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CSBG Archive

My personal top ten best/favorite runs list, plus far too much analysis of the Top 100 List!

Now that Brian is done with everyone’s list, here’s my Top Ten, with comments, and some comments about the Top 100. There’s some SPOILERS, too, so be aware!

I figured I should write a bit about the “contest” itself, as well as how I determined my selections. Many commenters have been weighing in on how they chose their runs, and I figured I would do the same! Plus, some people wondered about the dates of these runs, so I included the cover dates. And in case you’re wondering about trade paperbacks, as several people have expressed an interest in buying trades of the comics, I tried to track down the collections of these runs in whatever format. I don’t know if some of them are out of print, but these are the trades that exist or have existed at some point!

First, with regard to the rules Our Dread Lord and Master set down, I have a couple of objections. (Of course, he has already addressed these, but I wrote this before he addressed them, so I’m keeping them!) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen shouldn’t have counted. It’s clear that it’s two mini-series plus a graphic novel, not an “ongoing” in any sense. I would have said the same thing about Hellboy, but that’s been around forever and a new series comes out pretty regularly. In ten years, if Brian does the contest again and Moore has done five more LoEG minis, then I probably wouldn’t have a problem. But that’s a minor objection I had.

My only other objection is splitting up Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men but not Peter David’s run on The Incredible Hulk. I could make the case that Claremont’s run is far more seamless than David’s run, as David seemed to re-invent the title every twenty issues or so. The exception I would make is Claremont’s collaboration with John Byrne, which is obviously a separate animal. Claremont and Byrne told pretty much a complete story, and Byrne left almost when the run was finished. (Plus, as Brian points out, he co-plotted most of it.) Following issue #137, it’s very difficult to find breaks in Claremont’s story. The Mutant Massacre is probably the next break, but that covers Cockrum’s second run, Smith’s run, and Romita’s run. After that, I would argue there’s not a real break until the Uncanny X-Men/X-Men split. So while I have no problem counting the Phoenix Saga as a separate “run,” the rest of Claremont’s Reign of Terror should have been counted as one, or at most two, runs.

As for my choices … well, MarkAndrew has accused me of having “reverse nostalgia,” as good a term as I can think of, because I simply don’t really like comics from before 1970 or so. Therefore, while I respect the work of Lee and Kirby and Ditko, I don’t look upon their seminal work from the early 1960s as all that good. I’ll get into this more when I go over the actual list, but I definitely think modern comics are better. I also listed 7 runs published by DC, 1 by a subsidiary of DC, 1 by an independent publisher, and 1 by Marvel (the UK variety). If we go to my top 20, only 2 are actual Marvel books. To me, a lot of “runs,” especially those on Marvel books prior to, let’s say the late Nineties, weren’t that great because they were simply a collection of comics by the same creative team or one creator that kept going until someone left the book. John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four is a classic example of this. He wrote and drew the book forever, but at the end, he just kind of left the book without really wrapping anything up. It’s even more egregious with his run on Alpha Flight, which he left basically in the middle of a storyline! Claremont kind of petered out on X-Men, David left Hulk in a huff, the Hobgoblin storyline didn’t even get resolved in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel has never seemed really interested in the idea of a “run,” while DC, ever since the late 1980s, has been. To me, a run is more than a long sequence of comics by the same creator, it’s a story with a beginning and an end. That’s why the Claremont/Byrne collaboration was so interesting, because it seemed antithetical to what Marvel did back then. So my best runs reflect that idea – hence the overabundance of DC books.

Many people have wondered about the lack of older comics. I think this ties back into the idea of “runs” – even though some writers and artists stayed on books for a long time (how the hell long did Dick Sprang draw Batman, anyway?), each issue was still a discrete unit, not part of a “run.” It’s much harder to find what people consider a run among the Big Two from the 1940s, ’50s, and even early ’60s. Hell, the early Fantastic Four issues weren’t really tied together too much! Someone bemoaned the fact that none of DC’s war comics made the list. I just finished The War That Time Forgot Showcase volume. Those are fun comics, but every single one is pretty much the same issue. There’s no way that’s a “run.” So although I think people respect the older comics, when they think of “runs,” they gravitate toward the modern stuff. Am I wrong?

Finally, I think another rule of the contest should have been that “runs” that aren’t finished should have been ineligible. I didn’t even consider listing runs that aren’t finished, because of my definition above – runs have an ending, and bad endings have ruined some great comics (and not just comics, but books and movies and, hell, any entertainment medium). My personal rule was that I would not vote for any run that wasn’t finished, and I would have extended that rule to the entire contest. I mean, I love 100 Bullets. But Azzarello might totally screw up the ending. Would I then love it so much? Maybe not … (And yes, Brian also addressed this. I don’t care. Runs that aren’t over shouldn’t have been eligible.)

So, let’s check out my top 20, and then I want to dissect the final list a bit. Of course, with me, “a bit” means “a whole lot.” Deal with it! The numbers in parentheses next to my number are where they ranked on the final list. This is just to show you guys how very wrong you are!

1 (14). Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison and Richard Case (#19-63). There shouldn’t even be a #2, this is so far ahead of everything else. Not only the best run in comic book history, but one of the best love stories in comic history. There’s much more in my Comics You Should Own post. The issues are cover dated February 1989 to January 1993 and DC has recently finished collecting all of them in six trade paperbacks.

2 (37). Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea (#1-60). I’m a bit surprised, when I thought about it, that this came in at #2, but I can’t think of another comic to put in the spot. It’s far better than Preacher, in that Ennis deals with many of the same themes – friendship, loyalty, and tragedy – with much more flair, more realism (despite the crazy fantasy stuff), and a better ending. Plus, Ennis avoids the preachiness (sorry) that he often indulged in with Jesse and Tulip and the gang. Hitman is less ambitious, but in a strange way, it ends up being deeper than Preacher. It’s a hell of a lot more fun, too, with zombie penguins, time-traveling dinosaurs, and Section Eight, the greatest collection of twisted superheroes ever. And McCrea is just as good as Dillon is, and for what he’s called upon to draw, probably better. The issues are cover dated April 1996 to April 2001. The Justice League crossover came out late last year, with cover dates of November and December 2007. The first 28 issues have been collected in five trades, and the first one includes the Demon Annual that introduced Tommy.

3 (18). Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (#1-26). It’s the only one on my list that’s incomplete, but it’s as complete as it’s going to get. This is more for the individual issues, as Ellis’s grand story is nothing special, but the way he constructs his world is stunning. Each issue is brilliant in some way, incorporating elements from so many different kinds of fiction effortlessly and still continuing the overall narrative, and although it’s not Ellis’s most heart-wrenching story, many of the issues deal with loss and how we overcome it. More than any other comic by Ellis, it’s a marvelously hopeful story, and that helps. Cassaday’s art is staggering as well, as he easily shifts from neon-splashed noir to ornate fantasy to jungle adventure to space opera. Too bad he’s so slow that the final issue won’t be out for another decade or so! The issues are cover dated April 1999 to December 2006. The three crossovers with Batman, the Justice League, and the Authority are also very good. There are three trades and one Absolute Edition (collecting issues #1-12). Obviously, eventually it will all be in trade.

4 (45). The Spectre by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake (#1-62). Ostrander takes Jim Corrigan through a spiritual journey as he searches for meaning in a world gone mad, and along the way he manages to confront the AIDS crisis, what it means to be an American, how to be a good Christian and a good man, and why evil exists in the world. It’s rare to get such a deeply religious book in a mainstream comic, but Ostrander manages it nicely. It helps that he had Mandrake to interpret his often wildly violent scripts, as the art was amazingly frenetic and inventive, showing the Spectre’s battles in vivid detail. Corrigan’s quest is meaningful to everyone, and when he finally knows peace, it’s a wonderful moment. The issues are cover dated December 1992 to February 1998. Sadly, there’s only one trade, collecting issues #1-4. If any series would sell well in trades, it’s this. Come on, DC!

5 (7). Starman by James Robinson, Tony Harris, and Peter Snejbjerg (#1-80). Starman is a perfect example of using continuity without making it too convoluted. Robinson steeps his tale in DC history, but he always knows what he’s doing and he never loses the reader. He manages to create a tapestry of Staman history from the 1940s to the present, and along the way, push the character forward into the future as well. Jack Knight is a fascinating character, as well, because he often acts like a normal person more than a hero, but he struggles mightily to do the right thing and become a hero. The book reads far better as a whole than in individual issues, especially in the latter half of the run, first when Jack went into space and then when the “bad dwarf” took over Opal City, but it’s well worth it. Plus, Robinson made Opal a real city, unlike so many of the fictional DC cities. Harris and Snejbjerg have different styles, but they both complement Robinson’s stories very well. And this is one of the best comics showing the development of a true father-son relationship that you can find! The issues are cover dated October 1994 to August 2001. Ten trades collect the entire series, and DC just announced that they’re releasing a bunch of mega-sized Omnibi collecting the whole thing yet again.

6 (67). Shade, the Changing Man by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo (#1-70). Milligan’s early masterpiece remains his best work, mainly because he tempered his weirdness with a truly wonderful (if twisted) love story, this time with three people. It’s also alternately, a great road trip, a great domestic drama, and then a quest saga. After Bachalo left and Milligan killed Kathy, the book suffered for a while, but Milligan managed to pull it together at the end and give us a sweet ending. It’s certainly uneven, but overall, it’s a great comic book. The issues are cover dated July 1990 to April 1996. This is another series that is not collected, except for issues #1-6, which form only part of the first storyline.

7 (28). Suicide Squad by John Ostrander (#1-66). This is a wonderful comic book, as Ostrander takes a simple concept – using supervillains to go on dangerous missions – and turns it into an action-packed tale in which you never know who might die. It’s far more than that, of course, as the characters – both the established ones and the new ones – get so much development and the relationships between them become the driving froce of the book. Ostrander never lets up on the action, but he still manages to create tension through the way the characters act. As the series progressed, it became more and more a political thriller, especially after Ostrander ditched the costumes. The stars of the book were, of course, Amanda Waller, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang, but even minor characters were fleshed out. It couldn’t last, but it was great while it did. The issues are cover dated May 1987 to June 1992. There are, a bit shockingly, no trades, although DC did solicit a Showcase volume, which they then pulled. Maybe it will show up someday.

8 (97). Grendel by Matt Wagner (#1-50). What began as a simple story of an almost-perfect man becoming a criminal to challenge himself becomes something much more as the series progresses. First, Wagner killed his main character. Then, he decided that the force that makes someone Grendel could move from person-to-person, and then become simply a transcendant influence on the world. Again, I could go on, but I just finished writing about these comics: #1-12, #13-23, #24-33, and #34-50. Issues #1-19 are in trade, as is “War Child” (issues #41-50), and apparently Dark Horse is committed to getting the missing ones out in trade eventually.

9 (DNP). Captain Britain by Alan Moore and Alan Davis. Yeah, that’s right! Other Moore works are far more important and “better,” but damn, Captain Britain is awesome. A lot of what Moore did later germinates here, and the fact that Davis draws it makes it even cooler. Moore destroys a universe, kills Brian Braddock, rebuilds him, and then sends an unstoppable killing machine to, well, kill him. We also get a villain who can remake reality. All of this was from before it became clichéd, and it’s even more powerful for that. And when Captain UK kills the Fury, it’s one of the most unbelievable fight scenes in comics. No, it’s not as horrifying as the ones in Miracleman, but it’s amazingly intense. Too bad Moore and Davis had a falling-out. The series is collected in trade (but it might be out of print), and after Moore left, Jamie Delano and then Davis took over the writing, and that’s pretty darned good as well and is also available in trade.

10. Sandman by Neil Gaiman (#1-75). Yes, it’s a boring choice, but there’s a reason it’s so acclaimed. Gaiman takes a horror comic set in the DC Universe and springboards into a grand tapestry of stories about identity, loss, myth, retribution, and the sins of the past haunting the present. He gives us great single issues and great long-running arcs. He created wonderful characters and used them to tell tales about the human condition, and it becomes a series where every reader can find something that relates to their life. Gaiman tried so many different things with this series, and for the most part, he succeeded. It’s a series where you can find something new each time you read it, and that’s a nice feature. The issues are cover dated January 1989 to March 1996. And yes, you can find the series in trades. Ten at last count, plus two monster Absolute Editions containing issues #1-39, with a third coming soon.

Here’s my 11-20:

11 (21). Animal Man by Grant Morrison and Chas Truog (#1-26). I went over this (plus Milligan’s six issues) in this post. Cover dates: September 1988 to August 1990. There are three trades, but not one for Milligan’s story! The unfairness of it all!

12 (36). Marvelman/Miracleman by Alan Moore, Gary Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Beckum, and Jon Totleben (#1-16). The original series ran in Warrior magazine, issues #1-21 (March 1982 to August 1984). The Eclipse series (which reprinted the earlier material in issues #1-6) ran from August 1985 to December 1989. The series was released in three trades, but they’re long out of print. I’ve heard it’s actually much easier to find the single issues than the trades. This is, of course, the apotheosis of superhero books, and it’s amazing to read, even though I’ve read it dozens of times. I still get chills when Mike Moran figures out that Johnny Bates is a bad guy, and their final battle is absolutely stunning. The middle issues suffered because of awful art, but even so, Moore’s writing keeps it going until Totleben took over. Man, this is a cool comic.

13 (5). Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch (#20-64). Many people don’t like the latter part of this run, but if you read it all at once, it works very well. Moore couldn’t do much more with Swampy on Earth because he was too darned powerful, so he sent him to space. This allowed Moore to experiment with storytelling, “Loving the Alien” being the most extreme example of this. The early issues retain their visceral impact, but the later issues shouldn’t be discounted, either. January 1984 to September 1987. There are six trades, but issue #20 is not included.

14 (DNP). Moon Knight by Doug Moench, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Kevin Nowlan (#1-38). I included Nowlan’s brief run on the book because it was cancelled soon after Sienkiewicz left, and the stories after he left are still in the odd vein that Moench established, so I figured I’d throw them in there as well. This is, I’ve argued, one of the first “modern” comics, in that it was part of Marvel’s experiment to bypass the newsstand and go straight to the Direct Market, a revolutionary move back in 1980. Both Moench and Sienkiewicz took a while to get settled, as the first year or so was solid but nothing spectacular, with Moench writing good action stories and Sienkiewicz drawing in his best Neal Adams style. As the series progressed, Moench delved more into the multiple personalities he had set up for Marc Spector, Sienkiewicz started to experiment more, and the series became truly great. The final ten issues or so of Sienkiewicz’s stint (#20-30) are stunning, and Moench, despite trying to integrate Moon Knight more into the Marvel Universe after he left (to boost sales, presumably), still wrote beautiful stories hauntingly illustrated by Nowlan, like the Holocaust one (Spector is Jewish, after all). For the early Eighties, this was a remarkably mature book. The issues are cover dated November 1980 to July 1984. Two Essential volumes collect issues #1-30. The Nowlan issues will likely never get reprinted.

15 (DNP). Dr. Fate by J. M. DeMatteis and Shawn McManus (#1-4; #1-24). More Comics You Should Own. Winter 1988 to January 1991. This has not been collected.

16 (66). New Mutants by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz (#18-31). I, unlike Brian, do not count the issues preceding and following these. The first 17 issues, with Bob McLeod and Sal Buscema, are decent, but nothing special. Issue #18 was like issue #19 of Doom Patrol – absolutely different and absolutely stunning. Sure, Sienkiewicz’s art was brilliant, but it was as if Claremont went a little nuts, too, trying to match the wonderful visions Sienkiewicz was giving us. The run is all too brief, but that year the two collaborated is amazing. The issues immediately following were still pretty good, but then the book began a long decline that brough us, ultimately, Rob Liefeld. These issues are cover dated August 1984 to September 1985. The first part of the run (through issue #25) was just released in a collection.

