Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking Back at the "O*'s" - The 5 Best Stories of the Decade

While I blasted the worst stories last week, I wanted to point out the best this week. Here are the books you should have picked up (and yes, DC was the clear winner here):

1. - Marvel Comics - Civil War

There were rumblings and teasers throughout Marvel's titles for months, and even when it came time to spill the beans on their newest upcoming project, we had no idea where they were going with it. Heroes were supposed to die and some were supposed to turn into villains, but could Marvel pull it off?

Yes, they did.

In this one storyline, we saw Spider-Man unmasking publicly. We saw the return of the Punisher to the regular Marvel Universe. We saw "Thor" kill Giant Man, only to later be revealed as a clone. We saw Captain America turn on Iron Man, and we were loving every page of it. Though the ending was really a little anticlimactic, the story kept to a steady pace and the outcome paved the way for the Secret Invasion later.

2. - DC - Infinite Crisis

 The first issue of this series managed to pay homage to its predecessor (Crisis on Infinite Earths) while still establishing itself as an original plot of its own. Many heroes died here, and some came back (Barry Allen, even just for one panel).

I didn't like how Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime were turned into bad guys at the end (I feel that was a cheap shot), but I liked this series for the most part.

By the way, find the one huge mistake they made on the poster for this one. It's fairly easy to spot, though the folks at DC never picked up on it for some reason. Did you see it? Explain why Jay Garrick, the golden-age Flash, would be fighting Wally West, the current Flash. It was supposed to be Jay versus Professor Zoom, but apparently the colorist didn't catch the memo.

DC had originally planned to kill Nightwing in this story, but fortunately they rethought that one. That left the character wide open to take part in our next winner...

3. - DC - Battle for the Cowl

How do you recover from the drug-induced haze of Grant Morrison's Batman: R.I.P. story? You give the follow-up tale to Tony Daniel. Rather than dig through years of comic history to find the most obscure moments and make them suddenly crucial to the story, Tony gave us a story that even a new Batman reader could follow.

Dick Grayson, the natural successor to the cowl, didn't want it (for reasons that became apparent later in the title), while everyone else did. Jason Todd steps in as a Batman you should seriously be afraid of, and in the end Dick Grayon's eventual acceptance of the mantle of Batman made perfect sense. The end result was the same as if you'd just had him take it, but the ride made the moment much more poignant.

4. - DC - Identity Crisis

While many have panned this, I have to say I loved it. It was the first time in a long time I followed a monthly series and really had no idea how it was going to end. It had some incredibly iconic moments like the death of Firestorm, Deathstroke versus the JLA, and of course the eventual revelation of Sue Dibny's killer.

This series has made three different lists in this blog based on some of the moments in it, so it stands to reason it would find its way here. This wasn't a comic book was a full-fledged mystery that showed how ugly it can be to be a superhero sometimes.

Oh, it went too far in places. Sue Dibny's rape at the hands of Doctor Light was way over the edge and unnecessary, even though it was the catalyst for Elongated Man's determined attack on him. But this was a solid enough story to keep it interesting until the end. I never saw the end coming.

5. - DC - Green Lantern: Rebirth

We knew Hal Jordan was coming back. The question was how? Geoff Johns gave us a taste of how to write a return story with this one. Hal Jordan's Spectre comes back in a crazy way. Green Arrow uses a power ring. And these are all just moments leading up to the big return.

Some of the explanations were a little strange (like why Hal had gray hair at his temples), but for the most part we saw some incredible stuff from beginning to end.

The thing that set this story apart was how they were able to bring Hal back into the regular DC universe without killing Kyle or anyone else. And in the aftermath of this series we saw him confronting Batman (and decking him).

This will be released in an Absolute Edition early in 2010. If you haven't read it already, get that one on order.

BONUS: DC - Justice

This one didn't make the list because it's on another list I have coming up reviewing the "0*'s", but I had to mention it here.

What's there to like about this? Let's see...Alex Ross does all the interior and exterior work, the Justice League get the biggest smackdown to their abilities ever, Aquaman gets brutally attacked but gets his revenge, and the list goes on and on. This story took an incredibly original look at the Justice League while managing to pay homage to the old "Challenge of the Super Friends" cartoon series by giving us the Legion of Doom (plus some). It looked absolutely hopeless for our heroes until they were finally able to slowly turn the tide.

The "Absolute" edition of this is a must-have. The artwork looks even more amazing in this bigger, more-colorful size. The price may be a little steep, but it's definitely work the investment.

Honorable Mention: Blackest Night

While it technically began in the "oughts", it won't finish until 2010. That means it'll be making our list on December 22, 2019, so be sure and check us out then!

Next week, we continue our look back on the first decade!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You seem to have limited yourself to stories that appeared in stand-alone series. What about great storylines in regular titles? My vote would go for "Hush", from Batman 608-619. It had some profound effects on the Batman mythos (return of Jason Todd, first appearance of Hush, upping Bruce's relationship with Selina Kyle, etc). And it was just an awesome story in and of itself!


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