5BC: Five Best Comics of 1989

1989 was the year in which I entered the field, so this will be the final installment of this topic, as I don’t think it’s possible to be objective past this point.

Grant Morrison begins his revelatory run on DOOM PATROL by hearkening back to the earliest stories and remembering that thees characters are more trauma victims than super heroes. If ANIMAL MAN was the overture, DOOM PATROL was the fanfare that announced that Morrison would be an influential writer for the decade to come. Artist Richard Case does underappreciated work keeping everything within the bounds of a super hero comic while still creating mages that are unsettling and bizarre.

At the same time, Alan Moore is delivering his final word on the deconstruction of super hero comics, completing the journey tat was begun in WARRIOR #1 at the start of the decade. In the wake of a holocaust, Miracleman and his allies remake the world, eliminating all of the problems of human society (while creating a few new ones along the way) and leaving incoming scribe Neil Gaiman with a bit of a puzzle in terms of where to find conflict for future stories.

Roger Stern proves that he is both one of the few writers who understands how to navigate the mystic universe created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as he and collaborator Mike Mignola deliver a status quo-changing tour de force in this hardcover graphic novel. The many layers and flaws of Doctor Doom are examined in detail, creating a complex and compelling portrait of the villain. One of the very few Marvel Graphic Novels worthy of the name.

After two successful runs playing in a fantasy universe, creator Scott McCloud brings his signature character Zot back down to Earth–our Earth–for the best remembered cycle of stories in the series. These tales minimized the elements of the fantastic, substituting instead a greater verisimilitude into the life of Jenny and her circle of friends and acquaintances. McCloud’s manga influences are felt here, as these stories are far more of a piece with the type of work typically done in Japan than regular super hero adventures.

One of the final nails in the coffin of Mark Waid’s editorial career, this special is best remembered for Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano’s Deadman story that sees Boston Brand communing with the spirit of the dead-and-erased-from-continuity Supergirl, but that’s just one of the great entries in this fantastic anthology. The opening story by Paul Chadwick in which, though kindness, Superman convinces a suicidal man not to end his life is terrific, and John Byrne provides a wordless Enemy Ace story that’s expertly embellished in the family style by Andy Kubert–there really isn’t a weak piece in the entire comic. And Stephen DeStefano’s cover remains a joy.

2 thoughts on “5BC: Five Best Comics of 1989

  1. Nice list. I will need to seek out the Dr. Strange GN which I never read. I don’t think Mike Mignola was on my radar at this time.

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  2. Moore & Morrisson remain my #1 & #2 comic book writers. And that Paul Chadwick Superman Christmas story should, along with the later guest appearance in “Hitman”, by Garth Ennis, should be 2 entries of the very greatest stories ever told with that character.

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