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CSBG Archive

2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #90-81

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83. “Elektra: Assassin” by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin #1-8) – 127 points (1 first place vote)

A true modern epic, Frank Miller and Sienkiewicz combine for a twisted, sprawling story about a SHIELD agent sent to capture Elektra, who is trying to prevent a mysterious figure known as the “Beast” from getting a figurehead named Ken Wind elected President.

The SHIELD Agent, John Garrett, becomes obsessed with Elektra and he soon learns that getting close to Elektra is dangerous for your health….

Isn’t that a striking sequence? The timing of the panels is perfection. It reminds me a lot of the early sequence of Dark Knight Returns where Bruce Wayne almost dies but decides it is not time yet.

This story was a wonderfully offbeat satire of politics, action films and comic books themselves (the depiction of women, the overabundance of ninjas and violence, etc.). Think of this as Frank Miller trying to give a Garry Trudeau-effect on a superhero adventure. Sienkiewicz is basically the PERFECT artist for such an offbeat approach. This is a marvelous comic book work.

82. “Squadron Supreme” by Mark Gruenwald, Bob Hall, Paul Ryan, John Buscema, John Beatty, Sam De La Rosa, Jackson Guice and Keith Williams (Squadron Supreme #1-12) – 128 points (5 first place votes)

The concept of this series is a simple but powerful one. What if the superheroes of the world just decided to fix the world? It is a concept that many comics (Authority, for one) have addressed in the years since, but at the time, Mark Gruenwald’s story was quite novel. Here, see the Squadron come to their determination of going through with their plan to make the world a Utopia…

The conflict between Superman and Batman…oops, I mean Hyperion and Nighthawk is the centerpiece of this series. The rest of the maxi-series shows how superheroes would go about changing the world while also showing Nighthawk try to come up with a way of stopping his former friends from what he feels is an ultimate betrayal of the concept of free will.

There are detours along the way, of course, including some disturbing plots involving mind control and rape, but in the end it comes down to two former friends coming to an impasse in their beliefs and the bloody after effects of what happens when their conflict comes to a head.

This was truly ahead of its time and it was rightly the proudest Mark Gruenwald ever was of one of his works (even going so far as to have his family and Marvel mix his ashes with the printing of the trade paperback after he died). Bob Hall and Paul Ryan did fine work on the art for the series.

81. “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” by Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge #285-296) – 129 points (3 first place votes)

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is the type of comic book project that really should not work as well as it does. Over his decades of writing Uncle Scrooge, Carl Barks threw in little details of Scrooge’s past here and there. Occasionally, the details even conflicted (although that might not be Barks contradicting himself, it could have been another Scrooge writer contradicting a Barks detail). So writer/artist Don Rosa decided to use all those little details about Scrooge and then fashion a 12-part detailed life of Scrooge from boyhood until his first appearance as regular comic book character.

That might sound like something better suited for an essay or a spreadsheet, yet Rosa’s brilliance as a storyteller make the whole endeavor an utter marvel.

Scrooge’s adventures are all pretty much “done in one”s, yet they continue an overarching character development that is quite impressive. Also impressive is all the actual historical details that Rosa peppers in with Scrooge’s travels. It’s strong historical fiction.

Here’s a bit from an early part of the story where young Scrooge is working as a cowboy and has to rescue a stolen bull from some cattle thieves…

Notice the famous historical figure Scrooge has met here? He returns for more adventures in he story arc. Truly. Really.

As you can see, Rosa’s art is a detailed delight. He’s amazing.

It’s no surprise that this story won an Eisner Award!

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59 Comments

Some solid choices here. I’m a bit nonplussed that Secret Wars beat out Avengers Forever, but, well, there’s no accounting for taste.

Glad to see Life and Times. You really could have chosen almost any sequence from that series, but this is a good one, and it ends in one of the greatest splash pages I’ve ever seen.

I think Mr. Roosevelt would have been pleased.

