Posts tagged ‘Comic Book Top Ten’


david michelinie Another Berkeley Place top 10, this time focusing on a writer who was at his best when Marvel was at its best: The mid ‘80s to early ‘90s. David Michelinie is best known as the writer of “Demon in the Bottle” for Iron Man and as the creator of Venom, but he also created Carnage and several lesser-known but important characters like Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine. He revived the Iron Man foe Blizzard, and reinvented Ant Man as Scott Lang—a thief! Perfect origin for a size-changer!

He was also influential at DC for a brief period when he wrote the story in which Black Manta killed off Aquaman’s son (Adventure Comics #452), which has been credited as the book responsible for Aquaman subsequently getting his own monthly title. And then there’s his seminal work on Iron Man. In fact, this top 10 could probably consist of nothing more than issues of Iron Man and Spider-Man, but I’ve tried to share the wealth by adding a little breadth.

Hit the break!
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Uggggggh! That’s the sound most of us diehard comic fans make when we hear that a character will be rebooted from the ground up. It means another rehash of an origin story that, in all likelihood, will never, ever compare to the original. No Spider-Man comic has ever told the origin better than Amazing Fantasy #15. There have been more Superman origin stories than I can count, and all but a few are terrible. Wonder Woman, Thor, and Captain America have never seen a comic that drastically improved on their Golden Age origins—and that’s saying something.

But occasionally, a diamond is cut from rough coal. Sometimes, an origin story reboot either improves on the original or adds something unique and special to it.

These are my favorites.

A few caveats before I begin my list: These are origin retellings, not origin first-tellings. That’s why Amazing Fantasy #15, the single greatest comic of all time, isn’t on here. It’s also not a list of reboots. DC’s new 52 is largely forgettable, but the great Wonder Woman title doesn’t count as an origin story since it really hasn’t told her origin in a single story: It’s parsing out backstory issue by issue, without a grand “origin story” that unveils all you need to know about the character’s inception in one fell swoop. That’s why Grant Morrison’s Action Comics wouldn’t apply here either (also, it’s not quite good enough).

And finally, the classic retelling is from Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman, it’s one page that looks like this:

But that’s not an origin story. That’s a summation. A recap page. It isn’t a blown-out origin tale. Same thing with Morrison’s “Animal Man” work: No real “origin story,” just lots of little bits and pieces dropped throughout the stories. In both of these cases, the overall story was much more complex and satisfying—but it wasn’t an origin story.

Let’s begin.

THE TOP 20 WOMEN COMICS: The Best Current Series About Female Characters

Note: This post was inspired by this one.

Right now, we’re in a sort of Renaissance for female creators as well as femalecentric comic book series. I thought I’d make a list of my favorite comics—not the characters, the comics—that are gynocentric, i.e., that feature females as the primary lead or that feature a team but primarily tell the tales from the perspective of a female character. These are not my favorite girl heroes/villains/main characters. The whole book has to be good—not just the character.

So when I started making the list I noticed quite a few current books that are still too new to be considered (by me) to be on a “Greatest of All Time” list—so instead of a top 20, I’ve done three lists: My 5 favorite current womyn comics; five team books with strong female leads; and, finally, my top 10 girl-titled comic books of all time.

The added bonus of this? If you want to buy current floppy comics, you’ve got your reading list. If you prefer to go the trade paperback route, you’ve got other titles to choose from.

I’d also like to take this moment to preempt any hate mail: I know that virtually all the creators attached to the books listed below are male. It’s a sad truth that most comic creators are male. And it’s a happy truth that many female comic creators work on books about men.

Now, hit the button for more.

AVENGERS #419+Top Ten “Lineup Change” Issues

avengers 419

Lineup changes are always lots of fun, and credit Kurt Busiek for coming up with an idea that nobody had ever thought of: Too many Avengers is bad for practical reasons!

I love these issues so much, I’m inspired to do a top ten: The best lineup change issues of The Avengers!  Hit the break for the full top ten.

