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2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #6-4

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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!
Enjoy!

NOTE: All of these storyline posts will be image intensive, so I’ll be spreading them over multiple pages.

6. “Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Batman #404-407) – 1270 points (26 first place votes)

Whatever aspects of the Batman character weren’t already re-defined by Frank Miller in his Dark Knight Returns series were done so with this landmark new origin for Batman, courtesy of writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli.

The story tells the tale of Bruce Wayne and James Gordon, and how one man became Batman and the other became the symbol of honest cops in Gotham City (Harvey Dent also plays an important role, but Batman and Gordon’s stories are the main ones in the story).

Originally, Bruce tried to be a vigilante without a costume. It did not go well. He barely gets home alive and that’s when a new idea comes to him…

That this story was the basis for the blockbuster film, Batman Begins, is of no surprise, since Miller writes the story in a totally cinematic style, and Mazzucchelli’s brilliant artwork certainly has a cinematic style to it, as well.

This is especially evident in the way that Miller uses the passage of time via calendars. Check it out in this legendary sequence from the second issue of the story, as Jim Gordon tries to get extra support to take down Batman but his superiors ignored him…

What a great use of the passage of time.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the comic is just how strong of a character Jim Gordon is in it. He truly works as the co-lead of the story. While writers certainly had done solo Gordon stories before this storyline, never had he gotten the attention Miller gave him, and a result, Gordon HAS had the same attention since.

Richmond Lewis’ colors should get some attention – she does a marvelous job setting the mood. Very evocative washes.

Add it all together and you have an engaging and entertaining new origin for Batman as we see him go from green vigilante to a trusted friend of the Gotham City police (as the police also go from being totally corrupt to only being significantly corrupt – a major step up!).

5. “Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Batman: The Dark Knight #1-4) – 1637 points (41 first place votes)

Dark Knight Returns is one of the most influential Batman comics, well, ever, really. In his four-issue series set 10 years after Bruce Wayne retired as Batman, Frank Miller basically established the way Batman would be presented in comics for the next…well…27 years and counting!

The comic is literally about the return of the Dark Knight, as Bruce Wayne realizes that his city needs Batman again, so he, well, returns.

Miller plays with the concept (not originated by Miller but certainly cemented by Miller) that perhaps Batman’s existence draws OUT the crazies in an action-reaction deal.

As soon as Batman returns, so, too, does Two-Face and the Joker.

The other major characters in the story (besides Alfred) are Carrie Kelly, the teenaged girl who becomes the new Robin…

and Superman, whose conflict with Batman makes up the finale to the series (Superman is depicted as a servant of the United States)…

Miller’s art is in strong form in the series, especially the action sequences, which are dramatic as all hell.

Batman has three (one is a two-parter) extremely memorable fights in this series.

The first is against the leader of the Mutants, the screwed up gang of thugs who are terrorizing Gotham (in his first night back, Batman saves Carrie Kelly from a pair of them, leading to her wanting to become Robin), where Batman tries to compete like he was still young…

The second is a chilling conflict with the Joker, who figures out the best way (in his mind) to “beat” Batman – it’s quite twisted.

The third is the aforementioned battle between Superman and Batman, where we see perhaps the debut of the whole “if Batman had enough prep time, he could beat anyone” mode of handling Batman.

So yeah, Dark Knight Returns – major comic book work.

Go to the next page for #4…

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130 Comments

I’ve reread Watchmen several times, but I’ve never summoned up the urge to reread DKR.
I should definitely wait until after Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams fades from memory (I’m in vol. 3). Looking at Miller’s Batman, I can’t help comparing it to Adams’ description (Batman’s tall, but lithe, moving like a much smaller man) and how basic his work is to my mental image of Bats in motion.
All-Star Superman I finally read last year. Remarkably charming, enjoyably non-ironic and non-cynical as you say, and with some great bits. Particular favorites are Superman pitching Luthor “I’m dead, now do something to help humanity” (he doesn’t) and Jimmy turning all his weird Silver Age transformations into a successful column. It’s one of the few interesting things anyone’s done with Jimmy post-crisis.

This js surprising. I wonder what books will be the top 3 seeing as i have always seen Watchmen, drak knight returns and year one as the top 3

Oh wait i forgot V for vendetta. I hope from hell is jot going to be in the top3. Never really saw it as that great. Would be a funny top3 with all stories by Alan Moore

V for Vendetta and From Hell have already shown up on the countdown. I believe the top 3 will Moore, Claremont, and Miller.

I’ve never read All-Star Superman as the monstrosity that was All-Star Batman and Robin soured me on anything that was billing itself as All-Star. I think I may have been doing myself a disservice and need to check it out.

It says something that you can do a big fulfilling discussion of All-Star Superman and not come close to mentioning the best known moments from it. No mention of the one page summary of his backstory, the answer to the riddle of the sphinx, or “You’re much stronger than you think you are.”

Damn – The Dark Knight Returns and Year One were my #1 and #2 votes respectively. Both brilliant.

It beggars belief that some Claremont X-crap is going to beat them in this poll.

All Star Superman had beautiful art from Quitely, just about the only rendition of Jimmy Olson I’ve ever liked and generally did everything right. Yet somehow I merely quite liked it.

I will reread it sometime.

Taken by itself TDKR is an undeniably fantastic story.

The problem is that DC has been retelling that story since it came out. It is played out like a summer hit on the radio. I never again want to see Baman beat Superman in a fight or Superman be depicted as the out of touch hero who is a pawn of other forces.

I remember it came as a bit of a shock last time when DKR – often the consensus #2 best storyline – only came in at #5. But here it is at #5 again.

I feel pretty confident that I can pick the last three in order (as I reckon many readers can now).

and the Claremont bashing begins….

I can’t add anything to the accolades DKR and Year One have received. I will say that Year One is my favorite Batman story and the one Batman comic I could give to a non-comics -reader and feel confident he or she will like it.

All-Star Superman is a remarkably sensitive comic. Morrison tells the story of a man who does everything he can to help the world even while dying. His friends, in turn, help him. Lex Luthor, Samson, Atlas, and the other Kryptonians are put in opposition due to their selfishness. Quitely’s art is stunningly good. He sells the character acting along with the action. The colorist did a fantastic job as well.

