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CSBG Archive

2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #2-1

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.

Story continues below

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.


No surprises here.

Any chance of getting a list of the runner-ups (i.e. anything to get above X number of points), or maybe a list of ALL the other runs to get votes? A simple text list would more than suffice.

Sandman – I gave up around issue 10 – the purple prose kitsch was too much for me.
And the personification of dream, desire etc.? Doesn’t even make much sense on a metafictional level. But hey, if you are sufficicent goth or emo and female, you’re gonna love Sandman.

Me? I’d rather read a LIEFIELD comic.

Excellent! Thanks for all the hard work in tabulating the votes, Brian. You do good!

Claremont/Byrne X-Men — not something I know well enough or like well enough to have picked, but it’s certainly good superhero stuff. I recently read the Days of Future Past collection, which is the last…6-8 issues of this run, I forget, but I was impressed with how PACKED the issues were. Even if the main plot was something big, there were still lots of character moments. Each issue felt like several. Great stuff.

Can you imagine Days of Future Past, a 2 parter back then, now? It’d be a dozen issues, a dozen crossover books, and it wouldn’t resolve ever. Well, I guess the last part….

Actually, thinking about it, I’m probably as familiar with the stories from this run from the ’90s cartoon that I grew up with.

And Sandman! Not a real surprise that this is #1. It’s so good! And it’s so easy to get, too. If it didn’t come out this week, it’s next week when the new trade version of the Wake (volume 10 of 10) is out. Which is like, the hundredth way you can get it. Plus, the Annotated volumes are coming too.

I voted it my #11, although if Brian discounted my Mad vote (the Kurtzman written, Elder/Wood/Severin/Davis drawn comics issues 1-23) it was my #10. I actually haven’t read the whole thing, but what I have read is so good, I don’t think Gaiman and co. could have possibly muffed it at the end.

I first encountered it with the Vertigo Preview story Fear of Falling, about a playwright meeting Morpheus. Then I’d heard the buzz on the book so much I eventually got Fables and Reflections (or #50, the PCR issue shown above — but that’s in that book too), and it’s stunningly good. Myth, folklore, humor, horror. Everything in the series is top notch writing, and I love it. (Although I embarrassingly admit I didn’t “get” the story being told in #50 for years. I’m dum.)

Much like the Spirit, at times it’s Gaiman using the framework he’s created to tell the stories he wants to tell (that werewolf story, and the Deathless Heart of Koschei, and Baba Yaga…oh, and Morpheus too).

So looking forward to the “Sandman Zero” mini with JHW3 art. We’ll finally find out what Morpheus was doing that got him captured!

If you’d rather read a “Liefield” comic, perhaps one day you could learn that his name is spelled “Liefeld”.

I’m no Liefeld hater (I actually kinda liked the first 5 issues of the new Hawk and Dove, to a degree. And props to him for letting the people doing the new versions of EXTREME comics like Glory and Prophet.), but if you honestly would rather read Liefeld than Sandman (based on the first 10 issues only), hey, go ahead. We’ll continue to find your idiosyncratic and apparently deliberately contrarian views on comics to be completely laughable.

No surprises but my number 2 pick made the list.

2. Uncanny X-Men
3. Gotham Central
5. Spider-Man (Lee)
6. Y the Last Man
9. Avengers (Busiek)
10. Strange Tales

Okay now for my picks that did not make the list.

1. Christopher Priest’s Black Panther–I really wish more people would hunt this down, its amazing. Superheroics, politics, love, war…it was just brilliant.

4. Mark Waid’s Ruse–I knew it wasn’t going to make the list, but still had to show my support of this little gem.

7. Wildcats 3.0–I havent read it in a while, but it really turned the franchise on its ear.

8. Grell’s Green Arrow–I actually read this series because of the 2008 poll. So this is why I love the countdown, makes me want to explore what is out there. For that i say thank you to everyone who voted.

I second the notion for a list of runners-up. Even just numbers 101-150 like last time would be sweet.

Heh, I kept thinking “wow, I figured All-Star Superman would be higher than last time, but not this high?” Then I went back and looked and it was specifically declared a miniseries and not eligible.

I made a serious attempt to get into Sandman, but I just couldn’t. Not my kind of thing at all. And I’ve never read those X-Men either, but I did watch the cartoon in the 90s, which I think borrowed a lot from Claremont and Byrne with at least the Phoenix thing and Days of Future Past (and, unfortunately, it also borrowed costumes from Jim Lee).

I’m not sure if having read the majority of the top 10 marks me as a slave to popular opinion or as a man of particularly good taste. If everyone else likes it, it must be good! I may have just answered my own quandary, but I’m not going to argue with the list. Thanks for the engaging feature!

Thanks not only to Brian, but to all the voters…. will resolve to be less lazy next time and vote.

The resulting list and Brian’s comments make this an invaluable help for anybody asking themselves “what back issues should I track down”. If anything makes the list… you know its darn good of its type, and Brian’s comments give you a feel for whether its “your sort of thing”.

The list last time lead me to track down Gotham Central and Nextwave. Both of which I greatly enjoyed… and I’ll most certainly use the two lists as source of a few more “targets to hunt”.

Finally, not surprised (of course) that Sandman made number 1 again. I thought there were some tremendous issues, those that told short, punchy self contained stories. But… the broad sweeping story lines across many issues that many praise… left me a tad bored. And I really didn’t empathise with any of the characters. not one for my own top ten, next time.

So what are the most glaring ommissions on the list? Roy Thomas’ runs on Conan and Avengers are two big ones, as is Grell’s Green Arrow. I’m also amazed that Cole’s Plastic Man made it yet not as many people thought to vote for Otto Binder’s and C.C. Beck’s Captain Marvel.

Travis Pelkie: There is nothing “deliberately contrarian” about saying Sadman is crap/worse-than-Liefeld. That was a comic designed for 90s goths, i.e. THE MOST PATHETIC PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. It’s not something that is going to appeal to people broadly. It came in at #1 because of the unrivaled intensity of its cult fanbase, NOT because of the *size* of that fanbase.

I’m glad Terry Austin received the credit he deserves for this run. Byrne never looked as good to me when Austin wasn’t his inker,.

Damn X-fans >:(
Not surprised about the #1 pick. Can’t wait for the last trade (new edition) to come out so I can finally read it.

After going through this list, it’s sad to see that it didn’t have any Hellblazer runs, nor some classic DC runs (Dixon’s Batman, Grell’s Green Arrow and etc) and that Geoff Johns Flash run didn’t make it but Waid’s did. Not that Waid’s wasn’t great but Johns showed us why the Flash rogues gallery is the greatest.

“But hey, if you are sufficicent goth or emo and female, you’re gonna love Sandman.”

I just love how “female” is a category on par with “emo” and “goth”.

it’s good to see the Turd and mckraken agree on something. It’s also fun to see there are fanboys more emotionally stunted than I am. I’m not emo or goth or female, but Sandman definitely deserves it’s place on this list. You guys seem to confuse top comic runs with top superhero comic runs. Even then, this ranks far and above anything Liefeld ever put out.

@entzauberung —

Consider the source; to expect anything else would be like getting spring water from a sewer.

