I mentioned recently that Tripwire magazine had a list of the 15 most important superhero graphic novels of all time, and what do you know! the latest issue of Wizard had lists as well! Let's get to them!
First, let's check out Tripwire's list. These are the "most important," remember, not necessarily the "best," and according to the introducing text, they're in no particular order.
1. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. This probably deserves to be on the "most important" list for what happens to Barbara Gordon and possibly even the fact that this is the last time Bolland did interiors (isn't it?). I don't love it, but it's very interesting.
2. Astro City: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. This is the first six-issue mini-series. Dang, it's good. AC continues to be a gem, but if you're interested in checking it out, these are the issues to get.
3. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola and John Byrne. I have the two huge library editions of Hellboy, which obviously collects this first arc, and while I think Mignola gets much better the further he gets into it, for "importance," this wins.
4. Captain Britain by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis. It's curious they don't include the Alan Moore stories, but these are damned good comics. Marvel is releasing an Omnibus of pre-Moore stories through the end of the run this summer - pick it up!
5. Animal Man volume 1 by Grant Morrison, Chas Truog, and Tom Grummett. Yeah, if you're going to feature only one volume of Animal Man, it might as well be this one. Or you could just buy all three volumes!
6. Daredevil: Visionaries volume 2 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. Well, of course, but the cover features THE HAND!!!!!!
7. The Ultimates volume 1 by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, and Paul Neary. This collects the first six issues, which are the good ones. Then the series goes off the rails. I agree that these are "important" for how they influenced recent comics.
8. Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. This is quite influential, isn't it? I enjoyed it, but I didn't like the ending, and from reading more Powers, it seems Bendis has difficulty with that.
9. The Death of Captain America by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Mike Perkins. This is the death and aftermath (issues #25-30), which I haven't read (except for #25). So I guess this is important, even though I haven't read it. I do like the Omnibus collecting issues #1-25, though.
10. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I can't speak to this, as I haven't read it. I keep meaning to. Is it any good?
11. Spawn: Creation by Todd McFarlane. This has to be for its influence, right? I've never read it, so I don't know if it's any good.
12. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. Wow, who would have put this on a list of "important" works?
13. Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. I would argue that, as excellent this series is, its importance is in a negative direction. The text reads "What Marvels did was turn the idea of a superhero comic on its head and show the impact that events in the Marvel universe had in its inhabitants." That's certainly true, but I would argue that this is the moment when nostalgia became a driving force in comics and especially in Marvel comics. Because of the success of this book, writers began to look backward, filling in the cracks of Marvel's edifice, sacrificing forward movement for the enshrinement of the past. When we discuss The Dark Knight Returns, we speak of how creators didn't understand "grim-n-gritty" and churned out far lesser works. I would argue the same thing happened with Marvels. Yet no one points to this as starting a trend that, I think, is almost as damaging to comics as the "grim-n-gritty" one. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.
14. Invincible: Family Matters by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker. Even the magazine admits there's nothing groundbreaking about this. So why is it on the list? I like Invincible a whole lot, but it's a superhero book. A very well done superhero book, but why is it so "important"?
15. God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson. Dang, this is good. Sure, Claremont isn't terribly subtle, but dang. When Kitty asks Stevie how she'd feel if someone called her a "nigger," I get chills. Good stuff.
Now, let's check out Wizard #212, which came out the Wednesday before FCBD. Everyone's favorite "magazine of comics, entertainment and pop culture" lists the "greatest graphic novels of our lifetime," meaning since 1991 (the year Wizard began). That's a handy way to ditch Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Maus. As usual with Wizard's lists, it's an odd stew of really good stuff and stuff that is simply popular but, you know, kind of sucks. They also include stuff from smaller publishers that often kicks the crap out of the Big Two's output, yet it's way down on the list. That also bugs me, because if they've actually read some of the smaller stuff, how could they not rank it higher? But that's just me. Here's the list, in, as Wizard puts it, the most high-end collection available.
1. Absolute DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. Number one? I guess. This was okay, but Cooke has done better. Still, it would be cool to have it in this format.
2. Marvels Premiere Hardcover by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. See above.
3. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Absolute Edition volume 2 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. Sure, why not.
4. Y: The Last Man Book 1 Deluxe Edition by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. I wouldn't rank this as high as #4, but it's pretty good.
5. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware. I've never read it. Sorry.
