Rank & Phile #4: DC Elseworlds

“Rank & Phile” is an idea that spawned out of a discussion in the 2017 Reading Thread, where some of us were ranking the artists of an Epic Collection: Captain America volume. I'll post one list of subjects each week, and to try to prevent topic confusion and having to sift through pages of posts, I'll start a new thread for each new list. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to rank the five subjects on the list below however you see fit. Why rank my list of subjects rather than have everyone come up with their own list of subjects, you ask? Personally, I find that the more options I am given, the more difficult it is to rank them. This is meant to be a quick, hopefully fun, process that you won’t have to spend too much time on. Also, it might get us talking about characters, creators, or stories we might not talk about otherwise. On the surface, ranking the artists of the Cap Epic Collection seemed to be an impossible task, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy. It still resulted in some interesting conversation though, and that’s what I'm hoping for here.

The idea for this week’s list comes from the Modern Masters panel I moderated this past Sunday at Heroes Con with Alan Davis, Jerry Ordway, and Lee Weeks. I loved Alan’s JLA: The Nail, as well as its sequel, JLA: Another Nail, which came up during the discussion, and it got me thinking about other Elseworld titles. So here are five Elseworld books for you to rank. Most of the Elseworld titles were Batman- and/or Superman-centric books, but I’ve tried to get a mix of subjects represented while still picking out some of the best. As always, some any insight into the whys and why nots of your list are both welcomed and encouraged, but there is no obligation to do so.

The Golden Age / JLA: The Nail / Kingdom Come / Superman: Red Son / Superman & Batman: World’s Funnest


  • ChrisMurrinChrisMurrin Posts: 141
    Well for me, of course I have to put World's Funnest #1 by a mile. Anything with that much Mxy gets top billing.

    I haven't completely read Red Son, but I'd put what I've read at #2. Kingdom Come #3.
    The Golden Age #4. JLA: The Nail #5.

    Ask me again tomorrow and I'd probably change those, except #1. That's forever.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,734
    1) The Golden Age — Remember when James Robinson was one of the two or three best writers in comics? I need to go back and read this again, as it’s been almost 20 years since I last read it, but I really loved this story when it came out. I’m sure a large part of that is because it focused on the Golden Age characters which fascinate me so, but it’s also just an expertly written and drawn story.
    2) Superman & Batman: World’s Funnest — The book really lived up to its title. Evan Dorkin at his best with a Who’s Who of great artists. And I'm a humor guy at heart.
    3) Kingdom Come — What I like most about this book isn’t the incredible Alex Ross art, or the moving Mark Waid dialogue, but rather the underlying metafiction of the story. It’s a response to the darker grim and gritty tone to which the comics industry had shifted, and it showed there could be light at the end of the tunnel.
    4) JLA: The Nail — Maybe the best thing Alan Davis has ever done. An interesting premise, and a fast-paced, dramatic adventure.
    5) Superman: Red Son — An excellent series, but just a little short of the rest of the list for me.

    Numbers 3 and 4 are almost interchangeable for me. They’re more like a 3a and 3b.
  • CaptShazamCaptShazam Posts: 1,178
    edited June 2017

    1) The Golden Age — Remember when James Robinson was one of the two or three best writers in comics?

    Unquote - nweathington did not say what is below. My phone made everything look like a quote:

    Now Robinson is a fill in writer among a collection of fill in writers for Wonder Woman stories that will be completly undone or forgotten when a writer comes on for the long term

  • CaptShazamCaptShazam Posts: 1,178
    edited June 2017
    A tough list to make because all of the books are great.

    1. The Golden Age - One of my favorite stories.
    2. Kingdom Come - the splash page of Captain Marvel standing tall after Superman collided into him is one of my favorite comic pages ever.
    3. Red Son - besides this being great, what stands out to me about this is that about 2 or 3 years ago, I was able to get the toy line from this fairly cheap at a Toy Fair. The guy just got married and his new bride was making him clear out his toy collection. He had 25 years of stuff that he had to unload.
    4. World's Funnest
    5. JLA: The Nail.
  • TorchsongTorchsong Posts: 2,709
    Kingdom Come - Batman becoming a victim of everything he'd done up to that point, Captain Marvel becoming the greatest hero of them all, but the best part is the look Wonder Woman gives Superman when he still tries to hold on to the ideals he's losing his grasp on. Alex Ross' finest wielding of the brush.

    JLA: The Nail (I'll even throw Another Nail in here) - I'd almost say Alan Davis' finest hour, but he's had so many (in my book) I don't know that it'd hold up in court.

    Red Son - Brilliant from cover to cover. I need to dig this out again. Been too long since I re-read it.

    The Golden Age and World's Funnest - put at the bottom only because I haven't read them. Yes, I know I need to. I'll get on it. :)
  • BrackBrack Posts: 605

    1) The Golden Age — Remember when James Robinson was one of the two or three best writers in comics?

    Remember when James Robinson had an editor like Archie Goodwin? Robinson's Ecto Kid and Firearm were the same year as the Goodwin-edited Golden Age, and they are not remembered quite as well. Or at all.

    On to the ranking!

    1. World's Funnest. For me, the last great DC Comics comic.

    2. JLA: The Nail. The What If element seems a bit of a stretch (and a cheat), but it's Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, which is always a win in my book.

    5. Kingdom Come. Ross' art appeals less and less to me as the years go by, and the whole project has an air of complaint rather than insight.

    And I've not read the other two, but I figure they must have aged better than Kingdom Come.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,734
    Brack said:

    Remember when James Robinson had an editor like Archie Goodwin? Robinson's Ecto Kid and Firearm were the same year as the Goodwin-edited Golden Age, and they are not remembered quite as well. Or at all.

    I think it's safe to say that Goodwin made every writer he worked with better, but I loved Firearm. I'd rank it behind The Golden Age, Starman, and Leave it to Chance (another fantastic book not edited by Goodwin), but not by a large margin. It was certainly better than 99% of what Marvel was publishing at the time. I think there are only two reasons it isn't better remembered: 1) It wasn't published by Marvel or DC; and most importantly, 2) It’s never been collected/reprinted.

    I never read Ectokid. I'm just not a Clive Barker kind of guy.
  • bralinatorbralinator Posts: 5,967
    1. Kingdom Come - One of my favorite DC stories ever.
    2. World's Funnest - this definitely lived up to its title. It was like the very best Mad Magazine version of the DC universe. Just great.
    3. Red Son - This story epitomizes the very essence of what I always imagined DC's Elseworld's line to be.
    4. The Golden Age - I have not read this yet, but I have the collection so it's in the queue
    5. JLA: The Nail - Haven't read this, either.
  • TheOriginalGManTheOriginalGMan Posts: 1,762
    1. Kingdom Come - On my Mt. Rushmore of comics.
    2. The Golden Age - Loved it! James Robinson at his finest.
    3. Red Son - I know I've read and enjoyed it, but for the life of me can't remember what happens in the end. This whole getting old thing sucks.
    4. JLA: The Nail - Never read it, but want to.
    5. World's Funnest - Never read it, but don't want to.
  • bralinatorbralinator Posts: 5,967
    Is "Another Nail" any good?
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,734

    Is "Another Nail" any good?

    I like it almost as much as I do the first one. And as it happens, DC is offering a collection of both stories in this month’s Previews. First time they've been collected together.
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