Knights of the Dinner Table,” which is still happening today (the last issue I bought was #138). On the one hand — he’s been contributing scripts (although not all of the scripts) on a pretty regular basis ever since the comic book started (and even before that, since #1 of the monthly title was far from being his first use of the key characters), which is to say, 137 issues and counting. On the other hand — he’s also been the regular artist for all that time. So, in accordance with your [Brian Cronin’s] response to my query about the possible qualifications of the Erik Larsen run on “Savage Dragon” (which I was also considering voting for), I’m casting a vote for all 137 issues of “Knights of the Dinner Table” re: any stories which have Blackburn as the writer and the artist.

The titular “Knights” are a roleplaying group (usually with 5 permanent members; the Game Master and four players) who spend most of their time just sitting at the dinner table and roleplaying . . . and bickering and feuding and second-guessing each other as they go along. In black-and-white artwork, to boot. It’s about as far removed from the traditional elements of gaudy action-packed superhero comics featuring super-athletic spandex-clad crimefighters as you could possibly get. But so what? There’s more to comic books than colorful slugfests . . . right?

Let me tell you a little about the first impression this one made on me. Back in 1998, I bought an issue of “Comic Buyer’s Guide.” It included some sort of article where one or more people (the details elude me after all these years) were listing comic books that were getting far less attention than they deserved, with the implication that CBG readers might do something to correct that sad state of affairs. I did my part! A couple of the write-ups sounded interesting enough to my tastes that I decided to keep an eye peeled for them the next time I visited a comics shop. I don’t remember what any of the others were, but one of the items described in glowing terms was “Knights of the Dinner Table.” I’d never heard of it before.

The next time I was at a comics shop, I found either two or three consecutive issues (I forget which) and bought them. Then I went out to the parking lot and sat in my car and started reading one of those issues. I laughed and laughed and laughed. After I had finished reading the material I had just bought, I knew a couple of things: 1) I was going to keep buying this title, and see what I could do about finding back issues of it, and 2) I had better wait at least ten minutes before I tried driving anywhere, just to be on the safe side.

I don’t usually laugh that much at the more recent issues of KODT, but part of that is just because I’ve grown accustomed to the regular characters and have a pretty good idea of how they will react in various situations. Even so, I often find myself laughing at least once while reading a new issue.

As I write this, it’s been just about 10 years (minus two or three months, I think) since I first discovered the title. I’ve been collecting it ever since. KODT (as it’s often called for short) enjoys the distinction of being the only monthly title which I’ve been collecting nonstop for the past 10 years! (I don’t think there’s any other title I’ve ever collected nonstop for such a long stretch in my entire life.) Furthermore, in the last couple of years it’s enjoyed the distinction of being the only monthly title which I buy every month without fail, although there are various others where I just “wait for the trade.” (That was what I ended up doing with Simone’s run on “Birds of Prey” and Kirkman’s “Invincible,” for instance.)

10. The John Ostrander/Tim Truman run on “Grimjack” in the 1980s. [Looks like Truman was on the title from “Grimjack #1″ to “Grimjack #19.” They also had previously collaborated on some back-up stories about him in another title, and those stories were eventually collected in “Grimjack: Casefiles,” the first two issues, I think.]

This one is hard to explain. I have a certain fondness for tough-talking private eyes narrating their own adventures (been done by Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, etc.), and Ostrander drew on that in creating his own tough-guy freelance troubleshooter, Grimjack. Tim Truman’s art is good, and more importantly, very well-suited to the tone of Ostrander’s scripts and the strange city of Cynosure (connected to a zillion other dimensional realities with varying laws of physics) which Ostrander created as Grimjack’s habitat. Why I have gone back and reread it often enough and happily enough to feel that these issues belonged in my Top Ten Favorites, however, is less clear, but that’s the way I voted!

The Nicieza/Robertson run of New Warriors was also really good, Corey. I like it just as much. Nicieza may not be considered a ‘great’ writer, but he has written some good stuff.

Yay! Love for Conway, Colan and Newton’s Batman/Detective run! I LOVE this run and it does not get anywhere near enough respect. Unfortunately, this probably has something to do with Don Newton’s tragic young death. If not for that, he would eventually have gotten noticed as one of the great pencillers of the eighties.

wwk5d, yes I agree about the Nicieza/Robertson run. That’s probably a close runner-up for me, sometimes neck and neck, depending on the day.

I’d say the plotting was probably stronger and tighter for Nicieza’s run with Bagley. But, his run with Robertson had probably the strongest single issue, and a couple of killer story arcs that were elevated by Robertson’s quickly developing style.