Nine for ten — and it became obvious early on that Marston/Peter Wonder Woman wasn’t gonna make the list, but I would rank it with Cole or Beck for sheer imagination and importance in the history of the medium. I’ve never read Grell on Ollie, primarily because I haven’t much liked what I hear happens to Dinah in the series. But maybe he’s good enough to give it some actual weight, instead of the usual shock tactics. I’m sure I can find the Longbow Hunters collected somewhere…

Had X-men on the list, didn’t have Sandman. To be blunt, Gaiman didn’t need my vote. Yeah, yeah, Claremont didn’t either, but when I looked at my list, it was so DC heavy that I felt it was coming across as company PR. Considering the money I’ve spent on Marvel, there had to be something I liked, right? Or am I a complete idiot?

You are NOT allowed to answer that, Travis….

Thanks, along with everyone else, to Brian for all the work in putting this together. Now, if I can only find the money to pay the library fine I’m accruing because I still want to re-read the Carl Barks collection I checked out…

@BeccaBlast: DC just released a new edition of Longbow Hunters if you’re interested :)

I finally read Sandman a couple of years ago. I tried to pace myself, but I read the entire series in a matter of days. One of the best reading experiences of my life. I’m baffled that people seem to be proud of disliking it.

Coincidentally, I also read the initial Claremont X-Men run in a couple of Essentials collections I found at the library immediately after I finished reading the Sandman trades, which I also checked out from the library. Thank you, local library!

Bob from Accounting

November 1, 2012 at 5:14 am

I don’t think the page you used is an example of a Wolverine kill. Frankly, if Logan had killed that guy, his teammates would have had more to say about it than a mild squick-out and then dropping the subject, particularly Storm, who was previously shown to feel bad about destroying Sentinels, for God’s sake. It’s more likely that Logan just incapacitated the guard in a particularly painful-looking way. That would fit Ororo and Kurt’s response better, I think. The scene’s pretty up for interpretation, though.

“a comic designed for 90s goths, i.e. THE MOST PATHETIC PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.”

LOL, I guess the were at that.

Brian, last time you published a list of all runs that got 50 or more points. Will you do that this time?

Ugh! X-Shite.

Still at least Sandman won – whcih didn’t quite make my list but is undoubtedly a classic.

My no-shows (two of which I find really surprising) are:
6 – Warren Ellis’s Stormwatch (way better than The Authority)
7 – Andy Helfer’s The Shadow
8 – Ed Brubaker + Sean Phillips’ Sleeper.

A worthy top 2, neatly showcasing two very different fantastic comics.

It is a shame that Sandman doesn’t appeal to people broadly. It’s so kind of DC to keep printing all those unwanted new editions of it every year, just to cheer up poor old Neil Gaiman and keep his mind off this failure.

I thought Sandman was good. Merely good.

There are moments when I read the comments about Sandman being Goth or Emo, and think to myself, ‘Maybe it is, I haven’t read it for a while. My taste could have changed.’

But then I reread Sandman, and find it’s still a great comic – tightly plotted, with some nice prose, atmosphere, ‘ugly’ art and cool moments like the one Brian mentioned with ‘I am Hope.’

On the other hand, I’m like Becca and don’t vote for Sandman because it always does great on its own. While I can spend my votes on the underdogs (where’s Moench/Kelley Batman, CSBG readers, huh? You failed me for the last time!).

Claremont/ Byrne X-Men: Among the most influencial super-hero comics of all time. Byrne was firing on all cylinders during much of it, and Claremont kept up nicely. I think the tension between the two creators had something to do with its success; Byrne couldn’t have written as well as Claremont and Claremont didn’t have the facility for pacing and action that Byrne displayed.

Sandman: For years, Sandman was THE comic most of us could point to when the medium was derided as juvenile trash (and we didn’t know or care about Love & Rockets, Eightball, etc. yet). Gaiman’s cast was amazing, his dialogue was quotably sharp, and his ability to use the medium was inspired. After he more or less ditched most of the horror trappings, he told stories about anything he wanted. I wish more comic book writers had that scope and ambition. The art ranged from okay to spectacular; Vess, PCR, Hempel, Zulli, Muth, Talbot, & Kelly Jones’s best work were standouts.

@ Gavin Bell: Exactly! Hmm… Maybe there are millions of secret emo female goths, just waiting to pounce. If Tori Amos wins the next election on write-in votes, we’ll know why.

“cool moments like the one Brian mentioned with ‘I am Hope.’”

Gaiman just varnished a friggin proverb! (Hope dies last….)
Not too original or a “cool moment” in my opinion.

I’ve read 3 or 4 TPB collections of “Sandman” without ever feeling the need to collect the full set. (Part of it may be that I just don’t like Dream very much.)

On the other hand, the Claremont/Byrne run makes the fourth item from my ballot to pop up this year. Which is kinda ironic, because 4 years ago it didn’t even qualify for my ballot!

I had asked myself then: “What are my favorite old runs to go back and reread, say, every few years?” At least 10 other runs popped into my head which I had gone back and reread more recently, and with more enthusiasm, than their classic X-Men collaborations.

But one of my old picks (Miller’s “Born Again” run on Daredevil) got disqualified by Brian’s new rules this year, so I had to find a new “Number 10″ at the bottom of my ballot, and I decided Claremont/Byrne could reasonably fill that slot.

Last time around, I had 5 picks out of 10 make it to the Top 100. This time, only 4 out of 10 went the distance. The item that I still voted for this year, but which didn’t crack the Top 100 as it had previously done in ’08, was Alan Moore’s Supreme run.

The other 5 items on my ballot — the ones I voted for in 2008, and voted for again in 2012, without seriously expecting them to get enough votes from others to amount to anything in the final tallies, either time — were:

Gerry Conway’s run on the then-intertwined titles of “Batman” and “Detective Comics” in the early 1980s.

Doug Moench’s run as Conway’s successor on both titles for about 3.5 years in the mid-1980s.

Jolly R. Blackburn’s run on “Knights of the Dinner Table” (still published by Kenzer after all these years).

The Ostrander/Truman run on the early issues of “Grimjack” back in the 1980s.

Peter David’s full run on “Young Justice” in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Sandman is SOOO good. It’s the only thing I could get my non comic reading wife to read. it’s the first series I collected in trades.

Yes, because “hope dies last” is all there is to that scene.

Brian, thanks as always for your hard work! Any chance you’ll let us see 200-101?

sandman and the x-men run are both rad. and whats wrong with a little goth tinged entertainment? type-o negative still rocks house.

also glad to see terry austin get props. byrne never did look better than in those books. tracking them down in color is the best way to read them but everyone should at least buy the first 2 essential x-men b&w tpb on amazon. it’ll cost less than 30 bucks and you’ll get like 50 of the best comic book stories ever made.

I’m new to that Sandman sequence shown above, but my immediate response to the “I Am Hope” line would have been “I am life” or “I am the reality” or “I am the latest of many disappointments.” I don’t know, “hope” just seems a little anticlimactic as a game-winner.

Did Lee-Ditko make the list and I just missed it?

All right, I ended up at 9 outta 10!

Brian, any chance we could get some of the almost-made-its, similar to the 2008 list?


Did Lee-Ditko make the list and I just missed it?

Assuming you mean their Spidey, it’s at #6 (their Dr. Strange run also made the list, but I forget the exact number).

T, Dream’s opponent is a demon, so he wouldn’t say life or reality. Too positive. Besides, they have already gone through similar things in that discussion. And do disappointments beat hope?
The point of the scene is that they don’t.

