50. 177 points - Guardians of The Galaxy (DnA) - 4 first place votes
#1 - #25 plus a few miniseries and one shots
Four people thought this book was the best thing ever written. I don't know why anyone would say that, but it was indeed a great book that made me care about a talking space dog and Rocket Raccoon, so there's that. A pretty good choice for #50, though it might be a tad too high.
So Annihilation was a big popular event and it spawned a new solo series for Nova by DnA (as we'll see later on). That event had a sequel called Annihilation: Conquest that saw Ultron try to take over the universe and was also by DnA. Out of the rubble of that event, they were given a second ongoing series, focused on a team of misfits and outcasts called Guardians of the Galaxy.
GotG was all about trying to avoid another giant universe breaking event. The team, was not always totally successful because it was made up of mostly guys that were in way, way, way over there heads. A talking raccoon, a psychic Communist space dog, a guy that quit being a hero decades ago and was dragged back into it as a leader, and others all worked together to try and do what they could. Over the course of the series the characters died, had relationships, came back from the dead, visited parallel worlds, became involved with a god, saw a break in the fabric of the universe, got caught up in potential futures, saw a time traveling hero from the future Guardians join the team, saw one of their own become the avatar of death, saw another turn into a being that had previously destroyed the universe, got caught up in a war between an insane mutant and the new leaders of an alien race that was nearly wiped out by Ultron, fought and teamed with the Inhumans, fought the returning mad Titan known as Thanos, battled the beings of an evil alternate reality ruled by Lovecraftian beings, fought the Universal Church, saved the universe countless times, encountered the minions of the dread Dormammu, and ultimately saw their leader sacrifice himself to save the universe. And did all of that in 25 issues and a couple of spin off miniseries over the course of 2 years. Seriously, that's freaking awesome.
The trademark tone of the series was old school adventure, big time action, a focus on the relationships between the characters, and a nice sprinkling of comedy mixed in. While the team never had the biggest guns (well, other than Adam Warlock who eventually went all Magus on them and became one of the biggest threats they faced), they always went in and tried their hardest to get the job done. And despite a near constant level of action and major threats, the team of DnA always made sure to give focus to the relationships between the characters, whether it was the natural rivalry of Cosmo the Space Dog and Rocket Raccoon, the bonding of two trained killers in Drax and Gamora, Moondragon and Phyla-Vell as lovers willing to die for one another, Drax and Phyla's father daughter dynamic, or the way everyone looked up to Star-Lord and saw him as the leader despite having no real powers of his own, the book always made you care about the characters. Even Groot, who only has one line 99% of the time, was seen as a well rounded character worthy of investing in emotionally.
During the Thanos Imperative event where Thanos came back to help battle some evil Lovecraftian versions of heroes, Thanos shockingly turned on the team and tried to destroy the universe (I know, shocking since he's never done that sort of thing before). To stop him, Nova and Star-Lord sacrifice themselves to lock Thanos away in a sealed off dimension while the rest of the team escapes. Their deaths, or at least apparent deaths, lead to the disbanding of the Guardians. Cosmo heads off to recruit a new team called the Annihilators made up of some of the biggest guns in the universe including Beta Ray Bill, the Silver Surfer, and the new leader of the Shi'ar Gladiator. Their adventures begin soon in a miniseries titled, The Annihilators and will feature a backup story following Rocket Raccoon and Groot. It's all by DnA. Go buy it and maybe we'll see the return of one or more of these cosmic ongoing books.
49. 178 points - Cable & Deadpool (Nicieza)
#1 - #50
I feel like I should read this whole series. I've only read bits and pieces here and there, rather than the whole book. I like what I've read.
So in 1991 in New Mutants, Rob Liefeld ripped off Slade Wilson from DC and Nicieza tried to give him some character. After a couple of miniseries, he would end up in a solo book by Joe Kelly that we'll see later on. Nicieza left Marvel, and didn't really have much to do with the character for a long time. Then following a revamp of the title that saw it turned into Agent X in 2002, Deadpool got a new series in 2004 written by Nicieza and starring Deadpool and his former enemy from his first appearance, Cable. The series would go on for 50 issues before being canceled to give Cable a solo book and give Deadpool roughly 1082372 books.
