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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #5

Here are the next storyline on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.

5. “Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Batman: The Dark Knight #1-4) – 1112 points (24 first place votes)

Dark Knight Returns is one of the most influential Batman comics, well, ever, really. In his four-issue series set 10 years after Bruce Wayne retired as Batman, Frank Miller basically established the way Batman would be presented in comics for the next…well…23 years and counting!

The comic is literally about the return of the Dark Knight, as Bruce Wayne realizes that his city needs Batman again, so he, well, returns.

Miller plays with the concept (not originated by Miller but certainly cemented by Miller) that perhaps Batman’s existence draws OUT the crazies in an action-reaction deal.

As soon as Batman returns, so, too, does Two-Face and the Joker.

The other major characters in the story (besides Alfred) are Carrie Kelly, the teenaged girl who becomes the new Robin and Superman, whose conflict with Batman makes up the finale to the series.

Miller’s art is in strong form in the series, especially the action sequences, which are dramatic as all hell.

Batman has three (one is a two-parter) extremely memorable fights in this series.

The first is against the leader of the Mutants, the screwed up gang of thugs who are terrorizing Gotham (in his first night back, Batman saves Carrie Kelly from a pair of them, leading to her wanting to become Robin), where Batman tries to compete like he was still young, but soon figures out that winning is the best way to handle things.

The second is a chilling conflict with the Joker, who figures out the best way (in his mind) to “beat” Batman – it’s quite twisted.

The third is the aforementioned battle between Superman and Batman, where we see perhaps the debut of the whole “if Batman had enough prep time, he could beat anyone” mode of handling Batman.

So yeah, Dark Knight Returns – major comic book work.

122 Comments

I don’t believe this, genuinely thought this was going to be number two only to Watchmen. This is the comic that made Batman cool! And now Batman = Cool!!

Masterpiece

Batman was cool long before Miller wrote him.

Hmm, people have been saying that the top 5 will be predictable. And yet here’s a shocker (to me, at least): DKR at only 5th place! This poll is fun.

@ Oz,
I couldn’t agree with you more, i have been addicted to this poll since it started.

@ Jake V
Batman was cool but he was never THIS cool

Whoa…I also thought this was a lock for number 2 to Watchmen at number 1. Just can’t see how Year One, great as it is, beats this. Could we all be wrong about what the other four are?

Glad to see Year One’s going to beat this. DKR is rightly regarded as a classic, and the first issue is one of my favourite comics EVER, but I always thought it lost its way a little toward the end and we got our first foreshadowing of the crazy Miller period that was to come… Year One is perfect though – I’d rather see that as number 1 than Watchmen or this.

When it comes to Miller Batman, I much prefer “Year One”. In fact, if I had gotten around to submitting my ballot, “Year One” would’ve been my number one pick.

It’s also interesting the way that All Star Superman got so many more 1st place votes than DKR — overall vote totals seemed to have tracked 1st place vote totals pretty closely before this, but 34 vs. 24 is a huge gap.

It seems particularly weird to me because ASS doesn’t seem to be as wild and crazy as the usual Morrison, so it’s odd that it would be the top choice for all the Morrison maniacs out there. On the other hand DKR has got everything you love about Miller, if you love his stuff.

I’m very glad to see this not too high in the top 5. Assuming they are the obvious 5, this one often seems to be listed along with two of the others because of a shared writer and character, or similiar publication date, while not being as amazing as either.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story, and it deserves to be here. I’m just pleased to see it didn’t beat Year One or Watchmen. And should really get round to reading the other Miller work we’re probably going to see.

It’s rather telling that it got 24 top place votes to ASS’s 34. Lots of people love both, but if you’re going to vote for DKR, Watchmen, Year One and many more just seem… better. DKR always seemed sort of blandly great, to me. AS little as that concept makes sense. Nonetheless, it is great, and the design of some of the covers is amazing.

There is a god.

@A.J. That’s because Year One is Mazzuchelli’s Batman. And Richmond Lewis’ Batman. Miller’s contribution to that comic is by far the weakest link. Put that prose on anybody else’s art and we probably wouldn’t even be talking about the book. Same with Born Again (though Richmond Lewis’ contribution to that comics was much more constrained).

This was Miller’s Batman before he was the goddamn Batman!!!

Wonder who’s number 4, 3, 2, and 1?

Ooohh the chill, the chill!

I’m seriously shocked. I thought TDKR would place first or second. I still think it’s the best graphic novel of all time.

I’m really depressed that a pile of dung like The Dark Phoenix saga is going to beat this masterpiece. Hopefully there’ll be some miracle and some other book will jump out of the leftfield and take its place.

Put that prose on anybody else’s art and we probably wouldn’t even be talking about the book.

Nonsense. Don’t get me wrong – Year One has some of the finest art ever to grace a comic, but…. It is also one of the all time best written comics.

@Julian: no, a large part of why I like “Year One” more is because Miller is more restrained, as opposed to “The Dark Knight Returns”. While I like both stories (and Miller being Miller does have its charms), on “Year One” everyone works together to boil everything down to make one cracking good story.

Unfortunately “holding back” is something Miller removed from his vocabulary a long time ago.

I’m really depressed that a pile of dung like The Dark Phoenix saga is going to beat this masterpiece. Hopefully there’ll be some miracle and some other book will jump out of the leftfield and take its place.

Agree with this, although I actually think DKR is pretty overrated, too. It’s not bad; it’s even in the upper eschelon of Batman stories, but I don’t think it’s the best ever. Killing Joke and Morrison’s jLA, even, arguably, Kingdom Come and New Frontier have portrayals I prefer. However, i read it after being told it was ZOMG TEH BEST EVA by everyone everywhere, and I much prefered it upon a reread years later with the advantage of dramatically lowered expectations. So maybe in a few more reads I’ll come around. Dark Phoenix, however, is purpley prosed, stitled, and has plot holes you could put your fist through. It may be the single most overrated story of all time, and I join you in fervently hoping for some freak occurence where it gets beaten by Nextwave or something. Hell, I’ll even take Infinite Crisis.

@Julian: no, a large part of why I like “Year One” more is because Miller is more restrained, as opposed to “The Dark Knight Returns”. While I like both stories (and Miller being Miller does have its charms), on “Year One” everyone works together to boil everything down to make one cracking good story.

Unfortunately “holding back” is something Miller removed from his vocabulary a long time ago.

Agreed – Miller’s at his best under an editor that doesn’t take any shit.

Eric L. Sofer, the Silver Age Fogey

December 16, 2009 at 5:42 am

DanCJ said: “I’m really depressed that a pile of dung like The Dark Phoenix saga is going to beat this masterpiece.”

