For more on the comics that have brought us to this point, click HERE.
All right, we are into the second quarter of this list, which you will remember was Wizard Magazine’s Top 100 issues of a lifetime, assuming your lifetime was 1979-2006.
There have been some… choices so far. I’m not entirely sure what was Wizard was going for with this list at times. Let’s see if it starts getting any better…
#75. American Century #9
So Howard Chaykin is a high quality, well-regarded comic book writer. I was not surprised to see his having at least one title on this list.
But this issue… wow. Not very good.
So the story here is of Harry, a former military man traveling across the country, coming upon a little diner/garage when his motorcycle has failed. He meets Frank, the man in charge, and Frank’s wife, Laura. Laura is immediately and extremely flirtatious with Harry, in a WILDLY unsubtle way (“You’ve been eyeing my pie since you walked in”).
Harry ends up staying for dinner with Frank and Laura, and while Frank goes to the bathroom, he fucks Laura. In the aftermath thereof, Laura hints that she wants Harry to kill Frank for her, but he laughs her off and tries to leave.
Laura and her lover, the local cop, try to frame Harry for robbing the till of the diner, but Frank sees through them and shoots Laura and the cop. So then Harry drives off.
It’s… real dumb. It’s just grimy and dirty and the characterization is so poor–we do get a bit about Harry and Frank having both been in the military as a reason for why Frank trusts Harry, but that’s it–nothing feels special here. It’s one of those book that feels like it THINKS it is special because he has bad words and a sex scene. But it’s not deep or important. It all just feels so… rough.
So… sorry, Chaykin. This was a big miss for me.
#74. Batman Black & White #4
I have never seen Brian Bolland as a writer, so I was impressed seeing that this comic was written AND drawn by Bolland, who is already regarded as one of the most spectacular comic artists of all time. His realism is unparalleled at times.
This story is told entirely through the narration of the main character, a guy who has decided there is only one way to be a good person: you have to commit evil acts and still personally decide that being good is better. To that end, he is mulling over what he can do to prove his own goodness, including considering kidnapping and torturing a young girl.
He THANKFULLY decides against that before figuring out his best way to go about his need to try out evil would be to assassinate Batman. He lays out his plan–making light of the classic Silver Age Batman stories along the way by saying he might encounter The Bat fighting a villain on a giant typewriter–and it theoretically ends with sniping the hero.
What’s interesting here is that we never see the character make his attempt. It’s all his plan. So the tale ends with this madman out there, lying in wait to get his chance to kill Batman. All because he “knows” he can’t be a good person until he does something terrible.
#73. Justice League Annual #1
The late 1980’s Justice League book is always a title I should like more than I have. The talent level is there–JM DeMatteis and Keith Giffen are both tremendous–but when I read it, it never works for me. As an adult, anyway! I bet if I read it as a child, I’d have loved it. DeMatteis and Giffen definitely wrote this book for a younger audience, and that’s perfectly fine, but it leaves the characters feeling too one dimensional to me.
This is more of the same, though I will say it is somewhat better than the standard issues of JL from the time that I’ve read. The story here is of an alien germ lifeform that has the ability to possess and control anyone it comes across. Initially it is trapped on a deserted island, but Ted Kord’s employees run afoul of it and bring it back to the world.
The Justice League splits into pairs to take it down, and eventually all are taken over except The Martian Manhunter, who is immune because he is an alien. J’onn proves his formidability in overcoming the virus, ultimately trapping it by absorbing it into himself.
Most of my experience with J’onn is with him as the high-end jobber of the JLA, so I appreciate a book that lets him star and save the day. Again, this is fine… I just know I wasn’t the target audience for these comics. I’ll always have DeMatteis’ Spider-Man or Giffen’s Lobo, I guess!
#72. Preacher: Tall In The Saddle
So this story is a prequel special, telling a story of Jesse’s life when he was barely 20 years old and was caught up working for a car thief and running afoul of a very Cint Eastwood-is Texas Marshall. The latter gets Jesse and his friends involved in bringing down a horse thief.
This is… perfectly fine, especially as far as Preacher stories go. It’s not too MOUNTAIN DEW EXTREME, which is what I usually dislike about the series. It’s honestly pretty much the most vanilla tale from that run I recall ever reading. And that includes a scene where Jesse and Tulip have sex while in a car chase.
#71. New Teen Titan #20
In this issue of the classic New Teen Titans run, the Titans’ battle against The Disruptor is told through a letter home that Wally West is writing to his parents. The Disruptor is more-or-less a one-off Titans villain who serves as the foil to what the Titans are. He is also a young man with access to powers, but he’s caught up in trying to appease his emotionally abusive father; he doesn’t have the heroic influences the others have had in their lives.
The ending to this one is heartbreaking, as Disruptor takes the full brunt of his father’s crimes to save his dad, only for daddy dearest to insult him and disavow their relationship.
Aside from that, this is just a typical decent issue from the Wolfman/Perez run. It’s good. The characterization is great, but it might be a bit wordy. Each page is just so damn full of narration and dialogue. I guess you’re getting your money’s worth reading it, and this was a very good run overall.
Why am I still getting frankly BAD books at this point in the list? American Century joins Demo and Semper Fi at the definitive bottom of my re-racking as the three “Why were these on ANY list to begin with?” choices.
Oh well… speaking of the current rankings as decided by me…
- Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)
- Amazing Spider-Man #248
- Astro City #1
- Hitman #22
- Uncanny X-Men #268
- Animal Man #16
- Batman B&W #4
- Robin #46
- Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
- Web of Spider-Man #1
- Preacher #50
- Exiles #16
- Ghost Rider #68
- New Teen Titans #20
- Justice League Annual #1
- Legion of Superheroes #3
- Batman Adventures Annual #1
- Preacher: Tall In The Saddle
- Adventures of Superman #474
- Legion of Superheroes Annual #1
- Batman: Devil’s Asylum
- Conan The Barbarian #100
- Alias #3
- Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg
- Fantastic Four #3 / #432
- Punisher #10
- Legion of Superheroes #296
- American Century #9
- Demo #3
- Semper Fi #1
Seventy more books to go! Whew…
Until next time… take care!