17 (9). Justice League by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, Ty Templeton, and Adam Hughes (#1-45). I would just count the JLA/JLI/JLA run, from May 1987 to December 1990, which is issue #45. Then the General Glory story arc began, and that just wasn’t for me. I always liked JLE, but not enough to count it. What’s great about this run, as others have put it more eloquently, is that it didn’t start out as pure slapstick, but as a good action comic with wonderful character moments. Yes, it got goofy toward the end, but Hughes’s art helped mitigate that. Plus, it introduced me to Beatriz DaCosta, who is now one of my favorite characters. Two trades, long out of print, collect issues #1-12, but DC has just solicited a new hardcover of issues #1-7, so maybe more will be forthcoming.

18 (65). Detective Comics by Alan Grant, John Wagner, and Norm Breyfogle. I went over most of the run on Detective here. The cover dates are February 1988 to October 1992 (with a few breaks and changes of titles). Sadly, there are no trades of this.

19 (83). StormWatch by Warren Ellis, Tom Raney, Oscar Jimenez, and Bryan Hitch (#37-50; #1-10). I like this a lot more than The Authority, because it seemed Ellis was trying harder to fit his heroes into real-world situations. The Authority is a pure action move to StormWatch‘s spy thriller. I like spy thrillers more. July 1996 to September 1998. The series is collected in five trades.

20 (12). JLA by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. Although Morrison’s devotion to the Big Bat Dude grew a bit tiresome, the moment when Protex screams, “He’s only a man!” gives me the chills. I loved that Morrison kept the characterization to a minimum in this series and just kept hitting the group with bigger and badder threats. If you’re going to use the big guns, you need to have them go up against the biggest threats! This is cover dated January 1997 to May 2000 (#1-41, with a few gaps). Six trades make up the run.

Here’s the Top 100:

1. Sandman by Neil Gaiman (1318). See above.

2. Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin (1182).
December 1977 to March 1983 (#108-143).
One Omnibus (through #131); six Masterworks (the sixth has #141-143, plus the second Cockrum issues); two Essential volumes.
I like this run a lot, and would probably put it in my top 30. Jean Grey as Jesus is a brilliant move, and because the book didn’t sell well, Claremont and Byrne could do a lot of crazy shit. Plus: Dazzler!

3. Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (1030).
November 1961 to September 1970 (#1-102).
Two Omnibi collecting issues #1-60; ten Masterworks editions; five Essential volumes.
Long-time readers of this here blog know that I’m not a huge fan of Kirby. I actually like later, DC Kirby art more than this, because he obviously got a lot better. I have tried to read this run, I have. I own the first two Essential volumes, which don’t quite reach the Galactus Saga (which I’ve read, obviously), but I just can’t get into it. I recognize the massive impact of this series, but I don’t think it’s all that good. Lee’s dialogue is decent (I don’t think it’s as good as some people do, but I don’t hate it, either), but the stories are just dull. I guess they get better later (the Essential volumes end at #40), but after 40 issues, I just wasn’t keen on reading more. I completely understand the impact this run has had on Marvel and even comic book history, but that doesn’t mean I like the comics. Brian mentioned that until later in the run, “they DIDN’T go back to the well” – meaning they didn’t recycle a great villain like Doctor Doom that much. Let’s look at the first 40 issues to see if that’s true:

Doctor Doom: 9 appearances: #5, #6 (with Namor), 10, 16-17 (two-parter), 23, Annual #2, 39-40 (two-parter)
Namor: 7 appearances: #4, #6 (with Doom), 9, 14 (with Puppet Master), Annual #1, 27, 33 (as an ally against Attuma)
Skrulls: 4 appearances: #2, 18 (Super-Skrull), 32 (Super-Skrull as Invincible Man), 37
Mole Man: 3 appearances: #1, 22, 31
Puppet Master: 3 appearances: #8, 14 (with Namor), 28 (with Mad Thinker/Awesome Andy)
Hulk: 3 appearances: #12, 25-26 (two-parter)
Red Ghost: 2 appearances: #13, 29 (both time feature the Watcher)
Mad Thinker (with Awesome Andy): 2 appearances: #15, 28 (with Puppet Master)
Diablo: 2 appearances: #30, 35 (with Dragon Man)
Frightful Four (The Wizard, Paste-Pot Pete, Sandman, Medusa): 2 appearances: #36, 38
Miracle Man: 1 appearance: #3
Kurrgo, Master of Planet X: 1 appearance: #7
Impossible Man: 1 appearance: #11
Rama-Tut, Pharoah from the Future!: 1 appearance: #19
Molecule Man: 1 appearance: #20
Adolf Hitler: 1 appearance: #21
Infant Terrible: 1 appearance: #24
X-Men (under thrall of the Puppet Master): 1 appearance: #28
Attuma: 1 appearance: #33
Mr. Gideon: 1 appearance: #34
Dragon Man: 1 appearance: #35

While it’s clear that this was a remarkably fertile time for the two men, they obviously weren’t adverse to reusing a character, especially the two big guns (Doom and Namor), who appear in 36% of the stories (15 out of 42 issues). So I would challenge Brian’s statement a bit.

More than anything, these first 40 issues didn’t thrill me. I look at them and appreciate what the two men did for comics, and Kirby’s art is better than I used to give it credit for, but there’s something lacking in them. Maybe I’m just not a Sixties kind of guy. I doubt it, because Steranko’s Nick Fury is pretty damned awesome.

4. Daredevil by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (988).
May 1979 to February 1983 (#158-191, with a few gaps).
One Omnibus edition collecting the entire run, three Visionary trades, two trades collecting issues #159-161, 163-164 (“Marked for Death”) and #169-172, 180 (“Gang War”).
The placement of this actually surprised me. It’s not that it’s bad at all, but I’m surprised it was 4th. I get that people really like it, but again, 4th? This is, of course, extremely influential, in both good and bad ways. Nice art, though.

5. Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch (942). See above.

6. Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (926).
August 1962 (Amazing Fantasy #15) to July 1966 (#1-38, 2 Annuals).
There is an Omnibus collecting every issue; four Masterworks volumes; and the first two Essential volumes collect the run.
I like this a lot more than I like the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four. And it feels more like a “run,” based on my definition above.

7. Starman by James Robinson (921). See above.

8. Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (857).
April 1995 to October 2000 (#1-66).
Nine trades collect the entire run.
As I mentioned with regard to this book and Hitman, I think this is probably Ennis’s masterpiece, but I like Hitman more. He was obviously more “taken” with this, but it ending up being a bit more pretentious and precious than Hitman, and that’s where it falters a bit. Ennis screws up the ending a bit (a reason to make current runs ineligible!), and he too often allows his characters to rant about things he obviously feels passionate about, bringing the narrative to a halt. And Herr Starr’s successive gruesome injuries is like the gag on The Simpsons where Sideshow Bob keeps stepping on the rakes – funny at first, then annoying, and finally surreal. I dropped this book for a while because of the disgusting injuries (the fat guy landing on the Messiah really turned me off), and while I’m glad I went back and got the issues and read them, I can’t rank this as high as Hitman or even Hellblazer.

9. Justice League by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis (742).
May 1987 to March 1992 (for the run that was voted on). See above.

10. X-Men by Grant Morrison (701).
July 2001 to May 2004 (#114-154, one Annual).
This run has been collected in seven trades; three hardcovers; or one Omnibus.
Boy, do I wish Marvel had not basically retconned most of this run out of existence. I know a lot of people read this, but as someone who had been reading the mutant books for years, issue #114 was like a punch in the gut – but in a good way. It was astonishing, and although I don’t think any story matched “E is for Extinction,” this is a brilliant run that should have completely redefined the X-Men. Of course, the people who hated it because it was so “different” should remember how conventional it really is. Yes, Morrison played with a lot of new kinds of ideas, but it fit well into the history of the X-Men. Too bad Marvel didn’t see it that way.

I can even forgive the Xorn reveal, which I still say is not telegraphed in the Annual. Maybe I need to read it again, but still.

11. Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez (643).
November 1980 to March 1985 (#1-50; #1-5, three Annuals).
There are three archive volumes (issues #1-20, Tales #1-4); and four trades, which do not collect the entire run (two deal with Terra, one with Donna Troy, one with Trigon).
I have read the two trades about Terra, and wasn’t impressed. Again, it’s another one that not’s bad, but I’m not dazzled by it. I have a distinct feeling that this is another one where you had to be there when it first came out. Years later, after hearing about how awesome it is, the impact when you actually do read it is lessened. I like the stories I’ve read, but not to the point where I think it’s the 11th-best run of all time.

That X-Men/Titans crossover rocks, however.

12. JLA by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter (574). See above.

13. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (547).
September 2002 to March 2008 (#1-60).
Nine trades are out, with one more to come.
I enjoy this book, but I HAVEN’T READ THE ENDING, AND IF YOU SPOIL IT FOR ME I WILL FIND YOU, WHEREVER YOU LIVE, AND EAT YOUR EYES! EVEN IF YOU LIVE IN SURINAME OR BHUTAN OR EVEN (SHUDDER) ALABAMA! So please don’t spoil it. Thanks!

14. Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison and Richard Case (524). See above. I’d like to thank the 11 other people besides me who voted this #1. You obviously are the 11 smartest comic book fans in existence!

15. Thor by Walt Simonson (514).
November 1983 to August 1987 (#337-382, not all with Simonson on art).
Four Visionary trades (through issue #374), with another one scheduled. For some inexplicable reason, Marvel has allowed Vols. 2 and 3 to go out of print. Stupid, stupid Marvel.
I only own issues #337-355, but damn, they’re good. I’m waiting for the Visionary trades to come back in print (Marvel is getting around to it, they claim), so I can, you know, buy them. Imagine that – people want to buy these books! Why, oh why, did they go out of print? Stupid Marvel.

16. Fantastic Four by John Byrne (508).
July 1981 to August 1986 (#232-293).
Eight Visionary trades collect the entire run.
This is quite good. Byrne did some very cool things with the characters, and it’s the kind of comic you can read over and over and always be entertained. But, as I mentioned above, it ended kind of weakly, plus, you know, he brought back Jean Grey late in the run. Boo, John Byrne! Still, this is good comic-bookery.

17. Captain America by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (504).
January 2005 to present (#1-37).
Six trades are out, plus one Omnibus (#1-25).
Ineligible because it’s not over. If my sources are correct, I know how Steve Rogers will come back (did you think he wouldn’t?), and we’ll see if people like so much then!

18. Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (493). See above.

19. The Incredible Hulk by Peter David (484).
May 1987 to August 1998 (#331-467).
Eight trades exist (the first four are Visionary trades, so maybe more of those are coming), ending with issue #400. One wonders if Marvel will ever collect the rest.
This gets a lot weaker around #425 or so, and only picks up when that Kubert dude came on board in the #450s (whichever Kubert it was – Andy?). But I still love this run, because David did more with the Hulk than I thought possible. I got into it late, but quickly went back and bought all the back issues (including a strangely low-priced McFarlane one, which was explained when I found out part of two pages had been cut out), and I love reading it. David never seemed to get stale or even bored, and I wonder if he’d still be writing the damned book if Marvel hadn’t interfered.

20. Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev (480).
December 2001 to March 2006 (#26-50; #56-81).
There are nine trades and/or five hardcovers.
I went into this run in detail here.

21. Animal Man by Grant Morrison and Chas Truog (430). See above.

22. Fables by Bill Willingham (428).
July 2002 to present (#1-71).
Nine trades so far, plus the graphic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall.
This is one of my favorite current comics, but it’s ineligible because it’s not over yet.

23. Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson (418).
September 1997 to November 2002 (#1-60).
Ten trades collect the entire run.
I never got this when it came out, but quickly picked up the trades. It’s not my favorite Ellis work, but I think it’s his masterpiece, and almost every Ellis protagonist since then seems to be an iteration of Spider Jerusalem. This, like Preacher, allows Ellis to rant about things that interest him, but he’s usually very good about tempering it with neat stories. My favorite parts of this comic are when Ellis shows a human side to Spider. Ellis is excellent at this sort of thing, but too often he ignores that part of his repertoire to concentrate on angry ranting. Transmetropolitan is a nice blend of the two sides of Ellis, and that’s why it’s good.

24. The Punisher by Garth Ennis (389).
April 2000 to March 2001 (Welcome Back, Frank). August 2001 to February 2004 (Marvel Knights series). March 2004 to present (MAX series).
It looks like there are sixteen trades (with two pending), and some hardcovers.
I have read a few issues of the MAX series, and didn’t think they were anything special. The Punisher is just one of those characters I simply do not like. I’m sorry, but I just can’t really get into him, no matter how good the stories are.

25. Cerebus by Dave Sim and Gerhard (370).
December 1977 to March 2004 (#1-300).
Many, many trades are out there.
I have never read this, and I have never had much interest in reading it.

26. Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley (364).
October 2000 to August 2007 (#1-110).
Eighteen trades have come out (including the “Secret Six” arc); a bunch of big hardcovers.
I buy this series in trades, and I think it reads well in that format. I enjoy it a lot.

27. Invisibles by Grant Morrison (349).
September 1994 to June 2000 (#1-25; #1-22; #12-1).
Seven trades collect all three volumes.
I have read this once, and didn’t get it. It’s very possible than I’m not too bright, but I tend to think this is fairly overrated. Do you really get it, people who ranked it this high? I’m not asking to be snarky, I honestly want to know, because I just didn’t understand it at all. It’s very vexing.

28. Suicide Squad by John Ostrander (336). See above.

29. The Legion of Super-Heroes by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen (328).
November 1981 to December 1984 (#281-313; #1-5).
Two trades are out, one “The Great Darkness Saga,” and the other the relaunch.
I read “The Great Darkness Saga” and didn’t get what all the fuss was about. It was fine, I guess, but inconsistent on the art side and a bit unbelievable, as wouldn’t Darkseid be better known? Anyway, it’s a perfectly fine story. 29th-best? Not in my world, but I have no problem with people voting for it.

30. Astro City by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson (323).
August 1995 to present.
All of this is in trade, except for maybe the latest story arc, which will be soon.
Although these are a series of mini-series, I would still consider it ineligible, as Busiek is obviously going to write more of these. I love this series, and maybe when it’s all done I’ll rank it quite high – probably higher than this, to tell the truth.

31. Bone by Jeff Smith (321).
July 1991 to June 2004 (#1-55).
Nine color trades are out, and that one big black-and-white volume, which at $40 for 1300 pages is excellent value.
I love this comic. Love it love it love it. Go buy it if you haven’t read it, and go re-read it if you have. Go!

32. The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch (315).
March 2002 to May 2007.
The series is collected in four trades and/or two big hardcovers.
I bought 15 issues of this before I went on my Mark Millar boycott, and I really enjoyed the first 6 or so, before the waits between issues became interminable and the story became just another alien invasion. I still read it, but it wasn’t as thrilling. Then I stopped buying Millar comics. I haven’t felt all that deprived.

33. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (307).
July 2003 to May 2007 (#1-18; #1-24).
Seven digest-style trades and/or three big hardcovers collect this series.
I own the three hardcovers, and like them a lot. The art looks great in that format, and Vaughan does a very good job with the characters. I get the objections to who the traitor is, and kind of wish it had been someone less obvious (in hindsight, that is, because I didn’t see it coming), but I still like this series quite a bit.

34. Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr. (270).
August 1966 to May 1971 (#39-93, with some gaps).
This is collected in the Marvel Masterworks volumes 4-9 (only part of 4, though); Essential volumes 2-5 (parts of 2 and 5); a Romita Sr. Visionary trade with some of the issues; and a “Death of the Stacys” trade. You have no excuse if you haven’t read it!
As I mentioned above, I like the old Spider-Man comics a lot more than the old Fantastic Four comics, so I enjoy this run a lot. I have all the Spider-Man Essential volumes (well, I’m missing the Spectacular ones, but I have all the Amazing ones), and I really want Marvel to bring out another volume! Come on, Marvel!

35. Love and Rockets by the Hernandez Brothers (236).
June 1982 to present (#1-50; #1-20).
Many trades exist, including new hardcovers.
No, I haven’t read this. Yes, I’m a bad comic book fan. Have mercy!

36. Marvelman/Miracleman by Alan Moore, Gary Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Beckum, and John Totleben (234). See above.

37. Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea (232). See above.

38. Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (229).
July 2004 to present (#1-24).
Three trades are out so far, but you know a mega-huge Omnibus is in the pipeline.
As many of you recall, I was just not impressed with the first trade of this, nor the random single issues I’ve picked up since. It’s not that it’s that bad, it’s just not that impressive. If Brian does this again in ten years, I’d be stunned if this showed up. I don’t think it will age well. But that’s just me.

39. Flash by Mark Waid (228).
May 1992 to September 1997 (#62-129).
There are five trades, but they don’t collect the entire run.
I read two arcs: the return of Barry Allen, and the six issues leading up to issue #100. Both seemed like decent but unspectacular superhero stories. I know that people love this, so maybe I should get another trade and give it another chance.

40. Promethea by Alan Moore and J. H. Williams III (220).
August 1999 to April 2005 (#1-32).
Five trades are out.
For some reason, I’ve never finished this. I own three trades and liked them, but it’s never been high on my list of comics to buy. I understand it got weirder and weirder, and maybe that’s what’s kept me from buying it, but for whatever reason, I’ve never gotten around to the other two trades. I ought to, I guess.

41. The Avengers by Kurt Busiek (218).
February 1998 to September 2002 (#1-56).
Eight trades collect the run, or you could go for the five big hardcovers.
I own the first two big hardcovers, and as I’ve written about before, I am just not thrilled with them. For some reason, I can’t get into the Avengers.

41. Howard the Duck by Steve Gerber (218).
December 1973 to September 1978.
Essential Howard the Duck. What more do you need?
I haven’t read this at all. I’m aware of my suckiness, thank you.

43. Daredevil by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (211).
February-August 1986 (#227-233).
Daredevil: Born Again is the trade.
Damn, this is a great story. I’ve read this thing so many times, and I always like dragging it out and reading it again. But without going back and consulting the rules, shouldn’t a seven-issue “run” not really count? What was the minimum number of issues allowed?

44. The Legion of Super-Heroes by Keith Giffen, Tom Bierbaum, and Mary Bierbaum (208).
November 1989 to December 1992 (issue #38) and November 1993 (issue #50) (#1-50).
No trades are out for this run.
I haven’t read it, nor do I have much interest in reading it. On the other hand, I did just finally complete my collection (such as it is) of The Heckler, which is by the same creative team, and I’m looking forward to cracking that open.

45. The Spectre by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake (205). See above.

46. The Spirit by Will Eisner (204).
DC has 24 trades, not all with Eisner, apparently, but there they are.
I’ve read some of this, and I’m impressed with the stories. Those people who say Kirby was so wonderful should check out Eisner, twenty years earlier. Okay, they probably have, but Eisner’s work was so much more naturalistic (for the most part, if we ignore the stereotype that is Ebony White) than most mainstream superhero art. Why is that?

47. Deadpool by Joe Kelly (202).
January 1997 to October 1999 (#1-33).
One trade is out, collecting issues #1-5.
I haven’t read this. Given the love it seems to receive, perhaps I should.

48. JSA by Geoff Johns (192).
January 2000 to March 2006; February 2007 to present (#6-77, 81; #1-14).
It looks like eleven trades, one extra one for “The Lightning Saga,” and one forthcoming.
This would probably be ineligible, because it’s still technically ongoing, even though the previous series ended. I haven’t liked enough of what I’ve read by Johns to really care about reading this.

49. Detective Comics by Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson, and Marshall Rogers (184).
May 1977 to April 1978 (#469-476).
There’s a trade, which includes issues #477-479.
The Simonson issues aren’t awful (Dr. Phosphorus is pretty keen), but of course the big draw are the Englehart/Rogers/Austin issues. I wrote about those issues here.

50. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World (180).
October 1970 to March 1974.
Lots of different trades are out, including the Omnibi (a fourth and final volume is forthcoming).
I’d really like to read this. Kirby’s Five-Oh! came out this week, didn’t it? I’ll have to ask my retailer where the hell it is.

51. Hellboy by Mike Mignola (179).
March 1994 to present.
Many trades, with no signs of stopping.
I have read very few issues of the Hellboy-verse, but I’d like to read more. They’re groovy.

52. All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (176).
January 2006 to present (#1-10).
One trade is out, collecting #1-6. Of course, you could wait for the big hardcover that will appear eventually.
This is ineligible, of course, but I dig it quite a lot. I’m not sure if it’s as good as most of Morrison’s stuff, but we’ll see.

53. Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude (174).
May 1983 to present (#1-101).
It looks like about half has been collected in trade.
I haven’t read it, except for the recent reprint of the Origin story. It was okay.

54. Green Lantern by Geoff Johns (174).
December 2004 to present (#1-6; #1-29).
It looks like four trades are out so far.
I can’t accept this appearing on the list. Much like Astonishing X-Men, I think this will not appear on a list like this ten years from now. Granted, I haven’t read much of this, but whenever I take a look at an issue, it’s thoroughly unimpressive. It just seems like Johns is far more interested in giving fans exactly what they want instead of caring about writing a good story. I guess that’s why it’s popular and why it shows up on this list, but it’s just pandering. Blech. Bringing back Hal Jordan and caving to a bunch of whiners should automatically exclude it.*

*Sorry for being so angry. Hal’s return just really pisses me off.

55. Amazing Spider-Man by Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr. (170).
January 1982 to May 1984 (#224-252).
Parts of this run are collected in two trades.
I have covered part of this run, in two separate Comics You Should Own posts: the two-part Juggernaut story, and the Hobgoblin story. They’re, you know, good.

56. The Flash by Geoff Johns (168).
September 2000 to October 2005 (#164-225).
Eight trades collect the entire run.
I haven’t read any of this. I’m in no hurry.

56. Supreme by Alan Moore (168).
August 1996 to June 2000 (#41-56; #1-5).
Two trades, from Checker books, have been published.
I hear good things about this, even though I’ve read only one issue. I suppose I should find the trades.

58. The Avengers by Roger Stern (164).
January 1983 to February 1988 (#227-288).
“Under Siege” has been collected, but only a few other random stories.
I’ve never read any of this.

59. Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams (162).
April 1970 to January 1973 (#76-87, 89; Flash #217-219).
It’s all been collected in one trade (including the back-up stories).
I’ve read more than a few issues of this, but not all of it. I love Adams’ art. The stories are pretty good, too, especially that Jesus one.

60. The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch (159).
May 1999 to April 2000 (#1-12).
Two trades of six issues each are available, and/or one Absolute Edition.
I love this run, but I have a feeling it won’t be held in such high esteem in the coming years. It’s more of an “awesome” kind of run than one that really stays with you, isn’t it? StormWatch is much more interesting.

61. Iron Man by Bob Layton and David Michelinie (152).
September 1978 to April 1982 (#114-157).
There are five trades, but the entire run has not been collected.
Yes, I suppose I should read this, but I haven’t. I’ll get around to it, especially now that I’m armed with the issue numbers!

62. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (150).
August 1999 to present (#1-89).
I read them in trades, so I know they’re available – currently eleven of them.
It’s ineligible, but damn, it’s good stuff. I hope it ends well.

62. Fantastic Four by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo (150).
October 2002 to June 2005 (#60-70; 500-524).
This run is collected in six trades and/or three big hardcovers.
I own the first big hardcover of this, which ends with the horrific Doom story (“horrific” because of what happens, not because of the quality, which is very good). I have heard it didn’t go too well after that, but I’m still curious about it. Maybe I’ll pick up another hardcover just for fun.

64. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (148).
March 1999 to November 2003 (#1-6; #1-6).
The trades are available, including three Absolute editions.
Well, I still think this should be ineligible, but whatever. I didn’t like The Black Dossier all that much, but the first two mini-series were excellent. I really hope Moore and O’Neill can get some more series out before I grow old and feeble.

65. Detective/Batman by Alan Grant, John Wagner, and Norm Breyfogle (146). See above.

66. New Mutants by Chris Claremont, Bob McLeod, and Bill Sienkiewicz (144). See above.

67. Shade, the Changing Man by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo (142). See above.

68. Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha (141).
September 1999 to October 2001 (#1-12).
All of the series is in trade, but wouldn’t an Absolute Edition be nice?
This is a wildly fun series to read, not only because of all the Easter eggs, but because of the wonderful stories. Moore ties dozens of plotlines together effortlessly, and Ha’s artwork is amazing. It would have been nice to see the series go longer, but I guess 12 issues and one graphic novel is good enough (and no, I haven’t read Smax – maybe I should).

69. X-Factor by Peter David (140).
September 1991 to May 1993 (#70-90).
Three Visionary volumes have come out, collecting through #83 (but not including #70), plus there’s an “X-Cutioner’s Song” trade (#84-86).
I own most if not all of these (I’d have to check), and although I liked them when I bought them, these were sitting in my parents’ house for about 12 years, and I only recently got them back. Therefore, I haven’t re-read them, and I have no idea if they hold up. I guess I’ll find out when I get around to them.

70. Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Oeming (134).
April 2000 to present (#1-37; #1-27).
There are eleven trades or, if you prefer, two big hardcovers (issues #1-24).
I own the first trade and a few of the subsequent issues (including the one guest-starring Warren Ellis, which is … odd), and I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t know why. I can’t say there’s anything really wrong with it, it just didn’t do it for me. And then I heard about the monkey sex issue, and thought maybe it was a good thing I didn’t keep reading.

71. Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri, and Rick Leonardi (133).
June 1987 to May 1990 (#218-261, with many guest artists).
“Fall of the Mutants” and “Inferno” are in trades, plus the Brood story. Parts of it are in a Jim Lee Visionary volume. Are these trades out of print?
I love this era of the X-Men, but as I pointed out above, I’m not sure it should be counted separately s a “run.” If it is, I would go from a few issues earlier (#214 is the real “beginning” of this “era”) and end at #280, which is the last issue before the titles split. But I will defend this run against Philistines like Brian, who don’t like it all that much. Boo, Dread Lord and Master!

71. Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith (133).
January 1983 to November 1983 (#165-175).
Essential volume 4 has the goods. “From the Ashes” is the trade of the big story arc, but it might be out of print.
Again, this “run” blends rather easily with the prior one (Smith came on board to end the first Brood story) and into the subsequent one. These are some humdingers, though. Wolverine’s wedding (issues #172-173) are freakin’ awesome.

73. Black Panther by Christopher Priest (130).
November 1998 to September 2003 (#1-62).
The first twelve issues are collected.
I own the first trade and enjoyed it (especially when Everett Ross sells his soul for a pair of pants), but never got around to buying the second trade. Of course, Marvel stopped collecting them, so maybe I should just go back and buy the damned issues in single format.

74. Excalibur by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis (122).
October 1988 to July 1990; October 1991 to July 1993 (#1-24; 42-67).
The first part, when Claremont was writing, is in four trades, but not the ones with Davis as sole writer/artist.
These are really fun comics, and it’s too bad there’s a caesura between them, because they fit together so well. I love re-reading these.

74. Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Kano, and Stefano Gaudiano (122).
February 2003 to April 2006 (#1-40).
There are five trades, but some crossover issues are not included.
These comics are very good, except toward the end, when they seem to lose their way a bit. It’s a great idea, however, and it would be nice to see DC try to revive something like this in the future.

76. Concrete by Paul Chadwick (120).
July 1986 to present.
Lots of trades exist, but I’m not sure if it’s everything that could be collected.
I haven’t read a single issue with Concrete. That’s just weird.

77. Superman by John Byrne (119).
October 1986 to November 1988.
Looks like most of it has been collected in various trades. Has all of it been?
I own the Man of Steel mini-series. It’s good. But I have no mad-on to get the rest.

78. Wildcats by Joe Casey, Sean Phillips, Dustin Nguyen, and Duncan Rouleau (117).
April 2000 to October 2004 (#8-28; #1-24).
Five trades collect the run, but 3.0 only made it to #12 in trade. So sad!
This is part of the body of work that makes Casey one of the best writers working today. This is a marvelous read, and even though the final issues are not fantastic, Casey makes the best of it. It’s a shame that his really interesting stuff doesn’t last, but his more mainstream stuff does well. This is probably his masterpiece until Gødland supplants it.

79. Invincible by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley (115).
January 2003 to present (#1-49).
So far we have eight trades, including a few gigantic hardcovers.
This is a very good superhero book. I would deem it ineligible, but I have no problem with it showing up on the list.

80. Lucifer by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Ryan Kelly (114).
March 1999 to June 2006 (#1-3; #1-75).
The series is collected in eleven trades.
I bought the Sandman Presents mini-series when it came out, and a friend got me the first trade, but I just wasn’t into it. It’s not bad, certainly, but it didn’t grab me. But it’s another series in which I have become interested because of its presence on this list. Maybe I’ll pick up the second trade.

81. Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (113).
March 2003 to May 2005 (#1-12; #1-12).
Four trades collect the series, and one for Point Blank (which is not essential, but forms a nice prelude to the main book).
It took me a long time to get into this book. I got the first trade, liked it well enough, but didn’t see what was so special about it. I got the second trade and felt the same way. I decided to get the final two trades just to see how Brubaker would end it. As a whole, this is much better than individually. It’s a nice comic, and I have no problem with its ranking.

81. X-Force/X-Statix by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred (113).
May 2001 to October 2004 (#116-129; #1-26).
Six trades are out, plus the Deadgirl mini-series.
Issue #116 is one of the best single issues of the past decade, and the first few are amazing. Milligan couldn’t keep the energy up, probably not surprisingly, but it remained a very good book, especially given the fact that Marvel published it and allowed Milligan a lot of latitude. Even before the Princess Diana thing, it was getting a bit stale, and I dropped it right before the final story arc. Of course, I’ve heard that’s very good (especially Guy fighting Iron Man in the nude), so I’ll probably pick up the issues some day.

83. StormWatch by Warren Ellis, Tom Raney, Oscar Jimenez, and Bryan Hitch (112). See above.

83. Thor by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (112).
October 1963 to August 1970 (#97-179).
The trades: Masterworks volumes 1-6 (part of 1), Essential volumes 1-3 (parts of 1, ends at #166).
Except for the origin issue, I honestly don’t know if I’ve read any of this. Given the write-up Brian did and the reaction some people had to this, I think I might have to go get some Essential volumes!

85. Groo by Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier (110).
December 1982 to present.
Most, but not all (it appears) is in trade.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t get Groo. I enjoy reading his adventures, but I just can’t see loving it so much. It seems like a well-written “classic” situation comedy, in that each episode might be hilarious, but because everything stays pretty much the same, you lack the emotional attachment to characters that I need to consider something great. But that’s just me.

86. Warlock by Jim Starlin (109).
February 1975 to 1977.
This doesn’t appear to be in trade.
If this is half as weird as Starlin’s Captain Marvel stuff, I will have to find it somewhere!

