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Author Archive for Brian Cronin

When Did the Justice League First Fight Darkseid?

When Did the Justice League First Fight Darkseid?

In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Reader Dan W. wrote in to ask, “With the Justice League coming out I was wondering when was the first time the Justice League fought Darkseid ?”

After spending the 1970s mostly just appearing in New Gods stories, Darkseid made his first appearance against the Justice League in 1980’s Justice League of America #183 (by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin). This was tragically the last issue drawn by Dillin.

The issue is the annual Justice League/Justice Society team-up. This time, they both teamed up with the heroic New Gods to investigate how New Genesis was suddenly missing a bunch of citizens. They were soon found working on a weird device…

The heroes attack in the next issue, which is now drawn by new regular artist, George Perez…

In the final part of the story, Firestorm hilariously defeats Darkseid one-on-one….

Thanks for the question, Dan! If anyone else is curious about a notable comic book first, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

The post When Did the Justice League First Fight Darkseid? appeared first on CBR.

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #50-46

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #50-46

You voted, and now, after over 1,000 ballots were cast, here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book storylines of all-time (this is the third time we’ve done this countdown. We’re on an every four year schedule)! We started with ten storylines a day, and now we’re down to five storylines a day (until the last week, which will be three storylines a day). You can click on the Top 100 Comic Book Storylines tag either here or at the end of the post to see the other entries, in case you missed one.

To recap, you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

You voted, and now, after over 1,000 ballots were cast, here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book storylines of all-time (this is the third time we’ve done this countdown. We’re on an every four year schedule)! We started with ten storylines a day, and now we’re down to five storylines a day (until the last week, which will be three storylines a day). You can click on the Top 100 Comic Book Storylines tag either here or at the end of the post to see the other entries, in case you missed one.

To recap, you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

50. “Brief Lives” by Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, Vince Locke and Dick Giordano (Sandman #41-49) – 206 points (3 first place votes)

In “Brief Lives,” Morpheus (Dream of the Endless) is at a bit of a crossroads in his life. He has just had a bad break-up with the witch Thessaily and he (and his Dream Kingdom) is feeling the ill effects. Into this strange point in his life comes his sister, Delirium of the Endless (the Endless are a group of brothers and sisters who embody powerful aspects of the universe – the others are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair and Destruction). Delirium wishes to track down their brother, Destruction, who disappeared 300 years ago. Perhaps touched by his sister’s frustrations, perhaps just looking for something to occupy his time, Dream agrees to go on this journey.

The pair then travel through the waking world in a series of interesting adventures while the people who know Destruction coincidentally seem to end up dead (or IS it a coincidence?). Here’s a fascinating sequence where Dream and Delirium fly on an airplane…

The storyline is filled with great little vignettes like that. Gaiman had a remarkable run of excellent storylines on Sandman, didn’t he?

In the end, they do, in fact, discover their brother but they are surprised to learn what he has planned for his life. Their exchange with their brother leads to a dramatic change in Dream’s life, as he decides to try to undo something he felt was a mistake in his life (the not-quite-death of his son, Orpheus, whose story was told in the brilliant Sandman Special soon before this storyline was released).

Jill Thompson was the perfect choice for the more down-to-Earth tales of tragedy and change that make up Brief Lives. She can bring empathy to anyone.

49. “Mutant Massacre” by Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, John Romita Jr., Alan Davis, Rick Leonardi, Sal Buscema, Terry Shoemaker, Jon Bogdanove and a host of inkers (Uncanny X-Men #210-213, X-Factor #9-11, Thor #373-374, New Mutants #46 and Power Pack #27) – 210 points (1 first place vote)

While it is a part of comic book reality nowadays, back in the late ’80s there had never been a crossover between the popular X-Men related comic books. In fact, until the early 80s, there was only one X-Men title, “Uncanny X-Men!” But by 1986, there was the regular X-Men title, there was New Mutants (detailing the next generation of mutant heroes) and X-Factor (starring the original five members of the X-Men), and in the fall of 1986, the first X-Crossover took place detailing the “Mutant Massacre.”

The Mutant Massacre featured the Marauders, a team of vicious killers employed by the newly introduced X-Men villain Mr. Sinister, going into the New York sewers, where a community of mutants known as the Morlocks lived (the Morlocks were mutants who tended to be disfigured or were otherwise unable to fit in living with “normal” humans). At this point, the Marauders proceeded to murder as many Morlocks as they could. The X-Men entered the tunnels to save the Morlocks, and engaged in a dramatic and deadly battle that lasted from Uncanny X-Men #211 to #213 (all three issues were written by Chris Claremont, with John Romita Jr. drawing the first issue, Rick Leonardi the second and Alan Davis the third).