The Crazed Spruce

November 26, 2013 at 5:15 am

I read Batman Year One for the first time just before I sat down to figure out my ballot. Now, a lot of so-called “greatest stories ever” were pretty underwhelming to me by the time I finally read them, but this one definitely lived up to the hype. I had it at #6 on my list. Don’t know if I’d call it the best Batman story ever, but it’s by falr the best Jim Gordon story.

I’ve always considered The Dark Knight Returns to be the best Batman story ever (though a few recent reads might be contenders for that title). It didn’t quite make my 10 best this time around, but it was #15 on my short list.

Haven’t read All-Star Superman yet, but I downloaded it a couple of weeks ago. Gonna have to get around to that one of these days…..

Good stuff all around.

Dark Knight was my #1, it’s just too groundbreaking, iconic and just plain exciting to be anywhere else. As the first prestige format book I read, every issue just read like a jam-packed novel unto itself. Love it.

I loved Batman: Year One as well, although it still takes a backseat to DKR for me as it’s a “quieter” version. It just missed out on my top ten. I actually really loved the first three issues, but remember being a bit let down by the finale, which didn’t have as big a climactic payoff (certainly not on the level of a Superman/Batman duel). Still, it all holds up remarkably well.

I reread All-Star Superman recently, and it still doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s very well done, but I guess I tend to glaze over at a lot of the silver age aspects, benching six quintillion tons and what-not. The exception is issue #10 which is probably in my top ten favourite single issues ever. That distilled the best of Superman in one great issue.

Actually, I do love the Dwayne McDuffie DVD adaptation, which inspired me to re-read the story in the first place.

Guess the final three are inevitable. Anxious to read the write-up on The Shadow: Seven Deadly Finns.

Reading Year One and DKR still give me goosebumps. Such awesome reads.

@Eric Henry. AllStar Superman is as good as AllStar Batman is hideous. They’re inversely proportionate to each other. And AllStar Lois Lane is just gorgeous. Giggity at a 2D drawing of a ficticious woman.

I am constantly amazed at the love for All-Star Superman. I thought it was its initials.

It was just boring. I think part of it is what you say in the write-up… it isn’t cynical at all. Quite frankly (pun kind-of intended) Superman without a touch of irony is really, really lame.

and the Claremont bashing begins….

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

If you’re going to call it “Claremont crap,” at least call it “Claremont-Byrne crap.”

Oh god, I hadn’t realized until now that “Frank Quitely” was a pseudonym. *slaps own face repeatedly*

@dhole- the smart money is on The Shadow: Body and Soul!

That top panel on the third Year One page you posted always looked like Mignola’s work to me.

I love All-Star Superman but the “digital inking” of Quitely’s work did it no favors. I have no problem with its placement here, though I wouldn’t personally have it above YO or DKR.

DKR is so damn good and it’s aged really well. I’d say it’s just as good as Watchmen, maybe even better.
I like what was said by either Miller or Moore about the two books -‘Dark Knight is the big brass band funeral for the superhero, Watchmen is the autopsy.’

@DanCJ oh not at all, I enjoy reading fans bitching about things they don’t like

If you’re going to call it “Claremont crap,” at least call it “Claremont-Byrne crap.”

I’ve got no problem with Byrne’s contribution to the comic.

There’s nothing wrong with hating on Claremont’s X-Men run. I mean, while it did bring some memorable moments, it had godawful dialogue. I mean, just puerile stuff. No comic is perfect though.

[b]Brian Cronin said:[/b]
[I]The second is a chilling conflict with the Joker, who figures out the best way (in his mind) to “beat” Batman – it’s quite twisted.[/i]

I see what you did there.

Superman without a touch of irony is really, really lame.

I semi-agree. I think Mort Weisinger Superman without a touch of irony is really, really lame, so when you have a Superman interpretation that’s homaging that era the irony or cynicism becomes necessary. But the original pre-Weisinger incarnation I think can totally work without irony. If you watch those old Fleischer cartoons today they are awesome. I wish someone would take a Mad Men approach with superhero adaptations and make more movies and tv shows revolving around adapting them in the original eras in which they were created. A Superman series done as a period piece set in the 30s or 40s with no Weisinger elements would be great.

I have read that last sequence in All-Star Superman #1 like a million times and for the life of me I cannot figure out wtf is going on with that dude in the street and the “KRASH”ing looks-like-a-car-part. Where does that thing come from?

Eric, I avoided All-Star Superman for a long time. I’m glad I finally broke down–though as you can see, there are as many mehs! and ughs! as Yays! for it.

I like what was said by either Miller or Moore about the two books -’Dark Knight is the big brass band funeral for the superhero, Watchmen is the autopsy.’

Why would anyone, either as a superhero fan or as a creator, view those two scenarios as a *good* thing?

And if either Moore or Miller view their works as a funeral and autopsy, what work do they think was the cause of death?

and the Claremont bashing begins….

I’m a huge Claremont/Byrne fan, but if people want to criticize it, so be it. There’s a real growing trend of criticism-shaming I see online that I really can’t stand, where people will attack a person for daring to say something negative about something. As long as he’s not personally insulting Claremont or Byrne as people but just criticizing the work, let him.

Taken by itself TDKR is an undeniably fantastic story.

The problem is that DC has been retelling that story since it came out. It is played out like a summer hit on the radio. I never again want to see Baman beat Superman in a fight or Superman be depicted as the out of touch hero who is a pawn of other forces.

Amen, brother. Even though I’m a fan, it needs to be put to rest. There are some books, often very good books, that cast such long shadows on a concept or franchise that in the long run they almost seem to hurt it.

If I was in charge of DC, I’d love to see the Bat-Office staffed with editors, writers, and artists who don’t worship at the throne of Dark Knight Returns, or even outright hate it, just to see what they could do. But the rehashed Milleresque Batman is a huge moneymaker for DC even to this day so I guess that will not be happening anytime soon.

The ending of Dark Knight Returns is just plain bad. Miller’s use of Superman makes the end of the first Superman movie seem brilliant.

