web stats

CSBG Archive

The Greatest Keith Giffen Stories Ever Told!

Every day in May we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Keith Giffen Stories Ever Told!


I’ll give you the top five stories that DIDN’T make the Top Ten…

15. Justice League America #34-35 “Kooey Kooey Kooey island scheme”

Blue Beetle and Booster Gold license the JLI name to a resort on the island of Kooey Kooey Kooey and, well, let’s just say things don’t go as planned. Perhaps the most famous of “Blue and Gold”‘s hare-brained schemes. Plotted by Giffen, scripted by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Adam Hughes.

14. Justice League Europe #15-19 “The Extremist Vector”

Justice League Europe is faced with their deadliest foes yet in the Extremists, a group of villains who destroyed THEIR world and are looking to start fresh with the Justice League’s Earth! Plotted by Giffen, scripted by Gerry Jones and drawn by Bart Sears.

13. Justice League America #45 “A Date With Density, Too”

Guy Gardner tried to prove to Ice that he can go out on a date with her on her terms, but Blue Beetle, Fire and Killowog try a prank designed to keep Guy from keeping his promise. One sentence – “Guy Gardner on Ice.” Plotted by Giffen, scripted by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Russel Braun and Adam Hughes.

12. Legion of Substitute Heroes Special #1

The Subs get a chance to shine in their very own special! Plotted by Giffen, scripted by Paul Levitz and drawn by Giffen.

11. Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 3 #1-5 “Eye for an Eye”

The Legion of Super-Villains take on the Legion and there is a fight to the death between Queen Projectra, Karate Kid and Nemesis Kid. Co-plotted by Giffen, co-plotted snd scripted by Paul Levitz and drawn by Giffen and Steve Lightle.

10. The Heckler

Imagine a superhero who had the “powers” of Bugs Bunny (able to pull weapons out of nowhere, malleable, etc.) – that’s Heckler. He’s the star of this superhero satire that was sadly short-lived. Plotted by Giffen, scripted by Tom and Mary Bierbaum and drawn by Giffen.

9. Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 “Monster in a Little Girl’s Mind”

This Annual introduced us to Jacques Foccart and his sister Danielle. Danielle is dying so Jacques brings her to Brainiac 5 as a last resort. Brainy tries to cure her using a piece of the evil computer he built, Computo. Computo, naturally, possesses Danielle’s body and takes over the Legion’s headquarters, forcing Jacques to become a superhero to stop Computo and do what he can to save Danielle’s life. Co-plotted by Giffen, co-plotted and scripted by Paul Levitz and drawn by Giffen.

8. Formerly Known as the Justice League

The original creative team of Justice League International return to a group of characters from that series in this acclaimed mini-series, as the former Justice League members are recruited by Maxwell Lord to form a new superhero team – the Super-Buddies! Plotted by Giffen, scripted by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Kevin Maguire.

7. Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4 #26-38 “Terra Mosaic”

The Dominators are revealed to be secretly controlling the Earth! The Legion and the newly revived SW6 Legion try to stop them – but even if they win, can Earth be saved? Plotted by Giffen, scripted by Tom and Mary Bierbaum and drawn by Giffen and Jason Pearson.

6. Justice League International Annual #4 “JLAntarctica”

After the Injustice League approaches Maxwell Lord about going straight, he figures out a way to get them AND G’Nort out of his hair – he establishes a NEW Justice League for them set in..Antarctica. But when the hapless new heroes actually stumble into a fiendish plot involving genetically altered penguins, well, hilarity ensues. Plotted by Giffen, scripted by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mike McKone.

5. Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4 #1-12 “Five Years Later…”

It’s five years later and the Legion of Super-Heroes is gone and things are pretty bleak. Can a group of former Legionnaires come together to help stem the tide of evil in the universe? Plotted by Giffen, scripted by Tom and Mary Bierbaum, drawn by Giffen (inked by Al Gordon, who also assisted on the story)

Story continues below

4. Justice League America #38-40 “JLA vs. Despero”

Despero comes back to Earth looking for revenge on the Justice League that last defeated him. The current Justice League stands in the way of his revenge. A pitched battle ensues and a member of the League is seemingly killed plus will the Martian Manhunter make a tragic sacrifice to defeat Despero? Plotted by Giffen, scripted by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Adam Hughes.

3. Justice League #1-7 “A New Beginning”

The new Justice League is formed! Organized by Maxwell Lord, this is the initial series of stories that involve a fight with the mystical Grey Man, as well as the famous “One Punch!” fight between Guy Gardner and Batman. Plotted by Giffen, scripted by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Kevin Maguire.

