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CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #75-71

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…

75. Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery – 116 points (4 first place votes)

Journey Into Mystery #622-current (#644)

Journey Into Mystery tells the tale of Loki, who has been reborn as a pre-teen after sacrificing himself during Siege. He now is stuck in a land where everyone knows him (and hates him) for the evil he did as an adult but can not bring themselves to get rid of him as a pre-teen (the fact that his brother, Thor, insists that he stick around certainly helps).

While apparently not evil like his older self was, Loki still has all of the skills he had in his past life, including a strong ability to con people.

Gillen introduced a few notable supporting cast members, including Ikol, a magpie who is the representation of Loki’s former evil life and Leah, a handmaiden of Hela, who was ordered to help Loki.

Gillen’s stories were marked by both clever plots and clever dialogue, not to mention really heartfelt ideas of the very notion of whether someone truly CAN be redeemed. This is exemplified beautifully in an issue drawn by Mitch and Bettie Breitweiser (Gillen has had a lot of artists work with him on this series) where Loki is given a litter of hel-wolves (prodigy of his servent, the Hel-Wolf, who apparently impregnated Garm, guardian of Hel). He is able to find homes for all but one of the wolves, who appears to be just plain evil. Told to get rid of the wolf, the parallels between the wolf and Loki are not hard to see…

Great stuff.

Gillen is JUST finishing up his run on the book with a crossover with Thor.

74. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange – 117 points (1 first place vote)

Strange Tales #110-111, 114-146

In Strange Tales #110, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee introduced one of the best characters the two worked on together, Doctor Strange. The initial story introduced the basics of the story really quickly, and what basics they were!

A jerkish surgeon whose recklessness led to his hands damaged, Strange searched for a cure, until he ended up becoming the apprentice to the Ancient One, and his life was totally turned around for the better. No longer a jerk, Strange began to use his newfound mystical powers for the good of the universe.

After a short break, the feature returned to Strange Tales where Ditko and Lee produced a number of classic issues, introducing many new characters that are still used to this day, like Baron Mordo, Dormammu, Eternity, Nightmare and more.

Here, from Ditko’s final issue, is an epic sequence where Eternity (who had been trapped by the Dread Dormammu) is freed…

InSANE.

The comic was a nice counterpoint to Ditko’s more grounded work in Amazing Spider-Man, as this series allowed Ditko to cut loose with bizarre and trippy concepts.

It was a tremendous work, and it gave such a great foundation to future writers (Note – towards the end, Denny O’Neil did some scripting on the book).

73. Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix – 118 points

X-Force #116-129, X-Statix #1-26 (Allred

X-Force picked up from the short-lived “X-Revolution” revamp that involved Warren Ellis revamping titles and having other writers follow him up on the book. X-Force had Ian Edgington follow Ellis on a Black Ops take on X-Force that ended in #115 with all the team supposedly dying.

On that cheery note, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred entered the scene with #116 with an X-Force that no one had ever seen before, and it was good.

X-Force was now a bunch of publicity-seeking mutant heroes who were looking to cash in on their fame before they inevitably died during battle.

Here is the star of the book, Zeitgeist….

Of course, right after that, Zeitgeist (as well as almost the entire team) is himself killed.

The only two surviving members were Anarchist and U-Go-Girl. Along with incoming team leader, The Orphan (Mister Sensitive), these three members would become the nucleus upon which X-Force would revolve upon, although one of the three would die before the book was relaunched under the new name, X-Statix (that character’s death was a brilliant examination of the very nature of comic book death. Darwyn Cooke did some of the art for this period and it was just an excellent combination of story and art).

X-Statix was a lot more satirical than X-Force (and, heck, most comics, period). The book lasted a strong 26 issues before it, also, came to an end.

72. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Clapion’s Batman – 119 points (2 first place votes)

Batman (Vol. 2) #1-13

Scott Snyder was already coming off an acclaimed run on Detective Comics with artist Jock when he was given the opportunity to relaunch Batman as part of DC Comics’ New 52. Now in charge of the “main” Batman comic, Snyder’s opening storyline was an epic tale introducing the Court of Owls, a mysterious organization that has ruled Gotham City from the shadows for years.

Batman discovered one of their lairs but got caught in a trap. I think this sequence is notable both for the description of the Court as well as an opportunity to see Greg Capullo (in his return to drawing comics for the “Big Two”) in action…

The whole Court of Owls storyline is one ideally suited for Batman, as Snyder knows that this is exactly the type of story that fits a dark character like Batman. For a guy like Batman, whose past is such a driving force in his life, Snyder uses the past to drive the storyline (along with a few neat mysteries and twists along the way). It is a horror/mystery that uses all the things that make Batman great – detective work, an expansive supporting cast, horror and, of course, outlandish villains.

Snyder recently began a new arc spotlighting the Joker that has already been received extremely well.

71. Mark Waid’s Daredevil – 120 points

Daredevil (Vol. 3) #1-current (#18)

Matt Murdock has dealt with many inner demons over the years, but none so demonic as the ones that haunted him at the end of his previous series. His life has seen so many strange, dark turns that the only way he sees out is to embrace the light, even if it is just himself trying to convince himself that everything is okay.

Waid’s Daredevil is a throwback series, but one that KNOWS that it is a throwback series, a book that is about a man trying to embrace his past life while trying to ignore the darkness inside.

Waid has been joined on this series by a series of astonishing artists, most notably the original art team of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin (who traded off issues) and the current artist, Chris Samnee.

In an Eisner-Award winning single issue (the book also won for Best Continuing Series and Waid won for Best Writer), Daredevil is taking a group of blind kids on a winter retreat in the Catskills when their bus crashes and the bus driver is killed. Trapped in the wilderness, Matt Murdock must do whatever he can to save the kids (the art is by Rivera, inked by his father, Joe Rivera)…

Waid is always great with character-driven work, and as you can tell from the above scene, that is very much what his Daredevil is, while also having over-the-top superhero adventures, as well. There is also an impressive over-arching plot about a special hard drive containing the information of all the major crime empires (A.I.M., Hydra, etc.).

74 Comments

Finally on the board…1/10 with the inclusion of Strange Tales.