During Casey's run, Deadpool became a fourth wall breaking agent of comedy storytelling. While that was somewhat downplayed at times in other books, it was not downplayed at all in this one. The recap and letters pages often involved Deadpool directly interacting with the readers by answering questions or explaining to Cable what breaking the fourth wall meant while telling the readers what was going on. The stuff happening in the actual stories was just as silly at times, with the ultra-serious Cable countered by the zany Deadpool. A typical story would be like in the first arc where Deadpool is hired to steal a virus that will turn everyone on Earth blue. Due to a serious of events, Cable absorbs Deadpool, vomits him back out, and they are both cured of the virus. Cable then turns everyone on Earth pink for a bit, before restoring their normal color. As a result of the mixing of their DNA during the absorbing, they both gain the ability to teleport, but with the downside that when one does it the other is dragged along. Cable spends much of the series trying to save the world by uniting them against a cause, even if at times he plays the part of a villain to unite the world against himself. He also dies or nearly dies or gets turned into a baby a few times, needing to be saved by Deadpool.
Despite the comedic tone and over the top stories, the book really plays up the friendships of the two characters as well as their relationships with supporting characters like Bob Agent of HYDRA (a guy who defines average and is there for the pay and dental plan), Domino (Cable's sometime girlfriend and former teammate), Weasel (long time Deadpool supporting character) and others. While the book could be downright silly at times, it never forgets to balance that out by making sure that people actually care about the characters and want to see them get out of whatever mess they end up in. A big part of why Deadpool became popular was his use in this book, and Cable has since gone on to play a huge role in the X-Men stories of the last few years.
48. 189 points - Suicide Squad (Ostrander) - 2 first place votes
#1 - #66
Great book, and two people thought it was the best thing ever written.
Super villains go to jail, and then usually they break out. This book is about the ones that don't. Instead they are given the chance to knock years off their sentence or even get out all together if they can just survive a stint doing jobs for the government that can't be farmed out to regular heroes. Most of the people that sign up don't end up living through the experience, hence the title of the team and the book, the Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad was originally a team of heroes back in the era when the JSA wasn't around created by Robert Kanigher who appeared in many issues of The Brave and the Bold while he was on the title. The modern Squad spun out of the Legends crossover and featured villains sent out on missions like the Dirty Dozen. While most of the cast of the book was different arc to arc, usually due to someone dying, Amanda Waller is put in charge of the team, with Rick Flag Jr. serving as the field leader, with Bronze Tiger as the second in command. Characters like Captain Boomerang, Nightshade, Deadshot, and Nemesis rounds out the core members of the team, while various other heroes and villains filter in and out depending on the needs of the mission. Flag eventually dies blowing up the headquarters of a terrorist group, in one of the more surprising deaths in a book filled with deaths. This was done after having shown Flag as pretty much the main character during the first two years of the series. Bronze Tiger became the leader at that point, but the tone was well established that no matter how popular or important you are, if you are in this book you are not safe.
Much of the appeal of the book was the way it looked at the seedy political side of the DCU, dealing with spies, terrorists, and the various government agencies, as well as corrupt politicians, heroes that don't agree with their agenda, and people using the Squad for their own means. One of the big events of the series saw Waller assassinate an entire terrorist group looking to release a zombie plague on the world. She did this by offering freedom to three members, Ravan, Poison Ivy, and Deadshot. They succeed, but people find out what happened and Waller ends up going to jail for ordering the hit. The storyline dealt with the political fallout of the event, the idea of whether something like that is justified if it saves lives, and the views of their actions by various governments and agencies around the DCU. Her time in jail led to the team being disbanded. Following the events of this, came The Phoenix Gambit, which saw Waller get a pardon, and reunite the team as a mercenary group free of government control.
The series ended with the disbanding of the team following a mission to stop a dictator. Despite this, the Squad is seen at various points over the years working both for themselves and with Waller getting them back involved with various government organizations.