132. 22 points - TIE Warlock (Starlin) - Superboy (Kesel)
In 1992, Jim Starlin was given an ongoing series for Adam Warlock, spinning out of his classic Infinity Gauntlet storyline. That was far from the first time Starlin had used the character, as he'd been using him off and on in his cosmic stories since 1975, even killing the character off in Thanos War, which kind of started this whole cycle of books that led up to Infinity Gauntlet. At the end of that series, Warlock had gained possession of the Gauntlet and all the gems. Ordered by The Living Tribunal to make sure the gems are never brought together again, Warlock gives them to six different members of the Infinity Watch which consisted of Warlock, Moondragon, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Pip the Troll, and Thanos. Yep, the same Thanos that killed Warlock and abused the Gems to remake the universe.
Thanos was given the Reality Gem, which without the abilities of the other gems to temper it, was too dangerous for Thanos to risk using. The series saw the set ups for most of Starlin's other cosmic events of the early 90's, and Starlin developed this group of characters as first a non-team, then had them brought together through various circumstances, not unlike the recent Guardians of the Galaxy or the classic Defenders. Starlin stayed on the book for 31 issues, leaving in 1994. Recently he's done some work that's pretty much the opposite of what got him on this list.
So, Superman died, four new guys showed up, one turned into a villain, one has been misused for most of his existence despite being a great character, and one got destroyed because he was a robot. The fourth guy has gone on to be one of the premiere teen heroes in the DCU, both on teams and in solo books. His name is Kon-El, he is Superboy, and Karl Kesel created him and then wrote most of the first 30 issues of his series, defining his personality, powers, origin, and whatnot.
Moving the character to Hawaii, Kesel tried to show how he's different from Superman instead of just trying to recreate the classic Superman origin stories in Smallville or whatever. In essence his goal was to show why this clone of Superman was more than just another Superman clone. Dealing with a virus that poisoned clones, a villain with a crush, visitors from the distant future, mystical artifacts, and develops a supporting cast of characters. Kesel left after 30 issues, but came back at #50 and did the majority of the next 20, leaving again at #70, although he also wrote the character in another book that won't be on this list that featured Superboy teaming with a new group of heroes called the Ravers. Let's not talk about that though, OK?
130. 23 points - TIE Supreme (Alan Moore) Spider-Man (McFarlane)
Speaking of Superman clones, Rob Liefeld once created one, a pile of crap called Supreme. He was a minor character that sucked and spun out of Youngblood. He had an ongoing series from Image, but I mean, it was pretty bad. So Liefeld took a shot in the dark and asked Alan Moore, who wasn't a complete tool yet and still seemed to like comics and didn't just shit on everyone all the time, if he'd take over and tell some stories. Moore agreed, but only on the condition that he could ignore all continuity and history for the character and do whatever he wanted. Liefeld agreed, and starting with issue #41, Moore took over and turned the character from a Superman clone into as you could expect, Moore took the book into a dark and disturbing direction, breaking down the character and looking at the superhero in a cynical way.
Of course, that expectation would be totally wrong. Instead, Moore told classic, Silver Age styled Superman stories, stories that weren't ironic deconstructions or dark versions of a flawed hero spiraling into darkness and excess. No, he even stated that the book was an apology for all the darkness his books had inspired, and that he was paying homage to his heroes of his childhood by trying to recreate that sense of joy and awe. Sure the book commented on a metafiction level on the storytelling clichés of old and there was a dense ongoing plot about the nature of fiction, but it was all given in a way that actually celebrated superheroes, especially Superman and the older stories of the Silver Age, as opposed to the grim and gritty trend that took over comics elsewhere during this time.
I know, he's a jackass, he uses too many lines, he does too much crap, he is a bad writer, he's a terrible jerk that most creators hate, he ran characters into the ground, screwed over collaborators who helped build his empire and his biggest characters, he takes forever to get work done, and he's ruined comics forever. I don't care, his Spider-Man has always been badass looking. Deal with it, I was 8 when this book started, and Todd McFarlane was my favorite Spidey artist, and to this day is still one of my favorites. Look at that cover! It's awesome. His Venom is even better.
As for the book, it's the opposite of Supreme. You remember how Supreme was not what you'd expect when you hear that Moore was doing a superhero story? Well this is exactly what you would think McFarlane doing a Spidey story in the early 90's would be. Exactly.
You can probably figure out who guest starred, who the villains were, the fact the black costume made an appearance, and the overflow of webs without ever looking at a single panel, much less a cover or splash page.
Still, the stories here were just OK at best, and included an arc that saw Spidey team up with Wolverine and an issue with Ghost Rider which screams 90's, but the art was great and McFarlane stayed on for the first 14 issues, took off issue 15 so fellow future Image guy Eric Larson could do a Spidey/Beast team up, and then wrapped up with #16. It's shallow, but sometimes the stuff you liked as a kid makes you look through rose colored, foil covered, limited edition, special collector's item, glasses and just want to see Spidey with a bunch of webs all over the page fighting some villains that scream early 90's. Deal with it and we'll see you next week.
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