Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #80-76

Here are the next five storylines on the countdown, as voted on by you, the readers!! Here is the master list of all storylines featured so far.

(NOTE: As usual, I'll put the results up here to keep us on time, then fill in the details later)

80. "Homelands" by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha (Fables #36-38, 40–41) - 126 points (3 first place votes)

One of the most notable aspects of Fables is just how well Bill Willingham uses the ensemble nature of the book.

Characters can stay in the background for years before suddenly becoming the star of the book.

That was the case with Boy Blue, the longtime background character who worked as a clerk in the Fabletown offices. Boy Blue seemed like a nice guy, but pretty unassuming. Soon before Homelands began, though, we learned that back in the days when the Fables were trying to escape from their Homelands (and the evil forces of the Adversary), Blue was quite a little warrior. He also had a relationship with Red Riding Hood.

Well, when Red Riding Hood showed up back at the March of the Wooden Soldiers and turned out to be a phony, Blue felt that he owed it to the real Red Riding Hood to save her.

So Blue surreptitiously stole a number of valuable and potent weapons, including the Witching Cloak (which allows him to teleport) and the Volpal Blade (from the poem Jabberwocky - it goes " snicker-snack" as it cuts through pretty much anything). He also takes the wooden corpse of his friend, Pinocchio.

The rest of the arc, Blue cuts a swath through the Homelands in pursuit of the Adversary himself, and Blue is shocked to learn the TRUE identity of the Adversary!

It's a thrilling action-packed adventure with striking art from Mark Buckingham, who has helped Willingham so much in making Fables such a consistently entertaining comic from month to month.

This was a game-changing arc, especially with the identity of the Adversary finally being revealed after almost four years of comics!

79. "Kree/Skrull War" by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams, Sal Buscema and John Buscema (Avengers #89-97) - 127 points (5 first place votes)

The most striking aspect of the Kree/Skrull War is just how many different ideas that writer Roy Thomas manages to fit into this one story. So many different things take place that there is never any time to relax, for as soon as you think Thomas is going one direction - he goes another.

The main gist of the story is that the people of Earth, primarily the Avengers, get caught up in a long-time feud between the Kree and the Skrulls.

This shows up on Earth with the shape-changing Skrulls causing trouble on Earth that is a commentary on McCarthyism (shape-changing does wonders for the whole "anyone could be a commie spy!" attitude of McCarthyism). A Senator (actually a Skrull in disguise) causes an "anti-alien" rally in the public, which is bad news for the superhero Captain Marvel, who happens to be a Kree himself! The whole "Communists among us" angle is even played up on a memorable cover during the storyline - "The only good alien is a dead alien!" - taken directly from anti-communism rhetoric.

This storyline is also a major one in the development of the Vision, particularly his relationship with the Scarlet Witch. Speaking of those "out of nowhere" ideas - early in the story, Thomas and artist Neal Adams do a stellar take-off on the Fantastic Voyage by having Ant-Man shrink down and revive a comatose Vision.

Later on, Vision gets to opine about the foolishness of McCarthyism, and it is at this time that he begins to draw closer to his teammate, the Scarlet Witch, who is both a gypsy AND a mutant, so she knows about prejudice!

Thomas has the story leap from location to location, and eventually throws in a number of far-flung space adventures - it's really a thrill-a-minute.

The artwork by the Buscema brothers and Neal Adams is about as good as you could have possibly hoped for in an early 1970s Marvel comic! Especially Adams' thrilling issues.

Really, the ideas that Thomas came up with for the Kree/Skrull War would be re-visited time and time again over the next few decades, all the way through to today, making it a truly landmark storyline!

78. "Winter Soldier" by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Michael Lark and Michael Perkins (Captain America #1-6, 8-9, 11-14) - 128 points (2 first place votes)

In Winter Soldier, Ed Brubaker achieved something that pretty much no one thought he could pull off. Heck, his own editor thought he couldn't pull it off when Brubaker first suggested the idea. But after Brubaker explained it, his editor realized what readers of the title also realized - Brubaker had a really good way to bring Bucky back to life!

In Winter Soldier, Brubaker told a few compelling stories that interacted with each other - the major one, of course, was the revelation that Bucky not only survived the rocket plane explosion that left Cap in frozen status for decades, but Bucky was rescued by Russians who brainwashed him into a deadly assassin, keeping him in cryogenic status for months and years at a time between missions (so no one would be able to identify him - after all, five years later, they'd be looking for a 25 year old man while Bucky was still 20). This is how he gained the name Winter Soldier.

