If you are a loyal reader of this site (and we sure hope that you are) then you are well aware we dip into other things from time to time. One thing we dip into rather often is comic books. And that brings us to a list today to which I shall name *MY* own personal list of what I feel is THE top 10 greatest comic book storylines of all-time.
Keep in mind two things before you read this. One being that this is my own personal opinion and my own opinion alone. Just because I put it on this list in a certain order doesn’t make it true, it just makes it my opinion. and second of all, I’ve not read every single comic book storyline or arch, so if I’m missing one you think belongs it may be due to the fact I’m human and only have limited time and funds to read all of these things.
Now, with that out of the way it is on to the list~!
10: Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars (1984)
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars is a twelve-issue comic book crossover limited series published from May 1984 to April 1985 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Jim Shooter with art by Mike Zeck and Bob Layton.A cosmic entity called the Beyonder observes the mainstream Marvel universe. Fascinated by the presence of superheroes on Earth and their potential, this entity chooses a group of both heroes and supervillains and teleports characters against their will to “Battleworld”, a planet created by the Beyonder in a distant galaxy. This world has also been stocked with alien weapons and technology. The Beyonder then declares: “I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all that you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!”. Talk about cryptic! Naturally the paranoia sets in pretty quick as it becomes a game of just “who can you trust”. While many things take place, perhaps the most memorable is when Spider-Man finds and wears the black costume for the first time, initially unaware that it is actually an alien symbiote. This of course would lead to the birth of Venom later on.
09: Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)
Batman: The Killing Joke is an influential one-shot superhero graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland. First published by DC Comics in 1988. In this story we go deeper into the origin of the most popular Batman foe of all-time, The Joker. We see a little more into what makes the man tick and it’s a very interesting read from front to back. It’s truly intriguing as Joker intends to drive Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon insane to prove that the most upstanding citizen can go mad after having “one bad day.” And while maybe it’s not the funniest joke ever, it gives one of the best moments in comics when Joker tells Batman a little joke at the end.
08: Kingdom Come (1996)
Kingdom Come is a four-issue comic book mini-series published in 1996 by DC Comics. It was written by Alex Ross and Mark Waid and painted in gouache by Ross, who also developed the concept from an original idea. Set some twenty years into the future of the then-current DC Universe, it deals with a growing conflict between “traditional” superheroes and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war. At the time of it’s release, this was a breath of fresh air for me as far as DC Comics went. I was always more of a Marvel guy, but this caught my attention. And judging by the tons of merchandise you can still find for this story today, it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one.
07: Marvel Civil War (2006)
Civil War is a 2006-2007 Marvel Comics crossover storyline built around a self-titled seven-issue limited series written by Mark Millar and penciled by Steve McNiven, which ran through various other titles published by Marvel at the time. The storyline builds upon the events that developed in previous Marvel crossovers, particularly “Avengers Disassembled”, “House of M”, “Decimation”, and “Secret War”. The tagline for the series is “Whose Side Are You On?” And what a fair tagline that is! The premise of Civil War involves the introduction of a Superhuman Registration Act in the United States. Similar acts have been used as literary devices in Watchmen, Uncanny X-Men, DC: The New Frontier, Powers, and Astro City, though never on a scale such as permanently altering an entire pantheon of established pop culture icons. This storyline put friend against friend and blurred the lines of good and evil almost until it looked unrecognizable. Perhaps, the most notable thing to come from this enormous storyline was the death of Captain America. But trust me, there’s tons more interesting things that goes down besides that.
06: Kick-Ass (2008)
Kick-Ass is a creator-owned comic book series written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita, Jr. It is published by Marvel Comics under the company’s Icon imprint. It may be the newest comic you’ll find on this list, but Kick-Ass is perhaps the most realistic. Following Dave Lizewski, an otherwise ordinary New York City high school student and the trials and tribulations he faces trying to not only win over the girl he wants but become a real life hero is both comedic and very interesting. While some
of that realness was lost in the film version, the comic tells a more grittier and level story that goes a far less Hollywood route. Which is a breath of fresh air for not only comics, but storytelling in general. Plus, it introduced the world to Hit Girl, can’t beat that, right?
