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. The results will be five a day, except today, when you get TEN (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.
90. “Sleeper Season 1” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Sleeper #1-12) – 118 points (2 first place votes)
Holden Carver is a super-villain working for the major bad guy, Tao (from Alan Moore’s run on WildC.A.T.S.).
Tao is the smartest person in the world, and can drive you mad just by calmly talking to you (he did so to a member of Stormwatch back in Moore’s WildC.A.T.S. run).
However, he does not know something very important about Holden – Holden is actually an undercover operative for the government!
The only problem is, in the prologue mini-series that led into Sleeper, Holden’s handler, John Lynch, the ONLY person in the world who knew of Carver’s undercover mission, was shot and is now in a coma.
So that’s the gist of Sleeper Season 1, by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips – what do you do when the only person who knows you’re not REALLY a criminal can’t tell anyone that you’re NOT really a criminal? And how long can you act as a criminal before you actually ARE a criminal?
Besides this great philosophical question, the series contains a good deal of humor, really. Brubaker and Phillips clearly have a blast coming up with off-beat supervillains and their powers. Carver falls hard for one of his fellow villains, Miss Misery, a woman who, while she loves Carver, knows that she literally CANNOT be happy, because she is actually powered by, well, misery.
Check out her origin story, an example of that strange and beautiful mixture between drama and dark humor that Sleeper delivered routinely…
Phillips “noir” artwork is perfect for the book, as it is perfect for MOST of the books Phillips draws – that’s how good he is.
The series has a couple of game-changers that pop up at the end of the first “season” that made the follow-up Season 2 extremely unpredictable – the only thing predictable about this series is that every issue was going to be good.
89. “Avengers Forever” by Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern, Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino (Avengers Forever #1-12) – 119 points (1 first place vote)
This time-travel classic stars a unique team of Avengers plucked from the past, present and future, who have to take on Immortus and the Time Keepers, a powerful group that has been manipulating the Avengers for years. Each member of the team is chosen at a very specific moment, as Busiek, Pacheco and Merino demonstrate in this sequence from the second issue of the series…
As you can see, Pacheco is a master at giving each character a distinct look and best of all, when you put the disparate heroes together, there is this great sense of visually being able to figure out how each character is reacting to a situation. So much personality in each drawing. Boy, he’s good.
Busiek and Stern’s epic tale brings this rag tag team of Avengers on a journey through history and the Multiverse itself as they try to take hold of their own destinies. They are aided on this journey by one of their greatest foes, Kang the Conqueror, who ALSO wishes to break free of the control of Immortus and the Time-Keepers. Anything should be possible and that possibility is what the Avengers and Kang fight for (although, in the end, can you really trust Kang?)
Along the way, Busiek also ties up some looses ends of Avengers continuity. The whole thing is an epic action adventure steeped in Avengers history but centered the whole way through in real, identifiable human reactions.
88. “Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy on Earth” by Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library #5, 6, 8, 9 and 11-14) – – 120 points (1 first place vote)
Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy on Earth is an extremely layered tale of a depressed man (Corrigan) meeting his father late in his life. This story is intermixed with the story of Corrigan’s grandfather (also Jimmy Corrigan) as a boy and HIS relationship with HIS father. All throughout, we also have the fantastical story of Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy on Earth – showing Corrigan as a child. However, we also see Corrigan as a depressed child dealing with his parents divorce, and so we know that the “Smartest Boy” vignettes are just dreams of a sad man who has great trouble dealing with the world as it is.
We see that attitude of Corrigan’s in his everyday life, as well, as Ware shows Corrigan’s Walter Mitty-esque fantasies while in the midst of something as mundane as his father (who he has just met at this point) taking him to a fast food restaurant for dinner…
Notice how the events of his life directly inspire Corrigan’s fantasies, while also revealing his attitudes about life.
The most brilliant aspect of Ware’s book, as is usually the case with Ware’s work, is his amazing design sense – the story of Jimmy Corrigan is really a marvel of design, there are many pages that do not even have text, because Ware designs the pages so well that you don’t NEED text – he’s so detailed and thorough that you feel like you’re inundated with details about these characters without reading a single word.
Is the story depressing?
Yes, in the sense that the actual plot of the book is depressing, but it is done so beautifully that I can’t help but be happy when I read it, no matter how dreary the plot is.
It’s a tour de force performance by one of comics’ greatest creators.
This story won numerous awards and accolades when it was collected into book form, including the Guardian First Book Award, the first comic book to ever be so honored. It’s a well deserved honor.
Go to the next page for #87-84…
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