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Yes, folk, Brian Cronin over at Comic Book Resources has posted the Top 100 Runs list, which he says over 1000 people voted for. I hope you got yours in, because I did mine! I’m going to write about these as they’re posted, so I won’t have any idea what’s coming next as I do this. Let’s begin!
100. Cerebus #1-300 by Dave Sim and Gerhard. 88 points, 3 first-place votes. We begin with a comic I’ve never read, but I know it has many fans, among them Mr. Travis Pelkie of this here blog. I wasn’t reading comics when it began, and I didn’t hear of it for a while once I did start reading comics, and I didn’t feel like reading it for a while, and then I learned a bit more about Mr. Sim and decided it wasn’t really worth my time. As you might recall, I can very much separate the art from the artist, but I’ve always been on the fence about reading this anyway, and Dave’s oddball outlook is just enough to tip me over into the “skip it” section. Oh well. [2016 results: #56, 230 points, 8 first-place votes. 2012 results: #46, 203 points, 10 first-place votes. 2008 results: #25, 370 points, 8 first-place votes.]
99. Legion of Super-Heroes #1-38 by Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum. 90 points, 5 first-place votes. I’ve tried many Legion stories over the years, and they’ve never stuck. I just can’t get into them. I’m sure they’re groovy, but for whatever reason, I just can’t. And yes, I’ve read “The Great Darkness Saga.” I was unimpressed. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: #85, 104 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #44, 208 points, 4 first-place votes.]
98. The Spectre by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. 91 points, 4 first-place votes. When I voted in 2008 and 2012 (I skipped the last one for some reason), this was pretty high on my list. Did it make the cut this time? Only time will tell! This is a terrific series, full of excellent violence and gore but also full of the Spectre’s quest for meaning in a world gone, as he thinks, mad. This is probably Ostrander’s masterpiece, and Mandrake’s art is stunning. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: #57, 155 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: #45, 205 points, 5 first-place votes.]
97. Iron Man #114-157 by David Michelinie and Bob Layton. 93 points, 1 first-place votes. I’ve read “Demon in a Bottle,” and it’s not bad. I should probably read more of this. Other than that, I don’t have much to say about it. I imagine it’s placed fairly well – it’s always been popular, it’s pretty good, but it’s never going to be anyone’s favorite (well, one person, but other than that …). [2016 results: #96, 95 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #66, 125 points. 2008 results: #61, 152 points, 2 first-place votes.]
96. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Tony Moore. 95 points, 1 first-place vote. I read the first hardcover collection, which has the first 12 issues, and it did nothing for me. I’m not the hugest fan of zombies, so there’s that, but it just was kind of dull. I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. I’m a bit surprised this is at #96, though, as it seems like it’s still well-regarded enough to be higher. I know it kind of started to ramble a bit in the second half (which, given that I thought it rambled in the first 12 issues, must have been really extreme), so maybe it started to slip in people’s estimation? [2016 results: #60, 195 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #28, 351 votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
95. X-Force #116-129/X-Statix #1-26 by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred. 98 points, 4 first-place votes. I really loved the X-Force issues, and then while I was reading X-Statix, I started to not enjoy it as much, so I dropped it. Then I went back and got the issues, and I’ll be re-reading (or reading the end for the first time) soon, so we’ll see. Those first 10 issues or so of X-Force, though, are really excellent. [2016 results: #72, 154 points, 1 first-place vote. 2012 results: #73, 118 points. 2008 results: #81, 113 points, 2 first-place votes.]
94. Conan the Barbarian #1-115/Savage Sword of Conan #1-79 by Roy Thomas. 100 points, 2 first-place votes. I recently started getting these when Marvel got the license for Conan back, and while I haven’t read all of these, I have no problem with this being here, as the first 50 or so issues are excellent (that’s about how much I’ve read). This might actually be slightly underrated, and I wonder if it’s because the younger folk haven’t read them. I look forward to reading the rest! [2016 results: #66, 170 points. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
93. Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. 101 points, 3 first-place votes. I own this, but I haven’t read it. Whenever I see bits and pieces of it, it looks excellent, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. Given its provenance and age, this is probably as good as spot for it as it will ever get. [2016 results: N/A. 2102 results: #83, 106 points, 5 first-place votes. 2008 results: #95, 100 points.]
92. Fantastic Four vol. 3 #60-70; #500-524 by Mark Waid and Mark Wieringo. 104 points, 1 first-place vote. I’ve read about half of this, and it’s pretty good. I don’t know why I never finished reading it; perhaps I should remedy that. Anyway, Waid making Doctor Doom a sorceror is a terrific development, and Wieringo’s art is, not surprisingly, quite good. I don’t have any problem with it being here. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: #89, 99 points. 2008 results: #62, 150 points, 1 first-place vote.]
91. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. 105 points, 7 first-place votes. I own the giant omnibuses that Dark Horse was putting out, but I still don’t have the earliest stuff, which I should track down. I’ve also never read this, because I figure I’ll get to it soon enough. It looks great, and I know it has a lot of fans, so I’m fine with it here. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: #97, 98 points, 2 first-place votes.]
90. Hate by Peter Bagge. 107 points, 1 first-place vote. I’ve only read a little bit by Bagge, and I’ve never been all that impressed. Consequently, I haven’t read Hate. I don’t have anything against it, though! [2016 results: #75, 150 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
89. The Spirit by Will Eisner. 109 points, 2 first-place votes. I’ve read parts of Eisner’s work on The Spirit over the years, but not as much as I’d like. It’s gorgeous work, and it’s groovy that it makes the list, because it’s so influential. [2016 results: #93, 100 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #63, 131 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #46, 204 points, 7 first-place votes.]
88. The Boys by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, and Russ Braun. 118 points, 1 first-place votes. If you’ve read my stuff for long enough, inevitably I’ll mention The Boys, the first six issues of which I bought when it was at DC because I tend to like Garth Ennis. However, Garth Ennis without an editor is dicey at best, and those six issues of The Boys are some of the worst comics I’ve ever read. Parodying superheroes while indulging in epic levels of violence and gore is not as easy as it looks, and Ennis completely missed the mark, failing at pretty much everything he tried. It’s possibly his worst comic, although Jennifer Blood might give it a run for its money. I ran as fast as I could away from The Boys, and then it moved to Dynamite and became a critical darling (I should say more of a critical darling, as a lot of people who should really know better loved those first six issues), and now it’s a television show that I hear is good and which I might – might – check out, but I can’t bring myself to read the comics. It might be great going forward from issue #7, but man, #1-6 could be used as justification for book-burning, and I might be hard-pressed to argue against it!!!!! [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
87. Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin. 120 points, 2 first-place votes. Brian might want to check the email addresses of those who voted for this, because they might all be fake avatars for Travis Pelkie, who famously loves this thing. I have never read any of it, and I’m not really that interested. It seems fine, but I am a bit surprised it made it onto the list. Good for Allison and all the people who worked on it! [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
86. Ms. Marvel volumes 3 and 4 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. 121 points, 1 first-place vote. I really like Ms. Marvel – while it was being published, it was one of Marvel’s best books – so I’m not terribly surprised it shows up on this list, especially as it’s been here before. I always chuckle at people who claim they want Marvel and DC to “be like they used to be” but ignore books like Ms. Marvel, which is probably the best solo teen story from either publisher since the original Spider-Man (it’s not as good, obviously, but still). But it’s about an icky girl, and she’s some weird religion that doesn’t eat the flesh of their savior! How bizarre! It’s just a really good comic, and it’s nice to see here (although obviously it’s fallen a bit, perhaps because Wilson isn’t writing the book anymore and it’s slipped from people’s minds). [2016 results: #49, 272 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
85. Strange Tales #110-111, 114-146 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. 127 points, 2 first-place votes. I own the big omnibus of this, but still haven’t read it, but dang, it’s gorgeous. It probably should be a bit higher, but I imagine that a lot of people who voted haven’t read it (like me!) or prefer Ditko’s Spider-Man because, well, it’s Spider-Man. But this stuff is pure cool shit injected right into your brain. Someday I’ll actually read it! [2016 results: #57, 212 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #74, 117 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: #88, 108 points, 2 first-place votes.]
84. Batman #1-85 plus other stuff by Tom King. 130 points, 3 first-place votes. This is the first run that I wouldn’t count because technically it’s not over yet (as Brian explains in his write-up about it), but that’s just me. I also wouldn’t have it on the list because I read the first 12 issues and they suck out loud. I like King as a writer, generally, but those first 12 issues are so, so terrible. Batman the character is written poorly and the stories are beyond stupid, and so when I hear people praising this run (and they do), I really don’t get it. It’s not that I disagree with them (obviously, I can’t really speak to the quality of the book after those 12 issues), it’s just that I don’t understand it, because it seems so obvious that those issues are awful. But, hey, it’s your money! [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
83. Stray Bullets by David Lapham. 133 points, 5 first-place votes. Lapham’s probably-unfinished epic is great, and it would be nice if Lapham continued it, despite the fact that there’s, what, 90 issues of excellence already out there? It’s just a great read about people living on the fringes of society making terrible choices in their attempts to seize a better life and how that usually spins way out of control, and Lapham’s terse writing style helps hide some moments of extraordinary beauty that sneak up on you a bit. It’s really good, in other words. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
82. X-Men by Jonathan Hickman. 136 points, 1 first-place vote. Here’s another book that’s nowhere close to being done (King is at least in his endgame), so it shouldn’t count, and here’s also another one which is the hottest of garbage, so it shouldn’t be anywhere near actual good comics. I love Hickman’s work when he’s not working for Marvel – The Nightly News and Pax Romana are great, and East of West is one of the better books of the 2010s – but House of X/Powers of X is a terrible 12-issue introduction to his X-Men, so bad I couldn’t even bring myself to continue with whatever he’s doing now. It’s a stupid idea told poorly, with a ridiculous power given to a great character for no reason except that Hickman can then travel into the future and the establishment of an idiotic “homeland” that isn’t original and is always dumb whenever a writer dredges it up. Unlike King’s Batman, which is bad but, you know, whatever, Hickman’s assault on the X-Men actually makes me mad because I love the X-Men so much and I so very much want them to be good, but Marvel keeps allowing writers to fuck them over so badly (even one of my current favorite writers, Kelly Thompson, who also loves the X-Men, couldn’t make them work). When Joey Q finally gives in and lets me write the X-Men, my first scene will be them sitting around the breakfast table, reading the comics that Hickman wrote about them and laughing at the stupidity of them all, which will immediately make this entire era “fictional.” There’s no coming back from this except to burn it all down and start again. Gawd. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
81. G.I. Joe #1-155 by Larry Hama. 138 points, 3 first-place votes. This always seems to end up on the list, and I still have no interest in reading it. I do wonder how much of the vote is nostalgia, as so much of the 1980s for people my age is hazy from the patina of nostalgia, when all pop culture was terrific and nothing sucked. I’m not saying these aren’t worthy, I just don’t completely trust them, because it seems so odd that they should end up here. But hey, good for Hama and Hasbro for making something that people love! [2016 results: #71, 159 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #77, 114 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
80. East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta. 140 points, 1 first-place vote. See now, this is an excellent series, as I noted above. I didn’t put it on my list, but I had it on there for a while before deciding to cut it (I’ll get into my list soon enough). Hickman’s wild plotting is a feature, not a bug like it can be with his Marvel books, and it seems like that the characters work a bit better because they’re his, so he’s a bit more invested in them. Dragotta’s art is phenomenal, and Frank Martin’s coloring is superb as well. This is just an all-around excellent comic, and might actually deserve to be a bit higher than this! [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
79. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. 144 points, 3 first-place votes. This is another terrific series, probably the best Marvel book of the 2010s, so I’m glad it made it onto this list. It’s very, very funny, which is nice, and North does a really good job making it accessible while still involving it in Marvel continuity. I always like when a writer actually thinks about what it would be like to be a superhero in the Marvel or DC Universes, and part of the charm of this book is that North does that very well. Henderson’s art is quite good, although she’s gotten better since she left the comic. I have no problems with this being here. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results:]
78. The Ultimates / The Ultimates 2 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. 146 points, 1 first-place vote. I really liked The Ultimates, and then Mark Millar went and did his douchebag thing with Wanted and I skipped Ultimates 2. I suppose I should get it one of these days, because it’s supposed to be really good. The first “volume” is excellent, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t be on this list. [2016 results: #94, 98 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #35, 265 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #32, 315 points, 5 first-place votes.]
77. Avengers #35-104 by Roy Thomas. 148 points. I’ve read only the Kree-Skrull War part of this run and that only because Neal Adams drew a chunk of it, so I can’t really say whether this is good or not. I suspect it is, because Thomas is a pretty good writer. My antipathy toward the Avengers is well-known, right? I don’t know why I’ve never been into the Avengers, but I haven’t. Perhaps I should pick this run up to see what all the hubbub’s about. But it always makes this list, so people dig it, and that’s fine with me. [2016 results: #52, 261 points, 10 first-place votes. 2012 results: #42, 228 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: #86, 109 points, 2 first-place votes.]
76. Uncle Scrooge #1-71 and other “Duck” comics by Carl Barks. 151 points, 6 first-place votes. Brian loves these comics, and he highlights them a lot, and every time, he shows samples of it, and every time, I have literally no interest in reading these. I’m sure they’re enjoyable – Barks obviously knows what he’s doing – but I don’t want to read them. So I don’t. So sad. I’m sure they belong on this list, but I’ll never know! [2016 results: #80, 138 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #54, 167 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: N/A.]
75. Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #133-148; New Gods #1-11; Forever People #1-11; Mister Miracle #1-18 by Jack Kirby. 154 points, 1 first-place vote. I own these in nice trades, but I haven’t read them yet. Yes, I suck. They look really nice, though! I imagine I will really dig them and that will be that, but I can’t imagine they don’t belong here! [2016 results: #54, 250 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #51, 176 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #50, 180 points, 2 first-place votes.]