DKR is certainly a beautiful piece of work. I believe that it started comics down a road that Frank Miller never intended – I mean, realistically, DKR is an Elseworlds, not a guide on how to write comics glum and gloomy (which this is NOT) for the next ten years. Other lesser talents saw it, thought that it meant that the gloves were off and they could make everything dark and nasty, and went about the task of making comics less fun.

But Dark Phoenix saga is a pile of dung? Maybe with a perspective of 25 years later. But at the time, it was so fresh and original that nothing even came near it. The art was unbelievable – and I grant you that some might not like that John Byrne art. Then again, some don’t like Frank Miller art, so there you have it.

This, of course, is why they have horse races – difference in opinions, and YMMV. I have no idea what will be number 1 (and I wonder where the New Teen Titans Terra saga will finish – or I am way too late on that already? I hate it when they don’t wake me on time! :)

I remain,
Sincerely,
Eric L. Sofer
The Silver Age Fogey
x<]:o){

Wow, I was certain this would be #2.

We were talking about potential backlashes, which was unlikely in a broader sense, but maybe the excesses of Miller’s modern Batman has highlighted the more restrained “Year One”.

At 1112 points, with two entries to go, this makes Miller a guaranteed second place finisher, and a candidate for first.

Wowzers! I didn’t include it in my list, but I am genuinely surprised that it’s not top three!!

“Remember my hand around your throat…”

I’ve been putting off getting the Absolute version of this, but my TPB is falling apart, so it may well be time to upgrade…

Eric L. Sofer, I couldn’t agree more. What most people took away from DKR were the violence, pulpy prose, 1st person captions, and over the top moments. What they didn’t see were the humor and satire. DKR works because it balances the extreme elements (revolutionary at the time, sure) with the thematic ones. Unlike most of the grim ‘n’ gritty junk that followed, DKR was fun.

“It’s quite twisted”- nicely done, Brian.

Whoa! Just…whoa! #5! Crazy. The comic book world has changed!

Now this makes me wonder, and think it would be really cool, if Watchmen was #4 (doubtful), and #1 is Speedball’s Limited Series 1-9! ;^)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

December 16, 2009 at 6:42 am

DKR’s big problem is that a lot of the political commentary is significantly dated, and some of it — the bizarre Hitler-mustached psychiatrist, the swastika-nippled Otto, and Reagan in a radiation suit — was never all that clever to start with. The contemporary political commentary is easily the most juvenile and least compelling part of the story, and it takes up more room than it should.

That said, the Two-Face/Joker scenes with Batman are brilliant, and Carrie Kelly is a hell of a good character until DKSA. And the Superman battle, for all that fanboys have made it “Batman can kick Superman’s ass,” actually plays out as Batman literally giving his all ad briefly humbling God Himself for a moment. It’s epic because the reader understands that Batman can’t easily or even sustainably beat Superman, and then he does it anyway.

A lot of DKR was unfairly poisoned in retrospect by DKSA, which is far less honest with its characters and plot points. A misguided Superman and a self-questioning Batman are far more interesting than the blackmailed moron Superman and the self-assured fascist Batman of DKSA.

Good news!

I have always thought DKR was just a little overrated. Having slot it at #5 shows that it is still a GREAT book, but not the GREATEST COMIC EVER that some used to claim.

The Crazed Spruce

December 16, 2009 at 7:07 am

Wow. I had this one pegged to end up at #2, at worst. Granted, it actually came in at #4 on my ballot, but still…..

And I don’t know if we can really say that anything’s a lock for the top 5. I can think of several stories that have just as much right to be at the top of the list as “Dark Phoenix”, or “Born Again”, or even Watchmen. How about Man of Steel? Or “Ultron Unlimited”? Or American Flagg? Or “Formerly Known as the Justice League”? Or the Spider-Man/Juggernaut two-parter? Or “Crisis on Earth One/Two”?

Nothing’s set in stone ’til Brian posts the top 2. You never know what’s gonna happen ’til it does.

Whether they’re good enough isn’t really what we’re predicting, it’s based on long-term popularity. Realistically, the four stories left now are not going to be left off this list (and I imagine most people would have guessed Watchmen for #1 from the time we started balloting).

As much as like Dark Phoenix we got to admit that’s not a masterpiece as TDKR. This can be only explained by the huge (and I MEAN REALLY HUGE) X-Men’s fan base, formed during the 80/90′s. Anyway, considering the fact that these storylines haven’t shown up yet I think we can say… YES! Born Again, Dark Phoenix Saga, Batman:Year One and Watchmen = MORTAL LOCK.

Like everyone else, I’m surprised this isn’t 1 or 2. It’s actually one of the biggest surprises on the list for me.

But seriously, do you guys have to draw out the last five by posting one at a time? Argh! Well, I’ll be here…

Another one of mine. Now I’m just waiting for Watchmen from my list.

“It’s quite twisted”- nicely done, Brian.

Indeed. I quite enjoyed that.

A little surprised to see DKR place fifth and not higher, but then, it doesn’t really matter to me. Personally, while I recognize DKR as the better crafted and more significant work, I much prefer the Dark Phoenix saga, though I voted for neither (I did vote for Year One, which I absolutely adore).

Brian you are evil!! One post at a time, eh? Terrible! Shame on you!!
Boy this is fun! :P

Introduction by Alan Moore? I’d like to read that!! I love me a good introduction :D

i’d like to see how high up this boosts Miller on Jeremy’s list …

I have been waiting to see where Dark knight returns would land on this list though thought it would have made the top three. for frank miller showed the even no longer in his prime batman is still a force to be reckon with not to mention the joker was at his truely twisted

i feel that many people, like myself, did not include choices such as DKR because it was a mini-series and not a storyline-within-a-series like Batman: Year One, thus the skewed placings.

Wanna know what I’d like to see next? (Probably not, but I’ll go ahead anyway) A top list with either no big two books or just no superheroes in general.

Wow, color me surprised. This was my #1 pick. Now, apart from Watchmen and Dark Phoenix, I’m stumped as to what other storylines could make up the Top 4. A third one could be Infinite Crisis, although the idea of IC being better than DKR is ludicrous. And the idea of Secret Invasion cracking the Top 4 is too stupid to even entertain that motion, so I’ll ignore it.

DKR turned Batman from The Dark Knight Detective into the overbearing hardass he’s been for the past 20 + years and damned near ruined the character and also helped tear down Superman as a likeable DCU character with it’s incredibly one-dimensional representation of that character. “But it was so cool seeing Superman get his ass kicked by Armored Batman! And the Bat Tank! And ! And!” Bottom line: It was just Miller masturbating a fanfic level fantasy on the page, and that’s where it should have stayed – as unpublished fanfic. And both the character and Miller have been going downhill ever since.

