When I was younger, I was obsessed with ranking stuff I liked, primarily comic book stories and movies. At a certain point, I read so much stuff that there wasn’t much of a point. Too much would get left out. And comics I would read later aren’t going to get a fair shake, since it’s not going to be as groundbreaking from my perspective. A random well-regarded Tintin comic might have been high on the list once, but now it just blurs together.
For too many comics, it also became impossible to determine what exactly counts. How do you categorize? Where does it begin and end? This became an issue with many longer creator-owned comics with a complete beginning, middle and end. With longer running series, there is the additional question of whether accessibility counts. Is it appropriate to include a great X-Men comic that might not be as great an introduction, but provides payoff to years of storylines?
Anyway, this comes from 2007.
- Iron Man #1-6 “Extremis”
- WE-3 #1-3
- Ultimate Marvel Team Up #6-8 “Ultimate Punisher”
- Supreme Power #1-18
JMS and Gary Frank built a mature readers superhero universe from the ground floor, although the ending of it was pretty weird.
- Groo #100
This was the one in which Groo learned how to read. I really enjoyed it, and found it easy to share with others.
- Astro City #1/2 “The Nearness of You”
- Startling Stories- The Thing- Night Falls on Yancy Street #1-4
- Uncanny X-Men #125-128 “The Search for Mutant X”
- Lone Wolf & Cub Volume 2: The Gateless Barrier
This volume features five standalone tales which rank amongst the series’s best, so it’s good stuff..
- Preacher #8-12 “All in the Family”
- Spider-Man VS. Wolverine
James Owsley (now know as “Priest’) and artist Mark Bright’s under-rated team-up classic
- Sandman #8
The introduction of Death.
- Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1-12 “Down Along the Dead Men”
Mark Millar and artists Terry Dodson and Frank Cho dilute everything that is cool about Spider-Man into a twelve issue story which truly pushes the hero to his limits. Highlights include Venom’s new identity (which makes him even more dangerous) and a temporary end to the Spider-Man/ Jonah war.
- Sin City- A Dame to Kill For
I did think Eva was one of the great femme fatales.
- Ex Machina #17-20: March to War
- Uncanny X-Men #111-114 “Magneto Triumphant”
This isn’t that well-regarded as an X-Men story (not on top ten lists at least) though I did like how the new team was hopelessly outclassed by their archenemy,
Mark Andeyko, Brian Michael Bendis
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
Grant Morrison, Dave McKean
- Hellboy: The Chained Coffin, and Other Stories
This anthology of shorter works includes the most interesting Hellboy adventures.
- Iron Man # 120-128 (aka “The Power of Iron Man”)
- Sin City- That Yellow Bastard
- Superman: Secret Identity #1-4
Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immomen’s story perfectly follows an ordinary man named Clark Kent, who after being ridiculed for years, realizes that he has the powers of Superman. Like the original Superman, he’s one of the great comic book characters. Like “Marvels” each issue portrays the protagonist at a different point in his life. Issue 1 features him as a teenager dealing with his incredible powers. Issue 2 includes his romance with a decidedly different Lois. Issue 3 follows his anxieties about becoming a father. The final issue features him as an old man. And while he “grows” in the way that the “real” Superman can’t, he’s gotta deal with a government conspiracy, and endless Superman jokes.
- Fantastic Four #496-511 “Unthinkable” “Authoritative Action”
Mark Waid’s 16 issue Doctor Doom epic (with artists Mike Wieringo, Casey Jones and Howard Porter) begins with one of the Fantastic Four’s greatest battles against their archenemy and then gets better as the heroes deal with the consequences of their victory as they struggle to ensure that Latveria won’t fall into the wrong hands. Plus it ends with them going to heaven.
- Daredevil Volume 2 #82-87 “The Devil Inside & Out”
Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark actually top Bendis and Maleev’s Daredevil run with their follow-up, as far as I was concerned at the time.
- Superman #21-22, Adventures of Superman #444 “The Supergirl Saga”
- Bone # 7-11 “The Great Cow Race”
- “Fire in the Night”(Classic X-Men #12 Back Up)
Also reprinted in Magneto #0.
