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CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #55-51

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…

55. Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’ Detective Comics – 161 points (3 first place votes)

Detective Comics #469-479

For whatever reason, Steve Englehart decided to leave Marvel in the late 70s, and quickly found work at DC, which was totally fine with taking on one of Marvel’s most prominent writers. Englehart began an acclaimed run on Justice League of America, and an equally acclaimed run on Detective Comics, with issue #469.

Initially working with Walter Simonson but ultimately with Marshall Rogers, Englehart’s Batman run was in many ways based on a similar structure to Jeph Loeb’s later Hush series, in that Englehart tried to work in as many major Batman villains into his story as he could, including re-introducing two early Batman foes that had fallen into disuse. Both of the villains, Hugo Strange and Deadshot, were rejuvenated by Englehart’s useage and later went on to prominent appearances in later stories. Deadshot, in particular, was an extremely minor villain that saw his coolness factor shoot up 736% percent when Marshall Rogers gave him one of the coolest costumes you ever will see (years later, it was that cool costume that piqued John Ostrander’s interest and got Deadshot a spot on the Suicide Squad).

Englehart had a good Penguin story, he had a good story involving Robin (he wanted at least one issue to involve Robin) and in the Laughing Fish, he had one of the best Joker stories of all-time (the Joker tries to get a federal trademark on fish that he has altered to have his Joker grin).

Englehart introduced a crime boss named Rupert Thorne who became a notable part of the Bat-mythos, as well as Silver St. Cloud, one of the best love interests Batman has ever had.

In one issue, Englehart even did some metafictional stuff by having Batman fight Deadshot on giant typewriters (evoking the 1950’s Batman comics) and in the fight, Silver makes a realization that few people ever had before…

Rogers stayed on the book for three more issues as Len Wein came in to wrap up any loose ends from Engelhart’s run, including writing Silver out of the book (people have mostly treated Silver St. Cloud as Englehart’s baby, and usually only he writes her). Wein and Rogers also introduced a new Clayface.

Englehart and Rogers would return to Batman for an acclaimed sequel to their run in 2005, Batman: Dark Detective. Tragically, Rogers died in 2007.

54. Carl Barks’ Duck comics – 167 points (1 first place vote)

A variety of Walt Disney comics from 1943 through 1972, most notably Uncle Scrooge #1-71

A lot of voters went for just “Duck comics” for Carl Barks, which I guess is fair enough, as that’s really what Barks did. From 1943 until he stopped working regularly as a comic book creator in the early 1970s, pretty much every month would have a new Carl Barks written and drawn story.

However, a nice chunk of voters specified Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comics, and I think it would have been just as fair to call this run “Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge” (I actually did call it that for a little while) as his Uncle Scrooge work is certainly his most personal work, as Uncle Scrooge is his own creation (Barks introduced him in a Donald Duck Christmas story in the late 1940s). His Uncle Scrooge stories were also later adapted into the hit Disney cartoon series Duck Tales. Uncle Scrooge is the world’s richest duck but he is also a cantakerous old coot who occasionally has a heart that matches the gold in his money bin.

What was so amazing about Barks’ work was not only the fact that he was a wonderfully skilled artist (he was a born storyteller and the amount of characterization he could get across while working with talking DUCKS is astonishing) but that his stories had such a great DEPTH to them. Kids would not only be entertained by his fun stories, but they would LEARN things about different parts of the world and about world history and myths. Barks has a voracious appetite for knowledge and he expressed this appetite in his stories.

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Not only that, but Barks also had an impressive ability to tell complex stories about the human…er…duck condition, like with the amazing Back to the Klondike. Uncle Scrooge has been taking memory pills (he does not take them too often as they cost ten cents apiece so he doesn’t want to be wasteful) and suddenly he remembered an old adventure he had gone on in the Klondike with an old sort of girlfriend, Glitterin’ Goldie. He heads to the Klondike to recoup the money he knows she owes him and once there, they go on a series of adventures trying to find her and once they DO find her, Scrooge’s nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie, who Barks used to great effect in his stories, especially the Boy Scout-like group they belonged to, the Junior Woodchucks) regret the fact that Scrooge is going to take this nice old woman for all she has got. Or is he?


Just like Carl Barks.

53. Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman – 168 points (1 first place vote)

Hitman #1-60, plus a #1,000,000 and an Annual

The old saying goes, when you’re given a bunch of lemons, make lemonade!

Well, fifteen years ago, Garth Ennis and John McCrea were given a bunch of lemons, and they made Hitman.

Hitman was introduced as part of a storyline where the writers of each DC title would introduce a brand-new character in the Annual that year (oddly enough, Marvel did the same thing that same year), all of whom would have the shared origin of being bit by aliens whose bite, if it does not kill you, gives you strange powers. Most of these new characters disappeared faster than you could say Adam-X, the X-Treme, but Hitman, who debuted in the pages of Ennis and McCrea’s The Demon Annual, was the notable exception.

Tommy Monaghan. was just your typical, run of the mill hitmen, until the aliens gave him powers, and now Tommy was a SUPER-POWERED Hitman, with X-ray vision and telepathy.

