Critics on 100 Essential Comic Books

Scrooge

Years ago, I was given the book The A List: The National Society Of Film Critics’ 100 Essential Films as a birthday gift. It was a collection of essays by notable critics on 100 important movies. It’s something I’ve returned to every now and then, as I saw notable films for the first time, or rewatched a particular classic. I’ve had the book for over a decade, but there’s still some stuff I haven’t seen, and some movies that I got to quite recently (Killer of Sheep being the most current.) It gained value as I learned more about film, and why a particular work was notable.

When I got the book, I thought it would be cool to have something like this exist about comic books. And then I realized when reading a review of some comic or the other, that with all the content available online, it’s pretty easy to pull this off. I searched for reviews for notable comics. In some cases, I remembered a particular review that I remembered (Chris Sim on Achewood, Bendis’ intro to Incal.) For others, I looked up notable stories until I could find some interesting commentary.

Granted, it’s a bit haphazard. There are some inconsistencies in terms of what is considered a work, and it’s largely dependent on what writings I was able to find. In some cases, the review covers several notable stories from one writer or creative team. In others, it covers a single issue story, or maybe even a smaller tale from a larger anthology. I tried to limit myself to only having a maximum of three reviews from any particular critic. Some notable work isn’t included mainly because it wasn’t as easy to find the right kind of commentary on it; I need something longer than half a page, that covers why the work is good.

I’m limiting this to stuff that’s available free online, which excludes items from books or magazines. If I was editing a series like this, I’d include Art Spiegelman’s introduction to the daring autobiographical Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, or one of Marc Sobel’s essays for Brighter Than You Think: 10 Short Works by Alan Moore: With Critical Essays by Marc Sobel (probably the one on “In Pictopia.”) I can’t vouch for every single review; it’s entirely possible that a critic has a dodgy reputation or some disqualifying feature that I’m unaware of and that a piece might not hold up to a second read.

There’s a bias in favor of material that is either very recent, or that has just been rereleased in a new format, simply because these are the types of reviews that are most commonly available now. It’s telling how several of the links I was guided to no longer work, and how some of the sources of reviews I remember reading are no longer available (the Fourth Rail comes to mind). I’m a bit surprised at how books that felt quite recent for me (Y The Last Man, Ultimate Spider-Man) don’t have commentary that is as readily available, even if it makes sense that there’s a larger audience for the newer stuff.

With all the caveats expressed, if you’re looking for one hundred pieces of commentary on notable comics, you’ve come to the right place.

All-Star Superman Lois

marshall rogers batman joker

daredevil nuke

dredd america

kravens-last-hunt

Watchmen 25th Anniversary limt edition print By Dave Gibbons and John Higgins

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Comics Industry, Criticism, DC Comics, List, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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