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CSBG Archive

Top 158 Comic Book Runs #128-119

Here are the next ten runs!


126 (tie). Roger Stern’s Doctor Strange – 68 points

Doctor Strange #46-62, 65-75

Actually, this is Stern’s second run on the title, I think. Was the first time long enough for a run? Anyhow, this was a great series, particularly when Paul Smith was drawing it. Hoo boy, that was some good comics – but Stern was lucky to work with a number of great artists during his run. A memorable storyline involved the destruction of all vampires.

126 (tie). Larry Hama’s GI Joe – 68 points (1 first place vote)

G.I. Joe #1-155, plus annuals and specials

Doing a toy tie-in is not the easiest creative environment, but for almost ten years, Larry Hama made it work, with a variety of silly plotlines he had to use, he always had his characters act as realistic as possible under the circumstances, and he made Snake Eyes a cool character more than anyone else.

126 (tie). Mike Grell’s Sable – 68 points

Jon Sable, Freelance #1-56

Jon Sable, Freelance is a very typical Mike Grell story- heavy character work, a lot of action, and mature themes (not to mention great artwork). Grell never pandered to his readers – you got what he thought was interesting, whatever that may be, and I admire that.

125. Sam Kieth’s The Maxx – 70 points

The Maxx #1-35

Bill Loebs’ early involvement on this series cannot be underestimated (what can be underestimated is that the Maxx began in this horrible Image one-shot called Darker Image). This was a tremendously quirky book that had amazing Kieth artwork and some strong character moments.

123 (tie). Matt Wagner and Steve Seagle’s Sandman Mystery Theatre – 71 points (1 first place vote)

Sandman Mystery Theatre #1-60

Character was king in this series, as well, which was set during the Golden Age, and made Dian Belmont one of the best female characters in comics. Working with Guy Davis on art often sure doesn’t hurt the stories! Wagner left after #60, but Seagle wrote the book until it ended at #70.

123 (tie). Steve Englehart’s Captain America – 71 points

Captain America #153-167, 169-186

Englehart did a lot of innovative stuff on this title, like having Captain America give up his identity, take on a new identity, and also the famous storyline that ended with President Nixon killing himself because he was found out as the head of the Secret Empire. Powerful work, but also this was not all that different from other superhero comics so that a typical superhero fan couldn’t enjoy it, as well.

122. Peter David’s X-Factor (Second run) – 72 points

X-Factor #1-current (#30)

This began with the Madrox mini-series, and continued to this dark series starring Madrox as the head of X-Factor Investigations, which is a group of various mutant characters solving crimes. Really, though, the point of the comic is just watching everyone interact. One of David’s stronger works, and we’re lucky to have it coming out currently.

120 (tie). Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury – 74 points

Strange Tales #155-168, Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1-5

Steranko just cut loose on his SHIELD storylines, and they were both immensely enjoying while amazing to look at. Steranko had a great sense for design, and he really laid these stories out beautifully.

120 (tie). John Rogers’ Blue Beetle – 74 points (1 first place vote)

Blue Beetle #1-14, 16-20, 22-25

Rogers had a hard task, doing the new Blue Beetle title, but his throwback superhero tales, along with a keen eye for inventing good supporting cast members, on top of a likable star, have made this one of the most enjoyable superhero comics DC has to offer.

119. Peter David and Todd Nauck’s Young Justice – 75 points

Young Justice #1-55, plus a #1,000,000 and some specials

Young Justice was Peter David just having a good time and some laughs, with Todd Nauck along for the ride the whole time. There were parodies and puns galore, as well as some occasional hard-hitting stories, which touched on racism and stuff like that. It was a strong book which was sadly canceled in favor of Teen Titans. This is the last time Impulse was good.

Ten more Monday!


G.I.Joe only came in at 126? Shit, I should have voted. I would have placed it as my number one.

This was my gateway comic.

For my sixth birthday I was given a subscription to G.I.Joe from a friend of mine. I started with issue 18. Growing up in a small town, I had no way to get titles regularly before this, and this was when I realized that following a storyline was interesting, other than buying titles with the biggest fight scenes. I admit that at times it was goofy and that the last four or five years (maybe longer), Hama was crippled by the crap he forced to put into the book, but from issues 12 to 50 or so, it was Heaven to me, and from 50 to 100, it could still be entertaining. Hama did an excellent job incorporating characters of his own creation into the mix, which added some much needed suspence to the title since you could never be sure what would happen to these characters. Years later, when I was in the Army (coincidence?), stationed in Fort Campbell KY, I saw the final issue at the PX. I just had to buy it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Yearbook 2 is still one of my favorite single issues of all time. It reads like a movie.

