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CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #45-41

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…

45. Grant Morrison’s Invisibles – 204 points (4 first place votes)

The Invisibles #1-25, The Invisibles Vol. 2 #1-22, The Invisibles Vol. 3 #12-1

Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles was designed to deal with the edges of society, in a post-modern explosion/examination of pop culture and paranoia. It was a trippy series that was also a lot of fun.

We are introduced to the world of the Invisibles through the eyes of the latest addition to the Invisible College (a group designed to fight against evil, whether it be physical or mental), or more specifically, the specific cell of the Invisible College that is led by King Mob, Dane McGowan, who is a young man who disbelieves until he is confronted with the reality (or rather, unreality) of the world after King Mob frees him from a sinister facility where young men have their souls essentially stolen…

Dane takes the name Jack Frost, and joins up with King Mob and their other members, Ragged Robin, Lord Fanny and Boy.

The series opens with a time travel story involving the Marquis de Sade and then…you know what, giving the “plot” of the Invisibles really does not do it justice – it’s not really a plot-driven book, as the plot goes in all sorts of directions, and at times, Morrison even drops the main characters to focus on other people before returning to the main Invisibles.

So let’s just say that the Invisibles is an ambitious mind-blowing experience that you must see to believe.

So many artists have worked on the Invisibles that it is almost impossible to name them all, but I’d say Steve Yeowell, Phil Jimenez and Jill Thompson drew the most issues of the series.

44. Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man – 214 points (1 first place vote)

Amazing Spider-Man #224-227, 229-252

A funny thing about Roger Stern’s legendary run on Amazing Spider-Man is the fact that it followed an eighteen issue run on Spectacular Spider-Man! Heck, Stern even introduced Roderick Kingsley (the man he had planned as as the secret identity of the Hobgoblin) in the pages of that run! The run (which went from Spectacular Spider-Man #43-61) was an important part of Stern’s overall Spider-Man work, as a lot of plots he began in Spectacular carried over to Amazing Spider-Man.

That said, when Stern took over Amazing Spider-Man with Amazing Spider-Man #224, he clearly turned his work on to a whole other level. There was a clear change in how he wrote the “secondary” Spider-Man title and how he wrote the “main” title, as he was now in the driving seat for the Spider-Man books as a whole and he was a great driver.

Stern’s early issues re-introduced the Black Cat into the Spider-books, where he helped to make her the staple of the Spider-Man books she remains today. An interesting aspect of Stern’s books, also, is after a number of writers who tended to downplay Spider-Man’s powers, Stern went the other direction, highlighting just how powerful Spider-Man can be.

One of the most acclaimed issues in Stern’s run came early on when he had Spider-Man fight against the unstoppable Juggernaut in a two-issue story that did not CREATE the “superhero battles against a much more powerful foe,” but certainly put a twist on the theme that later writers have followed frequently. John Romita Jr.’s excellent action-packed artwork was on great display during the Juggernaut story arc.

Here’s a piece of it…

What a wonderful sense of power and also such a feeling of dread. Stern and Romita really nailed the “unbeatable odds” thing here.

Stern brought Mary Jane Watson back into the Spider-books and did good work with Spider-Man’s supporting cast. Romita Jr. did strong work on the character moments, as well.

Stern also introduced the Hobgoblin, a mysterious new villain who used the Green Goblin’s devices and serum to become a powerful crime boss. The Hobgoblin was not just interesting because of the mystery of his identity, but also because of his off-beat approach to villainy. He was no mad man, he was a businessman and he used what he learned from Osborn’s in ingenious ways.

Even as his run came to a close with Amazing Spider-Man #250, Stern plotted two more issues of Amazing for incoming writer, Tom DeFalco, and one of them was the story of the alien costume in #252.

Perhaps Stern’s most famous story was a short story in Amazing Spider-Man #248, the tale of a young boy who we learn in a newspaper story is “The Boy Who Collects Spider-Man,” Spider-Man’s biggest fan. It is a real tearjerker.

43. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets -226 points (5 first place votes)

100 Bullets #1-100

At first glance, 100 Bullets was a simple concept. A guy named Agent Graves would come up to people with an attache case containing a gun with 100 bullets, plus a photograph of a target, including proof that the target was responsible for whatever woes existed in the person’s life. The offer? Use the gun to get revenge, and if you use the bullets given, you will never be arrested for the crime.

This was the simple concept at first, as Graves went to random people making the offer, and each person would have different reactions to the offer.