Okay, so the top five, whether you agree with them being ranked that high or not, are probably deserving of being on the list, even highly ranked. You can argue where they belong, but I doubt if many people would discount them completely. And then the list starts to go off the rails:
6. Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Really? Number six? Really? REALLY? I almost stopped reading after this. I guess, considering Mr. Loeb answers letters in this very issue, he's pals with the folk at Wizard and they felt like throwing him a bone, but really? Sheesh.
7. Absolute Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. I wouldn't put this quite so high, but I still like it a lot. It's a billion times better than, say, #6.
8. Hellboy: Library Edition volume 1 by Mike Mignola. See above. These are really nice editions.
9. Bone: One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith. 1300 pages for 40 bucks. And it rocks.
10. New X-Men Omnibus by Grant Morrison and a bunch of artists. Morrison made the X-Men relevant again, so I have no problem with this being so high.
All right, let's zip through the next 90, with only random comments!
11. Torso by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko.12. Ghost World Special Edition by Dan Clowes.13. Sin City: That Yellow Bastard by Crazy Man.14. Blankets by Craig Thompson.15. Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus volume 1. Is that what it's called?16. Starman Omnibus by James Robinson and Tony Harris.17. Captain America Omnibus by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. This is the one I have. I'm waiting for the next one, which should be out soon, right?18. Astonishing X-Men Omnibus by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. Um, no.19. All Star Superman volume 2. The staffers write, "Until DC collects the entire Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely series in one volume, we'll tap Vol. 2 as our favored pick." Yet for number 23 they pick both volumes of Top 10. Huh?20. JSA: The Golden Age by James Robinson and Paul Smith.21. Preacher volume 7: Salvation by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.22. 300 Hardcover by Frank Miller.23. Top 10 books 1 & 2 by Alan Moore and Gene Ha.24. 100 Bullets: The Counterfifth Detective by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.25. Absolute Sandman volume 4 by Neil Gaiman and a bunch of artists. I would have picked volume 1, myself, but whatever.26. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon.27. Black Hole by Charles Burns. I have to read this, don't I?28. We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.29. Absolute Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee. Does Loeb have compromising pictures of everyone in comics?30. Jinx: The Definitive Collection by Brian Michael Bendis.31. Transmetropolitan vol. 3: Year of the Bastard by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson.32. JLA vol. 1 Deluxe Edition by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter.33. Whiteout volume 1: The Definitive Edition by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. Wasn't the movie supposed to be out in March?34. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Lost at Sea is better.35. Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.36. Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits by Garth Ennis and Will Simpson.37. Complete Concrete by Paul Chadwick.38. Green Lantern: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan van Sciver. We knew it had to be on here somewhere. Too bad it's this high.39. Hellblazer: Hard Time by Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben.40. Alias Omnibus Hardcover by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos.41. The Authority Absolute Edition vol. 1 by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch.42. B. P. R. D. vol. 5: The Black Flame by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis.43. Stray Bullets: The Innocence of Nihilism by David Lapham.44. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. The asparagus of comic books!45. Pedro & Me: Friendship, Loss and What I Learned by Judd Winick. Is this about Winick realizing that he shouldn't be a dick? That's what the episodes seemed to be about.46. Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales.47. Ex Machina Deluxe Edition volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris.48. JLA: Earth Two by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.49. The Complete Invincible Library vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley.50. The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus by too many people to count.51. Kramers Ergot 7.52. Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman and Chris Bachalo.53. Walking Dead Compendium by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.54. Punisher: Welcome Back Frank Marvel Premiere Classic Hardcover by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. I'm sorry, but I wasn't impressed.55. The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch Omnibus vol. 1.56. Invisibles Book 4: Bloody Hell in America by Grant Morrison and Phil Jimenez.57. Madman: Gargantua by Mike Allred.58. Gotham Central Hardcover vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark.59. JSA: Liberty Files by Dan Jolley and Tony Harris.60. Buffy: Season Eight vol. 3: Wolves at the Gate by Drew Goddard and Georges Jeanty.61. X-Factor Premiere Edition Hardcover vol. 1 by Peter David, Ryan Sook, and Dennis Calero. Remember when Ryan Sook was supposed to be the artist on this? Good times.62. Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.63. Planet Hulk Hardcover by Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan.64. Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. They don't single out one of the trades, which is odd as the 24 issues don't exist in one, super-huge edition.65. Usagi Yojimbo Book 12: Grasscutter by Stan Sakai.66. Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.67. Absolute Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.68. Inhumans by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee.69. Astro City vol. 1: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. Apparently, Wizard doesn't consider this as important as Tripwire does.70. Batgirl: Year One by Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, and Marcos Martin.71. Supreme: The Story of the Year by Alan Moore and various artists.72. Hard Boiled by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow.73. Wanted Hardcover by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones.74. Ultimate Spider-Man Collection Hardcover by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley.75. X-Force: Famous Mutant and Mortal by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred. Issue #116 is still one of the five best single issues of the decade.76. Queen & Country: The Definitive Edition vol. 1 by Greg Rucka and various artists. I've mentioned this before, but for a "definitive edition," this is sadly lacking. The price is good, but the format is smaller than the trades and you get almost no "extras." I suppose the first trades are probably out of print, but I still like them better.77. Fathom: The Definitive Edition by Michael Turner. I haven't read this, but I have to believe this is another blow to the list's integrity, right?78. The Boys: The Definitive Edition by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson.79. Thor: Blood Oath by Michael Avon Oeming and Scott Kolins.80. Joker by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo.81. Spider-Man: Blue Premiere Hardcover by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.82. Super Spy by Matt Kindt. I would have put this much higher.83. Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman and various artists.84. New Avengers vol 1: Breakout by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch.85. G. I. Joe WWIII Omnibus by Mark Powers and various artists.86. Human Target: The Final Cut by Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido.87. Last of the Independents by Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer.88. The Losers vol. 5: Endgame by Andy Diggle and Jock.89. Green Arrow: Archer's Quest by Brad Meltzer and Phil Hester.90. The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman.91. Criminal vol. 2: Lawless by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.92. Hawaiian Dick vol. 1: Byrd of Paradise by B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin.93. 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith.94. Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá.95. Wolverine: Blood Debt by Steve Skroce.96. Obergeist: The Director's Cut by Dan Jolley and Tony Harris. What an odd choice.97. Blaze of Glory by John Ostrander and Leonardo Manco. Yet the one trade of The Spectre doesn't make the cut?98. Scalped vol. 3: Dead Mothers by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra.99. Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson.100. Catwoman: Selina's Big Score by Darwyn Cooke. Less ambitious, but better than New Frontier, I would argue.
So that's their list. It's not bad, although some inclusions are certainly head-scratching. I'm not that put out by the order after you get beyond, say, the top 10, but it's not a bad cross-section of comics from the past 18 years. Then, a page later, they jump into the 25 greatest science fiction television shows of all time (English-language version). Can you handle another list?!? I'm going to comment even less on these, because I don't watch enough sci-fi. They also include great scenes, great animated series, five shows that almost made the cut, and the "10 worst shows in the history of mankind," which includes ... Manimal. Oh, Wizard. When will you appreciate the genius that is Manimal? You bastards!!!!!
25. Dark Shadows (ABC, 1966-71).24. Smallville (WB/CW, 2001-Present). This is still on?23. Red Dwarf (BBC2, 1988-90, 2009).22. The Incredible Hulk (CBS, 1978-82).21. Night Gallery (NBC, 1970-73).20. Supernatural (WB/CW, 2005-Present).19. Highlander: The Series (Syndicated, 1992-98).18. Babylon 5 (PTEN/TNT, 1994-99).17. The Outer Limits (ABC, 1963-65).16. Quantum Leap (NBC, 1989-93).15. The Dead Zone (USA, 2002-07).14. Angel (WB, 1999-2004).13. The Prisoner (ITV, 1967-68). Man, this DVD is expensive.12. The 4400 (USA, 2004-07).11. Firefly (FOX, 2002-03). Anything with Steve the Pirate is worth watching.10. V (NBC, 1983).9. Jekyll (BBC1, 2007).8. The X-Files (FOX, 1993-2002).7. Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69).6. Lost (ABC, 2004-Present).5. Battlestar Galactica (SCI-FI, 2004-09).4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN, 1997-2003).3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (Syndicated, 1987-94).2. The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959-64).
What's missing? Yes, it's ...
1. Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89, 2005-Present). So he's the same guy each time, technically? Huh. Didn't know that.
So there are the lists. Lists are awesome, aren't they? You can argue endlessly about them! Have at it!