86. The Avengers by Roy Thomas (109).
December 1966 to October 1972 (#35-104).
Collections include: part of Masterworks volume 4, volume 5, 6, and 7 (to issue 68); part of Essential volume 2, 3, 4, and part of 5. Parts of the run have been collected elsewhere, including the Kree-Skrull War trade.
I’ve only read the Kree-Skrull War trade, and that mainly because of Neal Adams. So I can’t speak to the quality of this.

88. Doctor Strange by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (108).
July 1963 to July 1966 (#110-146).
Strange Tales shows up in Masterworks volume 1 (and a few in volume 2) and Essential volume 1.
I haven’t read this (because it’s from the Sixties, man!), but maybe I should.

89. Captain America by Mark Gruenwald (107).
July 1985 to September 1995 (#307-443).
Only a few story arcs are in trade: “The Bloodstone Hunt” and “Streets of Poison.”
This run was long before I really got into finding out the talent on a book and whether the creative team was any good. Mostly I just stuck to my favorite characters and a few random creators (most of whom worked for DC). So this run passed me by completely. In fact, the first time I even considered buying Captain America was right after this run, when Waid and Garney came on board.

90. Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and John Romita, Jr. (106).
November 1983 to November 1986 (#175-211).
The only trades of this are Essential volumes 5 and 6. The Mutant Massacre got a trade, which I see occasionally, but I wonder if it’s out of print.
Again, I would count this as part of Claremont’s grand storyline that began in issue #144 and ended with issue #213. But I’m in the minority, I guess. I do love this X-Era, though.

91. Green Arrow by Mike Grell (104).
August 1987 (The Longbow Hunters #1) to November 1993 (#1-3; #1-80).
The Longbow Hunters is in trade, but it doesn’t look like the rest of the run is.
Despite the controversy over Grell’s treatment of Dinah, I love The Longbow Hunters. I bought one other issue of Green Arrow (#40, the one Grell drew), but not the rest of the series. Grell’s art in the original mini-series is a huge draw, but I liked the story a lot as well. It’s a wonderfully adult take on a superhero going through middle age, and it shows again why DC and Marvel should allow their heroes to age. Anyway, that’s a soapbox issue, so I won’t go into it, but I still drag out my trade of The Longbow Hunters occasionally and read it. This is one of those series that I should collect, because when I started buying comics I didn’t know who Grell was, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate him more.

92. Nextwave by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen (103).
March 2006 to March 2007 (#1-12).
There are two trades, but a monster trade collecting the entire run would look so nice on a bookshelf, wouldn’t it?
In the middle of this run, I thought Ellis was losing it, but the beginning and end are just fantastic comics. I recently bought Abnett and Lanning’s mini-series about Elsa Bloodstone (cheaply, I can assure you), and it’s amazing what Ellis does with her to redeem her slightly after that clusterfuck. I wish this could have lasted a little longer, but like a lot of great series that didn’t last, a few issues are better than none!

93. Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos (101).
November 2001 to January 2004 (#1-28).
There are four trades, plus an all-inclusive Omnibus.
Alias is another series about which I’ve written extensively. It’s excellent.

93. Hellblazer by Garth Ennis, Will Simpson, and Steve Dillon (101).
May 1991 to November 1994 (#41-83).
Six trades of the main storylines, and some single issues in “Rare Cuts,” collect everything.
I started buying Hellblazer late in Ennis’s run (“Rake at the Gates of Hell,” in fact), and quickly went back and scooped up the back issues before they got too expensive. As I mentioned above, I think this run even trumps Preacher, as Ennis isn’t too beyond the pale when it comes to the ultra-violence, and Kit is a better character than Tulip. Ennis’s return to Hellblazer years later (“Son of Man,” issues #129-133) is decent, but shows how much more he enjoys writing truly disgusting violent scenes.

95. Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima (100).
1970-1974.
Many trades are available.
I haven’t read any of this. I am a bad person.

96. The Question by Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan (99).
February 1987 to April 1990 (#1-36).
The first trade is out, and a second (collecting through issue #12) will be available on Wednesday, I’m fairly sure.
I read the first trade and liked it, and I’ll probably pick up the second. I don’t know if I should wait for DC to collect the rest, given their erratic publishing schedule. Of course, I’m not in any hurry to buy these, because although I liked the first trade, it’s not like I desperately need to read the rest, so I can be patient.

97. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai (98).
July 1987 to present (#1-38; #1-16; #1-109).
It appears that there are 23 trades currently out.
I tried a few issues out not long ago, and while I liked them, I think I’ll stick to the trades. It’s definitely on my list to get, though.

97. Grendel by Matt Wagner (98). See above.

99. Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore (96).
November 1993 to June 2007 (#1-13; #1-13; #1-90).
So many trades: Nineteen regular volumes; ten hardcovers; six digests.
This is another book I’ve never read, so I have nothing to say about it.

100. Plastic Man by Jack Cole (95).
August 1941 to November 1950.
DC’s Archive Editions collect almost the entire run, it looks like, in eight editions.
I read the Art Spiegelman book about Jack Cole and his creation, which was very good, but I’ve never read any of these comics, except for the origin story.

100. Master of Kung-Fu by Doug Moench (95).
September 1974 to March 1983 (#20-122).
No trades, apparently. Not even an Essential volume????
This is something I have been meaning to track down for some time. I think I have to ramp up my efforts!

100. Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware (95).
Winter 1993 to Winter 2001 (#1-18).
Five trades exist.
I’ve never read it. I don’t think I’d like it. Maybe I would.

Now, let’s check out the list, going only by first place votes (the first number in parentheses is where the run actually placed, while the second is the number of first-place votes it received):

1 (1). Sandman (42).
2 (3). Fantastic Four (Lee/Kirby) (37).
3 (7). Starman (35).
4 (5). Swamp Thing (30).
5 (2). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne) (28).
6 (8). Preacher (21).
7 (6). Amazing Spider-Man (Lee/Ditko) (19).
8 (11). Teen Titans (15).
9 (10). X-Men (14).
10 (9). Justice League (Giffen/DeMatteis) (13).
10 (21). Animal Man (13).
12 (4). Daredevil (Miller) (12).
12 (14). Doom Patrol (12).
14 (23). Transmetropolitan (11).
15 (27). Invisibles (10).
15 (29). Legion of Super-Heroes (Levitz/Giffen) (10).
17 (20). Daredevil (Bendis/Maleev) (9).
18 (25). Cerebus (8).
19 (12). JLA (Morrison) (7).
19 (16). Fantastic Four (Byrne) (7).
19 (18). Planetary (7).
19 (19). Incredible Hulk (7).
19 (31). Bone (7).
19 (46). The Spirit (7).
25 (13). Y: The Last Man (6).
25 (22). Fables (6).
25 (37). Hitman (6).
25 (47). Deadpool (6).
29 (15). Thor (Simonson) (5).
29 (24). The Punisher (5).
29 (28). Suicide Squad (5).
29 (32). The Ultimates (5).
29 (35). Love and Rockets (5).
29 (45). The Spectre (5).
35 (17). Captain America (Brubaker) (4).
35 (30). Astro City (4).
35 (40). Promethea (4).
35 (44). Legion of Super-Heroes (Giffen/Bierbaums) (4).
35 (53). Nexus (4).
35 (55). Amazing Spider-Man (Stern/Romita Jr.) (4).
35 (66). New Mutants (4).
35 (67). Shade, the Changing Man (4).
35 (73). Black Panther (4).
35 (76). Concrete (4).
45 (26). Ultimate Spider-Man (3).
45 (33). Runaways (3).
45 (34). Amazing Spider-Man (Lee/Romita Sr.) (3).
45 (36). Marvelman (3).
45 (43). Daredevil (Miller/Mazzuchelli) (3).
45 (49). Detective (Englehart/Simonson/Rogers) (3).
45 (52). All Star Superman (3).
45 (58). Avengers (Stern) (3).
45 (62t). 100 Bullets (3).
45 (68). Top Ten (3).
45 (71t). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Silvestri) (3).
45 (74t). Excalibur (3).
45 (80). Lucifer (3).
45 (89). Captain America (Gruenwald) (3).
45 (91). Green Arrow (3).
60 (38). Astonishing X-Men (2).
60 (39). The Flash (Waid) (2).
60 (50). Fourth World (2).
60 (51). Hellboy (2).
60 (56t). The Flash (Johns) (2).
60 (56t). Supreme (2).
60 (60). The Authority (2).
60 (61). Iron Man (2).
60 (64). League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2).
60 (65). Detective (Grant/Breyfogle) (2).
60 (69). X-Factor (2).
60 (81t). Sleeper (2).
60 (81t). X-Force/X-Statix (2).
60 (86t). Avengers (Thomas) (2).
60 (88). Doctor Strange (2).
60 (92). Nextwave (2).
60 (97t). Usagi Yojimbo (2).
60 (99). Strangers in Paradise (2).
60 (100t). Acme Novelty Library (2).
79 (41t). Avengers (Busiek/Perez) (1).
79 (41t). Howard the Duck (1).
79 (48). JSA (1).
79 (53). Green Lantern (1).
79 (59). Green Lantern/Green Arrow (1).
79 (62t). Fantastic Four (Waid/Wieringo) (1).
79 (70). Powers (1).
79 (71t). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Smith) (1).
79 (74t). Gotham Central (1).
79 (77). Superman (Byrne) (1).
79 (78). Wildcats (1).
79 (79). Invincible (1).
79 (83t). StormWatch (1).
79 (83t). Thor (Lee/Kirby) (1).
79 (85). Groo (1).
79 (86t). Warlock (1).
79 (90). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Romita) (1).
79 (93t). Alias (1).
79 (93t). Hellblazer (1).
79 (96). The Question (1).
79 (97t). Grendel (1).
79 (100t). Plastic Man (1).
101 (95). Lone Wolf & Cub (0).
101 (100t). Master of Kung-Fu (0).

Obviously, down at the bottom it gets a little sticky, but I find it interesting that some runs (most notably Animal Man) finished high up in the first-place rankings but not so high in the general rankings. Most people, it seems, ranked it very high or not at all. Others didn’t finish as high as a first-place run, but I expect they showed up on a broader number of ballots, because they’re more “classic.” This gave me another idea: to rank them by their percentage of first-place votes! Basically, as each first-place vote was worth 10 points, we’ll look at how many of a specific run’s total came from voters ranking it first. Let’s check it out! The first parentheses shows where the run finished, the second shows its first-place votes, and the third is the percentage of first-place points making up its total.

1 (7). Starman (35) (38.00%).
2 (3). Fantastic Four (Lee/Kirby) (37) (35.92%).
3 (46). The Spirit (7) (34.31%).
4 (76). Concrete (4) (33.33%).
5 (1). Sandman (42) (31.87%).
6 (5). Swamp Thing (30) (31.85%).
7 (73). Black Panther (4) (30.77%).
8 (29). Legion of Super-Heroes (Levitz/Giffen) (10) (30.49%).
9 (21). Animal Man (13) (30.23%).
10 (47). Deadpool (6) (29.70%).
11 (91). Green Arrow (3) (28.85%).
12 (27). Invisibles (10) (28.65%).
13 (67). Shade, the Changing Man (4) (28.17%).
14 (89). Captain America (Gruenwald) (3) (28.04%).
15 (66). New Mutants (4) (27.78%).
16t (23). Transmetropolitan (11) (26.32%).
16t (80). Lucifer (3) (26.32%).
18 (37). Hitman (6) (25.86%).
19 (74t). Excalibur (3) (24.59%).
20 (8). Preacher (21) (24.50%).
21 (45). The Spectre (5) (24.39%).
22 (2). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne) (28) (23.69%).
23 (55). Amazing Spider-Man (Stern/Romita Jr.) (4) (23.53%).
24 (11). Teen Titans (15) (23.33%).
25 (53). Nexus (4) (22.99%).
26 (14). Doom Patrol (12) (22.90%).
27 (71t). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Silvestri) (3) (22.56%).
28 (31). Bone (7) (21.81%).
29 (25). Cerebus (8) (21.62%).
30 (68). Top Ten (3) (21.28%).
31 (35). Love and Rockets (5) (21.19%).
32 (100t). Acme Novelty Library (2) (21.05%)
33 (99). Strangers in Paradise (2) (20.83%).
34 (6) Amazing Spider-Man (Lee/Ditko) (19) (20.52%).
35 (97t). Usagi Yojimbo (2) (20.41%).
36 (62t). 100 Bullets (3) (20.00%).
37 (10). X-Men (14) (19.97%).
38 (92). Nextwave (2) (19.42%).
39 (44). Legion of Super-Heroes (Giffen/Bierbaums) (4) (19.23%).
40 (20). Daredevil (Bendis/Maleev) (9) (18.75%).
41 (88). Doctor Strange (2) (18.52%).
42 (86t). Avengers (Thomas) (2) (18.35%).
43 (58). Avengers (Stern) (3) (18.29%).
44 (40). Promethea (4) (18.18%).
45t (81t). Sleeper (2) (17.70%).
45t (81t). X-Force/X-Statix (2) (17.70%).
47 (9). Justice League (Giffen/DeMatteis) (13) (17.52%).
48 (52). All Star Superman (3) (17.05%).
49 (49). Detective (Englehart/Simonson/Rogers) (3) (16.30%).
50 (32). The Ultimates (5) (15.87%).
51 (28). Suicide Squad (5) (14.88%).
52 (19). Incredible Hulk (7) (14.46%).
53 (69). X-Factor (2) (14.29%).
54 (43). Daredevil (Miller/Mazzuchelli) (3) (14.22%).
55 (18). Planetary (7) (14.20%).
56 (22). Fables (6) (14.02%).
57 (16). Fantastic Four (Byrne) (7) (13.78%).
58 (65). Detective (Grant/Breyfogle) (2) (13.70%).
59 (64). League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2) (13.51%).
60 (61). Iron Man (2) (13.16%).
61 (24). The Punisher (5) (12.85%).
62 (36). Marvelman (3) (12.82%).
63 (60). The Authority (2) (12.58%).
64 (30). Astro City (4) (12.38%).
65 (12). JLA (Morrison) (7) (12.20%).
66 (4). Daredevil (Miller) (12) (12.15%).
67 (56t). The Flash (Johns) (2) (11.90%).
68 (56t). Supreme (2) (11.90%).
69 (51). Hellboy (2) (11.17%).
70t (34). Amazing Spider-Man (Lee/Romita Sr.) (3) (11.11%).
70t (50). Fourth World (2) (11.11%).
72 (13). Y: The Last Man (6) (10.97%).
73 (100t). Plastic Man (1) (10.53%).
74 (97t). Grendel (1) (10.20%).
75 (96). The Question (1) (10.10%).
76t (93t). Alias (1) (9.90%).
76t (93t). Hellblazer (1) (9.90%).
78 (33). Runaways (3) (9.77%).
79 (15). Thor (Simonson) (5) (9.73%).
80 (90). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Romita) (1) (9.43%).
81 (86t). Warlock (1) (9.17%).
82 (85). Groo (1) (9.09%).
83 (83t). StormWatch (1) (8.93%).
84 (83t). Thor (Lee/Kirby) (1) (8.93%).
85 (39). The Flash (Waid) (2) (8.77%).
86 (38). Astonishing X-Men (2) (8.73%).
87 (79). Invincible (1) (8.70%).
88 (78). Wildcats (1) (8.55%).
89 (77). Superman (Byrne) (1) (8.40%).
90 (74t). Gotham Central (1) (8.20%).
91 (26). Ultimate Spider-Man (3) (8.24%).
92 (17). Captain America (Brubaker) (4) (7.94%).
93 (71t). Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Smith) (1) (7.52%).
94 (70). Powers (1) (7.46%).
95 (62t). Fantastic Four (Waid/Wieringo) (1) (6.67%).
96 (59). Green Lantern/Green Arrow (1) (6.17%).
97 (53). Green Lantern (1) (5.75%).
98 (48). JSA (1) (5.21%).
99t (41t). Avengers (Busiek/Perez) (1) (4.59%).
99t (41t). Howard the Duck (1) (4.59%).
101t (95). Lone Wolf & Cub (0) (0%).
101t (100t). Master of Kung-Fu (0) (0%).

