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CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #50-46

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…

50. Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Ex Machina – 184 points

Ex Machina #1-50 plus 4 specials

Ex Machina is Brian K. Vaughan’s take on what a superhero in the real world would appear like, as well as what would happen if a former superhero became Mayor of New York. In doing so, Vaughan gets to make points about superheroes AND politics (as opposed to politics and poker) while being ably assisted by Tony Harris’ realistic artwork.

Mitchell Hundred was a civil engineer who gained superpowers by a mysterious seemingly alien object. He now has the ability to communicate with mechanical devices. He became the world’s first superhero but after a short career he retired and ran for Mayor as an independent. His candidacy was going nowhere until he came out of retirement to save one of the Twin Towers during 9/11. Now a world famous celebrity, he is easily elected Mayor of New York.

The series follows his term in office, although there are tons of flashbacks. Vaughan expertly uses time jumping to inform his stories.

At one of his earliest speeches as Mayor, a man tries to shoot him (feeling Hundred is an alien)…

The cast of the book is a fascinating one, from Deputy Mayor Wylie to Hundred’s two closest friends, Bradbury – his head of security and Kremlin – a family friend of Hundred’s since childhood that helped him become a superhero in the first place who is none too thrilled at Hundred giving up superheroics to be a politician. That is just a sampling of the many cool characters who make up Hundred’s staff.

The book took an interesting approach vis a vis fill-ins. Rather than having normal fill-in issues, they would have one-shots by other artists to fill-in. This way, Harris would be the only artist to draw Ex Machina proper.

49. Peter David’s 2nd Run on X-Factor – 189 points (2 first place votes)

Madrox #1-5, X-Factor (Vol. 3) #1-50, #200-current (#245)

Peter Davis proved Thomas Wolfe wrong when he returned to X-Factor over a decade after he initially left the series. In an acclaimed mini-series starring Jamie Madrox, David re-envisioned the Multiple Man as a private detective. In addition, a new twist to his powers was introduced, which was that each of his duplicates now had their own personalities. At the time, the mini-series (which was quite good) seemed like it was designed to spin into a possible series, but I know I certainly didn’t think anything would ACTUALLY come of it (although I hoped it would). Well, I was wrong as the series actually spun off a brand-new X-Factor series, starring Madrox as the head of X-Factor Investigations, including a few of his former teammates from David’s first X-Factor team (Strong Guy and Wolfsbane) as well as peripheral mutant characters Siryn, M and Rictor. Also, spinning out of House of M, David added Layla Miller to the team. Miller, whose power is that she “knows stuff.”

This new series was an almost indescribable mixture between a detective series, an X-team and a dark comedy, with a good deal of relationship-based intrigue mixed in, as well.

As time went by, former X-Force member Shatterstar also joined the team and David made explicit the implied relationship between Shatterstar and Rictor. Former X-Man Longshot also joined the team. In many ways, David’s X-Factor was the mutant version of stone soup. David would make a delicious meal out of whichever mutants weren’t in use in other titles. The problem with that is that David would constantly have to write around characters being taken from him, like Wolfsbane was for a time and which recent addition Havok (also a former X-Factor member) just recently was for Uncanny Avengers.

From a recent “point one” issue, we see Madrox explain X-Factor to a young mother who lives in Madrox’s childhood home…

The series has seen a LOT of different artists over the years, with Paolo Raimondi, Leonard Kirk and Valentine De Landro (who drew the sample pages) being the main trio of artists. De Landro has drawn the most issues total.

48. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Astro City – 198 points (2 first place votes)

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #1-6, Kurt Busiek’s Astro City Vol. 2 #1-22 (plus a #1/2), Astro City: Local Heroes #1-5, Astro City/Arrowsmith: The Flip Book #1, Astro City Special: Supersonic #1, Astro City: The Dark Age: Book One #1-4, Astro City: The Dark Age: Book Two #1-4, Astro City Special: Samaritan #1, Astro City Special: Beautie #1, Astro City Special: Astra #1-2, Astro City: The Dark Age: Book Three #1-4, Astro City Special: Silver Agent #1-2, Astro City: The Dark Age: Book Four #1-4

Astro City was, in many ways, a follow-up to Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ acclaimed mini-series, Marvels, their tribute to the Golden and Silver Age of Marvel Comics. Astro City, too, was a bit of a tribute to that spirit, as, through a series of semi-analogous characters, Busiek repeated the formula that made Marvels such a popular book, having the stories of Astro City told mostly from “Point of View” characters, although sometimes, the superheroes themselves were the point of view characters!

