Sunday, June 24, 2018 • Midnight Edition • "At least we're not!"

Your Top Creative Runs part 44

Written by rdrsfn82 on Monday, February 07 2011 and posted in Features
Someone will be pissed one of these books is so low, meanwhile one of these books is too high, and the last one is probably in a good spot, maybe a little high.
35. 267 points - Titans (Wolfman/Perez) - 11 first place votes
New Teen Titans #1 - #40
Tales of the New Teen Titans #41 - #44
Annuals #1 - #3
Tales of the New Teen Titans #1 - #4 (mini)
New Teen Titans (Baxter paper edition) #1 - #5
Eleven people thought this was the best book of all time! This book is too low, IMO. One of the better reinventions of a team ever, one of the biggest selling books of all time, great development for the characters, and some classic stories that rank among the best and most famous of all time. As a result, I'm allowing Chap's request for the book to have two covers used. Unless misac doesn't post both covers, in which case it's not my fault.

Anyways, as one could guess, Chap wrote up a nice guest entry for us. Take it away chap!

While the Teen Titans concept debuted in 1964 and had a decent 53-issue run in the 60s and 70s, it was Marv Wolfman and George Perez who truly made this team and this book one of DC's headliners beginning in 1980. The series became a huge hit under Marv & George, for a long time placing as the #1 comic in America, even outselling Claremont's X-Men, and effectively saving DC from dying as a company. Don't believe it? Look it up.

But, for those of you who don't care about all that boring behind-the-scenes company business stuff, let's get right to the actual in-comic stuff, shall we? In 1980, Marv & George relaunched the team as The New Teen Titans, now showing original members Robin, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash as young college-age adults rather than swingin' teens. These three OG Titans were joined by Marv & George's own new creation sensations Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven, as well as former Doom Patrol member Beast Boy, now using the name Changeling (and a complete pox on Geoff Johns and DC for regressing Gar back to Beast Boy...stupid, stupid, stupid). The book thrived as it featured complex storytelling and character exploration unheard of from DC Comics prior to that time. Over the years, Marv & George showed these kids grow up and take new roles and responsibilities. Some went to college, some dropped out of college. There was angst galore due to adult romances (fans went nuts when Dick Grayson and Starfire were shown in bed together; Donna Troy got engaged and married to the skeeviest skeeve who ever skeeved, Terry Long AND his accursed afro; Wally and Raven went through ups and downs; etc.), death, and all the other pains associated with growing up. The book gave real insight to the lives and personalities of these characters, and some of the best and most well-received issues were the ones more about that than the superhero-super villain battles (see: A Day in the Lives..., Dear Mom & Dad, Siege, Who Is Donna Troy?, etc).

But that said, there was plenty of the capes stuff too. In the beginning, Raven, an expert manipulator, forms the group to fight her demonic father Trigon (although they had to save Starfire from an invasion by new DC alien race the Gordanians first), and the team remained together thereafter. Following their initial get-together, these new Titans met new villains Ravager and his father, Deathstroke the Terminator, a mercenary who takes a contract with previous Marv creation the H.I.V.E. to kill the Titans in order to fulfill a job his son had been unable to complete before his death. Following that, in their first two years the Titans fought Dr. Light and his new Fearsome Five, Trigon, Deathstroke again, the original Titans of Myth, particularly Hyperion (who had a thing for Donna), got justice for the deaths of Changeling's old team the Doom Patrol against the Brotherhood of Evil, and met new villain Brother Blood and Starfire's sister Blackfire. Along the way they fought the JLA, and teamed up with Robotman & Mento, Superman and the Omega Men. Around this time, Marv & George also put out Tales of the New Teen Titans, a four-part mini detailing the origins of Cyborg, Raven, Changeling, and Starfire.

But as if all that wasn't enough, Year three is where the book really hit full speed ahead. After beginning year three with a two-part story dealing with runaway children, the biggest event in Titans history began with the introduction of new character Terra, who was destined for really big things, namely the most notable Titans storyline of the era "The Judas Contract." Terra, with the destructive power to manipulate earth and all earth-related materials, infiltrates the Titans while secretly working for Deathstroke in order to destroy them. This story also featured Dick Grayson (Robin) adopting the identity of Nightwing, Wally West giving up on his Kid Flash persona and quitting the Titans (which eventually led to him becoming the Flash), and the introduction of a new member in Jericho, the other son of Deathstroke. Marv & George ended this storyline in shocking and tragic fashion, as the Titans learned along the way that sometimes people aren't what they seem, sometimes they're exactly what they seem, and sometimes people just don't want to be saved. For once, good didn't really win out, as Terra stayed evil right to the very end, breaking Changeling's (and a good many readers') heart and ending her own life. It was a powerful story in a series filled with powerful stories, and it still resonates today as one of DC's most lauded and most popular stories.

