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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #35-31

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)

35. “Return of Barry Allen” by Mark Waid, Greg Larocque and Roy Richardson (Flash Vol. 2 #73-79) – 239 points (8 first place votes)

34. “The Death of Gwen Stacy” by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and John Romita (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122) – 250 points (3 first place votes)

33. “The Long Halloween” by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (The Long Halloween #1-13) – 254 points (5 first place votes)

32. “Deus ex Machina” by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, Doug Hazlewood, Mark Farmer and a few other artists (Animal Man #18-26) – 256 points (5 first place votes)

31. “Doll’s House” by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III (Sandman Vol. 2 #9-16) – 258 points (6 first place votes)


Well, after so much talk about Loeb we get The Long Halloween on the next day!, it´s funny. I haven´t read it so I cant really say something about it.

I also haven´t read the Return of Barry Allen or The Death of Gwen Stacy, yet, I will get to them someday.

I´m very glad to see Deus Ex Machina here, I didn´t vote for Animal Man because I couldn´t really separate a storyline, for me the run as a whole was amazing, but separating it with the TPs makes sense. Also, Morrison stays on top!

I loved the Doll´s House, it´s definitely one of Sandman´s highlights, with the serial killer´s convention, although it´s not the storyline I voted for, which will probably be higher up on the list, I can´t see it not making it.

So, all in all, it wasn´t a bad day!

The Doll’s House and Long Halloween were just outside my top 10, I’m hoping Brief Lives makes an appearance now. I actually voted for Death of Gwen Stacy – the best classic era Spider-Man story, and that includes anything Stan wrote!

1 of 5, now at 25 of 70.

Only read the Sandman story, which was good.

The others are mostly classics, except for the assuredly controversial “The Long Halloween”.

26 of 70, actually.

The Crazed Spruce

December 10, 2009 at 6:06 am

The drugstore around the corner from where I live stopped carrying The Flash about halfway through “The Return of Barry Allen”, and the one on the other side of town didn’t start carrying it ’til “Terminal Velocity”, so I missed the end of this storyline. If I’d read the whole thing, it probably would’ve made my short list.

Haven’t read the other four, but they’re definitely on my “Must Buy” list (which keeps getting longer, thanks to this little countdown….)

And yes, for those of you keeping track, I’m STILL 0 for 10! Seriously, you’ve gotta run at least one of them tomorrow, right? Right? RIGHT?!?

Again 1/5 for me for a total of 14/70.

I only read The Doll’s House, but I plan to read Animal Man sometime soon.

4/5 for me putting me at 55 read, 16 unread. And finally one of my votes has turned up.

Return of Barry Allen – This is perfectly good, but I never understood why people are so passionate about it.

Death of Gwen Stacey – not read this.

The Long Halloween – Fantastic art, passable story.

Deus Ex Machina – Much as I disagree with all of these entries that are blatantly not a single story – or not a whole story – I had to vote for this when Brian said it would count. Animal Man is one of my (if not the) favourite runs of all time!

Doll’s House – It’s such a long time since I read this I’d have to reread it to comment.

Never read “Flash – RoBA” or “Spider-man – DoGS”, but have heard much of the latter to not be surprised that it made the list. Dunno about Flash – RoBA.

The Loeb/Sale Batman:TLH is a good read. One of Loeb’s actual hit.

Animal Man and Sandman is terrific and deserving of their places on this list.

3 greats and 2 I haven’t read.

Return of Barry Allen: To me, the height of Mark Waid’s Flash run. He crafted a suspensful story with good character beats and an excellent climactic battle. Larocque brought it to life nicely. I’m not a big Flash fan, but I really enjoyed this story.

Death of Gwen Stacy: I’ve only read the issue in which she dies, which was well-done.

The Long Halloween: For all its faults, I dug it. Tim Sale could make me buy just about anything, and his Joker design might be my favorite visual for the character.

Deus Ex Machina: I wrote that We3 was Morrison working on a more emotional level than usual, and someone (sorry I forget who) responded that Animal Man contained other emotional Morrison stories. This story knocked me out, between Buddy’s tragedy and the surprise in issue 26. I can see how the ending would not work for some readers, but it provided the closure some of us needed after the events of the preceding issues. (I’m trying to avoid spoilers; if you haven’t read it, even those who find other Morrison comics unsatisfying, I highly recommend his Animal Man run)

Doll’s House, aka Sandman Gets Good: Preludes & Nocturnes isn’t bad, but I can see why this was the Sandman trade released first. Between the mythology, new characters, Little Nemo homage, and serial convention, Gaiman, Dringenberg & Co. produced a story miles beyond the other mainstream comics of the time.

