Welcome to our latest Top Ten Tuesday feature, where this week we will count down some of the greatest works of art in the comic book medium. From superhero epics to deeply personal stories, and from the dark streets of Gotham City to the cosmos, these comics have captured the imaginations of readers for decades and continue to inspire new generations of fans.
It’s worth noting that this list focuses on mainstream comic books and may not include some of the fantastic independent or lesser-known works out there. While there are many great comics that didn’t make the list, the ten titles highlighted below are widely considered to be some of the most influential, groundbreaking, and beloved comics in history. Without further ado, here are ten of the top comic books of all time.
10. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
The Sandman is a seminal work by writer Neil Gaiman that blends mythology, horror, and fantasy to tell the story of Dream, the lord of the Dreaming. With its complex characters, intricate plot, and stunning artwork by various artists, The Sandman has influenced a generation of creators and helped establish the graphic novel as a serious art form.
9. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
The Killing Joke is a psychological thriller by writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland. The story follows the Joker as he attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, while also exploring the relationship between Batman and the Joker. With its haunting imagery and provocative themes, The Killing Joke has been highly impactful on how the unforgettable villain is mostly portrayed today.
8. Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
Kingdom Come is a four-issue limited series by writer Mark Waid and artist Alex Ross that explores the consequences of a world without heroes. Set in the future of the DC Universe, Kingdom Come tells the story of an aging Superman who must confront a new generation of heroes who have abandoned his values. With its breathtaking artwork and epic scope, Kingdom Come is a great achievement of the superhero genre.
7. All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
All-Star Superman is a love letter to the Silver Age of comic books, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely. The book tells the story of Superman’s final days as he faces his own mortality and completes a series of tasks that will ensure his legacy. With its colorful art, optimistic tone, and heartfelt storytelling, All-Star Superman is in some ways a joyful celebration of comic books.
6. Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin and George Perez
The impact of Silver Surfer (a series featuring the character, including the recent run by Dan Slott and Michael Allred, could have been included in the top ten) must be mentioned here. But 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet dives deeper into Thanos and the big cast of heroes trying to stop him. If you’ve watched the Marvel films, you’re familiar with the story and the stakes involved with the Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos’ goal.
5. The Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway
The Death of Superman was a massive event that captured the attention of much of the world including the media, perhaps due in large part to its iconic cover. The story follows Superman as he battles the seemingly invincible monster known as Doomsday, leading to his eventual death. With its emotional impact and cultural significance, The Death of Superman has major influence on comics, film, and television.
4. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
The Dark Knight Returns is a groundbreaking work by writer/artist Frank Miller that reimagines Batman as an aging vigilante coming out of retirement to face a new wave of crime in Gotham City. With its iconic imagery, gritty realism, and subversive themes, The Dark Knight Returns helped redefine a harder version of the Caped Crusader and influenced Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck’s take in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
3. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Batman: Year One is a retelling of Batman’s origin story by writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli. The book follows a young Bruce Wayne as he begins his career as Batman, while also exploring the corruption and decay of Gotham City. With its grounded world, tight storytelling, and elegant artwork, Batman: Year One is an exceptional work that has similarities to the recent portrayal by Robert Pattinson in The Batman.
2. Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Batman: The Long Halloween is a noir-inspired mystery by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale. The story follows Batman as he investigates a string of murders committed by a mysterious serial killer known as “Holiday”. With its twists and turns, colorful cast of characters, and spectacular artwork, Batman: The Long Halloween is a classic Batman story that’s even been called an “epic tragedy” by The Dark Knight Trilogy director Christopher Nolan.
1. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Watchmen is widely considered to be one of the greatest comic books of all time, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. The story takes place in an alternate version of 1985 where superheroes are outlawed and the world stands on the brink of nuclear war. With its layered characters, intriguing plot, and groundbreaking use of the comic book medium, Watchmen has influenced a generation of creators and remains a timeless masterpiece that stands the test of time.