Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 100 Comics Of A Lifetime (#40 – 36)

April 25, 2022 | Posted by Rob Stewart
X-Factor Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Hey, I’m back on the Wizard Top 100 Single Issue Stories bike!

Sorry for the delay, everyone. I’m going to get right into it, so here we go. The only further ado is this: If you want to go back and see the prior parts of this list, click HERE!

#40. X-Factor #87

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

By Peter David and Joe Quesada

Another of the few comics from this list that I had bought in real time when it came out, I was buying every X-book in the early 90’s, so OF COURSE I had this. And even when I was a young collector, I knew this was something special.

The premise here is that Val Cooper, the team’s liaison to the government, has brought in Doc Sampson (though you don’t see it’s him until the end of the issue) to analyze X-Factor and make sure they are fit for duty. We find out that everyone one the team is dealing with some deep trauma or stress, and we find out what makes them tick as people behind the heroic personas. Most notably, Quicksilver finds the pace of the world insufferable, Guido lives in constant physical pain because of his powers, and Jamie Madrox has a dark fear of being alone.

It’s by Peter David, and this is neither the first nor the last time he’ll come up on this countdown. The guy is one of the very best writers of his era, and the humanizing touches to everyone here are great. It’s the kind of stuff that lets you care about these heroes as people, and it lets you look harder into their more physical struggles with actual villains to see how these fights mirror what they are dealing with inside.

#39. Captain America #7

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

By Ed Brubaker and John Paul Leon

Ah, the classic Winter Soldier run from Captain America!

This is a brief interruption in the on-going Winter Soldier mystery to take a look at one of Cap’s former sidekicks, Jack Monroe. Jack was mostly known to me as the long-haired biker Nomad, who had a baby named Bucky he carried around with him because… why not?

Nomad is dying from the very drugs in his system that made him a hero once, but after getting the diagnosis, he overhears a man talk about dealing to kids. Thinking of Bucky, Jack figures the best way to go out is breaking up this drug ring.

And so the story goes with Jack occasionally losing MONTHS of time but still trying to find this trail. He’s losing his grip on reality (as well as his powers), until he finally tracks down the dealer, and… well. Read it for yourself.

A tragic story that is wonderful in how it is written and drawn, but terrible in just about every other way. This is a DARK one, kids.

#38. The Spectre #5

Image Credit: DC Comics

By John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

The Spectre descends into hell itself to pump a recently deceased soul for information on a missing child! Intense!

This is a fine enough story that shows The Spectre overcoming a Lord Of Lies’ power–even in hell itself–to get the soul he came for. After his defeat, Shathan the demon leaves The Spectre with a last trouble: hell has a rumor that there was a devil who repented his rebellion against heaven and left the pit to roam Earth as an agent of heaven. So is the Spectre REALLY the living embodiment of god’s wrath? Or is he a devil who just wants torture and death, and thinks he is doing right?

I’d never heard this take on The Spectre before, and now I want to find the rest of this series and see where DC might have went with it. But it feels like a fundamental reimagining of a character the likes of which… we might just see a little higher on this list. This would definitely make the character more interesting if he struggled with this for a while!

#37. Fables: The Last Castle

Image Credit: DC Comics

By Bill Willingham and Craig Hamilton

I’ve actually written a more thorough review on this book before, and you can find that HERE! Basically, I thought it was a great length for a side-story, and it provided insight into characters like Red Riding Hood, Robin Hood, The Red Cross Knight, and others. It’s not fantastic or anything, but it’s a fun extraneous tale from the Fables universe!

#36. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

By Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller

This is kind of just a goofy story, even though it’s by two legends like O’Neil and Miller. It just doesn’t feel very important at all. J Jonah Jameson wants a story. Peter Parker comes across a magician with a Death Touch, but The Punisher shoots him down. Then they find out his death touch is just a poison. Doctor Octopus gets involved and plans to poison The Daily Bugle (which is read daily by EXACTLY five million people, this story tells us). Evil is thwarted. The end.

Nothing about this, other than the talent involved, feels like anything special. The best moment of the book is the very end. J Jonah Jameson, after struggling all issue with figuring out what to publish, finally has a story: he was there when Spidey defeated Ock, so of course HE saved all of the Bugle’s readers. Then Robbie points out that telling people someone tried to poison The Bugle would be a really bad idea for circulation. A dejected Jonah tears up his mock front page.

That’s the high point.

Weird choice. ESPECIALLY for this high on the list.

So not nearly as strong as the last segment of books we did, but there are definitely a few winners here who break into the current Top Ten!

Speaking of which, let’s see where I’d rank them all currently!

CURRENT #!: Hitman #34

2. Sandman #18

3. Fantastic Four #60 / #489 (legacy numbering)

4. Animal Man #7

5. What If…? #4

6. Sandman #17

7. X-Factor #87

8. Amazing Spider-Man #248

9. Astro City #1

10. Captain America #7

11. Nightwing #25

12. Incredible Hulk #393

13. HERO #11

14. Hitman #22

15. Sandman #40

16. Ghost Rider Annual #2

17. 100 Bullets #11

18. Uncanny X-Men #268

19. New Teen Titans #38

20. Planetary: Night On Earth

21. Iron Man #237

22. Avengers #217

23. Animal Man #16

24. Flinch #1

25. Batman B&W #4

26. Iron Man #128

27. Robin #46

28. Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood & Whiskey

29. GI Joe #21

30. Fables: The Last Castle

31. Legion of Superheroes #13

32. Sandman #50

33. Avengers Annual #10

34. Batman B&W #1

35. Gotham Knights #8

36. Web of Spider-Man #1

37. The Thing #2

38. Preacher #50

39. Secret Origins Special #1

40. Exiles #16

41. Ghost Rider #68

42. Spectre #5

43. New Teen Titans #20

44. Adventure Comics #466

45. Justice League Annual #1

46. Legion of Superheroes #3

47. Batman Adventures Annual #1

48. Preacher: Tall In The Saddle

49. Classic X-Men #25

50. Adventures of Superman #474

51. Legion of Superheroes Annual #1

52. Batman: Devil’s Asylum

53. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15

54. Dark Horse Presents #1

55. Conan The Barbarian #100

56. Dr. Strange #56

57. Alias #3

58. Hellblazer #63

59. Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg

60. Fantastic Four #3 / #432

61. Punisher #10

62. Legion of Superheroes #296

63. American Century #9

64. Demo #3

65. Semper Fi #1

That’s it for this update, and we are getting ever closer to the creme de la… this list. So join me next time when we round out the top 30!

Until next time… take care!