111. 37 points - Lucifer (Carey) - 1 First Place vote
#1 - #75
This is a book I really want to read, so I'm not going to get into the details of the plot too much, because I don't want to ruin it for myself. Deal with it.
In Neil Gaiman's Sandman (a book we'll see later on) Lucifer decides he's done with Hell and wants to move on. Mike Carey followed this with a miniseries setting Lucifer's new status quo, then followed that with a 75 issue series that saw Lucifer continue to run a piano bar in LA (as set up in Sandman), and doesn't portray Lucifer as being a hero, but does show him in a somewhat sympathetic light.
The main theme of the series is the idea of free will and whether it exists or if God's plan negates it or if the truth is somewhere in between.
I'd like to do a nicer write up, but I don't want to spoil the series and its pretty low on the list, so I'm not going to ruin it. Plus, the next write up took a while.
110. 38 points - Rulk (Loeb)
#1 - #24
That cover pretty much sums up this book.
I should probably be upfront and admit that I personally am not a big fan of this run, in fact I dropped it after two issues, but I don't begrudge anyone that enjoyed it.
Jeph Loeb took over the Hulk franchise, and did what he does on every book, which is ignore continuity where it gets in the way, ignore established characterization, let artists draw whatever and whomever they want to, tell stories with giant action scenes, have a central mystery that doesn't play fair and uses tricks (always explained after the reveal, but with no real hints that they are tricks at the time they are used) to make sure the majority of the audience can't figure out the "twist", add in some new friends and enemies that probably won't stick around, kill off someone (preferably a big time foe or supporting character) to show how tough the new villain is, and work with the best artists in the business while doing that stuff. I know that might sound harsh, but it's all true. His Batman run, Superman/Batman run, Ultimate run, Hulk run, and most of his other stuff has all or at least most of those trademarks. It's his style, and it sells big, for better or worse.
So let's talk specifically about Hulk, or as many people called it Rulk (due to the introduction of the new Red Hulk, who's identity was the big mystery of the book). The plot of Rulk didn't matter much of the time, mostly it was about random things like Hulk vs a pack of Wendigos in Vegas (an excuse to let Art Adams draw Mr. Fixit and some monster fights), Rulk punching the Watcher (because Ed McGuinness wanted to draw that), the debut of an all female team (because Frank Cho loves drawing female heroes), and other moments like that. There was an overreaching story, the mystery of who was turning into Rulk and why and how he came to be, but most of the arcs could be read by themselves and a reader would get a full story that would have a beginning, middle, and end. That overall story involved the Abomination being killed, Rick Jones turning into a blue Abomination called A-Bomb, Betty Ross returning as the Red She Hulk, Doc Samson losing control and turning into a rampaging monstrous villainous version of himself, and lots of other randomness. The mystery is played out, with most of the characters eliminated from being Rulk, only to reveal in the end that General Thunderbolt Ross was Rulk, and the earlier times you saw him interact with Rulk it was a Life Model Decoy (or LMD, a long time trick of Nick Fury) of Ross to throw people off his trail.
So basically in one run, Loeb ruined two of the three main Hulk villains for no real reason. The Hulk's character is reflected in his three main villains, as they represent the conflict within the character himself. Abomination is the monster, although unlike Hulk he has complete control and retained his intelligence from the start. Unable to change back to human form, the Abomination represents Banner's fear of being stuck as a monster at all times, but also represents what the Hulk would be if he wasn't a hero, a monster both inside and out. Ross played the opposite role, as the man who hated Hulk for being a monster, while acting like a monster. Outwardly he represented man, the military, and their fear and hatred of the Hulk, while inwardly he was more of a monster than the Hulk ever was. He was a monster by nature, but not by appearance or powers. Loeb killed one of them and basically had the other one take over the role that was already filled and didn't need replacing.
On the positive side, Loeb seemed to understand the Leader, the third of the main Hulk villains, although he's also the only one that wasn't there from the start. In the end, the Leader (who represents the intelligence to counteract the brute strength of the Hulk combined with being an intellectual equal of Banner) was behind everything with an overly complicated scheme that is eventually foiled by Hulk and Rulk working together, which is totally in line for the Leader.
