Critics on 100 Essential Comic Books


Years ago, I was given the book The A List: The National Society Of Film Critics’ 100 Essential Films as a birthday gift. It was a collection of essays by notable critics on 100 important movies. It’s something I’ve returned to every now and then, as I saw notable films for the first time, or rewatched a particular classic. I’ve had the book for over a decade, but there’s still some stuff I haven’t seen, and some movies that I got to quite recently (Killer of Sheep being the most current.) It gained value as I learned more about film, and why a particular work was notable.

When I got the book, I thought it would be cool to have something like this exist about comic books. And then I realized when reading a review of some comic or the other, that with all the content available online, it’s pretty easy to pull this off. I searched for reviews for notable comics. In some cases, I remembered a particular review that I remembered (Chris Sim on Achewood, Bendis’ intro to Incal.) For others, I looked up notable stories until I could find some interesting commentary.

Granted, it’s a bit haphazard. There are some inconsistencies in terms of what is considered a work, and it’s largely dependent on what writings I was able to find. In some cases, the review covers several notable stories from one writer or creative team. In others, it covers a single issue story, or maybe even a smaller tale from a larger anthology. I tried to limit myself to only having a maximum of three reviews from any particular critic. Some notable work isn’t included mainly because it wasn’t as easy to find the right kind of commentary on it; I need something longer than half a page, that covers why the work is good.

I’m limiting this to stuff that’s available free online, which excludes items from books or magazines. If I was editing a series like this, I’d include Art Spiegelman’s introduction to the daring autobiographical Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, or one of Marc Sobel’s essays for Brighter Than You Think: 10 Short Works by Alan Moore: With Critical Essays by Marc Sobel (probably the one on “In Pictopia.”) I can’t vouch for every single review; it’s entirely possible that a critic has a dodgy reputation or some disqualifying feature that I’m unaware of and that a piece might not hold up to a second read.

There’s a bias in favor of material that is either very recent, or that has just been rereleased in a new format, simply because these are the types of reviews that are most commonly available now. It’s telling how several of the links I was guided to no longer work, and how some of the sources of reviews I remember reading are no longer available (the Fourth Rail comes to mind). I’m a bit surprised at how books that felt quite recent for me (Y The Last Man, Ultimate Spider-Man) don’t have commentary that is as readily available, even if it makes sense that there’s a larger audience for the newer stuff.

With all the caveats expressed, if you’re looking for one hundred pieces of commentary on notable comics, you’ve come to the right place.

All-Star Superman Lois

marshall rogers batman joker

daredevil nuke

dredd america


Watchmen 25th Anniversary limt edition print By Dave Gibbons and John Higgins

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
This entry was posted in Comics Industry, Criticism, DC Comics, List, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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