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2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #15-13

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Here are the next three storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.

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.

15. “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin (X-Men #141 and Uncanny X-Men #142) – 449 points (2 first place votes)

Days of Future Past was a major X-Men storyline, as it introduced many key figures and plotlines that would reoccur many times over the next 30 years (and counting).

The main concept of the book is that a group of X-Men in the future, a dark future where most mutants have been hunted down and killed by government-mandated genocide (using giant robots called Sentinels), decide to try to change their present by sending one of them back in time to stop the problem before it began.

The way they do this is by sending the mind of Katherine Pryde into the mind of herself as a teenager, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men.

You see, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are destined to kill Senator Robert Kelly, an anti-mutant Senator who wants to run for President. If they succeed, this will lead tot he backlash that made their timeline occur. So the idea is to avoid that by saving Kelly’s life.

The rest of the comic mixes in the present-time X-Men trying to stop the Brotherhood along with the future X-Men facing off against the Sentinels.

The battle between the X-Men and the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was one of the best battles Byrne and Austin ever drew…

So all in all, this story introduced the dark future timeline, which became a major trope for the X-Books (alternate timelines), plus introduced major characters like Rachel, the telepath who sends Katherine’s mind to the past, and a few new evil mutants who kept popping up over and over again over the years (Avalanche, Destiny and Pyro). Not bad for just a two-issue story arc!

This was also notable in that it was the last storyline that the classic X-Men team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne did on the book (Byrne left the book after one more issue, a classic Christmas tale).

14. “The Great Darkness Saga” by Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt (Legion of Super-Heroes #290-294) – 451 points (10 first place votes)

Probably the most notable aspect of the Great Darkness Saga is just how well Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen developed the drama of the storyline. It was very much a slow burn as things slowly got progressively worse until, well, all hell broke loose at the end of the story.

Larry Mahlstedt was Giffen’s inker at the time, and the duo produced some strong, dynamic and characterization-filled artwork.

After some small references in the issues before, the storyline began proper in Legion of Super-Heroes #290, as some mysterious powerful “dark” creatures keep popping up around the world capturing items of power, with the Legion trying (to no avail) to stop them at each opportunity.

In the next issue, the situation continues to deteriorate, and the mystery of WHO these “dark warriors” are becomes a bigger issue, as it APPEARS as though the dark creatures are actually powerful beings from the past – beings that have been long dead for years (centuries in some cases).

The slow burn is perhaps highlighted by Dream Girl having a dream of the future and, well, the dream not going so well for the Legion…

The Legion keep finding setbacks in their fight against the dark ones until finally having a minor victory in #293, but even in victory, things look pretty damn bleak, as the big bad guy has turned the entire populace of Daxam into essentially an army of Supermen…and that’s before they reveal that Darkseid is the big bad guy!!!

The impact of that reveal was a lot bigger back when Darkseid was not such a popular villain for people to use (how freaky is seeing the brainwashed super-powered Daxamites use their new powers to literally sculpt their planet so that it looks like a giant vision of Darkseid’s head?!!? Holy crap!).

And that, of course, leads into a dramatic last issue that has all the drama and action you would expect from the previous issues, as Darkseid eventually takes the fight directly to the Legion…


Of course, this being a superhero story, there has to be a final twist to save the heroes (hint – it involves the mysterious looking boy in the above double-page spread). But here I think Levitz and Giffen played fair and the twist was realistic. What a wonderfully told story.

Go to the next page for #13…

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“Days of Future Passed” and “Kraven’s Last Hunt” are right at the top of the best super-hero stories ever done.

“The Great Darkness Saga”? Very good, but not in the same class. Tons better than “Hush”, though.

I wish all current writers and editors would read “Days of Future Passed” and see that a game-changing SAGA can be begun and finished — and done well — in only two issues. Because if it came out in 2013, “Days of Future Passed” would be a seven-issue mini-series crossing over into nineteen other comics.

I love how you’re praising a story but consistently get it’s name wrong even though it’s in the article you’re commenting on. It’s not “Days of Future Passed” it’s “Days of Future Past”. The “Great Darkness Saga” certainly deserves to be on the list, as it’s the best Legion story ever told.

