Sunday, November 17, 2013


Why a Top Twelve? Well, this was originally going to be a top ten list, but I could only whittle the thing down to about twelve entries. And since this is my blog, I make the rules. So, for the next few weeks, I'll post the list in segments. Today is the introduction. Next Sunday will be numbers 12 through 6, and the following weekend will bring the Top Five and a little wrap-up.

I have an interesting group here, I think. There are things you'd expect -- runs that most anyone would have on a list of the best Marvel ever. But at the same time there are several glaring holes as well. Versed as I am in the world of Marvel, there are several classic runs I've never read. The Lee/Kirby FANTASTIC FOUR, for example, does not appear here, because I've barely ever read any of it. Though really, the entire Silver Age, beyond Spider-Man, is a huge blind spot for me. I know what happened; I just haven't read all of it personally. So all I can do is pick my favorite runs from the ones I've read, and that's exactly what I've done here.

I've used a totally arbitrary five-point scale to rate these runs on two criteria: "Nostalgia Rating", meaning how big a part the run played in my formative comic book reading years and my heyday of heavy comic reading (roughly ages 10 - 20), and "Story Rating", which tries to objectively judge the quality of the run based on the merits of the writing and art. I don't believe nostalgia can ever be entirely factored out of the equation, but I'm trying my best. After applying both ratings, the "Overall" score is an average of the two, to determine the run's place on my list.

There are those who may find it ludicrous that my lack of nostalgia for runs I never read as a kid skews the rating and bumps it down the list (Lobdell X-Men better than Simonson Thor??). All I can say is that I strongly believe that when you discovered a series, and how you felt at the time, is just as important a criteria as anything else -- if not potentially more imporant -- when rating things that were originally aimed at kids. But for those who care about such things, I will provide, in my final installment, a breakdown of these runs using each of the two criteria separately. I think it shakes out quite fairly both ways.

Also, I should note that there may a few runs which I consider technically superior to the ones that made the list, or for which I have more historical affection. But taken as a whole, they don't have whatever it takes to permeate my brain and reside there among the runs I consider "the greatest". So if there's something missing, it's not necessarily because I don't like it -- it's just because it didn't leave that unquantifiable impact on me.

Oh, a couple final caveats -- One, I'm talking Marvel superhero comics, specifically. Nothing else. If we were counting licensed/non-superhero characters, then you can bet Larry Hama's G.I. JOE would easily crack the top five, and Simon Furman's TRANSFORMERS would be lurking about someplace, as well. Secondly, you'll notice the list is very Spider-Man and X-Men heavy. Those are my favorite Marvel characters, and I've probably read more of their issues combined than anything else Marvel has put out.

And now, with the preamble out of the way, the list will begin one week from today.

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