74. New Mutants #18-31 by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz. 155 points, 2 first-place votes. Brian counts issues #35-38, too, but I don’t, because Sienkiewicz only inked those (he’s a great inker, but I still don’t count them!). These are excellent comics, a high point for Claremont and when Sienkiewicz took what he was doing on the final ten issues or so of Moon Knight and amped everything up, becoming even more surreal and experimental until he couldn’t possibly do regular superhero books anymore (even though it would be awesome to see him do them, nobody would let him). Claremont’s stories are great (Claremont’s stories are always better with great artists), despite the weird misstep of turning two white characters into Native Americans (it was a weird time, yo), and his introduction of Legion is brilliant and one of the first times autism was examined in mainstream comics (not perfectly, it must be said, but not poorly, either). If the splash page of issue #18 doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore (and if you can’t picture it in your head, I’m not sure you’re a comics fan). These are just great comics. [2016 results: #70, 160 points, 1 first-place vote. 2012 results: #93, 95 points. 2008 results: #66, 144 points, 4 first-place votes.][In 2008 and 2012 these were included in the entire Claremont run, which included the graphic novel and the first 54 issues. This year it was separated out, as it should be, because these issues feel almost like a completely different title from the rest of the run.]
73. Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. 159 points. In my own personal vote, I was unable to vote for this until this year because I won’t vote for runs that aren’t over. I would have voted for it earlier if not for that rule, as Chew was usually one of the 2-3 best comics in any year during its run, and it’s the first one I did actually vote for that made this list (I predict 3 more will make it definitely, with another 2 being strong possibilities). I re-read this a few months ago and it’s just as good as when it came out in installments, especially as I knew what was coming and could look for clues, which Layman dropped nicely throughout. It’s fun as all hell to read, and it’s also a wonderfully humanistic story about interesting characters, with an ass-kicking chicken thrown in. Guillory’s art is pretty perfect for it, as it’s cartoonish, sure, but he’s so good at expressions and body language that he can take small things in Layman’s scripts and turn them into devastating emotional moments. This is a great series, and it’s very much too low on this list! [2016 results: #67, 167 points, 1 first-place vote. 2012 results: #90, 98 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: N/A.]
72. Daredevil volumes 3 and 4 by Mark Waid. 163 points, 2 first-place votes. Waid’s run on Daredevil is really good, and I don’t have an issue with it being on this list. It might be a bit low, actually. Waid wrote some very gripping, thrilling stories, but he tried to make sure they weren’t super-bleak, as they had been for some time. These might be the second-best Daredevil comics, behind Miller’s, although the Bendis ones are up there and I still love the end of Nocenti’s run and the beginning of Chichester’s. Nothing Waid and Chris Samnee have done together since has sold as well, but they’ve done some nice work on other Marvel characters. DC should throw some money at them to do Batman. [2016 results: #32, 341 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #71, 120 points. 2008 results: N/A.]
71. Green Lantern #76-87, 89; Flash #217-219 by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. 164 points, 1 first-place vote. This is always going to get votes because of its importance, but the comics themselves aren’t great; Adams’s art, not surprisingly, is amazing, but O’Neil’s writing is ponderous and heavy-handed. Still, they’re fun to read and to look at, and I don’t mind them being here. It’s just that these are comics that have lodged in the minds of comics fans and they won’t get knocked out, which is true of a lot of books (some that end up much higher on lists like this). This is probably a bit high, but it’s fine on this list. [2016 results: #95, 96 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #64, 129 points. 2008 results: #59, 162 points, 1 first-place vote.]
70. Journey into Mystery #97-125; Thor #126-177, 179 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. 167 votes, 1 first-place vote. I’ve read only a little of the Lee/Kirby Thor, and it’s fine. I should probably read more, but Lee seemed to be really loquacious on these, and with that faux-Shakespearean cant he decided would be great for Asgardians to speak, it gets a bit much. Kirby’s art is nice, though, innit? [2016 results: #78, 142 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #98, 89 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #83, 112 points, 1 first-place vote.]
69. The Question #1-36 by Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan. 168 points, 4 first-place votes. Wow, four people think this is the best comics run of all time? That’s odd. I mean, it’s fine, and while I’m a bit surprised it’s ended up on this list, it doesn’t really bother me too much. It’s a solid book, but best of all time? I mean, the Bierbaum/Giffen Legion got 5, but I get that – there are people who really love the Legion of Super-Heroes, so it’s not too bizarre. But I honestly never thought anyone would love the Question so much, or this run so much. I’m a bit beshookened, to be honest. It’s so strange. But hey, it’s certainly an interesting comic. So there’s that. [2016 results: #64, 176 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #76, 115 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #96, 99 points, 1 first-place vote.]
68. Amazing Spider-Man #224-227, 229-252 by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. 170 points, 1 first-place vote. These are excellent comics – the ones I own, which isn’t all of them, but I own enough to make a judgment on them! Stern and Romita did the two-part Juggernaut story, which is great, and the first part of the Hobgoblin saga, which is also great. I already wrote about a good amount of these comics, so I don’t have too much more to say about them. They’re just really good Spidey adventures, and everyone digs Spider-Man, right? [2016 results: #63, 180 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #44, 214 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: #55, 170 points, 4 first-place votes.]
67. Detective Comics #469-479 by Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin. 171 points, 3 first-place votes. Brian cheats on these so he can include them, because his definition of a “run” wouldn’t include #471-476, which are the true great ones in here. He expands it to include all of Englehart’s issues (he started on #469) and a few after he left the book that Rogers drew, but those aren’t really noteworthy (Englehart did introduce Silver St. Cloud and Dr. Phosphorus in his first two issues, so they’re important issues, but even being drawn by Walter Simonson didn’t make them all that great – they’re just decent issues). The six issues these three guys worked on together are the classics – the redesign of Deadshot, the return of Hugo Strange (back when returning characters who had been “dead” was a big deal), a clever Penguin story, and of course “The Laughing Fish” Joker story, one of the best Joker stories ever. The writing was great, the pencils were great, and the inking was great (which is why Austin gets mentioned when inkers rarely do on these lists, because Brian knows how good Austin is on Rogers’s pencils). You know it’s true! [2016 results: #81, 137 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #55, 161 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: #49, 184 points, 3 first-place votes.]
66. Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Walta. 176 points, 4 first-place votes. One of the reasons why I am curious about new Tom King books even though his Batman is hot garbage is because of Vision, which is absolutely superb. King turns Vision into a suburbanite, with a wife and kids, and King peels back the weirdness of the suburbs and of this strange family living there, and it’s brilliant. Walta’s chunky art is perfect for this off-kilter story, too. This is, right now, King’s best work, although it’s not his only good one. This rating might be a bit too low, especially as I’m sure there’s at least one more King comic coming, if not two. [2016 results: #73, 152 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
65. Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea. 178 points, 1 first-place votes. This is my second-best run of all time, so naturally I think it’s far too low, but that’s okay. I love this comic – it’s the best thing Ennis has ever done, and it’s not particularly close (and I love a lot of Ennis comics). It’s extremely funny, wildly violent, and amazingly tragic, as Ennis pulls you into Tommy Monagham’s world and simply will not let you go until you’ve laughed and cried in equal measure. He takes very funny shots at superheroes that aren’t tinged with the contempt he shows for them in The Boys, and he also writes one of the great Superman stories. McCrea draws it all beautifully, so that the hilarious parts (zombie penguins, anyone?) are hilarious and the sad parts are gut-wrenching. This is just a superb series, and the fact that DC still can’t get it all collected in trades annoys me to no end. [2016 results: #50, 270 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #53, 168 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: #37, 232 points, 6 first-place votes.]
64. Invincible by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley. 179 points, 2 first-place votes. I really liked Invincible … until I didn’t. I’ve read about half of it, and for most of that, it’s an excellent superhero comic. But man, the violence starts to get to you, doesn’t it? It just gets bloodier and bloodier, and I finally just couldn’t do it anymore. So I stopped. I guess it kept going in much the same way, but I guess a lot of people still liked it? Anyway, I don’t mind it being on the list, but I wish I could have stuck with it, because I did dig it for quite a while. Sigh. [2016 results: #65, 172 points, 1 first-place vote. 2012 results: #60, 149 points, 5 first-place votes. 2008 results: #79, 115 points, 1 first-place vote.]
63. Promethea by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III. 181 points, 3 first-place votes. Okay, on the one hand, damn, Williams III is brilliant on this comic. And Moore’s story is, to be fair, pretty keen. But man, talk about crawling up your own asshole. Technically, the writing on Promethea is marvelous, but it always left me a bit cold. I mean, as Brian points out, Moore uses 15 issues to write about Jewish mysticism. I mean, I like the kabbalah as much as the next guy, but Jeebus, that’s a lot to plow through. Promethea probably deserves to be here just because of the degree of difficulty, but for me, it’s kind of hard to love. [2016 results: #88, 120 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #67, 124 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: #40, 220 points, 4 first-place votes.]
62. Love and Rockets by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. 185 points, 5 first-place votes. It’s time for my periodic mention of the fact that I just don’t get Los Bros. Hernandez. I don’t really have anything against them, but anything I’ve ever read by either of them, as a team or separately, does nothing for me. I don’t love the art and the writing isn’t compelling enough to make up for it. I know this is very well respected and I don’t have an issue with it being on this list, and I’ve read barely any of it (I’ve read their other stuff, so maybe this is better?), but their work just doesn’t click with me. [2016 results: #62, 191 points, 8 first-place votes. 2012 results: #40, 231 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #35, 236 points, 5 first-place votes.]
61. Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. 191 points, 1 first-place vote. I read the first mini-series of this and didn’t feel the necessity of reading any more. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t grab me. People have told me that it gets really good after the first trade, and while I’m perfectly willing to give the benefit of the doubt for an issue or even two, why does it take six issues to get good? I mean, Hill isn’t a bad writer and Rodriguez’s art is wonderful, so maybe I’ll dive into it one day, but it does kind of annoy me that even fans of the book admit that the first six issues aren’t the best ones. You have to find your groove earlier than that! [2016 results: #58, 209 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: #88, 100 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
60. Marvelman/Miracleman #1-16 by Alan Moore, Garry Leach, Alan Davis, and Jon Totleben. 194 points, 8 first-place votes. Miracleman is how Moore announced himself to the world, and it remains one of the great deconstructions of superheroes “in the real world” ever. This is one of my favorite Moore comics, and it deserves every accolade you can throw at it. Issue #15 remains perhaps the most brutal comic ever published, as Moore takes the idea of superpeople in the real world to its logical extreme. I do like to use it as an example of how bad art can make even the best writer seem mediocre, as the pages drawn by Chuck Austen are terrible and make you doubt Moore’s ability, but luckily there aren’t that many of them, and the rest of the art is superb. Neil Gaiman might not ever finish his follow-up to Moore’s work, but Marvel getting ownership of the character means this run is a lot more accessible than it used to be, which is not a bad thing at all. [2016 results: #53, 252 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: #38, 254 points, 6 first-place votes. 2008 results: #36, 234 points, 3 first-place votes.]
59. Flash #164-225 by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins. 198 points, 4 first-place votes. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Flash and I’ve really never been a huge fan of Johns, so I haven’t read this. People seem to dig it, though, so what do I know? But I’m probably never going to read it, so I’ll just trust others! [2016 results: #59, 202 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: #56, 168 points, 2 first-place votes.]
58. Gotham Central by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Lark. 201 points, 2 first-place votes. Gotham Central is a weird book for me. I’ve read it, but I don’t remember very much of it. I know I liked it, so there’s that, but it just didn’t stick with me. Now, I’ll eventually re-read it, and then I can think about it more, but while I don’t have any reason to think it doesn’t belong here, I can’t say specifically that it does. People seem to love it, so that’s fine. Hey, remember when DC employed Brubaker? Good times. I bet they’re glad they drove him away. It’s not like he helped turn Marvel into a juggernaut or anything. [2016 results: #79, 139 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #30, 340 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #74, 122 points, 1 first-place vote.]
57. Amazing Spider-Man #648-700, Superior Spider-Man #1-31, Amazing Spider-Man #1-18, Amazing Spider-Man #1-32, Amazing Spider-Man #789-801 by Dan Slott. 207 points, 3 first-place votes. Can we just appreciate the idiocy of how many times Marvel rebooted the Spider-Man title? No wonder casual fans don’t read comics anymore. Where the hell to start? Anyway, I gave up on Spider-Man, one of my favorite superheroes, long ago, mainly because of shenanigans like this – I just have no idea where to jump in anymore, and there are so many titles and so many creative teams I can’t keep up. I’ve heard good things about Slott’s run, though, so that’s nice. I have read some of Superior Spider-Man and liked it quite a bit, so maybe I’ll try to run these down? [2016 results: #39, 325 points, 8 first-place votes. 2012 results: #87, 102 points. 2008 results: N/A.]
56. Avengers #500-503, New Avengers #1-64, Mighty Avengers #1-20, Dark Avengers #1-16, Avengers #1-34, New Avengers #1-34, Avengers Assemble #1-8 by Brian Michael Bendis. 211 points, 6 first-place votes. This is ground zero for Marvel’s renumbering mania, as Bendis came on board, destroyed the team, and rebooted it with a new #1, and Marvel has never looked back (“Heroes Reborn” did this, of course, but that was a big event – Bendis was just a dude coming onto a title). I’ve read a few of the early issues of this “run,” but I never really got into it. I’ve never been able to really love the Avengers, for one thing (as I noted above), and Bendis’s superhero work has never really grabbed me, so I haven’t read most of this. In terms of influence, this definitely belongs, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe owes Bendis a whole hell of a lot for making the Avengers a viable property, as they weren’t for probably the entire 1990s. And I don’t think the stories I read are bad comics, they’re just not for me. [2016 results: #76, 146 points, 1 first-place vote. 2012 results: #59, 152 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: N/A.]
55. Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. 212 points, 1 first-place vote. I love Criminal, so I’m certainly glad it’s on this list. Brubaker himself has taken some umbrage in the past when I claim it’s not re-inventing the wheel, but I don’t mean that pejoratively. What Brubillips has done with this series is told crime stories, and while you might be able to predict what’s going to happen because they’re not re-inventing the wheel, that doesn’t matter because they’re so good at immersing you in the world and making you care about the bad people in them, even though we can see how it’s all going to go to shit. That’s not a bad talent to have. It’s no shock that Criminal is their best collaboration, as in their other books (which are still excellent), they do try to re-invent the wheel, whether it’s superheroes or horror, and they don’t always hit the mark successfully. With Criminal, they stay in the lane and destroy every other crime comic out there. So yeah, it’s not the most original comic, but it is brilliant. [2016 results: #89, 115 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #81, 108 points. 2008 results: N/A.]
54. Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender. 219 points, 5 first-place votes. Rick Remender is, sadly, afflicted with “Rick Remender Disease,” which means his first issues are amazing, his second and possibly third issues are really good, and then the quality drops off precipitously after that. It’s why X-Force is not a great comic, despite its presence on this list. The first arc is about killing Baby Apocalypse so he won’t grow up to be Mutant Hitler, and it’s amazingly gripping. Then Remender spent basically the rest of the series having the characters feel bad about killing Baby Apocalypse, not feel bad about killing Baby Apocalypse, and wondering what they’re going to do about it. We get it: it’s a moral conundrum! It gets boring very fast, and it’s too bad. Remender does this a lot, and it keeps him from being a great writer. There’s a lot of nice art in this series, though! [2016 results: #29, 416 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #78, 113 points. 2008 results: N/A.]
53. The Invisibles by Grant Morrison. 239 points, 3 first-place votes. I own The Invisibles, but I’ve only read the first 12 issues or so, so I don’t really know if it belongs on this list. I didn’t love it when it first came out and I kind of wandered away from it, but my love for Morrison kept me coming back and thinking about it, so eventually I got all the trades. I’ll read it eventually, and then I can have an opinion about it! [2016 results: #77, 145 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: #45, 204 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: #27, 349 points, 10 first-place votes.]
52. Detective Comics #395, 397, 400, 402, 404, 407-408, 410 and Batman #232, 234, 237, 243-245, 251, 255 by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. 245 points, 7 first-place votes. I mean, these are great comics. I’m certainly not going to argue against them. I do wish that Adams hadn’t recolored them in the fancy hardcovers DC released, but other than that, they’re just excellent Batman stories. [2016 results: #85, 129 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #69, 122 points. 2008 results: N/A.]
51. Strange Tales #178-181, Warlock #9-15, Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 by Jim Starlin. 248 points, 2 first-place votes. The Adam Warlock story, which sold poorly, hence the many different titles it appeared in. These are wonderfully wacky comics, and let’s hope Starlin was able to deduct all the great drugs he was doing on his taxes, because he used them for work, man! Starlin in the Seventies was something, wasn’t he? [2016 results: #55, 238 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #79, 112 points. 2008 results: #86, 109 points, 1 first-place votes.]
50. Amazing Spider-Man #39-71, 74-75, 81-96 by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. 254 points, 5 first-place votes. Romita inked some of these and drew the vast majority, but his inking kept the aesthetic he had established, so Brian counts them, and that’s fine. I don’t have any issue with these being here – obviously, the early Spider-Mans are wonderful comics, even after Ditko left the book. I don’t love these as much as some people do, but they’re still very fun to read. [2016 results: #44, 302 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #37, 262 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: #34, 270 points, 3 first-place votes.]
49. Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett. 263 points, 3 first-place votes. Here’s another run that I wouldn’t count, because it’s not done yet. It’s a terrific comic, one of the best Marvel has published in the past few years, and Ewing is doing some fascinating things with Mr. Hulk and Bennett is absolutely killing it, but Ewing could still screw up the ending, and then how would we feel? But yes, this is a very good comic. Should it be #49? I don’t know, even if it does stick the landing. That’s an awfully lofty spot. [2016 results: N/A. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
48. Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham. 269 points, 1 first-place vote. This is a good example of not voting for a run until it’s over, because for the first 75 issues or so, I loved this comic, and then it started to falter, and I eventually dropped it. I suppose one day I should go and pick up the rest – I don’t think I don’t own too, too many – but I don’t know. It just feels like Willingham could have ended it not too long after the Big Bad was defeated, wrapping stuff up and sending everyone off, but he just didn’t want to, and the book suffered for it. But yeah, the first half is really, really good. [2016 results: #37, 340 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #27, 358 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: #22, 428 points, 6 first-place votes.]
47. JSA #6-77, 81; Justice Society of America #1-26 by Geoff Johns. 272 points, 4 first-place votes. This has shown up before, and I guess people really dig Johns’s JSA, but I’ve never been a big fan of Johns, so I’ve never read this. I assume someone gets horribly killed, probably by decapitation, during this run? Anyway, I suppose it’s fine. I don’t have much interest in it, but good for Geoff Johns! [2016 results: #48, 274 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #70, 121 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: #48, 192 points, 1 first-place vote.]
46. Hellboy by Mike Mignola. 279 points, 5 first-place votes. Hellboy is really good, so I have no problem with it being on this list. It’s kind of cool that Mignola basically decided he was going to do his character for the rest of his life, and it worked out financially for him. It doesn’t always! [2016 results: #51, 265 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #39, 247 points, 5 first-place votes. 2008 results: #51, 179 points, 2 first-place votes.]
45. Man of Steel #1-6, Superman #1-22, Action Comics #584-600, Adventures of Superman #436-442, 444, The World of Krypton #1-4, The World of Metropolis #1-4, The World of Smallville #1-4 by John Byrne. 288 points, 6 first-place votes. I still haven’t read this, because even though I know DC released them in trade, they recently solicited new collections, and I don’t know if those ever came out, because I sure as heck didn’t get one from my store. I’ll get around to getting these – I own Action #600 and like it, and I like Byrne generally, so I can’t imagine these aren’t good comics. Either DC or I need to get our heads out of our asses! [2016 results: #74, 151 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #62, 134 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: #77, 119 points, 1 first-place vote.]
44. Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera. 296 points, 3 first-place votes. This is still probably the best thing Jason Aaron has ever done, and it definitely deserves to be on this list. Guera’s artwork is wonderful, the characters are interesting, and even though the depiction of reservation life is a bit askew, it’s still a tremendous crime drama. This feels like the right place for it, give or take. [2016 results: #99, 90 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #33, 289 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
43. Madrox #1-5, X-Factor #1-50, 200-262 by Peter David. 314 points, 9 first-place votes. I’m a bit surprised by the nine first-place votes for this, but I’m not surprised it shows up on this list, because it’s a really good comic. David likes staying on books forever, and he builds up a great cast and long-term stories, both of which he’s quite good at. The biggest problem with this series is that it came out when Marvel was really in the grip of double-shipping mania, so there was never a long-term artist and the look of the book was never really consistent. But hey, I think this was where Emanuela Lupacchino got her start, and any book that has her art on it is going to look great! [2016 results: #28, 418 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: #49, 189 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
42. Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. 319 points, 1 first-place vote. I wasn’t sure the recent revelations about Ellis would kill his work, and perhaps the lack of first-place votes for Transmetropolitan reflects that, but maybe people can separate the art from the artist, because this is a fine comic, and while it’s not Ellis’s masterpiece, it probably most closely adheres to what we think of as Ellis’s personality. Spider is kind of an asshole, but he’s soft-hearted at times, and hey! he even manipulates women! Robertson’s art is terrific, of course, and the book will always feel relevant. It’s too bad its writer turned out to be such a tool. [2016 results: #40, 322 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: #31, 336 points, 6 first-place votes. 2008 results: #23, 418 points, 11 first-place votes.]
41. Bone by Jeff Smith. 335 points, 8 first-place votes. Bone is excellent, and Smith has never come close to matching it (and it seems like he might not even be making new comics anymore?). It’s a wonderful fantasy that explores some dark places but in such a way that it remains all-ages, and Smith’s beautiful art brings the world to stunning life. It’s exciting, funny, tragic, and heartwarming. It’s just great. Go read it if you haven’t! [2016 results: #41, 312 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #41, 230 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #31, 321 points, 7 first-place votes.]
40. Hawkeye #1-22 by Matt Fraction and David Aja. 339 points, 2 first-place votes. This is a terrific series, although the first half is better than the second, as Fraction began to spin his wheels a tiny bit. Still, the idea of checking in on Clint Barton when he’s just hanging out is a good one, and the integration of Kate Bishop into the book was a tremendous idea, and Aja’s art is absolutely wonderful. It’s the slightest bit overrated, but still a very good run. [2016 results: #46, 285 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
39. Avengers vol. 3 #1-15, 19-56 by Kurt Busiek and George Pérez. 349 points, 4 first-place votes. I’ve read a good amount of this, and here’s where my anti-Avengers bias really comes to the fore – despite a great writer and great artist, I’m still kind of cool on these issues. They’re certainly not bad, but they don’t thrill me, even when Thor’s talking all tough to Ultron. I think they’re fine right here, even if I personally would put them lower, but they’re just solid superhero comics that don’t make me go nuts. Sigh. [2016 results: #43, 306 points, 5 first-place votes. 2012 results: #29, 342 points, 6 first-place votes. 2008 results: #41, 218 points, 1 first-place vote.]
38. Uncanny X-Men #94-107, 145-164 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. 353 points, 2 first-place votes. It’s so easy to separate Claremont’s X-Men into artist runs, but the Cockrum/Byrne changeover doesn’t work as well, because #98-137 is the Phoenix saga, basically, and Cockrum drew the first several issues of that. So I don’t like this distinction. Cockrum’s first several issues shouldn’t be a separate run – if Brian wants to count when Cockrum came back, that’s fine, as it’s clearly separate from Byrne’s work. That’s just my two cents, at least. [2016 results: #68, 164 points, 1 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
37. Astonishing X-Men #1-24, Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. 360 points, 5 first-place votes. I thought there would be a “Whedon backlash” that would drop this book, and maybe it did, but not enough. I don’t know – I read the first six issues of this series and was thoroughly underwhelmed – even Cassaday’s art was lacking the glorious intricacy of his stuff on Planetary, although Astonishing X-Men is still a nice-looking comic. The first six issues just seem like a bunch of “super-kewl” moments desperately looking for a story, and I simply didn’t have time for it. Oh well. [2016 results: #23, 570 points, 7 first-place votes. 2012 results: #21, 463 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #38, 229 points, 2 first-place votes.]
36. Suicide Squad #1-66 by John Ostrander. 399 points, 2 first-place votes. This is a terrific series, and in another year I probably would have voted for it (I didn’t, by the way). Ostrander does a great job blending superhero stuff with political intrigue, and even though he has a stable team for most of the book, he’s not afraid to shake things up a lot. The stories are very of the moment, which means we get the Soviets and Reagan-era politics and such, but Ostrander also brings in religious conflict years before it felt relevant. The art was generally good, but no artists stayed very long, which meant the book often had an inconsistent look to it. But that’s a minor point, because it was just such a cool comic. [2016 results: #35, 344 points, 10 first-place votes. 2012 results: #56, 158 points, 1 first-place vote. 2008 results: #28, 336 points, 5 first-place votes.]
35. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. 402 points, 3 first-place votes. Obviously, this shouldn’t count because it’s not finished, but whatever. My dislike of this series is probably legendary by now, as I read the first 18 issues hoping against hope that it would get better. It’s such a strange book, because it can veer from brilliant to utter crap in the space of pages, not issues, and that roller coaster ride, unfortunately, ended up having more low points than high. Staples is brilliant on the book, and I’m sure it’s been good financially for her, which is great, but it’s just not that good. I know I’m never going to convince anyone, so I’ll just keep my lonely vigil over here on Contrary Hill. [2016 results: #26, 521 points, 10 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
34. Punisher #1-12, #1-6, #13-37, Punisher (MAX) #1-60, and some other stuff by Garth Ennis. 405 points, 4 first-place votes. I have never liked the Punisher, but I like Garth Ennis, so I read 12 issues of the “Marvel Knights” version and didn’t like it. “Read the MAX version,” people told me. So I read 12 issues of the MAX version and didn’t like it. “It gets better,” people told me, but I read 24 issues of Ennis’s Punisher and didn’t like them, so I’m not inclined to read more. The one he did earlier this year, Punisher: Soviet, is quite good, but that’s because it’s not really a Punisher story. I’m sorry, I just don’t like the Punisher. That’s just the way it is. [2016 results: #42, 310 points, 2 first-place votes. 2012 results: #25, 380 points, 5 first-place votes. 2008 results: #24, 389 points, 5 first-place votes.]
33. Ultimate Spider-Man #1-133, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-15, Ultimate Spider-Man #150-160 by Brian Michael Bendis. 424 points, 4 first-place votes. I got this in trade, and I really liked it, although it did tail off at the end. I’m not even sure if I finished it – I read the issue where Spider-Man swings off to die in another freakin’ comic, and that pissed me off, so I stopped, but I’m not sure if that’s all there is? Did Miles Morales just take over after that? Anyway, I don’t have a problem with it being this high – it’s a very good Spider-Man comic. [2016 results: #21, 590 points, 10 first-place votes. 2012 results: #17, 501 points, 6 first-place votes. 2008 results: #26, 364 points, 3 first-place votes.]
