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Top Five 400th Issues

Top Five Month (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) continues with a sequel, of sorts, to a list that a lot of folks enjoyed. Let’s take a look at the top 400th issues out there!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Fantastic Four #400

I did not like this storyline a lot, and it’s really rough to have a 400th issue with Reed “dead” and then bring him back, what, 8 issues later? That said, DeFalco and Ryan are very good comic book creators, so they made this story decent.

Adventure Comics #400

Action Comics #400

Decent, if forgettable, issues. Not even really anniversary issues.

Thor #400

Decent issue by DeFalco and Frenz. Kind of tough to follow Simonson, ya know?

Pep #400

Clever issue with the Archie gang visiting the offices of Archie Comics to give their ideas on how to celebrate their 400th issue.

Captain America

Kind of hard to do an anniversary issue right in the middle of an inter-galactic crossover story that really had nothing to do with Captain America. Mark Gruenwald tried his best, though!

Archie #400

A clever tribute to the eternal debate between Betty and Veronica. Plus, new Little Archie stories by Bob Bolling!!! Heck, the whole issue was written by Bolling.

Sgt. Rock #400

Decent anniversary issue.

Uncanny X-Men #400

Not at all what ANYONE expected it to be, but damned if Joe Casey didn’t write a nice little tale with a LOT of cool artists helping out, including Ashley Wood, Sean Phillips, Cully Hamner and more!!

Batman #400

The plot was a bit standard fare, but the art was amazing!

5. Amazing Spider-Man #400

J.M. DeMatteis did a wonderful job with the death of Aunt May in this issue. Too bad it was in the midst of the Clone Saga.

4. Incredible Hulk

While Jan Duursema is a great artist, it is still a shame that the 400th issue of Incredible Hulk had to be handled by a fill-in artist. Peter David did a really nice job with the conclusion to his Ghosts of the Past storyline.

3. Avengers #400

Mark Waid and the late, great Mike Wieringo got together to tell a very good one-off story that truly celebrated the history of the Avengers.

2. Detective Comics #400

Neal Adams art and the introduction of Man-Bat!! That’s a pretty awesome 400th issue!

1. Superman

This issue, though, made up for the lack of a celebration for Action Comics #400 by having a tremendous 400th issue with work from an array of amazing creators plus going out of their way to get Superman pin-ups and artwork done by artists who are not known for their Superman work (Frank Miller, Jim Steranko, Klaus Janson, Moebius, Mike Kaluta, Jack Kirby, Walt Simonson – and that’s just a drop in the bucket!!).

The kicker was that the stories (mostly written by Elliot S! Maggin) were really good, too!

An awesome anniversary issue.

Okay, that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!!

55 Comments

That Superman issue was great! I even bought the tabloid-size pinup collection.

Yeah, I figured Superman # 400 would be # 1. that’s almost certainly the best group of talent ever to work on any Mainstream Comic.

Surprised to find Avengers #400 in the list. I liked it quite a bit and still do, though I figured a lot of people would denigrate it as a “filler” story wedged in between the decidedly out-of-fashion “Crossing” and “Onslaught” stories. For my money it can definitely have a place on the list, though.

I’m also really surprised to find FF #400 even making the “Honorable Mention” list, though I guess it’s a long list in this case. Boy… tough call. I think most of that run was a career-low for Tom DeFalco, who has done so much good work elsewhere… within that context, FF #400 and the story leading into it was at least relatively pretty good. Some fairly inventive, heavily cosmic bits, and a good number of plot threads tied up (which was a rare and precious payoff in that era).

It’s definitely the shiniest #400 cover on the list! Even edging out Hulk #400, I think. :-)

That Avengers issue had the best Hawkeye costume to date & also, my favorite Scarlet Witch & Thor costumes.

Could never understand why Thor had that awesome costume in Avengers and then walked around bare-chested in his own title.

Wow. Really? I clicked on this assuming that Batman #400 would be #1 and it didn’t even rank?

As a kid I wasn’t much of a DC reader but I loved anniversary issues so Superman #400 was the first issue I ever bought of that comic. It is a great issue for long-time fans but it wasn’t a good intro to the character. I didn’t buy another issue for years. By contrast, I had bought Batman sporadically before #400, but that issue really made me want to buy it every month, which I did for years.