With his powers, Tommy had a new confidence, and then decided to specialize in killing superpowered targets, the types most other hitmen would never attempt, due to the danger. Despite the bizarre nature of Tommy’s targets, Ennis really downplayed his superpowers, and played up the friendship between Tommy and the people of his Gotham neighborhood, “The Cauldron,” a place so bad that when No Man’s Land happened, no one noticed anything different in the Cauldron!

Most of the action in the series centered around Sean Noonan’s bar, where Tommy and his partner and best friend, Natt, hung out in with other hitmen, such as Ringo Chen and Hacken. Often visiting the bar was the drunk Sixpack, who was a superhero of sorts himself, leading the bizarre Section 8 (this is where Dogwelder came from).

The series was filled with hilariously bizarre storylines, like the one where Tommy and his friends have to take down an aquarium that was filled with zombie animals. However, the series was ALSO filled with dramatic scenes of friendship, particularly between Tommy and Natt.

There is a classic issue where Superman comes across Tommy during a hit (Superman does not realize that is why Tommy is on a rooftop), and the pair chat for the whole issue, and it is a wonderful tribute to superheroes from a writer, Ennis, who is not usually too fond of superheroes.

In the story, Superman is rattled because while he was saving a group of astronauts before the nuclear core of their shuttle exploded he noticed that one of the astronauts that they said had died trying to repair the shuttle was actually still alive. The core explodes, though, before Superman can save him. This does not sit well with Superman…


Ennis and McCrea worked on the book for five years, and they finished it in a wonderfully poetic final issue.

A few years back, Ennis and McCrea reunited to tell an “untold tale” of Tommy and the JLA, and it was awesome.

52. Jonathan Hickman’s FF – 171 points (3 first place votes)

Fantastic Four #570-611, FF #1-23

Jonathan Hickman burst onto the Fantastic Four “scene” with an impressive opening. Reed Richards meets “The Council,” a group of Reed Richards from throughout the Multiverse…

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However, our Reed Richards is special. He has something that these other Reeds doesn’t have. He still has a conscience.

It’s a brilliant observation by Hickman that what makes Reed so special is not his great intelligence, but rather the fact that he is surrounded by a family that grounds him and prevents him from ever becoming the mad scientist he very easily could become. They make sure he has a conscience.

One of the fascinating aspects of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run is how calculated the whole thing is. Hickman is a complex thinker and his run has been carefully planned out. In his early issues, the Fantastic Four slowly encounter a growing group of brilliant young minds. After the Human Torch was seemingly killed off, Reed Richards decides to form the Future Foundation, a group where he can help mold these young minds into helping the world. A Council of his very own, but one guided by good intentions and not ego.

Meanwhile, Hickman also has made sure to put new spins on a variety of classic Fantastic Four concepts and characters. Galactus, the Inhumans, the Kree, Atlanstic, Black Panther, the Wizard, if they were a part of the classic Jack Kirby/Stan Lee Fantastic Four run, they’ve been addressed and given an interesting new spin by Hickman.

Dale Eaglesham was the original artist on Hickman’s run. Then Steve Epting joined for the “death” of the Human Torch and the launch of the Future Foundation. After the Fantastic Four returned (with the return of the Human Torch), Epting went with the Fantastic Four but a number of artists have done arcs on Fantastic Four since then. FF, meanwhile, was taken over by first Juan Bobillo and then Nick Dragotta.

His run on both books has just come to a close and he left a very impressive legacy in these past three years.

51. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World – 176 points (2 first place votes)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #133-148, New Gods #1-11, Forever People #1-11 and Mister Miracle #1-18

In 1970, when Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC, he brought with him his plans for the Fourth World, which was an entire line of comics that Kirby had envisioned which would, when finished, could be repackaged as collected works.

To introduce this new line of comics, Kirby took over as writer/artist on Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, where the battles of the Fourth World were first seen. In Olsen, Kirby first showed the world the evil power of Darkseid, who was the ruler of an awful planet called Apokolips, which was caught in a ancient war with a nice planet called New Genesis.

Darkseid’s main goal was to retrieve the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow him to control all living beings.

Their war had been stalled for many a year by a pact done decades before where Darkseid and Highfather, the leader of New Genesis, swapped sons. Highfather raised Orion, while Darkseid “raised” Scott Free. When Scott escaped Apokolips (all according to Darkseid’s plan), Darkseid had reason to restart the war.

This Pact was detailed in a classic issue of New Gods that established that this was not your typical superhero story, in the sense that Kirby was actually going to fill us in on all of the vast mythology of the series…

However, Darkseid had not planned that Orion would be “tamed” enough by Highfather to be ready to oppose Darkseid’s plans.

These rip-roaring adventure yarns filled with over-the-top plots and larger-than-life characters were told through three main titles, New Gods (which starred Orion, mostly), Mister Miracle (which was the name Scott Free took when he escaped to Earth, as he became the world’s greatest escape artist) and the Forever People, who were a gang of young New Gods who had wacky adventures – but could merge into the powerful Infinity Man if need be.

