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The Top 100 Comics Of A Lifetime, #20-16

November 14, 2022 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Spider-Man vs Wolverine 1 Image Credit: Marvel Comics

And we are back! Let’s read some allegedly great comics!

#20. Planetary #13

Image Credit: Wildstorm

I’ve read Planetary but one time, a few years ago, and all at once beginning to end. It works better that way, I think. As I made my way back through issue 13 here, I found myself wanting to revisit the story the series told in its completion.

That said, Warren Ellis and John Cassasay crafted a story where each issue took some reference point and worked it all towards the major goal. So you’d think the individual issues would stand alone just fine. But this tale of Elijah Snow finding Sherlock Holmes feels like what it is… just a piece of the puzzle. Without the rest of the book around it to tell why he was alive in 1919 and why he was looking for Holmes and what the “shape of the Earth” stuff is about, it’s all kind of… incomplete.

But this was a good series, back before we all found out Ellis was kind of a sexist abuser. Oh well. And I definitely think they could have picked better issues than this one for this list.

#19. Spider-Man Vs Wolverine

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

This is a story that, when it was written, probably felt really deep! It was the 80’s! This comic was dark and gritty! Spider-Man doesn’t quip much because he’s struggling with being surrounded by death and despair! Wolverine is killing lots of faceless minions! Oh man, don’t cut yourself on that edge!

This is still a somewhat fun book. The actual Versus fight, as short as it is, is a damn good one. Especially for its brevity, it might be one of the better hero vs hero fights in comics. Spidey pummeling Wolverine’s skull against a tombstone so hard that the tombstone cracks.

But when you get outside of that? You get a very sloppily handled death of Ned Leeds. You get Wolverine’s narration VERY OBVIOUSLY playing the pronoun game early on just so the book can pull a Samus-esque “Charlie is a GIRL” reveal that doesn’t really do anything that try to catch you by surprise that a hardened spy can be something aside from a dude.

And you know what? I’m not a particularly big fan of Mark Bright’s art here, either. It’s not frustratingly awful or anything, it just doesn’t strike me as anything worthy of a top 20 story.

Also, this little ditty reminds you how little Marvel’s shifting timeline makes sense. In his LIFE, this happened how long ago for Spidey? 10-15 years? That’s how much Pete has aged since here. But this story has a lot to do with THE BERLIN WALL. So… how much sense does that make in 2022?

#18. Justice League #1

Image Credit: DC Comics

Ah, the introductory issue of the incredibly beloved Justice League book written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis! The introduction of the new Justice League that, despite various roster changes that are typical of team books, would be the standard JL team until what? Grant Morrison’s run? Around that era, at least.

As an issue, this is fine. Can I make a confession? I actually never liked this title that much, at least not in the early going. And I say that as a huge Giffen and DeMatteis fan! But this book always felt somewhat immature to me. The characters all sounded like they were 12 year old boys. Which, I mean, was the target audience of this book, sure… but other comparable team books of a similar era (New Teen Titans, Uncanny X-Men) were, to me, written so much better.

This title grew as it went. And it gave Guy Gardner his obnoxious, awful character that he would eventually get great growth away from. But this was just never for me, as it were. I’d rather, as I mentioned, read other team comics from the late 80’s.

#17. Fantastic Four #245

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Ah, John Byrne’s influential turn on the Fantastic Four. One of the highlights of his run on the team was growing up Sue Richards from hapless damsel into a true powerhouse of the team.

This issue is just a microcosm of that growth. She is still very young here–and still going by the moniker Invisible Girl instead of Invisible Woman–but she is finding her own voice and is able to stand up to a strange threat that has neutralized the rest of her team. She pushes her powers to new heights she had never tried to that point and does far better than Reed, Ben, or Johnny. And then, it’s her… maternal instinct, I guess?… that allows her to recognize the peril as her own son.

And then, haha, the book shifts and makes Reed the most important character in connecting with the confused Franklin and helping him figure out how to get back to normal. SO CLOSE.

But like I said… this was just a step in her development, not the whole tale.

#16. Amazing Spider-Man #239

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Hey, speaking of Ned Leeds a few entries ago… This is the tale of Spidey’s first ever encounter with Hobgoblin, as the latter is looting all of Norman Osborn’s stashes to equip himself for villainy.

The really interesting aspect here is that Spidey whoops Hobby’s ass, and the foe is only able to escape by distraction and the fact that Pete is worn out from his dealings with Black Cat and Dr. Octopus. We get some narration into Hobgoblin’s thought process about how physically draining it was to battle Spidey for even a few minutes, and that will be the impetus to set him on the path to finding Norman’s goblin serum.

Not a bad story here, though there is a weird focus on the lovelife of Pete’s photography rival, Lance Bannon, and I had forgotten how the best Spidey arcs had this low-key soap opera element to them!

Time to restack the list to this point and see what I’d put where!
* Action Comics #775
* The Flash #182
* Hitman #34
* Sandman #18
* Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1
* Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)
* Animal Man #7
* Incredible Hulk #420
* What If…? #4
* Incredible Hulk #341
* Sandman #17
* X-Factor #87
* Batman #424
* Batman: Holy Terror
* Amazing Spider-Man #248
* Astro City #1
* Captain America #7
* Tangled Web #4
* Nightwing #25
* Birds of Prey #8
* Incredible Hulk #393
* HERO #11
* Green Lantern #188
* Hitman #22
* Sandman #40
* Ghost Rider Annual #2
* 100 Bullets #11
* Uncanny X-Men #268
* New Teen Titans #38
* Amazing Spider-Man #239
* Planetary: Night On Earth
* Planetary #13
* Iron Man #237
* Avengers #217
* Animal Man #16
* Flinch #1
* Justice League #1
* Batman B&W #4
* Iron Man #128
* Robin #46
* Omega Men #26
* Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey
* GI Joe #21
* Incredible Hulk #340
* Fables: The Last Castle
* Legion of Superheroes #13
* Sandman #50
* Avengers Annual #10
* Batman B&W #1
* Gotham Knights #8
* Fantastic Four #245
* Web of Spider-Man #1
* Spider-Man Vs Wolverine
* The Thing #2
* Preacher #50
* Secret Origins Special #1
* Exiles #16
* Ghost Rider #68
* Spectre #5
* New Teen Titans #20
* Adventure Comics #466
* Justice League Annual #1
* Legion of Superheroes #3
* Preacher #18
* Batman Adventures Annual #1
* Lex Luthor Special
* Preacher: Tall In The Saddle
* Classic X-Men #25
* Adventures of Superman #474
* Legion of Superheroes Annual #1
* Batman: Devil’s Asylum
* Avengers #189
* Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15
* Dark Horse Presents #1
* Conan The Barbarian #100
* Dr. Strange #56
* Alias #3
* Hellblazer #63
* Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg
* Fantastic Four #3 / #432
* Punisher #10
* Legion of Superheroes #296
* American Century #9
* Demo #3
* Semper Fi #1

Yes, I know how long this series is taking to wrap-up, haha. I’m going to FINALLY put off some other articles and ideas and recordings to get this wrapped up. My attention span is just awful in general, but WE ARE GETTING THERE.

Until next time… take care!