32. Batman volume 2 #1-51 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. 457 points, 2 first-place votes. I knew this was coming, and I had to reconcile myself with the fact that a lot of people like this garbage run even though it’s, you know, garbage. I did try, as I read the first three trades, but man, they’re just terrible. The Court of Owls was bad enough, but “Death of the Family,” as I’ve noted before, is a perfect example of everything wrong with today’s Joker. I mean, Capullo’s art is fine, and Snyder seems like a nice guy and he’s obviously a good writer, but this run is pure fiery trash. It’s okay to admit it! [2016 results: #8, 1019 points, 20 first-place votes. 2012 results: #72, 119 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
31. Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. 474 points, 3 first-place votes. I still maintain that Preacher is overrated, and it’s not as good as Ennis’s two other 1990s masterpieces – Hellblazer and Hitman – but it’s still a good comic. It benefits from those other two, obviously, by being both sui generis and not tied to DC continuity, so people who don’t read comics can read it without worrying about knowing who Kyle Rayner is. A television show doesn’t hurt, either. Ennis didn’t have an editor on this book (or much of one), so some of his more annoying predilections – mainly, seeing how gross he could get – are on display here, unlike in the other two comics, where he has to rein it in more and therefore are much more interesting. The most annoying thing about Preacher is that Ennis often brings the story to a grinding halt so he can have Jesse and Cassidy rant about whatever is bothering Ennis at that time. Yes, we get it, Ennis doesn’t like political correctness. Does Jesse have to rant about it for half an issue? Anyway, this is a good comic, but I will always beat the drum for Hitman over it. Hitman has a better ending, too. [2016 results: #12, 790 points, 16 first-place votes. 2012 results: #9, 792 points, 22 first-place votes. 2008 results: #8, 857 points, 21 first-place votes.]
30. Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday. 479 points, 9 first-place votes. Planetary is another comic I voted for, as I love it so. It’s so unlike what Ellis usually writes, but you can still get the Ellis vibe from it, so you kind of get the best of both worlds – the weird, wonderful world-building stuff without the asshole protagonist (the characters might be tough people, but they’re not assholes). The stories are great, as Ellis zooms easily from science fiction to horror to superheroes to jungle action, and Cassaday’s amazing artwork brings it all to gorgeous life. I like Ellis, obviously, but this is kind of the comic for non-Ellis fans. Plus, the Batman crossover is very funny. [2016 results: #24, 535 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: #19, 489 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #18, 493 points, 7 first-place votes.]
29. Animal Man #1-26 by Grant Morrison and Chas Truog. 483 points, 5 first-place votes. Obviously, this is a great comic, and I don’t have a problem with it being here on the list. Morrison takes an obscure character back before that was in vogue and turns it into a rumination on life, insanity, love, and the stages of grief, before deciding to undo Crisis on Infinite Earths just for the hell of it. Plus, he inserts himself into DC continuity, which means John Ostrander can later kill him off. Also, this features one of the most spine-tingling panels in comic book history. You know the one!!!! [2016 results: #47, 280 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #23, 393 points, 6 first-place votes. 2008 results: #21, 430 points, 13 first-place votes.]
28. Avengers #227-279, 281-288 by Roger Stern. 497 points, 6 first-place votes. As you might expect from someone who’s never really been into the Avengers, I haven’t read these comics. I’m not too bent out of shape by them being ranked this high – I doubt if they’re quite as good as #28 on this list, but nostalgia is a strong mistress, and I don’t have any animus toward Roger Stern, who’s a decent writer. Live and let live, say I! [2016 results: #45, 290 points, 7 first-place votes. 2012 results: #42, 228 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: #58, 164 points, 3 first-place votes.]
27. Legion of Super-Heroes #281-313, Legion of Super-Heroes #1-5 by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. 507 points, 3 first-place votes. As you might expect from someone who’s never really been into the Legion, I haven’t read these comics (well, except for “The Great Darkness Saga” part). I’m not too bent out of shape by them being ranked this high – I doubt if they’re quite as good as #27 on this list, but nostalgia is a strong mistress, and I don’t have any animus toward Paul Levitz, who’s a decent writer. Live and let live, say I! [2016 results: #30, 414 points, 10 first-place votes. 2012 results: #47, 201 points, 5 first-place votes. 2008 results: #29, 328 points, 10 first-place votes.]
26. Captain America #1-50, Captain America: Reborn #1-6, Captain America #600-619, Captain America #1-19 by Ed Brubaker. 523 points, 5 first-place votes. This is a terrific run, and #26 feels pretty good for it, but man, look at that numbering. Why make it easy on people anyway? Sheesh. No wonder comics are a ghetto-ized form of entertainment. [2016 results: #20, 612 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #22, 445 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #17, 504 points, 4 first-place votes.]
25. The Incredible Hulk #331-359, 361-388, 390-467 by Peter David. 526 points, 11 first-place votes. I always find it strange that Brian allows this to be one run, because despite David working on it all, it’s pretty clearly divided into five major sections, with David changing the tone of the book whenever a new regular artist comes on board. Still, it works as one run, too, I suppose, because David does have a pretty clear writing style and there is a through-line in all of this, which is Bruce Banner gradually integrating various versions of the Hulk from earlier years and even some that David brings in. This has informed the Hulk comic ever since, which is a strong legacy to have. These are great comics, although for a while there – about 20-30 issues around the time the Image artists tried to recreate the Marvel Universe anew – the book floundered a bit, but David did manage to end on a strong note, even though it felt like Marvel wanted him off the book and he didn’t really want to let go of it. [2016 results: #38, 332 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #26, 365 points, 7 first-place votes. 2008 results: #19, 484 points, 7 first-place votes.]
24. Daredevil volume 2 #26-50, 56-81 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. 532 points, 8 first-place votes. This is a great run, and is up there with the best Daredevil stories ever, so I have no issue with it being this high. Perhaps Maleev’s art isn’t as good as some, and perhaps Bendis ends this kind of weakly, but those are very minor nitpicks. It’s a very good story, and everyone should read it! [2016 results: #22, 585 points, 8 first-place votes. 2012 results: #16, 514 points, 7 first-place votes. 2008 results: #20, 480 points, 9 first-place votes.]
23. Doom Patrol #19-63 by Grant Morrison and Richard Case. 540 points, 13 first-place votes. This is the best comic book run in history, and it’s not particularly close (Hitman is in the neighborhood, but, like, on the other side of town), and therefore, the other 12 people who had it first must have the very best judgment of all humans. YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE!!!!! [2016 results: #33, 361 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #32, 333 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #14, 524 points, 12 first-place votes.]
22. Flash #62-129 by Mark Waid. 588 points, 4 first-place votes. I’ve read quite a bit of this, and I just can’t get into it. It’s not bad, certainly, and it’s neat that Waid was able to do a lot of interesting work with Wally’s supporting characters, but something just doesn’t click with me. I’ve never been a big fan of the Flash, and that certainly is one reason, but I can deal with that if the writing and art are top-notch, but while the art on this is usually good and the writing is fine, something is missing. I guess it’s fine here, but from now on, I will point out that whatever title we’re discussing is not as good as Doom Patrol (okay, I won’t do that, but it’s true!). [2016 results: #36, 341 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #36, 263 points, 6 first-place votes. 2008 results: #39, 228 points, 2 first-place votes.]
21. Fantastic Four #570-611, FF #1-23 by Jonathan Hickman. 611 points, 10 first-place votes. Some of Hickman’s work is so good it makes me want to read everything, but then he goes to Marvel and writes garbage, and it saddens me. I got the first half of this run when Marvel released a nice big omnibus, and it’s just … blah. It’s basically every Fantastic Four comic you’ve ever read, and I’m puzzled why people thought it was so revolutionary. I mean, maybe the second half was? But I didn’t read it, because the first half is just aggressively dull. Wow, a bunch of Reeds who are even bigger dicks than Earth-616 Reed? RADICAL!!!!! Sigh. I still like Hickman, but man, I don’t know what happens to him when he writes for Marvel. [2016 results: #17, 630 points, 8 first-place votes. 2012 results: #52, 171 points, 3 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
20. X-Men #114-154 by Grant Morrison. 614 points, 5 first-place votes. One problem I have with Morrison (that many people do, it seems) is that he’s not always great with characters, so his weirdness overwhelms the story. One reason Doom Patrol is so good is because his characters are brilliant and fit nicely into the weirdness. One reason I don’t love his X-Men as much as some of his other work (although it’s still very good) is because he gives us ice-cold Scott and ice-cold Emma as the central “power couple” of the book, and it has never worked for me. Nobody really calls Scott out for being a huge dick, and Emma being quasi-good feels odd. I don’t have a huge problem with this being on this list, but it still feels a little high. [2016 results: #16, 634 points, 3 first-place votes. 2012 results: #13, 584 points, 9 first-place votes. 2008 results: #10, 701 points, 14 first-place votes.]
19. Starman #1-80 by James Robinson, Tony Harris, and Peter Snejbjerg. 628 points, 15 first-place votes. This is a wonderful, wonderful run, and the last two times I voted in this poll, it was high on my list. Did it make the cut this time? Read on to see! Robinson does such a great job with the characters and the city, and both Harris and Snejbjerg are terrific, each drawing about half the series. Robinson managed to create a really astonishing DC history from disparate sources, and his plotting was superb, as he even managed to take what was probably a mistake by him in identifying the name of a book and turning it into a clue about the grand plot. That’s pretty keen. [2016 results: #18, 622 points, 9 first-place votes. 2012 results: #11, 637 points, 22 first-place votes. 2008 results: #7, 921 points, 35 first-place votes.]
18. Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. 630 points, 12 first-place votes. Vaughan knows a thing or two about overrated comics, as we’ve already seen perhaps his most overrated comic appear on this list, but this is his first taste of overratedness (yes, I’m calling that a word). Y is fine, but it’s just kind of there. Guy wanders around, women treat him like an object or try to kill him, the best character dies completely unnecessarily – occasionally the death of a character makes sense, and sometimes it just doesn’t. I haven’t read it in a long time, so maybe I’ll change my tune when I circle back around to it, but I feel that it’s way too high here. [2016 results: #13, 665 points, 12 first-place votes. 2012 results: #5, 855 points, 23 first-place votes. 2008 results: #13, 547 points, 6 first-place votes.]
17. Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6, Green Lantern #1-67, Blackest Night #1-8, Green Lantern #1-20 by Geoff Johns. 635 points, 9 first-place votes. I’ve read Rebirth and that’s it, as I didn’t feel like I needed to read anything else. While most people blame Dan DiDio for DC’s descent into craptitude, I blame Johns to an equal degree, as it’s clear Johns wants the heroes of his childhood back (he was born in 1973, so let’s say the heroes of the late 1970s/early 1980s) and isn’t going to let the fact that sales of Kyle Rayner’s and Wally West’s comics were generally better than those with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen stand in his way. The problem is, of course, is that Johns wants these characters back but also loves “mature” comics, so whenever I pick up a Johns comic, I’m a bit surprised by how bloodthirsty he is. I don’t mind violence and gore in my comics, but the weirdness of the tone of Johns’s work is what makes it so bizarre to read – he wants the “innocence” of his childhood but he’s also read Watchmen and thinks the violence is the best part of it. In other words, I don’t really like Johns’s writing and this run is definitely too high. [2016 results: #10, 812 points, 24 first-place votes. 2012 results: #18, 498 points, 11 first-place votes. 2008 results: #53, 174 points, 1 first-place vote.]
16. Justice League by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. 658 points, 16 first-place votes. This is a great run – well, until about issue #45, when it goes seriously south, but the wrap-up works nicely – but I’m a bit surprised it’s this high still, after so many years. It feels like something that doesn’t have staying power, you know, but hey, here it is at #16! It’s still very funny, and dang, the Maguire and Hughes art is so danged good! [2016 results: #25, 525 points, 8 first-place votes. 2012 results: #20, 474 points, 8 first-place votes. 2008 results: #9, 742 points, 13 first-place votes.]
15. Astro City by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. 673 points, 11 first-place votes. This is a wonderful series, and I’m perfectly fine with it being #15. I’m a bit bummed it didn’t last the last time it was being published, especially because Anderson couldn’t draw every issue, breaking his nice string. It’s supposed to be back as graphic novels, but that hasn’t happened yet. Too bad. Even if it never comes back, though, what we have is just a marvelous superhero book. [2016 results: #31, 402 points, 14 first-place votes. 2012 results: #48, 198 points, 2 first-place votes. 2008 results: #30, 323 points, 4 first-place votes.]
14. Thor by Jason Aaron. 680 points, 17 first-place votes. I should probably get this, but I’m not sure if Marvel has released a big ol’ omnibus or two of it yet. That’s how I’d like to read it, but maybe I missed it? Anyway, this feels a bit high even though I haven’t read it – top 20 stuff ought to be thoroughly vetted over a period of years before it makes it onto this kind of list – but I know a lot of people liked this, so I guess I don’t have a big problem with it here. I know that some of the art, especially Russell Dauterman’s, was really freakin’ good. [2016 results: #34, 350 points, 6 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
13. Fantastic Four #232-293 by John Byrne. 686 points, 9 first-place votes. This is perfectly fine, although I think it’s a bit high. I’ve just never been as big a Fantastic Four fan as some, so even when they’re done well, something bugs me about them. Reed being a dick and the worst father on the planet (to be fair, Sue’s a lousy mother, too) is probably a part of it, but I can’t really say what bugs me about the whole gestalt. But this is a good run, and I don’t really object too much to it. Except for that issue where Jean Grey comes back to life. Is that the dumbest decision in the history of American superhero comics? Discuss. [2016 results: #19, 620 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #24, 381 points, 4 first-place votes. 2008 results: #16, 508 points, 7 first-place votes.]
12. Avengers by Jonathan Hickman. 734 points, 10 first-place votes. So as much as Hickman’s Fantastic Four sucked and as much as his X-Men really sucks, I’m perversely interested to read his Avengers. Earlier this year Marvel got around to doing big chunks of the run, and my comic shop … never got the first one. So I didn’t order the rest (volume 4 was just offered), but I really ought to at least get the first volume to see what’s what. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. But this might be the one that works! Either way, I can’t believe it deserves to be #12. Maybe I’m wrong. [2016 results: #27, 419 points, 7 first-place votes. 2012 results: N/A. 2008 results: N/A.]
11. Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. 743 points, 21 first-place votes. This is overrated, but it always is, because it was published when many comics fans were just starting to really get into comics and so the “X-Men at DC” style Wolfman and Pérez brought to the title was wildly popular. There’s nothing really wrong with these comics, but they’re definitely not as good as #11 all-time. They’re just solid superhero comics, at least the stuff I’ve read (and no, I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read a decent amount), and while they should probably be on this list, the bottom half is probably a better spot for them. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia, though! [2016 results: #15, 651 points, 9 first-place votes. 2012 results: #14, 560 points, 13 first-place votes. 2008 results: #11, 643 points, 15 first-place votes.]
10. Uncanny X-Men #165-279, X-Men #1-3 by Chris Claremont. 769 points, 19 first-place votes. Brian always has weird rules for dividing up Claremont’s X-Men run, and this year I think he put the kibosh on anything after Dave Cockrum left the title being separated out, which makes no sense. The brief Paul Smith run was clearly an inflection point between the old and the new, as Claremont kind of put the Phoenix to bed “permanently” and brought in new cast members; the Romita Jr. run is clearly both the most “super-heroic” and the most involved in the greater Marvel Universe; the “Mutant Massacre”-to-“Fall of the Mutants” arc is clearly different; and then there’s the rest. I don’t mind if Brian wants to treat them all as the same run, but it’s kind of silly, mainly because there is such a variance in quality over these 100+ issues, as I’ve noted before. Some are absolutely superb, and some are crap, and it’s very hard to say that these are Top Ten material, even if certain issues in them are some of the best single issues or stories that Marvel published at the time. So it’s weird. But hey, that’s why it’s a popularity contest, as these comics were and probably still are very popular! [2016 results: #11, 795 points, 21 first-place votes. 2012 results: #15, 533 points, 14 first-place votes. 2008 results: #90, 106 points, 1 first-place vote (Romita); #71, 133 points, 1 first-place vote (Smith); #71, 133 points, 3 first-place votes (Silvestri)]
9. Thor #337-355, 357-382 by Walt Simonson. 892 points, 13 first-place votes. I don’t have any problem with this being #9, despite tailing off a bit once Simonson no longer drew it (it certainly wasn’t bad once Buscema came on, just not quite as epic). The Simonson-drawn issues are amazing, as he turns the entire thing into an opera, as I’ve argued. Simonson is one of the few writer/artists who can approach the scale of what Kirby did, and he does it very well in this book. It’s excellent. [2016 results: #9, 887 points, 19 first-place votes. 2012 results: #10, 701 points, 16 first-place votes. 2008 results: #15, 514 points, 5 first-place votes.]
8. Batman by Grant Morrison. 903 points, 24 first-place votes. Whenever this appeared before, I was grumpy because it wasn’t actually done. But now it is, so I don’t have a problem with it. I suspect it’s a bit too high, as Morrison’s run with Batman could be a bit bumpy, but I haven’t re-read it yet, so I can’t say for sure. Some of these comics are absolutely brilliant, so maybe they make up for some of the goofier stuff. Morrison has done better stuff, but of course, the Batman cachet helps this immensely. [2016 results: #7, 1036 points, 22 first-place votes. 2012 results: #8, 830 points, 27 first-place votes. 2008 results: N/A.]
7. JLA #1-41 by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. 934 points, 15 first-place votes. Morrison’s Justice League is a comic that’s better than his Batman stuff, so it’s fitting that it should be higher. This is really a superb comic, with big ideas and big heroes fighting big villains in big fights. Morrison is having so much fun with it, and Porter’s vibrant 1990s artwork fits the tone and the times perfectly. I mean, Superman wrestles an angel, for crying out loud. J’onn J’onzz reconfigures his own brain! Batman takes down an entire army of Martians! Good stuff here. [2016 results: #14, 661 points, 4 first-place votes. 2012 results: #12, 607 points, 7 first-place votes. 2008 results: #12, 574 points, 7 first-place votes.]
6. Fantastic Four #1-102 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. 938 points, 12 first-place votes. This continues to be slightly overrated, as it’s more important historically than really, really good. It’s certainly not Kirby’s best work, but I suspect, based on the fewer first-place votes it got compared to some directly above it, that it’s the kind of run that people automatically put on their list, but down a bit, because it’s kind of axiomatic that it’s a great run. There’s certainly no reason that it shouldn’t be on this list, but have people read it recently? The concepts are great, sure, but it’s just kind of there. Even the Galactus story (which is where I am currently stopped, because I haven’t picked up there rest of it, so yes, I know my opinion is invalid), as interesting as it is, suffers from “Sixties-itis” and isn’t as exciting as you might think. It’s just that when people think comics! they think of the Lee/Kirby FF. I know it’s going to be this high, but I think it should be maybe in the 20s. But that’s just me. [2016 results: #5, 1260 points, 32 first-place votes. 2012 results: #4, 863 points, 29 first-place votes. 2008 results: #3, 1030 points, 37 first-place votes.]
5. Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #1-38 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. 959 points, 28 first-place votes. Spider-Man is a better character than the Fantastic Four, so this run should always be higher than the Lee/Kirby one, even if Ditko isn’t quite as good as Kirby. What Ditko did so well was make Peter Parker a weirdo, and so while Lee’s dialogue is your standard Lee dialogue (it’s never terrible, but it’s rarely great), the fact that Ditko made this kid bizarre makes these early issues crackle with tension and skirt so many sexual issues past the censors (Ditko was good at that, so there’s no reason to think he wasn’t having a laugh at the Comics Code with Peter’s “webbing”). The stories are good, but it’s the art that makes these issues great. [2016 results: #6, 1242 points, 25 first-place votes. 2012 results: #6, 849 points, 24 first-place votes. 2008 results: #6, 926 points, 19 first-place votes.]
4. Daredevil #158-161, 163-190 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. 1591 points, 15 first-place votes. This run deserves to be on this list, but I always think it’s overrated because it always places about this high. I mean, it’s very good and it changed the character forever and it gave Miller the freedom to do anything he wanted, so I get how influential it is, but there’s just something about it that makes it feel not quite as good as everyone else thinks it is. It’s been a while since I read it straight through (it took me a while to get it all collected, because for a long time Marvel just did bits and pieces of it), so maybe I’ll change my mind when I do that, but for now, it’s probably in my bottom 50 of the Top 100. It’s good, it’s entertaining, it’s beautifully drawn, but it just doesn’t seem as great as its placement on this list implies. [2016 results: #3, 1449 points, 28 first-place votes. 2012 results: #7, 838 points, 17 first-place votes. 2008 results: #4, 988 points, 12 first-place votes.]
3. Swamp Thing #20-58, 60-61, 63-64 by Alan Moore. 1656 points, 48 first-place votes. Issue #21, “The Anatomy Lesson,” is one of the best single issues ever and the best retcon in comics history, but I still think this run itself is a bit overrated. Once Swampy goes into space, the quality of the writing doesn’t lessen, but Moore’s focus does a bit, and it becomes a bit more meandering than he probably wanted it to be. I suspect people vote on this based on the first 10 issues or so, with the horror in full bloom (so to speak), because those issues are amazingly iconic. Once Swamp Thing goes on his American quest and then throws himself into space, things dip a little – not so much that this becomes a bad run, of course, but enough that I would have it outside my Top 10. Probably. I’ll explain more about my Top 10 below! [2016 results: #4, 1311 points, 39 first-place votes. 2012 results: #3, 1184 points, 27 first-place votes. 2008 results: #5, 942 points, 30 first-place votes.]
2. Sandman by Neil Gaiman. 1677 points, 47 first-place votes. I don’t really have anything bad to say about this run, because it’s usually on my list as well (will it be this year? see below to find out!). It’s a wonderful comic, and there’s a reason why it’s always here. Give it a re-read and you’ll see it’s true! [2016 results: #2, 1474, 40 first-place votes. 2012 results: #1, 1375 points, 45 first-place votes. 2008 results: #1, 1318 points, 42 first-place votes.]
1. Uncanny X-Men #108-109, 111-143 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin. 2063 points, 51 first-place votes. I had never voted for this one, but since the last poll, I re-read it and was reminded about how many stone cold classic issues these dudes put out, so I had to reconsider (I’ve always liked it, I just never put it in my Top Ten). I think Brian should begin the run with issue #98 or 99, because this is basically the Phoenix saga, which did not begin when Byrne arrived on the book, but that’s just me. This is a great run. [2016 results: #1, 2356 points, 55 first-place votes. 2012 results: #2, 1233 points, 39 first-place votes. 2008 results: #2, 1182 points, 28 first-place votes.]
So here’s the Top Ten I submitted to Brian. If you’ve ever read anything by me, you know the Top Two, but after that, it gets a bit weird. Let’s go! The number in parentheses after the blurb is where it finished in the actual Top Ten, which is, of course, invalid because my #1 doesn’t occupy the same spot.
1. Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison and Richard Case. Far and away the best comic book run I’ve ever read. Come on, you can admit it. You just say the Lee/Kirby FF run or Swamp Thing or Sandman is your favorite so you can fit in with the cool kids, but you can admit that this is better. It’s liberating! (#23)
2. Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea. This is a solid #2, not too close to Doom Patrol, but in the same neighborhood. Honestly, it’s everything Preacher wants to be but isn’t. (#65)
3. Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. This rapidly became one of my favorite comics soon after it started, but I could never vote for it because it wasn’t finished. It concluded just in time for the 2016 vote … but I didn’t vote in that one. Oh well. It’s a superb comic, and I’d love it even if the two creators weren’t such swell dudes. (#73)
4. Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday. I like a lot of Ellis’s work, but Planetary is just so good. The art certainly helps! (#30)
5. Phonogram by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. I asked Brian if this counted, because it’s three mini-series, all starring some of the same characters, and he said sure, so here it is. I can’t say for certain that Gillen and McKelvie are done with it, but each story is kind of standalone, so it doesn’t really matter all that much. This might be skirting the rules a bit, but I wanted something from Gillen and McKelvie, and this is better than Young Avengers or The Wicked + The Divine (although those are terrific comics, too). (DNP)
6. Uncanny X-Men #94-143 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Dave Cockrum. I still don’t like that Brian broke this up so that the pre-Byrne comics aren’t included, so maybe he didn’t even count this because I specified that it begins with #94? That would be just like that sneaky bastard. (#1)
7. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. comics by Jim Steranko. Damn, these comics are so freakin’ good, and like a few other comics over the years, they still look ahead of their time even though they’re 50 years old. The fact that they didn’t appear on this list is sad, because so many of the ones that DID appear owe a huge debt to Steranko. (DNP)
8. Gødland by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli. I’m not surprised this didn’t appear on the list, but that’s everyone else’s loss, because if you want Kirby bombast with a clever modern sensibility and a Moore-esque lecture on the nature of the universe without, you know, the lecturing, you go find Casey and Scioli’s masterpiece! (DNP)
9. Zot! #11-36 by Scott McCloud. I’d love to read the first 10 issues even though McCloud admits they aren’t great, but the great part of the series is the black-and-white stuff, beginning with issue #11. This is a wonderful romance and coming-of-age story disguised as a superhero book, and McCloud’s art is terrific. Zot! needs more love! (DNP)
10. Captain Britain comics by Dave Thorpe, Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Alan Davis. This is always kind of my “sentimental” pick. It’s not as good as Marvelman/Miracleman or Swamp Thing, but I think it’s better than Promethea, so there. It might not be as good, but it’s entertaining as all get-out, and Thorpe sets up Moore really well and Delano and then Davis (writing and drawing) continue with it really well. The Fury is Moore’s horrifying invention, but the moment when Psylocke loses her eyes is Davis, and it’s as emotionally powerful as anything Moore wrote on the comic. This is truly a collaboration, linked by Davis’s amazing art. I’m sorry, but I have a special place for it in my cold, dead heart. (DNP, shockingly enough)
Long-time readers with good memories might notice that this is quite different from the ones I’ve created in the past. Doom Patrol and Hitman are always there, and I think I’ve always put Captain Britain at #10, but I usually have Shade and The Spectre and Suicide Squad and Sandman on the list. To be honest, after the first two (and Chew might join it, locked in at #3), there are about 20-30 runs that I could easily shuffle into a Top Ten and not feel too bad. This year I just decided to be a bit funky with it. So it’s not that Zot! is necessarily better than The Spectre, say, it’s just that they’re both worthy of being in my Top Ten, and I basically flipped a coin. Just so you know.
All right, let’s get into the weeds a bit. First of all, I’ve read 54 of these entirely, and parts of 25 of others, which isn’t too bad, I reckon. It doesn’t make me an expert, but I can talk a little bit about the list and why it’s sad that Captain Britain isn’t on it!!!!!
I like to break these down a little bit. Let’s check out the ups and downs of the titles over the years. I did this for each entry, but let’s cut out everything else, shall we? We’ll start in 2008 and end up in 2020.
Cerebus: #25, 370, 8. #46, 203, 10. #56, 230, 8. #100, 88, 3. Sim’s book took a huge nose-dive, and I can’t believe it’s solely because of his personality, because people knew about that for years before 2020. I wonder if it’s that Cerebus is fading from the comics consciousness and Sim hasn’t really done anything else that’s kept his name in the papers, so to speak. That’s a big drop, though. Notice that even as his spot dropped in 2016, he gained points, so to slide down well over 100 points is pretty surprising.
Legion of Super-Heroes #1-38: #44, 208, 4. #85, 104, 2. N/A, less than 90 points. #99, 90, 5. What a weird trip for the Giffen/Bierbaum Legion. I debuted in 2008 at #44, plummeted to #88 in 2012, fell completely off the chart in 2016, and now it’s made a small comeback, with fewer points but the most first-place votes it’s ever gotten. Bizarre. (For the chart below, I used 89 as a plot point for 2016. Any title that doesn’t make the list, I’ll use one point lower than the lowest on the list for that year. Sound fair?)