Actually, the 2008 list made me go and find these in trade and read them. I have since read about a dozen different runs from that last list, and it significantly altered the list I made this go around.Good stuff.

These lists really do open my eyes to what I should be checking out. Between Chew, Criminal, and X-Statix, I now have new things to go hunt down and check out.

I was tempted to vote for Milligan’s X-Force/X-Statix, which I loved, but went with his Human Target stuff instead, just ’cause more individual stories I liked popped to mind thinking of the latter run (the 9/11 and Strike Zone two-parters, specifically…)

I suspect Milligan’s mutant stuff was probably more popular, so I guess we won’t see Human Target show up. (hope I’m wrong, though!).

I love four out of five in this batch. Greg Capullo’s Batman is not my Batman. He looks more like Frank Miller’s Batman. Or Joel Schumacher’s Batman. Looks more like some super-hero wearing a knock-off Batman costume that was based on the true dark night detective. Let me know when it goes away. I miss Batman.

REally glad to see Doctor Strange make it. For my money, the Dr Strange vs Dormmamu sequence in STRANGE TALES 130-141 is one of the greatest achievements of the Silver Age.

I posted these mini-reviews of the Ditko Dr Strange some time back. So, in response to absolutely no requests whatsoever, here is my take on the run.

Each issue will be graded from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best and 1 being soul-destroying putridity. Beware, each review will contain spoilers (villains will be named, plots discussed, etc.).

110.The introduction.An unbelievably solid five pager. Noteworthy for the somewhat horror movie tone (Well, as horrific as the early 60s Comics Code would allow) and for Strange’s rather Eurasian look (WAs Strange originally supposed to be of mixed racial origins?). Both elements would not last long. Strange’s ultra cool Greenwich Village sanctum and sidekick Wong are both introduced in this issue. GRADE:7.

111: Five pages of condensed brilliance from Ditko/Lee. A very important issue, as it marks the introduction of both long time foe Mordo .GRADE: 7.

114: The second go around for Mordo. The issue introduces Strange pal Victoria Bentley. Note to Stan Lee, Someone called Sir Clive Bentley should be addressed as “Sir Clive,” not as “Sir Bentley.” GRADE: 7

115: The brilliant origin of Strange. This issue sees a massive page expansion, from 5 to 8. Note to contemporary Comic Book writers, see how Ditko and Lee could tell a marvelous origin tale in a mere 8 pages? Brevity can be a virtue. Strange’s origin is rather akin to Spider-Man’s, as both characters start out as rampant egotists (Strange is a heartless surgeon, Parker does not care if a criminal runs past him). Note that Strange now looks like Vincent Price. GRADE:10

116: Another solid effort. Nightmare returns for another go at Strange.GRADE: 7

117: Baron Mordo returns. Effortlessly good stuff from the Lee-Ditko team.GRADE:7

118: Change of pace tale, as Strange goes up against aliens. Does not really work. GRADE:6.

119: New villain Aggamon challenges Strange. Aggamon is noteworthy as a kind of prototype for Dormammu. A return to form. GRADE:7.

120:Strange goes up against a haunted house (Or is it?). Story has a kind of Silver Age DC feel to it. I half expected Doctor Thirteen to show up. GRADE: 6.

121:Baron Mordo returns. Fun stuff, with a great use of the old wax museum standby (Another nod to Vincent Price?). GRADE:7.

122:Nightmare returns. Fantastic stuff in this issue, as Ditko unleashes his weirdness mojo. GRADE:8.

123: Loki vs. DR. Strange! Guest appearance by Thor! Kirby characters rendered in the Ditko style! Tremendous fun. As a side note, Roger Stern has argued that this is Strange’s first “Modern Era” appearance, that the issues prior to 123 are all set before FF #1. GRADE:8

124: Guest Starring Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra! Seriously, Stan must have liked that film as both Strange and Iron Man (in Tales of Suspense 44) had SA encounters with the siren of the Nile.Fun stuff. GRADE:7.

125: Baron Mordo returns. Great chase issue, with the tension notched up to 11 as Strange battles Mordo all over the globe. GRADE:8.

126-127:The dread one himself is introduced, as Strange fights Dormammu. Unbearably good. Ditko’s internal LSD factory goes into overdrive. Clea (Although nameless here) and the Mindless Ones are introduced as well. Doc gets his classic cape and amulet in 127. These issues mark the beginning of the classic era of Strange. GRADE:10

128: Strange vs. the Demon. Classic Ditko lightshow. GRADE:8.

129: Strange vs. Tiboro. Solid work, noteworthy as the first non-Stan Lee written issue,as Don Rico steps in (An early sign of Stan and Steve tension? ). GRADE:7.

130: This is it, “The start of the greatest black magic spectacular ever presented” (From Stan’s not at all hyperbolic intro).Seriously, this is a fantastic issue. Dormammu and Mordo team up to take down Strange and the Ancient One. Ditko’s art is beautiful throughout, as he carries us from Tibet to the Dark Dimension to a gloriously stylized Hong Kong. GRADE:10.

131: Strange vs. the Dormammu empowered Mordo in Hong Kong. More effortless virtuosity from Ditko, as Strange employs everything from fists (The good Doctor can throw a mean punch) to spells in his effort to escape. GRADE:10.

132: Strange returns to New York in his quest to find out how to take down the Dormammu empowered Mordo. The Demon, from issue 128, returns as Mordo’s flunky. Fantastically surreal battle between Mordo and Strange. GRADE:10.

133: Strange, escaping from the super-powerful Mordo, travels to the realm of the evil Shazana. For a glimpse of Ditko’s chops, take a look at the superb, Dali-esque art on page three.Who needs acid when you have Ditko? GRADE:10.

134: Strange returns to Earth, where he first hears of “ETERNITY.” Fabulous extended spirit form chase sequence, as Mordo pursues Strange from the Earth to the heart of the Sun. Clea, showing her silver haired gumption, unleashes the Mindless Ones in an effort to help Strange. GRADE: 10

135: Strange goes to England in search (Where is Leonard Nemoy when you need him?) of ETERNITY. Ditko and Lee can do no wrong. GRADE:10.