Here’s an example…

However, over time, readers learn that there is a method to the seemingly random offers, and it all ties to a msysterious group called the Minutemen who are tied to an equally mysterious Trust.

Writer Brian Azzarello has created a sprawling and engaging mystery comic that truly took the full 100 issues allotted to him to tell the whole story, which is an impressively ambitious feat on his part.

Azzarello’s partner in crime is artist Eduardo Risso, who is a master of noir art, so he fits in perfectly on this style of comic. When I say partner, I mean partner, as the two have worked together on every single issue of 100 Bullets, which is an impressive level of commitment by DC to the creative team, as they are on a schedule of “when you get the issues done, you get them done.”

In fact, the book even went on hiatus for a time when the entire creative team (colorist, letterer, editor, all of them) took over Batman for six months when DC hired Azzarello and Risso to do an arc of Batman.

This is a book made by a creative team that cares about each other.

The story of the comic is filled with characters that readers grow to care about, even if they are enigmatic and hard to understand.

I must not forget to mention cover artist, Dave Johnson, who is as much a part of the book’s success as anyone else, with his absolutely stunning cover work.

42. Roger Stern’s Avengers – 228 points (4 first place votes)

Avengers #227-279, 281-288

I actually did not remember that Roger Stern’s first issue of Avengers was also the first issue with Captain Marvel, I thought he was on the book already when he added her. Huh. Interesting.

In any event, when Avengers writer Jim Shooter stepped down, Roger Stern picked the book up and finished Shooter’s Hank Pym storyline, then began a long and eventful run on the book himself.

Perhaps Stern’s most notable achievement was the introduction of Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), where Stern really made her one of the bigger characters in the Marvel universe.

Stern also introduced the West Coast Avengers during his run.

The most notable artist working with Stern on his Avengers run was John Buscema, who took over penciling chores around #250 or so, and stayed on for the rest of Stern’s run (and beyond). In #256, Tom Palmer began inking the book, and Palmer stayed on as Avengers inker until the book ended in #402.

Stern’s most famous storyline was Under Siege, where a large group of the Masters of Evil systematically took the Avengers down, including taking control of Avengers Mansion. A lot of Kurt Busiek’s Thunderbolts run had its roots in the Masters of Evil during this storyline (as Stern heavily featured a character he created during his run on Hulk, Moonstone).

Here we see Captain America and Black Knight being tortured while captive in the Mansion…

And here we see the Wasp determined to re-take the Mansion…

Classic stuff.

Sadly, due to a difference of opinion over how to handle the book, Stern was fired from the title, and left Marvel to work for DC for the rest of the 1980s.

41. Jeff Smith’s Bone – 230 points (2 first place votes)

Bone #1-55

Jeff Smith’s Bone is the epic tale of three cousins, Fone Bone, Smiley Bone and Phoney Bone, and their adventures when they are thrown out of their hometown of Boneville, and end up in The Valley. The series is filled with drama and fantasy, but with a great deal of humor involved. It is one of the best All Ages comic book series that there is in the comic book world.

Smith’s cartoonish artwork is inspired by the work of the great Walt Kelly, and certainly, Bone owes a visual heritage to Kelly’s Pogo, but Bone is a worthy successor to Pogo in more than just great artwork, for Bone is filled with the same sense of humanity that made Pogo such an amazing series.

In the Valley, the Bones interact mostly with Thorne, a young woman, and her grandmother. Plus, of course, a dragon.

The Bones mostly try not to run up against the evil giant rat creatures who wish to kill them.

Phoney Bone is a bit of a con man, so a lot of Bone stories involve one of his get rich schemes. Smiley Bone is a dumb galoot who ends up going along with Phoney’s schemes.

Fone, on the other hand, is a virtuous, romantic figure, who tries to do good in the world, while also staying true to his cousins.

While there is a great deal of fantasy, adventure and humor, like Kelly’s work, there is also a great deal of social commentary, but it’s not over-the-top, and it’s never preachy.

This is a great work that is fun for the whole family, and the entire series is available in one over-sized black and white book!

49 Comments

Glad to see two of Stern’s runs here.

Roger Stern’s Avengers, my first place vote. Other then what Brian mentioned, highlights include the destruction of the Savage Land, the Vision takes over the world, Kang Wars, the war with the Olympians, and Starfox hooking up with She-Hulk.

Almost voted 100 Bullets, but other than that, none of my votes here. Bone is a great comic, though. I find Stern’s dialogue to be leaden and poorly-worded; but he had great ideas. Can’t say I would vote for them but I do enjoy several of his more well-known storylines.

