2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #30-21

Here are the next ten storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.

Okay, as usual, the votes are more bundled together at the bottom of the list and things open up as we go along. Eventually the results will be five a day, except today (also they'll be in smaller groups as we get to the very end)! Note, there may be some spoilers ahead! You are forewarned!Enjoy!

NOTE: All of these storyline posts will be image intensive, so I'll be spreading them over multiple pages.

30. "Brief Lives" by Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, Vince Locke and Dick Giordano (Sandman #41-49) – 283 points (7 first place votes)

In Brief Lives, Morpheus (Dream of the Endless) is at a bit of a crossroads in his life. He has just had a bad break-up with the witch Thessaily and he (and his Dream Kingdom) is feeling the ill effects. Into this strange point in his life comes his sister, Delirium of the Endless (the Endless are a group of brothers and sisters who embody powerful aspects of the universe - the others are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair and Destruction). Delirium wishes to track down their brother, Destruction, who disappeared 300 years ago. Perhaps touched by his sister's frustrations, perhaps just looking for something to occupy his time, Dream agrees to go on this journey.

The pair then travel through the waking world in a series of interesting adventures while the people who know Destruction coincidentally seem to end up dead (or IS it a coincidence?). Here's a fascinating sequence where Dream and Delirium fly on an airplane...

The storyline is filled with great little vignettes like that. Gaiman had a remarkable run of excellent storylines on Sandman, didn't he?

In the end, they do, in fact, discover their brother but they are surprised to learn what he has planned for his life. Their exchange with their brother leads to a dramatic change in Dream's life, as he decides to try to undo something he felt was a mistake in his life (the not-quite-death of his son, Orpheus, whose story was told in the brilliant Sandman Special soon before this storyline was released).

Jill Thompson was the perfect choice for the more down-to-Earth tales of tragedy and change that make up Brief Lives. She can bring empathy to anyone.

29. "Deus ex Machina" by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, Doug Hazlewood, Mark Farmer and a few other artists (Animal Man #18-26) - 295 points (8 first place votes)

Grant Morrison concluded his run on Animal Man with this amazing final story arc, where Morrison plays with the very fabric of reality as Animal Man discovers his nature as a fictional character while tripping in the desert...

How awesome is that?

The story goes even further than that as Animal Man's life becomes a living hell and Morrison acknowledges the way that an author's life can affect what happens to the characters on the page. The whole thing is a bit of a meditation on the proliferation of grim and gritty comics during this time period. With his life in ruins, Animal Man finds himself on a journey to comic book limbo, where he meets the various characters "erased" by the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

This all leads to Animal Man meeting none other than Grant Morrison himself, as the two talk about life and comic books and Morrison leaves the book with a touching gift for Buddy Baker.

This storyline holds up well to this day (especially the final meeting between Morrison and Animal Man), but at the time, when meta-fictional narratives were relatively rare, this was a really groundbreaking work.

28. "Runaways Volume 1" by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, Craig Yeung, Takeshi Miyazawa and David Nebold (Runaways #1-18) – 298 points (3 first place votes)

Along with penciler Adrian Alphona, inkers David Newbold and Craig Yeung and colorist Christina Strain, Brian K. Vaughan introduced a fascinating group of young heroes. The heroes of the Runaways are all the sons and daughters of a group of Los Angeles-based super criminals known as the Pride (their kids don't know this, of course). The parents get together once a year (ostensibly for a charity event) and when they do, their kids awkwardly hang out with each other. This year, though, they discover their parents murdering an innocent girl as part of a yearly sacrifice to some ancient gods. The kids go on the run (hence Runaways), each taking with them some aspect of their parents' abilities (for one, futuristic technology, for another, alien abilities, for another, mutant powers, for another, magic powers and for another, a sharp tactical mind). They decided to band together to take their parents down and perhaps do a little good as well along the way. Here we see them choose their new names...

Vaughan is masterful at developing interesting personalities very quickly and by the end of the series, we have grown to know and love these characters. Oh wait, did I say "know," well, that turns out to be a bit of a stretch as the final storyline reveals that one of the Runaways is not all together, well, non-evil.

The final conflict is brutally bittersweet.

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