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I don’t celebrate birthday’s too often on this page, but I was thinking that Gerry Conway deserves a “top 10” list—but he’s written so damn much, it seems impossible. He wrote the death of Gwen Stacy. He wrote the first Marvel/DC crossover: Superman vs. Spider-Man. He booted up Marvel’s first Dracula comic. Hell, if a Marvel comic book series existed in the early 1970s, Gerry wrote for it at one time or another. He was the only person to write issues of Spider-Man, Superman, The Avengers and Action Comics all in the same month. He created DC’s Steel character. Heck, he created dozens of characters that didn’t make my top ten below, like Vibe, Gypsy, The Atari Force (which came with your Atari 2600 game system), some decent Ghost Rider villains, Killer Frost, Jack O’ Lantern and Killer Croc.

So a top 10 reading list is basically impossible. But what about a list of my favorite Conway creations? Now that’s doable. Hence, the lists that will appear magically on your screen if you just hit the little “more” tab below…
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Dan Slott. His name is now spoken in harsh whispers, and he is one of the few comic book creators to have received (and reported to the police) death threats in retaliation for his own murder crime: The death of Peter Parker. Or, more precisely, the “death” of Peter Parker.

He’s been writing comics for about ten years, with a renowned run on She-Hulk and a record-long run on The Amazing Spider-Man, during which time he ended the series. He got started, interestingly enough, writing comics for kids: Ren and Stimpy, Looney Tunes, etc. And this child-like joy, and relatively easy-to-follow plotlines, continue to characterize his work today. He has ventured a few times into darker places—Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, e.g.—but mostly his work is eminently accessible for all ages. That’s what makes him a perfect writer for the Spider-Man franchise, versus, say X-Men. (Although I’d love to see X-Men return to the days when it was more fun than mopey.)

My favorite Slott comics, after the break and this caveat: When you spend years and years writing about one character, as Slott has several times (with She-Hulk and Spidey), there are bound to be some duplications in your top ten list. I tried not to make this a top ten just about Spidey, but I easily could have. Slott’s Spider-Man work is easily the best writing he’s ever done, and it’s some of the best Spider-Man writing of all time, to boot.
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THE JOKER #2 (Plus: The Top Ten Super Vehicles)

joker mobile

In this issue, “The Sad Story of Willie The Weeper” (a henchman who can’t stop sobbing–it’s unexplained and bizarre), we get to see Joker’s ride.  I’m fairly certain that Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick didn’t invent the Joker Mobile in this issue, but I love the look.

It inspired me to make a list of my personal favorite stupid superhero cars.  But that’s really only for fanatical nerds, so you’ll have to hit “more” to see it.

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The late Mark Gruenwald was an unsung workhorse for Marvel in the 1980s and 90s.  While he probably had his biggest influence as an editor, he was also known for stepping in and doing great fill-in issues as well as extended runs on some of Marvel’s best known characters, and was famous for having an encyclopedic knowledge of continuity.  Kind of like DC’s Geoff Johns or the current Brian Michael Bendis.

He also created the updated Serpent Society—including new members Anaconda and Diamondback among others, Flag-Smasher, Jack O’ Lantern, the villain Crossbones, and many other cool characters, before dying way too young of a heart attack.