Still sitting at 2 outta 10.

Stern was a great Avengers writer, and his work took off to even greater heights when he was teamed with Buscema & Palmer (two heavyweights at the top of their game). He created a terrific hero in the new Captain Marvel, did a fantastic job making the Wasp a more interesting and formidable character, did a terrific job with Thor & Cap despite not having creative control over them, and managed to write epic & battles and smaller stories with equal excellence.

Great stuff. (yeah, this was one of my votes!)

I really dig “The Invisibles,” but I’ve never finished it. I have all the trades except for the final one, but I’ve never gotten around to picking it up. I really need to rectify that situation.

I haven’t read the entire Stern/JRJR ASM run, but what I have read are some fine superhero comics.

“!00 Bullets” is one my favorite series ever, an absolutely brilliant collaboration. I know i was on my list at one point, but I can’t remember if it was in the final ten or not. I should’ve written that list down…

I haven’t read Sterns run on “Avengers” at all. there are HUGE gaps in my Avengers reading. From Lee/Kirby to Busiek/Perez, there’s very little I’ve read.

“Bone” is prety great, but it didn’t make my top ten. Glad to see it ranked so high, all the same.

Leslie Fontenelle

October 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm

So, what was the “twist” on the “superhero battles against a much more powerful foe” theme that Stern introduced that other writers supposedly followed? Because I have no idea what that would be.

The Spidey vs Juggernaut story was very good, but if we’re talking “superhero battles against a much more powerful foe” it wasn’t quite as intense as Frank Miller’s Daredevil vs Hulk.

Stern’s Avengers has been on my to-read list for ages. I need to do something about that.

Looking at Risso’s artwork, I’m struck by how much he reminds me of later-period Frank Miller (in a good way)

And with Bone, everytime I look at it, I’m struck by how underrated Jeff Smith is an artist. There’s the obvious Carl Barks and Walt Kelly influences, but he still manages to put so much personality and character to his artwork, using simple but refined linework and impeccable comic timing.

Yay, Roger Stern! Both of those runs are great. In the early 90’s Marvel briefly published a book called “Spider-Man Megazine,” and in every issue there were two Stern/Romita Spidey-stories, and one by Lee/Ditko, and these were some of the very first Spider-comics I read.

Bone’s a great book. Haven’t read The Invisibles. Read the first four trades of 100 Bullets and I don’t find it interesting at all. Oh well.

Well, look at that, with Stern Spidey and 100 Bullets I’m up to 4 of 10!

I’ve never read Bone, but always been curious about it, I’ll have to buy that phone book edition one day.
Did it only have a 55 issues run? I was hearing about it for so many years I figured it was much longer than that, must be the not monthly indy effect.

Stern’s Avengers is another I need to read, I only got a few issues of the Olympus and Heavy Metal stories, and if I’m not mistaken he got canned in the middle of that last one.

Still haven’t read Invisibles. I know it’s supposed to be great and all that, but it’s just never really appealed to me.

I haven’t read all of Stern’s Spidey, but I’ve loved what I have. Really need to go through the whole thing sometime. Stern’s Avengers, on the other hand, is one of my all time favorite runs, and hands down my favorite run on the title. Great stuff.

Invisibles 2012: #45, 200 points
Invisibles 2008: #27, 349 points
Down 18 places, -149 points

Stern/JRJR Amazing Spider-Man 2012: #44, 214 points
Stern/JRJR Amazing Spider-Man 2008: #55, 170 points
Up 11 places, +44 points

100 Bullets 2012: #43, 226 points
100 Bullets 2008: #62, 150 points
Up 19 places, +76 points

Stern’s Avengers 2012: #42, 228 points
Stern’s Avengers 2008: #58, 164 points
Up 16 places, +64 points

Bone 2012: #41, 230 points
Bone 2008: #31, 321 points
Down 10 places, -91 points

It’s a good year to be Roger Stern, as both his Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers runs climb up the Top 100 in the 2012 voting, gaining standing and points. There’s a definite surge of affection for the material on display here, which makes me wonder if any of it’s available in trade now that wasn’t back in 2008.

100 Bullets improves significantly in both standing and points, probably owing to the fact that it was an incomplete work in 2008. As of this writing, it’s fully available in trade, and probably gets more attention than ever owing to Azzarello’s increasingly prominent status as a creator.

Jeff Smith’s bone drops a significant number of points. This is probably just reflecting the material’s age, and how long it’s been since anything new was done with the property. Back in 2008, the color editions were still coming out, and new readers were probably still discovering it in larger numbers.

