The Top Fifteen Titles of the Past Decade

As always, when I devise a list of the top anything, it’s according to me.  As you might often find in the small print, your results may vary. 

 

1. Fables (2002)

 

The single most consistently excellent comic book of the ‘Aughts.  Fables became the face of Vertigo and defined the imprint as much as Swamp Thing or Sandman.  It introduced Snow White as a politician, Cinderella as a spy and the Big Bad Wolf as a noir detective, romantic lead and father of the year.  Fables spun off secondary series, mini-series, graphic novels and even a prose novel.  It was, quite simply, the best.

 

2. Green Lantern (2005)

 

No superhero series told big stories better than Green Lantern.  From Hal Jordan’s Rebirth in 2004 to the Sinestro War in 2007 to Blackest Night in 2009, Green Lantern has delivered blockbuster after blockbuster.  Sometimes lost in the fireworks, Geoff Johns has also rehabilitated a menacing rogues’ gallery including Hector Hammond and the Black Hand.   

 

3. Captain America (2004)

 

If Green Lantern tells the biggest stories, then Captain America has mastered the grand epic.  It seems as if this title has been telling one long story for seven years, and telling it with astonishing skill.  From Out of Time to Winter Soldier, from The Death of Captain America to the reign of the Red Skull, Captain America has charmed and captivated its audience.

 

4. Invincible (2003)

 

Who says they don’t make great superheroes like they used to?  Invincible may have seemed like just another costumed teenager when he arrived on the scene in 2003, but Robert Kirkman turned Invincible into one of the greatest heroes in comics and one of the greatest comics on the stands.  We’ve watched him come of age and overcome great odds.  And we’ve enjoyed the supporting cast and the oddball villains almost as much as the lead.

 

5. Astonishing X-Men (2004)

 

I tried to avoid titles that were defined by one or two great runs but that weren’t consistently excellent for the duration of the decade, but there’s no ignoring Astonishing X-Men.  Though they only combined for 24 issues over 4 years, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday crafted one of the greatest superhero comics ever.  Resurrections, questions, new characters, aliens, surprises and sacrifices- Astonishing was certainly amazing.

 

6. Fantastic Four (1998)

 

This is another title whose decade was defined by one great run.  When Waid and Wieringo worked on this title together starting in 2002, the Fantastic Four could honestly bill itself as “the world’s greatest comic magazine” once again.  An early run by Carlos Pacheco in 2000 and a late run by Dwayne McDuffie in 2007 also contributed to a very good decade for comics’ first family. 

 

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2007)

 

Comics had adapted movies, television shows and even toys before.  But Buffy introduced a wonderful new concept.  The comic continued the television series, supervised by the show’s creator, with contributions from many of their regular writers.  However, it wasn’t just a wonderful idea.  It was also a wonderful comic book with drama, tension, humor and action. 

 

8. Y The Last Man (2002)

 

It could have been pretentious- main characters named after Shakespeare.  It could have been too high concept to work- a plague wiped out all of the men on earth except one.  Instead, it was an incredible comic.  It was emotionally poignant.  It was often riveting.  It raised interesting questions.  And it was always interesting.

 

9. JSA (1999)

 

Following the success of JLA, DC turned to the first ever superhero team for a follow-up title in 1999.  But this was no second-rate spin-off: JSA often surpassed the former title in terms of quality.  It spanned generations, providing an interesting mix of old and new characters.  It contained great stories like the Return of Hawkman, the rise and fall of Black Adam and the battles against Eclipso, Mordru and Obsidian.  There was no better superhero comic over the course of the full decade. 

 

10. Dynamo 5 (2007)

 

I admit that Dynamo 5 is one of my pet causes.  However, I honestly think this series is this good.  It’s like the team version of Invincible.  It’s true to our times, when it seems like almost everyone has a blended family with half-brothers or step-sisters.  But it’s not a message comic.  It’s an awesome adventure comic with great fights, and a strong foundation of interesting characters who are trying to build both a family and a team. 

 

11. Sojourn (2001)

 

Lost in the commotion, controversy and collapse of CrossGen the company was the fact that they made great comic books.  They reintroduced science-fiction and fantasy.  They dabbled in horror and mystery.  Their most successful and most widely read series was Sojourn.  Sojourn was a straightforward fantasy quest that elevated the company and the genre thanks to enchanting characters, a strong story line and especially Greg Land’s art.

 

12. Star Wars: Legacy (2006)

 

Dark Horse produced a lot of great Star Wars comics during the past decade in titles like Empire, Republic and Knights of the Old Republic.  Yet the best of the bunch was Legacy.  Set in the far future of the Star Wars chronology, Legacy crafted an intricate social and political situation.  The Sith and the Empire were separate, warring powers.  The Republic military was on the run and the Jedi were in hiding.  And the stars of the series were smugglers who weaved between the sides of light and dark while trying to keep themselves alive.

 

13. Age of Bronze (1998)

 

How do I praise Age of Bronze without making it sound like a term paper?  Eric Shanower carefully researched the Trojan War, the time period and the many literary sources.  As a former English major, I love that stuff.  But this is no dry textbook.  It’s a riveting tale of passion, conflict and betrayal.  It’s beautifully drawn and intricately told.  It’s a testament to the art of comic books.  And it’s a real good story, too. 

 

14. She-Hulk (2004 and 2005)

 

It was the little comic that could.  She-Hulk was launched in 2004 to little fanfare and cancelled with its 12th issue.  But it was quickly resurrected due to fan demand.  Dan Slott’s humorous take on superheroes, self-referential comic books and the legal system was a surprising delight and a successful small comic in an age of big epics.  

 

15. BPRD (2002)

 

BPRD is a truly unique comic.  It’s a supporting cast that somehow stands on its own without its lead, balancing a bushel-full of eccentric characters.  It’s a series of mini-series that still manages to tell one long epic (and that comes out more regularly than some series billed as monthlies).  It’s quirky.  It’s haunting.  It’s different.  And it’s one of the best comics of the past decade.

 

 

 

 

Views: 788

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on March 18, 2011 at 7:55pm
Good list with good explanations as to why you chose these titles. I agree with most of your picks. Most of the others I haven't read or read very little of. I am in the minority when I say that I didn't care for Y. I gave it a shot and couldn't get into it. I very much second Fables, Green Lantern and Invincible being on the list and near the top. Very good titles.
Comment by Chris Fluit on March 19, 2011 at 9:42am
Thanks, Jason.
Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on March 20, 2011 at 3:13pm

Good list, Chris. I agree with a lot of it. Especially, Fables. I never could get into Star Wars: Legacy, I couldn't stand the lead character (Cade Skywalker or something like that?).

 

I've enjoyed Captain America as well, but now I'm kind of burnt out on it.

Comment by Rich Steeves on March 20, 2011 at 4:07pm
just a quick question: why do you make the list from 1-15? Wouldn't it be better to make it from 15-1 to build the suspense?  Just a thought.  Great job, though
Comment by Lee Houston, Junior on March 20, 2011 at 10:56pm

Chris:

Of your list, I agree with Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, Buffy, and JSA; so I cannot add anything to that discussion.

The rest, for better or worse, I have never read.

I would like to humbly add my own thoughts on other suggestions, based upon what I have read, if I may.

Identity Crisis

The main mini-series itself, taken as a whole, is a solid mystery/thriller from beginning to end.

Madame Xanadu

Matt Wagner took a 'fringe' character and made her quite interesting, especially tying the first ten issues into the outer edges of the main DC Universe.

Fantastic Four, Jonathan Hickman run.

Great storyline, developing over issues to the recent conclusion and promising to continue where issue 588 ended in the new series.

The Unwritten

A very good story (to date) putting a literary spin on fantasy in a new way.

Gail Simone

Kind of hard to clarify this more specifically, but her writing talent has definitely grown over the years and is the reason I enjoy Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and I personally think her run on Wonder Woman was one of the best that character has had in ages.

