A few months ago, I noticed this rather well-produced tome while browsing WH Smith for something to read on the train. The £9.99 price tag was a bit hefty, but I figured it’d be an interesting read…
Before I get started, I want to point out that this is an interesting read, and you should definitely get your hands on a copy and read it from cover to cover. As well as having some great comics, there are some wonderful interviews from people like Alan Moore, Chris Claremont and Mike Mignola that are obviously culled from back issues of Uncanny Comics, but are still worth reading.
That being said, the title is technically false advertising… First off, some of the interviews mention other works by these authors that aren’t in the list proper, but that’s just because the interviews were published prior to this “bookazine” (yes, that’s what they call it).
The real issue is… well, some of the comics listed aren’t very good. Don’t get me wrong, there are some comics in this thing that absolutely live up to the hype, but there are a few that just don’t deserve to be in here. I’ll be recycling a technique from a previous post, and not just highlighting something that doesn’t belong, but recommending a far better replacement as well.
Batman: A Death in The Family
It says something when even the magazine (I’m sorry Uncanny Comics, but “bookazine” is not a real word) that includes this says that it isn’t very good. While Jim Starlin has written some excellent stories, this isn’t one of them; any story where The Joker becomes an a political advisor to Ayatollah Khomeini only makes you wonder why the DC editorial staff of the 1980’s stopped caring.
They outright admit that they only included it because it was the comic that killed off Jason Todd, the second Robin. While it is a powerful moment in comics, you can’t include something on the “all-time greatest” list based on a few scenes. Casablanca isn’t a great movie just because the last scene has some great lines, it’s a great movie because every scene has great lines, great performances, great cinematography…
One other factor doesn’t help matters… as well as A Death in The Family, there are six other Batman comics in this list, as well as three spin-off Bat-titles. That’s right: in a list of the 100 best comics ever, Batman takes up nine spaces – he doesn’t just dominate the cover, he dominates the inside as well. I’m sorry, but that’s just bollocks. Addendum: I should point out that Batman was removed from the 2015 edition, but few of the Bat-titles were removed.
The Replacement… Spider-Man: Death of The Stacys
Spider-Man is a lot like Batman, in that both of them are haunted by the death of those they love. The main difference is that when the writers of Spider-Man dealt with more death in his life, they actually managed to maintain the level of quality in the writing throughout the entire storyline. The dialogue, especially Stan Lee’s, may be a little vivid at times (it was the 60’s and early 70’s…) but at least it wasn’t Jim Starlin’s nonsense.
Given that I missed last week’s update (I was in Northumberland, alright?), I might as well give you a double feature…
Batman: The Killing Joke
Don’t get me wrong, I do actually like this story… but the people who made it don’t. Even though I don’t wholly agree with the points that Moore and Bollard give, I respect their opinions, and I have to admit that Bollard’s art is the main draw. It’s a good story… but not strictly speaking a great one… Also, I really want to break the Bat-monopoly on this list (Alan Moore also has something of a stranglehold on the list, with no less than seven of his titles dotted around it – that said, the other six deserve to be on the list, in my opinion).
Say, you know what Alan Moore does consider to be one of the greatest comics?
The Replacement… Herbie Archives Volume One
Herbie, that’s what.
Oh, we’d like to know just why I chose Herbie as a replacement, do we? You want me to actually spell out just why Herbie Popnecker is one of the greatest fictional characters of the 20th Century? Do you also want me to wipe your nose and help you with your spelling?
There’s your explanation. Now buzz off, before I bop you with a lollipop.