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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #75-71

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: As usual, I’ll put the results up here to keep us on time, then fill in the details later)

75. “Planetary” by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (Planetary #1-12) – 132 points (3 first place votes)

Planetary is about a group of (this is what is on the cover of the first issue) “archaeologists of the impossible.”

Essentially, Planetary explores unexplained phenomena and, if there is any practical use to mankind out of said phenomena, they extract it.

The Planetary team consists of the super-strong Jakita Wagner, the “plugged-in” Drummer and the century-old Elijah Snow. The team is funded by the mysterious “Fourth Man.”

The first “season” of Planetary ends with the discovery of WHO the Fourth Man is.

Each issue of Planetary explores the concept of “what if all popular culture characters existed, in some form or another, in the Wildstorm Universe?”

So each issue, Ellis and Cassaday examine a different notable pop culture figure, almost always with analogues for the characters who are not yet in the public domain (Doc Brass, for instance, instead of Doc Savage – John Carter instead of John Constantine, etc.).

As the series goes by, we learn that there is a group out there with an entirely different focus than the Planetary folks – this group wants all of the “super-science” of the world to themselves – they don’t want the rest of the world to have any access to these wonders.

That, and the identity of the Fourth Man, are the key points of plot development over the first 12 issues of Planetary.

Cassaday, for his part, draws in a slightly different style for practically every issue, so as to perfectly meet the needs of the pop culture character being referenced in that issue. It’s quite brilliant work on his part.

And it’s a pretty darn brilliant series period, on Ellis’ part.

74. “Sleeper Season 1″ by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Sleeper #1-12) – 133 points (4 first place votes)

Holden Carver is a super-villain working for the major bad guy, Tao (from Alan Moore’s run on WildC.A.T.S.).

Tao is the smartest person in the world, and can drive you mad just by calmly talking to you (he did so to a member of Stormwatch back in Moore’s WildC.A.T.S. run).

However, he does not know something very important about Holden – Holden is actually an undercover operative for the government!

The only problem is, in the prologue mini-series that led into Sleeper, Holden’s handler, John Lynch, the ONLY person in the world who knew of Carver’s undercover mission, was shot and is now in a coma.

So that’s the gist of Sleeper Season 1, by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips – what do you do when the only person who knows you’re not REALLY a criminal can’t tell anyone that you’re not REALLY a criminal? And how long can you act as a criminal before you actually ARE a criminal?

Besides this great philosophical question, the series contains a good deal of humor, really. Brubaker and Phillips clearly have a blast coming up with off-beat supervillains and their powers. Carver falls hard for one of his fellow villains, Miss Misery, a woman who, while she loves Carver, knows that she literally CANNOT be happy, because she is actually powered by, well, misery. The happier she is, the weaker she is – the meaner and viler she is, the stronger she is.

Phillips “noir” artwork is perfect for the book, as it is perfect for MOST of the books Phillips draws – that’s how good he is.

The series has a couple of game-changers that pop up at the end of the first “season” that make Season 2 extremely unpredictable – the only thing predictable about this series is that every issue was going to be good.

73. “A Game of You” by Neil Gaiman, Colleen Doran, Shawn McManus, Bryan Talbot and many inkers (Sandman #32-37) – 139 points (2 first place votes)

One of the most intriguing aspects of “A Game of You” is the way that Neil Gaiman was able to form a whole story arc just based around a seemingly minor character from an earlier storyline.

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In “A Doll’s House,” Barbie was one of the inhabitants of a boarding house who got caught up in the dream vortex of Rose Walker.

Now, months later, Barbie (who once dreamed of being a princess in a fairy tale land) no longer dreams.

She lives in an apartment building with a few different folks, including a lesbian couple, Hazel and Foxglove, and Barbie’s best friend, Wanda, who was born a man.

However, circumstances reveal that Barbie’s dream land (which she no longer dreams of) is in trouble, and she is needed to stop the evil Cuckoo from destroying all the people of “The Land.” She does so, but unbenown to her, the Cuckoo has agents on Earth, as well!

Luckily, another denizen of the apartment building is the witch, Thessaly (who became a major player in the Sandman mythos). Thessaly helps stop an attack on Barbie, and then goes into “The Land” herself, along with Hazel and Foxglove, to help Barbie (in The Land, she’s Princess Barbie).

And then, of course, Morpheus is drawn into the situation.

It’s an engaging tale by Gaiman made up of interesting, well-formed characters (Wanda is one of the best depictions of a transgendered character in all of comics) on a fantastical journey.

The art has some issues, though, do to more than one artist being rushed in their work.

71 (tie). “The Magus Saga” by Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom and Steve Leialoha (Strange Tales #178-181, Warlock #9-11) – 140 points (3 first place votes)

When 1975 rolled around, Jim Starlin had already made a name for himself for his striking revamp of the floundering Captain Marvel title, mostly through bringing in a villain Starlin had invented a little while earlier on an Iron Man fill-in, Thanos.

The Darkseid-riff became a very formidable foe for Captain Marvel, and the book gained a great deal of critical acclaim. Starlin had just left the book after finishing up the “Thanos Saga” in the title.

He was not done, however, with cosmic stories. Taking the same approach he had used with Captain Marvel (take over a minor character and then do whatever he wanted with it), Starlin began using the little used Adam Warlock in the lead story in Strange Tales.

When this work was later reprinted in 1992 (after already being reprinted in the 12980s), it was hyped as “Before the Infinity Gauntlet, there was Warlock!” and really, that’s what this was – beginning in Strange Tales #178 and staying in that book for a few issues before going over to Warlock’s own title (which had gone belly-up a few years earlier, but was not continued with #9 for Starlin’s story), Starlin introduced many of the same characters and ideas that he would later re-visit in the Infinity Gauntley.

Pip the Troll and Gamora (“The most dangerous woman in the universe”) both made their debuts here, as compatriots of Adam Warlock as he tried to stop the Universal Church of Truth. This tyrannical religious institution was led by the Magus, who turned out to be the evil future self of Adam Warlock himself!

Eventually, Thanos came into the picture, as well, giving him probably his most prominent storyline at the time, as we get to see the somewhat anti-hero nature of Thanos that Starlin liked working with.

The whole thing wrapped up nicely with a clever idea by Starlin and a bold sacrifice by Warlock that would later be re-visited when Starlin drew his cosmic stories to a close in 1977 (of course, he would then bring them all back in the early 1990s for Infinity Guantlet).

Starlin’s Magus storyline in Warlock was highly acclaimed at the time – Starlin was trying stuff and making allegories about religion and politics that you just didn’t see in superhero comics of the 1970s, and the stories hold up well still today (although I’d like to see the stories collected in something other than a Masterworks edition – they can call it Annihilation Classic: Magus Saga, if they want!).

71 (tie). “Coming Home” by J.M. Straczynski, John Romita, Jr. and Scott Hanna (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #30-35) – 126 points (3 first place votes) – 140 points (6 first place votes)

“Coming Home” is the first story arc by writer J.M. Straczynski, who would pretty much define the character of Spider-Man for the next five plus years.

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In this first story, Straczynski introduces two major plot elements that would persist throughout his run on the title (three if you count Peter becoming a school science teacher).

The first of them is the notion that perhaps it was not the radiation that made the spider who bit Peter give him powers, but perhaps the spider ITSELF had powers, and that Peter Parker is following in the long line of totemic spider spirits. Initially, Straczynski kept this idea vague, in that perhaps it WAS true or perhaps it was not, but later issues made it more explicit.

The second was Aunt May discovering Peter’s secret identity.

Between those two moments, though, was the introduction of Morlun, a live-sucking vampire who seeks out Peter to drain him of his life force. Morlun is one of the most formidable foes Spider-Man has ever faced, especially because while Spider-Man is no stranger to the idea of running away to regroup for a later battle, Morlun knows how to take advantage of Peter’s deep sense of responsibility to prevent him from running away – just put innocents in danger and Spider-Man will be forced to spring into action!

John Romita Jr. does a marvelous job on this story arc, especially the battle sequences, as Spider-Man suffers brutal blow after brutal blow.

Eventually, Peter devises some way out of the situation (he IS the hero of the book!), but JMS sure does not make it easy for him!

This was a strong opening to JMS’ long association with the character.


Jeez, A Game Of You is my least favorite Sandman story, by far.

First hit with A Game of You for me. I thought it was amazing.

