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Posts Tagged "Comic Book Top Ten"

BATMAN’S GREATEST STORIES

So, Comics Should be Good is running a poll of the best Batman stories and I cast my vote.  I thought I’d share it with y’all.  I know everyone’s got their personal favorites, but I don’t see how you can wrong reading these ten stories….

1.  The Island of Mister Mayhew (#667-669)

2.  Batman: Year One (Frank Miller)

3.  The Killing Joke

4.  A Death in the Family (the one with Jason Todd)

5.  No Man’s Land (I would rate this one higher but the issues not written by Greg Rucka or Ed Brubaker aren’t nearly as good)

6.  Knightfall

7.  The Dark Knight Returns

8.  The Long Halloween

9.  The Demon Lives Again (Denny O’Neil’s Ra’s Al Ghul story)

10.  Gothic

I would have liked to include Scott Snyder’s “Black Mirror,” which was his first story with the Dick Grayson Batman.  It was a really, really good comic—but unfortunately between the new 52 and the relative newness of it, I can’t say it had much of a lasting impact.

I would have liked to include Grant Morrison’s first issues (Batman & Son, #s 655-658), but then there would have been too much Grant on the list.  Of course, is too much Grant Morrison even a thing?  Probably not.

Batman: Venom, which introduces the serum used by Bane was a tough one to eliminate and Batman: Year 100 was awesome as well—but ten items means ten items.  Gotta follow the rules.

I also would have liked to include Hush and All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder because I love those comics and also it would piss off all the “real” Batfans out there.

What did I miss, guys?

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MARVEL’S BEST OF 2014 (SO FAR)

Marvel has done a decent job this year so far, but not a great one.  Several of their reboots have either failed or haven’t been good enough to call successes, like Iron Patriot and Ghost Rider.  The relaunch of Captain Marvel didn’t come out well, either—it went from a solid character-based book to an adventure story, and its charm was largely its intimacy.  And several titles that were once good are starting to show quite a bit of wear.  In particular, Guardians of the Galaxy was great for a while but crossing it over with Bendis’ X-titles didn’t do it a good service.  Nor did bringing in the Angela character.  The book seemed to be losing focus, and fracturing, the closer it got to the movie launch date.

And big screen influence may well be the corrupting influence.  Ever since the reboot, all of the Avengers books have struggled to find and keep a central idea—and the “big” Avengers books (Avengers, New, and Uncanny) are the worst of the lot.  The decompression in the storylines verges on the boring—too much exposition, too little character, too much “Wow!  Isn’t this big!”  It’s like the heart was drained out of them when Bendis left.

Mighty Avengers, also known as the “black Avengers,” is on the cusp. Having a street-level team was a good idea, and having a team that is trying hard to be a team was what made Brian Michael Bendis’ early work on New Avengers so much fun.  The problem is, the book doesn’t have a good sense of itself yet.  Why are these people together?  I still don’t see it.  So as of now, it’s not one of the best books on the market.  But it could be.

And Bendis’ X-books, which started strong, hasn’t continued to thrive.  It, too, has gotten plodding.  It all feels ponderous and pointless.

But those are the negatives.  Marvel is actually doing a great job with smaller stuff.  Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s Moon Knight is a humble book of done-in-one stories, each wilder than the next, and every one making me want more.  Ms. Marvel is the best new Marvel book in years, and one of the best on the market, period.  The first issue was the best introduction to a new character since Amazing Fantasy #15 gave us Spider-Man.  And George Romero’s Empire of Dead Act One was a pretty cool comic book movie.

But I know what you’re really looking for a list, so click to the next page for the top 10 Marvel comics of 2014.

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THE TOP 10 CLASSIC POWER MAN AND IRON FIST STORIES

NOTE: I am republishing this older post from August 2010 because I’m almost done with my review of every issue of PM&IF ever, and because #115 and #116 are discussed below…And there’s where we’re up to in the countdown.  I hope you enjoy it!

When I was eleven, twelve, and thirteen-going-on-fourteen, one comic book I had to get every month was Power Man and Iron Fist.  I still have an unbagged stack of PM&IF books, all ratty and worn from reading and re-reading.  In fact, I took them out the other day and read them.  I found that they were clunky—very 1970s Marvel.  And with the recent takes on these same characters by titans like Bendis, Brubaker, and Fraction, it’s hard to admire the work from the past.  Yet at the same time, the title will always hold a place in my heart as one of the most fun superhero books of the late 1970s/early 1980s.  During that period, Luke Cage went from being a black power cipher to a character with depth, and Iron Fist went from being a lame attempt to capitalize on the Bruce Lee craze to a person with an actual philosophy of life.  Oh, and Luke Cage always got his fine yellow silk shirt ripped.