While I like Dark Knight Returns, put me in the camp that prefers Year One.

And at this stage of the poll, I guess I can sadly confirm that we won’t be seeing any of storylines from ZOT! Sigh…

This just proves my earlier prediction!!

The remaining four will be:

Some Alan Moore movie adaptation
Atari Force
The Adventures of Luther Arkwright
Scarlet Traces

8)

I’d love it if Scarlet Traces was in there

Bernard the Poet

December 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

Unless you were there at the time, I think it is hard to realise just how seismic the Dark Knight was. Yes, there had been good comics before, but nothing with the reach of this. The prestige format, the articles in the Sunday papers, it even got window displays in real life book shops. Friends, who wouldn’t dream of reading a comic, asked to borrow the Dark Knight Returns, Suddenly, comic readers were all going around saying, “of course, in France, comics are considered the ninth art form” – no, we didn’t know what the other eight art forms were and we didn’t care. Everyone who took comics seriously, there time had finally come. Comics were cool.

In the next couple of years, Miller wrote Year One, Elektra Assassin and Born Again. Moore wrote Watchmen and concluded V for Vendetta and Morrison started Animal Man. It was truly a Golden Age.

God, I’m misting up… I feel so old.

“it’s quite twisted.”

Ha ha ha ha, you and your puns, Brian

Well, forget what I said about backlashes last post. “Strikes Again” cost Miller three positions on the original work, looks like. (I’m sure, though, that he’d still rather have the money.)

Dark Knight Returns is probably the first graphic novel/comic I ever really read. Sure, I glanced at the occasional Jim Lee drawn X-men comics as a kid, but DKR was the first work I really sat down and just read. Blew my fucking mind. Even today, although I’m not the biggest fan of Miller’s artwork most of the time, its just incredibly dynamic, and although the political commentary is dated, the incredible action beats and fun dynamic between the main characters keeps it as a classic in my book.

NEW TOTALS in a minute

Eh, I still think the backlash was minimal, Jeff. On a poll like this, it doesn’t actually matter how many people don’t like something, just how many people do. Most of the big crossovers have as many detractors as boosters, and they clearly seem to do alright.

NEW TOTALS

Interesting notes – Miller does a HUGE leap near the top, somehow matching Wolfman for exact points lol. Also, THE ’80s.

-35 are Marvel stories

-49 are DC stories(30 from DC, 16 from Vertigo, 3 from Wildstorm)

-72 are superhero stories
-24 are non-superhero stories

-1990s(34 entries, 8066 points)
-1980s(22 entries, 7810 points)
-2000s(34 entries, 7172 points)
-1970s(4 entries, 763 points)
-1960s(2 entries, 558 points)

By Writer:

-Morrison (11 entries, 2931 points)
-Moore (8 entries, 1785 points)
-Gaiman (5 entries, 1591 points)
-Waid (3 entries, 1490 points)
-Miller (2 entries, 1274 points)
-Wolfman (2 entries, 1274 points)
-Millar (3 entries, 958 points)
-Stern (4 entries, 881 points)
-Giffen (2 entries, 835 points)
-Ennis (4 entries, 748 points)
-Spiegelman (1 entry, 723 points)
-Levitz (1 entry, 704 points)
-Johns (2 entries, 683 points)
-Claremont (2 entries, 568 points)
-L. Simonson (3 entries, 566 points)
-Brubaker (4 entries, 564 points)
-Ellis (4 entries, 563 points)
-Lee (2 entries, 558 points)
-Busiek (3 entries, 537 points)
-Lobdell (1 entry, 511 points)
-Nicieza (1 entry, 511 points)
-Loeb (2 entries, 474 points)
-DeMatteis (1 entry, 473 points)
-Tomasi (1 entry, 452 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)
-Cooke (1 entry, 314 points)
-Meltzer (1 entry, 304 points)
-Vaughan (2 entries, 295 points)
-Willingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Buckingham (2 entries, 234 points)
-Conway (1 entry, 250 points)
-Sim (2 entries, 220 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)
-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)
-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)

I’d never accuse Brian of anything underhanded, but, as we approach the top of the list, can we please have written confirmation that “Was Superman a Spy?” does NOT constitute a storyline?

Hmm… that means that assuming (and I think it’s pretty safe to) that Miller has two more entries and Morrison has none, then Miller is guaranteed to beat Morrison.

Moore (assuming one more entry) isn’t guaranteed, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t beat Morrison.

I’m so excited that The Nth Man cracked the top four. You guys are awesome!

very pleased with this. while i enjoy dark knight and i would not want to have the trade stolen from me, i fall in the camp that think it’s absurdly overrated and much prefer year one. year one actually made my top ten. dark knight is a very original and well done story, but it doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as watchmen, sandman, animal man, swamp thing, etc. i guess i would say my biggest problem with dark knight is that the first half was infinitely better than the second half, and i really found the whole last issue immensely unsatisfying. the truly great works dazzle you with their beginnings, and then floor you with their endings. for my self, at least, dark knight did only half of that. as i argued in a previous post, i’ve always found dark knight to be more “cool,” than “smart.”

even though i’ve always preferred year one, i was under the impression that it was considered far inferior to dark knight by most of fandom. it’s good to read from the above posts that my opinions are shared by many others.

already knowing what the top five will be, if i were to rank them simply in the order of what i perceive their quality to be, it would have gone like this…

1. watchmen
2. batman: year one
3. x-men: the dark phoenix saga
4. daredevil: born again
5. batman: the dark knight returns

could this be how it will turn out?

my guess is it goes more like this…

1. watchmen
2. dark phoenix saga
3. born again
4. year one
5. dark knight

and to follow up with a previous post, keep in mind that we still have roughly 375 first place votes unaccounted for. even if potentially as many as 150 of those went to stories that didn’t make the list at all, that still means we’re dividing at least 225 first place votes among the last four entries.

While I greatly enjoy Year One, how can anyone rate it higher than DKR when it has no appearances of anyone in the rogues gallery, IIRC, which is an essential element to the mythos and the character himself?

I certainly have noticed more love for Year One the past 2-3 years, esp. after ASBAR, which has soiled Miller in the eyes of many fans.

Art-wise: Miller>Mazzechelli

Any chance of the Wolverine mini-series being in the top 4 with Dark Phoenix Saga, Watchmen, and Year One?