It’s also the only one I read from this batch.

I’ve read all of these except Warlock.

Planetary is decent and Sleeper is excellent, but both of these runs felt like a series of one part stories rather than distinct arcs. Otherwise Sleeper might well have made my list.

A Game of You isn’t one of the Sandman arcs that I particularly like – but there’s plenty of time for the ones I did to turn up. Spider-Man: Coming Home was very good, but it promised a lot of goodness that wasn’t quite delivered.

The Magus saga was so great. Anybody know if a softcover is on the cards for next year or so?

The Crazed Spruce

December 2, 2009 at 4:18 am

Haven’t read either of them (although I may have read an issue or two of “Coming Home”, depending on what story arc that is), and I don’t think I’ve even heard of “Sleeper”. I’m sure it’s good, though, since it made the list. Can’t wait to read the details of the story.

I do prefer Magus Saga , it was Jim Starlin `s best story , with all the elements of a good and classic superherostory , the sacrifice , a lot of cool heroes and villans , Thanos at his best reimaging , and Warlock with his tragic journey , and tortured soul , which made the ultimate sacrifice and at the last moment save the day , wins the redemptions and curses his nemesis to became a statue and never dies , he who loves the death . Jim Starlin rocks.

30 storylines in and I’m batting .000. I’m either really good or really bad at this.

A Game of You is for me the best single Sandman storyline.

It’s the one that bears the most resemblance to a standalone horror film or novel but it’s way above the quality of most of them.

I think Gaiman was at the peak of his powers and benefited from a story slightly removed from the usual Sandman territory, focusing more on human characters. It has the most disturbing ideas and images, most thoughtful examination of dreams and fantasy, and (I would say) best character and scene-writing.

Could the reason that it’s ranked comparatively low have anything to do with the fact that its story and characters are very female-dominated?

Sleeper is also excellent, but I can’t see why Amazing Spider-Man is this high.

A Game of You is the best Sandman storyline, for me.

Gaiman was at the peak of his powers and benefited from a story somewhat outside of the usual Sandman domain, featuring mostly human characters.

It’s got the most disturbing ideas and images, most thoughtful examination of dreams and fantasy, and I would say, best character and scene-writing.

Could the reason it’s ranked comparatively low have anything to do with the fact that in story, themes and characters, it is very female-dominated?

Sleeper is excellent too, but I can’t see why Amazing Spider-Man is this high.


I’ve heard that A Game Of You argument before and I don’t buy it. To name a few I love Love And Rockets, Strangers In Paradise, The Ballad Of Halo Jones, Grendel: Devil’s Legacy and Ghost World, which are all what you might call “female-dominated”.
The reason I don’t care for AGOY is simply because, except for World’s End, I find it the weakest Sandman storyline in every aspect. The early issues have the storytelling excellence, the later issues have the accumulated emotional impact. But AGOY falls rather flat for me storywise, characterwise, artwise, themewise. It’s not that it’s a bad comic, it’s just that every other Sandman storyline is better.

A Game of You is also my favorite Sandman story. But perhaps that is because we have a rare instance of a transgendered character being depicted so wonderfully.

Coming Home! Finally, one of my votes show up! Easily my favorite Spider-man story. JMS really “got” Peter Parker/Spider-man. He was selfless, a genius, brave, strong, funny, and caring. Ezekiel was an interesting addition to the Spidey mythos, and Peter Parker got a job as a science teacher. A few issues down the road, Aunt May became an actual character and learned Pete was Spider-man(Fantastic issue, by the way). It really felt like the series was moving forward(especially compared to BND >_>). It also has my favorite comic book fight period between Morlun and Spidey. Romita JR really outdid himself on that one. Glad to see I wasn’t alone in loving this story.

Haven’t read Sleeper, but its by the “Criminal” team of Brubaker/Philips, so I’m sure its awesome.

I didn’t really like Planetary. You would think Ellis and Cassaday doing tributes to pulp fiction and comic books would be right up my alley, but it was just…ok. I read the first trade, liked a few of the stories, and had zero interest to read anymore of them.

Sandman! I…really need to start reading more of that.

Game of You is also my favourite arc (and the only one I voted for here). Glad to see it on the list, but wish it were a little higher. At least I got one on the list (I expect my Shade: The Changing Man arcs won’t make the cut).

A Game of You is the greatest out of all the great Sandman stories. I’m speaking here as a man who used to ascribe personalities to my toys, with the kind of forgotten imagination that I might easily have referred to the sun’s reflection as “the brightly shining sea”… I’ve even had dreams about the characters that my childhood toys produced, the same as Barbie did. The idea that those old characters might still exist somewhere, even if the toys are long gone, was enough to interest me.The emotional punch of the revelation of the Cuckoo, was devastating. Anyone who relied on their imagination as a child must feel the same way. For all the myriad directions that Gaiman sent Sandman in, this was the most guttural, the most pure emotion evoked by the series.

Warlock and Planetary both made my top 20 but not my top ten. Good to see them both, especially since not one of my top 10 have appeared thus far (and yet that god-awful Bucky America has– Good Grief.)

Would the subsequent Marvel Team-Up and Avengers Annual issues wherein we see the other side of the Strange Death of Adam Warlock count as part of the same story?


Interesting notes – Brubaker overtakes Moore. I’m sure he’s got some more entries with Captain America, Criminal, and maybe Gotham Central? His first story arc of his DD run was incredible, and I’d like to see it on here. Putting what Planetary in a decade was kinda hard, since the first six issues were from ’99, and the last six from the 21st century. I decided to include it in the 2000s since most of the series came out this decade, as hard as that is to believe.

-12 of these stories are Marvel-related

-2 of these stories are DC-related
-5 of these stories are Vertigo-related
-2 of these stories are Wildstorm-related(so thats 9 DC entries if you combine them)

-19 of these are superhero stories, or close enough
-11 of these are non-superhero related

-2000s(15 entries, 1800 points)
-1990s(7 entries, 753 points)
-1980s(5 entries, 533 points)
-1970s(3 entries, 372 points)

By Writer:

-Brubaker (3 entries, 376 points)
-Moore (3 entries, 324 points)
-Ellis (2 entries, 252 points)
-Willingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Buckingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Sim (2 entries, 220 points)
-Bendis (2 entries, 216 points)
-Ennis (2 entries, 208 points)
-JMS (1 entry, 140 points)
-Starlin (1 entry, 140 points)
-Gaiman (1 entry, 139 points)
-Javier Grillo-Marxuach (1 entry, 131 points)
-D’n’A (1 entry, 131 points)
-Furman (1 entry, 131 points)
-Keith Grifen (1 entry, 131 points)
-Thomas (1 entry, 127 points)
-Vaughan (1 entry, 126 points)
-Fraction (1 entry, 115 points)
-J. Hernandez (1 entry, 110 points)
-Windsor-Smith (1 entry, 106 points)
-O’Neil (1 entry, 105 points)
-G. Hernandez (1 entry, 102 points)
-Smith (1 entry, 102 points)
-Ware (1 entry, 100 points)
-Rosa (1 entry, 100 points)
-Morrison (1 entry, 100 points)

How many points/first place votes did the Spider-man story get?

I love Planetary beyond words. I’ve read and re-read it a dozen times. But I would count the whole series as one, long storyline.

I’ve never really liked A Game of You. I find the writing uneven and the whole tragic-death-of-the-tranny-followed-by-the-plucky-rebellion-of-the-noble-breeder-striking-a-small-blow-against-intolerance both cloying and toxic

I do love Thessaly, though. And who doesn’t love Hazel and Foxglove?

I’ve not read the other stories on display here.

I didn’t posit that as a reason why you might not like the story. Just as a possible explanation for why it has ended up as the lowest-ranked Sandman storyline on the list (I’m expecting Brief Lives and Season of Mists at least to figure also).

I’m guessing we had another invocation of Rule 9 for Planetary?

Because I voted for “The Fourth Man”… :-)

Glad to see JMS’ Spider-man represented. I was really enjoying his take on Peter (until OMD screwed it all up).

Never understood all the baloney about the totem outcry… JMS was very ambiguous – Ezekiel was playing Peter all along, so the totem idea was something that you could take or leave as you wished. Besides, JMS made a good case for it, looking at all the “Animal-themed” villians and heros in his microverse and some of the others in the Marvel U… but he NEVER said “This is Peter’s true origin”…

I also liked the Aunt May resolution and the costuem desgner issue, too!

