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The Top 9 Comic Book Stories feat. Thanos and the Infinity Gems

I'm a huge Thanos fan. I love the concept of Jim Starlin's creation. His stories of the Mad Titan are some of my favorite superhero comic books of all-time.

I have to admit that calling this a "Top 9" list is a bit of a dupe because the entries aren't ordered by quality. Instead, the following list is a pretty accurate chronological comic book reading order with some extremely subjective opinions on the quality of the stories contain therein.

To see where these stories rank in my personal top 9 order, check out the numbers listed in italics after the titles.

Silver Surfer #34-38 (3 of 9)
Collected in the Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos graphic novel
- There are Thanos stories by Jim Starlin dating back to the mid-70s. But this 1990 storyline is the prelude to the epic Infinity triology and the beginning of Thanos as he's best remembered. He doesn't do that much in this story except for mess with the Silver Surfer's mind, but it's @#$%ing awesome!

The Thanos Quest #1-2 (1 of 9)
Collected in Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos and The Thanos Quest
- By far my favorite Thanos story and an essential read if you have a passion for the character. Thanos goes off on a quest to collect the six Soul Gems a.k.a. the Infinity Gems. Nuff said.

Silver Surfer #44-52 (6 of 9)
Not collected
- These tie-ins are not essential reading by any means. But if you love Ron Lim's art as much as I do, you'll enjoy them. Thanos is only in these issues a little bit, but reading them prepares you for what comes next...

Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (5 of 9)
Collected in the Infinity Gauntlet graphic novel
- The classic Thanos tale of love, loss, and monumental cosmic war. This is a mega-crossover... so if you don't like chocolate in your peanut butter, you might not dig this. But it's by far the most famous of all Thanos tales.

Silver Surfer #53-59 (7 of 9)
Not collected
- These comic books are tie-ins to the Infinity Gauntlet story. They're not essential reading and they don't all feature Thanos, but reading them definitely enriches the Infinity Gauntlet experience.

Infinity War #1-6 & Marvel Comics Presents #108-111 (2 of 9)
Collected in the Infinity War graphic novel
- Personally, this is my second favorite Thanos story. I love Lim's art and Starlin's masterful writing. This tale is over-the-top and bombastic, but it's also full of elegant touches. However, skip all of the tie-ins except for Marvel Comics Presents #108-111 ("I, Thanos"), which takes place within one page of story during Infinity War #3.

Infinity Crusade #1-6 (9 of 9)
Collected in the Infinity Crusade v1 and Infinity Crusade v2 graphic novels
- I don't care much for this third leg of the classic Infinity trilogy. Frankly, I think it's too long and convoluted. A glut of tie-ins deprives the main miniseries from a good deal of important moments, making this story very passable.

Infinity Abyss #1-6 (4 of 9)
Collected in the Infinity Abyss graphic novel
- Now here are some great comics for the casual reader! This may be a wee bit confusing without any prior Thanos knowledge, but it's also the most rewarding story from a standalone perspective. Think of this as Jim Starlin's Thanos 2.0, wherein 90s Thanos gets upgraded to the 00s with lots of nods to the work of Steve Ditko.

Marvel: The End #1-6 (8 of 9)
Collected in the Marvel Universe: The End graphic novel
- I've never been able to finish this tale. I have a few friends that rave about it and I appreciate their opinions, but it's just not for me. However, it's a fun and ambitious story that works well as an end-cap to the iteration of Thanos that began in 1990's Silver Surfer #34.

There are plenty of Thanos stories that have followed, including a Thanos solo series started by Starlin (who left the book after too much editorial meddling), as well as the Annihilation cosmic saga (I forget exactly which issues contain Thanos appearances... I do know that he "dies" in one of them).

From what I've seen online, the character has made his official return in Avengers Assemble #3. This is going to be a new era for the anti-villain... a fourth era, if you will. I like to think of it as follows: 1st era = Starlin in the 70s, 2nd era = Starlin in the 90s, 3rd era = Starlin and Annihilation in the 00s, and 4th era = these new 2010s movie tie-in comics.

In other media, Thanos was the big boss in Marvel Super Heroes. It's a classic fighting game by Capcom that centers around the concept of the Infinity Gems. It's got gorgeous art direction and wonderful music. I highly recommend it. Learn more by listening to this podcast.

