If you know me, then you know I like Favorites lists. In the past few weeks, I have been challenged multiple times on Facebook for my Top 10 Favorites for 10 Days for this or that. When I finally got challenged for Top 10 Comics, I knew I would rather push that sucker out in one fell swoop rather than stretch out any more challenges (a guy has things to do). So, with further ado, the countdown of my top 10 Favorites Comic Books and/or Graphic Novels of all time . . .
10 - The Evolutionary War (specifically, Avengers Annual #17)
This was the comic that started it all for me, although Uncanny X-Men was my favorite title to collect as a kid. Written by the legendary Walter Simonson, Avengers Annual #17 was the the first comic I ever picked up on the racks of the Food Fair grocery store in my hometown. Though this was the tail end of the Evolutionary War saga, a cross-over event in the late 80s, that didn't sway me from enjoying the absolute weirdness of the High Evolutionary's plan to propel the evolution of the human species forward with a "Genetic Bomb" being stopped by the "reserve" members of the Avengers roster. They win by Beast boosting Hercules' own evolution, who defeats the High Evolutionary but then evolves basically to the point of vanishing into nothingness. What's not to love about that? Along with the greatest cover concept to ever grace the newsstands . . . if you don't love everything you've heard so far then you don't love comics!
9 - Superman: Red Son
Concept: When Krypton explodes and young Kal-El is careening through space as an infant in a space pod, instead of landing in 1940s Kansas, he lands in the newly formed Soviet Union. Written by Mark Millar, this story details a Superman beholden to "Truth, Justice, and Mother Russia," rather than "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." The great thing about these Elseworlds story-lines (alternate versions of DC's classic characters) is you get to see how the rest of the world shapes itself around the main story. For instance, with Supes being a Soviet hero, this puts the USSR on top of the world stage, and we get see how other characters such as Wonder Woman, Batman, and Green Lantern respond to this scenario. Excellent read!
8 - Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth
Written and drawn by genius cartoonist Chris Ware, this multiple-award winning book was noted by The New Yorker as being "the first formal masterpiece of (the comics) medium." It is indeed a masterpiece of the sequential art medium, both in craft and story. There are no spandex-clad heroes or world-shattering invasions here. The book details the highly depressed and anxious Jimmy Corrigan attempting to reconnect with his estranged father. It is at times comical, other times deeply heart-breaking. It doesn't sound particularly original or captivating, but it is the execution and delivery which makes this book an unbelievable achievement!
7 - JLA: Tower of Babel
When Grant Morrison was leaving the JLA (Justice League of America) in 2000 I thought the title would suffer for it. Hearing that Mark Waid was taking over, my trepidation subsided. When JLA #43 hit the stands, I welcomed Waid's rendition of the League with open arms! Batman is by far my favorite superhero and this story backs the claim that he is indeed, as Superman says, "the most dangerous man on Earth!" The villain Ra's al Ghul breaks into Batman's computer and uncovers secret files that reveal Batman's detailed contingency plans to expose the weakness of every member of the Justice League, to take them down in the event the supers ever went evil. Because of Batman, the League is defeated and this results in Bat's expulsion from the team. A perfect story detailing everything I love about the Bat: brutal calculation that highlights his inherently paranoid and vulnerable nature.
6 - Transmetropolitan
Written by the enigmatic Warren Ellis and exquisitely illustrated by Darick Robertson, Transmetropolitan highlights the adventures of cyberpunk, Gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem. Spider's merciless commitment to the Truth unveils the political, social, spiritual, and economic corruption in our world. His chain-smoking, drug-rattled, savage personality hits every page with no holds-barred veracity that you can't help but fall in love with, even when he is tearing down everything else around him. To give you a taste, when watching riot police brutalize a group of minorities on the streets for no reason, Spider pounds away an article on his laptop stating, "Truth? If anyone in this shithole city gave two tugs of a dead dog's cock about Truth, this wouldn't be happening." Nice!
5 - Outlaw Nation
While Preacher was hot and taking over the adult comics scene, there was another title out by the Vertigo Imprint which took my fancy even more. Written by Hellblazer veteran Jamie Delano, Outlaw Nation is the weird and wild tale of Story Johnson, a has-been pulp fiction writer and member of a family who seem to have century-long (or more) lifespans. Story just returned after being MIA in the Vietnam War, though instead of receiving a warm welcome home he is targeted as being responsible for the disappearance of other Johnson Family members. Unfortunately, due to its lack of popularity this title was cancelled prematurely and Delano had to wrap up years worth of Story's, um . . . story in just a few issues at the end. Regardless, this is still one of my favorite works of fiction all around.
4 - Planetary
Another Warren Ellis epic, with gorgeous illustration work by John Cassady. The Planetary organization refer to themselves as "Archaeologists of the Impossible," and strive to investigate all things strange and unusual in the world. It is a mishmash of all things sci-fi/horror/comic/noir bundled into an incredibly tight storyline that seems to be parsed into stand-alone segments at first, but then weaves together into an amazing saga of superheroic fun. Oh, and Mothra is in it! What more do you need? Get the Omnibus Volume to read it all in one setting! It's worth it!
3 - Promethea
I have highlighted this book before in my Top 5 Esoteric Tomes post. What can I say? Writer Alan Moore (who claims to have at one point conjured the god of Mercury) has spun together a fantastic tale about Sophie Bangs, who is the new host of Promethea, a being who is the embodiment of imagination determined to bring about the Apocalypse. Add to this a host of Goetic demons possessing New York City's mayor, a bunch of science heroes flying around on a floating platform called the Five Swell Guys, backdrop billboards dropping "Weeping Gorilla" memes, and the famed occultist Alesiter Crowley riding a camel in drag . . . well, you have yourself one of the finest tales ever spun on paper! Plus, J.H. Williams III's award-winning art on the series is stunning . . . just absolutely superb!
2 - The Infinity Gauntlet
This is another work I have written about in my In Anticipation of Thanos & Infinity War post. Only one comic has ever beat this one as a fave (see below). Back in the day, Thanos wasn't even a blip in pop culture, except for the kids who hovered around the comic racks in the grocery store in the 80s. Nobody else had any clue as to the bad-assery of Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet saga. Now, because of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is a household name. Even though the movie was a major deviation in plot from the comic, it kept the theme, the essence of scope in which The Infinity Gauntlet had for those of us who were exposed to Jim Starlin's magnum opus from the beginning. Since this book, superhero comics have merely been copy-cats, trying in vein to recreate the cross-over magnificence that was woven into this cosmic gem!
1 - Lucifer
Finally, the best of the best! A spin-off from the ground-breaking Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, Lucifer gave up the keys of Hell long ago (he never really wanted it anyway). Now, in this series by one of the greatest writers alive, Mike Carey sets Lucifer on his own odyssey to explore the true meaning of free will and individual power. The rest of the angelic hosts do not take kindly to Lucifer's quest, of course. The scope of this work is massive. The characters and multiple inter-weaving parts are fascinating. The amount of mythology from various cultures represented in this work blows my mind. I can't say enough about how much Lucifer not only makes the top of my comic list, but would compete for my most favorite story of any work of fiction ever. Do not watch the TV series, it is a travesty. And don't pay attention to any other run of Lucifer that has been made since. Only the run from Mike Carey stands the test of time, as it is greatest tale ever written exploring our destiny as beings of free will in the grander scheme of a wider universe (and beyond).
Do yourself a favor: READ! THIS! BOOK! It is first-rate! Incomparable! Outstanding! Ugh . . . I'm embarrassing MYSELF how much I am geeking out about this comic!!!
Hope you enjoyed this Top 10 . . .