Way back in September of 2009, I thought I’d put out a list of the top 40 comic book runs. This was the list of comics that I return to again and again. Something happened though…I kind of fell off the wagon a little bit. I have the entire list, all chunked out in three more posts (20-11, 10-6, and 5-1), but nearly four years has gone by!
A lot can change in four years, namely there has been four years of awesome comics! So I’ve amended the Top 40 to actually be a “Top 50”, and I’m adding, retroactively, #50-41 right here.
I hope to get the next segment (20-11) out a little quicker.
For those of you interested, the recently renamed Top 50 Comic Runs are available here:
- Top 50 Comic Runs 50-41
4050 Comic Runs 40-31
4050 Comic Runs 30-21
- Top 50 Comic Runs 20-11
- Top 50 Comic Runs 10-6
- Top 50 Comic Runs 5-1
50 – Spider-Man 298-328 (1988)
Peter Parker had been wearing a black costume for over four years at this point, but that’s not what makes this a big deal. It was the introduction to a new character, “Venom”, but that’s still not what makes this a big deal. That it was the introduction of Todd McFarlane as artist on The Amazing Spider-Man is what makes this a big deal. He and writer David Michelinie would create more than two year’s worth of stories together (many of them bi-weekly), and McFarlane would be so successful that he’d not only go on to write and draw his own Spider-Book, but he’d create an entire empire in Spawn.
49 – X-Men the Asgardian Wars (1985)
Art Adams is my favourite 80’s artist, and there was a time that I would buy anything he drew no matter how bad it was. Having read this again recently this was not great, but damn it was cool. The art is beautiful, the characters so much fun to look at and the setting is amazing.
48 – Blackest Night 1-8 (2008)
I was so excited about this book that I actually went to the comic shop near work and picked it up on launch day rather than wait two weeks to get it (at cost) from the very comic shop that I co-owned at the time! It was the culmination of a year long tease, and put so many different things in motion in the DC Universe. The final issue has one of the coolest gimmicks ever too, a four page massive spread showing off the heroes and villains who make their triumphant return to set off “Brightest Day”.
47 – Green Arrow 1-10 (2001)
Kevin Smith had done wonders with Daredevil, but nobody REALLY believed anyone could revive Green Arrow. Then Smith went and did the impossible. He made Green Arrow cool with the six issues called “Quiver”. I enjoyed Green Arrow with Mike Grell’s Longbow Hunters, but the character had fallen out of favour. The truth is the most interesting part about Green Arrow had become “how will he become one armed in The Dark Knight”?
This rejuvenated Ollie, and made Green Arrow cool again. The most amazing thing of it though was that it made his relationships relevant, kept Connor Hawke, his son who had done a great job filling in for Ollie during his absence, still relevant, and even made the quirky 60’s book “Stanley and his Monster” integral to the story.
46 – Flashpoint 1-5 (2011)
The Flash races against time to save his mother’s life from the threat of The Reverse Flash, breaking the time barrier, he ends up in a world where Aquaman and Wonder Woman are engaged in a brutal world war, where there is no Superman, and Gotham City is peppered with “Wayne Casinos”, all run by a brooding Thomas Wayne! Over the course of these five issues, Barry Allen has to regain his powers and set things right. What he ends up doing though is creating a rebooted universe, “The New 52”, which allowed DC to do a total revamp of its entire continuity.
I have to give a shout out to Batman – Knight of Vengeance here too. Batman in the Flashpoint universe is actually Thomas Wayne, in a shocking twist, it was Bruce Wayne who died at the hands of a thug, and it’s Thomas who becomes the Dark Knight.
45 – Justice League 1-6 (2011)
It came out the same day as Flashpoint #5, and the new Justice League “Origin”, reset the clock on continuity and turned Darkseid to the kind of threat that you can believe would actually band a group of such diverse, and powerful personalities together. This isn’t Geoff Johns’ best writing, but it’s some of Jim Lee’s more powerful imagery.
44 – 100 Bullets 1-5 (1999)
This kind of breaks my rules that I put in my first post.
The rules were simple, they had to be comics I was incredibly excited when they came out. I had to have bought them off the shelf when they were released. This list was about anticipation, and these are the comics that I went absolutely nuts waiting for 30 days to go by so I could find out what happened next.
This is a comic I was late to, I came to 100 Bullets about 50 issues into its 100 issue run, and I read the entire thing in TPB. I am including it though because it’s the only comic I have ever entirely “waited for the trade” on, and I was anticipating the end of it, as much as I whipped through the first three TPB’s when I initially got into 100 Bullets. First Shot, Last Call, is still the one that stands out best for me. The idea of someone getting 100 untraceable bullets and being told that there would be no strings, when in fact they are getting themselves embroiled in a conspiracy that goes back hundreds of years, is brilliant. The dark noir of the book was incredibly appealing, but when combined with the awesome impact of the overarching conspiracy…this was one of my favourite series of all time.
43 – Stormwatch 48-50 (1997)
You’ll see this again when we get to Planetary, as well as Supreme Power (both further up on my list), but I am a sucker for stories that use well known archetypes in a new way. “Change or Die” did just that, creating the WildStorm analogues for Batman, Superman, The Spectre, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and more, and turned them just askew enough that their altruism could be seen as evil. It was genius storytelling, and the art by Tom Raney hit me in exactly the right spot.
42 – JLA 10-18 (1997)
I love pretty much everything Grant Morrison has ever written (with the possible exception of his Action Comics run, which I’m not a huge fan of). His run of JLA is one of the best runs on the title ever. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the storyline “Rock of Ages”. It all begins when Superman defeats Lex Luthor by destroying The Philosopher’s Stone, but the very next issue starts with an apocalyptic version of the League fighting for their lives on Darkseid’s planet of Apocalypse. Over the course of the next eight issues, the mystery of what happened gets unravelled, and we get some amazing character moments including The Atom saving the day, and Batman outlasting the master of torture.
41 – The New Titans 50-55 (1988)
Who is Wonder Girl, a spiritual successor to one of my favourite single issues of all time New Teen Titans #38, “Who is Donna Troy”, the return of George Perez, in what was not only beautiful artwork, but a great story which untangled a whole bunch of continuity about Wonder Girl and how she and Wonder Woman could be pretty much the same age. It was a pretty cool story, even though it gave rise to one of Donna Troy’s weakest alter egos – Troia.