Here are the next five storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.
Note, there may be some spoilers ahead! You are forewarned!
NOTE: All of these storyline posts will be image intensive, so I’ll be spreading them over multiple pages.
20. “American Gothic” by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, Stan Woch, Ron Randall, Alfredo Alcala and Tom Mandrake (The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37-38, 42-45, Swamp Thing #39-41, 46-50) – 391 points (9 first place votes)
American Gothic involves the introduction of John Constantine, and what that meant for Swamp Thing.
Essentially, Cosntantine works as a sort of plot driver for the series of stories that make up “American Gothic.”
An evil South-American magic cult named the Brujeria are using the Crisis on Infinite Earths to help them take over the supernatural arena, and as part of their plot, they began having all sorts of evil events take place across America. Constantine manipulates Swamp Thing into taking down these threats.
Eventually, it all leads to basically one big ol’ fight between good and evil, and literally the Ultimate Darkness against the Ultimate Light.
There are a series of artists at work during this storyline – the standard brilliance of Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, but also impressive work from Rick Veitch and Stan Woch on pencils.
Moore handled the slow build towards issue #50 about as well as any writer has ever handled a build to a “big” issue number – this is a storyline without being a strict storyline (for most of the story, at least).
The final battle in #50, though, is given all the trappings you would expect from a “big” issue, with Moore playing with the vast history of DC Comics and their supernatural characters.
Moore stayed on the title for a little while longer (and did some excellent work), but in many ways, this was the capper to his Swamp Thing run.
19. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger and George Perez (Superman #423 and Action Comics #583) – 394 points (7 first place votes)
With the John Byrne revamp of Superman due soon, DC had one last opportunity to “say goodbye” to the pre-Crisis version of the character, and editor Julie Schwartz was delighted that Alan Moore was the man to do the farewell.
The result was “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” a story of the last days of Superman, utilizing pretty much every Superman villain and supporting cast member, in a story that was at both times dark and touching.
The main gist of the plot was that Superman’s enemies all become more and more vicious, with normal bad guys suddenly becoming murderers.
With the D-Level villains suddenly causing problems, the A-Level threats like Lex Luthor and Brainiac are REAL problems for Superman, so he collects his closest friends and holes up at his Fortress of Solitude and awaits the siege.
What follows next is a mix of horror and heroism and love and loss.
Here are two of the more notable tear-jerker moments, as Superman’s friends stand up for him, in sad but lovely ways. First, Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang…
And then Krypto…
In the end, Moore took the toys that were available to him and used them all up, essentially, in such a way that the book could not have continued otherwise, leaving it perfect for a revamp of the title.
And having it all drawn by Curt Swan (with Perez inking the first issue and classic Superman artist Kurt Schaffenberger inking the second) was just a master stroke – seeing Swan draw some of the death scenes is just beyond touching (as you can see from that Krypto scene above).
18. “The Elektra Saga” by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Daredevil #168, 174-182, 187-190) – 432 points (10 first place votes)
Elektra was introduced in the first issue of Daredevil fully written by Frank Miller, as a former “love of Matt Murdock’s life” in college who, after her father (a Greek ambassador)’s assassination, moved away from New York only to return years later as an assassin herself.
Throughout much of the next 14 issues Matt Murdock has to deal with Elektra’s return, both in his personal life as Matt Murdock (seeing his first real love again after years apart) and in his superhero life as Daredevil as Elektra was, you know, an assassin, and Daredevil doesn’t take kindly to assassins.
This duality came into play pretty early on, as the pair alternated between teaming up and fighting each other.
Things changed, however, when Elektra was chosen personally by Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, to become his chief assassin.
There is a particularly brilliant sequence where she is sent to silence reporter Ben Urich. First by killing an informant leaking him a story about the Kingpin…
Now Elektra and Matt were definitively at odds – although when she was assigned to murder Foggy Nelson’s, Matt’s law partner (and former college roommate), she could not go through with it when Foggy recognized her, showing that there was still some good in her.
However, this epiphany did not last long, as her rival assassin, Bullseye, chose to prove himself to Kingpin by taking Elektra out, which led to one of the most iconic deaths in Marvel history.
Her death had a profound impact upon Matt, as did her later attempted resurrection by the ninja group, the Hand.
This was Miller’s first ongoing series as writer and artist, and it was quite impressive to see how adept he was at creating engaging, memorable characters with strong interpersonal relationships.
The great Klaus Janson began to share the art duties with Miller as the series went along (first just as inker, but as time went by, Janson would take over more and more of the art on the title).
17. “The Coming of Galactus” by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott (Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #48-50) – 444 points (5 first place votes)
This storyline works as the epitome of the epic cosmic adventures Stan Lee and Jack Kirby sent the Fantastic Four on often, with wild technology and astonishing stakes (the fate of the entire planet) but at the same time, real human elements, like Reed Richards’ reaction to having to try to save the Earth from doomsday (he doesn’t deal super well with the enormous pressure, grows a beard and even snaps at Sue)…
or the Silver Surfer’s literal fall to Earth….
And one of the most interesting aspects (and also part of what made the Kirby/Lee FF so great) of the story is how #48 contains the ending of the previous arc and #50 has a story AFTER the Galactus story wraps up (and sets up a story for #51!). At the time, Kirby and Lee were coming up with so many ideas that something as cool as the Galactus trilogy, where basically “God” showed up to destroy the Earth, was not even the SOLE story for the three parts of the trilogy!!!
The 50th issue has some stretches of the imagination, but it also has two extremely iconic moments – Reed Richards threatening Galactus with the Ultimate Nullifier…
and Galactus stripping his former herald, the Silver Surfer, of his abilities to roam the galaxy, as punishment for helping to fight for the people of Earth…
And note that these moments were handled as just one of many panels!!
You could argue that this comic had it all – great story, great art, cosmic problems, earthly problems, action – it was the complete package, and it still stands out today, forty-plus years later!
16. “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (After beginning serialization in Warrior, V for Vendetta #1-10) – 446 points (7 first place votes)
At the heart of V for Vendetta is an engaging and difficult dilemma – if you HAD to choose, what would you prefer? Fascism or anarchy?
In the former, yeah, you’d be ruled by essentially dictators, but odds are that you personally wouldn’t be directly affected.
In the latter, yeah, you’d be free, but there would be no protection from chaos.
It’s a beautiful dilemma, and Alan Moore milks it for all that it is worth in this alternate reality where a “terrorist” named V (who wears a Guy Fawkes mask) tries to bring down the government, hopefully with the help of a young woman named Evie.
Moore and his brilliant artistic counterpart, David Lloyd, create a lush, dark and vibrant world that is too scary to want to live there, but too interesting not to want to read more about.
Here is one of V’s notorious attacks on a government agent, introduced first with a discussion between V and Evey…