The Most Honorable Reverend Colonel Joseph W. Rice

November 8, 2013 at 8:05 am

Weird seeing shit like Avengers Forever and Secret Wars with an otherwise pretty stellar grouping, but that’s the internet.

Thanks soooo much for the reminder that I’ve never read either Squadron Supreme or The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Where am I supposed to find the money? Where?!?

It’s an 80s miniseries bonanza! I have much love for Squadron Supreme, Secret Wars is a nostalgic fave, and Elektra: Assassin continued the great Miller tsunami that flooded the decade (I have to read that again sometime).

For some reason thought New World Order would get more votes than Rock of Ages, but fine with both (that scene with the death of Darkseid is pretty great).

Still none of my picks yet. Think my one long shot will probably not be showing up at this point, but we’ll see…

Four new ones. Scott Pilgrim, Half a Life, Elektra Assassin, Squadron Supreme. A lot of change over it seems.

Bitter-sweet for me. My first place got in but only at #85. Ah well, great to see some love for such an amazing storyline.

Much prefer Rock of Ages to New World Order but I still think even better stories came later. Shouldn’t complain though, both Waid and Morrison did brilliant work on the title.

Scott Pilgrim is excellent. I only got into it after the film but it is so much fun.

I’m not a big fan of Avengers stuff myself. Not sure why but it never does anything for me.

I like Jimmy Corrigan but it never brings a smile to me. I come out of the story feeling like I’ve been emotionally beaten up.

A lot I haven’t read this time around with Sleeper, Squadron Supreme, Elektra Assassin and Scrooge McDuck. Elektra Assassin looks amazing and the paperback is quite cheap, definitely have to check it out.

Drops:
Secret Wars #39 to #87
Rock of Ages #47 to #86
Avengers Forever #57 to #89
Sleeper #74 to #90

Rises:
Jimmy Corrigan #97 to #88
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck #97 to #81

Avengers Forever made my list last time around, but not this time. It still easily could have been on my list, I just wanted to mix up my last 4 slots a bit with some of the other titles I like just as much. Squadron Supreme, Scrooge and Secret Wars all could have easily gotten into one of those bottom four slots, too, but didn’t.

Rock of Ages is probably my least favorite storyline from Morrison’s JLA run, but I think I’m in the minority there.

I’ve never read any Jimmy Corrigan, partly because everyone talks about how depressing it is. I know it’s supposed to be an amazing book. But I don’t really have a desire to be willingly and intentionally depressed. I know I should probably just read it anyway, though.

Mixed bag for me.

I didn’t like Avengers Forever or Jimmy Corrigan. Squadron Supreme was okay.

Half a Life and Sleeper Season 1 are great though. Rock of Ages was my high point for Morrison’s JLA (though that’s a bit superseded by the incredible Final Crisis). Scott Pilgrim was fun.

And Elektra Assassin is one of my absolute favourites (barring a shaky first couple of issues). That got my #10 vote.

My favorite bit of “Rock of Ages” is that it strongly implies that, in the end, the future is made right because Lex Luthor discovers (and exhausts) his last shred of conscience.

- Sleeper Omnibus is on my wish list. Love me some Brubaker and Phillips.
– Not too bothered about Avengers Forever.
– Chris Ware is a genius.
– Secret Wars had some great moments (Doom vs the Beyonder, Hulk holding up a mountain…), but I don’t get how someone could rank it as one of their top 10 storylines.
– All I remember of Rock of Ages is that it was cool.
– Haven’t read any Gotham Central, but I’ll get to it one day.
– Allowing Scott Pilgrim seems to stretch the rules a bit. Not sure if I’ll ever get around to this one. The movie was fun though.
– I have Elektra Assassin in singles but have yet to read it. Thanks for the reminder.
– Don’t know if I’ll every get round to Squadron Supreme.
– Life and Times is out of print, and I want to read the Barks stuff first.