The X-Men suffered critical injuries soon after entering the battle, when the teleporting X-Man Nightcrawler, who was recovering from a recent injury and had only recently regained the ability to teleport, used his powers to disable one of the Marauders. However, he was unable to use his powers once he was finished, leaving himself vulnerable to the Marauder Riptide, a mutant whose power involves sending barrages of razor sharp blades flying people at high speeds. Nightcrawler was severely injured by Riptide.

This led to one of the most dramatic moments of the war when the X-Man Colossus determined that the only way to stop Riptide was to use deadly force. As Riptide continued to pummel the X-Man’s metal body with blades, Colossus forged forward until he was able to snap Riptide’s neck.

At this point, Colossus collapsed due to the wounds he incurred during his fight. As it turned out, he was so injured that while he could survive in his metal form, he could not transform back to his human form. Meanwhile, the X-Men suffered another casualty when Kitty Pryde was injured and trapped in her intangible form.

While the X-Men return to their home to recover with the Morlocks they manage to save, the deadliest of the Marauders, the evil Sabretooth, makes his way to the X-Men’s home. During the course of his journey, Sabretooth tangled both with Wolverine and ultimately with the telepathic Psylocke, who was staying with the X-Men at the time.

In the end, the X-Men managed to save many Morlocks (X-Factor also saved some, in a separate excursion into the Morlock tunnels), but the team was forever changed, with longstanding members Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler leaving the team and new members like Psylocke joining the group. The most important change for the team was that they no longer had any illusions of safety at their home, and soon left the X-Mansion entirely.

48. “Saga, Volume 1” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Saga #1-6) – 212 points (4 first place votes)

The opening arc of Saga throws us right into the middle of a fascinating story, as two couple from warring planets (well, one is a planet and one is a moon) have a baby. They are sort of like an intergalactic Romeo and Juliet, and many people want to track them down.

The story is narrated by Hazel, the baby in the series, as she tells her story from the future and Vaughan uses this plot device very well, as he allows certain hints to drop here and there about future stories. Also, the way that he breaks off her narration to form powerful cliffhangers is quite impressive. Vaughan has always been a big cliffhanger guy, but I think that Saga is his best use of the cliffhanger that I have seen from him yet. They’re much more fluid. They feel like they arise naturally and are not being forced.

I like that we get consistent flashbacks filling us in on Marko and Alana’s courtship. It is a strange one, to be sure, so I think it was a smart move to begin the book with them already together and fill us in as we go along.

While this approach is admirable in and of itself, it would mean nothing if Vaughan and Staples did not create compelling characters that we’d like to follow through this unvarnished fantasy world. Luckily, that’s just what they do, and not just Alana and Marko. Slowly but surely, Vaughan and Staples populate this world with a variety of fascinating characters. Most notable are the the bounty hunters hunting down the couple and their child and the robot prince who is tasked with their capture, as well, in an official governmental capacity.

Some of the most striking aspects of the series come from the bounty hunter known as The Will, who is accompanied by a Lying Cat, a cat who can tell if you are lying. The Will is not a good man, but he is also driven by a certain code of honor that comes up in a bizarre fashion while on a pleasure planet. The Will has had his heart broken by a fellow bounty hunter and their interaction is fascinating in how it drives him.

Another major addition is the ghost who acts as Hazel’s nanny, of sorts.

I’ve long been an admirer of Staples’ prodigious talents and she is absolutely destroying this series. Her designs are excellent, her character work is sublime and she is an amazing storyteller. Vaughan sure is lucky to be working with her.

Here we see Alana, Marko and their nanny try to head for a rocketship forest to find a way to get away from the people tracking them down…..

Very cool stuff.

47. “Kree/Skrull War” by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams, Sal Buscema and John Buscema (Avengers #89-97) – 220 points

The most striking aspect of the Kree/Skrull War is just how many different ideas that writer Roy Thomas manages to fit into this one story. So many different things take place that there is never any time to relax, for as soon as you think Thomas is going one direction – he goes another.

The main gist of the story is that the people of Earth, primarily the Avengers, get caught up in a long-time feud between the Kree and the Skrulls.

This shows up on Earth with the shape-changing Skrulls causing trouble on Earth that is a commentary on McCarthyism (shape-changing does wonders for the whole “anyone could be a commie spy!” attitude of McCarthyism). A Senator (actually a Skrull in disguise) causes an “anti-alien” rally in the public, which is bad news for the superhero Captain Marvel, who happens to be a Kree himself! The whole “Communists among us” angle is even played up on a memorable cover during the storyline – “The only good alien is a dead alien!” – taken directly from anti-communism rhetoric.

This storyline is also a major one in the development of the Vision, particularly his relationship with the Scarlet Witch. Speaking of those “out of nowhere” ideas – early in the story, Thomas and artist Neal Adams do a stellar take-off on the Fantastic Voyage by having Ant-Man shrink down and revive a comatose Vision.

