27 December 2009

Understanding The Iconic: Top 75 Covers of DC Comics

If you've spent even ten minutes online during the last few weeks,  you've already learned that somebody's Top 10, Top 50, Worst 100, 25 Most Memorable, or similarly prefixed list will find you, no matter where you hide. Comics aren't spared the 'Top List Torture' any more than movies, celebrities, or bad Britney photos. And while most Lists rehash and debate the same irrelevant material, there's bound to be a few that don't. Abbracadabbling's seen most of them, and we've teased out those rare examples we thought you'd find interesting.  Chances are, one or two might even pop up on the comicsblog this week. 

In addition to today's DC Comics' Top 75 Iconic Comic Book Covers list, that is. For the mischievous purposes of our blog, we won't be telling you - yet - who the Top 75 Iconic Covers list belongs to, but we will share a few details up-front.  Earlier this fall, a popular comics industry news site surveyed its numerous readers to determine which of the great many covers from DC Comics seventy-five years of publishing  they considered the most iconic.  

(We should add that's no easy feat.  DC Comics, which began as National Allied Publications, published its first comic book -- New Fun #1 - in 1935.  A change of ownership and a deal made to fund the 1936 publishing of Detective Comics #1 also prompted the change of the company's name -- to the rather appropriate-for-the-moment name, Detective Comics, Inc. More on the history of DC Comics can be found here.) 

Anyway, aside from the inherent problems the use of iconic  presents,  our still-nameless popular website  ranked the top 75 covers  as identified by readers  and the result is a list that's both comprehensive and quite insightful.

For instance, DC fans and popular culture at large, not to mention many DC Comics creators past and present, playfully debate which hero is more 'super,' Superman or Batman. When we examined just those covers on the list that belonged to superhero comics, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman graced many more covers than Bob Kane's Caped Crusader.  Even taking into account those covers which featured both Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, Superman still edged out Batman by one.  

DC Comics' most popular superhero teams, which we defined as Justice League of America, Justice Society of America, the Teen Titans, and the Legion of Super Heroes, as a group also appeared on more covers than Batman himself. 

One interesting fact our data-mining manifested was Wonder Woman's surprisingly poor performance as a DC Comics' 'cover girl.'  The publisher has promoted Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to be it's "Holy Trinity" for years, placing them on that high pedestal largely because their three titles endured comics' bleak years post-WWII and thus are the only DC books never to cease publication.  Nevertheless, when it comes to being an icon, Wonder Woman gets her's served on silver platter by both Green Lantern and the Flash.  

Of DC's Top 75 Iconic Covers, only four of that number were non-superhero comics. None of DC's romance or humor comics made the list, nor did any of their licensed property titles.  We noticed only one comic cover less than five years old, and roughly two-thirds of all the covers on the list were published before 1970. A select group of artists and writers were responsible for more than one of the iconic covers  on the list, including, of course, the creators of Superman and Batman.  Notably, Alan Moore topped the writers list with five of his books' covers represented, including Watchmen #1 and his Batman graphic novel, The Killing Joke.  Frank Miller, the writer of the four-issue and now historic series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, made the list twice, as an impressive two of that series four total covers made the Top 75.  Neal Adams came first in the art department; his pencils graced seven covers. 

Of course, the BIG question on every dabbler's mind right now is which comic book cover claimed the Number One spot.  Could it be a Batman comic? Or did Superman finish first? Maybe neither of them got that coveted ranking - who knows?   Well, we do, and we'd tell you, but we decided to make a game of it instead. 

We selected twelve (12) of the Top 75  covers and lined 'em up in completely random order for you below.  
Your job is to arrange the issues in the way you think they were ranked.  Start with the 'least iconic cover' at the top of your list and work your way down to Number One. You can use every bit of your superhero savvy,  human insight, female intuition, or hell, even a lifeline if you've got one - but really, it's all about fun. 

Since we love you, we are going to give you -- in no specific order -- the actual rankings of the comics below. They might not be too much help now, but then again, you never can tell.  And so, in random order, the rankings of the comics below are:  1,2 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 24, 26, 28, and 33. 

Got 'em? We'll be back with Understanding The Iconic: Top 75 Covers of DC Comics - Part II this Tuesday. And we'll have your answers then. 

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