I would love to see Claremont’s run re-scripted just to remove the extraneous dialogue and narration. that’s the only element that dates the material. Plotwise, this run is perfect.

“…when I first started buying those (and other monthly titles) regularly in 1982.”

Wow. You’ve been reading comics for over a quarter of a century.

Alan Coil — Yes, I have. My collection fills up something over 50 long boxes, the last time I counted. Where does the time go? Let’s see . . . if I started buying some titles on a regular basis when I was a schoolboy in early 1982 . . . then I must be at least . . . er . . . 5 or 6 years older than I was at the time? Yeah, that sounds right! After all, that’s approximately how much I estimate Dick Grayson and Peter Parker have aged during the same interval! Isn’t that logical? :)

Matt Bird — yeah, I find I still like Don Newton’s depictions of of Batman better than I like those of many of the artists who have worked on the Bat-titles in the 1990s and 2000s. And while Gene Colan’s style was different enough to annoy me occasionally as a kid, when stories went back and forth from one artist’s book to the other’s, I liked Colan’s work too once I got used to making the mental transitions necessary. I didn’t specifically mention the artists in my vote for Gerry Conway’s run, but I probably should have.

I made a couple of small mistakes in the post that included my ballot with extra commentary. I said the Lee/Ditko Spidey run placed at #3 in our Top 100; I should have said it finished at #6. (It was the Lee/Kirby FF run that landed in #3; I somehow got confused as I was adding those notes to my ballot about where some of my picks had ended up.)

Also, I meant to put the dialogue quoted from my favorite issue of the Moench run in italics to more clearly set it off from my own words before and after. I must have forgotten to add those italics tags before posting.

Jono11 – Blind Justice was by the great Denys Cowan, not the equally great Jim Aparo.

I said X-Men would be # 1 and Sandman # 2. Close, but I got them switched around. Still happy with both.

Here’s MY Top 10 list of my personal runs I have gotten the most reading enjoyment from :

10. Geoff Johns’ JSA # 5-77, 81, Annual # 1, Justice Society of America # 1-current. Johns is a superstar for how he goes back and truly builds on the past in a respective yet innovative way that’s fresh, non-jarring and not insulting. The JSA is tied with my favorite team book ever with LSH and they finally after years or being treated as has-beens or having creative teams try to continue to write and draw them like it was still the Golden Age, were brought into the light with modern writing and art and lo and behold the people read it and it was good.

9. Claremont’s X-Men # 94 – 175. Despite different artists, Claremont put together great stories and built a franchise unto itself here with some of these artists’ best works ranging from Cockrum (yes both runs), Byrne, and Paul Smith. The momentum and magic deflated for me in retrospect after Paul Smith left and I could never get into it the same again, except for a couple of single issues by Barry Windsor-Smith.

8. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing / Saga of the Swamp Thing # 20-45, Annual # 2; Swamp Thing 2nd series # 46-61, 63-64. This to me will always hold a very special place in my heart. It completely re-wrote the Swamp Thing character even better than the original Wein / Wrightson classics and made it better and so much edgier. Some of these issues sincerely mucked with my sense of being like the Fear Monkey. Bissette & Totleben’s art was as creepy and dark as the script and Moore’s exploration of the DCU through the backdoor here was awesome.

7. Frank Miller’s Daredevil / Daredevil # 165-191, 219, 226-233; Daredevil : The Man Without Fear # 1-5; Daredevil Love and War graphic novel. Some might doubt the artistic integrity of Frank Miller now, but back in the day, his work was the definitive version gospel truth Matt Murdock stories. They grabbed you and squeezed you with part Eisner, part Hill Street Blues, and all in your face action and psycho drama. No holds barred off the top rope Elektra, Bullseye, Kingpin, religion, sex, crime, drugs, psychodrama. Revolutionary.

6. Shooter’s Solar Man of the Atom # 1-15. When Shooter left Marvel he set up Valiant and for a while it looked like it was going to be the next Marvel main competitor. Physicist Phil Seleski tests a new type of fusion reactor, there was a problem, Seleski shuts it down, but is exposed to lethal levels of radiation in the process, giving him the ability to manipulate energy. With his newfound powers he’s determined to eliminate nuclear weapons, but the U.S. government has other plans. In confronting Solar, he loses control of his powers and inadvertently creates a black hole which pulls Earth inside of it. Solar then is split into two separate beings and it just gets better from there. Jim Shooter was at his very best writing here # 1-15 with art by Don Perlin, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Steve Ditko, among others. Sure there are nuclear / atomic heroes, but this run made Solar my favorite.