Astro City

I know this title has taken some negative hits over the delays between installments of its recent "Dark Ages" epic, but despite any production problems between issues; this series has always been of the highest quality its creators can produce each issue, and I for one have no problem with waiting between issues for I personally prefer quality over quantity.

Opinions may vary and are welcomed.

Comments?

Comment by Lumbering Jack (M'odd-R8-Tr) on March 21, 2011 at 7:02am

My own comments on your top 15:

1) Fables -- I own a few of the trades, a GN and about 20 single issues. So, yeah, I like it. However, I'm not a regular reader of the book. Why? I don't know. Every time I read it, I like it, but I never feel terribly compelled to keep up with it.

2) Green Lantern -- GL was my favorite hero as a Super Friends-loving boy. But somewhere along the line, my interest switched off and I have never been able to get it back. I tried "Rebirth" and didn't find it terribly interesting.

3) Captain America -- Almost the same as GL. My favorite hero from the 1980s. But somewhere along the line, my interest switched off and I have never been able to get it back. I tried various single issues in the Brubaker era and didn't find it terribly interesting.

4) Invincible -- Read the first 10 issues or so. Pretty good stuff, but ultimately a victim of my budget and initial distaste for the "big reveal" that happened early in the series. I probably shouldn't have given up on it. I really enjoyed the "Marvel Universe" handbook that Kirkman came out with a few years back. He has some great character ideas.

5) Astonishing X-Men -- I've read the first two trades and enjoyed them. Highly recommended, even from me, a former X-Men fan who soured on the whole mutant-verse about 20 years ago.

6) Fantastic Four -- Totally out of the loop on Fantastic Four since "Onslaught." In fact, "Onslaught"/"Heroes Reborn" pretty much killed my interest in most of Marvel's regular titles. It's not that I hold a grudge or anything, it's just that it was a "jumping off" point and I jumped.

7) Buffy -- I've watched a total of about 10 minutes of the "Buffy" show, so this is not for me. I hear it's good ...

8) Y the Last Man -- I have a few trades that I haven't read yet. I found them cheap or something, but alas I don't have trade No. 1 yet! I can't start in the middle, can I?

9) JSA -- I generally enjoyed this book. I have it up through about issue 60 or so, but never jumped into "Justice Society of America" when they restarted it. No reason other than budget issues.

10) Dynamo Five -- Never tried it.

11) Sojourn -- A beautiful book with an epic scope. Highly recommended.

12) Star Wars Legacy -- Never tried it, and it sounds like I might REALLY like it. I'm not a big fan of Jedi-centered Star Wars stories. What can you tell me about the Jedi-to-regular guys ratio in this?

13) Age of Bronze -- One of those books I kick myself for not trying. I can't see a single reason why I wouldn't like it!

14) She-Hulk -- Oh, yeah, I own all of these! Fun stuff that also helps you make sense of the greater Marvel Universe. She-Hulk solves the kind of problems that Captain America would be flummoxed by.

15) BRPD -- Another book I'm sure I would like. I like Hellboy, but only pick up his books on occasion, so I can't see any reason I wouldn't enjoy a further exploration of his bizarre world.

Comment by Chris Fluit on March 21, 2011 at 11:21am
Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Rich Steeves wrote: just a quick question: why do you make the list from 1-15? Wouldn't it be better to make it from 15-1 to build the suspense? Just a thought. Great job, though

Sometimes, I write my lists 15-1 (or 10-1 as with last week's "most memorable moments") and sometimes 1-15. It depends on my mood. In this case, I thought there was greater suspense at the bottom of the list (what will make the cut off?) than at the top.
Comment by Chris Fluit on March 21, 2011 at 11:32am
Lee Houston Jr. wrote:

I would like to humbly add my own thoughts on other suggestions, based upon what I have read, if I may.

Please do. That's part of the fun.