Now that’s a Top Ten! I’m not exactly sure what these numbers mean, because I’m not a statistician and the percentages are so small I had to go out to the hundredths to separate them, but let’s look at the Top Ten and the Bottom Ten (excluding the two that got no first-place votes). Starman was named as the #1 run in a higher percentage than anything, which means to me that the people who like Starman really like Starman. Of the Top Ten, #1, #4, and #5 are very personal projects that didn’t or won’t continue when the creator stops working on it. #2, #3, #7, #9, and #10 are comics that were launched with a #1 issue, and with the exception (possibly) of Black Panther and Deadpool, we associate those characters most with these creators (which probably isn’t surprising). Only Swamp Thing and Legion of Super-Heroes were runs that began in the middle of a title, and Swamp Thing might not count, as Moore simply revamped the entire thing. As for the Bottom Ten, only Powers and Howard the Duck are associated completely with one creator (or team). Meanwhile, two Geoff Johns runs got the fewest percentage of first-place votes, possibly confirming my belief that people are “prisoners of the moment” when it comes to Johns (especially regarding Green Lantern) and those runs will not be terribly popular in a decade. (I don’t mean to insult people who voted for those runs. I don’t like Johns, but I recognize that he’s terribly popular. I just wonder if they’ll last as “great” runs or not, partially based on the fact that most people don’t think of them as their #1 run.) Most of the runs (with the exception of GL/GA, Howard the Duck, and the Claremont/Smith Uncanny X-Men) are relatively recent or still going on (4 are ongoing, while 3 others are less than a decade old), so maybe that plays into it – people are waiting to see how they stack up historically. I dunno.

Finally, let’s look at the vote total and how far behind each title was from the top and from the previous title on the list. Won’t that be fun?

Sandman (1318)
Claremont/Byrne Uncanny X-Men (-136)
Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four (-288; -152)
Miller Daredevil (-330; -42)
Swamp Thing (-376; -46)
Lee/Ditko Spider-Man (-392; -16)
Starman (-397; -5)
Preacher (-461; -64)
Justice League International (-576; -115)
X-Men (-617; -41)
Teen Titans (-675; -58)
JLA (-744; -69)
Y: The Last Man (-771; -27)
Doom Patrol (-794; -23)
Simonson Thor (-804; -10)
Byrne Fantastic Four (-810; -6)
Brubaker Captain America (-814; -4)
Planetary (-825; -9)
Incredible Hulk (-834; -9)
Bendis/Maleev Daredevil (-838; -4)
Animal Man (-888; -50)
Fables (-890; -2)
Transmetropolitan (-900; -10)
Punisher (-929; -29)
Cerebus (-948; -19)
Ultimate Spider-Man (-954; -6)
Invisibles (-969; -15)
Suicide Squad (-982; -13)
Levitz/Giffen Legion of Super-Heroes (-990; -8)
Astro City (-995; -5)
Bone (-997; -2)
Ultimates (-1003; -6)
Runaways (-1011; -8)
Lee/Romita Spider-Man (-1048; -37)
Love and Rockets (-1082; -34)
Marvelman/Miracleman (-1084; -2)
Hitman (-1086; -2)
Astonishing X-Men (-1089; -3)
Waid Flash (-1090; -1)
Promethea (-1098; -8)
Busiek Avengers (-1100; -2)
Howard the Duck (-1110; N/A)
Miller/Mazzucchelli Daredevil (-1107; -7)
Giffen/Bierbaums Legion of Super-Heroes (-1110; -3)
Spectre (-1113; -3)
Spirit (-1114; -1)
Deadpool (-1116; -2)
JSA (-1126; -10)
Englehart Detective (-1134; -8)
Fourth World (-1138; -4)
Hellboy (-1139; -1)
All Star Superman (-1142; -3)
Nexus (-1144; -2)
Green Lantern (-1144, N/A)
Stern/Romita Spider-Man (-1148; -4)
Johns Flash (-1150; -2)
Supreme (-1150; N/A)
Stern Avengers (-1154; -4)
Green Lantern/Green Arrow (-1156; -2)
Authority (-1159; -3)
Iron Man (-1166; -7)
100 Bullets (-1168; -2)
Waid/Wieringo Fantastic Four (-1168; N/A)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (-1170; -2)
Grant/Breyfogle Detective (-1172; -2)
New Mutants (-1174; -2)
Shade, the Changing Man (-1176; -2)
Top Ten (-1177; -1)
X-Factor (-1178; -1)
Powers (-1184; -6)
Claremont/Silvestri Uncanny X-Men (-1185; -1)
Claremont/Smith Uncanny X-Men (-1185; N/A)
Black Panther (-1188; -3)
Excalibur (-1196; -8)
Gotham Central (-1196; N/A)
Concrete (-1198; -2)
Superman (-1199; -1)
Wildcats (-1201; -2)
Invincible (-1203; -2)
Lucifer (-1204; -1)
Sleeper (-1205; -1)
X-Force/X-Statix (-1205; N/A)
StormWatch (-1206; -1)
Lee/Kirby Thor (-1206; N/A)
Groo (-1208; -2)
Warlock (-1209; -1)
Thomas Avengers (-1209; N/A)
Doctor Strange (-1210; -1)
Gruenwald Captain America (-1211; -1)
Claremont/Romita Uncanny X-Men (-1212; -1)
Green Arrow (-1214; -2)
Nextwave (-1215; -1)
Alias (-1217; -2)
Hellblazer (-1217; -2)
Lone Wolf & Cub (-1218; -1)
Question (-1219; -1)
Usagi Yojimbo (-1220; -1)
Grendel (-1220; -1)
Strangers in Paradise (-1222; -2)
Plastic Man (-1223; -1)
Master of Kung-Fu (-1223; N/A)
Acme Novelty Library (-1223; N/A)

Obviously, as you get down to the end the differences become much slighter, but it’s interesting to check out the space between each choice. This was very close in terms of jockeying for position once we got past the top few spots. I don’t know what else I can glean from this list.

Well, that’s it for me. Brian did a wonderful job with this, and as I mentioned, he brought in a ton of traffic for the blog. He is, of course, Our Dread Lord and Master, and this is why! I should also point you to the excellent comments on all the posts, because a lot of people have left some very good thoughts. And I must mention Rene’s excellent breakdown of the totals. Holy crap, that’s a lot of work! I’m sure Brian will post the lesser runs (up to 200, I’m sure), so we’ll see if any of mine or any of yours just missed the list!

80 Comments

Greg, wow. That was tremendously fun to read. You clearly put a lot of work into it.

“To me, a run is more than a long sequence of comics by the same creator, it’s a story with a beginning and an end.”
Now, this I actually disagree with quite strongly. As far as I read it, the question was not “what is your favourite story” but “run” which to me SPECIFICALLY refers to a “long sequence of comics by the same creator” as OPPOSED to a story with a beginning and an end.
If it had been otherwise, my voting list would have been different.
“Run” to me just means a creator’s “time in office”, which is a very different thing from a story. I actually disqualified runs I otherwise might have voted for because they seemed “too unified” to show the variation I think of when I think of a run.

Perhaps rather than “disagree with” read “feel very differently”.

I ranked Invisibles #1 or thereabouts. It’s a series that rewards you quite a bit by re-reading it. But honestly, I think it’s mostly pretty straightforward. What makes the series work is Morrison’s brilliant character work throughout.

And you gave up on Kirby’s FF right before it gets great. Read Essential #3.

Mind you, the way Byrne left FF (partway through a freakin’ issue) left a sour taste in my mouth and is probably not blameless for the fact that it didn’t get near to making my list.

That’s cool, Jack. Part of the fun of this was finding out what people define as a “run.”

One of these days I’ll re-read Invisibles. Maybe I’ll like it more.

I was thisclose to buying FF Essential volume 3 this weekend. It’s probably my next purchase of the Essentials, because I would like to read the Galactus Saga again (it’s been a while).

I love statistical breakdowns, and its always great to see the thought process behind somebody elses top ten. Totally agree with the DC Kirby is better than Marvel Kirby I had both Kamandi and Mr. Miracle on my top ten.

I should read Grell Green Arrow, I put Warlord down because I love Grell (again somebody I knew about as a kid but didn’t appreciate either until a few years ago) and Warlord but Green Arrow sounds like the better story.

Somebody will point out that we don’t get essential Master of Kung Fu due to copywrite issues if I’m not mistaken. Half the main characters aren’t owned by marvel (Fu Manchu, Shang Chi father comes to mind)

Haven’t read the whole shebang yet, but Hell Yeah! on Captain Britain. It’s very rereadable, too, and holds up very well, with some pretty poignant stories (like the rather innocent mutant drunkard that Cap ends up killing). The initial run of Excalibur was on my list for very much the same reasons.

Therefore, while I respect the work of Lee and Kirby and Ditko, I don’t look upon their seminal work from the early 1960s as all that good.

Once I read this line, I knew I couldn’t read much further. I did make it to the end of the paragraph though. I think what you define as a “run” is actually a “saga.” It doesn’t have to have a firm resolution to be called a “run,” and I think 99% of comic readers would agree.

Greg, Lucifer was my #2 vote, and It’s really worth sticking with beyond the first trade. It really is a series that doesn’t really take off until the second or third trade, but once it does, it’s fucking amazing. I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I actually prefer Lucifer to Sandman. It’s a more focused and thematically consistent narrative, and I personally found the overall character work was much stronger than Sandman.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that it’s the best thing Vertigo has put out since Preacher ended, and I wish Crossing Midnight had been more successful, because it was shaping up to be a nice hybrid of Carey’s Hellblazer run and Lucifer in terms of tone.

fourthworlder

May 5, 2008 at 6:32 pm

I’m just re-reading some old FF for the 100th time or so, but for the first time in six or seven years. I really recommend taking the time to read the whole sequence that leads up to the Galactus story. Start with the series of fights with the Frightful Four, through the Daredevil two-parter (which always makes me wish that Kirby would have done at least a few DD issues), the wild wedding fiasco and then the Inhumans intro.

It’s all so hopelessly dated now, I know, but if you can get past that, the drama is wonderful.
The sequence where Ben and then Johnny are brainwashed by the Id machine and join the Frightful Four against Reed and Sue is startling, especially where Ben Grimm suddenly appears so murderously menacing.
The quality of the art and storytelling grew and grew through this stretch, finally cryatllizing into the classic look when Joe Sinnott began the inking.

To REALLY appreciate the astounding creativity that was flowering there, read the issues concurrently with the Journey Into Mystery and Thor stories of that time.
Best (OK, I promise I’ll stop saying this, for a while at least) two runs ever.

I agree with Jack’s idea on a run, but I agree with you on everything else. Finally someone else who realizes how under appreciated the post-Mutant Massacre Claremont run is! Of course, I agree that Claremont’s run should be looked at as a whole, not broken up. Excise the Byrne portion and put it on it’s own if you want (IMHO, the most overrated work in comics. Good, but just not brilliant) but his entire time (especially the post-Mutant Massacre plots) flows together as a single amazing run.

Yet another example of how different stories work differently for different people: I found Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol to be borderline-unreadable, and I ended up getting rid of all my copies of the issues, except for buying the “Crawling From the Wreckage” TPB.

I’m still holding out hope that we’ll see the last issue of Planetary. It’s my second-favorite comic of the last 15 years (behind Astro City).

Respect on this.

T said:

It doesn’t have to have a firm resolution to be called a “run,”

No, it doesn’t. But it is better if it does. i.e., almost every run you’d see in my top ten would be a complete story.

Hmm. I don’t think any of my top ten are complete stories. :

That was fun. I was thinking of doing this too – Still might.

Todd Lawrence

May 5, 2008 at 7:33 pm

It’s a shame to see how much of this great stuff either has never been collected in trade or has gone out of print. The notion that one can purchase a deluxe hardcover edition of something like “One More Day” or “The Lightning Saga” only a scant few months after the stink of the included floppies has wafted off the racks but that one can’t purchase a similar set of trades collecting Priest’s Black Panther, Ostrander/Mandrake’s The Spectre or Peyer/Morales’s Hourman is just too depressing.

Point: You do, in fact, suck for not having completed reading Steve Gerber’s run on Howard the Duck.

Counterpoint: You continue to rightly poke at DC’s current writing and editorial regime , Hal Jordan’s fans and (by inference, apologies if I’m misreading you) the type of aging nostalgianauts, mysteriously “vindicated” by the news of Barry Allen’s resurrection who seem more interested in seeing the characters and status quo in their favorite titles restored to the way it was when they were six years old than they are in seeing these titles move forward with the times and gain new fans, so we’ll give you a bit more time to finish Essential Howard. A few more days, at least.

Andrew Collins

May 5, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Wow, Greg, that was an amazing write up. You and I seem to have very similar taste in comics (Morrison’s DP is my all-time fave as well, though McCloud’s Zot a verrrry close second.)

That said, I recommend you pick up Smax, as it has all of the fun elements as the regular Top Ten book minus the ensemble feel. Instead, Smax and Toybox are spotlighted, with lots of easter eggs in the artwork from the highly underrated Zander Cannon. Also, it has one of the creepiest moments I’ve ever read in a comic. Looking back, it’s one of those things that would have been obvious to me if I had been paying attention, but it’s a moment of revelation by one character that gives me goosebumps everytime I read it. If you pick it up, you’ll know the moment I’m talking about right away. Highly recommended.

I also am going to push for Grell’s Green Arrow, another huge favorite of mine. If you enjoyed the Long Bow Hunters mini, then you will enjoy the regular series as well. No, Grell doesn’t do the art chores except for issue #40 and I think part of issue #50, but the artwork was serviceable enough for the stories and if anything, the writing was ALWAYS good. Always consistant. It is near the top of my list of “Books DC needs to reprint” (right behind Suicide Squad and Spectre, and just ahead of Shade The Changing Man.)

No, it doesn’t. But it is better if it does. i.e., almost every run you’d see in my top ten would be a complete story.

Of course it would be better if creators finished their stories rather than left midway through them. I don’t think anyone here is seriously contending otherwise. My point, though, is that such a requirement isn’t necessary for something to be considered a run.

Also, I think it’s unfair to count only complete stories as runs because it would skew to heavily in favor of DC. I think with DC, most writers just have a desire to play with the big guns just to say they did at some point. Everyone wants to say they did a Superman story or a Batman story just because of the history and stature of these old characters. Problem is, for the most part they’re cyphers with little personality and I suspect they get old fast. Their villains are pretty weak and boring too. The whole DCU only has about 3 really compelling villains, Luthor, Joker and Darkseid. So I think people just tend to have their one good Batman or Superman saga to tell and just move on, happy to say that they fulfilled one of their big dreams. Marvel characters, on the other hand, I think get a more passionate response, which is why you had so many long runs where you had to practically pry the creator off the title because he was having so much fun with the characters. The Marvel characters are so much better defined with such natural chemistry that I think they practically write themselves I imagine. John Byrne on FF, Claremont on X-Men, Simonson on Thor, Stern on Avengers, Michiline on Amazing Spider-Man, David on Hulk, these people just stayed and stayed through multiple storylines and sagas and often ended up leaving abruptly.

