So today’s the day. I’m 25 years old and you can betcha ass I’m gonna have me some Colin the Caterpillar cake. I’m also now going to share with you my favourite comic arcs from Marvel and DC comics. Now, lets be clear, Marvel and DC both have a LOT of extremely good arcs, so narrowing my favourites down to ten was pretty hard, yo. If you don’t like my list… well, that’s fine, you’re allowed to not. This will have spoilers!
Starting at 10th place! Lets begin!
10th place is Flashpoint from DC comics. Flashpoint is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Andy Kubert.
The story centres on Flash, and he wakes up at his desk and the whole world has changed – Aquaman and Atlantis are at war with Wonder Woman and the Amazons, the
war is threatening the whole world. So imagine Bruce Wayne died in the alley instead of his parents! In the Flashpoint universe exactly that happened, and then his mother went mad with grief and her descent into madness ended with her becoming the Joker and his father became the Batman but a far darker Batman than we had previously seen; a Batman that kills, drinks and preys on criminals. Superman is a prisoner of the U.S government and has never seen the sunlight, Shazam exists but in this world is made when a combination of teens shout ‘Shazam’ and transform into Captain Thunder and other new-but-altered faces. This story packed such a huge punch, it was so refreshing and an interesting concept. Plus when you find out who is responsible for this new timeline, you’ll be so surprised.
Flashpoint is a crazy story full of twists and turns all the way through. Gorgeous art work by Andy Kubert, fantastic pencilling and brilliant proportions, Geoff Johns outdid himself yet again with the story. ‘Ol Geoff makes a few appearances on this list.
9th place is Thor: God of Thunder, Vol 1: The God Butcher from Marvel comics. The God Butcher is written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic.
Now, this one may be of a surprise, even to my close friends. This is the most recently published story on the list, published in June 2013. Personally I’m not one of those people
that think because something is recent, or new, that means you can’t include it in your favourites of something. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic are an almighty force when creating comics. One of the best writers of recent Marvel history and certainly one of the most incredible artists right now. Thor is one of my favourite characters and while he has many good stories, God of Thunder captured something exquisite in my eyes. I was transfixed upon the pages as soon as I picked up the first issue. In this series they introduced the terrific villain, Gorr the God Butcher who is as terrifying as he is amazing, and certainly one of the best villains the God of Thunder has ever faced. God of Thunder is split across three timelines within Thor’s life and the story is looked at from these three times. In the past, we see Thor as he follows the bloody wake of murdered gods across the depths of space and throughout the realms. In the present, Thor discovers a forgotten cave that echoes with the spilled blood and forgotten voices of the gods, including his own, and finally; thousands of years from now, the last God – Thor of a ruined Asgard makes his final stand against the God Butcher’s berserker legions. God of Thunder, Vol 1: The God Butcher is a must read.
With beautiful pastel colours that bring a true sense of mythology from the pages and into your mind, and Jason Aaron’s superb story telling, this is one of the best Thor stories. No, one of the best Marvel stories ever written.
8th place is Hellblazer: Original Sins from Vertigo comics and published by DC comics. Original Sins is written by Jamie Delano and illustrated by John Ridgway.
This is where it all started. The first volume of Hellblazer set the tone for the decades of John Constantine stories to follow and it was a pretty darn good start. Original Sins is a
comic that blends horror and fantasy, venturing well and truly into the realm of magic, hell, angels, and demons. John Constantine is an unconcerned, somewhat amoral occultist and con artist with a British working-class background. He’s a hero, of sorts, who manages to come out on top through a combination of luck, trickery, and genuine magical skill. The Original Sins collection is a loosely connected series of tales of John’s early years where Constantine was at his best and at his worst, all at the same time. This comic is what made me fall in love with John Constantine. This volume of Hellblazer is very noticeably late 80s, which is when it was written. The whole thing is very closely tied to a lot of the issues at the time, both politically and socially, and both in the UK and the US (homophobia, Margaret Thatcher, Vietnam, etc.). This doesn’t negatively affect its readability, though, in fact, it enhances it. Origin Sins is a gritty and murky collection of stories, the book makes your skin actually crawl as you read it and there’s some pretty grim stuff in it about Constantine and his enemies. The art is utterly staggering as well, the combination of bold pen-work and pastel/faded paint brings the feeling of a somewhat disturbed setting. Ultimately, if you want to truly see Constantine at work, the original Vertigo/DC Hellblazer run is the place to start. The whole run is considered, in my eyes, one of the best runs in comics ever but Original Sins stands out beyond all for it’s bold approach on the start of what will be an iconic and classic character.
Jamie Delano is a superb writer and creates such an atmospheric tale of Constantine, and truly defines his character. This writing combined with John Rdigeway’s beautiful art work makes for one of the best comics I’ve ever seen.
7th place is Avengers: The Children’s Crusade from Marvel comics. The Children’s Crusade is written by Allan Heiberg and illustrated by Jim Cheung.
