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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #90-86

Here are the next five storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.

(NOTE: Again, to keep us on time, I’ll post the results now and edit in the details over time – up until early Sunday morning)

90. “Weapon X” by Barry Windsor-Smith (Marvel Comics Presents #72-84) – 106 points (1 first place vote)

To put into perspective just how much of an impact Barry Windsor-Smith’s “almost” origin for Wolverine had upon the comics world, note the following…the term “Weapon X” was not a major term before Windsor-Smith named his story it in this story in 1991, and we did not have the visual of Wolverine with the helmet and tons of wires sticking out of his body.

Within months of Windsor-Smith’s story (which was serialized in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents, where many Shanna the She-Devil fans were wondering why so many people were suddenly interested in the Shanna the She-Devil serial running in the book) both the term and the image were practically burned into the minds of comic fans, and have been so ever since (heck, Wolverine Origins just did an homage to Wolverine’s Weapon X look a few months ago).

The fact that the visuals from this story have become so well known should not all that much of a surprise, as Barry Windsor-Smith is one of the most striking comic book artists ever, but the real revelation of the series besides his great artwork (which was somewhat of a given) was the strong story by Windsor-Smith, as he depicts the casual cruelty of the scientists who experiment on Logan in the attempt to turn him into “Weapon X.”

The story is a slow burn, as you get a chilling glimpse into the souls of the people working on Logan, and at the same time, you see how the noble person being tortured by science manages to survive the experience, and you occasionally get a look at the beginnings of what would eventually be the most famous member of the X-Men.

88 (tie). “March of the Wooden Soldiers” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha (Fables #19-21, 23-27) – 108 points (2 first place votes)

In the fourth major story arc in Bill Willingham’s Fables, the agents of the Adversary (the tyrant who drove the Fables out of their homelands and into a secluded town in the middle of New York City, where Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Prince Charming and others all live among unsuspecting humans) have come to Fabletown and they are ready for a massive battle.

The story comes right as Prince Charming has decided to challenge Old King Cole for the Mayorship of Fabletown.

Willingham is really good at juggling a number of plots and characters, and especially, he is very good at writing a realistic war story, and that’s what the March of the Wooden Soldiers ends up becoming – a very real, and very bloody battle between the Adversary and the Fables of Fabletown, and you really don’t know who will survive!

This engaging, action-packed storyline won an Eisner Award for Best Story, so you know it has an excellent pedigree! Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha do a tremendous job on art.

88 (tie). “Church and State” by Dave Sim and Gerhard (Cerebus #52-111) – 108 points (3 first place votes)

Cerebus began as a parody of Conan, but by the time Church and State began, the book had moved past that and become a slightly more serious satire of a number of topics, including politics and society.

Church and State, which is by far the longest storyline on the Top 100, further moved Cerebus away from its early days with an elaborate allegorical story about religion, politics and, most of all, morality.

The basic gist of the story is that Cerebus in appointed the Pope of the Eastern Church of Tarim. He lets his power get to his head, loses everything, tries to get it back, gets it back, gets even MORE morally corrupt and ultimately meets, in effect, God.

This is the story where Sim lays out the prophecy that the rest of Cerebus was “ruled” by, which hovered over the next 180 plus issues of the book like a scythe.

Story continues below

That’s the plot of the story, but the beauty of it all is the character development, although development almost suggests an advancement, and that’s really not the case for Cerebus through most of the story – as he completely loses his way, morally.

His actions are at times chilling, and the fact that it they are taken by the “protagonist” of the comic were quite bold by Sim.

The artwork by Sim and Gerhard is strong, but it is the writing that is the key to this great epic storyline.

87. “The Death of Speedy” by Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets #21-23) – 110 points (4 first place votes)

For a story that is actually CALLED “The Death of Speedy,” you would not think that the actual death of Speedy Ortiz would have all that much impact.

You would be wrong.

