Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #60-56
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.
Our own Mark Andrew volunteered to do some some fill-in descriptions for me! He wrote all but the From Hell description!
60. “Reign of the Supermen” by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway and Gerard Jones (writers), Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Jon Bogdanove, Jackson Guice, Jerry Ordway and M.D. Bright) (pencilers) and Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke, Denis Rodier and Romeo Tanghal (inkers) Action Comics #687-691, Adventures of Superman #500-505, Superman #78-82, Superman: The Man of Steel #22-26 and Green Lantern Vol. 3 #46) – 167 points (2 first place votes)
Named after a 1933 short story by Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, Reign of the Supermen is the follow-up to the massively popular Death of Superman and World Without a Superman storylines. It’s designed to answer the obvious question “Now that Superman is dead, when will he come back?”
But, cleverly, instead of having the real Superman turn up in a space coccoon or end with the reformed, white-costumed Superman climbing a symbolic mountain, the creative team presented FOUR options that might-or-might-not be a reborn Man of Steel – A ’90s badass Cyborg, a teenage clone, an alien Last Son of Krypton, and a black guy in a metal suit who vehemently protests that he isn’t the real Superman – and left it to the readers to puzzle out which of these was actually Superman reincarnated. Each of these potentials was then given sole custody of one the four extant Superman books – And all of ‘em had a different tone and a different creative teams.
The four individual storylines ran (mostly) independently for the first few months, but as Reign progressed they became more tightly intertwined. Some of this effect was caused by a move away from individual plot arcs towards the central plot – everyone fight Mongul! – but mainly this was due to potential candidates gettin’ eliminated. Spoilers! The Man or Tomorrow is actually a Kryptonese robot-thing! Spoilers! The Cyborg version is actually an old enemy who blames Superman for ruining his life! Spoilers! The guy who doesn’t have any Superman-style powers and says he isn’t Superman isn’t actually Superman! Oh My God!
So who was Superman? None of the above. About half-way through the storyline a, de-powered, and black-suited Superman popped up, now 100% less dead, and led a crazy mix-up with Superboy, Steel, Supergirl, Green Lantern and the Krypto-robot against Mongul and the Cyborg Superman.
While this story didn’t seem to have much lasting effect on the Superman titles, it did launch the “Hal Jordan goes crazy and omnipotent power and goes nuts” storyline that led to him being replaced as Green Lantern.
To me the most impressive thing about this storyline is the strong character work done by each of the creative teams – strong enough that two of the potentials (Superboy and Steel) were launched into their own (quite good) ongoing series. And on the other side of the aisle the Cyborg Superman was elevated to first-tier villain status, showing up as recently as 2007’s Sinestro Corps. War event.
The gi-normous Reign of the Superman trade is still in print and has become a perennial best seller – It’s the # 63 best selling DC book on Amazon, as of this writing, which means the story ALONE is still connecting with fans, even 16 years and multiple retcons after it was first published.
59. “Whys and Wherefores” by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr. (Y The Last Man #55-59) – 169 points (8 first place votes)
Dang, the individual issue of this arc have some niiiiiice covers. Too bad they’re spluttered by the trade dress in the picture above. Let’s look at two of ‘em.
Mmmm. You can almost reach out and smell the monkey.
Well, we had the first Arc of Y: The Last Man back at # 76, and now we’ve got the very last arc here. Sadly this doesn’t include the sniffle-inducing last issue, which is more of a post-script to the entire series than a part of this specific arc. Gotta play fair.
What immediately stood out for me after reading this is after nine volumes of gun fights and narrow escapes, how casually “Y” swerved into romance territory. This storyline’s emotional center deals with of this poor Yorick finally being reunited with his girlfriend (aw) and dealing with her as person and not a far-off object of desire. Will he choose to stay with Beth? Or leave her for his constant companion, the karate-choppin’ agent 355? It’s like an adult version of Betty and Veronica. With nudity. Huzzah!
Of course, it’s not all filthy Archie. There’s plenty of Y’s trademark political intrigue, some nastly violence – Pia Guerra dishes out several superbly choreographed fight sequences – and one shocking out-of-left field death. ‘Fact, the latter is probably the most effective cliff-hanger in a series that’s known for ‘em.
Unlike (apparently) everyone else in the comments, I think that Y’s first and last arc were the series’ strongest, although this certainly wasn’t the most cheerful storyline. The resolution is anchored in real world “what SHOULD happen” logic, which means that nobody rides off into the sunset at the end. But the ending feels right, and does quite nicely manage to wrap up all the major plot threads and give us at least one Cool Comic Book Moment with each of the major characters that we’ve known for 59 issues/10 volumes.
58. “From Hell” by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (From Hell #1-11) – 171 points (1 first place vote)
From Hell is Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s brilliantly detailed historical fiction based on the Jack the Ripper murders in London in the late 1880s.
Besides the fictional aspect of the story, where Moore hazards a guess as to who the actual murderer was, the rest of the story is explicitly researched recitation of the true crime story of the Ripper.
For a story that is filled with historical details and footnotes, it is amazing how impressive of a narrative that Moore is able to weave with this story.
The tale is a truly engrossing one, with cameos from all sorts of engaging characters, made all the more interesting because of their basis in reality (like how does Wild Bill Hicock tie-in to the story?).
Campbell is asked to do a TON of detailed, tiny drawings as Moore packs so much information in this story that it’s simply staggering – Campbell must have had carpal tunnel by the time this baby finished! But he does beautiful work.
This is an amazing work in how COMPLETE of a story it is – Moore leaves nothing out but makes it all work. Just remarkable.
57. “Avengers Forever” by Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino (Avengers Forever #1-12) – 172 points (4 first place votes)
Besides attempting to tell a raring good Avengers story Avengers Forever is an attempt to stream-line damn-near forty years of Avengers history into one cohere…. wellll, semi-coherent story.
The plot: Takes seven time-displaced Avengers
* A psychotic Hank Pym as Yellowjacket from the Roy Thomas run. (1968 real time)
* A questioning and doubting Captain America circa. Steve Englhart’s tenure as Cap writer. (1975)
* Hawkeye, circa the Kree Skrull War (1972)
* The current version of the Wasp
* And Giant Man. (Yes, TWO Hank Pyms)
* A future versions of then-and-current Thunderbolt Songbird. (Who hasn’t been an Avenger. Yet.)
* And the first Captain Marvel’s kid, named Captain Marvel. He’s dead in current continuity so we (*snicker*) know he will never come back to life and join the Avengers.
and sends ‘em bouncing through time in order to save Rick Jones and prevent the future from going kaput. Yes, these events are connected. No, I won’t explain. I’ve only got a couple hundred words, that’s why. Avengers Forever acts as a direct sequel-or-sorts to both Thomas, Buscema, and Adam’s Kree Skrull War and Engelhart, Buscema and Heck’s Celestial Madonna, but in the course of twelve dense, dense issues, it manages to address events from every major – and most minor – runs in Avengers history.
Carlos Pacheco’s detailed-yet-slightly-cartoony style fits the tone of the project quite well. Some highlights:
* The backgrounds, when Pacheco can fit ‘em in, are tight and varied enough to “anchor” the characters in various time periods despite the fact there are LOTS of panels to a page.
* Every main character is given their own unique set of character-defining mannerisms.
* Pacheco tosses in visual nods to ‘most every artist who’s work he’s re-drawing or name-checking. It’s a nice Easter Egg for the hardcore Avengers faithful.
Avengers Forever is both the densest and most heavily researched story in Avengers history, and a very nice love letter to the Avengers stories and the creators that worked from Stan ‘n Jack’s original premise.
“The Kindly Ones” by Neil Gaiman, Marc Hempel, Richard Case, D’Israeli, Ted Kristiansen, Glyn Dillon, Dean Ormston and Charles Vess (Sandman #57-69) – 173 points (4 first place votes)
Just by looking at the art in the Kindly , you can figure out that this was gonna be a different kind of Sandman story. While previous Sandman artists had tended towards lush or invitingly cartoony styles, Marc Hempel gives us uncomfortable angles, disorientingly pointy-looking people, and an air of menace floatin’ somewhere behind every panel. Kindly Ones let is know from the beginning of chapter two that SOMETHING nasty is comin’ down the pike.
And indeed it did. The “A” plot of the Kindly Ones deals Morpheus’, the titular Sandman, and his fight to protect his self and domain from “The Kindly Ones” a euphemistic (read: completely incorrect) name for the Furies of Greek Myth, who are out to kill him and destroy everything he loves. With whips. Whips made out of scorpions. Yowtch.
This being Sandman there are also are major “B” and “C” plots, featuring Rose Walker (of the Dolls House) and an insane, costume-less version of former Earth-Two superheroine (Really. SweartoGod.) who provides the catalyst for the Kindly Ones attack. Of course, since this is Sandman, once you count all the diversions and stories-within-a-stories and endings you could probably find a “D” through “Z” plot as well.
(Sidenote: The “G” plot-point where Delerium meets the devil, fanwanky as it is, is my favorite single scene in all of Sandman.
If you don’t let me in, I will turn you into a demon half-face waitress night-club lady with a crush on her boss, and I’ll make it so you’ve been that from the beginning of time to now and you’ll never ever know if you were anything else and it will itch inside your head worse than little bugses.
And sure, it’s long. (13 issues!) It’s slightly convoluted, being a race to end! everything! now! But it swerves at the end, and instead of an apocalyptic bang the actual climax is two siblings – one worried, one very tired – simply talking. And a final “Brother, take my hand.”
Fade to black.