As a reminder, this is our twice monthly article where I look back at a Top 100 comics list that Wizard Magazine published back in 2006.
You know what I blame Wizard for? Pop Vinyls.
Like… not in GENERAL. But in 2015 or so, Pops were kind of thing of which I was aware, but never really cared about. It wasn’t until I was at Wizard World St. Louis that I fell into the trap.
I was there on Day 3 of the Convention, and I hadn’t really spent any money to that point. I looked through a lot of books and items, but nothing caught my eye. I finally figured that I should at least return home with some decorations for my desk at work, so it turned out that I plopped down $20 or so on a Deadpool and a Super Saiyan Goku. My first Pops.
(I also spent about $50 on a Kitty Pryde Kotobukiya Bishoujo statue, so I can blame Wizard for all of those I’ve since bought, too)
Luckily, my Pop fascination was a lot more restricted than other folks’. Don’t get me wrong… I have a BUNCH. But, like… fewer than 100.
I’m pretty sure.
Wait, I’mma count ’em.
Oh yeah, I can’t remember EXACTLY how many are on my filing cabinet at work, but I’m definitely under 70.
Hey, that’s not bad! I should celebrate my restraint by buying some more!
See, this is all Wizard’s fault.
#90. Batman: Devil’s Asylum
I hadn’t thought about Underworld Unleashed in forever!
UU was a 1990’s DC event where Neron was bopping around the DC Universe, powering up various villains and demanding their souls in return. As far as comic book ideas go, it’s not a bad one, but it was one of those all-encompassing 90’s events that required you to read way too many different books. And I was still about four years away from fully appreciating DC.
The story here is that Neron offers limitless power to an F-tier Arkham inmate known as The Poisoner if the latter can collect Batman’s soul for Neron. The Poisoner sets his plan in motion, poisoning everyone in Arkham. When Batman arrives, he makes his offer: if Batman kills ANYONE in Arkham, Poisoner will give everyone else the antidote. So Batman has to choose between killing one to save many, or letting all die.
Hey, it’s Batman Vs. The Trolley Problem! Thanks, The Good Place!
It’s a neat Moral Philosophy 101 kind of problem, but Batman doesn’t even struggle with it. The book wastes so much time setting up the story and being from Jeremiah Arkham’s point of view early on that by the time we get to the point, the story is rushed through.
Batman basically goes “LOL no, loser”, and poisons The Poisoner, forcing him to reveal where the antidote is. So Batman saves everyone and murders no one.
Except… what is The Poisoner had been suicidal? I mean, I know Batman would know he isn’t because it’s Batman’s job to know these things, but… what is he WAS? Then Bats would have killed a dude, AND everyone else would have died. It’s like running over the five people with the trolley AND shooting the guy on the other track as you pass.
I kinda want to read that universe’s Batman now instead.
#89. Preacher: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
I never dug Preacher much when it was initially being published. To me, Preacher was the Mountain Dew of comic books. It was far too invested in how EXTREME it was and what it could get away with, but ultimately, it was just ill-flavored rot.
So when I started this Blood & Whiskey short story, my hopes were low.
And at first, I was easily proven right. Ennis falls back on Ennis-isms with a sheriff character who lets the vulgarities fly, going as far as using the FA-word. And I thought, “Okay, here we go. Ennis being extreme for extreme’s sake again”.
But the thing with Garth is that there is Bad Ennis and Good Ennis, and this story pivots over to Good Ennis pretty quickly when you get to the meat of it. It’s the story of Cassidy finding another vampire and spending time with him.
What follows is a pretty fun takedown of the whole Interview With The Vampire idea of vampires as faux-regal and uptight and fancy.
So yeah, I did have more fun with this than I thought I would. Damn it, Ennis.
#88. Semper Fi #1
Oh, hey! Something is worse than Demo after all!
I really didn’t remember this story at all, and maybe I just glazed through it the first time I went through this list.
It makes sense because this is entirely forgettable. It’s Marvel’s take a grounded, gritty war book. No superheroes. No death rays. Just fictional tales of Marines.
Poorly written, fictional tales of Marines.
I get what Marvel was going for with this title, but the execution is really bad. The dialogue is grade school level, and for this book to be what it wants to be, it really needed to be a little bit more brutal. As it is, it’s incredibly toned down, to the point where whatever impact it may have wanted to have is lost.
To be fair, the story–two Marines who got separated during a fire fight in Vietnam meet up years later… with one blaming the other for running away–isn’t awful at all. It’s just not written well. I really couldn’t get past the dialogue in this one. It’s ROUGH.
#87. Fantastic Four #60
Oh, how I loved this run of Fantastic Four. I’m not a big F4 in general, but for me, there are four breakdowns of Marvel’s first family.
-The Lee/Kirby run
-The John Byrne run
-The Waid (and mostly Weiringo) run
-A bunch of other garbage that sucks
There are precious few good Mr. Fantastic stories. Most of the good characterization in the team’s history has gone to Johnny, Ben, and Sue. Reed Richards is, at best, a boring stuffed suit there to science away problems or, at worst, a borderline villain who is not in touch with humanity.
This story, though. THIS is who Mr. Fantastic will always be to me.
The idea here is that Reed has hired a publicist to snazzy up the F4’s image and get their Q rating up. What seems like a knock-off of Almost Famous for most of the book sees the PR man caught up in the team’s goings-on while no one can figure out why Reed is bothering.
Reed finally reveals in a self-deprecating quiet moment with his infant daughter that he knows he can never expect his family to forgive him for his error that changed their lives. But what he can do is try to give them a life of popularity and celebrity to make things as good as they can.
It’s just one or two pages near the end, but it revolutionized Reed Richards to me and kicked off a wonderful stretch on the title.
“Stretch”, I said.
#86. Tales Of The New Teen Titans: Cyborg
This hasn’t aged… super well.
I loved Marv Wolfman’s Teen Titans, but this story, written by a white dude, is basically about how young black people that haven’t pulled themselves up by their bootstraps have no one to blame but themselves.
Not that time has made Ron, Cyborg’s childhood friend who wants to strike back at oppression from white America, any more sympathetic. In this story, he’s still a straight domestic terrorist. But isn’t that the problem? Instead of focusing on the problems Ron and those like him faced, Wolfman just turns him into a radical villain. Whereas Cyborg is a hero because, even though he was born into wealth, he earned everything he got because he wanted it bad enough.
This is the “Well, if you’d just comply / just work harder…” lecture of comic books.
It’s pretty awful to read this in 2021 America. And it’s not like society was leaps and bounds better back in 1982. Come on, man.
The awful thing is that the story isn’t particularly bad. I mean, it’s Wolfman and Perez on the New Teen Titans, so OF COURSE it’s entertaining and well done. It just feels very… no. It’s just no. This ain’t it, is what I believe the more hip young people say.
Oof, what a downer ending to this set. Oh well, let’s re-rank the bottom 15 to this point!
- Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)
- Hitman #22
- Uncanny X-Men #268
- Animal Man #16
- Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
- Exiles #16
- Ghost Rider #68
- Legion of Superheroes #3
- Legion of Superheroes Annual #1
- Batman: Devil’s Asylum
- Alias #3
- Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg
- Punisher #10
- Demo #3
- Semper Fi #1
We are moving right along, and I think that FF #489 is going to be #1 for quite some time!
Then again… I was penciling Demo #3 in as #100 last time, and it already got bested. Err… worsted?
Until next time… take care!