Of course, it was only later that I realized the irony that this was actually the last issue set in the pre-crisis world, and a valedictory for Moench’s long (first) run on the title. This was the closest thing Batman got to a “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” type wrap-up in his monthly main books and I think it was a fine send off to the bronze-age version of the character. Best. 400. Evah.

I’m also really surprised to find FF #400 even making the “Honorable Mention” list, though I guess it’s a long list in this case.

There are so few issue 400′s that any of them is worthy of an Honorable Mention.

Clone Saga or not, that story with Aunt May is too damned good to let AMS 400 fall below #2 on this list.

Look at those lineups on Batman and Superman. Wowie.

Um, where’s, like, Cerebus 300, and Hellblazer 200, and Zot 11, and so on? Why can’t they make the top 400th issue list? ;)

It’s probably tied to the fact my Grandma was dealing with cancer when I read it but that Spider-man issue still makes me mist up. It’s too bad that when they brought Aunt May back they explained it away so that it was an actress hired by Norman Osborn who died in her place. I would have rather put up with some “Superboy punching the time stream” explanation if that meant that the emotion in this issue could still be ‘real’.

Did anything noteworthy happen in 2000 AD #400?

Daredevil vol 2 #20 would have been the 400th issue if they didn’t relaunch the series. That one did have a back up story written by Stan Lee which makes it ever so mildly significant.

Thanks for this Brian.

Please do a top five #500 and a top five #600.

For #500, I would vote for Action #500 as my all-time favourite and for Action #600 as my favourite on that front.

Just as an aside here, that original “Superman” series was renamed “Adventures of Superman” when the new Superman #1 arrived after the Crisis, right?

May’s passing in Amazing #400 is one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen or read, comic or otherwise. To this day it still makes me mist up.

Y’know, I meant to say “best death scenes” but the more I think about it, I stand by my typo.

Like Wraith, I was VERY surprised to see Avengers #400 make the top five, for all the reasons he mentioned. And, like Wraith, I also thought it was a good issue with superb artwork that really helped to celebrate the history of the Avengers. It demonstrated once again how crucial Jarvis is to the team. I also thought it was a brilliant idea by Mark Waid to have Loki, once again realizing that he was to blame for the formation of the Avengers, getting equally cheesed off that despite that he isn’t even considered one of the team’s greatest enemies. It was a cool issue, and I’m glad that after all these years it’s finally getting some recohnition.

I do want to pick up a copy of Superman #400, though. I’ve been looking for it in the back issue bins for years.

1. I love the way those 70s DCs treat hitting issue 400 as no big deal.

2. A comic from DeFalco’s FF run described as “good”? I don’t know…

3. It’s tempting to photoshop in some extra captions on that Archie cover where those creators complain about how they’re going to get screwed over by the company in a few years.

4. I’m going to admit that I’m actually not a big fan of the First Death of Aunt May that’s gained such classic status somehow (though it came out when I wasn’t buying Spider-Man and I read it many years later).

5. Again, if that’s the mutating-into-an-actual-wasp-creature version of the Wasp on that cover, I’m going to have to question how good that Avengers issue can actually be…

Please excuse this comment, it is not meant as snark.

That is one ugly Superman at #1. A strangely goofy look on his face…

Or is it just me?

Love these best of the “high issue count” lists. Kind of sad in a way. Will any comics make such milestones again?

Batman was the first one I thought of. One of the first Batman issues I sought out after a friend showed me his copy.

I liked the story and art, but for some reason remember it most for the Stephen King introduction. That was cool.

I just read Hulk 400 a couple of days ago. I thought it was okay, but Batman sits in my brain at a higher ranking.

The thing I remember most about Thor 400 is a double-page Surtur spread and a very cool (chilling actually) short story of a young Loki pushing his magic instructor into a demon’s clutches, pretty much damning him, in return for some increased magic power. Creepy scene.

And of course, Aunt May’s death is a great moment that earns Spidey a mention.

Thanks for these lists, I can’t believe this month is almost done!

I have read some of the # 400′s, especially Batman # 400.