The Spectre: #45, 205, 5. #57, 155, 3. N/A. #98, 91, 4. Another run that dropped off the list in 2016 and has made a small comeback. It follows almost the same path as the Legion, except its drop in 2012 wasn’t quite so precipitous. I wonder what about these two runs is so similar. I love The Spectre, by the way, and placed it on my list in both 2008 and 2012.
Iron Man #114-157: #61, 152, 2. #66, 125, 0. #96, 95, 2. #97, 93, 1. Maybe the Iron Man movies helped this in 2008 and 2012? It didn’t fall too far in point totals, just in the ranking, which might mean that there are simply more, better-loved runs now, even though this gets its points. It’s all about attrition with these runs toward the bottom!
The Walking Dead: N/A. #28, 351, 0. #60, 195, 2. #96, 95, 1. This is a fairly steep fall, and I wonder why. Is the bloom just off the rose? It’s not like it ended decades ago so people have forgotten about it. Zombie fatigue, perhaps?
X-Force/X-Statix: #81, 113, 2. #73, 118, 0. #72, 154, 1. #95, 98, 4. This has a weird trajectory, as it gained voted in 2012 and 2016 before falling off the cliff a bit this year. I imagine it’s just that something shiny and new came along, as this has ended and it didn’t have the biggest impact on Marvel history.
Conan the Barbarian #1-115: N/A. N/A. #66, 170, 0. #94, 100, 2. This is odd. Not that it fell so far, but that it didn’t show up on the first two lists and then did, fairly high, in 2016 … before Marvel got the license back and began reprinting it. I know Dark Horse reprinted the Marvel stuff, but that was years ago, so I wonder why, in 2016, it burst onto the list at #66, then fell back. The 90s or 80s seems a respectable place for it, but I’m a bit surprised it fell this far after Marvel began reprinting it and more people (like me) had a chance to read it.
Lone Wolf and Cub: #95, 100, 0. #83, 106, 5. N/A. #93, 101, 3. I’m not too surprised this fell off the list, as its point totals have remained remarkably steady and so maybe it just missed the cut in 2016. Even when it rose to #83, it got about the same amount of points. The people who are voting for this never stop voting for it, it seems!
Fantastic Four by Waid and Wieringo: #62, 150, 1. #89, 99, 0. N/A. #92, 104, 1. This was fresh in people’s minds in 2008, I reckon, and it’s not anymore. I like to think Marvel’s constant churn of replacing everything with something new means that no one can quite remember this run, because the title has been rebooted, abandoned, and rebooted so many times since. That’s my theory!
Usagi Yojimbo: #97, 98, 2. N/A. N/A. #91, 105, 7. This will probably always hover in the 90s – it’s good enough that enough people have read it and dig it, but it’s not that popular. I don’t know the point totals it got in 2012 and 2016, but I imagine it was around 100, just that others had a little bit more.
Hate: N/A. N/A. #75, 150, 2. #90, 107, 1. This is a bit weird, as it entered the listing in 2016 fairly strongly after not making it in 2008 and 2012. What happened in 2016? Bagge did some work for Marvel, which might have raised his profile just enough, but I can’t recall when that was. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens in 2024, if this stays on the list or falls off.
The Spirit: #46, 204, 7. #63, 131, 2. #93, 100, 2. #89, 109, 2. One of only two pre-Lee/Kirby comic ever to make the list just kind of trucks along – I imagine its initial high ranking might have had something to do with the movie, which came out in 2008, despite its critical drubbing. But maybe not.
The Boys: N/A. N/A. N/A. #88, 118, 1. No chart for this, as this is its debut on the list. The Boys came out in 2006, so it’s been eligible the entire time, but I have to assume the television show is why this suddenly appeared on the list.
Giant Days: N/A. N/A. N/A. #87, 120, 2. Unlike The Boys, this is not an older series making its debut, as it began in 2015, unless I’m reading it wrong. it was probably too new in 2016, but now here it is!
Ms. Marvel: N/A. N/A. #49, 272, 4. #86, 121, 1. This began in 2014, so it’s not surprising it wasn’t on the 2008 and 2012 lists. I’m a bit surprised it was so high in 2016 and I’m a bit surprised, having made such a strong showing, it fell so far this year. I wonder why. It’s not like Kamala Khan isn’t around anymore.
Strange Tales #110-111, 114-146: #88, 108, 2. #74, 117, 1. #57, 212, 3. #85, 127, 2. I assume the strong showing in 2016 had to do with the movie, which came out in that year, but it seems weird that so many people would suddenly discover this run and then forget about it four years later. I have a feeling a lot of the voting for this comes from simple memory, and if you happen to forget a run because there’s not a movie reminding you about it, there you go. I know I always think of stuff I might have voted for after the fact. So I assume that in 2016, this was on people’s minds, and it did well.
Batman by Tom King: N/A. N/A. N/A. #84, 130, 3. King began polluting the world with his Batman in 2016, so it’s not surprising this hasn’t shown up until now. It shouldn’t have shown up now, but such is life.
Stray Bullets: N/A. N/A. N/A. #83, 133, 5. I assume the fact that Lapham started this up again, and at Image, is the reason this suddenly showed up here, as people began to get clued in to how good it is and the old stuff became more readily available. We’ll see if it has staying power.
X-Men by Jonathan Hickman: N/A. N/A. N/A. #82, 136, 1. Obviously, it’s a joke that this is on this list, as it’s barely even begun (even if it weren’t awful, it’s still just begun), so let’s move on.
G.I. Joe: N/A. #77, 114, 4. #71, 159, 3. #81, 138, 3. I wonder why this didn’t make the list in 2008. Did IDW not have the license yet, so it wasn’t in the consciousness of many comics readers, and once they got it, people began remembering that they liked the original? Beats me.
East of West: N/A. N/A. N/A. #80, 140, 1. This began in 2013, so not being here in 2016 doesn’t surprise me that much. A little, but not that much. Like the others that appeared for the first time this year, we’ll see if it has staying power.
Squirrel Girl: N/A. N/A. N/A. #79, 144, 3. Here’s another one that hadn’t been around long enough in 2016. It’s nice that it made it this year.
Ultimates: #32, 315, 5. #35, 265, 2. #94, 98, 2. #78, 146, 1. A steep fall, which is weird. It’s not like Millar is any less of a douchebag in 2020 than he was in 2008! (Actually, I’ve heard Millar is just about the nicest dude around, so I guess I should say it’s not like his characters are any less douchey now.) Recency bias might have carried things in 2008, and now standard attrition is setting in. We’ll see what happens in four years!
Avengers by Roy Thomas: #86, 109, 2. #42, 228, 4. #52, 261, 10. #77, 148, 0. Could the movies have helped this? It’s always been respectable, but 2012 and 2016 were big years for this run. It’s possible.
“Duck” comics: N/A. #54, 167, 1. #80, 138, 5. #76, 151, 6. The only other olde-tyme comic on the list, and I have to believe nostalgia plays a role in getting it here. Not that it’s bad, but there are a lot of great comics from pre-1961, and I can’t believe they never get voted on, but this does. Barks died when he was 99, by the way. Good for him!
Fourth World: #50, 180, 2. #51, 176, 2. #54, 250, 5. #75, 154, 1. Maybe this got a boost in 2016 when the Justice League movie was being made and no one knew what a clusterfuck it would be? It’s fairly steady, but there’s that spike in 2016. Bears me.
New Mutants: #66, 144, 4. #93, 95, 0. #70, 160, 1. #74, 155, 2. As I noted, the first two years, the entire Claremont run was included, but then Brian made a command decision and the past two times, only the Claremont/Sienkiewicz stuff has been included. We get a slight uptick of votes in 2016 and 2020, but not too many from the initial voting, although perhaps if it hadn’t been changed it would have fallen off the list, as it was trending downward.
Chew: N/A. #90, 98, 1. #67, 167, 1. #73, 159, 0. Chew will probably be around here on this list for a while, unless someone finally gets their heads of of their asses and makes a cartoon like they were going to do some years ago, in which case it will probably rise. But I imagine it will be here for a while, and then perhaps attrition will set in.
Daredevil by Mark Waid: N/A. #71, 120, 0. #32, 341, 3. #72, 163, 2. This experienced a huge surge in 2016, and again I wonder if the television show had anything to do with it. The show began in 2015, so the dates line up. It’s not that this is bad, it’s just that that’s a big leap and a big fall, so in 2016 people had Daredevil on the brain … for some reason, which was probably the show.
Green Lantern/Green Arrow: #59, 162, 1. #64, 129. 0. #95, 96, 3. #71, 164, 1. A resurgence this year after plummeting in 2016, which is odd. There’s nothing in pop culture that would suggest this, so perhaps it’s just the vagaries of the voting! Interestingly enough, this is its highest point total in four years, but it’s placement on the list is 12 places below that of 2008. That suggests far more people voted this year than in ’08, doesn’t it?
Lee/Kirby Thor: #83, 112, 1. #98, 89, 2. #78, 143, 3. #70, 167, 1. Can we attribute its climb from 2012-2020 to Chris Hemsworth’s amazing chest? Why not!
The Question: #96, 99, 1. #76, 115, 2. #64, 176, 4. #69, 168, 4. This has blown up a bit over the past two voting cycles, and I don’t know why. This year might be because of O’Neil’s death and a new appreciation for his work, but maybe not. It’s a solid performer on this list, though.
Spider-Man by Roger Stern: #55, 170, 4. #44, 214, 1. #63, 180, 3. #68, 170, 1. Another solid performer. It will probably never be too high (the first Garfield Spider-Man movie came out in 2012, so maybe that had something to do with its surge in 2012), but it will never be too low, mostly, it seems, because people really like the terribly mawkish “dying kid” story. Come on, people, resist the blatant manipulation!
Detective Comics: #49, 184, 3. #55, 161, 3. #81, 137, 3. #67, 171, 3. Another steady entry. Never that high, but never in any danger of falling off the list. It’s just a great bunch of comics that star one of the most popular characters in history, so people remember it.
Vision: N/A. N/A. #73, 152, 5. #66, 172, 4. This didn’t begin until 2015, so it’s a bit surprising it made it in 2016. Maybe it was complete by the time the voting began, or maybe people voted for it based on what had come out so far, even though that would have been less than 12 issues. Talk about shiny objects. Anyway, I imagine that as long as King is writing comics, this will be on the list, because it’s very good and he’s popular.
Hitman: #37, 232, 6. #53, 168, 1. #50, 270, 2. #65, 178, 1. I have no idea what was going on in 2016, when this roared up to 270 points. Ennis didn’t do anything wildly new in 2016 that would make people take a look at his older stuff, and The Boys wasn’t on TV yet, so people weren’t going around discovering his old stuff. Wait a second … [checks dates] … Preacher debuted in 2016. I have to assume that’s it. Also, take a look at the point totals and the placement. In 2008, 232 points got this to #37. By 2016, an increase of 38 points – a 16% leap – got it only to #50. Lots more people voting, I assume!
Invincible: #79, 115, 1. #60, 149, 5. #65, 172, 1. #64, 179, 2. I doubt this will increase much more now that it’s done, but that’s a nice 12-year arc, ain’t it?
Promethea: #40, 220, 4. #67, 124, 3. #88, 120, 5. #63, 181, 3. A weird arc for this one. It ended in 2005 and there’s never been an adaptation into other media and Moore wasn’t doing anything too amazingly popular during these years, so the bumpiness of this is strange. 2008 is easily explainable – it had ended recently and it was very highly thought of. Then it fell far before rebounding this year. Maybe Moore claiming he’s retired made people think of his work? I dunno.
Love and Rockets: #35, 236, 5. #40, 231, 8. #62, 191, 8. #62, 185, 5. As the years pass, I imagine this will keep falling slowly, as attrition takes its toll. I imagine the people who vote it #1 will keep doing that, but others will find new shiny things to distract them.
Locke and Key: N/A. #88, 100, 3. #58, 209, 6. #61, 191, 1. This series had barely begun in 2008, so it’s not surprising it wasn’t on the list. I don’t know why it did so well in 2016 – it had concluded by then, so maybe a lot of people held off until it was finished. The television show didn’t seem to boost it too much this year, so we’ll see about next time.
Miracleman: #36, 234, 3. #38, 254, 6. #53, 252, 6. #60, 194, 8. The first-place votes went up, but the point total went down a bit, which is weird. I think we’ve probably reached a saturation point with this comic – everyone who wants to read it has, and not many will read it for the first time from now on. Doesn’t it just feel that way? Once Marvel got the rights, everyone who had ever heard of it could read it, and did, and now that’s over. I expect a slow slide, which is a shame because it’s so good.
Flash by Geoff Johns: #56, 168, 2. N/A. #59, 202, 5. #59, 198, 4. This might be the weirdest one on the list. It finishes in the Top 60 three times, and the fourth time doesn’t even make the list. What happened in 2012? Johns was still popular – his Green Lantern ranked high and his JSA made the list – but for whatever reason, this run disappeared. That means it went from 168 points to less than 83 (the #100 on the 2012 list got that many points) and then back up to 202. In 2016 I imagine the television show boosted it a bit, but what a weird trajectory!
Gotham Central: #74, 122, 1. #30, 340, 8. #79, 139, 4. #58, 201, 2. Another weird trajectory. The series ended in 2006, so there’s no reason 2012 should have been so good to it, unless it was somehow connected to the movie stuff. It didn’t help in 2008, though! And then in 2020 it popped back up. Strange days, indeed.
Spider-Man by Dan Slott: N/A. #87, 102, 0. #39, 325, 8. #57, 207, 3. Slott started his run in 2010, so that explains the slow start, but it really blew up in 2016. Perhaps the fact that he’s done is why it slipped?
Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis: N/A. #59, 152, 1. #76, 146, 1. #56, 211, 6. Brian did a “+100” list in 2008, but it’s way in the depths of the internet, so I’m not sure how many votes Bendis’s Avengers got in 2008. It got less than 94, though, because #100 on that list got 95. That’s a little weird, too, because this was popular from the get-go and seems to be Bendis’s best-regarded team book at Marvel. Notice that it got only 6 fewer points in 2016 yet dropped 17 spots. The vagaries of fate!
Criminal: N/A. #81, 108, 0. #89, 115, 2. #55, 212, 1. Big leap for Brubillips here, and I imagine having new Criminal stuff was at least partly responsible. This could have been on the 2008 list, so they got at least 14 more points in 2012 than they did in 2008, and then took a bit jump this year. That’s cool.
Uncanny X-Force: N/A. #78, 113, 0. #29, 416, 4. #54, 219, 5. Everyone was jazzed by this in 2016, which is weird because it wasn’t being published anymore, but maybe the name still being used and residual nice feelings from the book made people vote for it. I can’t believe it will ever be that high again.
Invisibles: #27, 349, 10. #45, 204, 4. #77, 145, 6. #53, 239, 3. This started off gangbusters, and then attrition set in, but it had a nice little rebound in 2020. Maybe everyone who voted for it in 2008 actually sat down and read it and said, “What the fuck?”
Batman comics by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams: N/A. #69, 122, 0. #85, 129, 5. #52, 245, 7. I have no idea why this wasn’t on the 2008 list, and I suspect it is only this high this year because of O’Neil’s death. It was wildly underrated in 2012 and 2016 (and 2008, as it didn’t make the list), so maybe it will stay up a bit, where it belongs.
Adam Warlock comics: #86, 109, 1. #79, 112, 0. #55, 238, 2. #51, 248, 2. The bump this got in 2016 and 2020 has to be due to the movies, right? I mean, Starlin isn’t much of a name anymore, and Marvel didn’t do anything fancy with these, so it has to be Thanos, right? The Thanos Bump!
Lee/Romita Spider-Man: #34, 270, 3. #37, 262, 3. #44, 302, 2. #50, 254, 5. Fairly steady, with that nice bump in 2016. I hate to keep harping on movies, but Spider-Man debuted in the MCU in 2016. The other three years are probably its level, although small fluctuations in point totals mean large fluctuations in placement, as you can see.
Immortal Hulk: N/A. N/A. N/A. #49, 263, 3. One of the flavors of the month. It hadn’t started for earlier polls, and it’s quite good and it’s the Hulk and it’s buzzy, so it debuts high on the list. Will it stay here in 2024? Almost assuredly not, but we’ll see how far it falls.
Fables: #22, 428, 6. #27, 358, 4. #37, 340, 5. #48, 269, 1. This is probably standard attrition as the end of the comic gets further in the rearview. The book ended in 2015, so 2008 would have been when it was strongest, which is why its vote totals were that high. Then it started to slide, both in quality and in the hearts and minds of the voters!
JSA: #48, 192, 1. #70, 121, 3. #48, 274, 3. #47, 272, 4. This is weird, too, as this got a huge bump in 2012 for seemingly no reason. I would say in 2020 it’s due to Stargirl (which is pretty keen, y’all), but that wasn’t around in 2016. I want to attribute it to pop culture, but I’m just not sure which piece of it!
Hellboy: #51, 179, 2. #39, 247, 5. #51, 265, 3. #46, 279, 5. Look at that nice gradual incline. I can’t explain it, except that every year, someone else falls into Mignola’s cool little world and digs it. Good for him!
Superman by John Byrne: #77, 119, 1. #62, 134, 3. #74, 151, 3. #45, 288, 6. Despite Byrne’s internet prickliness, this keeps going up. Good for him! As I wrote above, DC was supposed to have a new version of it out this year, but unless my shop didn’t get it, it never showed up. I still want to get some nice collections, DC!
Scalped: N/A. #33, 289, 4. #99, 90, 3. #44, 296, 3. I don’t know if this got votes in 2008, as it started in 2007, but I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and not count 2008. But what a weird trajectory. What the heck happened in 2016 to drop it, and what the heck happened this year that it leapt back up? Strange.
X-Factor: N/A. #49, 189, 2. #28, 418, 6. #43, 314, 9. I can’t explain this either. It was going on in 2008, but it didn’t make the list. By the time this hit its apex in 2016, the series was over. So why then? It succumbed to attrition this year, but not too badly. Just odd.
Transmetropolitan: #23, 418, 11. #31, 336, 6. #40, 322, 6. #42, 319, 1. Ellis’s transgressions didn’t really make a dent in this. Starts high and then goes through a fairly predictable attrition, but not too badly. It’s probably locked in about here or slightly lower, but probably won’t go higher unless someone makes a television show based on it.
Bone: #31, 321, 7. #41, 230, 2. #41, 312, 5. #41, 335, 8. It’s fascinating to consider Bone‘s placement on the list – three consecutive years of finishing at #41, with such disparate point totals, including way down in 2012. More people voting, I imagine in 2020, I imagine, as it got its highest total yet but remained 10 spots behind its 2008 finish. Bone will always have its fans, which it should, and I wonder if it will rise or fall next time.
Hawkeye: N/A. N/A. #46, 285, 2. #40, 339, 2. This probably didn’t make it onto the 2012 list, as it had just started, but it’s doing well, probably due at least partly to the movies, as its surge in 2020 isn’t attributable to new issues of the series or even Fraction’s higher profile (he might have a lower one now than he did in 2016). As I noted, this is probably a bit overrated, so we’ll see about its staying power.
Avengers by Kurt Busiek: #41, 218, 1. #29, 342, 6. #43, 306, 5. #39, 349, 4. This is a stable and solid showing by a good bunch of comics, even if I don’t love them. I can’t imagine the movies don’t have a little to do with its bump from 2008 to its current levels, but maybe not. I can’t imagine it falling or rising too far in the future.
X-Men by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum: N/A. N/A. #68, 164, 1. #38, 353, 2. I still don’t like this distinction – the early Cockrum issues have nothing to do with the later Cockrum issues – and I imagine that this did so well because people voted for both it and the Byrne stuff separately but in their minds as one, because the second Cockrum run is not that great. It’s fine, but even people who hate, say, the Outback Era probably like that over the first interminable Brood story. I wish Brian would change this and put the Phoenix Saga – which includes Cockrum’s art – together, because that’s a true run.
Astonishing X-Men: #38, 229, 2. #21, 463, 8. #23, 570, 7. #37, 360, 5. I don’t know if this is finding its level around the 2020 totals or if it will continue to fluctuate. As long as Whedon keeps making movies and the X-Men remain popular, this will probably be about here, but I’m not sure if it will surge again or not.
Suicide Squad: #28, 336, 5. #56, 158, 1. #35, 344, 10. #36, 399, 2. The movie came out in 2016, the year this jumped after falling quite a bit in 2012. The new movie seems to be generating more interest than the original, so perhaps that accounts for its jump this year? I mean, this book is 30+ years old and never sold gangbusters when it was coming out, so ancillary pop culture seems like the best explanation for its strong showing the past two voting cycles.
Saga: N/A. N/A. #26, 521, 10. #35, 402, 3. There’s not enough data to determine if this is just finding its place or if the hiatus has driven it from people’s minds, as it’s been a couple of years since an issue came out. We shall see.
Punisher: #24, 389, 5. #25, 380, 5. #42, 310, 2. #34, 405, 4. Not too much variance here – this year it got its highest point total, but it’s only 16 higher than its second-best. I don’t know what happened in 2016, but this seems remarkably consistent.
Ultimate Spider-Man: #26, 364, 3. #17, 501, 6. #21, 590, 10. #33, 424, 4. Miles Morales has become pretty popular, which might account for this book’s surge, although the movies probably had something to do with it. It’s finding a decent level, it seems.
Batman by Scott Snyder: N/A. #72, 119, 2. #8, 1019, 20. #32, 457, 2. Well, that’s a roller coaster. This had just started in 2012, which probably accounts for its low ranking, and 2016 was when it was at its height, so it shot way up the charts. It’s been a few years since it ended, so attrition naturally set in, but it might need another vote to find its level.
Preacher: #8, 857, 21. #9, 792, 22. #12, 790, 16. #31, 474, 3. We can see attrition working here, but the drop from 2016 to 2020 is weird. The people who dig this run aren’t going to stop digging it, but perhaps as it fades into the past, more stuff will just supplant it. The first three years felt kind of high, and 2020 feels like where it should be. I imagine the television show not being on the air anymore probably affected this a bit.
Planetary: #18, 493, 7. #19, 489, 8. #24, 535, 6. #30, 479, 9. Despite the changes in position, the point totals are remarkably stable. As Transmetropolitan seems to reflect Ellis’s bad behavior more and more, I wonder if this will remain strong because it’s, basically, not Transmetropolitan.
Animal Man: #21, 430, 13. #23, 393, 6. #47, 280, 3. #29, 483, 5. This is fairly stable, although something happened in 2016 to make it drop. Morrison’s popularity never really dips too much (he always seems to have the most entries on this list), so this might be finding a level somewhere between 2008’s totals and 2020’s totals. We’ll see next time!
Avengers by Roger Stern: #58, 164, 3. #42, 228, 4. #45, 290, 7. #28, 497, 6. This just keeps climbing, point-wise (with a small blip in positioning), and I have to think it’s the MCU driving it. I know Stern’s run is popular through nostalgia, but this big a climb can’t be attributed just to old-schoolers suddenly realizing it was good, can it?
Legion of Super-Heroes by Levitz and Giffen: #29, 328, 10. #47, 201, 5. #30, 414, 10. #27, 507, 3. Is this rise fueled by DC’s latest Legion reboot, either because people were reminded of this one or because they were reacting negatively to Bendis’s work? I don’t know, but that’s a healthy climb from 2012 for a 40-year-old comic!
Captain America: #17, 504, 4. #22, 445, 8. #20, 612, 3. #26, 523, 5. Civil War came out in 2016. I think that explains some things. This is probably at a pretty stable level – it feels like it’s entered the group of comics that will always get votes, and it’s just where it falls on the list will change a bit.
Incredible Hulk: #19, 484, 7. #26, 365, 7. #38, 332, 4. #25, 526, 11. I’m not sure about this resurgence, unless the fact that Marvel has a viable Hulk right now means everyone is remembering other times when that was true. It’s roared back nicely, but I imagine its true level is a bit lower than this.
Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev: #20, 480, 9. #16, 514, 7. #22, 585, 8. #24, 532, 8. This is probably at a stable level. It’s pretty clearly regarded as the second-best run on DD ever, so I doubt if it will drop too far, although it might rise a bit if something in other pop culture happens.
Doom Patrol: #14, 524, 12. #32, 333, 8. #33, 361, 4. #23, 540, 13. Big comeback this year, and I imagine it’s television show-related. Or that more people recognize that it’s the best comic ever!!!!! I thought its level would be the 2012 and 2016 totals, but we’ll see what happens next time and if 2020 is just a Brandon Fraser blip.
Flash by Mark Waid: #39, 228, 2. #36, 263, 6. #36, 341, 3. #22, 588, 4. The steady rise of this run has to be connected to the television show, right? Nothing DC has done with the character in the 2010s would make people like this run more, unless they were nostalgic for a time when DC didn’t treat its characters with contempt!
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman: N/A. #52, 171, 3. #17, 630, 8. #21, 611, 10. Hickman hadn’t started his run in 2008, so that’s why it’s not there. He was done by 2016, so I’m not sure about the huge jump. Maybe more people knew about Hickman by then and were searching out all of his work. I’m curious where this goes in 2024.
X-Men by Grant Morrison: #10, 701, 14. #13, 584, 9. #16, 634, 3. #20, 614, 5. This has settled in to a spot in the lower half of the Top 20, and I doubt it will move too much. It’s Morrison and it’s the X-Men, so it will be popular for a while.
Starman: #7, 921, 35. #11, 637, 22. #18, 622, 9. #19, 628, 15. This arrived with gangbusters and then fell into a stable point total, so I’m not sure what was going on in 2008. It seems like a bunch of people voted for it and then thought, “That can’t be right!” Well, maybe it was right …
Y the Last Man: #13, 547, 6. #5, 855, 23. #13, 665, 12. #18, 630, 12. I’m not sure what happened in 2012 – maybe people wanted to vote for Saga but it had barely begun, so they voted for this? It had ended in 2008, so you’d think that’s when it would be on the brain. But it seems to have found its level.
Green Lantern: #53, 174, 1. #18, 498, 11. #10, 812, 24. #17, 635, 9. This ended in 2013, so you’d think 2008 or 2012 would be its high point and then it would begin a slow slide. Yet in 2016 it had a nice spike, and it hasn’t slid back to pre-2016 levels. There’s no pop culture phenomenon to explain it – maybe people are just nostalgic for a time when they thought Johns was a good writer.
Bwah-ha-ha Justice League: #9, 742, 13. #20, 474, 8. #25, 525, 8. #16, 658, 16. Much like Starman, which debuted high, this feels like a case of people not believing that so many people voted for this in 2008 and by gum, they’d do something about it! It’s probably going to be a Top 20-30 mainstay, though, as DC continues to not try anything like it and it remains unique in the minds of readers.
Astro City: #30, 323, 4. #48, 198, 2. #31, 402, 14. #15, 673, 11. Astro City ended, sort of, in 2018, so I’m a bit puzzled by the huge leap this year. Maybe people still had it on the brain because it hasn’t been that long since it ended, or maybe people finally had a chance to read it. We’ll see what happens next time. Maybe by then there will be new material!