Astro City, which is the actual city in the book, is filled with a ton of superheroes, and Busiek takes his time introducing readers to them over the long run of the title (it’s been going on since 1995, although it has been on a bit of a hiatus since 2010). Helping him on his journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram…okay, actually, artist Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross, who helped design the superheroes of Astro City, as well as draw the covers for the book.

What makes the book so notable is the way that Busiek really seems to grasp the depiction of a standard person, and how awing it must be to live in this world of superheroes, without ever really going to the cynical, “well, if superheroes actually existed, all sorts of bad stuff would happen” routine, which is greatly appreciated.

In a classic issue, we see the human side of stuff like Crisis on Infinite Earths. We meet a man who lost his wife after a villain messed with time. His wife was erased from history and now he is haunted by dreams of her. He is met by a hero who explains the situation…

Wow, talk about powerful storytelling.

The most recent storyline, The Dark Age, was Busiek’s take on the later years of superheroes, told through the eyes of two brothers – one a crook and one a cop, and through them, seeing how superheroes slowly got darker during the 1970s and 1980s.

Perhaps the two most notable heroes in Astro City are Samaritan, the Superman analogue, who Busiek gave an origin so great that it was later an inspiration for the ending of Red Son, and The Confessor, who we learn has a tragic secret that makes his heroism even more notable.

Astro City has a bit of an irregular schedule, but you know you are going to get a well-told story with deep humanity each time you crack open an issue of Astro City, so it is well worth the wait.

47. Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt’s Legion of Super-Heroes – 201 points (5 first place votes)

Legion of Superheroes #281-313, Legion of Superheroes #1-5

Paul Levitz had already had a short, but well-liked, run on the Legion of Superheroes during the 1970s, so when he returned to the book in 1981, readers had reason to be excited, but after a short run with Pat Broderick, Keith Giffen joined Levitz, and when the got together, they clicked in a way no one could imagine – and soon, the Legion was probably DC’s second biggest title, next to the New Teen Titans (Giffen joined the book with #285 and Larry Mahlstedt joined with #290).

It was not long on the book before Levitz and Giffen began the epic storyline that became their most notable work, the Great Darkness Saga, which introduced Jack Kirby’s Darkseid as a villain of the Legion, in a brilliantly moody action adventure story that saw the Legion involved in a battle greater than any they had seen before (or at least more visceral).

Check out the amazing reveal that Darkseid is the villain (right after Brainiac realizes that Darkseid has turned the entire population of Daxam against the Legion)…

What a stunning reveal.

Giffen’s artwork handled both action scenes and character moments with equal greatness, and Levitz was sure to give him a lot of both, keeping the book extremely grounded in humanity, while also keeping the action at a breakneck measure.

Giffen and his inker, Larry Mahlstedt (who also did finishes over Giffen’s layouts on a number of issues), were also quite good at depicting the future as a Kirby-esque place of bizarre devices and places.

After the Great Darkness Saga, and a few character pieces, they had the landmark 300th issue, after which Giffen began to experiment with his artwork while, at the same time, he began to have more of an influence in the writing department.

Levitz, Giffen and Mahlstedt launched a brand-new Legion series together, a brutal storyline that left one Legionnaire dead, and Giffen departing the book.

Levitz continued his run with artists Steve Lightle and Greg LaRocque, until eventually Giffen returned for the conclusion of the new volume of the Legion, at which point Levitz basically retired from writing to concentrate on his executive position at DC. Recently, Levitz returned to writing and is currently doing two books for the New 52, World’s Finest and a return to the Legion (he actually returned to the book before the relaunch).

46. Dave Sim and Gerhard’s Cerebus – 203 points (10 first place votes)

Cerebus #1-300 (Gerhard from #65-300)

Dave Sim’s Cerebus, which stars the short grey-skinned anthropomorphic aardvark, Cerebus, originally debuted as, if not a take-off, at least similar in tone to Steve Gerber’s Marvel comic, Howard the Duck, in that it was an anthropomorphic animal used for satirical purposes. In the original storyline in the late 1970s, Conan the Barbarian was the main target, although other pop culture figures were featured. Cerebus was a hard-living mercenary with little morality who got involved in various adventures.