Granted I liked Miller’s Daredevil run but I’m wondering due to the popularity and exposure that (at least I perceive) Batman and Wolverine have over Daredevil that many people when chosing their top 10 decided to represent Miller with one of his Batman or Wolverine storylines. Though its real hard to imagine it not cracking the top 100.

just a thought – guess i’m hoping for another surprise – I was shocked that DKR wasn’t #1 or #2.

daniel-

Recently there has been a backlash to Watchmen. While many acknowledge its brilliance, those same would go on to tell you that its not their favorite.

In the Top 100 runs X-men finished 2nd. In the Top Favorite storylines? It may finish 1st.

I can see the outrage already

Wow! I wasn’t expecting this at #5, either! But hey, while I acknowledge the brilliance and influence of this incredible work, I vastly prefer Batman: Year One (which got my first place vote). I absolutely agree that Miller did his best work under editorial restraints (as crazy as that sounds)- Daredevil, Batman and the Wolverine mini were his best work, IMO.

I have been OBSESSED with this list! Love it!

Am I allowed to have the opinion that while I acknowledge TDKR is a very influential and “groundbreaking” comic, I don’t really like it?

Hmm. You know… I was half-expecting this. While Miller is held in very high esteem by readers in the Gen X block and older, I’ve noticed that Gen Y readers aren’t that enthusiastic about him.

Miller certainly has his younger fans, sure, but he’s also become a figure of derision in webcomics and on sites like TGWTG. I think to younger readers, there’s a tendency to perceive him as more the risibly misogynist creator of DKSA, the Goddamn Batman, and The Spirit film than a groundbreaking comics visionary.

Perhaps these Miller-skeptical Gen Y readers are no different from the youngsters in the 70′s who saw Devil Dinosaur and declared Kirby “Jack the Hack.” Perhaps Miller’s creative style has aged poorly, or perhaps comics on the whole have improved.

Regardless, I think most of the Gen Y voters are probably either not voting for Miller, or not voting for as many Miller stories as the Gen X and older readers might expect. I expect to see at least one more Miller story in the remaining four slots, but if nothing at all more from Miller appeared… well, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

(Incidentally, I think the Gen Y vote explains the bizarrely strong showing for House of M. Anecdotally, most Gen Y readers are believed to be trade-only. Apparently the trades of HoM did really well. Well enough that Marvel is still producing House of M stuff to reissue in trade, years later!)

“Am I allowed to have the opinion that while I acknowledge TDKR is a very influential and “groundbreaking” comic, I don’t really like it?”

That’s kind of where I stand. It gave Batman some much-needed grit, but I don’t like the art, and a lot of the story strikes me as hamfisted and bizarrely non-Batmanish.

DKR at #5, didn’t see that coming. Lamentable that Dark Phoenix is going to place ahead of it, but c’est la vie.

And I’ve finally lost all hope that Peter Milligan will be represented here. Shade, Enigma, Skreemer, the woefully under-appreciated Human Target… even X-Statix if you want to get goofy… all superior works to the majority of this list IMO, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

And something from my personal top 5 that didn’t get so much as a mention: Gaiman and McKean’s Signal To Noise. Granted, most of us probably forget that it really was a serialized storyline originally (in Taboo magazine) and it’s as brilliant today as it was back then, but I guess that’s life.

Or how about Cages? No love for Cages?

A big ol’ list of important comics and not a whisper of Peter Milligan or Dave McKean! Shame shame!

@Lynxara:
I think the probability ofno other Millerbook appearing is 0%. There is no way that Batman: Year One would not appear in a top 100. It is just very well known and very loved.
I also think that Born Again is a lock, but not quite as much as Year One given that Daredevil is not aspopular a character and that there could have been a split between this and Elektra Saga.

This is probably the right place for it, if not even a bit too high – I’d be happier with it around #10. To be honest, I think DKR has a crass ideology, is exceedingly overdone, and lacks any real or meaningful subtlety or craft. It has much more in common with the Kewl era of Image comics than it does with much of anything else in the top ten.

Put me in the camp of likes TDKR but much prefers Year One.
Miller has produced some great artwork, but for my money Mazzucchelli is many times better.

Plus I just can’t enjoy Janson’s inks not matter how hard I try (well he did good work back in the 70′s)
,that takes TDKR down a few notches for me.

Although I do remember the buzz the series created and how exciting it all seemed at the time.

I don’t find it odd that a creator made his best work under stricter editorial control, I’d say that many times a strong editing hand can bring about better work than 100% unrestrained freedom.

I think the generational effect is totally at play here, and it is interesting to see people rail on Dark Knight Returns. The effect on the industry was seismic, and on me as a reader as well. Miller at the time was really the first, but not the only, writer to go into the brutality and reality of what it means to go beat people up and a logical conclusion of what happens in a world of superheroes, and the fact that it was Batman only accentuated the major points of the story. I find the Dark Knight Returns to be at it’s core an emotional book that privileges a bit of the animal over the logical. I think criticism over the little jokes about the times are nitpicking, when the full emotional weight of the story is still haunting. I still think it’s a tour de force, and very few writers would have the combination of guts and ability to pull off a great story while remaining visceral and funny.

Also, what some of you are saying about DKR, is what I would say about Watchmen. Moore explored the same themes, but his exploration went a little further into the geopolitical, and I think took on other possible outcomes, but I always found Watchmen to be a little sterile, probably because of the Gibbons art and the decision to play with the form by mirroring the look of a traditional comic layout. Great ideas, but the book always leaves me a little cold.

You know, it’s also interesting to me how some posters will blame a story for how future creators riffed off of it. Like Claremont/Miller’s Wolverine was bad because it gave us super-logan, or DKR is bad because of 20 years of grit. Just because those other writers didn’t create a new take or catch lightning for a second time really doesn’t make these stories any worse.

Year One is pretty much the Miller book I expect to appear, if any more is to appear. I believe its trade sales spiked in recent memory thanks to the Nolan Bat-films drawing heavily upon it. It’s a good, easy to read story that’s aged well. Born Again I’m of two minds about.

My gut feeling is that if it was going to appear, it already would’ve done so. It’s very hard to imagine a Top Whatever Comics vote-in list that features both DKR and Born Again, but charts the latter higher than the former. Furthermore, I can’t imagine Gen Y readers voting for it en masse, because Marvel lets the trade go out of print on a ridiculously regular basis.

On the other hand, it was a hugely influential run, and it’s hard to imagine the Gen X and older bloc not having enough influence to chart Born Again if they got The Great Darkness Saga and Under Siege to chart so high. Of course, other older stuff I really expected the Gen Xers to get on the list has been passed over completely… it’s almost anyone’s game at this point.