5. Chaykin’s American Flagg ! # 1-12. Howard Chaykin, one of the very few writer / artist superstars I will buy practically any work of, performed his magnum opus here with his own creation, American Flagg ! It’s the story of the U.S. in the year 2031 after the government collapses and relocates to Mars in a loose alliance with the mega-corporations. The USSR collapsed from Islamic insurrection and Brazil and Africa are the new superpowers left on planet Earth. The US government, and mega-corporations, working with some existing USSR factions on the moon, form The Plex, which governs planet Earth from the moon and Mars utilizing their police / military force, the Plexus Rangers. Enter Reuben Flagg, ex-porn star and television personality who goes from being corporate pawn to undermining the very forces he’s supposed to be working for in sympathy with the opposition forces that are fighting back against the corrupt and perverse Plex. Chaykin interwove sex, politics, fetish, race, religion and sophistication into one gigantic overarcing story that is actually a set of self sustaining smaller story arcs that build into the larger, more satisfying 12 issue story. One noticeable absence is the lack of the Omnipotent Editorial Boxes (“meanwhile’) and thought balloons. This is the norm now but IIRC Chaykin broke new ground pushing in that direction with this series. This was also the first series that I can remember that was so multi-layered and complex that I couldn’t begin to fully grasp what was going on until I re-read it. About the third time it all came together and gave a very complex yet elegant storyline that was to be savored on many levels. Very ahead of it’s time and worth every positive review you may have ever heard or read.

4. Starlin’s Dreadstar # 1-40, Annual # 1. The first segment of this series, the pre-cursor if you will, was originally serialized in the late great Epic Illustrated magazine. I specifically bought all the issues just for Metamorphosis Odyssey. As much as I love Dreadstar, putting it in my all-time # 4 series, you needn’t bother with Metamorphosis Odyssey. I was let down by it and the very little you would need to know from that series is briefly recapped in the Dreadstar series. Vanth Dreadstar, sole survivor of the Milky Way galaxy from the previous Metamorphosis Odyssey storyline, just wants peace and guiet until he’s dragged into a conflict between the two superpowers of the galaxy, the Monarchy and the Instrumentality represented by an evil Pope-type character, one of the best villains in comic book history IMO, the Lord High Papal. Dreadstar is joined by fellow rebels Syzygy Darklock (a cyborg mystic), female telepath Willow, Oedi (pronounced Eddy as in the famous Oedipal complex) the cat-man, and Skeevo the freebooter. If some themes sound familiar here as in some of Starlin’s previous work, and look similar, don’t be surprised. I take it with a grain of salt as Starlin owns this characters and isn’t hamstrung like he was with Warlock or Captain Marvel in what he could or couldn’t do with them. This was the first ongoing comic book series that Epic produced and it was a smash hit. It reminded me of the best parts of Star Wars and was great. Starlin later left after the title moved from Epic to Chicago based First Comics (the same guys that published American Flagg!), and eventually novice writer Peter David took over. His run was good too, but just not as good as the original by series creator Jim Starlin.

3. Mantlo’s Micronauts 1st series # 1-58, Annual # 1-2. I’m one of the very few that had this on my Top 10 list I’m sure and most certainly wouldn’t have had it this high, but when I think of fun series that just left me hanging off the edge of my chair breathless, this is the series where every single issue was great or even greater. Again, a sci-fi epic, but this time about a band of rebels on the run from an evil tyrant and all-time great comic book villain, Baron Karza. The rip of the fabric of space from their Microverse, and land smack dab in the middle of the Marvel U, crossing paths with Marvel mainstays like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Swamp Thing, the Psycho-Man, HYDRA, Plant Man, the Molecule Man, the Fixer, Mentallo, SHIELD, Nightmare, and Dr. Doom. This run fell under the creator Bill Mantlo, the series writer of the entire first series. Mantlo is one of the great overlooked Marvel writers of the 70’s. His Hulk was solid as was his other toy-based property, Rom Spaceknight. Artists included the legendary Michael Golden on the first 11 issues, followed by some great work by Pat Broderick, Gil Kane, Jackson “Butch” Guice, Kelley Jones, and even Steve Ditko. The toys were really cool back in the day but this series was so gripping from Commander Rann, the Time Travelers, Princess Mari (Marionette), Biotron, Microtron, Acroyear, Bug, and later on, Devil.

