3. Will Eisner's Saga of Understanding (1978-2001)
By: Will Eisner Originally published in: A Contract with God, New York: The Big City, A Life Force, The Dreamer, The Building, City People Notebook, To the Heart of the Storm, Invisible People, Dropsie Avenue: The Neighborhood, A Family Matter, Minor Miracles, Last Day in Vietnam, The Name of the Game
There is no graphic novel by this name; don't go looking for it. It's my attempt to lump together twenty three years of work by a master of the medium at his apex. While each of these works has its own soul (so to speak), and several can be grouped together by topic, by common characters, or by the name "Dropsie Avenue," there is a thematic center that unites nearly all of Eisner's graphic novel works together (at least all the great ones) -- each is an effort to understand people.
It begins with A Contract with God, in which Eisner took a bold look into his own neighborhood's past for clues as to how it had shaped him into who he was, but that first journey opened a door instead of closing it. Soon he was turning out masterworks nearly every other year that sought to understand him, his neighborhood, his family, the people in the apartments and on the streets around him, and especially the people around him he sensed but seldom actually saw. It didn't matter where Eisner was looking -- he always managed to find darkness, hope, drama, and inspiration.
To this day, the review thread I did on these graphic novels has been the most rewarding one I've ever done, Eisner's works truly inspiring me to live my life better while leaving me to feel like I truly actually knew these people and these neighborhoods. He'd made their stories that real to me. Eisner truly takes the sequential art medium to a level few others have ever even come close to approaching.
including stories from Strange Tales 110, 111, 114-146, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2
Ditko and Lee craft the saga of a man who becomes the Sorcerer Supreme. 110 and 111 give us a glimpse of Dr. Strange, Master of Black Magic and then 114 shows us how he became such and then the series kicks into the tale of his rise from those origins until he, the student, has become the master and all the trials and tribulations he faces along the way. By the time Ditko leaves with 146, the transformative journey is complete and we've been taken on a hell of a roller coaster ride through mystic battles, strange dimensions and cosmic entities, a thrill ride second to none in super-hero comics for me. Ditko's masterful craftsmanship and plotting, and Lee's distinctive voice combine here to weave a tale that brings us Nightmare, Dormammu, Eternity, Clea, and more, it features good vs. evil, romance, enlightenment and a whole lot of adventure and strange milieus. It is both a visual treat and an engrossing story with lots to chew on.
"We cannot change the world until we change ourselves." -Christopher Wallace
"I see a comics culture that preserves and appreciates its past, but doesn't wallow in witless nostalgia." -Scott McCloud
“Humans beings always do the most intelligent thing…after they’ve tried every stupid alternative and none of them have worked” ― Buckminster Fuller
"Things happen all the time. Stories are how we arrange them to make sense of them." -Warren Ellis
Post by Paste Pot Paul on Aug 8, 2017 3:25:15 GMT -5
3. Preacher 1-66, Preacher Special: Saint of Killers #1–4, Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood and Whiskey, Preacher Special: The Story of You-Know-Who, Preacher Special: The Good Old Boys, Preacher Special: One Man's War, and Preacher Special: Tall in the Saddle.
by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
I discovered Preacher around issue 40 or so, maybe the one with Starr surviving the cannibals,but anyhoo...I'm broke, making babies, shit wages at the factory, bored with comics(thank you Heroes Return and Death of Superman), shedding old habits, and desperately trying not to think about things, you know how it is, bury your head in that flamin' sand. This book, damn man, this friggin book just lit something in my brain. Im scrounging every cent I got to grab the back issues at my LCS, ignorin bills but feeding babies(I aint that much of an addict). I get the trades for the earlier issues. I devour this like the All-Father with his chicken leg up there(in the cover above).
You know its damn refreshing to know that as bad as things seem, theres always some mook got it worse off than you. Thank Ennis foe Starr.