05: Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (1991)
“The Hard Goodbye” is the first Sin City story. It was serialised, as “Sin City,” in the comics anthology Dark Horse Presents by Dark Horse Comics and named “The Hard Goodbye” in the trade paperbacks. It was created by Frank Miller, and led to a metaseries that has been adapted into a movie. Frank Miller is such a great talent when it comes to telling a story. It was extremely hard to pick between Sin City stories, but I think the one that truly showed the world what Sin City was about, was The Hard Goodbye. Featuring Marv, one of the more interesting characters in the series, we get twisted up in a tale of sex, corruption, and twins! You follow Marv and you stay with the big lug every step of the way. But one other thing story did so well was show us that the good guy doesn’t always make it through alive.
04: Daredevil: Born Again (1986)
“Born Again” is a Daredevil story arc written by Frank Miller, drawn by David Mazzucchelli and published by Marvel Comics. The story arc originally appears in Daredevil #227-#233. In this story we see Matt Murdock’s fall from grave at the hands of Kingpin. He loses pretty much everything he has and everything that makes him what he is. We also get to see Matt fight back against what is pretty much the world on his way to being reborn once again as Daredevil. In a story that features Matt without the costume for the majority of it’s telling, we learn to look through the funny costumes and masks and into a character’s inner soul. What we are left with is one of the best pure storylines ever drawn in comic form. It’s a real shame we never saw a sequel to the movie, because this would have been the story to tell.
03: Batman: The Dark Knight Return (1986)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a four-issue comic book limited series written and drawn by Frank Miller, originally published by DC Comics under the title Batman: The Dark Knight in 1986. When the issues were released in a collected edition later that year, the story title for the first issue was applied to the series as a whole. The storyline for this follows a middle-aged Batman as he comes out of retirement and find himself placed against not only the Gotham City Police, but the United States Government as a whole. One of the more thought-provoking comics you can find, the story would show us just what a bad ass Bruce Wayne could really be. It also features the legendary battle between Superman and Batman, as we learned that nobody messed with the f’n Batman!
02: X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga (1976)
It is sometimes divided into two parts, with the “Phoenix Saga” (The X-Men #101-108, 1976-1977) referring to Grey’s seeming assumption of the Phoenix power and the repair of the M’Kraan Crystal, and the “Dark Phoenix Saga” (The X-Men #129-138, 1980) referring to her corruption and fall. It is one of the most well-known and heavily referenced stories in mainstream American superhero comics, and widely considered a classic. If you asked any fan of X-Men what their favorite story is, nine out of ten will tell you it’s this. This was the story that showed comic book fans that anything could happen. And when it comes to Phoenix and the X-Men universe, I’m pretty sure everything did happen. While the story was never adapted that well into the film series, one could say that the closes thing in a live action form that ever did this storyline justice was the old Saturday cartoon of X-Men that use to come on FOX.
01: Watchmen (1987)
Watchmen is a twelve-issue comic book limited series created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colourist John Higgins. The series was published by DC Comics during 1986 and 1987, and has been subsequently reprinted in collected form. What other way could someone describe the events in this series other that saying it’s “EPIC!”? A former member of The Watchmen is killed and another former member, Rorschach, sees it fit to pry into it and figure out just what is going on. This of course brings in the rest of the team and opens a gigantic sized can of worms on everyone involved. It’s a love triangle, it’s backstabbing, it’s controversy, and it’s paranoia all wrapped into a twelve issue set. It’s a comic for mature readers if there ever was one. And also this comic has the pleasure of being the blueprint for one of the more underrated and under-appreciated comic book to movie adaptations ever made in 2009’s film by Zack Snyder. If you only read one comic story arch from this list, I feel this should be the one.