2. Tom & Mary Bierbaum’s Legion of Super-Heroes / Legion of Super-Heroes 4th Series # 1-50, Annual # 1-4. As I’ve said before, LSH & JSA are my two all-time fav group titles overall, beating out JLA, FF, Avengers, New Teen Titans, Ultimates, X-Men, Authority, Stormwatch, Justice Machine, etc. This is the infamous 5YG run that husband / wife hardcore Legion fans Tom & Mary Bierbaum co-wrote along with recently recognized genius Keith Giffen who had previously co-plotted the latter stories along with writer Paul Levitz of the v3 Baxter version of the LSH. The team has been disbanded and life is horrible without the Legion. Tons of new characters are introduced and slowly we put together what happened to whom, how, and when from the original group. To say it was revolutionary is an understatement. I didn’t like it at first but kept reading and it suddenly clicked for me. This was a dark Legion, more adult, and we eventually are introduced to another more traditionally based version of the team called SW6. They were a group of clones of the original LSH in a Dominator laboratory after they have taken over the Earth. If you loved either Legion, you got it, as the clones were very Silver Age-style and spun off into their own sister mag, Legionnaires, and the 5YL Legion stayed on in the regular title. It was a great time to be a Legion fan ! Eventually the Legionnaires mag starring the “Archie Legion” folded and the standard mag got the infamous reboot with Zero Hour. It was a heck of a run and I hope we’ll see this version of the Legion post-Final Crisis in the new DCU.

1. Levitz’ Legion of Super-Heroes / Legion of Super-Heroes 2nd Series # 281-282,284-313, Annual # 1-3; 3rd Series # 1-43, 45-63, Annual # 1-4. Much as I loved the 5YL Legion, I loved Paul Levitz’ classic version directly before it that he wrote with the run starting with Pat Broderick art (good) and then Keith Giffen coming on with his strong Kirby-influenced pencils and just blowing the lid off everything right away with their now classic Great Darkness Saga introducing Darkseid into the 31st century. From there it was impossible to put the title down. It was so successful it graduated as one of the two most popular DC titles that went Baxter and reprinted the stories later on newsprint versions later. I loved the first annual with Computo and the introduction of the new Invisible Kid. Giffen left and was followed by nice art from Steve LIghtle and later Greg LaRocque. Levitz gave every character a distinct personality and some time in the spotlight. Superboy is retconned out of the Legion tapestry due to COIE, which later caused lots of continuity confusion, though my love for the Legion really amped up without Young Superman’s presence in the book and being able to focus more on the Legion and developing them as characters. Great read if you like the Legion.

Really glad to see Gaiman got #1 for Sandman. In my opinion he deserves it. Just one thing though, and i apologize if it has been said before:
It’s not Hob Gobling, it’s Hob Gadling. Hob Gobling makes him sound like..well, a goblin.

Time for a little pedantry:
The Sandman run should definitely also include Sandman Special #1 (Orpheus), as well as the 8 page story from one of the Vertigo winter specials (I don’t recall which one). A case can be made that it ought to include The Dream Hunters, the short in the Dust Covers trade, and Endless Nights as well, but at least the first two should be in there.

“Sandman is the highest echelon a monthly comic book can ever achieve.”

Sandman wasn’t monthly at all. From Kindly Ones and up, the shedule was a total random mess.

That’s true. The current inability any company has now to hold a schedule also seems to be a descendant of Sandman proving that it was okay to be late with the monthly in a creator-driven series, since any losses would be recouped with sales of the trade paperback.

“I’m sorry that cute l’il goth girl didn’t want to go to the prom with you in ninth grade.”

More like overweight patchouli smelling, medieval fair enthusiast goth girl.

Sandman was amazing because it was written at such a higher level of great art than most comics. It would have been incomprehensible and unreadable to me if I wasn’t an English major though, as there are so many references and inside jokes. Alan Moore’s writing including Swamp Thing hits the high and low art with references, so you don’t need your Masters degree to get a good read, but Gaiman just goes for the high so it’s harder to follow. But there was that one issue of Sandman on love, I think it was #11, that just stays with me.

I put Shooter and Swan’s Legion on my list too. Doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

I don’t think Sin City is that great to be on the list, although I love almost everything else Miller has done.

Claremont and Lee had that great storyline about Bishop if I recall correctly. But Lee’s work on Batman with Hush was a lot better and that should have got a mention.

Claremont and Lee didn’t write the Bishop intro actually; they began the adjectiveless X-Men title while Uncanny (Bishop’s first appearance) was drawn by Whilce Portracio and… written by John Byrne, I think? And then Claremont and Lee left X-Men after three issues anyway, so they never touched Bishop.

But I personally never saw Bishop done well, even in the beginning, outside of Morrison’s “Murder in the Mansion” arc. I did kinda like the role he played in Messiah Complex though.

According to Comics.org, Bishop’s first appearances were plotted by Whilce Portacio and scripted by John Byrne. Jim Lee was co-plotting with Portacio here and there, too. Never realized that.