(Incidentally, I think a contributing culprit to the low number of Miller stories on the Top 100 is the fact that Marvel does such a bad job keeping backlist TPBs in print. A lot of Miller’s Daredevil is impossible to buy in a bookstore right now, and I think his Wolverine mini and Elektra stuff’s also been allowed to fall out of print.)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

December 16, 2009 at 11:54 am

@ DWright: And as I pointed out above, the Wolverine mini DIDN’T give us super-Logan. Where in the world do people get that idea? Have they just not read it in years, or at all?

As to DKR, while you may find it hauntingly emotional, I must point out that huge chunks of the plot rely heavily on Wolper, on Reagan as a doltish cowboy, and so forth. They’re not just l’il ol’ jokes, they’re major plot points. To a post-Cold War generation, especially, a lot of DKR’s actual story is embarrassingly dated.

That said, I also think I discussed the emotional power of the story in my post, singling out the character interactions and portrayals as the real strength of the book. I just chose to emphasize the plot ‘s references just as much as the lovely emotional stuff, because I think the book itself gives them rather equal weight even if the reader’s reaction doesn’t.

@Phil
I think you really captured better the viewpoint I’m opposing. I actually find a lot of subtlety and craft in DKR, particularly in how he used media, and reviewed the psychosis of Batman in a visceral and emotional way. I always think it’s harder to make an original than a copy, and Miller broke ground here.

In later years, in lesser hands, and, I think people taking the wrong lessons from DKR, the violent kewl movement that happened later was only supported by big sales and adolescents who dug the blood, and I HATED that stuff, but I’d hate for a new reader to see the original and the copies as the same thing.

Or, you know, if you don’t agree, that’s cool too. Just putting it out there.

@Omar–Sorry poorly phrased. I was agreeing with your prior post and the wrong statement of the prior poster.

It didn’t. I was saying it was an unfair criticism to blame future outcomes on a good story, particularly one that didn’t create the new status quo. Now then, much clearer.

@Lynxara-

I think it has to be BA, though. DKR gets talked about more, but BA is almost inarguably the defining DD run, at least until the last few years. I can see it outdistancing DKR by a couple of points — a few quirky votes can make a huge difference –but I can’t see it placing thirty or forty spots below the Elektra Saga.

@Omar, clearly I disagree with some of your points but no worries. I tend not to give plot points as much weight as story in books like these and I really don’t think they are equal. In the stories I love, plot is often little more than a framework anyway to move the characters across the room or the planet in some cases. If you take Reagan out, and put in random American president, it still works.

Also, I understand that some younger readers may not get the conspiratorial, fascistic overtones, but then, a lot of readers at the time didn’t either, as it was “Morning in America” for most. I also think being dated is not necessarily a criticism, but then I love Dr. Strangelove and tons of old movies that are very “dated” as well.

DWright-

most film people, myself included, would argue that dr. strangelove is perhaps the most un-dated movie of all time. it’s a movie whose relevance has never, and might still never, wane. if anything, it almost feels more relevant today than it would have in 1964. while i know this is hardly a substantial sample size, i have watched dr. strangelove on four different occasions with people that had never seen it, and they all found it to be quite relevant and not dated in the slightest.

Wow, like everyone else so surprised DKR’s not in top 3, will this list never cease to amaze? Confession time, I’ve not actually read all of this, just chunks of it, so didn’t vote for it despite owning loadsa Batman. Similarly, I’m a Kirby nut, but not got round to the Galactus trilogy!!!

What I’ve not read I didn’t vote for, but my list was quickly put together, and I wish I remembered Year One.

OK – given the number of surprises, top 4 will be:
4. Infinite Crisis.
3. Terminator: Secondary Objectives.
2. McFarlane Spider-Man: Torment.
1. Atlantis Attacks. NAILED-ON! MORTAL LOCK!

“It’s very hard to imagine a Top Whatever Comics vote-in list that features both DKR and Born Again, but charts the latter higher than the former.”

I agree, but thinking about it, possibly “Born Again” got higher placement from hardcore Marvel fans, while the two big DC Miller works split the higher votes a bit?

If the fourth remaining story isn’t “Born Again”, I’m not really sure what else it would be.

Regarding Miller’s Daredevil in trade, Marvel just printed the whole first run in three new volumes (I have them, quite nice).

To suggest that the political/media control aspects of TDK is out-dated seems highly suspect. Esp in the current climate. Everything relating to that and to a larger extent TDKSA (which came out right at the beginning of Bush’s Presidentcy) is even more relevant today!!

Come on people, a political stance or leaning to any direction from a artist is never out-dated. Especially when done in a fresh way, as Miller does it. Even if the guy looks like Reagan. Or its about the Cold War, Nuclear obliteration, etc.

Jeremy:

Cages was on my list too (which I never submitted– grumble)….

I’ve been doing pretty badly — so far only 3 of mine have made the list, and it seems likely that none of the rest of my selections will make the cut.

(tossup in order on the 1st 3, as I still believe these are one continuous storyline)

1- Animal Man: Origin of the Species (by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, etc)
2- Animal Man: Vol. 1 (by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, Tom Grummett etc)
3- Animal Man: Deux Ex Machina (by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, etc)
4- V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd)
5- Maus by Art Spiegelman
6- A Life Force by Will Eisner (serialized in Will Eisner Quarterly)
7- Moonshadow by J.M. Dematteis and Jon J. Muth
8- Cages by Dave McKean
9. Barefoot Gen Vol.1 by Keiji Nakazawa.
10. Concrete: Think Like A Mountain by Paul Chadwick

Bleck, DKR is absolute shit. Miller’s a hack writer and his “art” looks like a retarded chimpanzee with a lazy eye went nuts with half a pack of crayons

Yes, Spider-Man Torment at #2! Leave it to that story to . . . RISE ABOVE IT ALL!!

Add me to the list of people surprised this isn’t in the top 3. This was my #2 overall pick. I love it. I still remember giving this to my brother when we were younger, who was not into comics at all, and him being awestruck by it. Great stufff.

I hate to admit it, but I still haven’t read Year One. I own the issues, just haven’t read them. Yet another thing I need to get to. I also haven’t read Born Again, but I’ve also only read about 2 issues of Daredevil total. I’m sure I’d like it, though, so I should check it out at some point.

If I had to rate my favorite Miller works:

1. DKR
2. Elektra Saga
3. Born Again
4. Ronin
5. Year One

Seeing as how the top four are predictable at this point, I would like to bemoan the lack of Claremont/Miller’s Wolverine and the Filth.

Just to prove that there are surprises to come, and to not be posting predictions, I’d like to challenge everyone to present not 4, but AT LEAST FIVE storylines that they think should come next.

What storylines do you think are better than DKR but that we haven’t seen yet on this list?