Thanos also popped up on the Silver Surfer TV show. I didn't care for this iteration. He was pretty sucktastic. Plus, there's the new-ish Super Hero Squad Show, which features Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet (as well as the "Infinity Sword" and the "Infinity Stones"... say wha???)

BUT most people will now be familiar with the character through the ending to The Avengers movie. And that's cool. If you're curious about him, my above reading order should treat you well.

Conceptually, Jim Starlin has laid down some fascinating explorations of morality through the use of Thanos. Thanks to his writing in combination with the awesome art of Ron Lim and Al Milgrom, I've become a huge fan and I think you will too if you give some of these comics a shot.

MORE TOP 9 LISTS YOU MIGHT LIKE:

The Top 9 Anime For People Who Say They Don't Like Anime

You've probably encountered this at some point or another -- after recommending an anime to a friend, they immediately say, "Nah, I'm not gonna watch that. I don't like anime." Hell, some of you might even be that person.

Well, I have a confession to make: I used to that person. But I'm not anymore, thanks to the persistence of my anime-loving girlfriend, Justique. She just wouldn't give up until she found an anime that I liked.

Some of the following selections happen to be my favorite anime (although the order of this list is not necessarily reflective of my own person tastes). But regardless of my favorites, at least one of these anime series or movies is sure to change the mind of even the most staunch anime hater out there.

9. Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie - Okay, let's suppose that the anime hater in your life is opposed to Japanese animation because they're just not familiar with the characters. Well look no further than this movie! It's a Street Fighter prequel of sorts that shows the gang coming together sorta like The Muppet Movie... just with a lot more blood and hadoukens.

8. Baccano - Personally, I don't like this series at all. But I can recognize a crossover hit when I see one. Baccano is a supernatural action story set in early 1930s America. So not only is it unconventional, but it's also set in the USA, which is sure to appease those anime haters among us who can't handle the Japanese culture shock.

7. Ghost in the Shell - This is by far the most traditional anime on the list. I've included it because it's an incredible story with gorgeous animation and a profoundly intricate plot. This is the movie to show to the anime haters that think everything animated in Japan looks like Dragon Ball Z.

6. Weather Report Girl - Ahhhhh, yes!!! I love it. This rare and extremely brief two-episode anime series is about a weather girl who works for a Japanese TV station... who's obsessively driven to succeed... and enjoys furiously masturbating whenever she gets the chance. This is an extremely adult tale that's best to show to haters who think that all anime is made for tweens.

5. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Alright, so this show is probably the most controversial entry on this list. Why? Because it features a lot of the tropes that often give anime a bad rap among non-fans. But it's sooooooo goddamn good that it had to make this list. It's a light-hearted, feel-good story about an awkward crew of Japanese high school students who aren't quite what they seem.

4. Avatar: The Last Airbender - Disclaimer: this isn't a Japanese series. In fact, it's a Nicktoon. As in it aired on Nickelodeon. But it's often regarded as anime by many people out there. Even though I question that classification, there's one thing that I don't question in the least -- the quality of this three-season TV show. It's absolutely brilliant. Avatar is complex, emotional, and surprisingly all-ages.

3. Perfect Blue - This is the most straight-forward story on this list. A burgeoning Japanese pop star is haunted by a stalker. That's it. Pretty simple in concept. But it's wonderfully rich in suspense and imagery. Remember when I told you to show Weather Report Girl to haters who assume that all anime is juvenile? Well, you should probably show them this one first.

2. Welcome to the NHK - This is the anime to watch with haters who think that all Japanese animation is filled with busty babes, ridiculous action, and post-apocalyptic futures. NHK is the antithesis of the anime cliche. It's a slice-of-life story about a troubled shut-in and his two best friends. It's also an incredibly moving story that's potent in any language.

