30
Apr
2011
Random Pop Culture Top Ten List
Top 10 Comics Events of the Last Ten Years
Chris and Jordan
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) weekly list in which the Review to be named gang take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.

The Event is a comic mainstay that brings characters from multiple books together to handle a crisis too big for any of them to tackle alone. Events are huge sales generators and generally drive the universe wide narrative forward in inventive and important ways. As such, comic book companies tend to rely on them fairly often, up to yearly. Here are ten events from the last ten years worth remembering.

10. Secret Invasion (Marvel)

Following the destruction of the Skrull Empire in Annihilation (scroll down for more on that event), a slow and steady infiltration of Earth by the Skrulls occurred behind the scenes in several Marvel books, before the invasion becomes clear and it is revealed that many beloved members of the Marvel Universe have been replaced by Skrull impersonators. Watching some of the world's greatest heroes deal with these seeming betrayals and with their failure to prevent a full scale invasion of Earth is compelling stuff, but Secret Invasion is most memorable for the huge changes it created in the Marvel Universe. Tony Stark is removed as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. following his failures, the organization itself is shut down, and former Green Goblin Norman Osborn becomes the head of National Security, ushering in the next era of Marvel Comics, known as the Dark Reign. None of the great story lines contained under that moniker would have been possible without Secret Invasion, and while the story itself is often less than stellar, what came after makes it a vital event to experience in order to understand the current state of the Marvel Universe.

9. 52 (DC)

Directly following the mediocre Crisis on Infinite Earths and filling in the "missing year" created by the one year jump all books took after that event, 52 was a landmark event if only for its format, which had a new issue released every week for a year. The longest weekly comic book in history, this was the first time DC had tried to do a weekly comic since the 1980's, and in that sense, the series was vastly successful. A sprawling epic that spans the globe and spotlights a huge ensemble of lesser characters from throughout the DCU, 52 begins with the disappearance of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, who have retired their costumed identities after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. While there are duds among the multiple plotlines the series intercuts between (the subplots involving Animal Man, Starfire, Adam Strange, and the entire Black Adam saga are all kind of boring), the series gives some smaller characters, like Booster Gold, Ralph Diby, Renee Montoya a chance to shine and new roles to play in the DCU. Wildly ambitious and mostly very successful, 52 played so well with its ensemble of minor characters, we almost didn't miss the Big Three during their absence. Almost.

8. Civil War (Marvel)

The idea of splitting Marvel's super heroes down the middle and having them actually battle each other sounds like the stuff of childhood fantasy, a "Who would win: Captain America or Iron Man?" hypothetical writ large and writ real. It was an ambitious idea and an exciting one. After the deaths of a young, fame hungry super hero team the New Warriors results in the destruction of the city of Stamford, Connecticut the government decides to pass the Super Human Registration Act, which requires all super powered individuals to register with the government, revealing their identities and becoming paid employees akin to police officers. Iron Man believes this is reasonable and supports the act following its passage. Captain America sees it as a violation of civil liberties and the privacy of those who need to keep their identities secret to protect family or friends. And so the sides are chosen for a civil war in the super hero community. While the pro-Registration side is never as fleshed out or believable as the anti-registration side, and Iron Man in particular comes across as almost villainous at times, Civil War makes this list for originality and daring, even if the execution often lacked a bit compared to the other events on this list.

7. Blackest Night (DC)

Death is fairly circular in superhero comics, a fact that can be annoying at times as we discussed in our Top 10 Characters in Comics Who Should Have Stayed Dead list. Blackest Night attempts to deal with death in comics directly, bringing legions of the dead back to life and causing a fight between the living and the dead for the fate of the Universe. After being built to in the pages of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps for nearly five years, the event encompasses all of the DC Universe as dead superheroes begin to rise as Black Lanterns. Following the creation of seven armies, each representing a color and an aspect of the emotional spectrum, the event introduces Black Lanterns who represent death and White Lanterns, who represent Life, and culminates in a final battle that pits some of the greatest heroes and villains from within the DC Universe against those they have killed and failed to save. Smart, suspenseful, and action packed, Blackest Night is an event that did much more than just drive up sales. It was an event that mattered.

