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The Greatest Jeph Loeb 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 Jeph Loeb Stories Ever Told!


10. Hulk: Gray #1-6

In this stark, psychologically-driven work, Loeb and artist Tim Sale examine the first 48 hours of Hulk’s creation through an examination of the people around Hulk at the time, from the General, to the General’s Daughter to the Reckless Teenager who got the whole Gamma Bomb ball rolling. It offers impressive insight into the minds of the people around the Hulk that, in turn, give us a new outlook on the Hulk himself. Sale’s art is, as always, excellent.

9. “Sam’s Story” Superman/Batman #26


Superman/Batman #26 was a star-studded affair where Loeb’s son, Sam, plotted the issue (a team-up of Robin and Superboy) and a host of famous writers and artists brought Sam Loeb’s vision to life. The back-up story in the issue was by Loeb and Tim Sale and it was set in their Superman for All Seasons universe and dealt with Clark Kent dealing with the loss of his friend Sam to cancer. Obviously, very few of us can ever really know what it is like to lose a teenage son to cancer, but in this work, Loeb and Sale (through Clark Kent) at least can do a beautiful job of conveying the universal feeling that everyone goes through when it comes to losing a loved one (or even someone you only knew a little bit). By the end of this story, whether you knew Sam Loeb or not, you did know him and you mourned his loss and you admired his words and worldview. It’s a testament to Loeb’s abilities as a comic book storyteller that he had the wherewithal to convey to us all such a powerful, personal tale.

8. “Haunted Knight” Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special, Batman: Madness A Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special and Batman: Ghosts Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special

It’s funny, Long Halloween obviously ended up overshadowing these specials, but for awhile there, Loeb and Tim Sale’s yearly Batman Halloween specials were one of the things comic book fans could always look forward to as a great story with amazing artwork every Halloween. Eventually, they became SO popular that Loeb and Sale decided to do them as a year-long maxi-series (Long Halloween). The first one was called “Fears” and dealt with the Scarecrow, the second one was “Madness” and had Batman and Gordon trying to rescue Barbara Gordon from the Mad Hatter. The final one was called “Ghosts” and it was a It’s a Wonderful Life riff. Great series of specials. They’re all collected now under the banner of Haunted Knight.

7. “Public Enemies” Superman/Batman #1-6

After becoming President of the United States, Lex Luthor uses his power to brand Superman and Batman as, well, public enemies of the state. This leads to the eventual downfall of Luthor from the Presidency as Superman and Batman must clear their good name, stop Luthor AND stop a Kryptonite meteor headed for Earth all at the same time! This story by Loeb, Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines launched the Superman/Batman ongoing series!

6. Dark Victory #1-13

In their follow-up to their smash hit, Long Halloween, Loeb and Tim Sale gave us a new year-long mystery, but this time the backdrop is the introduction of Dick Grayson into Batman’s life and the eventual addition of Robin to the Batman mythos. The whole series follows the idea that its various protagonists are cut off from the rest of the world and as the series goes on, we see how important it is to have someone along with you on the ride. Robin saves Batman from going about life by himself.

The top five is on the next page!

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1) I’m seriously surprised there weren’t even more Sale collabs. I expected the Catwoman story at the very least, if not the Challengers of the Unknown mini. I originally expected it to be 9 Sale collabs + Hush. Didn’t realize that there were so many fans of Superman/Batman.

2) I didn’t expect it to make the list, but it would have been nice to see their Vampirella story on here. Genuinely one of the best things they ever did together. If it wasn’t so obscure then I’d assume it would have shown up because it is excellently written.

3) It would have been really interesting to see the top 15 on this one.

Challengers of the Unknown was robbed!

Actually so was Absolute Power.

Both of those are better written than anything on this list – Though The Long Halloween has some of the finest art ever.

Challengers of the Unknown had the benefit of really awesome editing. Eliot S. Maggin actually lost his job because DC didn’t approve of the Superman scene but Maggin made it happen anyway because he knew the book was better off for it. Dude committed career suicide just so that the fans would have a better comics reading experience!

Wait, so Maggin was responsible for the Superman testimony from Challengers of the Unknown? I thought that was by far one of the worst, cheesiest scenes from the book. How did it lead to him getting fired? I just googled but can’t find any information?

Oh! Man, it’s crazy that the Challs aren’t there. I didn’t vote on this one because, well, that’s the only Loeb story I like. Unless I broke it down issue by issue, that wouldn’t be much of a list.

I got nine out of ten on this one but that’s not saying much considering the pickings. I’m bummed Challengers didn’t make it.

Pretty sure Maggin went over the DC brass to make sure the Superman scene stayed in the issue unmodified (DC wanted it rewritten) and he was supposedly shitcanned for his troubles.

And no, unfortunately I don’t have a link to prove it. (Maybe a future Comic Book Legends Revealed?)

Oh, I’ve missed this one. As much as I dislike Loeb’s work for the last couple of years, if I had a chance, Spider-Man: Blue would’ve ranked as my #1.

Saying that, I’m surprised “Hush” isn’t on the list (and I didn’t like it much, mainly because it was a rerun of The Long Halloween). Otherwise, a very predictable list.