It feels so odd to me that people never read the death of Gwen Stacy. I was practically raised on it.

Ah, very nice to see both Animal Man and Doll’s House :D

nice to see the death of gwen stacy for it proved how spider man deals with loss badly and the green goblin is his joker. long halloween nice. and also another sand man on the list. animal man one of the few grant books that he does not go totatly nuts or insane writting

Hey Brian, you ever thought of hiring an assistant? You’re falling behind on the write-ups! LOL

Return of Barry Allen was probably the best story arc from the Waid run, glad its up here, although at the same time I’m NOT glad about the return of Barry Allen, if that makes sense.

Long Halloween was inevitable after Hush. I gotta admit though; its the first comic book story I ever really sat down and read, back when Batman Begins had came out and renewed my love of all things Batman as a kid. I really enjoyed it then, not so much now, but what the hell I’m actually glad its up here.

Gwen Stacey’s death. Its important. Won’t read it. But you know what I have read? Sins Past! And ya know why? I thought it was really good! Yeah, I said it. Probably because I don’t give a fuck if Gwen sleeps with Norman since I don’t care about her that much, and I was able to focus on the suspense and fun melodrama(it helps that Deodato JR has masterful body language).

Animal Man! Bout time we see this up here. I’m a much bigger fan of the second half than the first, and it seems the voters feel that way too. Great stuff.

This Sandman story arc was the one that really grabbed me and hooked me in for the entire run. Although its not my most favorite…that might show up later.

NEW TOTALS…will have to wait awhile. I’m away from my computer for the time being, so you’ll see it late this afternoon. Just know that the ’90s have probably caught up, and Morrison still reigns surpreme.

Ya know what? I could just use my list from yesterday, copypasta, and change a few things. NEW TOTALS in a minute…

“A few other artists” peeved me. The man’s name is Paris Cullins! He was a too-soon-forgotten, very underrated penciller.

The assistant accidentally erased all his write-ups transferring them from Word onto the Blog.

Workin’ on it right now.

Return of Barry Allen I haven’t read, though I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Will definitely need to check it out at some point.

Death of Gwen Stacy, no surprise, of course. Any other Spider-Man stories likely to show up? The Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut two-parter, probably; anything else?

After Hush made it it’s no surprise that Long Halloween made it. Not without it’s flaws, but I enjoy it. Didn’t vote for it (forgot about it, frankly) but I enjoy it. Per usual w/Loeb stories, the art really carries it.

Like Doom Patrol, Animal Man is on my “stuff by Morrison that everyone loves that I haven’t read yet” pile. Someday soon…

Another Sandman story, it’s Doll’s House…not surprised on either count.

Teebore: “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, as much as I detest it, will probably show up as well.

@Jeremy: ah, yes, thank you. You’re right, I bet that’ll show up.

I was trying to think of the other notable Spidey story between “Juggernaut” and the 90s, other than Death of Jean DeWolfe, and couldn’t. “Kraven’s Last Hunt” was it. I blame the early hour.

The Stern/Romita Hobgoblin Saga should definitely show up… maybe even the saga of the alien costume or the original McFarlane Venom storyline too.


Interesting notes – Morrison continues to dominate, Gaiman jumps into the top 3 with the comic magicians, and the 90s takes back its place at the top.

-25 of these are Marvel stories

-33 of these are DC stories(19 from DC, 11 from Vertigo, 3 from Wildstorm)

-51 are superhero stories
-19 are non-superhero stories

-1990s(27 entries, 4299 points)
-2000s(27 entries, 4103 points)
-1980s(11 entries, 1720 points)
-1970s(5 entries, 763 points)
-1960s(1 entry, 206 points)

