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CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #70-66

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…

70. Geoff Johns’ JSA – 121 points (3 first place votes)

JSA #6-77, 81, Justice Society of America #1-26

Soon into the revamped version of the JSA, which was about the remaining members of the Justice Society serving with new legacy versions of classic JSA members (while also serving as mentors to the newer heroes), co-writer James Robinson left the title, leaving David Goyer, who co-launched the title with Robinson in need of someone else to script the comic.

When Goyer added Geoff Johns as his co-writer, it is likely that few people knew what to expect, but the result was a long partnership on the JSA (with some breaks here and there), ending with Goyer leaving the book for good with #51.

During their run, Johns and Goyer’s most significant storyline was probably the return of Hawkman, who had been stuck in limbo for a number of years due to confusing continuity surrounding the character. Johns helped strip the character down a bit, and relaunch him in JSA, with a return so popular that Hawkman was soon given his own title (which Johns also wrote for awhile).

Johns’ run stressed the family aspect of the Society, how the different generation of heroes really were like grandparents, parents, etc. The superhero community was a major aspect of the book. Like this classic Thanksgiving dinner with the JSA and the JLA…

As you can see, Johns also worked humor into the series, as well.

During the run, the book’s main artists were first Steve Sadowski, then Leonard Kirk and finally Don Kramer.

The book was so popular that it received its own spin-off, JSA Classified, which ran for a number of years.

After Infinite Crisis, JSA was relaunched as Justice Society of America, with Johns writing and Dale Eaglesham drawing it (Alex Ross did covers and was a story advisor). This saw the Justice Society stressing their mentoring a good deal more, searching out young, inexperienced heroes that they can tutor – because of this, the Society grew quite large. Later in the run, there was a major story arc involving the Superman from Kingdom Come.

69. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Batman – 122 points

Detective Comics – #395, 397, 400, 402, 404, 407-408, 410 & Batman #232, 234, 237, 243-245, 251, 255

While spilt up over the early 1970s, O’Neil and Adams still had a bit of a run, where Adams’ conception of Batman became the definitive look for Batman in the 1970s. This run tried to take Batman back to a darker style (after the camp of the TV series), along with stellar artwork by Adams. It was during their run that Ra’s al Ghul was introduced, which sort of personified what Grant Morrison later referred to as the “hairy chested love god” version of Bamtan…


Dick Giordano inked most of the stories that the pair did together, including their classic return of the Joker story in Batman #251.

68. Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary’s Authority – 123 points

The Authority #1-12

The Authority is interesting, because the pedigree of the comic is based on so much happenstance. If Oscar Jiminez could only have hit his deadlines, the Authority likely would never have occurred.

Instead, Jiminez did have problems with deadlines while the artist for Stormwatch Vol. 2, so Bryan Hitch was brought in to fill-in for him. Do note that Bryan Hitch, at the time, was extremely disillusioned with comics due to the lack of good assignments, so Hitch had actually already planned on applying for film production work after his Stromwatch run finished. Seeing these issues as a chance to at least put together a nice resume, Hitch changed his art up a bit, trying a more detailed, “widescreen” style.

Writer Warren Ellis, who was also feeling a bit disillusioned with Stormwatch, was completely reinvigorated when paired with Hitch, and Hitch also enjoyed working with Ellis, as Ellis had a great ability to work with his artists.

Now refreshed by an engaging working relationship, the two huddled up and came up with the idea for The Authority, which would be a comic based around Hitch’s new style of artwork. By this time, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter had already sorta done the whole “widescreen” approach to action in comics, but not to the scale Hitch and Ellis were about to do with The Authority.

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Like this classic moment from their first story arc where the villainous Kaizen Gamorra is striking at the world with an army of supermen while protected on his private island by a forcefield.

This was completely “summer blockbuster within a comic book,” and readers ate it up. People often forget that the whole political aspects of The Authority really did not come about until Mark Millar took over. Ellis and Hitch were more about wowing the audience with over-the-top, dynamic stories (with nice character work still, of course).

It’s a shame they only did a years worth of stories together.

67. Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III’s Promethea – 124 points (3 first place votes)

Promethea #1-32

Promethea was an extremely interesting comic in the way that it was such a malleable concept that writer Alan Moore himself used the book to tell two dramatically different types of stories, all ably aided by the burgeoning artistic brilliance of artist J.H. Williams III, who went from being a strong artist to being one of the best artists in the entire comic book business.

Promethea was a young girl who was taken by two Gods into “Immateria,” a land of imagination, where she continues to exist as a living story. She can appear on Earth when someone calls to her by writing about her – when someone does so, either they (or their muse) can BECOME Promethea.

