1 - Vertigo - "Fables"
The big bad wolf (the villain in more than one story) actually became a private investigator/sheriff werewolf named Bigby Wolf. Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and just about any other fictional character you can imagine has been brought into the story even if in nothing more than a cameo.
This series is now approaching its 100th issue, so if you haven't read it yet you might want to give it a look. Just be careful of the content. It's not for children.
2 - Zondervan - "Hand of the Morningstar"
Morningstar is basically about a group of people who receive super-powers from a being called the Morningstar. This mysterious being is only alluded to in the first issues and never really explained. As the stories progress, it becomes apparent that there's a good possibility the Morningstar might not be all they had originally thought...and might even be the villain of the story.
The heroes here are flawed, and some even become corrupt with power. They kill from time to time, and yet often find themselves desperately seeking to keep their humanity intact even while saving the world as superheroes. You should look this one up on Amazon, as it's possible to find the first few volumes for very cheap. While this is a Christian publisher, the series will appeal to most comic book fans...especially those who long for the days when comic book stories were fun and not filled with gratuitous violence and language.
3. - Dark Horse - Archenemies
Star Fighter and Underlord hate each other and regularly battle as hero and villain. Ethan and Vincent also hate each other and regularly argue as roomies. There are so many fun moments in here it's hard to mention them all. At one point, Vincent develops such a hatred for Ethan that he decides it's time to kill him off as Underlord. Unfortunately, Ethan (Star Fighter) believes Underlord has somehow figured out his secret identity and is trying to kill him and Vincent!
The story takes a lot of tragic turns and manages to cram a lot into four issues. The emotional development between the two is great and it seems to end just as it's getting good. There have been talks of this turning into a feature film, and some discussion of it returning for a few more issues. I, for one, would love to see both happen.
4. - DC - Green Lantern Corps
What's amazing is how DC is able to keep this Green Lantern book interesting with nary a visit from Hal Jordan. In the past the only time we saw the Corps was when they desperately needed Hal's help to stop some villain or another. Now we see them as a group of heroes who don't need his help at all.
With the events of Blackest Night running through all titles, you see him showing up from time to time, but for the most part this is a title standing on its own merits.
5. - Red-Handed Studios - "Fallen Justice"
There is no cure. There will be no last-minute save. He is going to die, and that is settled up front in the first issue. From that point on, it's all in how he lives his last days. Every time he uses his powers he pushes himself that much closer to death, but how can a true hero stand idly by while others die?
This series truly is amazing. While it's definitely adult in language and situations, it really does show an interesting take on what truly makes a hero. Not a big fan of the name "Justice Theta", but the character is well-written and you really get a sense of the finality of his situation as the story progresses.
Starting as a comic for the iPhone, this strip is newest on the list (it came out in February of 2009). Available online in the iTunes store, it's also available in print for those comic fans like me who prefer to feel the paper as you read. This one is still going on, so if you're interested, pick it up.
We've crossed the halfway point with our lists! Next week, we continue our look back over the last decade with a look at some of the best comic book related moments since 2000.