Later on, Vision gets to opine about the foolishness of McCarthyism, and it is at this time that he begins to draw closer to his teammate, the Scarlet Witch, who is both a gypsy AND a mutant, so she knows about prejudice!

Thomas has the story leap from location to location, and eventually throws in a number of far-flung space adventures – it’s really a thrill-a-minute.

The artwork by the Buscema brothers and Neal Adams is about as good as you could have possibly hoped for in an early 1970s Marvel comic! Especially Adams’ thrilling issues.

Really, the ideas that Thomas came up with for the Kree/Skrull War would be re-visited time and time again over the next few decades, all the way through to today, making it a truly landmark storyline!

46. “Confession” by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Will Blyberg (Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #4-9) – 226 points (5 first place votes)

Confession was a major departure for Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Up until this point, the book was mostly high quality stories on the lighter side of superheroes – not “the lighter side” like humorous, but in the sense that they were more traditional superheroes – the Supermans and the Fantastic Fours of the world. The bright kind of heroes.

In Confession, Busiek and artist Brent Anderson turn their eye to the dark side of Astro City- the dark alleys and the people who inhabit the night.

It is here that we meet Brian Kinney, a young man who longs to be a superhero. Before too long, he is the sidekick to the Batman analogue, The Confessor, and Kinney is Altar Boy.

Throughout the rest of the arc, we see Brian grow as a hero but also see that there is something seriously messed up with The Confessor’s origin story – what it is is the major twist of the story.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot else going on, as there is, with a superhero registration act debate and heroes seemingly acting as villains, this is a packed storyline, but one that, like all of Busiek’s Astro City stories, is based on the complex personalities of the characters involved.

The post 2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #50-46 appeared first on CBR.

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #55-51

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #55-51

You voted, and now, after over 1,000 ballots were cast, here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book storylines of all-time (this is the third time we’ve done this countdown. We’re on an every four year schedule)! We started with ten storylines a day, and now we’re down to five storylines a day (until the last week, which will be three storylines a day). You can click on the Top 100 Comic Book Storylines tag either here or at the end of the post to see the other entries, in case you missed one.

To recap, you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

And yes, it was probably a bad idea to use a foil cover for the featured image. But I just couldn’t help myself.

55. “Anatomy Lesson” by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben (Sage of the Swamp Thing #21-27) – 186 points (1 first place vote)

When Alan Moore took over Swamp Thing, he did something drastic in his first issue. He killed off Swamp Thing. That then led to the beginning of his first storyline (as the death of Swamp Thing was wrapping up the previous writer’s storyline) and the introduction of one of the most mind-blowing twists in comic book history.

There had been a number of other significant retcons with titles before, but they all paled in comparison to what Alan Moore did with “Anatomy Lesson,” where Jason Woodrue, the Florenic Man, reveals that the entire origin of Swamp Thing was false – Alec Holland was not transformed into Swamp Thing during a chemical explosion – instead, the chemicals animated a group of vegetation into THINKING it was Alec Holland.

This was a great shock to Swamp Thing’s system and he was sort of stuck in shock. Moore would use this time to explain the various inconsistencies of Swamp Thing’s origin by saying that there were many different Swamp Things who all had the same basic origin. Clever meta-fiction work by Moore.

Woodrue, though, was driven insane by the situation himself so Swamp Thing had to get over his/its shock over this new revelation to stop the crazed Woodrue (this includes the famous issue where Moore shows how the world views the Justice League as sort of detached god-like beings). By the end of this initial arc, after a brilliant re-introduction of Jason Blood and the Demon back into the DC Universe, Swamp Thing finally comes to terms with its new state of being and officially buried Alec Holland and prepares to embrace his/its new life.

Moore was ably assisted by the art team that was there when he joined the book, penciler Stephen R. Bissette and inker John Totleben – together, Bissette and Totleben delivered a stunningly rich art style, that was perfect for the moody stories Moore told.

54. “Grand Guignol” by James Robinson and Peter Snejbjerg (with Paul Smith) (Starman #62-73) – 192 points (4 first place votes)

In the climax to James Robinson’s Starman series, Jack Knight returns from a trip to outer space to discover that his home of Opal City is under siege by a collection of Jack’s villains, seemingly led by the Shade, who, while nominally a villain, had never acted quite like this. Robinson’s Starman was not some rainbows and puppies type of book, but there was also a general lack of the same grim and gritty style of storytelling that had become so prevalent in comic books of the time. When something bad happened, the people involved truly reflected on how bad it was. You wouldn’t see stuff like buildings knocked down and it being no big deal. So when Jack returned to see such devastation in his town, it was like a slap in the face and Robinson and Snejbjerg handled it beautifully…

The epic tale continued through a series of clever battles (the Shade has cut Opal City off from the rest of the world, so the only heroes the city has are whoever was in the town at the time, including Jack, Elongated Man, Black Condor and Jack’s father, the Golden Age Starman) intermixed with flashbacks. There were plenty of twists, of course, including the revelation of who was REALLY behind the whole thing.

