Wow, I’m still not even halfway through this list! Let’s keep going!
For more of this series up to this point, start HERE and work your way backwards.
#65. Avengers Annual #10
I feel like this story is less IMPORTANT (or even that good in particular) than it is just righting an egregious wrong.
In Avengers #200, Jim Shooter wrote a tale of Carol Danvers having a baby she did not consent to having, then deciding she was in love with her rapist and going off to live with him. The Avengers are all very happy for her and wish her well.
(There’s more to it than that because the baby WAS the rapist somehow? It’s comics, man)
I can’t image this was a good look in 1980, and it’s positively abhorrent in 2021.
Luckily, not too long after, Chris Claremont was brought in to write this tale of The Avengers and the X-Men fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants where we find out that Carol Danvers has fled limbo… she only went because of mind control… and returned to the real world. When The Avengers find her, she just lets them have it. It’s Carol lambasting the team for their inactions, sure, but what it actually is is Claremont scolding Shooter’s horrid story.
Carol just has one hell of a messed up history, folks, and this is only a part of it. No one would have ever believed she would end up becoming one of Marvel’s central heroes given her history of
-The aforementioned baby story
-The multi-issue story arc about the time she was too much of a drunk to be an Avenger
-All the time she spent depowered and/or just GONE after Rogue stole her powers
-She was a pro-registration second tier crony of Stark’s during the first Civil War
This is one of the great things about comics, though; seeing new talent find underutilized characters and breathing new life into them.
#64. Sandman #40
Man, Sandman was a weird ass book.
This story sees an infant named Daniel enter The Dreaming during his nap. There he befriends Matthew (a man who has been reincarnated as a Raven), Cain, Abel, and a woman who I am pretty sure is either Eve or Adam’s Unnamed Second Wife.
(The DC Database tells me it is Eve, which makes sense, but I don’t recall her being definitively referred to as such)
Cain, Abel, and Eve each tell Matthew and Daniel a story, after which, the child wakes up.
From Abel and Eve, we get retellings of Biblical events, including the story of Adam’s three different wives and a very child-friendly version of Cain and Abel’s history.
From Cain, we get a story about why a gathering of rooks (as in, the crow-like bird) is called a parliament.
It’s typical Gaiman in that it is WILDLY imaginative, gorgeously conceived, and features characters that all have a distinct voice and characteristics. As you read Sandman, that Calliope story (from earlier in this list) really makes more sense because Neil seems like a guy with every idea on earth. He had an ongoing series that he just constantly threw all these one-off tales into because his brain must never, ever have stopped.
I actually enjoyed the Calliope story more than this one as I compare Sandman directly to Sandman. The art was superior there, and the story just felt more… meaningful. Not that this isn’t, but it feels more like a fun spin on theology than anything brand new.
#63. Avengers #217
This is one of those books that is hard to read in all of the best ways.
You follow along with Yellowjacket–Hank Pym–as he is plummeting towards rock bottom in his recent days. You’re pulling for the guy to turn it around and be the hero we all knew he was…
(Or you weren’t because this is just four issues after he infamously decked his own wife)
…but he just keeps making mistake after mistake, including trusting his long-time enemy Egghead.
Poor, desperate Hank allows himself to be completely duped and outsmarted by Egghead at every turn, resulting in The Avengers stopping him from committing a robbery and Hank having no way to prove he was trying to save the life of Egghead’s daughter. Pym is then off to jail!
I’m not saying this is The Dark Knight Returns or anything, but in a genre where you were so used to seeing good triumph over evil, Pym’s complete bottoming out is hard to see!
It’s funny; this story happened FORTY YEARS AGO, and it’s still the shadow enveloping Hank’s entire character. He has never emerged from being “the guy that beat up his wife”, no matter how many writers have come along and done work with him. New abilities. New heroic acts. New creations.
None of it ever matters.
He is always the guy that smacked Janet and betrayed the team.
#62. Batman Black & White #1
A Bruce Timm short story! Always fun.
I feel like DC has done the “Two-Face gets plastic surgery and goes sane again, but… it doesn’t end well” at least half a dozen times. Probably more.
But they haven’t all been drawn by Bruce Timm!
So the story here is that Two-Face gets surgery and ends up falling in love with the woman who performed it. They get closer and prepare to marry… only for Harvey to find out that his surgeon has a twin. This was hidden from Harv so as not to set off his obsession with duality and the number two, and he starts an affair with the sister.
In a jealous rage (one of the three very best kinds of rage), the sister kills Harvey’s fiancée, whereupon Two-Face returns and kills her.
Like I said… nothing BRAND new here (though it might have been more original when this came out, which would have pre-dated Hush, at least), but the idea that Harvey fails because of the evil twin aspect is neat.
And Bruce Timm art.
#61. Incredible Hulk #393
Forty books into the list, and this is just the SECOND book that I actually bought in real time when it was published. The other having been Uncanny X-Men #268.
To this day–and I know there was just a very widely praised Immortal Hulk series–Peter David is the only man who has ever written a run of The Hulk that I care about. And this list will back me up on that, as this is not nearly the last we’ve seen him.
I love that comics in the 90’s were so obsessed with finding reasons for foil covers that they slapped one on issue #393–knowing #400 was coming!–because it was the 30th Anniversary issue. You could have celebrated this 7 issues later!
Anyway, this is a one-shot story where David digs up Igor, Bruce Banner’s evil assistant from Incredible Hulk #1. Hulk and The Pantheon (REMEMBER THEM? Probably not, but I do!) abduct Igor and force him to relive the day of the Gamma Bomb explosion to see what Igor would do. Even all these years later and with the gift of hindsight, Igor allows the bomb to go off so that he can complete his mission.
The story turns when, at the end, Igor realizes that if he bears the blame for everyone The Hulk has hurt… doesn’t he ever deserve the credit for everyone the behemoth has saved? The realization is short-lived, and he falls into a fourth-wall breaking despair, asking the reader to judge him.
It’s another great Peter David character examination in this run. Foil cover and all, it’s a story that holds up.
I miss Dale Keown’s version of Hulk, too.
Pretty good stretch this time. I think the best book of the lot is JUST outside the current Top 5, but the worst is still in the top half. For at least the moment, dating back to the last batch I did, we seem to be more or less done with the mediocre stuff. I’m getting eager to get through the rest of this now!
Let’s recap where I would rank the list so far if I were in charge of it!
- Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)
- Sandman #17
- Amazing Spider-Man #248
- Astro City #1
- Nightwing #25
- Incredible Hulk #393
- Hitman #22
- Sandman #40
- Uncanny X-Men #268
- Planetary: Night On Earth
- Avengers #217
- Animal Man #16
- Batman B&W #4
- Robin #46
- Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
- Avengers Annual #10
- Batman B&W #1
- Gotham Knights #8
- Web of Spider-Man #1
- Preacher #50
- Exiles #16
- Ghost Rider #68
- New Teen Titans #20
- Adventure Comics #466
- 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
Until next time… take care!