Four years ago Brian Cronin at Comics Should be Good asked people to vote for their Top 100 Comic Book Storylines. He asked that you submit your top 10 choices then he takes some time to count up the points and shares the results a few posts at a time. I voted and I remember having a blast waiting to see the results. I was upset with some, I was surprised by others and many of the stories on the list I had never heard of before until then. Now, four years later, Brian is doing a second list. I’ve taken the time to make up my list and I’ll be voting as soon as I finish this post.
It’s pretty difficult to come up with your own list of Top 10 Comic Book Storylines. It’s difficult because 10 is a pretty small number when you really think about it. More importantly though, the list you come up with will only capture your Top 10 Storylines at the time you wrote up your list. This list, like all lists, is subjective. Yes, there are some objective ways to determine whether one comic book is better than another, but that’s offset by a greater amount of subjectivity. My definition of a good comic can greatly differ from your definition of a good comic. Another thing to consider is that as individuals, we’re constantly changing. My definition of good four years ago is different from my definition of good today. I’ve read more comics, my tastes in comics have changed, I like to think I’ve matured as a reader and that I’ve made an effort to increase the variety in the types of comics I read. In short, I’ve tried to become a better comic book reader by reading comics my past self from four years ago would not have been interested in reading. In short, the list I came up with is a snapshot of what I enjoyed at the time I made the list.
Another reason the list is difficult to do is that there are more than one way to vote. You can vote for whatever you like the most regardless of other’s opinions. You could also vote strategically. For example, I know that Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns will make the list so I will choose not to “waste” one or more of my previous votes on one or more storylines I think will make the list. It will make it on the list whether I contribute to voting for it or not. I think it’s primarily because of strategic voters that we get interesting results. Then again, I also thing that whatever is popular at the time the votes take place will appear high on the list whether they’re considered to be good comics or not. I expect to see Batman: The Court of Owls somewhere on the list even if I think it was a pretty terrible Batman storyline which, I think, will be mostly forgotten by the time the next votes for the next Top 100 list are taking place four years from now. It will be interesting to see how many current ongoing series will make the list.
There could also be other ways that people use to come up with their votes. My personal strategy consists of thinking about who my favourite writers and artists are. I tend to follow the body of work of writers more than I do artists but if I’m thinking of which Grant Morrison comic to vote for, I find it difficult to justify choosing The Invisibles (the quintessential Morrison comic) because of the inconsistencies in the art. It’s also a difficult series to break down by storyline. I also try to vote strategically. I’m a big fan of Frank Miller but I find that voting for The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil: Born Again or Batman: Year One is a waste of a vote. At the same time, I’m grateful to those who did vote for it because those works clearly belong on the list.
The list will always disappoint me because the list could more appropriately be called The 100 Most Popular Comic Book Storylines. They’re not the best storylines, no matter what your definition of the “best” comic book is. It’s always enjoyable though and it’s a good source for future reading materials. Because of the first list I was convinced to continue reading Cerebus pas the first volume which was good but not nearly as good as the volumes that followed it. I had never read a Love and Rockets comic and now I own nearly all of the Love and Rockets stories (sadly, if it’s never been collected into a trade or a hardcover, I don’t own it). I’ve also bought a few older comics. I’ve always wanted to read older Marvel comics from the 80s but I never know where to start or which book to try and the list helped me with that. The comics also helped because certain people would comment on which excellent and deserving comics were missing from the list. The Top 100 Comic Book Storylines isn’t a perfect list but it’s one of the best sources for helping comic readers find their next favourite comic and that holds true whether you’ve been reading comics since childhood or if you’re just starting to discover the medium.
The voting ends October 31st at midnight. Make sure to visit Comics Should be Good and cast your votes. I look forward to the results on November 4th! I will be sharing my list once the results are out.
For those of you interested in reading the results from the first poll, check out this master list.