Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: 96-93

AbraxasNovember 5, 2021

Today, we continue our countdown of your picks for the greatest comic book storylines of all-time with #96-93.

You voted (over 1,000 ballots cast and a little bit more than the last time we did this countdown) and you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storyliness from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

96. “The Great Cow Race” by Jeff Smith (Bone #7-11) – 110 points (1 first place votes)

This story, which is the second story arc in Jeff Smith’s acclaimed series, gives you a quick and telling introduction to the world of the Bones.

Our hero, Fone Bone, is his traditional heroic and love-sick self. The greedy Phoney Bone has cajoled the dim-witted Smiley Bone into another one of Phoney’s hare-brained ideas – disguise themselves as cows and win the Great Cow Race against Gran’ma Ben, who wins the race every year.

The Great Cow Race itself shows readers the wacky nature of the valley folk, and the irascible nature of Gran’ma Ben (for crying out loud, the lady races cows!!!).

At the same time, there is a dark side to this world, as well, and we see that through a greater exploration of the villainous rat creatures and their uneasy truce with the valley folk and we also learn some of the tragic backstory of Thorn, the love of Fone Bone’s life.

This is a fun, engaging story arc with great Smith art – a real winner (unlike Phoney Bone).

95. “Superman for All Seasons” by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (Superman For All Seasons #1-4) – 113 points (1 first place vote)

In this breathtakingly beautifully drawn series by Tim Sale, writer Jeph Loeb uses the seasons to depict different points in Supermans’ life. Along those lines, each issue is narrated by a different person who has a different take of who Superman is. Jonathan Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Lana Lang all have wildly different views of Superman (especially at the various points in time that they tell their respective stories) but when you put them together you have a fascinating picture of Superman as a whole.

The story has a touching, wholesome feel right from the start, set in Clark’s days in Smallville, as the young man begins to deal with his new superpowers that he doesn’t quite understand…

This series would also greatly define Loeb’s later run on the Superman ongoing series.

94. “Weapon X” by Barry Windsor-Smith (Marvel Comics Presents #72-84) – 115 points

To put into perspective just how much of an impact Barry Windsor-Smith’s “almost” origin for Wolverine had upon the comics world, note the following…the term “Weapon X” was not a major deal among fandom before Windsor-Smith named his story it in this story in 1991, and we did not have the visual of Wolverine with the helmet and tons of wires sticking out of his body.

Within months of Windsor-Smith’s story (which was serialized in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents, where many Shanna the She-Devil fans were wondering why so many people were suddenly interested in the Shanna the She-Devil serial running in the book) both the term and the image were practically burned into the minds of comic fans, and have been so ever since.

The fact that the visuals from this story have become so well known should not all that much of a surprise, as Barry Windsor-Smith is one of the most striking comic book artists ever, but the real revelation of the series besides his great artwork (which was somewhat of a given) was the strong story by Windsor-Smith, as he depicts the casual cruelty of the scientists who experiment on Logan in the attempt to turn him into “Weapon X.”

The story is a slow burn, as you get a chilling glimpse into the souls of the people working on Logan, and at the same time, you see how the noble person being tortured by science manages to survive the experience, and you occasionally get a look at the beginnings of what would eventually be the most famous member of the X-Men.

Boy, that Windsor-Smith sure knows how to tell a story.

93. “Final Crisis” by Grant Morrison, JG Jones, Doug Mahnke, Carlos Pacheco, Lee Garbett, Matthew Clark, Marco Ruby and a host of inkers (Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Final Crisis: Submit #1 plus I would throw in Batman #682-683) – 116 points (1 first place vote)

One of the most annoying aspects of Final Crisis is that Grant Morrison wrote the story in twelve comics, but only seven of those comics were actually labeled as “Final Crisis.” The others were an absolutely essential Superman Beyond two-issue mini-series plus a pretty darn essential Final Crisis: Submit #1 one-shot and a relatively important Batman two-parter. Luckily, DC at least changed their initial plans and released all but the Batman issues in the eventual Final Crisis hardcover collection, so it really didn’t matter in the end, but man, that was not the best laid plan.

Anyhow, the basic (and I mean BASIC) plot of Final Crisis is that Darkseid has come back to life by essentially traveling through time. This time travel has made a bit of a hole in the multiverse and has made it possible for an evil Monitor to break free from the prison that the other Monitors placed him into at the beginning of the multiverse. So Darkseid finally manages to conquer Earth with the anti-life equation, which he delivers in Final Crisis #3 and we see the after-effects, as most of the world’s heroes have now become corrupted by Darkseid’s evil control..

So things are really bad on Earth. Eventually, though, whichever heroes on Earth remain unaffected manage to fight back and take control of Earth and defeat Darkseid. The heroes then must take on Mandrakk, the evil Monitor, who is using this opportunity to basically destroy all of the multiverse. Superman and a legion of Green Lanterns and other heroes stand up to defeat the evil Mandrakk (Superman first encounters Mandrakk during Superman Beyond, when he gets caught up in the story while trying to save a mortally injured Lois Lane).

Morrison’s approach during Final Crisis was to deliver a series of short vignettes, which would then sort of coalesce into a larger picture, much like pointillism. Jonathan Hickman used a similar approach with his Infinity storyline (luckily for Hickman, Marvel gave him the freedom to not be constrained by just the issues of the Infinity mini-series, as the Avengers and New Avengers tie-in issues were essential to Hickman’s story just like how Morrison’s tie-ins were also essential to the main story).

Batman plays a major role in the story, as he is captured by Darkseid and is seemingly killed, but not before Batman mortally injures Darkseid. The whole thing was a very cool story, albeit affected by the delays due to the original artist on the project, JG Jones, being unable to complete the story.

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