Surprised no Catwoman or Supergirl made the list, would have dominated my choices (had I voted) but I guess he has done so many great comics.

How can a legend like Maggin lose his job over a scene in a limited series? What was so objectionable? It’s been a while but I can’t think of anything that would cause any issues.

That was such an awesome book.

surprised sams story did not crack the top five given how hard it proably was for jeph knowing it was near the end of sams life . plus figured if not long halloween maybe one of the other colabs with tim sale would be number one

Has the comics I expected it would. Loeb fan or no, Spider-Man: Blue, Daredevil: Yellow, Long Halloween, Dark Victory, When in Rome, and Superman for All Seasons are classics. Fantastic list.

I’ve always been of the mind that Hush is criminally overrated. It was a cheap excuse to let Jim Lee draw Batman’s rogues gallery with a pretty thin plot.

Everything he’s ever done with Tim Sale should be tied for number one, but if something’s got to take the top spot, it’s Long Halloween.

Long Halloween, DDY, and Spidey Blue are prolly my favorite stories by Jeph, and is it any surprise that like 8 of these have him partnered with Tim Sale? he should stick to collaborating with him, they tend to always produce quality work together.

Also, I figured Ultimatum would get enough votes by pranksters to make this list lol

I think Loeb is one of the most overrated writers in comics (along with JMS). This list really shows why. He found a gimmick that worked great for a story (his Batman work, the colors stories at Marvel) and then basically painted by numbers with sequels and made sure that he gave Sale something to draw. Seriously, Superman/Batman is terrible. If the art had been better, I wonder if Ultimatum would have been voted onto this list. My favorite Loeb stories were one-offs during his Superman run.

@chad: Wasn’t “Sam’s Story” written after his passing? Or was it just the publication of the issue?

@Eric: I kinda liked the first arc of Superman/Batman (“Public Enemies”). It was… okay. “Absolute Power” had a good premise, but awful execution. The rest of Loeb’s run was a wreck.

should have just stuck to the Sale collabs (and i’d have made For All Seasons #1, love that book). S/B was a cheese-fest and Hush was a confusing mess of a story that was better told in Long Halloween (Great art though).

I’d put Wolverine/Gambit or Challangers (even thought i haven’t read it!) in place of those 2

My theory (for what it’s worth) is that if people were allowed to vote with a list of 1 then maybe Challengs of the Unknown would have won – or at least done much better – but that the people who loved that book didn’t manage to scrape together enough books to vote.

Superman/Batman was an awesome title, and a lot of that thanks to the Loeb/McGuinness collaboration. I miss that book. I’m glad he’s doing Nova with McGuinness now. But yeah, I think Sam’s tale should have been higher up on the list and I have to say, that Superman story is one of my favorites. For some reason I can’t remember Hush, Daredevil Yellow or Spiderman Blue all of which I own. I will have to read them again . . .

I say that the Long Halloween and Spider-Man Blue are his best. I love the Film Noir look and style of the story and I’m a huge fan of Spider-Man and love the “letter” to Gwen.

No Red Hulk?

No Red Hulk?
Funny that

Jeph and Tim are the second best team in comics history (stan and Jack are the best) for my money when these two guys put a comic together it just works, this list should have been made up of everything they have ever done together.

@Fred —

They definitely elevate each other’s work to heights that neither of them would otherwise reach. Sale draws better when he’s illustrating Loeb’s material, and Loeb writes better when he’s got Sale along for the ride.

That sounds like a good topic for a future list: “Greatest Writer/Artist Teams in Comic Book History”

I’m surprised at the amount of love for Challengers of the Unknown since it seems to be such an obscure title (the tpb was never reprinted again). While the superhero collaborations Loeb did with Sale for Marvel and DC are undoubtedly more popular and abundant, I felt that Loeb showed the most versatility writing CotU (which is weird ’cause it’s his FIRST comic work!). So I’m glad that a lot of folks share this sentiment.

@Ben Olsen —

Not a bad idea at all.

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I’d say “none”, but if yo have to pick 10 stories only amongst what he wrote. I guess those 10 are Ok.
A friend of mime says (and I agree), that it’s highly suspicious that his best comics are with Tim Sale. Maybe Tim Sale deserves some credit as a co-plottera at least.


April 24, 2013 at 9:42 pm

What?? no Ultimatum?????
so disappointed…

no ultimatum, yay! \o/

@Esteban Pedreros —

Some writers just work better with certain illustrators. There’s going to be room for interpretation by the illustrator even if they don’t full blown Marvel Method it. Maybe Loeb and Sale just have a chemistry together that neither has with anyone else. The fact that both of them have done nearly all of their best work together would indicate that to be the case.

Didn’t vote in this one because I couldn’t think of ten off the top of my head, but I have to agree that Challengers was awesome.

Public Enemies was surprisingly good and yeah, Hush was so formulaic it was pitiful.

A friend of mime says (and I agree), that it’s highly suspicious that his best comics are with Tim Sale. Maybe Tim Sale deserves some credit as a co-plottera at least.

