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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #30-26

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)

30. “Infinity Gauntlet” by Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim, Joe Rubinstein and a couple of other inkers (Infinity Gauntlet #1-6) – 268 points (2 first place votes)

29. “Brief Lives” by Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, Vince Locke and Dick Giordano (Sandman #41-49) – 269 points (6 first place votes)

28. “Ultimates 2″ by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary (Ultimates 2 #1-13) – 294 points (3 first place votes)

26 (tie). “Identity Crisis” by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales and Michael Bair (Identity Crisis #1-7) – 304 points (2 first place votes)

Identity Crisis is a murder mystery, where the victim is the wife of a superhero, Elongated Man.

Sue Dibny, like her hero husband Ralph, was a public figure, so when she was murdered, it threw the whole superhero community into a frenzy – are THEIR loved ones at risk, too?

The death of Sue also caused a group of Justice Leaguers to reflect back on the last time they caught a super-villain messing with a loved one (Sue, actually) – they wiped his memory clean. So they figured that this villain might have remembered it, and since Sue’s death possibly could have been caused by someone with this villain’s powers, he became the most wanted villain on the planet.

Soon other loved ones of heroes are attacked (and some killed) and the mystery ratchets up, all the while contrasting with the loss of trust between some of the heroes when they learn what these Leaguers did in the past (not to mention a major battle when the fugitive villain hires Deathstroke the Terminator to protect him).

When the murderer is revealed – it is a shock to the system, to say the least.

Rags Morales and Michael Bair do a wonderful job with the facial expressions in this series, which is important because writer Brad Meltzer includes a good deal of emotional scenes.

This series has been one of the most influential series of the past 10 years for DC Comics, as a great many comics spun out of this one.

26 (tie). “Super-Human” by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Andrew Currie (Ultimates #1-6) – 304 points (5 first place votes)

In the first story arc of the Ultimates, we are first introduced to Captain America during World War II.

When he is discovered almost 60 years later, he becomes part of the Ultimates, the United States government’s own superhero team.

Headed by Nick Fury, the team is quite dysfunctional – since Captain America’s disappearance, scientists have been trying to perfect the Super Soldier Serum that made Captain America, well, Captain America, and two of those scientists, Hank Pym and Bruce Banner, have developed other powers due to their work – Pym can grow to giant-size and Banner has accidentally created a monstrous being called the Hulk.

Along with Pym’s wife, Wasp (who can shrink – ostensibly because of Pym’s work) and the armored hero, Iron Man (who is a drunk), the Ultimates are not exactly taken all that seriously. A powerful hero claiming to be the Norse god Thor, refuses to join the group because he feels that they are just government lackeys.

When the Hulk goes on the warpath in New York City, the Ultimates have their first mission and, through the assistance of Thor, save the day, but not before many New Yorkers are killed.

In the epilogue to the first story, Pym takes out his frustrations on his wife, in a brutal scene of domestic violence.

There is not a ton of action in the first arc (the second story has tons, though), as Millar spends a lot of time establishing the various characters. However, there is also a lot of examples of “widescreen comics,” as Hitch uses the approach that made him famous in the Authority to great acclaim in the Ultimates – there are many breathtaking pages of art in this series.

155 Comments

Yay! Brief Lives! Brief Lives is my personal favorite Sandman arc. It makes me happy in all my happy places!

I am officially “meh” on all the others.

With the appearane of “Identity Crisis”, “Infinite Crisis” looks like a lock for showing up later.

Both make me shake my head.

REALLY?

FUCKING SERIOUSLY?

53/75 for me now. I hope to stay at two thirds by the end. Why? ‘Cause it’s there, that’s why.

Five out of five this time for me, but man these are such different works. There’s a story that is amazing, and sure to last, particularly as literature (Brief Lives), two books that are very well-crafted superhero work (the Ultimates books), one is a guilty pleasure, for me at least, from when I was young (Infinity Gauntlet) and the last is a big event that, again in my opinion, falls flat and will arguably diminish in prestige as the years go on (Identity Crisis).

YMMV of course…

1. Infinity Gauntlet is fun splody splode, but seems pretty high for it’s actual quality.

2. The Ultimates probably represent Millar’s best work, and I’m glad the (often pretty dickish) internet backlash didn’t stop it from placing, but it, too, seems a bit on the high side, especially v2.

3. I can say nothing about Sandman that hasn’t already been said. Deserving of it’s spot.

4. Identity Crisis isn’t bad on it’s own merits, but everyone with a longer term stake in any of the characters seemed to hate every second of it. Genuinely surprised to see it make the list all.

A 5/5 day for me almost by accident. 48/75 overall.

Does it feel like we’re working through the list backwards to anyone else? If you read it reverse, certain placements seem a lot more fitting.

And here’s where I vomit up my entire intestinal tract.

I’m not too sure about Identity Crisis being worthy of this spot, but the rest is certainly deserving.

Interesting, though, how close both volumes of the Ultimates is.

@Andy:
“Identity Crisis isn’t bad on it’s own merits, but everyone with a longer term stake in any of the characters seemed to hate every second of it.”

That is the best assessment I ever saw on Identity Crisis. As a JLA novice I really liked IC, but my friend who is a longtime JLA buff hates it with a fiery passion. I can totally see his point as I was just interested in this particular story and have no real interest in reading about these characters again, whereas he does… and the whole mindwipe thing doesn’t seem like a thing you could ever forgive. Like in the old Squadron Supreme series, ideological differences don’t run much deeper than this.

If this poll were run in 1992 there would be a lot of Venom and Cyber Force on it. “Number 63: Shadowhawk Revealed!”

I thought the last batch was a good sampling of stories, but this one, like so many others is full of overblown EVENT stuff.

Infinity Gauntlet wasn’t exactly bad, but boy was there a lot of padding for a six issue storyline. The preceeding two issue miniseries, The Thanos Quest, was a lot better. Not to mention Starlin’s original Thanos vs Warlock series, now that was good comics!

A bit surprising to see Brief Lives beating The Doll’s House. The Delirium effect?

I’ve read 4 of these taking me to 59 read vs 16 not read

Infinity Gauntlet – Not read

Brief Lives – I’m sure it was good, but honestly all I can remember is the terrible Jill Thompson art.

Ultimates 2 – Love Ultimates. I like Millar generally, but Ultimates was probably his peak.

Identity Crisis – I’m a long term DC reader who actually liked this. It wasn’t earth shattering or in any worthy of being this high, but I enjoyed it.

Super Human – Very good stuff indeed. This made my shortlist.

I heard Identity Crisis was originally conceived as an Elsewords story, like Kingdom Come.

Jesus Wept….

This is a bad day indeed.

I haven’t read Infinity Gauntley, but from what I read about it, I won’t be picking it up anytime soon.

I’m very glad to see Brief Lives here, although it wasn’t my pick from Sandman. I presume my pick will be in the Top 10, I would be surprised not to see it there.

I would have been surprised not to see Ultimates on this list, although I believe that both entries are placed too high. They are entertaining and well drawn, but I never would have voted for them.

The only thing I liked about Identity Crisis is the Deathstroke vs the JLA fight, but I’m also not surprised to see it here.

So basically, the only thing I see deserving to be so high on this list is Brief Lives.

Ultimates are a great series and I’m glad its up here.

Sandman. ‘Nuff Said.

Never read Infinity Gauntlet, but whatever.

Identity Crisis…oh boy. Infinite Crisis placing in the top 25 stories of all time CONFIRMED.

New Totals in a minute

Blah blah blah whining blah blah blah don’t care anymore…

I wonder how many of these storylines will be on the list 10 years from now…

i don’t understand people’s shock and disgust here. well, maybe disgust.

but this is the society/culture that has brought us TV shows like “Deal Or No Deal” (where people show they don’t have a basic concept of statistics), “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” (where people show they aren’t), and “Flavor Of Love.” yet “Firefly” only lasted 11 episodes.

just because you think you’re an example of good taste and intelligence doesn’t mean your peers are.

Still hoping for Grendel and more Swamp Thing . . .

Still hoping for Grendel and more Swamp Thing . . .

What about MAGE I and II?

Those were pretty good.

Now if only Matt Wagner can get MAGE III out, I’d die a happy fan!

So Infinite Crisis is still to come? Really?? Now the problem is certain classic Marvel storylines are clearly not going to make it.

Crisis (both of them), Watchmen, more Sandman, one or two Fantastic Four stories, All Star Superman, Daredevil, pretty much the most popular stuff.

jhota has a good point.

Flavor of Love. Heheheh. That show is probably one of the reasons other countries hate America. “Wait a minute… these people are rich and can have anything they want… and they line up women who shit on the floor? What? Wait… hold on… let’s just kill these damn fools… they don’t deserve to live!”

You also forgot to mention that people love TMZ, or that when I turn on the news it is 95% Tiger Woods Love Scandal, 4% Weather (ooohh… it’s cold in the winter in most of the US… how the hell could I ever have guessed that?), 0.95% local murders, rapes and robberies, and 0.05% about anything of any substance, like international politics or the economy or the TWO WARS the US is currently fighting.

And you guys are surprised that people find more merit in brain dead fare like Indentity Crisis than in challenging stuff like Final Crisis? Really? I mean, come on. Most people aren’t that bright. Otherwise everyone would be straight-A students, but most people are B- students.

Brief Lives was great. Great story and great art.

Ultimates and Ultimates 2 were good. Maybe not this high good, but still good.

Identity Crisis has been unfairly criticized, but still doesn’t deserve a spot this high on the list.

Infinity Gauntlet was bad. It perfectly shows how crappy Marvel ‘cosmic’ comics were for a very long time.

Identity Crisis > LoEG, Jimmy Corrigan, We3, Long Halloween, and If This Be My Destiny. Yeah, that sounds about right for this list. The thing that makes its placement an even bigger joke than it already is is the fact that if you actually asked the people who voted for it what they thought about the lower-ranking Knightfall and Death of Superman, similar sensationalist event comics, they would probably agree in retrospect that they were better and/or more important than Identity Crisis. So IC’s placement is an insult on all fronts: it shouldn’t be here because it’s awful, and it shouldn’t be here because it doesn’t even rank among the best of its awful ilk.

Listen: If you’ve only read 14 comic book stories in your lifetime, you are not fucking qualified to vote here. I’ve read somewhere on the order of 5000 comics in my life, and I still felt far too underinformed to vote (yes, that really is the reason why I didn’t vote). If you’ve honestly read tens of thousands of comic books and concluded that Identity Crisis was among the best, fine, you’re horrible, but whatever, different strokes and all that bullshit. But that’s not what happened here at all. What happened with this contest is that all the clowns who have a single bookshelf dedicated to comic books joined forces with the second set of jokers who won’t buy a comic even by their favorite creator (Brad Meltzer, obviously), if it doesn’t have the Marvel or DC seal of approval on it (Vertigo doesn’t count, by the way) to populate this list with their idiotic choices. And the sad thing is that these people don’t seem to be checking the list now or are otherwise debilitated by some crippling arthritis that keeps them from defending the (nonexistent) merits of their selections which are being panned near universally in the comments section.

@DanCJ – Our tastes clearly differ. Jill Thompson is one of my favorite comics artists, and I thought her style was especially suited to Brief Lives. I’m happy to see Brief Lives here, and not surprised to see it beat out Doll’s House, though I would have ranked Doll’s House higher. Brief Lives has a powerful ending that has enormous ramifications on the Sandman series… it’s no wonder it got so many votes. I believe there’s one more Sandman storyline to come, and personally, I feel Brief Lives should’ve beaten it… precisely because of the ending.

I didn’t vote on this poll, because I mostly read non-superhero comics (and that may have been a dumb reason, but it’s too late now, and I don’t care all that much personally), but it’s nice to see Sandman, Hellblazer and Doom Patrol getting some love.

I don’t really consider Identity Crisis a murder mystery since the murder was really just there to set things in motion. There was no real way a reader could solve it. It also suffered from the fact that no explanation was ever given why the murder of the wife of a publicly known hero would put anyone else’s loved ones in danger when there IDs are secret. From a plot point, Sue was a terrible choice for victim. In fact, she highlights the fact that heroes with public IDs can go for years without any attacks on loved ones.

The Crazed Spruce

December 11, 2009 at 7:27 am

I freely admit, I liked Infinity Gauntlet when it came out. And though I haven’t read it since I lost my copy in a house fire about seven years ago, I still remember it fondly. I personally don’t think it belongs in the top 30, but hey, I’m not about to bitch about othe people’s choices.

And while I agree that Identity Crisis pretty much stomped all over thirty or fourty years’ worth of JLA history, on its own it was a good solid murder mystery, and on that level I enjoyed it. (Even though Wizard spoiled the ending for me before I eventually got around to reading it.) Hell, it even made my short list!

Now, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with the Ultimates placing this high in the list. I’ve only read the first arc, but it was one hell of a story.

Haven’t read Sandman or the second Ultimates arc, but I definitely plan to eventually.

And I’m STILL 0 for 10! Geez, were my choices that ridiculously mainstream? *looks over list* Son of a bitch Well, the dominoes are gonna start falling tomorrow, for sure, ’cause there’s no way in hell that Funeral for a Friend/World Without a Superman made the top 20. Or Man of Steel. And World War III and Kraven’s Last Hunt would be pushing it…

Also, I think people aren’t taking into consideration one of the main draws of comic books, as opposed to say literature. Comic books have a relatively short history as a serious medium, but a long history as escapist fantasy (whether the genre be super-heroes, romance, crime, horror, war… it was all primarily escapist fantasy for the first 70% or more of the medium’s history).

On the other had, literature has a couple of millenia of serious works (stretching back to the Illiad and even earlier, I’m sure) to balance against its more escapist genre works.

I would argue that most people first got drawn into reading comics as an escape, and then found the merits of better crafted works. I know I did. So when I think of my favorites, the stories I hold dear to my heart, they aren’t necessarily the best pieces of work, they are the ones that drew me in to begin with, the stories I remember most fondly.

So, do I recognize that most of Morrison’s stuff has more critical merit than say Jim Shooter’s? Sure. But Secret Wars still got my vote because it is one of my favorite stories, not one of the best stories I ever read, whereas I didn’t vote for anything by Morrison at all. Do I have bad taste? Nah… I would have bad taste if I thought Morrison sucked. I’m just being honest with myself and voting on my favorite stories that I grew up loving, my true favorites, not the serious stuff I discovered later and enjoy from an intellectual standpoint, not an emotional one.

After all, this is a favorites list, not a best list, as has been pointed out many times.

Just like if I made a list of the Best Novels I ever read, it would read something like:

1. Moby Dick by Melville
2. 1984 by Orwell
3. Ulysses by Joyce
4. Siddhartha by Hesse
5. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce
6. Heart of Darkness by Conrad
7. The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Wilde
8. The Sun Also Rises by Hemmingway
9. Invisible Man by Ellison
10. Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut

However, my Favorite Novels is more like:

1. Bad Omens by Pratchett & Gaiman
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Lewis
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Adams
4. A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle
5. The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Shea & Wilson (The Golden Apple is my favorite)
6. The Dragonlance Chronicles by Weis & Hickman (The Dragons of Winter Night is my favorite)
7. The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Huston (All The Blood of Brooklyn is my favorite)
8. American Gods by Gaiman
9. The Hyperion Cantos by Simmons (The Fall of Hyperion is my favorite)
10. The Hobbit by Tolkien

There would be honorable mentions like A Song of Fire and Ice by Martin, Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange by Clarke, and Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, but they are too long and challenging to make my top the FAVORITE novels because I am less likely to go back and reread them than any of the ten above.

I dentity Crisis is pretty good if you only read Marvel and DC…..oh and if you’re a misogynist.

Infinity Gauntlet is a lot of fun. Didn’t vote for it myself, but I’m not surprised other people did.

More Sandman, no surprise there.

My first thought when I saw Ultimates 2 was “well, I guess that means Ultimates 1 will be showing up eventually…” Ha! I figured from the beginning both would place, though I didn’t think they’d get this high. But given the apparent bias towards newer stuff that emerged, it makes sense.

Identity Crisis, oh Identity Crisis. If you thought House of M making the list pissed people off…

Funny story about IC, building off of what jhota said. My younger brother, who read a lot of Marvel but knew little at the time about DC beyond the basics, read the first issue of Identity Crisis, curious after all the pre-release hype, and his biggest complaint was that all the hype he’d heard about “a shocking death” and “someone BIG dying” was a complete lie. “So the wife of a c-list character dies and that’s a big deal? Who cares?” Oh, if he only knew how much some people cared… :)

For me, my frustration with IC had less to do with the death of Sue Dibney (at the time, I could count the number of Elongated Man stories I’d read on one hand, having not read the “bwa-ha-ha” JL at that point) and more to do with the fact that it was a shoddily constructed mystery with an answer to the “whodunnit” that more or less cheated. I enjoyed it less and less as it went along, and that’s never a good thing.

I’d be really curious to see why the two people who gave it a first place vote like it more than anything else they’ve ever read, not in a snarky “What were they thinking? Are they crazy?” kind of way, but in a legitimate, “what is it about it you like so much?” kind of way.

To everyone who voted Identity Crisis: I want to take your aesthetic sense and taste in reading and kick it into the gutter and fuck it up. I don’t get why the hell that would be chosen over all of the other completely awesome (or even mediocre, but still better) storylines out there.

The Crazed Spruce

December 11, 2009 at 7:55 am

I’m sorry, Cass, but I have to take offence to some of what you’re saying. Just because a person’s tastes run a little more mainstream than yours, and tend to skew towards more recent “event” comics over the classic or independant ones is no reason to claim they don’t have a right to vote here. That’s the beauty of a democracy. Everyone gets to have their say, no matter how learned or how ignorant. And while, sure, a more informed decision would likely make for a better one, that is no reason to look down your nose on people’s votes because they don’t share your vast breadth of knowledge. Especially since you couldn’t be bothered to cast your own ballot. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, if you decide not to vote, then you forfeit your right to bitch about the results.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. Feel free to disagree. :)

nice to see sandman get some loving and also the infinity Gaunlet. but Idenity crisis on the list. tha tsotyr stared darkening the dc universe plus showed a once lame villian like doctor light is as nasty as the joker. not to mention the killer of sue claiming they did it out of love

The Crazed Spruce

December 11, 2009 at 7:56 am

5000 comic stories? Really? Wow, your girlfriend must be so proud….

@ The Crazed Spruce

I’ve been trying to bite my tongue like I did with Hush, but I can’t help disagreeing with you that IC was a “good solid murder mystery”. It was cheat with no way for the reader to solve it. The murder as shown in the last issue didn’t match up with the murder in the first. We weren’t given any real motive (“She went crazy”). Meltzer makes a point of showing a thorough physical investigation of the apartment but no one a) checked the phone records or b) found traces of blood on the floor from Sue bleeding out her ear (one of the things we see in the final issue, but conveniently not in the first)? It was a sloppy, poorly constructed mystery. That may be forgivable if it was in service of a great story, but, well….

I liked Infinity Gauntlet. It made my list. It does an excellent job of showing the scope of the threat at hand – and SHOWING it, not telling it. Thanos gets pissed because Death won’t speak to him and basically goes “AAARGHHH! WOMAN!” while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet. He sinks Japan and knocks the Earth out of orbit – not because he wants to sink Japan and knock the Earth out of orbit, but because he’s just that powerful. The ancillary disasters that arise from his possession of the Gauntlet illustrate how powerful he is, instead of just saying, “He’s really powerful.”

It’s got a great moment when he kills half the universe – standing at the edge of his ziggurat, hand raised, ready to snap, and then, SNAP! half the universe vanishes. Wow. It’s got nice a nice moment with Doom, stating that “None should meddle with what belongs to Doom.” while speaking about THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. And a load of other great moments as well, all telling a pretty tight little story, with a very small number of things left outside the main series that require some explanation – how Thor comes back is a big one, and how Hulk recovers from being shrunken is another. I don’t believe that is ever explained anywhere. I just assign it to Dr. Strange and get on with my life.

I liked Brief Lives, and Ultimates was good, though I’ve never read Ultimates 2. And Identity Crisis is not good at all – Brad Meltzer claims that he’s a Superman fan, and in his first comic story sets up that Superman ignores things he knows that the other heroes are doing that violate other people’s minds and willfully ignores them. Big fan, huh, Meltzer?

The Crazed Spruce

December 11, 2009 at 8:08 am

Okay, maybe “good solid mystery” is overstating it a tad. (To be honest, I pretty much just dashed that out in order to get a quick comment in.) Still, it was entertaining, at least in my opinion. And the mystery was just the McGuffin, anyway. The heart of the story was really an exploration on why superheroes have secret identities in the first place, and what lengths they’ll go to in order to protect them, and on that level it worked for me.

I thought Identity Crisis was a entertaining gritty story. Whether it holds as a murder mystery is irrelevant to most of its detractors, Dave. Be honest, guys. The hate many people feel stems from seeing childhood icons having to deal with something as horrible as rape. Any complaints about story construction or believability come as justification. But I don’t think people need to justify themselves. It’s okay to feel angry if you’re too attached to the characters or to the idea that mainstream superhero comics should be more wholesome than that.

I enjoyed Identity Crisis, and I enjoyed the equally gritty Ultimates. But would not have put Identity Crisis at 26. If this has a place at all in such a list, it would have been at the bottom. I think Ultimates is more deserving, but even so it’s placed too high, particularly volume 2.

Infinity Gauntlet is mostly mindless fun, but it’s good. Certainly a lot better than the crappy Secret Wars or the boring Avengers Forever. But it should never be so high in this list either.

@JoeMac

You’re #1 favorite novel is Bad Omens?

I think you mean Good Omens, no?

-

Man, so many comments here pooping on today’s choices. I haven’t read much Sandman, but I don’t see any reason that a book like The Ultimates shouldn’t be here. I think it has some of the most memorable moments of comics in the last 10 years. Was it great literature? Probably not, but it was great action, which is also difficult to do. It looked great, and comics are also about art, even though so many people don’t even realize there are pictures on the page.

With slick art and lots of cool moments, I don’t have a problem with it ranking in the top 30.

@DanCJ – Our tastes clearly differ. Jill Thompson is one of my favorite comics artists, and I thought her style was especially suited to Brief Lives

Actually I quite like her art these days – since she picked up a paintbrush rather than a pencil and took on that cutesy style.

The art in Sandman and The Invisibles is a blight though.

Identity Crisis was good up until the last issue. DeathStroke vs JLA, Calculator going up to a A (B?) list villain, a death here and there, JLA noses aren’t quite so clean, it was all there…then came the murderer, and unless you have read DC comics for decades, or were a real fan of the Atom, you didn’t know who “what’s her name” was. Let’s face it, 90% of main stream comic book readers didn’t know Ray was married, heck or even cared, till Identity Crisis.

Remember, it made such a huge impact because Marvel was going to release Identity Disc and that was considered pretty big too…by Marvel. :)

@JoeMac: interesting points regarding the long history of comics as escapist literature as compared to novels.

I know that I, for one, definitely voted from the perspective of “these are my favorite stories, the ones that I’ve read the most (and thus, are stories from when I first started reading comics, since they’ve been around longer to get re-read more), the stories I remember fondly, even though I’ve since read “better” stories”.

What strikes me as odd is that I figured most people would either vote like I did or vote for the stuff they thought was critically the best. So I figured the list would be stuffed with stories from the late 70s, 80s and early 90s, stories people read growing up and remembered fondly or else those stories that most people at least introduce into a conversation of all time greats (Watchmen, Love and Rockets, Maus, Miracleman).

Secret Wars, Death of Superman, Knightfall…these aren’t “great” stories from a universal, critical perspective but I can see why people voted for them, they’re the kind of stories that were likely read when voters were younger, looking for fun escapism, and left an impact. Sure, we all know there’s better stuff out there, but we remember fondly the stuff that hooked us when we were younger, and can still enjoy them in that vein today.

Yet House of M, Identity Crisis, Hush…these stories fit neither of those categories. I mean, IC came out, what, 2004? Isn’t that too new for any serious nostalgia to set in? Or are there just a TON of 15 year olds who voted for IC, who read it when they were ten, loved it, and have read it over and over again ever since? If so, well, that explains it. Otherwise, there must be a lot of people who genuinely consider it a favorite story without any nostalgic attachment, or there’s a third criteria (aside from nostalgia/enjoyment and genuine belief in its critical merits) some people used when voting that accounts for things like IC.

JoeMac: Your No. 1 book choice is actually “Good Omens” by Pratchett and Gaiman… ;-)

My number one vote doesn’t look like it’s going to make it.

“The Adventures of Luther Arkwright” by Bryan Talbot

Won’t make it, because, like Marvelman/Miracleman, etc, it hasn’t been all that widely read. Even if it is one of the best, most influential books ever.

I am impressed that Identity Crisis AND Infinity Gauntlet are this high up, but seeing how many copies each sold, I’m not all that shocked….

If Ultimatum is up near the top, though, I’m hacking the site! ;-)

If you’ve only read 14 comic book stories in your lifetime, you are not fucking qualified to vote here.

Speaking as someone who has read thousand upon thousands of comics (including 59 of the 75 entries listed so far), you’re talking shit.

This is a list of people’s favourites not the Oscars. If people want to argue that Identity Crisis is an objectively good story feel free to argue. If people enjoyed the story enough to be in their top ten well then the poll will reflect that.

Identity Crisis was nowhere near my shortlist, but yeah it is better than The Long Halloween (in terms of writing – not art) – and I personally liked it more than Jimmy Corrigan (though I acknowledge that JC is technically better)

That’s the beauty of a democracy. Everyone gets to have their say, no matter how learned or how ignorant. And while, sure, a more informed decision would likely make for a better one, that is no reason to look down your nose on people’s votes because they don’t share your vast breadth of knowledge. Especially since you couldn’t be bothered to cast your own ballot. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, if you decide not to vote, then you forfeit your right to bitch about the results.

I didn’t vote because I felt I was unqualified to vote. The whole point of my not casting a ballot was that I didn’t want to taint the results with my poorly-informed choices. How do you figure I forfeit the right to bitch about people who are doing precisely that? Also, what you’re saying above is as much a critique of democracy as it is of my comment.

By the way, I should add that my tastes are largely mainstream. Marvel and DC make up at least three quarters of the apparently amazing 5000 comics that I’ve read in my lifetime.

5000 comic stories? Really? Wow, your girlfriend must be so proud….

You realize that’s very little compared with most posters on this blog, right? Once again, you seem to have missed my point that the comparatively small number of 5000 made me underqualified to vote.

I’m shocked to see Brief Lives higehr than Doll’s House. I always thought that was considered the pre-eminent Sandman story in a lot of people’s eyes. Hmm. Still expecting to see Season Of MIsts on the list too.

As for Identity Crisis- Yes, wellll…I actually do LIKE it, I own the hardcover of it and all. But what I hate is that DC decided to take it and make that kind of brutal violence and cynical retconning the template for EVERY COMIC THEY’VE PUBLISHED EVER SINCE. I like pre-rapey Doctor Light, pre-mindwipe Zatanna, and certainly Sue and Ralph before any brutalization and murder. If this were just a one-shot Elseworlds tale, then it would have been fine. But I’ll always curse it for taking the trend started by Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns and taking it to an absurd extreme…

Speaking as someone who has read thousand upon thousands of comics (including 59 of the 75 entries listed so far), you’re talking shit.

They are qualified?

Teebore –

It’s pretty obvious. The silent majority speaks. Many people loved House of M and Hush and Identity Crisis. They sold pretty well. The bloggers and commenters that love FUNFUNFUN Silver Age-y elements in their superhero comics and hate the current direction in Marvel and DC are the (very) vocal minority.

“Otherwise everyone would be straight-A students, but most people are B- students.”

Actually, by definition, most people would be C-students. ;)

@E. Wilson:

Nowadays, there’s a curve ;)

@ Cass:
About voting or not voting to keep the results pure, I say that one of the ways poll voting works is to see what the public thinks, for good or bad. Don’t sell yourself short just because you haven’t read a bunch of comics. If you are into them, have read a bunch and are active enough with this site where you at least read and keep up with a few things, that’s a star. There’s not an age limit or certain qualifications you need to state an opinion (for good or bad). This is like “taking the temperature in the room” (or in this case, website audience) to see what people think.

Explaining your choices, and maybe putting in all of the details about why you think works deserve praise, including doing all the analysis and comparisons with historical works and acting like the king English major or academic scholar is not what Brian asked us to do here. He just asked us to pick our favorites.
It’s like if someone asked what flavors of ice cream you like best and you listed your top 5. There can’t be a wrong answer there. It’s just a selection among options. You might tell someone what it is about a flavor you like, but to attack someone just because they said strawberry is their favorite is uncalled for.

It’s like JoeMac said above, artistic quality and enjoyment don’t often go hand in hand. If we talk about movies, I mean I really was moved by Saving Private Ryan but I can’t really say I enjoyed it. Watching it was a horrific, tense, and generally unpleasant experience for me. But it was an extremely well done movie. I don’t really get the urge to watch it again.
Now, if Real Genius is on the TV, I will watch it. Every time. It’s kind of crappy and preachy but it is fun as hell for me to watch.

I might blanch at a few of the choices I see come up here, but I can’t really judge people who have their own opinions. They’re not wrong, just different. We all have our vices, right? Glass houses, anyone?

@Cass

So you’re holding the majority of voters to some unspoken standard that you’ve set for yourself? I don’t remember seeing a qualification on the rules about how many comics you’ve had to have read in order to voice your opinion.

@Rene: true, sometimes I forget how popular (in terms of sales) a lot of the more recent stuff is. As has been mentioned in other posts of this countdown before, if, say,10,000 people read Identity Crisis and 10% of them love it and vote for it, that’s more votes than if 500 people read Miracleman and 100% of them love it and vote for it.

Heck, the bloggers and commenters that don’t like that kind of stuff don’t even HAVE to be a minority; if 90% of the people who read IC hated it and didn’t vote for it, there’s still that 10% of 10,000 that give it enough votes to put in over something more beloved but less read.

As usual, it is not so much that some of these surprise me in their inclusion as that they surprise me in getting first place votes.

I mean, there are two people who think Identity Crisis is the pinnacle of comics, and another two who think it was Infinity Gauntlet. Eight separate people think the medium peaked somewhere in the Ultimates.

I mean, I am trying to wrap my head around someone who has never gotten more pleasure from a comic than from the Infinity Gauntlet. And I liked the Infinity Gauntlet. The “all the heroes die” issue was really, really striking. But… man… there’s way more fun to be had in the world.

okay i love Infinity Gauntlet so i’m down with that… but Ultimates 2 AND Identity Crisis C’MON! at least they’re back to back like that, which makes it kinda funny.

Surprised to see the Ultimates burning out so low, honestly. (Although I guess Homeland Security is still unaccounted for, and Ultimate Six is a not-impossible Ultimate Spider-man charter). Could be vote-splitting effects, I guess. (Which are probably also why Grendel and Mage aren’t going to make it. [Are we going to see #101 through 11-point-scorers and Somebody's Baby's after the main list this time around?]

@Phil

Who are we to judge what someone finds enjoyable? We all like different things for different reasons. I’m sure there’s a couple huge Thanos fans somewhere in the world who think Infinity Gauntlet was *it*, and it doesn’t get any better than that in their eyes. Does that make them terrible people with no taste? I don’t think so. They just have particular taste, are looking for something specific out of their favorite pasttime (it’s not like reading comics is a serious job for many of us, is it?), and have found it in that story.

@et al

I know it’s Internet code of conduct to be as holier-than-thou and to look down on those with less knowledge/taste/whatever, but this is a list of *favorites*! How can you argue with what essentially boils down to opinion?! Ok, so the Internet doesn’t share your taste. Big hairy deal! Throw yourself a pity party, but please, you don’t have to bag on other people’s choices.

Darn… I meant Good Omens. I was typing fast. I’m supposed to be working, after all. Feel a little goofy now.

4 out of 5, one of my best weeks, takes me to 30 of 75.

“Brief Lives” has some great parts, overall I wouldn’t rank it this high though (though I’m just not, in general, as big a fan of “The Sandman” as most people seem to be).

“Ultimates 2″ is good big action comics, with some of the best fight scenes ever rendered (Millar understands how to do action better than practically anyone).

“Identity Crisis” – having generated most of the discussion here so far, I’ll say that I really enjoyed it the first time I read it, but I don’t think it really holds up at all in retrospect. Structurally it’s pretty sloppy, and the JLA-Deathstroke fight makes less and less sense each time you look at it.

“Infinity Gauntlet” – pretty much encapsulates Starlin’s cosmic Marvel stories. Admirable scope and makes a good use of the cast, but it’s also heavy on pretentious philosophizing and lots of characters with big names standing around jawing about Important Stuff.

Haven’t read the first volume of “Ultimates”.

Infinity Gauntlet- I can’t imagine anything but nostalgia getting it ranked this high. Once Perez stopped drawing, it didn’t even have the advantage of decent artwork.

Brief Lives- the art’s mediocre (but most of the art in Sandman is, really), but the story holds up well- better than Doll’s House and Game of You.

Ultimates- fun in a big dumb way, but way too highly ranked on this list.

Identify Crisis- Sweet jesus, no.

And if you are calling me out on titles, I should have wrote Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston, not ALL the Blood of Brooklyn

I’ve caught upon the installments I’ve missed. I’m up to 60 out of 75 so far. In the previous installments I have missed:

Olympus I have never read any Marvel/Miracleman, but I hope to if Marvel can somehow navigate the murky waters and get the Moore and Gaiman stuff reprinted.
The Surtur SagaI have also never read any Simonson Thor. But, my solo Thor reading in general is lacking due to my not really being interested. I have read the 4 Ellis issues, and the first 6 or so JMS issues and that’s about it. I don’t hate the character, for instance, I am a big fan of when he returns to the Avengers during the Masters of Evil Siege of the Mansion storyline.
HushI’m counting as a non-read story. I did buy the trade with the first 6 issues and read it, but never bothered to buy the second trade to finish the story.

As for the Identity Crisis fight. I guess to each their own. I am another who didn’t really enjoy it. There were parts I enjoyed including I remember really enjoying the first issue at the time, but I found the series as a whole to have diminishing returns. I liked it less with each issue and thought the final issue was terrible. I do get what some of you are saying that the murder mystery was beside the point, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay that it was so shabbily constructed. I’m sure Metzler is a nice guy. I’ve never read any of his novels, but I did enjoy his Green Arrow issues, but that said, in my mind, someone who writes a murder mystery featuring the world’s two greatest detectives, both of whom are directly affected by the killer in some way, and not allow either of them solve it (yes, I do believe Batman is supposed to have figured it out right about the same time the killer just blurts out their guilt) is someone who is kinda bad at plotting.

Ah, but anyone can read five thousand comics. Anuone can read ten thousand comics.
What we need to do is find a way to ensure that each potential voter has read the CORRECT and PROPER ten thousand comics.
Can you tighten up a bit on the voter eligibility, Brian?
I think a good basic rule to start is that anyone who did NOT have Thor #128 – 130 “Thunder in the Netherworld” in at least their top five gets immediately disqualified.

Oh, that “to each their own” wasn’t meant to be dismissive. I already admitted in a previous installment that my all time favorite comic, that I read over and over until it disintegrated in my hands as a child, is probably Nova Volume 1 #11. Like whatever makes you happy people.