I marvel (no pun intended) at how much Byrne & Claremont accomplished in 2 issues. Granted, Kirby could put out some packed multi-issue stories, but Days of Future Past is more tightly plotted than the King’s work (and I say this as an ardent Kirby fan). All killer, no filler.

“Great Darkness Saga” is a fun story, and made me a Legion fan. I’ve picked up and enjoyed a whole bunch of Giffen/Levitz/Mahlstadt & Co back issues. What an enjoyable run!

Kraven’s Last Hunt is a favorite. It’s the best dark Spider-Man story, and Zeck’s art is gorgeous. McCloud’s smooth inking complements it perfectly.

It’s depressing that we won’t be able to see that top panel in the new movie.

The Crazed Spruce

November 23, 2013 at 8:59 am

I haven’t read Days of Future Past, and I only read Kraven’s Last Hunt when it first came out and barely remember it. I downloaded both of ‘em to my app just last week, though, so I should get around to reading them soon.

The Great Darkness Saga is a truly awesome story. It was loaded with action, tension, drama, and suspense, with a perfectly timed pace and a believably menacing threat (no mean feat, considering that the heroes ranked well into the dozens). The highlight of one of my all-time favourite comic book runs, which is why it was #1 on my list.

The Crazed Spruce

November 23, 2013 at 9:07 am

And in case you were wondering, ….

Days of Future Past jumped from 20 to 15
The Great Darkness Saga slid from 11 to 14
Kraven’s Last Hunt rose from 14 to 13

Days of Future Passed is ace. Kraven’s Final Hunt started an unfortunate trend of ultra grim Spidey stories, but taken on its own, I have nothing but praise for Kraven’s Final Hunt. The Amazing Darkness Tale, on the other hand, I haven’t read.

(Predictions: Born Once More and First Year will make the Top 5).

I love Giffen’s cheeky reappropriation of The Creation of Adam in that last double-page spread.


That made me laugh. Well played.

Seriously, I’ll never understand the love for Kraven’s Last Hunt…

I’m glad Days of Future Past didn’t place any higher than this. It’s a fine story but tends to be overrated, imo.

Obviously all three of these are great, though I consider every story in the last batch to be better than these.

Can’t wait for the top 10. This is getting more exciting!

5 for 10

5. Amazing Spider-Man “Kraven’s Last Hunt”
6. Y-The Last Man 1-6
8. Immortal Iron Fist #1-16
9. Captain America “Winter Soldier”
10. Top 10 Season 1

Great group of stories! The Great Darkness Saga is notable for me as the only complete LOSH storyline I’ve read. Never could get interested in the series whenever I’ve tried to read it, but the promise of Darkseid whooping ass kept me reading this one to the end, and it was quite good. Love the Michaelangelo reference in the final panel posted above; I had forgotten about that.

darkness saga…..maybe this was good in the shitty 80ies?
na, must have still been boring even then…

Though Zeck’s art on “Kraven” is just ified as being some of the best comic art put out though DeMatteis didn’t seal it for me. He’s all grim and moody but the story kind of meandered for me going no where. I don’t feel any great loss when Peter dies because it feels too much like a dream and the climax and return were very weak. If was teaching someone how to write, I’d use this as a story that had everything going for it and screwed it up. But I would also say that it’s one of the best Spidey stories out there, which says more about Spidey stories than about this story. But that artwork… DAMN!

Huge drop on quality from the previous batch.

Kraven’s Last Hunt was okay. I really didn’t enjoy the other two stories at all.

Sadly I know there’s at least one more Claremont story to come.

I posit that Giffen and the Great Darkness Saga are more responsible for Darkseid’s status as an A-class uber villain, than anything Kirby did with him

Not really anything wrong with these stories (except for Byrne’s inability to draw people with different faces lol).

Days of Future past is excellent, and is another comic whose praise I can’t argue with, though it didn’t make my top 10 (that other X-Men storyline that’s still coming did though). It’ amazing how much they packed into those two issues. It’s amazing how much they packed into a relatively short run.

The Great Darkness Saga I first read recently. I enjoyed it hugely. Loved the epic scale. But I must say, the dialogue and character work wasn’t fantastic. And the cringe-worthiness of the French dude’s dialogue is as bad as any of the ridiculous gender stereotypes in Lee’s FF work.