That is what happens to student Sophie Bangs, who becomes Promethea, and soon gets caught up in the crazy superhero world and the much larger world of Immateria.

Here is her writing a poem to BECOME Promethea…

The first book or so of Promethea is heavily influenced by literature, especially as Moore takes us through the Prometheas of the past, including a poet, a cartoonist, a book cover painter and a pair of comic book writers.

Then Moore used Promethea to take the reader on a journey through the Sephiroth of the Qabbalistic Tree of Life, where Moore more or less uses about 15 issues of Promethea to give a series of lectures to the readers about philosophy. Williams really shines during this run, as Moore gives him a whole lot of strange things to draw.

After this storyline ends, we’re treated to an extended storyline about the Apocalypse, which also signaled the end of Moore’s America’s Best Comic book line, so Moore used this storyline to say goodbye not only to the ABC line of comics, but also to the characters within them.

It all culminates in a stunning final issue, which can be read as a 32-page comic book, but can also be read by taking out the pages and arranging them to form two posters (back to back).

It’s a truly brilliant work.

66. David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s Iron Man – 125 points

Iron Man #114-157

When David Michelinie and Bob Layton took over the writing chores on Iron Man, it was in the middle of a storyline – so they were not even in control of the plot they were writing. By the time they left the book, however, they had more than made their stamp on the title.

Easily the most memorable aspect of their run was their storyline where they had Tony Stark develop a problem with alcoholism. The “Demon in a Bottle” storyline was one of the most notable stories of the 1980s, resulting in one of the very first trade paperback collections (along with Dark Phoenix Saga) of a modern comic book story.

If all they did was the “Demon in a Bottle” story, Layton and David Michelinie’ would be notable, but their run had plenty of other notable stories, highlighted throughout by strong artwork, first by John Romita Jr., and eventually by Bob Layton himself.

Even before he began penciling the book, Layton’s strong inks gave the book a consistent feel, no matter who was drawing the book.

Their run had a great deal of memorable action stories, as the pair attempted to develop Tony Stark more, and in doing so, developed a new creation of theirs, Stark pilot and friend, James Rhodes. Rhodey would become important during their run, and would become even MORE important after they left, as he would fill in for Tony as Iron Man for awhile. Besides Rhodey, the writing pair stressed Tony’s ass-kicking girlfriend, Bethany Cabe.

During the run, Michelinie and Layton also introduced Justin Hammer, the rich industrialist who was secretly funding all the low-level supervillains who used technology for their powers.

Towards the end of their first run (they would return four or so years after they left for an extended second run, during which they would have the noted Armor Wars storyline, and debuted a new Iron Man armor), Layton and Michelinie had one of their most notable stories, which was just reprinted this past week (and a sequel to the story is due out next week), where Iron Man and Doctor Doom were trapped in the time of King Arthur. It was a total classic.

Just like their run.


STILL no runs from my list here. Although that’s okay, as we’re finally getting into runs I really enjoyed. Johns may have his problems as a writer, but JSA was always excellent under his control. You actually picked one of my favorite scenes from this run, too. Everyone loves the popcorn action-flick that was Authority, and O’Neil’s work on Ra’s amongst other things was phenomenal. Heck, I love that Iron Man run and Promethea, too (although Promethea was mainly about the art for me). Good chunk for runs here.

I can’t recall if I actually submitted Michelinie/Layton IM on my list or if it just missed the cut but I’m happy it’s here because it’s one of my favorites. Between this run, Claremont on X-Men, Stern on Spider-Man and Miller on Daredevil,, 1980-1982 was a good period for creativity at Marvel.

Five awesome runs!

I actually didn’t include Ellis’ Authority on my list as I thought it would not count under the rules. I wonder if it would have ranked higher otherwise…

Ellis’ Authority was specifically mentioned in the rules as counting as a run, so I sure would like to hope not.

I know that there are different rules and different voters, but it’s still kinda crazy that Ellis and Hitch’s Authority dropped 50 places. Not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing, just losing 370 points in four years is a hell of a drop.

Never mind. I was looking at Plantery.

Still 45 places and 295 votes is a pretty significant drop. That’s it for me.

A.J. (Smacking My Head)

October 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

Goddamn, I can not read a spreadsheet today. I looked at another wrong Warren Ellis run. Authority actually finished at 60th with 159 votes in 2008. Which makes the drop pretty insignificant. Sorry for wasting your time. I’ll go sulk shamefaced in a corner for a while.

