Now that was a week in comics. DC’s Infinite Crisis wrapped up. Marvel’s Civil War began. Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts 1959-1960 was released. Free Comic Book Day was on Saturday. Whew! And what do you know, there was a lot of quality to back up all the events. I added a little personal depth and perspective by purchasing last month’s Wizard Magazine (#175) and reading their article, “100 Best Single Issues Since You Were Born.” Well, if you were born in or after 1976 to be precise. I have my problems with Wizard as a whole, but I must admit their selections were pretty dang good. In-between the iconic Golden Age Superman being beaten to death by an evil Superboy and the New Warriors getting blown to bits and Charlie Brown getting thrown out at home plate, I sifted and dug through my comics archives on a determined mission to pull all 65 comics I had out of 100 that were entered on Wizard‘s list. Not a bad distraction at all!
I’m going to be discussing some entries on the Wizard list beginning with the next paragraph, spoiling a few of the rankings along the way, so if you’re interested in the actual article and want to be surprised, please don’t go any further here until you’ve read it. The highlights and examination start right now.
The top entry is “The Overview,” from Top Ten #8. Wizard tweaked its own criteria a bit to allow this issue onto the list, as the main story (14 pages) is surrounded by subplots (8 pages) that help make up the whole of the maxiseries (12 issues), but since it is an extremely powerful tale and does stand on its own merits, I can easily forgive Wizard and congratulate them on a selection well made. Now, why Alan Moore’s equally effective “Pog” from Swamp Thing #32 didn’t make the cut is beyond me, but let’s face it, this list could have easily been made up of nothing but Alan Moore stories.
Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 shambles in at #7, and that’s great; however, it’s the only Swamp Thing entry, which is terrible. Sandman has five entries, Preacher has four, Planetary has three, Marvel’s freakin’ “Ultimates” line has three (all in the top 25, no less), and Moore’s Swamp Thing, one. I know, I know, it’s Wizard, there can only be 100, the votes are final?well, at least it’s there.
Wizard didn’t mention what format Batman: Devil’s Asylum (#90) was in, so that was the hardest title for me to locate. Hardcover? Prestige format? Special? Annual? None of the above. It was a bloody tie-in to Underworld Unleashed, DC’s mega-crossover event of 1995! Took eleven years for me to read the book, and Wizard magazine to inspire the search!
Nothing wrong with the Sandman choices, it’s just that five more could’ve easily been picked, especially #19 (Gaiman’s take on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”). And with Top Ten #8 making the grade, then any of the stories within “Worlds’ End” (Sandman #51-56) could’ve made the cut. “Convergence” (Sandman #40, entry #64) is an outstanding piece on why mystery is so important to storytelling. I feel the most compelling aspect of DC’s “One Year Later” batch of books is the air of mystery that permeates through each title, and “Convergence” reminded me of that. Depth and perspective!
There are four X-Men entries, and I don’t have any of them, and not being a big X-Men fan I’m proud of that. However, had Wizard included any of Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, the only X-Men era I have any enthusiasm for, then I would have felt differently, and I would remain just as proud.
Say what you will about Infinite Crisis‘ concluding chapter, but I’m sure every fan of Mogo the Green Lantern was cheering on the big heroic planet when he showed up. Mogo’s first appearance, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, was in Green Lantern #188, at #29 on the Wizard list. I know it’s never gonna happen, but I wish Moore and DC would make up and Alan would start writing for DC again. You go over the number of entries the writer has on this list and you realize just how much he contributed to the DC universe (and there’s not an issue of Watchmen in sight!)
The high-ranking of Batman: The Killing Joke at #3 is excellent, but citing its publication date as 1998 (twice even!), not 1988, is not impressive.
What won me over to this list early on was the inclusion of American Century #9 at #75. This is one obscure gem, brimming with sex, violence and sordid affairs at a roadside diner/auto shop along Route 66 in the early1950s. The bullet-riddled Route 66 signpost on the cover is icing on the cake, one of my favorite covers of all time. I’m a sucker for road trips, and a comic about a road trip is just as good!
I thought the entry for Adventure Comics #466 (#66, one of only two comics on the list that was published in the 1970s) was because of the Justice Society story that explained why the JSA vanished in the early 1950s (and the tale I thought of most while reading Civil War #1), but it was actually chosen because of the excellent Deadman short story by Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Impressive.
Wizard really did its homework for this article. I do wish it had been a longer list; 500 would have been spectacular with an entire issue devoted to the subject (I mean, what’s more important? A guy who doesn’t even look like Superman on the cover, or 150 or so pages devoted to the best comic book stories of all time?). That might have allowed for writer Peter Milligan to be represented with Face and The Eaters.
I know, I know?c’mon, Jim, draw up your own list! Okay, maybe I will. Inspired by Wizard and as a distraction to this week’s 52, I’ll get on it! But in the meantime I’ll provide more comments on Wizard‘s “100 Best Single Issues Since You Were Born” next week!