"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
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 Mark Millar Stories Ever Told!
15. Authority #22, 27-29 “Brave New World”
This was Millar’s swan song on the Authority, as the United State Government makes its move against the Authority by practically wiping the team out and replacing them with THEIR version of the Authority. Luckily, the Authority is more resilient than that, and they make a dramatic comeback. Frank Quitely, Art Adams and Gary Erskine drew the storyline.
In this mini-series with art by the amazing Tommy Lee Edwards, Millar tells the tale of a boy in the “real world” in 1985 who discovers that a portal has been opened between the “real” world and the Marvel Universe of 1985 (black costumed Spider-Man, leg warmers Dazzler, etc.). Misadventures abound as the boy and his father try to save the day.
13. Ultimate X-men #1-6 “The Tomorrow People”
The Kubert brothers join Millar in the opening arc of the Ultimate X-Men title, as Millar began a sustained and highly popular run on the title with this story, which introduced the world to Ultimate Wolverine, just in time for an epic battle between Magneto and Professor X.
12. Civil War
Millar turned the entire Marvel Universe up on end in this blockbuster mini-series that pitted hero against hero as a “Superhuman Registration Act” is passed after a tragic accident involving a superhero group. Steve McNiven drew the series which dramatically altered the Marvel Universe for years.
11. Authority #17-20 “Earth Inferno”
In his second arc on the Authority, Millar pitted the team against the Earth itself! You see, a mad scientist has turned the Earth into basically a weapon against humanity – the Earth is, in effect, rejecting the “parasites” who are “feeding off” of its body. Chris Weston and Frank Quitely drew the story.
What if Jesus returned – but as a fairly typical American teenager? Millar and artist Peter Gross explore that idea in this mini-series that involves a teen boy who appears to have all the powers of Jesus Christ. This is apparently going to have a sequel soon.
9. Authority #13-16 “Nativity”
In his first storyline on the Authority, paired with soon-to-be-star artist Frank Quitely, Millar made a major splash by the Authority determining that they were going to right the wrongs of the world FOR the world. This was a bold gambit, and not one that everyone took kindly to, particularly Jacob Krigstein, an elderly genius who pits his personal heroes against the Authority (Krigstein is basically Jack Kirby, and the heroes he sends after the Authority are all pastiches of famous Marvel characters).
In this mini-series, done with artwork by JG Jones, Millar shows what happens when an “ordinary” man discovers that he is the heir to one of the most powerful supervillains in the world. As our “hero” descends into the secretive world of supervillainy, things get more and more out of hand as twists and turns begin to pile about all around him.
7. Wolverine #66-72, Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size #1 “Old Man Logan”
Millar teamed up again with his Civil War artist, Steve McNiven, to do this dark and fanciful story of Logan (formerly Wolverine) living in a terrible future where super-villains have basically won and then divied up the country. After assaulting some people he really ought not to have, Logan is willing to agree to go on a bit of a “Smokey and the Bandit” trip with Hawkeye in the Spider-Mobile. To say that their journey is bizarre and more than a little sad is not saying too much.
Working with John Romita Jr on art, Millar crafts a tale of a teenager in the “real world” who decides to become a superhero. Hilarity ensues, but so, too, does some heavy duty violence and real dangerous repercussions to the young hero’s seemingly poorly thought out battle plans as a superhero.
5. Wolverine #20-31 “Enemy of the State”
You could split this up in Enemy of the State and Agent of Shield, but Marvel has released the whole thing as “Enemy of the State” and the first “part” ends in a pretty significant cliffhanger that I’m willing to go with it as a one story (and that’s how almost all of the voters voted for it, as one story). In any event, John Romita Jr. was the artist for this storyline that involved Wolverine being murdered and ressurected by the Hand as a super-villain who led a group of HAND villains as they killed OTHER heroes and resurrected THEM as villains, as well. When Wolverine’s rage takes him all the way to the X-Men’s doorsteps, Wolverine is finally rescued and once free of the Hand brainwashing, he dedicates his life to killing all of the bad guys behind this plot.
4. Ultimates #7-13 “Homeland Security”
The original Ultimates series, however, is two distinct storylines. #1-6 has a beginning, a middle, an end AND an epilogue! Then the next story begins, which ties in with some of the stuff from the first story, but is not a direct continuation in the least. In “Homeland Security,” the Ultimates learn that an alien race has been infiltrating Earth for decades and now the Ultimates are going to go up against their most difficult threat yet – can they manage to pull it off without the power of the Mighty Thor? Probably not, and in fact, they might need the assistance of the Incredible Hulk, as well! Bryan Hitch drew this epic action tale that introduced the “shadow” Ultimates team of Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (the latter two who seem to have WAY too close of a relationship for a brother and sister).
3. Ultimates 2
People convinced me that Ultimates 2 is really one long story, so here it is, as Bryan Hitch and Millar tell the tale of how the Ultimates become SO effective as a tool of the United States government that other nations begin to formulate a counter to them, and when their plan springs into action, the Ultimates cannot even trust each other as the whole operation collapses around them and as the United States of America is stolen right out from underneath their noses! And is Loki involved or is he not? And who of the Ultimates is a traitor? All these questions answered and more in this 13-part saga!
2. Ultimates #1-6 “Super Human”
This initial six-part story introduced the world to Millar and artist Bryan Hitch’s envisioning of the 21st Century superhero. Their take on superheroics proved to be highly influential on the “real” Marvel Universe, particularly Hitch’s realistic art style and the widescreen heroics (that predated Ultimates, of course, as Hitch himself had already done it for Authority AND JLA, but he further popularized it here). Besides launching a popular animated film series, this story also more or less formed the basis for the upcoming series of Avengers live action films.
1. Superman: Red Son
Artists Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett joined Millar in depicting a world where, instead of Smallville, baby Kal-El landed in the Ukraine during Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union. Naturally, the world is a much different place in the present and Millar explores these differences extremely well (alongside some brilliant character designs by the always wonderful Dave Johnson) in this prestige-format mini-series that was so popular that DC Comics put out a series of toys based on it! This was Millar’s last significant comic work for DC Comics, and one of his best (Millar had a strong run early in his career writing the comic book tie-in to the Superman Animated Series and Millar clearly has a great affinity for the character of Superman).
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!
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