Have all the people that vote for Watchmen in these things actually read it more than once? Maybe it’s all the stuff that’s happened around it, but I just don’t think it’s better than YEAR ONE or DKR. But alas, there’s not much to say other than that I personally consider YEAR ONE the single best storyline in comics.

As a huge Morrison/Quitely nut, I am really pleased to see ALL-STAR SUPERMAN so high. I got a little choked up just reading these pages. I should definitely consider the HC to complement my single issues…

nice figured both year one and dark knight returns would make the top five. though had all star superman in the top three. and still thinking number one may be either a spirit story. or a classic spiderman story.

@Cass — I’m not sure where it’s supposed to have come from either, but the point is definitely that, even as bumbling Clark, Superman saves everyone, right? I agree it could have been an item that would make more sense falling — an air conditioner, maybe?

Ted Craig: the ending – that Bruce Wayne could now help the world as himself, that ending? That he’d exorcised his demons? I like that ending, I like it very much. (Obviously Chris Nolan did too.)

It’s interesting how high All-Star Superman is. DC seems to be embarrassed as hell for the character and this book embraces him so unabashedly. I wonder what the sales on the collected version are. Is DKR blowing it away? I mean that seems to be the only version of Superman that the powers that be know.

Dark Knight Returns is a good story, but comics people starting not looking at that as some alternate reality. Like that’s what Batman is all about or that’s how his story should end. I think Year One is a much better REAL Batman story that DKR. In DKR, Miller is making all sorts of commentary under the surface, and it shouldn’t be any kind of definitive Batman story.

Ah, the Claremont hate, as if the guy didn’t write the best popular comic for a decade. “puerile dialogue”? Really? Have you read Secret Wars? Squadron Supreme? The Magus Saga? The Judas Contract?

Moreover, did you hear the actors in Watchmen trying to recite Moore’s dialogue verbatim and make it sound natural? Ecch. To each their own. I thought the excerpts posted here from Love and Rockets had pretty stilted dialogue (and that’s supposed to be Hernandez’s strength, right?).

I finally got around to reading Year One since the last time this poll was done. I liked it a lot, and can see why people rate it so highly, but I would never have even considered it for my list while DKR was a lock at #2 on my list. I’m sure a big part of that is I read DKR during my formative comic reading years, and I read Year One as a guy in his mid 30s that’s read thousands of comics. Plus, at this point, both stories have been copied and rehashed so many times, that even if you haven’t read them you know most of the story beats. That wasn’t the case for me when I read DKR. I’m sure if it was reversed Year One would be in my top 5 and DKR wouldn’t make my list.

Still haven’t read ASS. Thought about buying it when it was onsale through Comixology not too long ago, but I’m not a big fan of Morrison or Superman, so I passed. Maybe I’ll see if the library has a copy.

@Ecron Muss,

No, not the very ending, but all the “Superman as demigod” nonsense. Also, I’m not a really big fan of Nolan’s last Batman movie, so that doesn’t sway me.

I’ve tried All-Star Superman a few times now (I was going to abbreviate it ASS but that really looked wrong) but I’ve never gotten more than two issues in because I just can’t stomach the art (It’s not just Quitely, that muddy coloring is atrocious). I suppose I should just watch McDuffie’s adaptation…Surely that looks better.

Nevertheless, the top 20 has been great.

Absolute gems.

ASS is the sixth of mine to appear. As with the other five, it’s climbed (from 6th to 4th), so I’m quite happy about that. Of my other four, I believe two have yet to come, while the other two don’t look like they’ll make it. I wasn’t expecting The Plague Widow to crack the list, but I’m amazed The Slavers hasn’t made it. Are people not reading it? Do people not rate it anymore? Last time, it just made the list (as did Welcome Back Frank), but this time there’s none of Ennis’s Punisher. Ho hum.

As for the works, ASS is clearly fantastic. Beautiful art and great writing. I actually think the colouring worked really well. The story is touching and human, but also epic and mythical. The ultimate Superman story. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a Morrison/Quitely team-up.

I need to read both of those Batman stories, but I feel a greater need to reread Year One, as I barely remember it, while DKR is quite well etched in my memory. Anyway, both are excellent.

Also, I’m not a really big fan of Nolan’s last Batman movie, so that doesn’t sway me.

Thank you!! I hate the argument I call the Christophe Nolan Appeal to Authority where people will use the fact that Christopher Nolan used something as proof that it’s an essential aspect of the Batman comics. It makes the assumption that everyone worships at the altar of Nolan or sees him as some leading authority on all things Batman.

For those of you who didn’t understand what happened in that page of All Star Superman #1, here is why I think about it:
– Clark is looking up to the “air-tren” and sees that a part of the train is broken and soon to break and fall down
– Clark puts himself in front of the old man and makes him fall
– While the old man is shouting at Clark, the broken part of the train falls right in the place were the old man would be standing if not for Clark intervention
– You can see the old man shouting at the train as it goes away… You even can see the broken parts of the train (it is where the old man is looking)
Excuse for my bad english…

I’d also like to note that, for all the whining we’ve heard about post-2000 comics on this list, the top 20 this time has fewer of them than last time (E is for Extinction, Sinestro Corps War and Civil War all fell out of the top 20, although The Long Halloween jumped from 33 to 11). As miffed as I am about the lack of Punisher Max (and a few other things), I’d say that the greater number of people voting has made for a better list overall.

I think it’s fair for people to look to Nolan as an authority on Batman. I mean, if you make a couple billion on your movies, people are going to think you know what you’re doing. Doesn’t mean the stories are actually that great, but you can see where the respect comes from.

I like Claremont. I have a large chunk of his classic run in reprint or original form. A lot of it is very enjoyable, and I do re-read it quite a bit. I just don’t get all the love and fascination for a story of his that IMHO has done nothing but drag down X-Men and X-Men related storytelling (at times) for the better part of 3 decades now.

Can we move on from it already? I can only hope A v X was the nail in the freaking coffin on the whole thing. But then hope springs eternal…

You can’t hold Claremont accountable for the actions of subsequent writers. This is like people saying they don’t like Watchmen just because everybody became obsessed with superhero deconstruction after it came out. Enjoy the story for what it is and try to keep it in context.

Oh, he’s right. That’s some sort of hover-bus that loses its muffler. I always thought that thing was a marquis in the first panel.