Honestly I don’t think he writes any better with Tim Sale (with the exception of Challengers). I just think Tim Sale’s art is so good it makes you think the writing is better than it is.

I like A lot of Loebs stuff, but he has had his down moments. Nova’s alright. Yeah, it’s not the Rider Nova. What are you going to do.

Tim Sale’s done some other Bat work, which was reprinted in a trade, the title of which escapes me (ah, it was so simple, I forgot it. Tales of the Batman:Tim Sale). It includes, among other things, a few issues of B:Shadow of the Bat (written by Alan Grant), Blades by James Robinson, from LDK, and some others. He also drew Superman:Kryptonite (written by Darwyn Cooke), the opening arc of the Superman Confidential book from several years back. He also did an issue of Solo. From Dark Horse he drew Billi 99, and I think he drew Amazon, written by Steve Seagle. He also drew a short story for Vertigo’s Heart Throbs book from the late 90s, I think, also written by Seagle, and he does some neat pop art looking stuff in that. That and a Spirit pinup, and maybe something else not written by Loeb were the things I had Sale sign when I got to meet him at a con.

And that’s probably all I should say here about THIS topic…

@DanCJ —

Oh, he definitely writes better when working with Tim Sale. His fixation on internal monologues doesn’t completely overwhelm his Sale collabs the way that it does his other work.

Turd – Have you read the Marvel colour books? They’re all internal monologue. (at least the two I’ve read – Internal moping about dead girlfriends to be precise)

All his comics are like that. But in the Sale collabs the “internal monologues” (mostly) exist to drive the plot.

I must say that I’m not a big fan of Hulk: Grey and The Long Halloween. To some extent, I also find problems in For All Seasons. Not from my own experience, but back when it was published, I recall many criticized (fans and critics alike) Captain America: White #0, Loeb/Sale’s first collaboration at Marvel since Loeb’s DC contract expired. At least for a couple of their creations, I can attest that the Loeb/Sale team doesn’t always produce good stories. They’re still one of the greatest creative duos in comics, though.

Jeph Loeb writes comics with a lot of big panels (the better to fit in all the internal monologues). For artists like Tim Sale, that brings out their strengths. He excels at both big figures and backgrounds. He is good with panel to panel continuity as well, but giving Sale room to stretch shows off his talents as an illustrator.

With artists like Ian Churchill or David Finch, this technique doesn’t cover their weaknesses. They can do highly-rendered pin-up shots, but don’t do so well with storytelling (one of Loeb’s weaknesses) or establishing a setting. For me, Ed McGuiness’s work with Loeb falls somewhere between: it’s good for big fights and crazy moments, but lacking in setting the scenes.

Great List! Late 90s up to his color comics in Marvel is Jeph Loeb’s best years in comics.

They definitely elevate each other’s work to heights that neither of them would otherwise reach. Sale draws better when he’s illustrating Loeb’s material, and Loeb writes better when he’s got Sale along for the ride.

I don’t think Sale elevates Loeb at all. Loeb does not write the least bit better with Sale in my opinion. I do think there’s something to the idea of Sale drawing better under Loeb though. Loeb has often said in interviews that he just writes what artists want to draw. So even though Loeb’s stories aren’t very good, he probably goes out of his way to only write things into the story that Sale wants to draw and is already good at it. Since Loeb just lobs softballs at his artists and never challenges them to draw anything they might not be good at, I imagine it really showcases all the artist’s strengths.

I really haven’t read much Loeb so I didn’t vote, but my number 1 would have been Daredevil Yellow.
Hush and Spider-Man Blue would probably be two and three.

One of these days I’ll read those Sale-drawn Batman books.

The antipathy towards Jeph Loeb is one of those trends in fandom that I just don’t really get. I haven’t read everything that he has done, and I haven’t liked everything that I have read. I’m not saying that if you’re not a fan your’re lying, but his name brings out a visceral reaction among some people that other, more mediocre writers don’t come near inspiring. It’s hard to resist the conclusion that his career inspires so much hatred because he is popular writer with a mainstream approach. Which isn’t for everybody. But not for you isn’t synonymous with bad.

And say what you will, at this point, dismissing “The Long Halloween” is like dismissing “Thriller.” No matter how much you think you may have a point, people are going to be using those as entry points for a long long time.

Thriller. Now THERE was a good comic.

Wow, I didn’t think enough people read Thriller to use it as entry point, either. What do I know, I guess?

I think DC should assemble an all-star team of writers and artists to do ten different “Before Thriller” miniseries, expanding the backstories of Angie Thriller, Scabbard, Kane Creole and each of the Seven Seconds.

Then they can move on to “After Camelot 3000.”

Camelot 3001, of course.

Unless they go for Camelot 2999 first….

I did vote for When in Rome, Fallen Son (Was that the first meeting of Clint and Kate?) and some Red Hulk tales (including the spotlight on Doc Samson)

I’m still disappointed Captain America: White fell apart. As much as the Long Halloween is the signature work, I think having it go a year weakens it a bit. The shorter stories at Marvel were better, and I was looking forward to color concepts for all the Silver Age greats. Even tried to guess what they might be.

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