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The Greatest Jim Starlin Stories Ever Told!

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Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Jim Starlin Stories Ever Told!


We’re behind, so I’m just going to give you bare bones descriptions to catch up…

10. Cosmic Odyssey #1-4

Written by Starlin with art by Mike Mignola and Carlos Garzon.

The heroes of Earth are brought into battle with Darkseid and his forces as the evil head of Apokolips seems poised to finally possess the Anti-Life Equation. Perhaps best known (besides the awesome Mignola art) as John Stewart’s cockiness in his abilities leading to an entire planet being destroyed.

9. Thanos Quest #1-2

A couple of people combined this (written by Starlin with art by Ron Lim and John Beatty) with The Return of Thanos in Silver Surfer #34-38, which ended up as #11 on its own. Combined, they’d be around #6 on the list.

Anyhow, the now revived Thanos sets off to collect the Infinity Gems from each of their current owners in his quest to put together the most powerful force in the galaxy – the Infinity Gauntlet (hint: he succeeds).

8. “The Metamorphosis Odyssey: Book Three” Dreadstar #1-31

Chad Nevett insists that I treat these issues as one story, and since if I didn’t do so, Dreadstar wouldn’t make the list (which just seemed so wrong, since obviously enough people voted for parts of this story that it made the list otherwise) so I figured I’d count it this way.

Anyhow, this is about Vanth Dreadstar and his small band of rebels as they try to first topple the Monarchy but also the Church of the Instrumentality.

7. “Death in the Family” Batman #426-429

Written by Starlin with art by Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo, this is the storyline where readers got to vote to decide Jason Todd’s fate. They voted for him dying, which is just what happened, and Batman would never quite be the same again.

6. “The Thanos War” Captain Marvel #25-33

Written by Starlin and Mike Friedrich with art by Starlin and a bunch of different inkers.

Thanos is always trying to find super-powerful objects to help with his obsession with mass murdering (by mass I mean MASS) and in this story, he tries to take control of the Cosmic Cube and Captain Marvel and a variety of heroes must try to stop him. During this storyline, Captain Marvel was given a makeover by Starlin.

The top five is on the next page!

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Good list.

1. Death of Captain Marvel

2. Dreadstar #s1-6: Plan M

3. Dreadstar: The Metamorphosis Odyssey

4. Dreadstar: The Price

5. The Thanos Quest

6. Adam Warlock and Thanos Vs. The Magus: (Strange Tales 178, 179, 180, and 181, and Warlock 9-12 * 1975-1976)

7. Death of Adam Warlock and Thanos: Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2

8. Captain Marvel #s 28-33: Thanos Cosmic Cube Saga

9. Batman: Death in the Family: Batman #426-429

10. Dreadstar #s 7-10: The Secret of Z

I greatly enjoy everything on this list except Cosmic Odyssey and Death in the Family. I’d have put the 1970s Magus saga at #1, had I been able to vote.

Surprised not more Batman stories made the list.

I predicted three of the top five correctly (not in that order, though). Hooray me.

When I first started reading comics, GI Joe and Transformers, I thought the ads for Dreadstar looked really cool, and I decided that if I ever went to the magazine shop and there were no Joe or Transformer issues that I did no have, I would try Dreadstar. One day I went, there were no new Joe or Transformer comics, so I picked up Secret Wars II 1 and 2. Still have not read any Dreadstar.

My votes went
1 Infinity Abyss
2 Thanos Quest
3 Cosmic Odyssey
4 The Weird
5 Adventures of Superman Annual 1
6 Thanos 1-6
7 Batman The Cult
8 Marvel The End
9 Infinity War
10 Hardcore Station

My thrown-together-could-change-at-any-minute list:

1. The Metamorphosis Odyssey Book 4 (Dreadstar #1-31)
2. Warlock: The Magus Story
3. Thanos Quest
4. The Metamorphosis Odyssey (Book 1)
5. Marvel: The End
6. The Infinity Gauntlet
7. The Death of Captain Marvel
8. The Metamorphosis Odyssey Book 2: The Price
9. The Captain Marvel/Thanos story from Starlin’s run
10. The Metamorphosis Odyssey Book 3: Dreadstar Graphic Novel

I couldn’t find 10 stories I was familiar with that were worth voting for. As much as I LOVE Infinity Guantlet, probably one of the first 5 Marvel stories I read, I could not bring myself to vote for any of its later iterations.

I really need to track down the death of Captain Marvel.

Only the top three here were on my list – also my top three but in exact reverse order.
Otherwise, I’m not too surprised that so few of my picks made it here: except for a few episodes of the Metamorphosis odyssey in Epic Magazine, I haven’t read any of the Dreadstar stuff. Too bad, though, that the graphic novel The Big Change didn’t crack the top ten. It’s certainly a better story than the ultimately unsatisfying Cosmic Odyssey…

This is a great list that just has one glaring flaw, IMO.

Ten Nights of the Beast.

I’m so sad that either nobody remembered it, or nobody seems to like it as much as I do. Not only would it have been in my top 5 for Jim Starlin stories, it would be in my top ten for Batman stories.