6. Annihilation (Marvel)

Set in Marvel's criminally underrated cosmic line, Annihilation brings together underused characters like Nova, Drax the Destroyer, Silver Surfer, Super-Skrull, and Thanos into an epic battle that changed the face of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe and lead to the destruction of the Skrull Empire. Complex, inventive, and massive in scope, Annihilation is everything you could ever want out of a cosmic event.

5. Messiah CompleX (Marvel)

Following another mediocre event, House of M, only 198 mutants remain and hope for the species is at an all time low. So when the first mutant birth since M-Day occurs, a race to possess the child between the X-Men, the Purifiers, the Acolytes, The Marauders, The Reavers, and Predator X begins and grows increasingly dangerous as each side increases in desperation. Desperate to preserve what he sees as the only chance for the continuation of his species, Cyclops wrests control of the X-Men from Professor X, creates an assault team authorized to do whatever is necessary to rescue the child, and prepares to violate his own personal code to ensure the child's safety. The race against time builds to a final conflict between Rogue and Mystique, and leads to the death of Professor X and the dissolution of the X-Men. Taut, tense, and propulsive, Messiah CompleX put Cyclops in charge of the X-Men and showed him just how far he would have to go to keep his race going, a problem he has been struggling with ever since.

4. The Thanos Imperative (Marvel)

While the Guardians of the Galaxy debate whether to kill Thanos, Nova pursues the false Quaasar to the Fault--a new rift in space-time that opens up the doorway to a universe where death itself is extinct. Dealing with the possible destruction of the entire universe, and with questions about Thanos and his place within that universe, The Thanos Imperative again demonstrates the strength of Marvel's cosmic stories, and shows that they can be as layered and complex as their superhero-centered counterparts.

3. Second Coming (Marvel)

A follow up to Messiah CompleX and the less successful Messiah War, second coming has the now teenaged Hope returning from the future with Cable to take her place among the X-Men. Of course this is not as easy as it sounds, especially with Bastion and his associates and X-enemies Bolivar Trask, Steven Lang, William Stryker, Graydon Creed and Cameron Hodge beginning their final campaign to ensure the complete extinction of the mutant species. For much of Second Coming there is a palpable feeling that this is actually the darkest period in mutant history, which is a huge achievement considering how long the books have been running. As the X-Men struggle to keep Hope, and their entire species alive, Cyclops is forced to make moral compromises, reveal his creation of the X-Force (which has been killing enemies of mutantkind under his orders), deal with the deaths of several mutants including his old friend Nightcrawler, and finally come up against an impenetrable sphere that encases all of the mutants and most of San Francisco, and is slowly filling up with Sentinels who come from a mutant-less future and hope to ensure that future starts immediately. Second Coming starts strong and never stops, delivering one of the most compelling and memorable events of not just the last decade, but of all time.

2. Identity Crisis (DC)

Following the murder of Sue Dibny, wife of Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibny, the Justice League rallies to find her killer, with Doctor Light a prime suspect from the first. Dibny and Batman, thetwo most prominent detectives in the DCU, investigate the murder as the wives and families of other super heroes are targeted for execution. Identity Crisis highlights the importance of investigation in the DC Universe and also delves into an important ethical quandary, as various members of the Justice League agree to wipe the minds and alter the personalities of villains to force their reformation. Featuring the death of Jack Drake and the revelation that Batman's memory has been wiped by this contingent, Identity Crisis is a thrilling examination of the lengths these heroes are willing to go to in order to protect their own, and whether they are going too far to retain the moniker of hero.

1.Final Crisis (DC)

The final chapter in a trilogy of crises, Final Crisis is Grant Morrison's love letter to the DC Universe, beginning with the death of a God and ending with the apparent death of an icon. Following a plot by Darkseid to destroy reality, Final Crisis features the "death" of Batman, the release of the anti-life equation, and a final battle involving Supermen from throughout the multiverse, making it an endlessly fascinating and phenomenal journey through the past, present, and future of one of the most prominent comics companies and the lives of the characters it has created.

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