Grant Morrison’s Invisibles has the biggest drop of this run of the Top 100, losing 149 points. The material is all available in trade and fairly easy to pick up in my experience. Still, it is definitely an older Morrison work, and it’s possible that readers attracted to his superhero stuff simply aren’t reading it anymore.

Apparently I need to read some Roger Stern…still am get more perplexed by this list…hrrrm?!

Roger Stern’s Avengers and Spider-Man runs are both classics and I’d advise any fan of either titles to go check them out immediately if they haven’t already. Seriously 10/10 caliber stuff.

Also, I’m a bit surprised that Roy Thomas’ and Jim Shooter’s classic runs on Avengers appear to have missed the cut this time around.

Invisibles was my #2 pick. I’m sad to see it’s fallen, and that it’s still the least loved of Morrison’s major long-form works. It is truly phenomenal.

Invisibles and 100 Bullets would have been on my list (probably #5 and #2).

I guess as a kid I didn’t pay attention to creators at all (and since I never went back to re-read books I read as a kid I never looked back at them) so the Stern issues really hit me as something to go back, and to explore his other work as I was a big fan of those books at the time.

Still only 1/10 has shown up from my ballot. Thinking four, possibly five might not make it.

Invisibles – First appearance of Grant Morrison, and it definitely won’t be the last. I really prefer his writing from this era when he seemed less determined to formulate some insane grand scheme, and could tell a story that was organic in its total insanity. And boy is Invisibles insane. A note to fans of All-Star Superman and Batman R.I.P.: this is may honestly be too weird for you. Yeah, wrap your head around that one.

Spider-Man – I don’t really follow the core Spider-Man series, but JRJR was just on the road to becoming a master artist then and his early work is fantastic. I’m really hoping JMS’ run with Romita shows up, but just when Romita was drawing it.

100 Bullets – It’s great, but you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that, now do you?

Avengers – I don’t know a lot of Avengers outside of a few Kurt Busiek stories. I know these are supposed to be pretty good though.

Bone – ONE OF MY PICKS! I’m two for ten now! Fantastic, just fantastic. Fantastic genre swapping, fantastic art and fantastic characters. It’s also nice to see an indie comic get massive success due to the deal with Scholastic later. I just hope that doesn’t mean Bone’s legacy will go down as a children’s book, cause it ain’t.

Good stuff.

Both Roger Stern runs get a lot of nostalgia points from me. The Stern/Buscema/Palmer AVENGERS is excellent. It was a classic case of a creative team blending perfectly. That first WEST COAST AVENGERS mini (with Bob Hall) was superbly entertaining. Stern did a great job mixing and matching characters into interesting teams.

Stern and JRjr on SPIDER-MAN are perfectly solid superhero comics. Both creators had a good feel for the title and did good work. Stern did comparable work on several titles, including CAPTAIN AMERICA and post-Byrne Superman titles. It doesn’t make a ton sense to me why his Spidey run is singled out , but it is good to see an underrated creator recognized.

What I have read of Grant Morrison’s INVISIBLES is excellent. The deviants can be a bit too deviant at times, which makes it tough sledding. Still, Morrison working in big idea mode without the restraints of corporate superheroes is always worthwhile.

100 BULLETS is also very good. It was always a tight, well crafted read.

I never much cared for 100 Bullets, but that may have had something to do with the fact that when I first checked it out from the library I was confused and thought it was another volume of David Lapham’s Stray Bullets, which I like much, much better. I went ahead and read a few volumes of 100 Bullets anyway, but I just wasn’t much interested in the story Azzarello was telling, and I got pretty tired of those titular bullets.

The rest of these I like a lot, though.

“Titular Bullets” was Mike Oldfield’s followup album to “Tubular Bells”, right?

I read quite a few volumes of Invisibles and was pretty excited at first, but I ended up getting really, really bored. I always meant to try it again but never got around to it. It was over 10 years ago or so, back when DC did a really bad job with their trades. Their trades weren’t numbered clearly, and even if you opened the trade up you had to really hunt in the book to find the small print and figure out which issues of the series were being collected, so that didn’t help. I’m sure any more recent collections are much more clearly labeled and make it easier for people to buy the series in order. The first time I read it I didn’t realize that King Mob was meant to be an author insertion representing Morrison, and I’m glad I didn’t otherwise I’d have enjoyed it far less.

