2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #40-31
33. “Hush” by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams (Batman #608-619) – 274 points (5 first place votes)
Hush took a similar approach to Jeph Loeb’s highly successful Long Halloween and Dark Victory comics.
Basically, he took an over-arching storyline and a mysterious villain, and then had each issue work as a spotlight on a different member of Batman’s large supporting cast of heroes and villains.
In Long Halloween, Loeb worked with star artist Tim Sale. Here he worked with Jim Lee, one of the most popular artists in all of comics.
In many ways, Loeb’s intention was simply to give Lee as much cool stuff to draw as possible, and to that end, Loeb wrote the series (where Batman is besieged by a mysterious new villain named Hush) with lots of notable events taking place, including Batman and Catwoman getting together and Batman and Superman having a dramatic battle (Superman was being mind-controlled by Poison Ivy).
During a period when comic sales were in a notable slump, these twelve issues were like manna from heaven for comic book retailers, as they were strikingly popular. The storyline also worked as a sort of basic guideline for many later story arc by different comic book writers. Much like how Die Hard became the foundation for a number of other action films, so, too, did Hush become the prototype for many other significant superhero stories.
32. “From Hell” by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (From Hell #1-11) – 276 points (7 first place votes)
From Hell is Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s brilliantly detailed historical fiction based on the Jack the Ripper murders in London in the late 1880s.
Besides the fictional aspect of the story, where Moore hazards a guess as to who the actual murderer was, the rest of the story is explicitly researched recitation of the true crime story of the Ripper.
For a story that is filled with historical details and footnotes, it is amazing how impressive of a narrative that Moore is able to weave with this story.
The tale is a truly engrossing one, with cameos from all sorts of engaging characters, made all the more interesting because of their basis in reality. This is basically a precursor to Moore’s brilliant League of Extraordinary Gentlemen work, bringing all these various personalities (like the Elephant Man) into one cohesive narrative. One of my favorite bits is how they actually investigated Buffalo Bill Cody’s traveling Wild West Show!
Campbell is asked to do a TON of detailed, tiny drawings as Moore packs so much information in this story that it’s simply staggering – Campbell must have had carpal tunnel by the time this baby finished! But he does beautiful work.
This is an amazing work in how COMPLETE of a story it is – Moore leaves nothing out but makes it all work. Just remarkable.
31. “Marvels” by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross (Marvels #1-4, plus #0, I guess) – 281 points (5 first place votes)
In this acclaimed mini-series that launched both Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek to comic book stardom, we follow Marvel’s Golden and Silver Age through the eye (and the lens) of photographer Phil Sheldon. From the days of World War II to the explosion of superheroes during the “Marvel Age,” Busiek’s character-driven narrative and Ross’ photo-realistic artwork really makes you feel like you are living through an age of heroes. And therefore, you can also feel the pain when the heroes somehow do not manage to live up to our lofty expectations.
Perhaps one of the most compelling pieces in the story is when we see the contrast between how the Fantastic Four and the Avengers are treated (as the wedding of Reed and Sue is right up there with JFK and Jackie or Liz and Dick in terms of attention) with how the X-Men and mutants are treated. See how Phil himself is forced to confront his prejudices when the “mutant threat” hits close to home…
What a powerful sequence. But this series is FILLED with powerful sequences. Like how in the world would the man on the street react to news that some giant dude was showing up to EAT THE EARTH?!!? From over-the-top stuff to the down-to-earth sadness of the death of Gwen Stacy (that punk Peter Parker makes a living off of making Spider-Man look bad and he gets an angel for a girlfriend? And then she is murdered while he continues to live on making money off of Spider-Man’s misery? Where is the fairness?!?), Busiek and Ross really shine a spotlight on the human condition like few other stories are capable of.