It clicks nicely for me, but I get that it may not work for you, as mckracken pointed out too.

well technically, since the demon says “the end of everyhing” that includes hope too. :)

No surprises here (which I don’t say as a bad thing). While there are X-Men runs I personally prefer over the Claremont/Byrne material, there’s no doubt that it’s a supremely well-crafted, influential and entertaining batch of comics, taking the energy and imagination of the Lee/Kirby FF run and putting a then-modern spin on it. Yes, Claremont can get verbose, but if the editorially-mandated repeated power explanations are really that off-putting, they’re easy enough to skim over (I not-too-long ago re-read this run issue by issue, and I honestly barely noticed it. But maybe I’m just numb to it by now). At any rate, it’s a pretty great batch of superhero comics.

Still haven’t read Sandman. I’ve got all the trades sitting on a bookcase, but I still haven’t dove in, for whatever reason. Part of me thinks I might be waiting for the hype to die down so I can consider it on its own terms, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. :)

If you got to the end of everything, and found hope there, you’d be as shocked as that demon! :D

Great countdown once again, Brian – thanks for compiling it! I’m pleased to see my #1, The Sandman, top the list. In the end, 9 of my top 10 runs made the cut, with only Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth not on the list.

And to those rushing to The Sandman’s defense, I wouldn’t take the naysaying too personally. It comes with the territory of near-universal acclaim and widespread recognition as being the best… anything that widely beloved is bound to have an “overrated” shadow-side to its reception. For the same reason there remain small but vocal circles who seem to actively despise The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kaine, Star Wars etc purely on the basis of them always topping “Best Movie” lists.

joe the poor speller

November 1, 2012 at 7:42 am

Some good runs that didn’t make it:

– Gruenwald’s Cap
– Mantlo’s Hulk
– Michelinie/Layton’s Iron Man
– Michelinie’s Spider-Man
– Jurgens’ Thor
– Priest’s Black Panther
– Busiek’s Thunderbolts
– Pak’s Hulk
– Fraction’s Iron Man
– Thomas/Buscema’s Savage Sword of Conan
– Ennis’ Hellblazer
– Carey’s Hellblazer
– Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s Detective Comics
– Grell’s Green Arrow
– Perez’s WW
– Rucka’s WW
– Andreyko’s Manhunter
– Rucka’s Detective Comics
– Johns’ Flash
– Simone’s Birds of Prey
– Palmiotti/Gray’s Hex
– BQM’s Batgirl

Really enjoy these lists. Thanks Brian.

All 10 of my picks made it, which surprised me (the TMK Legion was my lowest ranked entry).

Some really notable omissions from the list, including Grell’s Green Arrow, the Thomas and Englehart Avengers runs, Cockrum’s X-Men, Ellis’ Stromwatch, and Ennis’ Hellblazer. I also was surprised by how little DC representation there is of their big guns (non-Batman category). Only Byrne’s Superman, no showing for Johns’ Flash run, I too would love to see a list of those that just missed.

Another one that didn’t make it: Lee/Kirby Thor. Really surprised to not see that on the list this time.

Lee/Kirby Thor made it.

X-Men #94-143 is the run that made me a comics fan for life, and the bulk of that being the Byrne years. Loved the stories, loved the rise of Wolverine as a star, loved how good the book looked. Not many people mention it, but the CC/JB run had the best string of cool, well-choreographed superhero brawls in comics history: vs. Magneto, vs. Alpha Flight, vs. Proteus, vs. Hellfire Club, vs. Dark Phoenix, vs. Imperial Guard, vs. Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). So much to love. And the only thing that kept X-Men #137 from being perfect was NO ICEMAN (would’ve been a beautiful reunion of old and new teams in their greatest challenge…). Great run.

Sandman was also on my list, although a bit further down, ’cause I’m not quite as passionate about it. But it contains one of my favourite single-issue stories of all time (#13, Men of Good Fortune) as well as Thermidor, Augustus, Season of Mists, the above Hell issue. And I love how Kindly Ones felt like a grand finale, bringing in different characters from the series (love that Loki teamed up with Puck, and then Corinthian kicked the crap out of them). Sandman and Hellblazer both pretty much helped me graduate beyond “just” superheroes to other types of more “mature” fare.

Thank you for the great list!

Runs I now want to re-read:

Hickman FF
Morrison Batman

Runs I really want to read because of this list:

Invisibles (do-able ’cause I just got the trades)
Starman (been wanting to read that one for a while)

And to the poster who voted for Helfer’s Shadow I LOVE THAT RUN! We’ll get it on the next list in 2016.

Thanks again, Brian, tremendous fun.

so glad to see an X-Men run this high on the list. Not the run I would have picked, but this one definitely worthy of the recognition

Being a denizen of Hell for who knows how long, Choronzon couldn’t even get his mind around Hope. Morpheus didn’t have to find something that there was no comeback for, otherwise the game would go on forever. He just had to maneuver to something that would stymie Choronzon, if even for a moment. Spiders, snakes, horrors of every shape and size he could rattle off all day, but Hope was something long forgotten in Hell.

Regarding company “big guns”, I find it interesting to note the number of runs belonging to Marvel and DC “classic” franchises, kind of showing which characters arguably bring out the best in their creative teams (or maybe just get assigned to the best creative teams)? In any case, interesting breakdown:

5 Spider-Man (inc. Ultimate)
4 X-Men
4 Avengers (inc. Ultimates)
4 Fantastic Four
4 Daredevil
2 Thor
1 Hulk
1 Captain America
1 Iron Man
1 Doctor Strange
1 Nick Fury

6 Batman (inc. Gotham Central)
2 Justice League
2 Legion of Super-Heroes
2 Green Lantern (inc. GL/Green Arrow)
1 Teen Titans
1 Justice Society
1 Superman
1 Flash

Also, as a child of the Marvel era under Jim Shooter, I’m glad to see 10 runs make it from that happy time of comic collecting: 2 X-Men runs plus representation from New Mutants, Spider-Man, Avengers, FF, Daredevil, Thor, Iron Man and G.I. Joe.

joe the poor speller

November 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

Also, Aaron’s Ghost Rider was absent from the list. And Conway’s Spidey (ain’t a big fan of this one, except for that one story… I’m sure you all can imagine which one). Straczynski’s Thor (I know, I know… But I liked it), Stern’s Dr. Strange. Englehart’s Cap. DeMatteis’ Spidey. DeFalco/Frenz’s Spidey (very cool and sadly underestimated run). Starlin and Lim’s Silver Surfer. Brubaker’s Catwoman… Man… So many cool runs didn’t make it.

“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.”

I totally agree with you Brian. It’s all about the build-up. That’s what I think people today don’t get when they read the today so called Dark Phoenix Saga, since the TPB or HC with this title collects only its seven or eight issues.

I feel guilty I didn’t vote this time, since the points from my votes could have changed some positions. I can’t stand the fact that Y is ahead of Lee & Ditko’s ASM. With my #1 place vote (like last time) it wold have been different.
Thanks again for the hard work.

Archer and Armstrong- BWS.

I think you misspelled Guy Davis’ BPRD. ‘Sandman’, whatever that is supposed to signify, isn’t even close.

“But hey, if you are sufficient goth or emo and female, you’re gonna love Sandman.”