The books were a ton of fun, but sales were not particularly great, and each title was canceled. Kirby wrapped up all the plotlines, and then went to work on other DC titles.

Years later, Kirby was given the chance to wrap up the stories in The Hunger Dogs, but DC seems to just ignore that story, as Darkseid has become a major part of the DC Universe now, as has Mister Miracle and Orion.


Still one for ten on this list so far. I couldn’t vote for Hitman as I’ve only read the first two trades, but I’m always on the lookout for more. I never really enjoyed Hickman’s FF; surprised to see it so high up.

Pulling for Starman in the Top 5 still.

That’s a lot of awesome right there.

Still 1/10.

50 spots remain and I am pretty sure the majority of my choices are not making the list.

Man, I love Marchall Rogers, it would have been cool to see him do an issue or two of Spawn considering how much Todd has cited him as an influence (him and Micheal Golden, who has done some covers, still would like to see some interior pencils though…). And I think the only guy who’s written St. Cloud other than Englehart is Kevin Smith, who, along with his buddy and collaborator, Walt Flanagan, have also cited this run as a huge inspiration for their Batman work.

I know people say Jim Steranko has influenced the medium the most with the fewest issues, but Rogers really ranks up there too considering how often this run (I think his longest as an artist on a book) has come up in other people’s work. I’d also give it up to Joe Mad, JS Campbell and maybe Travis Charest.

Well, I’m familiar with 4 out of 5. (Don’t think I’ve read any of Hickman’s FF run.)

Just the other day I was toying with the idea of rereading some of the Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories in my collection . . . but I didn’t. I guess I just don’t do that often enough for him to spring to mind as one of my “Top 10 favorites” when I was filling out my original ballot in ’08, and was revising it a few weeks ago.

I can understand why people would vote for the other 3 runs, too, although with both Kirby’s Fourth World stuff and with Englehart’s run on Batman, I remember that in each case I’ve bought TPB collections and read them and thought: “Huh. That was fun, but with all the hype I’ve heard about this stuff over the years, I expected the storytelling to be a lot more sensational!

Anyway, we’re now halfway through the countdown, and we’ve still only seen 1 of my 10 picks. 4 of the other runs on my ballot are (I still believe) virtual certainties to get mentioned, but the chances of any of my other 5 picks becoming “surprise hits” are steadily diminishing . . . (and weren’t exactly good to begin with).

I’m 2/10 now, with the appearance of the clasic Englehart/Rogers/austin run on ‘Tec. That run should be required reading for anyone interested in superhero comics.

I’ve read some of the Carl Barks duck comics, and while they’re always enjoyable, I simply haven;t read enough of them to make them contenders for my top ten list.

I read almost the entire “Hitman” series years ago, and while it was okay, I don’t think it would rank in my personal top 200. The series had an extremely shaky beginning, which hurts it considerably, although it does benefit from not having Ennis soapboxing nearly as much as he does in many of his other books.

Hickman’s FF run has been a thing of beauty; it didn’t crack my top ten, but I’m glad to see it ranking this high.

Kirby’s Fourth World is great, classic stuff, even with the painful faux-hippy dialogue. I’ve read most of it via the old B&W collections from the ’90s, and the first two of the current Omnibus collections. (Volume 3 is sitting on my “to-read” shelf, and I’m waiting for the paperback version of Volume 4; can’t afford those hardcovers.) It didn’t crack my top ten, but there was no doubt it would show up.

Barks’ Duck run made it?
Excuse while I go dance with joy.

Nitpick: Those panels are from “BACK to the Klondike”, not “Return to the Klondike”.

Glad to see Barks making the list.

Nitpick: Those panels are from “BACK to the Klondike”, not “Return to the Klondike”.

Thanks! I fixed it.

@ Anonymous: The only other writers I can think of who wrote Silver St. Cloud were Archie Goodwin and James Robinson in the 5-part “Seige” story that appeared in “Legends of the Dark Knight” about ten years ago. It was a story Goodwin had plotted, but not finished scripting; Robinson completed the story, and Rogers did the pencilling. It’s quite good, but Englehart seems to have ignored it when he returned for “Dark Detective” a few years later.

Nice mix of old and new in this batch.

Englehart and Rogers Batman is great stuff, no surprise to see it here. I haven’t read all of Barks’ Uncle Scrooge stuff, but I’ve greatly enjoyed what I have read, including Don Rosa’s great Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Like Suicide Squad, Hitman is one of those internet darlings I haven’t yet made the time for (though I do have a couple trades). And like Waid’s Daredevil, Hickman’s FF is new enough that I haven’t gotten to it yet.

And Kirby’s Fourth World stuff is something I haven’t read all of but probably should…

The Crazed Spruce

October 18, 2012 at 11:16 am

Except for a few issues of “Hitman” (just two issues, not enough to consider voting for it) and the scattered “Uncle Scrooge” story I read as a kid, the only one of these I read a significant portion of was Hickman’s “Fantastic Four”. (For a while, the only comics I could get around here outside of Archie digests were Hickman’s “FF”, Dan Slott’s “Amazing Spider-Man”, and “Uncanny X-Men”.) And while I think some of his concepts were great (I loved the idea of the group of parallel-universe Reed Richardses), the stories themselves were pretty dry reading, and I couldn’t really get into them.

