Thursday, August 04, 2011

My 15 Favorite Wildstorm Comics

As of this week, Wildstorm is no more. Most of it is being folded into the DC Universe proper, I guess... shit, most of this DC Crisis of Infinite Reboots seems like it's turning the whole place into Wildstorm. I was never a huge fan of the Wildstorm Universe (The Authority, Stormwatch, whatev--not for me), but here are 15 comics they published that I really dig.

15. ThunderCats

Except for a couple of lapses in taste, this series was everything the ThunderCats should be--cool, fun, exciting, adventurous. Hell, it was even funny and managed to avoid the fantard temptation to shit all over Snarf.

14. Danger Girl
It took way too long to publish a mere seven issues, and it's incredibly dumb, and it's little more than an amalgamation of everything the creators liked in every spy movie they ever saw, but it was FUN. It seems like DC is going to be short on fun for a while (whither Plastic Man, Metamorpho, the Marvel Family?), and even thought it aspired to nothing more than coolness, that was pretty much all you'd want from it in the first place.

13. Ball and Chain
I thought it was a funny idea: a screwball comedy about a divorcing husband and wife who can't stand each other, then are given super powers by an alien that only work when they're near each other. Scott Lobdell really got the screwball tone right, too.

12. Tomorrow Stories
I adored the America's Best Comics line. This one could be hit or miss, as most anthology comics are, but Jack B. Quick and the First American were always hilarious, and I love the Cobweb.

11. High Roads
Wonderfully crazy. Again, it doesn't aspire to--nor does it achieve--anything more than to be a silly adventure story about Nazis and samurai and little people and fighter planes... but it did it well.

10. Ex Machina
I'm not the biggest fan of Brian K. Vaughan, but I always enjoyed this series about a former superhero who saved one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 and was elected mayor of New York City. Very thoughtful and realistic in its handling of political pressures with, you know, superheroics.

9. Ocean
Warren Ellis is the best writer of science fiction in comics. This is one of his most interesting and, I think, underrated stories about contact with another intelligence (that can't be immediately comprehended). Very good stuff.

8. Speed Racer/Racer X
Again, these two series were just a hell of a lot of fun. I really wanted to see more of these.

7. Tom Strong's Terrific Tales
With the ABC line, Alan Moore did less deconstructing of comic books and more aping older styles that no one bothered with any more. I liked a lot of the stuff he did in this book, with homages to Heavy Metal, Winsor McCay, CC Beck, and many others. My favorite part of this all-too-short-lived series, though, were the Jonni Future stories of Art Adams. There's a perfect movie waiting to be made in there, but no one would get the tone right.

6. Promethea
Yes, Alan Moore has a tendency here to ignore the plot for the sake of dissertations on the history of comparative religions, mythologies, and magic, but it's endlessly fascinating. A lot of people dismissed this as a Wonder Woman rip-off, but I think what he's really doing is delving into what makes Captain Marvel work.

5. Top 10
More Moore, about cops in a town where everyone has superpowers or is made of magic or something or other. Lots of great references (look for annotations online, it's amazing), and the spin-off miniseries Smax and the prequel graphic novel The Forty-Niners are also excellent. Of everything Alan Moore did at ABC, this felt the freshest.

4. Planetary
Warren Ellis' series is just pure pulp goodness. I know the supernatural/paranormal investigator shtick has been done to death, but for my money it was never done so well. Ellis and John Cassaday strike an interesting balance in this series, celebrating our pop culture legends (Godzilla, Japanese ghost stories, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Batman) even as they deconstruct them. Brilliant reading.

3. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2
Classics. Alan Moore here throws together every Victorian fiction reference he has any affection for and tells some of the best adventure stories in comics.

2. Astro City
Every issue a treasure, with Kurt Busiek exploring the basic humanity of the innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders in a city of superheroes. Rightfully acclaimed and one of the best comics of its time.

1. Tom Strong
My personal favorite comic that Wildstorm ever published, with Alan Moore just telling fun, wholesome, enjoyable superhero stories (again with the Captain Marvel tint). Timeless and just waiting to really garner the appreciation it deserves.

For these comics and others that didn't quite make the list, I thank you, Wildstorm. You had a lot to offer for a guy who loves comics but doesn't care about WildCATs, and I really appreciate that.

No comments: