65. 118 points - Supreme Power (JMS) -2 first place votes
This one is brought to us by OHG's very own JamesV! Take it away James!
Who would have thought one of the best Justice League stories of the decade would take place without Superman, Batman or the DC Universe?
J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank gave a heavy revitalization to the Supreme Squadron -- Marvel versions of DC's biggest characters originally created in the 70's as Avengers villains and most well known for their mid-80's mini. And while the cast of Supreme Power is cut from the same cloth of Superman and his Super Friends, the story that JMS and Frank gave us is anything but a retread.
Instead we get a complex exploration of what it would be like if the heroes of the JLA weren't icons, tucked safely behind mylar. This MAX book explored an African-American Batman whose parents were gunned down by racists, a Superman whose entire midwestern up bringing was manipulated by the US government, an ancient Greek princess with zero tolerance for man's world, and a young speedster trying to deal with the public. And it did so with serious craftsmanship.
See, what makes Supreme Power better than the standard twisted JLA story is the talent of its creators. It was a run where JMS was on fire, nailing characterization and plot, pulling the readers into the hyper realistic world of Frank. In a world where super heroics meant blood and limbs, Frank rendered each panel and page with maturity. Lesser writers and artists would have given into the subject matter, reveling in the exploitive possibility of gore and breasts and body parts, but that's not what Supreme Power was about.
It was about struggle and heroism and evil and the grey lines of morality.
It stands as a high point amongst the Marvel MAX line. Showing what potential can be done when creators hit their marks, when characters have their potential maximized. And though Hyperion may not be the real Superman, or Nighthawk the real Batman, Zarda the real Wonder Woman or the Blur the real Flash, for several years in the mid-2000's it didn't matter. They were the JLA and they were damn good.
64. 122 points - Batman/Detective (Breyfogle/Grant) - 1 first place vote + One Sad Bubba
Another guest write-up, this time by our missing host Bubba! This is my favorite group of entries, because I only have to do one write-up! Take it away Bubba!
Everyone has there particular writer or artist for their favorite characters (which I guess what this list is all about right? Doh = Me). Anywho, when I think of Batman I think of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle. I remember back when I was a kid, I was such a Marvel Zombie and didn't even give a shit about DC characters, especially Batman. All I knew about Batman was the 60's show, his spot of Super Friends, and his occasional guest appearance on Scooby Doo. So, I found him lame. I was big on Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and X-Men. I love characters with flashy powers and such, characters that were not just humans with a neat car.
Then I saw the cover, something about it caught my eye in a Beckers (the Canadian equiv. of a 7-11). Maybe it was the huge knife? Or maybe it was the grimace on the statue of Batman that made me rethink the image of Bats I perceived in my head? Or maybe it was the free poster inside? But whatever it was, I picked it up and it blew my friggin' mind. Batman was just a normal dude and he kicked SO much ass. And the art, was fucking, wow.
One of the reasons I loved this era of Batman the best (and I tell people to this day), is that Batman was just a normal dude and he took on freaks like the various Clayfaces. Alan Grant didn't have the Bat-God to play with that Morrison created. Hell, when Grant signed on to do Detective, the comic was selling so low he didn't even get royalties for issues he wrote (then the Bat-Flick came out, and everything changed after that but still). The Batman Alan wrote bled. The Batman Alan wrote showed weakness. The Batman Alan kicked all kinds of ass and didn't have a deus ex machina to beat the villain of the arc. By the time I started reading, Robin was already dead so the turmoil that Grant wrote in Bats I really felt.
And Norm Breyfogle, what an underrated artist. The Batman he drew, to this day is my all time favorite Batman. Fuck Jim Lee. Fuck him in his face, because his Bats is a pale comparison to the Norm Breyfogle Bats. He drew some of the greatest action scenes, he drew the best fucking Batmobile ever, and he could draw a wicked looking cape without making it look retarded *CoughMacFarlaneCough* And the emotion that Breyfogle put into Bats, I actually felt. Even if it was just a little change in the eye shape, you can see what Bats was feeling in each and every panel. And like I said, the incredible guilt Batman was going through because of the death of Robin, Norm was able to project it perfectly.
These two helped introduce new Bat Rogues for ole' Brucey to face. Some good, like Mr. Zsasz, Anarky and Cornelius Stirk. And some not so much like Ventriloquist and Scarface. Also, they helped introduce the new Robin costume design (which was designed by Neal Adams, but Breyfogle was the first to draw it) as well as be the first creative team to write Shadow of the Bat. Either way, I am pretty pissed these guys didn't make it higher on the list. And if you haven't read any of these issues (Detective Comics #583-594, 601-621, 627, Batman #455-466, 470-476, Shadow of the Bat #1-5), I suggest you do so. And I am sure they will be pretty cheap too.
Oh, in case you were wondering.. It was the free poster.
63. 125 points - Thunderbolts (Ellis) - 3 first place votes
#110 - #121
First off, screw you guys for not having someone else write this up for me, you ruined this run of me not doing anything.
Secondly, three people really thought this was the best run ever? This wasn't even the best run with this group, as I think Dark Avengers was more fun (we'll see that later on). Oh well, let's get to it.
In 2007, Warren Ellis was chosen to revamp the Thunderbolts for the new status quo where Norman Osborn had taken over the team in the aftermath of Civil War. During Civil War just about every villain around was offered a chance to get out of jail if they joined the pro-registration side. In the fallout of the event, Norman Osborn was given control of the team due to his personal connections and his stories that he wasn't responsible for the actions of the Green Goblin. As one would expect, Norman wasn't exactly worried about villains turning into heroes or actually helping people or anything else, and as a result he kicked most of the old members off the team in favor of some of the most famous villains in the Marvel U. Among those added to the team were Venom, Bullseye, and Penance (the hero formerly known as Speedball),
The goal of the team changed and they were now tasked with capturing unregistered heroes. Most of the team was publicly shown, although Bullseye was kept away from public viewing. To keep the more psychotic members of the team in line, Norman had chips installed that would give a painful electric shock the first time you broke the rules, a bigger shock the second time, and a fatal shock the third time. He also made promises to various members of the team, such as telling Swordsman that he would resurrect his dead sister if he did as he was told. Norman also made Moonstone the new field leader of the team, which had disastrous results as it led to Venom biting off Jack Flag's arm, Bullseye going way too far, and the team being filled with infighting.
Over the course of his run, Ellis reveled in the villainous nature of the characters involved. He also put a lot of focus on smaller, lesser known heroes and psychological battles between teammates. Unfortunately, as is the case with many books by Ellis, the book started suffering from delays and ended up moving on to a new creative team after issue #121.