Besides Judas, year three also saw the introduction of plenty more new characters, including Thunder & Lightning, Trident, Cheshire, and the new Vigilante. The Titans had a rematch with the Brotherhood of Evil (with a guest-spot by total loser Speedy), crossed over with Batman & the Outsiders in a rematch with the Fearsome Five, had another rematch with Brother Blood, and prepared for big change in the real world too. The series was retitled Tales of the Teen Titans with issue #41, and a new New Teen Titans was started with a brand-new #1 as part of DC's big three-book Baxter paper/comic shop-only line (which ultimately was a big failure and was a big factor, along with Perez's departure in 1985 to headline the world-famous and DC-redefining COIE maxi-series, in pretty much destroying the Titans as a company-carrying big sales guarantee, but that's a story for elsewhere). The new book ran with the Five-part "The Terror of Trigon" (after which George was gone for good), while the original book finished up Judas, ran a three-parter featuring Aqualad and Aquagirl taking down the H.I.V.E. once and for all, a two-parter against a new-lineup Fearsome Five, and then George's last hurrah with Donna's wedding in issue #50, a rare superhero wedding (especially back then) where no fight breaks out.

At the end of the day, this run still stands as one of (and in my opinion THE) greatest runs of all time, both at DC and in all of American comics. I know however, that it won't make the top 10 in this list, and probably not even top #25, and to that all I can say is: you're all schmucks and idiots. Go fornicate yourselves. This book deserves better than you poltroons apparently gave it. Titans Together!

34. 274 points - Hulk (Pak) - 6 first place votes
Six people thought this was the best book ever written! Seriously? I liked this run, it was really fun at times, but best ever? Not even the best Hulk run ever, not even the second best Hulk run ever. These votes continue to boggle my mind. Anyways, on to the entry.

What if Hulk wasn't the strongest there is? What if he was in a world filled with beings of incredible strength? Why didn't the other heroes just blast Hulk off into space? Wouldn't Hulk look cool fighting in gladiator gear?

These are just a few of the questions that drove Greg Pak's first run on Incredible Hulk.

Pak had been working for Marvel comics for a while, mostly doing tie in miniseries like Phoenix: Endsong, Iron Man: House of M, 1602: The New World, and an Adam Warlock miniseries. On the strength of these books, Marvel gave him a chance to use one of their big guns, the Hulk.

Some big stories were planned for the Marvel Universe, such as Civil War, that needed the Hulk taken off the table for a couple of years. Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada's idea was to send Hulk off onto an alien world where gladiator styled battles were held to keep the people in line, and the monsters and natives were as strong as Hulk. Pak took this idea and crafted it into one of the more well received stories of the last few years.

The Illuminati were a group created by Brian Bendis. They consisted of Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, Namor, Reed Richards, and Iron Man. This was used to kick start his story. In a one shot by Bendis, Iron Man was currently in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and following a battle with the Thing in Vegas his second in command, Maria Hill, said that S.H.I.E.L.D. should have done something with Banner years ago. Iron Man took this issue to the rest of the Illuminati to try and figure out a permanent solution to the Hulk problem. The group decided that the only way to keep people safe from the Hulk, and to give Hulk a happy life, was to send him off the planet for good. Namor immediately pointed out that this was a dumb idea and would lead to Hulk coming back angrier than ever, when they wouldn't listen to him, Namor left the group and told them, "Banner will come back from whence you send him and he will kill you all! And he'll be right!." As usual, Namor was right, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

This is then followed by a three part story written by Daniel Way that saw Banner tasked with fixing a satellite in space. Once aboard the ship and shot off the planet, Way's work was done and all the set up was out of the way and it was time for Pak to start his run.

Pak's story kicks off with the revelation to Banner of their plan, which is to send Hulk to an uninhabited planet to live out his days. To the surprise of no one, Banner got rather angry and turned into the Hulk. During the ensuing temper tantrum he knocked the ship off line and into a wormhole that led to a different planet.

Crashing onto the barren desert-like planet of Sakaar Hulk finds out he's in a world of giant monsters, and is enslaved, thanks to a control disk that works like a shock collar, and forced to fight in a gladiator arena. Here he bonds with various others kept there including Korg (an alien that once fought Thor), a member of the Brood, and a couple of natives. During a battle, his blood is actually spilled and from that spot a plant grows. This leads many of the poor people of this planet to start questioning whether Hulk was the hero of prophecy, sent to free them from the evil dictator that ruled the planet and bring back life, or if he's the Worldbreaker that will destroy the planet.

While still captured Hulk is forced to fight many enemies, the most notable of which is one of his few friends, the Silver Surfer. The Surfer was also trapped by one of the control disks, and unable to break free. Following an epic battle, Hulk frees the Surfer and himself. The Surfer offers Hulk a ride home, but Hulk declines and decides to stay put. Hulk then heads off with his fellow freed slaves and the Surfer heads back into space.

Hulk and his allies spend the rest of the Planet Hulk storyline fighting for their freedom, avoiding the emperor, and then eventually leading a revolution against the Emperor to free the planet. During this time, Hulk forms a relationship with Caiera, an assassin sent to kill him by the Emperor, but who finds out that the Emperor was not acting in the best interests of the people. After defeating the Emperor, their relationship blooms as King and Queen of the newly freed planet. During this time Banner makes his only appearance in the entire arc, when Hulk shows his true form to the love of his life. Caiera eventually ends up pregnant and Hulk is happy for one of the few times in his life.