Always funny to read the comments. I can see this line coming from Claremont & Byrne’s Wolverine’s mouth, ending with a “bub”!

That was Wolverine at his best.

@ dhole

Same here; first comics run I ever read was that stretch of X-Men issues, I got the first 2 Essentials for Christmas like 6 years ago and ever since I’ve been reading comics religiously. I don’t go to church on Sundays, but Claremont and Byrne got me to go into my LCS every Wednesday lol

yeah, sure, people will vote for the first half decent comic they read as kid.
It’s called nostalgia, cherished childhood memories you name it.

So “stuff” like X-men winds up in second place.

Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men 2012: #2, 1233 points
Claremont/Byrne X-Men 2008: #2, 1182 points
No change, +51 points

Gaiman’s Sandman 2012: #1, 1375 points
Gaiman’s Sandman 2008: #1, 1318 points
No change, +57 points

I’ve made the argument throughout the Top 100, when posting point totals, that runs that hold steady indicate runs where the voters have reached a certain consensus about exactly how classic the run has become. I think this argument would apply to both of these classic runs, which hold their places at the top of the list and gain points.

Of course, both runs are kept pretty much perpetually in print by their respective owners. You’d be crazy not to– both works are the Rosetta Stones that let you decipher how entire certain styles of comics came into being. The higher point totals probably point to something Brian said in comments farther down the list, that overall voting was higher this year.


yeah, sure, people will vote for the first half decent comic they read as kid.
It’s called nostalgia, cherished childhood memories you name it.

So “stuff” like X-men winds up in second place.

And so what if it did? Brian never said we should send in a list of the ten runs we think are the objectively best of all time (though I’d argue that even if he did, Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men has enough critical merit to earn a spot on such a list).

If people voted based on nostalgia/fond childhood memories/whatever, what does it matter? That’s clearly a run those voters enjoy/consider a favorite/find worthy of recognition, and that’s all that matters.

The Crazed Spruce

November 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

And with the Claremont/Byrne X-Men run (which I had at #3), that means that the top 9 of my top 10 list made the cut. (I had Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen’s “Legion of Super-Heroes” at #1, Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ “New Teen Titans” at #2, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ “Justice League” at #4, “Preacher” at #5, John Byrne’s “Superman” at #6, Peter David’s first “X-Factor” run at #7, Kurt Busiek and George Perez’ “Avengers” at #8, and Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s “JLA” at #9.) I’m betting that there aren’t a lot of old-school war comic fans out there, so I’m not surprised that my 10th pick (Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert on “Sgt. Rock”) didn’t make the cut.

As always with these lists, I also gave Brian my full short list. This time ’round, I had five runners-up and nine other also-rans. Out of the runners-up, only two (Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s “Spider-Man” and John Ostrander’s “Suicide Squad”) made the final list, leaving out John Byrne’s criminally underrated run on “Namor”, Curt Swan’s late 70’s-early 80’s run on “Superman” (basically the GBS years, when Clark Kent was a TV reporter), and Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming’s oh so memorable “Ambush Bug” books. As far as the rest of my short list goes, the only three to make it were Mark Waid’s “Flash”, Waid and Mike Weiringo’s “Fantastic Four”, and Geoff Johns’ “JSA”. The other ones from my list that didn’t make it included Barbara and Karl Kesel’s “Hawk & Dove”, William Messner-Loeb and Greg LaRocque’s “Flash”, Walt Simonson’s “Fantastic Four”, Peter David and Todd Nauck’s “Young Justice”, Roger Stern, Dan Jurgens, and Jerry Ordway’s post-Byrne “Superman”, and Dwayne McDuffie’s surprisingly unrecognized “Damage Control”.

I don’t understand how even if you don’t like either of these, how you can’t at least respect them as quality. Personally, I love both and they might actually be my 1-2 of all time. Demeaning “Sandman” as just for goths and chicks is ridiculous and is a disservice to how much Gaiman covers during those 75 issues. And the X-Men is one of the best examples of pure superhero comics ever. There have been almost no good X-Men runs since that didn’t cover some of the same ground (Whedon and Morrison especially).

“Sandman” was on my list; “X-Men” was not. I must note, however, that these X-Men comics are about the only ones I’ve read that I’ve enjoyed, even with Claremont’s habits of over-expaining everything and not bothering to resolve many plotlines.
So, final tally for my list is 8 out of 10.

The Crazed Spruce

November 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

yeah, sure, people will vote for the first half decent comic they read as kid.
It’s called nostalgia, cherished childhood memories you name it.

I was gonna argue that point, but then I took a closer look at my list. Y’see, I just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, so I’m most nostalgic for comics that came out in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And sure, out of the 24 comics on my short list, only 6 were from that era, but of that 5, 3 of them were my top 3, another one barely made my top 10, and the other two were runners-up (basically in a 5-way tie for 11th). So yeah, nostalgia took a part in my final list. But so what? Does it make my list any less valid because I didn’t go back and reread all the comics I’ve ever liked to judge them in an objective manner before putting my final list together? Does it make your list any more valid if you judged them empirically by the content, rather than whatever emotional response they might invoke? No, it doesn’t. Doesn’t make my list better than yours, either.

So a ton of people voted for a comic you can’t stand. Big hairy-@$$ deal. I’m surprised that Hickman’s high-concept but emotionally-stunted “FF” and Bendis’ overblown, event-driven “Avengers” made the cut while Dwayne McDuffie’s hilarious “Damage Control” and Walt Simonson’s imaginative “Fantastic Four” didn’t. But so what? Doesn’t make your picks better because your tastes are more esoteric than mine, any more than having the top 9 from my top 10 list make the final cut makes my (admittedly more populist) list better.

In short, relax, dude. It’s all good. :)

I never doubted that Sandman would make # 1, so I only voted it my # 10, but I do love it and find it an astonishing read, astonishing in that something that big and complex holds together so well and yet is so emotionally and intellectually satisfying. And I am not at all a fan of fantasy fiction per se. I used to complain that the art was inconsistent, but my last re-reading mollified that concern to the point where I don’t believe it anymore. I’m not sad that Kieth didn’t do much, but most of the art is beautiful. Now my only complaint is that I wish that Dringenberg and Jones (if he was still alive then?) had done one of the last issues, for symmetry.

Did the Cockrum X-Men not get on the list? Am I the only one who likes Cockrum’s X-Men as much as Byrne’s? Oh well. Pretty much every trope associated with the X-Books came out of the Byrne/Claremont run, so it rates some respect.

Anyway, most of my list made it, which is frankly kind of embarrassing. Next time I’ll be more obscure. I think only my # 1, Enemy Ace by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, didn’t make it. Sigh.

Please Brian, do post the runners-up. That ought to be more interesting than the main list,

Cockrum was only a runner up last time. I think he loses out because the storytelling style was so similar to the Byrne run that most people vote with the two famous stories Dark Phoenix and DofP. If I were dividing it I would count Paul Smith as the dividing only line and make the first half one run rather than dividing it into Cockrum, Byrne, and the return of Cockrum.

Byrne was involved too much in the writing to count him the same way you count Smith (or even Cockrum, really, especially Cockrum’s second run). Even if you took Byrne’s art out of it, a large amount of the most classic elements of Byrne/Claremont from the writing side of things was due to Byrne. There is little doubt that if it were not for Byrne, Wolverine would not be one of the most popular characters in all of comics.