Is ‘breeder’ a derogatory term? Just wondering. Every time I ever heard a gay man use it, it sounded derogatory to me.

Also, there are two point totals for the Spider-Man story. I’m assuming the 126 points 3 First Place Votes is a typo.

My third hit with Planetary. I also voted for Sandman but not A Game of You. It was a damn good arc but not my favourite, I gave my vote to Brief Lives which I think is probably the best Sandman arc. Hopefully it shows up later.
Never read Sleeper, heard some good things, maybe some day. (Actualy just picked up the first Criminal trade).
Never read Warlock. Was not a fan of JMS run on Spider-man. Nothing against it, it just didn’t work for me.
Interesting how much Brubaker there is on here and you just now he’s not done. There will be more.
I’m thinking there will definetly be more Warren Ellis and there is for sure some Grant coming up but i think most of his stuff will be in the top fifty. Flex Mentallo should be #1. If you’ve read it, i’m sure you agree with me (well, maybe not #1 but definetly one of the top 10).

Flex Mentallo is to Morrison what Marvelman is to Moore. Its out of print and not many people read it, but the ones that have love it, some even say its his best work. Morrison sitting at the bottom right now, but I have no doubt he’ll shoot up into the top 5 before this is over.

How about a TOP 100 Single Issue Comics/Stories? After of course, you have recovered from compiling/counting the votes for the Top 100 Storylines and Top 75 Iconic DC Covers.

I’ve only read the first season of Sleeper. I need to catch up on Planetary and Sandman, and on the rest of Sleeper actually.

Agreed A game of you was weak and felt preachy.
Planetary is great though a bit muddled in parts.

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 2, 2009 at 7:29 am

I’ve read all of the storylines, and am surprised that Sleeper wasn’t higher up on the list and that the Sandman is bit lower.

I’m intrigued that Game of You seems to be either the weak point or the high point of the series. I’m in the “weak point” camp, primarily because I can never remember anything about it, even though I’ve read it 2 or 3 times. I certainly plan on revisiting it after reading about how enthusiastic some are for that part of the series.

Long story short, I think I voted for The Kindly Ones as my Sandman pick.

Kinda surprised by the ASM storyline. Not because I think it’s terrible or anything (personally, I liked a lot of what JMS was doing before he went crazy w/Sins of the Past and JRJr is always golden in my book, but it wasn’t one of my favorites) but because “the Internet”, collectively, always seemed to disdainful of it, especially the spider totem stuff.

I haven’t read the Warlock story; I’ll have to check it out sometime.

Planetary, Sleeper, Sandman, no surprises there.

“Is ‘breeder’ a derogatory term? Just wondering. Every time I ever heard a gay man use it, it sounded derogatory to me.”

Yes. But not nearly as derogatory as “tranny.”

“Coming Home”? Really? It was decent at best, but it wasn’t anything that belongs on this list.

-The question that would rock Spidey’s world (Was the spider trying to give you powers when radiation killed it?) was incredibly stupid and nonsensical, and led to the incredibly stupid and nonsensical The Other storyline

-Morlun was a non-starter as a super villain, a plot device and nothing else. And “Spidey fights villain who just won’t stop coming” has been done before multiple times.

-Ezekiel is a d-bag. He’s always been a d-bag. From the beginning, he’s talking in riddles, rattling Peter’s cage, and refusing to just give him a straight answer. And that’s before it was revealed that Morlun was, in all likelihood, coming for him, not Pete.

-It drags on for six issues, including stopping the momentum entirely for a “Spider-Man deals with a real-life problem” issue. And a cliched one, at that.

-The conclusion raises the very important philosophical issue of whether or not Spidey should kill Morlun, and then side-steps it entirely.

Frankly, this story only looks good in comparison to what it immediately followed. And JMS did better in his run; the New Avengers arc, for example.

It’s weird to hear people talking about stuff being too low or too high given that we’ve only seen entries 71-100.

I was called a breeder by a lesbian friend a while ago.
I have no kids, she has rwo of them.
I’m still trying to figure it out.


Totally agree with E.Wilson.

“I’m sure he’s got some more entries with Captain America, Criminal, and maybe Gotham Central?”

The most likely arc from ‘Gotham Central’ is probably “Half a Life”, and he didn’t write that.

Read three of the five; never read the Magus Saga (not read much of Starlin apart from “Infinity Gauntlet”, which was decent), or “Coming Home”. I can see why the latter is here, though – it came as a real breath of fresh air at the end of a very turbulent period in Spider-history (though, in retrospect, it was just an interregnum).

The first twelve issues of “Planetary” are good. I’ve always been of two minds about Planetary; it’s got a lot of interesting ideas and great technical merits, but the actual stories often seem a bit flat to me. Plenty of great moments there, though; faux-Marvelman’s rant at the Moore-proxy before getting blown away is classic.

“Sleeper” was excellent; heh, in the previous thread I predicted we’d definitely see ‘Death of Cap’ and possibly one or two other things, with this being one of them.

“A Game of You” really surprised me. It didn’t do much for me when I read it.

Jumping into the AGOY discussion here I think a part of why the story might suffer a bit (and it does for me, though I can’t bring myself to call any of the Sandman arcs ‘bad’) is possibly the art. It’s a little weak and rushed in places (as has been publicly documented in some places) and it’s entirely possible that under a better/ less rushed pencil/pen/brush the story would have a bit more resonance.

That’s one possibility anyways. (One I like to refer to as the ‘Igor Kordey Theory’)

Planetary is too good for this world, though I’m surprised it made the list to be honest. I always considered it one big body of work.

though i didn’t vote for planetary, it’s nice to see it on here. is it really a storyline though? or just a series of great issues? i think the latter, but again, it’s great, so i won’t quibble with it being on the list.

i also fall in the game of you camp that thought it was the weakest of the series (along with world’s end). i initially thought we might not see much sandman on the list because so many people voted for a sandman arc, but likely we all picked different ones to vote for (i voted for doll’s house, but almost chose brief lives). but with a game of you turning up, with what feels like a lot of people disliking it, i now think we could see as many as 5 sandman arcs show up, as dolls house, seasons of mist, brief lives, and preludes are all possibly regarded higher than a game of you and potentially got more votes. i also wonder if death: the high cost of living could show up? it nearly made my vote. do others like it as much as me?

haven’t read sleeper yet, but just reserved it at the library.

interesting to see the warlock story, because, so far, it’s the only story on the list not available in trade (though i guess the scrooge story is out of print). brian- how many more stories will we be seeing like that? hopefully some miracleman. do enough people like flex mentallo? i’ve never been able to find it. also maybe the x-men proteus saga and the death of jean dewolfe, but both of those are at least available in wizard masterpiece hardcovers (both of which i have and are very good buys, btw).

C’mon, people: the main reason that AGOY suffers, popularity-wise, can be put down to the simple fact that it’s a long story in which the title character barely appears at all (and, of that, almost all only at the end as a deus ex machina). Nothing else is required. People who were reading Sandman for Morpheus and his immediate supporting cast we never going to rate it highly, and that’s a lot of the book’s audience.

I expect fully Doll’s House, Brief Lives, and The Kindly Ones to make their appearances on this list, and Season of Mists is my best bet for a spoiler to kick one out of Watchmen and DKR out of the top two, but with AGOY as the lowest, I wonder if any of the other arcs (Preludes & Noctures, the Wake, World’s End) or the other Gaiman possibilities (Books of Magic, either Death mini, Miracleman:The Golden Age. I don’t consider either marvel project a real contender.) will make the cut…


just my two cents, i don’t think shawn mcmanus’ art is what detracts people from a game of you. i thought the worst art of the entire series was mike dringenberg, and doll’s house is the story i voted for!

i just think the arc of a game of you’s plot feels unsatisfying, and it also feels like one of the only stories in the series that doesn’t advance the arc of the morpheus character. this may be why i like brief lives so much, because it’s the story that we most see who morpheus really is and what makes him tick.