This changed with the second storyline, the 25-part epic, High Society, where Cerebus gets involved with politics, applying his rough and tumble style to the world of, well, high society. Through this, he ends up becoming Prime Minister, although that does not exactly work out, leading to the massive two-part epic, Church & State, which took about 60 issues, and involved Cerebus becoming Pope.

As you might imagine, Cerebus is corrupted by the power…

These stories saw a change in the series to becoming one of the most intelligent ongoing comic book series out there, with a great deal of wit and wisdom.

The rest of the series 300 issues (Sim noted that he would do exactly 300 issues, with Cerebus dying in the last issue) have a series of slightly-less focused stories, although, as the title continued, the work took on an approach more similar to Sim’s own life, which included heavier religious overtones, plus specific attacks upon feminism/homosexualism.

From #65 on, Sim drew the book with artist Gerhard, whose detailed backgrounds were absolutely stunning, and became a major attraction of the series.

Cerebus never stopped doing parodies, though, and throughout the run, comics and pop culture and life, in general, were given parody treatment (The Punisher and Sandman being two notable examples).

In 2004, the series ended, as promised, with issue #300.

29 Comments

2 of my choices at of 10 now! Astro City is my #2 vote; this comic, more than any other, embodies (for me) the definition of superheroic. Noble characters who overcome obstacles both personal and global… that’s why I’ve always loved comics. Busiek understands the medium better than any other writer (IMHO). Confession is one of the greatest stories I’ve ever read. I also love the Looney Leo tragedy.

In regards to the other runs, I enjoy them all immensely, though I’m puzzled by how X-Factor is so darn high. Not that it doesn’t deserve a place on this list, but top half? I think not.

Ex Machina – I’m pretty much on board with any Brian K. Vaughan touches, and this is no exception.

X-Factor – Wow. Is this the first time two separate identical runs have made the list? That is impressive. I really do need to give this a shot now.

Astro City – Kurt Busiek is one of my favorite writers in the mainstream, and Astro City is glorious. I think I didn’t vote for it because of all my ill will about the delays. But for all you trade waiters, get ready for something amazing. It’s sort of like a comic response to Michael Chabon’s Kavalier & Clay, which is an equally amazing book.

LOSH – I’ll get to it, I just haven’t found it in my heart (or wallet) to pick up a Legion book when there are perfectly good volumes of… whatever isn’t the Legion. I’ll give it credit for introducing Darkseid to the DCU proper.

Cerebus – URRRGH! I don’t want to seem like I hate indie comics, cause I don’t! It’s just that indie comics back then had a tendency to go so far out of the way to distance themselves from mainstream ones. I know I said Daniel Clowes is an intelligent and talented guy whose style doesn’t appeal to me, but Dave Sim… I’m sorry, I have no respect for this guy. I’ll admit High Society was interesting, if not engaging, but Sim just seems incapable of telling an actual story. Even when Cerebus was just about parodies he never really did anything, just spew long rants about how everyone’s an idiot except for Dave Sim. Not to mention that his ideas are pure pseudo-philosophy, and are downright offensive many times over. Seriously, go back and look at Reads and you’ll notice that it’s very similar to everything else in the series. Sorry for the rant, I just can’t stand that guy. There are plenty of more intelligent and more talented writers who influenced indie comics than Sim.

I’m calling it right now: The comment section of this post is going to be like 50+% people bitching about Cerebus and how much they HATE Dave Sim. Dude is far and away the most polarizing and inflammatory figure in comics history.

The images for Ex Machina aren’t showing up for me.

And just like with Invincible, I feel we should nag at you for revealing the villain of the Great Darkness Saga. C’mon, man! It’s not like the reprint features him right on the cover!

Oh.

Wait.

More comments later….

Well, if Sim accomplished anything in his life it was getting people to feel passionately about his work. I guess that’s pretty big to his credit.

Ex Machina — I read the first couple trades, liked it ok, but not enough to search out the rest.

PAD’s X-Factor redux — What little I’ve read of it is good stuff. And it looks like the .1 issue actually did what it was supposed to, introduce the characters to potential new readers and have an interesting storyline. What’s up with that?

