5BC: Five Best Comics of 1985

After a few false starts and doglegs, Dave Sim found his footing as his long-running Church and State storyline began to build up steam. Now paired with Gerhard, whose elaborate and expressive environments made the Earth-Pig’s world more fully realized than ever, Sim was more free to focus on plot, character, world-building and even the expressiveness of his lettering. Once again, it’s the return of Jaka that provides this two-parter with its emotional punch, as Cerebus’ own words from a few issues earlier come back to haunt him: you can get what you want, and still not be happy.

An acknowledged classic, it was always a welcome moment when Alan Moore would turn his incredible skills towards the Man of Steel. Here, united with his eventual WATCHMEN partner Dave Gibbons, Moore, through Mongul, gives Superman his greatest desire–a life on a Krypton that never exploded–and then we see the cracks in that fantasy develop. Simultaneously, the team does expert work with Wonder Woman and the Jason Todd Robin (whom Moore just writes as Robin without worrying about who might be behind the mask.) A phenomenal story.

The climax to the first series of Scott McCloud’s first published series–and as far as anyone knew at the time, the last we’d ever see of these characters. It’s a fulfilling finale to a storyline that has played out over ten issues, with McCloud both providing his readership with the catharsis of a hard-fought victory that forms the backbone of why people read heroic adventure fiction while at the same time questioning the moral values of such a proposition: Isn’t justice more than just a punch in the mouth?

For all that he’d made a splash on LONGSHOT, this is the comic that made Arthur Adams a superstar and a prime influence on the incoming next generation of creators. In typical fashion, having become enamored with the work that Walt Simonson was doing over on THOR, writer Chris Claremont took his cast of young mutants to Asgard to get a piece of that action–with his older X-Men following shortly thereafter in their own Annual this year. On its own merits, it’s a sweeping and fun adventure story, with Claremont’s weightiness expertly balanced by Adams’ playfulness.

Certainly the bleekest comics book published this year, at the start of a bleek but ultimately uplifting storyline that couldn’t ever quite change the lead character as much as it ought to have. Writer Frank Miller returns to the series that made him a superstar to tear it all to the ground, as the Kingpin learns the true identity of his swashbuckling nemesis and proceeds to dismantle every facet of his life. Artist David Mazzucchelli actually exceeds Miller on the art, taking Miller’s noir compositions and pushing them to the limit. A comic for the ages.

2 thoughts on “5BC: Five Best Comics of 1985

  1. Great list. Have all but the New Mutants (unless I have that and forgot that I did). I haven’t reread any of Cerebus for a long time – but I remember this mid-80’s stuff as being awfully good.

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