I’ve been thinking about the comics that inspired me when I was younger, and that got me to thinking about what my favourite runs of all time were. This inspired me to write a list.
For the next five weeks I’m going to post 1 group a week. 40-31 are up first, next is 30-21, 20-11, 10-6, and finally 5-1.
Update - it took me 4 years, but I finally got to it, and in the meantime, I turned it to a Top 50.
The rules were simple, they had to be comics I was incredibly excited when they came out. I had to have bought them off the shelf when they were released (so Watchmen, Camelot 3000, Dark Knight Returns, Captain Britain, and a few others were disqualified). One shots didn’t count, so that left out Killing Joke (which is one of my favourite stories comics or otherwise of all time), and original graphic novels were out too. This list was about anticipation, and these are the comics that I went absolutely nuts waiting for 30 days to go by so I could find out what happened next.
This first batch says a lot about my core formative comics collecting years. I read comics for years before I officially started “collecting them”, I remember having a ton of Marvel comics in the late 70′s/early 80′s that I swapped outright for my grade 5 friend Chris’ DC collection. I had never read Blackhawk, or The Unknown Soldier, or Swamp Thing before. I knew Batman, Justice League, and Superman of course, but those weren’t the comics that fascinated me. This dog eared pile of Mister Miracles totally captured my imagination, and I became a DC Fanboy from that day forward. Chris, wherever you are, thanks for swapping my Hulks, She-Hulks and Howard the Ducks. You changed my life sir.
40 – Thor 373-382 (1987)
Hela, the goddess of death, curses Thor that he will lose his invulnerability, but never be allowed to die. So began one of the coolest storylines, illustrated by Walt Simonson. Thor creates an unbreakable suit of armour, but finds that his bones are still vulnerable and smash inside the armour.
39 – Secret Wars 1-8 (1984)
This series gave us the Black Spider-Man suit, and had a ton of other cool little things including Doom taking off his mask, Colossus falling in love (and breaking Kitty Pryde’s heart), and The Thing leaving the Fantastic Four.
38 – The Man of Steel 1-6 (1986)
A total re-imagining of Superman’s origin. It humanized him, and totally changed his origin. Gone was Superboy, and in were his parents, who became major supporting players in his life.
37 – Teen Titans A Kid’s Game 1-6 (2004)
After years of false starts and incredibly crappy stories, Geoff Johns took over the Teen Titans and returned them to Perez/Wolfman levels of greatness with an incredible roster, and great stories, and awesome artwork.
36 – Nightwing A Knight in Bludhaven 1-6 (1996)
Likewise, after a couple of false starts, my favourite DC Comics character (who was my idol in Teen Titans when I was growing up, and someone whom I hoped I could aspire to be like when I grew up) finally got a series worthy of him. Chuck Dixon had a great handle on the character, and Scott McDaniel drew him with an amazing kinetic energy. This was a special run of comics, and I couldn’t wait each month for the next issue to ship.
35 – Chase 1-10 (1998)
I don’t know what I loved more about this series. The fact that it showed an entirely different side to the DC Universe (Chase was a member of the Department of Extranormal Affairs, which was in charge of super-hero / civilian conflicts), or the issue-by-issue evolution of JH Williams III, who through the course of 10 issues became an absolutely brilliant artist.
34 – Swamp Thing 25-36 (1984)
I can remember exactly where I was when I bought the issues with about a dozen of the comics on this list. Les’ Variety in the Wortley Road Village. I bought Swamp Thing 25, and went next door to the diner. I read it while eating an order of fries and a Coke. It creeped the heck out of me, and for several months I had nightmares about Work Sock Monkeys. The next month I was back at Les’ Variety, searching for the next issue of Swamp Thing.
33 – Batman / Grendel (1993)
Grendel is a comic that I discovered late. I picked up Devil By The Deed along with Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein, and a couple of other books off a friend of mine. Batman Grendel was the first return to the character that Matt Wagner had made in decades, and it blew me away. For a number of years I’d say Matt Wagner was my biggest artistic influence.
32 – Daredevil V2 1-8 (1998)
Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada created something pretty magical with their run on Daredevil (subtitled “Guardian Devil”), and it reminded me a lot tonally of my favourite Daredevil story, “Born Again”, which explored Daredevil’s faith in a really interesting way. Smith made Bullseye and even Mysterio into really compelling villains, and I ate every issue up.
31 – Batman 404-407 (1987)
Batman Year One, by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli was a reimagining of the Batman Mythos (pretty much the entire DC Universe had to be rewritten after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Batman was in the middle of some pretty big shake-ups as I recall), it made the Batman universe more realistic, while creating a great new dynamic for The Dark Knight and Gotham.