2. Ambush Bug #1-4

Giffen’s popular superhero parody character, Ambush Bug, gets his own mini-series to great acclaim. Ambush Bug gains a sidekick in Cheeks…the Toy Wonder! Also…DARKSEID!!! Plotted by Giffen, scripted by Robert Loren Fleming and drawn by Giffen.

1. Legion of Super-Heroes 290-294 “The Great Darkness Saga”

The Legion is up against one of the greatest evils in the universe – the might of Darkseid! Oh, and an entire planet of Supermen (from the planet of Daxam). Can they escape the darkness? Co-plotted by Giffen, co-plotted snd scripted by Paul Levitz and drawn by Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt.

That’s the list! I’m sure there is a lot of agreement and disagreement with the list out there! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

And please vote for the lists that are still up for grabs here!


No “Annhiliation War”? Shocking!

I’m glad the Darkseid storyline was #1 and I always enjoyed Ambush Bug

Yes, that Darkseid story is quite brilliant – also my #1 pick.
My own list suffered from the fact that I have yet to read any of his work on Justice League or even the many Ambush Bug titles (although I loved, and put on my list, his appearances in DC Comics Presents). So only three of my picks are here.
Also kind of bummed that Vext didn’t even make the top 15, but at least Heckler’s here (just barely).

I’m amazed “Formerly Known as the Justice League” made the top 10 but the LSV and Extremist storylines didn’t. Heck, I thought all of #s 9-15 were better than FKatJL, but that could just be me.

Oh, and I’d like to second Edo’s regret over the lack of Vext; awesome series that was gone too soon.

Just between you and me and the whole World Wide Internet- you may have to make some room on this list for his current Doom Patrol. I think it’s the best thing he’s written in many years.

I second Doom Patrol (which rocks) and Annihilation (even though I didn’t read it) because it seems like it’d be good.

I don’t think Formerly Known As should have been as high on this list as it is, and shame on you for not including the Legion Subs vs. Ambush Bug or any other Ambush Bug appearances in Action Comics pre-his own series.

Kudos for Heckler; and I agree with your choice to not include Vext.

No Trencher or Lobo love?

It is a crime against Art that “Ambush Bug II”, starring Superman and the Legion of Substitute Heroes, from DC Comics Presents # 59 is not included on this list. It remains my favorite Ambush Bug story of all time and is my favorite non-strictly-Legion story that Giffen ever did.

Yeah, DC Comics Presents #59 was high on my list as well. Also Justice League Europe #4 and The March Hare. I’m happy to see so much Legion on the list, but a little surprised to find no L.E.G.I.O.N.

Doom Patrol? Nah.

But I’m glad to see Heckler, JLAntarctica, and at least one Ambush Bug series on here.

I’ll third the Doom Patrol comment. Probably my favorite DC superhero title being put out today.

I’m surprised at the lack of Blue Beetle (the most recent version). I’ve never read the series, but it seems to be the darling of Internet fandom.

I’m surprised at the lack of Blue Beetle (the most recent version). I’ve never read the series, but it seems to be the darling of Internet fandom.

It was an awesome series, but there wasn’t a lot of Giffen in it.

How dare you recommend stories that have not been collected in a convenient tpb!

All Justice League, all the time.

Annihilation was good, brah. Really.

I also thought the list needed some Lobo & Trencher mentions . . . didn’t Giffen also make Video Jack?
Granted, it’s a nomination/voting process so I can understand why the more obscure creations wouldn’t make it, but for the sake of diversity . . .

I’m trying to like his Doom Patrol, and while there’s a whole lot of well done “business” in it, it’s not really moving/engaging me, and I fear for this run. (Although, he’s said he got a request for a 2nd year outline from DC!)

the two big surprises for me were how low the kooey kooey kooey story was (i always thought it was the most perfect story of the giffen era, and it would have been #2 on my list behind great darkness saga had i voted), and that there was no L.E.G.I.O.N.

the first 22 issues of L.E.G.I.O.N. would have been #3 on my list, and i always thought it was the best DC series of the early 90’s except maybe doom patrol. i’m blaming it’s absence on this list on the lack of trades, which means new readers aren’t discovering it (i was also shocked it didn’t appear on this website’s top 100 runs list). do the other people that have read it remember it as fondly as i do?

I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t think of his L.E.G.I.O.N. run, which I love; Vril Dox and Phase are two of my favorite characters ever.

Mike Loughlin

May 20, 2010 at 9:40 am

The reason I didn’t vote is because I haven’t read LEGION and its spin-off, Annihilation, Heckler, and 90% of Giffen’s Legion of Super-heroes output. Turns out half my choices would have made it regardless.

