Shelfdust Presents: The Fifty Best #1 Issues

28 Episodes

By: Shelfdust

In 2019 Shelfdust counted down the top fifty #1 comic book issues of all time, which you can find here! Now the list is over and we know which issues made the master list, in 2020 invited critic and podcaster Matt Lune to sit down with a different comic critic each week to look at every comic which charted into the top fifty, one issue at a time.

23rd Place: Paper Girls #1 with Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Last Sunday at 10:00 AM

This week it's time to pedal through time, as we look at the comic which ended up in 23rd place: Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher!

Paper Girls is exactly what it says it is, but also so much more, following four young women as they cycle their morning paper route, hurling newspapers onto every porch. As they go about their path, however, Chiang inserts unexpected and surreal twists into proceedings in such a way that you can’t quite tell everything that’s going on, or why it’s happ...

24th Place: The Vision #1 with Tiffany Babb

This week we're keeping a close eye on the new neighbours, as we look at the comic which ended up in 24th place: The Vision #1 by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles!

Who would’ve thought that Vision could prove to be the lead for a dark and unnerving Marvel series? Well, Tom King made his name on writing maxiseries, and The Vision has the benefit of having Gabriel Hernandez-Walta on art – a hugely talented penciller whose work, coupled with Jordie Bellaire’s colours, created a sombre tone which would help inform the charac...

25th Place: Daredevil #1 with Steve Lacey

This week we're pretending our tragic past didn't actually happen, as we look at the comic which ended up in 25th place: Daredevil #1 by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Joe Rivera, Javier Rodriguez, Muntsa Vicente and Joe Caramagna.

For several years there was a contest to see who could write the most miserable life for Matt Murdock – a contest which was only broken with the arrival of Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin to a rebooted series in 2011. They changed things round with a bouncy, life-loving Daredevil, who fought brighter villains and had a brand new...

26th Place: Transmetropolitan #1 with Kelly Kanayama

This week we're reluctantly leaving our cave to revisit the comic which reached 26th place: Transmetropolian #1 by Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Nathan Eyring and Clem Robins.

Angry, bitter, and politically charged, Transmetropolitan follows reformed journalist Spider Jerusalem as he's forced to return to the Big City so he can trade his words for money - and then trade that money for various psychotropics and whatever else he wants. It's a comic which has a lot to say about a lot of things, and barely finds room for the endless tirades it needs to unload on readers. To...

27th Place: House of X #1 with Steve Foxe

This week we're heading across to an island paradise, to look at the comic which ended up in 27th place: House of X #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, Marte Gracia and Clayton Cowles.

When it debuted House of X immediately stood out as an issue which people will be talking about (and re-reading) for years. It set out not only to define the X-Men: but to rebuild what they’ve always been. The result is an actually uncanny narrative telling us where the X-Men have now gone, and who they have become, and what their goal is. To...

28th Place: The Immortal Hulk #1 with Colin Bell

This week we rise up from our miserable grave to look at the comic which ended up in 28th place: Immortal Hulk #1 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy José, Paul Mounts and Cory Petit!

In The Immortal Hulk, when Bruce Banner dies, Hulk rises at night to take vengeance. The opening issue provides a straightforward example of that, as a botched robbery sees Bruce take a bullet to the head – and an innocent bystander killed in the process. Hulk rises up to seek out the people responsible and gain a measure of justice. This week Matt is joine...

29th Place: Ex Machina #1 with Heidi MacDonald

This week brings politics into our superhero comics, as we look at the comic which ended up in 29th place: Ex Machina #1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Tom Feister, J. D. Mettler and Jared K. Fletcher.

The first issue of Ex Machina doesn’t let up for a second as it follows the career path of Mitchell Hundred as he goes from civil engineer to aspiring superhero and then into the role of Mayor of New York. There’s time for every character to get a bit of time with Vaughan and Harris’ lead, which allows them to de...

30th Place: Astro City #1 with J. A. Micheline

This week brings us a whole new superhero universe, as we look at the comic which ended up in 30th place: Astro City #1 by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Steve Buccellato and Richard Starkings.

The first issue of the series explores a single day in the life of a hero, but through the adventures and rescues sits a beautiful character study which would go on to become the definitive voice of the series: every single person in this world is rounded and thoughtful, and over time the creative team would move on to explore each of them in tu...

31st Place: Crowded #1 with Alex Lu

This week brings us the perfect comic for 2020, and one which ended up in 31st place: Crowded #1 by Christopher Sebela, Ted Brandt & Ro Stein, Triona Farrell and Cardinal Rae.