I find it kinda funny people talking about how many comics they read and whether or not they are qualifed to cast a vote. What would you suggest the minimum amount of comics read should be before you have a valid opinion? I own 10K myself, and read at another 2 or 3 thousand that I don’t own, but who the hell cares? I was a teenage in the 90s, so that automatically qualifies at least 50% if not more of the comics I read as pure crap. I own around 1000 Spider-Man issues across various titles, and only maybe a few hundred comics that are non-Marvel or DC. I have long gaps in my reading because I quit after Onslaught and Heroes Reborn, which I just couldn’t stand, and didn’t start collecting again until around 2000, and then had to stop from 2003 to 2007 because I was traipsing around the world with the US Army. So, do I qualify as someone who should be allowed to vote, or did I miss too much of the ‘important’ stuff of the last decade? Am I hopeless because I am amazed by the craftsmanship of say Watchmen, but would rather reread J.M. DeMatteis’ run on Captain America any day of the week? What say you?

About voting or not voting to keep the results pure, I say that one of the ways poll voting works is to see what the public thinks, for good or bad. Don’t sell yourself short just because you haven’t read a bunch of comics. If you are into them, have read a bunch and are active enough with this site where you at least read and keep up with a few things, that’s a star. There’s not an age limit or certain qualifications you need to state an opinion (for good or bad). This is like “taking the temperature in the room” (or in this case, website audience) to see what people think.

I see your point, and I think generally that’s the spirit of the list, but personally, I’ve used these CSBG lists in the past (for example, the Top 100 Runs) as guidelines for comics to buy. Because I believe others will be doing this is as well, I feel the list should represent genuine quality as much as personal favorites, and I wouldn’t want my ill-informed choices (ill-informed simply by the fact that I haven’t been exposed to enough) misleading people into spending their cash on something that’s not very good compared with all the other stuff that’s out there, if that makes any sense. To use your ice cream example, it’s sort of like recommending vanilla ice cream when you haven’t tried chocolate or strawberry. While you’re not explicitly saying “Eat vanilla ice cream over all the other flavors,” which you yourself haven’t tried, there’s a sort of faith when you’re recommending something that you know what you’re talking about. Again, I do understand that this is not a list of recommendations, but I think ultimately, that is what it will become, and that’s why some level of “purity” should be maintained (and I’ll clarify that in a less pretensious way in just a second).

It’s like JoeMac said above, artistic quality and enjoyment don’t often go hand in hand. If we talk about movies, I mean I really was moved by Saving Private Ryan but I can’t really say I enjoyed it. Watching it was a horrific, tense, and generally unpleasant experience for me. But it was an extremely well done movie. I don’t really get the urge to watch it again.
Now, if Real Genius is on the TV, I will watch it. Every time. It’s kind of crappy and preachy but it is fun as hell for me to watch.

This isn’t what I’m arguing against though. There’s trashy entertainment stuff that’s just SOOOO good. As Joe Mac said, how do you think most of us got into comics? I’m perfectly cool with so-called “low art” being on the list, stuff like Criminal or, to use a superhero example, Invincible Iron Man. that revel in more or less cliched genre tropes, but have interesting, well-developed characters, clever dialogue, are well-paced, and, in the case of Criminal, awesomely appropriate art. In fact, let me add another example that’s somewhat under the critical radar. Up until about three months ago when I had to stop reading comics to focus on my school work, I was really enjoying the quality workmanship Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle were putting into Supergirl. Again, not exactly Joyce or Melville.

So now to pre-empt an expected response, I’m not saying “Oh, the things I like are ‘pure,’ and the things I don’t like are ‘impure.’ ” There’s plenty of things on this list that I feel probably belong, but also, I do not like. For instance, I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but there’s something about Sandman I can’t get into, yet when I read it, I understand what other people like about it. So when I use the word “purity,” I don’t mean exclusively Asterios Polyp and Alan Moore and the obscure books gathering dust in the darkest corner of your comic shop, nor do I mean only the things that receive my stamp of approval. I just feel that Identity Crisis is appreciated more for its nostalgic value as many people’s introduction or re-introduction to superheroes and also the excitement factor that is sort of intrinsic to “murder mystery + rape + JLA” than it is appreciated for more… “objective,” for lack of a better word, storytellng quality.

So you’re holding the majority of voters to some unspoken standard that you’ve set for yourself? I don’t remember seeing a qualification on the rules about how many comics you’ve had to have read in order to voice your opinion.

I’m not holding anybody to anything. I have no power to do that. I’m criticizing people for doing something that I think is incorrect.

Blackjak makes me wish I had thought to vote for Atari Force.

All that being said, Teebore does make a good point. I can see childhood nostalgia accounting for Secret Wars or Infinity Gauntlet. But I don’t get why Identity Crisis and their ilk here at all. But I figure, if I am allowed to be vote for Secret Wars and Infinity Gauntlet, then people should be allowed to vote for Hush and not try to lecture them.

I think this list is a pretty interesting cross sampling of the different type of comic book readers out there… the serious scholars, the nostalgia guys, the younger guys who dismiss anything old as ‘dated’, those who enjoy violence and mayhem over story, etc. Seems like a pretty good mix.

Blackjak makes me wish I had thought to vote for Atari Force.

Naturally, I did! :-(

Somehow, I don’t see it making the top 25…

@Cass

How is any of this incorrect? Even if someone’s only read ten comics, they can still point to one of them and say ‘that’s my favorite’. That opinion may not be helpful to you, personally, if you’re trying to put together some kind of to-buy list. But then, putting a ‘recommended to Cass’ list wasn’t in the rules, either.

I wasn’t aware Identity Crisis was not liked by others. I liked it a lot. It made my longlist (top 30 but not top 10). Given when I made my list I didn’t remember every storyline I’ve ever read, but I think Identity Crisis was fun to read. I also like to think of the hard decision the JLAers did when they decided to mindwipe. Although mindwiping you-know-who was crazy.

I think a good third of my list won’t be making the Top 100, unfortunately. Which is a shame, I’d have gotten a real kick out of seeing some Sandman Mystery Theater or the Scene of the Crime mini on the list. But from what I understand there was a good 500+ submitted storylines that didn’t get enough votes to make the list, so I don’t feel too bad about it. I guess I can feel good about some of my longshots like Jimmy Corrigan making the list, at least. It would have blown my mind to see Atari Force on the list! :)

To those complaining about the order on the list of some of these comics, I recommend looking at the order with respect to first place votes. Although maybe percentage of first place votes would be a better indicator.

EIGHT

35. Flash: “Return of Barry Allen”
59. Y: The Last Man: “Whys and Wherefores”

SIX

29. Sandman: “Brief Lives”
31. Sandman: “Doll’s House”
44. Miracleman: “Olympus”
53. Spectacular Spider-man: “Death of Jean DeWolff ”
71. Amazing Spider-man: “Coming Home”

FIVE

26. Ultimates: “Super Human”
32. Animal Man: “Deus ex Machina”
33. Batman: “The Long Halloween”
42. Thor: “The Surfur Saga”
63. Transmetropolitan: “Year of the Bastard”/”The New Scum”
68. Starman: “Sins of the Father”
79. Avengers: “Kree-Skrull War”
84. Cerebus: High Society
93. Punisher MAX: “The Slavers”
97. Jimmy Corrigan

FOUR

36. Doom Patrol: “The Painting that Ate Paris”
37. Green Lantern: Rebirth
41. “Mutant Massacre”
43. Amazing Spider-man: “If this be my Destiny”
45. Astonishing X-men “Gifted”
46. Seven Soldiers of Victory
47. Captain America: “Death of Captain America”
49. Marvels
56. Sandman: “The Kindly Ones”
57. Avengers Forever
74. Sleeper Season 1
87. Love and Rockets: “The Death of Speedy”

THREE

28. “Ultimates 2″
34. Amazing Spider-man: “Death of Gwen Stacy”
38. Hellblazer: “Dangerous Habits”
39. “Secret Wars”
47. JLA: “Rock of Ages”
50. Final Crisis
55. We3
68. Batman: “Knightfall”
71. “The Magus Saga”
75. Planetary
80. Fables: “Homelands”
88. Cerebus: “Church and State”
94. Love and Rockets: “The Blood of Palomar”
97. “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck”

TWO

26. Identity Crisis
30. “Infinity Gauntlet”
51. Batman R.I.P
53. Astro City: “Confession”
60. Superman: “Reign of the Supermen”
61. Planet Hulk
61. House of M
64. Daredevil: “The Elektra Saga”
67. Authority
73. Sandman: “A Game of You”
76. Annihilation
78. Captain America: “Winter Soldier”
88. Fables: “March of the Wooden Soldiers”
91. Punisher: “Welcome Back Frank”
91. Batman: “First Tale of the Demon”
96. Swamp Thing: “Love and Death”
97. Doom Patrol: “Crawling from the Wreckage”

ONE

52. “The Death of Superman”
58. From Hell
65. Batman: “No Man’s Land”
66. JLA: “New World Order”
70. Avengers: “The Korvac Saga”
76. Y The Last Man: “Unmanned”
81. Thunderbolts: “Faith in Monsters”/”Caged Angels”
82. Daredevil: “Hardcore”/”King of Hell’s Kitchen”
83. Immortal Iron Fist
84. Top 10 Season 1
86. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 1
90. “Weapon X”
94. Bone: “The Great Cow Race”

ZERO

39. Batman: Hush
100. Powers : Who Killed Retro Girl?

Enrique,

Love this version of the list… adds a dfferent perspective!

How is any of this incorrect? Even if someone’s only read ten comics, they can still point to one of them and say ‘that’s my favorite’. That opinion may not be helpful to you, personally, if you’re trying to put together some kind of to-buy list. But then, putting a ‘recommended to Cass’ list wasn’t in the rules, either.

I already explained. I believe that a list (yes, even a favorite’s list) can be judged on a basis of purity and that a vote from somebody who knows nothing about comics lowers the overall purity of the results. Ergo, I feel it’s not right to vote with such a low level of exposure. In a similar sort of way (but also because this obviously has broader implications) I feel that it isn’t right for people to vote for a political candidate when they don’t know anything about his platform, although there is nothing to disqualify people from voting based on liking the candidate’s shoes.

By the way, I should add, that joke with the mock contest rule was really funny the first time, so I’m glad you used it again. Can I recommend a third? “I don’t recall the contest involving the Top 100 PURE Storylines.” Did that save you some trouble?

This is an awful batch. I haven’t read Brief Lives, (Sandman is on my to-do list) but the rest don’t belong at all. Infinity Gauntlet is a guilty pleasure at best, and utterly forgettable at worst. Ultimates I was shallow, insipid garbage, and 2 was more of the same. Identity Crisis was misogynistic trash. How did any of these make it so far up the list?

How did any of these make it so far up the list?

Um, because people voted for them?

(not me personally) but why do you expect everyone to have the same taste as you, Anonymous?

You know, I’ve never met Brian, and only know what he looks like based on his picture in his Urban Legends book (and we all know how accurate THOSE can be…) but whenever a new batch of five story lines is posted and something that you just know is going to trigger discussion, like Identity Crisis, is listed, I picture Brian chuckling maniacally as he writes the post, thinking “oh, the comments are going to light up when they see THIS one!”

In a good way, of course. :)

I don’t know what Brian looks like, so I always imagine the WE3 dog laughing manically as he post the next five stories.

I totally forgot about NEW TOTALS. Hold up :)

I’m pretty sure that dog icon is actually a photograph of Brian that inspired Frank Quitely’s character designs for We3. Also, the picture of Greg Burgas may be real as well.

@Cass

Your entire arguement is nothing but a a straw man. You assume because someone voted for something you don’t like or feel isn’t ‘worthy’ of the list, the voter must have no experience with the medium. You have no evidence to back up your claim and continually decry the fact that these supposed no-nothings are impurifying the list. Give me some kind of proof that people voted for a specific entry due to lack of knowlege or inexperience and I’ll concede the arguement and join in your holy rage.