It’s great to see Carl Bark’s Ducks in here.

I like the Weisinger easter egg in the Detective Comics panels.

Hickmans’ Reed Richards’ are cool, but seem rather derivative of the Council of Kangs.

@Drunken Fist — to be fair to Englehart about his ignoring “Siege,” we should note that the original mission statement of the “Legends of the Dark Knight” title, as stated in letter columns from time to time, was basically this: “Our story arcs are not guaranteed to fit neatly within the ‘regular continuity’ of any other Bat-titles.”

Oh, I’m well aware of that, I wasn’t judging him for ignoring it. It’s likely he wasn’t even aware of that story.

The last Alternate Reed on the right looks like Jason Aaron. Awesome.

Carl Barks & Jack Kirby can help any list…and this list needs some help.

@Drunken Fist — glad to hear you knew that about LOTDK. I can’t count how many Batman fans I’ve run across who didn’t know that! Some of them thought I was kidding when I tried to explain it to them!

(I admit the picture is confused by the fact that sometimes a LOTDK story did explicitly tie in with “Knightquest” or “Knightsend” or something else that was happening in the other Bat-titles, and thus did seem to be “solidly canonical” . . . especially if the LOTDK story in question were written by Denny O’Neil himself, the Lord High Batman Editor of the 1990s . . .)

Yeah, I’ve run into that issue with LOTDK many times, too. I have a bunch of comics with covers I like framed and hanging on the wall, and one of them is LOTDK #101, with great painted Kevin Knowlan cover art of a robotic Batman. I’ve been asked many, many times by visitors, “When did Batman get turned into a robot?” I always explain the premise of the series, and it’s surprising how many non-comics readers just can’t understand the idea of a series that tells stories that aren’t firmly set in continuity. I guess it makes sense, though; I think that’s something that’s pretty much unique to comics. There’s never been a TV series or anything along those lines, as far as I know.

Hey, I voted for Carl Barks’s duck comics! Well, to be specific I voted for the Donald stories. Don Rosa points out someplace that what interests him in Scrooge is that the old man has a complex and thoughtful relationship to his past, that he in essence exists in several time periods at once, but that’s kinda why I prefer Donald: in his impulsiveness, in his attachment to material pleasures, in his forgetfulness and occasional thoughtlessness, he’s one of the most live-for-the-moment characters in all of literature, and the conflict between his childish (but pure, even Zen-like) philosophy and his adult responsibilities is what drives each story. I guess I relate to that. Maybe when I’m old I’ll think different.

Englehart/Rogers is the best Batman run ever, but the Len Wein stuff doesn’t measure up and so the run is too short for me to have considered voting for. Hickman’s FF was one of the only comics I was reading two years ago and I loved its early issues, but I think it ran out of steam too quickly and, although I’ve kept buying it, I think it’s really ended with a fizzle. Never read Hitman, and only read the Jimmy Olsen bits of Fourth World, but those were awesomely crazy; if DC would put out affordable versions of the rest I would be all over it.

This reminds me I need to sit down and re-read Hitman. I used to have the whole run of the book but decided to sell it off several years ago and replace it in trades. Cue my Homer Simpson “D’oh!” moment when I realized after selling the run that DC had stopped the trade release prematurely. Thankfully, they have rectified that stupid mistake and also included the Hitman/Lobo one-shot I somehow missed when it first came out. Excellent, excellent stuff and that issue #34 with Tommy meeting Superman is still a superb piece of writing from Ennis, possibly his best single issue ever…

I didn’t vote in this, but Hitman would have been my #1 choice overall. Out of the entire run I think there were maybe 2 issues I didn’t enjoy (the dinosaur ones) overall. And again the last 10 or so issues leading to the end were just so well handled on an emotional level I get a little drained reading them (which is a good thing).

@Drunken Fist

When I try to explain a non-cannon story I usually compare it to the Simpsons Halloween episodes. Not a perfect analogy but it usually works well enough.

3/10 for me. Those Scrooge Ducktales just made my day. As a kid I used to devour those books like there was no tomorrow.

I constrained myself to putting in only one run per franchise, and since I still haven’t read most of Stan and Jack on Fantastic Four, I put Waid’s FF on there. I don’t know whether Hickman deserves it more; I think Waid has so many great runs that it’ll create a split vote among them, with more people voting for his Flash than anything else.

Still, Hickman is awesome.

I loved all five of these runs! (Can’t say I’ve read all of Barks’s duck comics, but the thirty or forty I’ve read were great.)

This might be the overall best update yet. Four of these five are utterly spectacular.

Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’ Detective Comics… Was this on the last list? Either way it’s always cool to see old school Batman.

Carl Barks’ Duck comics… Arguably the pinnacle of the entire medium. I had given up hope of seeing this on the list so I am pleasantly surprised to see it on here and ranked so high. Anyone who hasn’t read any of this needs to do so post haste.

Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman… Ennis’ best work? Dug the Superman issue, the “Cat Signal”, etc. Easily the best humor writing Ennis has ever done by far and one of the only two runs of his that I’ve enjoyed along with his Punisher stuff.

Jonathan Hickman’s FF… I am probably the biggest Fantastic Four fan that you’ll ever meet… BUT… Hickman’s run always rubbed me the wrong way. I could just never get into this at all. It’s not even a matter of writing quality so much as it is that it seemed like he was trying to write a superhero team book rather than a FANTASTIC FOUR book, and I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine so I just was not down at all.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World… There is nothing I can say about this that hasn’t been said a thousand times over. Obviously a classic.

There should never be a story that is non-cannon! Every story should have cannon blasting right through it, on every page! People who want stories without cannon deserve to have cannon blasting right through them!

Have you guessed what my pet peeve on this blog is yet? Spell-check cannot fix everything, my dear friends.

I can’t argue with any of these choices here — I am totally embarrassed to say that I did not include Carl Barks work on my list, but I am glad it made it. Disney and Warners were both very intelligent with how they handled their immense backlog of characters in the Nineties for animation — I don’t know if we’re living in the Golden Age of American comics or not, but we have definitely seen it in animation — and DuckTales was as influential as anything outside of Batman TAS in shaping that.

Yes! Another one of runs made it (Hitman)! And nice to see Bark’s “Ducks” (lel) here :D

The 4th World books were amazing. Kirby put so much depth and symbolism into the stories that a reader wouldn’t necessarily get on the first read through. “The Pact” is among the best single issues in the medium’s history, and contains true emotional depth.

Hitman is my favorite Ennis comic. He struck a great balance between humor and drama. McCrea’s art suited both modes, but was perfect for the more off-the-wall elements.

Detective – Before my time, and I don’t believe it’s collected. Sorry.

Carl Barks’ Ducks – I don’t really know if this counts as a run, but a list of great comics certainly.

Hitman – One of mine made the list! I really don’t understand why everyone holds Hitman in such low regards compared to Preacher or The Boys. I think it’s Garth Ennis’ writing at its absolute best. It showcases his real strength (characterization and dialogue) above the tropes everyone associates him with (violence and shock value) and allows him to meditate on what I feel he always wants to pursue in his work from a human angle. At least in my opinion, Hitman is really about what being a ‘good person’ truly means, and it doesn’t apply to unrealistic gods or superhumans with unswavering moral codes or grand didactic messages. It’s someone who actually sees problems, and decides to help whenever they can. I think that’s why the Superman issue itself works so well, a look at a god and a man where the two aren’t at odds.

FF – I would have just voted FF over Fantastic Four. What I love about the concept is that it really feels like the next natural step. The Four were always about exploring and gathering information to help humanity, and now they’re actually using it. The stuff leading up to Torch dying was good, not great.

Fourth World – Next on my list, now that they’ve reprinted all of them.

How is Strange Apparitions even qualified? Englehart only did eight issues.

I also think it’s one of the more overrated Batman stories ever. Maybe at the time it stood out from the one-in-done stories that were the norm, but if you reread it, there’s practically nothing to it.

Silver St. Cloud has no character development and from the moment she first appears somehow knows Batman is Bruce Wayne. The Penguin story could be any generic writer’s Penguin story. Dr. Phosphorus is an interesting creation I guess, but again not much to that story. The Hugo Strange and Joker stories are the best of the collection, but I don’t see how it’s better than say the next run down, Suicide Squad, which despite Englehart bringing him back, actually used Deadshot in a memorable way.

If it wasn’t so highly thought of I wouldn’t be so hard on it, but rereading it in 2012, it in no way holds up as one of the best runs, let alone best Batman runs ever.

And rereading the writeup, I again have to reiterate, why is Silver St. Cloud one of Batman’s best love interests? Lack of competition?

True, the competition is thin.

Newcomer: Englehart/Rogers Detective Comics, #55, 161 points
2008 #55: Stern/JRJR Amazing Spider-Man, 170 points

Newcomer: Carl Barks’ Duck comics, #54, 167 points
2008 #54: No entry. Instead, there were two tied entries that were each shared the #53 slot. The runs were Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern and Baron/Rude’s Nexus, each at 174 points.

Hitman 2012: #53, 168 points
Hitman 2008: #37, 232 points
Down 16 places, -64 points

Newcomer: Jonathan Hickman’s FF, #52, 171 points
2008 #52: All-Star Superman, 176 points

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World 2012: #51, 176 points
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World 2008: #50, 180 points
Down 1 place, -4 points

Ennis/McCrea’s Hitman slides a significant number of places down the chart to #53, and loses a substantial number of points in the voting. It’s possible that Ennis fans could just be splitting their votes for him over a greater number of works, since Ennis has been quite prolific in the years since the 2008 poll.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World holds a nearly unchanged position in the 2012 Top 100. It’s fitting that the Fourth World should attain a certain timeless quality. It’s especially striking with so many newcomers debuting in this part of the Top 100.