I didn’t vote because I somehow missed the call for ballots but I wish I had and I came up with my own top 10 runs. Seven of my 10 made it (Byrne’s FF was my No. 1) and the only one that I’m surprised didn’t make it was Byrne’s Alpha Flight. I had Truman’s Scout and Chadwick’s Concrete on my list, which I suspect didn’t receive a lot of support. I chose to leave off the Byrne/Claremont X-Men, in part because three Byrne runs seemed like a bit much, and instead went with Lee/Kirby’s FF. I debated that because I haven’t read the complete Lee/Kirby run but it seems so foundational to all the comics I’ve ever enjoyed that a list without it would seem odd. I haven’t read all of Shakespeare, either, but I know it’s important.

My top 10 reflects my coming of age as a comic reader in the mid-1980s. I stopped reading in 1991 or 92 when I was in college and didn’t pick them up again until 2007. As a result, I missed Sandman, most of Grant Morrison, Ultimate Spider-man, and a lot of dreck, too. I’ve gone back and read quite a lot to fill in the gaps but I’ve haven’t read anything that filled me with the sense of wonder and joy as those Shooter-era Marvel books. Obviously, a lot of that is nostalgia, and reading comics as an impressionable pre-teen, I didn’t recognize the cliches and turgid writing. Still, I feel fortunate that my years of comics discovery coincided with one of the most dynamic and creative periods for the genre, when creators like Simonson and Byrne were perfecting the craft of super-hero comics while Miller and Moore were challenging the accepted notion of what comics could be.

Looking at my list again, everything on it is from 1992 or earlier. I debated adding Bendis/Maleev’s Daredevil but went whit Concrete, instead. Maybe in four years I’ll think differently. The great thing about this list, as others have noted, is it is a great way to find new things to read. I think I’ll check out Starman as a result, Many thanks to Brian for putting it together. My list:

1, Byrne Fantastic Four
2, Miller Daredevil
3, Simonson Thor
4, Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four
5, Claremont/Smith X-Men
6, Byrne Alpha Flight
7, Moore Swamp Thing
8, Truman Scout
9, Lee/Ditko Spider-man
10, Chadwick Concrete

Honorable mentions:
Starlin Dreadstar
Bendis/Maleev Daredevil
Baron/Rude Nexus
Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans
Levitz/Giffen Legion
Willingham Elementals
Claremont/Byrne X-Men
Simonson FF
Stern/Smith Dr Strange
Simonson Orion
Mignola Hellboy
Moore/Davis 2000 AD
Waid/Weiringo FF

@irritant: Glad to hear someone else voted for the Kanigher/Kubert Enemy Ace. I think it was fifth on my ballot. Definitely my favorite war comic.

“Aaron’s Ghost Rider was absent from the list”

Would be interesting to see how many votes that got as I think it was the only thing on my list not to show up.

Well…I was so sure that Beau Smith’s run on Guy Gardner was going to come in first…but I suppose that Sandman is acceptable as well.

In case anyone cares:

10. Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, John Totleben, and Steve Bissette
Great example of how there are no bad characters, just bad writing. Artwork that perfectly matched the writing.

9. JLI by Giffen & DeMatties
Super fun & silly, with some incredible drama beats as well. Great art by Maguire & Templeton, and Hughes

8. Animal Man by Grant Morrison & Chas Troug
Mind blowing & sentimental at the same time. ‘I can see you!” still gives me chills when I read it.

7. Legion of Super-Heroes 1-40 by Giffen & various [5YL]
A daring & engaging revamp with the same characters with the same history, but in a very new way. Loved Giffen’s art too!

6. Flash by Mark Waid & various [Iss 61-159]
Brought Wally West into the upper echelon on comic book characters. Loved Ringo, Larocca, Pacheco, and others on this book too!

5. JLA by Grant Morrison & various [mostly Howard Porter]
Big things! Big heroes! And the best Superman ever.

4. Impulse by Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos
Super fun & super beautiful comics!

3. JLA by Mark Waid & various
I love how Waid can juggle all the characters and move the story forward at the same time. His stories flowed into each other.

2. Captain America by Mark Waid & Ron Garney
The best interpretation of the character that I can remember.

1. Batman Adventures by Kelley Puckett & Mike Parobeck
I always loved how this comic had everything that a successful run in the ‘real’ Bats comic had. Each issue is a total clinic on how to write Batman, as was Batman: Gotham Adventures (1998–2003) by Scott Peterson, Tim Levins, and Terry Beatty

@ mckraken

Surely you aren’t saying that Byrne/Claremont doesn’t belong on the list at all? I didn’t put it as first on my list, nor even the top 5 IIRC, and the number of first place votes it got doesn’t automatically secure second place; I would assume that it made a lot of people’s lists because they remember enjoying it (a sign of quality IMHO, but then again what do I know?), and that is why it made it this high.

Same with Sandman; got a lot of first place votes, but it was the fact that if it wasn’t a first place vote, it was everybody else’s 8th or 6th or 4th place vote that got it first place. When everybody recognizes the greatness of these runs in some form or another, whether or not they were their first place vote but that they belonged on their list somewhere, that is why they deserve to place this high.

Thanks again, Brian! These polls are great to read about and debate. Always a fun time for us geeks, who make a hobby out of “Top x” lists.

Now that we’re all finished, my list was as follows:

1. Chris Claremont’s X-Men (mostly Claremont/Lee)
2. Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men
3. Stern/Jurgens/Ordway/etc Superman (the “Triangle Years,” at least through “Reign of the Supermen”)
4. Michelinie/Layton’s Iron Man (2nd Run, which included the Armor Wars)
5. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern
6. Jim Starlin’s Silver Surfer/Infinity Gauntlet/Infinity Watch- I have no idea why people don’t seem to consider this a run! It’s an unbroken line of stories with the same writer. Nevertheless…
7. Byrne’s FF
8. Busiek’s Avengers
9. Busiek/Anderson’s Astro City
10. Legends of the Dark Knight- (I know it’s an anthology book, but was hoping it’d be considered a run)

Honorable Mention:

– Dan Jurgens’ Thor, which I read for the first time recently and LOVED
– Micheline/Layton’s Iron Man- 1st run

Nice to see Claremont get so much love, and no surprise that Sandman was number 1. But my goodness, what on earth is with Morrison’s Batman being so high??? I knew people were enjoying it, but c’mon, #8????

Danjack, I’m right there with you on “The Batman Adventures.” That remains one of my five favorite eras/interpretations of Batman and his world. I didn’t put any of it on my list simply because I absolutely could not decide between the various runs! Every creative team did such a fantastic job that I have no clear favorite among them.

I remember what I had on my list, but I didn’t write it down, so I can’t remember the exact order. I do know that my number one was STARMAN, though. Following that was Morrison’s BATMAN saga, Englehart/Rogers/Austin DETECTIVE COMICS(which just barely qualifies as a run, IMO), Gray/Palmiotti JONAH HEX, Morrison JLA, Gaiman’s SANDMAN, Lee/Ditko ASM, Mark Waid’s FLASH, and I’m 99% sure the last two spots were occupied by the Dixon/Nolan DETECTIVE COMICS run and Rucka/Brubaker’s GOTHAM CENTRAL. I had fits narrowing my list down, and those two were alternately in and out, but I’m pretty certain they were in the final version. I should’ve written the final list down.