Just as Hulk seems to have found peace, the shuttle that brought him to the planet explodes and kills his Queen along with most life on the planet. Believing that it was a bomb planted by the Illuminati, Hulk becomes angrier than he's ever been and heads out with his new friends to get vengeance on the people he holds responsible, leading to the World War Hulk miniseries.

In the miniseries, Hulk takes over Manhattan and defeats those that he feels wronged him, before pulling back and showing he was out for justice and not vengeance. At the end of the story Hulk saves the day and reverts to his human form, leading to Jeph Loeb taking over the Hulk story, which is just a sad, sad thing I don't like to think about.

In the main Incredible Hulk series, the focus shifts to a small group of heroes that take Hulk's side as a companion series to the main miniseries. The boy genius Amadeus Cho brings together a handful of Hulk's friends. Hercules, Angel, and Namora join Cho in helping prove Hulk is a hero even as he's destroying Manhattan. This storyline takes us to the end of Pak's run, as with issue #113 the title is renamed Incredible Hercules. Pak and a writer named Fred Van Lente work together on that book, which became one of the most fun things Marvel has published.

Pak has since returned to Hulk, telling stories of Hulk's not so dead son, who lived through the explosion that killed his mother, which Hulk didn't realize.

33. 289 points - Nova (DnA) - 7 first place votes
#1 - #36
Seven people thought this was the best book ever written. While I wouldn't go that far, this is probably a fair spot on the list for a book that revitalized the Marvel cosmic scene and featured many great stories.

As a kid I always saw Nova as a bad rip-off of the Green Lantern ideas. A group of universal cops guarding the various sectors of space, I just never got into the concept. This series, and the events on the cosmic side of things over the last few years, is what changed my mind. Nova is now one of my favorite heroes in the Marvel U, and I hope he returns some day soon.

Spinning out of the events of the Annihilation event, Nova was given a new book, a new mission, and the writing team of DnA were chosen to guide not only the character, but the entire cosmic side of the Marvel U. Over the next 36 issues, various cosmic events all spun out of this series and the entire nature of the cosmic side of the Marvel U was shaped here, much like Starlin's run on Adam Warlock shaped the universe at that time period.

The first arc of the series saw Richard Rider return to Earth for the first time since the end of Annihilation. During that event, the Nova Corps was destroyed and their guiding force, Worldmind, was downloaded, along with all the power of the entire Corps, into Rich. His return saw him reconnect with his family, and also with the superhero community. When Confronted about registration (the superhero Civil War had just begun) by Iron Man, Rich showed just how much he had changed from the kid he was to the man he's become by telling Iron Man off after being attacked by the Thunderbolts and seeing what had happened to his former friend Robbie Baldwin, who had changed from Speedball to Penance (as seen in the Ellis Thunderbolt's run earlier on the list). Rich than leaves Earth, seeing it as no longer being as he remembered and not feeling as if he fits in.

The series then leads into the Conquest event, in which Ultron and the Phalanx try to take over Kree space in the aftermath of Annihilation. This event leads to the creation of the Guardians of the Galaxy (as seen earlier). This is followed by the Skrull Invasion of Earth, which was again caused by the fallout from Annihilation in which many of the Skrull worlds were destroyed. The Skrulls go out of their way to set up a trap for Rich, knowing that he is one of the most powerful defender the Earth has. Eventually he's assisted by the original Super-Skrull, who also helped in the Annihilation event, and ends up at Project Pegasus where he finds out his brother is working and his old friend Darkhawk is working security. This also leads to the return of the previously assumed dead Quasar. The three heroes, along with the scientists and security team, try to defend the high tech base from the invading Skrulls. Just as all hope seems lost, a group of new Nova recruits show up and save the day.

As you can tell, Rich had been involved in so much that he hadn't had time to reestablish the Corps, so the arrival of these new Novas was a bit of a mystery at first. Worldmind then reveals that while Rich was sleeping, he took control of his body and went around starting up the new Corps. This is pretty creepy and fucked up, but they get over it.

The rest of the series saw the Corps expand, massive threats dealt with, and eventually even the return of Nova's dead girlfriend Namorita, thanks to a time bending adventure that involved the old New Warriors nemesis Sphinx.

However, the book was put on hiatus due to the Thanos Imperative event. At the conclusion of that story, Rich and Star-Lord are battling Thanos and end up trapped in a separate dimension with the Mad Titan and no way of returning home. His current fate is unknown, and without a Nova, there's not really any reason to have a book. The upcoming miniseries The Annihilators will see DnA reveal the new status quo of the Marvel cosmic scene and will hopefully lead to a new ongoing to replace Guardians of the Galaxy and/or Nova. It's some of the most entertaining comics of the last few years. I never thought I'd say that about books featuring Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Star-Lord, and Nova.

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