There is a hover rail system attached to the buildings in All Star Superman. A muffler falls from it. In that first panel you can see the hover rail on both sides of the street.

I think it’s fair for people to look to Nolan as an authority on Batman. I mean, if you make a couple billion on your movies, people are going to think you know what you’re doing. Doesn’t mean the stories are actually that great, but you can see where the respect comes from.

I still disagree. I don’t buy that something’s popularity has any bearing on its quality. Sometimes popularity and quality correlate, sometimes they don’t, but correlation doesn’t prove causation. For example sometimes something becomes popular just because it’s popular, if that makes sense. That’s why movie studios and record labels and publishing houses obsess over first week numbers. Because they know if a movie can come out of the gate with the appearance of being popular, by having the number 1 spot in the first week, that will fuel future sales because of all the people who want to watch or read or hear whatever is already popular. That’s why many times corporations rig first week results by buying a ton of the product themselves to insure a #1 placement.

Chris Nolan creating a billion dollar movie is just evidence he knows how to create a billion dollar movie. It’s not proof that he is an expert on Batman or even good moviemaking, just popular moviemaking. I’m not saying he ISN’T a good moviemaker, just that whether he is or not, his popularity alone does not count as proof toward that. If that was the case, then Michael Bay would be an expert on the essence of the Transformers and be one of the highest quality moviemakers.

“It’s interesting how high All-Star Superman is. I wonder what the sales on the collected version are. Is DKR blowing it away?”

Looks that way:
TDKR: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089
ASS: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,005

Loved “Batman Year One”
“Dark Knight Returns” was good back in its day and for awhile after (part two was horrible).
And while “All-Star Superman” had a few good ideas/moments, overall it was a huge fail for me. Quitely’s art was a huge distraction.

Ah, the Claremont hate, as if the guy didn’t write the best popular comic for a decade. “puerile dialogue”? Really? Have you read Secret Wars? Squadron Supreme? The Magus Saga? The Judas Contract?

The only book I’ve read out of that list had bad dialogue too. It doesn’t make Claremont’s dialogue good.

And Claremont may have written the most popular comic, but I wouldn’t put the word “best” anywhere near that statement.

All of these are more or less perfect. And so is everything that’s coming. No arguments from me.

I’m a huge Batman fan, but I’ve never been much of a partisan for either Dark Knight Returns or Year One. They’re both good, maybe even great, but neither one gets into my Top Ten Batman stories. (The first thing that pops into mind about Dark Knight is his terrible interpretation of Selina. If he doesn’t think any more of the character than that, he should have just left her out of it. And, you know, his portrayal of Selina in Year One is a big weakness for that series.)

But I mostly enjoyed them the first time around and I know they are wildly popular, so I have no real problem with their high placements on the list.

(My favorite Batman story is the origin story from 1948, the one where Batman catches up with Joe Chill. And my favorite Batman storyline would be “The Laughing Fish” from Detective #475 and #476. Knightfall I would rank pretty high as well. (But I admit, I have a great fondness for “Where Were You the Night Batman Was Killed?” in Batman # #291 to #294.))

I read Volume 1 of All-Star Superman a few days ago. (I got it from the library.) It’s pretty good! I have mixed feelings about Morrison because when he’s bad, he’s awful (and Supergods makes him look like an egotistical, self-absorbed wanker), but he can write some fun stuff.

I did get used to the art pretty quickly, but I still like to call it “All-Star Cabbage-Patch Superman.”

Volume 1 has great riffs on Lois, Lex and Jimmy. I can see why people like it so much. (But for the record, my favorite Superman story is the Powerstone story from the 1940s, from Action Comics #47 and Superman #17, but I saw it when it was reprinted in Superman #252 in the 1970s.)

@Hoosier X: I absolutely agree on Miller’s representation of Catwoman. I love both “DKR” and “Y1″, but Miller seems to have some issues with women that get worked out it in his comics. Apparently, as far as Miller is concerned, 50% of women are prostitutes.

As far as the list, yeah, love all three of these comics. Happy to see them. On “All-Star” specifically, that was actually the comic that convinced me I didn’t hate Frank Quitely. I started to crack a little with his work on the Destiny story in “Sandman: Endless Nights”, and then “All-Star” came along, and I thought his art was nearly perfect for it.

That doesn’t change my opinion that “X-Men”-era Quitely drew everyone as a fat baby.

And again we have another installment of this list where in the comments there are douchebros calling into question people’s tastes on a list based on everybody’s INDIVIDUAL FAVORITES. It’s one thing to say you don’t like something, but insulting people who voted for something you didn’t like? Well, to use one of their typical post formats:

This is what happens when you let any moron post in the comments section.

Don’t be such a hater.

Just a quick note, really enjoy the spirited back and forth in the comments. Some of you have strong feelings about different writers/artists. I find that fascinating. I don’t really think about writers/artists so much as just focus on the characters. I believe I may be in the minority there (at least on this site). You folks dazzle me with your ability to recall this author’s run, or that author’s run…everything’s ‘runs’ in comics, huh? Funny comic-lingo.

Another thing that struck me is the handful of commenters who actually go to the library. I’m not super young (35), but can’t recall the last time I was in a library…had to have been college. Nor is my first thought to go to the library to read comics I don’t own. Just a couple random observations. Carry on!

@Hoosier X – The Laughing Fish is my favorite Batman storyline too. I voted for it in my top 10. I’m actually pretty surprised that run didn’t make it into this list, especially considering that Brain said the whole run counted as one storyline (IIRC).

@Jerzy – The whole Englehart/Rogers/Austin run counts as a storyline? How did that not win everything?

Must be all those 16-year old Goth girls/hipsters/haters mucking up the voting.

NO MORE

And again we have another installment of this list where in the comments there are douchebros calling into question people’s tastes on a list based on everybody’s INDIVIDUAL FAVORITES. It’s one thing to say you don’t like something, but insulting people who voted for something you didn’t like? Well, to use one of their typical post formats:

This is what happens when you let any moron post in the comments section.

But that hasn’t actually happened in this thread. People have stated what they like or don’t like, but no one’s insulted anyone.