Haven’t read Kraven’s Last Hunt, but should do soonish.

Things are shaking out more or less as suspected now with tons of 80s goodness rising to the top.

That X-Men story is great.

That Legion story is the first story to persuade me that DC comics could be as cool as Marvel. I was picking up the issues for a friend and got very hooked, very fast.

In the mid-to-late 80s, DC was kicking Marvel’s butt as far as exciting grim-and-gritty fare, but I thought that that Kraven story was a very good entry on Marvel’s side of things. Love the DeMatteis/Zeck team and this was also the first time the three Spidey titles were used to build a cool, coherent crossover together (pretty cool offering readers a 6-issue mini’s worth of story in just two months!).

interesting to see days of future past show up on this list for still another though would crack top five. plus the fact that it also started the question of who is nightcrawlers parents mostly his mother. and great darkness saga thought would be at least number ten. kravens last hunt did not expect it on the list at all. and thinking the top five will include a certain spider man story not seen yet.

I had stopped reading comics by the time I got to high school. By then, all my money was going into my record collection. My interest in the medium might have stopped then and there if my parents hadn’t moved while I was in college.

One Winter Break, having no friends in my new state, I went to the local store out of screaming boredom. Although it had been years, I decided to grab an interesting looking comic off the spinner rack. It was an Alan Moore Swamp Thing. It impressed the hell out of me, but after I returned to school, my interest dwindled again.

Then, summer came. I got bored again, went to the store and got the first few issues of another interesting looking comic: Kraven’s Last Hunt. Needless to say, by the time I got back to college, I was hooked again, especially after my buddy told me about this other recent book called The Watchmen…

So the events of “Days of Future Past” are happening in 2013? Does that mean that once this year is over, we will no longer have characters travelling back from that future to the present to prevent it? It was awesome story, but Marvel’s inability to let go of it has weakened it over the years.

Seeing “The Great Darkness Saga” this high surprised me, but I am very happy to see it here. I guess I was expecting to see it displaced by the latest “hot” events. It is not raved about like many of the other stories on this list, but that just means it is not a subject to as much hype aversion.

Kraven’s Last Hunt! I completely forgot! One of my faces. Dang. Hopefully, I’ll remember next time.

All great stories.

I’m delighted to see Great Darkness here as well.

All three of these are just fantastic stories.

Absolutely love Days of Future Past and Kraven’s Last Hunt. Don’t quite love The Great Darkness Saga to the same extent – maybe because I didn’t grow up reading Legion, or even much DC, but I still thought it was very well done, and made me wish I had read a bit more Legion that I have.

I’m pretty sure I know what #1 will be, and probably #2, but seeing how the rest of this pans out will be interesting.

I have read so many damn Spider-Man comics and somehow none of them have ever been Kraven’s Last Hunt. I should work on that.

I have also never read an issue of the Legion. I should work on that too.

Days of Future Past, I have read. For which I am eternally thankful.

Dang, I guess most people seem to think Kraven’s Last Hunt is the best ever Spider-Man story around here, huh? I won’t argue, it was on my list.

Finally another one of mine makes the list with The Great Darkness Saga.

Days of Future Past easily sails in here. Great and classic story through and through. If the movie can be half as good I’ll be satisfied.

Though I love Spidey, it was mostly Ditko Spidey. Though I’ve heard for years how good the Kraven Saga is, I still haven’t read it, but plan to.

I know what 11 of the top 12 will be. But not the twelfth. Either I’m being really dumb and forgetting an obvious choice or it’s going to be some random big event crossover from the last couple years I never read. I have no real barometer on which of the recent ones people preferred.

The Crazed Spruce

November 24, 2013 at 1:52 am

Don’t feel too bad, Chris N. I’ve been keeping track from the start, and I don’t have a clue what the 12th one’s gonna be, either. Granted, I’m leaning heavily towards The Long Halloween, but there are still a lot of good and/or popular and/or high-selling storylines that haven’t shown up yet. Just off the top of my head, there’s Siege, Dark Reign, Secret Invasion, Spider Island, Shadowland, Flashpoint, Fear Itself, Age of Ultron, and A vs X. And they’re just the major events. That’s not even counting self-contained stories from an ongoing series ( like “Quarantine” from X-Men, Spider-Man’s “24/7″, or the Hawkeye two-parter “The Tape”.)

