SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Here are the next ten storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.
Okay, as usual, the votes are more bundled together at the bottom of the list and things open up as we go along. Eventually the results will be five a day, except today (also they’ll be in smaller groups as we get to the very end)! Note, there may be some spoilers ahead! You are forewarned!
NOTE: All of these storyline posts will be image intensive, so I’ll be spreading them over multiple pages.
50. “High Society” by Dave Sim (Cerebus #26–50) – 203 points (7 first place votes)
A previous story in Cerebus (“Mind Games”) was the real demarcation between “Cerebus: silly satire book” and “Cerebus: more serious satire book,” but High Society was the most prominent storyline in establishing Cerebus as a more serious satire.
In this volume, our aardvark protagonist (for lack of a better descriptor for him) gets caught up in, well, high society. He is chosen to be a representative of the city-state of Palnu in the large city-state of Iest (where the comic would be set for the next six years or so). Much of the humor in the storyline is derived from Cerebus’ seeming obliviousness to the standard tropes of high society. In a lot of ways, it is similar to the great Jerzy Kosi?ski screenplay, Being There, only Cerebus is certainly not an innocent – he just views things in a more mercenary fashion than most, and fails to play political games, although he is certainly willing to try.
He is latched on to by Astoria, the ex of Lord Julius (the head of Palnu), and she uses Cerebus’ charisma as her own, and uses him to further her agenda, and in the process, makes him a popular political figure. As Cerebus’ political ambitions broaden, the book takes an almost frantic nature as Sim makes the book much like an election story – you really begin to care if Cerebus’ campaign will work.
At the same time, though, there are plenty of wacky gags, too (Sim couldn’t divest himself of the early Cerebus stories TOO much, I suppose), including this roach who is manipulated into becoming Moon Roach, a parody of Moon Knight.
When the dust is settled, Cerebus is a changed aardvark, and he is quite ready for the next storyline, Church and State.
Honestly, while there would be some confusion at the start, I think I would probably recommend beginning reading Cerebus with this volume and skipping Volume 1. The book improved THAT much with this story.
49. “The Surtur Saga” by Walter Simonson (Thor #349-353) – 213 points (3 first place votes)
All throughout the early issues of Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, we keep seeing someone (seemingly a blacksmith) forging a sword. Every time the sword is clanged on to continue the forging, we see a big “DOOM!” sound effect, showing that whatever this sword is, it is bad news for Thor. This continues for a number of issues (always for one page per issue) until slowly we learn that it is the gigantic demon Surtur, and we see that he is raising an army of dark elves to attack Asgard.
And again, we learn this slowly but surely over a number of issues, one page per issue.
Finally, in Thor #349, Surtur shows up on Asgard, and so begins an amazingly epic battle that involves Earth AND Asgard, and ends up ultimately with Odin, Thor and Loki being forced to team-up against their common foe, Surtur.
The defeat of Surtur would also result in a major status quo change in the Thor title, and one of the coolest last pages of the 1980s.
Simonson’s art was extremely powerful throughout the story, adding the dynamic grand quality that the epic battles required.
And it’s impressive as all heck that Surtur’s attack begins in #349, but it doesn’t feel dragged out, due to a whole ton of other little attacks and obstacles in between.
48. “Doll’s House” by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli and Steve Parkhouse (Sandman Vol. 2 #9-16) – 216 points (3 first place votes)
It’s kind of funny. Each time I go to write about these Neil Gaiman Sandman storylines I find myself marveling in each arc at how well Gaiman is able to balance such disparate plots all within one cohesive tale. But then it occurs to me that perhaps this is not really an aberration to be pointed out but rather just a standard that Gaiman lives up to over and over again.
Anyhow, the main plot of this story is that a young woman Rose Walker finds herself at the center of a sort of dream vortex. Morpheus might be forced to destroy her to save reality. What he doesn’t realize, though, is that Rose’s current circumstances might very well be part of a sinister plot against Morpheus, in the sense that Morpheus’ devotion to his duty is SO strong that anyone who knows him would know he’d feel obligated to destroy Rose. Thus, that knowledge could be turned against him. But who knows Morpheus that well? That’s a mystery that you’ll have to read the book to discover.
Other notable parts of this storyline is the introduction of the immortal Hob Gadling in a powerful one-off examination of what it would really be like if a guy just could not die. Hob would soon become one of the most popular recurring characters in Sandman.
In addition, we see Gaiman tie in the 1970s Jack Kirby Sandman revamp with the current Sandman series, we see the introduction of a number of characters who live in the same boarding house as Rose (these characters all become much more important in later stories) and we meet another interesting supporting characters, an escaped nightmare named Corinthian, who has become a legend among serial killers. He attends a serial killer convention (that Rose accidentally ends up, as well) where Morpheus shows up and delivers some Spectre-level punishment on the serial killer scumbags…
Interestingly enough, this was the FIRST Sandman story to be collected into a trade, coming out BEFORE the first arc (originally the trade included the one-off issue #8 that introduced Death. That issue is no longer included with A Doll’s House in trades).
Go to the next page for #47-44…
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