I think something is wrong with me…I liked many of these series more than most of the ones that made the Top 50 lol!

Larry Hama’s GI Joe is easily one of the better comic-book adaptations of a toy-line. It is a great, underrated series, but I’m afraid lots of people will be turned off by the fact that’s based on a toy.

The Maxx is also a weird, wonderful series, tho I’m not sure if the writing still holds up, I’ll have to reread it. But worth it for Kieth’s amazing artwork alone.

Sandman Mystery Theater I read from time to time, and it was enjoyable (the issues I read, anyway). Too bad it was always overshadowed by Starman…

X-factor is easily the best X-title out now. I love c and b list X-characters, so for Peter David to take characters like Monet, Siryn, Rictor, etc, and make an enjoyable book using them will def get me interested. Plus, he deserves whatever praise he can get for taking a plot device like Leila Miller and making her interesting.

I did try to get into Young Justice, but the artwork turned me off big time. Too bad, it seems like I missed out on a fun series.

Blue Beetle is something I need to check out.

Very glad to see Maxx on the list!

GI Joe was also one of my first comics. I’m not sure I’d call it a gateway comic because I would have jumped into comics pretty much no matter what I read first. I had only read a handful of comics at the time (some Golden Key things my mom had gotten me like Flash Gordon and UFO as well as an issue of Micronauts and X-Men vs. The Micronauts). But I distinctly remember that my first issue of GI Joe was #21 (Silent Interlude). I was in fourth grade and the issue was mind-blowing for me at the time. The fact that there were no words magnified for me the fact that there was killing going on. Up until that point, I had no conception that people could die in comics. All the sudden I had to take comics more seriously. As a fourth grader.

Nice to see Blue Beetle listed. I dropped the title around ish 12, but continuing postive mentions here made me reconsider, & lo & behold, it turns out to be one of the best current comics out there. The removal of Rogers from scripting duties, though, is cause of concern.

Sandman Mystery Theatre just missed my list–if the art had been better overall it would have made it.
The stories were great–but some of the artists were hard to follow visually.

Woo-hoo! Young Justice!

Haha, Young Justice was the first DC series I ever bought regularly. In my opinion, so much better than the Teen Titans runs that have come after it.

It’s about time Steranko’s Nick Fury got some props. Have you ever seen the 4 page spread in Strange
Tales # 67?

Oops…typo…#167. Sorry guys.

Annoyed Grunt

May 10, 2008 at 10:11 am

At least The Maxx made it in to the top 125. Very good series, but I loved the last year or so when it seemed like Keith got bored with the main plot and just decided to write whatever he wanted. There was a 2 issue arc about one of the main character’s first period and one devoted to how the villain turned protagonist developed his sexual perversions. When the series ended (somewhat abruptly, IIRC) I figured he’d keep writing those type of indy stories, but I guess he never got the urge again.

Does anyone know, off the top of their heads, how much of X-Factor is in trade form? And how much of the series gets derailed with companywide events like “Endangered Species”? (Cuz that’s what made me drop Brubaker’s X book.)

If I had followed the rules and voted pure “favorites” without factoring in historical importance, both Stern’s “Doctor Strange” and “Jon Sable” would definitely have made my top ten. They were both on my runner-up list.

So glad that JSF has finally been collected, what what about DS? It would fit so nicely into three trades, one for each artist: Marshall Rogers, Dan Green, and Paul Smith! (with Golden’s issue tacked on the end of Rogers’s tpb) They’ve actually got a “Visionaries” volume for Stern’s “Peter Parker” run (NOT his best work) but not for this??? Is Marvel embarrassed by Doc Strange?

I don’t know if there’s any chance of an Essential G.I. Joe (Marvel does not own the rights to G.I. Joe… do they?), but I’d love to relive those first 50 issues to see if they were as good as I remember.

It’s one of those titles that should not have been good at all, but turned out awesome!

Well, FM, as this is nowhere near “the top”, they can’t really be said to have “made ti” there, can they?

Glad to see some love for Englehart’s Cap. Best Cap run ever. Brubaker comes close, and may even beat it, if the datedness of the Englehart stuff really sticks in your craw all that much (whatever, buddy). Gruenwald’s run suffers at least as much from such issues while not being nearly as good. In fact, part of what I like so much about Brubaker’s run is all the nods to the Englehart era.

It’s funny, over the years I’ve heard people say good things about GI Joe and ROM, but I never read either. When they came out, I was coming into just the right age to reject them sight unseen for being toy spinoffs. I’m sure they have their charms, but I suspect they might work better as fond memories of youth than something you can get into as an adult.

G.I. Joe does still hold up, in my opinion. A couple years back I re-read my collection, which was from about #20 to #130. Still thought it was great. It started declining a little bit in the #90s on, but still pretty damn good.

And Dane, GI Joe absolutely was a gateway comic. Partly because kids might have the toys, and then buy the comic because they like the toys. But mainly because they actually ran animated commercials for individual issues of the comic on TV. So while every comic might to an extent be a gateway comic to kids at a certain age, G.I. Joe was much more of a gateway comic than most, and probably more of a gateway comic than anything that has come since. I know it’s the only comic I’ve ever seen a TV commercial for.

New Totals

Interestingly, we have here our first early Image comics in the list: the Maxx.

We have 142 runs (and 32257 pts)

– 51 runs are set in the Marvel Universe (12635 pts)
– 13 runs are X-Titles (3431 pts)
– 2 runs are Ultimate titles (679 pts)
– 54 runs if you get Marvel plus Ultimate Universe plus Supreme Power (13369 pts)

– 38 runs are set in the DC Universe (10196 pts)
– 5 runs are Bat-Titles (566 pts)
– 11 are Vertigo comics (4495 pts)
– 43 runs if you get DC plus Vertigo sub-universe plus Plastic Man retcon (10416 pts)

– 6 runs are set in the Wildstorm Universe (1048 pts)
– 6 runs have female protagonists (1022 pts)

– 114 are superheroes or close enough (25754 pts)
– 28 are non-superhero (6503 pts)

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

– 1980s (43 runs – 10452 pts)
– 1990s (34 runs – 7669 pts)
– 2000s (36 runs – 6953 pts)
– 1970s (18 runs – 4146 pts)
– 1960s (8 runs – 2685 pts)
– 1940s (2 runs – 299 pts)
– 1950s (1 run – 53 pts)

Sorted by associated creator:

– Grant Morrison (8 runs – 2864 pts)
– Stan Lee (5 runs – 2446 pts)
– Alan Moore (7 runs – 1902 pts)
– Chris Claremont (7 runs – 1874 pts)
– John Byrne (3 runs – 1809 pts)
– Garth Ennis (4 runs – 1579 pts)
– Warren Ellis (6 runs – 1337 pts)
– Keith Giffen (4 runs – 1328 pts)
– Jack Kirby (3 runs – 1322 pts)
– Neil Gaiman (1318 pts)
– Frank Miller (2 runs – 1199 pts)
– Brian Michael Bendis (5 runs – 1141 pts)
– Steve Ditko (2 runs – 1034 pts)
– James Robinson (921 pts)
– Brian K. Vaughan (2 runs – 854 pts)
– Ed Brubaker (5 runs – 851 pts)
– Peter David (4 runs – 771 pts)
– J. M. de Matteis (742 pts)
– John Cassaday (2 runs – 722 pts)
– Marv Wolfman (643 pts)
– George Perez (643 pts)
– John Ostrander (3 runs – 591 pts)
– Howard Porter (574 pts)
– Pia Guerra (547 pts)
– Kurt Busiek (2 runs – 541 pts)
– Geoff Johns (3 runs – 534 pts)
– Walt Simonson (514 pts)
– Alex Maleev (480 pts)
– Bryan Hitch (2 runs – 474 pts)
– Bill Willimgham (428 pts)
– Darick Robertson (418 pts)
– Roger Stern (3 runs – 402 pts)
– Mark Waid (2 runs – 378 pts)
– Dave Sim (370 pts)
– Gerhard (370 pts)
– Mark Millar (2 runs – 369 pts)
– Mark Bagley (364 pts)
– John Romita Jr. (3 runs – 331 pts)
– Paul Levitz (328 pts)
– Brent Anderson (323 pts)
– Jeff Smith (321 pts)
– Adrian Alphona (307 pts)
– Steve Gerber (2 runs – 276 pts)
– John Romita (270 pts)
– Denny O’Neil (2 runs – 261 pts)
– Peter Milligan (2 runs – 255 pts)
– Steve Englehart (2 runs – 255 pts)
– Brothers Hernandez (236 pts)
– John McCrea (232 pts)
– Joss Whedon (229 pts)
– Roy Thomas (3 runs – 228 pts)
– David Mazzucchelli (211 pts)
– Tom and Mary Bierbaum (208 pts)
– Tom Mandrake (205 pts)
– Will Eisner (204 pts)
– Joe Kelly (202 pts)
– Robert Kirkman (2 runs – 180 pts)
– Mike Mignola (179 pts)
– Frank Quitely (176 pts)
– Mike Baron (174 pts)
– Steve Rude (174 pts)
– Alan Davis (2 runs – 173 pts)
– Mike Grell (2 runs – 172 pts)
– Matt Wagner (2 runs – 169 pts)
– Mike Allred (2 runs – 168 pts)
– Sean Phillips (2 runs – 163 pts)
– Neal Adams (162 pts)
– David Michelinie (152 pts)
– Bob Layton (152 pts)
– Mike Wieringo (150 pts)
– Brian Azzarello (150 pts)
– Eduardo Risso (150 pts)
– Kevin O’Neill (148 pts)
– Alan Grant (146 pts)
– Norm Breyfogle (146 pts)
– Michael Avon Oeming (134 pts)
– Paul Smith (133 pts)
– Marc Silvestri (133 pts)
– Christopher Priest (130 pts)
– Greg Rucka (122 pts)
– Paul Chadwick (120 pts)
– Joe Casey (117 pts)
– Mike Carey (114 pts)
– Peter Gross (114 pts)
– Ryan Kelly (114 pts)
РSergio Aragon̩s (110 pts)
– Mark Evanier (110 pts)
– Jim Starlin (109 pts)
– Mark Gruenwald (107 pts)
– Jim Shooter (2 runs – 106 pts)
– Stuart Immonen (103 pts)
– Michael Gaydos (101 pts)
– Kazuo Koike (100 pts)
– Goseki Kojima (100 pts)
– Denys Cowan (99 pts)
– Stan Sakai (98 pts)
– Terry Moore (96 pts)
– Chris Ware (95 pts)
– Doug Moench (95 pts)
– Jack Cole (95 pts)
– Todd Nauck (75 pts)
– Jim Steranko (74 pts)
– John Rogers (74 pts)
– Steve Seagle (71 pts)
– Sam Kieth (70 pts)
– Larry Hama (68 pts)
– William Messner-Loebs (66 pts)
– Peter Bagge (65 pts)
– Len Wein (64 pts)
– Bernie Wrightson (64 pts)
– Fabian Nicieza (57 pts)
– JMS (55 pts)
– Ann Nocenti (55 pts)
– Laura Allred (55 pts)
– Dave Cockrum (54 pts)
– Gerry Conway (53 pts)
– Carl Barks (53 pts)
– Ben Templesmith (52 pts)
– Chuck Dixon (52 pts)
– Louise Simonson (51 pts)
– Kevin Smith (50 pts)
– Joe Quesada (50 pts)
– David Lapham (50 pts)
– Robert Loren Fleming (50 pts)

– 114 are superheroes or close enough (25754 pts)
– 65 are traditional superheroes (16448 pts)
– 49 are non-traditional superheroes (9296 pts)
– 17 are nonpowered superheroes (2512 pts)
– 11 are comedic superheroes (1929 pts)
– 49 are team books (11878 pts)
– 28 are non-superhero (6503 pts)

Andrew Collins

May 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Sandman Mystery Theatre JUST missed my list. I recently read all six of the trades Vertigo has released so far and came away absolutely hooked on the series. Now I need to track down the remaining individual issues, since it’s going to be awhile (if ever) before we see volume 7 from Vertigo…

Yay for Grell’s JOn Sable making the list too. Wonderful action comic that is also getting a new lease on life over at http://www.comicmix.com

Sad to see Hama’s GI Joe so low on the list. That was a gateway comic for me too. Issue #21 especially was the coolest thing I had ever seen as a kid. I cherish my slightly beaten up copy to this day…

Three runs I’ve never read ANY of this time (G.I. Joe, Sable, and Doctor Strange.)

Which is kinda weird because in the last 120-some entries there’s been a total of three runs I’ve never read any of.

It’s heresy in the Internet, I know, but Young Justice never did much for me. And yeah, I usually like Peter David, and I’m not scared of “fun” comics. Dunno, the comic never clicked for me. Maybe it was too much for kids or something.

Stern’s Doc Strange and Englehart’s Cap are classics and should be in the Top 100.

Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury is awesome. It feels more “modern” than anything else published by Marvel in the 60s. It had moments of experimentation you’d associate to guys like Grant Morrison.

Strangely enough, I’ve watched the Maxx on MTV, but never read the comic.

G. I. Joe gets so much love? I’m surprised. Another comic I never saw, it wasn’t published here in Brazil. The cartoon was a hit, though.

Certain writer-artist combos just work better than others. Some are so good that you wish they had worked together almost exclusively. I felt that way when I saw Roger Stern and Paul Smith on “Doctor Strange”. It was like peanut butter and jelly.

GI Joe was published in Brazil!

@jazzbo – Yeah, I totally agree with what you said. What I meant to say was that though I read and loved early G.I. Joe and though it was one of the first series I followed with consistency, it wasn’t a gateway comic for me. I accidentally left out the personalizing of that in my original comment. I’m not sure if there was a gateway comic for me. If there was, it was almost certainly Tintin.

And yeah, where the crap is Tintin on the list? That’s just as much a run as any of the other creator owned stuff that made the list.

Pedro Bouça

May 10, 2008 at 6:20 pm

“GI Joe was published in Brazil!”

Twice, even! The first series reprinted the first 12 or so issues (Rio Gráfica, late 80s). The second was from a later part of the run (Abril, early 90s). None lasted more than a year and distribution was VERY spotty! It was hard to find even on the big newsstands in Rio de Janeiro!

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

I understand that Teen Titans was a lot more marketable name than Young Justice. I understood the need to evolve Bart Allen, and Geoff Johns did better by him than Messer-Loebs and Dezago. But damn, Young Justice was a good book. Not the best, and Peter David pushed the puns a lot, but the stories were fun to read (except for the Traya racism issue, which hurt to go through). Todd Nauck was pretty good, and the book helped him launch Wildguard, with its own bad puns (Lily Hammer, anyone?) and MST3K shoutouts (the audition took place in Servo City). And really, Lil Lobo and Slobo weren’t that bad. Quit hatin’.

I’m happy to see my vote helped elevate the book as high as it did. Now I’m curious to see if I was the only one to give points (eight total, if I’m not mistaken) to The Adventures Of Barry Ween.

Rene, you appear to be my proverbial brother from another (Brazilian) mother. Those are my exact feelings on Young Justice, and I’ve always had a hard time articulating them. I collected the individual Impulse, Superboy, and Robin titles before YJ launched and was psyched for the title after the World Without Grown-Ups special, but the way David characterized everyone felt extremely off. I enjoyed light books (obviously!), but David’s absolutely slapstick and silly sense of humor felt off to me. It wasn’t like Giffen-DeMattheis JLI where the humor was purely character-driven and there a scaffolding of quality straight-faced heroics usually acting to hold everything together.. I bought I think the first 50 issues before a cash crunch meant cutting off all my monthly comics subs completely, and it was one of the first old runs of mine I got rid of before I moved.

“Character was king in this series, as well, which was set during the Golden Age, and made Dian Belmont one of the best female characters in comics.”

At least two of us voted for her in the Top 10 Marvel/DC Characters poll.

I hope that PAD’s second X-Factor run would make the top 100 if we did this in a few years.

I actually just read the first eight issues of The Maxx the last week. Picked them up on ebay cheap cheap, because I love Kieth’s art and I’ve been enjoying his Oni stuff. It really was a bit of a diamond in the rough, and didn’t really fit in with most of the Image books at the time. I suppose the only reason it lasted as long as it did before being abruptly cancelled was because Kieth was considered a “hot” artist. I now want to pick up the other back issues.

Dane – I’m with you now. I do think the “for me” qualifier is a big one, because I honestly think GI Joe was the best gateway comic of the last 30 years, and if publishers today took a page from the marketing of that book, maybe the average person would be aware that comics are still being published in monthly form. But that’s a different topic altogether, I guess. Hope it didn’t seem like I was picking on you. I just get a little torqued up because it’s bugged me for a long time that publishers don’t do more publicity along the lines of GI Joe to try to get new readers into the mix.

I’ve never been that big a fan of Engelhart’s Captain America. There’s some good bits yeah but also some less than great bits. Snap Wilson is my personal least favorite retcon ever.

I think all of these are placed about right, to be honest. Certainly I don’t think any of them deserve to be much higher and I can’t believe they’re all more popular than Roy Thomas’ Conan.

This has bothered me for a while now. Is “Slobo” some Star Trek character I haven’t heard of or something? It has to be a pun, right?

“Haha, Young Justice was the first DC series I ever bought regularly. In my opinion, so much better than the Teen Titans runs that have come after it.”
It was fun for the first 37 issues. I felt than when both Impulse & Superboy left for the first time (issue 38) and were replaced by The Ray 3 issues later, the book didn’t feel the same afterwards.

Patrick Lemaire

May 11, 2008 at 9:32 am

Sandman Mystery Theatre also had an annual and a special: Sandman Midnight Theatre. I hope the publishers are taking notice and will issue reprints.

Hey, Lynxara. :)

Yes, the individual series of these characters were all quite good. But Young Justice felt like less than the sum of the individual parts to me (I feel weird agreeing with the infamous Dan Didio). Maybe I just wasn’t the target audience.

Leax, maybe I just forgot completely about even seeing the GI Joe comics in the newstand. I dunno if I’d have bought them, anyway. It seems to me such a… hyper-heterosexual male concept, hehe. I also never could get into James Bond or Conan, for instance.

Jack Norris, I don’t think Rom has aged any worse than other early-80s superhero comic books. I’ve re-read some issues recently. You can’t tell it’s a toy-based comic. It’s your usual Bill Mantlo Marvel story: lots of melodrama, lots of melancholy, lots of action. A bit of horror throw in. It’s the (pre-Alan Moore) Swamp Thing kind of hero, the noble soul trapped in an inhuman body, being always misunderstood by mankind.

Yeah! “The Maxx” finally clocks in!!! Respect to the other 69 of you who voted for it.

Mike Loughlin

May 11, 2008 at 11:38 am

The Maxx is one of those comics that people who don’t normally read super-hero comics can like. I knew a lot of people who loved the Mtv series, which was pretty much the individual issues with some minimal animation. The problem was there weren’t any comics out there with similar sensibilities. Concrete has a somewhat similar tone, but none of the weirdness. There are some comics with plenty of weirdness (Morrison’s Doom Patrol) but little of the sincerity. I think there is a sizeable, sensitive adolescent audience looking for art that speaks to them, and few comics that do, outside of manga.

Huh. I somehow acquired one issue of THE MAXX, filed away in a short box with the rest of the early-ish Image stuff, & never even bothered looking at it because I just assumed it was of a piece with the rest of that unreadable garbage that the company’s founders probably belong in prison for (though I guess that would make a large portion of fandom willing accomplices …). Clearly, the comic warrants revisiting.

Dan, Sam Kieth pencilled the first 5 issues of Sandman, and despite claiming that his style didn’t mix well with Gaiman’s, he seems to have been much inspired by Gaiman when he created the Maxx. It has a bit in common with Sandman storylines like “A Game of You”, and is utterly different from the other early Image comic books.

Blue Beetle was my last vote-getter to show up here. So great to see it. I almost didn’t vote for it, because it had *just* ended when the sent in my ballot, but man – what a fun book. Exciting action, funny dialogue, well-developed characters. Just a fun ride, from the first issue through #25. I hope it can stay that fun, but I doubt it. We’ll see.

Young Justice was one of my picks. Nice to know that at least a few other people agreed with me!

I have some degree of familiarity with most of these other items — although in the case of “The Maxx,” for instance, I think that means: “Back in the mid-1990s I read one issue of the title (pretty sure it wasn’t the first issue) and found it awfully confusing. Never gone back to take another look at it!”

I think the new “Blue Beetle” may be the only one where I haven’t even taken as much of a look at it as I once did at The Maxx!

One problem with Englehart’s run on Cap was that I’ve only read the last several issues of it, but not enough to have an opinion on where the entire run should belong on my list of favorites. Aside from that, if I were going to vote for anything else mentioned in this installment (besides the one I actually voted for), it would probably be “Sable.”

I had GI Joe fairly high on my list, and it absolutely still holds up. Part of the appeal, admittedly, was the you-had-to-be-there concept, but Hama’s plotting was so tight for most of the first seven years or so of the book (things started to drift downhill after the Cobra Civil War, when the toyline was being wound down and Hasbro’s desperation led to some bad ideas being forced into the comic) that I’d actually say it stands up to the best team books ever published.

I can see some of the more cynical fans who got into comics after its heyday writing it off as a toy tie-in and nothing more, but that’s a massive mistake.

As for Young Justice, count me amongst the people who thought it dropped off in its fourth year and never really recovered. It went through a very strange period where David would have climaxes to the plot halfway through the issue, then start up a new one-off story that climaxed halfway through the next issue, which made the month-to-month flow all kinds of wonky.

Agreed on the Impulse bit, although my favorite moment (Bart being all hyperactive in the Justice Cave, only to pause when he sees a statue of Barry and reverentially whisper “… grandpa….”) technically happened in World Without Grown-Ups, not the series proper.

The Maxx was, by far, the best thing to come out of those early Image years (though I still have some affection for the initial run on Spawn). Confusing it can certainly be at first, but once you start reading it as “superhero tropes as dream logic”, it all comes together. The Maxx is clearly a product of the Sandman’s influence, but it very much stands on its own. In an odd way, it’s actually more dreamlike than Sandman is, not the least due to Sam Kieth’s moody, detailed artwork and imaginative storytelling. Probably Kieth’s finest moment, a very personal take on the old “angsty superhero” horse.

And Hama’s G.I.Joe? It’s almost too complex for its intended audience, honestly, and holds up well today–much better than the cartoon does. Hama took these extremely cartoonish characters and made them feel like they’re actually part of the Army (or part of a merciless terrorist organization), made them complicated people making hard choices, and along the way introduced compelling side characters like Fred the Crimson Guardsman, Billy, and the Soft Master. Hama has a real ear for dialogue, too, which really helps sell the more cartoonlike plot developments (like the creation of Serpentor). Most of all, it’s a fun read, and anyone worried about nostalgia glasses can go ahead and dive back in.

Fellow Maxx-head checking in! It still stands as one of my favorite runs… probably second only to Sandman and Swamp Thing. I’d like to point one thing out, though, since I think no one is paying attention:

Sam Kieth is still writing quirky indie books for Oni, and everyone who’s into The Maxx should be reading them! The first was called Ojo, and there’s one out now called My Inner Bimbo. They’re part of a series of 7 miniseries, and by the end Sam tells us that all the loose ends from the (definitely abruptly ended) Maxx series, which stopped in 1997/1998 without a real ending. They’re definitely more adult than The Maxx, but they’re every bit as brilliant and full of great character moments and general quirkiness. Seriously, if you like The Maxx go buy them. now.

SK also did a couple of great Image series that are now published in trades, I think by Wildstorm… Zero Girl, which was a lot of fun and had a very strong ending, and Four Women, which I had about 7 non comic readers waiting on the edges of their seats for when it was coming out monthly in 2001/2002. Zero Girl had a sequel, but I didn’t think much of it.

But yeah… had to plug the Oni series, because I don’t think many people are reading them, and they’re seriously good stuff!

Mike Loughlin

May 12, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Re Sandman influencing Sam Kieth:

In one of the letter columns, Kieth said he hadn’t read Sandman since he stopped drawing it. Looking at his work before and after Sandman, I’m inclined to think it wasn’t a huge influence on The Maxx.

Loved 4 Women, was lukewarm to Zero Girl, have Ojo on my (loooooong) to-buy list.

“Steranko had a great sense for design”

Shouldn’t it read “Steranko has a great sense for design” ?

He is still around and his latest stuff still showcases his unique design sense.

Shouldn’t it read “Steranko has a great sense for design” ?

He is still around and his latest stuff still showcases his unique design sense.

I don’t think so – it’s referring to his sense of design on that particular book.

All of the other descriptions of older works are also in the past tense.

That said, yes, Steranko still designs stuff quite nicely. If anyone considered the description of his Nick Fury work was a shot at his current work, that was not the intent.

Englehart’s Cap easily captured the second slot on my list. My favorite title during the 70’s!

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