1. Shin Chan - Finally, we've reached the ultimate anime to convert even the most stubborn of non-believers! Shin Chan is The Simpsons meets South Park, but with more fart jokes. It's a family sitcom primarily following a five-year-old boy who says abnormally adult things while maintaining all the mischievousness of his youth. Though I've never tried to watch this show with subtitles, I can't imagine it'd be much of a hater breaker that way. For this series, you want to make sure that the anime denier in your life is watching the English dubbed version, which is notable for airing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

ALSO CHECK OUT:
- The Top 9 Horror / Psychological Anime - Part One
- The Top 9 Horror / Psychological Anime - Part Two

Son of the Top 9 Most Underrated Comedy Movies!!!

Underrated Comedies - Gentlemen Broncos, Midgets vs. Mascots

A year and a half ago, I did a list called The Top 9 Most Underrated Comedy Movies of the Past Few Years. Here now is my return to that theme... my updated list of the Top 9 most underrated comedies of the past few years!

9. Finishing the Game. I love 70s movies. I love Bruce Lee. And thus I loved liked this movie. It didn't blow my mind or make me piss myself, but it was an entertaining mockumentary that rewarded me for being a Bruce Lee fan. Plus, it was a good Hollywood satire. [Buy it now: Finishing the Game on Amazon]

8. The Slammin' Salmon. Wait... this went direct-to-video but Club Dread was in theaters? THAT'S A CRIME! Similar to Finishing the Game, this wasn't super laugh out loud funny, but it had a lot of chuckles and it certainly kept my attention. It's like Waiting... but better. [Buy it now: The Slammin' Salmon on Amazon]

7. The Brothers Solomon. Truly stupid. It's hard to watch this and not cringe at the ignorance of the characters, the concept, and the humor. But there're some surprisingly hilarious and unexpected jokes that come out of left field and slap the funny in your face. [Buy it now: The Brothers Solomon on Amazon]

6. Midgets vs. Mascots. DISCLAIMER: Not for everyone! It's racist, sexist, homophobic... and so on. It's a parody, so it's not all those things in a serious way. But it'll offend you. Me, on the other hand, I think the shart scene is the greatest achievement in modern cinema. [Buy it now: Midgets vs. Mascots on Amazon]

5. I Love You Phillip Morris. Part of me wants to swap this movie out for Dance Flick and leave it off the list... BUT I left it on here because it's criminally underrated. I haven't heard any talk or buzz about it! It's funny and emotional, and it sticks with you. [Buy it now: I Love You Phillip Morris on Amazon]

4. Death at a Funeral. (The American remake, that is.) I heard bad reviews. I assumed it was Martin and Chris Rock's The Expendables. I was wrong. It's a fantastic screwball comedy along the lines of Dinner for Schmucks (another underrated comedy, natch). [Buy it now: Death at a Funeral on Amazon]

3. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Wow. I should have expected no less from Neal Brennan. I mean, this was shockingly funny. Stupid, yes. But incredibly funny. One of those "choke on my own laughter" kinds of funny. DISCLAIMER: It's very ignorant!!! [Buy it now: The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard on Amazon]

2. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Extended Cut). The extended cut is looong, but it's fantastically funny. I mean, it's better to the point where I wouldn't recommend watching the non-extended cut. Bonus: this movie has lots of quotable moments. And penis. [Buy it now: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story on Amazon]

1. Gentlemen Broncos. This choice is odd for me considering how often I favor in-your-face joke delivery. But I love this film up and down. It's probably the most underrated AND funniest thing on this list. It's insane, quotable, and warrants multiple viewings. [Buy it now: Gentlemen Broncos on Amazon]

More:
- See this same list of underrated comedies on our AudioShocker Amazon aStore
- The Top 9 Most Overrated Comedy Movies of the Past Few Years

Why the Top 9? Because 10 is too many and 9 is better. 3 X 3 = Awesome. Now that’s what I call math.

Click here to visit the AudioShocker Store!

The top 9 movies I like that make people give me the "You like that?" face

You know that face, right? You're all like "Oh, that was great!" and then someone else is like "You like that?" and they give you that look of shock, confusion, and disgust.

Well, I get that look a lot more than others. So here's a short list of movies that ellicit that response the most.

