Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of the Decade #10

Brief explanation: Top 10 lists are fun, and I've pondered a few possibilities: Scenes, comic books, stories, characters. Of all time, of the year. But since the odometer is about to roll on the decade of the 00's, I decided to run a countdown of my personal favorite scenes of the decade. (Of course, there are two Wednesdays left in the decade, so my apologies if one of the best scenes occurs in the next fortnight.)

Making this list taught me something: It hurt to leave some of the next-best entries off the list. And that tells me how much I enjoyed reading the stories I did. I wasn't reading comics basically at all from 1992 to 2004. I went back and read some of the ones I missed, but of course there are huge gaps in my reading overall; I can only include the comics I read. It also struck me how some really great issues didn't make this list, because they were good, but the quality was spread out over the whole issue; no shame there.

Seven writers made the list, and it pained me to leave a couple of other writers off. Once again, a sign that there was some top notch material out there and that my comic-reading time was well-spent.

#10 was in Brave and Bold v2 #6, the finale of a very fine story written by Mark Waid. An ensemble cast revolving around Batman fought against the Luck Lords, some bad guys who had the Book of Destiny (which debuted in Weird Mystery Tales, a comic I used to read in the Seventies). Because they had total knowledge of the future, they were a match for the heavyweight team pitted against them, including Supergirl and Hal Jordan. But they were scared of Batman, and the world's greatest detective used that knowledge to find the only way to beat them, to pit them against the Challengers of the Unknown. This worked because the Challengers have always been, by their tagline, living on borrowed time, and therefore live outside of Destiny.  Once the Challengers showed up, the Luck Lords lost their advantage, and the Challengers made their omniscience evaporate simply by running around and doing things.

Regardless of who was throwing the punches, it was Batman's victory, and the moment when he realized who could beat the Book of Destiny was one of those "stinger" moments that make heroes worth rooting for. Kudos to Mark Waid for tying together several non-superhero characters and concepts into a tight story that is great in many places, but culminates with the kind of moment that makes writing Batman so hard -- the writer has to touch upon a stroke of genius.

Next post: #9, the most recent scene to make the list, featuring two very powerful superheroes just standing around talking.

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