2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #6-4

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 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!

6. “All Star Superman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (All Star Superman #1-12) – 1332 points (35 first place votes)

All Star Superman is both a reimagination of Superman as well as a bit of a farewell to the character. The story is basically about the death of Superman, as his death is foretold in the first issue and the comic depicts the last year in the life of Superman.

During that year, Superman has to complete twelve trials before he dies. As he completes the trials, Morrison and Quitely deliver brilliant new approaches to classic Superman plots.

Their “Silver Age ideas with modern sensibilities” approach works extremely well, particularly with Quitely’s ability to make pretty much anything dynamic.

Look at the detail in this sequence from #1, where we see Quitely’s stunning depiction of how Clark Kent can make himself look differently (while we also see the casual heroics of Clark) and he slowly changes his posture until he is Superman…

Possibly one of the coolest aspects of All Star Superman is that it is not, in the least bit, cynical. It’s quite a feat to see a re-envisioning of Superman that does NOT involve some sort of post-ironic cynical approach to the character.

In addition, the story was told with a series of (mostly) one-off issues, so each issue was like its own little epic, they just combine to tell one long story of Superman’s last year of life.

Morrison’s take on Superman and his supporting cast is innovative while completely familiar, and Quitely, well, Quitely just goes out of his mind with some of the layouts and dynamism in this series. Really top notch stuff.

From issue #3, where Superman gives Lois Lane superpowers for a day…

Or the classic #5, where Clark Kent interviews Lex Luthor during the middle of a prison riot. One of the greatest Luthor spotlight issues in history…

How amazing is seeing Luthor drawing a crooked eyebrow!?!

There are just too many memorable moments to mention.

5. “Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Batman #404-407) – 1359 points (15 first place votes)

Whatever aspects of the Batman character weren’t already re-defined by Frank Miller in his Dark Knight Returns series were done so with this landmark new origin for Batman, courtesy of writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli.

The story tells the tale of Bruce Wayne and James Gordon, and how one man became Batman and the other became the symbol of honest cops in Gotham City (Harvey Dent also plays an important role, but Batman and Gordon’s stories are the main ones in the story).

Originally, Bruce tried to be a vigilante without a costume. It did not go well. He barely gets home alive and that’s when a new idea comes to him – to become a BAT!

That this story was the basis for the blockbuster film, Batman Begins, is of no surprise, since Miller writes the story in a totally cinematic style, and Mazzucchelli’s brilliant artwork certainly has a cinematic style to it, as well.

This is especially evident in the way that Miller uses the passage of time via calendars. Check it out in this legendary sequence from the second issue of the story, as Jim Gordon tries to get extra support to take down Batman but his superiors ignored him…

What a great use of the passage of time.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the comic is just how strong of a character Jim Gordon is in it. He truly works as the co-lead of the story. While writers certainly had done solo Gordon stories before this storyline, never had he gotten the attention Miller gave him, and a result, Gordon HAS had the same attention since.

Richmond Lewis’ colors should get some attention – she does a marvelous job setting the mood. Very evocative washes.

Add it all together and you have an engaging and entertaining new origin for Batman as we see him go from green vigilante to a trusted friend of the Gotham City police (as the police also go from being totally corrupt to only being significantly corrupt – a major step up!).

Go to the next page for #4!

4. “Born Again” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil #227-233) – 1839 points (45 first place votes)

Born Again drastically re-shaped Daredevil as a character, in Frank Miller’s return to the book that made him famous.

This time, Miller was working with artist David Mazzucchelli, who was already doing very impressive work on the series with writer Denny O’Neil. However, Mazzucchelli was still growing as an artist, and in many ways, Born Again was his “coming out” party, as he at the very least equaled, and more likely SURPASSED the incredible artwork that Miller had done himself when drawing Daredevil years earlier.

The story is about what happens when Matt Murdock’s former secretary (and former love of his life), Karen Page, who had left the book to become an actress, was now a drug-addicted porn star. Desperate for drugs, Page sells Matt’s secret identity. Eventually this information finds its way to Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, who uses it to systematically destroy Matt’s life (getting him disbarred, freezing his assets, etc.).

Then, in one of the best scenes you’ll see, Kingpin also blows up Matt’s brownstone – and then, Matt realizes, all of the terrible things that had been happening to him, they weren’t just bad luck, they were because of the Kingpin!

One of the greatest chapter one cliffhangers in comic book history.

That realization, however awesome, is not enough to make Matt “born again,” as he still has to fall to the gutters before he can rise above it all.

The story arc is filled with so many great scenes that I once devoted, like, a month, to cool moments from it, years ago.

But here’s a quick sampling…

1. Kingpin thinks he has Matt killed, but…

2. Kingpin realizes then that Matt may be more dangerous than ever, as after all…

3. Ben Urich knows something is up and is brutalized by the Kingpin’s henchmen into cowering away from his responsibilities, choosing to not even say Matt Murdock’s name out loud. This comes to a head when a crooked cop tries to come clean to Ben but is murdered while Ben listens on the phone. The way it is handled by Mazzucchelli and Richmond Lewis, who also colored this series, is stunning. However, the effect of hearing a man murdered instead inspires Ben to bravery.

4. Miller introduces an interesting new character called Nuke, and becomes the first writer to extend the whole Super Soldier program into conspiracy theories, which leads Captain America to get involved. But Nuke’s involvement helps bring Daredevil back (after Matt and Karen reunite, as Miller redeems Karen), and his return is, well, amazing – Mazzucchelli and Lewis do SUCH an amazing job on the return of Daredevil. A totally iconic shot of Daredevil in front of flames.

Miller, Mazzucchelli and Lewis depicted the Avengers in such a way that evokes how Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben handled the Justice League in the pages of Swamp Thing – and it’s the way you’d almost expect superheroes to be depicted in the “real” world.

And the whole thing ends on such an optimistic note. What an awesome series.