By the way, I’m not endorsing either of those stories, although one is in my top 25, and another just missed the cut. I’m just saying that the last slot could really go to just about anything. (Except “The Draco”. I’m calling that right now.)

Just because we’re pretty sure of what the last stories are, can we not speculate? It makes the last few posts so boring because most of the comments are “oh, of course we know the last x stories are…”, and it just spoils it for the rest of us who aren’t keeping that close track.

There’s a lot of people doing it, so don’t think I’m singling anyone in particular out.

Except for the 16 year old Goth girls.

The Crazed Spruce

November 24, 2013 at 2:45 am

Hey, you can speculate all you want. Really, anything can happen. Everyone could’ve decided not to vote for Watchmen, figuring it was a lock, then thought that One More Day was just so totally awesome that they just had to make it their #1 choice, thereby skewing the list on its head, disrupting reality as we know it, and possibly rending a tear in the space/time continuum. Sure, I don’t really see that happening, but it could

The Crazed Spruce

November 24, 2013 at 2:48 am

Seriously, though, Travis, I see your point. I’m gonna stop talking about the ones I know are coming up, as of this post. We cool?

Hey, we’re cool, ‘Spruce. You made sure to tell me the Cerebus position changes (ooh, that sounds dirty), so we’re cool.

It happens with every one of these lists, when we get to the end, that a lot of comments are more about what’s coming up rather than what’s on the current post, so I realize I’m probably not going to change the tide, but I figured I’d throw it out there.

Once stuff is revealed, I do love hearing about how they changed positions, and that sort of analysis, so keep that coming.

‘Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed?’ still hasn’t appeared.

(That was everyone’s number one pick, right?)

I remember reading “The Great Darkness Saga” and being very taken with it. At the time, I was not a regular reader of the Legion but, for some reason, picked up one of the early GDS stories and was immediately caught by the suspense. I had to get by the names of most of the characters, but the fact that they were facing some incredibly powerful and ominous force from the past made the story very compelling. At the time, as the article notes, Darkseid wasn’t nearly as well known as he is now, so his final reveal really was dramatic. Also, I don’t think that Darkseid has ever been more powerful than he is in this story, though much of that involves the fact that he is stealing power from every villain that he can find. Anyway, the series was amazingly well done and had me buying the Legion for years after that.

“Days of Future Past” was excellent and does merit its spot here. It was dramatic and sad, particularly as it ends with the plan failing, at least for those from the future timeline. Someone above commented on how much Byrne and Claremont were able to do in two issues. Remember, though, that this was from an era when comics actually had significant story content in each issue. One of my complaints about comics today is that it is rare to have much story in any single issue. To a large extent, this is both because of the reduction of the number of panels on a page and the reduction of expository text and even dialogue.

“Kraven’s Last Hunt” I have not read. I’ll get around to that someday.

3 great stories though none of them quite special enough to make my top 10 (but would all belong in my top 100)
(pretty certain I’ll get exactly 1 more for 4/10 … I guess my tastes are too obscure/minority interest)

as far as im concered the “legion of superheroes” died with the silver age.
reading it now, it’s clear it was written in the meta context of real kids playing pretend superheroes in their backyard.

Exchanging the naive charm and dream like adventures with edgy and ‘mature’ themes, doing movie camera panels, adding a ton of melodrama, is grossly missing the point.

I’ve always thought Keith Giffen’s comment that “DC editors pass Darkseid around like a bong” pretty much sums things up in the years since Great Darkness.

I love the art in Kravens last Hunt and the general idea of the story but the comics themselves just didn’t feel like a spiderman story. And not because its so dark but just even character interactions and dialogue didn’t feel right to me.

I’ve always thought Keith Giffen’s comment that “DC editors pass Darkseid around like a bong” pretty much sums things up in the years since Great Darkness.

That’s funny.

‘Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed?’ still hasn’t appeared.

(That was everyone’s number one pick, right?)

If I’d voted, I would have picked this!

And why not? It’s the best Batman story not written by Bob Haney!