136:Strange thinks that he has learned the secret of ETERNITY, but he instead encounters an extra-dimensional tyrant. Great stuff, but it merely serves as a prelude to 137. GRADE: 9.

137: Strange, in order to learn the secret of ETERNITY, must enter the mind of the comatose Ancient One. This is Ditko weirdness turned up to 12 (It’s one more past 11!). The art is heartbreakingly good. Words cannot begin to describe it. Lee’s script work is as good as anything that he ever did. GRADE:10.

138: Strange meets ETERNITY. Seriously, Ditko’s rendition of MAN as Microcosm alone makes the issue worthwhile. Words fail me. GRADE:10

139-141: Strange vs. Mordo and Dormammu mash-up. Brilliant wizardly duel between Mordo and Strange. Fantastic physical confrontation between Dormammu and Strange. Clea pays the price for aiding Strange. Meanwhile, a bomb awaits Strange in his Sanctum. Let’s see, I think that these three issues would take up about 12 issues of a Bendis written Strange. Grade:10

142-143: Strange vs. Mordo’s minions. More fantastic art from Ditko. Strange spends the bulk of the issues with his head encased in a “MAn in the Iron Mask” type covering, while his hands are similarly enclosed, thereby rendering him incapable of casting a spell. Ditko’s commentary on the role of the work for hire artist? Another example of Ditko’s Objectivist beliefs in action? Is Dr. Strange John Galt?Roy Thomas steps in to write 142, and does a fine job.GRADE:10

144: Strange goes in quest of the lost Clea, and fights the demonic Tazza. Written by Roy Thomas. This issue just might have, for my money, the single best scenes of magical combat that Ditko ever drew. GRADE:10.

145: Denny O’Neil steps in as Strange fights Rasputin (No , not the X-Man).Solid work from Ditko, noteworthy for the scene in which Rasputin, realizing that his magical skills are not the equal of Strange’s, pulls a gun on Doc. Was Jess Whedon a Strange fan? DEspite this, the issue is not quite up to Ditko’s usual standards. GRADE:9.

146: “THE END–AT LAST!” As Brian noted, Ditko’s last issue actually does serve as a genuine climax to his tenure on the title. Solid work, but I think that Ditko’s art in this issue is not quite equal to his best. Indeed, the art has, to my way of thinking, a somewhat rushed air, as though Ditko needed to just get through it. Still, the confrontation between Dormammu and ETERNITY has tremendous power. GRADE:9.

Jake, Miller’s Batman is the one true Batman, so Greg is doing mighty fine work.

JIM
Batman
Daredevil

these three books are generally regarded as the best books from the big 2 currently, along with Uncanny X-force, which was on this list earlier.

We are living in the Golden Age of Comics, people.

Nice to see Milligan on the list :D
Not so sure how I feel that Snyder’s Batman and Waid’s Daredevil made it to the list :/

Guess I shouldn’t be shocked to see Snyder’s Batman on there. Welp, those other four are really good comics! I’m five for five on at least partial reads among this group.

I’m still 0 for 10! I’m a little surprised that only two things have showed up so far that i haven’t read; of course, a few of the entries so far are runs that I sought out and read after the 2008 countdown. I’m really enjoying the current Batman and Daredevil runs, but it just doesn’t occur to me to vote for such recent (and still ongoing) stuff. I always assume that most of the people who vote for current runs are relatively new (opr newly-returned) comics readers… I wonder how accurate that assumption is?

“Miller’s Batman is the one true Batman”

….

So what were Jerry Robinson, Sheldon Moldoff, Dick Sprang, Marshall Rogers, Neal Adams, and Jim Aparo working on?

I did not vote for Dr. Strange. I have a difficult time choosing only 10. To do so, I only pick one title per writer. And Dr. Strange is only my second favorite Stan Lee book…

Despite not adding my vote, I would enjoy seeing it higher on the list as well.

REALLY glad to see Lee/Ditko Strange make it so high on the list. Also nice to see Waid’s DD ranked so high.

Did not expect to see Gillen’s JiM on the list at all and HUGELY surprised that New 52 Batman made it on.

And would it be too much to ask for a mention of Laura Allred somewhere in the blurb for X-Force/X-Statix? I’ve always felt that coloring work is the most underappreciated part of comics production and there is probably not a single colorist in the industry as distinct as “Mike Allred’s wife”.

Chris N: Who said that “Miller’s Batman is the one true Batman”? I still mostly associate the character with O’Niel/Adams and the 90s cartoon.

I just noticed Trey’s comment so forget I asked.

I loved Miller’s “Year One” Batman, Trey, but Miller’s “Dark Knight” Batman is an ultra-violent parody of the real Batman. And the artistic lemmings at DC follow him.

And if Brian does this list again, say, five years from now, Snyder and Capullo’s Batman won’t even make the list.

hah, i tried a few DR. STRANGE and was almost put to sleep by the dull stories.
and: the pompous dialogue has to be read to be believed!

snyder is a fan favorite, so the stories are very predictable.
also the retconning of the court of owls was just lazy plotting.

I agree that the next time this list is done, chances are Snyder’s Batman won’t even make the list. And I’m enjoying the run.

Journey into Mystery was a great book when allowed to do its own thing, but the forced crossovers ruined it for me, its also being rushed to a conclusion despite the fact that Gillen claimed to have about 25 more issues of story…a sad casualty of Marvel Now and their crossover mania.

Love Snyders run and don’t get the negativity here. Easily one of the greatest runs on the character ever.
What I also don’t get is the hype behind Waids Daredevil. I mean, yeah, its a good book… But thats it. Put next to Brubakers or Bendis’ run it pales in comparison. Still, I enjoy it, but its not that special.

Snyder’s Batman is pretty good… but there is no way that it’s better than Dr. Strange. Or X-Statix. Or the Question… heck, it’s not even close to being as good as Snyder’s Detective run with Dick in the batsuit.

Haney/Aparo is the one true Batman!

The Court of Owls/Night of Owls story had high points but some low points as well, I like Greg Capullo’s art. The Black Mirror is still Scott Snyder’s best work on Batman. I’d take Gates of Gotham over The Court of Owls/Night of Owls as it’s more consistent.

