Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Greatest Comics

Ever so often I run across other stories, articles, and such on the web that I have to share.  I've always been a list person, and  like to see what other people think are the "Best of" something, whether it be top  movies, TV shows, comics, books, SF films, music albums, the top Dr. Who episodes of all time, or the top Star Trek episodes, heck, I'd probably be interested to knowing what the Top 10 tooth paste are if it was on the web somewhere.  So I recently ran across some "Best of" list on comics that were over at the site where they polled their readers on what they thought were the top stories of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, and a few other related list, like the Top list of X-Men related family stories, ie. Wolverine, or team-up books, New Mutants, and so forth.

Here's a link to the Top 3 Batman books.  I don't think The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller would be a big surprise to anyone is on the list that has read or followed Batman for very long, or The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, or Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli or the Arkham Asylum graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean.   Those were all pretty big books, fairly contemporary, and have remained fan favorites for a while now. 

Shortly after I'd started reading comics again around 1985, Miller's The Dark Knight Returns came out and it was a big splash, and there was a fairly big media frenzy over it.  Shortly after that in 1989, Tim Burton's Batman film came out with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and it was a pretty big hit at the box office as well, so Batman became a pretty hot franchise.  The toy market made a lot off of the Batman franchise, as did the people that make T-shirts, and whatever spinoff items were produced at the time.  As one might expect publishers got wind of the fan hysteria and made more Batman books.  There were collected reprint books of older Batman stories, team-up with other off-the-wall characters like Batman and Grendel (which was actually pretty good), Judge Dredd, the British character, and Spawn.  There were Elsewhere books, which is sort of alternate story tales, like what if Batman met Dracula, or Sherlock Holmes, and that sort of thing.  Some of those were pretty good too.  But they kept churning out more and more titles like Shadow of the Batman, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman one-shot books and mini series as well, so many in fact that it actually had an adverse effect on me, I got pretty Batman burned-out pretty early on.  I felt we were getting a little bit too inundated with Batman stuff, until, well, the next big thing came along.

The same thing is true for the X-Men books in the 90's.  I'm not sure what instigated that frenzy, maybe it was the X-Men cartoons at the time, or the Wolverine character was a hot title, or that the X-Men books were always pretty hot, as it was a bit before the actually X-Men movies came out.  But within the comic market, more is more, so they created more X-Men titles, spinoff books, and created more mutant characters, of course, not all of it good, and they over-saturated the market. 

Back to the list though, I was surprised by the Number 3 Batman entry, however, as I had never heard of it. There must have been some diehard fans that entered their poll questionnaire.  It's called, “The Career of Batman Jones” (Batman #108),  and they have a bit of the storyline up on the site for you to read, which is pretty cool.

At any rate, here's a link to the full 75 Greatest Batman Stories.   

Not only do they have the 75 Greatest Batman Stories of All-Time, but also the 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time.  

I don't know if the same scenario existed when the Christopher Reeves' Superman movie came out in 1978.  I suspect there was, just on a lesser scale.  I wasn't reading comics at that point in time, but I remember the movie did pretty well at the box office and with fans.  In the West Texas town I was living in at the time, we didn't have any specialty comic stores, so about the only way you could purchase a comic was still at a convenience store. It was also before everyone had a personal computer and web access, so the success of the movie was basically word of mouth, and just whatever media source you ran across at the time.

I figured that the Alan Moore story of Superman, For the Man who has Everything from Superman Annual #11, would make it on the list, and probably a Mr. Mxyztplk story, and a Bizarro story.  Also the above storyline, Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross is a great story as well.

 Also I figured the Death of Superman would be on the list  as well (which was the one that stirred the media frenzy as I recall).  The storyline led up to a confrontation with a villain called Doomsday, and the newspapers at the time published small articles about the storyline.  The final issue in which Superman gets killed, Superman #75, came bagged in a black plastic bag, known as the Memorial issue with some miscellaneous items inside like a poster, a card, some stamps, and a black armband, etc.  Some comic shops would only let you purchase so many issues or they would allow you to  purchase one, and then have to buy the others at a marked-up price (or some nonsense).   It was just a way the shops could gouge their loyal customers or speculators, dim enough to fall for the marketing scheme.  At any rate, I had a friend working in a comic shop at the time, and he told me a tale about how some comic dork comes walking in his shop around that time wearing one of the black armbands from the "black Memorial issue" and buys more copies of the issue.  His story makes me smile even today.  Ah, memories...

At any rate, there's also the 50 Greatest X-Men and Spinoff Stories.  

As well as 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories.  

So go take a look if you are so inclined.  


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I think we have approached Batman burnout on the screen, but somehow a new comic remains more appealing than a new movie.

I like the scene in The Big Bang Theory in which Penny, Amy, and Bernadette read comics just so they can understand why their guys see in them. At first they think the comics were stupid but then read more of them as they argue over details of the stories.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yes, I feel about the same way, but it looks like Ben Afflect may be the new Batman, and by the time the film is wrapped up and ready to go during the summer blockbuster season, I'm sure there will be many fans to turn out for it. For whatever reason the character is still pretty strong with the public. As long as it's a pretty good movie I'm game. I think Hollywood is being more careful as they make these things to keep ticket sales up.

Scott Snyder is the writer for Batman these days, and has loyal fans too. I tend to just follow along on the outskirts however. Guess I'm getting old.


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