My first taste of Ennis though I had seen Dillon plenty before (Judge Dredd in Cry Werewolf I think, oh and Axel Pressbutton). What a team, ably supported by those gorgeous Glenn Fabry covers. Ive always seen Dillon as suited to these type of stories, with more realistic characters, like he would do in Hellblazer, rather than the superhero stuff he ended doing at Marvel. What suited on this doesnt do it for me with the other.
heh, struggling to find some Safe-For-Work art
The cast of characters here is amazing, and the range of situations, from violent and extreme(Jody, Quincannon,The Saint etc etc), to the extreme humor (Starr hopping across the desert had me in stitches the first time), to extremely real and touching(look at Jesse's fathers story) has the creators at their best. Dillon's range of facial expressions and body language still astounds me, and this is my favorite work by Ennis(having read most of his work up until the last 5 years or so). I know it offends some with its portrayal of God and Christianity (well that and the extreme violence and graphic sick-bastardness) but always felt it strengthened my faith(and practiced the ability to separate fiction from real life).
It was the year of fire… the year of destruction… the year we took back what was ours. It was the year of rebirth… the year of great sadness… the year of pain… and the year of joy. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed.
Post by sunofdarkchild on Aug 8, 2017 4:35:49 GMT -5
Batman Year 1
by Frank Miller published in 1987 Batman #404-407
While The Dark Knight Returns came first, I consider Year 1 to be Miller's best work with Batman. Full of iconic moments such as the bat flying through the window, this is not only the definitive Batman origin, but the first story to truly show why Gotham needs a Batman in the first place. With a broken system and little difference between the mob, the police, and the local government, Gotham needs something to shake things up and free the city from mafia control. Equally as important is the work's treatment of Gordon. Where previous incarnations would often have Gordon mostly calling Batman in to solve crimes for him (especially the Adam West show), this reimagined, younger Gordon is depicted as not only competent, but an excellent police officer who tries just as hard as Batman to end the injustice in Gotham.
Post by Arthur Gordon Scratch on Aug 8, 2017 4:45:44 GMT -5
Tales Of Colossus GN
Story and Ar : Mark Andrews
My relationship with this story began with a 1998 comic called Loud Cannoli published by the great artist Scott Morse.
"A knight, whose soul is trapped inside a metal monster called Colossus, lives out an immortal existence slaying evil creatures. Until one day a twisted, evil paladin wielding enchanted weapons arrives in the Kingdom with his own agenda. Their paths cross in a steel pounding, armor glinting no holds barred battle that will change a Kingdom forever."
I purchased it because Scott Morse was a very singular voices back then, one that I grew deeply fond of, bringing animation sensibilities qiute apart from those we grew acustomed in the 80ies. This little one off featured a back-up story by comic newcomer Mark Andrews. This unknown talent went on to become director and screenwriter of the 2012 Pixar feature film Brave. He was the story supervisor for The Incredibles, Ratatouille, directed the short film One Man Band and co-wrote the short films Jack-Jack Attack and One Man Band. He also wrote and directed for the second unit of the John Carter movie amongst other things.
Andrews studied animation at the Character Animation Program at CalArts. He is also considered to be Brad Bird's "right-hand man". Some of his student films have been featured at MOMA's exhibition TOMORROWLAND: CalArts in Moving Pictures. Unlike most other CalArts alumni, he was not a huge fan of Disney films, and claimed he was a bigger fan of anime such as Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, and Robotech.
So when I purchased this little comic, I had no idea I had in my hands the pure creativity of a future titan, but it still made a huge impact on me, since in the few pages it contained, it made me care for an emotionless creature. Andrews went on to expand that story in 2000 into an 90+ pages graphic novel, but I'm now talking about the revised 2006 edition which is now 180+ pages of story plus bonuses, and really feels like a whole saga. Beyond the lenght, there was a crucial difference between both versions though, the fact that he completely redrew it, and went full digital :
"I dont know how many comicbook artists use the computer these days but thats all i used in creating this graphic novel. i use the computer all the time to do my work. Its true I've left the pencil and the comfort of paper behind but what I've lost is more than made for in flexability.