This entire A Game of You discussion is quite fascinating. I think it’s fair to say that according to this list, AGOY is the worse Sandman story. However, I believe there isn’t such a thing as a bad Sandman story (at least those written by Gaiman) even if the opening arc and a couple of the one shots are of lesser caliber. It’s my personal opinion that the opening arc is probably the worse part of Sandman in the sense that it was still really anchored in the DCU but that doesn’t change the fact that the first arc is a very important story for the series.
So what is there to say about the execution of AGOY and its importance in the Sandman mythos? Well for the art, weither you like McManus or not it was nice to have an Sandman story done mostly by one artist after having most of the series, up to that point, draw and ink by quite the rotating cast but I can’t give to much credit to this because there’s a full issue (more maybe? can’t remember so well) that is done my someone other than McManus. That’s about all I have to say for execution.
Regardless weither you liked or disliked AGOY, you have to acknowledge the importance of the story. It introduces and uses some very important characters of the series, not only for Sandman but for the Death minis as well. We get to see a very well excecuted characterization of Hazel and Foxglove, Barbie (who’s showed up before this story), Thessaly (who will plays an interesting role in The Kindly Ones) and of course, Wanda who is probably the most important character of these issues. Why? Because AGOY is about identity. More importantly, it’s about how identities can or cannot change and that, of course, ties right into the main element of the whole 75 issues of Sandman, change or the inability to change.
To conclude this already too long post, A Game of You is most likely the most emotional of all the Sandman storylines. Wanda’s part of the story is perticularly emotional. It was so well done that the reader can not help but feel all these emotions while reading the story. If you say you didn’t or don’t, you’re lying to yourself (i’m not saying you were bawling in the corner, but it definetly tugs at yee ole heart strings). AGOY you is not my favourite Sandman story but even the worse Sandman story is a better story than some that have already made it on this list.

As for all the other Sandman stories, I think that Brief Lives, Seasons of Mist and Dolls House will show up on the list. The appearance of AGOY, widely regarded as one of the worse stories of Sandman, announces the arrival of the other stories to show up later.The Kindly One, even though it is a great story, is long, justifiably so, but it does take a ceratin toll on the reader.
I voted for Brief Lives. Sandman’s relation with his son being my reason for giving it my vote as opposed to another storyline.

Ok, im done talking about Sandman for today! :D sorry guys and gals!

My favorite issues of Planetary are #2 & 3, but I couldn’t figure out how to vote for them since they’re so self-contained. I think I ended up voting for “Planetary v. the Four” or something, and I’m not sure how that would have been counted.

Also voted for Sleeper, which I think is Brubaker’s best work to date (not that there isn’t some stiff competition). Three out of ten so far.

While A Game of You wasn’t my favorite Sandman story, I liked McManus’ artwork. He did a great job rendering both the fairytale world & characters and “reality.” The scenes in which the various characters’ dreams are exposed and then start merging are excellent. Being a big softie, I got a little choked up when Wanda appears in the dream at the end looking beautiful.

This is the first chunk of the countdown in which I’ve read every storyline. I’m averaging 3 or 4 per chunk.

When Coming Home was being serialized, I really enjoyed it. It felt like a fresh take on Spider-Man, and I liked seeing him become a teacher. Too bad the JMS run went awry.

Good to see Planetary here, I actually read the first three books since voting.

Coming Home was alright, probably the most likely to make this list from JMS’ run, though I enjoyed some of his other stories a bit more.

Put me in the camp that considers AGOY as my least favorite Sandman arc. It started off interestingly enough, but the unsatisfying ending made it a forgetable arc. Didn’t help that Morpheus wasn’t present for almost the entire arc. Season’s of the Mist, Brief Lives, and Doll’s House will be on this list I’m sure. Kindly One made my top 10 – amazing story that pulled so much from his earlier arcs together.

Morrison wil have strong representation on this list after its completely revealed.

Fun list – its on my agenda to check every day at lunch.

A Game Of You seems to be really marmite amongst Sandman fans. I’d place it about the middle if I had to rank them – for me, The Kindly Ones is easily the worst run. It’ll be interesting to see which Sandman run ranks highest. Any out of The Doll’s House, Season Of Mists and Brief Lives would make me very happy. Or The Wake, for that matter.

Damn, I must re-read Sandman.

Amazing Spiderman’s Going home was a great story. I miss JMS on Spiderman.

When I was considering voting for a Sandman arc, my choice was “Season of Mists” – but really, most of my favourite Sandman stuff came in standalone issues, not arcs (the various Hob stories, Emperor Norton, Augustus, etc.). I’m the rare person who considers the first arc one of my favourites; “The Kindly Ones” is probably my least-favourite, a lot of that having to do with the art.

A Game of You is probably my second favorite Sandman arc. Doll’s House edges it out for me. Probably the fanciful morbiity of a serial killer’s conference. Though I do agree with Sean that the standalone stories were the best.

since everyone’s got sandman on the mind, how ’bout people’s favorite moments from the series?

a close runner up for me is in issue 73 when hob gadling decides to live…

but the best moment for me in the series is in issue 69, when death and morpheus are talking-

death: “destruction simply left. took down his sigil, said he wasn’t responsible for the realm of destruction anymore, that it was no longer his affair, and took off into the forever. you could have done that.”

dream: “no. i could not.”

then a silent panel in which death looks at dream as though she finally really knows him for the first time.

death: “no, you couldn’t, could you?”

to me, that interaction was the entire series in a microcosm.

in all of my fictions, i tend to be most drawn to stories in which people find or discover some aspect of themselves that they had either previously ignored, or not known entirely. sandman is really a series about morpheus’ discovery of himself- what he is capable of, and what he is certainly not capable of. the above moment is when death, and the audience, finally see what morpheus has discovered within himself.

So many good ones. The reveal of the Cuckoo in A Game of You gets me every time I read it, and Thessaly nailing George’s face and eyes to the wall is as gruesomely macabre as that early issue where everyone kills each other in the diner.

I agree that the best collection as a whole is Fables & Reflections. My favorite single issues are Calliope, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Three Septembers and a January, August, the one in the French Revolution and the one about Marco Polo. The Orpheus and Eurydice tale is a great retelling of the myth.

Ramadan is great too and the cut at the end to modern Iraq has to be one of the best moments in Sandman.

A lot of it is down to the art. Gaiman was incredibly lucky with all his artists. Even Sam Keith at the start was better you might think. Like the artist in Augustus perfectly evokes the clean, marble structures of Ancient Rome that the story relies on. And Shawn McManus’ art in A Game of You is the balance between childlike and sinister that the story requires.

Daniel O' Dreams

December 2, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I actually find it surprising that there are comic fans out there who don’t like Planetary. Not questioning anyone’s taste just saying I’ve never heard any negatives about it (except the obvious lateness).

AGOY wasn’t my favorite Sandman arc either, but I think it’s placed right in the list as long as Season Of Mists, Brief Lives and The Kindly Ones are also present.

I think “breeder” isn’t so much derogatory as condescending, it seems to be saying “you exist only to breed more of us.” Being able to breed is seldom a bad thing.

“Inbreeder”, on the other hand…

Daniel O' Dreams

December 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Can Fables And Reflections be considered a story arc? It is pretty much unconnected single issue stories.(Remember when ALL comics were like that?) I wouldn’t have voted for it for that reason. They are brilliant. Now I have to reread Sandman…

Still nothing that I’ve read. (Do I even belng here?)
I do have Avengers Annual #7, though, with Warlock’s death from the other point of view, so that’s something, I guess.

I don’t know why I didn’t vote for the Magus story. Oh, I guess I do. But I feel bad about it..

Planetary : Absolutely deserves to be here.

Sleeper : I think I’ve said this before (I think in the “Runs” list), but shoehorning this book into the Wildstorm U was this series’ greatest flaw. Who really needed the more fantastic elements? This book’s true grit is what people read for!

Sandman : Ech, Neil Gaiman writes for teenage girls and Joss Whedon is his lighter alternative… Deal with that reality…

Magus : This list is really clueing me into all of these long-since-lost-a-step writers’ (and by that, I just mean that they aren’t controlling or contributing to the architecture of their publisher’s universe as much as they once did) more notable past works and I’m grateful that I’ll be able to possibly appreciate writers like Starlin, Moench, and Thomas later on…

Spider-Man : You have to give this arc something, considering it was the first readable “in-continuity” Spidey story of the 21st century and easily the best arc of “Amazing” since McFarlane and Michellinie’s run, but I agree with earlier comments. This story delivered a punch I wasn’t expecting* and I got pretty hyped up about the book’s future, but Straczynski (funny he b*tched about all the “magic” in “One More Day”) fell off the rails not even a year into his tenure with all that Doctor Strange stuff and over-romantic whining about MJ in the ensuing arc. And the less said about “Sins Past”, any of the stuff working around “events”, and “One More Day” (although I still love Joe Q’s art on it) the better…

*Anytime I can read anything drawn by Romita Jr. and not think, “This guy used to be passable in the Marvel “House Style” of the late 70s and early 80s, but now, sheesh… C’mon, would any publisher hire him if he didn’t have that name and his dad wasn’t who he is???” has to be well-written…

Yay! Warlock’s here! My second one on the list!

