83. 87 points - Runaways (Vaughan) - 2 first place votes
Volume 1 #1 - #18
Volume 2 #1 - #24
This is the second of three books by Brian K Vaughan. He has only written seven ongoing series and three of those made this list. And all three of his books that made the list are books that he created, not characters he took over like the other four. I think this means Vaughan should create more characters and be given more ongoing books. Hopefully he comes back to do more stories as I'm a fan.
So Runaways is the story of a group of kids in LA that find out that their parents are super villains. Upon realizing this they, wait for it................run away from home. Shocking, I know. Their parents work together in a group that calls itself The Pride. The first volume of the series focuses on the team getting together, finding out more about their parents, finding out their own powers and gifts, and eventually builds up to a confrontation with their parents. The group consists of a mutant (Molly), a sorceress (Nico), a knuckle headed kid of mad scientists (Chase), an alien (Karolina), the daughter of time travelers with a pet dinosaur (Gertrude and Old Lace respectively), and the son of a couple that are basically the Kingpins of the West Coast (Alex).
The team initially doesn't have much in common, other than getting together once a year when their parents meet, but upon seeing their parents sacrifice an innocent to some mysterious dark masters, they quickly bond together and run off. They find a lair under the La Brea Tar Pits, and try to regroup and figure out what to do. Unfortunately it's revealed that someone in the group is a traitor and that mystery plays a big role over the rest of the initial volume of the series. After getting in some adventures involving breaking up smaller crimes, vampires, and romance between teammates (including hints that Karolina might have feelings for Nico. and Nico's crush on Alex), the series moves on the kids trying to stop their parents, who are helping some ancient god-like beings called the Gibborim to destroy the world in exchange for saving their kids from the apocalypse. The traitor is revealed to be Alex, who was working with his parents and Nico's parents to use the six slots on them and Nico instead of the other kids. Alex is defeated and killed along with the Gibborim and all the parents.
The second volume of the series sees two new members join the team, Victor and Xavin. The series starts with a flash to the future where we see the Runaways grown up and fighting alongside the Avengers, only to fall. The last surviving member is Gert, who looks nothing like she does now, and warns them that Victor is going to kill all the heroes in the world and that he is the son of a major Marvel villain. Eventually this villain is revealed to be Ultron and Victor is shown to be a robot. Xavin is a member of the Skrulls who are at war with Karolina's race of aliens (since the Skrulls hate everyone), and he is to marry her to end the war. Karolina agrees, and they leave, but return later on. This volume saw the team get out of California and mix with more of the traditional Marvel heroes in New York City, and also saw the death of another team member.
This was followed by Joss Whedon killing the book, and some lackluster runs that finished it off. These characters deserve much better.
82. 88 points - Amazing Spider-man (JMS)
#30 - #545 (there was a renumbering, it's really about 70ish issues)
In 2001 J. Michael Straczynski took over Amazing Spider-Man and would go on to have a run that lasted until 2007 and ended in some amount of controversy, but we'll get to that.
The run saw many controversial arcs before that final one, including the revelation that Spider-Man's powers might be related to a mystical Spider Totem and the fact that Gwen Stacy had two kids with Norman Osborn being the most controversial. The mystical stuff connected in with a character named Ezekiel who had similar powers to Spidey, He had a connection to a mystical being and was destined to die, and tried to use Peter to take his place, but over the course of the storyline they became friends and in the end Ezekiel sacrificed himself to save Peter. There's also the storyline The Other, which also connects in with all this mystical stuff and leads to Peter getting some new powers that are promptly ignored by everyone else once he leaves the book.
There is no redeeming qualities to the Osborn/Stacy stuff, so let's just move on.
The series also saw MJ and Pete reconcile, Aunt May find out (for the millionth time) that Peter was Spidey, and then there was One More Day, which led to JMS leaving the book.
In the year or so leading up to OMD, Peter goes through a lot of tragedy (as he usually does) and ends up hanging out with Iron Man and using him as a father-figure of sorts (even getting a new suit designed by Iron Man). When Iron man unveils the Superhero Registration Act that prompts the Civil War event, Peter (in a wildly out of character moment) reveals his true ID to the public. This leads to Aunt May getting shot by a sniper. As she's hanging onto her life, Peter and MJ make a deal with Mephisto to save her life and erase all knowledge that Pete is Spider-Man from the entire world. This resets the status quo, but also ends the marriage of Peter and MJ.
The story was the brainchild of Editor in Chief Joe Quesada, and he provided the art on the story. JMS had major issues with the plot that he aired publicly, and he even asked to have his name removed from the final issues of the story. This led to his departure from the title. The argument made by Joe Q was that a single Spider-Man is more to relate with and that kids don't want to read about a married Spider-Man. Many fans were not happy with this turn of events, but it's magic, deal with it.
81. 89 points - Batman and the Outsiders (Barr/Aparo)
#1 - #20
Our good buddy Chap once again gave us this entry. Take it away baldy!