I would have voted for one of the few Legion comics I own, LofS 300. I thought it was a fun anniversary issue, despite not knowing much about the characters.

The Hecklet sounds awesome. I will try to find it.

No Breakdowns? Color me surprised.

Heckler IS awesome.
A bit like his AB stuff, but more plot to hold onto.
Rumor has it the rights are going to revert back to him soon!
Here’s hoping for a indie relaunch!

I wish i would have voted for this poll. I feel that Annihilation and The Teasdale Imperative were two of his best stories that deserved some serious recognition. Eye For An Eye from his Legion days deserved more votes too. Nemesis Kid Vs Karate Kid is a hell of a fight. Has more tension, excitement, and drama than all 4 issues of Siege combined.

Enrique: Read more about The Heckler here. Yes, I’m shamelessly promoting my own work. Deal with it!

My list:

1. JLE Starro Story
2. Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1
3. JLA Despero 3 parter
4. Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special
5. Vext (I’ll assume 1-6 counts as a series)
6. Eclipso
7. JLE Extremist Vector story
8. Legion of Superheroes #38 (Earth destroyed)
9. Breakdowns (JLE/JLA crossover with annuals that tied in)
10. Heckler

Admittedly forgot about the Great Darkness Saga, which I would have had in the top 5 (probably 4), knocking Heckler out.

While I’m not surprised that a lot of this didn’t make it (not even sure how many people even remember Vext), I am a little surprised that the Starro JLE story or Breakdowns didn’t crack the top 15 (and also a little surprised that the Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special is off).

As much as I love Giffen’s work with the Justice Leagues, Legions and the Bug, one of the things that actually motivated me to try to choose between the many, many story arcs I love was what I assumed to be the completely hopeless hope of edging anything Lobo-related off the list. I’m amazed it actually worked.

@JRC: I voted for Video Jack. I am not surprised it didn’t make it, but it was a good series that’s worth checking out.

I was surprised that the Scorpio story from The Defenders didn’t show up. It’s a classic!

Giffen is amazing. He was involved with a heavy percentage of both the greatest Justice League stories ever and the greatest LOSH stories ever. Plus, he has done off-beat and truly creative stuff like Ambush Bug and The Heckler.

Stephen Moody

May 20, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Brian, I keep promising myself that I’m going to vote next time you run one of these best list thingies, but I never seem to find the time, still reading the results and comments is always great entertainment!

My favourite story in this top 10, by a mile is the Terra Mosaic….. great story by Giffen and the Bierbaums and fantastic art by Jason Pearson, good times. DC should collect this!

It’s very interesting that DC has never put Giffen’s Legion o Super-Heroes on TP, or even his JLE run. Criminally underrated is the word. I also second that Doom Patrol will soon become a fan favorite. I think Matthew Clark is finally getting more artsy with his style and the recently announced cover with Rita is a piece of art, much more reflective of the intricacies of the book than the usual “superhero pose” DC decides to go with.

In fact, I think most of the times, new editors don’t choose the best (most fit) artists to go with Giffen (case of Suicide Squad, JL:Lost Generation…).

And I am sooo happy to see lots of love for 5 Year Later era! My list was:

10 – JLE: The Teasdale Imperative
9 – Justice League America Annual #4 and JLA (The Saga of General Glory)
8 – Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn (still better than everything Johns wrote)
7- Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer
5 – The Heckler (the series, but if considered isolated, the issue with Bushwhack’r)
4 – JLIQ #1 – The Conglomerate
3 – Legion of SuperHeroes v4 – the SW6 batch (#24 to #33?)
2 – JLAntarctica (JLI Annual #2)
1- Legion of SuperHeroes v4 #1 to #5 (actually, the first storyline runs through 1-13 – in my opinion – so that would be more accurate, according to Giffen & the Bierbaums)

Too bad Vext didn’t make it but I’m not surprised. There’s too many excellent stories in Giffen’s past (and hopefully his future too)

Don’t take this as a knock against Giffen, as I enjoy much of his work. But I find it interesting that roughly half of the entries on the list have him only as ‘co-plotter’.

If he didn’t write (script) it or draw/ink it, it’s not really his story is it? Sure, he contributed to the process but other people were actually the storytellers.

The only stories he’s listed as co-plotter are the ones that he DID draw, the Levitz-era Legion of Super-Heroes stuff.

Everything else, Giffen is the sole plotter (Justice League, Five Years Later Legion, Ambush Bug and Heckler).