Wasn’t expecting to see Game of You or Coming Home, but no argument with either one, I liked ‘em. In fact, I really liked that Spidey arc, probably the last Spidey story I really liked (glad I jumped ship before all the Osborn/Gwen grossness).

I do wonder what percentage of people who aren’t fond of A Game of You were people who, like myself, read it during its initial serialization back in 1991/1992. If I remember correctly, the behind-the-scenes problem was due to Shawn McManus getting dragged into an extended stint of jury duty, but at the time all anyone knew was the book started running late and getting peppered full of fill-in artists. (Plus, seeing Colleen Doran’s pencils get turned into something unrecognizable didn’t help matters on that front.)

It definitely reads better as a collected edition, but even then—perhaps because of my memories from reading it issue-by-issue at the time—it still comes across slightly disjointed to me. A Game of You isn’t one of my favorite stories, but there are lots of little moments that I think are fantastic.

Add me to the “least favorite” list for “A Game of You.” McManus’ art is an important reason for that– just felt to me like a terrible match for Sandman in general and for the waking-world parts of that story in particular. It’s grown on me over the years, but I actively disliked it when it was first published.

daniel: The Warlock storyline is available in Marvel Masterworks Warlock Volume 2, released earlier this year.

Enjoying these posts and comments, by the way. As of the latest five added, I fell below 50% in regard to how many I’ve read (14/30 so far).

S. Laz : Nice to see someone else with the gusto to be tabulating “reads” and “not reads”… 17/30 over here…


It’s early yet, but the totals do seem to demonstrate a severe skewing towards postmodern / current works and authors so far. I feared this would be the case. I hope the trend changes as the listings progress.

I’m with you on that skewing, brah…

As much as the trade has been a boon to true comics fans, I think it is sorely to blame for most of this countdown’s placement (name your reason, there are plenty). It’s all fun nonetheless, though (as long as Eastman & Laird’s original TMNT run gets in somewhere)…

I’ve read 12 of 30 right now (I only had in the first 10 revealed); progressively more the farther up the list we go, interestingly.

That should be “1 in the first 10″.

As to the idea of a skew, well, speaking as someone born in 1987, I much prefer stories in a more modern and mature style. One can appreciate older stuff in many ways, but it’s not quite the same when you’re determining “favourites”.

If this was a “top 100 most important stories” poll, I would have filled out my ballot much differently.

Leave it to the guy who says Gaiman is for teenage girls to use the word “brah” non-ironically in a comment.

Hey Dave,

That “brah” WAS supposed to be ironic…

And honestly, you tell me who 80% Neil Gaiman’s lines at conventions are comprised of…

And it’s nothing against Gaiman, I’m just sick of these geek-light folks (the LCDs who bend a little geek-ish, but wouldn’t dare step foot in a direct market comic shop… You know, people who thought “Heroes” was original & good in the first place…) thinking that he’s the only serious comics writer out there but not being able to name one comics work other than “Sandman” that he’s done …

I like enough of his work, I just think he gets to ride the Sandman train for the rest of his career in comics and keeping his “low comics output – mass market appeal” in check while other Vertigo founders who made equally notable, and in my humble opinion superior work (in the case of “Shade : The Changing Man”) have been putting in steady work for decades and don’t even get chump-changed respect (think Milligan, Delano, & Morrison)…

I actually really like “Coming Home” a lot, it’s probably one of my favorite Spider-Man stories, now that I think about it.

I was actually kind of put off by Sleeper’s “first season.” I’m glad I stuck with the book though, since season 2 is leaps and bounds better.

And of course, as others have said, Planetary deserves to be here.

Sean C: “The first twelve issues of “Planetary” are good. I’ve always been of two minds about Planetary; it’s got a lot of interesting ideas and great technical merits, but the actual stories often seem a bit flat to me. Plenty of great moments there, though; faux-Marvelman’s rant at the Moore-proxy before getting blown away is classic.”

i completely agree. The “if you didn’t want me, you should have just bloody ignored me” scene might my favorite part of the whole book.

joshua nelson-

i don’t think morrison ever gets “chump-changed.” a lot of people these days retro-actively place him higher than moore or gaiman. but in general, moore, gaiman, and morrison all get regarded on relatively equal terms, and deservedly so. milligan and delano, on the other hand, aren’t regarded on the same level because they’re simply not as good. i’m not knocking either of them. i’ve read a decent amount of work from both, including the bulk of their runs on shade, hellblazer, and animal man, and, for the most part, i’ve enjoyed them. i also think delano’s captain britain might have been just as good as moore’s. you may even recall that milligan placed two runs on the top 100 runs list this site did a while back. but all that being said, milligan and delano, while being talented writers who have produced good works, aren’t even remotely in the same ballpark as moore, gaiman, and morrison. to steal a phrase from pulp fiction, they ain’t even in the same fucking sport. just like in sports, there’s a far cry from guys that are occasional all-stars, and guys that are first ballot hall of famers.

I agree with both you guys.

One, Sandman is really, really good. Probably the greatest longform work in comic history. But to put him above guys like Moore and Morrison, who have consistently been putting out high quality, oftentimes masterful work for over two decades now…that always struck me as odd.

Two, Peter Milligan and Jamie Delano(less so, from what I’ve read) are very good, but Morrison/Moore/Gaiman they aint.

(Raises Hand)
I’m the guy, I guess, who finds Morrison extremely overrated. It’s not that he’s bad, but he’s second-tier, with Busiek and Ostrander and Ennis and Ellis, not top-tier with Moore and Gaiman and Wagner and (when not insane) Sim and Miller…

Hey Daniel,

Point well taken about Morrison’s revisionist rise, especially post -“All-Star Superman” (guilty as charged on praising that series)… I still don’t think he ever gets put on the Moore/Gaiman pedestal, but I think that has everything to do with exposure. Gaiman and Moore were infiltrating Barnes & Noble / Borders style stores before they even had a proper section for comics. Remember when they’d throw something like “Ghost World” in Sci-Fi just because it was a comic?

Anyway, since you stated it and I’m obviously in agreement on the fact, why do people put Moore and Gaiman in the same league (other than their careers slightly intertwining though publishers and characters)? To me, it just seems like the sheer quality AND quantity of Moore’s work dwarf’s Gaiman’s… Not trying to give you homework here, but I figured you could at least offer me an objective counterpoint.

Plus, it was nice that you didn’t jump on that “brah” (which I meant “ironically” since we were talking about our scores like to sports fans but referring to comics) to make your point. I should know that certain things are going to get lost when you say them over a message board as opposed to real life, but I never thought I’d be mistaken for a meatheaded jock when I’m waxing academic about COMIC BOOKS!

And only because I’m in qualifying mode, when I said, “(which I meant “ironically” since we were talking about our scores like to sports fans but referring to comics)” I meant, (which I meant “ironically” since we were talking about our scores like 2 sports fans but referring to comics)…

I have no idea how that happened, at least it wasn’t a your/you’re mix-up…

Honestly, I think Peter Milligan is better than Gaiman, but he’s often inconsistent. His good works are amazing and plentiful (i.e. Shade, Animal Man, X-Statix, and his early Batman stuff), but his bad works, while few, just suck. Gaiman, on the other hand, is generally good, but horribly overrated and often mediocre. His worst is better than Milligan’s worst, but his best is not as good as Milligan’s best.

Morrison trumps all, of course.

P.S. A Game of You is the weakest Sandman story by far. Mostly due to George Pratt’s inking in the middle chapter and the confusing and convoluted (to me at least) “resolution.” It’s funny, too — George Pratt is a very good artist, but his inking on the Sandman made everything look like crap.