I voted for IC because I never read We 3.

Nice list Enrique.
Glad to see Sandman one again. I enjoyed Ultimates in the sort of ‘turn off my brain big splash pages” way. I rather enjoyed Identity Crisis. I don’t care if you hate the whole mind wiping thing and how it doesn’t fit well in continuity and blah blah blah. It was a good mystery yarn. I’ve never read The Infinity Gauntlet but I can see quite a few people enjoying it.

It’s interesting the amount of comics you get from one perticular series. Take Y: The Last Man for example. Two storylines made it on the list (and i’m sure the one i voted for will not be showing up, and that’s fine) but so far, The Sandman’s has three (and most likely will have four with Season of Mist). Crazy how Cerebus has over 75 issues of it’s 300 on the list! :O Quite a bit of Ultimates too. There’s not really a point to this, jus thought it was interesting to take a look at it that way.

Also, it makes me very sad that i forgot to vote for Ex Machina until after the list was tallied. boo! It’s also sad that I don’t think Runaways will make an appearance. I wonder what Preacher storyline will make it. Maybe the one where he goes back to his granny’s house and you learn all the shit Custer went through as a child?

NEW TOTALS:

Interesting notes – Fixed an error with Gaiman, he’s back in the top 3, ahead of Moore and behind Morrison. I keep getting an extra entry when I add the decades together, but I’ll have to recheck that.

-27 are Marvel stories

-31 are DC stories(17 are DC, 11 are Vertigo, 3 are Wildstorm)

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

-2000s(30 entries,4766 points)
-1990s(25 entries, 4068 points)
-1980s(11 entries, 1720 points)
-1970s(4 entries, 513 points)
-1960s(1 entry, 206 points)

-Morrison (8 entries, 1403 points)
-Gaiman (4 entries, 839 points)
-Moore (5 entries, 692 points)
-Millar(2 entries, 598 points)
-L. Simonson (3 entries, 566 points)
-Brubaker (4 entries, 564 points)
-Ellis (4 entries, 563 points)
-Busiek (3 entries, 537 points)
-Stern (3 entries, 520 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)
-Meltzer (1 entry, 304 points)
-Vaughan (2 entries, 295 points)
-Willingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Buckingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Johns (1 entry, 231 points)
-Sim (2 entries, 220 points)
-Loeb (1 entry, 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)
-Stern (1 entry, 141 points)
-Michelinie (1 entry, 141 points)
-JMS (1 entry, 140 points)
-Starlin (2 entries, 408 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)

“Identity Crisis was misogynistic trash”

Misogynistic is a word that is used way too much in comic book discourse these days. It’s quite a leap from “writer did a story in which something awful happened to a woman,” to “writer hates women.”

“I’m not holding anybody to anything. I have no power to do that. I’m criticizing people for doing something that I think is incorrect.”

Therefore, it’s incorrect to for a person to enjoy comics books that you didn’t. Get down from the Cass cross, why don’t ya? If someone has only read *one* comic in their lifetime, they still have the right to recommend that comic to others.

You also assume that because somebody likes a comic that you didn’t, they haven’t read as many as you have. But it’s possible that the people that are voting Secret Wars and Infinity Gauntlet have been reading comics since those titles were released. Otherwise, why would the vote based on nostalgia? So that would mean they’ve been reading for 20+ years. So the more nostalgic a person is, based on your system of purity, the more qualified they are to vote for the top 100 storylines. But nostalgia isn’t a pure form of comic book love, for some reason.

“So now to pre-empt an expected response, I’m not saying “Oh, the things I like are ‘pure,’ and the things I don’t like are ‘impure.’ ” There’s plenty of things on this list that I feel probably belong, but also, I do not like. For instance, I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but there’s something about Sandman I can’t get into, yet when I read it, I understand what other people like about it.”

Your whole purity concept makes no sense. You know that a comic is pure, even if you don’t like it, because lots of other people like it? That’s the definition of popularity: that lots of people like it. That’s exactly what this list based on: popularity. My roommate has the entire run of Powers. I read the whole thing (hey, free comics) and I didn’t like it. I can see why people like it, but I’m not going to recommend. Such is my right.

Also, I think everyone has a conditionally negative response to the word “pure.” It sounds really… Aryan, ya know? Maybe come up with something more fun, but still completely unfalsifiable. Like “delicious.” If Cass had said he wants the list to be delicious, I bet nobody would be mad at him right now.

People call Identity Crisis misogynist not because of what happens to the victim, but because of the motivation of the killer.

But I shouldn’t comment, since I’m filled with impurities.

@CW:

I acknowledged the possiblity that experienced readers voted for it. Not in a friendly way, but still did:

If you’ve honestly read tens of thousands of comic books and concluded that Identity Crisis was among the best, fine, you’re horrible, but whatever, different strokes and all that bullshit.

As to this:

You assume because someone voted for something you don’t like or feel isn’t ‘worthy’ of the list, the voter must have no experience with the medium.

I don’t assume that blanketly. But I do assume that inexperience was often the case, and especially with those who ranked it first. Your request is absurd as obviously it would be impossible to for me to prove the assumption, but I think it would be hard to argue that it is unreasonable. There are fairly big plotholes being pointed out in this thread alone. Also, from being involved in comics, I’ve heard opinions from comic shop workers and long-time fans expressing anything from utter disdain to ambivalence to mild approbation for the work. Never once have I heard any long-time reader gushing over it, except possibly in this thread, although I have heard Identity Crisis called “the shit right here” by a 15 year old in the shop. I guess he might’ve been reading since he was 2 though. Do any of the blogmasters here at CSBG love Identity Crisis? Do any of them even like it? If Omar Karindu and Jog came in right now and started dropping some knowledge on why Identity Crisis is great, I’ll give you the argument. In that case, the inverse correlation between experience and fondness for Identity Crisis would be proven most likely weak. But for some reason, I don’t see that happening.

Just think about the analogue in other mediums. If Person A tells you his top choice book is Ulysses and Person B tells you his top choice book Twilight: New Moon, you assume based on that information equal literary competence and experience? Give me a break.

“People call Identity Crisis misogynist not because of what happens to the victim, but because of the motivation of the killer.”

No, it’s called misogynistic because the violence against women does not add to the story or justify itself enough to be anything other than exploitative. That is all on the writer.

Complain much?

ok, i will take it upon myself to defend identity crisis, as it did make my top five…

first of all, since there has been so much debate about credentials, here are mine-

i have been reading comics regularly since 1991, with only taking time off from about 2001-2005 (when i was a college undergrad). i have read about 2/3 of this list, and on the top 100 runs list, i have read all or most of 18 of the top 25 runs. i can honestly say i have read probably 80% or more of the combined works of moore, gaiman, morrison, ennis, ellis, and miller. i think alan moore is god, i have read absolutely every comic story he has ever written with only three exceptions (the bojeffries saga and big numbers, which i haven’t managed to get my hands on, and lost girls, which i haven’t felt like spending the money on). i think grant morrison is alan moore’s second in command, and i have read most everything he has written with only a few exceptions (haven’t found zenith or flex mentallo, haven’t yet gotten to seaguy, filth, or final crisis). with the exception of dark knight strikes again, which i won’t go near on principal, i’m pretty sure i’ve read everything frank miler has ever touched. i’ve never been able to get my hands on miracleman 23 and 24, but other than that, i think i’ve read every comic neil gaiman has ever written. moore, gaiman, morrison, and miller together occupied 6 of the 10 spots on my vote. all of the other stuff on this list that people have hated, i have too. i recognize house of m, knightfall, death of superman, and hush are more or less pure crap, and i would have never considered voting for any of it. of course i have not read everything, i still haven’t gotten to any cerebus, haven’t read much love & rockets, and haven’t read too much marvel of the last 6 or 7 years. i have no shame in saying that i have what most people would call great taste.

so, all that being said, i thought identity crisis was a masterpiece, and i am a long time dc guy who has a very vested interest in the characters. i hate that geoff johns fucked over kyle rayner first and now wally west. but meltzer didn’t fuck over any characters, he made them more interesting by giving them flaws. a lot of comic fans have a morbid fear of change, but how are characters that don’t change possibly interesting? i consider myself a dc guy more so than a marvel guy because the characters do change (and then geoff johns changes them back, but that’s besides the point).

when i voted a few weeks back, here’s what i wrote about identity crisis:
“#2 identity crisis (1-7) – at a time when i had gone a few years without reading a comic, i picked this up and it made me fall in love with them all over again. really, this story has everything that makes super hero comics matter and resonate with people- the iconic moments (batman and robin: orphans), the great battles (deathstroke dismantling the jla until he takes an arrow in the eye), the heroic acts and sacrifices (firestorm flying away and exploding), the great character moments (flash asking green arrow to have dinner with him), the sense of history with the continuity (constant references to the classic runs of the jla and titans), and the jaw-dropping reveals and retcons (zatannas mind wipes of batman, atom’s wife figuring out who benefits). many people view continuity as a hindrance and it often is, but when harnessed properly, it can create stories like this one, and no other medium can offer anything quite like it. ”

now allow me to extrapolate on that:

first of all, the characters. i think identity crisis had better character work than most comic fans are used to. the series has some of the best oliver queen moments because the series is about serious moral questions and he has always been dc’s character most vigorously involved in moral debate. the series has some of the best wally west moments because he finds out that the person he looked up to more than anyone might have been hiding something.

people bitch that it changed JLA history, but i would argue that it only better explained JLA history. why were all the villains so stupid? now we know. why were secret identities never compromised? now we know. why did lineups change and certain characters seem not to like each other? now we know. why do people have a problem with the fact that some villains are now genuinely evil when they didn’t used to be? doesn’t that make it more interesting? why do people have a problem with characters like barry allen, oliver queen, zatanna, hawkman, etc. having to make tough moral choices? just because comic book writing in the 60s and 70s didn’t allow for that kind of depth doesn’t mean it shouldn’t now. why do people have a problem with the fact that one of their favorite heroes might have, at some point, made a choice that’s questionable? the reason comic book superheroes are supposed to be interesting is for their human qualities, not because they’re flawless gods.

people have bitched that the mystery couldn’t be solved, but that’s just laughable. by extension, that means that solvable mysteries are good or better. really? you’d rather have a mystery that you solve before the story than one that you don’t? really?!?!

people have bitched about the fight between deathstroke and the league, which is easily one of the best superhero/villain fights in recent comic book memory. is the fight ridiculous? OF COURSE IT IS!!! IT’S A FIGHT BETWEEN SUPERHEROES AND SUPERVILLAINS!!! ALL OF THEM ARE RIDICULOUS!!! all of them have holes. all of them have you asking questions like “why doesn’t flash/superman shut the fuck up and start hitting people at the speed of light?” “why do superman/thor/hulk ever need more than one punch?” “why don’t thanos/darseid/galactus/etc. stop talking and just incinerate people?” “if batman can appear and disappear off the roof of GCPD without making a sound, why does he always confront villains by loudly breaking through a skylight?” i could go on. the point is, if you actually take the time to logically analyze them, EVERY fight in marvel and dc comics is stupid and ridiculous (except maybe the daredevil/bullseye/elektra fights drawn by frank miller). so taking into account that it’s going to be ridiculous no matter what, the fight between deathstroke and the jla was at least really damn cool.

everyone bitches that deaths in comics mean nothing, and that they always come back. well, i think sue dibny and jack drake’s deaths meant something, and i don’t think we’ll see them coming back. ever. but instead of being happy that we had two characters die who won’t be coming back, everyone bitches that the deaths were too minor. you can’t have it both ways people!

everyone bitches that identity crisis has a few plot holes. yes, i freely admit that it has a few plot holes, as do pretty much all comic works that are even remotely ambitious. i find it ironic that a lot of the people bitching about identity crisis regularly jack off to grant morrison. first off, grant morrison himself probably loved identity crisis. and second off, i’m a morrison fan, but many of his works have some pretty gaping plot holes. if you only like superhero comics with no plot holes, then you like watchmen and… oh right, nothing else.

there are two kinds of fans of mainstream comics: fans that love and embrace continuity, and fans that want to be able to read every story as though there had never been a story before it. if you’re the latter, identity crisis is not for you, and that’s fine. it wasn’t written to be read by you.

of all fans that embrace and love continuity, there are two kinds: the fans that don’t want anything to change, ever, and the fans that like to see their favorite characters/universe evolve. if you’re the former, first of all stop bitching about emerald twlight, and second of all, identity crisis is not for you.

but if you are a comics fans that embraces continuity but ALSO likes to see your favorite characters and universe grow/change/evolve, then what’s not to love about identity crisis? i understand people’s trepidation about finding anything of quality in all major “event” comics. i tend to think most of them suck too. but there’s a difference between thinking something sucks upon finishing it, and being predisposed to thinking something sucks. of course there are exceptions, but it seems most comic fans fall in one of two camps: they either hate all major events regardless of quality, or they love all major events regardless of quality. what happened to judging things on their own merit? can’t some major events be great while others suck? in my own list, i voted for two of them (identity crisis and age of apocalypse), while i think many others are offensively awful.

anyways, i could go on, but i think i’ve made my major points and written too much anyways.