They’re both very deserving.

Claremont/Byrne’s X-men is probably the Marvel superhero formula in its purest distillation ever. Just the perfect mix of sci-fi, soap opera, and superheroics. Impossible to take it further without falling into out-and-out deconstruction.

As for Claremont’s “verbosity”, I’d rather have him for superhero comics than the modern approach of “cinema” action and “realistic” dialogue that would make these comics 3 times as long and 6 times slower. There is a LOT packed in those comics. They probably cover more ground than 10 years of a current Marvel comic.

Claremont/Byrne is the Lennon/McCartney of mainstream superhero comics. Antagonistic creators that are more than the sum of the parts. They were never as good after they disolved the partnership. A pity they can’t stand each other.

If these comics have a flaw, is that they were too influential, like Miller’s Daredevil. Cue tons of stories with Wolverine as a exaggerated bad-ass and a superpowered woman losing her mind (Hi, Avengers Disassembled) and grim, alternate futures. But it’s more fair to approach each piece of pop art in its own terms, and forget about the trash that came later. It’s not their fault that they did their job a little too well.

As for Sandman, if anything it’s under-hyped. Sandman is one of the greatest accomplishments in the fantasy genre in any medium: comics, novels, or movies. To say it’s only for goth chicks is like saying the Beatles are only for hippie druggies. Don’t discount it just because it was embraced by an annoying subculture. I bet that if you gave an ordinary person on the street a SANDMAN comic to read, they would get into it easier than they would with a current-day Marvel/DC superhero comic.

There is a lot more to the comic than Morpheus moping around (and Gaiman is savvy enough to parody it himself at one point): the comic blends mythology, Christian theology, world history, literature, superheroes, fairy tales, in an astonishing new universe. There is a LOT in those issues, an exploration of a lot of genres. I don’t know if I prefer the short stories that have the Endless only in small roles, or the “arcs”, both were just amazing. One of the comics that showed me just how much more the medium could do.

Comparing Rob Liefeld to Sandman is like saying Michael Bay is a greater movie-maker than Fritz Lang. There is more erudition and intelligence in one page of Sandman than in all the comics Liefeld ever worked in, combined.

Not bad. Can’t comment on Sandman, as I’ve never read it, but I’m happy Claremont’s X-Men is #2.

My list:

1) Chris Claremont’s X-Men, Vol. 1, #94-279 (1975- 1991)

2) Doug Moench’s Batman Vol. 1, #481-559 (1992-8)

3) David Michelinie’s Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, #296-352 (1988-1994)

4) Denny O’Neil’s The Question Vol. 1, #1-36 (1987-90)

5) Joe Kelly’s Deadpool, Vol. 1, #1-33 (1997-99)

6) Chuck Dixon’s Detective Comics Vol. 1, #644-729 (1992-1999)

7) John Byrne’s Superman Vol. 2, #1-22 (1987-8)

8 Dan Jurgens’ Superman Vol. 2, #57-150 (1991-99)

9)Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1, #1-160 (2000-11)

10) Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics Vol. 1, #469-476 (1977-8)

I would have put in O’Neil’s Batman stuff, but I didn’t know you could add runs that got interrupted.

There’s plenty of valid criticism to heap on Sandman (I think it’s great despite it’s flaws, FWIW), but I can’t imagine anyone who calls it “Goth” or “Emo” ever actually read the comic.

Most of my runs showed up. Only 3 missed the cut:

Howard the Duck by Gerber, Colan, Brunner, et al.
Kabuki by David Mack
Tomb of Dracula by Wolfman, Colan, & Palmer

I didn’t expect Kabuki to make it, but I thought HtD & ToD had a shot. Oh well. Other runs I’ve enjoyed include:

Englehart Captain America
Englehart, Brunner, & Colan Dr. Strange
Gerber, Buscema, et al Defenders
Stern, Rogers, Smith, Golden, et al Dr. Strange
Milligan, Biouvic, Chiang, & Pulido Human Target
Puckett & Parobek Batman Adventures
Chadwick Concrete
Busiek & Bagley Thunderbolts
Parker Agents of Atlaa
Van Lente & Pak Incredible Hercules
Jenkins & Buckingham Peter Parker
Rucka, Martinborough, et al Detective Comics
Ellis & Raney Stormwatch
Brubaker & Phillips Sleeper
Priest Black Panther
Grell Green Arrow
Ostrander, Truman, Nolan et al Hawkworld

Oh! Also:

Ann Nocenti & JR Jr. Daredevil
Moench & Sienkiewicz Moon Knight
Robinson & Smith Leave It to Chance
Alan Davis Excalibur
Warren Ellis Excalibur
Priest & Bright Quantum & Woody
Lapham Stray Bullets

I have to admit I’m surprised to see Sandman at #1, even though it’s clearly deserved.

But the “Morpheus Does Beat Poetry in Hell” storyline was easily and by far the weakest, most unfortunate moment in the series, IMO. I’m always astonished that it’s cited as one of the series’ high points. If I had no exposure to Sandman and I was introduced to it with Hope In Hell, I doubt I’d continue reading.

On the other hand, good on you for showing Ramadan as another example of Sandman. To me, it’s one of the best examples of what Sandman did incredibly well in terms of lush and moving storytelling. P. Craig Russell was born to adapt Gaiman’s prose and I’d say it rarely gets better than this anywhere in comics.

[quote] There is more erudition and intelligence in one page of Sandman than in all the comics Liefeld ever worked in, combined. [/quote]

Great post, but I have to dispute the last bit, because looking at my list I recall another run I voted for that did not chart: Alan Moore’s Supreme. Supreme is a Liefeld “creation” (read: poorly drawn ripoff) but he let Moore do whatever he wanted with the character, and also he did most of the covers, plus one page in the last issue. Granted, those covers are bad, and that page was the ugliest page in the entire run, but nonetheless it was a fine comic and he worked on it. Liefeld is a worthless artist, sure, and a douchebag, and he has the creative imagination of a toddler noisily knocking over piles of alphabet blocks, but I will say for him that he was and is a powerful enabler for creators’ rights.

Oops, how do you quote things?

Like so…

Like so…

Peachy keen.

I reckon that most people who are largely dismissive of “X shite” forget that this was before the X-men were a franchise. No minis and no spin offs. Just one solid complex title. Even once spin offs and minis kicked in, it was a long while before they bacame “shite” (X-Factor, I’m looking at you.)

Brian I’m very pleased with the final list, I’m glad my fellow readers have great taste! I’m also glad most of my choices ended up charting Kudos on all the hard work you had to do tabulating the results!

Dream’s opponent is a demon, so he wouldn’t say life or reality. Too positive. Besides, they have already gone through similar things in that discussion. And do disappointments beat hope?
The point of the scene is that they don’t.

Actually, I think the idea that life itself eventually destroys hope, or that reality is the antidote to hope, are not positive at all. In fact, they’re pretty depressing, bleak notions, the idea that if you live long enough, your hope will die. Or that when you face reality, it can destroy your hope. I think thats as bleak as it gets, the opposite of positive. Also, I think a strong case can be made for disappointments beating hope. Look at Obama, he was riding high to election on the promise of hope. Now he’s tied with Romney and fighting tooth and claw for reelection in 6 days (I personally believe he’ll win, but there’s no denying that he’s lost a lot of his support for it to even be this close a race). The thing that people who voted for him last time who aren’t planning to vote for him this time cite as a reason is disappointment. I mean, what is the definition of disillusionment? Hope that’s been crushed by disappointment. The fact that disillusionment exists is proof that hope can be beaten.