The Crazed Spruce

November 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

Out of this batch, the only ones I’ve read are “Secret Wars” and “Rock of Ages”. (I did read the first issue of “Avengers Forever” and a few parts of “Scott Pilgrim”, but not nearly enough to vote for either.)

I had both “Secret Wars” and “Rock of Ages” on my short list, but only “Secret Wars” made it to my top 25 (at #25). I only included one story from each creator run, and “New World Order” was my pick from Morrison’s “JLA”.

Sleeper Season’s No one Can Prove He’s Not a Crook premise was a very old one (comics and movies have both used it) but damn, Brubaker executed it well (though if you want to talk depressing, the finish of that series …).
I think it was Heidi McDonald who said if Marvel could make kids crave broccoli as much as it did Secret Wars, every mother in America would thank them. Pretty much sums up my feelings about it.
When the final list is in, I shall start adding to my to-buy pile, but I might as well wait so I can prioritize.

I always saw Rock of Ages as the first (and arguably better) draft of Morrison’s Final Crisis. He has a lot more freedom to follow his vision of an invasion by Darkseid through to completion in RoA than he does in Crisis.

Seeing the stuff rounding out the bottom here, I’m fairly confident one of my favorite choices won’t make it. It’s a shame too, as Transformers: The Last Stand Of The Wreckers is a hell of miniseries and deserves more attention than it gets.

I think it was Heidi McDonald who said if Marvel could make kids crave broccoli as much as it did Secret Wars, every mother in America would thank them. Pretty much sums up my feelings about it.

The problem being that Secret Wars is a peanut butter cup. Jimmy Corrigan and Love & Rockets are broccoli. Sleeper looks like broccoli smothered in cheese.

Elektra Assassin was my number 10. I really regret my number 9, I wish I’d given another point to Elektra. Half a Life would probably have been my new number 10, I didn’t think of it at the time.

I’ve always wanted to read Squadron Supreme but never got round to it. I want to try Chris Ware too. Secret Wars and Avengers Forever are both decent, but I can’t believe somebody put the later as their first place. I couldn’t get into Morrison’s JLA, disliked Scott Pilgrim, Sleeper doesn’t interest me and Scrooge bores me.

The Crazed Spruce

November 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

And hey, for those of you looking to compare to the last list…

Sleeper: Season 1 dropped from #74 to #90
Avengers Forever dropped from #57 to #89
Jimmy Corrigan: Boy Genius rose from a three-way tie for #97 to #88
Secret Wars dropped from #39 to #87
Rock of Ages dropped from #47 to #86
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck rose from that tie for #97 to #81

Half a Life, Scott Pilgrim, Elektra: Assassin, and Squadron Supreme are all new to the list.

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is almost objectively the most well written AND drawn long-form comics story of the past 20 or so years.

Morrison’s JLA is especially noteworthy for how he had to use shitty characters/versions of characters/event tie-in/crossover bullshit for pretty much the entire run and yet he still made it arguably the greatest superhero team book run of the past quarter century (save for maybe Johns’ JSA).

And Secret Wars reminds me that we’re probably going to be seeing A LOT of “events” on this list.

Elektra Assassin is awesome. That is all.

The Crazed Spruce

November 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

(I tried to put in a hyperlink to the old list, but I guess it didn’t take. Anyways, here it is….)

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/11/27/top-100-comic-book-storylines-master-list/

Nothing from my list yet. Great seeing Gotham Central represented by Half a Life show up. I’d recommend the series to those who haven’t read it.

Holy crap, Squadron Supreme and Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: those are amazing, and I didn’t expect to see them on the list. Jimmy Corrigan is one of the finest comics ever printed, although I have trouble thinking of it as a serialized storyline instead of a novel, even though it was printed that way; the seams don’t show at all. Avengers Forever is the only correct exemplar of continuity porn. Secret Wars is garbage, of course, but I’m sure it had a profound effect on those who read it in the ’80s. It’s the only real dog here. I don’t much care for “Rock of Ages,” or any of JLA really, but that scene with Green Arrow + The Atom vs. Darkseid’s brain is pretty awesome.