Astro City is really good stuff. Rumor has it that there’s going to be a new ongoing soon, but with Anderson on Phantom Stranger, who knows? Thanks for the full list of issues here — now I know what I’m missing! And hey, Burgas had a letter printed in one of the Local Heroes issues!!! (And nice QL ref there, too, Brian.) Surprisingly, though, I don’t think I put this on even my long list of possible runs to vote for.

LOSH is cool, and I actually have the Great Darkness Saga in singles. That’s about all I have of that run, though, so I wouldn’t have voted on it. But I love the Legion, every Legion.

Astro City only # 48?! Gawd, that comic is to the late 90’s what Watchmen was to the late 80’s: a scrappy, against-the-grain outsider that somehow also doubles as the defining superhero text of its time. Not to mention its reconstructionist answer to the post-Watchmen deconstruction, which made it a great shining beacon of light in bad time, and without which the retro trend of the ’00’s, that culminated in stuff like All-Star Superman, would not have happened. It should have been in the top ten. Guess I should have voted for it.

LOSH is cool. I’m surprised Ex Machina made it; I haven’t read all of it, but it seems dated to me in the current political climate. Haven’t read a single issue of the new X-Factor, but I’d be shocked if it wasn’t good.

And Cerebus… Dave Sim is comicdom’s very own Ezra Pound, and Cerebus is his Cantos.

Oh, did I forget one? No, I did not.

Let me say YAY to all 9 of my fellow #1 voters who chose Cerebus. And what a leap that is in #1 votes — nothing else so far has had more than 5 #1 votes.

However, I think that means that not very many of us voted for Cerebus — those 10 #1 votes are almost half of the points, and I highly doubt that the rest of the votes were 103 #10 votes.

A couple links for people to look into more Cerebus stuff (and it’ll get my comment moderated, but so be it):

http://www.cerebusdownloads.com/index2.html For the new Cerebus Downloads — you can get Cerebus 26 (High Society part 1) for FREE. Shockingly, that’s an issue I still haven’t read!

http://www.momentofcerebus.blogspot.co.uk/ Here’s a blog with new neat interesting posts about Dave and Cerebus and all.

And there are other things, like Cerebus Fangirl and Cerebus TV that you can look up, too.

But I say that in my view, Cerebus is the best comic ever, and Dave Sim is one of the most important figures in comics.

Cerebus has breadth and depth and scope — I would argue that without Cerebus and the idea of a long story arc in comics, this list itself might not have anywhere near the amount of possibilities as it does. Dave decided 300 issues, so he figured out he had to do something, and one off parodies couldn’t fill it out completely. So, story arcs, adult concerns, power, politics, religion, love (really!), and so on. And emotional impacts — issue 36 is one of the finest single issues ever, with the return of Jaka.

Cerebus was one of the first comics collected in trade — and since Dave made a viable living off doing so, it showed that it was a possibility for ALL comics. (DC was actually going to BUY Cerebus at one point!) First with the Swords of Cerebus 4 issue collections, Dave showed that comics weren’t just read ‘em and toss ‘em, they could be re-packaged and re-sold, both in comics shops and in bookshops (although I don’t think Dave had as much success there as he might have — and I should point out that Dave came on the scene at a most opportune time, with the rise of the direct market and comic shops, which definitely facillitated what he did). Later with the “phone books”, he showed that packaging a long story in one big book was a viable method for selling comics. Later books like From Hell, Blankets, and quite possibly the Omnibus and Archive and Absolute books from the big 2 are the descendents of the Cerebus phone books.

Dave also showed that self publishing was a viable option, and that indie B&Ws could succeed — if you’ve ever read and enjoyed the original TMNT, or Bone, or Strangers in Paradise, they owe a debt to Cerebus showing the way.

And the book itself is amazing. Dave takes these weird parody elements (Lord Julius, Groucho Marx as nation ruler? How can that work? Dave makes it work.) and utilizes them for a grand narrative about, to knick a phrase from New Order, Power, Corruption, and Lies. High Society is the Conan story told with a realistic lens — what would happen if the barbarian didn’t storm the gate, but slipped the knife in through politicking. Church and State takes that further — what happens when the political leader becomes the religious leader, and how awful that all turns out. From there, things continue to be awesome.

