2013 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #40-31

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.

40. "The Last Iron Fist Story" by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Travel Foreman and Various Artists (Immortal Iron Fist #1-14, Civil War: Choosing Sides and Annual #1) – 243 points (4 first place votes)

Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction put together a marvelous revision on the history of Danny Rand, Iron Fist, when he learns that a predecessor Iron Fist, Orson Randall, is still alive! Randall delivers to Danny the Book of the Iron Fist, which tells the history of all previous Iron Fists. It is to help Danny in the coming conflict.

Danny is quickly caught up in a plot involving the terrorist organization, Hydra, and the evil Crane Mother (an ancient enemy of K'un L'un, the mystical city where Danny gained the power of Iron Fist). There are six other mystical cities, and Danny and his allies must protect the cities from a sinister plot concocted by the Crane Mother and Xao, the Hydra representative.

Brubaker and Fraction created a story here that is an absolute blast, with lots of high-flying action, but a good deal of interesting characterization work, as well. The former Iron Fist (who quit after the trauma of World War I), Orson Randall, was a brilliant new character (and a great example of how to make revisionist history work for you as a comic book writer), as were the other Immortal Weapons, the representatives of each of the other mystical cities.

Sprinkled throughout the run were stories of past Iron Fists from the Book (as well as tales of Orson Randall's earlier days). These allowed the writers to tell vastly different styles of stories, as Randall, in particular, worked well for pulp fiction stories.

David Aja was the main artist throughout the series, and his depictions of action were extremely dynamic. Travel Foreman was the main fill-in artist, and he was just as dynamic, although I must say that Aja also is a brilliant designer, which helped define the various characters beautifully. Aja is a large part of the greatness that is Immortal Iron Fist.

There are other artists who worked on the various one-shots, but Aja and Foreman are the main artists for the series.

39. "The Black Mirror" by Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla (Detective Comics #871-881) – 245 points (3 first place votes)

Snyder's first extended Batman story is a twisty tale of Dick Grayson (as Batman) and Commissioner Gordon as they each deal with problems with their past. In Dick's case, he encounters the daughter of the gangster who killed his parents while Gordon is dealing with the return of his psychologically disturbed son, James (the kid who Batman saved from dying in a fall from the bridge in Batman: Year One). Their intertwined stories make up the 11 issue arc, with short stories combining to form the larger narrative. Snyder is joined by two brilliant artists, Jock (who does the Batman stuff) and Francesco Francavilla (who does the Commissioner Gordon stuff).

One of the most impressive aspects of this story is that Snyder initially was telling the Batman stuff as a main story with the Gordon stuff as a back-up tale and then lost the back-up tales shortly after his run began but still managed to make it all work very well. It is a dark, character-driven work that deals strongly with the idea of whether people can change and how you can always trick yourself into looking past the problems in the people you care about.

38. "Final Crisis" by Grant Morrison, JG Jones, Doug Mahnke, Carlos Pacheco, Lee Garbett, Matthew Clark, Marco Ruby and a host of inkers (Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Final Crisis: Submit #1 plus I would throw in Batman #682-683) – 252 points (7 first place votes)

One of the most annoying aspects of Final Crisis is that Grant Morrison wrote the story in twelve comics, but only seven of those comics were actually labeled as "Final Crisis." The others were an absolutely essential Superman Beyond two-issue mini-series plus a pretty darn essential Final Crisis: Submit #1 one-shot and a relatively important Batman two-parter. Luckily, DC at least changed their initial plans and released all but the Batman issues in the eventual Final Crisis hardcover collection, so it really didn't matter in the end, but man, that was not the best laid plan.

Anyhow, the basic (and I mean BASIC) plot of Final Crisis is that Darkseid has come back to life by essentially traveling through time. This time travel has made a bit of a hole in the multiverse and has made it possible for an evil Monitor to break free from the prison that the other Monitors placed him into at the beginning of the multiverse. So Darkseid finally manages to conquer Earth with the anti-life equation, which he delivers in Final Crisis #3...

So things are really bad on Earth. Eventually, though, whichever heroes on Earth remain unaffected manage to fight back and take control of Earth and defeat Darkseid. The heroes then must take on Mandrakk, the evil Monitor, who is using this opportunity to basically destroy all of the multiverse. Superman and a legion of Green Lanterns and other heroes stand up to defeat the evil Mandrakk (Superman first encounters Mandrakk during Superman Beyond, when he gets caught up in the story while trying to save a mortally injured Lois Lane).

Morrison's approach during Final Crisis was to deliver a series of short vignettes, which would then sort of coalesce into a larger picture, much like pointilism. Jonathan Hickman is currently using a similar approach with his Infinity storyline (luckily for Hickman, Marvel is giving him the freedom to not be constrained by just the issues of the Infinity mini-series, as the Avengers and New Avengers tie-in issues are essential to Hickman's story).

Batman plays a major role in the story, as he is captured by Darkseid and is seemingly killed, but not before Batman mortally injures Darkseid. The whole thing was a very cool story, albeit negatively affected by the delays due to the original artist on the project, JG Jones, being unable to complete the story.

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