In the early 1980s, DC was notably short on good team books, or any team books for that matter, at least as far as "Earth-One" was concerned. While Marvel had the Avengers, FF, X-Men, Defenders, and New Mutants, at DC there was JLA, and the New Teen Titans, and that was it. (There was also All-Star Squadron and Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, but neither of them were Earth-One continuity.) At least until 1983, when Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo introduced a new team to the DCU to handle foes and threats the JLA and others couldn't or wouldn't handle: the Outsiders.
With DC canceling its long-running Batman team—up book, Brave and the Bold, with issue 200, DC chose to introduce this new team as a back-up in that issue, and then continue into the brand-new issue #1 with the same creative team. And this was indeed an introduction, as half the team were brand-new characters. Geo-Force, Halo, and Katana were all never-before-seen heroes with varied backgrounds, varied looks and powers/skills, and mysterious pasts and motivations. Joining these three new heroes were two more DC stalwarts, Black Lightning and Metamorpho, who had refused JLA membership, attained somewhat cult-fan followings, but never really hit the big-time.
Now of course, something had to get readers to buy this book, so DC added one of it's headliners to the cast to round it out. And no DC icon fit this group of Outsiders better, in terms of concept, story, or sales needs, than the JLA's own outsider, Batman. He provided the new team with credibility, direction, leadership, base of operations, training, funding, and his help as a detective, particularly to Halo in this last regard. Furthermore, by bringing them together, he gave these individuals a place to belong, as evidenced by the long-standing staying power of this team in the DCU, despite the fact that their reason for being "outsiders" often doesn't hold up well beyond a mission or two.
In terms of story, Barr and Aparo ran about two years on the original book, and spent their time introducing the characters to the readers and the DCU, and giving everyone their own running subplot while introducing their own rogues' gallery of villains and teams. The team first came together in the DC country of Markovia (in it's first appearance in the DCU), when that country's king is killed by Baron Bedlam, who has also kidnapped Lucius Fox. Hamstrung by red tape, the JLA refuses to help Batman rescue Fox, so he quits the League and recruits Black Lightning and Metamorpho for a covert rescue op. Once there, they stumble upon (literally) Halo, an amnesiac American teenager with the ability to fly and generate auras of different colors and abilities, and Katana, a Japanese samurai widow with a mystical Katana blade. Upon rescuing Fox, the new team stays to overthrow Bedlam, along with the newly Earth-powered Geo-Force, who is actually Prince Brion Markov of Markovia. Following this, the team sets up shop in Gotham City, and has skirmishes with villains Agent Orange and Meltdown, before teaming up/crossing over with Batman's former sidekick Robin and the rest of the Teen Titans against their foes the Fearsome Five. During this story, it is revealed that Geo-Force and the Titans' Terra are half-siblings. Following this, the team faces off with the Cryonic Man, and teams up with the Phantom Stranger at Christmas to defeat Tanarrak.
At this point, each member's individual subplots begin to take center stage. BL had been suffering a mental block on his powers due to an innocent teenage bystander accidentally getting killed at one of his battles. The girl's parents hired a new team of villains to get their revenge, the Masters of Disaster (New Wave, Shakedown, Heatwave, Coldsnap, and Windfall, who would later join the Outsiders, and even later the Suicide Squad, but the less said about that fiasco the better). They followed that up by getting the origin of Katana and her sword, facing off with the Oyabun and a team of reanimated souls killed by her blade, including her late husband. This battle leaves Batman at death's door, poisoned by a blowgun dart. The team saved Batman's life and learned his identity, then fought old Bats foe Maxie Zeus and his team of New Olympians at the 1984 summer Olympics, and recurring foe the Force of July, led by Major Victory. All the while, Batman was investigating Halo's origins, leading to her leaving the team temporarily and coming across old BL foe Tobias Whale and his new assassin Syonide. Metamorpho was also trying to discover the secrets of the Orb of Ra which gave him his powers in an attempt to revert himself to normal. This led the team to time-travel to ancient Egypt to save him and one of the Rameses pharaohs, and led to him finally proposing to long-time flame Sapphire Stagg. Upon their return to the present, Geo-Force's love interest was harassed around Christmas by a professor of theirs, leading to her attempted suicide and a jealous rage of vengeance by G-F. To prevent him from crossing the line, Bats calls in Superman, leading to a classic hero-vs.-hero battle.
At this time, Aparo left the book to be replaced by Alan Davis, who finished off Halo's origin story, and handled large arcs featuring Kobra and introducing new team member Looker, and officiated the wedding of Metamorpho and Sapphire. Aparo would return to pencil the Batman-less Outsiders title in DC's Baxter format, moving the team to California and introducing new foes like the Nuclear Family, Duke of Oil, and Bad Samaritan.
As mentioned above, this group of B and C-listers has managed to remain a presence in the DCU for nearly 30 years now, based not entirely on the concept, but primarily on the personalities and relationships established in this opening run by Barr and Aparo. The friendship between Metamorpho and BL, the mother-daughter relationship between Katana and Halo, Geo-Force's regal haughtiness and hardheaded self-confidence, Halo's innocence and infectious optimism, Katana's honor and warrior's code, Metamorpho's humor, these humanizing traits are what has allowed this group to survive and thrive, with or without their founder.
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