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!
NOTE: All of these storyline posts will be image intensive, so I’ll be spreading them over multiple pages.
80. “Welcome to Lovecraft” by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke and Key #1-6) – 131 points (5 first place votes)
Locke and Key is a series about three siblings (the Lockes) who move to their family estate (Keyhouse) with their mother after their father is murdered. Once there, they begin to discover magic keys that can open up doors in Keyhouse. Different keys have different properties. While this obviously could be a set-up for a fun tale, in the case of Locke and Key it is a horror story, as the keys are involved with some pretty dark magic. Hill manages his large cast extremely well, giving every character (the Lockes plus their friends and family) equal opportunity to shine.
In the first storyline, a mysterious being inside a well has contacted a disturbed young man and convinced him to help find certain keys. Along the way, he murders the father of the Lockes.
Here he is being wooed by the mysterious being from a painting…
Rodriguez shines with his detailed, expressive artwork. One of the most notable aspects of Locke and Key is the sequential storytelling. A great deal of terror is wrung just out of the usage of panels as the slow reveal of something awful is right at the turn of the page or just at the next panel. Rodriguez does a great job milking the horror out of all of his pages. Here’s a great example, when the youngest Locke is talking to the mysterious being in the well. He thinks that the echo can’t get out. Well, his surprise matches our own…
Hill is also adept at revealing the mystery of the keys slowly but surely. This opening arc really sets up the ongoing mystery beautifully with some dark twists and some excellent character work.
79. “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1? by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1-6) – 133 points (2 first place votes)
Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics line tended towards “high concepts,” you know, really cool ideas that you can get across in a sentence.
“Cops in a city where everyone is a superhero.”
“A living story becomes a superhero.”
“Classic literary characters from the 19th Century form a team of heroes.”
That last one, of course, is what The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is about. A number of classic British literature characters join together on a team, notably Allan Quatermain (from the novel King Solomon’s Mines), Mina Harker (from the novel Dracula), Captain Nemo (from the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), Griffin (from the novel The Invisible Man) and Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde (from the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).
While that’s a great high concept, there are plenty of great high concepts that can be ruined by bad writing (see, for instance, the movie based on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and Moore manages to evade any pratfalls by taking the concept of a book actually set in 1896 very serious, and with a brilliant design artist such as Kevin O’Neill by his side, the look and feel of the book is very much of that time.
The series tells a fairly straightforward villain story (with perhaps a bit of a mysterious villain), but it’s HOW Moore and O’Neill tell is that’s the best part of this tale, as they cleverly incorporate numerous classic literary figures into one cohesive universe – it’s Wold Newton near its best.
Like how Dr. Hyde is tied in with Inspector Dupin of Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”…
Or how the Invisible Man is introduced by sneaking into a girl’s school and sexually assaulting Pollyanna (from the novel Pollyana) before he is captured…
And so on and so forth. For any fan of 19th century and early 20th century literature (particularly English literature), the book is an absolute delight.
78. “Saga, Volume 1” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Saga #1-6) – 134 points (1 first place vote)
The opening arc of Saga throws us right into the middle of a fascinating story, as two couple from warring planets (well, one is a planet and one is a moon) have a baby. They are sort of like an intergalactic Romeo and Juliet, and many people want to track them down.
The story is narrated by Hazel, the baby in the series, as she tells her story from the future and Vaughan uses this plot device very well, as he allows certain hints to drop here and there about future stories. Also, the way that he breaks off her narration to form powerful cliffhangers is quite impressive. Vaughan has always been a big cliffhanger guy, but I think that Saga is his best use of the cliffhanger that I have seen from him yet. They’re much more fluid. They feel like they arise naturally and are not being forced.
I like that we get consistent flashbacks filling us in on Marko and Alana’s courtship. It is a strange one, to be sure, so I think it was a smart move to begin the book with them already together and fill us in as we go along.
While this approach is admirable in and of itself, it would mean nothing if Vaughan and Staples did not create compelling characters that we’d like to follow through this unvarnished fantasy world. Luckily, that’s just what they do, and not just Alana and Marko. Slowly but surely, Vaughan and Staples populate this world with a variety of fascinating characters. Most notable are the the bounty hunters hunting down the couple and their child and the robot prince who is tasked with their capture, as well, in an official governmental capacity.
Some of the most striking aspects of the series come from the bounty hunter known as The Will, who is accompanied by a Lying Cat, a cat who can tell if you are lying. The Will is not a good man, but he is also driven by a certain code of honor that comes up in a bizarre fashion while on a pleasure planet. The Will has had his heart broken by a fellow bounty hunter and their interaction is fascinating in how it drives him.
Another major addition is the ghost who acts as Hazel’s nanny, of sorts.
I’ve long been an admirer of Staples’ prodigious talents and she is absolutely destroying this series. Her designs are excellent, her character work is sublime and she is an amazing storyteller. Vaughan sure is lucky to be working with her.
Here we see Alana, Marko and their nanny try to head for a rocketship forest to find a way to get away from the people tracking them down…
Very cool stuff.
Go to the next page for #77-74…
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