Meanwhile, the Red Skull is about to start his latest plot against Captain America when a new villain steps in a seemingly kills the Skull. This new bad guy, Aleksander Lukin, was the current operative in charge of the Winter Soldier, and he used Bucky to kill Skull and steal the Cosmic Cube.

This led to a number of daring attacks and a tragic assault on the city of Philadelphia.

All the while, Captain America had been feeling out of sorts (after the events of Avengers Disassembled), so he was in a particularly poor frame of mind to discover that his former sidekick is now a pretty deadly assassin.

Brubaker does a really great job balancing the various characters and their personalities in the series, while never flinching on the action, either. Steve Epting busted out his new Crossgen style of art on this series, and it is truly excellent, with some fine fill-in work by Mike Perkins for Epting and Michael Lark does his typical brillaint work on some flashback sequences.

There is a fill-in issue by John Paul Leon that I suppose you could count as part of the storyline, if you so choose. It's a spotlight on the last day in the life of a character who Winter Soldier murders in an early issue of the story.

This was an excellent opening story by Ed Brubaker, and amazingly enough, he managed to get even better on the title!

76 (tie). "Unmanned" by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr. (Y The Last Man #1-6) - 131 points (1 first place vote)

Unmanned is the first storyline in the Y the Last Man universe.

The conceit of the book is that one day, 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999% of all the men (and male mammals) on Earth died off. All except one (well, as far as anyone can tell), Yorick Brown, and his male monkey, Ampersand.

When the calamity hit, Yorick was talking to his girlfriend, Beth, who was on vacation in Australia. Yorick was in the midst of proposing her to when everyone died, so now he makes it his life's mission to get to Australia to be with her again.

Of course, things are not that simple, what with him being the only man left on Earth and all. He travels to Washington D.C. where his mother is a member of Congress and she assigns a government agent to work as a bodyguard for Yorick. The two of them (Yorick and Agent 355) are tasked to find Dr. Ashley Mann, a geneticist who may be the only hope at using Yorick to fashion a cure for the plague. However, an Israeli operative ALSO wants Yorick, so the Israelis trash Mann's Boston laboratory, Yorick, 355 and MAnn have to head off to Mann's back-up lab in San Francisco.

And so begins an epic journey through a world where their are no longer any men. How will society work with just women?

That's the point of this series, and this first arc introduces us to the concept quite nicely. Pia Guerra's character-driven artwork really helps Vaughan get across the emotional roller coaster these characters are on in this brave new world.

76 (tie). "Annihilation" by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Simon Furman, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Scott Kolins, Kev Walker, Renato Arlem, Jorge Lucas, Greg Titus, Andrea DiVito and more (Annihilation: Prologue, Annihilation: Nova #1-4, Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1-4, Annihilation: Ronan #1-4, Annihilation: Super Skrull #1-4, Annihilation #1-6) - 131 points (2 first place votes)

Annihilation is about the forces of the Negative Zone, led by Annihilus, who decide to invade our universe. They do so with the so-called "Annihilation Wave," a large wave-like formation of powerful battleships.

The whole endeavor is powered by Galactus, who Annihilus has managed to capture and use as a power source.

In the first wave of the war, the entire Nova Corps was wiped out...well, not the ENTIRE Nova Corps. Richard Rider, of Earth, manged to survive and, once he merged with the Worldmind (the computer that ran the Nova Corps), Richard became the most powerful Nova around.

With Nova working as a sort of overall general, the remaining free planets (mostly the Kree) banded together against Annihlilus' forces.

The series was told in an interesting fashion that was later re-used for the sequel mini-series, Annihilation: Conquest.

There was a prologue issue, where the situation began.

Then there were four separate mini-series starring four characters tied into the mess - Nova, Ronan (of the Kree), the Super Skrull and the Silver Surfer.

Once the four mini-series ended, we got the Annihilation series, written by Giffen and drawn by Andrea DiVito.

There is lots of action and a significant amount of casualties, including an Avenger!

The series basically worked to revitalize Marvel's pretty much ignored "Cosmic Universe" of heroes, leading to the current situation where Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (who wrote the Nova mini-series this time around) have their own little group of cosmic Marvel books, including Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as yearly crossovers of all the Cosmic characters. First there was Annihilation, then Annihilation: Conquest, the War of Kings and now Realm of Kings.

And all because of this storyline!

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