2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #6-5

by  in Comic News Comment
2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #6-5

You voted, now here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book creator runs of all-time! We’ll be revealing two runs a day for the rest of the month. Here is a master list of all of the runs revealed so far.

Here’s the next two runs…

6. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man – 849 points (24 first place votes)

Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #1-38, plus two Annuals

Simply put, these are the two guys who literally CREATED Spider-Man. The forty-one issues that the two did together contain pretty much everything you need for a Spider-Man comic book today.

Heck, just a cursory look at the characters that they invented is staggering. Peter Parker. Aunt May. Uncle Ben. Flash Thompson. J. Jonah Jameson. The Vulture. Doctor Octopus. Sandman. Chameleon. Electro. Lizard. Green Goblin. Kraven the Hunter. Mysterio. Betty Brant. Harry Osborn. Gwen Stacy. Liz Allen.

And, of course, most memorably, Fancy Dan.

But simply naming characters that they created is only getting a surface look at what Ditko and Lee did to comics with Spider-Man. Lee had already done the whole “Superheroes with real life problems” idea in Fantastic Four, but Ditko and Lee took it to a whole other level with Spider-Man. When there was a happy ending in an issue of Spider-Man, it was a shocker! And yet, even as Peter Parker went through personal trauma after personal trauma after personal trauma, it never made the book feel like it was just a sludge. That is in part because of Lee’s scripting, which always tempered Ditko’s plots with a certain devil-may-care attitude that, hey, as bad as things are, you gotta keep going.

As for the art on the series, Steve Ditko is one of the all-time great superhero/supervillain designers, coming up with a variety of costumes that are basically used today to the TEE. Spider-Man has had another costume, but really, the blue and the red costume is what he wears in the comics today and in all of the media adaptations (although the new movie is slightly different). And 50 years later, it is still that same Ditko design. Characters like Elektro, Vulture and Mysterio have gone through various looks but they always return to that awesome Ditko design.

Green Goblin, Kraven, Fancy Dan, the list goes on of iconic character looks that Ditko created.

But not only that, Ditko is a brilliant sequential storyteller, able to pack in SO much story into every issue of Amazing Spider-Man. These things are like freaking TOMES! The origin of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy is, like, a page and a half (okay, 11 pages) and Ditko makes it feel like it is seven issues long. The same continued in his run on Amazing Spider-Man. He packed SO much story into every issue while never making the panels boring.

This is, of course, highlighted by perhaps the single most famous sequence in Spider-Man history, a bit that has “inspired” countless Spider-Man stories ever since, the classic Amazing Spider-Man #33, which combines Ditko’s powerful storytelling abilities with the general direction of Lee/Ditko stories – things are really shitty, but Spider-Man has to keep on keeping on…

The combination of Ditko’s compelling plots and Lee’s snappy dialogue made this pair a dream team that we will likely never see again, a pairing where each man needed the other for the book to be as transcendentally popular as it became.

5. Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan’s Y the Last Man – 855 points (23 first place votes)

Y the Last Man #1-60, Pia Guerra drew #1-15, 18-20, 24-30, 36-39, 43-46, 49-52, 55-60. Marzan inked the whole shebang

By the time Brian K. Vaughan began Y the Last Man, he had already had a previous series for Vertigo, Swamp Thing, which told the story of the daughter of Swamp Thing. So while folks respected his talents, I don’t think anyone was expecting Vaughan to launch the next big Vertigo title, but that’s exactly what he did, along with book co-creator and artist, Pia Guerra.

The concept of the book was simple – one day, all the men on Earth die. All the men, that is, except young amateur escape artist Yorick Brown and his monkey, Ampersand. They’re the only two males alive on the entire planet, and, as you might imagine, hilarity ensues.

Seriously, though, Yorick (who is freaking out because he JUST proposed to his girlfriend, Beth, over the phone when the plague hit, and she’s all the way in Australia!!) is tasked to first travel to find Dr. Allison Mann, a geneticist who needs to study Yorick to discover what happened and if they could reverse it. Along with Yorick on his journey is this government agent, Agent 355, who serves as Yorick’s bodyguard. Once they find Dr. Mann, the four (counting Ampersand) travel the country and the world in their mission to save the planet from dying out.

The relationship between these four characters (mainly the three human ones) forms the main focus of the series. So I’ll show you a few sample pages to get the dynamic they shared on their trip across the United States…

Along the way, they (and we, the reader) find out how the world has been coping with the loss of all the world’s men. It’s fascinating and touching stuff.

The big villains of the piece are the Daughters of the Amazon, psychos who think that this is a big sign from the Goddess that the Y chromosome has been expunged from Earth and Alter Tse’elon, the head of an Israeli commando team who is crazed with the desire to hunt Yorick down.

One of the ongoing plots of the series was, of course, Yorick’s quest for his girlfriend, Beth (and the confusion that arises when he meets another intriguing woman named Beth).

Pia Guerra’s artwork was clean and perfect for the character-based stories Vaughan developed for the series. As you can see, she needed some assistance often, and Goran Sudzuka was her co-penciler (trading off on arcs) for the last forty or so issues of the title. Jose Marzan, Jr. inked the entire series.

For the top five, I figure I’ll give TWO samples, so I’ll share a bit from one of the more notable arcs of the series, Safeword, where an agent of the Culper Ring (the group 355 works for) puts Yorick through what amounts to an intense form of therapy that seems like torture (her intent is to cure Yorick of what she sees as suicidal tendencies in him). At one point, she forces him to reveal his first sexual experience with a member of the opposite sex and this scene is perhaps the most memorable sequence in the entire series…

Striking and disturbing, but a fascinating glimpse into Yorick’s mind.