Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Every day in November 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 John Ostrander Stories Ever Told!
Sorry for the delay!
10. Suicide Squad #40-43 “The Phoenix Gambit”
After the Suicide Squad was disbanded an issue earlier and Amanda Waller was sent to prison, no less than Batman himself arranges for her release as she helps to form a new, more covert version of the Suicide Squad. Art by Geof Isherwood, co-written by Kim Yale.
9. Spectre #57-62 “The Search for God”
The conclusion to John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s acclaimed Spectre run as Jim Corrigan finally receives some measure of peace after decades of serving as the Spirit of Vengeance. This is how you know a writer has done an iconic job – he leaves the character and the comic book company (who owns the character) allows the character’s story end with this writer.
8. Grimjack: Demon Knight
Grimjack is given an opportunity to revisit his past and change it for the better, including saving the life of his beloved. Will he be able to pull if off? Is it even possible to change the past? Ostrander and artist Flint Henry re-visit the days of the Demon Wars to give us a gripping and emotional tale of love and loss (and demons! Don’t forget the demons!).
7. Spectre #1-12 “The Life and Death of Amy Beitermann”
That’s not the official title of the storyline, but since only issues #1-4 have been collected so far, I figured I might as well just make up my own (a couple of voters went with “Reaver” as their title for this 12-issue arc – I think that makes some sense, but I would prefer to spotlight Amy more). Amy Beitermann is essentially the heart of Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s acclaimed Spectre run. It is when Jim Corrigan meets her in this issue that his life changes dramatically (for the better? You’ll eventually find out in the series). A good woman who is now dying of AIDS but still strives to do good for her community, Amy was a powerful character and the central figure of the first 12 issues of the series, as Corrigan must deal with the fact that Amy is destined to die alone in an alley, stabbed to death by a serial killer. Dark stuff, but extremely powerful and, as I mentioned before, based in a strong sense of “heart” – Amy is a tragic character to be sure, but she is still a force for good. You could really tell Ostrander had something special in this series when he created Amy.
6.Suicide Squad #10 “Against the Wall”
Amanda Waller versus Batman. One of best single issues of the Suicide Squad in a series that was known for its great single issues. Art by Luke McDonnell and Bob Lewis.
5. Spectre #52-56 “The Haunting of Jim Corrigan”
Was Jim Corrigan, himself, a murderer? How do you handle THAT? Meanwhile, the Spectre is going all “Wrath of the Spectre” on the world, making things clear that something needs to give. This storyline also introduces the current Mister Terrific. I did a spotlight on this storyline here if you’d like to read more about it. Art by Tom Mandrake.
4. Suicide Squad #33-36 “Apokolips Now”
This classic tale has the Suicide Squad travel to Apokolips as a couple of long-running subplots come to a head in a highly energetic and bombastic adventure (filled with a lot of death, of course, as this IS the Suicide Squad). This story eventually leads to the end of the Squad as they then knew it. Co-written by Kim Yale with art by John Snyder, Geoff Isherwood and Luke McDonnell. I did a spotlight on this storyline here if you’d like to read more about it.
3. The Fury of Firestorm/Firestorm #62-64, Annual #5 “To Regain Tomorrow”
In one of his very first storylines as the new ongoing writer on Firestorm, Ostrander (along with artist Joe Brozowski and inkers Dick Giordano and Sam De La Rosa) used Firestorm to tell one of those classic “what if superheroes existed in the real world?” questions, as they have Firestorm determine to rid the world of nuclear weapons (spurred on by a dying Martin Stein, one half of the Firestorm combo with young Ronnie Raymond). Unsurprisingly, this idea is not met with support from the rest of the world (including superpowered beings who work for the U.S. government, like Captain Atom and Suicide Squad and superpowered beings who work for the Soviet government). The end result is not just a change in Firestorm’s status quo, but a change in the being known as Firestorm himself/itself (the book also got a name change, with the “Fury of” part being dropped off). Greg Burgas wrote a great celebration of the series as a whole here. Ryan Day also did a great write-up on Firestorm (and specifically this storyline and a later one called Eden) here.
2. Suicide Squad #22 “Final Round”
Some voted for #21 AND #22 as one story, and I can definitely see that. Most voted for #22 as a single issue, and since I, myself, did a spotlight on #22 awhile back as a single issue, I figure I’ll just go with it as a single issue. This is the issue where Rick Flagg learns that a US Senator named Joseph Clay has been blackmailing Amanda Waller, so Flagg sets out to kill him. What Flagg doesn’t know is that Waller has already outmaneuvered Clay, so Clay’s blackmail threat is no longer, well, a threat. Waller then has to send the Squad after Flagg, telling them to keep Flagg from killing Clay – by whatever means necessary. Flagg’s friends don’t want to do it, but they don’t want the criminals on the team to kill Flagg, so they agree to hunt Flagg down. Ultimately, Deadshot find Flagg and Clay first, leading to the most iconic sequence in Squad history. I did a write-up on the issue here (there are some spoilers in the write-up – be forewarned!). Art by Luke McDonnell and Karl Kesel.
1. Deadshot #1-4
Deadshot’s actions in the aforementioned Suicide Squad #22 are due to his mental state being particularly unhinged after the events of this mini-series, co-written by Kim Yale with art by Luke McDonnell. In this extremely dark series, Deadshot learns that his son has been kidnapped. In order to rescue his son, Deadshot must confront his past, especially his utterly twisted family situation. If you’re faint of heart, don’t read this series. If you are curious about the dark inner workings of Deadshot’s mind, be sure to track this baby down. I did a write-up on the series here, if you’re interested in reading more about it.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!
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