While technically a newcomer, it’s worth noting that Englehart’s Detective run did make the 2008 Top 100 as #49, with 184 points. That run was listed as issues 469-476, while the 2012 entry considers Englehart/Rogers to be issues 469-479. Similar material, which probably appealed to a similar set of voters.

A complaint about the 2008 Top 100 polling was the absence of any mention of Carl Barks’s seminal work. This year the voting rules explicitly stated that votes could be cast for Barks. It’s quite gratifying to see him represented this go-round.

Jonathan Hickman’s thoughtful Fantastic Four run has rocketed up into the middle of the charts. This is one of the few Newcomer runs thus far (that I’ve written up) that actually started after the 2008 voting. Hickman managed to make a very big impression in a fairly short amount of time.

1st= Whoever put Carl Banks Ducks as their 1st place vote I APPLAUD THE SHIT OUT OF YOU! BRAVO!! 2nd= Mr. Kirby’s FourthWorld should definitely be in the top 20. I’m going to become increasingly more disappointed in the CBR voters the more I see all the Ellis/Morrison/Bendis/Brubaker/yada yada yada titles that people vote as better than this.


Dude, everyone has the right to like what they like, please don’t judge them for it. If someone honestly thinks Liefeld’s Youngblood is the greatest comic they’ve every read, well, I might not agree, but they have the right to their opinion and I believe Brian said to vote based on your own tastes.

“Most of these new characters disappeared faster than you could say Adam-X, the X-Treme”

That seems like a strange example — I’d venture to guess that Adam X, the X-Treme, appeared in more comics than any other of Marvel’s “Superstars of Tomorrow”, and quite possibly more than any of the DC ones besides Tommy.

I would’ve gone with “Face Thief”, that’s all I’m saying.

Silver learns Batman is Bruce? Where’s the Spoiler Alert?

Hickman’s done over 60 issues of Fantastic Four/FF? And in only 3 or so years? That’s crazy. I haven’t read any of it, but it looks pretty interesting. I might need to check it out.

azjohnson5 – One thing you have to take into consideration with these rankings is that it’s not a vote put together by people that all have read the same bodies of work. It’s not a surprise that older stuff is going to rank lower than current stuff in a lot of instances. You can’t vote for Barks if you’ve never read Barks. I get more riled up seeing current stuff that I think sucks placing at all then I do over classics placing low.

Here’s where it starts to get really interesting… Which runs that placed well in ’08 won’t be showing up on this list at all?

Operating on the assumption that nothing placing in the bottom 25 of the ’08 poll will be showing up in the top 50 of this one ( I don’t see how any of those that haven’t appeared yet will have increased in popularity or exposure so much as to move up 30 or so places), then eliminating All-Star Superman and Miller/Mazzuchelli Daredevil (no longer eligible), and finally consolidating Claremont’s post-Byrne Uncanny runs into one run, we’re left with 54 runs that placed in the top 75 of the ’08 poll and have not yet appeared on this one.

Add to that at least 3 runs that didn’t place in ’08 but we know are definitely showing up here (Scalped, Walking Dead, and Morrison Batman), plus potentially a few others (Fraction Iron Man, The Boys, maybe something else), that leaves us somewhere between 57-60 runs to fill the remaining 50 spots.

So what won’t be showing up at all? My guesses…

1. Gotham Central – Too many more Brubaker runs to choose from this time that siphoned the votes (Daredevil, Criminal, potentially even more Captain America voters than in ’08), which is why I doubt we’ll be seeing Sleeper either, even though I think it’s Brubaker’s best work.

2. Claremont/Davis Excalibur – I bet a lot of people that chose this over their favorite Claremont Uncanny stretch switched votes this year now that an uncanny vote covers so much more ground.

3. Priest’s Black Panther – Fans of the character have a lot more choices now than they did in ’08, especially with the recent edition of the Essential Black Panther giving new prominence to Don McGregor’s run.

4. Shade the Changing Man – Just don’t see how it’s vote total would have dramatically improved in the last 4 years, and it finished far enough outside of the top 50 in ’08 that I don’t think it can jump 20 spots.

5. Geoff Johns’ Flash – I think a combination of Johns fatigue & backlash, even more people voting for Green Lantern instead of his other works (as demonstrated by JSA’s huge drop in place), and the non-existence of Wally West in comics anymore (as well as the perception that this is Johns’ fault) will effectively kill the chances of this run.

6. Gerber’s Howard the Duck – I could well be underestimating the fans of this series, but I think the combination of the Essential volume being long out of print and a recent trend toward thinking Man-Thing & The Defenders were actually Gerber’s best works (though maybe I’m just imagining this trend) will send Howard plummeting off the list.

7. Fraction’s Iron Man – I think it’s definitely still a possibility, but I don’t really see it placing higher than Hickman’s Fantastic Four. I just think we would have seen it by now if it were coming.

8. Runaways – This could totally just be my bias towards thinking the series is nothing special, but I feel like this was just a flash in the pan that was cresting in popularity during the ’08 vote, but which people have since cooled on or completely forgotten about.

