Five Classic Comic Book Runs

Five memorable comic book runs by some of the industry's best writers and artists starring some of the world's greatest superheroes.






UNCANNY X-MEN
By Chris Claremont

Despite being created by the dream team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the X-Men comic was not originally a big seller for Marvel and was effectively cancelled in 1970. After the title was relaunched in 1975 with Giant-Size X-Men, Chris Claremont would serve as its main writer for the next 16 years. Working with some of the best artists in the business, Claremont would turn Uncanny X-Men into Marvel's biggest comic, producing many of the best X-Men stories of all time including 'The Dark Phoenix Saga', 'Days of Future Past' and 'God Loves, Man Kills'. All these are available individually, but if you really want to commit (and you have the cash), you can also get the omnibus editions which have so far collected the first ten years of Claremont's run. Also worth reading are Grant Morrison's New X-Men and Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men.



WONDER WOMAN
By  George Pérez

Following universe destroying events of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, which wiped out decades worth of increasingly convoluted continuity, DC began putting out high profile reboots for many of the company's most famous characters. By far the best of these was George Pérez's relaunch of Wonder Woman, which still stands as the definitive take on the character. Pérez wrote and illustrated the first twenty four issues then stayed on as writer until #62, concluding his run with the 'War of the Gods' crossover event, which was published to celebrate the character's 50th anniversary. It is also worth checking out Greg Rucka's first run as well as Gail Simone's.



DAREDEVIL
By Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev's four year run on Daredevil is one of the best comics that Marvel has ever produced. It easily eclipses Frank Miller's work from the 1980s, which really isn't as great as we like to think and has not aged well (still better than anything he's done recently, though). After Bendis and Maleev left the series in 2006, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark took over and were able to maintain the high standard set by their predecessors. Then they left in 2009 and Daredevil quickly became one of Marvel's worst comics thanks to the godawful 'Shadowland' crossover. Avoid that at all cost.



ALL-STAR SUPERMAN
By Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

In 2005 DC launched the All-Star imprint. It was intended to be their answer to Marvel's successful Ultimate series and would've featured continuity free stories starring the company's biggest characters produced by some of the biggest names in the industry. The first titles released were All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder by Frank Miller and Jim Lee and All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. These would also be the only titles released. All-Star Batman quickly became an industry joke and its numerous delays and production problems would send it to an early grave along with the entire imprint. All-Star Superman, on the other hand, is an absolute freakin' masterpiece. This is the Man of Steel at his purest, produced by a creative team perfectly in-sync with each other who understood completely what makes this character so special. Simply put, it is twelve issues of some of the best, most stunningly illustrated Superman stories I have ever read.



JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
By Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire

George Pérez's Wonder Woman was the best of DC's post-Crisis relaunches. The second best was the side-splitting Justice League International. Written by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, and illustrated by the great Kevin Maguire (who does facial expressions better than anyone else), Justice League International was a hilarious superhero sitcom about Batman assembling a new Justice League team full of B and C list heroes who spent as much time bickering with each as they did fighting bad guys. Giffen and DeMatteis also created the similarly tongue-in-cheek spin-off series Justice League Europe. They reunited with Maguire in 2003 and 2005 for the mini-series Formerly Known as the Justice League and I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League, which saw many of the characters from their JLI run reunite to form the Super Buddies.


Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to credit John Byrne(and Dave Cockrum earlier) for his art on X-men.

Mark Greig said...

I didn't forget them, Anon, I just decided it would be easier to simply say Claremont worked with some of the industry's best artists rather than list every single artist he worked with in those 16 years.

Patrick said...

As good as the Bendis/Maleev run on Daredevil was, Ed Brubaker's first arc after taking the reins from them was AMAZING. "The Devil In Cell Block D" was one of my favorite comic stories ever.

I was also a huge fan of Geoff Johns' run on Green Lantern from "Rebirth" through "The Sinestro Corps War" and "Blackest Night". After that it gets less interesting, but up through Blackest Night it was some masterful writing and world-building to fill out the entire spectrum of Lanterns as well as cast some major GL events in a new light.

Mikey Heinrich said...

It's not a cliche to say that Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man and Neil Gaiman's Sandman changed the course of my entire life.

They were both running at the same time. It was a glorious era. If you haven't read Animal Man 'Coyote Gospel' you're life is empty inside.

Michal Dvorak said...

I'd like to propose another great comic book run that I think is often overlooked: Mike Grell's Green Arrow from the late 80s/early 90s. Grell took a middlingly-popular Batman knock-off character, did away with the trick arrows and other traditional/silly superhero stuff and recast Oliver Queen as an urban vigilante living in the real world and going after real criminals. The series was basically disconnected from the rest of the DC universe, save for an occassional appearance of Hal Jordan and Dinah Lance (both in their civilian identity).

While later runs undid most of this and re-integrated Green Arrow back into DC proper, trick arrows and all, Grell's work's effects are still felt. Although I'm not sure that the creators ever stated it explicitly, it's fairly obvious that the TV show Arrow took a lot of inspiration from Grell's run. Not in actual storylines, but in general mood and style (though they took it to a bit of an extreme).