Identity Crisis

I decided to stick to ongoing series for this list. However, that's a great suggestion and would have made a "best mini-series list" if I had decided to go that route.

Madame Xanadu

Matt Wagner took a 'fringe' character and made her quite interesting, especially tying the first ten issues into the outer edges of the main DC Universe.


I've heard good things about Madame Xanadu but haven't read it myself. I've been keeping an eye out for it at the library because it does seem like an interesting series.

Fantastic Four, Jonathan Hickman run.

Great storyline, developing over issues to the recent conclusion and promising to continue where issue 588 ended in the new series.


Hickman's run didn't start until 2010, otherwise I would have mentioned it along with Carlos Pacheco and Dwayne McDuffie.

The Unwritten

A very good story (to date) putting a literary spin on fantasy in a new way.


Mike Carey's Vertigo work has been hit or miss for me so I skipped this one.

Gail Simone

Kind of hard to clarify this more specifically, but her writing talent has definitely grown over the years and is the reason I enjoy Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and I personally think her run on Wonder Woman was one of the best that character has had in ages.


Sorry, that doesn't work. It's not "top ten (or 15) writers of the past decade." If it was, I'm pretty sure that Gail Simone would make my list for the reasons you wrote above. Though, with the exception of her first arc, I honestly preferred Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman to Gail Simone's.

Astro City

I know this title has taken some negative hits over the delays between installments of its recent "Dark Ages" epic, but despite any production problems between issues; this series has always been of the highest quality its creators can produce each issue, and I for one have no problem with waiting between issues for I personally prefer quality over quantity.


I considered Astro City but eventually decided against it. There's no question that AC would have made a "best of the '90s" list. And there have been some great moments or stories this decade, such as the excellent Samaritan and Beautie one-shots. But I don't think that AC has always maintained the quality. I had problems with Dark Age other than the delays. And when a series missed with its biggest story, it's hard to call it one of the best of the decade.

Thanks for the comments, though. It was fun to read your take on things.
Comment by Chris Fluit on March 21, 2011 at 11:40am
Lumbering Jack wrote:

2) Green Lantern -- GL was my favorite hero as a Super Friends-loving boy. But somewhere along the line, my interest switched off and I have never been able to get it back. I tried "Rebirth" and didn't find it terribly interesting.

3) Captain America -- Almost the same as GL. My favorite hero from the 1980s. But somewhere along the line, my interest switched off and I have never been able to get it back. I tried various single issues in the Brubaker era and didn't find it terribly interesting.


That's interesting. I was never much of a Green Lantern or Captain America fan before their current series. It wasn't until I read positive reviews for Rebirth and Out of Time that I decided to give the two titles a try. I'm glad I did as they've both been excellent for years. But I don't have a lot of affection or baggage based on earlier incarnations.

12) Star Wars Legacy -- Never tried it, and it sounds like I might REALLY like it. I'm not a big fan of Jedi-centered Star Wars stories. What can you tell me about the Jedi-to-regular guys ratio in this?

The lead character is a smuggler named Cade Skywalker. He's a wonderful scoundrel, who occasionally does the right thing (though Travis Herrick never liked him, see above). He's also the son of a Jedi, so he has both Force powers and a resentment for the order. His two best friends are also smugglers, and they comprise the main characters. However, Legacy has built an intricate world around them. We see very few Jedi, though they grow in presence as the series progresses. We see a lot of the Sith, who are the main villains for this series. And we also see a new group of Force users- the Imperial Knights. They're like a military Jedi (or the Crimson Guard from Return of the Jedi with lightsabers). The Jedi and the Knights are always supporting characters. Even the occasional interlude stories focus on Republic military officers rather than Jedi.
Comment by ClarkKent_DC on March 21, 2011 at 12:06pm
Jason, you're not the only one who didn't cotton to Y, The Last Man. I've read the whole series (in trades, borrowed from the library, although I did start out buying the first eight or so issues off the shelf). I liked it for the concept, the writing, the art, and most of the cast of characters. It was the lead character I couldn't stand!

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