Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson’s Favorite Stories – Part 1 of 3: DC Comics
DC Comics has churned out so much great content over their 80+ years. Trust me when I say, it was extremely hard to narrow it down to my absolutely favorite tales. In order to even attempt it I had to break the list down into characters and franchises and even then it was extremely hard.
I did not even bother listing Honorable Mentions because I was afraid they would influence me to change my picks.
The Odinson’s Favorite Superman Story:
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Why: It’s full of hope. It’s inspiring. It’s full of sci-fi wonder, whimsical humor, and true pathos. THIS, my friends, this is Superman. Morrison and Quitely find the perfect formula for paying loving homage to the past while at the same time creating something new and exciting. This is what every single creator that has the supreme privilege of working with these iconic characters that have come to mean so much to so many people should aspire to do.
It’s not about subverting expectations. It’s about surpassing them.
The Odinson’s Favorite Batman Story:
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Why: This is THE undeniable benchmark in the Caped Crusader’s illustrious 80 year history. It drains out all the camp that crept into the Batman mythos during the 50s and 60s and wholly embraces the Batman’s dark roots from the 40s and the back-to-basics for the character of the 70s. It is an all at once thought provoking, at times scary, introspective look at an all too familiar world sorely in need of justice.
Every single Batman comic, graphic novel, animated series, and film in the last 35 years has been inspired, good and bad, by this seminal tale.
The Odinson’s Favorite Wonder Woman Story:
Stoned by Greg Rucka and Drew Johnson (with stunning covers by J.G. Jones)
Why: Wonder Woman is a character of mythic proportions. Her adventures should be fantastical and awe-inspiring. Rucka and his art team capture all that in this harrowing tale that sees Diana pitted against one of the most feared creatures in all of mythology – Medusa!
How do you combat a foe whose mere gaze can turn you to stone? What lengths will a champion go to in order to defeat evil? What is the price of victory? These are the questions this tale asks and answers as it sets up the next year of Wonder Woman’s character arc.
The Odinson’s Favorite Flash Story:
Savage Showdown by Mike Baron and Jackson “Butch” Guice
Why: In the dawn of the Post-Crisis DCU, Wally West has taken up the mantle of the Flash. This 2-part tale pays respect to the past (Wally’s relationship with the Teen Titans), establishes the current rules (Wally’s current power level), and sets up the future for the Flash franchise (Wally’s need to honor the Flash legacy and live up to the standard of heroism set forth by his uncle Barry Allen) .
Plus, it takes a classic DC villain like Vandal Savage and makes him something truly threatening and scary.
The Odinson’s Favorite Green Lantern Story:
The Sinestro Corps War by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and a tribe of fantastic contributors
Why: Going back to the Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon from the late 70s, Sinestro has always been a stand out DC villain for the Odinson, and this is the biggest and best Sinestro tale there is. It’s an epic sci-fi saga with so many delicious twists and shocking turns, and with a cast of villains every bit as complicated and interesting as the heroes.
As the DCU’s premiere interplanetary protectors, this tale proves the Green Lantern Corps is every bit as important as the Justice League. Plus, like all the best event style storylines, it impacts the present and future of its universe in interesting and profoundly lasting ways.
The Odinson’s Favorite Teen Titans Story:
Kidnapped by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
Why: The first 50 issues of Wolfman and Perez’s New Teen Titans run is not only one of the Odinson’s favorite comic run in history but it is essential reading for every comic book fan. If The Judas Contract is the climax of this seminal run then Kidnapped is the crescendo that builds to it.
Stafire’s past comes back to haunt and these Teen heroes suddenly find themselves dropped smack dab in the middle of an intergalactic civil war with more moving parts than Star Wars and whose outcome will determine the fate of the DC Universe!
The Teen Titans are in way over their heads yet rise to the occasion and prove themselves every bit as capable as their adult mentors when it comes to saving the day. This is a running motif throughout Wolfman and Perez’s run.
The Odinson’s Favorite Team-Up Story:
Different Worlds by John Byrne and George Perez
Why: Another gem at the dawn of the Post-Crisis DCU. As a new era for DC Comics begins, the Man of Steel and the Amazing Amazon have only just met in passing (during the Legends crossover), but yet Clark cannot get this amazing woman out of his mind (as seen in his dreams from Superman #5).
After an awkward kiss and a misunderstanding about what is a date and what is just a meeting of the Super Powers, Superman and Wonder Woman embark on an adventure involving the gods, both old and new, that beautifully juxtaposes the lives of a guy that was raised on a farm in Kansas and a woman that was raised by immortals on a magical island. Though there have been flirtations, it would be 25 years until these two would finally take a run at a serious relationship in the New 52 era of DC.
In Different Worlds, they forge a powerful bond and set up their friendship moving forward, a friendship that is still strong to this day.
The Odinson’s Favorite Event Story:
Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
Why: From the courage of Supergirl to the heroic sacrifice of the Flash to the most justified and powerful punch Superman has ever thrown, from the scope of the tale to the expertise of the execution to the long ranging ramifications on the DCU itself, effects that can be still felt to this day, Crisis is the pinnacle of what can be achieved with a Big Event/Crossover storyline.
I was eleven years old when Crisis on Infinite Earths hit the spinner racks, already a seasoned and hardcore comic books fans with years of Hanna-Barbera, Super Friends and Spider-Man cartoon-watching under my belt. Nothing before could have possibly prepared my young mind for what was going to unfold in those pages.
Crisis is a magnum opus by two true masters of their craft, and it helped make the Odinson a comic book fan for life.
The Odinson’s Favorite Vertigo Story:
Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (with wonderful covers by Glenn Fabry)
Why: It’s a western. It’s a horror story. It’s a search for faith. It’s a road trip story. It’s pulp fiction. It’s dark comedy. It’s a love letter to America. It’s all those things and so, so much more.
At its core, it’s a character study of three protagonists that the reader cannot help but fall in love with and root for – a two-fisted, hard-drinking man with a hero’s heart and a moral code all should aspire to; a strong, complicated, and more than capable woman; and a vampire with a long history of self-destructive behavior that no matter how much he may want to do the right thing just can’t seem to get out of his own way. Their flaws don’t define them. They make them relatable and force them to rise up and be better than they were the day before.
Preacher is a true four color masterpiece and a true testament of the talent of the creators behind the curtain.
The Odinson’s Favorite Story You May Never Have Heard of:
The Origin of Blue Devil by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, and Paris Cullins
Why: Reading Blue Devil was exciting for a very young Odinson because, in 1984, he was a brand new character, a hero without 20-30 years of backstory to catch up on, a hero I could jump in on the ground floor and discover, like I did with other brand new heroes introduced around that time (ex. Nova, Booster Gold, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). It was exciting to experience the DCU through Big Blue’s eyes as this neophyte super hero interacted with established DC mainstays like S.T.A.R. Labs and the Justice League.
The artwork of Paris Cullins is frenetic and full of energy. Interesting beats that have stuck with the Odinson to this day were the original idea of a stunt man in a Hollywood suit being transformed into a real devil by magic; Daniel Cassidy’s showdowns with a Juggernautesque Shockwave and Metallo the Man with a Kryptonite Heart; and stopping a full-on demon invasion alongside Zatanna. Also, a detail that always made me laugh was the way Nebiros took to calling Daniel “little brother” because he mistook him as kindred.
If you thought this list was hard for the Odinson to narrow down, just wait until next week when the Odinson tries to decide on his All-Time Favorite Marvel Stories.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my new book – Autumn Dawn: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback and on Kindle.