Still dig that Atom costume.

Am I alone in thinking that JMS’ Supreme Power/SS (both the MAX imprint stuff and the Marvel Universe book under the original title) were better than the original?

i dunno but that scott pilgrim message seems to be over 3000 or so pages: having a girlfriend is the only thing that matters in life. and those videogame references are kinda lame and unfunny.

All fun comics suck, and only depressing or real world comics should exist.

It’s wonderful to see Elektra: Assassin get representation. It was my #3.

interesting to see secret wars and rock of ages already two more thought would not show up till way later in the top ten or so. and gotham central nice to see it get some loving on the list. for it was a good book showing that gotham is not just batman only and two face in that story picked for this list really has a nasty way of not taking no for an answer when he asks some one to join him.

20 stories in and I have no objections yet. All good comics so far. (Taking for granted those Love & Rockets stories I haven’t read are actually good.)

Keep it up.

‘Half a Life’ wasn’t on my list but should have been. I’ll remember it for next year.

Once again, one pick on my list (Squadron Supreme) makes this list. If this keeps up, I’ll have one choice in every 10. I wonder where ‘Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed?’ will rank? ;-)

Glad I took part in this. I actually feel like my vote mattered (not often I can say that about voting.) Elektra:Assassin was my #1. It is a great marriage of writing and art. How I miss the Frank Miller of the 80’s. Love the list so far. Glad that Love and Rockets had so much love in the last grouping. Can’t wait to see how the rest of the list shakes out.

I can’t believe that some of these beat some of the ones on the previous part of the list, but I am glad to see Scott Pilgrim on there. I quite enjoy Gotham Central, too, though I preferred “Soft Targets” and “Corrigan II”.

From the list, I read Avengers Forever, Sleeper, Secret Wars (for me, one of the best crossovers marvel at all times), Elektra Assassin and Squadron Supreme.

I was surprised by the position of Squadron Supreme.Gruenwald did a great job here.

Avengers Forever is just one of the biggest stories of the Avengers. Probably it is more difficult to appreciate if the reader is not linked with the team or not thoroughly versed in the history of the group.

Secret Wars is one of the biggest crossovers in my opinion. Great plot, great characterization, great art, amazing climax. The first major Marvel saga is the best in various degrees with the Infinity Gauntlet.

My favorite part about any of these lists is watching the haters come out. How dare people have opinions that are different? Anyway, it’s still interesting to see where tastes are whenever these lists are done.

I somehow didn’t even think of “Scott Pilgrim” as being in the running, and now I wish I would have voted just to give it another vote. It is in the running for my favorite series ever written, and I don’t care who thinks that’s stupid. As Brian said, the pages he picked are there because that’s what it’s known for, but that series becomes something so much more as it goes on. It dominated something like 6 years of O’Malley’s creative life, and it shows in the last few volumes just how much better of an artist and writer he became over that time.

Great to see “Sleeper” show up. Hopefully we see Season 2 higher up. And I, like many above, really need to read “Squadron Supreme” to see the first (and many have told me best) of that type of story.

I’m tempted to give a hard time about “Secret Wars” being the best comic to tie in with a toyline, but you couched it with “event comic”, so I’ll give it a pass. Otherwise Larry Hama’s “G.I. Joe” run will have to have a few words with you, Cronin.

Also, weirdly enough, reading back over my comment I just noticed how many ‘S’ series are in this part of the list. Half the list if you count “Scrooge McDuck”.

Bit disappointed to see Scott Pilgrim rank so low, but more than worth it for Squadron Supreme to show up! Love that series to death; it’s so underappreciated.

Not saying it’s not good, but I remember Elektra Assassin was a weird read and not particularly enjoyable.

Loved the Scott Pilgrim movie but I’m not particularly inclined to reading the books.
Sleeper definitely, and maybe Gotham Central are somewhere on the to-read list.

