Here are the next three 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.
9. “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spiegelman (For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say Maus: Book 1 and Book 2) – 648 points (9 first place votes)
The genius of Art Spiegelman’s masterpiece, Maus, is that it is not just a brilliant re-telling of one man’s tale of survival during World War II and the Holocaust (with the jews as mice and the Germans as cats).
If it were just that, then it would still belong on this list, but it isn’t. It’s also the tale of a man dealing with his father. It’s also the tale of how stories are told. And perhaps most fascinating to me is that it also eventually becomes about a man dealing with the fact that his personal story about his father’s survival of the Holocaust has become a commercial and critical success. How does one reconcile oneself with something like that? Spiegelman addresses it beautifully in this story. Here’s a snippet from later in the series from when Spiegelman deals with the strange turn of events that came about after the release of the first maus book…
But at the heart of the comic, Spiegelman is telling us how his father, Vladek Spiegelman, survived the war.
And Vladek’s tale is absolutely fascinating, made even more so by Art’s deft storytelling skills, as he prevents the book from ever getting monotonous, while at the same time being quite detailed in the history of the tale. It reminds me a lot of the work Eddie Campbell did on From Hell.
Here is a section both seeing the horror of war (via the discovery of what happened to Vladek’s son during the war) and also Vladek’s ingenuity (as well as the kindess of other people)…
It took Spiegelman years to get this story finished, but it was well worth the wait, as it was an exceptional piece of work.
8. “Season of Mists” by Neil Gaiman, Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Matt Wagner, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, and P. Craig Russell (Sandman #21-28) – 826 points (7 first place votes)
Season of Mists was a landmark arc during Neil Gaiman’s Sandman tenure, as this was the story that introduced the Endless (Dream and Death’s other siblings) as well as created the set-up for Mike Carey’s Lucifer series.
In the story, Dream is shamed into attempting to rescue his former love, who he, in a fit of rage, banished to hell thousands of years ago. He steels himself for a battle with Lucifer, who is Dream knows is not pleased with him. Dream could not expect, however, how Lucifer decided to deal with him – when Dream shows up to fight with Lucifer he learns that Lucifer has closed Hell and he gives Dream the key to hell.
Check out this amazing extended sequence where Lucifer drops the news and then takes Morpheus on a quick tour of hell…
What follows next is an entertaining exploration of what the universe would be like without Hell, along with a brilliant piece of mythology work as Gaiman shows all the various other deities (like the Norse Gods and the Egyptian Gods, etc.) showing up to bargain with Dream for the rights to such prime interdimensional real estate.
Gaiman has had great success over the years working with various mythologies and their deities, and that fascination really began here.
Plus, the interlude showing the effect of no hell on Earth is one of the most charming issues of Sandman ever, as a young boy left behind at a boy’s school during winter break finds himself tormented by all the boys and teachers killed at the school over the years. He makes friends with one of the ghosts and when his torment is to the point where he, too, dies, he can’t bring himself to leave his new friend…
They decide to become ghost detectives, otherwise known as the Dead Boy Detectives, characters so cool that they’re about to get their own ongoing series from Vertigo!
The artwork is strong in this storyline, with Kelley Jones in particular really doing a wonderful job with the moodiness of his issues.
7. “Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (Kingdom Come #1-4) – 941 points (21 first place votes)
Kingdom Come is an interesting reflection on the superhero trends of the 1990s.
It is set in the future, a world where “grim and gritty” superheroes have basically taken control of the DC Universe, leading to vast amounts of chaos (and the Spectre is asking an old minister to help pass judgment on the Earth. This minister, Norman McCay, is our eye’s on view of the problems of this world).
Superman is pulled out of retirement by a tragedy which left it quite clear that something “had” to be done about the superhero problem. However, unbenown to Superman, other forces were coming together to deal with heroes THEIR way.
Superman’s return is breathtakingly delivered by Waid and Ross…
Superman’s return led to a resurgence of “traditional” superheroics, and Superman gathers his old friends in a revamped Justice League. Superman gains a number of converts to his way of thinking, but just as many “heroes” turn away from Superman’s view of the world, leading to a number of conflicts and Superman effectively imposing his will on these people, something that turns Batman from Superman’s crusade.
As the powder keg Superman has been building explodes, it’s hero versus hero versus villain while a worried government wonders if they should just try to rid themselves of superheroes once and for all.
It’s a tense script by Mark waid, and Alex Ross’ realistic painted artwork brings across the humanity of the story being told. In addition, Ross clearly has a blast revamping the looks for the older heroes and designing costumes for the new characters.
And boy Ross knew how to deliver on dramatic moments. Like the moment above and later in the story when the prison Superman and friends built to hold the rogue heroes and villains is breached. Superman tries to get involved but Luthor has sent an ace in the hole to stop Superman…
What a way to lead into the finale! The finale was one hell of a brawl between heroes, villains, other heroes and, oh yea, the governments of the world. It was quite an ending!