Day 1: Best One-Shot

One-shot comics are a great way of telling a good, complete story without much need for background reading. One-shots can also be used as prologues or epilogues to bigger events. It’s a very broad term but for the purposes of this award, I refer to “One-Shots” as comics that are listed as the only issue of their series, so single issues of a comic series won’t be mentioned here.

Runner Up #1: Hulk: The End by Peter David and Dale Keown

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I’ve talked about this before so I’ll be brief. Hulk: The End is a dark, post-apocalyptic tale that sees the Hulk alone at the end of Earth. Bruce Banner is still alive but only wishes for death, but the Hulk will not let it happen. The ending of this story is a real gut-wrencher and it’s all beautifully drawn.

Runner-Up #2: Superman Annual #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

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Superman Annual #11 aka “For The Man Who Has Everything” is a well-regarded classic and there’s a reason for it. Moore and Gibbons tell an amazing tell where Superman is trapped by the villain Mongul inside of a false reality. Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman battle Mongul while the Black Mercy flower keeps Superman trapped. The writing here is so amazing. Moore wrings a lot of complex emotions out of Superman’s time back on Krypton. There’s a bit of good comedy from Batman and Robin to lighten the mood. Gibbons puts in amazing work as always, it’s super expressive and detailed.

Runner-Up #3 Countdown to Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winick, Rags Morales, Jesus Saiz, Ivan Reis, and Phil Jimenez

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This one is a personal favorite as it is a long story about Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle that ends in his death. Ted is a very likable, relatable protagonist here as everyone thinks of him as a joke and ignores him. Ted’s narration allows for some insight as we see his thoughts about the big heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman. They’re larger than life but also they are shown to be some of the kindest people. As Ted’s life goes to Hell throughout the story he never gives up and stands defiant right to his death. It’s a great character-focused issue and sent off one of my favorite heroes in a respectable fashion.

Winner: The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin

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This shouldn’t surprise anyone as in my Thanos marathon I really raved over this issue and put it as the best comic of the marathon. The Death of Captain Marvel is definitely Jim Starlin’s greatest work as it’s the most relatable comic I’ve read from him. I’m sure everyone has lost somebody or something due to something unavoidable like Cancer. Starlin took something like that and made a story that doesn’t take that lightly. Mar-Vell’s cancer may be because of a supervillain but it’s treated with the seriousness it deserves. There are so many great moments throughout the issue like the Skrull medal Mar-Vell is given and the final sequence with Thanos. It’s a brilliant, well-drawn comic that hits hard every time and I have no problem calling it the best One-Shot comic I’ve read this decade.

Hulk: The End

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When I reviewed Marvel: The End in the Thanos marathon, I mentioned today’s comic as one of many in the “The End” line. Hulk: The End takes place, of course, at the end of the Earth. The world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare so Bruce Banner/Hulk wander around the planet. The only other things in the world are monster cockroaches which tear into the Hulk daily and a small video recording robot. With almost nothing left, what kind of story can be told here?

Cutting to the chase here, this is one of my favorite comics. I’ve never been a huge Hulk fan but I gave this a read one day and was blown away. Peter David and Dale Keown’s work here really sold me on the Hulk concept and they took it to it’s conclusion. There’s a lot of clever metaphors and parallels of the current situation to classic myths. A lot of the story is about just showing off how depressing this situation is for Banner. He sees visions of his former friends and family, his multiple suicide attempts are foiled by the Hulk, and record keeping aliens arrive just to wait for him to die. Things aren’t good for the Hulk either as he is constantly torn apart by the cockroaches. Thanks to his healing factor he recovers from the mauling and this also explains why he’s lived so long.

Because there’s only the two characters they have to carry all of the comic. Hulk is his usual angry self but you can really understand it this time. As Banner tries to convince Hulk that things would be better if they died, Hulk’s arguments are pretty reasonable for a rage monster. It’s that understanding that makes the ultimate end of the story just that much more crushing. I’ve never seen a comic by Dale Keown before but this is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s bright and uses nice shading when it’s needed for scenes in the past while using very dark shadows and well drawn gore for the current day scenes. Keown conveys emotion so well and you can see all the rage on the Hulk while Banner can be seen in his eyes. The two being seen in each other’s eyes is a very interesting way to show them talking to each other.

This comic is amazing and I recommend it to anyone, especially for Hulk fans and people who like their stories dark.

Writer: Peter David

Artist: Dale Keown

Rating: Vintage

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