By Writer:
-Morrison (9 entries, 1659 points)
-Moore (5 entries, 692 points)
-Gaiman (3 entries, 570 points)
-L. Simonson (2 entries, 566 points)
-Brubaker (4 entries, 564 points)
-Ellis (4 entries, 563 points)
-Busiek (3 entries, 537 points)
-Stern (3 entries, 520 points)
-Loeb (2 entries, 474 points)
-Ennis (3 entries, 430 points)
-W. Simonson (2 entries, 429 points)
-Bendis (3 entries, 381 points)
-Shooter (2 entries, 361 points)
-Jurgens (2 entries, 348 points)
-Ordway (2 entries, 348 points)
-Vaughan (2 entries, 295 points)
-Conway (1 entry, 250 points)
-Waid (1 entry, 239 points)
-Willingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Buckingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Johns (1 entry, 231 points)
-Sim (2 entries, 220 points)
-Claremont (1 entry, 218 points)
-Ditko(1 entry, 206 points)
-Lee(1 entry, 206 points)
-Whedon (1 entry, 195 points)
-David (1 entry, 179 points)
-Kessel (1 entry, 167 points)
-Jones (1 entry, 167 points)
-Pak(1 entry, 165 points)
-Miller (1 entry, 162 points)
-Rucka(1 entry, 160 points)
-Grayson(1 entry, 160 points)
-Robinson (1 entry, 142 points)
-Dixon (1 entry, 142 points)
-Moenech (1 entry, 142 points)
-Aparo (1 entry, 142 points)
-Stern (1 entry, 141 points)
-Michelinie (1 entry, 141 points)
-JMS (1 entry, 140 points)
-Starlin (1 entry, 140 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)
-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)

@Gavin Bell: Hobgoblin Saga might show up, or the alien costume. I thought about the Venom intro, but I feel like if that was going to place, it would have already. Then again, who knows?


Something’s off with that L. Simonson entry.

Otherwise, good job!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

December 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

Thing about the Long Halloween — all that great Two-Face origin stuff, the parts not about Holiday? Taken straight from Andy Helfer and Chris Sprouse’s Batman Annual #14 over 15 years prior, with Helfer’s permission. Big chunks of the dialogue from the Helfer issue are used wholesale, in fact.

I’m loving this list. The diversity is great, with classic 70’s, groundbreaking 80’s, flashy 90’s, decompressed 00’s (okay, those last two not so much this round, but on the list in general…)

I’m a Morrison fan, and I think his Animal Man run is the most satisfying one, and this portion is a great choice. I didn’t vote for any Morrison stuff as I had trouble breaking his runs down into storylines that I wanted to vote for, but looking at it, I think Deus Ex Machina holds up well as an ongoing story (Buddy’s visionquest and his attempts to save his family).

I guess at this point any names that pop up are going to have point-totals that have them bouncing in and out of the top five. I can’t believe Frank Miller’s only got one entry so far, but with 3 sure things on the way he’s suddenly going to bounce to the top part of the list. Similarly Claremont’s sure entry is going to shoot his score into quadruple digits.

amir – Yeah, I did something wrong with that, but I was kind of winging it when I did the list since I have my formula at home. I’ll have to fix it when I get back.

Oh, I beieve he has 3 entries actually, both “Death of Superman” stories, and Mutant Massarce. I think the point total might be right.

“Return of Barry Allen: To me, the height of Mark Waid’s Flash run. He crafted a suspensful story with good character beats and an excellent climactic battle. Larocque brought it to life nicely. I’m not a big Flash fan, but I really enjoyed this story.”

I almost agree – it’s my second favorite Waid Flash story… it IS the one that made me take a look at Wally, though. I got into comic collecting through Barry Allen – I discovered a run of comics at a yard sale as a small child, read them, loved them, and started buying them… just as a small event called “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was getting up to speed. You can imagine how disappointed I was when my newly-found hero was taken from me so fast. I decided that I would never read the pretender to the throne.

Then along comes this storyline. I must read it, so I buy them. I love the writing, how human Waid makes the heroes. There is no Wally/Flash or Jay/Flash split – they are who they are, in costume or out. Excellent character work. So I decide to find the start of Waid’s run, and thus I read “Born to Run”. This has become my favorite storyline of all time. I HIGHLY recommend that ANYONE who is a Flash fan who hadn’t read this go read it. It’s in trade.

Within a month of reading BtR, I had all the Wally Flash back issues, and haven’t missed an issue since.

