O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
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.
70. “The Korvac Saga” by Jim Shooter, Roger Stern, David Michelinie, George Pérez, Sal Buscema, David Wenzel and Pablo Marcos (Avengers #167-169, 170-171, 173-177) – 141 points (1 first place vote)
Michael Korvac was born in 2997 and was a computer technician on the moon when the alien invaders known as the Badoon conquered the Earth. Seening an opportunity present itself, Korvac collaborated with the Badoon, betraying the people of Earth. Later on, as punishment for falling asleep at work, the Badoon grafted Korvac’s upper body to a machine.
The cosmic being known as the Grandmaster captured Korvac and brought him to the present as a pawn in a game involving Doctor Strange and the Defenders. Korvac spends his time studying the Grandmaster’s power and uses the new abilities gained from his study when he returns to his own time. He then kills his Badoon masters and attempts to destroy the Earth’s Sun.
The heroes of that time, the Guardians of the Galaxy, manage to defeat Korvac (with the help of a time-traveling Thor), but Korvac escapes to his past (our present) and discovers the base of the world-eating Galactus. While there, Korvac gains great cosmic power, and recreates himself as a man named…Michael. The Guardians travel back through time to capture Korvac. In the meantime, the Collector (brother to the Grandmaster) realizes that Korvac is a threat, so the Collector transforms his daughter, Carina, into a being powerful enough to combat Korvac. However, his daughter instead falls in love with Korvac/Michael, and the two go to Earth and begin living a quiet live in Queens, New York.
The Collector then tries to capture the Avengers (and the Guardians) in an attempt to protect them from Korvac, but when Korvac finds out about his plot, he kills the Collector.
The Avengers travel to Queens where they discover Michael and Carina living quietly. After they confirm that he is, in fact, Korvac, the Avengers wage a tremendous battle that does not end as well as you might expect for a battle of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against one guy.
Jim Shooter (working with first Roger Stern and then David Michelinie) uses the whole universe at his hands here to create a sprawling epic with tons of guest stars.
The artwork by George Perez is quite good, although the fill-in work that closes out the story, by Sal Buscema and David Wenzel, is not half bad, either!
68 (tie). “Knightfall” by Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo, Norm Breyfogle, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent and a number of inkers (Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-666) – 142 points (3 first place votes)
The basic gist of Knightfall is that this fellow named Bane shows up in Gotham City with basically one goal – “break” Batman.
To achieve this, Bane frees all the inmates of Arkham Asylum to force Batman to capture them all before they can do too much damage.
This results in a frantic series of stories as Batman hunts down all the escapees, allowing writers Moench and Dixon to feature the whole gamut of cool Batman villains.
Meanwhile, the man formerly known as Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, has been training with Robin to be a hero.
When Batman finally captures all the villains, he is naturally exhausted. Unknown to him, though, this is the time that Bane chooses to strike, and he ultimately deals Batman a tragic blow.
This leads to Jean-Paul Valley taking up the mantle of Batman, giving Bane quite a surprise!
This story was a bit of a social experiment on the part of Batman editor Denny O’Neill. He wanted to show just why Batman was so special, and to do so, he would have a “Batman for the 90s” show up, all the better to contrast with the original (and, of course, hopefully this new character could be spun off into his own book when Batman returned, which is just what happened).
68 (tie). “Sins of the Father” by James Robinson, Tony Harris and Wade Von Grawbadger (Starman #0-3) – 142 points (5 first place votes)
One of the scarce good things that came out of Zero Hour was the new Starman ongoing title by James Robinson.
In Zero Hour, the original Starman, Ted Knight, is basically put out of commission. So his son, David, takes over for him…and is promptly murdered.
Now the mantle falls to Ted’s youngest son, Jack, who wants nothing to do whatsoever with being a superhero, but at the same time, he does want to protect his father, who is under attack from his old foe, The Mist. It is The Mist’s son who killed David.
The Mist’s daughter, is sympathetic to Jack, and helps him escape from the Mist’s clutches early on.
Later on, though, when Jack is forced into battle, the Mist’s daughter ends up taking a different outlook on life.
This story also introduced probably the most notable character in Robinson’s Starman – the home of Starman, Opal City.
Opal City is a unique city in the DC Universe, filled with mysterious and intriguing characters. We’re introduced to a few of them in this opening story, the O’Hare family, and we’re re-introduced to the Shade, a former “super-villain,” who is now something far more complex. The Shade becomes one of the most popular characters in the entire Starman series.
This was one of the most striking opening arcs of any comic book series in the 1990s, especially superhero books from the “Big Two,” and while Robinson’s character-based writing was a key part of that, so, too, was the moody and evocative artwork of Tony Harris and Wade von Grawbadger.
This great opener foretold many great later issues of one of DC’s most popular series of the 1990s.
67. “Authority” by Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary (Authority #1-12) – 147 points (2 first place votes)
Out of the ashes of Stormwatch came The Authority, the former Black Ops division of Stormwatch. With Stormwatch no longer existing, the heroes of the Authority felt free to finally do superheroing the way THEY thought it should be handled.
They began by forcefully attacking a terrorist leader who had a sort of diplomatic immunity – distinctions like these were just the sort of things this new group of heroes no longer felt constrained by.
With the “widescreen” action of Bryan Hitch, this was one of the most visually compelling superhero comics on the market, and the action just got more and more “widescreen” as the series went on, until writer Warren Ellis took them about as far as you could go – they fought God.
The heroes of the group including Jenny Sparks, leader of the group and “Spirit of the 20th Century,” Jack Hawsmoor, who was the “king of cities,” Apollo and Midnighter, Superman and Batman analogues who were also lovers, Swift, a winged woman who was once just a normal member of Stormwatch, plus the Engineer and the Doctor, the latest pair of people to go by those names (the last Engineer and Doctor were introduced during Ellis’ run on Stormwatch).
One of the interesting aspects of the series is that the heroes here were truly ABOVE politics – Ellis never had the characters make definitive political statements, which was an interesting departure from most comics that contain a political bent to the them.
The Authority was one of the most influential superhero books of the 1990s.
66. “New World Order” by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and John Dell (JLA #1-4) – 149 points (1 first place vote)
Grant Morrison’s JLA was perhaps THE most influential superhero book of the 1990s, as it influenced even the Authority (the widescreen aspect, at least).
“New World Order” was the first story arc of the “brand new” JLA, which consisted of the seven original members of the Justice League, or at least the seven superhero names of the original Justice League, as the Green Lantern and the Flash were both the successors of the characters who had formed the Justice League.
In this initial storyline, a group of aliens come to Earth and seemingly make the Justice League obsolete. The League knows that there is something up with these aliens, and soon discover that, yep, there are some sinister motivations going on behind these guys.
The secret behind the aliens is very clever, and it is especially notable how Batman discovers their secret (and how he exploits it).
This story first established Morrison’s take on Batman as the guy who prepares for everything.
The other heroes in the book get notable scenes, as well, especially the Flash, who uses some of the knowledge the original Flash gave him to take down a villain.
The art by Howard Porter and John Dell is slick and apt for the sometimes over the top action of the book.
This series quickly became the most successful title for DC in the late 1990s, which was notable because the Justice League line of books had gotten pretty low in the sales charts before this title revitalized the group.
The “widescreen” tone of this book was soon picked up by many other books, including The Authority.
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