One very promising book that was killed far too soon was Vext, true, and Heckler, true, but Reign of Zodiac with the amazing Coleen Doran should be remembered – a Vertigo book at the wrong side of DC.

Hey Brian: These “Greatest Stories” are pretty awesome. Any chance for a Steve Gerber, Walt Simonson, Grant Morrison, or Jim Shooter edition? Or howzabout a Dark Horse, Valiant, or First comics edition?

Stephen Hunnewell

May 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I’m kind of surprised at the Justice League stories that made the list. I loved A New Beginning and Formerly Known As but I would of ranked Kooey Kooey Kooey higher than Antarctica and I think the issues where Beetle was programmed by Queen Bee were better dark issues than the Despero ones. Another excellent League story I was expecting to see was when the team went to Apokolips to rescue Mr. Miracle.

Regarding the Legion, the Great Darkness saga rocked but it just seems kind of wrong in my mind associating it with Giffen. I know, same basic setup as with Justice League, but in my mind, that’s a Levitz book.

Small quibbles aside… another excellent list.

Stephen Hunnewell

May 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Hey Brian, if you’re taking requests, I’d love to see a DeMatteis list and a Namor list…

What a great list! I’ve even read everything* on it for once (*bar Heckler).

While for some of these lists I struggle to find 10 stories I love enough to vote for, with Giffen I could easily have voted for twice that many.

#1 Justice League America #45 “A Date with Density, Part Two: Hell on Ice!” (Guy Gardner on Ice Bwah-ha-ha!!!)
#2 Blue Beetle Mind Control arc from Justice League America
#3 JLI vs Despero arc
#4 Great Darkness Saga
#5 Suicide Squad (2001) – The whole twelve issue run if that counts as one story, else #1
#6 The Mr Nebula Saga i.e. Justice League America #36 (“G’nort by G’nortwest”) and Justice League Quarterly #2
#7 JL Antarctica
#8 Invasion
#9 JLE #20 “Rue Britannia” (The Coming of the Beefeater) (also features first ever appearance of General Glory!)
#10 Breakdowns from JLA/E

Among those I’d’ve added are :
the DC Comics Presents with Ambush Bug, Superman and the LSubH
the JLI Apokolips arc
the JLI vampire one-off featuring Beetle and Booster (somewhere in the early 20s, I think)
the JLE French Lesson
the JLA General Glory 5 parter
L.E.G.I.O.N opening arc
JLA Membership Drive arc (from the early 40s I think)

and everything on the winning list I didn’t already vote for (less Heckler, which I don’t know). There’d be some more Legion stuff too, but a lot of that I’ve only recently read for the first time and would have to check which were his.

If we’re doing requests, mine is: run these lists for a year instead of a month! :D

I took it for granted that TAG would be up there; a really superb twist on conventional zombie stories.

Gosh, we forgot to add the amazing Hero Squared!!!!

The range shown by doing the 5Y-LSH and JLI in close proxmity to one another is really quite amazing, isn’t it?

When I posted, I did some brief research on L.E.G.I.O.N., thinking correctly that Giffen wrote it, and couldn’t find anything on the first try, so I gave up and left it out. Thing is, I don’t know the stories in L.E.G.I.O.N, so I can’t attest to whether any arc in is was better than any other.

Oh, and you guys are all leaving out that he did one of the two ’90s Fate launches. and I think some Doctor Fate as well.

The major problem is that Giffen has done so much so very well that a consensus top ten is difficult. I love the JLAntarctica annual, but I personally thought the other stuff on my list was stronger; the brainwashed Blue Beetle story was my #11 (the Batman/Beetle fight, though short, was well done).

He’s the only comic writer I know who could effectively and consistently do very funny, very serious, very dark or all of these in the same work (see the above Beetle brainwashing story, which was a mix of all of them). Also, he was doing character stories before they became the trend, and there’s a ton to point to there (JLE #9 is one of my favorite character driven stories he did). It’s one of the few lists that I have a hard time arguing against any story on it because I can see why it would be there.

PS If Heckler belongs in the company of these other masterpieces, I gotta go get me some!

many of my list come in good places..

but the more obscure or forgotten didnt make it ;)

here is my list
1 = Legion of Super Heroes V1 289-294 Great Darkness Saga
– Need I say more?

2 = Dr Fate in Flash 306-313,later collected in Immortal Dr Fate 2
– For me , the definitive story of Dr Fate.

3 = Justice League INternational Annual 4 (JL Antartica)
– Bwhahahahaha

4 = PunX 1-3

5 = Legion Of Super HEroes V2 1-5
– Legion of super villains , need i say more ??