I work only with photoshop and I draw on a wacom cintiq ( its the kind you can draw right on the screen) most people ask me if there is any lag? The answer is NO! not really . If I draw really fast there is but it doesn't change how you draw. the cool thing about it is I never have to erase, you just grab it and delet, perfect, no smudges. I can also get as close to my drawing as I want without getting close, no more bending over the table. Saves the eyes. There are many more benifits that well out way what I miss about paper and pencil. Ah well Im a tech convert.
Not to say that classical illustration will be left in the dust.... no way... drawing in the classical way or even painting gives you a foundation that is priceless.
anyway enough rambling. I did the whole comic on the computer because it was fast and gave me way more flexability and control. the pages below will explain in a simple way how I did it."
The story is kinetic and yet deeply emotional, moves around quickly without loosing time in "poseur" panels, it's a little rough on the edges, but that's what you get from this very very busy man who hasn't (to the better of my knowledge) contributed more to comics since then. If I was to pitch it to you, I'd say it is Games Of Throne meets The Iron Giant, but that might do it a dis-service since this is a unique and original piece of work that I urge you to loose yourself in.
Alan Moore/Curt Swan/George Perez / Kurt Schaffenburger
A beautiful masterpiece by Alan Moore and Curt Swan that closes the book on the Silver/Bronze age Superman is todays choice. Most of all the well loved conventions and plot devices are all given a final farewell in this story that begins in Superman # 423 and ends in Action # 583 but by no means is this a pretty story. But I guess the deaths of some of Clarks supporting cast is what gives the book an almost Shakespearian feel. It IS a tragedy and a memorable way to say goodbye to almost 50 years of things like scientist Lex Luthor, super powered Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen, the relationship to the Legion and Bizarro World. But all things come to and end and what we are given is a shockingly sweet Alan More love letter to the greatest superhero of all.
Krypto's sacrifice gets me every time.
A sad goodbye to a deceased, in the present, Supergirl
Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga. vol 2. Issues 290, 291, 292, 293, 294. 1982
Virtually every Legionnaire past and present along with their allies the Legion of Substitute Heroes, the Wanderers, Heroes of Lallor and others unite in battle against a universal darkness. The darkness uses great beings of power resembling heroes of the past seeking out instruments of great power. The Master of the Darkness defeats even Mordru the most powerful Legion foe and takes his powers and uses the power to move Daxam across the cosmos and have it change places with his home planet. The Daxamites gain powers equal to Superman and he uses them to reshape their planet into the image of the Master and reveals that the Legion is facing....DARKSEID.
Wowser what a story this was! Strengthening the connection of the Legion with the past and using that connection to create even more. Darkseid's curse of darkness which will destroy the Legion from within being revealed that Saturn Girl's current pregnancy is actually twins and one of the twins is "taken" from her to be reborn as Validus and never being recognized as the child of Lightning Lad and Saturn girl. The introduction of new Legion recruits Invisible Lad and The White Witch in the telling and showing that the New God's remain a vital part of DC history far into the future. What fun this was!
Daredevil #353-365. Script by Karl Kesel. Art by Cary Nord and Matt Ryan (with Joe Kelly and Gene Colan).
This one probably won't be on anyone else's list. But I consider it a vastly under rated run on DD that is worthy to be put here. With this run Kesel skipped the version of Matt marred by tragedy & gave us back the scarlet swashbuckler. It was a return to the more classic DD instead of another copy of Frank Miller's version.
Matt was with Karen & happy. Foggy was written as a worthy best friend to Matt. Kesel introduced Rosalind Sharpe (Foggy's Mom). The action as DD was balanced with Matt's personal life & Kesel wrote that part so well. DD's life as Matt was just as interesting as his time spent as DD. The writing was superb. Now add beautiful art by Cary Nord. He drew normal people so well. Today's artists can't seem to do that anymore. His DD looked & moved like a gymnast.
