2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #40-36

37. “Secret Wars” by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, Bob Layton, John Beatty and a host of other inkers (Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1-12) - 294 points (4 first place votes)

In possibly the greatest comic book event series written to tie in with a toy line, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars is designed like the ultimate fan dream – nearly all of the major Marvel heroes of the time and nearly all the major Marvel villains of the time are thrown together on to a distant planet and forced to fight each other at the behest of a seemingly omnipotent being.

Sounds simple enough, right? But writer Jim Shooter elevates the story a bit beyond that (“beyond” that. Get it?) by showing the interesting strategies the various characters decide to employ. For instance, rather than forming a unified front, the heroes splinter into two groups, the X-Men and everyone else. The villains, similarly, are not uniform in their approach. While plenty of them are thrilled to just attack the heroes, others, like Doctor Doom, try to think of the situation more strategically.

After a series of battles (including a fight between Spider-Man and the X-Men, of all people, and a sequence that ended with a mountain falling on the heroes, with only the Hulk preventing them from being crushed) Doctor Doom flips the battle field by taking control of the power of the mysterious being who brought them here. He offers a truce with the heroes. But can they truly work with him? The heroes decide…

Man, this series had some killer cliffhangers!

Mike Zeck and John Beatty were at the top of their game at the time of this series. They really excelled (and Bob Layton did a great job as a fill-in artist).

36. "Hush" by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams (Batman #608-619) – 299 points (1 first place votes)

Hush took a similar approach to Jeph Loeb’s highly successful Long Halloween and Dark Victory comics.

Basically, he took an over-arching storyline and a mysterious villain, and then had each issue work as a spotlight on a different member of Batman’s large supporting cast of heroes and villains.

In Long Halloween, Loeb worked with star artist Tim Sale. Here he worked with Jim Lee, one of the most popular artists in all of comics.

In many ways, Loeb’s intention was simply to give Lee as much cool stuff to draw as possible, and to that end, Loeb wrote the series (where Batman is besieged by a mysterious new villain named Hush) with lots of notable events taking place, including Batman and Catwoman getting together and Batman and Superman having a dramatic battle (Superman was being mind-controlled by Poison Ivy).

During a period when comic sales were in a notable slump, these twelve issues were like manna from heaven for comic book retailers, as they were strikingly popular. The storyline also worked as a sort of basic guideline for many later story arc by different comic book writers. Much like how Die Hard became the foundation for a number of other action films, so, too, did Hush become the prototype for many other significant superhero stories.

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