Louise Simonson is a She. And yeah it is odd to see such an averagely successful writer do so well


I think you meant “Keith GIFFEN” rather than “Keith Grifen”…


4/5 for me today. i haven’t read the death of gwen stacy because the story seems so familiar to anyone that has closely followed comics that i’ve never felt like i need to read it.

deus ex machina- the best part of one of my favorite runs ever, but i didn’t vote for it because, to me, it’s not a storyline. rather, animal man #5-#26 is the “storyline.” basically, i have the same complaint that i had with the elektra saga. but, beyond that, it is utterly fantastic comics work, so if seeing it on this list gets someone to go out and try animal man, then that’s cool.

long halloween- i loved it. i know the story is a bit on the weak and undeveloped side, but that’s just how loeb writes, and this was back when his writing was still fresh and new. i know loeb hasn’t done anything good in a long while, but just because the man sucks now, don’t take it out on this. long halloween has to rank amongst the top 5-10 most beautifully drawn superhero stories ever. even if there were no words, sale’s art still might have vaulted it into the lowest reaches of this list. long halloween also came out at a time when we hadn’t seen a good batman story in a really long time, maybe since tim drake took over robin. over the past ten years, younger comic fans have been spoiled on a shitload of great batman stories, but it wasn’t like that in the 90s.

dolls house- my personal favorite sandman story, and the one i voted for. it’s definitely the story that started people talking and really turned sandman into sandman. as well as being a great whole story with an extremely satisfying conclusion, it has two of the best segues in comics history–“men of good fortune” (the introduction of hob gadling), and “collectors” (the serial killers convention-one of the creepiest and best ideas in comics at the time).

return of barry allen- maybe the single hardest story for me to cut from my list. along with kingdom come, this is definitely the story where mark waid’s legacy comfortably rests. for anyone that lists wally west as a favorite character, that likely traces back to this story. even though wally gave up being kid flash years earlier in teen titans 39, he didn’t REALLY become the flash until here, when he finally came out from barry’s shadow and became his own man. an ironic twist on the idea of giving people what they want: the story that teased of barry coming back is finally what made fans stop asking for barry’s return and fully embrace wally. not only is this the story i think geoff johns has been trying his whole life to write, but it would be good for him to learn a lesson here: the people never have any idea what they want, except that they want a good story.

overall, great stuff on the list today. except for a few more “questionables” that might still show up (civil war, secret invasion, origin, and infinite crisis), i think we’ve officially reached the “all killer, no filler” part of the list. the next nine days should spotlight some of the best of the best of mainstream comics writing.

I was away for the holidays for the voting so I didn’t have time to work my list out. I do like Born to Run better than either Terminal Velocity or Return of Barry Allen years later. I came into Return knowing the twist. I think if I didn’t it would have been a much bigger deal. My favorite part is how he teases the fans, gives them a great story, and then still rewards them by giving them the return of his revamped (and very cool) version of Iris.

I’m not going to talk about Loeb now. He’s better with Sale.

I really hate the end of Animal Man 25. I really hate it. Again, this was reading it years later, but I was so disappointed when Morrison finally gets there and basically has nothing to say. I understand the point of it but my expectations were so different. That’s life though.

@Matt D: What do you mean when you say Morrison “has nothing to say” in Animal Man 26? What did you expect him to say? Literally speaking, Morrison has a great deal to say in 26; the issue is filled with his dialogue bubbles. Also, you’ll recall that one of the main threads in the run was animal rights, which Morrison discusses at length (relative to a comic book anyway) in 26, and even makes a tacit apology to the reader for coming across as preachy in writing about this heated subject. Moreover, the issue marks an early appearance of themes Morrison would take up in many of his later works, the self-aware narrative and, more specific to this issue, the idea of inspiring, imaginative comics over the grim-‘n’-gritty Watchmen style that was rapidly becoming the norm when he was scripting Animal Man in 1991. I think it’s perfectly fair to dislike the issue, but to argue that he says nothing, I just don’t see how you can make that claim.

Read Doll’s House, and know so much about Death of Gwen Stacey as to make reading it redundant by now. I was waiting for some more Sandman to show up!

Really starting to regret not voting, actually.

“A few other artists” peeved me. The man’s name is Paris Cullins! He was a too-soon-forgotten, very underrated penciller.

Cullins was not the only guy not listed. You not noting them has now peeved those artists’ fans. ;)

I’ve read three of these:
“Death of Gwen Stacy” – which I like a lot and mainly its importance comes from killing a very important character and having a scene that has echoes in a lot of Spider-man comics since.

“Long Halloween” -I thought it was a good read. Don’t love it, but I don’t think it is bad.

“Doll’s House” – I read the first two trades of Sandman and it didn’t hook me to keep on reading. At some point I will have to keep going because Sandman is so loved among the comics community and because “Death: The High Cost of Living” is my second favorite storyline. But while reading Doll’s House I didn’t feel like I was reading something great.