In what might be Jaime Hernandez’s strongest story arc in his long and accomplished (still ongoing!) tenure on Love and Rockets, the Death of Speedy focuses on a small group of young men and women in the barrio, as Hernandez brilliantly lays their limited life options out plain to see, and it is depressing while still being quite moving.

Even as you sit there and think, “How foolish can these kids be?’ when you marvel at the problems their machismo gets them into (and the girls, with their own form of machismo – what IS the female equivalent of machismo?), you still get that this is not really much of an overstatement of the reality of the situation.

Hernandez seems to truly give us a glimpse into the lives of real people here, and perhaps the most brutal aspect of the whole thing is that as they fight over ridiculous notions like “this is OUR turf” or “he’s MY man,” their lives continue to prominently revolve around LOVE.

Maggie particularly seems to view love as a motivating factor.

But even ideas based in love can end up in heartbreak and pain, and that’s what happens in the Death of Speedy.

That Hopey is mostly absent from this stretch of Love and Rockets makes the story that much sadder, as whenever Hopey and Maggie get together, the story tends to seem ea bit lighter, no matter what r is going on – so them apart makes the tale feel even more morose.

And the whole thing is handled in Hernandez’s Dan Decarlo-esque artwork, allowing the pathos to almost sneak up on you, like a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.

Hernandez has done many excellent stories since this one, but as far as “beginning, middle and end” goes (as his other great works tend to be serial in nature), this could very well be his best.

86. “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1″ by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1-6) – 111 points (1 first place vote)

Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics line tended towards “high concepts,” you know, really cool ideas that you can get across in a sentence.

“Cops in a city where everyone is a superhero.”

“A living story becomes a superhero.”

“Classic literary characters from the 19th Century form a team of heroes.”

That last one, of course, is what The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is about.

While that’s a great high concept, there are plenty of great high concepts that can be ruined by bad writing (see, for instance, the movie based on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and Moore manages to evade any pratfalls by taking the concept of a book actually set in 1896 very serious, and with a brilliant design artist such as Kevin O’Neill by his side, the look and feel of the book is very much of that time.

The series tells a fairly straightforward villain story (with perhaps a bit of a mysterious villain), but it’s HOW Moore and O’Neill tell is that’s the best part of this tale, as they cleverly incorporate numerous classic literary figures into one cohesive universe – it’s Wold Newton near its best.

Seeing how Moore ties Mr. Hyde in with Inspector Dupin. Seeing how he ties the Invisible Man in with Pollyanna. And so on and so forth. For any fan of 19th century literature (particularly English literature), the book is an absolute delight.


Looking forward to your analysis, Brian. The only one that I’ve fully read here is the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which I appreciated the craftsmanship of but found I couldn’t wholeheartedly enjoy

The Crazed Spruce

November 29, 2009 at 1:47 am

Yeah, LoEG is the only one I’ve read, too. And again, it’s a story that would’ve made my short list if I’d remembered it.

I’ve gotta remember to check back on this list after I get my credit card bill paid down. In a few years, my trade paperback shelf is gonna rock!

Bernard the Poet

November 29, 2009 at 2:15 am

Well, this is a little humbling. I think I have only read three of the first twenty.

When you did the 100 Best Runs last year, I had read a sample of at least 80% of them and it was fun searching out the ones I had missed. I don’t think I’m going to be able to afford to do that this year.

Weapon X is good.
Anything Fables is usually great.
“Welcome Back, Frank” is still more memorable than Weapon X, though..That made Punisher cool again. And, honestly, we needed that.

The Crazed Spruce

November 29, 2009 at 4:50 am

Assuming you meant first fifteen, I’m pretty much in the same boat you are, Bernard. (Except for one issue of Swamp Thing, that is.)

I believe “Weapon X” was used way back in Wolverine’s first appearance in Incredible Hulk #180-181. BWS defined what Weapon X is, but he did not originate the term. And I agree Weapon X wouldn’t be a household name (among comic book readers, at least) without BWS.