Scott Snyder’s The Court of Owls/Night of Owls Batman story had high points but some low points as well, I like Greg Capullo’s art on the book. The Black Mirror is still Scott Snyder’s best work on Batman. I’d take Gates of Gotham over The Court of Owls/Night of Owls as it’s more consistent.

Based on their reputations, I’ve sampled most of these. None of them ever hooked me. They are all good comics, but they never hit me at the right moment.

I love everything on today’s list, and I’m happy to see some deserving current big-two books making it. I agree though that even next to two other current books, Snyder/Capullo Batman stands out as looking a little strange. Maybe it’s that while JiM is nearly finished, Batman seems like it’s just getting started and hasn’t yet gotten as good as it has the potential to be. Or maybe it’s that while JiM and Waid’s Daredevil are both pretty singular takes on their starring characters this is basically “really good Batman” in a world full of notable Batman runs. In fact, I wouldn’t say this is even Snyder’s best “Batman” story; I’m still expecting to see his and Jock’s and Francesco Francavilla’s Detective Comics. Aside from being great, that one also has the benefit of having come to a definitive conclusion.

I think Snyder/Capullo’s run on Batman is great. And now I really want to read Waid’s Daredevil.

If Snyder’s run makes this list, I wonder how high Morrison’s will be.

joe the poor speller

October 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm

When I think of Batman, I think the one drawn by Aparo or Breyfogle, with (Graham) Nolan’s being a strong third.

The Crazed Spruce

October 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I haven’t been able to read any current books in a while, so I haven’t seen Waid’s “Daredevil”, “Journey into Mystery”, or the Nu52 Batman. (I’m kinda surprised that any “Nu52″ series made the cut, but if any of ‘em had to, it’s not a surprise that Batman did.) I also haven’t seen any of X-Static or the Lee/Ditko “Dr. Strange”, but I heard nothing but good things about them.

I’d bet dollars to donuts that not only will Snyder’s Batman be on the list four years from now, but it will be ranked higher on the list.

Snyder’s Batman is better than Morrison’s, which will probably be higher on this list because people think it’s so daring to have characters talk in riddles and beat poetry.

Now the question is what current runs will beat Waid’s Daredevil. I’d say Morrison’s Batman and Hickman’s Fantastic Four for sure. Fables too.

Daniel Ch.: If you can track down some of the current DD run you won’t regret it. It might be Waid’s best work since JLA.

Macc: Morrison’s run is going to be top 50 easy. I wouldn’t be surprised if it breaks the top 30.

Brian Cronin: Not likely. The New 52 likely will have been undone by then and the entire “experiment” (as DC absurdly calls it) will likely not be remembered fondly by fans. Plus current runs by nature are almost always going to rank higher than when they’ve aged a bit since they have more readers at the time that can vote for them.

Journey Into Mystery tells the tale of Loki, who has been reborn as a pre-teen after sacrificing himself during Siege. He now is stuck in a land where everyone knows him (and hates him) for the evil he did as an adult but can not bring themselves to get rid of him as a pre-teen (the fact that his brother, Thor, insists that he stick around certainly helps).

I wonder if Gillen is a fan of the popular shonen manga Naruto? Because this sounds very close to the premise of the book (not a knock on Gillen, as he also has enough differences in tone and other story elements that it’s not a ripoff either).

In terms of superhero runs i think only the 60ies Superman reads better than Morrison’s Batman.

Even Frank Miller’s Batman suddenly looks rather pedestrian. At least in scope.

Brian, how many people voted in this one as compared to 2008? The number 71 spot last time had 13 more points.

There were more ballots cast this time. It seems like people spread the votes around, though, this time.

LOOOOOOVE Ditko’s Dr. Strange. As much as Ditko enjoys drawing men in fedoras and ties, the magical realm plays more to his strengths, and provides a convenient excuse for the hero to gesticulate wildly, as Ditko characters always do. Anybody who gave up on the early five pagers should know that Trajan’s reviews are right on the money, and it would be worthwile to start again from the middle of the run where the story really picks up.

X-Statix and Waid’s Daredevil are both favorites of mine, although the latter has somewhat declined in my favor. Journey into Mystery looks really good, and I like Phonogram, so I should probably check that out.

Capullo outdoes himself every issue of Batman, I’ll say that much to the book’s credit. I remember reading a Spider-Man backup story (guest starring Jay Leno, had the debilitating disadvantage of being written by Ron Zimmerman) with Capullo on art and thinking it was just the worst Todd McFarlane parody. And while I gave up at around issue 7 of the Nu52 Batman, Capullo’s art could not have been more gorgeous and kinetic when I dropped the title.

I’d be surprised to see it overcome the “OMG THIS NEW THING IS THE BEST EVAR” phenomenon and outrank the current Batman run, but Snyder, Francavilla, and Jock did some excellent work on Tec which wouldn’t be out of place on this list.

I’m confident that the Snyder/Capullo run on “Batman” will reappear on this list in four years. They’re just settling in, and “The Court of Owls” was just a warmup; this has every indication of being one of those lengthy runs that only gets better as it chugs along.
And yeah, I’m sure Morrison’s “Batman” run will rank high this time, too, because it’s goddamn brilliant. I wish he’d stick around for another seven years.

Not likely. The New 52 likely will have been undone by then and the entire “experiment” (as DC absurdly calls it) will likely not be remembered fondly by fans. Plus current runs by nature are almost always going to rank higher than when they’ve aged a bit since they have more readers at the time that can vote for them.

Not only is it likely, I would say it is close to a 100% certainty that it is on the list in four years. The debatable part is whether it will be higher next time. I imagine that it will (especially as it is likely that his Batman run will no longer split votes with his Detective run), but I can’t say for sure.

The latest issue serves well to back up Brian’s opinion for the future success of Batman.

X-Force/X-Statix is the first of my list to make it! Glad to see it here! I’m pretty sure half of my picks won’t rank at all.

I read the most recent issue of Snyder’s Batman and was not too impressed, but then I haven’t liked anything in DCnew52 except OMAC and Wonder Woman.

My ten are still 0 for 10. I’m confident in my votes for Starman, Astro City and Planetary, but wondering if my others will have to show up on the Below the Top 100 segments.

all five of these are great, with the exception of Snyder’s Batman. It didnt do it for me

The latest issue serves well to back up Brian’s opinion for the future success of Batman.

I just read it and I’d say the exact opposite. [SPOILERS]

It had quite a few unintentional howlers in there. “He told…a JOKE! My God Batman, HE TOLD A JOKE!”

It suffered from unsubtly recycling too many tired, post-Miller Joker cliches, as well as some of the newer, post-Nolan, Joker tropes. Joker is just so uber-murderous now that only the most deluded Pollyanna could still respect Batman for not killing him at this point. His body count in the first few pages alone is what his body count used to be in 2 years. He’s beyond self-parody now.

I will say though, that compared to the average DC writer post-Didio, and especially the average Batman writer post-Didio, Snyder is incredibly good. I mean, when you’ve been dealing with stuff like War Crimes and Spoiler being tortured and Leslie Tompkins being a murderer and the stupidity of Batman being an urban legend despite blatantly driving a tank around the streets of Gotham, just having a thematically coherent writer can seem like such a storytelling coup I can easily understand why Snyder gets a little more hype than he may deserve. He’s definitely a good writer capable of flashes of brilliance, and when the average writer at Didio’s DC is horribly incompetent the contrast can be really striking.

Waid’s DD has so far been brilliant, in no small part to the great cadre of artists who have worked on it. I’m a little surprised to see it so high but it has all the looks of being one of those lasting, defining runs on the character so I expect to see it show up in future editions of this poll.

Snyder’s Batman? Not so much. But every poll like this always has a few “popular at the moment” titles show up as those are the books freshest in voters’ minds…

I wonder what other semi-recent superhero runs will end up making the list.

One of the best things about polls like these is the insight it gives me about the age of the commenters here.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have cut my teeth on 90s comics.

I’m 54. I learned to read from Clark and Lois more than I did from Dick and Jane.

So shout out, y’all. How old are you?

@The Mutt

I am 30. I had 3 pre 1980 runs, 4 runs from the 80s and 90s. 3 runs from the early 2000s.

@The Mutt, 27.

@The Mutt

27

@TheMutt: 38

Snyder isn’t the most polarizing nu52 run even; I’d say grab the popcorn and sit back and watch if Azzarello’s Wonder Woman shows up, except I’d be too busy screaming.

yeah well, being popular usually means that its not too challenging and complex a read.
the same holds true for movies: see Avatar and Titanic.

Snyder does popcorn comics in that regard and the masses are quite happy. Its just not anything i would read. (havent seen Avatar and Titanic neither)

Marius: “What I also don’t get is the hype behind Waids Daredevil. I mean, yeah, its a good book… But thats it. Put next to Brubakers or Bendis’ run it pales in comparison.”

The best way I can explain the popularity of Waid’s DD is like this: What Frank Miller did on Daredevil so completely defined the character (and all related characters) that everyone who has worked on the title since then — regardless of the quality of their work — has never really done anything other than recycle Miller’s schtick over and over again ad nauseum. Waid is the first writer to really, truly step out from under Miller’s shadow and make the book his own (at least to an extent). For this reason alone I’d say it’s a safe bet he will be remembered in time as THE post-Miller DD writer. It really has more to do with that than it does with the writing quality or anything else.

@ The Mutt: 35 yrs. old.

I got the first two Journey Into Mystery collections, and they’re among the best recent super-hero comics I’ve read. Gillen’s characterization is excellent, and I can’t believe Loki has become one of my favorite characters.

Ditko/ Lee Dr. Strange is astounding. Revolutionary art, concepts that had never been seen in comics before (as far as I know), and some of Stan’s best scripts. I don’t remember if I voted for it or not, but if I didn’t, I should have.

X-Force/ X-Statix is another favorite. Milligan & Allred offered up a comic with a completely different feel than anything else on the stands at the time. Ultimates and a few other comics used some of the same thematic elements, but none of them had the same zing, character work, or dark satire of early-’00s celebrity culture. The art was always great.

Snyder/ Capullo Batman: I like it, but there has been some highly problematic storytelling. The issues in which Batman is trapped in the maze were poorly-written (after being beaten, starved, and psychologically tortured, Batman just… gets better? With no explanation at all?) and the Owl thing went on way too long. Again, they aren’t terrible, but not even close to The Black Mirror story in Detective. Capullo’s art, however, never disappointed. I like his Milleresque Batman, and he knows how to stage an action sequence.

Waid’s DD: It’s had its ups and downs, but this run has been enjoyable. I just hope it stays crossover-free for awhile. The issues by Rivera, Martin, & Samnee have looked exceptional.

@ Mutt I’d say I’m the youngest here at 21, but I’ve been reading comics since I was 12 (if you count Shonen Jump), so I don’t think I can be lumped in with the “newer readers”

About Snyder’s Batman, I really liked it (although it didn’t crack my top ten, that was almost all JLA and X-Men runs minus a certain Daredevil run that isn’t Waid’s). I thought the Court was a brilliant new introduction to the Batman mythos and the first really good addition to his Rogues since Bane. The whole story had an almost Lovecraftian horror thing going for it, plus Capullo’s pencils have not only been great from the start, but they’ve gotten better! He also draws Batman the way Frank Miller would if he did an issue of the old Batman Adventures comic based on TAS; to me, capullo has become the definitive Batman artist of the past decade, Jim Lee be damned.

And like Brian, I can easily see this run cracking the top 50 four years from now because Snyder is just getting started; most opening arcs of even great runs are pretty tepid (look at Claremont’s X-men, Miller’s Daredevil work, etc.). If something this good was what Snyder chose to lead off with, imagine the stuff he’ll be pulling off once he really gets settled in.

That aside, this run shouldn’t be on the list right now, you can’t base placing it on the list because of what it MIGHT do down the road. So far, it’s had one major arc that I’d say would just place in the bottom of the top 10 best Batman arcs of all time (and I’ve read a lot of Batman), but that’s not hardly enough to get it on this list considering all the other great comic series that have had awesome runs.

I’m 34.
I cut my teeth on superhero comics in the early 90s, but actually spent more money on Marvel comics from the 80s, what with back-issues being cheaper!

Alex F

I’m 19.

Honestly I can’t read anything before the 70s, god bless you older folk who can.

However with that said, I also think Snyder is overrated.

Some new stuff I haven’t had a chance to read yet (Journey Into Mystery, Waid’s Daredevil) and some new stuff I have (Batman, at least the first six issues). Honestly a little surprised to see anything from the nu52 show up, but Snyder’s Batman (at least what I’ve read of it) is very good, so good for it.

Glad to see Lee/Ditko’s Dr. Strange as well, always good stuff. Did that make the list last time around? It had to have, right?

No surprise with X-Statix; great stuff, much loved.

@Macc

I’m 19 as well and I had 2 runs from before the 70s on my list.
I’m honestly with Greg on this, you can’t judge a series that hasn’t finished yet.
But oh, well…

I’m only familiar with two out of five, this time around (the original Dr. Strange, and the X-Force/X-Statix run), and I wasn’t even tempted to vote for either of them, although I freely admit they had some good things to offer!

Thirty percent of the way through this countdown, and still 0 out of my 10 picks have shown up.

As long as we’re on the subject of which decades were tolerable . . . 1 of my picks began in the 1940s, and 1 began in the 1960s, and 1 began in the 1970s. On the other hand, the 1980s are represented by no less than 4 of my picks, while the 1990s account for the remaining 3!

Ed (A Different One)

October 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

@ Trey – We are living in the Golden Age of Comics, people.

Amen brother. Sometimes I’m mystified when I think of the 6 or so must read titles I enjoy so much and I see people ripping them or complaining about how bad comics are now. I mean c’mon. The following titles are very “recent” in the scheme of things but are as good as anything I’ve read in the last couple of decades:

Remender’s X-Force
Aaron’s WW&TXM
Gillen’s JIM
Waid’s DD
Snyder’s Batman
Hickman’s FF

While it may be hyperbole to see we’re in a “golden age”, I think comics are better than they’ve been since the baroque fiasco of the 90′s. Why their not selling as much as they used to is another story . . .

And why Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery didn’t get more buzz or Eisner talk I’ll never know. Have you people out there tried reading this title? It’s good. You really, really should try it.

I’m 33, and I read comics whenever I could throughout the ’80s. (I taught myself to read by the time I was 5, mostly using Masters of the Universe mini-comics and dinosaur books.) I sarted reading comics regularly in the ’90s, as I began getting an allowance and had my own money, and could actually get them from week to week for the first time. Even then, my tastes skerwed toward older stuff, and I soured on the Liefeld-type dreck pretty quickly. My favorite artists were people like Norm Breyfogle, Neal Adams, and Mike Mignola instead of Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, and their numerous imitators. I agonized so much in putting together my top ten list that I don’t remember exactly how it wound up breaking down by decade, but i know I had at least one run each from the ’70s and ’80s, a couple from the ’90s, and one from the past decade. The only run I voted for that is still going is Morrison’s Batman, and even if he shits the bed with the ending(which he won’t, because he’s Morrison), it still would have ranked in my top ten, so I had no qualms about including it.

@ Ed (A Different One), I agree that we are living in a golden age for comics. Even for people who hate most current comics, the simple fact that nearly everything that has been published is easily available makes it so. And when I see people grumbling about how awful all modern comics are, I just roll my eyes and move along. Most of those people have the attitude that “comics aren’t exactly the way they were when i started reading, so they’re awful and they always will be until they start catering specifically to ME,” whether they’re aware of it or not. There’s also the ever-present option to, y’know, move beyond DC and Marvel and try something outside the norm. Fact is, there is a lot of crap being published, but there always has been. There has never been a point in time where you wouldn’t have had to wade through some crap to get to the good stuff, and that goes for any medium, not just comics.

Didn’t we just do this like two years ago?

@ Jack
Actually, it was 2008; 4 years is enough time for me since 4 years is about the average length of a run, so you have a lot of runs finishing, starting and finishing , and getting started within that period. That’s enough to cause some pretty big shake-ups in the list, plus this is also kind of a barometer for the quality of new comics by putting them up against the hallmark runs of the medium.

@The Mutt. I’m 30. I got started on comics in 1992-93, during the X-boom. Oddly, the breakdown of my top ten runs are two runs each from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s. My top run is from the 90s (She-Hulk). Englehart’s Silver Surfer made my list also, and although that started in ’87, I had a very difficult time deciding between his and Starlin’s 90s run on that book.

For as much garbage that came out in that decade, there were undoubtedly some gems along with it, even if it was the garbage that got me hooked on comics in the first place. I had no clue what was going on half the time, but I still became enthralled by the characters and stories.

What’s more, I wanted to see how things got to where they were (hello, back issues and reprints). I didn’t truly get into X-Men until I read Lee & Kirby & Roth’s run from the Amazing Adventure reprints and the X-Men: The Early Years reprints and an old school Masterworks hardcover. It was that history of it all that hooked me. And to this day, I love that initial X-Men run (it was #6 on my list).

But it was those weird issues of X-Force, and X-Men 2099, and Secret Defenders, and Force Works that started me down that path.

I suppose that a great analogy to it all, at least in my case, is that sometimes manure makes the best fertilizer.

Ed (A Different One)

October 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

@Drunken Fist

I hear you man – and you make an especially good point about how so much of the old stuff is so easily available now. Stuff that took a weekend’s worth of work rooting through long boxes at conventions now comes easily to hand on the trade paperback shelf at your LCS or even your local library. That is a wonder that a lot of newbies overlook or take for granted. Hell, us old fogies take it for granted all too often as well.