This run was fun. It had everything that I love about comics in it. If you want a more detailed account of why I love this run here is the link to a review I did: daredevil review
Post by Crimebuster on Aug 8, 2017 13:40:54 GMT -5
When I try to explain Bone to non-comics readers, I usually say, imagine if Lord of the Rings starred Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and you'll have a pretty good idea of the magic Jeff Smith is able to pull off in this work of genius. Not only is it an amazing mix of hilarious comedy and high fantasy action, it's also appropriate for readers of all ages, from 6 to 106. I have purchased the Complete One Volume Bone collection as gifts for multiple people, and will probably do so again in the future as well.
Post by Slam_Bradley on Aug 8, 2017 14:17:06 GMT -5
Spectre 1-63+ by John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake
Ostrander and Mandrake did far more than create a great super-hero comic. They gave us the life and redemption of Jim Corrigan. The book is really much less about The Spectre and much more about Jim Corrigan and his journey to find peace. This is a work of rare depth in mainstream comics. And it's just one example of great books coming out of the 90s.
Post by thwhtguardian on Aug 8, 2017 20:05:26 GMT -5
Age of Reptiles: Tribal Warfare
By Richard Delgado Age of Reptiles #1-4, Dark Horse 1993
Silent comics are really difficult to pull off well. They’ve got a lot going against them. Exactly half of the linguistic repertoire being forbidden, the creator is forced to rely wholly upon visual language for all exposition. When characters cannot exposit their own motives to the reader, they must rely on illustrated cues to make their purposes, intents, reasons, and passions both knowable and then known. And as difficult as that sounds, the requirement upon the artist of these characters is phenomenal. Not only does the artist have to reliably draw characters recognizably and convey story through panel-to-panel storytelling transitions (as is the case even in comics featuring dialogue and narration), but beyond this, the artist must be able to convey all those burdens generally carried by the writer of words. Personality. Interaction. Interrogative. Exclamation. Thought. Emotion. Reaction. Success in these tasks takes the hand of a master...and here Richard Delgado does it all, and he does it without once relying on anthropomorphizing the dinosaurs in order to better convey complex human emotions. My favorite element though has to be his mastery of pacing, just look how this scene plays out and tell me how it could have played it any better:
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
# 3 - Unity Saga – Unity # 0-1, Eternal Warrior # 1-2, Archer & Armstrong # 1-2, Magnus Robot Fighter # 15-16, X-O Manowar # 7-8, Shadowman # 4-5, Rai # 6-7, Harbinger # 8-9, Solar Man of the Atom # 12-13
The villain here, Erica Pierce, Mothergod, was also exposed to the radiation that turned Dr. Phil Seleski into Solar.
The Solar of an alternate dimension had traveled backward in time to try to stop the accident but instead exposed co-worker Pierce, who gained his same powers of energy and matter manipulation.
She later traveled back in time to the Lost Land of Turok, outside of time and space, and create an event to reboot the universe and start over from scratch.
Obviously, this is huge, and alerts the Geomancer whose mission it is to protect the Earth.
Geomancer informs Solar who rounds up all the Valiant characters, and our Valiant mega-event unfolds.
This is Jim Shooter at his best with a huge cosmic event and pulling all the characters into one super-sized story.
It didn’t feel forced and was really great.
Writers included Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, and Roger Stern, and art by Barry Winsor-Smith, Ernie Colon, Bob Layton, Sal Velluto, Frank Miller, David Lapham, Don Perlin, Stan Drake, Mike Leeke, Walt Simonson, and Joe St. Pierre.
This still tops my list for all-time best mega crossover, barely beating out Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Last Edit: Aug 8, 2017 21:40:21 GMT -5 by hondobrode