Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #45-41
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.
(As usual, just the results now and the details later)
45. “Gifted” by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men #1-6) – 195 points (4 first place votes)
This was the first major X-Men storyline after Grant Morrison left the X-Men, and Joss Whedon gladly picked up where Morrison left off, using the set-up Morrison left with the book (notably Cyclops and Emma Frost being a couple and Beast dealing with being a cat-like creature).
There were three major pieces from Whedon’s first arc:
1. The X-Men deciding to go back to being traditional superheroes, or at least a certain group of “public” X-Men. To this end, Cyclops re-enlists Kitty Pryde, as she is one of the best X-Men in terms of “putting forward as the face of mutantkind.” Kitty Pryde serves as a sort of POV person for Whedon’s run.
2. A scientist has developed a “cure” for being a mutant. This plot was so popular that they later used it as the basic plot for the third X-Men film.
3. Colossus returned from the dead.
Whedon tied it all together nicely, with a lot of strong character moments, and wrapped it all up in beautiful stunning John Cassaday artwork.
44. “Olympus” by Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Tom Yeates and John Ridgway (Miracleman #11-16) – 197 points (6 first place votes)
Olympus was the conclusion to Alan Moore’s tenure on Miracleman, and it completed the journey of Michael Moran (Miracleman) from his days as being a regular guy who happened to have fantastical powers to being, basically, a god on Earth.
The path to this state came via a very bloody battle.
You see, Miracleman’s former sidekick, Kid Miracleman, had sort of gone insane. Miracleman had defeated him by forcing him to turn back to his alter-ego, 13-year-old Johnny Bates. Johnny is an innocent, but he knows what he did as Kid Miracleman, so he sort of goes nuts.
Well, later on, Johnny is sexually assaulted at the group home he lived at – this causes him to snap and become Kid Miracleman again, and he goes on a bloody rampage through London that John Totleben draws with such horrific detail that, well, it’s pretty damn unsettling.
Miracleman and a group of good guys (aliens known as the Warpsmiths, created by Moore and artist Garry Leach) fight Kid Miracleman, and in the end, they succeed, but not before the whole world is informed by what Miracleman had striven to keep secret – that superheroes exist.
With the cat out of the bag, as they would say, Miracleman decides to basically impose his will on the world, and he slowly retreats from humanity (and his human wife that he was married to in his Michael Moran alter-ego) and as the story ends, he is living as a benevolent tyrant over the people of Earth.
It’s really a brilliant transformation of the character by Moore, and the art is superb.
43. “If This Be My Destiny” by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee (Amazing Spider-Man #31-33) – 206 points (4 first place votes)
This storyline is particularly interesting in the fact that, right smack in the midst of it all, Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn are introduced!
The story is set as Peter Parker is just beginning college – he hopes to be able to concentrate on his studies, but he soon learns that his Aunt May is deathly ill, likely due to a blood transfusion Peter gave her a number of issues ago (his blood being radioactive and all).
So Peter finds out a way of curing her, but he needs a special serum. Well, the problem is that a criminal known as the Master Planner ALSO wants the serum.
After a tussle, Spider-Man succeeds in securing the serum, but not before being trapped under a pile of heavy machinery in the Master Planner’s underwater base – a base that has cracked, sending water from the river above ever so slowly into the room where Spider-Man is trapped. And if that weren’t enough, the Master Planner’s guards are outside the room should Spider-Man somehow escape!
How Spider-Man gets out of this mess is the thing of comic book legend, and that’s just who the creative team was – Steve Ditko delivers what was basically his swan song on the title (he stuck around for a few more months, but clearly, this was the high water mark of his run – everything else was downhill from here until he left at #39, likely because he knew he was on the way out), and he goes out in style, with some of the most brilliantly designed pages of the Silver Age.
Stan Lee delivers the pathos along with Ditko’s brilliant action sequences.
Peter’s sense of responsibility never had such tangible evidence as this storyline – what he will do to save his Aunt is amazing, or maybe even spectacular!
Just like this storyline.
