2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #40-36
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…
40. Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets – 231 points (8 first place votes)
Love and Rockets #1-50, Love and Rockets Vol. 2 #1-20, Love and Rockets: New Stories #1-current (#5)
Love and Rockets is one of the greatest comic book anthologies ever, and it’s quite impressive to note that it is an anthology that is made up of just one family – the Hernandez brothers, primarily Gilbert and Jaime, although brother Mario occasionally chips in, as well.
Each brother primarily tells their own epic tale, while occasionally peppering in one-off stories.
Gilbert’s was Palomar, which was the goings-on of a fictional South American village. Gilbert later used one of the characters from Palomar, Luba, exclusively.
Jaime’s was Hoppers 13 (which, when the stories were collected, was titled Locas), about two women, Maggie and Hopey, and their developing friendship.
As you can tell, both brothers are known for the work they do with strong female characters, but they’re mostly known for their ability to tell stories about realistic characters, while using a seemingly simplistic art style to do so, sort of sneaking the deep stuff past you with the simple artwork.
One of their most famous stories was the death of Speedy Ortiz, a young man who had a past relationship with Maggie and who is now in the middle of a gang conflict after dating Maggie’s younger sister (who was also dating another gang leader). Speedy likes to present a tough front but Hernandez lets us see how conflicted he is underneath, but how his indecisiveness runs rough shot over Maggie’s feelings…
Tough stuff, but beautifully depicted by Hernandez.
The second Love and Rockets series was a good deal of time after the first one and Love and Rockets: New Stories is a new extra-sized annual format, so they probably shouldn’t count as part of the “run,” but eh, if you’re interested in these characters, you might as well know that there is a current comic book series with them coming out.
39. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy – 247 points (6 first place votes)
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1-4 in 1995, then lots of mini-series ever since then.
It’s funny, when Hellboy began, there was some concern (even from Mignola himself) as to how Mignola would handle the writing side of things. We all knew it would look amazing (as it is Mike Mignola we’re talking about here) but how would the stories be? Well, such concern was unwarranted as Mignola turned out to possibly be an even better writer than he is an artist, which is shocking considering how good of an artist he is.
In any event, Hellboy is a demon who was called to Earth while a child by a group of Nazi occultists during World War II. He spurned the attempts of the Nazis to use him for evil. Instead, he joined up with Allied Forces, in particular a Professor who raised this “hell boy” as his own child. In this nature versus nurture argument, nurture won out as Hellboy grew up to be a strong force for good and he helped the Professor form the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).
The BPRD are a fascinating group in their own right, and have since spun off to their own long-running comic book series, co-written by Mignola.
In Hellboy, Mignola explores a great variety of folklore tales and different takes on great literature ideas. The character of Hellboy is such an open concept (he can adapt to action, adventure, horror or fantasy with great ease) that Mignola can really do whatever he wants with the series, and the result has been a variety of fascinating stories.
Most of them have been accompanied by Mignola’s own great artwork, but in recent years, he has had other artists draw the book, all of whom are greatly talented themselves (Richard Corben and Duncan Fegredo are probably the two other most notable Hellboy artists).
Here’s a bit from the first Hellboy story written entirely by Mignola (he originally had John Byrne script the feature)…
Man, Mignola is AWEsome.
38. Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman – 254 points (6 first place votes)
Warrior #1-21, Miracleman #7-16 (#1-6 reprinted the Warrior stories)
Marvelman was invented in the 1950s when Fawcett quit making Captain Marvel stories, leaving L. Miller & Son, who reprinted the Marvel Family titles in England, without a star character. Mick Anglo whipped up a new character (without being TOO new, if you know what I mean), and Marvelman continued in the place of Captain Marvel until the comic was canceled in the early 60s.
Two decades later, in the pages of Quality International’s anthology, the Warrior, Alan Moore and Garry Leach brought Marvelman back, only with a postmodern edge. Reporter Michael Moran keeps having crazy dreams about superpowers, until he says the magic word, “Kimota!” and is transformed into Marvelman!
It is soon revealed that the Marvelman stories of the past were part of a government experiment with fusing alien technology with humans, to create superhumans, and the government filled the heads of Marvelman, Young Marvelman, Marvelwoman and Kid Marvelman with memories of superpowered adventures, and then tried to kill them when their experiments were over. The nuke meant to kill them all only killed Young Marvelman. Marvelman just became Michael Moran, and forgot about it all, until his memory returned.
Kid Marvelman, meanwhile, had gone mad with power, and was now a sociopathic killer. Marvelman fights him, and gets him to say HIS magic word, turning back to a young boy named Johnny Bates. Bates is placed into a group home.
The rest of the Warrior run detailed the history of how Miracleman formed, as well as learning that Moran’s girlfriend, Liz, was pregnant. During the Warrior run, Alan Davis also drew a great deal of the stories.
After legal problems from Marvel over the name “Marvelman,” Quality sold their rights to Eclipse Comics, who changed the name of the title to Miracleman, and started a new title, first reprinting the Warrior stories (which were done in black and white originally) and then starting new stories, this time with different artists, such as Chuck Beckum (Chuck Austen), Rick Veitch and most notably Moore’s former Swamp Thing inker, John Totleben, who drew perhaps the most famous Miracleman storyline, where young Johnny Bates is sexually assaulted during his stay in the group home, forcing him to turn into Kid Marvelman again, who has now just totally snapped, leading to an amazingly graphic single-handed destruction of London – it’s waaaaaaaaaay beyond the pale.
Miracleman (with help of some other heroes) finds a way to force Kid Miracleman to turn back into Johnny, and Miracleman has to make a dreadful choice…
Moore left the book to Neil Gaiman after this storyline, with Moore’s last issue being #16. Gaiman wrote the book until Eclipse went out of business after #24.
37. Stan Lee and John Romita’s Spider-Man – 262 points (3 first place votes)
Amazing Spider-Man #39-71, 74-75, 81 (as inker), 82-88, 89-92 (as inker), 93-95, 96 (as inker)
When John Romita took over from Steve Ditko, he was clearly trying not to change too much of what was, at the time, quite a winning formula, but soon, Romita had changed the book’s visuals dramatically, specifically his depiction of Peter Parker. Gone was the skinny, goofy looking kid of Ditko’s run – Romita’s Peter was quite handsome.
Tying in with Romita’s ability to draw attractive people, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson became major characters during this time, as Romita sure did love to draw pretty girls. His depiction of Peter’s first meeting with Mary Jane has become the stuff of comic book legend.
Meanwhile, Romita was also quite fluent in the world of superhero action, so the book was filled with a lot of action, as well. What Romita did differently from Ditko was to both make the book a bit more colorful, and most importantly, open up the book a bit more – Ditko was all about economy – Ditko liked to tell a long story through extensive panel usage. Romita used less panels, and opened up the look of the comic – much more expansive.
During his tenure with Stan Lee, the book saw the introduction of the Kingpin, who has become one of the most notable Marvel villains of all time, as well as the famous storyline where Peter decides to quit becoming Spider-Man.
John Romita’s run opened up with a legendary cover…
which has become an iconic drawing, and continued with more iconic drawings than you could shake a stick at, if you wanted to shake a stick at iconic drawings, that is.
As he was preparing to leave the book, Romita even inked incoming artist, Gil Kane, so that the transition would go smoothly. Romita would do this for later artists, as well, and even after he was totally off of the book interiors-wise, he continued to draw the covers of the issues, so Romita’s influence on the comic lasted for quite a long time.
36. Mark Waid’s Flash – 263 points (6 first place votes)
Flash #62-129, plus a #0 (#118-129 co-written with Brian Augustyn, and interestingly enough, the book actually changed titles from Flash to The Flash at #101)
Mark Waid burst on the scene with Flash by giving readers “Kid Flash – Year One,” which was a touching tribute to the beginnings of Wally’s career, and a clear note that Waid’s stories were going to be ones that stressed characterization first.
One piece of characterization that Waid picked up from outgoing writer, Bill Loebs, was the relationship between Wally and his friend, Linda Park. Loebs had slowly built up an intriguing friendship between the two, but it was Waid who made the friendship a full-fledged romance, leading to the centerpiece of Waid’s run on Flash – the love between Wally and Linda.
After a storyline with Abra Kadabra (if I picked up a random issue of Waid’s run and asked you, “Who’s the villain?,” you’d have about a 50/50 shot if you said Abra Kadabra), Waid launched probably his most memorable storyline, where he had Barry Allen seemingly return from the dead. Seeing Wally’s reactions to both Barry’s return and the realization that bad things were happening was probably the point where Waid’s Wally West became a true adult. It was a beautiful coming of age storyline, and it also introduced Max Mercury, a cool new character that Waid had come up with, a zen-like fellow (who is ostensibly based on some old Golden Age hero).
Waid’s next big storyline introduced Impulse, the young cousin of Wally from the future, who was raised in virtual reality, so he had, well, an impulse problem. Young Bart Allen became Wally’s sorta sidekick, and soon gained his own spin-off title (bringing Max with him as his guardian).
Perhaps the masterstroke of his run was the development of the “Speed Force,” an almost mystical energy field that gave all speedsters their powers. During a big storyline leading up to #100, Wally was absorbed into the Speed Force, leaving Bart and the other speedsters (Johnny Quick, Max Mercury, the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, and Johnny Quick’s daughter, Jesse) to defend the Flash’s city, along with Linda (she is the narrator of the issue, and she makes a point to note that she no longer believes in miracles after Wally’s death).
However, Flash manages to pull himself out of the force, all based on the power of his love for Linda.
After that moment, I’ll be frank, the book’s momentum slows a bit for the rest of Waid’s run. There’s a storyline with this guy who can steal the Speed Force from people, and then there’s a story where Wally gets lost in time and replaced by John Fox, the Flash from the future, who is a bit of a jerk. Then there’s a few short storylines before Waid and Augustyn (originally Waid’s editor on the book, and became his co-writer with #118) took a break with #129. They would return in a year’s time for a new run that ended with #159 (#162 for Augustyn), and the marriage of Wally and Linda. Waid would return years later in #231 for a short run with Wally, Linda, and their two children (who also had powers).
Waid began the book with incumbent artist, Greg LaRocque, who stayed on the book until the end of the Return of Barry Allen. The late, great Mike Wieringo would take over, and draw the book for about 20 issues or so, helping to create Impulse with Waid. After #100, Waid had a string of young artists work on the book (most of whom would go on to big things after their time on Flash, like Salvador Larroca and Jimmy Cheung), and his first run finished with Paul Ryan supplying the artwork.