9. Soul Plane. Everyone I show this to agrees with me -- this movie is good.

8. Music and Lyrics. In general, I enjoy most Hugh Grant movies.

7. My Bloody Valentine. It was awesome in 3D, okay?

6. G-Force. This was also pretty awesome in 3D.

5. Muppets from Space. I think this is the best Muppet film out there, if not the best film out there.

4. Drag Me to Hell. Don't get it twisted -- this is a comedy movie.

3. Street Fighter. Again, you gotta rememeber that this is a comedy.

2. Balls of Fury. This too is a comedy movie. And a damn good one.

1. The Ladies Man. So many people thumb their nose at this and they've never seen it! Give it a chance. It's hilarious.

P.S. The Back Issue Binge is going to become a non-weekly, whenever-it's-fun-and-easy-to-meet-up sort of thing. I'll try and let you know ahead of time when it's gonna show up.

The Top 9 Best Black Panther Tales, pt 2

In part one, I detailed #9-5 of my Top 9 favorite Black Panther tails tales. This week, the stunning conclusion is upon us!

As I mentioned last time, this list was originally a submission to The Greatest Black Panther Stories Ever Told contest on the Comics Should be Good! blog (see their top 10 choices for best BP stories).

As I also mentioned, my selections for #5-1 are all classic and almost all... old, one could even claim. Maybe I'm just a classic sort of guy, ya know? Or maybe -- just maybe -- the greatest T'Challa tales just happen to be in the earlier days of the character.

05. "The Client" - Black Panther v3 #1-5 (Christopher Priest left a HUGE mark on the Panther's legacy, and it all began with this clever story arc. While I love Priest's work, his BP stories -- oddly enough -- are not my favorite of his or of the character's. But I think this is his best work with T'Challa, if only because it redefined the character for a modern audience and established an enduring status quo in terms of attitude and Wakandan culture.)

04. "Panther's Rage" - Jungle Action #6-18 (Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, and Billy Graham created what I think is safe to call the most single riveting and intense Black Panther epic in the form of Panther's Rage. It's not as much fun as Kirby's solo issues or as awe-inspiring as the Sons of the Serpent arc from Avengers, but it's amazing in its sheer length of narrative -- somewhere around 200 pages of continuous story, something which was basically unheard of at 70s Marvel. I know a lot of critics have espoused the virtues of this tale, as well as creators (Dwayne McDuffie, for example). Suffice to say I agree with them all. It's awesome.)

03. "Black Panther vs. the Sons of the Serpent" - Avengers v1 #73-74 (Roy Thomas writes a masterful two-part Avengers tale with a focus on T'Challa and his battle against the supremacist group, the Sons of the Serpent. It's one of the few BP stories that I feel successfully deals with discrimination and prejudice. However, more importantly, it's expertly crafted and exciting from start to finish. The real clincher here is #73, with pencils by Frank Giacoia. Frank is best known as an inker, but his rare turn on superhero pencils is gorgeous. Need evidence? Look no further than page 18 of #73, where BP stalks New York City at night. It's an incredible montage well ahead of its time in terms of tone and layout.)

02. "King Solomon's Frog" - Black Panther v1 #1-4 (This is a bit easier to delineate than the "Water Skin" story arc if only because it has a more distinct conclusion. These four issues fill the first half of Marvel's BP vol 1 TPB by Kirby. This arc comes second in my list of favorites because it displays the genius of Kirby's original Panther concept, while taking things to the next level of action and excitement. While BP's origin in FF #52 was fun, it wasn't as thrilling as this. Before there was Indiana Jones, there was Jack Kirby's Black Panther!)

01. "Quest for the Sacred Water Skin" - Black Panther v1 #5-7 (Sometimes it's tough to draw lines between story arcs in 60s/70s Marvel, but I've decided to lump these three issues together as an arc because they deal with the over-arching theme of T'Challa's quest to find the sacred water skin hidden in the secret City of Lost Samurai. These issues are included as the second half of Marvel's BP vol 1 TPB by Kirby. Why my top choice? Because they're simply amazing. The art, the writing, and everything about them makes for an incredible read. BP versus the Yeti. BP versus the ancient Samurai code. BP and Mister Little escape from a horde of enraged katana wielders! Too bad that few BP writers since this time have capitalized on the exciting tone Kirby displayed in this short story arc.)

That's it! Hope you liked my choices. If not, write your own in the comments.

Be back here next week for the non-Top 9 start of something very special -- Project: Basement!