42. “The Surtur Saga” by Walt Simonson (Thor #349-353) – 211 points (5 first place votes)
All throughout the early issues of Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, we keep seeing someone (seemingly a blacksmith) forging a sword. Every time the sword is clanged on to continue the forging, we see a big “DOOM!” sound effect, showing that whatever this sword is, it is bad news for Thor. This continues for a number of issues (always for one page per issue) until slowly we learn that it is the gigantic demon Surtur, and we see that he is raising an army of dark elves to attack Asgard.
And again, we learn this slowly but surely over a number of issues, one page per issue.
Finally, in Thor #349, Surtur shows up on Asgard, and so begins an amazingly epic battle that involves Earth AND Asgard, and ends up ultimately with Odin, Thor and Loki being forced to team-up against their common foe, Surtur.
The defeat of Surtur would also result in a major status quo change in the Thor title, and one of the coolest last pages of the 1980s.
Simonson’s art was extremely powerful throughout the story, adding the dynamic grand quality that the epic battles required.
And it’s impressive as all heck that Surtur’s attack begins in #349, but it doesn’t feel dragged out, due to a whole ton of other little attacks and obstacles in between.
41. “Mutant Massacre” by Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, John Romita Jr., Alan Davis, Rick Leonardi, Sal Buscema, Terry Shoemaker, Jon Bogdanove and a host of inkers (Uncanny X-Men #210-213, X-Factor #9-11, Thor #373-374, New Mutants #46 and Power Pack #27) – 218 points (4 first place votes)
Here’s what I wrote about the Mutant Massacre during the Comic Book Battles countdown:
While it is a part of comic book reality nowadays, back in the late ’80s there had never been a crossover between the popular X-Men related comic books. In fact, until the early 80s, there was only one X-Men title, “Uncanny X-Men!” But by 1986, there was the regular “X-Men” title, there was “New Mutants” (detailing the next generation of mutant heroes) and “X-Factor” (starring the original five members of the X-Men), and in the fall of 1986, the first X-Crossover took place detailing the “Mutant Massacre.”
The Mutant Massacre featured the Marauders, a team of vicious killers employed by the newly introduced X-Men villain Mr. Sinister, going into the New York sewers, where a community of mutants known as the Morlocks lived (the Morlocks were mutants who tended to be disfigured or were otherwise unable to fit in living with “normal” humans). At this point, the Marauders proceeded to murder as many Morlocks as they could. The X-Men entered the tunnels to save the Morlocks, and engaged in a dramatic and deadly battle that lasted from Uncanny X-Men #211 to #213 (all three issues were written by Chris Claremont, with John Romita Jr. drawing the first issue, Rick Leonardi the second and Alan Davis the third).
The X-Men suffered critical injuries soon after entering the battle, when the teleporting X-Man Nightcrawler, who was recovering from a recent injury and had only recently regained the ability to teleport, used his powers to disable one of the Marauders. However, he was unable to use his powers once he was finished, leaving himself vulnerable to the Marauder Riptide, a mutant whose power involves sending barrages of razor sharp blades flying people at high speeds. Nightcrawler was severely injured by Riptide.
This led to one of the most dramatic moments of the war when the X-Man Colossus determined that the only way to stop Riptide was to use deadly force. As Riptide continued to pummel the X-Man’s metal body with blades, Colossus forged forward until he was able to snap Riptide’s neck.
At this point, Colossus collapsed due to the wounds he incurred during his fight. As it turned out, he was so injured that while he could survive in his metal form, he could not transform back to his human form. Meanwhile, the X-Men suffered another casualty when Kitty Pryde was injured and trapped in her intangible form.
While the X-Men return to their home to recover with the Morlocks they manage to save, the deadliest of the Marauders, the evil Sabretooth, makes his way to the X-Men’s home. During the course of his journey, Sabretooth tangled both with Wolverine and ultimately with the telepathic Psylocke, who was staying with the X-Men at the time.
In the end, the X-Men managed to save many Morlocks (X-Factor also saved some, in a separate excursion into the Morlock tunnels), but the team was forever changed, with longstanding members Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler leaving the team and new members like Psylocke joining the group. The most important change for the team was that they no longer had any illusions of safety at their home, and soon left the X-Mansion entirely.