Ah, my first pick is on the list! :D (Weapon X).
Glad to see Fables made the list. Never read any Cerebus or Love and Rockets. I should probably dive into the latter since out of 15 it already has two entries.

By first pick i don’t mean my #1 pick. simply the first of my top ten to make it on the list.

Willingham has written a whole bunch of great war stories in Fables.

Does he really need to write one in JSA, too??

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Weapon X by Barry Windsor-Smith: superb art.

As for Cerebus: Church & State part 1 and 2, that particular run is basically one of the best of all Cerebus.
I remember my first Cerebus issue is the one with Mick Jagger on the cover.

A Fable storyline is always worth a read.

LoEG still remains on my bookshelf.

.the term “Weapon X” did not exist until Windsor-Smith debuted it in this story in 1991

I’m fairly sure Weapon X goes back to Wolverine’s first appearance in The Hulk. I’m pretty sure Weapon Alpha / Vindicator / Guardian also calls Wolverine that in their first battle back in X-Men as well. (Indeed the whole reason Vindicator is originally named Weapon Alpha is to contrast with Wolverine’s designation). Perhaps Barry Windsor Smith made it a household name but I always knew Wolverine was called Weapon X long before then… And I’ve never read the Weapon X storyline.

You guys are correct, the term Weapon X goes all the way back to Wolverine’s beginning.

Only 5 this time? Why the slow down?

I’m still having trouble considering many of these as “top” stories. Notable, maybe, but top? Take Weapon X, it barely had a story and the art was terrible, it may be a seminal point in Wolverine’s history but as a comic itself it just wasn’t very good.

Then again we’re still quite far from the top of *this* list, maybe the later ones will be more awesome.

Are you crazy, Sijo? So far you’ve “meh”ed Death of Speedy AND Human Diastrophism, not to mention LoEG and a host of other things that not only belong on this list, but belong way higher up. Jesus Christ, the lack of taste some people have never ceases to amaze me.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 29, 2009 at 8:41 am

Would that have made it “Weapon Chi?”

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 29, 2009 at 8:54 am

It’s not lack of taste, Joe, it’s total unfamiliarity. If you asked people to vote on the best novels, I guarantee mass-media phenomena like Twilight or Jason Bourne would top the list and most critically acclaimed novels of the last 20 years wouldn’t be on it at all. And not just because people don’t read them, but because people who don’t read The New Yorker or McSweeney’s or whatever-the-hell have never heard of them unless Oprah featured them last week. Now, after about 20 years the schools start teaching them, and that gets a few votes…but only a few.

Most consumers of any medium don’t see the complex stuff, because for most media consumers the material is supposed to be unchallenging entertainment. Since that’s where the money is, that’s also where the publicity is. How many towns don’t have a theater that would show the new good movie, or a bookstore that orders more than one copy of the latest Booker Prize winner, or, yes, a comics shop that hasno Hernandez Brothers collections? How would a resident there discover such stuff?

Most people read and watch for indolent leisure, infrequently for critical engagement and still more rarely in order to have their minds changed or expanded. When they do seek critical engagement, they tend to read nonfiction prose. Indeed, it’s precisely the shift from reader or viewer to consumer as the target audience that may make up the difference.

Comics aren’t a cesspool, they’re just a niche that reflects the larger trend in media consumption. Internet-voted lists, even at sites like this one, reflect that. Hell, I’d say that at many other sites you wouldn’t see the Death of Speedy on a list like this at all.

Death of Speedy, Church and State, and Blood of Palomar make up a third of my list. There are all amazing comics, and I’m delighted to see they made it in.

I’ve never read Weapon X, but am baffled that anyone would find the art terrible. Smith is one of those people who I feel has rarely had a story to tell that was worthy of the effort he put into illustrating it. Still, I may be compelled to try it out.

Only 5 this time? Why the slow down?

The first day is the only day we’re revealing ten. Every other day is five (until we get to the final five, where it’ll be 1-1-1-2).

I believe “Weapon X” was used way back in Wolverine’s first appearance in Incredible Hulk #180-181. BWS defined what Weapon X is, but he did not originate the term. And I agree Weapon X wouldn’t be a household name (among comic book readers, at least) without BWS.

Edited and agreed!

Cheers, Scott.

“Weapon X” – heard much of it, never read it.

“March of the Wooden Soldiers” – my #5, the first thing I’ve voted for to make the list; I was torn between that and “Homelands” as my “Fables” vote, but I picked “March” because it makes use of a much wider section of the cast. Though, looking back, it sets a standard for the conflict with the Empire that the later stories wouldn’t be able to match.

“Church & State I & II” – read it; loved the first part, for the most part. The second volume just drags on and on, though it has a great ending fifty pages or so.

“The Death of Speedy” – never heard of it.

“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” – one of the first comics I ever read (because I liked the trailer of the movie; ha). It’s okay, though, having read more widely since then (both within and without Moore’s body of work), I consider it a fairly slender read.

The term Weapon X was used in all the stories involving Wolverine and the Canadian government, including the first appearances by Vindicator and later the whole Alpha Flight.

Omar – I’d say that in literature’s case, a substantial portion of critically-acclaimed novels are not just unfamiliar to the average person, they’re completely beyond the capacity of an average person to enjoy, even with tremendous effort. Whether that is a good thing or not, depends on who you ask.

Thankfully, that is not so much the case with comics yet. Acclaimed works like From Hell, the stuff from the Brothers Hernandez, the Invisible, this stuff is still readable by most adults, even though some portions are considerably challenging. I’d say the last issues of the Invisibles tend to get more and more strange, and there are a couple of issues of From Hell that are totally devoted to London’s architeture, but on the whole the works are still readable. While Doris Lessing and Gene Wolfe, for instance, are almost completely opaque, at least to me.

I loved Weapon X. I just wish they hadn’t added so much unnecessary crap to Wolvie’s origin. It just diluted the greatness.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 29, 2009 at 10:16 am

Rene — Yeah, the analogy to comics is probably more with film; most great movies I can name are accessible wihout lots of “homework” too, partly because they engage multiple senses. More than that, however, I suspect collaborative media tend to be accessible because they are created via a process of communication and feedback, and hence are more sensitized to producing such.

But I still think there’s the other problem that a lot of people don’t see either medium as the place they go for deep experiences in the first place. It’s not that they’re incapable of such, or that the media can’t provide it, but rather that they believe they get that sort of engagement elsewhere and aren’t interested in a comic or movie that does it in the first place.

The original ghettoization of any medium or genre takes place in the minds of its consumers when they relegate it to the category of easy entertainments, distractions from those things they deem meaningfully engaging.

Lack of familiarity I can understand. I guess it’s the phrasing “I’ve never heard of this” makes me feel kind of sad but is totally understandable, and probably due more to where someone lives than anything else. “This doesn’t deserve to be here,” implies that the poster has, in fact, heard of it, but thinks it is unworthy of such robust company as the Dark Phoenix Saga or Crisis on Infinite Earths or Peter Parker got diddled.

Great comments, Omar. Thanks for your perspective.

Omar, just wanted tsay thanks for your last few posts. I thought they were insightful and honest, while keep the ‘tone’ of the discussion fairly high. (It might help also that I agree completely with you on those points!)

Yay! Fables made it! I honestly didn’t expect it to. This is the first of my top ten to show up.

Never read Weapon X, as it was written right around when my life-long Wolverine enthusiasm was wasting away due to over-exposure and muddled backstory.

I always meant to read Church and State. I read the first two Cerebus trades and enjoyed them, but never made the next step due to financial issues and other distractions. Maybe now I’ll finally take that step.

I’ve never read Love and Rockets, but I’m guessing I really should.

LoExG is great fun.

Agree with everything on today’s list except Weapon X, which I can’t comment on as I have yet to read it. Made it’s way onto my “to read” list, though.

Just want to add that that Fables storyline’s climactic battle was my no. 1 pick for comic book battles. Probably the last time I had a really visceral “holy crap!” excitement reading a comic book fight, while at the same time it was, as noted, a really well-crafted war story, a step up from most cliched superhero fare, at least in my opinion. That trade made me a devoted Fables fan. I’m gonna have to go flip through it now.

Weapon X was on my list. Still the best Wolverine story ever. I experienced it as a whole GN, having never read the installments in Marvel Comics Presents. Those who have not read it, i urge you to pick up the collection. It’s much more a sci-fi/horror story than superheroe’s. About control, power, memory, and a little government conspiracy thrown in.

BWS also penciled ,inked, and colored it. And did a lot of the lettering himself too. So its one man’s vision. I reread it every year or 2.

With Death Of Speedy, the first of my 10 choices makes the list. Brilliant, heartbreaking story. That last page where Speedy says goodbye to his loved ones still sends chills up my spine…

Brian, do you read all of this before writing about them? The comments seem to be coming from someone who has already read them, I appreciate the hard work.

Color me surprised. I didn’t think anyone else would pick The Death of Speedy as their favorite. Cool beans!

I’ve read 5 so far. Swamp Thing, Death of Speedy (which was my number one pic, I think), LoEG, Jimmy Corrigan, and Doom Patrol.

It’s only a matter time until I get to Palomar and when I get the time I’d really like to read Cerebus, but it ain’t cheap.

Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck sounds cool, but I think I’d rather read Carl Bark’s original work since that inspired it. I’m a purist in that sense. I always go for the source material first.

This is a good 5 though. Let’s hear it for creator owned series!!!!! Of course this just means all the superhero stuff got voted to the top.

Omar has some good points. I could add that another problem with these kind of lists is that they’re TOO inclusive- seriously, how can you even begin to compare the quality of these stories when they range from superheroes to humor to real-life drama? This is like trying to figure out if Nightmare on Elm Street is a better movie than Bambi. there’s just no way to fairly decide that, as everything from the writing formula to the audience intended are totally different.

Also, let’s not forget that ultimately, this poll -and the comments made about it- only reflect individual fan’s tastes. They don’t really affect quality or popularity in the end. so let’s not get too stuck up on what other posters say, OK?

It’s possible to do. Bambi, for instance, is a superior movie to Nightmare on Elm Street on pretty much any level. Better writing, better production . . .also it’s not a cheesy schlock-fest. It’s difficult but possible. And of course this poll is just the opinion . . .otherwise about half the arcs seen so far would be saved for the last few days. But in return for not being “stuck up on” what other people say, how about we also don’t talk shit about things we have no experience with or haven’t read.

What’s BWS up to these days? I don’t think I’ve read a single story he’s done. What’s a good starting point? Conan?

I’m not surprised to see March of the Wooden Soldiers on the list. It was the first time in Fables that I felt I could see what all the hype was about. It’s a good story.

I’ve been reading Cerebus, and it’s an incredibly fulfilling series–funny, smart, beautifully drawn. I’m prepared to stop when the he-man woman-hating starts, but so far (through Jaka’s Story) it’s been nothing to really worry about. So if anyone, like myself, has been avoiding the series due to worries about misogyny, I’ll vouch for the first five volumes.

I’ve only read Gilbert’s Love and Rockets stories (uniformly great, by the way). Hopefully that changes with some Christmas presents. [/greed]

I can never figure out if I care for LoEG. I like reading it, and O’Neill art is a trip, but I never get as much of a kick out of it as I feel I should.

I didn’t vote, because I couldn’t decide on just ten storylines, and couldn’t rank the ones I did think of, but three of my favorites have made the list so far: Blood of Palomar, The Death of Speedy, and Jimmy Corrigan. I’m actually surprised they made the top 100, and I expected more “I’ve never heard of it” or “never read it” comments considering the main focus of this site is superhero comics.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I think genre tends to mesh somewhat contradictorily with a more purist technical evaluation of art; Bambi is better in terms of artistic techne, as Joe Rice notes, but someone looking for a horror movie is going to prefer Nightmare to Bambi for that purpose. Now there are certainly horror movies that are better than Nightmare…lots, in fact, in terms of technical merit. (I just nicked Dreyer’s Vampyr at a Criterion half-off sale, which does a better job with dreamlike terror than Nightmare decades ahead of it.)

