2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #25-21

You voted, and now, after over 1,000 ballots were cast, here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book storylines of all-time (this is the third time we've done this countdown. We're on an every four year schedule)! We started with ten storylines a day, and now we're down to five storylines a day (until the last week, which will be three storylines a day). You can click on the Top 100 Comic Book Storylines tag either here or at the end of the post to see the other entries, in case you missed one.

To recap, you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

25. “The Court of Owls” by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion (Batman #1-11) – 412 points (12 first place votes)

This story is about the revelation that there has been a secret organization controlling Gotham City from behind the scenes called the Court of Owls. They collect and train agents known as “Talons” to do their dirty work. Naturally, they take issue with Bruce Wayne having such an influence upon how Gotham City so they decide to kill off Bruce Wayne. Obviously, Batman takes issue with this and soon finds himself trying to take down the organization.

Greg Capullo is a magnificent action artist and Scott Snyder smartly alternates between the mystery of the Court and all out action sequences where Capullo’s pencils practically explode upon the page. Take, for instance, this sequence where Batman discovers one of the Court’s nests and they try to kill him…

Wow, that is a striking sequence. I especially like how Snyder really nails Batman's attitude to these circumstances - analytical, calm under pressure and just, "Screw this, I know that this is not a good situation to be in, but I'm the goddamn Batman, I Know exactly what to do here."

After the Court's chief Talon, William Cobb, almost beats Batman to death (after forcing him to go through a gauntlet that teaches Batman the history of the Court), Batman shocks Cobb and the Court itself by managing to not only escape death, but to beat Cobb nearly to death. This lets the Court know that Batman is far more formidable than they ever knew. They had been worried about Bruce Wayne, but now they had to destroy Batman and also show Gotham City that it was ruled by the Court. So this led to the Night of the Owls, where they activated all of their Talons and sent them to assassinate pretty much every major Gotham City figure. Batman had to call in all of his various Bat-related agents to save the day.

Batman then seemingly took down the Court for now, while also discovering that one of its members might actually be RELATED to him!

This was the re-introduction of Batman into the New 52 and Snyder’s intricate plotting and bold new characters quickly made it the centerpiece of the Bat-books.

24. “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (After beginning serialization in Warrior, V for Vendetta #1-10) 431 points (8 first place votes)

At the heart of V for Vendetta is an engaging and difficult dilemma – if you HAD to choose, what would you prefer? Fascism or anarchy?

In the former, yeah, you’d be ruled by dictators, but after they had finished culling their opponents, the odds are that you personally wouldn’t be directly affected anymore. You'd just be a cog in the machine.

In the latter, yeah, you’d be free, but there would be no protection from chaos.

It’s a beautiful dilemma, and while we would all love to answer that we would prefer the latter option, in real life, people very often choose the former, and Alan Moore milks the dilemma for all that it is worth in this alternate reality where a “terrorist” named V (who wears a Guy Fawkes mask) tries to bring down the government, hopefully with the help of a young woman named Evey.

Moore and his brilliant artistic counterpart, David Lloyd, create a lush, dark and vibrant world that is too scary to want to live there, but too interesting not to want to read more about.

Here is one of V’s notorious attacks on a government agent, introduced first with a discussion between V and Evey…

The centerpiece of the story is the evolution of Evey from a perpetual victim to becoming directly involved in V's revolutionary actions. What's great about these bits is that Moore lets us see how Evey vacillates on her opinion about V. Like Evey, we never really know too much about V, as his enigmatic nature allows Evey (and we, the readers) to place upon V are own viewpoints - we might see V as too sadistic, we might see him as a hero, we might see him a psycho who just happens to pick a good cause - Moore doesn't lead Evey or us to any specific point of view. We get there all on our own.

23. “Batman R.I.P.” by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea (Batman #676-681) - 445 points (7 first place votes)

Batman R.I.P. is the conclusion of Grant Morrison’s initial Batman run, and it basically is as straightforward of a “Good” versus “Evil” story as there is out there (which is particularly interesting seeing as how it came out concurrent with another major Good vs. Evil story, Final Crisis).

Batman has been fighting against the criminal organization the Black Glove, but by the beginning of Batman RIP, the Black Glove has struck at Batman through various methods, some physical but mostly psychological, all designed to destroy Batman’s virtue (like argue that Bruce Wayne's father was still alive and had, in fact, planned the murder of Martha Wayne).

Then Batman essentially goes insane, becoming a twisted form of himself…but is that REALLY what’s going on?

Morrison teases the reader with the question – could anyone go through the events that Batman has gone through over the last 60 plus years and NOT go insane (that was one of the major twists in Morrison's run, the revelation that everything that had ever happened to Batman in the comics has actually occurred, even the outlandish stuff from the 1950s - it just did not necessarily actually occur to him in person, but rather some of it might have happened to him while he was testing himself in isolation)? That is the question posed to Batman by his girlfriend, Jezebel Jet, who becomes close enough to Bruce Wayne that he reveals his secrets to her and she, in turn, tells him of her concerns over his sanity. Her seemingly legitimate concerns lend a great deal of dramatic tension to Batman’s seeming insanity, especially when he transforms into the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh (the aforementioned twisted version of himself).

But really, R.I.P. is basically a love letter to Morrison’s view of Batman as “Batgod,” as when the bad guys think that they have broken Batman mentally and physically…well, they forgot one thing…

The whole story turns on its head when you realize just HOW prepared Batman is. I love that the story even forces you to go back nearly twenty issues and see exactly when Batman figured out one part of the plan. It’s all there in the story.

Go to the next page for #22-21!

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