140. 18 points - Invisibles (Morrison)
In 1994 Grant Morrison took some drugs and created this series about a secret organization battling against physical and psychic oppression using time travel, magic, meditation, and physical violence. Yep, he was high as a kite, and as a result created one of his most divisive series, a book that has as many people that think it's one of the best things ever as there are people that hate it with a passion.
The book was one of Morrison's first creator owned titles for Vertigo, and ran until 2000 and featured many many different artists, and never really had a set team.
139. Hawk & Dove (The Kesels)
Brought to you by the one and only Crump!
In the late 1980s, husband and wife writing team Karl and Barbara Kesel revamped Hawk & Dove in a five-issue mini illustrated by a surprisingly restrained Rob Liefeld. Hank Hall, Hawk, still reeling after the death of his brother, Don—the original Dove, joins forces with Dawn Granger, a young co-ed who was granted the power of Order by the same mysterious force who gave Hawk his power of Chaos. The mini was enough of a hit that the Kesels were given a monthly series to explore the new incarnation of H&D with artist Greg Guler (let's all say "Who?" at the same time) and inker Scott Hanna (who is still doing good work today).
The series ran for 28 issues and two annuals, following Hank and Dawn as they studied at Georgetown University while battling strange enemies in done-in-one issues as Hawk and Dove. While Hank and Don often bickered over their respective differences in philosophies (Hank: conservative; Don: liberal), the Kesels took a far less heavy-handed approach and instead made Hank and Dawn actual characters rather than political mouth-pieces. They infused the series with great peripheral characters like Ren, Hank's eccentric girlfriend and Kyle and Donna, a friendly couple who were refreshingly never used as hostages but instead served as an avenue to explore social subplots when Hank and Dawn were not crime-fighting.
But it wasn't all about burgers and beers with the gang. Hawk and Dove fought robots, Aztecs, gods, hippies, and C-list DCU villains like Copperhead. Recurring villains included Sudden Death, a ticking time-bomb surfer, Barter, a man who would offer the duo advice but for a price, and Kestrel, an evil embodiment of Chaos who sought to split Dove from Hawk. H&D teamed with Batgirl, the Titans, and even The Creeper from time to time, but their greatest and strangest adventure occurred in the several-issue-story arc that took them to Druspa Tau, a fantasy realm where Hawk and Dove finally learned their origins, and it was a doozy.
Before Druspa Tau, Hawk and Dove could not remove their costumes—they would magically appear whenever danger struck and disappear when the coast was clear. On Druspa Tau, Hawk removed his red and white getup to reveal and hulking, mullet-sporting hunk with tusks on his back. And Dove shed her costume to reveal that she was a creature made of light. Together, they met their makers: a giant dragon named T'Charr for Hawk and an amulet named Terataya for Dove. The two beings were in love and claimed that lending their powers to Hank and Dawn was really an "experiment" that was as yet incomplete. To fully absorb their powers, Hawk killed the dragon and bathed in its blood, while Dove did some weird shit with the amulet. Dove gained the powers of flight, while Hawk became bulletproof and could now control his density. The two left Druspa Tau with a kiss and found themselves back in Washington D.C. with new powers and plenty of questions.
While the writing was always strong and full of humor, sales dipped and the series was slated for cancellation. The stories grew darker near the end, with Hank becoming obsessed with bringing Don back from the dead and Dove feeling estranged from her partner. Annual #2 explored their possible futures together—including what might happen should the experiment ever be complete—and the less said about what happened to the characters for the next ten years the better. The 28 issues are an anomaly in the DCU: fun stories that involved engaging super-heroics and even more engaging characters. Their non-superhero antics were just as entertaining as whatever Hank and Dawn did as Hawk and Dove. The Dawn-centric Christmas issue (#20) is a series highlight, as is any issue where Sudden Death appears. The Druspa Tau arc is fucking insane and shows just how crazy and inventive comics can be when creators are given free reign. The mini was collected but the series remains only in single issue bins. With their prominence in Blackest Night and Brightest Day, maybe we'll see a Hawk & Dove collection eventually.
137. 19 points - TIE Secret Warriors (Hickman)/Sensational She-Hulk (Byrne)
Secret Warriors (Hickman)
Someone on these boards once called this book Nick Fury: Agent of BADASS, but I can't recall who it was. That is the most accurate description possible. While ostensibly a team book about a group of kids recruited by Fury to help save the world, it's really about the return of Nick Fury to the forefront of the Marvel U after being off the board for a few years.
The series deals with the various machinations going on behind the scenes, wars that are avoided rather than fought, and how Nick Fury and his former associates from the defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. work together doing things the heroes never even find out about. The team is made up of various children of heroes and some villains that were off the radar of the superhero community, and thus could be trusted not to be Skrulls or corrupted by HYDRA or anything else that might mean Fury was unable to trust them.
As the series goes along, you find out that Fury has other teams, and other plans going on, and nothing happens without meaning something. The book is headed up by indy sensation Johnathan Hickman, and was his first book at Marvel. The commercial and critical success of the book led to him taking over Fantastic Four and creating the comic SHIELD, and generally taking on a bigger role for the company.
Sensational She-Hulk (Byrne)
John Byrne is a name you will see many more times on this list, but none of those books are anything like She-Hulk. In 1989, Byrne wrote and did the art for the first 8 issues of the series, then he left the book, most figuring he was gone for good. Instead, he came back with issue #31 and wrote all but one of the issues until #50, in a run that took the character from being a female Hulk into being a character aware that she existed inside a comic, and the book had a very comedic tone for the most part.
Yes, there were characters in the Marvel U breaking the fourth wall, cracking jokes, and getting into crazy adventures well before Deadpool. Byrne even made himself a character in the story, with She-Hulk having issues with his drawing or dialogue at times and calling Byrne out by name. As you can see, this is a bit different from her original appearances or even her use in other books by Byrne like FF or the Avengers, and really nothing like anything else Byrne did in the rest of his career.
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