I’ve never read the Death Of Gwen Stacy. The first Spider-Man I ever read was the one with the Punisher, just a few issues later. But I’ve been hearing about the story ever since. It was really referred to a lot in those earliest issues I read. It’s definitely an important story, and if I had read it it’s quite likely I would’ve voted for it.

I don’t think the introduction of Venom will show up here. That was a single-issue story. There were one-page teasers in each of the previous issues, but I don’t think that counts.

Yay, the first of my picks makes the list! Would have been shocked not to see Gwen Stacy on here though to be honest.
And I’m only 20/70 in total, which I was a little surprised by, thought I was more well-read than that.

There’s still time for Judge Dredd to make it in…

I’m suprised how many people haven’t read the Death of Gwen Stacy. It’s not just famous for the death; it’s genuinely probably the greatest Spider-Man story ever written.

Haven’t quite gotten that far in my Animal Man reading yet. And haven’t read the Flash. Things like that Flash comic which seem like the flavor of the month bringing down my reading percentage doesn’t particularly concern me though.

RE: Death of Gwen Stacy, what happens to me is basically what Daniel says, I just feel so familiar with it without reading it, I saw the famous panels and all, so I never felt the need to actually go and read it, but I will eventually.

RE: Return of Barry Allen, I will probably pick this up soon. It’s been a long time since I read a Flash comic, I started reading with Mike Baron’s run and I stopped buying at the end of Messner-Loebs run. I picked it up again with Terminal Velocity, and stopped buying again when Augustyn was writing and Paul Ryan was drawing, or something like that, I don’t really remember much and I haven’t reread those issues in a long time, but I’ve always liked Wally West, so I have already added it to my to-buy list that I’m creating with this list.

The Crazed Spruce

December 10, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Don’t know anyone else’s excuse, but I haven’t read “The Death of Gwen Stacey” because I didn’t start buying my own comics ’til the early 80’s, when I turned 10, and even then I bought almost entirely DC. At the time, I didn’t like Marvel’s “real-world” approach, and preferred DC more fantasy-like stories. I didn’t outgrow it ’til I hit my teens, but I always had a soft spot for DC. Gwen Stacey was killed before I started buying Marvel comics, and since I’ve never lived anywhere near a comic shop, I never picked up the trade paperback. I appreciate how important the story is, and I definitely plan to read it someday, but to date I’ve never actually read it.

I didn’t get a chance to vote but I’m starting to think about the storylines I think made it to the Top 10. Some thoughts are:
Batman: Year One (Batman)
The Great Darkness Saga (Legion of Super-Heroes)
The Sinestro Corps War (Green Lantern, GL Corps, various one-shots)
The Dark Phoenix Saga (X-men)

RE: My last comment. I confess to having a brain fart. I mixed up the Return of Barry Allen with Flash: Rebirth and made a snarky comment with that mixup in mind. I am shamed.

RE: My last comment. I confess to having a brain fart. I mixed up the Return of Barry Allen with Flash: Rebirth and made a snarky comment with that mixup in mind. I am shamed.

Phew. I was wondering what the heck you were talking about – “Waid’s Flash the flavor of the month? Huh?”

I think Great Darkness and Year One are top twenty, but not quite top ten. At a guess, the top ten will be, in some order, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight Returns, Season of Mists, All-Star Superman, the Dark Phoenix Saga, Born Again, Sinestro Corps Wars, Kraven’s Last Hunt, and Grand Theft America.

This is a great feature.

I’d like to add my voice to the crowd asking for a followup ‘best done-in-one stories’. It could potentially be even more interesting than this one, given that stories from every era could compete on a more equal footing, not to mention the fact that a single-issue story has more chance of being perfect than a longer storyline or run. I also think there would be less pressure to pick ‘important’ stories, as one-shots are by their nature slighter, more intricately crafted things than multipart sagas or miniserieses.

I’d also like to add my voice to the crowd asking Daniel to start using capitals letters.

Just noticing how many of these are Batman and Spider-Man, for the most part deservedly, I think.

Can’t help thinking of the poll a while back about the highest % of great comics belonging to Spidey, Flash, Daredevil and Hellblazer. Funny how Spider-Man wasn’t considered that high on that poll (I don’t think, anyway, he didn’t get much respect in the comments section) and yet he’s kicking those other comics’ butts here.

Obviously there’s a difference between that poll and this one, and those great Spidey stories are offset by a lot of mediocre ones, but still funny that the other guys aren’t making anywhere near as good a showing (DD’s probably got a couple more to come, but I don’t know about the others).

