Over at Comics Should Be Good, dread Overlord Brian Cronin is conducting a poll of top comic book runs, and counting them down, five at a time. Check it out. In the meantime, here's a rundown of for what I voted.
For my own purposes, I left out of consideration runs that I haven’t read in their entirety and runs in which only one creator worked on a title for its duration (so no Preacher or Fables or Top 10 or Powers or Noble Causes, all great runs for which I likely would have otherwise voted). The official rules allow for them, but to me, a “run” has to be one piece of a bigger puzzle-someone worked on these characters before my favored creative team, and someone worked on the characters after the creators left.
10. Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing (Nightwing 1-70): Dixon did a fantastic job of building up Nightwing’s storytelling engine with a specific purpose, new job, and new supporting cast members and villains. This was one of the first runs I read almost entirely in trades rather than single issues.
9. Englehart’s West Coast Avengers (West Coast Avengers 1-39): I knew Englehart, master of trippy cosmic adventures, would have a run on my list; the question was which one. This one made it, on the strength of the multi-part time travel story that had Hawkeye and company popping in and out of old Dr. Strange and Fantastic Four stories, in eras ranging from the Old West to Ancient Egypt.
8. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central (Gotham Central 1-40): It’s a shame this book was canceled because there is no good reason for DC to not continuously publishing a “cops of Gotham” book. The stories are endless and this book was awesome.
7. Brian Michael Bendis’s Daredevil (Daredevil 16-81): Even though this run stands as the textbook example of “writing for the trade” (which I despise) I appreciated that Bendis didn’t use the end of each trade as a reset button; each arc picked up where the last one left off, and for awhile, it seemed like “anything goes” so you really had no idea what to expect.
6. Brian K. Vaughn’s Runaways (Runaways vol. 1 1-18, vol. 2 1-24): Easily the best new characters and concept from Marvel in the last decade, if not longer. I really hope the now-erratic schedule doesn’t kill the book.
5. Harras/Epting’s Avengers (Avengers 334-339, 343-351, 355-369, 372-375): Everyone likes to rag on the “leather jacket” Avengers, but this is when I started reading the book, and I love this run. A nice eclectic team (Sersi, Crystal, Black Knight) mixed with classic favorites (Captain America, Vision). And I really did like the way the leather jackets gave the team a uniformed look without abandoning their distinct costumes.
4. Stan Lee/Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man (Amazing Fantasy 15, Amazing Spider-Man 1-38, Annuals 1-2): The original is still the best.
3. Grant Morrison’s JLA (JLA 1-17, 22-26,28-31, 33-41): This is the run that got me reading the Justice League (forwards and backwards) ever since. Crazy Morrisonian ideas tempered with big time superhero action. And I know the Internet hates him, but I loved Morrison’s “I can beat anyone” Batman.
2. Roger Stern’s Avengers (Avengers 227-279, 281-288): This is my favorite era of the Avengers, filled with classic stuff: Hank Pym’s redemption, the introduction of the new Captain Marvel, Vision starting the West Coast Avengers and then taking over the world, the Masters of Evil invading the mansion, and that really cool Olympus story that followed. Great stuff from top to bottom.
1. Claremont/Romita Jr.’s Uncanny X-Men (Uncanny X-Men 175 (partial), 176-185, 187-197, 199-200, 202-203, 206-211): The X-Men were my gateway characters to the world of comics and remain a favorite, as does Romita Jr. So favorite characters+favorite artist=#1 run. This run also showcased the perfect combination of done-in-ones with overarching subplots and story arcs, before Claremont became a parody of himself and the industry became obsessed with writing for the trade. I figure with all the (justified) love for the Claremont/Byrne and Morrison runs, this Claremont/Romita Jr. gem of a run would get completely overlooked. It ended up placing at 90. I was happy.