Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #25-20
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.
25. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger and George Perez (Superman #423 and Action Comics #583) – 308 points (4 first place votes)
With the John Byrne revamp of Superman due soon, DC had one last opportunity to “say goodbye” to the pre-Crisis version of the character, and editor Julie Schwartz was delighted that Alan Moore was the man to do the farewell.
The result was “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” a story of the last days of Superman, utilizing pretty much every Superman villain and supporting cast member, in a story that was at both times dark and touching.
The main gist of the plot was that Superman’s enemies all become more and more vicious, with normal bad guys suddenly becoming murderers.
With the D-Level villains suddenly causing problems, the A-Level threats like Lex Luthor and Brainiac are REAL problems for Superman, so he collects his closest friends and holes up at his Fortress of Solitude and awaits the siege.
What follows next is a mix of horror and heroism, love and loss and one of the more brutal twists involving a longtime Superman villain becoming an extremely deadly threat seemingly out of nowhere.
In the end, Moore took the toys that were available to him and used them all up, essentially, in such a way that the book could not have continued otherwise, leaving it perfect for a revamp of the title.
And having it all drawn by Curt Swan (with Perez inking the first issue and classic Superman artist Kurt Schaffenberger inking the second) was just a master stroke – seeing Swan draw some of the death scenes is just beyond touching.
24. “New Frontier” by Darwyn Cooke (New Frontier #1-6) – 314 points (2 first place votes)
New Frontier was Darwyn Cooke’s love letter to the Silver Age of the DC Universe.
The set-up of the series was to present the formation of the Silver Age in the contxt of the actual late 1950s/early 1960s.
So Cooke highlights the days of McCarthyism, and applies that to the world of superheroes, painting a bleak picture for heroes.
Probably the two main characters in New Frontier are J’onn J’onnz and Hal Jordan, as Cooke shows each of their journeys to superherodom from start to finish.
The rest of the series is populated with essentially a who’s who of DC characters, all drawn wonderfully by Cooke.
The book is more or less a collection of set pieces (a Losers story here, a Superman story there, a Hal Jordan here, a Flash story there) all leading up to the point where an alien invasion forces all the heroes to band together – but can they hold it together? And do they have enough time to stop the invasion?
Well, find out in this visually striking story!
23. “All in the Family” by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (Preacher #8-12) – 318 points (13 first place votes)
In “All in the Family,” we fully examine the background of the hero of Preacher, Jesse Custer (the Preacher of the book’s title).
We see the family life he came from, a terrible world where his grandmother and her two goons controlled his family’s life and abused Jesse terribly.
Now he is back for revenge, along with his girlfriend, Tulip and his new best friend, Cassidy (and Irish vampire).
Well, Tulip gets her face blown off – so you can imagine how smoothly it all went.
All in the Family shows Ennis at his best – coming up with absolutely twisted stories involving sex and violence, but somehow managing to also make the whole thing filled with so much strong characterization that characters who are killed in this story (and only appear in a couple of issues, really) became fan favorites and even get their own spin-off later on (via flashbacks, of course)!
There is a tremendous scene where Jody (one of the aforementioned goons) has a showdown with Jesse – Jody, as twisted and demented as he is, effectively was Jesse’s father figure growing up, so even as they are fighting to the death, Jody can’t help but be proud of the man Jesse grew up to become.
When you mix in a scared God (who is afraid of Jesse, who gained the Word of God early in the series), just when you think things couldn’t get any freakier – well, they do.
And it is excellent.
I forgot to mention what an excellent job Steve Dillon does – maybe that’s because Dillon does an excellent job on each and every issue of Preacher. That’s probably it.
22. “American Gothic” by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, Stan Woch, Ron Randall, Alfredo Alcala and Tom Mandrake (The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37-38, 42-45, Swamp Thing #39-41, 46-50) – 330 points (5 first place votes)
American Gothic involves the introduction of John Constantine, and what that meant for Swamp Thing.
Essentially, Cosntantine works as a sort of plot driver for the series of stories that make up “American Gothic.”
An evil South-American magic cult named the Brujeria are using the Crisis on Infinite Earths to help them take over the supernatural arena, and as part of their plot, they began having all sorts of evil events take place across America. Constantine manipulates Swamp Thing into taking down these threats.
Eventually, it all leads to basically one big ol’ fight between good and evil, and literally the Ultimate Darkness against the Ultimate Light.
There are a series of artists at work during this storyline – the standard brilliance of Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, but also impressive work from Rick Veitch and Stan Woch on pencils.
Moore handled the slow build towards issue #50 about as well as any writer has ever handled a build to a “big” issue number – this is a storyline without being a strict storyline (for most of the story, at least).
The final battle in #50, though, is given all the trappings you would expect from a “big” issue, with Moore playing with the vast history of DC Comics and their supernatural characters.
Moore stayed on the title for a little while longer (and did some excellent work), but in many ways, this was the capper to his Swamp Thing run.
20 (tie). “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin (X-Men #141 and Uncanny X-Men #142) – 350 points (2 first place votes)
Days of Future Past was a major X-Men storyline, as it introduced many key figures and plotlines that would reoccur many times over the next 30 years (and counting).
The main concept of the book is that a group of X-Men in the future, a dark future where most mutants have been hunted down and killed by government-mandated genocide (using giant robots called Sentinels), decide to try to change their present by sending one of them back in time to stop the problem before it began.
The way they do this is by sending the mind of Katherine Pryde into the mind of herself as a teenager, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men.
You see, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are destined to kill Senator Robert Kelly, an anti-mutant Senator who wants to run for President. If they succeed, this will lead tot he backlash that made their timeline occur. So the idea is to avoid that by saving Kelly’s life.
The rest of the comic mixes in the present-time X-Men trying to stop the Brotherhood along with the future X-Men facing off against the Sentinels.
The story introduced the dark future timeline, which became a major trope for the X-Books (alternate timelines), plus introduced major characters like Rachel, the telepath who sends Katherine’s mind to the past, and a few new evil mutants who kept popping up over and over again over the years (Avalanche, Destiny and Pyro).
This was also notable in that it was the last storyline that the classic X-Men team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne did on the book (Byrne left the book after one more issue, a classic Christmas tale).