All Star Superman has several flaws. Quitely can’t draw faces, and Morrison wrote the worst version of Jimmy Olsen of all time. Plus there’s just way too much sentimentality to the writing. And the meta story used as the overarching narrative through the series is relatively poor. The individual sub-plots are much more interesting. I think that retroactively the series works better when the individual issues are read on their own instead of all of them in order as one single larger story.

I wouldn’t have looked to the library for comics where I used to live. Now I’m in a larger city where the system has a very generous graphic novel section, so I go.It saves me a lot of money and lets me read stuff I know I don’t like enough to buy.

I’m a casual Batman fan, I can take him or leave him but I LOVE Batman: Year One. It’s possibly my all time favorite superhero story. I think I posted here before that I even got my mom to read it after she asked what I loved about comics so much.

Miller’s story is great, but for me it’s the Mazzucchelli artwork that elevates it to greatness.
The Banquet scene, Batman rescuing the homeless lady, the fight in the abandoned building, just pitch perfect storytelling. Toth should have been proud.

I also admire Mazzuccehelli for basically turning his back on mainstream comics and going off to do his own independent work after this. Where could you go from here?

DKR: I liked it OK, but I think it’s overwhelming reputation worked against it for me. Even by the early 90’s it had a reputation that would be hard for any work to live up to. Janson’s inks usually turn me off, this was no exception.

I much prefer Year One, kinda like how I like The Magical Mystery Tour better than Sgt. Pepper.

ASS: What I’ve read of it I really liked, loved the sense of wonder. I for one found it’s lack of irony and cynicism quite refreshing. I don’t want every work (or even every Superman story) to have that feel, but so far it feels like the perfect tone for it. Now I just have to finish the last 3rd.

It never used to cross my mind to use the library either until just a year or two ago, probably because someone here said something about using the library. Thanks to that I’ve been able to check out a bunch of stuff that I’ve been interested in but didn’t want to spend money on, like Hickman’s entire run on Fantastic Four/FF and some Ostrander Star Wars stuff.

@Andahaion

In some sense you’re lucky. I’ve wished for years that I could just enjoy a comic for just the characters and story. I have a friend who is like you, and he seems perfectly happy to be oblivious to art and writing styles.

There are many stories on this list that I wish I could get past the art and just enjoy the story, but it’s just about impossible to turn off that part of the brain and just read it for what it is.

On the other hand I wouldn’t want to lose the sensations that come with a favorite artist.
The sheer inventiveness and humanity of Kirby, the completeness and design sense of Toth, the moodiness of Mignola, the sense of fun in Steve Rude’s work, the near mystical quality of Moebius.

These individual voices are (for me) what comics are all about, and that’s just on the art side!

Obviously a lot of younger voters here. All Star Superman is not this good. Not even close. It was a decent series but the premise was lame and it was kinda dull.

DK is a solid pick. I think Claremont/Byrne had the most iconic run in regards to any book and I am sure something from them will hit the top 3. Their ideas are still re-hashed and used over and over today. That says something. I will admit some of the writing is a bit hoaky and the descriptors/narration make you giggle because they’re pretty dorky…but still….good stuff.

Two questions :

1. Is the female Bucky that was created to be Cap’s sidekick in the Heroes Reborn universe a direct rip-off of female Robin from Dark Knight Returns? Because they bear striking physical resemblances to one another.

2. Wasn’t this female Bucky brought into the 616 universe a few years back? Does anyone know why, or what her current status is?

@Andahaion

It’s not every library that has a great graphic novel section, although I’m happy to say mine does. Since discovering it a few years ago I’ve probably read about $2000 worth of stuff, including full runs (or mostly full) of Scalped, 100 Bullets, Invincible, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men…it saves a lot of money and shelf-space. Some of the stories are a bit thin, but that doesn’t bother you as much when they’re free.

Since this list began I’ve checked out Locke & Key, which is great (I’m onto volume 2) and Essential Spider-Man vol. 2, where I’m reading the “If This Be My Destiny” 3-parter.

I loved AS Superman and completely ignored its Batman and Robin counterpart.

To me, Dark Knight Returns and All-Star Superman are almost companion pieces. DKR tells the last Batman story, but doesn’t quite have the nerve to actually kill him. ASS tells a Death of Superman, but leaves a door open for a sequel. Both did a great job capturing the mood of each character, but neither was any great shakes from a plot point of view. Miller kind of ran out of steam as DKR rolled along, which the iconic Batman vs. Superman fight kind of obscured. Morrison has never been a guy that gives you super clear, linear plots.

While both are wonderful, I would rate Batman: Year One ahead of both. Miller retains his signature tone, but his plotting is better without having to draw the thing.

Yikes.

Okay, I’m a huge Morrison fan, but at this point I think All Star Superman may have taken the title of “Most Overrated Comic Ever” away from Long Halloween.

It was fine, but just so damn superficial and nostalgic.

“Superficial?!”

Yes, All Star Superman is superficial. It says nothing new, at all.

I just don’t get how people can project this huge spotlight of deep meaning onto it. It was just the millionth retro-Silver Agey love fest that we saw in the mid-2000s. I just don’t think it’s THAT special, and this is coming from a big Morrison and Quitely fan.

Then again, I’m also a big Claremont X-fan, but the idea of the Dark Phoenix Saga as one of the three greatest comic storylines ever is hilariously awful to me.

Dark Knight Returns blows all of this stuff out of the water.

@Dan Ahn — the idea of the Dark Phoenix Saga as one of the three greatest comic storylines ever is hilariously awful to me

Wizard Magazine said it best back in the 90s: “The Dark Phoenix Saga would still be one of the 10 best stories ever told in comics if Marvel had just left it alone.”

@Hoosier X:

I have to know: Indiana Hoosier, or Missouri Hoosier?

I was born in Indiana and lived there until I was in my 20s. I’ve lived in California for 25 years.

I didn’t know Missouri Hoosier was a “thing” until I just now looked it up on the Internet.

(If I was a Missouri Hoosier, I’d probably agree with the following items on the list … OK, no, I won’t go there.)

Oh man, the Claremont hatred has already started?

I’ve re-read Claremont/Byrne recently, and was struck my some things.

First, those guys knew how to do superhero action. The characters were creative in their use of powers and the action was clear, you could see it with your mind’s eye. With a lot of other superhero writers, many of them more acclaimed today than Claremont, every action scene is muddled, there is a strange lack of physicality, as if the characters were just standing around striking poses. Bendis in particular. I don’t know if that’s because you can’t write expository dialogue anymore, and so the characters can’t stretch their powers in a fight without confusing the reader, but it seems like everybody is just punching in Secret Invasion, and etc.

Second, the dialogue and thought balloons allowed for a mix of action and soap opera in just 17 pages a month that you don’t see anymore. You could show what 7-8 characters were thinking in an action scene, that made me feel like a “part of the team”, and that everybody had a moment in the spotlight, in a way that modern comics don’t do anymore, with their more movie-like approach. Nowadays you got to have the quiet, drama scenes separately.

Third, many writers that people suppose are “naturalistic” in their dialogue, are anything but. Alan Moore, for one. Though I admit that Moore’s dialogue is much more intelligent and interesting than Claremont’s, it isn’t really more natural.

Fourth, Claremont’s long-term approach caused problems, particularly later on, but also made the important moments feel like they were EARNED. You could go back and see hints planted about the Phoenix one year before her death. None of that “killing major character right off the bat just to show how different my run will be”, none of that “Xorn is Magneto, really guys!” When something happened in Claremont/Byrne’s Uncanny X-men, it was because it followed from what happened before.

I’m not saying that Claremont is a genius, or that he deserves to be ranked above Moore, Morrison, or others. Just that he deserves more respect than what he usually gets in Internet forums. I will say that, even though they are better writers, Moore and Morrison owe certain things to Claremont. There was a lot in Morrison’s X-Men that was taken from Claremont. And Alan Moore, genius that he is, pilfers stuff left and right that people don’t usually acknowledge. Byrne and Claremont had a reality warping mutant villain in Proteus, Moore has a reality warping mutant villain in Captain Britain. Moore has a reality warping, body jumping, incestual fiend in Anton Arcane, and don’t you know it, Proteus also was a reality warping, body jumper with incestual overtones in X-Men, years before.

All-Star Superman was a great example of Morrison’s ability to make something old feel fresh and new, and a great showcase for comics as an art form. It’s a fantastic story, I admit, but I have no idea how it was number 6 on this list four years ago, and number 4 on the list this year!!! DKR and Year One are vastly superior stories, IMO, not to mention how extremely influential they’ve been for the medium. I’m a little bummed out that they weren’t ahead of it.

Given that there will be three Frank Miller stories in the top ten, I think Miller fans can’t agree on their favorite of these three stories, and they “steal the vote” from one another. I have to believe that’s why All-Star Superman and a certain story about Jean Grey land in the top five. And I say this as a HUGE fan of Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

Nevertheless, great list!

I think Claremont was everyone’s favorite writer when they were 13.

Batman : Year One, I really like, even today. Feels like a simple tale but a lot of work went into it. I might still choose Mask of the Phantasm as my favorite Batman origin retelling but Year One gave the Bat-Franchise a new place to go that gave us such tales as Long Halloween and Batman Origins the new video game. Its amazing how DC enjoyed Batman’s end with DKR that they gave Miller Batman’s beginning. How many people can say they told both stories like that, and in that order? Not many

Speaking of which, Dark Knight Returns. A story that forever changed how I view the Batman Joker relationship. That line about how many thousands have been killed in Joker’s rampage, I have never gotten over it. At one point, Batman is responsible for those deaths. Maybe not completely, the city of Gotham (and whatever state it is in) needed to find a way to deal with the problem. Plus Superman shows up at one point too, that was cool. I also remember falling in love with the tagline “How bad must Gotham get to make Batman retire. How bad must it get to bring him back?” The story does not disappoint. This may have also been my first exposure to Green Arrow as well.

All Star Superman, this where not liking Quitely’s art made me a late comer to this. Still have only read the first six issues. Almost done with the animated adaption. Just doesn’t do much for me. Surprised this is so high on the list. At number 4, it has to be Morrison’s highest rank story.

I know what one of the top three has to be but not sure what the other two can be. So excited!

Mazzucchelli is great; I actually just reread Asterios Polyp, which is really wonderful. That and City of Glass are well woth checking out. It’s a shame he hasn’t done more comics work. Has anybody read Rubber Blanket? I haven’t come across it and would love to hear some thoughts.

Similarly, what has Quitely been up to since A.S.S.? Anybody know what those guys’ day jobs are?

The Dark Knight Strikes Again is a fantastic romp. It’s a different animal from DKR–I know I wasn’t in any hurry to get to it due to its underwhelming reputation, but as straight-up superheroics I enjoyed it as least as much as the earlier work. It’s probably my favorite Justice League story.

Gary–that depends if the X is a pseudonym or a signature!

Scrolling through this post reminds me how awesome DKR was at times. Love that shot of Batman and Robin (Carrie Kelly) flying through the air. I haven’t read it since it first came out as four single issues. This makes me want to read it again. The local library has Dark Knight Strikes Again. I need to see if they can get Dark Knight Returns.

I figured the X in Hoosier X stood for “Daddy”.

And Gary beat me to replying about the DKR “Joker’s Twisted Revenge” bit of the writeup. Brian is evil.

I actually prefer DKR to Year One myself, but that may be because I read DKR first. (Actually, in my high school library, speaking of libraries. And that’s getting to be way more years ago than I like to think about…)

And All Star Superman was on my list, I think. So many great moments, and it’s enriched by re-reads. And I think the animated movie does a really good job of streamlining the storyline and making elements of it clearer.

Dan Felty asked about what Quitely’s done since ASS. Somewhere in there he did extra pages for the deluxe WE3, there’s supposedly an issue of Morrison’s Multiversity project in the can, and he’s currently working on the bimonthly series from Image written by Millar, Jupiter’s Legacy. Which is decent so far. I may have missed a couple things in there. (Like the first 3 issues of the Morrison written Batman and Robin series, and they were GOOOOOOD.)

And a bit more on comics in libraries. Check out the 741.xxx area of the adult non-fiction area, and a lot of what I see is shelved in the Young Adult area of the library. Which is always fun to go into as a single dude with a vaguely Alan Moore-ish beard. Hi kids!