100 Bullets I loved at first as well, but Azzarello’s writing tics really started to grate on my after a while, with his annoying clipped, tough guy noir dialogue that was so smugly cryptic and circular that after a while it felt like no conversation actually meant anything and it became incredibly infuriating. Here’s my Azz imitation:

“So did you finish the job on…the “boat?” ”

“Wanted to. But it set sail a while ago. Not likely anyone’s ever gonna lay eyes on it again anytime soon.”

“Hm. High tide’s comin’. That boat’s about to come back in.”

“Seriously?”

“Like I’m gonna grow a sense of humor at this age?”

“Told you we shoulda just sunk it when we had a chance.”

“Not an easy boat to sink. Not then, not now. And we had better tools back then.”

“Tools like what we had, they never get rusty. No matter how long you don’t use ‘em.”

“Yeah…but that only helps when you remember where you left ‘em.”

And so on and so on with the cryptic circular tough talk for 20 pages until someone gets shot and we realized we didn’t really learn much. I must have made it like 3/4 of the way through the series and still didn’t bother just riding it out until the book finished, I hated the dialogue that much. I just stopped caring about all of the subplots, even though I was so close to the end of the series. Plus it just seemed to keep getting more and more obnoxiously racist and stereotypical, and you could tell Azz really believed he had the “black voice” down, and wanted to showcase that belief, and I couldn’t take it anymore. (Although compared to how bad he got with this tic in his Cage MAX series, this was pretty benign looking back).

Every now and then I sample Azzarello but he just seems to find it so hard to just write simple straightforward conversations that just reveal things in a non-cryptic way. I know people don’t want conversations that are just exposition-fests that spell everything out, but geez.

Roger Stern’s Spider-Man? I can’t say enough good things about it. Best Amazing Spider-Man run ever, except for maybe the Lee/Ditko run and Lee/Romita run pre-George Stacy’s death. I really wonder why he left the book the first time around? Has it ever been explained? Maybe the subject of a past (or future) Comic Book Legends? His Hobgoblin Lives! mini in the 90s was great too. I’d love for him to return to the book if Dan Slott ever leaves.

I know less about Stern’s Avengers, but what I did read of it I loved, especially Siege and the issues where Spider-Man guest-starred.

Bone, of course, is a classic. I need to purchase it in its entirety so I can periodically reread it. I’m shocked it’s never been developed into a TV series or Dreamworks movie trilogy or something.

buttler…Yeah, Stray Bullets was great! I forgot about that! Did Lapham ever wrap that book up?

Still 1/10 with Strange Tales (my number 10 pick)

Stern’s runs are both great stuff.

Feel free to moderate this one if it’s still upcoming and you don’t want it revealed yet, but did the Stern/Byrne run on Cap count under the rules of this countdown? I think that was a 9 issue run, but I can’t remember now if that was the cut off number. If it didn’t place, maybe people were confused like I am right now if it counted or not.

Dean Hacker: “Stern did comparable work on several titles, including CAPTAIN AMERICA and post-Byrne Superman titles. It doesn’t make a ton sense to me why his Spidey run is singled out , but it is good to see an underrated creator recognized.”

His Spider-Man run is singled out because it was actually high quality. His Cap run was middling at best and his Superman work in the 90s (I’m assuming that’s what you’re reffering to?) was AWFUL.

T.: “Roger Stern’s Spider-Man? … I really wonder why he left the book the first time around? Has it ever been explained?”

Wasn’t it just because he didn’t want to work for Shooter anymore?

I too wonder about why Stern left Spidey. I can’t remember if I’ve heard a reason on that one before.

If, as the commenter above states, he didn’t want to work for Shooter any more, any bad blood between them is apparently water under the bridge, as I was at Ithacon (Ithaca NY) a few years back where the 2 of them were seated next to each other. It was quite cool to hear stories from Shooter, and Stern is always a cool guy when I’ve talked to him there at Ithacon.

OK, full commentary here now.

Invisibles — I’ve only read bits and pieces, but I should rectify that quickly and read it by December 21, right? It just got Omni’d, if the Omnibus actually came out. And doesn’t fall apart due to crap binding. But it’s a neat story, from what I’ve read. I got the first trade last year but still haven’t read it (me slow). I want to argue T’s point about DC trades not being well labelled, but he’s probably right. I will say that the copyright page for DC (and Marvel) trades are pretty good at listing the issue numbers that are being reprinted even if there’s no table of contents or anything. I think most of the trades have numbers on the spine, as well.