Did the book get overwhelmed by Dave’s personal story? Well, that ended up being the point, in the long run. Who isn’t going to change a lot in 26 years?

And while I don’t agree with Dave 100% on things, the way he argues has influenced my own thinking so that I try to hone my own arguments and make them better, and sharper, and try to make them hold up better. Doesn’t always work, mind you.

This is a great sequence you picked. From 66, I think? Which was Gerhard’s second issue. (And I didn’t even go on about how great a bg artist Ger is! I remember a “how to draw” feature in Wizard about drawing backgrounds, and the biggest thing I remember is thinking “Dave doesn’t even draw the RICE CAKES?” Which makes sense to you when you read Guys, trust me.) At one point, this sequence of throwing the baby off the cliff/tower/really high point that the baby wouldn’t survive was the biggest controversy about the book. Imagine that!

OK, off my soapbox. Suffice to say, if you made it this far, Cerebus is an awesome series, and you should check it out if you haven’t, and if you only made it to a certain point, you should read further. It’s good up until the end (I didn’t even go on about the last 100 issues, which are actually my favorite, as I have all but 225, and have read them numerous times. Oddly enough, I still haven’t read the book in whole, and haven’t read any of it in several years, so I’m actually working towards a giant reread with an eye towards wondering how I’ll react to it now that I’m older.)

The Crazed Spruce

October 21, 2012 at 1:13 am

I’m a bit surprised that the Levitz/Giffen “Legion” didn’t make the top 20. (Then again, since I had it as #1 on my list, I’m slightly biased.) It was the perfect combination of science-fiction, action, and teenage drama, and contained some great stories. (“The Great Darkness Saga” was, well, great, but my favourite was “Violet’s Story”, where they reveal that Shrinking Violet had been replaced by a shape-shifter months ago without anybody noticing. A powerful story, and a great read.)

Except for a couple of issues of “X-Factor”, I haven’t read anything from either of the other four runs. (I get the feeling I’d like them, though.)

Ex Machina is a great read and I was pleasantly surprised too, as I normally hate political ‘entertainment’ and stay clear, but this has really been engrossing – but I had to skip your post in fear of spoilers!!! I’m on to the 3rd oversized hardcover (with 2 more to go!).

I love so much of Peter David’s work. X-Factor is no exception! The Madrox mini and the first 25 issues were standouts. But his Aquaman work for me is still my all time favorite from him, followed by his first 9 issues of Supergirl! :-)

This batch have changed my status from 0/10 to 2/10 (Ex Machina and Cerebus) … I’m expecting 2 or 3 more later with some others just outside and 2 or 3 no-hopers (possibly only voted for by me)
Sim may be nuts but, at his peak, there are few if any who could match the tension in some of his issues.
Add in his humour, his imagination, and the extent to which this anti-hero was portrayed -this is a very worthy inclusion.

As for Vaughan – the “humanity” in the personalities of his characters remain outstanding – I hope to vote for Saga next time (if there is one and I’m still visiting this site).

I almost picked that Legion run but I marginally preferred the following Levitz solo run…

Read them all save the Legion run. Add me to the baffled camp on why Cerebus is so enjoyed by so many… I never discerned any story at all. But clearly there is some good art, ad must have other good points I missed to survive so long as an indie.

Ex Machina: I read the first 25 or so issues, then had to drop it. Honestly, I liked it fine but not as much as other works by either Vaughan or Harris. Starman, Y, Runaways, & JSA Liberty Files are favorites of mine. Ex Machina started strong, but I didn’t miss it when I stopped reading.

X-Factor: Another victim of financial considerations. Hopefully, Marvel will eventually collect the run in big trades.

Astro City: I love this comic. It’s had it’s ups & downs, but it’s always enjoyable. The Confessor arc and issue 1/2 rank as some of my all-time favorite comics. The recent Beauty spotlight was excellent.

LSH: I’ve read & enjoyed the Great Darkness Saga & issues 297-300. Good stuff. If the Showcase volumes get up to the Giffen & Levitz issues, I’ll definitely get them.

Cerebus: I’m very happy Comixology is releasing the High Society issues for 99 cents an issue. I’ve never read Cerebus, and am eager to see what the fuss is about. When it comes to artists & their politics, I go back & forth on whether their beliefs get in the way of my ability to enjoy their work. On the one hand, I refuse to read anything by Orson Scott Card because of what he’s said about homosexuality. On the other hand, I can’t get enough Ditko despite thinking Objectivism is reprehensible nonsense. Maybe it’s because I liked Ditko’s comics before I knew about his philosophy, or maybe it’s because I find racism & homophobia more despicable than general misanthropy? I don’t even pretend to be consistent though, as I’m now reading Cerebus…

I picked up the first trade of “Ex Machina” years ago. Read it, enjoyed it, then promptly forgot all about it while waiting for the second trade to come out. I’ve never gotten around to reading the rest of the series. I’ll get around to it one of these days…

I’ve picked up a couple of random issues of the current “X-Factor,” but they didn’t do anything for me. I keep hearing such good things about it though; maybe I need to just get a trade and give it another chance.

“Astro City” is a great run of comics that I always enjoy, but there just wasn’t room on my list for it.

LOSH is the one corner of the DCU in which I’ve never been able to muster any interest. I’ve never actually read “The Great Darkness Saga,” however. Darkseid is one of my favorite characters, so I imagine I’ll get to it one of these days. I know it was out of print for a while, but I think DC did a new edition of it not too long ago…

“Cerebus” is one of those highly-acclaimed series that I’ve never read. I admit, this is one of those times where knowing things about the author and his personal views and opinions has influenced me. I don’t like that to happen, but it has kept me from reading his work in this case.

X-Factor- oh how I love this book. It has consistently been my favorite book for going on SEVEN YEARS now. Just an amazing run from PAD that I wish had more steady artwork. Emmanuella Lupachina (sp?) has been my favorite, along with Valentine DeLandro, Leonard Kirk and the all-too brief run by Ryan Sook. The true magic of the book, though, is still in PAD’s razorsharp characterization and dialogue. He re-made Layla Miller from the prototypical ‘deus ex machina’ character into one of the most entertaining characters in comics and one whose every scene I look forward to, especially hers with Jamie now that their relationship has progressed quite nicely. PAD gets major points for making me care so much about Shatterstar- SHATTERSTAR!!!- along with a whole host of cast away mutants from other books. Now if only Dazzler could be written into the book, I’d be in heaven…

As for Cerebus, I have read up through Jaka’s Story and the book went from ‘meh, that was kind of funny’ in its first few issues to one of the most brilliant treatises on personal relationships I have ever read. Hilarious, horrible, moving, and tragic all within the span of a few pages. I will admit, though, that I have been reluctant to go beyond Jaka’s Story after reading/hearing about how Sim veered off course so much into his personal bitterness. I may try it someday as I am curious to read where the story goes, but it has not been a priority…

Newcomer: Ex Machina, #50, 184 points
2008’s #50: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, 180 points

Newcomer: Peter David’s 2nd Run on X-Factor, #49, 189 points
2008’s #49: Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics, 184 points

Astro City 2012: #48, 198 points
Astro City 2008: #30, 323 points
Down 18 places, -125 points

Levitz/Giffen/Mahlstedt LoSH 2012: #47, 201 points
Levitz/Giffen LoSH 2008: #29, 328 points
Down 18 places, -127 points
(Although the 2008 entry doesn’t specifically credit Mahlstedt, they refer to the same runs of issues.)

Sim/Gerhard Cerebus 2012: #46, 203 points
Sim/Gerhard Cerebus 2008: #25, 370 points
Down 21 places, -167 points

It’s interesting to still see newcomer books debuting this high up the Top 100. Ex Machina and Peter David’s 2nd X-Factor run were in-progress during the 2008 voting, but had only been going for a few years each at the time. By now, David’s 2nd X-Factor run has had plenty of time to develop, and Ex Machina has completed. It’s not surprising to see either on the list, but I am pleasantly surprised to see them doing so well.

The other entries in this part of the top 100 are highly-ranked books from the 2008 poll that are sliding downwards. Why Legion runs might be losing points has been discussed already, so I see no need to rehash it here. Very little new Astro City material has been published since 2008, which could easily lead to a case of “out of sight, out of mind” in the 2012 voting.

Dave Sim was already a polarizing figure in the comics community in 2008, and that didn’t stop Cerebus from doing very well in the voting back then. Now? Well, it’s probably more that Cerebus hasn’t been kept in print (as far as I know) than anything else. Given Cerebus’s self-published nature, I suppose still brings the issue back around to Sim himself, to some extent.