And that gets us down to 50. If I’m wrong about anything, it’s probably Howard the Duck, and my backup guess for what drops off would be either Moore Supreme or Moore League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I worry that the whole Before Watchmen debacle has turned some people off Moore. Although there’s also a possibility that the opposite has happened, and support for Moore might be even more galvanized than it was in ’08 because of people protesting BW.

And if I’m right about the 50 that are still coming, that would mean that Powers will have jumped 20+ spots, which also seems at least partially unlikely, and it’s at least a reasonable contender to have dropped off the countdown entirely. We’ll see!

The Fourth World stuff is the second of my top ten to make the list, the first being Waid’s run on FF.

And as for today’s choices, a great five. 3 of them are absolute classics in every sense, Hitman is probably a cult classic or minor classic, and Hickman’s FF may one day be thought of as the third “definitive” Fantastic Four run after Lee/Kirby and Byrne.

Part of me doesn’t think that Englehart/Rogers’ Detective should count, because the run’s too short to really have the type of plot variation and long-form storytelling necessary for it to be a real run, and I think it fits better as a storyline (didn’t it place in the storylines poll?). But there’s no questioning that it’s great comics, and Rogers Batman was so impossibly great that it really makes you wonder why DC didn’t make every effort to keep him around the Bat titles for years, like they did with Aparo. Miller and Mazzuchelli are probably the only other guys that can be considered pantheon Batman artists having drawn him in less than a dozen issues (which doesn’t count Siege or Dark Detective, because Rogers’ reputation as a classic Batman artist was in place long before those came out).

And @ J-Sharp

This Detective run has actually been reprinted at least 3 times, maybe more. It was reprinted in a 5 issue baxter paper mini-series in the mid 80s called Shadow of The Batman (with sweet new Rogers wraparound covers), then it was reprinted in trade paperback in the late 90s called Strange Apparitions, and it was just recently released in hardcover in the Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers volume. Individual stories from the run have also been reprinted elsewhere, such as the Greatest Joker stories ever told, and the Greatest Batman Stories ever told (which I believe contained the Deadshot issue that the sample pages are from). Plus, the Joker story was adapted almost page for page into a classic episode of Batman the Animated Series. So needless to say, these stories are definitely available to someone looking for them.

Jazzbo: “Hickman’s done over 60 issues of Fantastic Four/FF? And in only 3 or so years? That’s crazy.”

Actually, the first eleven issues of FF are actually part of Fantastic Four, just with a different title.

Third Man: “Part of me doesn’t think that Englehart/Rogers’ Detective should count, because the run’s too short to really have the type of plot variation and long-form storytelling necessary for it to be a real run, and I think it fits better as a storyline (didn’t it place in the storylines poll?).”

But… It’s not even a storyline? That logic makes no sense whatsoever.

@azjohnson -thanks, I’m pretty sure that was me ( I think I singled out barks Uncle Scrooge though).

So far 3 of my top10 have made it. I expect 4 or 5 more to make it, sadly I don’t think dean clarrains TMNT Adventures or Petracha and Adlards X-files will be in the top 50…

Of my short list top 20, 6 others have made it, I’m unsure if an more will, but will remain optimistic about a couple.

So far I’ve been impressed by the list, a lot of great runs, some new things for m to track down. The last lot privded me with a lot of good reading, hopefully this will do the same. Thank for all your work Brian!

Woo! I got one (Barks)!

By this point I figure we probably won’t see Palmiotti/Gray/Conner’s Power Girl, oh well.

I think we’ll still be seeing Gotham Central. I’d argue its Brubaker’s most famous work, especially considering how poorly his last year of Captain America has been. Horrible way to end a seven year run.

I’d prefer we hold off on speculation and just keep the conversation to your thoughts about the runs revealed so far. Eventually, the math is going to be the point where if you really want to, you can predict the remaining runs pretty accurately, and I’d prefer we avoid that. Thanks!

Nitpick: The Future Foundation was created before Johnny died.

I had to devote a whole series of writeups on my blog to Hickman’s FF/FF. At first I didn’t like it because it seemed like it was all setup and worldbuilding without a lot of story, but when it started to all come together and pay off it was pretty great. I just had to accept that any given trade of his run, especially early on, was like any given issue of other comics. Where some writers “write for the trade,” Hickman was writing for the omnibus.


Sorry about that, I was hoping that by not actually listing what I thought was still to come and making no rankings predictions that I was being cryptic enough to not spoil anything. But I’m happy to acquiesce to your request, you’re welcome to delete my post I you want.

@Turd Burglar

Look, we’ve had this same fight before. I believe there’s a usefulness in deciding that something is either a storyline or a run, and not both. They’re two different types of comic book storytelling, to create one story that lasts for a brief amount of time, or to create a long-form story that runs for years. It’s like arguing favorite shows vs favorite seasons. You may think Entourage is overall a bad show, but that seasons 2 & 3 were great. Crafting an arc that succeeds is different than maintaining quality over a long time.