“I like what was said by either Miller or Moore about the two books -’Dark Knight is the big brass band funeral for the superhero, Watchmen is the autopsy.’”

I get this regarding Watchmen, but really not re: DKR. That book is dark but it absolutely celebrates the superhero figure.

All-Star Superman over Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns? Huh.

Well… I have to admit, while I’m definitely NOT a fan of Grant Morrison (and I belabor that point to even my own exhaustion), I really enjoyed All-Star Superman (the comic, though… the movie dropped the ball). Morrison really captured several generations of Superman lore and did a great job weaving it together with the 12 Labors of Heracles myth, it was quite very clever and celebrated Superman in a great way.

I still wouldn’t put anywhere near Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns, though. It’s not even in my top 10 Superman stories. But I tend to prefer a certain type of Superman story, so there’s a lot of Byrne, Jurgens, and Simonson on that list.

I can’t say I’m too outraged over the selection, though. Of all the Morrison works I’ve read, it’s the only one I genuinely enjoy.

Thanks, Hoosier X. Until I started working in St. Louis, I had no idea there were two breeds of Hoosier, either.

I’m glad to see year one and all star superman on this list, but I’ll admit I just never found TDKR to be quite as enjoyable as others seem to indicate. I think a part of that comes from me being a relatively young reader (TDKR beat me to the existence) and as a result the story loses some of its impact since, by the time I read it, the book hardly seemed revolutionary. That being said, reading and re-reading the story I don’t see the glaring dip in quality others indicate occurs between TDKR and TDKSA, some of the stories in TDKR are clearly more enjoyable, but the final story felt exactly on par with everything in TDKSA which to my mind brings down the entire book. I’d rank TDKR somewhere around 20 if I picked and that’s mostly on reputation.

Wow. By my count there are going to be some heads a-splodin’ when the rest of the list is announced as, unless my maths have completely failed me, I count at least 4 all-time classics to fill those final 3 spots… and I’ve triple-checked for all of them. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of one of them, but I’d still be surprised to see any of them left entirely off the list, especially for some of the questionable/debatable entries we’ve seen. Gettin’ the popcorn ready…

As for the current additions:

All-Star Superman has never made it to the top of my “must read right NOW!” list even though I enjoyed the animated feature. The ‘Zibarro’ scene above did pique my interest, but for the near future it’ll be a case of if it’s on the shelf when I’m at the library looking-type of situation.

What more can really be said about DKR or Year One? I voted for both and consider both excellent.

Love that All-Star Superman is this high on the list. Morrison’s cool, and at first I didn’t like Quitely’s Superman but it quickly picked up for me. Reading those Weisinger-era reprints as a kid and then reading this beautiful love letter, the first time I read I immediately re-read it. It made me smile and happy for a weekend. Lots of people don’t “get” Superman, but apparently have liked this story.

Much as I loved The Dark Knight Returns back in the day, it’s still good, but not great. Year One holds up much better IMO, but neither made my list, while All-Star Superman did.

Well, it’ll be cool to see where Unity, and Alpha & Omega place next.

Oh yeah, and Seven Soldiers of Victory. All the rest of mine have appeared.

The Angry Internet

November 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm

@Dan and Travis: Quitely’s output has slowed dramatically since ALL-STAR because of sciatica—I recall Morrison saying somewhere that it was so bad he had to draw standing up. He was supposed to do the first and last arcs of Morrison’s BATMAN AND ROBIN, but ended up only doing the first (the last was given to Frazier Irving and a few pages to Cameron Stewart). Plus his section of BATMAN #700 had to be finished by Scott Kolins. There’s an interview with Quitely from last year where he talks about the sciatica in past tense, so hopefully he’s over it. His issue of MULTIVERSITY will be the WATCHMEN pastiche (or whatever) with the original Charlton characters.

@entzauberung — “I like what was said by either Miller or Moore about the two books -’Dark Knight is the big brass band funeral for the superhero, Watchmen is the autopsy.’”

I get this regarding Watchmen, but really not re: DKR. That book is dark but it absolutely celebrates the superhero figure.

That’s the whole point of the quote. TDKR is a commemoration of the then-perceived-to-be-obsolete genre, whereas Watchmen is just picking apart the corpse.

@hondobrode — Much as I loved The Dark Knight Returns back in the day, it’s still good, but not great. Year One holds up much better

I feel the exact opposite way. TDKR is showing its age for sure, but Year One just seems… ancient in a way. Like even more of a product of that time period than TDKR already was.

@mrclam

Those Helfer/Baker runs were great, weren’t they? Manically, darkly hilarious fun.

@Anonymous

Yeah, I guess I can see that in the context of the times. But, I don’t know, I just don’t think those books have all that much in common with each other. Watchmen is much more a direct comment on the superhero genre than DKR ever was.

We all know what the big question is …

Will “Leopard Girl of the Jungle” from Lois Lane #11 be at #1, #2 or #3?

I was wrong about the order. All-Star Superman jumped higher than I expected. Ah well. Glad I didn’t bet money.

All fine comics. Year One was on my shortlist (that is, the longer version of the list)

@entzauberung —

Alan Moore once said that “TDKR and Watchmen are the points in Frank Miller’s and my own careers where we crossed paths while going different directions” [that’s as closely as I can remember the exact quote]. This was a comment that Moore made when both stories were only two or three years old, so it reflects a perception from the actual era where the stories both came out in the first place.

Unfortunately, “Leopard Girl of the Jungle”, being contained to a single issue, is not a valid choice for this competition.

Unfortunately, “Leopard Girl of the Jungle”, being contained to a single issue, is not a valid choice for this competition.

But it was a shoo-in otherwise!

@ Dan Felty:

By all means try to hunt down Rubber Blanket. I only have the 3rd issue but it’s great. I remember being blown away by “Big Man”. It’s certainly rougher than the art in any of his work for the big 2, but it really fits the story well.

If you liked City of Glass and Asterios Polyp you should certainly enjoy Rubber Blanket as well.

The Comics Journal had an in depth interview with him about 13-14 years ago (iirc) that you might also want to get. It’s there typically exhaustive type of interview.

I know he’s also done some work for the New Yorker.