The storyline ended with a sad, dramatic sacrifice. This was one of those perfect sort of mixes of action and character-driven drama that made Starman such a special comic book. Robinson’s Golden Age collaborator, Paul Smith, even had the chance to return to sort of say goodbye to that era with Robinson with a flashback about the wives of the Justice Society of America.

53. “Knightfall” by Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo, Norm Breyfogle, Graham Nolan, Jim Balent and a number of inkers (Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-666) – 196 points (3 first place votes)

The basic gist of Knightfall is that this fellow named Bane shows up in Gotham City with basically one goal – “break” Batman. Bane first studied Batman for a few months and then he came up with his plan. He first freed all the inmates of Arkham Asylum to force Batman to capture them all before they can do too much damage. This resulted in a frantic series of stories as Batman hunts down all the escapees, allowing writers Moench and Dixon to feature the whole gamut of cool Batman villains. Meanwhile, the man formerly known as Azrael (who had been trained to be a killer by a cult – he is the latest assassin to to take on the name Azrael – he did not even know that he had been programmed to become a killer until his father died and he was triggered so that he could become the new Azrael), Jean-Paul Valley, has been training with Robin to be a hero (and to get past his evil programming).

When Batman finally captured all the villains after a whole pile of issues, Batman is naturally exhausted. He had already been dealing with exhaustion even before this storyline – tackling all of his greatest villains in a row was too much for him. He was happy, though, to know that it was finally over. Unknown to him, though, this is the time that Bane chose to strike, as he is smart enough to figure out Batman’s secret identity and so he is waiting for Batman at the Bat-Cavs and he ultimately deals Batman a tragic blow.

However, Bane is shocked when he thinks that this now makes him “king of Gotham,” as Batman decides to instead name Jean-Paul Valley as his successor. Jean-Paul, of course, was not ready for the mantle of Batman, as he was still dealing with all of that assassin training that had been programmed into him, and as a result, he slowly became more and more violent as Batman. He also began arming himself with special armor and new weapons, much harsher stuff than what Batman normally used in fights. While this was unusual stuff, it is fair to note that “Batman” (he soon became known as Az-Bats) DID go out and defeat Bane, succeeding with his violent weapons where the previous Batman failed.

This story was a bit of a social experiment on the part of Batman editor Denny O’Neill. He wanted to show just why Batman was so special, and to do so, he would have a “Batman for the 90s” show up, all the better to contrast with the original – overly violent, high tech weapons, all that jazz – that was Az-Bats and the idea would be to show how much worse off everyone was by having a “kewl” Batman instead of the original (and, of course, hopefully this new character could be spun off into his own book when Batman returned, which is just what happened).

Go to the next page for #52-51

The post 2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #55-51 appeared first on CBR.

Comic Legends: Is Marvel Sitting on a Savage Land Punisher Comic?

Comic Legends: Is Marvel Sitting on a Savage Land Punisher Comic?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fifty-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends, which are all about the Punisher! Click here for Part 2 of this week’s legends.

COMIC LEGEND:

Marvel has a completed graphic novel starring the Punisher in the Savage Land.

STATUS:

True

In 1990, longtime collaborators Chuck Dixon, Tim Truman and Gary Kwapisz tried to revamp Ka-Zar for the 1990s with the graphic novel, Ka-Zar: Guns of the Savage Land.

It did not do particularly well. However, Kwapisz and Dixon then did a SECOND Savage Land graphic novel, this time starring the Punisher. This was during a period in the early 1990s when Marvel was really pushing for new graphic novels. However, the side effect from pushing for so many graphic novels meant that sometimes you ended up with a glut of them and therefore, some of them never got published, not necessarily for any problem with the story, but just because there never seemed to be a point on the schedule for the book and then too much time has passed and then it’s just done.

Kwapisz, though, amazingly posted the ENTIRE GRAPHIC NOVEL on his website here!

It even comes with a description of the book, “When the criminal organization, Hydra discover the prehistoric Savage Land hidden in Antartica, the criminal masterminds decide the pristine tropical paradise will make the perfect place to grow cocoa which they can turn into cocaine and sell to fund their felonious operations. To deal with the hostile natives and dinosaurs that object to their vicious invasion, Hydra starts kidnapping mercenaries to form an army to protect their operations. Unfortunately for them, they unknowingly snatch Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher for this new army. A mistake they will soon regret.”

Here are some sample pages…

Go check out Gary’s website for the whole kit and caboodle!

Kwapisz would then have a run on Punisher War Journal with Chuck Dixon that lasted for over a year.

Thanks to longtime reader Jonathan N. for this suggestion (he actually suggested this one almost TEN years ago)!


Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed – Why did Cheers’ classic Thanksgiving episode get protested when it came out?