The rest I have no interest in.

Sleeper, Gotham Central and Elektra are great, Elektra mostly for the amazing art.

JLA is just not my cup of tea.

Jimmy Corrigan is an amazing piece of art and it got to number 9 on my list.

So much love for Secret Wars #10. That cover alone..

IMO, Avengers Forever is a little overrated. A decent story but it drags at times and maybe with a little more could be better.

I have read and loved Avengers Forever, still waiting for Songbird to become an Avenger.

Secret Wars is such a classic story, and a wonderful time capsule of what was happening in the Marvel Universe at that time.

Rock of Ages, now that is a rewarding read! Do it at least three times! The splash page with Bruce talking about corporate takeovers is such a good line, and the visual is outstanding.

All of Scott Pilgrim counted? My favorite character is Kim Pine. We don’t get enough of her. Scott’s day dream / possible reality of working at a Tex Mex restaurant is a favorite of mine.

Squadron Supreme is another classic. Surprise it is so low on this list.

@mckracken — scott pilgrim message seems to be over 3000 or so pages: having a girlfriend is the only thing that matters in life

Yeah, that’s pretty much the entire comic. It’s just holding up a mirror to desperate/nerdy/hipster types who think exactly like the characters in the book behave.

“Secret Wars” is one better than “Jimmy Corrigan,” huh?

That’s like Rolling Stone ranking the Beatles one slot underneath One Direction.

That’s like Rolling Stone ranking the Beatles one slot underneath One Direction.

This is vote-drive not editorially-driven like an RS list. It’s much more like, say, the IMDB Top 250, where The Dark Knight is at #6, Forrest Gump is at #18, while stuff like M lands at #51 and films like Fanny and Alexander and 8 1/2 come in at #209 and #210 respectively.

Life & Times juuust missed my list. Good to see it still show up though…

I had no idea that all of Scott Pilgrim counted. Still /probably/ wouldn’t have made my list, but, dang.

Glad to see Jimmy Corrigan on the rise. In a couple more of these lists, hopefully it’ll occupy a guaranteed space way up on the list, around where Maus is gonna place.

This is a great batch, and I’m really happy that Squadron Supreme and Elektra Assassin are here, as they seemed conspicuously absent from the ’08 list.

I’ve read 6 of the 10 here. I own Avengers Forever but have never gotten to it for some reason. It just seems really dense and too continuity-laden for me. But then, I voted for Green arrow: Quiver, so that’s probably very hypocritical. I also own Jimmy Corrigan but haven’t read it yet either. And Scott Pilgrim & Scrooge are two things that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while, but still haven’t yet.

As for what I have read, I only don’t agree with Secret Wars being here, but I obviously understand why it is. It’s not a bad comic or anything, just not as interesting as other things that could be here instead. But Shooter did a god job with it.

I voted for Sleeper in the Greatest Runs poll, but I didn’t really consider it for this one. It feels too much like something you have to read all 24 issues of, at least to me. But I love it. I also love Rock of Ages and Elektra Assassin, but I don’t like them quite as much as New World Order (which barely missed my vote) and Daredevil: the Elektra Saga (which I did vote for). Half a Life I just read for the first time a few months ago and it’s great. Squadron Supreme has been on my list to reread for a while now. I’ve only read it once, probably 16 or 17 years ago when I was a teenager, and I do remember being blown away by it. It’s something I could imagine myself voting for in future polls if it holds up as well as I expect it to.

It is fascinating that Secret Wars fell 48 spots. I wonder if that’s the largest drop we’ll see?

Sleeper is one of my favorite comics. I liked the twists and turns, the noirish trappings, and the gritty art.

I’m kicking myself for forgetting to vote for Elektra Assassin. Bill Sienkiewicz killed it on art. I think he deviated from Miller’s script quite a bit. The comic morphs from Miller’s grit to Sienkiewicz’s gonzo over its 8 issues.

Except for Secret Wars, I enjoyed every other comic in this group.

