1972- Mr. Miracle (2)(runner-up: New Gods)
Mr. Miracle was not consistently good by any means, but it had some great stories.
I actually have nothing from 1973!
1974 – Batman
Batman was part-new stories and part-reprints at this time, and the reprints were much better!
1975 – Avengers (runner-up: Amazing Spider-Man)
Steve Englehart “woke up” the Avengers to greatness again, especially towards the end of his run.
1976 –Howard the Duck (runner-up: Amazing Spider-Man)
And then Steve Gerber’s hilarious social satire seemed to spring out of nowhere and fade just as fast.
1977 – Avengers (runner-up: Amazing Spider-Man)
When your rotating artists include John Byrne and George Perez, how can you go wrong?
1978 – Marvel Team-Up
An off-year for Marvel with a B title like this is your best, but Claremont and Byrne were already showing what they could do together here.
1979 – Avengers
The writing baton passed to David Micheline and the Avengers just started getting even better!
1980 – Avengers (runner-up: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man)
And his stint continued with gems like this: http://daveslongbox.blogspot.com/2005/06/avengers-198-marvel-comics-1980.html
1981 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Avengers)
But then you’ve got John Byrne taking over the FF, writing, drawing, AND inking, and then you’ve got Nirvana. This is the title that changed me from a comic book fan to a fanatic.
1982 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Avengers)
Byrne was wrapping up his back-to-basics approach by now and creating a title where characters actually changed and grew over time! An insanely novel concept for superheroes, circa 1982.
1983 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Avengers)
More fantastic issues of Byrne’s master run.
1984 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Mighty Thor)
Byrne gets real experimental with the FF, but it works.
1985 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Mighty Thor)
I liked it better when Byrne was doing his own inks, but it’s still great.
1986 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Avengers)
And here’s a taste of how good it was: http://daveslongbox.blogspot.com/2006/09/fantastic-four-290-marvel-c
1987 – Avengers (runner-up: West Coast Avengers)
Byrne is gone from the FF and it slumps. Roger Stern, who taught Byrne much of what he knew on writing with style, has meanwhile pumped up the Avengers to amazing levels.
1988 – Avengers (runner-up: Fantastic Four)
Stern’s run ends with a bang mid-year, followed by a less-inspired, but still good run by Walt Simonson.
1989 – Sensational She-Hulk (runner-up: West Coast Avengers)
Byrne ran with Stern’s efforts to make She-Hulk interesting and made her funny, innovative, and for (only) 10 issues, a must-read.
1990 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Incredible Hulk)
Simonson left the Avengers for the FF to start one of his best stints ever, including one of the best sci-fi epics in comics – the Black Celestial Saga (http://the-isb.blogspot.com/2006/08/unmitigated-radness-of-walt-simonsons.html)!
1991 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Incredible Hulk)
Simonson’s run ends in controversy, but still highlighted by innovation (http://www.time.com/time/sampler/article/0,8599,104312,00.html ).
1992 – Bone (runner-up: Justice Society of America)
And then, suddenly, superheroes didn’t matter so much anymore. Editor-in-Chief Tom Defalco had flushed Marvel down the toilet and DC was only starting to come into its own again. On the fringe of comicdom was the greatest independent comic of all time (http://www.boneville.com/bone/bone-history/ )!
1993 – Bone (runner-up: Justice Society of America)
Bone peaks, and comic book-dom has still not found a way to surpass it.
1994 – Bone (runner-up: Batman Adventures)
Bone begins to turn a little darker, and DC is gaining fast, riding the success of one of the best TV shows of all time, Batman: the Animated Series.
1995 – Bone (runner-up: Batman Adventures)
The year I actually discovered Bone (with back issues and trade paperbacks snatched up as quickly as I could find them).
1996 – Bone (runner-up: Kingdom Come)
Mark Waid and Alex Ross make one of the best superhero stories of all time, and it still couldn’t beat the magic that was Bone.
1997 – Bone (runner-up: Kurt Busiek’s Astro City)
Nor could Kurt Busiek dethrone Bone!
1998 – Bone (runner-up: Marvel Universe)
…But, by now, the magic was starting to wear thin on Bone. It was still good, but the “Rock Jaw” story arc never reached greatness.
1999 – Tom Strong (runner-up: Bone)
Alan Moore has never been better than when he tried his hand at optimistic comic books (though he could not keep his cynicism out of it for long).
2000 – Meridian (runner-up: Bone)
Very promising fantasy/super-heroine series from CrossGen – the company that kept its promises for about the first two years.
2001 – Ruse (runner-up: Bone)
This could easily have been Mark Waid’s best series ever if he had kept at the level of the first three issues, but problems at CrossGen kept Waid from trying harder.
2002 – Usagi Yojimbo (runner-up: Bone)
Time for a nod to the incredibly long-lived and incredibly good story of a samurai rabbit that has not been off my top ten list ever since I discovered it.
2003 –Jack Staff (runner-up: Bone)
From across the pond, Paul Grist showed us an amazingly nonlinear method of telling a superhero story.
2004 – Fantastic Four (runner-up: Bone)
I thought it couldn’t be done after so long, but Waid managed to make the FF relevant again with his amazing “Hereafter” storyline.
2005 - Usagi Yojimbo (runner-up: Knights of the Dinner Table)
The rabbit never gets stale, as “The Treasure of the Mother of Mountains” shows that Usagi can be used in any number of epic adventures.
2006 - Agents of Atlas
More fun than a comic book with so much cussing in it has any right to be.
2007 - Shazam: Monster Society of Evil
Not exactly Captain Marvel, but more like Jeff Smith dressing up characters from Bone and Pogo in superhero costumes -- still a lot of fun.
2008 - Spirit (runner-up: Tiny Titans)
A workman-like stint by esteemed funnymen Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, no doubt intended to show their range and instead showing their strength lies in humor.
2009 - Justice Society of America (runner-up: Tiny Titans)
Geoff Johns' swan song on the JSA is a testament to how charming the superhero genre can be.
2010 - Tiny Titans (runner-up: Traveler)
Art Baltazar's super fun tribute to the Fun in Comics.
2011- Tiny Titans
2012 - Tiny Titans
Tiny Titans is canceled and the comic book industry, in essence, died.
...Well, I thought that was the end of things for a time, but then I got into Batman: L'il Gotham late in 2013. It reminded me of the continuity-lite Batman Adventures based on the TV series. And then Steam Wars, the steampunk version of Star Wars, came out from Antarctic Press in 2014. So maybe the industry isn't quite dead yet....
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