The first issue of Crowded – about a crowdfunding app which allows people to hire assassins to take out people they don’t like – runs on cheap coffee and cigarettes, with a wiry, spiky energy which propels its mismatched characters into a gonzo world filled with high adrenaline and constant paranoia. It’s the comic of the time, in many respects, with the nervous tics thrust into the story by Sebela ma...

32nd Place: Love and Rockets #1 with Osvaldo Oyola

This week brings us the best comic of all time which ended up in 32nd place: Love & Rockets #1 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez.

Los Bros Hernandez are regarded as two of the greatest cartoonists of all time, and although a little rougher, you can see their style showing through in this very early work from the pair. There are several different shorts in the issue, but of perhaps most note is the start of the long-running characters Maggie and Hopey, who would go on to become two of the most enduring and beloved creations in comics history. Fo...

33rd Place: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 with Sara Century

This week brings us four young ninjas who are also turtles, as we look at the comic in 33rd place: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Steve Lavigne.

One of the most unexpected success stories in comics started off with four turtles, some mysterious chemicals, and a surly rat. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly what it says it is, only far darker than anyone might have predicted for a comic with that title. Originally intended as a pastiche on several other comics published at the time, the first issue instead caught the mood...

34th Place: JLA #1 with Graeme McMillan

This week it’s time to bring in the A-Listers, as we look at the issue which reached 34th place: JLA #1 by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell, Pat Garrahy and Ken Lopez.

That creative team played into every dream about each character and let them all feel powerful or inspiring in their own way, rather than trying to beat them down or offer some kind of subversive take. Batman was the smartest man in the world; Superman the most considerate; Wonder Woman was powerful and sharp ; Green Lantern was the everyman. And in the first issue? A ne...

35th Place: Planetary #1 with Heidi MacDonald

This week it’s time to pop on a trenchcoat and demand some coffee, as we look at the issue which reached 35th place: Planetary #1 by Warren Ellis, John Cassaday, Laura Martin and Bill O’Neil.

Planetary sees a team of exceptional pricks working together to save the world from unbearable pricks. It’s a specifically Ellis sort of story, with magnificent bastards lording it across one another through judicious use of one-liners, pinned together by Cassaday’s sturdy character and frequent use of decompression. It’s a comic where every beat lands with exact precision, and each characte...

36th Place: Bitch Planet #1 with Tiffany Babb

This week brings us a hard-hitting exploitation series which reached 36th place: Bitch Planet #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine de Landro, Cris Peter and Clayton Cowles.

There isn’t a moment for readers to breathe in Bitch Planet. The opening issue understands that readers will get what’s going on, and so it spends its pages making sure that every incident has purpose rather than trying to catch them up with exposition and introduction. When a new batch of women are sent to a “facility” on another planet for being “non-compliant”, we see them try to resist immediately, onl...

37th Place: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 with Sara Century

This week brings us THE REIGNING DEFENDING UNDISPUTED UNIVERSAL CHAMPION, who reached 37th place: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Clayton Cowles.

Okay, so you might be cynical about Unbeatable Squirrel Girl making it into this list: but that’s what Squirrel Girl is all about, isn’t it? The first issue gives us a Squirrel Girl who is suddenly the most realistic superhero in all of comics: a nice, charming girl whose capacity for understanding and empathy gives her the ability to stop any villain in their tracks. The fundamental warmth...

38th Place: Copra #1 with Chase Magnett

This week brings a bunch of armed weirdos in a van as we look at the comic which came in 38th place: Copra #1 by Michel Fiffe.

“Inspired” by Suicide Squad, Copra is an action comic with the unmistakable hand of Michel Fiffe on the accelerator. The first issue sets up all the hallmarks of the series as it continues onwards: the gleeful chaos of the fight sequences, the death tally, the attachment to the characters. It also keeps the reader guessing throughout, unsure who is going to make it out alive or how the more eccentric aspects of the s...

39th Place: Monstress #1 with Samantha Puc

This week brings a dark look at power and corruption, as we look at the comic which came in 39th place: Monstress #1 by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda and Rus Wooton.

The first issue of Monstress offers a clever trick for readers: it shows them everything, and then reveals that there’s far more to “everything” than they could have ever predicted. The story revolves around a young girl called Maika, who is sold as a slave to wealthy masters – only to then turn the tables entirely on them. To find out more about the issue, Matt Lune was joined...

40th Place: The Invisibles #1 with august (in the wake of) dawn

This week brings a psychedelic revolution, as we look at the comic which came in 40th place: The Invisibles #1 by Grant Morrison, