Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #55-51
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.
55. “We3″ by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (We3 #1-3) – 174 points (3 first place votes)
The description of We3 I always like to give to people is “Imagine a trio of high-tech cyber-assassins. And one is a dog, one is a kitty cat and one is a bunny rabbit.”
That’s where We3 begins, only, naturally, things change when the trio (named 1, 2 and 3, respectively) are about to be de-commissioned by the government. Their trainer won’t allow it, and frees the group and then we have basically The Incredible Journey, only with a dog, a cat and a rabbit who have been turned into killing machines.
The group have varying personalities – the dog is the smartest, so he can sort of communicate with humans. The cat is next smartest, so she can only muster up stuff like “Boss stink!” The rabbit just can say when it wants to eat.
But together, they try to find their ephemeral “home.”
It’s a very touching story, and Frank Quitely’s art is simply spectacular – it’s a marvel to behold, really.
The story is only three issues long, but with the emotional punch it packs, you’d think you were following these characters for years, not three short months.
53 (tie). “Confession” by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Will Blyberg (Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #4-9) – 179 points (2 first place votes)
Confession was a major departure for Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Up until this point, the book was mostly high quality stories on the lighter side of superheroes – not “the lighter side” like humorous, but in the sense that they were more traditional superheroes – the Supermans and the Fantastic Fours of the world. The bright kind of heroes.
In Confession, Busiek and artist Brent Anderson turn their eye to the dark side of Astro City- the dark alleys and the people who inhabit the night.
It is here that we meet Brian Kinney, a young man who longs to be a superhero. Before too long, he is the sidekick to the Batman analogue, The Confessor, and Kinney is Altar Boy.
Throughout the rest of the arc, we see Brian grow as a hero but also see that there is something seriously messed up with The Confessor’s origin story – what it is is the major twist of the story.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot else going on, as there is, with a superhero registration act debate and heroes seemingly acting as villains, this is a packed storyline, but one that, like all of Busiek’s Astro City stories, is based on the complex personalities of the characters involved.
53 (tie). “The Death of Jean DeWolff” by Peter David and Rich Buckler (plus many inkers) (The Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #107-110) – 179 points (6 first place votes)
The Death of Jean DeWolff is a powerful examination of the problems you often get when you try to strictly apply morality to the world of superhero comics.
The story opens with the murder of Captain Jean DeWolff, a background supporting cast member of the Spider-Man books (very background).
It turns out that she was murdered by a mysterious new villain called the Sin-Eater.
Throughout the story, through the murderous efforts of the Sin-Eater, Spider-Man and a guest-starring Daredevil continue to find themselves put into situations where they are unsure of themselves. Twice Daredevil is forced to choose between giving up his secret identity and doing something to possibly help stop the Sin-Eater, and both times he chooses to preserve his ID.
Spider-Man, meanwhile, is even MORE upset about the situation when he learns that DeWolff had a heavy unrequited crush on him. By the time the pair catch the Sin-Eater, Spider-Man is willing to kill him, and Daredevil has to stop him.
The heroes fight, but the end result of this story is that the two end up sharing their secret identities and become closer friends than they ever had been before.
This story also worked to set up the later story involving Venom, as reporter Eddie Brock’s career is ruined when he gets acclaim for finding the Sin-Eater, only to learn that he had been duped by one of those “serial confessors” people.
This was a great introduction of Peter David to the comics world. What a strong arc to open your career with!
52. “The Death of Superman” by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern (writers), Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Jon Bogdanove and Jackson Guice (pencilers) and Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke, Denis Rodier and Rich Burchett (inkers) (Superman #74-75, Adventures of Superman #497, Superman: Man of Steel #18-19, Action Comics #684, Justice League America #69) – 181 points (1 first place vote)
The Death of Superman had two prominent “gimmicks.”
One of them was borrowed from writer Louise Simonson’s husband, Walt. In the issues leading up to the introduction of Surtur in Thor, we had seen a loud noise get slowly bigger over a number of issues until we learn that the pounding was the creation of a gigantic cosmic sword owned by a powerful evil creature named Surtur.
Well, in the Superman titles, we kept seeing the sound effect “Doom doom doom” appear at the back of the four Superman titles.
Finally, in Man of Steel #18, the noise is explained – a monstrous creature was pounding away at its captivity and the “doom” noise was it punching its way free.
It then went on a rampage throughout the United States, headed towards Metropolis through sheer happenstance.
The Justice League showed up to stop it, and the creature went through them easily (it was Leaguer Booster Gold who named the creature “Doomsday”).
Eventually, it came down to Superman, who tried to keep the creature from Metropolis, but eventually ended up battling the creature all the way TO Metropolis.
Here is where the other gimmick came in – as the story went along, the amount of panels per page kept shrinking. So first there were four panels per page – then three panels per page – then two, until finally, in the last part of the story, Dan Jurgens’ Superman #75, each page was a full-page spread as Superman and Doomsday went toe-to-toe in Metropolis.
Eventually, in one last blow for each combatant – the two killed each other.
And Superman had died.
51. “Batman R.I.P.” by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea (s #676-681) – 183 points (2 first place votes)
Batman R.I.P. is the conclusion of Grant Morrison’s initial Batman run, and it basically is as straightforward of a “Good” versus “Evil” story as there is out there (which is particularly interesting seeing as how it came out concurrent with another major Good vs. Evil story, Final Crisis).
Batman has been fighting against the criminal organization the Black Glove, but by the beginning of Batman RIP, the Black Glove has struck at Batman through various methods, some physical but mostly psychological, all designed to destroy Batman’s virtue.
Then Batman essentially goes insane, becoming a twisted form of himself…but is that REALLY what’s going on?
Morrison teases the reader with the question – could anyone go through the events that Batman has gone through over the last 60 plus years and NOT go insane?
So that lends some dramatic tension to Batman’s seeming insanity.
So much of RIP is tied up with the twists of the story, I don’t really feel like giving away too much, except to note that the bad guy in the story might very well be the Devil himself, pissed that Batman did not turn evil when his parents were murdered in front of him as a child.
How can you not want to read a comic where the Devil is trying to put wrong what once went right (Batman’s parents’ death making Batman a force for GOOD rather than evil), and is trying to drive Batman insane to do so?