Also, we haven’t seen a single FF story yet, have we? Probably some stuff on the horizon (involving a big G), but still interesting when compared to X-men and especially Avengers (which still has at least one submission to come from Mr. Stern, I suspect).

Return of Barry Allen – my first vote (9 points) to make the list. I loved this story, and it was a perfect one to read in its day…back when you weren’t sure if they were going to bring Barry back, and when you weren’t sure if you wanted them to bring Barry back…suddenly, there he was. And Waid takes several issues to show us that it really is Barry back, and it’s something we should all be happy about, just as Wally is happy. But then it takes a dark turn, and I was suddenly thinking, “Oh no! Did they just bring Barry back to do this to him?!” I really identified with Wally as he had his “worst day ever,” and with his indignation and sense of justice as he rallied himself back to victory. I was impressed by Waid’s ability to tie-in this plot line with the character growth of Wally “coming into his own”. To me, it’s the perfect character story. And as someone said, Wally is one of my favorite characters, if not my absolute favorite, and it does go back to this story.

“Maybe I don’t want to replace Barry Allen, but I sure as heck am not going to let this guy do it!” or something to that effect.

i loved the Return of Barry Allen. Always loved the Flash & Waid’s writes a great story. The art isn’t the strongest point, but its not bad

Also, started collecting Animal Man with #14-17 [got them all at the same time] and was totally hooked. Have the full run [even the Milligan stuff, which is also good], and still think that issue 19 has THE most unnerving panel [full page really] in comics – EVER. Still get creep out by it today.


Funny how Spider-Man wasn’t considered that high on that poll (I don’t think, anyway, he didn’t get much respect in the comments section) and yet he’s kicking those other comics’ butts here.

Spider-Man won that poll handedly.

Gerry Conway is a mediocre writer, but he managed to create a true classic in The Death of Gwen Stacy. The death itself, yes, but also how Spider-Man almost saves her, but ultimately may have contributed to her death, and the death of Normal Osborn, and Peter’s final outburst at Mary Jane, and she deciding to stay by his side even after said outburst. It has been referenced so many times that it’s easy to forget how perfect the story is.

The Flash is perhaps Mark Waid’s best work. And at the time I was pissed that Wessner-Loebs was off the book, as I was enjoying a lot his quirky, slightly-satirical take on superheroics.

Death of Gwen Stacy wasn’t easily available when I was growing up. It was an expensive back issue, and there wasn’t a trade. When a trade was released in the ’90s, I skipped to the legendary issue, read it in the store, and put it back. (not cool, I know, but it’s not something I’m in the habit of doing, and I know I bought something else) I thought it was good, but I didn’t have the urge to read any more ’70s Spider-Man.

Born to Run was very good. I’m not sure it will show up on this countdown, but anyone who hasn’t read it should check it out. Born to Run and Return of Barry Allen are great bookends to Wally West’s overall story.

Re FF: The Galactus Trilogy should show up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Byrne’s Trial of Galactus. Outside candidates include The New FF story (Simonson & Adams!), Unthinkable or another Waid story, and FF 25 & 26 (Thing vs. Hulk).

I’m sorry people, but what the **** are you voting on here? Deus Ex Machina is 1000 times better than the Doll’s House, as much as I like the latter. But it just isn’t nearly as thought out and perfect as Animal Man is. I can only hope that its low placement is a result of people’s inability to separate Animal Man into storylines.

BTW, nice to see Morrison at the top.

You are upset that Doll’s House, from Sandman, an extremely popular and acclaimed comic, beat something else by 2 points?

Maybe he isn’t a goth girl.

“Gerry Conway is a mediocre writer,”

While I can’t speak to his later work, his original Spider-Man run remains one of the best in the character’s history both in the quality of the story telling and the structure of his plotting. He revived the character from the slump that Lee had unfortunately left him in, and did a lot of the leg-work of making the character a pop-culture icon.

As for Death of Gwen Stacy, for those of you who aren’t reading it because you already know the general plot: While that’s certainly a valid point, the real meat of the story is in the minor details and scenes that so often get glossed over when the event is retold. It’s worth a look.

Of all these, the only one I haven’t read is the last Animal Man trade, mainly because I don’t have the money to pick it up (I do have the first two). I have skimmed it, though.