I am, however, chagrined at why the books just don’t sell like they used to. I often use the Shooter-era of Marvel as my ideal (the Lee/Kirby era was probably the “true” golden age but that’s just so long ago at this point that it has to aura of myth about it and it’s just not useful in terms of comparison with the modern age). Regardless of what you thought of Shooter personally (he is polarizing), the fact remains that Marvel, across the board, was just so strong from title to title. Stern & DeFalco on ASM. Miller and then Noncenti on DD. Bryne/Claremont/Cockrum/Smith on UXM. Byrne on Alpha Flight and FF. Simonson on Thor. Gerber’s Howard the Duck. And on and on and on. I really truly believe that those current titles I mentioned in my last poll would fit in and hold their own during the Shooter era of Marvel. They might not have been the top sellers but they would not have been out-of-place in that stable of titles (quality-wise).

But they dont’ sell like they would have during the Shooter age. Why that is is a long and stirring debate, but I am chagrined by it and wonder what it would take to just get these things in the hands of kids and get those kids talking about, say, what AOA Nightcrawler did in the last issue of X-Force, or how funny the last issue of W&TXM was, or how they like the direction Waid is taking DD. These were daily conversations for me in middle school. And now I still have them as an adult, but you bring it up to kids these days they’ll look at you like your goofy or think you’re referring to something in the Avengers movie. The Zeitgeist just isn’t there like it once was. I think there’s quality enough to get it there again, just not sure how (a lower price point is probably the biggest initial barrier) . . .

JIM – Kid Loki, you’re a hero to me. Sad it’s ending, but at least he’ll be in Young Avengers with Gillen.

Doctor Strange – Classic.

X-Statix – I still can’t believe Marvel let Milligan get away with half of that stuff. I feel like this is what Garth Ennis is trying to do in The Boys, but getting too far ahead of himself.

Batman – Wow. Really? I mean, I like it, I really like it. I’m not even against adding current runs. But 13 issues in? Not even 13 issues but ONE storyline? This is excessive. Though the run with Dick Grayson really is superior, I actually do feel that in four years this will be even higher. Not only does Snyder write some of the best narration in the industry, he’s also taken Batman back from that ridiculous psycho that they’ve been putting out for the last few years, and that I’m thankful for. If there’s one New 52 series that I wouldn’t mind seeing on the list, it’s Wonder Woman.

Daredevil – Again, too early, but a bit more understandable. Not only is this clearly a watershed moment in Daredevil history, but it has also proven it has many good ideas on the table. That issue in the snow is going to be one of those “I remember that” issues.

Interesting choices today.

I love Ditko’s Doctor Strange. I haven’t read X-Statix, though I know I want to and it’s been on my list for a while. Journey into Mystery marks the second run to make this list (after Locke & Key) that I never even knew existed and hadn’t heard anything about. But these sample pages Brian picked are really wonderful and I’ll definitely give the book a look.

Batman and Daredevil… Well, let me first say that I read both every month and I think they’re both good. But having said that, I think it’s too early on both. Specifically with Batman, I don’t even think it should have been eligible, because #13 hadn’t come out when people voted, meaning the run had only encompassed one storyline so far. To me, that violates the nature of this poll. And with DD, I just think the series hasn’t had enough resolution in its plots yet for people to evaluate how good they ultimately think it is. But like I said, I read both and enjoy them.

RE: the whole “will Snyder/Cappulo’s Batman be here in 4 years,” I agree with Brian that it’s a sure thing. Snyder is building enough of a mythology of his own that he’ll be perceived to own Batman for an era the same way Brubaker owned Captain America. And actually, Snyder’s Batman has followed a similar blueprint to Brubaker’s Cap: First story, rewrite the past. Second story, master take on arch-villain. And considering Snyder’s already written the “original sidekick tries to live up to the suit” story, he’s following pretty closely.

RE: modern runs that are still to come, I think we have 3 guaranteed contemporary runs coming up that weren’t here 4 years ago: Scalped, Morrison Batman, and Hickman FF. I think Fraction’s Iron Man is about a 50/50 bet to still show. And then there are a handful of current runs that might show, but I think are far less likely and we probably would have seen them by now: Bendis Avengers, Johns/Lee Justice League (please God, no), Sweet Tooth, Wolverine & the X-Men (my favorite current book), David’s 2nd X-Factor run, DMZ, and I’m sure something I’m forgetting.

RE: Mutt’s voter demographics, I’m 30 and got into comics with the X-Men cartoon & trading card set, and the Image launch (dubious times, I know). The ten runs I voted for started in the following years (in order of how I ranked them): ’84, ’82, ’89, ’81, ’00, ’99, ’88, ’95, ’04, and ’94. I did set the rule of only voting for finished runs (except for Hellboy, which has been going nearly 20 years, and will probably never “finish”) and only voting for runs in which I’d read every issue.

RE: The “Golden Age” of comics… I’m a film critic, and I also sometimes write about rock and roll too, and with both of these mediums, as well as comics, I’m a firm believer that no era really has more quality than any other era. The difference in the way we view eras stems from a few things: how popular the great stuff became, and how popular the awful stuff became. The reason we view the 1960s as the best era of music, or the 1970s as the best era of American filmmaking has nothing to do with more talented people, it’s how the talented people created things that resonated with the public. When mediums are first really coming into their own (rock and roll in the 60s, super-hero comics during the same era), it’s easy to misinterpret the stuff as being better, when really all it is is more influential and important. This makes it “greater,” but not “better,” if that makes sense.

Likewise, with the bad stuff. The reason people think of the 90s as such a terrible time in comics has absolutely nothing to do with how much good stuff was out there, it’s how popular and how bad the bad stuff was. For those with discerning tastes and buying habits, the 90s was still a great time in comics: Starman, Sandman, Preacher, Spectre, Astro City, Doom Patrol, JLA, Supreme, Hitman, Marvels, Transmetropolitan, Stormwatch/The Authority, Flash, early Valiant, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, etc. But the issue with the 90s is that 1) the bad stuff was bad in an especially ridiculous and degrading way, and 2) the bad stuff became remarkably popular. Both of these things are unfortunate, but they don’t speak about how much quality there was as well.

