Top 100 Comic Book Storylines #90-86

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: Again, to keep us on time, I'll post the results now and edit in the details over time - up until early Sunday morning)

90. "Weapon X" by Barry Windsor-Smith (Marvel Comics Presents #72-84) - 106 points (1 first place vote)

To put into perspective just how much of an impact Barry Windsor-Smith's "almost" origin for Wolverine had upon the comics world, note the following...the term "Weapon X" was not a major term before Windsor-Smith named his story it in this story in 1991, and we did not have the visual of Wolverine with the helmet and tons of wires sticking out of his body.

Within months of Windsor-Smith's story (which was serialized in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents, where many Shanna the She-Devil fans were wondering why so many people were suddenly interested in the Shanna the She-Devil serial running in the book) both the term and the image were practically burned into the minds of comic fans, and have been so ever since (heck, Wolverine Origins just did an homage to Wolverine's Weapon X look a few months ago).

The fact that the visuals from this story have become so well known should not all that much of a surprise, as Barry Windsor-Smith is one of the most striking comic book artists ever, but the real revelation of the series besides his great artwork (which was somewhat of a given) was the strong story by Windsor-Smith, as he depicts the casual cruelty of the scientists who experiment on Logan in the attempt to turn him into "Weapon X."

The story is a slow burn, as you get a chilling glimpse into the souls of the people working on Logan, and at the same time, you see how the noble person being tortured by science manages to survive the experience, and you occasionally get a look at the beginnings of what would eventually be the most famous member of the X-Men.

88 (tie). "March of the Wooden Soldiers" by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha (Fables #19-21, 23-27) - 108 points (2 first place votes)

In the fourth major story arc in Bill Willingham's Fables, the agents of the Adversary (the tyrant who drove the Fables out of their homelands and into a secluded town in the middle of New York City, where Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Prince Charming and others all live among unsuspecting humans) have come to Fabletown and they are ready for a massive battle.

The story comes right as Prince Charming has decided to challenge Old King Cole for the Mayorship of Fabletown.

Willingham is really good at juggling a number of plots and characters, and especially, he is very good at writing a realistic war story, and that's what the March of the Wooden Soldiers ends up becoming - a very real, and very bloody battle between the Adversary and the Fables of Fabletown, and you really don't know who will survive!

This engaging, action-packed storyline won an Eisner Award for Best Story, so you know it has an excellent pedigree! Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha do a tremendous job on art.

88 (tie). "Church and State" by Dave Sim and Gerhard (Cerebus #52-111) - 108 points (3 first place votes)

Cerebus began as a parody of Conan, but by the time Church and State began, the book had moved past that and become a slightly more serious satire of a number of topics, including politics and society.

Church and State, which is by far the longest storyline on the Top 100, further moved Cerebus away from its early days with an elaborate allegorical story about religion, politics and, most of all, morality.

The basic gist of the story is that Cerebus in appointed the Pope of the Eastern Church of Tarim. He lets his power get to his head, loses everything, tries to get it back, gets it back, gets even MORE morally corrupt and ultimately meets, in effect, God.

This is the story where Sim lays out the prophecy that the rest of Cerebus was "ruled" by, which hovered over the next 180 plus issues of the book like a scythe.

That's the plot of the story, but the beauty of it all is the character development, although development almost suggests an advancement, and that's really not the case for Cerebus through most of the story - as he completely loses his way, morally.

His actions are at times chilling, and the fact that it they are taken by the "protagonist" of the comic were quite bold by Sim.

The artwork by Sim and Gerhard is strong, but it is the writing that is the key to this great epic storyline.

87. "The Death of Speedy" by Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets #21-23) - 110 points (4 first place votes)

For a story that is actually CALLED "The Death of Speedy," you would not think that the actual death of Speedy Ortiz would have all that much impact.

You would be wrong.

In what might be Jaime Hernandez's strongest story arc in his long and accomplished (still ongoing!) tenure on Love and Rockets, the Death of Speedy focuses on a small group of young men and women in the barrio, as Hernandez brilliantly lays their limited life options out plain to see, and it is depressing while still being quite moving.

Even as you sit there and think, "How foolish can these kids be?' when you marvel at the problems their machismo gets them into (and the girls, with their own form of machismo - what IS the female equivalent of machismo?), you still get that this is not really much of an overstatement of the reality of the situation.

Hernandez seems to truly give us a glimpse into the lives of real people here, and perhaps the most brutal aspect of the whole thing is that as they fight over ridiculous notions like "this is OUR turf" or "he's MY man," their lives continue to prominently revolve around LOVE.

Maggie particularly seems to view love as a motivating factor.

But even ideas based in love can end up in heartbreak and pain, and that's what happens in the Death of Speedy.

That Hopey is mostly absent from this stretch of Love and Rockets makes the story that much sadder, as whenever Hopey and Maggie get together, the story tends to seem ea bit lighter, no matter what r is going on - so them apart makes the tale feel even more morose.

And the whole thing is handled in Hernandez's Dan Decarlo-esque artwork, allowing the pathos to almost sneak up on you, like a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing.

Hernandez has done many excellent stories since this one, but as far as "beginning, middle and end" goes (as his other great works tend to be serial in nature), this could very well be his best.

86. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1" by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1-6) - 111 points (1 first place vote)

Alan Moore's America's Best Comics line tended towards "high concepts," you know, really cool ideas that you can get across in a sentence.

"Cops in a city where everyone is a superhero."

"A living story becomes a superhero."

"Classic literary characters from the 19th Century form a team of heroes."

That last one, of course, is what The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is about.

While that's a great high concept, there are plenty of great high concepts that can be ruined by bad writing (see, for instance, the movie based on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and Moore manages to evade any pratfalls by taking the concept of a book actually set in 1896 very serious, and with a brilliant design artist such as Kevin O'Neill by his side, the look and feel of the book is very much of that time.

The series tells a fairly straightforward villain story (with perhaps a bit of a mysterious villain), but it's HOW Moore and O'Neill tell is that's the best part of this tale, as they cleverly incorporate numerous classic literary figures into one cohesive universe - it's Wold Newton near its best.

Seeing how Moore ties Mr. Hyde in with Inspector Dupin. Seeing how he ties the Invisible Man in with Pollyanna. And so on and so forth. For any fan of 19th century literature (particularly English literature), the book is an absolute delight.

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