Joshua Nelson,

I think Moore’s output overtakes Gaiman’s, easily, but Gaiman’s reputation isn’t all hype. Whether you like it or not, Sandman was revolutionary. Gaiman & Co. did stories that went beyond anything mainstream comics had going at the time. Between the genre-hopping, tendency toward anti-climax, characterization, dialogue, and sheer scope (stories spanned universes and centuries), most comic book readers hadn’t read anything like it. Most importantly, Gaiman did a book that wasn’t about super-heroes but was accessible to super-hero fans. For most of us growing up in the ’90s Sandman was the gateway comic between super-heroes (and other genre fiction) and more sophisticated fare.

Moore had done Watchmen (which we all got hip to), Miracleman (out of print), Big Numbers (stopped after 2 issues), Swamp Thing (mostly not collected in trades), and a few independent projects. In the early ’90s, he wasn’t doing anything that showed at the stores with any regularity. Sandman came out monthly, and the trades were kept in print. You may not have liked it, but it opened up entire worlds for many of us.

to “daniel” from your post um, quite a few of them up there.

I agree with your best of Sandman moment. It really does contain all of what Sandman was about. Or at least, all the Sandman stuff directly linked to Morpheus (and even a lot of it that isn’t). I also agree with your analysis of the moment overall. I don’t think he discovered he couldn’t change who he is (for Sandman is a comic about change, why we do it, why we don’t want to do it and in Morpheus’ case, why we can’t or won’t allow ourselves to) he’s known for a long time but he’s never been able to admit it to himself or to others for that matter. What I think was so amazing about that moment is that he ADMITTED to not being able to just quit like Destruction (or some other form or quitting). His aknowledgement to Death (the person he is closest with) was what made it such a beautiful moment.
So like I said, pretty darn full on agreement with you. FANTASTIC SERIES!
If there was a “100 best series of all times” Could I not vote for Sandman? “No. I could not.”

Interesting conversation about Gaiman being able to ride the Sandman train for the rest of his career. I have to agree that when people think of Gaiman in comics the first thing to come to mind is Sandman. The problem is they usualy don’t follow with another comic … oy!
Which is definetly not the case with Moore, Morrison and Milligan. They’ve done tons of things and sure, when someone things of Moore they usualy start off with V for Vendetta or Watchmen but then they continue mentionning various comic projects he’s done for the next five minutes! It’s the same thing with Morrison and Milligan. From where I stand they’re all on the same level. The problem with Sandman is that it’s Gaiman’s Watchmen without a V for Vendetta or a From Hell. Out of all of Gaiman’s stuff, Sandman stands on it’s own. I’m not saying none of his other stuff isn’t good, it is, a lot of it is very good but not Sandman good (even the Death mini’s fall a little behind, then again how can three issues compare with 75 issue of same or better quality?))
Anyway, that’s what i have to say about that. OH! I read the Shade the Changing Man American Scream a few months ago, LOVE IT. I’ve got a copy of the second trade waiting for my at my LCS. I hope they put that whole series in trade.
Oh, Warren Ellis also belongs on the list of UK creators.

Point well taken, but strip “Sandman” from his resume and is there anything that even approaches the more middle of the road work of Moore and Morrison (say, the non-“Promethia” ABC stuff for Moore and “The Filth” for Morrison)? I just don’t see it. I mean “1602” was okay, but Kubert carried that one (as any artist would have to with a project of that sort)…

Also, since I clearly touched a nerve with that carelessly worded initial comment, it should be noted that I gave Gaiman a fair amount of props as an activist and artist this past summer, check it out…


“I have to agree that when people think of Gaiman in comics the first thing to come to mind is Sandman. The problem is they usualy don’t follow with another comic … oy!”

(Fist awaits bump)…

(fist bumps back)
No worries about your comment, I try to be as open to others tastes and points of vue when talking about comics (and movies, tv, novels, music, etc). Damn good question, has Gaiman written any ‘middle caliber’ comics? He’s written enjoyable one, 1602 (my first Gaiman comic, I love it more than it deserves to be loved (and part of that is the art and colouring) and What Ever Happened to the Caped Crusader, his Spawn/Angela stuff and his Constantine one-shot.
Oh! I think i’ve got it. Would you consider his Books of Magic (his four issues, not the series and spin offs) to be a “middle caliber” book? Has anybody read his Marvelman/Miracleman stuff? Where does that rank?

And because everybody else is going it, READ 17 NOT READ 13. Will it increase? decrease? Oh the suspense!

On Morrison, I have to say I’m not a big fan. I find a lot of his work choppy (his JLA run read like he was coping with Attention Deficit Disorder), and his more aggressively weird stuff just loses me.

Just to add on, I often get the impression that what I’m reading does in fact have a coherent explanation for everything, but that Morrison hasn’t put in all of the details (hence, one of those writers where his interviews are really useful). Like for example, could someone, anyone tell me why destroying the Philosopher’s Stone causes Darkseid to take over the world? It’s the damn hinge of the whole timeline and there’s not a shred of explanation that I could see.

Joshua Nelson,

I actually agree with your “Neil Gaiman gets to ride the Sandman train for the rest of his life” opinion, but he does have at least one! more high caliber book, as Mario mentioned, which is the Books of Magic miniseries. That miniseries is amazing, of very high quality, certainly not a middle caliber book.

Having said that, I don’t place Gaiman in the same table as Morrison and Moore, which, for me at least, are having lunch together with no one else on that table. Sandman is amazing, mind blowing, and memorable, and I would place it in my Top 10 series of all time without a doubt, but both Moore and Morrison have done a lot more than two high caliber works, and a lot more middle caliber works, and a lot more quality work in general, period.

Sean C: My understanding, was that the Philosopher’s Stone was this super awesome powerful MacGuffin, that powers had effects across all time and space(at least, thats what Metron kept going on about). With Superman destroying, it threw the whole damn timestream into crazy mode. Up is down, black is white, cats and dogs living toghether; mass hysteria.

I really love Rock of Ages, in fact I voted for it. Its really Morrison doing what he does best, throwing out dozens of wild, fun ideas every issue. Superman and J’onn J’ozz going through the Joker’s mind, post apocalyptic future ruled by Darkseid and a small group of freedom fighters/JLA have to defeat him(including Batman, who’s been secretly hiding out as Desead for 8 years, because he’s freakin’ Batman), heck he even foreshadowed Seven Soldiers with Wonderworld.

I think thats the core difference between Morrison and Moore. Both top of their game, best in the business, European writers who aren’t afraid to dip into weird, magical stuff. Moore is more about structure, and you got to admire how incredibly plotted out something like Watchmen or From Hell is. Morrison is more about chaos, and although it can be confusing, I think he tends to have more “awesome” moments(like Batman punching Metron in the face, or Frankenstein riding on a giant motorcycle spouting lines from Paradise Lost”

Nice pull with “Books Of Magic”, I had completely forgotten about that one. I even remember having an ex-girlfriend who was convinced JK Rawling ripped off aspects of Hunter for Harry Potter! Now, while I agree based on their physical appearance (although Radcliffe isn’t nearly as skinny as anyone’s illustrated Hunter), I can’t say I could follow her past that… But in regards to the question of Gaiman’s middle of the road work, I think this qualifies. Then again, Dylan Horrocks did a really terrific job continuing and wrapping up that series (and as an aside, the “Hunter”covers from that era were some of Chris Bachalo’s best work)…

In Gaiman’s introduction to the A Game of You TPB (or perhaps Absolute Sandman Vol. 2, I don’t recall), he claims that he’s had tons of women mention AGOY as their favorite Sandman story, while men mention it as their least favorite.

i tend to think of gaiman’s career as being a bit like james robinson’s. very unprolific, took a lot of time off, created one 75-80 issue masterpiece, and a smattering of other fairly decent stuff. but as much as i love starman, sandman is probably twice as good. sandman is so good, that no matter what else gaiman has or hasn’t done, his name must always be factored into the conversation of “who is the best comic writer ever?” i agree with mike loughlin’s post that sandman was sort of the torch carrier for quite a few years in the 90’s. for all the people that thought watchmen captured lightning in a bottle and that comics could never be that good again, sandman was what proved them wrong. while i still believe watchmen to be the most important comic story ever (as discussed in other posts), sandman is what continued everything that watchmen started, and shined a light through the dark era of the early 90s comic boom. a good film analogy to gaiman is francis ford coppola. coppola hasn’t really done all that many good movies, and on paper, he shouldn’t remotely compare to scorsese, spielberg, hitchcock, lumet, or the coens. but no matter how unprolific or inconsistent he is, the first two godfathers and apocalypse now are just so goddamn great that he has to be considered in the same league.