@ Travis Pelkie: Give it time, Hellblazer has what? Another 30-odd issues before hitting # 300, and then 130 issues for # 400. That’s what — 11 more years to go? As for Cerebus, maybe Sim will do another 100 issues for you, eh? ;-)

All of these were great choices, with the exception of Superman #400, which I read and found awful. The art was great, but the stories by Eliot S! Maggin were tedious and tough to read. I have yet to understand why the man is so highly regarded. He is one of the originators of the worst type of Superman stories that continue to be popular today: the worshipful story that beats you over the head telling you over and over how inspirational and wonderful Superman is rather than actually show you. Superman #400 was filled with those types of stories.

Actually I take it back. In retrospect, as uninspiring as the Maggin stories were, the pinups were indeed more than good enough to make up for it. It deserves to be #1.

Well, T, you do know that Maggin’s big “Why Must There Be a Superman?” story was based, unwittingly, according to his intro to Kingdom Come, on an idea given to him by a young Jeph Loeb, right?

I’m not joking.

Before, with the post I did, I was joking, because of all of the people who want Brian to put things on his lists that don’t fit his criteria. I was trying to make a funny.

The first “400″ that came to mind when I saw the title of the post was Superman, so I’m glad it’s no. 1. The stories are outstanding in my opinion – head & shoulders above most of the stuff appearing in the regular Superman (or Action Comics) at the time. In fact, that last section alone by Steranko makes this issue worthy of the top slot.
By the way, the second “400″ that came to mind was Batman, so I was a bit dumbfounded to see that it didn’t even make the top 5.

“DeFalco and Ryan are very good comic book creators”

Que?

The art in Batman 400 was stellar, among the best collections of artists to ever contribute to one comic. It’s up there with Justice League of America 200. Yeah, the story was standard, but entertaining enough. I’d place it even with Hulk 400, at least (haven’t read the Spider-Man issue, so I couldn’t say where I’d rank it).

Avengers 400 – I remember really enjoying that comic, during a period in which I couldn’t have cared less about the Avengers. Great choice!

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

September 23, 2010 at 6:24 am

@maths

Spider-Girl? MC2 universe? Thunderstrike? Thor? Quasar? Squadron Supreme? D.P. 7?

I haven’t read them in years but as a kid I really liked DeFalco’s FF. I liked Scott Lang. I liked Kristoff. I think you had to be a certain age when those issues hit.

Now then, I think unlike his FF, his Thor run was actually quite good and Masterson is one of the best characters of the decade.

I too flashed on Batman #400 when I saw the title of the column, but you make good cases for the top 5. I agree that Avengers #400 probably suffers in the memory from Crossing/Heroes Reborn proximity; I should dig it out and reread it :)

That Superman one must be amazing to edge out the ‘Tec!

Well, T, you do know that Maggin’s big “Why Must There Be a Superman?” story was based, unwittingly, according to his intro to Kingdom Come, on an idea given to him by a young Jeph Loeb, right?

I’m not joking.

I’ve never been impressed with Maggin’s Superman writing, or with the post-Weisinger Superman era in general. They were incredibly boring and stiff to me, and focused way too much on telling the reader how messianic, inspirational and iconic Superman was over and over again rather than showing us by having him overcome real challenges. So I’m not really that impressed that Loeb wrote a Superman story for that made it into that era, as I feel the standards weren’t that high.

I haven’t read them in years but as a kid I really liked DeFalco’s FF. I liked Scott Lang. I liked Kristoff. I think you had to be a certain age when those issues hit.

Was that your first exposure to the FF on a regular basis? The reason I ask is because sometimes I wonder if I would have hated Defalco’s FF less if it wasn’t for the fact that I was spoiled by the previous Byrne FF, and to a lesser extent the underrated Simonson FF. I mean I still don’t think I’d have found it GOOD per se, but looking back I think it wasn’t worse than most of Marvel’s 90s dreck of that period.

Clone Saga or not, that story with Aunt May is too damned good to let AMS 400 fall below #2 on this list.

May’s passing in Amazing #400 is one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen or read, comic or otherwise. To this day it still makes me mist up.

I totally agree. I was expecting ASM #400 to be either #1 or #2.