Stern Avengers and Spidey — haven’t read Avengers, but hear good things. I did not know he had a Hulk run, or introduced Moonstone. Do you happen to know the issues of that run right off, Brian? (ha, of course you do!)

That’s quite a feat for Palmer to have inked about 150 straight issues of the Avengers. Even those crap ones near the end? He’s a masochist!

I think there was at least one HC recently released of the Avengers run, Under Siege, iirc. Not sure about the Spidey run.

A Marvel Tales issue, some years after the original run, that reprinted the first Hobgoblin issue is one of the first comics I ever bought, and a reason I went obsessive over comics ever since (the other 2 issues were Spider-Man 18 by Larsen and Wolverine 51 by Silvestri…or a Kubert, maybe. So you know the time frame. Cuz you care.).

Stern’s Spidey run is so good, even WIZARD would always talk it up! And like irritant above, I read this run in the Spider-Man Megazine. Great collection of stories — 2 Stern issues, a Stan and Steve issue, and the first issues of Marvel Team-Up.

100 Bullets — I have random issues of this. Ok stuff. I’m not rushing out to get the rest. Issue 26, with all the guest artists, is one I’ve gotten a few of the artists to sign. Cool looking stuff there. Nice work on that Azz dialogue, T. One place it irritated me was in their Batman Broken City run, where Batman runs into the hot girlfriend of some criminal, and she has very suggestive dialogue with Batman. Ugh.

I don’t remember about Stray Bullets. I think Lapham intends to do more with it, but he keeps getting distracted.

Bone — I like Bone, particularly the first quarter/third of it, then it gets tied up in the fantasy Tolkein-esque stuff that just doesn’t do it for me. Plus, as a Cerebus fan, I have to take Dave’s side over Smith’s ;) I do believe that the one volume book actually does get everything essential into it (even the old Hero Illustrated Holiday Special!), although there was a “Sourcebook” put out when Image published the book for a while.

I do believe there is also a color version of the one volume book out now, as well as a new series of related kid’s novels.

This series is also one of my best scores ever — I was at a library, and the one volume was on the discard table. I quickly snatched it up when I was told that stuff was a quarter. Damn right, I got the one volume Bone book for 25 cents!!! The binding is broken about a third of the way in (probably about where I like it up to ;) ) but otherwise everything’s there and all. Sweet!

While Invisibles was a big thing at its time and still an enjoyable read, I guess it has become a bit “also there” book for Morrison. Doom Patrol and Animal Man were where he got the cult following and JLA, X-Men etc. where he got the mainstream following.

And I have to agree with Travis on Bone, first third is great but I am not too fond of the Tolkieny stuff overtaking the latter parts, even if the book remains enjoyable.

As the guy who voted for Roger Stern’s AmSpM for 1st place, I am sad.

The good news: There’s still a chancefor ROM to be #1!!!!

Stern’s Hulk run (#223-243) was arguably kind of crap. It has its fans, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Invisibles: I read the first trade, and realized it wasn’t my thing.

Stern Spidey: I need to read more, but what I have read is great.

100 Bullets: I read it until I stopped enjoying it (around issue 65). Did the series end strongly? I haven’t thought of it in years, but I feel like I ran 2/3 of a race and then stopped.

Stern Avengers: One of the two best Avengers runs ever (the other being Englehart’s), Stern’s characterization took the book to a higher level. The Wasp became a good character, Captain Marvel & Starfox were interesting additions, and the Hercules/ Namor sniping was fun. The Milgrom art was rough, but Buscema’s & Palmer rectified that. Under Siege remains my favorite Avengers story.

Bone: The One Volume edition is worth buying. The series was a bit uneven, but the stronger material outweighed the weaker. Smith’s art was always nice.

Stray Bullets fans: The series never wrapped up, but Lapham brought the story of Virginia’s kidnapping to its conclusion in an anthology called Noir. It might have been published by Dark Horse, but I don’t have it in front of me to confirm. Worth seeking out.

Once again, I have some familiarity with 4 out of 5. (“Invisibles” being the exception.)

A long, long time ago I bought the first TPB collection of “100 bullets.” I never felt the need to press onward with the series after that.

I have more fondness for Stern’s runs mentioned here, although I don’t reread them very often. And I appreciated Jeff Smith’s “Bone” when I started buying the TPBs way back when, although again, I don’t remember the last time I actually sat down and read through a couple of the TPB volumes in my collection to refresh my memory.

Sixty percent of the way through the countdown, and still only one of my personal Top Ten Favorites has managed to get mentioned! But I continue to hold high hopes of seeing 4 more!

I just can’t get on with Roger Stern’s writing. It does nothing for me.

The Invisibles might have made my list if I hadn’t completely hated (or more accurately completely failed to understand on any level) the final volume.

Bone and 100 Bullets are great. They both made my shortlist. I’ve still not had a single one of my votes turn up though.

“Grant Morrison’s Invisibles has the biggest drop of this run of the Top 100, losing 149 points. The material is all available in trade and fairly easy to pick up in my experience.”

I think the trades technically went out of print in favor of the omnibus (and some sort of eventual reprinting). I’ve been noticing that the stores that used to have a whole shelf are now reduced to a few copies of the later trades.

So, what was the “twist” on the “superhero battles against a much more powerful foe” theme that Stern introduced that other writers supposedly followed? Because I have no idea what that would be.

He had the underdog actually find a way to win. Up until that point, the “victory” in each of the battles was that the underdog didn’t give up (Thing versus Hulk, Daredevil versus Namor, Daredevil versus Hulk). Now the underdog actually WON. It is a twist that later writers have used a lot since, although I would argue with less success than Stern did (as c’mon, Spider-Man shouldn’t be able to beat up Firelord).

Surprised Stern isn’t higher up on the list, especially the Spidey stuff, but still great to see.

Interesting to see two Roger Stern runs here. I read most of those books as they came out and I’ve felt Stern was an extremely capable comic book writer but never a transcendent one. He produced solid superhero fare but nothing very memorable (other than “the Boy Who Collects Spider-man”) or innovative. A B-plus student. I think he’s similar to Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid, guys who crank out quality work for the Big 2. The difference is those guys had outlets like Astro City and Irredeemable where they can experiment with different forks of storytelling. (And room inside the BIg 2 to do Kingdom Come and Marvels) I don’t know if Stern ever had an option to do anything like that and if he had more interesting stories that never got told. I suspect he’s a victim of his era in that way.

The negative: Why didn’t Stern’s WHOLE Spider-Man run from Spectacular 43-61 also get included? I thought the rules of the poll stated that a run could cross more than one title, and Stern didn’t miss a month of writing Spider-Man from 1980 to 1984 except for 3 fill-in issues, Spectacular 44 and 53 and Amazing 228. It seems sort of gratuitous to ignore the first half of Stern’s run on the character just because of the Romita issues. Surely more than just I voted for the Spectacular issues as well.

The positive: VERY pleased to see Stern’s Avengers on here, one of the best runs in Marvel history period. A shame it got cut short prematurly (the fault of Gruenwald or DeFalco? I’ve never been clear on that).

Also very happy to see Bone included!!!

Leslie Fontenelle

October 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thanks for the explanation, Brian. I also agree with your opinion about the Spidey vs Firelord fight.

Bah my #1 choice was 43. on the list. Well at least it improved from last time. Hopefully it’ll make it to top 10 next time :p

The negative: Why didn’t Stern’s WHOLE Spider-Man run from Spectacular 43-61 also get included? I thought the rules of the poll stated that a run could cross more than one title, and Stern didn’t miss a month of writing Spider-Man from 1980 to 1984 except for 3 fill-in issues, Spectacular 44 and 53 and Amazing 228. It seems sort of gratuitous to ignore the first half of Stern’s run on the character just because of the Romita issues. Surely more than just I voted for the Spectacular issues as well.

I mentioned his Spectacular stuff, but pretty much every vote specified Amazing Spider-Man. Again, though, it didn’t affect the voting (no one voted for Stern’s Spectacular run alone), so sure, if you want to throw the Spectacular stuff in there, go right ahead.

So far three of mine have made the list. Waid’s FF, Kirby’s New Gods, and now Sterns ASM.

Aw yeah Invisibles! I just finished the Omnibus. Loved it. Although I will admit the third volume caught me off guard. And whatever problems DC has had with Ominbuses in the past isnt present here, as the binding was sewn and fine. No real gutter, which was great for a 1500 page book. Seriosuly, that thing could double as a murder weapon.

So the Omnibus lacks gutter loss? Hooray! I’ve been trying to find out whether that was an issue. When I have some extra cash I’ll have to pick it up.
I love 100 Bullets, but I voted with a self-imposed rule that I would only vote for finished series and I’m buying the HCs. It will probably be in my top 5 next time. Parts of the third volume brought me to tears, and it is probably the best plotted thing I’ve ever read.