OK, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my most recent book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

batshark

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get some original content from me, as well!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. — half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

The post Comic Legends: Is Marvel Sitting on a Savage Land Punisher Comic? appeared first on CBR.

Punisher Legends Revealed

Punisher Legends Revealed

In honor of his brand-new TV series, we’ve decided to feature a collection of our past Comic Book Legends Revealed installments that involve the Punisher!

Enjoy!

Who was the inspiration for the Punisher?

Did the Punisher seriously kill jaywalkers at one point?

Was longtime Punisher writer Mike Baron forced to transform the Punisher into a black guy?

Whatever happened to the Jim Lee-drawn Punisher/Nick Fury graphic novel?

What was the inspiration behind the Archie Meets the Punisher crossover?

Why did the Punisher’s first miniseries expand from four issues to five?

Did the sequel to Batman: The Cult become a Punisher miniseries instead?

Was War Machine inspired by a rejected Punisher/Iron Man miniseries?

How did the success of Secret Wars lead to the Punisher getting his own series for the first time?

Was Mike Wieringo set to do a run on the Punisher before his tragic death?

Did Marvel have a special “black dialogue” adviser for the storyline where the Punisher turned black?

Was Punisher going to originally die in his first solo series?

The post Punisher Legends Revealed appeared first on CBR.

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #60-56

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #60-56

You voted, and now, after over 1,000 ballots were cast, here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book storylines of all-time (this is the third time we’ve done this countdown. We’re on an every four year schedule)! We started with ten storylines a day, and now we’re down to five storylines a day (until the last week, which will be three storylines a day). You can click on the Top 100 Comic Book Storylines tag either here or at the end of the post to see the other entries, in case you missed one.

To recap, you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

60. “Green Lantern: Rebirth” by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver and Prentis Rollins (Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6) 174 points (4 first place votes)

In the world of “bringing characters back to their most famous versions,” there is probably no one who has more experience doing so than Geoff Johns, who somehow managed to get a powerful narrative going in Green Lantern: Rebirth, while still achieving his main goal, which was to resolve the direction of the Green Lantern mythos to more closely resemble the Green Lantern comic books of the past.

As part of doing so, Johns had to come up with a way to bring Hal Jordan back as a superhero, and he came up with the idea of Parallax. Parallax was, in effect, a fear monster that had resided in the Green Lantern Central Battery and it represented the yellow impurity in the Green Lantern rings. However, it escaped and ended up possessing Hal Jordan and turning him into a villain. Now, even though Hal had since become the Spectre, Parallax was still within him.

At the same time, the forces of evil attacked the other major Green Lanterns – Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kilowog and saw them each be transformed back to their most recognizable forms (with Guy losing his alien transforming abilities and Kilowog becoming fully alive again). At the same time, we learned that Sinestro’s death had been faked by Parallax.

So now, Hal had to fight his way past his possession and reclaim his past as a Green Lantern to save his friends (and the world).

Ethan Van Sciver and Prentiss Rollins were the artists for this sequence, written by Johns, where Hal finally manages to take back control of his life…

This was the beginning of a long run on Green Lantern by Johns where he re-defined the series while also making it one of DC Comics’ most popular series. Rarely does a “reset button” read as well as this miniseries!

59. “Annihilation” by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Simon Furman, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Scott Kolins, Kev Walker, Renato Arlem, Jorge Lucas, Greg Titus, Andrea DiVito and more (Annihilation: Prologue, Annihilation: Nova #1-4, Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1-4, Annihilation: Ronan #1-4, Annihilation: Super Skrull #1-4, Annihilation #1-6) – 178 points

Annihilation is about the forces of the Negative Zone, led by Annihilus, who decide to invade our universe. They do so with the so-called “Annihilation Wave,” a large wave-like formation of powerful battleships.

The whole endeavor is powered by Galactus, who Annihilus has managed to capture and use as a power source.

In the first wave of the war, the entire Nova Corps was wiped out…well, not the ENTIRE Nova Corps. Richard Rider, of Earth, manged to survive and, once he merged with the Worldmind (the computer that ran the Nova Corps), Richard became the most powerful Nova around.

With Nova working as a sort of overall general, the remaining free planets (mostly the Kree) banded together against Annihlilus’ forces.

The series was told in an interesting fashion that was later re-used for the sequel mini-series, Annihilation: Conquest.

There was a prologue issue, where the situation began.

Then there were four separate mini-series starring four characters tied into the mess – Nova, Ronan (of the Kree), the Super Skrull and the Silver Surfer.

The most notable aspect of the initial mini-series was the way that Nova was transformed into not only a super-powerful being but also truly grew into himself as a warrior. Take this moment from Nova #3…

Once the four mini-series ended, we got the Annihilation series, written by Giffen and drawn by Andrea DiVito.

There is lots of action and a significant amount of casualties, including an Avenger!