Thor by Jason Aaron: N/A. N/A. #34, 350, 6. #14, 680, 17. Aaron began his run in 2012, so this isn’t surprising. He wrote it when the character rose in popularity thanks to Hemsworth, which might explain the huge leap this year. We’ll see what happens next time around as it finds its level.
Fantastic Four by John Byrne: #16, 508, 7. #24, 381, 4. #19, 620, 4. #13, 686, 9. Here’s another one that is probably permanently ensconced in the Top 20-30. It feels like that people were surprised in 2012 that it fell, so they needed to rally it in 2016! I don’t know if it will rise too much further, and it probably won’t fall too far.
Avengers by Jonathan Hickman: N/A. N/A. #27, 419, 7. #12, 734, 10. Another one that hadn’t begun in 2012, so it didn’t place, and its meteoric rise coincides with the MCU. Coincidence?
Teen Titans: #11, 643, 15. #14, 560, 13. #15, 651, 9. #11, 743, 21. Another perennial. I doubt if this goes away anytime soon. Nobody has done anything good with the characters since Wolfman and Pérez, after all. DC isn’t done cannibalizing that corpse!
Uncanny X-Men by Claremont: 372, 5 (I added the three totals that were separated in 2008, hence no placement, but the point total would have put it at #24). #15, 533, 14. #11, 795, 21. #10, 769, 19. I suspect most of these votes are for Paul Smith, but maybe people really love the Outback Era. I know I do!
Thor by Walter Simonson: #15, 514, 5. #10, 701, 16. #9, 887, 19. #9, 892, 13. I’m a bit surprised this wasn’t higher in 2008, but it seems to have found its level, in the Top 10 or low teens. I doubt if it goes anywhere, as everyone loves Skurge on the bridge.
Batman by Grant Morrison: N/A. #8, 830, 27. #7, 1036, 22. #8, 903, 24. It’s Morrison and it’s Batman, so it’s probably always going to be ranked high, although a little bit of attrition set in this year. We’ll see if it stabilizes or continues to erode a bit. It was begun in 2006, so I’m a bit surprised it didn’t make the initial list, especially as he came out of the gate fairly strong.
JLA by Grant Morrison: #12, 574, 7. #12, 607, 7. #14, 661, 4. #7, 934, 15. This took a decent leap, and I’m not sure why. Were people so sad about the Justice League movie that they wanted to remember a time when the League didn’t suck? I’m curious if this will keep the points it got this year or slide back into the second ten.
Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four: #3, 1030, 37. #4, 863, 29. #5, 1260, 32. #6, 938, 12. In 2016 this gained almost 400 votes … and fell a spot in the rankings. Things are harsh in the Top Ten, yo! This just keeps trucking along. It feels like the Top Six are set, so I assume it will be just jockeying for position from here on out.
Lee/Ditko Spider-Man: #6, 926, 19. #6, 849, 24. #6, 1242, 25. #5, 959, 28. This run stayed at #6 even though it lost 70+ points and then gained almost 400, and then it went up a spot this year despite dropping almost 300 points. Things are weird in the Top Ten, yo!
Daredevil by Frank Miller: #4, 988, 12. #7, 838, 17. #3, 1449, 28. #4, 1591, 15. Y the Last Man crashed the Top Six party in 2012, knocking this back to #7. Then Miller threatened every voter with more Holy Terror, so it came roaring back in 2016 and 2020!
Swamp Thing: #5, 942, 30. #3, 1184, 27. #4, 1311, 39. #3, 1656, 48. As more people vote, the top get more votes. It’s just like college football!
Sandman: #1, 1318, 42. #1, 1375, 45. #2, 1474, 40. #2, 1677, 47. Still a juggernaut, despite slipping from #1 to #2. Perhaps the television show will vault it back to the top spot.
Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and John Byrne: #2, 1182, 28. #2, 1233, 39. #1, 2356, 55. #1, 2063, 51. Not quite as dramatic as 2016, when it destroyed the competition, but still impressive. This is the perfect run for many voters, I imagine: it’s really brilliant, for one, and it came out at a time when many of today’s comic-book readers were just getting into comics, so it not only blew their tiny minds but it made an impression that newer, possibly better comics couldn’t dislodge, as nostalgia is a powerful drug. Then, of course, Marvel and Fox keep making movies about this story, reminding everyone how danged good the original was in comparison to the sucky movies. So while Sandman might nudge it out of the top spot next time, until we geezers start dropping off the twig, I doubt if this will ever fall further than #2.
Here are the ups and downs of the titles over the years.
Cerebus: -167, +27, -142.
Legion of Super-Heroes (Giffen & Bierbaums): -104, > -14, > +1.
Spectre: -50, > -69, > +5.
Iron Man: -27, -30, -2.
The Walking Dead: > +257, -156, -100.
X-Force/X-Statix: +5, +36, -56.
Conan the Barbarian: –, –, -70.
Lone Wolf and Cub: +6, , < +2, > +15.
Fantastic Four (Waid/Wieringo): -51, > -13, > +18.
Usagi Yojimbo: > -15, –, > +19.
Hate: –, –, -43.
The Spirit: -73, -31, +9.
The Boys: –, –, –.
Giant Days: –, –, –.
Ms. Marvel: –, –, -151.
Batman (King): –, –, –.
Stray Bullets: –, –, –.
X-Men (Hickman): –, –, –.
G.I. Joe: –, +45, -21.
East of West: –, –, –.
Squirrel Girl: –, –, –.
Ultimates: -50, -167, +48.
Avengers (Thomas): +119, +33, -113.
Duck comics: >+73, -29, +13.
Fourth World: -4, +74, -96.
New Mutants: -49, +65, -5.
Chew: –, +69, -8.
Daredevil (Waid): –, +221, -178.
GL/GA: -33, -33, +68.
Thor (Lee/Kirby): -23, +53, +25.
The Question: +16, +61, -8.
Spider-Man (Stern/Romita Jr.): +44, -34, -10.
‘Tec (Englehart/Rogers/Austin): -23, -24, +34.
Vision: –, –, +24.
Hitman: -64, +102, -92.
Invincible: +34, +23, +7.
Promethea: -96, -4, +61.
Love and Rockets: -5, -40, -6.
Locke and Key: –, +109, -18.
Miracleman: +20, -2, -58.
Flash (Johns): > -85, > + 119, -4.
Gotham Central: +218, -201, +62.
Spider-Man (Slott): –, +223, -118.
Avengers (Bendis): > +58, -6, +65.
Criminal: –, +7, +97.
Uncanny X-Force: –, +303, -197.
Invisibles: -145, -59, +94.
‘Tec (O’Neil/Adams): > +28, +7, +116.
Adam Warlock comics: +3, +126, +7.
Spider-Man (Lee/Romita Sr.): -8, +40, -48.
Immortal Hulk: –, –, –.
Fables: -70, -18, -71.
JSA: -71, +153, -2.
Hellboy: +68, +18, +14.
Superman: +15, +17, +137.
Scalped: > +195, -199, +206.
X-Factor (David): –, +229, -104.
Transmetropolitan: -82, -14, -3.
Bone: -91, +82, +23.
Hawkeye: –, –, +54.
Avengers (Busiek): +124, -36, +43.
X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum): –, –, +189.
Astonishing X-Men: +234, +107, -210.
Suicide Squad: -178, +186, +55.
Saga: –, –, -119.
Punisher: -9, -70, +95.
Ultimate Spider-Man: +137, +89, -166.
Batman (Snyder/Capullo): –, +900, -562.
Preacher: -65, -2, -316.
Planetary: -4, +46, -56.
Animal Man: -37, -113, +203.
Avengers (Stern): +64, +62, +207.
Legion of Super-Heroes (Levitz/Giffen): -127, +213, +93.
Captain America: -59, +167, -89.
Incredible Hulk: -119, -33, +194.
Daredevil (Bendis/Maleev): +34, +71, -53.
Doom Patrol: -191, +28, +179.
Flash (Waid): +35, +78, +247.
Fantastic Four (Hickman): –, +459, -19.
X-Men (Morrison): -117, +50, -20.
Starman: -284, -15, +6.
Y the Last Man: +308, -190, -35.
Green Lantern: +324, +314, -177.
JLI: -268, +51, +133.
Astro City: -125, +204, +271.
Thor (Aaron): –, –, +330.
Fantastic Four (Byrne): -127, +239, +66.
Avengers (Hickman): –, –, +315.
Teen Titans: -83, +91, +92.
Uncanny X-Men (Claremont): +161, +262, -26.
Thor (Simonson): +187, +186, +5.
Batman (Morrison): > +736, +206, -133.
JLA: +33, +54, +273.
Fantastic Four (Lee/Kirby): -167, +397, -322.
Spider-Man (Lee/Ditko): -77, +393, -283.
Daredevil (Miller): -150, +611, +142.
Swamp Thing: +242, +127, +345.
Sandman: +57, +99, +203.
Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne): +51, +1123, -293.
Brian counts these thusly: each first-place vote is 10 points, each second-place vote is 9 points, and so on. So first-place votes really raise the title’s point totals. Here are the titles ranked by first-place votes.
I like to see what percentage of the vote totals came from first-place votes, so here those are:
I find it fascinating, because the ones that finish high up usually get between 25-30% of their point totals from first-place votes. If they get any more, they tend to be boutique titles that a few people love but not a lot of people vote for (Usagi Yojimbo got 70 of 105 points from first-place votes). It seems like the titles that get fewer first-place votes are more set up for the long run, because they might not be completely beloved by a few, but they’re liked by many. If I were so inclined, I would test that theory by looking at the previous 3 go-arounds. I’m really not that ambitious. I made graphs, what do you want?!?!?!? I do find it interesting that our #1 entry, Uncanny X-Men, got more points from first-place votes than everything up through #27. Sheesh, people dig those comics!
Let’s take a quick look at all the titles that have made an appearance on the list but didn’t make it this year, with their placement in parentheses. Those in bold only appeared on one list. Cue the sad music!
(Some of these, like All Star Superman and “Born Again,” may not be eligible anymore. Brian tweaks the rules occasionally, so I’m not sure if some of these are ineligible or not. Deal with it!)
2008: Acme Novelty Library (t100). Alias (t93). All Star Superman (52). The Authority (60). Black Panther (Priest) (73). Captain America (Gruenwald) (89). Concrete (77). Daredevil (Miller/Mazzucchelli) (43). Deadpool (Kelly) (47). Detective (Grant/Breyfogle) (65). Excalibur (74). Green Arrow (Grell) (91). Grendel (97). Groo (85). Hellblazer (Ennis) (t93). Howard the Duck (41). League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (64). Lucifer (80). Master of Kung Fu (t100). Nextwave (92). Nexus (53). 100 Bullets (62). Plastic Man (t100). Powers (70). Runaways (33). Shade, the Changing Man (67). Sleeper (81). StormWatch (Ellis) (83). Strangers in Paradise (99). Supreme (Moore) (56). Top 10 (68). Wildcats (Casey) (78). X-Factor (original David) (69).
2012: Acme Novelty Library (91). The Authority (68). Daredevil (Brubaker) (82). Deadpool (Kelly) (80). Detective (Grant/Breyfogle) (58). Eightball (100). Ex Machina (50). Immortal Iron Fist (61). Journey into Mystery (Gillen) (75). Nextwave (65). Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (99). 100 Bullets (43). Plastic Man (96). Runaways (34). Scott Pilgrim (86). Secret Six (94). Sin City (92). Strangers in Paradise (97). Top 10 (84). X-Factor (original David) (95).
2016: Alias (69). Captain America (Gruenwald) (86). Deadpool (Kelly) (97). Eightball (98). Nextwave (92). 100 Bullets (82). Scott Pilgrim (61). Shade, the Changing Man (83). She-Hulk (Slott) (91). Sin City (84). Supreme (Moore) (90). The Wicked + The Divine (100). Wonder Woman (Azzarello) (87).
It appears that Runaways in 2008 was the biggest faller. It placed #33 and got 307 votes, yet by 2016 it was gone. I guess Vaughan-lovers replaced it in their hearts with Saga. So sad! It also looks like 2008 was the weirdest year for this. Concrete? Nexus? Sleeper? Fucking Groo? They’re all quite good, but they were some weird choices. It’s as if the voters were surprised they were allowed to vote for such weird stuff and got scared off in subsequent years. It’s bizarre.
Especially when we consider the Top 10 and Top 20. Not a ton of movement there:
A little volatility here, but not too much. The Top 6 have always been the same except for 2012 when Y the Last Man jumped on in, and that was a flavor-of-the-month pick, as it’s in danger of falling out of the Top 20 in the next round. There are 80 spots, right? 4 x 20 = 80? Only 29 titles have occupied those 80 spots. That’s stability in what people think are the 20 best comic book runs of all time. There were 4 new ones in 2012 (David’s Hulk, Brubaker’s Cap, Byrne’s FF, and Doom Patrol dropped out), 2 in 2016 (JLI, Planetary, Ultimate Spidey, Bendis’s DD dropped out, but two of the new ones had been there in 2008), and 3 in 2020 (Brubaker’s Cap dropped out for the second time, along with Hickman’s FF and Preacher). We’ll see if those new ones (Astro City, Jason Aaron’s Thor, Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers) will have staying power, or if they’ll be replaced. Maybe some of the ones that fell will make a comeback!
Anyway, I think that’s enough. “What!” you say. “WE WANT MOAR!!!!!” Well, yes, I’m sure you do, but I think we’re good. If you want to check out what I had to say in 2008 and 2012, feel free to click those links. I didn’t do this in 2016 – I had just moved into a new house and we had just moved into our new web site, and I think I was just distracted by other things. I always have fun doing these, and I love looking at what people think. I don’t do these for all the Brian’s polls that he has over the years, but this was is fun. I hope you enjoyed reading it! Or, you know, skimming it. I get it, it’s really long. This is what I do, people. Greg Hatcher can’t be the only one who can go on and on at the blog!