I already have a whole bunch of lists on this blog, so it seemed appropriate to do some more. This subject is particularly apropos because Megan has been after me to give her more early birthday present ideas. So, looking at just my collection on shelf (as opposed to things I've read from other sources, or would just like to own)...
Top 10 Marvel Comics
1. Fantastic Four. From Lee & Kirby's literally fantastic 102-issue run to John Byrne's equally remarkable 64-isssue run, to also-great runs like Englehart & Pollard's or Walt Simonson's -- this is the comic book that has always been the brain of the Marvel Universe.
2. Amazing Spider-Man. Lee & Ditko's 38-issue initial run has never been eclipsed, though Stern & Romita's 29-issue run came close. Micheline's long run with McFarlane and then Larsen is an also-great. Spider-Man has always been the heart of the Marvel Universe.
3. Avengers. The Avengers was always a whirlwind of fun but, at its best -- like the 20-issue run of Thomas & Buscema, and virtually every issue from 1977 to 1988 by various combinations of writers and artists -- this was an epic saga.
4. Incredible Iron Man. From David Micheline's 41-issue run, to John Byrne's 20-issue run, followed by Len Kaminski's 42-issue run -- all with various artists -- Iron Man has always emphasized the writing.
5. Mighty Thor. Walt Simonson's 30-issue magnum opus. DeFalco & Frenz aping Lee & Kirby for 5 years. Thor has been a grand epic almost as big and as long as the Avengers.
6. Incredible Hulk. Peter David's magnum opus.
7. West Coast Avengers. Englehart, reminding Marvel how to make comics fun.
8. Alpha Flight. John Byrne's superhero-soap opera mash-up masterpiece.
9. Silver Surfer. Englehart again, this time doing Marvel's best space opera ever.
10. Captain America. The aborted Stern & Byrne run set the bar too high to top, but Mark Gruenwald spent 10 years trying very hard and sometimes coming very close.
Top 10 DC Comics
1. Superman. Siegel & Shuster. The superhero genre at its most basic and primal. Pure magic in the making.
2. Batman. Not the dark and gritty stuff, but the joking, smiling Batman, and his pal Robin, of the 1940s. Pure fun.
3. Flash. Mark Waid's amazing, definitive run of the Wally West Flash.
4. Justice Society. Kaminski & Parobeck's canceled WAY-too soon 10-issue masterpiece.
5. Batman Adventures. The magic of the Animated Series, captured on paper by various hands, but principally Mike Parobeck.
6. Power of Shazam. The best use of Captain Marvel by DC, ever. Jerry Ordway's magnum opus.
7. Legion of Super-Heroes/Legionnaires. From the reboot. No, not that reboot, the one after that. No, no...more to the left. That's it. Mainly the ones Roger Stern wrote.
8. Kingdom Come. I know, I know. It's hardly fair to include this if Marvels didn't make my top 10 Marvel list. But this is still amazing stuff.
9. Tom Strong. Alan Moore's best/least cynical/most inventive work ever.
10. JSA. Geoff Johns' celebration of a multi-generational superhero community that feels like one big family.Top 10 Independents
1. Bone. Couldn't be anything else.
2. Usagi Yojimbo. Such a remarkably intelligent, well-researched epic for one man to have produced monthly.
3. Thieves & Kings. Mark Oakley's fascinating (and hugely inspirational to me) fantasy series.
4. Kurt Busiek's Astro City. Kurt's continuing love letter to the superhero genre.
5. Akiko. Mark Crilley's amazingly inventive sci fi/comedy series.
6. Knights of the Dinner Table. Simply the best comic about D&D ever. Even better than mine!
7. Big Bang Comics. Uneven, but sometimes brilliant homage to the superhero genre.
8. Groo the Wanderer. Maybe should have gone on the Marvel list, but Aragones & Evanier's comic masterpiece had to be one of these lists somewhere. Mulch!
9. Radioactive Man. A brilliant and funny homage/parody of the superhero genre. Too few issues to rate higher.
10. Scott Pilgrim. A beautifully absurd look at the world through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, obsessed with teen-oriented popular culture. Or a gonzo superhero love story. Or both.