This occasianally happens in DC like with Chuck Dixon on the Bat-titles and Waid on the Flash, but I just don’t think DC characters really hook and inspire creators in for long runs like Marvel characters do, which is why you have people like Englehart doing one big arc on Batman and leaving, while over at Marvel he often stayed on titles until he was thrown off or burnt out, sometimes mid-storyline. We shouldn’t penalize Marvel for inspiring creators to stay on a title past one saga.

Not trying to sound snark or arrogant, but I hadn’t that much difficulty with Invisibles vols 1 and 2. I had to re-read some bits, but was able to get most of it. Then I came to vol 3, and I’m not ashamed to confess that I only understood it vaguely, like the dream you had and can’t remember well. Some parts made sense, but most of it was just me scratching my head and asking what the hell.

So, because the final volume is so cryptic, I didn’t include it in my list. The first two volumes are amazing, though.

Long before stuff like Sandman or Transmetropolitan was even written, the term “run” arose specifically to denote a group of issues on a long-running series that were done by one particular creator or group of creators. It’s merely a utilitarian term, and preferring runs that contain complete stories is… well, just that, a preference. To say a run must necessarily refer to a closed story arc is a bad misuse of the term’s original nature.

>>HAVEN’T READ THE ENDING, AND IF YOU SPOIL IT FOR ME I WILL FIND YOU, WHEREVER YOU LIVE, AND EAT YOUR EYES! EVEN IF YOU LIVE IN SURINAME OR BHUTAN OR EVEN (SHUDDER) ALABAMA! <<

As a resident of Alabama, I can only ask … what the HELL did the people of Suriname or Bhutan ever do to YOU?

Otherwise, I strongly second Andrew Collins’ comment — SMAX is very highly recommended. I read it for the first time just last week & loved every minute of it. (Just as I had TOP TEN, which I’d also just read for the first time ever.)

And not having voted, I can only wonder if Ostrander’s HAWKWORLD got mentioned by anyone. Apparently it wrought all sorts of havoc in Hawkman continuity (which for all I know was a contradiction in terms already), but I don’t give a crap — it was exceptonally well done & had as much as anything to do, about 5 years ago, with convincing me that decent comics actually HAD been done since I’d stopped reading them in 12/78.

Re the JLI trades: the first hardcover came out a little over a month ago, featuring a new introduction by Keith Giffen. Volume 2 is coming out later this month, I believe. It will collect 8-13 and the first annual. Anything beyond that, we’ll just have to cross our fingers.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 5, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Check out the 2nd trade for Lucifer, Greg.
It’s leaps and bounds better than the first trade – kinda like, but much bigger than, the quality jump from the first Fables Storyline to the second.
(That said, I never finished reading Lucifer… it never quite lives up to that 2nd trade’s goodness, where as Fables had another couple of trades to go before it hit it’s peak – yet it still occasionally gets back up there).

The list was too Vertigo heavy. Where are the big 7 JLA members in trade form?

Elliot S! Maggin. Fifteen Years on Superman.

Bob Haney – Fifteen years straight on Batman. (Brave and the Bold)

Cary Bates – Well over a decade on the Flash

You want me to start with the artists now?

T: That’s a very good point, and one I think you back up quite well.

Lynxara: That’s a perfectly reasonable choice, it’s just not how I see it. I understand that point of view, but I wonder if the lack of DC’s Silver Age stuff or “The Haunted Tank” (which I love) was because others shared my view. I don’t know, but it could be that.

Thanks, everyone, for all the recommendations. Very cool to know about these.

Elliot S! Maggin. Fifteen Years on Superman.

Bob Haney – Fifteen years straight on Batman. (Brave and the Bold)

Cary Bates – Well over a decade on the Flash

You want me to start with the artists now?

I was focusing on writers, not artists. It’s easy for an artist to settle in for a long run at DC because the DC characters can be pretty appealing visually plus the artist is not responsible for generating story ideas with the DC characters. But for the writers, who had to focus on stories and characterizations, I think it was harder to do long runs because the characters were pretty dull as far as personality went. All the artist has to do is just draw whatever he’s told. The writer on the other hand has to keep coming up with interesting stories. I think that’s why Englehart only did his short run on Batman while Marshall Rogers stuck around and kept drawing Batman for multiple writers.

Also, I’m not saying there were never very long runs by DC writers, just that Marvel seems to have a lot more of them. Especially when you reach the late 60s through the 80s and start getting a new generation of writers that actually grew up as comic fans of both Marvel AND DC. Out of this fan-generation of writers, I think there was more passion directed toward eventually working on Marvel properties than DC. I think from this generation onward you REALLY start seeking the passion skew more toward Marvel. I’ve read interviews with Denny O’Neil, Gil Kane, Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter where they all admit that even though they started with DC, they were dying to get a chance to be a part of what Marvel was doing. This tendency of writers to have much longer runs at Marvel, combined with Marvel’s tendency from the beginning to have a wide-spanning open-ended ongoing continuity (DC was a little slower to really take ongoing universe-wide continuity as seriously as Marvel did) I think lead to DC having more close ended runs than Marvel did.

Eh, I think there’s not a lot of Silver Age stuff because not many people are eager to read stuff printed before they were born when it comes to comics, and if they do, it doesn’t resonate as strongly as contemporary works for most people.

(For instance, I don’t have the strong positive feelings about 80’s comics a lot of the internet fans do now because I spent that decade with my age in single digits, so just about everything besides Watchmen and V for Vendetta and b&w small press stuff loses me. Everything I have really strong opinions about, for the most part, was published in the early 90’s and later.)

Also, Silver Age comics tend to be really repetitive in a way that’s fun to read at a rate of one per day, but not so much fun to read in collections. And thanks to the collector market, good luck finding Silver Age books just to read for fun. I’ve paid through the nose just for old issues of Inferior Five and Angel & the Ape.

Now, note that what I’m not arguing is an opinion about runs – it’s fine to prefer runs with distinct beginning, middles, and ends. I do, too. But honestly, go read the term being used in context in older magazines, before the advent of the internet. It was strictly a way to refer to a set of issues done by a particular set of creators. I guess I’m trying to argue that what “run” means shouldn’t be a matter of opinion, since there’s historical usage where it expresses a specific fact in a specific context.

Of course, language does shift, and Our Lord and Master did have to write a surprisingly complex set of rules for what you could and couldn’t vote for as a run. I wonder if your stance on what “run” means, Greg, indicates a sort of fannish linguistic shift is in the happening, thanks both to the internet and for the tendency of modern creators not to stick with single books very long.

Roy Thomas was dying to work for Marvel? *Snicker*

All the man ever wanted to do was write the Justice Society. DC would have let him, at any time, he’d be across the strreet in a shot.

If we ignore that dubious factoid, and pretend we are Wizard and that comics started in 1988, then I kind of see your point. Although mote that before the late eighties the reverse was generally true.

Conversely, I see Marvel keeping their writers on the titles loooooonnng past their freshness date led to DC’s absolute scorched-earth decimation of Marvel in the late eighties and early nineties in terms of quality. (Which I see as more editorial than creator driven.)

A general comment on Greg’s comments.

Thanks for proving to us that critics are human too, man!

I had always believed that critics:

a) Loved everything that is old.

b) Loved everything that is “artsy”.

c) Read everything.

It’s refreshing to know that you don’t want to read Cerebus and think you’d not like Chris Ware (though maybe you don’t want to read Cerebus because Dave Sim has some pretty unsavory personal oppinions?)

I think DC’s very higher quality in the time period mentioned (late-80s/early-90s) is simply because DC correctly emphasized writers and story, while Marvel was all about the hot artists. The supreme irony is that these same hot artists then simply left. And badmouthed Marvel to rub salt in the wound too. A dark period for Marvel indeed.

Wait, Captain America? Coming back? Stupid?

What have you heard? Tell me! DAMMIT, BURGAS! WHAT DO YOU KNOW?

Also, I think it’s unfair to count only complete stories as runs because it would skew to heavily in favor of DC. I think with DC, most writers just have a desire to play with the big guns just to say they did at some point. Everyone wants to say they did a Superman story or a Batman story just because of the history and stature of these old characters. Problem is, for the most part they’re cyphers with little personality and I suspect they get old fast. Their villains are pretty weak and boring too. The whole DCU only has about 3 really compelling villains, Luthor, Joker and Darkseid. So I think people just tend to have their one good Batman or Superman saga to tell and just move on, happy to say that they fulfilled one of their big dreams. Marvel characters, on the other hand, I think get a more passionate response, which is why you had so many long runs where you had to practically pry the creator off the title because he was having so much fun with the characters. The Marvel characters are so much better defined with such natural chemistry that I think they practically write themselves I imagine. John Byrne on FF, Claremont on X-Men, Simonson on Thor, Stern on Avengers, Michiline on Amazing Spider-Man, David on Hulk, these people just stayed and stayed through multiple storylines and sagas and often ended up leaving abruptly.

T, wow…

To paraphrase, Marvel is not damaged by anything so much its adherents. It is safe to say that objectively, the “Big Two” each go through up cycles and down. In the top twenty of the survey, DC (or Vertigo) has seven titles from ten year period from the mid-80s through the mid-90s. The number of Marvel titles that charted that high from the same period?

One.

Obviously, the DC characters were not some major impediment during that period. Marvel had a similar period in the late-70s and early 80s with four titles in the top 20 to one DC. I doubt that anyone would argue that Marvel has been putting out much better material recently, but that will change too.

I stopped reading at Captain Britain. Seriously…

Anyways, I also had a problem with the idea of a “run” being defined by a creative team or writer/artist, as comics just didn’t work that way (for the most part) prior to the 80s.

Roy Thomas was dying to work for Marvel? *Snicker*

All the man ever wanted to do was write the Justice Society. DC would have let him, at any time, he’d be across the strreet in a shot.

From pg. 116 of the book Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book:

“[Roy] Thomas was a rarity in comics in 1965 – new blood. He had sidestepped a fellowship at George Washington University to take an assistant’s job under DC’s Mort Weisinger. New in town, he reached out socially to [Stan] Lee. “I wanted to meet Stan Lee because despite my admiration for [DC writers] Gardner Fox and John Broome and others, I knew Stan was writing the most vital comics around,” Thomas recalled in 1981. “So I just sat down one night at the hotel and – I wrote him a letter! Not applying for a job or anything so mundane as that – I just said that I admire his work and would like to buy him a drink sometime.” Lee remembered Thomas from his fan magazine Alter Ego, and while he declined the drink, he asked Thomas if he’d be interested in taking a writer’s test. Thomas took the test on a Friday, passed, and an hour later received a writing assignment due the next Monday.”

If we ignore that dubious factoid, and pretend we are Wizard and that comics started in 1988, then I kind of see your point. Although mote that before the late eighties the reverse was generally true.

I think even before the late 80s, once Stan Lee started writing less books and more writers picked up the slack like Jim Starlin, Steve Gerber, Bill Mantlo, JM DeMatteis, Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas and others, you immediately started seeing long runs by fans-turned-writers.

Conversely, I see Marvel keeping their writers on the titles loooooonnng past their freshness date led to DC’s absolute scorched-earth decimation of Marvel in the late eighties and early nineties in terms of quality. (Which I see as more editorial than creator driven.)

Actually, I think the reason Marvel’s quality declined in the late 80s and early 90s was the opposite. It wasn’t that they kept writers on too long, it’s that they were alienated by Jim Shooter near the end of his tenure or editors booted them off unceremoniously in favor of the hot new Image kids, who were all flash and no substance. Those Marvel writers like Roger Stern, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Louise Simonson and others moved over to DC and produced some stellar books and I agree that during that window DC was creatively far superior.

In the top twenty of the survey, DC (or Vertigo) has seven titles from ten year period from the mid-80s through the mid-90s. The number of Marvel titles that charted that high from the same period?

I thoroughly admit that from the Defalco Era through the Harras era, DC comics were creatively far superior to Marvel’s output, which was garbage. I myself read much more DC during that period too. I do think that is the only time since 1961 that DC was creatively superior though. As far as the survey goes, I find that the blogosphere to me always skews far more towards DC than the real world, so I don’t really take it as gospel.

As far as the survey goes, I find that the blogosphere to me always skews far more towards DC than the real world, so I don’t really take it as gospel.

A huge percentage of the major omissions from the survey were Silver Age DCs, so I think it is pretty unlikely it was slanted toward the DC titles. In fact, I think that it reveals pretty much that comic fandom in general favors Marvels. For whatever reason, the subset of comic fans who also blog strongly favor DC, but the average guy walking into a comics shop has been a Marvel guy forever.

However, I honestly do not think that has anything to do with quality.

It was not like “Doom Patrol”, “Shade, the Changing Man” or any of those books were selling as well as a lot of the crap. Stan Lee created a great business model with the Marvel U. The way the titles are used to cross-promote each other keeps fans hooked, even when the stories stink. DC has never had anything like that.

Tommy Mognahan was featured in several issues of The Demon which are actually relevant to some later issues of Hitman. As far as I’m aware, these haven’t been collected.
They were also penned by Ennis: The Demon #42-45,52-54
Tommy also appeared in a Hitman story in Batman Chronicles #8, again penned by Ennis.
Then we’ve got Hitman/Lobo: That Stupid Bastich, also by Ennis.
Tommy didn’t appear in many other places throughout the DCU, but when he did, it pretty much sucked and was almost always presented out of character.
He had a two panel appearance in World’s Funnest, got butchered by Claremont in Sovereign Seven #16, and gave O’Neil a try in Azrael #35. These weren’t that great.
Neither was his guest stint in the Resurrection Man story which ran from #9-#10.
He had a cute two panel appearance in the lead story of 2000’s Guide to the DCU – Secret files and origins.
His cameo in Morisson’s JLA was quite cute.
He showed up in the background in the original WWIII in JLA #40-41.

And of course, there was the brilliant story by Ennis in the Superman 80 page giant: How to Be a Super-Hero.

Basically, during the few years he was around, Tommy was hard to ignore. It was nice to get the posthumous crossover last year. Too bad there wasn’t more fanfare surrounding it.

Interesting and exhaustive write-up. I agree with you on a lot of stuff, Greg, including the dubiousness of splitting Claremont but not Peter David.

Essential FF #3 is 100x better than the first two! (tho I like those, too) Keep reading, man!

If you liked Starlin’s Captain Marvel (and I do, too) you’ll LOVE Starlin’s Warlock, where he really kicked it up to the next level! I know you like Dreadstar, too– You gotta read Warlock, man! It may just be Starlin’s masterpiece.

The best of the stuff you said you hadn’t read at all is Ditko’s “Dr. Strange”. It was the most under-rated book on the list. I truly can’t imagine anybody reading it and not loving it.

And don’t judge Nexus by that origin issue! Read the original run instead. For me, Nexus shares a throne with Grant’s Doom Patrol as the two best runs ever.

I think even before the late 80s, once Stan Lee started writing less books and more writers picked up the slack like Jim Starlin, Steve Gerber, Bill Mantlo, JM DeMatteis, Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas and others, you immediately started seeing long runs by fans-turned-writers.

Look, the “founding generation” at Marvel can safely be called Marvel writers and/or artists. Many worked for other houses either before, or after, their tenure there, but they invented the Marvel style. There was also a group of writers and artists that were trained by that founding generation. They took over their titles in many cases. For example, I am talking about Roy Thomas and John Buscema on “The Avengers”. They refined the Marvel style.

However, it very quickly becomes a faintly silly exercise to call anyone a “Marvel writer”, or a “DC writer”. Try to classify a guy like Gerry Conway, who debuted at DC, took over “The Amazing Spider-Man” from Stan Lee, created a classic run on that title with former “Green Lantern” artist Gil Kane and then bounced back and forth for the balance of his career. What about Denny O’Neil, who debuted at briefly Marvel and went on to write the classic “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” with Neal Adams at DC? Or Adams himself, who debuted at DC with “Deadman” before moving to Marvel and “X-Men”?

My point is that creators and even Editors bounced around a lot. I guess you could say that the guiding spirits of DC were Julie Schwartz and Mort Weisinger while the guiding spirit at Marvel was Stan Lee, but all of those guys are long out of the business.

The truth is that there are great characters and creators working for both houses at any given time. It is really a function of who is in charge of editorial at that moment and what you think of their taste. Right now, Joey Q at Marvel has a knack for bringing in voices that don’t usually do mainstream super-heroes. It nearly always at least interesting. Dan DiDido seems obsessed with nostalgia for the absolute worst creative period in the long history of DC Comics. You can see this reflected in the pitiful results in the survey of their 21st Century on-going titles.

I never got into the Doom Patrol love. It was nice, but a bit too full of itself. The thing I probably enjoyed the most in that run was the relationship between Robotman and Jane. Some of the rest I felt was weird just for the sake of being weird.

I do agree with the author on one point, tho. I do see the post Byrne X-men run as ‘one’ run, tho I would probably have it extend to Fall of the Mutants. Claremont should have left the title at the point, after setting up an interesting status quo for the next writer; the world believes the X-men are dead, which they aren’t, and can’t be detected by electronic surveillance (don’t ask lol). Also an interesting team line up. Where would another writer have gone from there?

Good top 20 choices Greg, everything on that list I’ve either read and loved or its at the top of my “to read” list.

27. Invisibles by Grant Morrison (349).
September 1994 to June 2000 (#1-25; #1-22; #12-1).
Seven trades collect all three volumes.
I have read this once, and didn’t get it. It’s very possible than I’m not too bright, but I tend to think this is fairly overrated. Do you really get it, people who ranked it this high? I’m not asking to be snarky, I honestly want to know, because I just didn’t understand it at all. It’s very vexing.

Yes.

Great writeup, by the way!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 6, 2008 at 2:05 am

What is it you like so much about Marvel T?

Because I’ve rarely seen you make an argument that couldn’t be reversed and pointed back at the other company.

I myself read much more DC during that period too. I do think that is the only time since 1961 that DC was creatively superior though.

If you cherry pick sure, but I disagree overall – DC will always have the edge due to Vertigo, and those odd moments every now and again when Wildstorm puts out good stuff, but of course, you don’t include that as it hurts your argument.
But without cherry picking, and just sticking to the main universes… it just really depends on which talent is at which company at any given time.
When Morrison was on New X-Men, Marvel was stronger (on a lot of books as well), but when he had 7 Soldiers, DC was stronger.
Frank Miller turned Daredevil into an exciting character, James Robinson turned Starman into an exciting character…
To just give a preference to one company so blindly – you may not see it that way, but it’s how you come across – is just ridiculous.

comb & razor

May 6, 2008 at 9:22 am

I have to agree that T. might be doing a little cherry-picking here… But one of the problems I’m having with this entire argument so far is that I’m a bit unclear on the parameters by which we’re defining “a long run.” Is it by the standards of Claremont’s X-Men or PAD’s Hulk? If so, then yes… Marathon runs like those are quite singular and quite rare at either of the Big Two.

But if we’re talking about Englehart on Avengers, his Green Lantern run is only slightly shorter and he could have kept going had DC not ended the series in order to use Hal Jordan in Action Comics Weekly. John Ostrander on Firestorm was about as long (his run on Suicide Squad was longer, of course). Mike Grell did Green Arrow for a pretty long time. Paul Levitz wrote Legion of Super-Heroes forever… Giffen did an extended tour too, not to mention his lengthy run on Justice League with DeMatteis. George Perez did Wonder Woman for more than five years. Roger Stern stayed on Action Comics longer than he did on Avengers.

I definitely do not agree with the theory that creators remained on Marvel titles longer (if indeed they did do so) because they were so much more “inspired” by the characters while DC characters were “ciphers” that were only good for a saga or two—for one thing, from the perspective of a writer, I would expect that to some degree, “ciphers” would be even more liberating because they offer an almost blank slate for the writer to create virtually whatever he wants, as opposed to adhering to a pre-set template. The idea that DC has only three compelling villains also rings false to me, but I guess it’s a matter of perspective…If you want to say that the DCU doesn’t have a lot of “awesome” villains like Galactus and Thanos, I might agree; but “compelling”? Batman’s rogues gallery alone is full of compelling characters, and both Doug Moench and Alan Grant got a lot of mileage out of them during their runs.

What I do perhaps see as a possible factor, though, is a certain difference in house editorial styles between DC and Marvel, particularly if you’re looking at the 1980s onwards.

In the 80s, one of the “go-team-go!” slogans that occasionally appeared in DC comics was “DC: Where People Make the Difference!,” reflecting DC’s increased emphasis on the creators of the comics (including more creators’ rights and creative freedom, marquee billing on the covers, etc.)

This was in marked contrast to Marvel where the philosophy was that the most important things that sold the comics were: a) the characters, and b) Stan

Through the 1970s and most of the 80s, Marvel operated more or less like a glorified studio in which the “author” of all the work was Stan Lee. Sure, the “real,” hardcore fans read the credit boxes and knew and cared about the differences between writers, but the moderate or casual reader looked no further than the big “Stan Lee Presents.” (It sounds crazy, but as late as the early 90s, I knew regular comic readers who kind of assumed that Stan wrote it all!)

As a result, at DC you were probably more likely to see the writers develop as “brands” by making a complete statement on one title and then moving to another (or being moved to different titles so that their brands might help boost sales), whereas at Marvel you see long-running writers abruptly and unceremoniously yanked off titles because ultimately, the underlying thinking was that *the character* was always the main thing and hence, it was less important that the writer complete his statement with the character.

Before DC adopted the “creators first” policy, you were more likely to see writers staying on one title for ages (like Cary Bates on The Flash) because the character was still viewed as the primary brand.

I’d also say that long runs amongst the immediate post-Stan Bullpen has a lot to do with the standard set by Stan. The writers who came after him were encouraged to emulate him not only stylistically, but in terms of longevity. I’ll have to search for the quotes, but I know I have read of a few creators expressing sentiments like “Stan did 110 stellar issues on Spidey and I felt I had to do at least that much!”

Great post, Greg. You’ve poured a lot of energy and insight into this.

I’m gonna speak now as one of the people who ranked the Invisibles so high. It was my number 2 pick, after Promethea. Sandman was number three.

Now from my perspective, all three books in my “holy trinity” are high concept, multi-dimensional, vastly literate wonders of the comic book form. All three of them exalt and explore the power of the imagination. They’re all vividly self-relflexive and metatextual. They all require a much higher level of reading comprehension than most other comics, and even most other comics on this list. They all explore realms of mind and spirit that are well beyond the pale of most fiction in any medium. All this is true for Sandman, truer still for the Invisibles, and truest of all for my beloved Promethea. (Actually I wouldn’t say Sandman is any less literate than the Invisibles – it may be more so – but in for the rest of these criteria Invis and Promethea go even deeper than Sandman).

Now all three of these books regularly come under fire by people who don’t understand them. I appreciate that you haven’t done that, Greg, even though Invisibles and Promethea haven’t clicked for you. My feeling is that anyone who can appreciate Sandman can appreciate these two as well, and yet I can see why they didn’t rank as high as Sandman (beyond the fact that they’re both a lot more sexually driven and more controversial).

The difference between Sandman and my top two is that the others require the reader to engage with it on a bit more of a direct level. Sandman is a story. It’s rich and multi-faceted, deep and emotionally profound, but at the end of the day, you close the book and get on with your life.

If you’re really engaged with the Invisibles or with Promethea, however, the stories become part of your life. They start to manifest. Neil Gaiman says he doesn’t believe in magic; he simply believes in “weird shit,” and that allows him to create such profoundly human stories set in the midst of supernatural realms. Many of his characters in Sandman, if not all of them, are metaphorical embodiments for fundamental principles in life. Invisibles and Promethea, on the other hand, are both written by practicing magicians, who have opened the door to that “weird shit” so far that it’s actually become part of their lives; they’re friendly and familiar with it. They’re surrendered so deeply to the reality of the imagination that it’s no longer metaphor. Their stories are actually alive… for them and for their readers. And if you want to really dig into these books and receive all that they offer, you have to be open to doing that yourself, and allowing them to come alive. You have to really want to get it. It’s like at the beginning of Promethea, where Sophie starts looking for magic, and in turn, magic starts looking for HER. I don’t think you can fully appreciate or “get” these books if you don’t allow yourself to get a bit of a chill when Thoth-Hermes looks at out through the panels of Promehtea 14 and suggests that Gods can actually embed their spiritual presence in comic book stories.

If you really want to get into the Invisibles and Promethea, do something crazy. Start communicating with the characters as though they actually exist. Who do you know in your life that might actually be an Invisible? How do you find your own way to the Immateria? Pay attention to the synchronicities that occur in your life when you’re reading these books, and if something happens (while you’re reading or while you’re on on the street) that seems completely bizarre and impossible, don’t just say “Nah, I didn’t really experience that” but open to the mystery of it.

These books can honestly trigger deep transformations in a person’s life. They have in mine, and in others’. But you have to be open to it, to get the full experience of it.

“I stopped reading at Captain Britain. Seriously…”

Seriously what? Have you read it?

Greg, one thing on Johns’ stuff: there’s two Geoff Johns…es out there. The guy who wrote JSA and Flash (great cliffhangers, respect for past stories no matter who told them, good character building, etc.), and the 80s-continuity-monkey-fetish hack who messed up Infinite Crisis and then pandered to the idiots who couldn’t accept that Hal and the LSH had been written out effectively (his Teen Titans is neutral for the sake of this particular argument, because At Least He’s Not As Bad As Judd Winick). The Flash run in particular is very good, although he did cheat a bit to get a happy ending out of it. Whereas his JSA is as much a preretquisite for anyone wanting to write a modern team comic as Morrison’s JLA, although in that case a lot of the credit should go for Robinson for laying the table so perfectly.

In other words, give them both (esp. Flash, esp. in the Kolins era) another shot.

So, yeah, I think we’ve got an evil twin running around. Has he mysteriously grown a goatee in the last two years?

Oh man, did I HATE Johns’ cliffhangers on Flash.

Totally didn’t play by the Cronin Theory of Comics!!

I’ve just started going through the Starman run, which I hadn’t gotten around to before. Two things strike me about it so far, although I’m only about 20 issues in so I obviously don’t have the complete picture:

1) The storytelling style is very strongly reminiscent of Gaiman. I don’t think this run could have ever existed without his Sandman as an example.
2) The editing on this is really, really bad. There’s page after page of things that are just plain wrong and shouldn’t be. As just two examples, at one point a character who is supposed to have been a close personal acquaintance of Oscar Wilde refers to “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”, and at another point there is a reference to the great superpowered detective “Ralph Digby”. Seriously, was anybody paying the slightest bit of attention to these things?

“As just two examples, at one point a character who is supposed to have been a close personal acquaintance of Oscar Wilde refers to “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”,”

Believe me, there is a reason for that particular ‘mistake’, and it’s revealed later.

Of course it’s likely that James Robinson noticed the mistake and then incorporated it in the story.

“Greg, one thing on Johns’ stuff: there’s two Geoff Johns…es out there. The guy who wrote JSA and Flash (great cliffhangers, respect for past stories no matter who told them, good character building, etc.), and the 80s-continuity-monkey-fetish hack who messed up Infinite Crisis and then pandered to the idiots who couldn’t accept that Hal and the LSH had been written out effectively (his Teen Titans is neutral for the sake of this particular argument, because At Least He’s Not As Bad As Judd Winick). ”

No, not as much “two Johns”, as just characters and properties that resonate differently with certain fans.

The complaints or praise directed at Green Lantern seems to have little to do with Johns’s writing. There is a kind of fan that would be happy to have Hal back no matter what, and there is a second kind of fan that would be pissed off to have Hal’s status quo restored no matter what. Johns would have to be a horrible writer to displease the first kind of fan, and would have to be a genius of Alan Moore proportions to please the second kind.

He is neither, I think. He is just a very competent writer when he is dealing with properties that aren’t as poisoned by the past as Green Lantern. Having no strong oppinions on Hal Jordan either way, I think his GL work is good, but not exceptional.

I didn’t read Infinite Crisis yet, but I’d hesitate to blame that on Johns either. Don’t judge a writer by the mega-crossover.

I only need 5. There’s not even hundred *good* runs out there. You people are smoking.

1) Preacher
2) Eightball
3) Monster Society of Evil
4) Weisinger’s Superman roughly 150-169
5) 100 Bullets

Oh and as I’ve previously stated Gaiman is embarassing. Especially as #1
Other than that – It’s all fun and games, till someone looses an eye!

the ww2 monster society that is.

I tend to think the Wilde mistake was a mistake that Robinson later “fixed.” I noticed that when I read it originally, and it did irk me. Given that editors in the past 20 years or so seem to have abandoned any pretense of editing, I’m just happy we don’t have more mistakes!

Brian: there’s a world of difference between the Flash cliffhangers and Countdown (which I think was the one you specifically wrote about), in that the individual issues were ALSO very good (although, again, Kolins was so good in that run that even a bad issue merited repeat readings for the art alone). It’s just that Johns seemed to understand that when you’re telling a serialized story, you HAVE to end on a cliffhanger just to keep the rythym constant. Heck, I think even the revelation of Linda’s pregnancy was at the end of a single-issue storyline.

Now, were there some tropes in there? Certainly – Linda being announced as pregnant, the evil twin, the revelation of the mystery antagonist that everything was building to, etc. – but the tropes didn’t override the stories themselves, but rather serving it.

And on Hal: I wouldn’t have minded if they brought him back (Kyle WAS admittedly in need of a refresh, as Rabb just didn’t know where to take the character after Winick actually did good work with him for so long), but to bring him back *and* write all of Parallax’s actions off to being infected by a space parasite was just lazy writing and essentially saying “see, don’t pay attention to all those stories which had him acting disturbed… they don’t count.”

(I mean, just look back at that last sentence after the “and” and tell me it doesn’t sound like everything the mainstream jokes about when it comes to comics. He could’ve said A Wizard Did It and it would’ve been less moronic.)

As for the don’t blame him for IC thing… I don’t know. It does seem as though editorial had a say in that, but as I’ve mentioned many times before, the build to IC was largely accomplished by other writers (Rucka, Simone, etc.) and then Johns took IC in a completely different direction than the build would have indicated. Read Identity Crisis, OMAC Project or Villains United again: do the series seem as though they’re building up a “cosmic” event, or a struggle on a more personal or ethical level?

I don’t mind cliffhangers, I just want clifhangers to play fair, and I don’t think Johns did during his Flash run. I honestly haven’t taken a look at his cliffhangers specifically in his comics nowadays, although I think he improved in that regard, but I dunno.

I do recall one good cliffhanger he had that he DID play fair with – the first part of his Superman and the Legion of Superheroes storyline. That was totally fair play on his part. He set up the cliffhanger with Superman’s hand suddenly bleeding. “Hey! What’s going on? Why’s Superman’s hand bleeding?” and then WHAMMO! the clifhanger!

Great post. I wish I had put that much thought and research in my choices. I just went with my gut, as I would’ve have never been to decide on my placings had done any bit of thinking about them!