I’d been reading the Legion for about 15 years when the Great Darkness Saga was published and it was the first time the actual comics lived up to the image of the Legion I had in my head (which is essentially Shooter taking them to Marvel and writing them there). It was that good. We came close a few years earlier with the Earth War story but that suffered from changing artists and ultimately disappointed. Levitz nailed the perfect LSH story on his second try and there’s very little since that has matched it.

Also, despite the last page dramatic reveal of Darkseid by Brainiac 5, I always loved the way the next issue starts with most of the other Legionnaires turning around and saying “er ..who?”

Days of Future Past, now that is an X-Men story! Kitty Pryde shines amazingly in it, we see that she grows into a mature strong woman. The fact that the franchise keeps coming back to, shouldn’t hurt the original story.

Great Darkness Saga is still the only Legion story I have read. Probably why it doesn’t have a giant impact on me, but it is a good story. A real shame how much time is spent building to the reveal, just to ruin it on every cover when it is collected.

Kraven’s Last Hunt, such a fantastic story. I love JM DeMatteis, and this isn’t even his best story.

I read both “Days of Future Past” and “The Great Darkness Saga” when they were new, back in the days when you could still get your comics off a spinner rack at a drug store. “Future” was almost shocking in its day. A great way for Byrne to end his tenure on X-Men. (There were a few issues left, I know, but I think this was the last great storyline of Byrne and Claremont. (And sometimes, I think, the last great work by John Byrne.))

I really loved the Giffen Legion of Super-heroes run, but The Great Darkness Saga was not a highlight for me. (I always thought making “Saga” part of the official title was a bit pretentious.) But it was a good story and it’s what people remember, so I’m glad to see the Giffen Legion remembered.

I never read Kraven’s Last Hunt. I was long gone from reading Spider-Man at that point.

I finally read Kraven’s Last Hunt recently and I was severely underwhelmed.
I guess it would have been a whole lot better if I’d read it when it first came out, and not after hearing about how great it is for over 20 years and knowing pretty much everything that’s gonna happen beforehand.

Of course I never cared about Kraven so that probably didn’t help (he’s the main reason I didn’t want to read it before).

Of course I never cared about Kraven so that probably didn’t help (he’s the main reason I didn’t want to read it before).

I used to think Kraven was pretty awesome, but that was back when I was seeing back issues and reprints of his earlier appearances. I can’t think of a single Kraven appearance that I like after an early issue of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man.

But check out Amazing Spider-Man #34. Lee and Ditko at their finest! It’s great! Issues like that was why they called it Amazing!

@Eric Henry – Great catch on the 2013 timeline. Damn you, now I feel old.

And what strikes me about that story now….everyone remember when Wolverine was short?

I also didn’t recall from the Zeck art Kraven’s outfit being quite so….skimpy….

Hell, yes!!! I absolutely, positively agree that all three of these are among the greatest stories ever told in mainstream comic books. I’ve written about all of them on my blog. I definitely wanted ta address “Days of Future Past” before the end of this year, because, yes, it is 2013, and in many respects this story is as relevant as ever.


It constantly amazes me that Claremont & Byrne accomplished in a mere two issue story what so many subsequent writers have attempted, and failed, to achieve in a dozen or more chapters. I cannot help but contrast it to “Age of Ultron” which, from what I’ve heard, really did not work too well, and collapsed beneath its own decompressed weight.

“The Great Darkness Saga” is one of the two things that turned me into a die-hard Legion fan (the other was Dave Cockrum’s work on the series getting reprinted in the Legion Archives). Levitz’s writing on it is full of both epic spectacle and many quiet, personal moments. Nowadays, that latter aspect is all-too-often missing. You have wide-screen action, but the characters are either one-dimensional or interchangeable.

Of course, in the aftermath of “The Great Darkness Saga,” when we finally discovered exactly what Darkseid’s “curse of darkness growing within you, destroying you from within” truly was, I had to conclude that Levitz was a diabolical genius.


And, yes, “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is one hell of a riveting read. But I’m a fan of J.M. DeMatteis’ writing in general. Plus the artwork by Mike Zeck & Bob McLeod is absolutely stunning.

The only Kraven story I liked is Amazing Spider-Man #47.
And by Amazing Spider-Man #47, I really mean Deadpool #11. So Kraven is kind of an irrelevant reason to like it.

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