listery

Lists are fun, frustrating, controversial, laughable, etc. Recently I found a list of the top 100 comic book storylines ever as voted by the readers of the site it was posted on. The list was interesting to read. Due to who was voting, I don't think it is a very strong overall list, but it is still informative. The number one pick was not a surprise and I agree with it, but it won't be on my personal list.

Here's the list. You can click on the individual titles for more description if you like. The descriptions are in batches of 5 or so.

My count on this list is around 31 or so (though every run on my poll over there is on this list in at least one instance). It is way too modern heavy and of course popular comics heavy and has some titles that do not belong at all on such a list (House of M for example).

I am now going to mess around with a personal top 10. I am dummying this up really quickly and I don't think I am going to like it at all. But I need to make a few points. There are runs of comics that I would place above some of these stories, but I cannot pick out an individual story to fit in here. There are also loads of things I have not read that I would very likely place above the majority of this stuff. But I am limited to my scope. I wish I could throw around more of the indie stuff and less of this genre junk, but unfortunately I am a bit limited.

So here's a list that I already disagree with (the descriptions are short, sorry):

10. Fables: Homelands
Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham, plus others
This volume allowed the readers to finally see the lands where the Fables were forced to abandon as well as finally revealing the Adversary. But more importantly it revealed to the reader that one of the characters they had been following as a lowly Fabletown office clerk was actually as great a warrior as one could ever find. This concluded the best stretch of Fables storytelling for me. One of the best stretches of serialized storytelling I have experienced.

9. Ultimates Vol 2: Gods & Monsters and Grand Theft America
Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch and others
This series was like an Avengers post-Watchmen. Or I am actually told it is like an Avengers post The Authority, but as I have not read The Authority yet, I cannot make that judgment. I almost hate to give it that much credit, but there is just something to these books. The "heroes" in this suffer from the Watchmen modern age residue, but this story just takes you by the throat and won't let go. More to come...

8. Man Without Fear
Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. and others
I think this is my only pick that has no representation on the CBR list. Which is funny considering how many other Frank Miller books are on there. But somehow, of all the ones I have read, this is the one that worked the best for me. It has a very better focus than most of his others (that I have read). As for JRJR on art, I cannot figure out what I think of him as an artist. I definitely do not always like him. For this book, he was fantastic.

7. X-Men: E is for Extinction and Imperial
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely and others
I think Grant Morrison's run on the X-Men is somewhat over-rated. However it is over-rated because of its middle and its end. Its beginning is fantastic. And since this list is about storylines... This was my first experience with the mind bending powers of the Morrison/Ellis/Millar variety. I have unfortunately not been able to find something to match it in anything else Morrison since.

6. X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga
Chris Claremont and John Byrne and others
I almost hesitated to put this on here. But really it is the culmination of the Claremont/Byrne run, and honestly the height of the X-Men franchise (some people would throw Morrison at me, but see the above). I hear Byrne is more responsible for the story than Claremont, thus why his departure from the title met with such a tremendous drop off on storytelling. Still, this is cheap dumb comics at its most enjoyable.

5. Steampunk: Manimatron and Drama Obscura
Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo and others
Oh, right. No this one doesn't show up on the CBR list, but it also had no hope of it. Man Without Fear at least had a shot. I could not be honest with you without saying that a reason I like these books so much is probably because they are so obscure. Unfortunately they are so obscure that the series got cancelled and presently sits on a decent-sized cliffhanger (though personally I am more interested in the resolution of Laslo's ailment than the resolution of the romantic cliffhanger). But with Joe Kelly becoming a bigger name in comics, and Chris Bachalo always saying Steampunk is his favorite series he ever worked on. Maybe, just maybe, they'll get another shot. Unfortunately, no ending could probably work well enough for me at this point.

4. Daredevil: Yellow
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale and others
Okay, one more that wasn't on the CBR list. I should not speak so soon. Surprising I have two Daredevil books but have yet to read a substantial run of his series.

This may be getting points because of the Loeb Sale teamup. Batman: Long Halloween had a shot at this list, but in the end from that group of creators I like Daredevil: Yellow tops. It helps that it is a different story for a super hero comic. Actually, in truth it is a love story. Though one of the lovers is of the dead variety. But I just love Sale's approach to the origin story and the silver age goodery therein. This is a much cleaner take on the Daredevil origin than Man Without Fear.

3. Ultimates Vol. 1: Super-human and Homeland Security
Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch and others
This series was so slow paced and came out at such long intervals to begin with it was hard to get an idea of how great this book would be. But boy was it great. I never thought the Avengers could be made into a movie, or even really updated until I read this series. Admittedly, a movie will make the heroes a bit more... umm heroic, but still. As for the second part, I initially thought, really?, aliens. You had to go with aliens? But then Millar just started hitting me in the gut over and over.

2. DC: New Frontier
Darwyn Cooke and others
Surprisingly, two DC books top off this list, albeit one is Vertigo. New Frontier is like a hopeful Watchmen. And with much better art. Darwyn Cooke does not hide his nods to Watchmen, but mostly he is writing a love note to silver age comics and the era of history he grew up in. I am not a DC aficionado, but I think that almost made this book better for me because of it.

1. Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers
Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham and others
It is a little hard for me to judge this as #1, as it is not as deep and as complex as many other comics, but this story worked for me on so many levels that for now, I feel it fits my number 1 seat.

March of the Wooden Soldiers was when Fables as a series clicked for me. In fact it was the clickiest it ever got for me. In a few ways it was downhill from here. The next two major stories kept up the quality, but since then it has gone down and I suspect will never be able to make it all the way back. In this story everything finally came together and the ensemble cast all got their moments to shine as well as the adversary became very real. I will even admit to a point in the book where I got hit with a spike of emotion (though Fables: Mean Seasons had a stronger one).

I also think the costumes and secret identities are what are holding comics back, which is why Fables is such a refreshing series for me.



I think I should do a list of top runs of writers. That could be fun. That way I could credit Lee/Kirby; Lee/Ditko; Peter David. I could also do a top 10 characters... that would be interesting. Top 10 artists... I guess say if you have any requests.

I have also never read Sandman, some of the classic Morrison, or many of the other things that are on that top 100 list. I am certain quite a few of those would trump what I have here if I ever got around to reading them.

1 comment:

Skip said...

Listerizer. Most I would like to explore at some point although I am even less knowledgeable in the comics than yourself. Carry on, comic man.