Yes, because “hope dies last” is all there is to that scene.

I do kind of see his point. I mean, that’s like saying the punchline is the least important part of the joke because it’s only one sentence. A punchline isn’t all there is to a joke, but it’s a pretty damn important part, kind of like how landing a plane is the shortest part of the flight but it’s damn important (which is why nailing a punchline is also called “sticking the landing.”) . The “hope” line is basically the punchline or landing of the sequence, so I think it’s fair to be extra critical of it.

Being a denizen of Hell for who knows how long, Choronzon couldn’t even get his mind around Hope. Morpheus didn’t have to find something that there was no comeback for, otherwise the game would go on forever. He just had to maneuver to something that would stymie Choronzon, if even for a moment. Spiders, snakes, horrors of every shape and size he could rattle off all day, but Hope was something long forgotten in Hell.

I think this rather bolsters my point rather than works against it. If Hell is so bad that living there renders denizens of it incapable of even wrapping their minds around even the concept of Hope, then that gives us the answer of what kills Hope: Hell! They’re literally standing in the answer. And it makes sense. Hell is supposedly the final judgment, the ultimate bad consequence that there is no coming back from, unimaginable torture. And in real life, we metaphorically call all types of soul-crushing experiences “hells,” especially the prolonged ones that we seemed doomed to for the rest of our lives. So that provides another possible answer to what crushes Hope: Hell, both of the literal and metaphorical varieties.

I’m not saying Sandman is a bad series. I haven’t read it but I definitely plan to at some point. I just don’t think that specific scene is as well thought-out as Gaiman (and others) seems to think it is.

danjack: Batman Adventures (I’m assuming you mean the first volume?) was the best superhero comic of the 90s hands down. Awesome that someone voted for it as #1.

I’ve never read Sandman, because it just does not appeal to me.
Well, except for Jill Thompson’ Lil Endless books, those are just so adorable!

Can’t argue with Claremont/Byrne X-Men. Unlike most people, I think the Dark Phoenix Saga is the least interesting story of the run. To me it just pales in comparison to the Magneto/Savage Land/Alpha Flight/Proteus that came before, and the Wendigo/Days Of Future Past/Kitty vs Demon that came after.

And since we’re comparing our final lists, here are my 5 that made it:

02. Nextwave: Agents Of Hate by Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen
04. Amazing Spider-Man by Roger Stern & John Romita Jr
05. Hellboy by Mike Mignola
06. X-Force/X-Statix by Peter Milligan & Mike Allred
07. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

And my 5 that -I suppose unsurprisingly- didn’t:

01. Marshal Law by Pat Mills & Kevin O’Neil (sad that almost nobody knows this)
03. Incredible Hulk by Bill Mantlo & Sal Buscema (my favorite Hulk run ever by so far it’s not even a contest)
08. Daredevil by Ann Nocenti & John Romita Jr (severely underrated)
09. The Maxx by Sam Kieth (the only 90s Image book I read for more than a few issues besides WildCATS)
10. Batman by Doug Moench & Kelley Jones (I’m with you, cich! it’s my favorite Batman besides Year One and the Dini/Timm Animated series! I probably should have put it above The Maxx actually)

5 out of 10 isn’t a bad score for this kind of poll. I kinda made it a point to not vote for any of the obvious shoo-ins like Lee/Kirby FF, Simonson Thor or Ditko Spidey.

Some of my runner ups were:

Lee/Colan Daredevil (which got DQed because I like the earlier non-Colan and the post-Lee Colan issues as well)
Busiek/Perez Avengers
Kirby Kamandi (classic underrated stuff)
DeFalco/Frenz Thor (seriously! it was fun!)
Millar/JRJR Wolverine (but Enemy of the State is just one big story and not so much a run)

And I’m pretty sure once I get around to finally reading all of Paul Grist’s Jack Staff it would make the list.

6/10 of my picks made the final countdown:

1. Grant Morrison’s Batman run
2. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man
4. Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos’s Spider-Man
6. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central
7. Ed Brubaker’s Captain America
9. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man (#1-160)

These four missed out:

3. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire (easily Scott Snyder’s best work)
5. Greg Rucka’s Batwoman
8. Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla’s Detective Comics
10. Gerry Conway’s Spider-Man

I really wanted my #3 and #5 picks to make the countdown.

Brian, I know you constructed the rules to bar “Born Again” but I’m curious if Mazuchelli’s entire Daredevil run, with both Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller, (from about DD 204-233) got much support. O’Neil’s run suffers from being sandwiched between two of the greatest comic runs of all time, but it’s very good, especially the Micah Synn story. Runs seem to be defined by the writer, often with multiple artists, but Mazuchelli ‘s moody, expressive art was so effective in telling the story of Matt Murdock’s descent across both writers it deserved consideration.

If I had any doubts that Byrne’s influence on the X-Men extended beyond just the artwork, those would be erased by seeing the drop in quality of the stories after he left. There were still some good stories, on occasion, but not consistent greatness. I actually think Byrne has written better stuff since he left the X-Men (Fantastic Four, Superman) than Claremont has.

Grell’s Green Arrow run is a huge omission but it’s because it’s gotten a lot of bad press over the years. It is often cited as an example of the “grim n gritty” era and taking an established hero and telling “mature” stories for the sake of shock. People then point to Black Canary getting raped.

Of course she didn’t get raped. It was never shown or even implied and Grell has denied it. And his run on GA is incredible. He take the character to new heights and even with the more “mature” feel of the book nothing is inconsistent with GA.

Brilliant run. More people need to read it.

Very commendable job! I agree with the list, particularly the top five! Gaiman’s the best scribe in comics fantasy!

I agree with the list, particularly the top five! Gaiman’s the best scribe in comics fantasy!

From 2008 and 2012′ Polls I learned a lot, I’m just sad it’s over.

So here is my list:

1. Atomic Robo – Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegner
***2. Scalped – Jason Aaron and R.M. Guerra
***3. Criminal -Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
***4. Gotham Central – Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker
5. Alias – Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
***6. Daredevil – Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark
***7. The Ultimates – Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch
***8. The Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard
9. Captain Britain and MI:13 – Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk
***10. Daredevil – Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

So 7/10 placed.

I have only been reading comics a few years so I’m not too well read (particularly independents) yet. I suspect my list will be very different next time around. There are loads of ‘ongoings with planned endings’ I am reading that I discounted when considering what to vote for as the end is too important. I suspect they will be eligible next time.

I’m so glad Scalped, Criminal and Gotham Central placed. I had completely written off Gotham Central’s chance of appearing by the time it turned up. It is a shame Alias dropped off the list though. I think it is one of Bendis’ strongest works.

I didn’t expect Atomic Robo to place, but it not being on here means the list is objectively wrong!

Big thanks to Brian for doing the list. It was very interesting and has piqued my interest in a few series.

@Kellogg: I had O’Neil Daredevil on my list (from #194-226). I loved it, but agreed it’s been overshadowed by being sandwiched by the two Miller runs. I liked both the longer arcs and especially some really wonderful one-off issues. And I agree Mazzuchelli did so much to make that run great, really beautiful, moody art. (and the panel where Matt discovers Heather in #220 (“Fog”) is one I’ve never forgotten. Powerful stuff.