I’ve read everything here except for Promethea, the one ABC book I didn’t pick up for some reason back in the day…

As usual, a good mix of things, from the expected Adams Batman and Authority to another entry in the “Marvel was awesome in the 80s” group with Layton and Michelinie’s Iron Man to a “DC had some great hidden gems in the late 90s” with JSA.

Some great stuff here, and still 65 more to go. That first panel from the JSA dinner should be on a poster or something.

Goddamn, I can not read a spreadsheet today. I looked at another wrong Warren Ellis run. Authority actually finished at 60th with 159 votes in 2008. Which makes the drop pretty insignificant. Sorry for wasting your time. I’ll go sulk shamefaced in a corner for a while.

Phew, as you were really confusing me. :)

Ed (A Different One)

October 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

Nice batch of runs here today. I haven’t read much of Johns’ JSA run (heck, I have not read much of Johns period), but I kind of like the feel of what little bit I’ve seen. It’s obvious he feels a real warmth for the characters. If I ever get around to exploring Johns more (which I keep saying I’ll do but never get around to it), I’ll probably start here.

The O’Neal/Adams Batman and Michilinie/Layton Iron Man are two great, classic runs that fill me with that warm, tasty nostalgia. They both deserve to be much higher IMO. The Michilinie/Layton Iron Man was ANOTHER great run from the Shooter era of Marvel. Hell, I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that they were all good.

As much as I love Warren Ellis, it’s a mystery why I haven’t gotten around to reading the Authority. There’s a trade paperback of it lying around my home that I picked up at a flea market this past summer. Gotta get around to cracking that open soon.

And the Moore/William Prometha was unlike any comic book I’ve ever read. I found it immensley enjoyable and fascinating, but I could see where it wouldn’t be for everyone. The whole 2nd book of it was practically and introdution to occult philosophy course (though, if you’re into that kind of thing, it is fascinating). And even if it isn’t your cup of tea, it’s worth a look for Williams’ art alone.

All five of these are the usual suspects. Did even a single one of these NOT make the top 100 last time?

Also, still no ties yet.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

October 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

As time goes by, I’m more and more convinced that the awesomeness of “JSA” was more of a result of Goyer’s participation, than Johns’.

I believe that Goyer doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as he should.

Promethea according to Moore:
Writers are the greatest gift to mankind / and or i am a God.

And yeah, quite often, it reads like the “Watchtower” for esoteric people.

Did even a single one of these NOT make the top 100 last time?

Yes, Adams/O’Neil Batman.

JSA: I read the first 60-something issues. For most of that run, JSA was my “meat & potatoes” super-hero comic. It wasn’t as daring as The Authority, Black Panther, or most of Morrison’s stuff. It was consistent, entertaining fights-&-soap-opera stuff. I never read the relaunch.

O’Neil & Adams Batman: Classic, “Joker’s 5-Way Revenge” and the Ra’s Al Ghul issues especially.

Authority 1-12: Ellis fulfilled his promise of “big, dumb super-hero comics,” but spectacular art and enjoyable dialogue elevated the series. No wonder people kept trying to rip it off.

Promethea: I loved the book until the Lecture on Magic issues. I regret dropping it at issue 20, and will probably get the rest someday. J.H. Williams III was already great, but his work on Promethea was the start of his evolution into the astounding artist he’s become since.

Michelinie’ & Layton’s Iron Man: I’ve read a good chunk of this run, and ended up caring about Tony Stark for the first time. The Dr. Doom/ Camelot story was good fun.

Seriously? O’Neil/Adams Batman wasn’t top 100 last time? WTF were people thinking?

A solid argument could be made for all of these (none of which were on my list), particularly Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III’s Promethea, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Batman & Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary’s Authorit. These truly are some of my favorites in this genre; as was Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Clapion’s Batman on the previous list. The bottom ten had my hopes set high for a more diverse top 100. While this installment keeps me pessimistic, at least the quality is solid. I wish more fans enjoyed a broader swath of genres in this medium.

Haven’t read any of these other than O’Neal/Adams’ Batman, so I’m glad it made the list, and now in the top 100.

@Brian Cronin: question for you. Did you also vote?

I don’t vote, but instead I use my allotted points to break ties when they arise. I hate ties. Luckily, there weren’t that many ties to break (outside the Top 100, where the point totals are lower, you begin to see a LOT of ties).

Actually, I would love to see what your top ten would be Brian. Any chance you will reveal what it would have been once the whole list is revealed?

That’s a good idea.