Well, the first entry since my predictions at the top 50 already has 2 runs I didn’t see coming: Ex Machina and X-Factor. It’s not a surprise to see either in the top 100, but I didn’t expect them this high. I haven’t read any of either, but I’m a fan of Y, Starman, and David’s first crack at X-Factor, so it makes sense that I’d like these.

I’ve read all of Levitz/Giffen Legion, and all of Astro City through Local Heroes. I enjoy both quite a bit and it’s good to see them here, even though neither run was a real contender for my vote.

It’s surprising to see Cerebus drop so much, given that the previous poll was still when Cerebus had been gone for years. Has Sim done anything in the past 4 years to further alienate people?

And still nothing from list has shown up yet. At this point, I’m resigned to the fact that Sleeper is definitely not coming, which is terribly unfortunate. I think it’s Brubaker’s best work, as well as one of the best examples of the last decade of how to write for single issues. Each issue tells its own story while still firmly advancing the series forward.

But my other 9 picks are all still definitely coming, and they all ranked in the top 30 of the ’08 poll, with the exception of Hellboy, which makes sense to have seen a vote increase in the ensuing four years.

Travis Pelkie- I liked your write-up of Cerebus. It’s interesting to reread runs as an adult when your only memory of them is from being a teenager. I recently did this with Moore’s Swamp Thing and Preacher, and I think I liked both even better now, but I’ll save the why for when they show up on the countdown.

irritant- While I don’t agree that Astro City is a top ten book, I really liked your brief analysis of it’s themes and value for comics history. I think you’re spot on in many regards.

Oh, and Brian- I also can’t get the Ex Machina sample pages to show

Lynxara — Cerebus is still in print, but I’m guessing the size and number of the phone books, the B&W, “where to start” (which is an issue in the recent Dave/Fantagraphics negotiations to do the series in HCs), and Dave’s polarizing nature all play into the drop. When the last poll started, Dave had just recently at that point done Judenhass and was just starting glamourpuss, iirc, so he may have “been in the public mind” at that point. glamourpuss just ended because the sales weren’t strong enough, so some people don’t care.

(One other point that I didn’t mention about Dave is that he is willing to try new ways of selling his work — the Cerebus TV that I talked about is possibly the only video blog/podcast/what have you done by a creator while he was working (so far), so he does try. He’s only one guy, but he is THAT guy, if you will.)

Another thing I pointed out was that since 100 of the points of the 203 came from the 10 of us that voted Cerebus #1, and that I highly doubt the rest of the points were 103 #10 votes, I’d say those of us who think highly of Cerebus think VERY highly of it, and the rest of the voters don’t know or care about the book. That’s a shame, since, as I said, I prefer the last 100 issues of the book — it remains really good stuff throughout the run, but I will concede that it can be a slog to get through. There are a LOT of text pieces mixed into the series, and that works to its detriment in places as well. However, I’d rather see a creator try big and fail than go safe and easy.

Thanks Third Man for the kind words. Andrew, you should try it past Jaka’s Story!

If you’re a real geek about ’90s self published books, Guys is a good place for a lot of neat Easter Eggs.

I’m a bit passionate about Cerebus, I think :)

@Travis Pelkie: Huh, I’d heard otherwise with Cerebus. Thanks for the correction.

Lynxara — I’m not 100%, but as far as I know, it’s all still in print. I do know that Dave has said that certain volumes go out of print here and there (usually a couple at the same time), but overall he’s been good at keeping things in print and doing new printings regularly.

Inquire at your local comic shop, folks! Or check out the links in my one post above for more info. As High Society is a good “jumping on point”, I’d say check out the Downloads link. Issue 26 is free, so it’s probably worth checking out.

Huh. I never thought about it before but, like, 80% of Cerebus are (relatively) character driven scenes. You “no story” people are wrong, but it’s a very different, more subtle type of storytelling than most mainstream comics – About gradual changes in relationships, rather then bombastic X-men style melodrama.

At least when it’s not Wolverine parodies, hundred page fight scenes, dead baby jokes, nigh-unreadable Biblical interpretation and “the female void.”

OK, then MarkAndrew comes in and sums up Cerebus even better than I did.