Claremomt never wrote any of the early Bishop stuff, since he did leave after the first 3 issues of adjectiveless X-men. But Stefan, Lee didn’t leave X-men after 3 issues, he stayed for about 12 or 13, and during that time, Bishop did appear in a few of his stories (or 1, at least, I remember him getting in a fight with Gambit and revealing his real name). But yeah, much of his early appearances were written by Portacio. Byrne only stayed on Uncanny with Portacio for 4 or 5 issues as well.

The X Men Run really should be the Claremont Cockrum Byrne issues but that’s nit picky. Although the book did rise with Byrne and suffer badly when he left. (I had the pleasure of talking to Jim Shooter once about how the creative relationship between Byrne and Claremont fell apart. Too many chefs in the kitchen I guess.) Those issues certainly were the underpinnings of the X Men universe setting up things that would rehashed and retconned for decades to come.

Here’s the key, Rich – this run is being separated (and Claremont’s run split up, period) because Byrne co-wrote the book. So you could certainly say that their run was an evolution of the initial Cockrum/Claremont run, but the whole “adding a second writer to the book” changes the dynamic drastically, I think.

Cockrum did not have THAT much involvement (he had involvement, but not to the point of co-plotting the book), nor did anyone else after Byrne until Jim Lee.

That’s what makes Claremont/Byrne such a special pairing – it wasn’t just writer/artist, it was co-writers with Byrne drawing the book, too.

And when we think about how great that run is – if we don’t spotlight Byrne’s contributions, they tend to get overlooked as just part of Claremont’s 17 year run, while this run was significantly different, specifically BECAUSE it was being co-written by Byrne.

Wow, nice list. DC definitely came out on top with all it’s imprints. Wildstorm, ABC, and Vertigo.

Can’t really argue with much of this list it makes for fascinating reading. Just from a UK perspective the following should be considered, its kind of a pity American comics fans never got a chance to read them in their original context but thankfully decent reprints are being published these days and available on amazon.

1) Alan Grant/John Wagner on Judge Dredd. This writing duo used many great artists during their 8 year run on Judge Dredd for 2000AD magazine list Brian Bolland, Mike Mcmahon, Ron Smith, Carlos Ezquerra, Barry Kitson, Steve Dillon and many more. They managed to mix Dredds heroic and fascist bastard sides very well in classic tales like Block Mania, Apocalypse war, Graveyard shift, the Judge Child saga etc.
2) Alan Moore/Ian Gibson 3 books of Halo Jones for 2000AD. One of Moores earliest magnus opuses following a young girl from a future metropolis.
3) Pat Mills/Joe Colquhoun on their war story Charleys War which was published between 1979 and 1986 in Battle Magazine in the UK. Its set in the first world war and follows young Charlie Bourne from his enlistment through the battle of the Somme till the end of world war one and pulls no punches in showing the horror of trench warfare. Full of pathos and excellent gritty artwork, its one of the best war comics period.
4) Tom Tully/John Cooper on Johnny Red. Between 1979 and 1985 this writer/artist duo detailed the adventures of RAF pilot Johnny “Red” Redburn on the Russian front in Battle Magazine as the commander of the elite Falcons fighter squadron fighting against the german invaders ….and his russian commanders and the nkvd. Gripping and gritty war action.
5) Pat Mills/Simon Bisley on Slaine – The Horned God. Published in 1989/90 in 2000AD, this was the capstone of Mills saga of Celtic warrior Slaine where he would become High King of Ireland and defeat the fomorian and drune invaders. Absolutely beautiful painted bisley art matched with Mills note perfect script.

There would be many more I could pick out but I gotta go back to work now. No argument with Sandman and Claremont/Byrne finishing one/two in this all time list though, epic stuff!

[…] a lot of point in me throwing in my two bob worth on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It regularly tops polls about the greatest ever comics, it won eighteen Eisners, people talk about it transcending genres and it’s even been […]

[…] not a lot of point in me throwing in my two bob worth on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It regularly tops polls about the greatest ever comics, it won eighteen Eisners, people talk about it transcending genres and it’s even been […]

Wow i love to read comics, and its one of my favorite time pass.

Hi Everyone,

I have several good to great condition comics featuring The INCREDIBLE HULK, THOR, HUMAN TORCH, The INVADERS etc.

Can anyone help me to know where there are real connoisseurs who would like to purchase them?

My collection includes several comics in sequence like HUMAN TORCH #’s 1 – 10.

Looking for the name of a comic book featuring an author who passes out and gets transported to the trenches of world war one but instead of people, the soldiers are his childhood toys, namely led by a teddy bear he used to own. Please help.

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