The story was an emotional ride from start to finish. I remember picking it up and being completely blown away by the final result. Allan Heinberg, who is very familiar with the
Young Avengers, bringing huge success to Marvel Comics with their series was the obvious choice for this story. He perfectly blended the different teams and characters, and gave Wiccan a brilliant spot-light. Jim Cheun is no stranger to Marvel and I think the perfect choice for the art of this story. The story in a comic is nothing to the wrong artist and Cheun nailed the incredibly complex theatrics. The Children’s Crusade focuses on Scarlet Witch’s children and her father, Magneto, as they search for her and are followed by the Avengers and Young Avengers after the disaster of Avengers: Disassembled and House of M. The story gives us significant focus on Doctor Doom too. Doom reveals that the entity of the Life Force had passed onto him, giving him supreme god-like powers, even surpassing those of Beyonder, and reveals that he was also responsible for Wanda’s actions in Disassembled and House of M. Wanda and Wiccan successfully remove the entity from Doom during a battle between himself, the Avengers, Young Avengers, X-Factor, and X-Men. The story goes on a little longer but there’s some really excellent things I’ve not mentioned and you’d much rather read them there than here for the first time, I assure you.
Allan Heiberg and Jim Cheung explore the fascinating characters of Scarlet Witch and her family through this heart-felt tale with brilliant art and an unforgettable story. You get a good feel of how powerful Wanda truly could be in this story.
6th place is Batman: The Killing Joke from DC comics. The Killing Joke is written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland.
“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” That quote will remain with me for
the rest of my life, one of the best lines in comic history. The Killing Joke isn’t officially canon for the origins of the Joker being unknown are one of the things that make him so dangerous, but if there were to be an origin story, this is the one I would choose. It’s such a simple idea, but so real and powerful. I mean one bad day is all it takes. One push, one snap, one descent into chaos and it’s over. Once you’ve crossed that threshold then things will never be the same again. And the Joker, being the sly and brilliant villain that he is, wants to share the experience with the world. The Joker was once normal or as normal as people can be, in a world like theirs/ours. He had a girlfriend and a job, he was a stand up comedian but money was tight and so he took up a job with some crooks and it went badly wrong. Joker fell into a vat of acid while trying to escape from a robbery dressed as the original Red Hood (something that is then referenced by himself in Batman: Under the Red Hood when comparing the new costume to his original one) and then his girlfriend left him after seeing him, that was his bad day. One bad day. The Killing Joke is almost two stories running parallel to each other and yet woven together at the same time; the story of how Joker came to be who and how he is, and the separate story of how Batman, Gordon, and the world came to know Joker. The Killing Joke is not one for the feint of heart, the story contains many brutal features of violence, torture, even rape but my god is it a good story, and the ending, the whole story really defines itself by the ending. The last page, last few panels. The end is suggestive of two things and both will leave you gasping for more.
Alan Moore delivers an insane story and creates a path of entwining chaos, and poetic beauty nonetheless. Brian Bolland’s exceptional talents for the gritty and murky stories stand out here as the obvious choice but that doesn’t make his art for The Killing Joke any less staggering. A beautiful tale, told to use through exceptional storytelling and exceptional art.
Top 5 now! 5th place is Watchmen from DC Comics. Watchmen is written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
Watchmen originated from a story proposal Moore submitted to DC. I’m sure many of my friends were expecting this story to be on the list so if you were, have a chocolate button
or something on me. How could Watchmen not be on this list, it is one of the greatest comics ever written. depicts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s and their presence changed history so that the United States won the Vietnam War and the Watergate break-in was never exposed. In 1985 freelance costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and most former superheroes are in retirement or working for the government. The story focuses on the personal development and moral struggles of the protagonists, and one in particular known as Rorschach, as an investigation into the murder of a government-sponsored superhero pulls them out of retirement, and World War Three with the Soviet Union is approaching on the horizon. Gibbons used a nine-panel grid layout throughout the series and added recurring symbols such as a blood-stained smiley face (the smiley face badge was that of the symbol of the Watchmen). Watchmen, simply put, is iconic.
The powerhouse team of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created a truly fantastic masterpiece. A gritty crime-horror thriller with the superhero aspect mixed in. The illustrations draw you in almost as soon as you pick up the book, and the story will have you questioning your own morals in this past that is almost as dystopian as many future science fiction stories of nuclear holocausts.
4th place is Aquaman: Throne of Atlantis from DC comics. Throne of Atlantis is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Ivan Reis.
We all knew it was coming. Aquaman is my favourite superhero character so to think this story wouldn’t be appearing would be daft. Throne of Atlantis is one of defining
Aquaman arcs. The story centres around the rivalry of Ocean Master and Aquaman as to who should rule and lead Atlantis. During the conflict of brothers, Ocean Master attacks the surface and the Justice League is called to aid the humans on the surface. Aquaman has to decide whether he will stand with the Justice League or his brother. The story is a show case of Aquaman’s complex characteristics as both a leader and a warrior and explores his moral struggles as he tries to lead a kingdom that does not want him. The story serves as a cross over with the New 52 Justice League too.
Geoff Johns has worked miracles with this character, he shaped this character from the joked-about, throw-away Justice League member to a truly incredibly character with an intense backstory and fully fleshed out powers that rank him high on the list of super powered beings. The story here was gripping. It was both action packed, and emotional with suspense and passion. The art, meanwhile, was truly breathtaking. Ivan Reis and Geoff Johns are an incredible team for the New 52 Aquaman run. They did justice to every one of the great DC characters as well as the undersea world itself.
Into the top 3 now. 3rd place is The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk from Marvel comics. Planet Hulk is written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Carlo Pagulayan.
If you’ve read my favourite Hulk stories you’ll know why I rate this story so high. If not or you don’t remember, I will now explain. after my dad passed away a few years ago, I
carried it virtually everywhere with me. It served as such a massive inspiration for me to get through every day tasks when my depression, anxiety, and PTSD almost broke me. Every so often, there comes a tale; with equal parts passion and pathos, that not only redefines what a character has meant throughout the already established comics and story-lines but also re-establishes the hero as a dominant force for storytellers, readers, the company’s universe, and (arguably) the entire comic book industry. Planet Hulk is that tale. The story of Planet Hulk is that of tremendous heart-break and incredible action, with superbly written characters and the most gorgeous, cosmic-level of art work. Planet Hulk is a story that will change the way you see Hulk and the way you think he sees the world, his friends, and his family.
Greg Pak delivers some of his best writing, and accompanied by the tremendous illustrations of Juan Santacruz, Planet Hulk evolves into a timeless Hulk story that will remain one of the best Marvel, and best Superhero-genre stories of all time.
2nd place is Sinestro Corps War from DC comics. Sinestro Corps War is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Ivan Reis.
This is to date my favourite Green Lantern story ever, even surpassing the likes of Blackest Night and Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns. Sinestro Corps War centres
on the Green Lanterns of Earth, primarily Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart, as well as the rest of the Green Lantern Corps as they engage in a war with Sinestro and his Yellow Lantern Corps. Using his power to insight fear he attracts many extremely powerful beings to his ranks including Cyborg Superman, Akrillo, the Anti-Monitor, and even Parallax the entity of fear. Kyle Rayner, possessed by Parallax, assists the Sinestro Corps in cutting a swath of evil across the universe. Hal Jordan must battle his way through and escape from the Sinestro Corps’ Citadel to join the fight against fear. Also, one of the Book of Oa’s prophecies comes true, the Green Lantern Corps makes a last stand that reveals the reincarnation of one of their fold! The Sinestro Corps War is a massive undertaking. Sinestro Corps War is one of the most brutal wars in superhero comics, many Lantern Corp members fall on both sides and the galaxy is plunged into chaos. We see the Guardians have to take a proactive approach to things and the foundation is laid for future storylines, especially the Blackest Night.
My man Geoff Johns wrote an excellent story which landed Sinestro Corps War 2nd place on this list, and to be considered one of the best Green Lantern stories ever written across the fanbase. Ivan Reis is no stranger to those who have read my other lists, he has made regular appearances and the illustrations for Sinestro Corps War were truly outstanding.
1st place is the Injustice from DC comics. Injustice was written primarily by Tom Taylor and illustrated by a number of artists, including Jheremy Raapack, Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo, and Tom Derenick.
Injustice is set in an alternative universe, set over 5 years and basically the writers were given almost complete control over it. It. Is. Mental. It was inspired by the video game
Injustice: Gods Among Us, the game starts at the beginning of the fifth comic year. The story of the comic starts with Joker tricking Superman into killing Lois and his child, and then by killing the Joker as revenge, sets off a nuclear bomb in Metropolis that was rigged to Joker’s heart beat. The bomb explosion kills millions of people. Superman then decides to take those who will join him, and create a world of peace by policing it. The Justice League divides into Superman and his policing regime and the resistance led by… you guessed it. Batman. Over the course of 5 years we are shown the rise and fall of many great heroes and villains as a war breaks out on earth between the two sides. Many elements of the DC universe are dragged into the war too, including Trigon; the lord of hell, Spectre; the voice of God, the Lantern Corps, Greek and Norse gods, new Gods, and more. The story is a superb piece of writing by Tom Taylor. I fully recommend Injustice years 1 – 5, every year has amazing pacing, brilliant turns and twists, supremely gorgeous art, and a heart-pounding emotional ride from the first pages to the last.
Tom Taylor really blew my expectations out of the water. I was curious but also cautious when I learned it would be ‘based on a video game’ but Oh. My. Darkseid. It was utterly brilliant and the various artists packed so many wow-factors into the comic. Every single year had brilliant and stunning art, which flowed together beautifully, none of it felt out of place.
So there we have it! My favourite stories from across DC and Marvel comics, these are all subject to change of course and move up/down the list as more comics are released but this is the order that they’ve been in for a few years now. Hope you all have a great day! I’m gonna enjoy me some Colin the Caterpillar Cake, and Black Panther later! ❤