1. All-Star Superman (2005) (DC)
Yes, it’s an obvious pick for #1, but for good reason. This is probably the most romantic superhero comic I’ve ever read. All the blurbs you’ll read say it’s about the last days of Superman, but really it’s about how a mortal can love a God, and vice-versa, and the sacrifices each makes for the other. Most of Morrison’s work is mystical or cerebral, and there’s quite a bit of that here, too (Frank Quitely’s artistic style accentuates this—he eschews the buxom and overly muscled for a more “everyman” feel), but there’s an unusual sense of warmth and love throughout this book that you don’t really see in comics very often. Relationships in superbooks are usually used to create motive (revenge for the death of a loved one or desperation to save one). They usually aren’t the focal point.
A grittier, more violent version of The Invisibles—and one that works much better. In many ways, Morrison is the anti-Garth Ennis. Ennis likes to spit in the eye of superhero conventions, and (like Frank Miller) often seems to hate the very medium he makes great. Morrison spits in the eye of convention as well, but he does so out of a desire to elevate the medium, not to shatter it. ASS is Morrison’s love letter to superbooks.
A top 10 list means some things don’t get listed, particularly when your bibliography is as extensive as Morrison’s. Below are works of GM that I love, but just couldn’t fit on the list ‘cause I just didn’t love them enough:
- Doom Patrol (1989) (Vertigo). Not on the list because I found it uneven, but when it was great, it was stellar.
- The New Adventures of Hitler (1990) (Crisis Comics). An early work that showed how weird Morrison could be.
- Action Comics #1-18 (2013) (DC). Misunderstood and hamstrung by awful editorial policies, this run showed how great a Superman comic could be if the publisher would just let him off the leash.
- Batman: Gothic (1990)(DC). I wrote about this one here.
- Happy (2012) (Image). Dismissed by many as gritty fare that would be better done by the likes of Warren Ellis or Garth Ennis, I found this story—about a reluctant-but-relentless detective looking for a lost child, who is recruited by a cartoonish blue animal that only he can see—to be deep and provocative.