“The Long Halloween” doesn’t hold up after you twig to all the scenes directly lifted from “The Godfather” and “Silence of the Lambs”. Watch the source material and you’ll see these moments better executed and, most importantly, in-context. In contrast, “The Death of Gwen Stacy” holds up remarkably well for a mainstream house-style Marvel comic from the early 70s. I was amazed by how well it actually worked compared with modern comic storytelling techniques when I finally got round to reading it a few years ago. It isn’t just shock for sake of shock–the emotional moments are well-executed, and the ending is one of the best endings I’ve ever read in a Spider-Man story.

“The Doll’s House” is the best of the stories here, but I reread it right before I got news that my mom died, and I haven’t been able to read it again since.

I’ll have to disagree with you, Wilson. Strongly.

Conway had two wonderful ideas: killing Gwen and creating the Punisher.

But he also gave us the mess that was Jackal and Gwen Stacy’s clone (it pains me just to think about it), and “memorable” villains like Grizzly, Kangaroo, Cyclone, Mindworm, and (a cut above the other lame-os) Tarantula. And May Parker marrying Doc Ock (what the hell !?!).

Harry Osborn becoming the second Green Goblin is a good (and much imitated) idea, but Conway’s execution there is nothing special. John Jameson as Man-Wolf? A bit better, but not enough to elevate Conway above mediocrity.

And I think Conway’s run on Spidey was the absolute best thing he ever did. Considering that he wrote the entire Marvel line in the 1970s (Thor, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, briefly the Avengers, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Marvel Team-Up), and most of it is awful, I consider his somewhat good work on Spidey as enough to qualify him as mediocre instead of painful.

It’s strange, because the other series of his that I think I liked better was Werewolf by Night. It seemed as if his weirdo B-Movie ideas are a better fit for horror than superheroes.

I’m somewhere between Rene and E. Wilson on this. I think, as far as writing ability is concerned, Conway is a mediocre writer.

That said, his Spider-Man’s were great. But I think it was right ideas at the right time.

Killing Gwen and Norman. Great move. And that story was excellent. From Spidey thinking he saved her, to MJ’s character moving forward. Just perfect.

Making Harry evil. Great move.

I’d even argue that the Jackal was a good villain and the Clone Saga was a good story. The best part though was the aftermath in issue 150 which he didn’t write.

Aunt May marrying Dr. Octopus was an amusing story. Have some sense of fun. Great cover. “With this ring, I thee– web?!?”

But is he particularly outstanding as a writer? At all consistent in quality? No. He’s written some bad comics and some good ones, but mostly okay ones. I think it’s hard to rate him much higher than mediocre. I rather like his Spider-Mans though, so I’m happy to hear arguments.

@ Sam L.: On the Death of Gwen Stacy, no, you don’t. I had heard all about the story. I knew exactly how it went down. But it still hit me hard when I read it, and that’s without having read a single other story with her in it other than Sins Past and HoM.

Gerry Conway also created Ms Marvel, which probably explains why the primary supporting characters in her early issues were Jonah Jameson and Mary Jane Watson.

And he created Tombstone in the late ’80s. You’ve got to give him credit for that. And he’s the only writer I’m aware of to create a subplot for Glory Grant. (Sure, he had her dating a gangster werewolf, but the poor girl really deserved a story of her own after so long, so it’s hard to complain.)

Gil Kane was my favourite Spidey artist after Ditko. I preferred the Goblin drug story in 96-98 in terms of story telling and tension to the death story. Gerry Conway and then Ross Andru’s drawings more or less killed off the comic. Or maybe I was just much older when I read them as the comic stopped being imported just before 121 as British Marvel were doing the Mighty World Of Marvel.

I think you could say that the Death Of Gwen Stacy was also the death of Spiderman comics. I never liked the Punisher much or Todd Macfarlane. I liked the Ultimate Spiderman run cos it basically started again. You can have a good run in a long running comic but after a certain time a character either has a happy or tragic ending or it gets repetitive. Like Dream dying and getting reborn, or Batman dying or Captain America…how often can you keep bringing them back.

I loved Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier…that’s what can be done with a franchise. Only problem is the writer has to always put the franchise back to the way it was before he/she shook it up.

I can’t believe you actually prefer Gil Kane to Ross Andru. Ross Andru is still THE Spider-Man artist to me. I always picture his version of all the characters as the way they’re supposed to look. (Except for Aunt May. Andru’s version of May looked very strange.)
I guess it’s all just a matter of one’s age. Whichever artist you read first tends to be the right one in your mind.