But that’s only part of lists like this, too: Joe was also onto something when he remarked on those who seem to know of and still dismiss certain high-quality artistic creations. But there’s where the aesthete and the consumer often end up clashing; if you think of comics as a medium in which you seek fleeting entertainments or guilty pleasures, then yeah, you’re not going to enjoy, not going to prefer, . Consumption is about preference; aesthetics are about various notions of merit (truth, beauty, structure, etc.).

Mass media like books, comics, and movies are somewhat troubling in a way plays, paintings, and sculpture aren’t precisely because they’re both consumables and art. I think the argument has to be about how one consumes comics and reads them; it seems to me that many people don’t think of them as something where their tastes are worth the kind of technically-minded work that others think should extend to comics or to all media. And at the same time, every technical critic of comics tends to have a guilt pleasure somewhere in some other medium, a particular work or perhaps a whole medium they exempt from technical critique.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

November 29, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I should add that enjoyment can be a deep or strong experience even when someone’s not thinking of technique. I also think that works that provoke strong enjoyment in lots of different people probably have some serious technical merit that is sometimes tough to articulate.

I had League vol. 2 in my ten. I love both volumes but the second went completely over the top with the War of the Worlds storyline and the intense personal developments between the characters. It’s my favorite book of this decade.

And Weapon X was pretty, but somehow didn’t really affect me. When it was first released it was in the little installments in Marvel Comics Presents, I remember I’d just get into it and then always have to wait until the next issue. I should try reading it as a graphic novel, I bet it’s a completely different experience.
My favorite Smith art is still old Conan and Avengers 98-100.

i think the best barry windsor-smith stuff to get in order to understand his talent/power/influence are three individual issues of x-men he drew in the 80’s, all written by chris claremont during the peak of his reign on the title. issues 186, 198, and 205. issue 186, lifedeath is probably my favorite, a self contained story about storm’s search for her own identity when she loses her powers. issue 198, lifedeath 2, was a sequel of sorts to issue 186. issue 205 is a solo wolverine story that introduced the new lady deathstrike, and is also a great story, albeit a little more expensive to pick up on the back issue market.

windsor-smith’s conan stuff is great, but the storytelling style is a little more out of date and would be harder to get into for younger readers that have only gotten into comics in the last 10-15 years.

i also love his valiant stuff, but it’s all out of print and quite pricey on the back issue market.

but x-men #186 is a whopping $1.30 on http://www.mycomicshop.com so that’s the route i recommend for anyone wanting to see how great barry windsor-smith is.

I still haven’t read any of these winners. I’m wondering if there’ll be anything on this list I know. (Actually, I’m pretty sure at least a couple of stories I’ve read will rank highly.)
I know I have read one issue of Cerberus which I’m certain is from that storyline, and it’s possible all of the issues I’ve read were. (I’ve read four issues altogether.) So at least I’ve read a tiny bit of one of the stories so far.

Artistic merit is extremely hard to quantify, though.

First of all, none of us is really objective. Personal aversion to a specific theme or dislike of a mood invocked by a work will often make one miss or discount any kind of structure that is present in the work.

And even when people try to put feelings aside and quantify things like structure and beauty and truth, there is still room to discuss what is beauty, what is truth, and whether a complex structure is a merit or just a sign of sterility or pretention.

In this very site, I was very amused by a discussion between Chad and Timothy, two comic book critics from this very site, about the merits of Warren Ellis versus Geoff Johns. For all their protestations of rationality and defense of objective worth of Ellis or Johns, it was so clear to me that, at heart, Chad has a love for darkness and cynicism, while Timothy admires warmth and hope. It made me crack a smile, that it’s not their expertise or studies that ultimately define their preferences, but their personalities and emotional desires.

