We continue to count down your picks for the greatest comic book storylines of all-time with #76-73
Today, we continue our countdown of your picks for the greatest comic book storylines of all-time with #76-73.
You voted (over 1,000 ballots cast and a little bit more than the last time we did this countdown) and you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!
76. “Little Worse than a Man, Little Better than a Beast” by Tom King, Gabriel Hernández Walta, Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire (Vision #1-12) – 150 points (2 first place votes)
One of the most compelling things about the Vision series by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire (with a fill-in issue by Michael Walsh) is that it is very much part of the Marvel Universe. This isn’t one of those serious comic book stories that acts like it is not part of a fantastical overall narrative. No, this is firmly set within the Marvel Universe, but the Marvel Universe from the angle of the narration of the Avengers showing up in “Born Again” (which, in turn, was likely influenced by the Justice League first appearing in Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben’s Swamp Thing). Which is to say that it properly gets across the almost godly nature of the world of superheroes as compared to the world of an ordinary person. For instance, King beautifully describes to us the fantastical gifts from around the galaxy that are just sitting around in the suburban home of the Vision.
In this series, the Vision has created a suburban family for himself while he works as an Avenger. Virginia, the wife, and Viv and Vin, the two kids. They are adjusting to their new lives, with the teens going to high school, when suddenly, their seemingly ordinary lives are no longer quite so ordinary, as the Grim Reaper violently attacks them during their dinner (without the Vision present)…
and his attack is met by an equally violent response…
Destiny is a topic that gets brought up a lot in this comic, especially when it is inter-mingled with the concept of programming. If you program someone to act a certain way, are they not then destined to act that way? Or is destiny something that is always changeable? There are a whole bunch of characters in this story who try to change their destiny, while one character struggles deeply with her programming.
Walta does such a stunning job on the detailed expressions of these seemingly robotic people, you really get a perfect sense of the struggles that they are going through throughout this storyline, which is basically framed around the idea that one Virginia kills the Grim Reaper, she has to keep doing things to cover up her actions, even though her actions aren’t even technically a crime – she was clearly acting in defense of her children. However, as we all know, however bad the initial crime is or is not, it is the cover-up that will often ruin you.
In one of the strongest issues in the story, we see the history of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch’s relationship and see the origins of where Virginia’s mind come from and how, perhaps, that played a role in her actions. Her was a mother threatened with the loss of her two children – who else do we know that went a little bit crazy after she lost her two kids?
This series also saw Victor Mancha be confronted with his own destiny, the idea that he will become the evil Victorious in the future and kill all of his fellow heroes. He is trying to get by and be a hero, but he is struggling with an addiction (a very clever one invented by King). Like I noted, this series is just filled with people questioning their destinies.
Finally, let me point out that there are rare stories that lead to other writers going, “Holy crap, I have to use these characters” and Vision was definitely a case like that, as Viv has become one of the best new young characters in the Marvel Universe and this series featured her amazing introduction. Plus, the hit TV series, WandaVision, was heavily influenced by his comic, as well. So not only does it work as an excellent individual story, but it even has a noteworthy impact upon the future of the Marvel Universe AND Marvel Cinematic Universe.. Not too shabby.
75. “Hush” by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams (Batman #608-619) – 152 points (2 first place votes)
Hush took a similar approach to Jeph Loeb’s highly successful Long Halloween and Dark Victory comics.
Basically, he took an over-arching storyline and a mysterious villain, and then had each issue work as a spotlight on a different member of Batman’s large supporting cast of heroes and villains.
In Long Halloween, Loeb worked with star artist Tim Sale. Here he worked with Jim Lee, one of the most popular artists in all of comics.
In many ways, Loeb’s intention was simply to give Lee as much cool stuff to draw as possible, and to that end, Loeb wrote the series (where Batman is besieged by a mysterious new villain named Hush) with lots of notable events taking place, including Batman and Catwoman getting together and Batman and Superman having a dramatic battle (Superman was being mind-controlled by Poison Ivy). The mind controlled Superman makes a dramatic entrance…
and Batman had an equally dramatic response…
During a period when comic sales were in a notable slump, these twelve issues were like manna from heaven for comic book retailers, as they were strikingly popular. The storyline also worked as a sort of basic guideline for many later story arc by different comic book writers. Much like how Die Hard became the foundation for a number of other action films, so, too, did Hush become the prototype for many other significant superhero stories.
74. “Mutant Massacre” by Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, John Romita Jr., Alan Davis, Rick Leonardi, Sal Buscema, Terry Shoemaker, Jon Bogdanove and a host of inkers (Uncanny X-Men #210-213, X-Factor #9-11, Thor #373-374, New Mutants #46 and Power Pack #27) – 153 points (1 first place vote)
While it is a part of comic book reality nowadays, back in the late ’80s there had never been a crossover between the popular X-Men related comic books. In fact, until the early 80s, there was only one X-Men title, “Uncanny X-Men!” But by 1986, there was the regular X-Men title, there was New Mutants (detailing the next generation of mutant heroes) and X-Factor (starring the original five members of the X-Men), and in the fall of 1986, the first X-Crossover took place detailing the “Mutant Massacre.”
The Mutant Massacre featured the Marauders, a team of vicious killers employed by the newly introduced X-Men villain Mr. Sinister, going into the New York sewers, where a community of mutants known as the Morlocks lived (the Morlocks were mutants who tended to be disfigured or were otherwise unable to fit in living with “normal” humans). At this point, the Marauders proceeded to murder as many Morlocks as they could. The X-Men entered the tunnels to save the Morlocks, and engaged in a dramatic and deadly battle that lasted from Uncanny X-Men #211 to #213 (all three issues were written by Chris Claremont, with John Romita Jr. drawing the first issue, Rick Leonardi the second and Alan Davis the third).
The X-Men suffered critical injuries soon after entering the battle, when the teleporting X-Man Nightcrawler, who was recovering from a recent injury and had only recently regained the ability to teleport, used his powers to disable one of the Marauders. However, he was unable to use his powers once he was finished, leaving himself vulnerable to the Marauder Riptide, a mutant whose power involves sending barrages of razor sharp blades flying people at high speeds. Nightcrawler was severely injured by Riptide.
This led to one of the most dramatic moments of the war when the X-Man Colossus determined that the only way to stop Riptide was to use deadly force. As Riptide continued to pummel the X-Man’s metal body with blades, Colossus forged forward until he was able to snap Riptide’s neck.
At this point, Colossus collapsed due to the wounds he incurred during his fight. As it turned out, he was so injured that while he could survive in his metal form, he could not transform back to his human form. Meanwhile, the X-Men suffered another casualty when Kitty Pryde was injured and trapped in her intangible form.
While the X-Men return to their home to recover with the Morlocks they manage to save, the deadliest of the Marauders, the evil Sabretooth, makes his way to the X-Men’s home. During the course of his journey, Sabretooth tangled both with Wolverine and ultimately with the telepathic Psylocke, who was staying with the X-Men at the time.
In the end, the X-Men managed to save many Morlocks (X-Factor also saved some, in a separate excursion into the Morlock tunnels), but the team was forever changed, with longstanding members Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler leaving the team and new members like Psylocke joining the group. The most important change for the team was that they no longer had any illusions of safety at their home, and soon left the X-Mansion entirely!
73. “The Korvac Saga” by Jim Shooter, Roger Stern, David Michelinie, George Pérez, Sal Buscema, David Wenzel and Pablo Marcos (Avengers #167-169, 170-171, 173-177) – 155 points (1 first place vote)
Michael Korvac was born in the future but eventually, after becoming powerful through various events, traveled to the present and discovers the base of Galactus. While there, Korvac gains great cosmic power, and recreates himself as a man named…Michael. The Guardians travel back through time to capture Korvac. In the meantime, the Collector (brother to the Grandmaster) realizes that Korvac is a threat, so the Collector transforms his daughter, Carina, into a being powerful enough to combat Korvac. However, his daughter instead falls in love with Korvac/Michael, and the two go to Earth and begin living a quiet live in Queens, New York.
The Collector then tries to capture the Avengers (and the Guardians) in an attempt to protect them from Korvac, but when Korvac finds out about his plot, he kills the Collector.
Jim Shooter plays the whole thing like a slow burn, as the Avengers deal with the fact that they’re dealing with someone who might be able to wipe them from existence as easily as he would flick a bug off of his shoulder (at this point they do not even know of Korvac’s change into the normal-looking Michael).
So the Avengers eventually travel to Queens where they discover Michael and Carina living quietly. They investigate their home as they are looking for something there to tie into the powerful being who killed the Collector. Shooter plays with the notion of whether the Avengers are, in effect, provoking a fight with Korvac…
Whether accurate or not, a fight they got….
The next issue is a tremendous battle that does not end as well as you might expect for a battle of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against one guy.
Jim Shooter (working with first Roger Stern and then David Michelinie) uses the whole universe at his hands here to create a sprawling epic with tons of guest stars.
The artwork for the storyline was done mostly by David Wenzel, filling in for George Perez.
This was the first of what became a trend for Shooter, detailing what it was like for an ordinary person to suddenly become all-powerful. How does a person adjust to a situation like that? Can they even remain human? What does it even MEAN to be human? Can someone who is all-powerful be held to the same moral standards that you hold a human? If you have the powers of a god, should you be held to the moral standards of god (which is, to say, none)? Shooter explored these ideas with the Molecule Man in his third Avengers run. Then he explored these ideas with the Beyonder in Secret Wars II. Then he explored these ideas a bit with Star Brand. Then he explored these ideas with his Valiant series, Solar, Man of the Atom.
KEEP READING: Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: 88-85
CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over a dozen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at [email protected]!
We continue to count down your picks for the greatest comic book storylines of all-time with #76-73