6 = Omega Men 1-6 V1
– Citadel War, lobo ….

7 = Legion of super heroes V3 38 (The End)
– end of an area… controversial.. but interesting nontheless. And it really end with a bang..

8 = Justice (marvel/New Universe) 9-11
– With G.Conway.. they turned this book into something interesting.; upon witch P.David Could build on for the rest of the series.

9 = Spectacular SpiderMan 120
– Mantlo and Giffen on a human story .. must read

10 = All Star Comics 60-63
– With W.Wood’s Inks.. great stuff for a newcommer.(And the pages set up are real neat)

No Trencher????????

It seems everyone except me loves The Great Darkness Saga :(

I’m gutted that Son of Ambush Bug didn’t make it. I thought it was far far better than the original mini. I’m also surprised that the Ambush Bug/Legion of Substitute Heroes didn’t make it.

I must try The Heckler again. For some reason I can never get more than about 5 pages into it.

My list:
1 – Son of Ambush Bug
2 – Despero story from Justice League (4)
3 – Ambush Bug II (Legion of Substitute Heroes issue of DCCP)
4 – Lobo: The Last Czarnian
5 – JLE: The Extremist Vector (14)
6 – Kooie Kooie Kooie story from Justice League (15)
7 – Ambush Bug mini (2)
8 – Doctor Fate Mini (written by Dematteis + drawn by Giffen)
9 – Lobo’s Back
10 – 52

I’m really surprised The Last Czarnian isn’t there too.

Doom Patrol should be there.

Heckler should not.

Dave Anderson

May 21, 2010 at 11:36 am

Great stuff. I was reading almost all of it at the time. I was disappointed though to see that his Omega Men, Lobo, and 70’s Defenders work didn’t place on the list.

Damn, knew I should’ve voted in this, I would’ve voted for the Maxwell Lord two parter from JLI #11-12, a great story of a bad man’s redemption and journey into goodness which DC sadly saw fit to ruin with far inferior stories.

@ sterg – That made my list. That run he did on Defenders is the best Giffen channeling Kirby I’ve seen. The story was great as well.

@ ollieno – Forgot about his All Star Comics work ! That goes WAY back ! With Wally Wood, right ? Those were some of the first comics I bought as a kid.

My list :

1. Legion of Super-Heroes – The Great Darkness Saga
2. Legion of Super-Heroes v2 Annual # 1
3. Legion of Super-Heroes v2 Annual # 3
4. Legion of Super-Heroes v3 # 54
5. Legion of Super-Heroes v4 # 1,000,000
6. Legion of Super-Heroes v3 Annual # 2
7. Defenders # 48-50
8. Lobo # 1-4 (mini)
9. L.E.G.I.O.N. # 1-12
10. Justice League / JLI # 1-8

Legion anyone ? I also have to say that I loved LEGION so much and am so glad it’s back.

This was one of the very hardest lists to whittle down to just 10 choices !

All of these list/compendium type articles should really have dates (the year at least) on them. I can’t see that the extra effort would be all that massive, as it’s probably there as you’re putting the whole thing together, and the context would be greatly illuminating.
I know, don’t bitch about what’s free, etc., etc., and I don’t mean to sound unreasonably demanding, but this has been a real shortcoming of these types of posts since at least the first “favourite runs” one.

Actually, I’m with Jack Norris 100% on the date-of-publishing specificity.

I also happen to like the fact that he’s making a nonetheless-universal comment during a Keith Giffen thread.

whaaaat, no Suicide Squad (Keith Giffen wrote Suicide Squad 1 – 12 in the year 2000 with Paco Medina, and Joe Sanchez {I could be wrong for the inker so feel free to correct me}). as Keith Giffen’s run on Suicide Squad was a reeeeally dark take on his Justice League issues (poor Major Disaster could not believe that the Suicide Squad had “kill quotas”) it had it all, fast paced story telling, a biting sense of humour, hard @$$ mission director (Sgt.Rock, people if you are wondering what Thunderbolts would be like under the direction of Nick Fury, read Keith Giffens Suicide Squad), dysfunctional team members (Deadshot, Killer Frost, Major Disaster were the three surviving members, yeah it had a HIGH body count) it’s really too bad it was cut short, oh well.

Soooo glad the Legion Annual 1 made the list, 1 of my faves & I forgot all about it! Giffen’s Defenders & Woodgod Marvel work was really good but so long ago I think most people don’t remember it at all.

#1 was a given, the rest are simply a matter of preference. Notice tho that #8 FKATJL is the only book since 1996 to make this list.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives