X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
You voted, now here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book creator runs of all-time! Here is a master list of all of the runs.
Here’s the last two runs…
2. Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin’s X-Men – 1233 points (39 first place votes)
X-Men/Uncanny X-Men #108-109, 111-143
X-Men was already an up and coming series from Marvel before John Byrne took over as penciler from Dave Cockrum. It was not exactly lighting the sales charts on fire, but there was a buzz about the book. It was at the end of a storyline when Byrne was brought on to replace Cockrum in Uncanny X-Men #108.
After one more Cockrum issue with #110, Byrne was back for good with #111, and he and Claremont went on an incredible journey, taking the X-Men all over the world, with nice character work and excellent artwork by Byrne and Austin.
They had a great story with Magneto against the team plus a dramatic story where the X-Men are feared dead, this allowed Jean Grey to go off on her own storyline that eventually led to the Dark Phoenix Saga much more down the road.
What’s amazing about the Dark Phoenix saga was just how slowly it build up to a head, and all the while, Claremont and Byrne were telling strong stories, including the Proteus storyline.
The Hellfire Club was probably one of the more notable parts of the run, as it also introduced Kitty Pryde. They had already established, early in the run, that Wolverine was willing to kill if need be…
but the Hellfire Club took that to a bigger level – due to Byrne’s involvement with Wolverine, Wolverine soon became one of the most popular characters in all of comics – this story has one of the most famous single panels in comic history.
And, of course, the Dark Phoenix Saga happened, which was amazing, even though Claremont and Byrne did not have the ending they initially planned on having. However, Jean Grey’s death made the story even more famous than it probably would have been. It was at this point that the book really started to take a sales upswing (hitting its acme under Paul Smith’s tenure on the book).
How do you follow up an amazing storyline like the Dark Phoenix Saga?
Well, how about ANOTHER famous storyline, Days of Future Past, with Kitty Pryde returning from a dystopic future to help stop her own horrible future (here is a glimpse of that future, where mutants are hunted down by Sentinels)…
Byrne finished his run with yet ANOTHER classic story, the famous Christmas issue starring Kitty Pryde where she is attacked by a demon while home alone for the holidays…
Byrne left to take over Fantastic Four, while Claremont stayed on for another decade or so.
But they had already made their mark on the comics world.
1. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – 1375 points (45 first place votes)
The Sandman #1-75
The initial Sandman storyline introduced us to Morpheus, the titular Sandman of the series. Morpheus is also known as Dream of the Endless and he was the king of dreams. The first storyline saw him released from captivity for the first time in decades. He has to find a few items of power to get back to full strength. One of the items is owned now by a demon in hell. In a memorable early issue, Morpheus wins the item back in a compelling game in hell…
The above exchange became a popular online meme during the Clinton/Obama primaries in 2008.
In another early issue, we met the sister of Dream, Death. Death became one of the most popular characters DC had. In fact, when DC had a poll for which characters should get their own mini-series, Death was the winner.
Essentially, having Morpheus be the king of dreams allowed Gaiman to tell whatever stories he wanted to, with a specific bent towards stories involving mythology and folklore. It was a fantasy lover’s dream. Not only did he come up with clever story ideas, what was remarkable about Gaiman was that his stories also were extremely character-driven. Gaiman would introduce new characters constantly, and within an issue, you felt like you knew the character your whole life.
One such character was the king of a magical version of Baghdad who is tired with his “boring” life as the king of the greatest city in the world, so he tries to summon Dream (check out the magnificent P. Craig Russell artwork)…
Suffice it to say that the king has bitten off more than he can chew here.
Gaiman also picked up some established DC characters, like Cain and Abel and Lucien. Matthew the Raven came from Swamp Thing. Dream’s brother Destiny was an established DC character.
Prominent NEW characters included the immortal Hob Gatling, Mervyn Pumpkinhead, the witch (and former girlfriend of Morpheus) Thessaly, the evil Corinthian, plus Gaiman’s personal take on Lucifer, which was picked up by Mike Carey in his classic Lucifer run.
It’s truly amazing how many amazing characters Gaiman had in this series. Wow.
One of the most notable issue was #19 “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which won the World Fantasy Award in 1991 for Best Short Fiction.
Sandman won a tremendous eighteen Eisner Awards, including three Eisners for Best Ongoing Series and four Eisners for Gaiman as Best Writer.
Dave McKean did the amazing covers for the series, but the interiors were by many different artists.
The aforementioned P. Craig Russell, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Kelley Jones, Jill Thompson, Marc Hempel, Michael Zulli and Charles Vess all did notable issues, but there were many more great artists on the series.
The story ended with a new Dream taking over, and the celebration of Morpheus. Superman and Batman even guest-starred to pay their tributes. Gaiman has done work since then on Sandman, and they’ve also been quite good. He’s a good writer, that Gaiman.
Okay, that’s the list!
Thanks for reading!
We’ll see you all next time we do one of these things.
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