Storylines that I am shocked haven’t hit the Top 100 so far (meaning, obviously, at least some of them didn’t make the cut) are, in no order:

Batman: Year One
Daredevil: Born Again
X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga
X-Men: Inferno
Watchmen
Squadron Supreme
Iron Man: Armor Wars
Legion: The Great Darkness Saga

Seriously. Think about it. At least half of these didn’t crack the Top 100. And, here we have the story that defined Batman post-Crisis. The story that defined Daredevil for the next fifteen or so years. The story that every retelling of X-Men in other media has copied. The story that pulled all of the X-Men’s myrid subplots together and, for a brief momment, made sense of it all. The story that re-imagined super hero comic characters in general. The story that broke ground on the “What would people with super powers do” trope. The definitave Iron Man story in which he isn’t the bad guy. And, one of two Legion stories that fans of the Legion point to as being the best ever (the other one being The Sun Eater.)

Half of these didn’t make the cut at all.

What other storylines are you torn between disappointment that they aren’t here, and hope that they may be in the Top 4?

Theno

Great Darkness Saga already made the list.

Personally, I’m surprised Ultron Unlimited didn’t make it into the top 100 at all. I didn’t expect it to be top 20 or anything, but I thought for sure it would make the list. Especially since Avengers Forever made it, which I like but realize only hardcore Avengers fans are going to enjoy, while Ultron seems more non-Avengers fan freindly.

Oh, I’m pretty surprised by Squadron Supreme not charting at all, too. It’s in my top 20, but didn’t make the top 10 cut. Maybe that was the case with a lot of people?

@Andy: Certainly Born Again is by far the most famous of all Daredevil runs, and arguably the best. I’m not sure what kind of cachet “best Daredevil comic ever” has with readers now, though. Marvel hasn’t pushed Daredevil aggressively as a property since the movie underperformed.

@Sean C.: It’s great to hear Miller’s Daredevil is properly in print right now. I’m rather fond of it even though Daredevil is ordinarily far from my favorite character!

You bring up an interesting point with the Marvel vs. DC angle, I hadn’t considered that. If Born Again crops up in one of the remaining four spots, that might very well be why.

Personally, the only one of those I’d rank as better than DKR is Watchmen.

Squadron Supreme was ahead of its time– anticipating works like The Authority, Black Summer, Kingdom Come, and Identity Crisis, though DKR is stronger in terms of experimenting with storytelling technique, production values, and art.

None of the others come close –maybe Year One.

Good challenge, Theno!

For me, 4 story lines I’m surprised did not chart:
1. Suicide Squad versus Jihad (round 2)
2. Any of Kirby’s Fourth World stories
3. Byrne’s FF run (Trial of Galactus maybe?)
4. Nextwave

Great Darkness saga did make it not too long ago (check the archive).

Also, 4 non-superhero stories I’d have loved to have seen:
1. Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown
2. Buddy Bradley Does Seattle by Pete Bagge
3. Black Hole by Charles Burns
4. The Walking Dead: Days Gone By by Kirkman and Moore

@Lynxara Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t so much arguing that Daredevil is a power character who had to be represented, merely that there are two other Daredevil stories already here, and I just don’t see them making it and BA not, particularly in that it would have to lose by over 35 slots.

I voted for Flex Mentallo, Nextwave, Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium, and Starman’s Grand Guiginol, and the complete exclusion of each one of them is mildly startling but not heartstoppingly shocking. Saddening though.

I would have liked to Peter Milligan on the list somewhere too. Adam Weissman’s post made me cringe because I completely forgot about Paul Chadwick when I submitted my list. In a perfect world, Concrete would be somewhere here too, although I’d probably vote for Fragile Creatures.

@Andy: That’s reasonable enough, I haven’t followed the bottom half of the list in great detail. (Haven’t had much time to read CSBG until recently.)

Checking it over now… man, if Bendis’s Daredevil is making the list then we’re seeing a bigger Gen Y TPB influence than I had previously expected. Yeah, I can see why it would feel bizarre to think Bendis Daredevil is making the list and not Born Again.

Another interesting note: DKR has fewer first place votes than ASS and the same number of first place votes as CoIE. Given the number of points that DKR accumulated, it must have made an appearence on a lot of lists. That said, am very curious to see what the final distribution of points looks like. It may turn out that those entries at the top of the list were not everyone’s favorite stories, but those that showed up on the most lists altogether.

“I’m not sure what kind of cachet “best Daredevil comic ever” has with readers now, though. Marvel hasn’t pushed Daredevil aggressively as a property since the movie underperformed.”

It’s got a very solid fandom, though, and this is a fan website, primarily. The Smith-Bendis-Brubaker-Diggle period has been over a decade of consistent critical acclaim.

Speaking of Smith, I’m a bit surprised that neither “Guardian Devil” nor “Quiver” are on the list anywhere; they both sold very, very well, were generally well-received, and he’s a popular creator in fan culture, albeit perhaps less so than five or six years ago.

Another thing I’m surprised we won’t see is “Jaka’s Story” from Cerebus, which I assumed would end up in the 60s-40s somewhere. It was my #2.

@DWright See, I don’t feel like Miller explored the psychosis of Batman though. He put it on display, certainly but I think it was ultimately superficial – Batman was tortured and crazy, sure, but he made no effort to do anything with that other than use it as a reason for Batman to be a bigger badass in the comic.

The media commentary is, I think, the most interesting part of DKR, but it’s also to my mind where it gets the most ridiculously childish. Things like the caricature of Reagan and the ludicrous talk shows are unsubtle and crass.

I’m not trying to blame Miller for what came after him – I’m saying that I think that the Kewl era of comics is a lot more similar to DKR than I think people want to admit. I think that the bad end of the 90s was doing a more faithful Miller imitation than people give it credit for.

@Sean C.: Oh, I’m not saying nobody reads Daredevil. Just, Daredevil hasn’t been “hot” for awhile. Marvel’s love of big huge crossovers tends to leave Daredevil on the edges of the main continuity porn plot threads, so people aren’t clamoring for him the way they’re currently clamoring for the likes of… I don’t know, it’s Deadpool right now, isn’t it?

So I really don’t know if Born Again would show up on the strength of being a great Daredevil story, as opposed to other strengths of the work. If it does show, I would peg it mostly to its historical significance in the development of mainstream comics for adult readers.

I don’t know about these Top 5 predictions. I know Torment will be there, but there’s no way it beats the X-Force/ Spider-Man crossover. They drew it sideways, man! SIDEWAYS!!

Cages, Concrete (pretty much all of them), and almost any Hitman story (especially Zombie Night…, The Old Dog, & Closing Time) would be in my top 20. Cages is another one of those advanced works that makes full use of the medium, but lack of availability and/or interest have reduced its status.