Every issue.  Humor, action, and colorful villains — although the book never tried to break new ground, it was always a great example of what comic books should  be: A place to escape into.  It ran for 75 issues, from Power Man and Iron Fist #50 (when the old “Power Man” title got renamed for the duo) to #125, one of only three double-size issue in the entire series.

Recently, Marvel announced that Fred Van Lente will write a “Shadowland: Power Man” miniseries that will reteam the duo, followed by a 2011 series that will launch a new Power Man who will team up with the “old” Iron Fist.

All of the above is just to say that this week’s top 10 is . . .

THE TOP 10 “CLASSIC” POWER MAN AND IRON FIST STORIES

This is stories of them together as a team, not in their individual capacities, and it’s stories with Power Man, not “Luke Cage.”

10.  Riding Shotgun (PM&IF 92) (1983). Busiek and Cowan team up, and the duo fights Hammerhead, Man Mountain Marko and the Eel.  Great villains, and a guest spot by Human Torch.

9.  Stanley’s War/1985 (PM&IF 115-116) (1985). As sales began to slump, John Byrne came aboard as cover artist and did a terrific job with this, a rare two-parter from a series that was famous for being done in one.  This story, written by the dependable Jim Owsley and drawn by the underrated Mark Bright, was a little heavier than most: The team get trapped in a base in the Arctic circle with a crazed gatekeeper and a nuke, Luke Cage goes crazy for food, and Danny meditates his way safe from frostbite.  Snowy fun!

8.  Death Scream of the Warhawk/ The Vampire Strikes Back (PM&IF 76). This one was fun because it was two separate stories, with a split cover by Larry Hama and Jack Abel.  The stories, created by Mike Barr, Chris Claremont, and Frank Miller, are pretty simple.  Iron Fist fights a hitman and Luke frustrates a vampire who breaks his fangs on his skin.  Luke beats the dude with garlic bread.  No joke.  Which is an illustration of what made this book so damn fun.

7.  El Aguila Has Landed (PM&IF 58) (1979). Mostly I dig this because it’s got a dude with an electric sword.  How cool is that?  El Aguila is the Spanish version of Power Man, an antihero who tries to keep the streets clear of drug dealers and other miscreants.  The boys meet him and fight him (because that’s what everyone did in the 70s-80s), then team up with him and fight someone else, then go see a movie together.  All in a day’s work.

6.  The Fury Below (PM&IF 85) (1982). Denny O’Neil was probably the best writer of the series, and in this one he and the terrific Keith Pollard take on The Mole Man.  I’m a sucker for MM stories.

5.  Soul Games (PM&IF 99-100) (1983). Power Man and Iron Fist was never “deep,” and it rarely exposed readers to much K’un-Lun mythology—which is why Brubaker and Fraction could reinvent Iron Fist so completely in their Immortal Iron Fist title.  But in this two-issue (#100 was also giant sized) we learn more about the origins of both Luke and Danny and get glimpses of Wendell Rand, Lei King, Bushmaster, and other characters who would reappear later in that Immortal series.  Written by Kurt Busiek, penciled by Ernie Chan, and inked by Mike Mignola.

4.  Revenge! (PM&IF 84) (1982). Written by Mary Jo Duffy and illustrated by Denys Cowan–I forgot how many great creators worked on this series!—this one featured Sabertooth and Constrictor, who stalk Misty Knight but instead attack Luke’s vapid model girlfriend Harmony.  Yes, it’s a little inexplicable that Sabertooth, who has the same super-senses as Wolverine, is susceptible to the “all blacks look alike” cliché, but remember—this was back in the ‘80s, before Sabes was really well thought out.  It ends, as many of their issues did, with the boys eating pizza.

3.  Paper Chase (Daredevil 178) (1982). Part of Frank Miller’s classic Daredevil run, this represents the first time DD and the boys met up.  These three characters would share many adventures in the future, including during Bendis’ run on Daredevil and in the current Shadowlands series, but this was one of the few instances where they met while Luke was still using his Power Man handle.  In this story, the boys are hired (by Foggy, who steals their last slice of pizza) to bodyguard Matt, who keeps ditching them so he can pursue evidence against the Kingpin.  One of Miller’s funnier issues, and a great done in one.

2.  The Untouchable (PM&IF 90) (1983). With a cover inked by Bill Sienkiewicz and interior art by Denys Cowan, this story (one of the first assignments of future legend Kurt Busiek), is, hands down, the best fight story of 1983.  The guys go up against Unus the Untouchable, and have to figure out how to beat a guy whose personal forcefield can’t be breached by Luke’s brute force or even Iron Fist’s “iron fist.”  Fantastic teamwork, excellent character writing—a truly great done in one.

1.  Freedom! (PM&IF 50) (1978). The first issue under the new title, and the third part of the trilogy in which Luke and Danny met and fell in love.  Created by Claremont and Byrne, the tale told is of Power Man’s party (celebrating being cleared of all charges that had led to his prior stint in prison) with his lawyer, Jeryn Hogarth (one of my all-time favorite side characters), and other assorted guests.  The fiesta is interrupted by Stiletto and Discus, and all kinds of fun ensue, involving Misty Knight, Coleen Wing, and, of course, Iron Fist.  Luke also meets future lady-in-distress Harmony Young.

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THE TEN BEST MARVEL COMICS OF 2014 (so far)

So the guys at Multiversity recently listed what they called “The Ten Best Marvel Comics Books, Right Now,” and I hate to say it but they’re wrong more than they’re right.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I don’t hate to say it.  I love to say it.  So much that I made my own list of the ten Marvel comics it’s worth having on your pull list.

And I should say: Marvel’s roster has declined in quality significantly over the past year.  Brian Michael Bendis’ inspired beginning on the X-titles has become rote, and it’s hard to tell why we need two X-books by him—or what the difference is between them.  Even worse, there are at least eight Avengers books coming out every month and many of them seem pointless and convoluted, and never seem to go anywhere.

So, what’s worth reading at Marvel these days?

Let’s start with what made Multiversity’s list, but shouldn’t have:

  • Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Multiversity’s #10 pick).  Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber are having fun with this book, but with two recent fill-in issues, it’s too uneven to crack the top ten.  Top twenty, definitely.
  • Fantastic Four (#9).  A team member loses his powers!  The team breaks up!  Big extradimensional threats are coming!  This is nothing we’ve not seen before, done better, by many other FF creators.  This is not a top 10 book.
  • Miles Morales: the Ultimate Spider-Man (#6).  If this were 2013, I’d agree, but the entire Ultimate Universe is a mess right now—including this, the best Ultimate title (and the only one still worth reading).
  • Captain Marvel (#4).  I loved Kelly Sue DeConnick’s first reboot of Ms. Marvel into Captain Marvel, but this cosmic-hopping one?  Not so much.  Gone are the great character moments from the first series, replaced by a weird (and gratuitous) fling with James Rhodes and an attempt to crowbar her into the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
  • Secret Avengers (#3).  No.  I know lots of folks sing the praises of this book, but no.  The art is awful, and the stories (a SHIELD Modok?) seem driven just to be silly for silliness’ sake.  No.
  • Thor, the God of Thunder (#1).  Really?  The best book on the market is a bombastic comic that doesn’t shed any new light on the main character or portray him differently than countless other previous portrayals?  Again, no.

That’s why they’re wrong.  Here’s why I’m right….

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THE BEST OF THE REST: MY TEN FAVORITE MARVEL MINISERIES OF THE CENTURY (so far)

This is it. The last of my “top miniseries” miniseries of posts. Among others, I’ve listed my favorite Marvel minis from the 1980s, and done the same for DC, and also looked at some other great miniseries.  I considered doing a top 10 Marvel minis of the 1990s but I couldn’t even come up with ten that I really, really loved. I got Steve Gerber’s 1990 Foolkiller series (one of my favorite comics of all time), and there was Marvels and some Thanos stuff…But that was really it for me. There were some other good minis (like Punisher: Year One), but none I’d rank as “great.”

So I skipped ahead. To this century.

Here’s my ten favorites of the last 14 years…

10. World War Hulk (2007, 5 issues)

This was a single-character event that crossed over into several tie-in miniseries and regular monthly books. It came at the end of a truly magnificent story, “Planet Hulk,” by Greg Pak in which Hulk was exiled to another planet and fell in love and made friends. On the surface, yes, it was a lot like the old Jarela storyline from the late 1970s. But Pak created an ensemble of characters that were fresh and real—not cliches—and really let us see a Hulk with a meaningful life. Without spoiling too much, that all ended as an unintended consequence of the actions of the “illuminati” (Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, etc.), which, of course, made Hulk angry.

WWH was his revenge. It wasn’t as good as Planet Hulk in terms of story, because it’s basically five issues of Hulk kicking the shit out of everyone in the Marvel universe. But as a miniseries it’s fantastic, because it’s basically five issues of Hulk kicking the shit out of everyone in the Marvel universe.

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