2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #60-56

by  in Comic News Comment
2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #60-56

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

Here’s the next five runs…

60. Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley’s Invincible – 149 points (5 first place votes)

Invincible #1-current (#95)

Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker first gained Image’s attention with their mini-series about Erik Larsen’s SuperPatriot character.

Soon, Image decided to buck industry trends and attempt to launch a brand new, old school superhero line of comics.

Invincible is the only comic left from that line. It has managed to draw attention due to Kirkman’s interesting blend of Silver Age-style stories with a more modern feel. It is like a mixture of Ditko/Lee Spider-Man and Superman, as Invicible is a young teen whose father is the revered superhero, Omni-Man, and Mark learns that he has superpowers as well!!

Taking the name Invincible, Mark begins his training as a superhero. Soon after, though, Kirkman pulls out the rug from under Invicible’s world by revealing that his father is evil and is actually an advance scout for an alien invasion of Earth!

Invincible stands up to his father, and it is dramatically violent…

Now stuck as a hero on his own, the series becomes about a young man coming into his own as a superhero, as Invincible grows from being a naive teen to a mature young adult, capable of being the leader of a whole generation of heroes.

The comic is a fun action-filled comic book that has a great deal of good-natured humor, although Kirkman is never afraid to bring drama into the book at times – characters ARE killed, and there ARE effects to actions. Also, relationships grow and mature as the series goes by.

Original artist Cory Walker left soon into the book’s run, but Kirkman was lucky to land replacement artist, Ryan Ottley, who has been an excellent addition, and has remained the artist ever since (Ottley drew the above sequence).

As the series has continued, Kirkman has added more and more characters to the point where his universe was so vast that although he wanted the series initially to be self-contained, he recently had the first official spin-off, with the Guardians of the Globe (the Justice League type characters from this universe) getting their own book.

The series nears its 100th issue where one of the characters we have gotten to know and love is apparently going to die.

59. Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – 152 points (1 first place vote)

Avengers #500-503, New Avengers #1-64, Mighty Avengers #1-20, Dark Avengers #1-16, Avengers #1-current (#31), New Avengers #1-current(#31), Avengers Assemble #1-current (#7), countless mini-series, one-shots and crossovers

One of the fascinating aspects of Brian Michael Bendis’ eight-year run on the Avengers franchise is how much he “put the pieces back together” before he left. Among the many changes he did to characters, almost all of them were reversed by the time he finished his run (which is ending at the end of this year).

Instead, when Bendis leaves the titles, it will be mostly his ADDITIONS that will be remembered, like the way that he transformed one of Marvel’s mid-level books into the biggest franchise in the entire company. It is fitting, then, that he leaves after getting to see the Avengers become one of the biggest comic book movie successes ever, something that would have seemed quite unlikely when he took over the book in 2004.

Bendis essentially blew up the original Avengers, taking them out of their comfort zone and replacing them with a new team that basically put together the most popular Marvel characters all on one team – Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine. Sentry, Luke Cage and Spider-Woman rounded out the roster and those last three saw their profiles significantly increased, especially Luke Cage, who Bendis clearly had a special affinity for.

One of Bendis’ major additions to the book was the introduction of the Illuminati, a group of the top Marvel minds who would meet to help shape the Marvel Universe…

That was what Bendis’ Avengers run did, in a nutshell, it shaped the Marvel Universe. Pretty much every major Marvel crossover of the past eight years has centered on the Avengers and Bendis himself has written many of them (House of M, Secret Invasion, Siege and Avengers versus X-Men). And the ones he didn’t write himself he played a role in shaping (Civil War and Fear Itself).

As the Marvel Universe changed, so, too, did Bendis’ Avengers. After Civil War, he split the Avengers into the Mighty Avengers (the “official” team) and the New Avengers (the rogue team). After Secret Invasion, he saw the Dark Reign come over the Marvel Universe as Norman Osborn rose to power. He then had Osborn lead the Dark Avengers and hunt down the New Avengers. After Siege, the age of heroes returned and Bendis celebrated with the return of the flagship Avengers title. However, the New Avengers stuck around for more ground-level heroics. Recently, he launched Avengers Assemble, designed to tie-in with the movie franchise.

Along the way, Bendis has worked with some of Marvel’s hottest artists. David Finch launched the run with him, then Steve McNiven took over, then Frank Cho (who launched Mighty Avengers) and then Mike Deodato. Deodato later launched Dark Avengers and has been working on New Avengers for awhile now, as well. Leinil Francis Yu, Stuart Immonen and John Romita Jr. were the other major artists on the main books, but Bendis has worked with many other artists on short arcs or in the tie-in mini-series. Greats like Alan Davis, Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, Olivier Coipel, it is like a Who’s Who of great comic book artists.

When Bendis’ run comes to an end at the end of the year, he’ll certainly have left an impressive mark on the entire Marvel Universe. Not something many creators can truly say.

58. Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s Batman – 154 points (3 first place votes)

Detective Comics #583-594, 601-621, 627, Batman #455-466, 470-476, Shadow of the Bat #1-5

As I related in an installment of Urban Legends Revealed, when Alan Grant began his run on Detective Comics with co-writer, John Wagner, the two were not even making royalties on the comic, that’s how low Detective Comics was selling. Then the Batman movie hit, and suddenly, the books were goldmines again.

So to a whole generation of new Batman readers, the creative team of Alan Grant (Wagner left right before the movie kicked in) and artist Norm Breyfogle were their introduction to the world of Batman, and what an introduction it was (Steve Mitchell inked Breyfogle on most of the issues)!

Grant’s specialty during his run on Detective Comics was to introduce new Batman characters, including the memorable Ventriloquist and Scarface, Cornelius Stirk, Anarky and more.

Breyfogle’s stylized Batman soon became the Batman for the aforementioned new generation of Batman fans, and Breyfogle’s professionalism did him proud, as well, as he did an extraordinary amount of issues in a day and age when six monthly issues in a row is an achievement.

DC moved the pair from Detective to their flagship book, Batman, in 1990, where they introduced the new costume for Robin (designed by Neal Adams, but first drawn by Breyfogle).

In 1992, DC launched a brand new Batman book, The Shadow of the Bat, which was, in a way, a bit of a make-up for taking the pair off of Detective Comics right before #600 (imagine the royalties on that baby! The 600th issue of Batman right after the movie came out? Yowsa!), as a new Batman comic on the eve of the Batman film sequel was a good combination.

In this arc, their last sustained effort on Batman together, they introduced their last memorable new villain, the sadistic Mr. Zsasz.

This sequence from Shadow of the Bat #2 shows them at their best. First, the emotional side…

And next, when Batman goes to Arkham Asylum to see who murdered the girl’s parents, we meet Zsasz…

Awesome work by both Grant and Breyfogle.

57. John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s The Spectre – 155 points (3 first place votes)

The Spectre #1-62 (plus a #0 issue)

John Ostrander had just wrapped up work on two of his acclaimed DC runs, Firestorm and Suicide Squad. Along with his Firestorm artist, Tom Mandrake, Ostrander began work on a run of the Spectre that was so definitive that DC allowed Ostrander to essentially end the character with the end of his and Mandrake’s run.

Ostrander’s run was built around the notion that Jim Corrigan had been The Spectre for about fifty years, and yet nothing had changed – HE had not changed. And that doesn’t seem right, does it? You can’t really become the embodiment of God’s Wrath without changing, and Corrigan’s quest for an understanding of good and evil is what drives the bulk of Ostrander’s run, concluding with his final issue, where Corrigan’s quest draws to an end.

Mandrake’s dark, moody artwork fit the mood of the series perfectly, and Ostrander’s ability to work with continuity has always amazed me, as he managed to constantly bring in characters from outside The Spectre, and always have them work well inside the story, particularly Ramban, the Jewish magician that Ostrander had created for his previous Suicide Squad run.

During their Spectre run, Ostrander and Mandrake also introduced the latest Mr. Terrific, who has gone on to become an important member of the JSA under Geoff Johns.

But mostly, as I mentioned before, this comic was Jim Corrigan’s story – how he dealt with the ambiguous situations the Spectre was sometimes faced with, and also how a 1930s cop dealt with the modern world.

Ostrander also came up with some fascinating set-ups, like the Spectre let loose in a prison…

and later…

It was a brilliant run, and I am quite impressed with how much class DC handled the end of Ostrander’s run.

56. John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad – 158 points (1 first place vote)

Suicide Squad #1-66

The Suicide Squad is a rare comic that stars mostly supervillain characters, although with some superhero characters mixed in, and it is quite impressive that it managed to last five whole years, and wow, what a good five years it was.

Based on an old comic series (which was a backup in Brave and the Bold in the late 50s) that was a lot like the Challengers of the Unknown, the Suicide Squad a group of adventurers who had missions that one would term were, well, suicide missions.

When he joined DC in the late 80s, writer John Ostrander revamped the series as a Dirty Dozen-style comic, where a group of supervillains were given time off (or their freedom outright) if they would go on missions for the government.

The head of this group was a new creation, a middle-aged, stout black woman named Amanda Waller (the “Wall”), who was one of the most engrossing new characters that DC had at the time. Due to the fact that the members could easily die, membership in the Squad was always changing, although there were a few members who hung around for mostly the whole run, such as Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, and the heroic Bronze Tiger and Vixen.

The book had a lot of political storylines, and had a LOT of great action stories, but what the book is probably most remembered for is the character work that Ostrander did with these characters, who were such minor characters (or new ones, entirely) that he was able to do whatever he wanted with them, so he was able to make them, well, HUMAN – and it was such a great thing to see. He would routinely have “downtime” issues, where we would see the characters when they were NOT on missions.

Deadshot became a major character in the DC Universe thanks to Suicide Squad, even gaining his own mini-series. In one of the series most classic moments, Amanda Waller sends the Squad after rogue member Rick Flagg. She tells Deadshot to stop Flagg from killing a Senator by any means necessary. Let’s see how he took that instruction to mean…

The pencilers on the series were Luke McDonnell for the first half of the run, and Geoff Isherwood for the latter half of the run (with a number of fill-in artists, as well).