I voted for a few stories that I knew wouldn’t make it, but I don’t know if I want to list them now. Is everyone going to chime in with their lists after the countdown is done?

Even with Miller’s recent works tainting his legacy, I think Year One & Born Again get a pass from most fans. They are great comics, and Mazzuchielli’s art gives them a touch of class that Miller’s couldn’t.

Speaking of Daredevil, did any Nocenti/ JR Jr. stories make the list? Typhoid Mary, the Mephisto stories, the Ultron 2-parter, and her final story that featured Bullseye (not loved by all, but I really liked it) could have been considered. We didn’t see Brubaker’s Devil in Cell Block D either, did we? It’s the standout tale from his run.

Looks like there’s only two Daredevil stories on the list thus far, Elektra Saga and King of Hell’s Kitchen.

Does anyone think Johnny the Homicidal Maniac will make the list?

And I’m suprised that there is so much Grant Morrison and so little Chris Ware!

Yes, Spider-Man Torment at #2! Leave it to that story to . . . RISE ABOVE IT ALL!!

So good. “His webline? Advantageous! “

@Daniel–I suppose sarcasm never pays in print:-). That’s what I was trying to say, that just as Strangelove is timeless despite its themes rooted in the heart of the Cold War with things like the Big Board and the little secret camera, so too do I not think that DKR should be penalized for having Reagan and the Cold War as part of the backdrop.

@Phil–Fair enough, and I see that. I think i’d agree much more with your criticism on DKSA as for being superficial, but I don’t think he offered, or explored any real answers on either. I do think it’s the first time I ever saw Batman tortured and crazy, and certainly as violent, outside of as a small plot point in other comics. Also, I think putting it on display was what was groundbreaking…leading to great conversations about the character that really weren’t happening before. I also think that I disagree, if I’m reading your point right, that Miller didn’t do it much better than who came after. I clearly think he did, and find the build with Joker and Two Face and ultimately Supes to be great storytelling. But, to each his own, and that’s what’s made this list fun.

c´mon, a lot of peolpe talking about if DKR is shit or the holly grial, or if McKean, Milligan, or anybody else in the american comic circle should be here, but seriously nobody realizes that this top 100 comic book storylines doesn´t have anything of Pratt, Jodorowsky, Crepax or the great Eisner (just to name a few)

Yeah, but no one writing for this blog has a more-than-cursory knowledge of European comics. Which means that I’d be really surprised if the readers (En Masse, not individually) did.

I think a lot of Eisner’s work has been allowed to fall out of print, too. I believe you can still get Contract with God fairly easily, but I rarely see anything else stocked at bookstores.

I would agree that the Western tendency to ignore Jodorowsky’s work in comics is regrettable, everyone I know who’s read his stuff did so after falling in love with his films.

Also, regarding Eisner, most of his work was published as single books/graphic novels rather than in serial form. Even the Spirit sections were pretty self contained each week. Spirit on the Moon comes to mind as an exception, but that was drawn by Wally Wood.

I don’t know if serialization is a strict requirement for the list or not, but someone mentioned that people might overlook Maus if they mistakenly believed it was only published as a complete novel.

By the way, I’m pretty sure Eisner is still in print. Kitchen Sink or Fantagraphics published him for a long time, and a quick search of Amazon shows that Norton & Co. has been reprinting his stuff.

Hmm. You could argue that Contract With God, Dropsie Avenue, and A Life Force were a serial storyline, huh? (Not that this would have occured to me, mind.)

How can Squadron Supreme not make this list? I just realized it’s not on it.

The story that broke ground on the “What would people with super powers do” trope.
^
Yes. I read this book as a kid and it messed my head up in a good way. Plus the graphic novel that followed wrapped up everything with a glowing baby. What could be better?

For people talking about the restraint of Miller’s writing in Year One, just a thought experiment: try and imagine Year One with Miller’s art. Would it still seem as restrained and grounded? And I’m not just talking plot here, go back and look at the actual prose and try and juxtapose the images. I really think that Mazzuchelli’s line and composition along with Lewis’ more tertiary and secondary color palate is adding a lot of the restraint and poise people accredit to an edited Miller.

Just noticed a glaring hole in this list.
Ok, so no Elektra: Assassin, no Mage, no Captain Britain: Jaspers’ Warp, no Concrete, no Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, and no Englehart/Rogers Boss Thorne vs. Batman, though those are all superb…
but Anatomy Lesson/Woodrue doesn’t make it into the top 100 comic book storylines?! That’s just horrifying!

Neat. I guessed Dark Knight at no. 5 (granted, only seconds before I clicked on the link).

Actually my basis was that Dark Knight is not as much on the brain as the other stories for this blog’s readers. Think of how many Cool Comic Book Moments have featured Watchmen, Born Again and Year One. Sentiment’s going to skew that way.

And I think the 100 Best Runs showed that Claremont/Byrne’s heyday is even more popular than people realize (they came in no. 2 on that list).

Plus I think more than a few people, like me, didn’t vote for miniseries, just ’cause of wanting to focus on stories from ongoing titles.

Which could mean bad news for Watchmen…

“Unless you were there at the time, I think it is hard to realise just how seismic the Dark Knight was. Yes, there had been good comics before, but nothing with the reach of this. The prestige format, the articles in the Sunday papers, it even got window displays in real life book shops. Friends, who wouldn’t dream of reading a comic, asked to borrow the Dark Knight Returns, Suddenly, comic readers were all going around saying, “of course, in France, comics are considered the ninth art form” – no, we didn’t know what the other eight art forms were and we didn’t care. Everyone who took comics seriously, their time had finally come. Comics were cool. ”

DKR’s success was dependent on a number of factors that had been in development in the comics industry for about five years leading up to it’s release.

1) Prestige Format had been around for 2-5 years prior to DKR. In fact, Miller’s RONIN was the first mainstream American PF series through the Big Two, published three years earlier. It’s critical and commercial success was a key reason DKR was greenlighted.

2) In terms of storytelling, the independent market had blown DC and Marvel out of the water. Baron and Rude’s NEXUS. Chaykin’s AMERICAN FLAGG!. Wagner’s MAGE and GRENDEL. I could name a couple dozen more of ‘lesser known’ independent books that were superior works, both as stories and in terms of artistic experimentation, all of which were published prior to DKR.

3) Manga was starting to show up in the American comics market around 1979-80. Miller cited Kauzo Koike’s LONE WOLF & CUB as a key influence for RONIN, which leads you back to #1. No Ronin, no DKR.

4) You seem to be forgetting a little phenomenon called TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, which was two years prior to DKR and was the real catalyst for America taking notice of comics in the eighties.

But to be fair, Pop Media was hungry for the next big thing in comics in 1986. DKR was the first work to feature a major corproate owned character whom the general population would recognize due to the media exposure the character had had over near 50 years of existence. “What about CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS or MAN OF STEEL?” you ask. CoIE was too weighed down with historical minutae and unknown characters to appeal to the genreal population to have been the same sort of success as DKR had it been launched in the PF format. MoS was supposed to be in the PF format, or so the rumor goes, but scheduling had DKR coming out first, and they went with it instead. (DKR was released Feb 1986, MoS July 1986) Had MoS been completed first, it’s entirely possible DKR would not have received the national spotlight it did. We’ll never know.

“I think the generational effect is totally at play here, and it is interesting to see people rail on Dark Knight Returns. ”

I’m going to have to differ with you there, as I was there “back in the day” and my reaction to Watchmen was much stronger in terms of the way it made me look at the comics medium and the superhero genre and the relationship I’d had with them since childhood, where my reaction to DKR was more just as a flashy novelty.

All miniseries should have been banned from this poll, just allowing storylines from ongoing titles. This is too similar to the greatest run poll.

Oh, and Omar, I never claimed that Wolverine was overly powered-up within the miniseries itself, just that the series was the early part of a process that would eventually lead to such things. I can’t really elaborate because an injury has temporarily limited me to one-handed typing, but maybe another time…

Where is X-Statix vs the Avengers?!?!?!? Milligan and Allred were robbed!

Brian, the next countdown if you would please consider my suggestion: Top 100 favorite artists of all-time.

Heads would explode during that debate.

I liked the Wolverine mini a lot, but I agree it was the first domino on his path to being immortal, omniscient, and horribly overexposed.

I recall the mini being the first story that really described his healing factor in great detail (up to then, in X-men, he was resilient, but usually more due to the adamantium bones). After the mini it cropped up more, most immediately as a clever way to have him purge his Brood symbiote (by the way, it would’ve been nice to see Brood saga on the list, I really enjoyed that one). Then in the storyline with Viper he gets a sword shoved right through him by Silver Samurai, which, even as a kid, made me think, “this is getting a bit ridiculous”. And of course, Rogue absorbs his healing to survive Viper’s gun.

More than the healing factor, the Wolverine miniseries started him becoming a sort of Obi-Wan know-it-all and losing a lot of his recklessness. I always liked him as being hotheaded on the surface, like Thing or Hawkeye, but occasionally showing some depth or surprising level of competence (like taking charge in the Savage Land). But soon he was giving boring (and often hypocritical) lectures on restraint and morality and discipline to Kitty and Rachel and whoever. He’d occasionally have a cool story in him, but I always liked him best as a supporting player.

But again, that first miniseries was cool.

Too similar to the greatest runs poll? Mini-series weren’t allowed on that list. Go back and look at the top 100 runs, there’s tons of them that didn’t make it onto this list. If you got rid of mini’s for the top 100 storylines, I think it would have been more similar to the top 100 runs list.

Too similar to the greatest runs poll? Mini-series weren’t allowed on that list. Go back and look at the top 100 runs, there’s tons of them that didn’t make it onto this list. If you got rid of mini’s for the top 100 storylines, I think it would have been more similar to the top 100 runs list.

Correct.

Bernard the Poet

December 17, 2009 at 3:16 am

@Bright Raven
“DKR’s success was dependent on a number of factors that had been in development in the comics industry for about five years leading up to it’s release.”

I don’t think anyone disputes that.

“Miller’s RONIN was the first mainstream American PF series through the Big Two, published three years earlier. It’s critical and commercial success was a key reason DKR was greenlighted.” – Ronin used better quality paper than most comics at that time, but it was still stapled like a traditional comic, rather than book-bound as the Dark Knight was. I’m pretty sure Ronin was a critical and commercial failure. It was only collectede into one volume after the release of the Dark Knight.

“Had MoS been completed first, it’s entirely possible DKR would not have received the national spotlight it did. We’ll never know.” – I really doubt that the Man of Steel would have captured the media’s imagination in the way the Dark Knight did. Byrne’s retelling of Superman’s origin was very straightforward – the millions of people who knew Superman from the Christopher Reeve’s film would have found nothing unusual or exceptional about it and journalists would have struggled to come up with any hook for an article. Miller’s Dark Knight was such a massive departure from Adam West’s Batman that the articles practically wrote themselves.

daniel:

i guess i would say my biggest problem with dark knight is that the first half was infinitely better than the second half, and i really found the whole last issue immensely unsatisfying.

Interesting. For me the first chapter is the weakest and the last is the strongest.

Trey:

While I greatly enjoy Year One, how can anyone rate it higher than DKR when it has no appearances of anyone in the rogues gallery, IIRC, which is an essential element to the mythos and the character himself?

Woah there – It’s that kind of thinking that makes people lik Hush.

Art-wise: Miller>Mazzechelli

I love Miller’s art but no. Year One has some of the finest art ever to grace a comic.

Bright-Raven

1) Prestige Format had been around for 2-5 years prior to DKR. In fact, Miller’s RONIN was the first mainstream American PF series through the Big Two, published three years earlier. It’s critical and commercial success was a key reason DKR was greenlighted.

Are you sure about that. IIRC Ronin was just standard double sized issues with staples. I vaguely remember DC talking about how they invented prestige format for TDKR.

i simply don’t have the time to wade through all the comments, but …

@omar…at the time, the image of Reagan giving a thumbs up in a radiation suit was both hysterical AND some cogent political commentary. it might seem dated now, but what cold war set piece doesn’t a little?

i miss the cold war…

First of all did I see some one say Miller is a greater artist than Mazzucchelli? To each their own I guess.

Second of all… I, too, was there at the time(s). As far as Miller’s Batman work goes I will take Year One over DKR every time. A big part of that is because of the jackass wearing the Superman costume. I don’t know who that douchebag is, but he ain’t Superman. Not by a long shot.

As far as stories in general I’ll take Watchmen over anything Miller has ever or will ever do, but again to each their own.

Although don’t get me wrong I LOVE Year One and Born Again and kinda like Dark Knight even with the horrible Superman impersonator at the end.

DanCJ – I cannot be 100% sure off the top of my head, partially because I didn’t read Ronin until the first trade was released, but I agree with you. I remember Dark Knight being the first prestige format book… at the very least from the big 2.

Don’t worry, Johny the Boy, we got a nasty new Cold war settling in all over Eurasia right now, and I think that spiral light/blue beam thing in northern Norway last week marked the start of a whole new chapter.

[...] 5. “Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Batman: The Dark Knight #1-4)… [...]

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