as for gaiman’s other stuff, black orchid is above average, miracleman: golden age is interesting, hellblazer: hold me is very good, his batman villains/secret origins and spawn/angela stuff is entertaining, and 1602 was ok. i think death: the high cost of living is the only thing that really holds up to sandman. and books of magic was fun and well done, but i always felt it was more an homage to what moore did with the magic side of the dcu in swamp thing, as well as kind of an alternate version of wolfman/perez’s history of the dc universe, which came out a few years before.

i personally don’t think gaiman, morrison, or anyone else remotely compares to moore, who, in my mind, has never written anything that ranks below “very good.” watchmen, swamp thing, v for vendetta, miracleman, from hell, killing joke, whatever happened to the man of tomorrow, supreme, top ten, promethea, league of extraordinary gentlemen, and for the man who has everything all rank among the top 50 most memorable comic stories/runs of the last 25 years, and the only reason this list might not completely reflect that is because when you are only given ten things to vote for, it’s natural to try to diversify that list. if everyone could have voted for a top 25, therefore eliminating the temptation to not include multiple things by the same writer, i bet moore would have absolutely owned the top 20 of this list. and even then, he still might own it anyways. while i do love morrison, i still think his best is on a lower level than moore’s best.

While I also don’t rank Gaiman as highly as some do. He’s certainly less consistent than, say, Moore.

But he’s got more going for him than Sandman or Books of Magic.

Black Orchid, Signal to Noise, Stardust…


December 3, 2009 at 12:50 am

Very fond of Coming Home, since it was literally that for me. I’d dropped out of comics for a while after Sandman ended (I did sometimes read a few of a friend’s issues of JLA, Starman & Tthe Spectre), and I hadn’t bought a comic in most of a decade when I decided, I’m liking JMS on Babylon 5, let’s see what he’s like on Spidey. I was thrilled; Straczynski sounded like a a modernized Stan Lee, I’d always wanted to see Peter as a sub teacher to revisit the high school environment from the other side, and the long fight against Morlun delivered for me. Romita, Jr. can be too loose for me sometimes, but he excels at drawing action, so he seemed a perfect fit to me, too. Happy times for a while.

Like many others, I was less than pleased by the way the Ezekiel storyline continued, though I was glad Aunt May learned The Secret & MJ came back. Finally bailed with Gwen’s twins, and never read OMDay: but I still like that first Morlun story as much as I do Stern’s Juggernaut story. It’s been pure Spidey since #33; Spidey in hopeless fight, wants to give up, can’t, finds way to stop villain anyway. I’m glad to see it on here, though I’d probably rank it a little lower.

Also might mention liking Eternals with Gaiman & Romita Jr. better than most, though not enough to list it here. Can’t forget the scene with Makkari and the trash can full of bullets ((how logical!), and somehow Romita Jr. gives more weight to the Celestials than anyone since Kirby. (I keep telling myself this can’t be right, he may have never drawn a pretty page in his life… but his storytelling & dynamism keep pulling me in. I’m curious now; I’d always thought Jr. was a fan favorite, but reading this, I’m not feeling the love. How does he stand with the average fan these days?)

I was 29 and male when Sandman started, and throughout almost the entire run i was pretty sure he was writing for ME. It’s not his fault if the teen girls identify with his stuff and think he’s cute. Good work if you can get it.
I agree that Moore’s best is better, and that Morrison’s best is… as good, and they both certainly have produced more material than Gaiman. But I would say that to me both of them have been a bit more inconsistent than his. (Especially Morrison, I love some of his work so much, but some of it I do find just a bit tedious, annoying and, well, pretentious. Please nobody shoot me.)

As soon as I looked at the first Harry Potter book during the initial Potter craze I thought wait a minute, I know this idea, I know this kid. Books of Magic was beautiful, I cannot believe that I didn’t remember it to include it in my ten.
I recommend Gaiman’s fun novel “American Gods” to anyone who liked Sandman. “Anansi Boys” is good too, and “Good Omens” (which he co-wrote) is hilarious.

Oh, and with today’s Magus and GOY I’m up to 8/30.

i love romita jr. i tend to have 2 different categories of my favorite artists: superhero and non-superhero. i consider romita jr. to be one of the “perfect” superhero artists, along with perez, jim lee, andy/adam kubert, tim sale, byrne (70s and 80s version), quesada, alan davis, howard porter, brian bolland, art adams, and maybe a few others i’m forgetting. each of those guys could draw any superhero comic and it would look great. then a separate handful of artists i love for their unique styles, such as sam keith, bill sienkeiwicz, jeff smith, chris bachalo, tony harris, jh williams, john totleben, frank miller, barry windsor-smith, dave gibbons, jae lee, p craig russell, and mike mignola. these are all guys that are not suited for every project, but on the right one, you’ll never see art that looks better.

Is anyone else amused that people are using Miracleman as an example of how Alan Moore has a lot of great series and Gaiman only has Sandman?

I think I’m the only person who doesn’t either rate A Game of You as either the best or worst Sandman arc – I liked it a lot, more than Preludes, The Kindly Ones or even Season of Mists, but less than all of the others…

Also, I don’t see Watchmen or DKR hitting number one. They’re both allowed in the rules, but I think the fact they don’t feel like storylines in the way that Dark Phoenix or the death of Elektra do will keep them both out of the top 5.

But I could always be completely wrong…

just my two cents, i don’t think shawn mcmanus’ art is what detracts people from a game of you. i thought the worst art of the entire series was mike dringenberg, and doll’s house is the story i voted for!

Shawn McManus’s art in A Game of You is Gorgeous. I can take or leave Tom Dringenberg, but the worst art in Sandman is easily Jill Thompson’s.

I’d place it about the middle if I had to rank them – for me, The Kindly Ones is easily the worst run.

That’s my favourite Sandman storyline – though my favourite Sandman stories are the oneshots like Dream of 1000 Cats, Calliope, Three Septembers and a January and Facade (but most definitely not A Midsummer Nights Dream which I can’t stand).

Sleeper : I think I’ve said this before (I think in the “Runs” list), but shoehorning this book into the Wildstorm U was this series’ greatest flaw. Who really needed the more fantastic elements? This book’s true grit is what people read for!

I couldn’t disagree more. I think what made this book was the combination of gritty crime comic and the superhero universe it’s set in. It’s why Sleeper is (for me) so much better than Criminal – though Criminal is good too.

As for rankings I’d put Milligan alongside Morrison and above Gaiman, but probably below Moore and Miller. Jamie Delano is nowhere to be seen in this crowd – though he has his moments.

I think it would be almost foolish not to expect Watchmen to make #1.

Most people who’ve read it will probably be putting it on their list, and a TON of people have read it by now.

Also, I would say that the best of Sandman is as good as Alan Moore’s best stuff. I think the key differences between the two writers (and they probably are the two best writers to have worked in comics) is that Moore is much more concerned with the way the story is read on the page and gets really involved with the form of the story and the way it’s told, often experimenting stylistically. Like the use of symmetry and multiple meanings in Watchmen, playing around with chronology, or juxtaposing two parallel narratives, which he does a lot.

Gaiman tends to let stories unfold more naturally. I think his best work is often more human and moral than Moore’s. He seems to relate and empathise with his characters better.

I’m glad JMS is getting some love. He’s done some really good stuff, but the horror that was Sins Past seems to follow him around. The guys done some really good work, and I’d probably put him in a league with guys like Busiek and Waid.

On the Gaiman thing, it’s true that he does get to ride Sandman forever. But it’s that good. It’s ridiculously good. He hasn’t done much in comics since then, but maybe he was busy writing novels? He’s done a few of those, you know. They pay more than comics, and writing them takes up a lot of time that could be used writing comics.

Maybe it’s time for Brian to do a poll of top writers and artists again (once he’s rested after this one, of course).

to Dan Felty,

I’m not at all surprised by more women saying it was the favourite and men saying the opposite. Has anybody ever read Gaiman’s “essay” where he explains his philosophy on stories having genders? Well for example he mentions that AGOY is a female and he mentions Stardust as well. As for male stories, he mentions Seasons of Mist and American Gods for any of you that have read that (and if you’ve like anything by Gaiman you own it to yourself to read that book and it’s “sequel” Anansi Boys and if you’ve read all that, go read Good Omens because Terry Pratchett is funny and it seems Gaiman made some jokes in there himself too).