As for the current era, I think the same rules apply–there’s a lot of great stuff, even more bad stuff. But, I would argue that the bad stuff in the current era is bad in ways that are perhaps even worse than the bad things were in the 90s. To wit: 1) Everything is being rebooted and retconned at such an accelerated rate that it’s honestly disrespectful to readers. Every 18 months or so, we find out everything we read previously doesn’t count anymore. 2) It’s virtually impossible to read a big 2 comic for a full year without having to follow some terrible mega-crossover that takes over said title for months on end and prevents the writer of said title from being able to do their thing. While I don’t necessarily think there’s MORE editorial interference now than there was in other eras, I definitely think the current era’s editorial interference is more damaging to quality long-form storytelling than it was in any other era. And 3) Decompression has gotten totally out of control. I think Demon Knights, for example, is a strong contender for the worst comic I’ve ever read. I bought the first 7 issues (the first arc) and felt like I’d read a total of 12 pages. People may have bought, for example, an issue of Silver Sable in the 1990s and felt like they wasted their $1.25 because the 22 pages of story were awful, but that somehow seems less bad than buying an issue of Demon Knights now and feeling like my $3.00 was wasted because the creators didn’t even care to try and come up with 20 pages of story.

And look, I still read monthly comics and I read a lot of great stuff. But I also think there’s a ton of terrible stuff coming out and it’s just as bad, or worse, than the bad stuff has always been. But I think judging the 90s for the worst of it is unfair in the same way it’s unfair of me to judge 2007 for giving us the first Transformers movie and the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie (my personal choice for worst film ever created. I don’t think it’s possible for a film to fail on more levels simultaneously). Because 2007 also gave us No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Juno, The Bourne Ultimatum, and many other great films.

Sorry for being (as always) long winded.

The Mutt is OLD.

I’m 33. Been collecting hard core for 20+ years now. Luckily there was good stuff in the library and in back issue bins. My top ten (well, 13, because I wasn’t sure if Brian would count a couple) included more ’00s books than I thought (6), one that covered the ’70s to the ’00s, one from the ’60s, one from the ’50s-’70s (I think), a ’90s book, a ’50s book, a ’40s-’50s book, and a ’90s-’00s book. Oh, and a ’80s-’90s book. Huh. Interesting when I look at it all.

I’ve heard good things about JIM and DD. I have about half of Waid’s DD, but haven’t read any yet because I didn’t snag the first 2 issues yet. Working on it.

Nu Batman…eh. I read 13, T gets it about right that it’s overwrought. Damn that mask cover for sucking me in, though! I don’t know, the whole concept of the Court of Owls seems dumb, and considering that Morrison has just been doing a “secret evil bad guys society” story makes it seem done, to me. If you like it though, hey, why not?

I didn’t vote for Stan and Steve on Dr. Strange, as I haven’t read that yet. Gotta hunt that down some day.

But X-Force/X-Statix is the first one from my list here (just like I Am Fear!). It was my number 8 (unless Brian didn’t count the one vote I put in…), and I actually knocked ‘Mazing Man off my list for it. Just a great combo of writer and artist, and it really seemed to capture how mutants would be treated in real life today — people with greater talents than the rest of us are famous, and reg’lar folks would follow both their ups AND their downs. Turns the “hated and feared” on its side. Such a cool book. And the letters pages were hilarious, because people HATED the new iteration! If you’ve only read it in trade, look for the back issues. (Does the recent Omni include the letters?) There was one about how the writer dug Cable, because he had live fast and hard, like the letter writer did. A riot! I also enjoyed the Darwyn issue, and actually had him sign 124. He said since he knew what was going to happen, the tears were streaming down his face as he finished up the art for that issue.

What a great time for the X books back then, in the early ’00s. And to echo some other people, we are in the Golden Age. If you can’t find a comic for you, you’re not trying.

On Mutt’s demographics, I am 45. My first comics were Bronze Age DCs as pre-teen and I switched to the Shooter-era Marvels as a teen.

In terms of what is the “Golden Age” of comics for me, it had to be discovering my first comic shop. After years and years of spinner racks, finding sequential issues was amazing. The sheer number of choices that I suddenly had were over-whelming. It was the era of First Comics (e.g. NEXUS, AMERICAN FLAGG, GRIMJACK), Eclipse Comics (e.g. AIRBOY, MIRACLEMAN), and Comico (e.g. MAGE, THE ELEMENTALS). That was on top of all the Shooter-era Marvels, the first glimmerings of Vertigo at DC and little series like WATCHMEN and TDK. I have never felt like there were 12-15 comics a month that I was excited about before, or since. I’d drop titles that I LIKED, because there were so many titles that I LOVED.

There have been lots of comics since that were just as good (and often better) than the stuff that came out during that period. There have just never been nearly so many.

Newcomer: Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery, #75, 116 points
2008′s #75: No entry. Instead, two runs were considered to tie for #74. The runs in question were Rucka/Brubaker’s Gotham Central and Claremont/Davis’s Excalibur.

Lee/Ditko Dr. Strange 2012: #74, 117 points
Lee/Ditko Dr. Strange 2008: #88, 108 points
Up 14 places, +9 points

Milligan/Allred X-Force/X-Statix 2012: #73, 118 points
Milligan/Allred X-Force/X-statix 2008: #81, 113 points
Up 8 places, -5 points

Newcomer: Snyder/Capullo/Clapion’s Batman, #72, 119 points
2008′s #72: No entry. Instead, two runs were considered to tie for #71. The two runs were Claremont/Smith’s Uncanny X-Men and Claremont/Silvestri’s Uncanny X-Men.

Newcomer: Mark Waid’s Daredevil, #71, 120 points
2008′s #71: See above.

This is a really interesting run of the Top 100. This section of the list is dominated by new runs, some of which are ongoing as of this writing. All of the new runs debuting on the list now are critical darlings of one sort or another, and it’s no surprise to see them here. I expect to see all of them again in four years.

What may be even more interesting is that the runs returning from the 2008 list are actually placing higher. It’s not exactly surprising to see X-Statix aging gracefully, as in many ways that book was a decade ahead of its time.

It is a bit surprising to see Lee/Ditko’s Dr. Strange run climb so far up the charts, since there’s no immediate reason to suggest why it might. Greater availability of the material in trade, maybe? There’s a been a surge of appreciation for Ditko in recent years, too.

I can tell you this much; after reading #645, Kieron Gillen’s JiM will be on my list the NEXT time the Dread Lord Cronin runs this poll!

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