The series basically worked to revitalize Marvel’s pretty much ignored “Cosmic Universe” of heroes. There is pretty much a through line between the success of Annihilation and the creation of the Guardians of the Galaxy roster that ended up being the inspiration for the two massively successful films by Marvel Studios. That’s how big Annihilation is in comic book history.

58. “Darkseid War” by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and a whole pile of other writers and artists on the one-shots in the middle of it all (Justice League #40-50, Justice League: Darkseid War: Batman #1, Justice League: Darkseid War: Superman #1, Justice League: Darkseid War: The Flash #1, Justice League: Darkseid War: Green Lantern #1, Justice League: Darkseid War: Shazam! #1, Justice League: Darkseid War: Lex Luthor #1 and Justice League: Darkseid War Special #1) – 178 points (1 first place votes)

The New 52 was kickstarted by Geoff Johns’ Justice League #1, so it makes sense that, in many ways, the New 52 came to a close with the conclusion of Geoff Johns’ Justice League run with Justice League #50, where Johns was joined by the art team on the later third of his run, Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. The League had taken on a new look leading up to the Darkseid War. After helping to save the world during “Forever Evil,” Lex Luthor was allowed to join the Justice League. Also joining following “Forever Evil” was Power Ring, a young woman who was powered by, in effect, an evil Green Lantern ring (coming from Earth-3). When the previous bearer of the ring had been killed, Jessica Cruz had been chosen as the new bearer of the ring – not because she was fearless like Hal Jordan or John Stewart, but for the very opposite. She was chosen due to her ability to feel great fear. She was one of the most frightened people on Earth.

In any event, the Darkseid War was dramatic battle between Mobius (better known as the Anti-Monitor) and Darkseid. They were being manipulated into fighting each other by a new character on the scene known as Grail. Grail was the daughter of Darkseid and an Amazon warrior. Grail had been born on the same day that Wonder Woman was born. Grail’s mother took her away from Paradise Island and trained her to destroy Darkseid – by any means necessary.

In this context, it meant putting the very universe at risk by pitting the Anti-Monitor against Darkseid. Eventually, the Anti-Monitor succeeded in killing Darkseid, but that was only the beginning of Grail’s mad plan.

Along the way, the various members of the Justice League were transformed and became New Gods themselves. Batman took over Metron’s Mobius Chair and became essentially the God of Knowledge, but was blinded by just how much knowledge that he now had. The Flash was merged with the Black Racer to become the new God of Death. Shazam found the gods that he drew upon dramatically changed, as he became a sort of God of Gods. Superman was imbued with a bunch of negative energy, while Green Lantern ultimately had to become the God of Light. After Darkseid was killed, his Omega Sanction needed a host and Lex Luthor got the nod and he became the God of Apokolips.

Cyborg and Jessica were both trapped within her own ring by Volthoom (Cyborg had lost his consciousness entirely when he was reverted to the Grid, which had happened to him during “Forever Evil,” but after she was trapped, Jessica was able to at least get Cyborg’s consciousness into the ring with her), as the evil god who controlled her ring teamed up with Grail.

The Crime Syndicate played a major role, as well, as Superwoman’s baby was set to be used by Grail for the next step in her plan, where she would bring Darkseid back, but under her control now.

In an epic sequence, the Flash managed to split from the Black Racer, but only in time to become his next target. Jessica, though, one of the most frightened people in the world, managed to make a move to save the life of her friend…

Amazing sequence by Johns, Fabok and Anderson.

Naturally, the League managed to get over their personality changes and came back to save the day, just in time for the DC Universe to undergo a rebirth of its own. A number of plots in this storyline, however, have played major roles in the DC Universe since, especially Grail and the revelation that when Wonder Woman was born, she had a twin brother born with her!

Go to the next page for #57-56!

The post 2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #60-56 appeared first on CBR.

Comic Legends: Was Punisher Initially Going to Die in His First Series?

Comic Legends: Was Punisher Initially Going to Die in His First Series?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fifty-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends, which are all about the Punisher!

COMIC LEGEND:

Punisher was originally going to die in his first miniseries.

STATUS:

False

Reader Matthew wrote in a while back to ask, “You know there’s one myth that I have heard a lot, that Punisher was going to die in issue #4 of his first mini series, but the plot changed due to great sales, that’s why the creative team is different. I find it really strange to be true. However even a comic book shop owner told me about this when I was ready to buy the premier hc edition. Except if he used the myth as a selling point.”

Few comic book errors have caused quite as much confusion as the error that occurred on the cover of the first issue of the Punisher miniseries, which noted that it was the first issue of a four issue miniseries, like all Marvel miniseries of the era.

Then #2 came out, and it suddenly said that it was a five issue miniseries.