So knowing the above, I was not at all surprised some people on this post saying that AGOY was a more feminine story in all aspects. I agree with you… but it still good. I dont even care if it’s your least favourite Sandman storyline, why? BECAUSE ALL OF SANDMAN IS GOOD!! ok, i’m retiring from this post (unless someone says something shocking or provocative! haha) and moving on to 70-66 :O)

By the way, Morrison’s best : Flex Mentallo, The Filth and The Invisibles ranking third.

You guys need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid. No mention of Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Dennis O’Neal, Chris Claremont, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Elliot S! Maggin, Frank F-in Miller, Will F-IN Eisner, Dave Micheline, Jim Shooter, Otto Binder ? Fellaz, it’s time to stop holding your pinkies out while sippin’ tea and get your hands dirty with some real comic books.

azjohnson5 – are you comment on the lack of these writers in the polls or their lack of mention in the whole Neil Gaiman discussion?

I’d always thought Jr. was a fan favorite, but reading this, I’m not feeling the love. How does he stand with the average fan these days?

JRJr has been my favorite super hero comic book artist for many, many years (almost as long as I’ve been reading comics) though I frankly lack any kind of artistic vocabulary with which to intelligently explain WHY he’s my favorite. I look at his art and my mind says “I really like that”. >shrugs<

I'll also add my appreciation of American Gods and Good Omens to the mix. Good Omens is one of only a handful of books then when I finished it for the first time, I immediately went back to the beginning and read it again, because I wasn't prepared to say goodbye to the characters and the setting yet.

az – Denny O’Neil’s already represented, and the reason you’ve not heard from most of those other names yet is because they got too many votes to place in the bottom thirty.


As I said above, it’s early yet. Several of those guys will eventually be cited, I’m sure (though certainly not all of them- I highly doubt any of the Golden Age writers will be named).

DanCJ: the latter mostly, but definitely both.

This is really curious. Does seem like AGOY is either someone’s favorite or someone’s least favorite. It’s my least favorite Sandman arc, which is really not saying much, but still. I love Brief Lives and World’s End best. I’m hoping all the other arcs are higher up the list than this one. But it’s still a cool story with some memorable moments.

I had Roy Thomas, Claremont, and Michelinie on my list.

“Due to”, goddamn it, not “do to”. (Sorry, I finally snapped from all the errors. Doesn’t anyone at least copycheck ANYTHING on CBR?)

Interesting that the Magus Storyline made the list.

JMS’s Spider-man…I just didn’t like. i liked *some* of what he brought to the title, like Aunt May learning Peter’s secret, but a lot of the rest (totems, Ezekial, the Other, Sins Past) was pure, pure crap. I never bought the reasoning that it was better than what came before – what came before was pure crap (the 90s really weren’t good for Spidey, were they?), it was hard for things to be worse…

And I like JRjr. Yes, he works better as a superhero artist, and he does that really well. And being a superhero artist shouldn’t be regarded as some type of insult…ironically, when I was younger, I hated his work, but have come to appreciate and really like it.

Has the Magus Saga been reprinted yet? I would enjoy reading that.

I can’t say all that much about Sandman. I’ve only read the first TPB. However, the two minis featuring Death were excellent.

Has the Magus Saga been reprinted yet? I would enjoy reading that.

They just recently (within the last year or so) put out a new edition of it, yes.

Brian, given your ruling in the Immortal Iron Fist case, I ask that Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2 be included in the Magus Saga storyline. Those two issues were the real tag to that tale.

I love th game of you it was favorite story line and neil Gaimans To it read like a modern little Nemo in Slumberland

Other good Neil Gaiman comics (a few of which were mentioned): Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, Mr. Punch, and The Last Temptation. I liked his short stories in Secret Origins and Batman: Black & White as well. None of that makes him as prolific as some of us would like, but he has done other comics.

If you’re making a list of best comic writers, Steve Gerber deserves to be on it. I put him up there with, yes, Moore & Morrison. He did half the stuff they did, only ten years earlier and in Man-Thing.

To DanCJ –

“I couldn’t disagree more. I think what made this book was the combination of gritty crime comic and the superhero universe it’s set in. It’s why Sleeper is (for me) so much better than Criminal – though Criminal is good too.”

I think it’s safe to say after reading “Incognito” and absolutely loving it (more than “Criminal” but not as much as “Iron Fist” or “Captain America”) that my problem with “Sleeper” was more that the book was thrust into the Wildstorm Universe. If it would’ve just been a generic world (or even one I was unfamiliar with) where superheroes/supervillains existed I might’ve loved it, but I was reading “Wildcats 3.0″ (I really should have voted for the first year of that book… Like “Ultimates 2″ needed the votes…) at the same time and when Grifter showed up in “Sleeper” it just kinda ruined things for me. I guess, like George Costanza once said, “Anybody knows, ya gotta keep your worlds apart”…

And just because you have me rolling down memory lane I must say that Wildstorm’s “Eye Of The Storm” line was fantastic and had no business being discontinued as a whole… “Wildcats 3.0″, “Automatic Kafka”, and “Sleeper” are all real jewels of 2001 and 21st century superhero comics…

To Mario –

Don’t mention “Flex Mentallo” unless you plan on providing us all with a copy of it! Just kidding, but in this particular moment I am slightly more jealous of you than all of the people out there who have read Moore’s “Miracleman”…

And sorry to binge on the commments, but…

To Mike Loughlin –

You have my support on that Gerber suggestion, if only because of his first few issues of “Omega : The Unknown” (not to mention “Howard The Duck”) which were the basis of Jonathan Lethem & Farel Dalrymple’s remake that is still the highest quality “pure” comic I have ever read by the publisher. And by “pure” I mean that the writer and artist were completely free of continuity restrictions and editorial insurgence (as ironically, the OG “Omega” was rife with)…

Rest In Peace : Steve Gerber. He was great all the way through his career and did a heck of a Dr. Fate series just before passing on…

DanCJ: the latter mostly, but definitely both.

Ah. In that case I think Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Dennis O’Neil, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Elliot S! Maggin, Will F-IN Eisner, Jim Shooter and Otto Binder were left out of the conversation because they’re from a different era. Chris Claremont and Dave Micheline are just not of the same standard IMO, but if you want a less subjective reason, the conversation was skewing towards the more cerebral Vertigoey writers. Frank Miller could had done with a mention though.

I think it’s safe to say after reading “Incognito” and absolutely loving it (more than “Criminal” but not as much as “Iron Fist” or “Captain America”) that my problem with “Sleeper” was more that the book was thrust into the Wildstorm Universe.

You lost me at liking Iron Fist more than Criminal.

I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I’ve always loved single universes having characters crossing between vastly different stories ever since Alan Moore did it in Swamp Thing. Sleeper is just part of this.

Awesome, the Magus Saga is on there! Never woulda guessed it

@ Dancj

Yeah, about “You lost me at liking Iron Fist more than Criminal.”, it’s definitely an art thing. Aja is on the level with Alex Maleev, who is one of my all-time favorite artists… Not that I wouldn’t list Sean Phillips as one of my favorites, but he’s so steady that I almost take his art for granted, the shame…

I’m sure counterpoints will abound regarding the Wildstorm issue, but maybe it was that the “Sleeperverse” came so long after the original core WU was established and was so wildly different in tone from any previous title other than “Point Plank” (which gave me the Cole Cash I never thought I’d see, but it was still Cole Cash) that it just seemed kinda tacked on to me… But whatevs, it’s my hangup…

In fairness, the art in Iron Fist is quite good. It’s just the story that’s piss boring.

This part of the list was a nice mix of genres and decades. The JMS and JRJR run on Amazing Spider-Man is one my absolutely favorites. It restored my interest and enthusiasm for a character / title that had been one of my favorites, but became unreadable in the 90s.

Mark me as a fan of A Game of You.

I missed Sleeper when it first came out, but it’s been on my reading list.

Mark me late to the party, but I thought Game of You was pretty derivative of Doll’s House, and Barbie is probably the least interesting Sandman character (though a lot of the other characters in AGOY were great).

Kindly Ones is already up on the countdown and I’m sure Season of Mists and Brief Lives will surpass it, if not Doll’s House as well.

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