Agreed on Amazing Spider-Man #400. Besides, the Clone Saga wasn’t all bad. It actually started out okay and breathed a lot of life into Spider-Man after so many years stagnating under the direction of David Michilinie. It went wrong when it went on way too long and when they tried to make Peter Parker into the clone.

I haven’t read them in years but as a kid I really liked DeFalco’s FF. I liked Scott Lang. I liked Kristoff. I think you had to be a certain age when those issues hit.

Agreed. That’s why I bought all five issues of the Fantastic Five “ongoing” series!

There never was a Wonder Woman #400, of course, but if the Post-Crisis reboot hadn’t started over from #1, I believe this would have been the 400th issue:
http://cache.coverbrowser.com/image/wonder-woman-1987/71-1.jpg

Superman on 400 kind of looks like he was based on somebody famous. Burt Reynolds maybe.

From memory 2000AD 400 is in the middle of the superb Judge Dredd: City of the Dammed. Also involved are Ace Trucking Co, Stainless Steel Rat for President, Nemsis The Warlock: Book 4 & The Helltrekkers iirc

Biff: Hellblazer will probably hit an honest #300 on a year or two, and the four main DC high-numbered books and Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-men will likely keep hitting a new milestone each decade or so. Beyond that, I don;’t see any book as likely to reach any number with two trailing zeros other than 100 ‘honestly’ (which is to say, having issues with every intervening issue number on the cover between #1 and the anniversary issue, so excluding re-renumbering gimmicks or numbering gags.)

I suppose it’s just barely possible that Superman Batman will make it to #200. But more likely that it’ll end, possibly with a relaunch and possibly not, well before then. New Avengers seems even less likely, since it could easily end up re-reumbered into an even higher milestone.

Outside of the big two, Spawn has honest numbering still, right? It could make it to then next hundred mark, I guess…

Actually, this is fun. I’ll do some more.

If you’re counting from the start of the 1959 series through the Post-Crisis reboot, this would be The Flash #400: http://cache.coverbrowser.com/image/the-flash/170-1.jpg

But if you’re going to do that, you may as well start numbering from Flash Comics #1, which I believe would make THIS Flash #400: http://namtab.com/aquablog/flash66.gif

(All-Flash Quarterly was more of a straight-up Flash title, but since it was a spin-off title that ran alongside Flash Comics, I’m not counting it in the numbering.)

For Green Lantern I’ll go ahead and start with Alan Scott, which I think would make Green Lantern #400 actually #138 of GL v.3: http://bit.ly/aAF46D

I would have put Batman #400 on the list and moved Amazing Spder-Man # 400 up to number 1. I loved that issue and it is still cannon to me even if it was rendered moot during the Mackie / Byrne era (I think). Not a big fan of Hulk in general but I know people love Peter David’s run so that makes sense to see it on here. I was afraid that Superman # 400 would be number one–I know that is an almost universally revered issue, but I really don’t like it. I bought it when it came out and did not enjoy it. Sold it a few years later. Then a couple years ago, bought another copy, have tried to read it two or three times, and have never gotten all the way through it. Just not my cup of tea.

I think that Tom DeFalco’s writing is more geared to younger readers. And by “younger” I mean teenagers and college students. I read DeFalco’s runs on Thor and Fantastic Four when I was in my late teens, and I really enjoyed them. Around a decade or so later, I re-read a number of those comic books, and I did not enjoy them nearly as much. Some I found to be rather weak. But, the thing is, they were the exact same comic books. I was the person who had changed. I was more mature, my tastes had evolved, and my interests were much more diverse. So, while the 34 year old me will re-read those DeFalco Thors and FFs and perhaps go “Eh, they’re okay,’ I should not forget or pretend that the 17 year old me read those same comics and thought they were really great.

The true Aunt May’s death…*sniffle*…let’s face it: this one’s a skrull….

hated DeFalco & Ryan’s run. Issue 400 sucked and should not be included.

What the hell is going on with Supergirl’s legs on that Adventure Comics cover?!

Hate hate hate DeFalco’s FF.

It’s really “Someone dies this issue!” kind of bad.

It’s shock value writing at its worst (Reed dies, Reed comes back, Ben gets disfigured, Sue dresses like a slut as a way to mourn Reed, and a few issues later nothing of this seems to matter).

