Yes, it’s been a while! I know, I know! I’ve been busy. Let’s get right into it. Not fair to make you wait any longer.
For more on this list recounting up to this point, click HERE! Just follow the links backwards.
#35) Omega Men #26
My very limited experience with anything having to do with The Omega Men is entirely the Tom King mini-series from a few years back, and I really did not care for that book. I reviewed it on a podcast once, and I believe I gave it a D-. Not good!
As opposed to 12 issues of nonsense, what we have here is 5 pages of perspective. A race of enormous giants is invaded by a race of tiny spider monsters. And as time travels differently for each type of creature, the spiders spend three decades trying to convince their victims of their superiority, but the giants can never even register their existence. It takes a year for the spiders to realize one of the giants is in the process of blinking!
After the spiders’ mission finally falls apart and fails, we get one last page of the giants’ perspective, where one of them sees a blink of everything that “just” happened. His partner tells him not to dwell on it because life is too short.
It’s a funny little story–spoiler alert, but Moore has another gem of a short story coming up shortly–and the kind of thing he excels at telling to make you laugh and think.
#34) Birds of Prey #8
Time was, Chick Dixon wrote every Bat undercard book, I guess.
It’s still weird to me that DC ended up bringing Barbara Gordon back to the role of Batgirl. Well, not “weird”. DC clinging desperately to their past and undoing any character progress they made in the 80’s and 90’s is what DC does. Maybe “unfortunate” is the word I was looking for. Babs as Oracle felt like a powerful character.
I say that, and yet I really liked the Batgirl of Burnside run, so… I’m a hypocrite.
Anyway, this is obviously from Barbara’s height as Oracle, and this is a story of her relationship with Dick Grayson, her admitting what part of being Batgirl she missed the most, and Dick figuring out a way to give her that.
Dick/Babs is one of the more frustrating relationships in comics. Those crazy kids are meant to for one another, but they are never allowed to just have an extended run of happiness!
#33) Lex Luthor Special
I’ve actually reviewed this book in depth previously, and you can see that HERE.
#32) Incredible Hulk #341
Man, what an iconic cover. How many homages to this have there been? Though… now that I look at it? Why does Wolverine have the facial skin of an octogenarian?
To the surprise of no one, this is a Wolverine/Hulk confrontation. It’s the timing of it that makes it unusual. During this fight, Wolverine just wants to be left alone, but it’s the angrier, more on-edge Joe Fixit Hulk that insists on tussling. Wolverine succumbs to his inner demons and gives Hulk what he wants.
This book reminds me why I love the old school Marvel 616 continuity. Peter David did not write X-Men, but this story is all about what was going on with that team at the time. This is, frankly, more of a Wolverine story than a Hulk one. And you get the sense of the shared world and how much respect the creators had for one another.
#31) Tangled Web #4
It’s weird to say this is a Kingpin story because, despite being all over the book and name-checked on just about every page, Fisk himself is only on a few pages at the end.
The story here is of a high ranking minion of Fisk’s whose operation is busted up by Spider-Man. When the minion, Tom Cochrane, gets a call from The Kingpin, he dutifully goes off to meet with his boss… fully well knowing how the night is going to end.
The hard part of this story is that Tom’s wife knows, too, and we see this guy–this “bad guy” who works for a villain and has no doubt been part of dealings that have hurt millions–is a family man who has a relatable life like any of us. Spider-Man, who would never ever ever kill this man, indirectly gets him killed by doing his own job.
In the end, before his passing, Tom is able to respectfully and cooly ask Wilson Fisk to spare his family. And as The Kingpin chokes the life out of him, Fisk agrees. Then he calls off his assassin to let the Cochrane go.
I really like this one! You truly get this sense of how long Kingpin’s reach is and how terrifying he is. You kind of see why people work for him, even though… well, you see how that game can end. I DO think Fisk killing a loyal underling who has done impeccable work for him over one mistake is a bit cartoonish, but hey… comics is comics, after all.
#30) Avengers #189
The recently demoted AvengernHawkeye goes out and gets a job as a puffed up security guard, whereupon he has to save his boss’ goods from being stolen by Deathbird, a royal member of an alien race.
This isn’t just way too high… I’m not sure why this is on the list at all. I mean, it’s a fine come book story, but nothing that happens is extraordinary in any way. Hawkeye assaults a trapped Deathbird by kissing her against her will at the end. But I don’t think THAT’S why it made the list.
Seriously, most of the list so far is better than this book. What gives?
#29) Green Lantern #188
Ah, the first appearance of Mogo, and another Alan Moore short story about alien invaders being in WAY over their head. The similarities between this one and the Omega Men story are obvious: a conquering alien. A foe far too large to even acknowledge the antagonist’s presence.
You kind of forget that Moore can do humor because, well, he’s ALAN MOORE, and most of his notable works aren’t laugh riots. And then you see him, and never has a man so looked like he’s never chuckled in his life. But you read something like this, with its big bombastic villain who gets knocked down several pegs, and you see what he has in his tiny, dark heart. And the title of the short story: “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize”. I love that.
