1) Watchmen I had to argue
and kvetch to get an "Other Forms" category introduced
onto the Nolacon II Hugo ballot just so fandom could note
and honor this ultimate masterpiece of graphics storytelling.
We did so honor it, the only comic book ever to win a Hugo, a
suspenseful and thought-provoking alternate world where heroes
dress in costumes and save the world despite itself. Alan
Moore's masterpiece, Dave Stevens art, creative, symbolic, deeply
rooted in comic book tradition (these guys understand visuals
and understand action) it's the genre at its height. And
what an ending ...
2) "Flash of Two Worlds"
Flash #123 Julie Schwartz's grandest story of the Silver
Age evokes the Golden Age. It won the first of the short-lived
Alley Awards. Surpassed by "Vengeance of the Immortal Villain"
and "Crisis on Earth-One/Two" in The Justice League,
and burdened with Gardner Fox's stiff and uninspired style, this
re-introduction of Golden Age heroes still marks one of the reasons
comic books have been important and wonderful in my life. After
all, it taught a generation of comics readers that their fathers
had been boys, once, too.
3) Kingdom Come The most
recent entry up here, and a beauty something of a confused
and convoluted script, but a wonderful homage to what we really
value about superheroes: character. Author Mark Waid understands
what's cool about Batman, what's attractive about Wonder Woman,
and what's eternal about Superman. Such analysis is at the heart
of the current superhero craze, and I believe it's why Smallville
is such a superb series. Also, the Alex Ross art is revolutionary
in its beauty and depth.
4) "Dream of a Thousand Cats"
Sandman Neil Gaiman's Sandman was the most creative
and original graphics work of its time, and here in a
rare stand-alone issue the book is at its best, not to
mention, its most frightening. To show you how scary I find this
story of feline revenge, the cute teenybopper figure of Death
doesn't appear see the extraordinary "The Sound of
Her Wings" and she would have been welcome.
5) "Pog" Swamp Thing
#32 This sad, gentle fable of Walt Kelly characters visiting
our all-too-real world is hilarious and heart-rending, using
and crushing the language and the innocence of
the original strip to make a bittersweet point about the search
for impossible dreams.
6) "Ghost Dance" Swamp
Thing #45 I read this tale of guns, ghosts and the Winchester
Mystery House, set it down, and said, "Well, just another
masterpiece of horror. That's all." Moore's multi-issue
Swamp Thing stories tended to sag under their own weight,
but in his single-issue works, he could pack a taut, telling,
terrifying thriller with a subtle political point and
an ending that jolts like an electric prod.
7) Jack Kirby's wonderful New
Gods/Forever People/Mister Miracle/Jimmy Olsen series was
a glorious creative act. When I once listed my ten favorite comic
characters, Darkseid was right up there. It's almost impossible
to single out one story in the universe of Apokolips and New
Genesis, but New Gods #7, the origin story, stands out
. "Hate is no longer a word in this place. Put that knife
down ... son.
8) "Swamp Thing" House
of Secrets #92 The original story of one of the epic comic
antiheroes, beautifully told from three points of view, it gave
birth to a book I've cited twice above. Berni Wrightson only
handled the art for nine issues, as I recall, and Len Wein's
genius only guided the character for another few stories before
good Dave Michelinie took over, to be followed by Alan Moore,
Nancy Collins, and others, but this was the first, and it was
9) "Night of the Hunter"
Detective Comics A beautiful retelling of the Batman myth
that appeared just before my year at DC, and I got to tell the
author face to face how much I loved it. He brought forward the
sadness and the loss at the heart of the legend better than Bob
Kane what a ... a ... a ... Spanier? Putz, that's it
or even the movies could.
10) "Superman Under the Green
Sun" Superman If I must single out any of the Wayne
Boring Superman tales that gassed me as a kid, this Edmond Hamilton
yarn qualifies corny as a Hitler-esque villain might be.
The last panels are just lovely. Competing hard for this spot:
the story of "Super-Menace" (drawn by that master of
the possible, Curt Swan) and the exciting and Sfnal "Thing
from 30,000 A.D." They were a joy of my boyhood and they're
11) "Beyond the Sinister Barrier"
The Spectre in Brave & Bold Later, Mike Fleischer
took the Spectre in a violent new direction, and attained popularity
for the spook that he never had before. Here, Julie Schwartz,
Gardner Fox and the great realist, Murphy Anderson, take on Satan
himself in a skillful story that wowed me silly when I was 17.
It doesn't stand up well on re-reading, but how I mourned when
it lost its Alley Award to "How Green was My Goblin"
in Spider-man. I have to respect that teenage passion.
12) Rocketman They made a
lousy movie out of a crackerjack comic, exquisitely drawn by
Dave Stevens, a book in love with planes and Betty Page and a
pre-WWII age bursting with innocence and optimism, a pure-hearted
hero, Doc Savage in the background I only have the first
volume of this beauty; is there more?
13) Enemy Ace In the mid-sixties
the erratic genius of Robert Kanigher found a footing, and delivered
thoughtful, powerful work, kicked up a notch or more from the
standard war stories that had gone before. The story of Hans
von Hammer, the haunted World War I killing machine, was compelling,
and beautifully realized by that most fluid and feral of comics
artists, Joe Kubert.. I must list but one of the tales
let it be the first Brave & Bold issue, with the fabulous
14) "What's the Color of Your
Blood?" Our Army at War This story of a black heavyweight
champion facing down and then saving the Nazi superman
who had humiliated him in the ring was the most effective yarn
of the revived, much improved war series. I've never forgotten
Joe Kubert's last panel: "You're catching on, buster!"
15) "Mirror Madness" House
of Secrets #? Well, this one is junk a stupid story
of a plastic surgeon who somehow gave a mangled scuba diver the
face of a frog. But I wrote the dialog, one of several yarns
I did that for in 1974 and because it's so tacky, this
one is my favorite.