- Saga of the Swamp Thing #25-31, Annual 2 “Love and Death”
Alan Moore, Stephen Bisette, John Totlebon, Shawn Mcmanus, Rick Veitch
- Global Frequency #1-12
This was essentially an anthology as Warren Ellis did one-shot stories for illustrators Garry Leach, Glenn Farby, Liam Sharp, Steve Dillon, Roy A. Martinez, Jon J. Muth, David Lloyd, Simon Bisley,Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Lee Bermejo, Tomm Coker, Jason Pearson, Gene Ha, and David Baron. But it all worked very well together.
- Fantastic Four #267 “A Small Loss”
- Infinite Crisis #1-7
- New Frontier
I didn’t even realize I had read this in 2007. I’d probably rate it higher now.
- Sandman #10-16 “Doll’s House”
- Wolverine (Mini Series) #1-4
- Death: The High Cost of Living #1-3
- Powers #15-20 (“Supergroup”)
- Hawkworld #1-3
- Superman: For All Seasons #1-4
- Lone Wolf & Cub Volumes 20-28
The longest story on the list by far at nearly 2000 pages, it marked a major turn in the saga from an anthology about a travelling warrior to the payoff as his final clash reaches its end.
61. The Squadron Supreme #1-12
This is a bit of a tough one, as there’s so much good material, but it’s so dense that I haven’t felt the need to reread it in years.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Corrigan, Boy Genius
I picked up Jules Feiffer’s comic masterpiece in the discount section at Barnes and Noble.
- Fantastic Four #242-247, 257-262 “The Trial of Galactus” “When Titans Clash”
This is almost category fraud given how this can be seen as a selection of individual stories, but the plot threads all connect very nicely.
57. Captain America Volume 5 #1-9, 11-14 ‘The Winter Soldier”
- 300 #1-5
55. Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, Spectacular #131-132 “Kraven’s Last Hunt”
- Saga of the Swamp Thing #33-50 “American Gothic”
- Creators- Alan Moore, Stephen Bisette, John Totlebon, Ron Dannal, Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson, Rick Veitch, and Stan Woch
53. Avengers Volume 3 #0, 19-22 “Ultron Unlimited”
- New X-Men #114-126: “E is For Extinction” and other stories The three parter “E is For Extinction” shook up the X-Men like no other story since Giant Sized X-Men #1. It introduced a compelling new villain, and a great twist on the Sentinels of old.
- Impact Comics #1 ‘The Master Race”
- A Contract With God And Other Tenement Stories
Will Eisner’s classic is one of the most influential comic books ever, considered amongst other things, the first original graphic novel. It firmly established Will Eisner as one of the most important writers- artists that American comics will ever have. It’s more an anthology of barely related stories than a novel. All the stories are excellent, full of interesting characters, circumstances, and sometimes extraordinary visuals.
- Ultimate Spider-Man #1-13 “Learning Curve”
- Astro City #4-9
- Preacher # 13-17, 19-24 “Proud Americans”
- Tales of the Teen Titans #42-44, Annual 3 “The Judas Contract”
- Superman Annual 11 (“For the Man Who Has Everything”)
- Books of Magic #1-4
- Fell #1-6
- Amazing Fantasy #15 “Spider-Man”
If this were the only Spider-Man story ever published, it would still establish Spider-Man as one of the best characters in comic book history. That’s the one reason I love this story so much.
- Hellblazer #41-46 “Dangerous Habits”Garth Ennis begins his respected run on John Constantine, with this story, and I doubt any creative run’s had a stronger first few pages than the shocking revelation about Constantine’s health. When he finds out that he’s dying, he sets out to find solutions any way he can. His problems become a lot worst when he pisses off the devil in one of the best scenes in any comic book I’ve ever read.
- The Adventures of Barry Ween Boy Genius Volume 2 #1-3 I still say Barry Ween is one of the most underappreciated comic books.
- Earth X Creators- Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, Jon Paul Leon
An alternate future series that also featured new revelations about the past.
- Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man This is more for the way it represents the larger Carl Barks ouvre.