“but to bring him back *and* write all of Parallax’s actions off to being infected by a space parasite was just lazy writing and essentially saying “see, don’t pay attention to all those stories which had him acting disturbed… they don’t count”

Now, suppose you had to bring Hal Jordan back, and suppose that DC said you had to make him an acceptable hero again. What would you do?

a) Shit happened, but now Hal is a hero again, even mass murderers can find redemption and be accepted as heroes again, right?

b) Everyone he killed somehow wasn’t really killed. After all, it’s comic book death. Problem is, this doesn’t change the fact he still intended to kill them.

c) Hal wasn’t himself.

d) Just reboot the whole thing by getting a younger clone of Hal Jordan or having Jordan make a deal with the devil or something.

Is there an “e” option? I don’t think so. The “c” option seems to be the least of several evils.

Great post, Greg – lots of work and thought put into it. I agree with a lot of what you said (and you must read Usagi Yojimbo, because it’s worth it), especially about the definition of what constitutes a ‘run’ – surely it has to have already happened?

Btw, what was the reason for the rift between Moore and Davis? I don’t think I’ve read the story behind that.

Moore blocked reprints of books they did, thereby denying Davis money. That irked Davis.

I would have at least had Hal living with the memory of his actions, however coerced or “not his fault”. I tried to get into the reboot (and truth be told, only started reading GL regularly due to “Emerald Twilight” and really got into Kyle’s time as GL), but its just “business as usual”- Hal’s the best, the most fearless, blahblahblah- At least have some shell shock or some memories of what he did, even as a bystander in his own body. Maybe he does- it just doesn’t come off that way, and other than that nice story where he rescues his co-pilot from terrorists which was a really well-done character piece for Hal, I didn’t like just throwing out the whole Emerald Twilight history. A flawed hero is always better than a perfect one. Hal would be much more interesting as a Thomas Covenant type character where he saw his power get out of control, saw how much horrific damage could be wrought, and now must always, always be wary of that.

Great analysis Greg. I too am a reverse nostalgist- in that I can’t get into the simplistic plots of the early days as much as the deeply delved into character work of today. I think Spidey is the only exception to that rule, as there was always a healthy amount of focus on Peter’s trials and tribulations with his friends and family- which is really what made that comic stand above all its predecessors and contemporaries of that period.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

May 6, 2008 at 3:48 pm

“Hi, my name is Vincent. I’m a Hal Jordan fan. It’s been one month since I last whined about Emerald Twilight …”

Seriously, while I didn’t vote for Johns’ GL run as one of my 10 favorites, I guess it’s fair to say that I’m the kind of fan to whom he’s pandering. Sorry, my bad.

Y’see, I’m not a Superman guy. Don’t care one jot for Spider-man. Haven’t thought Wolverine was cool since I was 15. But I really like Hal Jordan – he was number 3 on my top 10 favorite DC characters list. Am I so wrong for wanting my heroic Hal back? Am I an idiot for excusing Rebirth its faults because I feel it “fixes” a horrible story?

We can all talk about how we only care that a story is interesting but, c’mon, story only trumps character until it’s your favorite character whose being @#$%ed over.

My own definition of ‘run’ is basically ‘one creator on a title for a long time’. For my own top ten, I didn’t count LoEG because I consider it to be several mini-series rather than one continuous run, and the same with Top Ten. I certainly don’t consider a mere dozen issues without interruption long enough to count as a ‘run’ on anything. I’d say an absolute minimum would be 24 consecutive issues, and that would be extremely low.

I made an exception for All Star Superman, which is worthy of it.

This also conveniently meant my top ten wasn’t largely composed of Alan Moore comics. Any future top ten mini-series, however, is doomed to read ‘Alan Moore’ almost across the board! :D

A few notes on how I chose my list:

* First and foremost, I had to enjoy the run and consider that i would likely read it again not just when I got it, but also many years afterwards. This meant ‘instant classics’ like All Star Superman would be included, but stuff I like very much but doubt I will re-read ten years from now did not.

* New Mutants made #1 because of two things: nostalgia & Illyana. I consider both to be excellent reasons, even though Lucifer, my #2, is in fact a vastly better series. New Mutants was the first US series I collected, and I thought both then and now that it represents Claremont’s best work, even over his X-Men run.

* I ignored everything that wasn’t a published US comic on the sure grounds that almost everyone else would do the same :D This also kept things simple, as I did not have to worry about the 1500+ issues of 2000AD, nor the many web comics to which I am addicted. I felt I had more than enough US comics to work through without making it worse for myself.

* I’ve forgotten at least half of my list by now – but that’s OK, coz it’d likely be different tomorrow anyway! :D Lucifer or the New Mutants will always make #1, Hitman will be #3 but beyond that… another day is another world, ya know? There’s a TON of good stuff out there.

All in all, though, this list has been huge fun, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading a lot of the very thoughtful and interesting discussions that follow the threads. There are some great people on here :)

Vincent – as a (very) long time fan of Illyana ‘Magik’ Rasputin, I understand entirely where you are coming from!

These days though, at least I can console myself that it could be far worse: I could be a Spidey fan! :D

Why do so many people knock the monkey sex issue? It’s actually a pretty good issue in a great story arc that spans all of human (and even some pre-human) history. The issue is also an homage to Kubrick’s 2001, and the following issues homage Conan, and then Once Upon a Time in China. It’s a cool idea and a good story.

I get why monkey sex is funny (tee-hee) but did the detractors actually read the story arc?

Y’see, I’m not a Superman guy. Don’t care one jot for Spider-man. Haven’t thought Wolverine was cool since I was 15. But I really like Hal Jordan – he was number 3 on my top 10 favorite DC characters list. Am I so wrong for wanting my heroic Hal back? Am I an idiot for excusing Rebirth its faults because I feel it “fixes” a horrible story?

Vincent, I certainly empathize. Comics have been so focused on the shocking twist that a lot of characters died in a way that left a sour taste in my mouth. Hal Jordan was the most prominent example.

However, ‘fixing’ a story like that rarely works. The truth is that “Emerald Twilight” was not badly written and Kyle Rayner was in interesting character. Walking back a well-done story to make one group of fans happy just irritates another. So, the ‘fix’ needs fixing and the snake starts to eat his own tail.

On Hal Jordan as GL, his modern stories very rarely interest me. There are just certain characters who are “of their time”. Hal Jordan is a great character in the context of the ’60s. He is part and parcel of all that cool space race stuff. He also served as a great contrast to Ollie Queen and the social changes he represented. However, you move him out of that time period and he loses some dimension. The guy just has never been plausible as being a member of later generation. He always seems like an old man in a young man’s body to me.

That is true of a lot of Silver Agers. Reed Richards, Sue Storm-Richards, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm were all “of their time” in the same way. Very cool in the ’60s, but by the ’90s they were out of date. Life changes and puts even great story-telling engines firmly into the past.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 6, 2008 at 5:43 pm

The editing on this is really, really bad. There’s page after page of things that are just plain wrong and shouldn’t be.

You’re the first person I’ve ever seen say negative things about Archie Goodwin.

I’m not really sure I am saying bad things about Archie Goodwin. Aside from Archie, the book had an assistant editor, and while I don’t understand the way the DC editing process works (or worked back then), really he’s probably the one who should have been responsible for minor things like the stuff I’m mentioning, not Archie.

Top 2 more or less predictable. Number two is of great historical significance but nothing more. They simply wouldn’t hold up well with time with the obsolete dialog but still the fun that showed with the old Marvel classics is whats sorely lacking in most of their modern lineup with all the gloom and doom and drawn out plot gimmicks circulating around megaevents. Number one is far too overrated for me to give a crap about anymore. There was a time when I bought the hype about this author but reading his last Marvel project had me scratching my head in more ways than one. Lets just say Kirby’s original was far better and memorable.

“At least have some shell shock or some memories of what he did, even as a bystander in his own body. Maybe he does- it just doesn’t come off that way,”

If Johns dwelled more on the memories of what Hal did, I bet a lot of fans would accuse him of going the angsty route. But from the issues I’ve read, Hal does remember what he did, particularly when he faces distrust among the alien Green Lanterns. But true, Johns avoid dwelling on that very much, because this isn’t the Hal the fans of the character want.

What Dean said (that Hal is a man of another time, that Kyle is cool, that Emerald Twilight was valid, etc.) are all reasons one might enumerate for why Rebirth shouldn’t be done. But it’s done, and it isn’t Geoff Johns’s writing that will change anything. I’m a little confused by the anger directed at Johns for doing a story that certain people would dislike no matter what.

I can understand it if DC was reluctant to bring Hal back, and then Johns put a lot of pressure to make it happen. I dunno. Was that what happened? Then I can see how you can blame Johns. But if DC decided to re-introduce the character’s status quo, and then Johns volunteered, I don’t think he deserves the hate.

Mike Loughlin

May 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Sgt. Pepper- The monkey sex issue had monkey sex (or, primitive-human sex, whatever). It freaked people out. Additionally, it felt unconnected to the rest of Powers. The arc it began is one of my favorite Powers arc (and the next couple issues made its meaning clear), but the monkey vagina close-ups were a bit… extreme.

I don’t care about Hal one way or the other. I read three issues of the current GL series (7-9), and wasn’t impressed, but I’ve heard Sinestro War was well-done. I tried the 1st Johns Flash trade, and didn’t like it, so I never bothered with the rest of them. I liked his JSA, however, and the recent Legion story in Action was a lot of fun (even if it was fan-service).

As to the editing on Starman, there were a few mis-namings in the early issues. On the other hand, there were top-notch stories and art. I’m sure Goodwin had some input there, especially as he was credited as “guiding light” in every issue of the book after he passed away. Robinson wrote some loving tributes to the man. With the quality of the comic being so high, I can forgive a few minor errors.

Re the “Portrait…” panel- I seem to recall the name of the story being in its own panel, which would indicate the misnaming was intentional, and Robinson was drawing some attention to it. Maybe I’m just remembering a flashback in the later issues…

Wow. Thumbs up for all the effort you put into that! Nice work!

Re: The Invisibles, I got lost a few times too on the first read. Try it again. Someone ( I can’t remember who) once said that a prerequisite for reading The Invisibles is having already read it. Most, if not all, of the confusing bits make sense on a second read. Bear in mind that I’m speaking about the story itself, not all of the stuff bubbling under the surface — I’m still struggling with understanding some of that, and I’ve been trying.
-k-

I was never a Hal Jordan fan, and couldn’t care less if they had brought him back, but I thought Johns did a pretty damn good job of bringing him back to a point where he is a hero, without saying “Some of this stuff that happened didn’t reall happen.” I*t doesn’t make GL: Rebirth Watchmen or anything, but I thought it was pretty entertaining as a series, and did a good job of making the status quo what editorial wanted it to be. Compare it to One More Day and see which one holds up.

As far as T’s arguement about Marvel villains and whatnot, I grew up a Marvel Zombie, but have been about 80% DC for the past 8 years. That said, I still don’t feel like I know who most of the DC villains are, aside from the Batman ones. I’ve been reading JLA, JSA, Teen Titans, Flash, Green Lantern, all the Batman titles, and several of the SUperman titles for years now, and I still have no idea who most of the villains are. But I can pick up almost any Marvel book and have a good chance of at least knowing who the villain is. Marvel, in my opinion, has definitely created and cultivated more memorable and unique characters than DC. DC has had more well written runs/series, but Marvel has done a much better job with the shared universe concept.

“What Dean said (that Hal is a man of another time, that Kyle is cool, that Emerald Twilight was valid, etc.) are all reasons one might enumerate for why Rebirth shouldn’t be done. But it’s done, and it isn’t Geoff Johns’s writing that will change anything. I’m a little confused by the anger directed at Johns for doing a story that certain people would dislike no matter what. ”

I’m not sure if that was actually directed at me Rene (I believe you are addressing the gestalt dislike of the choices surrounding Hal’s redemption, if not rebirth)- but yes I do want to clarify, I have no dislike of Johns- he’s simply doing the job DC/fandom wants him to do. But Hal’s rather vanilla return just doesn’t engage me, though as I said there is some gold to be mined in them thar hills- as evidenced by that nice POW story that introduced Hal’s potential/current love interest. The issues prior, with the shark guy, Hector Hammond in the jail doing a poor man’s — see Red Dragon versus Manhunter– Hannibal Lecter job on Hal (i’m going to catch hell for this, aren’t I?), Hal just magically being sucked back into the air force, I just couldn’t get into it all. I think there is a way to keep stuff light while still having recriminations. Alan Davis managed it with Captain Britain in Excalibur, so too could it be done with Hal, who I’d just like to see having to work a bit harder to adjust to his new life given all that went down (even with the overall consequenceless retconn).

And hey, Emerald Twilight had its problems too- Hal’s rather abrupt shift into crazy, especially right after his inspiring beatdown of Mogul and… what, he’s taking everybody down, but decides to skip over Mogo? Now that I would have liked to see- the greatest versus the biggest.

Damn but we hijacked the shit out of this thread didn’t we GL’s?

The rushed rebuilding of Hal’s status quo resulted in some forced, strained story elements. Just like the way Bendis dismantled the Avengers also felt forced, to use another example.

Some people can’t just ignore this, understandable. Some people just aren’t wired that way. But if you’re among the people who are able to look past this, I think Johns’s GL is a fine superhero comic. Not a work of genius like some nostalgic Hal fans make it out to be, but certainly not meriting the hatred another portion of fans have for it.

There are plenty of cool ideas in this series. The Sinestro Corps, Hal’s war story, Coast City as a ghost city, even Hal’s confrontation with Hammond (that I didn’t read as Hannibal Lecter-like, much more like a pathetic crippled telepath desperately envious of Hal’s alpha male life), and making guys like Black Hand and the Shark more of a threat. Even Hal’s reconnecting with his family was sorta warming, though it was also so predictable.

Not saying my oppinion is better than anyone else’s, but maybe because I have no strong feelings for Hal, good or bad, nor any strong feelings for Emerald Twilight or Kyle Rayner, good or bad, I approached this series just as another work of the guy I already liked in JSA and Flash, and I think it has been good. Certainly better than Johns first issues in the Flash.

Re: “Boy, do I wish Marvel had not basically retconned most of this run out of existence”

This gets thrown around a lot, but I really don’t agree with it. Aside from putting the X-Men back into their superhero costumes (which I didn’t like but there was a good reason for), and retconning Xorn’s identity, the bulk of Morrison’s New X-Men is certainly still in-continuity. The current X-books may not be moving in the same direction as Morrison was, but I think it’s inaccurate to say Morrison’s run on New X-Men was “retconned out of existence.”

Rereading the top 100 list, I noticed that Byrne’s run of Superman was up there (No 79) but what about the title post Byrne?

Jonathon Riddle

January 16, 2012 at 1:32 am

Right on, Brother Greg! Testify!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for calling out Geoff Johns for pandering! Every Johns book I’ve read has been nothing short of an absolute disapointment. I began this cycle of letdown with his Green Lantern. Once I could look past the very pretty pictures by Ethan Van Sciver I found a very shallow story lurking in the corner. I felt like I had looked behind the curtain and realized the Wizard of Oz was a humbug.

Thank you also for citing both Ostrander/Mandrake’s Spectre and DeMatteis/McManus’ Doctor Fate. Both are criminally overlooked when lists like these are compiled.

Also, you really should read the O’Neil/Cowan run of The Question. Based on the books you’ve praised in your columns, I think it is a series you would genuinely like. The series grew and developed significantly over the length of the run; the first four issues are my least favorite of the whole series. The series dealt with adult issues years before Vertigo existed to make that sort of thing fashionable. The letter column also had a recommened reading list from O’Neil, so reading the title monthly functions like a book-of-the-month club. Seriously, go check them out.

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