From here on in there are no easy choices, and honestly other than the top five…any of these from 20-5 are pretty much interchangeable depending on my mood.
Previous entries in the Top 50 Comic Runs are:
I’ve got a little bit of work to get 10-6 out, but 5-1 is completely written…so look for them both later this week.
A quick recap of the rules:
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.
20- Batman Incorporated Vol 2 6-13 (2013)
For nearly five years Grant Morrison made us care about a bratty ten year old, the totally implausible son of Bruce Wayne. It shouldn’t have worked, from his very introduction, he was disposable. His grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul, had created him to be a vessel to replace his own wasting body. His mother, Talia Al Ghul, had several of his parts replaced on different occasions. He was disobedient, reckless, ruthless, and occasionally downright unheroic. Yet at some point it became cool for this kid who was so grim and gritty to be Batman’s sidekick. He was so serious that he made the Dark Knight…softer. When Dick Grayson became Batman the story turned into one about a dark and brooding kid sidekick, and his adventure loving mentor. Then, just as the kid cemented his position in the Bat-Family…Grant Morrison went and killed him off. The wrap-up of Batman Incorporated put to bed seven years of stories, and returned all of the Bat-Toys back to their proper drawers.
19 – All Star Superman 1-12 (2006)
This can be summed up by the amazing compressed origin story: “Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple.” followed by a massive two page spread of Superman escaping the Sun.
These 12 issues are the best of what Superman can be, with each story more fantastic than the last. Grant Morrison is at his hyperkinetic best with this series, he takes everything that makes Superman fun, and turns it up to 11. Frank Quietly is honestly the best he has ever been with this series, given 12 issues, a deadline, and no fill-in artists, he turned in a masterpiece. He actually makes Clark Kent and Superman distinctly different silhouettes, and you can see how people could believe that Clark and Superman are different people.
18 – Elementals V2 1-7 (1989)
I missed the Elementals originally, and came to it after the series was over. I had noticed it as a collected set in the back of the store that I worked at, and decided I’d buy it. One weekend, after helping out at a show in Toronto, my boss gave me the entire set as a thank you for helping out on the weekend, all 29 issues plus the Justice Machine Annual that had their first appearance. This was mind blowing comics, with a quartet of heroes with elemental powers, all with the flaws of real human beings. I loved every moment, so when Comico resurrected the series in the early 90’s I eagerly grabbed it, and the first twenty or so issues were brilliant, then it fell off the rails. In the first seven issues we meet Ambrose, the young wizard of a magical realm who is helping the elementals find their would be assassin. Morningstar falls in love, and is betrayed in the most horrific way possible. It all wraps up in issue seven with a marriage which is sudden and unexpected. It was ridiculous, it was silly, and it was utterly awesome to 18 year old me. The Elementals were the ultimate pop stars, under the watchful eye of the government, and dealing with all manner of weirdness. It was great comics, and an obvious influence on Rob Liefeld’s YoungBlood, not to mention the Ultimates, Stormwatch, the Authority, Planetary…and pretty much every other awesome comic I have loved since then.
17 – Saga 1-6 (2012)
This is sci fi high adventure in a way I’ve never seen successfully pulled off in a comic before. As a matter of fact, other than Legion of Super-Heroes, I can’t think of a whole lot of Sci Fi comics I’ve ever enjoyed. The set-up is fun, the designs are amazing, and the characters are some of the most interesting ever put to paper.
Plus they have a “Lying Cat”!
This is a take on Romeo and Juliet, with a man and a woman from warring races who fall inexplicably in love and have a daughter. The family is now on the run from both sides of the war, bounty hunters, and all manner of scum and villainy. Of course that the series is narrated by the couple’s infant daughter in journal style is just icing on the cake.
Every single issue has a massive cliffhanger, and leaves you wanting more.
