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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Teebore's Top Ten Comic Book Runs

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.


  1. First of all, you totally took down my you Tube video of a basketball player high-fiving himself because his team ignored him. If you don't find that funny you have no soul!!!

    Anyway, you've read about 100 times more comic books than me, but the 26 issue Peter David 'run' of Captain Marvel was flat out awesome. Although I suppose, depending on how you look at it, it breaks your one creator for the life of a series rule. (But not the life of the character, I believe.)
    Also, I really enjoyed Young Avengers. Remember that comic? Yeah...but that would definitely break your rule.
    I probably should come up with some great Dr. Strange run, and there were some cool ones, but nothing comes immediately to mind. It wouldn't hurt for me to reread the series for a refresher course, though.

  2. Yeah, about five minutes after I submitted my votes I remembered the Peter David Captain Marvel run, which would have been allowable under my own rules (since, as you say, other creators have worked on the character). This post was exactly for what I voted; were I to do it again, I'd definitely include that run.

    I do remember Young Avengers (probably Marvel's second best characters/concept of the last ten years, after Runaways)and I really wish Marvel would remove its head from its anus and start publishing it consistently again. I left it off because of another personal rule I failed to mention: no currently ongoing runs. Since it reputably is coming back sometime in the near future, and may pick up where it left off, I disqualified it.

    This is also why Peter David's excellent current run on X-Factor or Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction's pulpy-fun Iron Fist (both fantastic books) didn't make the list. You never know how the run will end (sure, they're great now, but maybe they'll biff the landing) and you never know how well the run will age.

    I know the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Dr. Strange run placed somewhere in the bottom 50 of the list. I've also heard good things about Steve Englehart's run, as well as the Roger Stern/Paul Smith one (two creators whose non-Dr. Strange work has also placed already). I should really borrow those from you sometime, or pick them up for myself.

    My bad on the video; I obviously wasn't paying attention. Feel free to put the basketball one back up; that is, indeed, hilarious.

  3. That JLA run is also the run that i started with and hooked me on not only JLA, but DC in general.


  4. Mark Gruenwald/ Ron Lim on Captain America. I'm not sure how long their run was for but the STREETS OF POISON storyline from 372-378 introduced my impressional young mind to Marvel mainstays like the CAPT, Daredevil, Red Skull, Kingpin, Bullseye, and Crossbones (not much of a mainstay but I thought, and still think, he's frickin' AWESOME!)

    Chris Claremount / Jim Lee – Uncanny X-Men / X-Men. They handled the world's most popular title while Comics were at the height of their geeky popularity and made Gambit the slickest cajun cliche around.

    Peter David – X-Factor - His original run back at issue 71 took a bunch of never-beens and turned them into the best dysfunctional government sponsored mutie group ever. Now his turn with Jamie Madrox's private investigation team shows David knows how to keep things invigorated.

    Neil Gaiman's Sandman made me want to write, but his series isn't allowed according to the aforementioned rules.

  5. Gruenwald's Cap run is fantastic (well, the good parts are fantastic. The low points are pretty low cough Capwolf cough). That run placed on the official list, I believe. Streets of Poison in particular was mentioned by a lot of the commentators. I didn't vote for it because I haven't read the run in its entirety (another personal rule of mine I forgot to mention). Crossbones is pretty cool, and still around. He played a part in the whole "killing Captain America" plot recently.

    Claremont/Lee's X-Men was good (I find myself re-reading just X-Men 1-3 a lot) but you'll never convince me Gambit was as cool as some people around this blog (posters and commenters alike) seem to think.

    The person running the vote counted David's X-Factor runs separately. His first one placed but his second hasn't yet (and I doubt it will-probably too new. But we'll see). Either way, they are both pretty awesome.

    I actually haven't read much of Sandman (I know, I know, say that too loud and they'll take my nerd card away). It didn't count under my personal criteria, but the official poll includes it, so I'm sure it'll place fairly high.

  6. YOU HAVEN'T READ MUCH OF THE SANDMAN?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
    . . . . .

    They won't take your "nerd card" away but I will shred your "intellectuals with good taste and priorities in place" bus card.

    SHAME, Austin. SHAME.

    Yeah, I just revealed your secret identity, Mr. Gorton.

  7. yeah - you really have to get on the sandman train.


  8. Hey! Perverts are reading are blog! Hurray!


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