But talking about a delicious list would probably make a lot of people hungry… at least me

I don’t believe that you need to read comics for decades and read tens of thousands of them to be able to vote in a list like this, I believe that people should be tolerant of other people’s tastes. If you don’t like what you see, you are completely entitled to believe that their tastes are terrible, but other than that, it’s nothing to get too worked up about.

Talking about purity or impurity doesn’t really make sense, because then the discussion would be what constitutes purity or not, and there’s no point in getting into that. Plus, I agree that speaking about purity in comics sounds at least a bit odd, it’s not exactly the term I would choose, but whatever.

Although, If Infinite Crisis appears on this list on the next few days, I will bring the house down.

The last comment was obviously ironical, but I would definitely think that there are too many people with a terrible taste, but if they like it and enjoy it, it’s perfectly ok.

Peace!

I should really read Sandman someday.

Not surprising to see Ultimates so high, at the time it really was great, even if the delays to the last few issues kinda sucked.

I guess a lot of people didn’t like Identity Crisis? Wow, okay. I thought it was decent, not surprised to see it make the list.

Cass, the “experienced,” long-time reading people in the medium didn’t vote Identity Crisis because they were all busy voting for Secret Wars. :p

I didn’t vote for The Ulimates, but it was very close to making the list. My copy of the first trade has basically been destroyed because of how often I or someone I know has read it.

You also assume that because somebody likes a comic that you didn’t, they haven’t read as many as you have.

Where? You’re putting words in my mouth.

So the more nostalgic a person is, based on your system of purity, the more qualified they are to vote for the top 100 storylines.

Howso? You’re putting words in my mouth.

Your whole purity concept makes no sense. You know that a comic is pure, even if you don’t like it, because lots of other people like it? That’s the definition of popularity: that lots of people like it. That’s exactly what this list based on: popularity. My roommate has the entire run of Powers. I read the whole thing (hey, free comics) and I didn’t like it. I can see why people like it, but I’m not going to recommend. Such is my right.

I said I UNDERSTAND why people like Sandman, not that it’s “pure” because other people like it. Did I ever even use the word “pure” to describe a specific comic in this thread? What I was saying about Sandman was that reading it , I could see some of the clever things Gaiman was doing, but for whatever reason, I didn’t appreciate them. So when I see Sandman on the list, even though I’m not a fan, I can see how somebody might’ve voted for it because of the craftsmanship Gaiman and co put into it (although it’s entirely possible that they voted for Sandman because they liked the texture of the paper it was printed on). On the other hand, I don’t see any deft craftsmanship in Identity Crisis, but I haven’t read Daniel’s long post, so I may find myself corrected in just a second. In any case, the fact that I’m unable to see any skill in its construction leads me to believe that people like IC for reasons other than skill in its construction.

Also, I think everyone has a conditionally negative response to the word “pure.” It sounds really… Aryan, ya know? Maybe come up with something more fun, but still completely unfalsifiable. Like “delicious.” If Cass had said he wants the list to be delicious, I bet nobody would be mad at him right now.

I buy this and would like to request that the mods edit all my posts to read “delicious” instead of “pure.” “Delightful” would also be an acceptable substitute.

@daniel: Speaking as someone who neither loves nor hates Identity Crisis (parts of it I liked, parts of it I didn’t. I neverhad nor have any special affectation for Sue Dibney, I liked the JL/Deathstroke fight, didn’t think it was any more ridiculous than many other super hero fights, like you say, and I thought the “Silver Age villains were so goofy because they got mindwiped” retcon was kinda clever, before it became the driving force of DC Comics for the next few years) the part of IC that I felt was a let down was the mystery.

When you say:

people have bitched that the mystery couldn’t be solved, but that’s just laughable. by extension, that means that solvable mysteries are good or better. really? you’d rather have a mystery that you solve before the story than one that you don’t? really?!?!

My answer would be that I’d rather read a mystery that I didn’t solve myself, but once it was solved, I could go back to the beginning and see how I COULD have figured it out myself, that sort of “duh, why didn’t I see that!” kind of thing you get with a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories, for example.

You simply cannot do that with IC as Meltzer doesn’t play far with what he shows the reader in issue 1 versus what is revealed at the end (as one of the commentors above, I forget who, pointed out with details).

Yes, I understand there was more the story than the mystery, and like I said, I didn’t HATE IC or anything like that. I was just disappointed when the author decided not to play fair with the readers when it came to the mystery plot, and I just wanted to comment a bit on your specific point about the kinds of mysteries readers want to read, and offer a third alternative to “solve it yourself/don’t solve it yourself” that IC failed to achieve.

Also, I would like to point out that “pure” is not my coinage in this thread. Sterg dug that grave for me. And JoeMac used the term “pure crap,” so blame him too.

Once again, I haven’t read any of these. I’ve read ‘Infinity War’ (except I’m missing #4), but not ‘Gauntlet’. Anyway, I thought ‘Infinity War’ was really good, although not good enough to make this list, and I’ve always heard ‘Gauntlet’ was a lot better. I hope to get it sometime, but the only cheap issue I’ve come across lately is #3, and I don’t want to start in the middle.

The very first super-hero story I ever read was a Detective issue with an Elongated Man back-up story. So Ralph and Sue mean far more to me than they should. That alone makes Identity Crisis sound bad to me.

I haven’t read Ultimates, but it’s never sounded that appealing. I saw the first animated DVD, which sounds like it was based on the first series discussed here, and I wasn’t that impressed by it. But I realise the original book could be quite different.

I had thought there was a decent chance a couple more stories from my list would make it, but I’m thinking that’s impossible now. I don’t see how they could make it this high. So it looks like only one of my choices made it. (At least it was my number one choice.)
I guess my tastes are completely different from everybody else’s.

^^ That was a joke btw.

Identity Crisis in the top 30?! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!! GOTCHA, BITCHES! GOTCHA GOOD!!

@daniel: I respect that you came out and defended your pick of Indentity Crisis. But I believe your argument reveils some of your bias. You state:

“i hate that geoff johns fucked over kyle rayner first and now wally west. but meltzer didn’t fuck over any characters, he made them more interesting by giving them flaws.”

“there are two kinds of fans of mainstream comics: fans that love and embrace continuity, and fans that want to be able to read every story as though there had never been a story before it. if you’re the latter, identity crisis is not for you, and that’s fine. it wasn’t written to be read by you. ”

“of all fans that embrace and love continuity, there are two kinds: the fans that don’t want anything to change, ever, and the fans that like to see their favorite characters/universe evolve. if you’re the former, first of all stop bitching about emerald twlight, and second of all, identity crisis is not for you. ”

You do realize that because you been reading about Kyle Rayner the entire time he’s been published, and Wally West most of the time he’s been the Flash, you feel that they are being screwed over by the return of Hal and Barry? Which is a fine and valid point. It doesn’t seem fair to the characters, and I think, especially in a DC with a multiverse, Hal and Barry may be better off on Earth-2 or something.

However, how is being upset with Kyle and Wally getting screwed over because you’ve been following them for the past 18 years any different than old fans getting upset when Hal was screwed over by Emerald Twilight? Or them being annoyed with Meltzer taking their favorite charcters that they followed for decades and changing their entire histories and backgrounds… I mean, isn’t that a form of screwing up their favorites? And I don’t believe it is that they don’t want their characters to grow and evolve naturally… it is that they don’t like some writer forcing an undignified retcon that reinvents the very definition of the characters’ motives and personalities.

Identity Crisis would work better as an Elseworld, as someone else mentioned, and I don’t hate it or think people who voted for it have bad taste or anything like that. But I think you are secretly a lot more like the fans who “fans who don’t want anything to change” than you may realize.

@Cass: I used the term pure crap. Damn, sorry, don’t even remember doing that! LOL

I personally voted for Ultimates 2.

joemac307-

while it’s true that i hate what was done to kyle and wally, i think you misinterpret why. i don’t hate it because kyle is no longer green lantern and wally is no longer the flash, i hate it because, in both cases, the story that ended their reign was not a story that moved the dcu forward, but rather moved it backward. i don’t hate that kyle and wally got replaced, i hate that they got replaced by hal and barry. we’ve been there, we’ve done that. i don’t feel that what geoff johns did was disrespectful to kyle and/or wally fans, i just felt it was disrespectful to dc fans. all johns did was return the dcu to the status quo of 1984. ummm, that’s good how? while i certainly had no hidden desire to see kyle or wally get replaced, i would have been ok with them getting replaced with a newer generation, as i like to see change. but what johns did was not change, it was the elimination of prior change.

Did I put JoeMac307 on a couple of my posts? I mean just JoeMac. joemac307 is my email address

The only top 100 list Identity Crisis belongs on is “Top 100 lists of things to line birdcages with”. And, yes, I’m one of those people with a long-term commitment to the characters.

I’ve read in a few different places online that Meltzer wrote Identity Crisis with the understanding that it would be published out-of-continuity. The story was later made in-continuity by DC editorial for reasons that are not entirely clear, but believed to be along the lines of “Dan Didio really liked it and thought it could spike sales across the line.” Which, to be fair, it did.

I dislike Identity Crisis myself, but only because I think it’s a pretty stupid story about stupid people doing stupid things to each other. I dislike Meltzer’s novels, too, and for much the same reason– I just don’t like the man’s approach to plot. I’m not really of a reading generation where DC characters will be part of my childhood, I had TV properties to fill that niche. I more mind that Meltzer just kind of writes all of his characters as idiots, always, because he can’t seem to think of other ways to drive conflict.