But it’s shock value that isn’t even shocking in the first place, it just tries to be. It’s like your grandmother trying to write like Bendis, and we get the worst of both worlds. It doesn’t even has that THE CROSSING sort of badness that you can come back years later and chuckle at the silliness.

Remember when Mark Andrew did that review excoriating Joe the Barbarian? DeFalco’s run actually deserves a review like that.

That it came after Byrne and Simonson make something already horrendous into Cthullu-level abomination. No, strike that. Cthullu has some coolness, and deFalco’s FF run is so distant of anything remotely resembling coolness that coolness and it could come from different realities.

Batman #400 is nice, though.

Rene: we are so on the same page. The dialogue is particularly horrible, though special mention should also go to Bulandi’s inking – Ryan was a bad fit for the book to begin with, but his art can be a little more palatable with someone more dynamic inking.

The whole return of Malice thing and Sue’s costume change was easily one of the most offensively misogynistic comics moments of the whole decade. And that’s saying something in the ’90s. I can’t understand people defending DeFalco after efforts like that.

Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon is currently up to issue #163. Given his repeated comments in interviews and the letter columns, I do not see Larsen re-starting the series with a new number one anytime soon, if ever. So the book will probably reach #200 in three or four years, and hopefully it’ll still be around to get to #300 in a decade or so.

@Buttler: By your standards no books except Uncanny X-Men , Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, and Batman will ever reach an “honest” milestone again.

Actually, X-Men: Legacy might do it.

As I said before, ASM and Hellblazer also make the list. It looks like Spawn is about to hit 200 (and the definition wasn’t so strict to make some of the out-of-order-issue shenanigans there exclude it). Archie Comics has a lot of high-numbered titles and doesn’t do renumbering games, (and also doesn’t tend to particularly celebrate the milestones.)

Fables is headed for the too-easy-to-count #100, but it’s not inconceivable that it will make it to #200 before it’s over.

Jeff:
Walking Dead will hit #100 in a couple of years (currently at seventy something). I can see it hitting 200 as sales keep going up every issue.
Ditto Invincible, though maybe not issue 200 for that one.
Sonic the Hedgehog just hit #200 about a year ago.
Simpsons Comics is at 170 or so. I can see it hitting 200.
Savage Dragon is at 160 something. I can see Larson just doing it forever, beating Dave Sim’s record, and going more insane. (I think Larson actually redrew an issue Jim Lee drew because he wanted a full run!)
Usagi Yojimbo is over 130, but I think that might switch over to some other format at some point.

T may be shocked, but I actually agree with him on this one (well, up to a point). I’m a big Elliott S. Maggin fan but I really thought Superman 400 was one of his lesser works. The pin-ups by Moebius, Eisner et al were great (I own the portfolio too) but about the only good chapter is the one with Frank Miller where they have a guy in the future trying to prove Superman’s secret identity using films of the George Reeves TV found on Earth Prime. The rest of it is a giant snooze, and the Jim Steranko eight page story is one of the most pretentious comics written in the ’80s. Which is saying something.

But I do agree that the achievement of the issue– getting all these artists to draw Superman– probably should put it at the top of the list. That and the Moebius Superman is fricking awesome.

Thanks, maths!

I also am always stunned that anyone would defend or even say anything nice about deFalco’s FF run. It was so bad that it made Harras’s Avengers look like Alan Moore-level writing.

I think it’s Spider-Girl. By writing the only comic book that really is a complete throwback to an earlier age of Marvel Comics, deFalco has gained unlimited goodwill of a big portion of Internet fandom.

I never read Spider-Girl, but no matter how good it is, it can’t make the pile of life-destroying excrement that was his FF run any better.

To T, maybe Loeb is trying to emulate Maggin with his stuff, and that’s why he’s so… Loeb, I suppose.

as to the DeFalco run of FF! I noticed, even though I was only 14 or 15! That DeFalco had EVERY sentence! Yes, EVERY sentence! End with an exclamation point! Even those that didn’t need it! And even at 14 or 15 it bugged me! Yes it did! Paul Ryan’s art is ok! But even though DeFalco’s FF was my first real exposure to the book! I still didn’t like it!

!!!

Perfect Top 3!!

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