9 Best Comic Book Runs of All Time – Part 1

Don't keep your opinions to yourselves; we obviously didn't.

9 Best Comic Book Runs of All Time – Part 1

Posted by Sean O'Brien | May 27, 2017 | Featured, Lists
Top 9 Comic Series of All Time

The best way to know me as a comic book fan, and decide if my opinion is worthwhile, is for me to share what I consider are the best comic book runs of all time.

What follows is my top nine; that’s right I said nine. Originally, I’d started with the idea of a top ten. I ripped off the first nine easily because I actually love them, but ten was eluding me. This probably happens a lot, and people should stop forcing it and just stay true to the list. This is in no particular order, except for number one; it’s definitely number one. So, without further ado, here are nine legitimately great runs:

#1 Hawkeye
2012-2015, Marvel Comics, Writer: Matt Fraction, Artist: David Aja

Hands down the best all around comic ever created! Sure, some on this list might be funnier (Nextwave), some might have better art (Marvels), but no comic puts the two together any better. Hawkeye also has the best covers in comic history.

With Hawkeye, Matt Fraction’s written a story about a real man playing hero. His Hawkeye talks to his co-workers about health issues, has friends help him set up his DVD player, and has issues with his exes. Sure the co-workers are Spider Man and Wolverine; the tech-savvy friend is Tony Stark; and the exes are Mockingbird and Black Widow, but the problems are universal.

Fraction’s Hawkeye is a character and comic book that has its tongue planted firmly in cheek and its foot up someones ass.

HawkeyeFraction’s Hawkeye is a character and comic book that has its tongue planted firmly in cheek and its foot up someones ass.

Hawkeye is a comic that has an issue told entirely from a dog’s perspective (winning the series one of its many Eisner Awards) and another reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. Yet, it’s also gritty and realistic. So realistic, that Hawkeye takes a beating throughout because, as he describes, The Avengers have, “armor, magic, super powers, super strength, shrink dust, healing factors,” and he is an, “orphan raised by carnies, fighting with a stick and a string from the Paleolithic era.”

The series also rewards fans of cinema, calling out Robert Altman’s classic 70’s Philip Marlow Movie, The Big Sleep, in Kate Bishop’s (the female Hawkeye) L.A. adventure subplot and tipping a hat to old school westerns with the second to last issue, “Rio Bravo.”

Now, on to David Aja’s art. When I spoke of multiple Eisner awards earlier, I was talking about a single issue, but the majority of those awards were for Mr. Aja’s art. Out of Hawkeye’s three year run, it twice won the Eisner for Best Cover, and seeing how its third year only had two issues, that’s impressive. Aja also won for Best Comic Artist in 2013 in Hawkeye’s first year. His style fits the writing like a glove, rooted in a life that you or I might recognize without losing the little winks that remind you that you’re reading a comic book for fun.

You know that a comic is good if when you’re done with it, you not only want to read more about the characters, but you also seek out other works from the writer and artist—which is what I did. I found the Aja Iron Fist covers and started reading the series, also written by Fraction.

Last tidbit: most Hawkeye issues have a section that tells you what music you should be listening to while reading the comic. The former music promoter in me appreciated that extra touch.

Nextwave: Agents of H.a.T.E.
2006-2007, Marvel, Writer: Warren Ellis, Artist: Stuart Immonen

Only 12 issues, but what a 12 they are! I found out about Nextwave through the Marvel Unlimited app. Every couple of weeks, they have a section called Creator Spotlight in their Discover section.

The Creator Spotlight has a Marvel artist or writer give a list of their most influential or favorite comics. Over the course of a three month period, it seemed as if every creator mentioned Nextwave as one of their all-time favorites.

Nextwave: Agents of H.a.T.E.The Creator Spotlight has a Marvel artist or writer give a list of their most influential or favorite comics. Over the course of a three month period, it seemed as if every creator mentioned Nextwave as one of their all-time favorites. So, I decided to check it out, and, boy, am I happy I did.