In terms of the polls this blog does, I agree that each entry should be eligible for one poll but not both. The work englehart & Rogers did on Detective is outstanding, but it’s also very short and does tell one larger story, I think, even though it was broken up into smaller segments that didn’t completely relate to one another. the degree of difficulty Englehart and Rogers had in crafting a great nine months of issues is different and smaller than having to come up with compelling stories over a stretch of many years, and I believe they ought to be measured differently. If you disagree, that’s fine. But don’t insult me by saying there’s no logic or reasoning behind what I’m saying when you know there is.

And lastly, to whomever wrote about Gotham Central being Brubakers best work, I agree that it’s better than Cap and deserves to be here, I just don’t think that will be reflected in the voting.

Sorry about that, I was hoping that by not actually listing what I thought was still to come and making no rankings predictions that I was being cryptic enough to not spoil anything. But I’m happy to acquiesce to your request, you’re welcome to delete my post I you want.

It’s all good. I’ll just moderate it for a little bit and put it back up in a day or so. It is not so much your post exactly so much as it is what the responses will undoubtedly be. Slippery slope and all that, ya know?

Some good stuff here.

I’ve read the Detective run, but I wasn’t blown away like some people. Good stuff, not great, imo.

Barks Ducks — one I maybe should have short listed (and may have been on my longer list), but there’s another “kid’s comic” that I like better (that probably won’t make it now. I hope my points for it weren’t the only votes, though), so that made the list. But you can’t argue with how good Barks was. I think the thing that swayed it for me is that I’ve read plenty of the Disney stories, but I’m not sure enough which ones were Barks, whereas with the other book (oh, hell, I’ll just say, Little Lulu), I think the creative team was the same issue to issue.

Hitman — I know who voted that #1! The Mutt, right? I like what I’ve read of Hitman, and I need to get more of it. It’s been said here at the blog by someone or other that Hitman is possibly the best Ennis work BECAUSE he was restricted in what he could do — the work-around made him put a little more in.

FF by Hickman — ok, I don’t like it just because they introduced the new “FF” title, so now I gotta do a double take and make sure the series being referred to is “FF” and not “Fantastic Four”. Damn you Hickman!!! I haven’t read anything besides that 605.1 issue, so I can’t judge it. My library has volumes 3 and 4 of his run. WHY DIDN’T YOU ORDER 1 and 2?!?!?


Kirby’s Fourth World — I love the New Gods, but I haven’t read enough of the Kirby originals. I must get them omnis!

A question about HIckman’s FF for whomever knows the answer:

I was looking at the trade collections at LCS today and I noticed that the 4th trade reprints through issue #588, while the 5th trade starts with issue #600. Where are issues #589-599? What happened in them? I asked the guys that worked at the shop and none of them knew, and I can’t find the answer through the inter-webs either.

Third Man: I think issue #588 is when Johnny “died” and the book was rebooted as FF #1. A year later, Fantastic Four came back with issue #600. I think – but don’t know – that issues #589-599 don’t actually exist. Perhaps someone can tell me differently (I didn’t read the issues), but I think that’s what happened.

Yeah, #589-599 are FF #1-11. I guess I should have clarified that. My bad!

Thanks Brian and Greg-

But I still don’t understand why the trade volumes wouldn’t reflect acknowledge the other FF series. Seeing one trade say volume 4 and another trade say volume 5 would infer to most people that they ought to be read consecutively. Where in reality, there are 11 important issues inbetween. Why not have FF 1-11 be volumes 5 & 6 of the trade collections, then have trade volume 7 pick up with fantastic four 600? Marvel is risking 1) their readers being very confused, and 2) losing the sales of two trade volumes that could easily be remedied.

HAHAHAHA, Third Man thinks Marvel thinks logically!!!

(Not trying to bust on you, TM, really!)

Sorta the same deal with the Bru Cap trades — I was at a con where there was a cheap trade table, and someone was trying to compile a consecutive Cap trade collection. There’s no indication of when/where Reborn takes place vis a vis the regular series. Plus, the Cap numbering switched back to the 600s around that time. I told the person what I thought was the order, and later on, I remembered that I STILL forgot one of the trades in there.

And don’t even get me started on the Hulk trades….

Yeah, I had that problem when I accidentally read Hickman FF volume 3 right after Hickman FF vol. 2 but before reading his Fantastic Four vol. 5. I hadn’t realized that the main story had shifted back to Fantastic Four while FF had became a secondary side story that you really needed to know what was going on in Fantastic Four to understand. It didn’t help that the order I read them in was the order in which the trades were released. Even the shift in art style from FF vol. 2 to 3 was extremely jarring. It had suddenly become a completely different book.

Ed (A Different One)

October 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm

The Englehart and Rogers Batman is an era of Batman I have not yet explored. I’m way tired of the Frank Miller vengeful psycho stuff and even GM is bogging me down in Batman Inc. This looks like just the nice change up I’m looking for.

Batman. He comes in so many flavors!

Lee/Kirby would do what Hickman does over 4 issues in one and a half. And there would actually be action.

I probably should have voted for Hitman over his Punisher. But I’ll say wasn’t Bantam, the guy who dressed up like a fighting chicken, lamer than all the guys mentioned in this thread?

awesome snippets takes me back and im young.

[…] with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in […]

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