- Top Ten #1-12
- Lone Wolf & Cub Volume 16 “Five Wheels of the Yagyu Creators- Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima
- Ultimates #1-13 Creators- Mark Millar, Brian Hitch
- Animal Man #-5-26 “The Coyote Gospel” to “Deus Ex Machina” Creators- Grant Morrison, Brian Bollard, Chas Truog, Tom Grummet, Paris Cullins
- Pride of Baghdad Creators- Brian K Vaughan, Niko Henrichon
- Saga of the Swamp Thing #21-24 “The Anatomy Lesson” Creators- Alan Moore, Stephen Bisette, John Totlebon
- Batman: The Killing Joke Creators- Alan Moore, Brian Bollard
- Preacher: One Man’s War Creators- Garth Ennis & Peter Snejberg This spotlight on villain Herr Starr was my favorite story from the Vertigo saga.
- City of Glass Creators- David Mazzuchelli Based on a novel by Paul Auster
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1-6 Creators- Alan Moore & Kevin O-Neill
- Amazing Spider-Man #229-230 “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut” Creators- Roger Stern, Jon Romita Jr
- X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
Creators- Chris Claremont, Brent Anderson
- From Hell Creators- Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell
- Pedro & Me Creator- Judd Winick
- Sandman #21-28 “Season of Mists” Creators- Neil Gaiman, Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Matt Wagner, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, P. Craig Russel The first issue is the perfect set up for Dream’s decision to fight Lucifer. But when they manage to meet Lucifer does something unexpected.
- Amazing Spider-Man Volume One #31-33 “If This Be My Destiny” Creators- Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
- Daredevil # 168-182 (Frank Miller’s Kingpin-Elektra-Bullseye saga) Creator- Frank Miller
- The Golden Age #1-4 Creators- James Robinson, Paul Smith
- Cages Creators: Dave McKean Hmm, I hadn’t realized that I’ve owned the book for that long.
- Understanding Comics Creators- Scott McCloud
- The Life & Times of Scrooge Mcduck Creators- Don Rosa (based on the work of Carl Barks)
- Amazing Spider-Man #248- “The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man” Creators- Roger Stern, Ron Frenz One of the most famous Spider-Man stories ever, and when writer Roger Stern thought of it, he was afraid he somehow remembered a Silver Age Superman tale. Undeniably the best story to result from Marvel’s assistant editor’s month.
14. Uncanny X-Men #132-137 “Alone Against the Hellfire Club” “Dark Phoenix” Creators- Chris Claremont, John Byrne
13. Marvels #0, 1-4 Creators- Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross Best art ever in a comic book. Makes the stories it retells even better.
12. Superman #423, Action Comics #583 “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” Creators- Alan Moore, Curt Swan
11. Fantastic Four Volume One #48-51 “The Coming of Galactus” “This Man, This Monster” Creators- Stan Lee, Jack Kirby. I suppose my decision to combine the two stories is a bit unique, but ‘This Man, This Monster” builds on several big moments from the original Galactus saga.
10. The Adventures of Barry Ween: Boy Genius Monkey Tales #1-6 Creator- Judd Winick. My weirdest top ten pick probably.
9. Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” Creators- Gerry Conway, Gil Kane
- Batman #404-407 “Year One” Creators- Frank Miller, David Mazzuchelli
- Uncanny X-Men #141-142 “Days of Future Past” Creators- Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin
- Ultimates 2 #1-13 Creators- Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch
- The Best of The Spirit
- Creator- Will Eisner
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1-4
- Creator- Frank Miller
- Creator- Art Spiegelman
- Daredevil #227-233 “Born Again”
- Creators- Frank Miller, David Mazzuchelli
- Frank Miller may have had the best year in comic book history in 1986 when he wrote this & Batman- Year One (and also wrote & drew “Dark Knight Returns.”)
- Watchmen #1-12
- Creators- Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
I think it holds up pretty well in that these are generally really good comic books, even if I’m no longer as confident in being able to rank this stuff. Looking at it now I see a lot of stuff I really enjoyed, but haven’t read in a long time.