2012 Top 100 Comic Book Runs #35-31
You voted, now here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book creator runs of all-time! We’ll be revealing five runs a day for most of the month. Here is a master list of all of the runs revealed so far.
Here’s the next five runs…
35. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates – 265 points (2 first place votes)
Ultimates #1-13, Ultimates 2 #1-13
The Ultimates is essentially a post-modern take on the Avengers, with all of the characters filled with all sorts of neuroses, while the realistic artwork of Bryan Hitch helps to show what it would look like if there were actual superheroes in the world.
Captain America is recovered at the end of the first issue, and he is brought in to lead a team of superheroes, consisting of Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp.
Nick Fury, head of SHIELD, is also involved.
The book is noted for its widescreen action, courtesy of Bryan Hitch (taking the same style he used to such great effect on The Authority), and the soap opera drama that occurs throughout the series, such as when Giant Man physically abuses his wife, the Wasp, and is thrown off the team. When Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk and goes on a rampage in New York, the team is forces to go into action for the first time against one of their own colleagues! This is when Thor joins the team, although through odd means.
The rest of the series involves an alien invasion, and the addition of new members, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Check out the over-the-top action Hitch draws so well…
Writer Mark Millar ramps up the drama in the second volume, doubts have been raised as to whether Thor is a real god, or if he is just insane. Meanwhile, there is a traitor in the Ultimates’ midsts, and another invasion is coming – this time from other countries on Earth.
The finale ended with some beautiful Bryan Hitch artwork. Millar later returned to do a few sequels, now starring a Black Ops version of the Ultimates.
34. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways – 272 points (6 first place votes)
Runaways #1-18, Runaways Vol. 2 #1-24
Part of a new line of Marvel comics, Runaways is the only one still coming out, and that has all to do with the ability of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona to create likable characters that people want to see more of.
The concept of Runaways was a clever one – a group of teens (and one pre-teen) meet each other every year when their parents have some sort of meeting. When they decide to snoop around, they discover the unthinkable – their parents are supervillains!!! With this knowledge in mind, the kids decide to (wait for it..) run away, each taking something with them from their parents, whether it be Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)’s magical powers, Karolina Dean (Lucy in the Sky)’s alien abilities, Gertrude Yorkes (Arsenic)’s pet dinosaur, Chase Stein (Talkback)’s gadgets, Molly Hayes (Bruiser/Princess Powerful)’s mutant strength or Alex Wilder’s cunning and tactical abilities.
On the run, they try to both foil their parents’ schemes while also trying to do some good.
Here’s the bit where they pick out their nicknames…
The key to this series, like most great series, is the character interaction between the group. Vaughan created some in-depth intriguing personalities here, whether it be Karolina struggling with her sexual identity, Chase and Gert’s burgeoning relationship, Nico and Alex’s flirtation, or Molly’s amusing comments (as the youngest, Molly was the comic relief of the series, although she often had serious moments, too).
The first volume ended with tragedy, and in the second volume, the group added two new members, a Skrull (Xavin) who was engaged to Karolina (via her parents, of course) and Victor, who was sort of the son of Ultron.
Vaughan and Alphona (who was a wonder to see on the comic, as he just got better and better and better as the series progressed) left the book to Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan after #24 of the current series.
33. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s Scalped – 289 points (4 first place votes)
Scalped was a brilliant crime drama from Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera that told the story of an FBI agent named Dashiell Bad Horse who is sent undercover in the reservation that he grew up in to take down the chief of the reservation, Lincoln Red Crow.
Scalped was a character-driven work, and one of the ways Scalped let the characters drive the narrative was continually playing various characters against each other and in and out of various roles. Does character A belong in this box or this box? Where each of the characters end up from the start of the series is at first glance quite surprising, but the more you learn about these people the more their final decisions make sense. It is a great testament to Aaron’s skills as a writer that he naturally evolved all of these characters and gave them such great depths that all of their decisions were well within their respective character arcs.
Clearly, the most important relationship in the series is that between Lincoln Red Crow and Dashiell Bad Horse.
Red Crow is likely the most fascinating character in the series. Here’s a great moment where he gets introspective about just who Lincoln Red Crow IS…
Guera’s a brilliant artist, as his noir art style perfectly evoked the feelings Aaron was going for in each issue. Aaron was lucky to have a nunber of good fill-in artists, as well. Plus, Jock and John Paul Leon KILLED it on the covers of this series.
Much like Garth Ennis, Aaron’s talents in this series lie in getting you to become invested in these characters so that when the screws are turned on them you have a visceral reaction. Scalped has some of the most haunting stories. Like the tale of Red Crow’s daughter and her sad, dark relationship with Dashiell. Or the poignant, heartbreaking plot of “Dead Mothers” (the scene of a group of siblings instinctively tearing up the hamburgers given to them by some police officers because that’s how they have learned to get by living with their crack addict mother is disturbingly realistic – their reaction when they realize that they EACH get a hamburger is startling). This is not a series for the faint of heart, but if you want interesting stories that all build on the stories that precede them, great characters, strong relationships, intriguing plot twists…then this is the series for you (provided, again, that you can deal with some effed up plots). It was certainly the series for me. One of my favorite series of the past five years. An “instant classic,” if you like.
32. Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol – 333 points (8 first place votes)
Doom Patrol #19-63 (plus Doom Force #1, I suppose)
Arnold Drake created the Doom Patrol to be the world’s strangest superheroes, but by the time Grant Morrison took over the book, the second generation of the Doom Patrol were more of a half-hearted attempt at duplicating the success of the All-New, All-Different X-Men. Morrison decided to embrace the concept of the world’s strangest superheroes, and he gave the world a title that was strange, all right, but strange coming from the mind of Grant Morrison.
Outgoing writer Paul Kupperberg was kind enough to remove most of the members of the team for Morrison, as Morrison was really only interested, amongst the main cast members of the book, in Niles Caulder and Cliff Steele (although Josh Clay, a member of Kupperberg’s team, also stuck around, as the team doctor – Morrison would use him as the lone voice of sanity among all these bizarre goings-on, but sadly, as you might imagine, the one sane guy doesn’t stand much of a chance in a book like this). That said, Morrison DID bring back a minor character from early in Kupperberg’s run, the powerful girl with “imaginary” friends and a face like an ape, Doroty Spinner. New team members were Crazy Jane, who had different powers for each one of her split personalities and Danny the Street, who was, well, a street.
Morrison used the group to explore various secret groups, all with an idea for making the book as bizarre as possible. The great thing about it was that Morrison slowly made the book weirder and weirder as he went along, so the first issues are fairly normal, but if you compare his early issues to the end of his run – it’s like night and day.
Morrison used all sorts of different ways of telling stories, as well as doing a number of parodies, most notable of all, the Charles Atlas take-off, Flex Mentallo (who would later gain his own spin-off mini-series by Morrison and Frank Quitely). Some of the bizarre characters included the evil Scissormen, the Brotherhood of Dada, and one of Dorothy’s scariest creations, the Candlemaker.
Here is when the Doom Patrol had to solve the case of the Painting that ate Paris…
Towards the end of his run, Morrison spun the book around on its head, with a member of the group revealing a dark secret. By the time he left, he did not leave really much for incoming writer Rachel Pollack to do – the book really ought to have just ended with Morrison’s last issue, the book by the point of his departure was so indubitably his, and he took most of the coolest characters with him as he departed.
31. Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos’ Transmetropolitan – 336 points (6 first place votes)
Originally a part of a failed new line of comics (Helix), Transmetropolitan was soon the only comic left standing, and moved to Vertigo, where creators Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson told the adventures of journalist Spider Jerusalem (a tribute to the founder of “gonzo journalist,” the late Hunter S. Thompson) for five eventful years.
The basic concept of the series was simple – famed writer Spider Jerusalem has disappeared for five years, living a hermit existence, until the money he was paid in advance for writing two books dries up, and since he doesn’t have the books written, to avoid lawsuits, he returns to his job as a journalist to support himself while he finishes the books – and in the process, becomes involved in the life of The City once again.
The book is set in the future, although most of the events of the comic shadow events of the past, usually events from when Thompson first began reporting (so the late 60s/early 70s). Jerusalem has two female assistants who he refers to as his “filthy assistants.” The series is mostly built around the audience enjoying Jerusalem, a hilarious and cynical soul railing against the corruption of the future, a future so corrupt that someone as awful as Jerusalem can truly be seen as a hero.
The series ended with a very cool twist ending.
October 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm
I hate seeing the Ultimates here. Its such an ugly comic in how it treats its characters. I like to think Morrison’s JLA Classified run was a response to how juvenile it was to make the Marvel heroes edgy. As if by killing and having some sort of psychosis Captain America and Thor were cooler characters.
I feel that comics like this and the Authority are made for the ageing comic community that doesn’t know how to have fun anymore. Oh well, I look forward to still seeing Englehart’s Avengers and Morrison’s JLA on this list. Two team books that know how to be light and fun…
October 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm
Never got much into Transmetropolitan, though I like some other Ellis series a lot (most notably Planetary and Nextwave).
And yeah, I hated The Ultimates for a lot of the reason Macc describes. It’s like a Michael Bay movie in comics form, only much more mean-spirited.
The other three are great; happy to see them on the list.
October 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm
no comment on Millar. hehe.
transmetropolitan…yeah, i dont think so…..
you know its a Ellis comic when everybody has to speak in ‘bad-ass’.
October 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Not at all surprised to see Ultimates again. Enjoyed it well enough, but never loved it or anything.
Glad to see Runaways made it again. It’s a shame Marvel has managed to so completely botch it, as it has the potential to be a really solid, multi-media friendly title if they could, you know, publish it regularly.
The other three are all on my “to read” list, with Transmet probably closest to the top of the three and Doom Patrol at the bottom (I much prefer Morrison when he reigns in the weirdness a bit).
October 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Ultimates is my favorite non-Morrison-co-written Millar work. No, it’s not the Avengers, but it’s not supposed to be. That doesn’t mean it should be that high.
Transmetropolitan is excellent, I really need to read Scalped, Doom Patrol is the one major Morrison work I haven’t read, and Runaways is great.
October 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm
“Ultimates” was a fun series that I thought was ridiculously over-rated. I never bothered to read “Ultimates 2.”
Never read “Runaways” or Scalped,” although the latter has been on my “to read… eventually” list for a while now. Just haven’t had the chance to get to it just yet.
Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” rules everyone’s face. It was one of the four Morrison runs I badly wanted to include on my list, and I wound up limiting myself to two Morrison runs. I know I had his Batman run on the final list, but I don’t remember whether or not DP was the other one.
“Transmetropolitan” is one of my favorites, but I just couldn’t find room for it. Glad it came in pretty high.
October 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm
Ultimates 2 was better than Ultimates 1 (which was a bit slow and exposition-y). I re-read bits of The Ultimates after watching The Avengers, and while The Avengers was fun, Ultimates made it seem kind of vapid. Ultimates simply has so much more plot and intrigue (it’s an action movie style comic book that’s better than almost any action movie), deeper characterization, and some really touching moments. I never cared about Captain America or Thor before Ultimates, not because I, as suggested above, prefer “edgy, psychotic killers”, but because the Ultimates versions seemed more real and three-dimensional as characters.
October 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm
Nothing in this installment came anywhere near getting a vote from yours truly.
Read the first volume of “Ultimates” (in 2 TPB collections, I believe) — didn’t really like it.
Read a couple of digest-sized collections of the first few arcs of “Runaways” — didn’t really like it.
Never read Ellis’s “Transmetropolitan” or Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” work.
And I’m not sure if I had even heard of “Scalped” before!
October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm
Scalped was in my top 5 for sure, maybe even top 3. Couldn’t agree more about Guera being the perfect artist for that series along with the splendid covers. Still waiting to read the last trade of the series next month, but even if the series had a bad ending, it wouldn’t hurt my love for the first 90% of the series.
I’ve read the first 4 or 5 trades of Transmetropolitan from the library, but I moved and my current local library’s offerings pale in comparison. I love much of Ellis’s work and would probably have been tempted to vote for this if I had read more of it.