I would love that too!

joe the poor speller

October 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Batman. Now, that’s a classic. I really need to read Johns’ JSA (both runs). But, damn, sixteen trades… That’s a pocket rape.

JSA – Geoff Johns is so much better on the Society than he is on the League it’s astonishing.

Batman – I was gonna vote for that, but I didn’t really consider it a run as much as a variety of good piecemeal stories.

Authority – I’d say Authority is more interesting than good, but man, one look at that art and I’m not complaining. I don’t even like Bryan Hitch that much.

Promethea – Some of Alan Moore’s weakest writing. Hate to sound unoriginal, but the main criticism is true: Moore has interesting ideas, but bogs them down because his writing is too didactic and pedantic. That said, J.H. Williams. There are comic book artists and then there are capital A Artistes.

Haven’t read Iron Man

I used to really love everything Johns’ wrote. I thought he was the second coming of Mark Waid. Over the past five years, however, I have completely reassessed my opinion of him. However, his run on JSA (with Goyer, then on his own), remain favorites, at least until hte run-up to infinite Crisis. That’s what did it for me — Infinite Crisis. I was all downnhill from there, and I began re-assessing everything I liked about him. At first, I thought GL: Rebirth was a brilliant way to bring back Hal Jordan. Now, it all seems so cold and calcuated. Dumping Wally to bring back Barry, in the far less successful Flash: Rebirth was the last straw. He was writing like the executive he became.

I’m happy for his rapid rise of success, but I no longer buy the DC that he is one of the chief architects of. Shame, really.

Speaking of Waid, I REALLY hope his Flash run places.

I loved JSA, but only the first run (up to #77), which was the one I voted for (was #2 on my Top 10) . The 2nd run, that started after Infinite Crisis was good (I liked the first arc), but not as good as the first one … and it was way too much centered around Kingdom Come . I’d go as far as saying that Johns dared a LOT more on the first run (thanks to David Goyer) .

I feel bad for forgetting about O’Neil/Adams’ Batman run. Especially since I met Adams at a con this summer and he was pretty nice, even if he busted my balls for getting a Joker print rather than a Harley Quinn.

The Crazed Spruce

October 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I haven’t read any of The Authority or the O’Neil/Adams “Batman” run, so I couldn’t vote for them. I used to own a copy of the first “Promethia” trade, and it was awesome, but it must’ve slipped my mind when I put my list together. (That, or I didn’t want to add it based on just one story, no matter how good it was.)

Geoff Johns’ “JSA” made my short list, but not my top 10. It was the type of comic that celebrates past history without wallowing in it. (Too bad Johns kinda forgot how to walk that fine line later on, but that’s a rant for another time….)

I actually had the Michelinie/Layton “Iron Man” on my list at one point, but I dropped it for some reason. Probably because I wanted to narrow it down to a top 25 before figuring out my final list, and John Ostrander’s “Suicide Squad” edged it out of my final short list. Either way, it finished 26th on my list of 25.

All worthy runs here even if I’m not particularly passionate about any of them.

I’ve read all 12 issues of Authority, but the rest of these I’ve only read parts of (though I have read all five issues the sample pages were taken from).

With both ONeil/Adams Batman and The Authority, I question a bit whether they should count, but I do see the argument for both sides. For Batman, I guess my issue would be that it just seems a bit too random, like voting for Jim Shooter & George Perez’s Avengers, or Dan Slott & Marcos Martin’s Amazing Spider-Man. When a title has a revolving group of writers and artists over a long period, selecting the work that one team did together over a series of non-consecutive issues seems a bit counterintuitive to a run. But, I also think that Oneil and Adams did have a take on the character somewhat unique to them, and they did carry stories over from their issues. So again, I see both sides.

And same with Authority, I’m in the camp that thinks Ellis’ Stormwatch/Authority should count as a run together instead of be separated, mostly because I view it as the story of Jenny Sparks. She first appeared in Ellis’ first issue of Stormwatch, and (spoiler alert) died in Ellis’ last issue of Authority. But, I also understand the argument that Authority is different in tone and was tailored to a different artist’s strengths. I suppose my counter to that would be Claremont’s New Mutants were just as different under Sienkiewicz compared to Bob McLeod as The Authority was under Hitch compared to Raney’s Stormwatch. But, I have no counter for Scott Dunbier agreeing with Authority being separate. I think both sides are valid.

As for Promethea, I’ve only read the first ten issues or so. Moore is my favorite writer, and I’ll get to the rest of the series eventually, but it just seems like homework to get through parts of it. One day.