When #3 went back to saying “four issue miniseries” and then #5 came out and Mike Zeck didn’t draw it and Steven Grant only plotted it (Jo Duffy scripted it – Mike Vosburg filled in for Zeck, luckily John Beatty’s finishes made it all look as consistent as possible), that just caused SO much mystery about what was going on, which led to a number of legends about the series over the years, including, apparently, the one that Matthew wrote in about.

Now, I knew that this was bogus since I did a legend about the series years ago, but I still figured I’d ask Steven Grant just to be safe and sure enough, he let me know that the story was completely BS.

The series had been intended to be five issues for a while. Initially, it was going to be four issues, with #1 and #4 both being over-sized issues, but instead, only #1 was over-sized. It was meant to not be solicited until the first two issues were finished, but Marvel, for whatever reason, put it out earlier than intended and so Zeck was unable to draw #5 in time and I presume that’s the same reason Grant had to bow out for the fifth issue (note, though, that the plot was still his).

The whole 1 of 4/2 of 5 mistake was simply confusion by Marvel production due to the fact that Marvel pretty much exclusively did four issue miniseries at the time. When they complained after seeing the cover of #1, they fixed it for #2, but then went right back to four-issues with #3, at which point Grant and Zeck decided to just leave well enough alone.

Thanks to Matthew for the suggestion and thanks to Steven Grant for the quick debunking!


Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed – Why did Cheers’ classic Thanksgiving episode get protested when it came out?


Part 3 will be up in tomorrow. It is another Punisher legend! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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Justice League Legends Revealed

Justice League Legends Revealed

In honor of their brand-new film, we’ve decided to feature a collection of our past Comic Book Legends Revealed installments that involve the Justice League!

Enjoy!

* How close did we come to a Justice League/Transformers crossover?

* Did a fan give DC Comics the idea for the Justice League of America?

* What was the original lineup of the Justice League in the Justice League cartoon?

* Did Aquaman not appear on a comic book cover for over a decade until the debut of the Justice League?

* Was Cheetah accidentally brought back to life in the Justice League cartoon?

* Was Justice League member Manitou Raven supposed to be Apache Chief?

* Was the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League originally supposed to be a “Big Seven” League like Grant Morrison’s JLA?

* Was Batman almost written out of Justice League Unlimited?

* How did an error in a Justice League issue lead to an award-winning Adam Strange story?

* Did the aborted JLA/Avengers crossover inadvertently lead to Crisis on Infinite Earths?

* Did DC re-draw Mike Sekowksy’s Superman faces on his Justice League covers after he had been drawing Superman on the covers for years?

* Did DC edit out a reference to the N-word in an issue of Justice League of America?

* Did the Squadron Supreme debut as part of a “crossover” between the Avengers and Justice League?

* Was Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers crossover event originally supposed to be a Justice League series?

* What Justice League issue had to be re-written and re-drawn because one of the dead characters in the issue was no longer dead?

* Did George Perez refuse to draw the Justice League Detroit member, Vibe?

* Was Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe delayed for five years because of the aborted Justice League vs. Avengers crossover?

* Did the JLU almost feature the Birds of Prey?

* Did J.M. DeMatteis have to finish a Justice League of America storyline without knowing how it was supposed to end?

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How Does Co-Creating Wonder Woman Not Warrant a ‘Thanks’ in Justice League?

How Does Co-Creating Wonder Woman Not Warrant a ‘Thanks’ in Justice League?

This is “Just a Reminder,” when I look back at comic book history whenever I think there’s something worthwhile to look back at on in connection with things going on today.

A couple of months back, CBR’s own Kieran Shiach wrote a great piece about how Harry George (H.G.) Peter deserves to be credited as the co-creator of Wonder Woman. Kieran wrote his piece after Peter was not even given a “thanks” at the end of the Wonder Woman film and was also not featured even as a character in a recent biographical film about the lives of William Moulton Marston, his wife Elizabeth and their lover Olive.

A couple of days ago, my buddy Glen Cadigan had a great post on Facebook after the recent AMC series, The Secret History of Comics, somehow managed to avoid talking about H.G. Peter, the guy who co-created Wonder Woman, in their episode on the history of Wonder Woman.

And now, after having watched Justice League and seen that despite a whole bunch of creators getting “Thanks” at the end of the film, somehow the guy who co-created Wonder Woman was not included among them, I figured I should ask…

How is this even possible?

I certainly understand that there almost certainly is some sort of business reason as to why DC Comics can’t very well acknowledge that H.G. Peter co-created Wonder Woman, despite it being obvious that he did so (we literally have the sketch he made where he came up with Wonder Woman’s costume!!)

However, since DC Comics/Warner Bros. made a deal with the estate of William Moulton Marston for the ownership of the character, it doesn’t make any legal sense for them to open things up to another person if they don’t have to, especially since, as Glen also noted, them acknowledging Peter before knowing if his estate would pursue any sort of legal case against DC Comics would possibly put them into a poor legal position.