All in all, like most Loeb books, if you turned your mind off, didn't worry about these sorts of issues, and just enjoyed the ride with all the pretty pictures by very talented artists, you probably had a really good time. And that's really all most people want or need from comics sometimes. And while this wasn't my personal cup of tea, I can understand why some people really liked this book and put it on the list.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to reading Hulk books by Peter David.
108. 42 points - TIE Spider-Girl (DeFalco)- Punisher (Ennis)
This is one of the strangest ties I've ever seen on one of these lists. These books could not possibly be more different. The only things they have in common is that they both started in one book, changed titles, and are published by Marvel. The only way this could have been weirder was if it was a book like Bone tied with Punisher.
Bubba found this quote, outside of the rubble that is his dead hard drive.
"My favorite book of all time. An amazing read. Great dialogue that properly conveys how teens act and talk! Pip-pip cheerio! Blood pudding! Bollocks! Other British slang!" - Twigglet
This book was nearly canceled and then brought back from the dead roughly 8,392,756 times, and as a result getting the numbering and titles of the books could take up more room than some posts for other books have had so far. The original series ran from #0 through #100, then it was revived in Amazing Spider-Girl that went from #0 through #30, had a story in Spider-Man Magazine, a backup in Amazing Spider-Man Family, another backup in Web of Spider-Man volume 2, appeared in Avengers Next, then in the mini Last Hero Standing and the follow-up Last Planet Standing, then Spectacular Spider-Girl #1 - #14. And her debut was in a freaking What If story. And just about all of it was written by Tom DeFalco, who created the character in that What If story. Every time it seemed like the book would be canceled, the fans would speak up and organize a letter writing campaign or online petition or some big event at a convention to convince Marvel to give the character and the book one more chance,
The character of May "Mayday" Parker is the daughter of Spider-Man and Mary Jane, and the series takes place in a potential future version of the Marvel U, filled with various characters that are relatives of current heroes and villains, and even a few active characters from the current age that are still around, although much older. Some of the main characters included a retired Peter Parker who has become a CSI, his co-worker Phil Urich who was once the Green Goblin (who actually joined Spider-Girl by donning a costume from time to time), Normie Osborn (the grandson of Norman), the Hobgoblin (the older Roderick Kingsley), and many others. While the book had a dedicated cult following, it was canceled for good in 2010. Or at least, that's where it is right now. I wouldn't be surprised to see it pop back up yet again.
The Punisher (Ennis)
Punisher vs The Marvel Universe
Punisher vol 5 #1 - #12
Punisher vol 6 #1 - #37
Punisher Max #1 - #60
In 1995, Garth Ennis told a fun story called Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe, which was basically a What If story about Frank killing every hero and villain in Marvel comics. It's mindless fun and way way way way way way way over the top.
Five years later he returned to the character with his partner Steve Dillon to tell a miniseries under the Marvel Knights imprint that is again, really over the top and features a lot of silly dark humor mixed in with the stories. This series led to an ongoing by the same team featuring Frank in some wildly over the top situations and dealing with over the top enemies like The Russian or Ma Gnucci. And again, the fans of his over the top violence were happy.
Then Marvel let Ennis take the character into their mature readers imprint and everything changed. Gone was the guy that hunted down superheroes and shot missiles at the moon. Gone were the silly cross dressing villains and jokes about poop. Gone was the majority of the Marvel U, and in it's place was a grimy, disgusting, hard world filled with sex traffickers, gangsters, rapists, corrupt cops, the CIA, KGB, corporate fraud, the War on Terror, and other real world concepts. This Frank Castle was an aging guy, beaten and injured by decades spent in a never ending war on crime. Dropping all references to superheroes and presenting a world similar to the real one, there were exceptions like Microchip and Nick Fury, characters that exist in the main Marvel U and had no powers, who play supporting roles in the series at times. The book also had Frank age in real time, more or less, having served in Vietnam and been embroiled in his war on crime for 30ish years. Being in the MAX imprint, the book was allowed to use much more violence, nudity, cursing, and whatnot, and Ennis did not shy away. After 60 issues telling just about every kind of story imaginable, Ennis left the book, having the most definitive run the character has ever seen.
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