SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
You voted, now here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book creator runs of all-time! We’ll be revealing five runs a day for most of the month. Here is a master list of all of the runs revealed so far.
Here’s the next five runs…
90. John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew – 98 (1)
Chew #1-current (#27)
Chew is the story of Tony Chu and his various friends and family members. Who’s Tony Chu, you ask? Well, here you go…
In the marvelously strange world that Layman and Guillory have created, there are often pages just like that one, as they introduce a new character who has a similar food-related skill. In the Chew universe, the most powerful government agency is the FDA.
Chu’s power usage takes a turn for the surreal in the first issue…
Chu begins to work for the FDA and while solving crimes he also gets caught up in a variety of increasingly outlandish conspiracies.
As you can see from the above pages, the highlight of Chew is the inventiveness of both Layman and Guillory, as they are always coming up with bold (and often strange) new ideas. However, along the way they also do a wonderful job developing the various supporting cast members that they have introduced over the years. By now, they can easily go multiple issues without even having Tony in the book and the title is STILL fun. I mean, come on, Agent Poyo alone is worth the price of admission (Agent Poyo is a cyborg cybernetic, kung-fu expert fighting cock who works for the FDA).
89. Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s Fantastic Four – 99
Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #60-70, Fantastic Four #500-524 (Wieringo as artist of 27 of the 36 issues)
The Fantastic Four was Mark Waid’s triumphant return to Marvel, after some time at DC and Crossgen.
His run, along with the late, great Mike Wieringo, tried to inject new life and verve into the world of the Fantastic Four, through way-out stories and superheroics that were truly fantastic. While, of course, giving a heavy focus to the individual members of the team and their various motivations. For instance, in a classic scene from the first issue of their run, Waid explains just why it is that the Fantastic Four are so publicity-driven…
Perhaps the most notable part of Waid and Wieringo’s run was what they did with Doctor Doom. They had the power-mad villain kill his childhood love to gain mystical powers, including a new suit of armor made out of her flesh (gruesome, eh?). The basic idea of the story was that Doom, a man of magic and science, kept getting defeated by Reed Richards, a man strictly of science. Therefore, if Doom is to defeat him, Doom has to center himself on magic. Can Reed counter the attack?
After that storyline, the Fantastic Four end up stuck on a journey to heaven itself to rescue one of the members of the team. Once there, they meet God (Jack Kirby).
One of the later stores in the run involved a Galactus story where Galactus becomes human for a time.
The late, great Wieringo was a master at expressions, which always grounded the stories in relatable terms, no matter how fantastical the adventure might be.
88. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke and Key – 100 (3)
Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1-6, Locke and Key:Head Games #1-6, Locke and Key:Crown of Shadows #1-6, Locke and Key:Keys to the Kingdom #1-6 and Locke and Key:Clockworks #1-6 (series still ongoing, just in between mini-series at the moment)
Locke and Key is a series about three siblings (the Lockes) who move to their family estate (Keyhouse) with their mother after their father is murdered. Once there, they begin to discover magic keys that can open up doors in Keyhouse. Different keys have different properties. While this obviously could be a set-up for a fun tale, in the case of Locke and Key it is a horror story, as the keys are involved with some pretty dark magic. Hill manages his large cast extremely well, giving every character (the Lockes plus their friends and family) equal opportunity to shine (or, as is the case with Locke and Key, equal opportunity to get put through terrible situations).
Rodriguez shines with his detailed, expressive artwork. One of the most notable aspects of Locke and Key is the sequential storytelling. A great deal of terror is wrung just out of the usage of panels as the slow reveal of something awful is right at the turn of the page. Rodriguez does a great job milking the horror out of all of his pages.
Hill is also adept at revealing the mystery of the keys slowly but surely. As time goes by, we learn bits and pieces about the history of the keys as we lead up to the final storyline, which will be out soon.
One of the most acclaimed issues of the series (which is a series of mini-series, three “Acts” consisting of two six-issue mini-series each. We’re in the middle of the final act now) is the first issue of the second mini-series in Act Two, Keys to the Kingdom, where we see the mindset of the youngest of the Lockes, Bode, as Hill and Rodriguez pay tribute to Calvin and Hobbes by having Bode’s view of the world appear similar to Bill Watterson’s Calvin character.
In the issue, Bode uses the Animal Key to become a bird. However, one of the villains of the book has also used the key to become a wolf and is attacking Bode’s brother and sister. Note the wonderful contrast here by Rodriguez in the depiction of Bode’s attempts to help his siblings from HIS perspective…
and then reality…
Locke and Key is a fine series and one of the best horror comics in YEARS.
87. Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man – 102
Amazing Spider-Man #648-current (#695)
One of the original team of writers who launched Brand New Day in Amzing Spider-Man #546, Slott became the sole writer of Spider-Man with Amazing Spider-Man #648, which was the start of “Big Time.” He mostly has worked with artists Humberto Ramos, Stefano Caselli, Marcos Martin and Giuseppe Camuncoli during his current run.
Slott’s best traits on Amazing Spider-Man have been the way that he follows in the strong suit of past Spider-Man writers of mixing action-packed adventures with character-driven stories in a blend that feels like a natural extenuation of whatever is going on in the book at that time. So a big event where everyone on Manhattan gets Spider-powers is personalized by the fact that Peter Parker’s girlfriend has the powers, too, and it leads her to figure out that Peter has been lying to her about his secret identity. Or, in one of the strongest one-shot issues of Slott’s run, Amazing Spider-Man #665, we see the trade-off for Spider-Man and Peter Parker both becoming so successful (Spider-Man being on two Avengers teams and the Future Foundation and Peter now becoming a successful designer at a think tank reverse-engineering the gadgets he creates as Spider-Man into useful technology for everyday life), which is that he is too busy for people like his closest friends. So when Betty Brant is assaulted after Peter stands her up for a standing movie date, Peter vows revenge (naturally) but what does that look like to his friends and family? Peter is out finding Betty’s assailant, but to everyone else, he is not there for Betty when she needs it the most.
Peter’s guilt is a major driving force in the brilliant “No One Dies” story that Slott did after the death of J. Jonah Jameson’s wife. Peter is haunted in his dreams at the people that he has “let” die in his life…
Besides the character work, Slott also can nail the action drama, like the recent Ends of the Earth storyline, where Spider-Man literally travels all over the globe in an attempt to stop Doctor Octopus from killing most of the people of Earth. And, of course, Slott knows how to bring the funny. So he’s pretty much everything you want from an ongoing Spider-Man writer. Good thing he’s writing the book, huh?
86. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim – 103
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together,Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe and Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim is about a Canadian young man (a bit of a slacker) who falls in love with an American girl named Ramona, but before he can “officially” date her, he has to defeat her seven “evil ex-boyfriends.”
In the early volumes of the series, O’Malley got a great deal of humor out of the idea that this otherwise normal young man suddenly fights people, Street Fighter-style. While humorous, though, O’Malley never lost touch with depicitng an otherwise realistic vision of what it is like to be in that weird nebulous zone between being a teen and being an ADULT. Scott is our slacker hero, but the rest of his band (Sex Bob-Omb), his sister, his too-young-for-him high school girlfriend Knives, his gay roommate Wallace and Ramona Flowers, the young woman he has to fight the boyfriends over are given very nice, defined, personalities.
O’Malley’s Manga-inspired art adds to their personalities nicely, with the subtle touches in their reactions and facial expressions putting across a good deal of the information that we have about their personalities. The relationship between Scott and Ramona (she is an Amazon.ca delivery girl, they have a “Meet Cute” when Scott orders from Amazon just to meet her) is rich, and believable. O’Malley has an ear for realistic dialogue, and the interactions between Scott and Knives (the high school girl) and Scott and Ramona are distinct entities, but both of them portray how Scott can be seen as appealing to both ladies.
Later in the series, things take a dramatic turn as Scott’s “journey” is nearing its end and the question has to be asked – what now? What does everyone do with their lives once Scott has defeated all of the ex-boyfriends? Has any of the past volumes truly prepared Scott for a “real life” with Ramona beyond the spectacle of fighting her evil ex-boyfriends? It’s a sober reality that pops into the tale with a vengeance, as O’Malley pulls the ol’ bait and switch, giving us heartfelt drama in the middle of our funnybook!
This leads to one of my favorite sequences in the entire series, where Ramona runs away from their relationship and Scott finds himself in a tough spot, weakened by his lack of confidence in whether their love is actually worth fighting for, as two of her ex-boyfriends rattle him with dispragaging comments about how Ramona is not worth it. Scott’s friend, Kim, who herself has questions about whether she wouldn’t prefer Scott to NOT date Ramona, finds herself in a tough position and she makes a touching choice (I had to go over three pages here – the scene just doesn’t make sense otherwise)…
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