The big thing that bugs me (but doesn’t surprise me for obvious reasons) about this list is that people are ready to declare war about Secret Wars, Hush, Infinite Crisis et al being up there above their own favourites! What about us Brits (specially in my case as a Scot with Grant Morrison and Mark Millar to claim)? No – Zenith, Firekind, Button Man, Nikolai Dante, Indigo Prime, Halo Jones, Skizz or any multitude of series that 2000AD has produced that blows 90% of what has been in the final list out of the water!! FFS, any Judge Dredd serial of more than five or six episodes bypasses most of the stuff listed!! And as for Morrison and Millar’s masterpieces – Really and Truly and Big Dave (OK maybe not!!). But genuinely folks, the comments of ‘haven’t read it’, ‘not him, he can’t write’ etc etc?!?!? Come on. There is SOOOOOOO much 99% of us haven’t read if we are honest and my top list would have been so different from most of you, as would most of yours been different from mine. I know Secret Wars is pish, but I bought it in Marvel Uk reprints when I was 9-10 years old so I love the nostalgia, despite the fact that I now prefer COIE! Anyway, Rogue Trooper rocks! all the best. Slakker

and now for something completely different…

my two cents on what i think the top 25 will be!

the definites:

1. watchmen
2. x-men: the dark phoenix saga
3. x-men: days of future past
4. daredevil: born again
5. batman: the dark knight returns
6. batman: year one
7. crisis on infinite earths
8. kingdom come
9. all-star superman
10. new teen titans: the judas contract
11. sandman: seasons of mist
12. v for vendetta
13. legion of superheroes: the great darkness saga
14. new x-men: e is for extinction
15. fantastic four: the coming of galactus

the probables:

16. civil war
17. spider-man: nothing stops the juggernaut
18. x-men: age of apocalypse
19. avengers: under siege
20. wolverine: mini series
21. swamp thing: american gothic
22. green lantern: the sinestro corps war
23. wolverine: origin
24. squadron supreme
25. iron man: alcoholism saga
26. superman: whatever happened to the man of tomorrow?
27. dc: the new frontier
28. infinite crisis
29/30. two of the following preacher storylines: alamo, salvation, all in the family, gone to texas

the possibles:

31. x-men: inferno
32. another grant morrison new x-men story
33/34. the other two preacher stories from the above list
35. secret invasion
36. runaways: vol. 1
37. swamp thing: the anatomy lesson/woodrue story
38. spider-man: kraven’s last hunt
39. jla: world war III
40. earth x

the longshots:

41. sandman: preludes & nocturnes
42. daredevil: guardian devil
43. avengers: disassembled
44. green arrow: quiver
45. supreme: story of the year
46. x-men: the power of proteus
47. an ultimate spider-man story
48. superman: man of steel
49. the golden age
50. jla/avengers

so, at least 5 of my “probables” won’t make the cut… which ones? and if any of the possibles or longshots show up, then that knocks another probable out. how much preacher do people think we’ll be seeing at this point? at least one, right? more than that? are infinite crisis, secret invasion, and civil war all locks given what we’ve seen thus far? does alan moore even show up again besides the obvious watchmen and v for vendetta? what will be #3 behind watchmen and dark knight? how high does the coming of galactus get? if marvel classics like squadron supreme, power of iron man, and under siege don’t show up, well, why the hell not?

so many questions…

@daniel – Fair enough. So were you super-pissed when they killed Kyle off for good in the last GLC?

I wonder how you would categorize me?

I loved Wally taking over for Barry. I think Barry returning is probably a mistake. He was the ultimate martyr, a great symbol for Wally and really all of the DCU to rally around and live up to. When they decided to bring him back, however, I was like, hell I’ll give it a chance. I mean, they have Jay Garrick. They have Bart. Maybe we can have a bunch of Flashes… it’s a big multiverse after all. So I’m not mad that Barry is back, just mildly nonplussed that he has no reason for being and all his stories so far have been crappy. The last issue of Flash: Rebirth explained a few things, but still, he is just kinda…. boring me. My guess is that ultimately Barry will be found boring and be retired. Maybe it is time for Wally to retire also to focus on being a dad, and Bart to step forward? (although I’m personally not much of a Bart fan)

Even though I was a Hal Jordan fan, Kyle grew on me. I think it was a bad idea to kill Kyle off altogether. I mean, the Green Lanterns are a Corps… why isn’t there enough room for him and Hal and Guy and John? They are all pretty different characters, and I think they all have plenty of stories to be told. I am very happy that Hal has been redeemed… I personally don’t like it when they make long running characters into something they aren’t for the sake of ‘shaking’ things up or what have you (my main problem with Identity Crisis). But I think Kyle should have remained the more of the focus, take over the spotlight as ‘the greatest Green Lantern ever’ and let Hal stay more in the background.

Anyway, I don’t dislike characters growing and changing. I love that Grayson has gone from Robin to Nightwing to Batman, and I am hoping he stays Batman, perhaps for good, for example. But I don’t like it when they are changed at the drop of a hat, and just as a means to an ends rather than as an organic outgrowth.

So yes, I love and embrace continuity, yet I still want to see characters evolve and grow. I just want it to be organic. That said, even when the change is just dropped on a character as a means to an ends, I still don’t give up on that character out of hand. It annoys me, but I recognize that maybe good stories can grow out of it. For example, I didn’t like One More Day, but I’m reading BND even though I think it is dumb that they set Spidey development back 25 years, cause maybe some good stories can come out of it.

And if I can give Spidey the benefit of the doubt after they shredded his backstory and characterization but good, then I think you should give Hal and Barry the benefit of the doubt. Yes, DC is being regressive, but maybe, just maybe some good stories may come out of it. And if not, then the titles will begin to fail, and they will be forced to ‘shake things up’ all over again.

Nature of the game, I guess.

Nice defense of Identity Crisis, Daniel.

I can’t say I love it, but I sorta like it. And I think you’re correct in most points. There was more humanity (even flawed humanity) in one issue of Identity Crisis than in dozens of generic cosmic crossovers like Secret Wars, House of M, Infinite Crisis, Avengers Forever, JLA vs. Avengers and some other usual suspects.

Meltzer may have been sensationalist, but at least he didn’t bore me.

His later Justice League of America comics DID bore to tears, though.

joemac-

all well said. i think we basically have the same views, except we have a difference of opinion on when change is forced, and when it’s an “organic outgrowth,” as you put it. i clearly found identity crisis to be more of the organic variety than you did, and that’s ok. it would obviously be boring if people agreed on everything. i’m arguing less with people like you that thought identity crisis had a few specific flaws, than people like cass that apparently thought it was the worst thing ever written.

as for what was done with kyle, i didn’t know he’d been killed until you just told me. i stopped reading new comics years ago, because i don’t have the patience to read things in that monthly grind. now i either buy hardcovers, check out trades from the library, or purchase whole runs on ebay (usually 3/4 off cover price). of the 20 or so things on this list that i haven’t read, the majority of them are the ones that have come out in the last few years, because i tend to get to things a while after they’ve come out. but everything that’s alleged to be good i get to eventually. so thanks for the spoiler about kyle (jerk!). not a big deal though, because i find that there isn’t much i read anymore without at least sort of knowing how it ends. but you have to pick your poison, and i’d rather sort of know how things will end than wait for months and months and sometimes years to get any conclusions. i also find it’s infinitely cheaper to buy comics off ebay for sometimes ridiculous discounts, even if it means spending more money at once than you would spend in weekly comic shop outings.

Cass: Yeah, that’s me. I’m so damned handsome I just had to put a picture of me as my icon!!!!!

Damn, I should have put out a spoiler alert about the Kyle thing. Sorry. It was all over the net though, including this website (that’s how I learned about it, actually from CBR, before I read the damn issue myself).

I’m actually going to stop getting montly floppies soon as well… I’m just waiting for Blackest Night to end (I figure if I bit into it, I may as well chew and swallow). Then I’m going the TPB and ebay route myself.

I’m really enjoying this list. I’m enjoying reading all the different comments and learning about all the different types of readers out there and some of the storylines I missed along the way. I find it fascinating that Jeremy won’t read any old Spider-Mans, even Bronze Age ones like the Death of Gwen, for example. Just blows my mind. It’s kinda like when I was 15 and wouldn’t listen to the Beetles no matter what the fuck my father said. It sorta makes me laugh. (It also makes me a little sad).

Joe, when I was a teen, reading and loving the late Bronze Age Marvel, I couldn’t read any of the old 1960s Marvel stuff. It seemed so lame and unrealistic and stiff. And Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s artwork just looked ugly to my eyes. And yeah, I also would not listen to the Beatles.

Funny enough, when I was young I hated, hated, hated Kirby. I mean, this was the hack from Super Powers (in my eyes)! It took years for me to rediscover him. I’ve been mildly ashamed ever since…

@daniel
I like your post defending Identity Crisis very much. The only thing I would change is that non-continuity fans (like me) can also like this story a lot. I liked it a lot without knowing much about Wally or Kyle or any heroes outside of Superman/Batman. Never heard of Green Arrow, Zatanna and others before reading IC and I still liked it very much.

I’m surprised that people are surprised that Brief Lives is higher than Doll’s House. DH is alright but it’s rather clunky and jerky in places. For me the series didn’t really take off until Season of Mists. Brief Lives is the heart and fulcrum of the whole story, even if the most poignant bits are recycled from the Orpheus annual story. It’s where Dream sees what he could do but we understand why he wont and the use of the voices of the other Endless is marvellous fun.

I sort of get the best vs favourite argument but surely a lot of things become your favourite because they are the best.

Also, if you’ve read two comics you’ve got a favourite. All your doing after that is refining your criteria.

@ blackjak
Damn, I forgot all about Luther Arkwright. I’m guessing it’s a bit late for the Apocalypse War to make an appearance now too.

Ugggh my mom got me Identity Crisis as a Christmas present some years ago, solely because the hardcover had an introduction by Joss Whedon.

Even if it hadn’t been printed on such tough, glossy, shiny paper, it would not have been worth the paper it was printed on. I knew that when I first read it (before I really knew anything about any of the characters in the story) and i say it now, so my opinion has nothing to do with nostalgia or continuity or inexperience or whatever else you might argue.

Ultimates probably deserves the list, but not this high.

I was hoping for Brief Lives to beat out Season of Mists, though I really love both of them.

I will read Infinity Gauntlet at some point, I suppose.

People who disagree with the above opinions: You are wrong. Thank you for reading my post, and I hope it taught you something.

Regarding the rest of the list, another possibility is “Jaka’s Story” from Cerebus, which is possibly that series’ most acclaimed story (my favourite and #2 vote). I was sure that would be here, but we may be too high up for it now (in which case, I’m surprised that “Church & State” made it over that).

The superhero/non-superhero ratio was pretty good starting out (about 1/1.5), but now the capes are decisively ahead.

i liked IdC, mostly for all the emotional content and for the mystery, but did feel cheated on the reveal. i have been reading comics since 1975 and own ~5000, and worked in a comic store for 6 years. So, i’ve read…why, i don’t know HOW many i’ve read. ;-]
i do like when characters progress and when retcons make the history richer, which i think that IdC did a good job, for the most part. i don’t think that many modern stories [say last 5-10 years] should be on this list, but Hey! its a favorites list right? What’s my favorite differs from yours. That’s okay with me!
DFTBA

I was just saying to my roommate that while Brief Lives is the Sandman story I’d have voted for if I found room for a Sandman story on my list, I wasn’t expecting it to show up. I am pleasantly surprised it’s on the list at all and shocked that it beat Doll’s House. But gladdened.

I enjoyed Identity Crisis well enough on my first read. It’s one of the rare things that well-written bad reviews have influenced my opinion to the point where I’m now in the birdcage-lining camp. Enjoyable enough on a cursory read-through, but really stupid and offensive on a more thorough examination. I had initially assumed it was a shoe-in but once we got down to 30, I though good taste might prevail and I hoped it wouldn’t make it. Oh well.

This all adds up to me doing a terrible job with my attempts to predict the top 30, as I hadn’t counted on Ultimates 2 being this high either. Haven’t read it. Enjoyed the first season well enough. Better than most of what Millar churns out, certainly.

Infinity Gauntlet was more than anything else the thing that made me first fall in love with comics in my early days (my first comic was 20 years ago this month!) and that earned it my #5 vote. I still think it’s a well-executed series though I understand people not liking it in the context of the earlier Thanos work. But I can recite most of the script to that comic and the melodrama continues to thrill me 20 years later. More than anything else he included, I was pleased to see Brian have the Thanos vs. Captain America scene in his Year of Cool Comics Moments.

Personal stats for these 75 comics so far (why I think anybody cares I don’t know):
Read 52 in their entirety
Read part of another 5
At least read other parts of the run for another 10
Have read nothing of 8 of them

16 I would consider among my favorite comics ever
Another 16 are comics I love a lot
Only 1 I actively dislike (didn’t show up until today though; still expecting one more story I hate in the coming days; the higher it gets, the more my resentment grows)

Ahh Infinty Gauntlet… One of my absolute favourite moments in comics is when Thanos kills Captain America with absent-minded backhand while concentrating on more important matters.Thank you for very satisfying moment, Mad Titan. While I liked IG, Thanos Quest would be my choice of Starlin’s cosmic Marvel stories of 90*s.