Ah Ellis’ Authority…. and I agree that the Stormwatch run should be paired with it just because it kinda feels wrong w/o it… kicking booty and taking names… R.I.P. Jenny Sparks

“I only wanted to have a little fun” Indeed….

Mr.MGU, I am on the same wavelength as you about Geoff Johns’ JSA… and proof (along with Busiek’s Avengers) that continuity and history could work hand in hand yet not lose new readers… Where did THIS Geoff Johns go? Aquaman hints at it now and then… Green Lantern has its high points…. but JSA was his most consistent quality work….

Haven’t read Iron Man, but I’ve always heard that was a good run.

I’ve read most of this Authority run, and it is pretty good. Love that dog nose ship.

O’Neil/Adams Batman is damn cool, and this one you show is awesome. Shirtless Fighting!!! as Kyle Baker put it in his Plastic Man run. How did that not make the top 100 last time? Did it not count under the rules?

Promethea is pretty good, from the first 15 or whatever issues through the end of the second trade. Gotta complete that run someday.

Johns on JSA. I haven’t read a lot of the JSA series, but it was pretty good. I got the JSofA from issue 1 (same day I got Scalped 1, I think), and thought it started out GREAT. Then Kingdom Come Superman came in, and it DRAGGGGGGED on there, from issue 9 to 22, with 3 extra specials. 17 issues, if I can count. They’re pretty good, but a lot of it is introducing a lot of new characters, and then IS IT really KC Supes, and then that Burger King mascot Magog starts walking through Africa…I wasn’t even picking it up monthly from my shop, but it was on my pull list and I’d get 3-4 issues at a time, and it STILL dragged. When I had to drop a bunch of books, that was first on my list, once the KC storyline ended. I’ve since picked up through issue 39, but haven’t yet read it. (Oddly enough, a book that made my top 10 was another I dropped at that time, but later picked up.)

I’d like to see the Cronin list. Sometimes I think I know what would make it, other times I really have no idea. Ennis books would be high, I’d imagine.

Really???Adams and Oneil’s Batman run…the most significant turnaround in the history of comics, only made 69 of the Top 100 this time!!! I am truly shocked and amazed! I would hold this run up to anything…ANYTHING…that is put out today, and even excels most of those! Should have at least made the top 20!

Bernard the Poet

October 17, 2012 at 4:33 am

Isn’t anyone going to mention that those pages showing John’s JSA run are almost a panel for panel copy of Justice League International #24?

That doesn’t make me want to sample it.

Bernard the Poet

October 17, 2012 at 4:39 am

@ andyh40

Four years ago, I predicted the O’Neil/Adams run would be a shoo-in for the top ten, but it didn’t even crack the top 100. So I’m delighted to see it here at all.

I wonder if this run’s inclusion will have an impact on other Batman runs. Last time, Englehart & Rogers and Haney & Aparo both made the list, I suspect one or both won’t make it this time.

joe the poor speller

October 17, 2012 at 6:17 am

Just for the record, I would like to see Brian’s list too.

Just nitpicking : David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s Iron Man run started with #116, not #114.

And for the first time, I am very familiar with each and every one of the runs mentioned in this installment! I didn’t seriously consider voting for any of ‘em, but I can understand why other people would!

Promethea was my #3. Sad not to see it higher.

Geoff Johns’ JSA 2012: #70, 121 points
Geoff Johns’ JSA 2008: #48, 192 points
Down 22 places, -71 points

Newcomer: O’Neil/Adams Batman, #69, 122 points
2008 #69: Peter David’s 1st X-Factor run, 140 points

Ellis/Hitch/Neary Authority 2012: #68, 123 points
Ellis/Hitch Authority 2008: #60, 159 points
Down 8 places, -36 points

Moore/Williams III Promethea 2012: #67, 124 points
Moore/Williams III Promethea 2008: #40, 220 points
Down 27 places, -96 points

Michelinie/Layton Iron Man 2012: #66, 125 points
Michelinie/Layton Iron Man 2008: #61, 152 points
Down 5 places, -23 points

As remarkable as it sounds, O’Neil/Adams Batman really didn’t make the 2008 Top 100 poll. Commenters seemed surprised about it at the time, and the 2012 voting seems to correct that omission in a big way.

Everything else appearing in this run of the 2012 chart made the cut in 2008, but placed higher back then. Michelinie/Layton’s Iron Man lost the least standing, a mere five places, but Promethea took a massive dive with 96 points lost.

These numbers may look disheartening, but it’s probably an entirely healthy thing for 2008’s favorites to hold less sway in 2012. That indicates a creatively vibrant industry where new creators can still generate new hits, and one where readership changes over time.

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