CBR's Guide to Free Comic Book Day 2016
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.
10. “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spiegelman (For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say Maus: Book 1 and Book 2) – 723 points (17 first place votes)
The genius of Art Spiegelman’s masterpiece, Maus, is that it is not just a brilliant re-telling of one man’s tale of survival during World War II and the Holocaust.
If it were just that, then it would still belong on this list, but it isn’t. It’s also the tale of a man dealing with his father. It’s also the tale of how stories are told. And perhaps most fascinating to me is that it also eventually becomes about a man dealing with the fact that his personal story about his father’s survival of the Holocaust has become a commercial and critical success. How does one reconcile oneself with something like that? Spiegelman addresses it beautifully in this story.
But at the heart of the comic, Spiegelman is telling us how his father, Vladek Spiegelman, survived the war.
And Vladek’s tale is absolutely fascinating, made even more so by Art’s deft storytelling skills, as he prevents the book from ever getting monotonous, while at the same time being quite detailed in the history of the tale. It reminds me a lot of the work Eddie Campbell did on From Hell.
It took Spiegelman years to get this story finished, but it was well worth the wait, as it was an exceptional piece of work.
9. “Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (Kingdom Come #1-4) – 740 points (19 first place votes)
Kingdom Come is an interesting reflection on the superhero trends of the 1990s.
It is set in the future, a world where “grim and gritty” superheroes have basically taken control of the DC Universe, leading to vast amounts of chaos.
Superman is pulled out of retirement by a tragedy which left it quite clear that something “had” to be done about the superhero problem. However, unbenown to Superman, other forces were coming together to deal with heroes THEIR way.
Superman’s return led to a resurgence of “traditional” superheroics, and Superman gathers his old friends in a revamped Justice League. Superman gains a number of converts to his way of thinking, but just as many “heroes” turn away from Superman’s view of the world, leading to a number of conflicts and Superman effectively imposing his will on these people, something that turns Batman from Superman’s crusade.
As the powder keg Superman has been building explodes, it’s hero versus hero versus villain while a worried government wonders if they should just try to rid themselves of superheroes once and for all.
It’s a tense script by Mark waid, and Alex Ross’ realistic painted artwork brings across the humanity of the story being told. In addition, Ross clearly has a blast revamping the looks for the older heroes and designing costumes for the new characters.
To this day DC is mining this story for ideas!
8. “Season of Mists” by Neil Gaiman, Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Matt Wagner, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, and P. Craig Russell (Sandman #21-28) – 752 points (18 first place votes)
Season of Mists was a landmark arc during Neil Gaiman’s Sandman tenure, as this was the story that introduced the Endless (Dream and Death’s other siblings) as well as created the set-up for Mike Carey’s Lucifer series.
In the story, Dream is shamed into attempting to rescue his former love, who he, in a fit of rage, banished to hell thousands of years ago. He steels himself for a battle with Lucifer, who is Dream knows is not pleased with him. Dream could not expect, however, how Lucifer decided to deal with him – when Dream shows up to fight with Lucifer he learns that Lucifer has closed Hell and he gives Dream the key to hell.
What follows next is an entertaining exploration of what the universe would be like without Hell, along with a brilliant piece of mythology work as Gaiman shows all the various other deities (like the Norse Gods and the Egyptian Gods, etc.) showing up to bargain with Dream for the rights to such prime interdimensional real estate.
Gaiman has had great success over the years working with various mythologies and their deities, and that fascination really began here.
The artwork is strong, with Kelley Jones really doing a wonderful job with the moodiness of the tale.
7. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway (Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12, plus a bunch of tie-ins) – 782 points (24 first place votes)
Crisis on Infinite Earths was both a love letter to the past of DC Universe while also the formation of a “new” DC Universe.
Marv Wolfman and George Perez put the DC Universe into a position where worlds were dying and realities were shattering. This allowed the pair to use a cast of literally thousands as they explored the vast realms of DC’s comic history in a sprawling epic with more than one “Ultimate Battle Between Good and Evil.”
The devices pushing this plot forward are the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, one a benevolent being who was studying the DC Universe – the other a madman who wants to destroy the Multiverse, the backbone of DC’s multiple Earths set-up (which allowed DC to separate their Golden Age creation from their Silver Age counterparts, but also allowed them to integrate comics they bought from other publishers without having to splice them together with their existing heroes).
In a battle this epic, deaths were bound to happen, and this story was SO big that two very big names saw their end – Superman’s cousin, Supergirl and Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash.
Initially, other titles were hesitant to tie into Crisis, but by the time the series ended, it was such a big hit that books were falling over themselves to tie into the event!
Wolfman and Perez ended the series with more than one magnificently diverse epic slugfests, until the dust settled and the DC Universe was never the same.
What a way to spend a Golden Anniversary!!
6. “All Star Superman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (All Star Superman #1-12) – 930 points (34 first place votes)
All Star Superman is both a reimagination of Superman as well as a bit of a farewell to the character. The story is basically about the death of Superman, as his death is foretold in the first issue and the comic depicts the last year in the life of Superman.
That year allows Morrison and Quitely to come up with brilliant new approaches to classic Superman plots.
Their “Silver Age ideas with modern sensibilities” approach works extremely well, particularly with Quitely’s ability to make pretty much anything dynamic.
Possibly one of the coolest aspects of All Star Superman is that it is not, in the least bit, cynical. It’s quite a feat to see a re-envisioning of Superman that does NOT involve some sort of post-ironic cynical approach to the character.
In addition, the story was told with a series of (mostly) one-off issues, so each issue was like its own little epic, they just combine to tell one long story of Superman’s last year of life.
Morrison’s take on Superman and his supporting cast is innovative while completely familiar, and Quitely, well, Quitely just goes out of his mind with some of the layouts and dynamism in this series. Really top notch stuff.
It’s a blast to read, and I can only imagine how well it reads collected in trades!
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