Doom Patrol Runaways are on my to read list (which is hilariously long, so who knows when I will get to either)
I didn’t think that the Ultimates would be my cup of tea, and from the preview here, I think I was correct in my assumption. Millar’s past work hasn’t done much for me so I guess it’s not surprising. Hitch is pretty good though.
October 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm
Doom Patrol was my #2 (if I remember correctly), it’s my favourite among Morrison’s major works. The Invisibles has more trippy ideas, Seven Soldiers is a tighter narrative, All-Star Superman and WE3 are bigger tear-jerkers, but when it comes thrill-powered plots, oddball yet very likable characters, and a constant barrage of wonderfully surreal ideas, I’d say Doom Patrol is the most potent example of Morrison’s strengths as a writer. Also, his final DP issue may be my single favourite superhero comic of all time; such a wonderful idea, and done with such great bathos, it’s one of the handful of comics that have made me cry while reading them.
October 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm
I tried twice to read Transmetropolitan — my library has it to borrow — but the first couple issues bored me too much and I couldn’t go on. I only tried once to read Morrison’s Doom Patrol, and felt like maybe I would have enjoyed it if I was on drugs. Bad drugs.
Ultimates? Meh. I sure like Hitch’s art. But I didn’t like the way the characters were handled. I guess I didn’t identify with any of those characters. I like my super heroes to be heroic!
Runaways seemed like decent comics intended for Junior High School kids. Not for me.
Scalped was awesome and unique. But not without flaws. The series “jumped the shark” when Dashiell’s FBI handler suicidally stumbles into a crack house and accidentally discovers a terrorist cell and kills them. Get out of here with that! The ending of the series seemed weak, too. But I’ll give the writer a thumbs up for bringing something different to the table with this series.
The Nixon Dive
October 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm
Big day for my list. Scalped was my easy choice for #1, and I think Transmetropolitan was at least #4. And, in a somewhat serendipitous coincidence, I actually read the last issue of Doom Patrol last night, which was amazing. I was real close to putting it on the list, but held off for comics that I had read the whole run for. If I made the list now, it would be sure to get in.
Scalped – It’s really too bad that it has become such a cliche to compare any work of fiction that even touches on social affairs to The Wire, because if there’s anything deserving that comparison, it’s Scalped. Both narratives start out as simple crime stories, but over the course of time broaden out to become something much more interesting and nuanced. Over the course of sixty issues, Jason Aaron builds a full and very visceral world, chock full of characters who you grow to care about. There’s no pure evil, or uninterested good in Scalped, there are only people trying to reconcile themselves with the past, and the ever-pressing burden of their increasingly likely fate. Aaron does an extremely nice job with his character work. When he often takes a detour for an issue or two to focus on a new or seemingly peripheral character, your fully invested in the character’s fate by halfway through the issue, and they fit seamlessly into his ongoing narrative. What’s more, Scalped is one of the few items on this list that tell a complete, cohesive, self-contained, story. Great, great art too.
Transmetropolitan is really a 60 issue long Hunter S. Thompson homage, which might explain some people’s adverse reaction to it. But here’s the thing, HST gets shit (or gets revered) from people who are only familiar with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. These people only think of Thompson as a guru of intoxication, on a stumbling quest to to find profundity in a narcoleptic haze. While that HST is definitely present in Transmet so is the other Thompson, the Thompson that is less well-known. Because for a period in the ’70s Hunter S. Thompson was the most original, compelling, exiting voice in journalism. Talk to any true HST aficionado, and you’d be surprised how many there are, and how diverse they are, and they will tell you Hunter’s best work is his political journalism from the 70′s, particularly Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, ’72. When it’s at it’s best, which is pretty frequently, Transmet is a really smart take on mass culture, set in a dystopic future, starring Watergate-era Hunter S. Thompson. To get an idea what I mean, read #8 (there’s a Comixology sale that ends tonight!), “Another Cold Morning.” It’s about people “who have come out from cryogenic freeze, into a world they don’t understand, clinging to life in a city that has forgotten them completely.” It’s completely self-contained, you can go in knowing nothing, and it’s probably one of my three favorite single-issue comic books ever written.