Just for fun, my list was:

Miller Daredevil
Moore Swamp Thing
Claremont/Byrne X-Men
Simonson Thor
Kirkman Walking Dead
Milligan Human Target
Gaiman Sandman
Morrison JLA
O’Neil Daredevil
Ennis Hellblazer

but I also liked Miracleman, Runaways, Byrne FF, Helfer Shadow…and now that I think of it, that Cornell run on Action Comics (starring Lex Luthor) was very cool too!

@Becca: I couldn’t possibly comment… ;)

Gavin Bell’s comment FTMFW!!! With Mike Loughlin’s Tori comment a close second.

I also enjoy reading everyone’s lists. I’ll probably post my own either here or on the master list over the weekend (cuz y’all care!)

4 of my top 5 placed but I’m too into 80s series and independents to get more into the 100
I even voted for one 80s independent series which hardly anyone under 40 would have heard of (I don’t think the writer did anything afterwards, the artist did a couple of Aliens stories for Dark Horse, both took legal action against the publisher for continuing the series after they left, the replacement writer and artist left after 4 issues and things got worse. The series was rebooted as a bad imitation of the original but didn’t last…had a short revival as a 4-issue mini series and then the publisher was taken over by Malibu which was taken over by Marvel….meanwhile the original creators tried for a 3-volume reprint of their work (possibly intending new material for the third volume) but the third volume never appeared.. )

Ah! John King, tell us what the book was!!! I can’t figure it out!


Sandman is one of the greatest accomplishments in the fantasy genre in any medium: comics, novels, or movies. To say it’s only for goth chicks is like saying the Beatles are only for hippie druggies.

Gawd, i can’t stand the beatles.

Someone get this guy a trophy for being the hippest guy in the room.

Trvis Pelkie – While I did read and enjoy Evangeline from the beginning through it’s later publishers that doesn’t come close to the description I gave

I was talking about…
Warlock 5 (Guardians of the Grid) by Gordon Derry and Dennis Beauvais published by Aircel
A 5-way battle between a sorceress, a dragon, a punk necromancer, a terminator/skynet style A.I. and a dark ages lord with their schemes, alliances, betrayals, etc.
13 great issues until the creators left…

@Travis, I’m trying to figure out John King’s mystery book, too. I don’t think it’s Evangeline – it was written by Chuck Dixon. Warlock 5, maybe?

I also put in a vote for Xenozoic tales/Cadilacs & Dinosaurs by Mark Scultz
I wanted to vote for Fish Police but 10 votes aren’t enough

Arrgh. For some reason John’s post wasn’t visible when I posted my last. I went to the trouble of tracking down the mega-obscure Warlock 5 and I can’t even prove I found it on my own. (Fish Police was my second choice, believe it or not.).

Ah, I’ve vaguely heard of Warlock 5, but didn’t know anything about the legal troubles you talk about, John. Thanks for enlightening us!

Fish Police rocks!

An anticlimactic, but pretty deserving, top 2.

Personally Sandman was my #3, and while I didn’t vote for Claremont/Byrne Uncanny, Claremont’s post-Byrne Uncanny mega-run was my #2. So I obviously have an affinity for both.

Of course there will always be contrarians and not everything can be liked by everyone, but to relegate Sandman to being a comic for goths is both ridiculous and uneducated. It’s a work of fiction about nothing less than fiction itself, about stories, duty, family, time, growth, change, and yes, dreams. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but don’t pretend it’s a small, limited work.

For the storylines poll a few years back, I voted for The Doll’s House, as I think it was sort of the moment that Sandman became what it was, people realized there was something truly special happening there, and 2 of my favorite individual stories (Men of Good Fortune and Collectors) both fell into that arc. But now I think I’d opt for Brief Lives instead, as I think it speaks more fully and eloquently about the major themes of the series, and the dinner conversation between Dream, Destruction, and Delirium that encompasses issue #48 really feels like the raison d’etre of the whole work. Not to mention that it’s an issue I find impossible to read without examining my own life, path, choices, and beliefs. And that’s what the great works are there for.


Good to see you comment here. You don’t seem to be around the blog much anymore, but I always enjoy the insightfulness and intelligence of your comments.

And @Mckracken

Both your taste and your comments continue to be reprehensible.

Ed (A Different One)

November 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm


Sam Keith’s “The Maxx”. By golly, I had completely forgotten about that title. No doubt, the only Image title of the early nineties that had depth, substance and real chops.

I do believe a dip in the ole long box is in order. Thank you for reminding me of that great, great series . . .

Wow! Sandman? I didn’t expect that to be in this list, much less make it to the top of it. I should think more highly of the readers.

John "Ratty" Arbuckle

August 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm


The whole comics reviewing world needs to get off Neil Gaiman’s jock.

Morrison’s DOOM PATROL or INVISIBLES is better than SANDMAN.

Moore’s SWAMP THING is better than SANDMAN.

Gaiman is mediocre compared to Morrison and Moore. The best thing about SANDMAN was SEASON OF MISTS, which is equal to the best of Morrison or Moore. The other stories in SANDMAN (except for RAMADAN) are a notch below.

Especially the AWFUL and DISAPPOINTING “The Kindly Ones” that ended the book.

Get off Neil Gaiman’s jock.

My list:

1) Chris Claremont – X-Men – his whole first run – #94-279 (1975- 1991) and X-Men #1-3
2) Doug Moench – His first Batman and Detective run during the 80s
3) Giffen & DeMatties – JLI
4) Louise Simonson – X-Factor
5) Fabian Nicieza – X-Men run
6) Chris Claremont & Alan Davis – Excalibur
7) Chris Claremont – New Mutants
8) Peter David – his first X-Factor run
9) Scott Lobdell – Uncanny X-Men
10) Doug Moench – his 2nd Batman run

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I think the idea that “hell kills hope! There is no hope in hell!” is forgetting the point of the “Hope” line.

“You say I have no power? Perhaps you speak truly…But — you say that DREAMS have no power here? Tell me, Lucifer Morningstar…Ask yourselves, all of you…what power would HELL have if those here imprisoned here not able to DREAM of HEAVEN?”

Dramatic pauses and caps included.

No matter how bad it can get, Hope remains. It’s the final trump card in the ‘debate’. Yes, it’s cheesy and over the top, but the first fifteen or twenty issues are kind of like that, setting up who Dream is, what he’s like. He’s not particularly likable. He’s powerful, but often wrong. He’s arrogant, set in his ways, and he is troubled by what he’s starting to realize he’s become. The entire story is, as much as anything else, about him coming to terms with who he is, and trying to do better, before the end. He’s finding himself.

I think that if you can get deeper in to the series, you appreciate the beginning more when you go back and look at it again. It is hard to get through the first time, though; it’s dark, frustrating, unpleasant at times. I find the art more jarring early on. I do think it pays off, though; once you realize who Dream is, and what he’s struggling with, it makes sense, and allows for his later growth that wouldn’t have landed nearly as well without the early foundations.

I love the series. It’s not for everyone, but I appreciate it for what it is. For what he does well, Gaiman is brilliant; beyond drawing in mythology and dreamlike concepts and making them fascinating, for more ‘superheroic’ work, he’s not the man to call on.

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