But seriously, this is a great list, with nothing that feels like it doesn’t belong. Too bad there wasn’t room for some of his Surfer work either.

7 of my 10 made it (including 2 stories from Dreadstar series being merged)
The 3 that didn’t make it were the Dreadstar Graphic Novel
and Silver Surfer’s first round against Thanos (34-38)
and Batman the Cult

I wasn’t too wild about A death in the Family so didn’t vote for it (only thing I liked about it was getting rid of Robin so Batman could work solo rather than have a kid in a brightly coloured outfit tag along), though I did consider the dumpster murder trilogy and the Diplomat’s Son two-parter

Cosmic Odyssey is mostly remembered for two things: Looking awesome, and John Stewart blowing up a planet. It’s not a bad story by any means, just not quite as great as it is ambitious.

I remember it for those reasons plus Batman making a friend in Forager, Dr Fate and the Demon appearing, and Batman punching Orion.

@ John King
Nice to see another vote for the Cult. That Silver Surfer story ended up as my number 11 (it was 4 in an earlier draft).

I should have voted but didn’t. The aforementioned Silver Surfer #34-38 would have definitely been near the top of my list, along with Batman #423, Batman #424-425, and Infinity Gauntlet.

No doubt, though, my #1 pick would have been “Confronting One’s Maker” from Silver Surfer #48.

Bottom line: Starlin rules.

The Cult was the single worst Batman story I’ve ever read. You know when douchebag loser fanboys say that if you like character story X, you’re not really a fan of that character? The Cult is the story that turns me into that douchebag loser fanboy. Blech. I won’t hold it against Starlin, but quoth the Critic “It sucks!”

@ookerdookers: Bottom line: Starlin rules.

Indeed he does. No one ever wrote cosmic cape stories better (at least not on a regular basis).

I forgot to add: “I’ve ever read, he stated, hyperbolically”. I’m sure it’s not the worst, but it’s certainly among my least favorite. And I agree that Starlin rules, particularly on the cosmic scale.

Yeah, this is a good list, as much for what’s not there as for what is.

Hard to argue with that list. Starlin has many great works and this was a darn tough list to make. I went with

1. Avengers vs. Thanos (Avengers annual 7, Marvel Two-in-One annual 2)
2. Magus Saga (Strange Tales #178-181, Warlock #9-11)
3. Death of Captain Marvel (Marvel Graphic Novel #1)
4. Metamorphosis Odyssey (from Epic Illustrated #1-9)
5. Infinity Gauntlet (#1-6)
6. Thanos Quest (#1-2)
7. Captain Marvel vs. Thanos (Captain Marvel #25-33)
8. Gilgamesh II (#1-4)
9. The origin of Shang-Chi (Special Marvel Edition #15)
10. Batman: The Cult (#1-4)

But was sad to leave out the rest of Dreadstar and Warlock. And the Weird. And that one excellent Conan story. And…

This list was weird to make because of all the Thanos stuff being broken up. I like Thanos. And ended up devoting 6 slots on my list to “I like Thanos’ story”.

I knew this was just a sneaky ploy to get Chad’s writing back here at the blog!

would have been surprised to not see the death of captain marvel as number one or at least in the top five for it showed starlin really was able to show that even comic characters can’t avoid deaths calling. plus nice to see next to the creation of thanos . his dreadstar stuff on the list.

The Magus Saga was unique for me in all the comic work I have read in that I got a sense of OH NO this should not happen it would be very bad. Modern events don’t even come close to the feeling of dread I got.

I’m also surprised not more of his Batman stuff didn’t make the list – I voted for The Cult (I thought it was great) & Ten Nights Of The Beast (IMO one of the best Batman stories ever) – but let’s face it, Starlin was just so damn good at cosmic, it’s not surprising this list is dominated by his cosmic stuff – I voted for a lot of it at well – his Captain Marvel & Warlock stories were just so good & Dreadstar – wow!

Starlin’s work really goes to extremes for me. I love Starlin’s original Warlock and the Death of Captain Marvel. I hate the Infinity stuff on multiple levels. Some day i’ll try Dreadstar.

Y’know, given that Mar-Vell has yet to be fully revived, I guess we now know how to permanently kill off a superhero – give him cancer.

Interesting! Not the list I expected to see. A good collection of stories nonetheless.

@Third Man You’re not alone, it’s a great story. At least with Starlin he’s had so many that it doesn’t hurt for it to be dropped off. But a story with real tension, and right where Batman was at the time. Too bad they made the KGBeast a joke after that story. Like they did Bane. And Hush. (And frankly, the Riddler after Hush).

I’d have flipped Thanos Quest and Infinity Gaunlet. IG is epic, and a good idea, but the end wraps up a little too neatly. Where the end to TQ does more for the character of Thanos than maybe any other story. Bittersweet indeed.

Jonathon Riddle

May 21, 2013 at 2:16 am

I’m glad Gilgamesh II, and Infinity Abyss are all getting attention in the comments section. Personally, I think Starlin is at his best when he is both writing and drawing a story and the list results above I think prove me right.