I wish the next one is continuous, not single rank.

“Trey – November 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm

DKSA > DKR”

QUOTED FOR ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

I wish the next one is continuous, not single rank.

Do you mean combine the votes this time around with the votes four years from now?

TDKR and Year One were both on my list, amazing stories. The latter has quite possibly my favorite art in a comic ever. I’m surprised to see All-Star Superman above them both, and I guess this means there won’t be any changes to the top three.

When i first read the comments about ‘libraries,’ i thought it was the internet. Ang i thought to “go to” means to type very specific keywords in google…. ha

and then i read later posts and you were seriously talking about libraries..

Anyways, i cant think about one of 4 all time classics that one of the posters have mentioned… are we talking about HOM? lol… im pretty sure about the other 3. CC,Miller and old beardy

Batman: Year One was my #1 and The Dark Knight Returns my #4. Always preferred the former to the latter.

As Nightcrawler says above, DKR was a shocker when it came out because it was so far removed from Batman then. I imagine it’s much less so for a new reader picking it up today (which is not Miller’s fault, of course).

@Scott Hall “Obviously a lot of younger voters here. All Star Superman is not this good. Not even close. It was a decent series but the premise was lame and it was kinda dull.”

I don’t think that’s “obvious” at all. I’m not sure what CSBG main demographic is (contrary to the beliefs of some, I doubt it’s 16-year-old goth girls), but I wouldn’t assume that it’s mostly younger readers. Of the top 10 (assuming the remaining three are what they were last time), only one is post-2000, and that’s ASS. And of the remaining 9, 7 are pre-1990. From 10 to 20, none are post-2000, and only one is post-1990.

Maybe a lot of people, having read a lot of comics, actually think that ASS is one of the best things ever produced in the medium? I certainly do.

@LouReedRichards “I much prefer Year One, kinda like how I like The Magical Mystery Tour better than Sgt. Pepper.”

I think a lot of people prefer Year One to DKR, as indicated by the fact that the former still received 26 first place votes. It also ranked higher of the two last time, and on many best-of lists around the interwebst it ranks higher. So I’d say it’s more like preferring Revolver to Sgt Pepper.

The anonymous was me, by the way.

Obviously a lot of younger voters here.

“Obviously?” How on earth is that conclusion obvious? For all we know many of the people who voted for All-Star Superman could have been Silver Age and early Bronze Age fans and they love the book for that reason. They may actually be even older than the people who voted for Dark Knight Returns and the other books.

Revolver is better than Sgt Pepper. For my tastes, so are Abbey Road and Let it Be.

I can’t get into Magical Mystery Tour though. It’s half a good album along with a bunch of lesser songs.

I also personally also slightly prefer Revolver to Sgt Pepper (and Rubber Soul would also give them both a run for their money in my books).

I don’t think Magical Mystery Tour really counts as a proper Beatles album, but regardless, it’s clearly doesn’t garner the same level of praise as Sgt Pepper and Revolver. Thus my point was that if DKR is Sgt Pepper, then Year One would more appropriately be compared to Revolver than MMT (though of course in terms of the order they came in the creators’ careers, the MMT comparison doesn’t seem too erroneous).

That’s sort of the analogy I was trying to make. Although yeah it’s not a direct comparison because obviously Year One is regarded much higher as follow up work than MMT is to Pepper.

I prefer Revolver over the others as well, and I feel the same way about Abbey Road, half a good album and some songs I can’t stand.

Then we’re talking The White Album – but then The White Album is a bit crazy compared with Sgt Pepper – whereas Year One is definitely more restrained than TDKR.

Rubber Soul is great too – for me the first really good Beatles album.

So which Beatles album is the counterpart of Holy Terror?

Actually “experimental” and “refined” are probably better words than “crazy” and “restrained”.

So which Beatles album is the counterpart of Holy Terror?

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins

The Soundtrack to the Sgt. Pepper Movie = Holy Terror.

Damn – I never knew there was a Sgt Pepper movie.

It looks terrible.

I have to watch it!

It stars the BeeGees and it is indeed terrible.

Two questions :

1. Is the female Bucky that was created to be Cap’s sidekick in the Heroes Reborn universe a direct rip-off of female Robin from Dark Knight Returns? Because they bear striking physical resemblances to one another.

2. Wasn’t this female Bucky brought into the 616 universe a few years back? Does anyone know why, or what her current status is?

Well, DKR was my #1. It’s what makes superhero comics grand. And the highs might not be as high as the tops in Watchmen, but the lows aren’t as low, either.

I should have had Year 1 on my honorable mentions, at least.

ASS seems highly favored by readers. I’m a bit surprised. I mean ASS deserves to make the list, but I thought ASS would be lower. Though I can see why everyone likes it.

Jon, I’m guessing Bucky was highly inspired by Carrie. Here’s some more info.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rikki_Barnes

LouReedRichard- Try being in bed with the flu the day AMC shows SPLHCB, Can’t Stop the Music and Xanadu. And you can’t find the remote!

After all these years, I have still not gotten around to reading The Dark Knight Returns. Which is quite odd, since I bought the Batman: Year One trade paperback waaaaay back in 1990, and I have read it more than a dozen times over the years. I just re-read it again a few weeks ago, and it’s still awesome. Year One is definitely one of my favorite Batman story arcs ever. It’s also, far and away, my favorite Frank Miller story. Which is odd, because most of what Miller has worked on over the decades has done little for me (and don’t get me started about his post-9/11 lunacy). But for some reason, I love Year One. Maybe it’s David Mazzucchelli’s absolutely incredible artwork, which definitely plays an extremely vital role in establishing the mood & atmosphere of this story. But, yeah, whatever the reason, Year One is incredible.

My bad, actually. With so many comics getting re-released as TPBs I forgot The Killing Joke doesn’t qualify for this list because it was a single issue story.

@Travis – wow that sounds a bit like hell on Earth. Though Xanadu MIGHT be fun My older sister had the album when I was young and she must have watched it every time it came on HBO.

My wife and I watched the 2nd half of the Watchmen movie again the other night. I of course had to complain about the lack of Giant Alien Space Squid. One day she’s finally going to actually read the Graphic novel and see why that ending is so much better!

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