68. 113 points - Hellblazer (Carey) - 3 first place votes
#175 - #215
Three people think this is the best comic of all time. I wonder if it's a good place to start with Hellblazer. I like the character, I like what stories I've read, but I've never fully dived in and read an entire run by anyone on the book.
In 2002, Mike Carey took over writing Hellblazer and went on to have the second longest run anyone has had on the title (the longest run belonging to Garth Ennis who only did about five or six more issues starting around issue 40 and then had a brief return later on).
Hellblazer follows supernatural detective John Constantine. One of the unique things about the series is the way the characters age and match up with the actual publication timeline. For instance, when the series debuted in 1988, Constantine was celebrating his 35th birthday and five years later there was an issue showing him celebrating his 40th. The characters around Constantine have also aged in the same manner. When Carey took over the book, Constantine was closing in on 50 and had left England for a while. The series picked up with his return to England, where he found out that his niece had become a witch and he ended up in the middle of a big war between powerful beings. Eventually Constantine's sister ends up murdered by her husband and her soul is trapped in Hell. He travels there to save her, but ultimately she decides to sacrifice herself to stay with her husband despite his treachery.
Carey's run is often considered one of the high points of the series and deals with many issues in regards to the personal lives of Constantine and his supporting cast, as well as developing further the mythology of the series and connecting back with older villains and whatnot. Carey also worked a cameo for Constantine into his run on Lucifer (which we saw earlier on the list), and then had a cameo for Lucifer in issue #192 of Hellblazer. In addition to his work on the main book, Carey also produced a story in the 9/11 book that raised money for various charities related to the tragedy. He also wrote a graphic novel titled Hellblazer: All His Engines that came out in 2005.
67. 114 points - Green Arrow (Grell)
Green Arrow: Longbow Hunters #1 - #3
Green Arrow: The Wonder Year $1 - #4
Green Arrow # 1 - #80
Mike Grell wrote some of the most famous Green Arrow stories of all time, and he did it without calling Ollie, Green Arrow most of the time, because Grell thought it was a dumb name. He also wildly changed who Ollie was, having him use real arrows and kill his enemies rather than using the traditional trick arrows. That, along with some other more mature themes, is one of the reasons his run helped lead to the Vertigo imprint existing, as this book, along with a few others, were published under a mature readers imprint by DC that wasn't totally separate from the main DCU. Despite the changes in character, the run is seen as a classic and one of the definitive Oliver Queen stories of all time.
In 1987, Grell was given a chance to write Green Arrow in the miniseries, The Longbow Hunters. The series featured Black Canary being kidnapped by a group of drug runners and brutally tortured. This action led to Green Arrow killing one of the drug runners. The series also introduced the character Shado, a female archer that was trying to kill all the drug runners that had kidnapped Dinah. Shado would later take advantage of a drugged Oliver Queen as she was helping him recover from injuries sustained while helping her later on, which would lead to the birth of a son that Ollie was unaware of for a long time (not Connor, but another kid. Ollie is a manwhore).
The popularity of this miniseries led to Green Arrow's first ongoing book. Grell wrote, and occasionally drew, the first 80 issues of the series. Moving the character from Star City to Seattle, the book saw Ollie take on a darker time in his life and respond by withdrawing from the superhero community and it also saw his politics slide from the left leaning ways he'd had since the run by O'Neil in the 70's to a more conservative view of the world. Ollie also continued to use regular arrows and kill the various villains he'd run into, most of which were typical gangsters, drug dealers, and murderers. Additionally, Dinah lost her sonic scream ability during this time, and Ollie stopped wearing a mask. When other heroes would visit, such as Hal Jordan, they'd do so in regular clothes and use only their regular names, not their superhero ones.
Following the move to Seattle, the two heroes settled down and opened a flower shop called Sherwood Florist. With the move came the addition of various new supporting characters. Beyond Shado, there was also the addition of a police detective named Jim Cameron who did not approve of Green Arrow's vigilante tactics, a mercenary named Eddie Fyers (who would go on to serve a big role once Connor took over the mantle well after Grell left the book), and a corrupt CIA agent named Greg Osborne who would serve as one of the main antagonists of the series. The run ended with Ollie cheating on Dinah with her assistant at the flower shop, a girl named Marianne.
Once Grell left the book, Green Arrow was moved back into the main DCU. Grell also wrote a new revised origin for Ollie in the Wonder Year miniseries that came out in 1992.
66. 117 points - Avengers (Stern) - 2 first place votes
#189 - #191, #201, #227 - #288, Annuals #13 and #14
Roger Stern wrote most of the Avengers stories in the 80's and during his run saw the team go through many big events and bring in many new members including Starfox, Namor, She-Hulk, Tigra, Doctor Druid, and a new Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau. This era also saw the debut of the West Coast Avengers. The book also dealt with the fallout of Hank Pym's time in jail and his eventual redemption by defeating Egghead and a new Masters of Evil by himself. Throughout Stern's run on the series, he laid the seeds for his most famous arc, Under Siege.
The story of Under Siege is pretty standard superhero stuff for the most part, a group of villains team up and attack the heroes. However, the difference between this and a typical story of this nature is the way it played out. The younger Baron Zemo recruits a group of villains with ties to the various Avengers, including some that had previously showed up in the book, and brings them together. The first part of the plan plays on the personality clashes between team members that had been simmering during Stern's run, then he sets up distractions outside of the mansion for everyone. After beating up the Black Knight and taking Jarvis hostage, the villains reprogram the defense systems to keep anyone they don't want out of the mansion. Zemo then sends Serpent Society member Black Mamba out to get Hercules drunk, and then bring him back to the mansion where the villains beat him to the point he slips into a coma and is even declared dead for a few minutes. Captain Marvel is banished to an alternate dimension by Blackout, Wasp and the Scott Lang Ant-Man take on Tiger Shark, Goliath, Hyde, and the Wrecking Crew. Captain America is captured and forced to watch as first his possessions are destroyed by Zemo and Hyde, and then as Jarvis is tortured by Hyde.
The tide turns when the Black Knight is able to use his connection to the Ebony Blade to save himself and Cap, and Doctor Druid is able to defeat Blackout and destroy his barrier that kept the other Avengers from getting inside. This allows Thor to go in and take out the Wrecking Crew and eventually Goliath. Captain Marvel escapes from the alternate dimension, but returns to Earth in San Francisco. She makes it back to New York in time to chase after Moonstone and catch her after she crashes into a mountain trying to avoid capture. The final battle between Zemo and Cap ends with Zemo falling from the roof of the ruined mansion to his apparent death. One of the final images of the series is of the team cleaning up the mansion, as Jarvis is taken to the hospital, and Cap stumbled across his destroyed items. Among them is the only picture he had of his mother, which has been torn in half. It's a pretty awesome panel.
The fallout of this led to the Avengers moving to a new base, a floating platform called Hydrobase, It also led directly to the original Thunderbolts run (which we will see later on). Stern's run on the book would end with issue #288 following a dispute with editor Mark Gruenwald that would lead to him leaving Marvel altogether and moving on to DC for the rest of the decade. Stern would return to the Avengers many years later to co-write Avengers Forever with Kurt Busiek and do some other Avengers related projects.