Warren Ellis grabbed four minor characters from the Marvel Universe—MachineMan, Boom Boom, Elsa Bloodstone and Monica Rambeau (who, incidentally, has gone by the names Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar and Spectrum)—and developed them from forgettable background characters to witty, likeable, and memorable heroes. They joined a newly created character, Captain ☠☠☠☠, the obscured words being so horrible that Captain America allegedly “beat seven shades” of “shit” out of him before leaving him in a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth.

The series is hilarious, from each issue’s opening FAQ to its alternate Nick Fury, Dirk Anger. The characters all have a great, “don’t give a shit” attitude and get into some real wild adventures.

Immonen’s art is playful, and he has quite a knack for action sequences.

It’s a shame this series was so short.

Spider-Man
Todd McFarlane’s 16 issue run, from 1990-1991, Marvel, Writer and Artist: McFarlane

Spider-ManSo, after co-creating one of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains in Venom, and thoroughly owning a 28 issue run on The Amazing Spider-Man, McFarlane was handed his very own Spider-Man title. He was writer, penciller, inker and had total creative control.

His run is essentially a bunch of mini series: the opening five-part series, Torment, the five-part series, Perceptions—in which he and Wolverine are in search of a child killer, the two-part Sub City series, and the two-issue crossover with X-Force—his last issue before he had creative differences with his new editor. The rift sparked him starting Image comics and creating the immensely popular character Spawn. The rumor is McFarlane wanted to show Shatterstar’s sword go into Juggarnaut’s eye, and Marvel said no dice. This was supposedly the last straw for him; so, he jumped ship.

All of the art is amazing and the story arcs are handled well.

McFarlane also had a lot of fun with guest stars on this run. Besides the aforementioned Wolverine and X-Force, the series saw guest spots by Ghost Rider, the Beast, Wendigo, Morbius and more.

Deathblow
Issues 1-12, from 1993-1995, Image Comics, Writer: Brandon Choi and Jim Lee, Artists: Jim Lee and Tim Sale

In early 1993, Image Comics released a book called Darker Image.

It had an expected four-issue run and told the tales of three characters on the darker side of the Image universe. Though, a universe that already had Spawn, Nighthawk, and PITT wasn’t that cheery to begin with.

DeathblowIt had an expected four-issue run and told the tales of three characters on the darker side of the Image universe. Though, a universe that already had Spawn, Nighthawk, and PITT wasn’t that cheery to begin with.

The characters in Darker Image were Maxx, created by Sam Kieth, Bloodwulf, created by Rob Liefeld, and Deathblow (my favorite), created by Jim Lee. Maxx was soon-to-be an MTV cartoon, and Bloodwulf was a cheap amalgamation of Lobo and Wolverine; so, they were supposed to be the instant hits. But they weren’t: Maxx kept getting delayed and Bloodwulf never even got a series because people saw it for the lame knock off that it was.

But Deathblow? Deathblow was fucking great!

It was dark but detailed. Jim Lee’s art was amazing, and, though he only did the inside art for the first three issues, he kept doing amazing cover work. Plus, Tim Sale stepped in and did a excellent job keeping the tone.

The story was a pretty cool one, Michael Cray leaves his “special ops unit” when he is diagnosed with a brain tumor. He wants to atone himself for all the innocent men and women he killed during his missions and gets his chance when he becomes involved with the Order of the Cross. Their adversary, the Black Angel, awakens a demonic entity bent on killing a young boy with messiah-like powers.

It turned out that Cray’s cancer was, in fact, a result of having powers himself, giving him regenerative abilities. It would also give him the ability to manifest “psionic shields” to protect himself, but he couldn’t control it and wasn’t even aware it existed. Cray would fight the Black Angel with the help of Sister Mary, a former police officer turned nun, Gabrielle D’Angelo, his ex-wife who had become a vessel for the archangel Gabriel, and several of his former colleagues.

Intense right? Go check it out!

I can’t speak to the rest of the series, because I stopped collecting comics after that, but I imagine if Jim Lee was still involved and Brandon Choi was still writing, it couldn’t be too bad.

Where are the rest?

We definitely broke this massive tome of comic book knowledge into two parts. Read the last five in the “Top 9 Comic Book Runs of All Time – Part 2.”

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