With that being said, I can appreciate many of the other artists, such as Romita, or Ron Frenz, but Gil Kane’s art has always looked strange to me.

I agree that in a real way the death of Gwen was a death (if not THE death) of Spider-Man comics. It happened to be the very first issue I ever read, so the intense drama pretty much hooked me alright.
But as time went by and both reprints and back issues became available I discovered that I much prefered the older Spider-Man stories (and art, whether Ditko, Romita or Kane) to the mid-70’s issues.
There was a good What If in the early 80’s that explored what if Gwen had lived. I think all in all it would have been a better and more honest way to go.
(Although she probably would have been transformed by Mysterio and Dormammu into a radioactive arachnid succubus or some such by ’96 or so, and then gang-raped by Stegron and the Sinister Six in 2002. Now of course, after her startling 2007 sex change into Glen Stacy she fights the city’s hermaphrodite mafia as the BallBuster.)

I’ve read all of these except Return of Barry Allen and Deus Ex Machina. Wasn’t much of a Flash fan anyway.
I’m seriously considering on buying some Animal Man trades, though..The way some people talk about Morrison’s Animal Man fascinates me to the point that i gotta at least try one trade soon.
You folks think i should start with this story?
Well, if A Game of You can be in this list, then The Doll’s House would certainly show up as well..it was only a matter of when.
When thinking about The Doll’s House, something always comes to mind: The Serial Killers Convention.
That is fantasy/horror at its best. The Corinthian at his worst.

Of course intrinsic artistic merit is a matter of opinion. But Ditko always seemed (to me) streets ahead of John Romita Sr and Gil Kane did too. And Ross Andru is down there just above Don Heck.

But that is, obviously, just my opinion.

I’m seriously considering on buying some Animal Man trades, though..The way some people talk about Morrison’s Animal Man fascinates me to the point that i gotta at least try one trade soon.
You folks think i should start with this story?

No – the second trade is absolutely essential – though personally I’d recommend starting with the first trade.

Gwen Stacy’s death was inevitable in retrospect.

I think I’ll side with much-maligned editors and against comic book fanboys in this one.

In certain open-ended superhero comics, long-term happiness is detrimental to the story. So yeah, I agree that Spider-Man can’t ever have the perfect girl for an extended period. Of course, he could have had her, if Marvel just went a different route and started to age the characters in the late-1960s, eventually ending their particular stories and bringing in successor heroes or whatever.

But it just did not happened that way.

@Chris Nowlin:
Pretty much. It’s just that Deus Ex Machina was the zenith of Animal Man and The Doll’s House is (for me) the nadir of The Sandman.

How weird. I can only see 7 comments. I know there has to be more than 7 comments. Something must be wrong.

And now that I posted that, I can see 71 comments. Very strange indeed.

@Jeremy: How come you refuse to read The Death of Gwen Stacy, which is a great story (granted I’m biased as I voted it in as #1, and ASM #121 in Fine condition is one of the prides of my collection)? Is it only because it came out in 1973? That makes me laugh… like my brother who won’t watch any movies if they are black and white.

If it is because you can’t find a copy of it, I have it reprinted in Marvel Tales #192. I’ll mail it to you gratis, like as a public service.

The comments disappeared again. Weird

I’ve got to be honest: I read the Death of Gwen Stacy a few years ago. Now, maybe I’m just of the wrong generation of readers, as I can tell it was really important to the generation that came before me… but it just struck me as a really poorly-written, irritating story. Almost comically so– the actual pages depicting Gwen’s death are just corny and bad, even by superhero standards.

I’ve read the other stuff on this portion of the list and either found it quite good or, in the case of the Long Halloween, can at least imagine why someone would’ve liked it even though the story is lacking in certain respects of craft. The Death of Gwen Stacy just strikes me as an awful dinosaur of a rightfully bygone age. Unless the rest of this list contains a lot of other, much better Spider-Man stories, it’s going to be a bit depressing that it’s ranking so high.

The Return of Barry Allen proved why Barry Allen shouldn’t return. I too count it as the highlight of Waid’s runs on Flash.

Reading it month by month as it came out was one of the most compelling and suspenseful periods of my entire comic-collecting life. Each month you thought there was no way the next issue could top the excitement, surprise and suspense of this month’s, yet you could barely wait the month needed, to find out that it did after all! There was a hint of this in Waid’s Captain America runs, but never so strongly as in RoBA.

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