One of the best of the “gradual changes in relationships” stories is issue 36 “The Night Before”, which should be available at the Downloads site I linked to above in about…8 weeks? End of the year, Christmas/New Year’s, if I’m figuring right? After I started reading Cerebus regularly (started with 220, Rick’s Story part 1, then lost track for about a year, then got back on with 232, Going Home part 1 and then got all the rest of the book from there), I dug for back issues, and I think 36 was the earliest one I had for a short time. I was able to read it and enjoy it and have it pull the ol’ heartstrings with even my limited grasp of the relationship between Cerebus and Jaka at that point.

So, yeah, again, I’m obsessed and hoping to get y’all to at least try the book, cuz it’s really really good.

I’ve never read any of “Ex Machina,” because I have tried some other things from Vaughan without falling madly in love with his writing.

I’m more familiar with each of the other four in this installment, and I can understand why others voted for them, even though I didn’t. (I believe we’ve still only seen 1 run from my ballot get mentioned, and I don’t seriously expect to more than 4 others before it’s over.)

I’ve been very fond of “Astro City” ever since the first issue of the first series was released. It reflected some things I’d already been complaining about for years regarding an unspoken gap between how Superman actually used his powers (such as super-speed) and how I thought he ought to use them if he really wanted to do as much good as possible — but, for whatever reason, I just don’t seem to go back and reread all the back issues often enough for this to qualify as one of my “Top Ten Favorites.”

(Hmmm . . . maybe I should go back and reread a bunch of that stuff in the very near future, though?)

A lot of great comments about Cerebus. I downloaded the free High Society issue on Comixology, and plan to start reading there. Pretty stoked.

Now, I hate to be the doofus who lowers the level of discourse, but I really have to know what’s going on with that old lady in X-Factor. Yeah yeah, buy the trade, but cmon, just tell me…. please?

I’m surprised Legion isn’t higher, just ’cause I’d think it’d fit in with that 80s nostalgia fondness that seemed to dominate the top 20 last time (not that the quality isn’t worthy of the fondness, it’s part of a pretty great time to be into comics).

I love “Tarnished Angel” from Astro City. Great series, definitely one of the gems of the 90s.

Yeah, I voted Cerebus #1.

Wanna fight about it?

I think that this poll, by its very definition, Cerebus should win.

Best comic book run? How about 300 issues, written and drawn and published, on time, for 30 years.

That’s a run.

Ed (A Different One)

October 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I struggle with how I feel about Cerebus, I really do. The owner of my LCS actually outright loaned me every single one of the “phone books” out of his own collection so I could read it the whole way through. It took me about a year-and-a-half to get through it. I actually really liked the early Conan paradoy stuff. As he started to get into politics after joining up with the Picts I was like “no, wait, go back to that older stuff”. Next thing I know he was running for Prime Minister then becoming the Pope than talking with the Judge on the Moon (who’s predicition was not at all accurate) and God knows where we went from there. Hiding out in Jaka and Rick’s tavern then Oscar Wilde for a whole frequent volume then Guys (which was actually kind of enjoyable) then Rick as a looney then the journey home and Jaka again and Truman Copote and F. Scott Fitzgerald on a Barge and then Hemingway during a trek in the Winter and the Cerebus’s home for a good “shunning” and then boooo! Jaka and then Cerebus working on a farm and then being up North and becoming that “hockey player” and losing every year to “Paul Coffee Anon” and my God how did we end up with Woody Allen and the Biblcal Interpretation and then him being ruler again and marrying the Jaka look alike and having a son who wanted to become half animal and then he died and saw Jaka and Rick but couldn’t go that way and then all those pissed off people waiting for him in the tunnel at the end.

Well, that’s my summation of it. I guess I honestly have to say I’m in the group who ultimately didn’t like Cerebus since I certainly don’t think highly of it and his personal views bothered me more than a little bit (not the least because he didn’t defend them nearly as adroitly as he seems to think he did). That being said, I’ve read it all and I guess I’m better off for it. But I still don’t know what to make of most of it. I mean, I’ve read Ulysses and have an easier time processing that than I do Cerebus.

Count me as a non-fan I guess. But I don’t hate it. Meh.

For all y’all who somehow skipped the last comment to read here:

SPOILER ALERTS on Ed (A Different One)’s comment. (and run-on sentence alert too)

And yay Cass for downloading the digital stuff!

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