@Rene:
“Misogynistic is a word that is used way too much in comic book discourse these days. It’s quite a leap from “writer did a story in which something awful happened to a woman,” to “writer hates women.”"

Absolutely right. Reading some comments here, these people would probably call a government report on rape statistics misogynistic too.

@Cass:

Sorry to throw the pure label on you,. I was referring to your post where you said you were afraid to “taint” the results with your opinions. My point was that there is no such thing as a pure opinion, so you can’t really taint it. Sorry I got in you in hot water over that….

I like the idea of using delicious or delightful instead of pure. That would be awesome!

No, it’s called misogynistic because the violence against women does not add to the story or justify itself enough to be anything other than exploitative. That is all on the writer.

I’d put some of it on the the artist too. He’s the one that depicted it on paper. Not to mention the editors and publisher.

This list is progressively getting worse. just flip it. Imagine we started at number 1 with Retro Girl and worked down. I don’t even like Bendis but I’d prefer to still think it’s better than Hush and Identity Crisis.

Wait, wait, wait……Sandman ahead of Infinity Gauntlet? Really?

The list so far makes me think that the readership here is mostly half my age or younger. If the classic stories show up later, either there are more geezers here than I thought, or you whippersnappers really do respect and recognize what came before.

But, there was virtually no such thing as a multi-issue storyline in comics before the mid-60s anyway.

(45 years ago. Christ, I’m old.)

I wonder if some of the stories I remember as great don’t hold up as well when read in a trade, without the sometimes agonizing wait between chapters. Hell, I’m old enough to remember having to ride my bike to a dozen different 7-11 stores in a panic, trying to find the last chapter of a story in a minor title like Master of Kung Fu or Warlock.

The Avengers/Defenders War was the greatest thing in the history of ever, when I first read it off the racks. I think its impact would be totally lost in a trade paperback, removed from current continuity, decades after the fact.

(You should see my Slurpee cup collection!)

Hate Identity Crisis all you want, but I get tired of this “misogynistic” nonsense. It’s sad fact of life that violence against women happens. Just like war, and oppression, and homophobia, and a lot of other crappy things. If a writer uses wars in his fiction, is he a warmonger? If a writer creates a work about oppression, is he a closet tyrant? Why depicting violence against women makes one a mysoginist? The accusation would only make sense if a hero in the comic mistreated a woman and were lauded as a role model.

Why is it that violence against women is a special case that should only be used in fiction with a long list of caveats? “Add to the story”, “justify itself”, what does that even means? How does an act of violence justifies itself in a story? Do you mean, is it gratuitous? I would say it isn’t, because the awful things that happen to Sue Dibny are what drive the whole story, so of course it “adds to the story.”

I figure the Identity Crisis votes are mostly ’cause it was an important chunk of continuity. Which is fair enough.

And I harshly judge the rest of you who complain about the rest of the list. Ultimates was – OK one of my favorite superhero comics ever – but really original in some aspects of craft (pacing, cutting) and GENRE – It’s politically tinged military fiction combined with superheroes? I’d NEVER seen that in comics before.

^Never read Mark Millar’s Authority I see. Still, Ultimates is a great book(and makes a beautiful Omnibus!).

Atari Force!!!!!!!!!! How could I forget Atari Force?!?! This is why I wish I could see other people’s votes before I vote.

You should do a worse/overated poll. It’d be cool to see how many make both lists.

^Never read Mark Millar’s Authority I see. Still, Ultimates is a great book(and makes a beautiful Omnibus!).

I can see arguing that as POLITICAL, but specifically MILITARY fiction? Nuh-uh.

From the Superman Homepage

Even The Ultimates is completely different because it’s a character-driven piece and (something only a few people have noticed) my attempt as a left-wing writer to tell stories about an essentially right-wing concept and cast. It’s very much the Anti-Authority, if you will.

http://www.supermanhomepage.com/comics/interviews/interviews-intro.php?topic=c-interview_millar3

There’s a completely different approach to the material.

Wow, this sure took a turn to the ugly in the comments…

Read 4 of them.

The Infinity Gauntlet I read really late, so when I got to it, I had already in my mind the prejudice of “Starlin’s pet characters are gonna curbstomp every superhero of the universe and save the day” that’s so common in his stories. It didn’t disappoint. It’s mindless fun but -not to say Mary Sueish, because God knows that’s another can of worms- there is something really weird with how Starlin handles Thanos and Adam Warlock. Even without thinking of Adam Warlock as a Crystal Dragon Jesus, they are too Deus Ex Machina for me I guess.

Identity Crisis I read as it was released (funnily, I think around the end of itis when I started reading this blog as well). It was interesting, but the ending, as has been mentioned, was a total cop-out. Though speculation was already strong for it being The Atom, that still wouldn’t have made sense. As a mystery, it really failed. There is also the obliterating of Doctor Light as a character forever; what he did is like Pym Slap x 10000.

Ultimates 2, as I read it as it came in singles… you know what happened. Was it 3 years or 4? By the end, I had forgotten any interest I had in the first issues. As a TPB it’s prolly a good read, but I couldn’t say.

I tell you, with some of the 90s and beyond DC stuff that was just horrific placing so high, I don’t think I can complain about “Infinity Gauntlet” making it. I prefer “Ultimates 2″ to “Ultimates 1″, but they’re both the best contemporary take on The Avengers and Millar’s best work…

I’d argue best Avengers ever, and I really like most of the first 25 years. (But I haven’t read most of the Avengers stuff in the ’88-’96 range.)

Comics Should Be Good is the name of the blog…I was hoping this list would represent that. Perhaps it should be retitled Comics Should Be Mainstream.

To Gavin
Its not the bloggers fault what pops on the list, we, the readers, are the ones who voted. Besides, good is quite relative and changes from person to person.

The Crazed Spruce

December 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

Cass, I apologize for the “girlfriend” crack. It was crude, and uncalled for (especially considering the state of my own social life), and I’m sorry. I stand by the rest of my statement, though.

I just don’t get why people are acting so surprised that a reader vote on the “Top [X] [Anything]” results in a list of what’s popular at the time rather than a list that actually ranks the [Anything]s by their subjective or objective qualities in a methodical way. This is pretty much the function of reader votes, to figure out what’s popular.

As far as that goes I’m happy to see stuff as old as Infinity Gauntlet showing up at all (probably because it reads better in trade than most older stories) and any representation for non-superhero stuff thanks to the Sandman stories ranking. It wasn’t that long ago that a reader vote list like this probably would’ve included neither.

So, what I have learned today is, because I happen to enjoy IC, I am horrible AND a misogynist. Christ, I’d hate to see what some of you fanboys would say about me if I revealed that Sandman does nothing for me, and that I though Final Crisis was damn near incomprehensible (look, every issue made me feel like I’d missed something in between it and the last, and the 3-D superman vs. Space Draculas two parter just sucked).

I don’t worship at the feet of Moore, Gaiman and Morrison, although I do like some of their stuff, that probably makes me an intellectual inferior to some, and I may be the last human being on the planet that loved the Valiant Universe. I’ll probably get burned at the stake for that alone!

Oh, and I’ve been reading comics for more than thirty years, everything from (reprints) of golden-age stuff, to silver age, Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Disney, Warner Brothers, Archie, Richie Rich, right through all that Geoff Johns stuff so many of you rip on, and I like it ALL. I’ve had quite enough of being insulted because a bunch of holier-than-thou comics fans hate everything I like. I get it-you don’t like it, and that’s ok. But how about you stop slamming those of us who do please? You don’t like it? Fine. But don’t bring me into your circle of hate for the book.

That said, I liked all of these except Sandman, which I haven’t read all the way through, and last I checked, my I.Q. is still intact.

Identity Crisis? That gross sexist thing? Oy. I mean, I like most of the comics that DID spun out of it, but they didn’t need to rape someone, give her a brain tumor and burn her alive. That seems excessive.

A lady in a refridgerator is bupkes compared to that.

“Silly hippie, your hammer only make Hulk more horny for Betty!”
That quote alone is why Ultimates should be in everyone’s top ten. Man, I was crafting this perfect response to all you Elitist jerk-offs who seem to think if it wasn’t Sandman, Doom Patrol, Hellblazer or Animal Man then it doesn’t deserve to be on this list, but JoeMac pretty much said it all. Honestly, though comics are escapism fun for a lot of people, smart people even, so of course this list is going to be filled with awesome escapism fun. Are there also stories that I have read that have made me say “Man, that is great literature not just great comic books?” Of course. But that doesn’t mean they are all going to make my list of ten favorites. Especially when I can vote for a sexually frustrated Hulk who wants to eat Freddie Prince Jr.

Great list. I loved the first Ultimates book because it was the pressures of life that finally broke down Banner and sent the Hulk on a rampage.

@Cass

They are qualified?

To have favourites? Yes.

@Dave Hackett

No, it’s called misogynistic because the violence against women does not add to the story or justify itself enough to be anything other than exploitative. That is all on the writer.

1 – I hate this idea that things in stories need to be justified. There was no rape. It’s just a story, so it really doesn’t matter and doesn’t need justifying.

2 – It’s a core plot point in this story. I’m sure there are stories where the violence against women doesn’t add anything, but this isn’t one of them.

I’ll just repost what I posted on the boards regarding the rampant misogyny in Identity Crisis.

Let’s see, Firehawk (girl talking to Ralph at the beginning) was the only female in the book that was not treated solely as a victim. Even Jean Lorean, the killer, was treated as a victim both when she faked her own attack AND when we find out she did it ’cause she was crazy, making her a victim of her brain chemistry.

Wonder Woman shows up twice. The first time, she isn’t allowed to speak. The second time, her face is specifically not shown. She is used solely as a device by both the author and the characters within.

Similarly, when voting on the mindwipes, we are given everyone’s perspective except for the females. Dinah is shown as mindlessly following her male lover, Ollie, whose opinion is presented as only one that matters in that dynamic. Zatanna is also presented as voiceless, as a tool solely for the largely patriarchal Justice League to do their business.

And that brings us to Sue Dibny. Killed, raped, and ignored. So, the rape was inserted into the past so as to assure that there was no healing, no reaction whatsoever. She is treated as a victim and yet even her victimhood is stripped from her. When the Justice League votes, they don’t even think to ask Sue or even her husband Ralph for their opinion. Her opinion doesn’t matter to anyone in the story. She could be replaced with a vacuum cleaner and it would not change the story one bit. She is an object, and the Justice League’s treatment of Dr. Light is treated no differently than if he had stolen their wallets. As far as the story is concerned, Sue Dibny is a thing. He was in their house, using their things without permission, that’s all.

Voiceless, faceless victims, every single female in the story (with the aforementioned exception of Firehawk, who did nothing).

Infinity Gauntlet was much good fun when i read it as it came out, although i was surprised for it to reach this high.
The cover by George Perez drew me in and the interiors were awesome.
I was dissapointed when Ron Lim had to draw issues # 4-6 as the art was a major factor for me (and i do believe that the fights between Thanos and the Marvel heroes as well as the Gods/Celestial Beings/Eternity would be served better by Perez)..
The story itself had a good premise.
The baddest dude in the universe possesses infinite power!!
He worships Death!!
He wipes out half the population of the universe with just a snap of his fingers!!
But..like Civil War, it all ended too easily and conveniently.

in my book Infinity gauntlet are a top 10
Thanatos ftw

I’ve never read Identity Crisis, but I hate Morales’s art and I have no idea who the fuck Brad Meltzer is, so I’ll probably never read it. Wait, Joss Wheldon wrote the introduction for it? Ok, now I’m sure I would fucking hate it.

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