Funniest part to me is that Half of a Life reads as one of the weakest arcs of Gotham Central. I’m not enamoured with Rucka and his take on Montoya at all, as he leans far too heavily on her sexuality and everyone’s reaction to it, rather than just emphasizing why she is a badass.

I find the idea of Avengers Forever more interesting than its execution… and this is coming from someone who hails Busiek’s Avengers run around that time as one of the best the book has ever enjoyed. AF was just… boring. And this is coming from someone who generally LOVES talking head issues. It’s so weird seeing it get so much praise. :)

Funniest part to me is that Half of a Life reads as one of the weakest arcs of Gotham Central. I’m not enamoured with Rucka and his take on Montoya at all, as he leans far too heavily on her sexuality and everyone’s reaction to it, rather than just emphasizing why she is a badass.

Hell yes. Rucka and his rampant Mary Suism with Renee really hurt the book. I so think it would have been a far better more consistent run with just Ed Brubaker. Rucka’s work with Renee, while still technically good writing, paled in comparison greatly to Brubaker’s contributions.

I find the idea of Avengers Forever more interesting than its execution… and this is coming from someone who hails Busiek’s Avengers run around that time as one of the best the book has ever enjoyed. AF was just… boring. And this is coming from someone who generally LOVES talking head issues. It’s so weird seeing it get so much praise

I feel that way about Busiek’s Avengers in general. But for me, I never read any Avengers between Stern’s run and Busiek’s run, so Stern’s run was the standard I held the book to and Busiek’s stuff was so boring to me in comparison, plus so heavy on fanwank and tying continuity bows. My only guess is that the Crossing and Heroes Reborn really must have been so terrible that Busiek’s stuff benefitted greatly by the comparison, much like Schumacher helped Nolan’s Batman work.

Sleeper is an astounding creation. One of those rarebooks that successfully marries high concept with even higher execution. Before this book I was not a fan of Sean Philips at all. Afterwards, I not only finally “got” him, I went the opposite extreme and became a huge fan. He was such a great choice for the book.

I know I come off sounding like Scott Pilgrim fanboy, but it kind of blows my mind that anyone could interpret the message of that series as “having a girlfriend is the only thing that matters in life”. A huge theme in the end of that series is that it’s more important to work on yourself, and not to be such a self-centered hipster dickhead.

I would assume that neither mckracken nor the Anon read past the first volume, but both specifically note that they mean the entire series.

Secret Wars was on my list, so I’m the guy who voted for it. Big story, good characterization, interesting character interactions, and maybe the best Dr. Doom story ever. It’s not only every kid’s dream, it’s the best Marvel movie we’ll never see.

I’m surprised that this JLA story was higher than the other one. It’s a good story, but it has that usual end of a Morrison run where he’s just throwing everything out there in a confusing jumble and seeing what sticks.

Loved Gotham Central; didn’t completely love this storyline. I think it was a bad move making Montoya a lesbian, because it seemed there was no point but making her a lesbian. It seemed like saying “well, she’s a tough, independent, capable woman….she must be a lesbian.” Between her and Maggie Sawyer it’s just a bad stereotype.

Not sure how Scott Pilgrim qualified when the instructions were really clear that whole runs didn’t count, like Y The Last Man Standing and such. How many of those were combined vote wise? Seems like someone just wanted it in there….

And Scrooge McDuck? WTF?

I’m surprised that this JLA story was higher than the other one. It’s a good story, but it has that usual end of a Morrison run where he’s just throwing everything out there in a confusing jumble and seeing what sticks.

It wasn’t the end – it was quite early in the run. And it’s generally considered to be one of the best stories in the run.

Really good to see “Rock of Ages” and “Elektra Assassin” in there.

Shame I didn’t know about this when it was live… The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck would have had an additional vote for #1.

Glad to see it on the list at all though, with an industry sharing that saddening “Scrooge McDuck? WTF?” attitude above.

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