Nobody talks about him anymore, but if you’re looking for some fun books that typify the late ‘80s/early ‘90s—widely considered a peak in the quality of Marvel comics—check out this top 10 after the break.
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I wasn’t planning on doing this at this time, but since Peter David, by any account a terrific writer and a helluva nice guy, had a stroke, I thought pay tribute…
10.  The Amazing Spider-Man #267: The Commuter Cometh
It may not be an “Important” Spidey story, but #267 is a true gem.  Spidey has a cold, and has to deal with an eely garden-variety burglar, a barking dog, no buildings to swing off of (in the suburbs) and the need to commute to Scarsdale…Without a Spider Mobile!
A very funny, character-driven done-in-one.
9.  Supergirl #70-80.
Teamed with Gary Frank, Peter David took a character that many people could have cared less about (Supergirl) and then had her deal with a character people cared even less about: The original Supergirl!  David’s run serves as a kind of shout-out to the Silver Age, while wrestling with issues of identity, maturity, competition, birthright, etc.  It also showed what David would do with lesser-known characters, which he perfected during his work on X-Factor.
8.  X-Factor Vol. 1 #87: X-aminations
The whole team sees a shrink.  And of course the shrink is Doc Samson.  Best. Portrayal. Of Quicksilver. Ever.
7.  Hulk: Future Imperfect
Peter David is actually better known for his Star Trek novels than his comics.  Here, he cribs a title from an old Trek episode to tell a tale of Hulk vs. Lunatic Future Hulk.  David’s long run on The Incredible Hulk was nothing if not experimental and quirky—and at times uneven—but this is one of the highpoints of it.  And having George Perez do the art doesn’t hurt a bit.
6.  X-Factor: Invisible Woman Has Vanished
I could probably make a top ten list with nothing but X-Factor volumes on it, and including this one instead of many others may only serve to irritate XF fans.  But I loved this story.  After a lot of trauma and drama, the mutant private detective team returns to New York City and is in desperate need of a client.  Who should show up to hire them but Franklin Richards, who wants them to find his mommy.  This volume combines the humor Peter David does so well with a lot of the “inside baseball” Marvel jokes that X-Factor is known for.  A great volume that you can read even if you’ve never read an issue of X-Factor before.  Reprinting X-Factor #200-203.
5.  Incredible Hulk #467: The Lone and Level Sands
David’s last issue on Hulk goes over everything that happened during his massive, bizarre run, and teases all the ideas he had for the future (he left the title under somewhat bad terms with Marvel).  David is best at telling long, ongoing stories—his work on X-Factor is a testament to that—and with this issue, he proved why he will always be the Hulk storyteller to beat.  So much imagination and so many concepts crammed into this one little issue!
4.  SpyBoy: The Deadly Gourmet Affair
Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but the first SpyBoy series (I haven’t read the others yet) is one of my favorite Dark Horse series ever.  It has a manga feel, and focuses on a bullied kid whose head shares space with a super-spy sleeper agent.  Only he doesn’t know it.
3.  Incredible Hulk #340: Ground Zero
Is it fair to vote for an issue that was as much artist Todd McFarlane’s as it was Peter David’s?  I dunno.  But the fight between Hulk and Wolverine was fantastic.
2. Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff
Appearing in the pages of Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, a book widely (and wrongly) discredited as the lesser-brother of The Amazing Spider-Man, this was really the first time Peter David made his mark with the character by killing off fan favorite police captain Jean DeWolff, and having Spidey get really, really pissed.  Featuring Daredevil as the Voice of Spidey’s Conscience (now there’s some irony, given how DD himself has circled morality’s drain on so many other occasions) and featuring Rich Buckler on the art—a man who cut his comic teeth way back in the Roy Thomas Marvel Bullpen.
1.  X-Factor: The Longest Night
Reprinting the first six issues of X-Factor volume 2.  On the heels of a noir-ish Madrox mini, Peter David relaunches X-Factor as a mutant private eye group investigating what caused all the mutants in the world to be depowered after House of M.  The hook—and genius—of the early issues of this book were its unapologetic focus on B-list (C-list) characters, and how someone like “Strong Guy” must feel in a universe where Hulk and Thor get all the attention and glory.  It’s the ultimate outsiders superhero book.
Caveats and Excuses:
  • Aquaman.  Many folks praise his work with Aquaman, but I can’t say as it did much for me.  That’s probably because I really don’t like the character.  If I had to recommend any book the check out, it would be the Time and Tide mini.
  • Young Justice.  The main reason I wasn’t ready to do this yet is I haven’t found the time to read ANY of PD’s work on Young Justice, and I hear it’s great.


This is a damn fine comic. But it’s not one of my top ten favorites.

Yesterday, I fawned over one of my favorite writers of all time. A truly unique man full of edgy, bizarre ideas.

Today: My Ten Favorite Steve Gerber comics. At the break.
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