16 – Animal Man 1-6 (1988)
Buddy Baker is a lame character. He’s got one of the worst costumes on the planet (bright orange and dark blue with a big honking A on his chest), and an outright laughable superpower…he taps into the “Metagenic field” to harness the power of any animal he can imagine. Grant Morrison (there’s that name again) helped lead the British invasion of comics in the late 80’s with this title. He took Buddy, gave him a wife, two kids, a home in the suburbs, and put a jacket on him because he was self conscious. He then did things like put Buddy through unimaginable trauma, and eventually have the comic book character confront the writer himself! Issue #5 “The Coyote Gospel” is one of my favourite comics of all time. It tells the story of Wile E Coyote (of Looney Tunes fame) coming into the real world, where the laws of physics actually apply, but where he cannot die…so all manner of horrible thing happen to him, but he never dies.
15 – New X-Men 114-121 (2001)
Grant Morrison (SERIOUSLY! What’s with my love affair with this guy?!?) basically reinvented the X-Men with this series. He put them in black leather outfits reminiscent of the movies, gave many of them “Secondary Mutations”, and introduced a bunch of super cool new mutants including Xorn (a Tibetan monk who has a supernova where his brain should be), Fantomex (produced by the same experiments that created Wolverine), Barnell “Beak” Bohusk, a girl named “Angel” who has bug wings, the Stepford Cuckoos, a disembodied brain named No-Girl, Quentin Quire, Glob Herman, and Cassandra Nova, the psychic twin of Professor X, whom Xavier killed while in utero! It is mind-numbingly crazy stuff, and made me fall in love with the X-Men all over again.
14 – Planetary 1-6 (1998)
I waver on this, in a lot of ways I think it should be higher, but everything above this has strong cases for why it is there. The first arc “All Over The World (and other stories)” sees the three main characters, Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and “The Drummer” uncovering the hidden history of the world as “Mystery Archeologists”.
In the first six issues they discover analogues for: Doc Savage, Godzilla, The Spectre, Shazam, and the Fantastic Four. The two volumes of “Absolute Planetary” are two of my favourite comics I own.
13 – Ultimates 1-13 (2002)
The Marvel movies borrow HEAVILY on the first two volumes of Ultimates. The costumes in particular are pretty much grabbed right out of the panels of this series by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. Everything is excellently paced and note perfect in this book, from the origin of Captain America, to the introduction of Thor, a domestic abuse sutuation, Tony Stark’s alchoholism, and the gathering of the team. While the main baddie isn’t Loki, using the Hulk as something of a threat harkens back to the original Avengers comic. The best line comes from Captain America who says “Surrender? SURRENDER?!? Do you think this letter on my forehead stands for France?” It’s the kind of jingoistic patriotism that could ONLY have come from a British writer.
12 – Batman and Robin (2010)
The third Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely pairing on this list. There’s gotta be something wrong with me.
Batman is dead. In his place stands…Batman, a.k.a. Dick Grayson. This was pure Fanboy Joy for me. Seeing the original Robin graduate into the cowl was a childhood dream of mine. Having Bruce’s son Damian take on the role of Robin was an amazing twist. Changing the dynamic of the two to be Batman as the fun loving adventurer and Robin as the too serious fatalist was brilliant. Add in Frank Quitely’s artistic flair and Grant Morrison’s amazingly bizzare cast of villains (Professor Pyg, El Flamingo, The Toad) and you have pure genius.
11 – Supreme Power 1-6 (2003)
Another case of using analogues to tell a story. This time it’s the Justice League, and all of the characters are “What if” versions. What if Superman was found by the government? What if Wonder Woman was amoral? What if Batman was an angry urban vigilante with less means? What if Aquaman was a woman…and didn’t speak English…and looked like a fish? What if Green Lantern wasn’t part of a corps? What if Flash was just a normal guy who got powers way beyond his wildest imagination? It’s the DC Heroes we know through the mirror crack’d. This was all of the origin stories, stretched out over about 12 issues, and given plenty of room to breathe. The first two years of Supreme Power stories were incredible. The best part was that as a fan of the original Squadron Supreme series, this had an air of familiarity, but was still unique enough to be something completely different.