Nothing But Comics is about to hit our two year mark and in observance of the sites anniversary, every Tuesday from now until we finish, one of our staff members will list off their favorite series, runs or issues of all time. This week it’s Josh
Honorable Mentions: Amazing Spider-Man by J. Micheal Strasinski through Brand New Day, Mark Waid and Mike Winerogo’s Fantastic Four, Geoff Johns Green Lantern, Naruto, Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth, Y, the Last Man on Earth, Ex Machina.
10. Justice Society of America by James Robinson, Geoff Johns, David Goyer, Don Kramer, Rags Morales, Stephen Sadowski, Alex Ross
This is the series that won me over to the merit of the JSA, and how relevant the Golden Age characters can be in modern times. It’s perhaps the best series starring the JSA and each volume is consistently great in art and writing. It’s a comic that probably shouldn’t have been nearly as successful with a large less famous cast and extended run, but the fact that it did makes it all the better.
9. Sandman Mystery Theater by Matt Wagner, Steven T Seagle , Guy Davis, John Watkiss, R.G. Taylor, Vince Locke, Warren Pleece, Matthew Smith, Gavin Wilson
A dark, mature, pulp series starring the Golden Age Sandman Wesley Dodds by writer/artist extraordinaire Matt Wagner. It’s the other great Sandman series that’s never discussed, which owes its existence to Nail Gaiman’s fantasy epic. I love that series, but this one just has its own quiet confidence, partially due to Wagner’s skill at writing pulp-era characters. It’s well-worth diving into back-issue bins or looking for the trades in the bargain section, to see what a man with a gas gun, mask, and fedora can do against the 1920s criminal underworld.
8. Deadpool by Daniel Way, Andy Diggle, Paco Medina, Shawn Crystal, Steve Dillion, Carlo Barberi, Bong Dazo, Clayton Crane, Dave Johnson
Daniel Way’s run is my favorite series starring the Merc with a Mouth. Its focus is on comedy and made me laugh many times reading it. Way guides Deadpool in and out of the continuity changes affecting the Marvel Universe, dropping him in where he can cause the most havoc. While Way’s scripts don’t always hit the mark in every story arc, most of them are entertaining. I like the way each arc has Deadpool in a different situation with some strange goal, like being a pirate or wanting to join the X-Men.
7. Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Two young Japanese men share a dream of becoming famous Manga creators, and will risk it all to achieve that dream. The friendship between Mashiro and Takagi really works, and makes their goal feel all the more real. It’s a peak into comics from the Land of the Rising Sun’s part of the world, showing the differences between West and East, but also universal truths.
6. Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener
Nikola Tesla’s greatest invention, an atomic powered Robot, is the ultimate monster-fighting, scientific adventurer! Seemingly immortal and granted human-status by the United Nations, Robo faces all manner of weirdness with a laconic humor perfect for all ages.
5. Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory
The wacky adventures of Tony Chu, who can literally taste the history of anything he eats! Probably the smartest and funniest, procedural cop tale ever conceived, ‘Chew’ deals with a post-bird flu world where chicken is outlawed. Somehow, that changes everything and the criminal underworld is no exception. Now chicken is the most illegal substance possible and Tony Chu has to figure out why and how.
4. Shaman King by Hiroyuki Takei
Yoh Asakura is a Japanese Shaman, someone who can commune with the spirits of the dead. He’s training to fight in a tournament against other Shamans from around the World to become the spiritual leader for the next 100 years. The series escalates gradually, with Yoh becoming stronger and stronger, but never going overboard like Dragon Ball Z with meaningless power levels and power ups thrown around. Almost every character has a reason for fighting in the tournament, making them relatable, but it also causes tension since Yoh has to compete against his friends to fulfill his mission. Probably the best ‘battle-manga’ I’ve ever read.
3. Hellboy by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fregredo, Richard Corben, Alex Maleev, Dave Stewart
Mike Mignola’s long-running epic about a blue-collar guy who is also the beast of the Apocalypse. It’s ever expanding, but Hellboy to me will always be the glue that holds it together. Part Jack Kirby-action, part gothic horror and part Sunday morning humor, Hellboy has many things going for it and I love all of them.
2. Tom Strong by Alan Moore, Chuck Hogan, Chris Sprouse, Alex Gordon, Arthur Adams, Gary Frank, Dave Gibbons, Jerry Ordway
Despite being written by Alan Moore and drawn by Chris Sprouse, this series doesn’t get nearly the recognition it deserves. It’s Doc Savage but like Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or Swamp Thing, it’s done with an adult sensibility. Instead of going super dark and meditative, it instead shows what happens if the hero is actually an adult and tries to solve problems without punching them. It’s Alan Moore going in the opposite direction of the deconstructed Superhero, to show one that is fully actualized and fully functioning.
1. Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki
This has the distinction of being the first Manga I read just because I missed the Anime. It’s about Japan’s most lethal assassin renouncing killing, and vowing to use his sword to protect others. Along the way, those who seek to defeat him instead become his allies. All of this is set against a somewhat accurate backdrop of Japan’s Meiji Restoration, when swordsmanship and Samurai were being phased out of existence. It’s fitting then to coincide with Kenshin’s journey to leaving his violent past behind him.