So we get it, they can’t publicly acknowledge that Peter co-created Wonder Woman (a non-DC-sponsored historical program like Secret History of Comics really should have, though).

But not even a thanks?!

Even if you (incorrectly) argued that Peter did not co-create Wonder Woman, he still drew every issue of her comic book for well over a decade, until shortly before his death (he was already in his 60s when he began work on the character). He deserves more respect and thanks than that.

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2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #70-61

2017 Top 100 Comic Book Storylines: #70-61

You voted, and now, after over 1,000 ballots were cast, here are the results of your votes for your favorite comic book storylines of all-time (this is the third time we’ve done this countdown. We’re on an every four year schedule)! The first few days will be ten storylines a day and then it will be five a day until we hit December! I actually said the other day that we were already going to be starting the “five a day” entries, but then I thought to myself, “Eh, you’re going to see a late showing of Justice League on Thursday night, so why not just skip Thursday and make Friday the last ten-storyline entry instead?” And so here we are.

To recap, you all sent in ballots ranking your favorite storylines from #1 (10 points) to #10 (1 point). I added up all of the points and here we are!

70. “Gifted” by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men #1-6) – 153 points (1 first place vote)

This was the first major X-Men storyline after Grant Morrison left the X-Men, and Joss Whedon gladly picked up where Morrison left off, using the set-up Morrison left with the book (notably Cyclops and Emma Frost being a couple and Beast dealing with being a cat-like creature).

There were three major pieces from Whedon’s first arc:

1. The X-Men deciding to go back to being traditional superheroes, or at least a certain group of “public” X-Men. To this end, Cyclops re-enlists Kitty Pryde, as she is one of the best X-Men in terms of “putting forward as the face of mutantkind.” Kitty Pryde serves as a sort of POV person for Whedon’s run.

2. A scientist has developed a “cure” for being a mutant. This plot was so popular that they later used it as the basic plot for the third X-Men film.

3. Colossus returned from the dead.

Whedon tied it all together nicely, with a lot of strong character moments, and wrapped it all up in beautiful stunning John Cassaday artwork.

I am particularly partial to how Cassaday handled Colossus’ return from the dead…

Wow.

69. “Squadron Supreme” by Mark Gruenwald, Bob Hall, Paul Ryan, John Buscema, John Beatty, Sam De La Rosa, Jackson Guice and Keith Williams (Squadron Supreme #1-12) – 154 points (2 first place votes)

The concept of this series is a simple but powerful one. What if the superheroes of the world just decided to fix the world? It is a concept that many comics (Authority, for one) have addressed in the years since, but at the time, Mark Gruenwald’s story was quite novel. Here, see the Squadron come to their determination of going through with their plan to make the world a Utopia…

The conflict between Superman and Batman…oops, I mean Hyperion and Nighthawk is the centerpiece of this series. The rest of the maxi-series shows how superheroes would go about changing the world while also showing Nighthawk try to come up with a way of stopping his former friends from what he feels is an ultimate betrayal of the concept of free will.

There are detours along the way, of course, including some disturbing plots involving mind control and rape, but in the end it comes down to two former friends coming to an impasse in their beliefs and the bloody after effects of what happens when their conflict comes to a head.

This was truly ahead of its time and it was rightly the proudest Mark Gruenwald ever was of one of his works (even going so far as to have his family and Marvel mix his ashes with the printing of the trade paperback after he died). Bob Hall and Paul Ryan did fine work on the art for the series.

68. “Rock of Ages” by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, Gary Frank, Greg Land, John Dell and Bob McLeod (JLA #10-15) – 155 points (1 first place vote)

Rock of Ages was a multi-layered storyline that opens with Lex Luthor leading a new team of villains known as the Injustice Gang against the JLA. However, that turns out to NOT be the main point of the story. No, as it turns out, Luthor inadvertently stumbled across an artifact that will ultimately lead to Darkseid taking control of Earth.

We cut to the future where Darkseid has, indeed, taken over the Earth and Green Lantern and Aquaman have traveled through time to this dystopic situation. Their role is only to be told of what they have to do in the past to avert this horrible future. Once they’re gone, though, the people of the future still have to deal with Darkseid, leading to one of the most famous sequences of Morrison’s JLA run – the time that Green Arrow and the Atom took out Darkseid.

This whole arc is filled with fascinating little bits like that. For instance, the Joker is part of Luthor’s team and the only way that the Martian Manhunter can figure out how to deal with the Joker is to use his shape shifting ability to alter his own brain so that he can think like a madman. So cool.

One of the most amazing things about this story arc is that Morrison was not only dealing with Blue Superman, but he also had to deal with Wonder Woman being temporarily dead and, of course, a tie-in to a company-wide crossover IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORYLINE!! How Morrison pulled this off is beyond me.

Go to the next page for stories #67-64!

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