BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
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 Steve Gerber Stories Ever Told!
Sorry for the major delay! I was quite surprised by just how much of a consensus there was on Gerber’s top stories. I thought that I’d see a lot of different stories, but instead I saw pretty much the same group of stories appear on most of the lists. One story (#2 on the countdown) particularly surprised me. Not that it is not a great story, but just that it was so widely accepted as one of Gerber’s top tales. Anyhow, on to the list (and again, do note that we’re talking about a guy with a lot of great stories – so a lot of great stories will not be on this list!).
10. Hard Time Season 2
After DC’s Focus line of comics ended, this excellent comic book series by Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes, penciler Brian Hurtt and (for this volume) inker Steve Bird continued the adventures of Ethan Harrow, a teenager tried (and wrongly convicted) as an adult for his role in a school shooting. Ethan’s lawyer tries to get Ethan out of prison while Ethan deals with both the fact of serving at least 50 years in prison as well as his psychic abilities (which manifested themselves at the shooting). This was a nice attempt by DC to keep a great title going, but the second attempt did no better than the first one, sales-wise, and the series ended with issue #7, which was an extremely clever riff on DC’s “One Year Later” gimmick, doing it as “49 Years Later.”
9. Marvel Treasury Edition #12 “The Duck and the Defenders”
Gerber and artists Sal Buscema and Klaus Janson wrote this meeting between Gerber’s two most famous works at Marvel, Howard the Duck and the Defenders!
8. Marvel Presents #3-7
After bringing the Guardians of the Galaxy back in the pages of the Defenders, Gerber wrote their first ongoing solo series in the pages of Marvel Presents with art by Al Milgrom and Bob Wiacek.
7. Omega the Unknown #1-10
Gerber and Skrenes’ unfinished masterpiece, Omega the Unknown was one of the most offbeat tales of a very offbeat decade for comics. A young boy discovers that he was being raised by robots. After their destruction, he then discovers some sort of connection with a powerful (and oddly silent) alien – but the boy has mysterious powers similar to the alien! The alien tends to show up when the boy is in trouble. It is a strange book. The art is by Jim Mooney, mostly.
6. Hard Time #1-12
As noted above, this tells the story of a teen who is wrongly convicted for his role in a school shooting. During the shooting, he demonstrated a psychic ability to create a powerful psychic being. The series tells the story of the teen, Ethan, dealing with life in prison and his new powers (which he does not know about at first). It is a gripping, character-driven narrative with awesome Brian Hurtt artwork.
5. Defenders #31-40, Annual #1 “The Headmen Saga”
This is a sprawling mixture of stories with Gerber achieving so many different styles of stories – humor, horror, satire, commentary, action, science fiction, soap opera and so much more! The initial villains are the mutated villains, the Headmen (who succeed in transferring Nighthawk’s brain with one of their own) and then Nebulon the Celestial Man becomes the main heavy. Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney do the art.
4. Foolkiller #1-10
A new Foolkiller debuts after forming a connection with the institutionalized Greg Salinger (the last man to be known as the Foolkiller). The new Foolkiller, Kurt Gerhardt, causes chaos in New York and also becomes a bit of a cult hero due to his punishing the “foolish” and the “stupid.” The art is by Joe Brozowski and Tony DeZuniga.
3. The Phantom Zone #1-4
In this acclaimed mini-series, Superman gets trapped in the Phantom Zone while the villains from the Zone are let loose on Earth. The art is by Gene Colan and Tony DeZuniga.
2. Man-Thing #5-6 “Night of the Laughing Dead”/”And When I Died…”
Gerber, Mike Ploog and Frank Chiaramonte combine for a stunningly clever two-parter about a clown who kills himself in the swamp and then the people who know him (as well as the human stars of the series) are forced by ghosts to re-live the clown’s life to see if the clown deserves to go to Heaven, Hell or Limbo. It’s a beautifully disturbing (and disturbingly beautiful) tale.
1. Howard the Duck #16 “Zen and the Art of Comic Book Writing”
One of the most famous issue of the 1970s, this issue is a series of text pieces by Steve Gerber and drawings by a variety of Marvel’s top artists of the period. It offers an insight into Gerber’s mind that really needs to be seen to be believed. I did a piece on the issue recently here.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!
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