And if it were only a conflict between “how much you enjoyed it,” versus “how high you measured it’s worth.” But there is so much more that goes into this. Some people experience a movie or book or comic endlessly checking it for logical consistency. If a character acted dumb to facilitate the plot, they’ll feel an internal alarm going on. Others don’t bother, and instead absorb the work in a more emphatetic way, trying to get in synch with the author and the author’s intentions.

And still others enjoy or dislike fictional works for their political stances, social stances, or absence of any political/social stance.

The more I mature, the more cynical I become of critics and other people’s perpectives as any proof of objective worth of a fictional work. In this very site, Timothy compared writing to baseball, claiming both to be skills, and that you can say someone is a bad writer just like someone can be a bad baseball player. But there are clear, defined rules in baseball. A team wins, the other loses. There are points.

I still enjoy reading reviews and articles on critical theory, but I must say there are very few critics of anything that I truly respect. Perhaps only a handful. They’re not necessarily the ones that always like the stuff I like, but the ones that seem to approach everything with the same initial enthusiasm, no matter the genre, mood, theme, specific story elements, or any combination of the above.

With each truly great storyline that shows up way back here in the 90s-80s, the more I fear that the top 10-20 will have a disgracefully high concentration of terrible crap.

the BWS Valiant stuff was pretty great too. in my opinion at least. doubt any of it made the list, which it probably shouldn’t anyway.

In the late ’90s, BWS did a series for Dark Horse called BWS: Storyteller. It was an oversized comic with high production values, and featured three serials (Axus, Young Gods, Paradoxman) in 3 different genres (barbarian parody, riff on New Gods kindasorta, sci-fi, respectively). Unfortunately, the series was canceled after 9 issues. Those stories were collected (apparently with previously unreleased material) in three hardcovers. I wish the series lasted longer; each story was funny and exciting, with BWS’s exquisite artwork. Any BWS fan who has not read them, go out and get them. Although unfinished, each serial was terrific.

Additionally, BWS did a graphic novel that reworked his unpublished third Lifedeath story called Adastra in Africa. It’s very good, and features black & white artwork and an amusing “bonus interview” with Adastra.

If you’re looking for a cheap BWS back-issue, he did a Thing story for Marvel Fanfare that was hilarious. I can’t remember the issue number, but the cover features the Thing looking like Hugh Hefner.

Jack Norris-I was afraid of the same thing, but I thought the entire list would be terrible crap, so I’m slightly optimistic after seeing some of these at all. I’m not holding my breath to see Like a Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, though. (Ghost World maybe?)

“I should add that enjoyment can be a deep or strong experience even when someone’s not thinking of technique. I also think that works that provoke strong enjoyment in lots of different people probably have some serious technical merit that is sometimes tough to articulate.”

Oh, definitely. I know sometimes people think I don’t agree, but I definitely do. There are some works that are SO enjoyable and SO entertaining that they’ve actually made amazing craft out of entertainment. They’re often some of my favorite things in the world!

And, Jesus, Mary, what HAVE you read? Every comment I see from you on this site is, “Well, I’ve never read that, but . . .” Have you read, like, five comics in your life?

That “Weapon X” arc was all anyone could talk about when I was, what, 11 or 12? They may have retconned it out as being canon (I think), but it was mindblowing at the time.

I’ve never read enough Cerebus to get as far as Church and State (and to be honest, I’m not all that interested, given what I’ve heard of Sim), and I’ve never read Love and ROckets, to my eternal shame, but I’ve read most of the rest and enjoyed them.

I have read a lot, although probably less than most of the people here. But most of what I’ve read has been Marvel books from before the mid-90s, so that means I’ve missed a lot of what gets discussed here.

“I’ve never read enough Cerebus to get as far as Church and State (and to be honest, I’m not all that interested, given what I’ve heard of Sim), ”

You’re doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t read “Jaka’s Story” (v.5), which was my #2 on the list. Classic stuff. I’d stop there, though (“Melmoth” is throwaway, and the decline starts to set in after that).