The only book I haven’t heard anyone mention yet that deserves some attention is The Death of the New Gods, which I enjoyed immensely (much more than Cosmic Odessy, which I thought was mediocre despite the handsome publishing and Mignola’s excellent artwork.)

Supposedly, Starlin intended to kill off Darkseid in the story, but DC nixed it because of the big D’s inclusion in Final Crisis. I’d have preferred the book to have been labeled as an Elseworlds story (or an Imaginary story, like they would have called it back in the 60’s) and let Starlin do what he does best: spin cosmic yarns and kill off characters. I’m sure Darkseid’s swan song would have been glorious.

God bless you, Jim. Nobody destroys whole planetary systems like you!

No one seems to remember the Warworld stories in DC Comics Presents with Superman, Martian Manhunter, Supergirl and the Spectre. The follow up story where Superman and Starman battle with Mongul the Merciless was quite epic as well.

Good picks. My take:

First, My Biases:
1. I like Starlin best when he both writes and draws. It results in an integrated vision I don’t find in his collaborations, esp. when he’s just the writer. So for me, picks 10, 9, 7, & 4 on the main list aren’t really in the running (even tho I really like Mignola’s art in 10).
2. I much prefer the earlier Warlock/Thanos work to the later and basically wish he had left well enough alone. Sure, a lot of characters were trapped in the soul gem and Thanos was just turned to stone, so I guess we all knew they’d come back eventually. But the original stories are complete unto themselves and, to my way of thinking, far richer. IG is pretty one-dimensional by comparison with Warlock vs. The Magus, for instance. (Of course, there’s a fair bit of overlap between these two points, as a lot of later Thanos, etc., stuff was drawn by others like Lim and Perez.)

I think Starlin’s best time-tested work includes (chronologically):
* First Thanos War
* Warlock vs. The Magus
* Second Thanos War
* Metamorphosis Odyssey
* The Price (his darkest vision)
* The Death of Captain Marvel (which I agree is #1)

Few comics are as rich in thematic substance or as visionary.

Lesser Works:
* Superboy & The Legion of Super Heroes #s 239, 250, & 251 (latter two under pseudonym for understandable reasons–art ended up sloppy, story is truncated–but it’s still great stuff, among the best issues ever in this series, and no one did Wildfire better; would place above IG)
* DC Comics Presents (6 issues in all; Mongul, created with Len Wein, was a bid at a DC Thanos-type character; later received his best treatment in the hands of Moore/Gibbons)
* Dreadstar series (starts off strong; art and plot get sloppy; doesn’t deliver on the promise of the early material, as he wants to remake Vanth as a new Mar-Vell and doesn’t seem to know what to do with the mighty Szygy, so fan-fave Oedi ends up stealing the show but in not credible ways)
* Gilgamesh II (helps if you know the original myth; probably the most considerable thing not on the list above, excepting the first 11 issues of the Dreadstar series)

Could also include the early Shang-Chi stories, “Blown Away!” (Cap. Marvel #34, which sets up the death), the Star Thief issues of Warlock, the Dreadstar graphic novel, and maybe some things I’m forgetting or haven’t encountered yet.

More Recent Works:
The two standouts for me among his more recent work (since 2000, let’s say) are the “Cosmic Guard” series (2004-5; sort of his take on the Green Lantern concept with a serious Mar-Vell infusion; a bit less keen about the graphic novel) and, even more so, the “Mystery in Space” series featuring Captain Comet (2006-7). Okay, there’s an exception to every rule, and this is mine with works that Starlin didn’t draw. Well, he did draw the backup stories that dovetail with the main ones, which were mostly drawn by the outstanding Shane Davis. Starlin basically does here with Captain Comet what he did earlier with Mar-Vell and Warlock: He elevates an intriguing minor cosmic character into something much more significant. Highly recommend both these series to Starlin fans looking for something more recent besides endless Thanos tales.

I haven’t yet read all of “Hardcore Station” or any of “Wyrd the Reluctant Warrior.” (And I really dislike “Death of the New Gods.” Would put that with “Marvel: The End” and his OMAC backup stories among his worst writer/artist efforts. Wasn’t too impressed by the recent mistitled “Thanos vs. The Hulk” even tho his art was exceptional.)

Starlin definitely stands as one of the great writer/artists in comics history. Eisner is the prototype and measure. In Starlin’s generation, there are also Walter Simonson, the underrated Mike Grell, and John Byrne. Their achievements are highly considerable, but Starlin seems to me the most creative and visionary of all.

Top 10:
I don’t really like force-ranking, but here goes, just to play along and wrap this up:
1. The Death of Captain Marvel
2. Warlock vs. The Magus
3. The Metamorphosis Odyssey
4. Mystery in Space with Captain Comet
5. The Price
6. First Thanos War
7. Second Thanos War
8. Dreadstar series (esp. 1-11)
9. Gilgamesh II
10. Cosmic Guard

Could change tomorrow . . .

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