Travis, what I mean by bad DC trades for the Invisibles is that around the time I tried the trades it was when DC would put out trades very sporadically and inconsistently, and labeled them badly. This is before there was such a thing as writing for the trade, when trades were almost an afterthought. The very first invisibles trades were poorly labeled and you had to open each volume and search the copyright pages to find which issues were collected, and sometimes it would be very hard to find. So as I was in the comic shop I had to keep opening up each trade to figure out what to buy first. But to make it even worse, Invisibles had two volumes at least, but none of the trades I read from the first volume indicated whether or not they were the last issues of the first volume. I wanted to make sure I finished the first volume before moving on to the second, but the trades never indicated whether they were the final issues of the first volume. So I decided to get around that by getting the first trade of volume 2, figuring that there would be a page in there somewhere listing all the previous trades and their proper order, but such a page never appeared.

I find that after quesada and jemas really pushed for more consistent clearly labeled trades for Marvel DC started doing the same later on. I’m sure later trades of Invisibles are much better now so I may try the series again

All worthy choices today, though interesting to see how they’ve moved around a bit since ’08. It makes perfect sense that 100 Bullets has moved up, given that it’s finished now and Azzarello remains a prominent writer, but some of the other movements are a bit curious.

I’m really confused as to why Bone has dropped so much. Collections seem even more available now than in ’08, and I don’t see what might have siphoned votes away. But I might be bias. I didn’t vote for Bone, but it was one of the last 3 runs I cut from ballot (with Y The Last Man and Giffen/DeMatteis JLI being the other two).

And I agree with commenters that have wondered why Bone hasn’t been adapted into film or television. It would be such a perfect fit for Dreamworks animation, or even Pixar (though I don’t believe Pixar has ever used a non-original screenplay).

Ed (A Different One)

October 24, 2012 at 7:16 am

Ladies and gentlemen, that fine example of sequential art in the AMS Juggernaut scene brought to you buy a young John Romita, Jr. I wish he still drew comics that way.

@Dean Hacker
I think you had to be reading the 2-3 AMS runs that immediate preceded Stern to really understand the impact he had on the title. By that point, Spidey had steadily evolved (or de-evolved, depending on how you look at it) from the capable but akward young hero portrayed during the Lee/Ditko/Romita, Sr. years to basically a one-line quipping punching bag who seemed to win his battles in spite of his powers rather than because of them. Stern completely re-invigorated the character, and reminded everyone just how formidable a spider-powered human could be. Even though it sound mundane now, it was really a new direction at the time and just so f*&*in refreshing when compared to what came before. He had a respect for the character that the Conways and Weins and Wolfmans just didn’t seem to share. Add on top of that his excellent character work and tightly plotted stories and willingness ot have Spidey take on villians outside of his normal rogue’s gallery, and you have a run that really sticks out for us old fogies who have followed Spidey for nigh on 4 decades now.

@T and Turd Burglar

I’m not the comics historian that some of the folks who visit this site seem to be, but I heard somewhere that Stern left ASM because he was offered the Avengers which was apparently a “dream job” for Stern. Don’t know if that’s true or not or even if that was the turn that immediately followed his work on ASM, but I think it’s a pretty solid fact that Stern had his eyes on the Avengers long-term.

As far as his departure from Marvel, I do get irritated that so many people seem to ascribe his departure to animosity against Shooter. From what I understand, he was “fired” from the Avengers over a disagreement with Mark Gruenwald, who was editing the title at the time. And while I haven’t done the homework to confrim this or not, I have the rather strong impression that Shooter had already been sent packing by that point by the corporate suits who were taking over Cadence (Marvel’s parent company at the time). As far as I know, Stern and Shooter never had any known animosity between them and have stayed friendly toward each other pretty much the whole time.

Like I said though, I’m not the historian some are and have not done any hard fact-checking, so someone out there may have facts backed up by solid sources that say I’m all wet. But that’s the skinny as far as I’ve been able to learn over the years (Stern is a gentleman and pretty tight-lipped about saying anything bad about anyone, but he did confirm on his blog that Gruenwald was the one who fired him from Avengers).

“While Invisibles was a big thing at its time and still an enjoyable read, I guess it has become a bit “also there” book for Morrison.”

Which is odd, since Invisibles and Flex Mentallo are really the “Rosetta Stone” for understanding Morrison’s entire body of work, including things like his Batman run. With Morrison’s mainstream popularity/profile as high as it is, and so many people fixated on “deciphering” his books (check all the Batman annotations out there), it seems like this stuff would get more attention now.

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