This is such a fun way to introduce a character, and I wonder if Moore ever knew Mogo would go on to be a longtime relevant member of the GLC.
I mean, even if he had a sense of humor, the guy still hated everything.
#28) Batman #424
As is usually the case with Bat-books, this is yet another case of why Batman is boring, but his supporting cast props him up because it’s the best in comics.
Jason Todd and Batman bust up the criminal activity of a diplomat’s son, finding along the way that he had captured and was abusing an innocent women. Due to his status, the man gets off scot free, much to Robin’s chagrin.
Todd and Batman build a case against Felipe (the diplomat’s son) to have him kicked out of the country, and finally they track him down at his supplier and make the arrest.
As he is being taken back home, though, Felipe calls the victim from earlier and, right in front of Batman and Robin, terrorizes her with threats that he will see her again before he is sent to his home country. When the heroes check in on her, they find she has hanged herself.
So then Robin totally murder-death-kills Felipe by hucking him off a balcony, though Batman can’t prove it; Todd says he slipped.
Batman in this book is so obnoxiously wooden and uncaring, that you HAVE to side with Jason. A woman died, and Bruce is all “Oh nuts, shoulda seen this coming”, but Todd has the more visceral–more HUMAN–reaction. This isn’t a comic book villain gassing citizens and escaping the looney bin; this is a rapist who the law can’t touch brazenly threatening his past victims.
You’re the man, Jason Todd!
#27) Preacher #18
This list been lousy with issues of Preacher and Sandman, though Sandman was always the far superior book. This is… didn’t this list have a book about Jesse’s dad being in Vietnam earlier?
It did! Preacher #50, back at spot #80!
I actually enjoyed that previous story more. Nothing in this book is as interesting as the scene where John and Space suddenly find themselves surrounded by Vietnam soldiers. This is just a story of John Wayne giving them lighters, their superior getting a friend killed, and the revenge they took.
It’s not bad. But there’s been much better Preacher (and Ennis) on this list.
#26) Incredible Hulk #420
I should note that this list is also overburdened with Peter David’s Hulk run, but that’s one of the greatest runs on a superhero book ever, so I’ll allow it.
Also: here’s what I’ll always remember of this book. When the Image founders were constantly having beef with Peter David and John Bryrne, Erik Larsen essentially did a parody of this story in Savage Dragon where Dragon’s friend has AIDS and asks for a transplant. Dragon says yes and backs it up with “What kind of asshole wouldn’t try to save his buddy if he could?”
The main story here is of Hulk’s former partner Jim dying of the virus and asking Hulk for a transfusion to save him. Hulk, fearful of creating another monster, lies to his friend and says he will. Jim dies, not letting Banner know that he knew the truth all along.
But! There’s also a secondary story running throughout of Betty working at a crisis center and getting a call from an HIV positive man who wants to kill himself. I don’t want to spoil too much of that here, but the last page, man… wow. That story is the real stud of this book.
Damn, that is a good batch of books. It’s going to be really hard to place these in my “Here’s Where I’d Rank These Books” update, but… let’s try!
- Hitman #34
- Sandman #18
- Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)
- Animal Man #7
- Incredible Hulk #420
- What If…? #4
- Sandman #17
- X-Factor #87
- Batman #424
- Amazing Spider-Man #248
- Astro City #1
- Captain America #7
- Tangled Web #4
- Nightwing #25
- Birds of Prey #8
- Incredible Hulk #393
- HERO #11
- Green Lantern #188
- Hitman #22
- Sandman #40
- Ghost Rider Annual #2
- 100 Bullets #11
- Uncanny X-Men #268
- New Teen Titans #38
- Planetary: Night On Earth
- Iron Man #237
- Avengers #217
- Animal Man #16
- Flinch #1
- Batman B&W #4
- Iron Man #128
- Robin #46
- Omega Men #26
- Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
- GI Joe #21
- Incredible Hulk #340
- Fables: The Last Castle
- Legion of Superheroes #13
- Sandman #50
- Avengers Annual #10
- Batman B&W #1
- Gotham Knights #8
- Web of Spider-Man #1
- The Thing #2
- Preacher #50
- Secret Origins Special #1
- Exiles #16
- Ghost Rider #68
- Spectre #5
- New Teen Titans #20
- Adventure Comics #466
- Justice League Annual #1
- Legion of Superheroes #3
- Preacher #18
- Batman Adventures Annual #1
- Lex Luthor Special
- Preacher: Tall In The Saddle
- Classic X-Men #25
- Adventures of Superman #474
- Legion of Superheroes Annual #1
- Batman: Devil’s Asylum
- Avengers #189
- Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15
- Dark Horse Presents #1
- Conan The Barbarian #100
- Dr. Strange #56
- Alias #3
- Hellblazer #63
- 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