Sim gets a bad rap, but Cerebus is a hell of a read.

I have never read Love and Rockets! I’m going to fix that.

I’ve read all of these, but none of them got my vote. LoEG vol 2 was on my shortlist though.

They’re all worthy entries today (though I wasn’t that taken with Jimmy Corrigan or Ras Al Ghul from yesterday’s list)

So far I’ve read 14 of the 15 entries and feeling quite smug!

“”Welcome Back, Frank” is still more memorable than Weapon X, though.”

That is very, very debatable.

Is “Church and State” the longest run on here? It’s a run I’ve always wanted to read, but with over 50 issues…that could take a while to read.

Bernard the Poet

November 30, 2009 at 5:48 am

Joe Rice:-
“And, Jesus, Mary, what HAVE you read? Every comment I see from you on this site is, “Well, I’ve never read that, but . . .” Have you read, like, five comics in your life?”

Is it so surprising? Brian has stated that this poll received votes for nearly a thousand different stories. Personally, I have a limited budget to spend on comics, so I read samples of work from various creators or characters and then if I’m not overly impressed, I don’t continue to buy their work.

So I read some Punisher when Mike Baron was writing it and decided the character wasn’t my cup of tea, I haven’t read anything else with him in it since.

The same goes for most of the stories listed so far. Fables, Cerebus, Wolverine, I tried them and wasn’t wowed by them. In those circumstances, I’m not going to continue handing over money to see if they get any better.

I’m sure I’m not the only person, who uses discrimination when purchasing comics.


I’ve read three out of five of these!

Cerebus, Fables and LoEG…

None of these were on my list, though…

(I voted “High Society” for Cerebus – simply my favourite Cerebus arc.)

Whatever people say about Dave Sim’s view on the world, Cerebus is still a masterpiece!

Similarly, I don’t care that Neal Adams is a Hollow-Earth believer… His art is fantastic!

Bernard, I didn’t say it was hard for me to believe people haven’t read some of this. I was talking to Mary in particular, whose every comment on every post (not just this) seems to be “Well, I’ve never read this.” Of course people haven’t read all these! Few folks have the opportunity to do so. My point is simple: You shouldn’t “meh” or talk shit about things you haven’t read. It’s rude and makes you look foolish. I’m not saying everyone is doing this. I’m not even saying Mary did this; she didn’t.


Oh gotcha – when I read “Oh Jesus, Mary..”, I thought you were abrieviating the phrase, “Oh Jesus, Mary, Mother of God”, which is quite a common exclaimation around my way.

Just finished reading ‘March of Wooden Soldiers’. Terrific story & art. I’ve been catching up with Fables through the TPBs and each one keeps getting better and better. Snow really shows her mettle in directing the battle against the wooden soldiers (who, by the way, were great villains. Polite, mean, and cruel. You stupid meat!)

Church and State – an oldie but a goodie. I miss Mick and Keith.

Death of Speedy – another terrific arc. Gilbert’s work sometimes goes over my head and understanding, but when it comes to Maggie & Hopey, I’m with Jamie all the way. Two of the best characters ever created in comics.

Re: “Jesus, Mary . . .” I wondered about that after I posted it. ha! I should’ve learned . . .I have a kid named Jesus in my class so he always thinks I’m talking to him when I get frustrated.

Love the list so far.

Two for two so far (League of Extraordinary Gentleman), but I’m starting to think my Fables pick (Animal Farm) won’t make the final cut.

“Animal Farm” is a personal favourite of mine, but, no, I can’t see any way it scores higher than “March of the Wooden Soldiers” and “Homelands”, which are generally Fables’ two most popular stories.

Two more from my list this time — Church & State and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Again, I’m glad they made the list. I think it helps to broaden the range of storylines, but, obviously, I wish they placed higher. I voted for a different Fables storyline, but I’m glad to see March of the Wooden Soldiers.

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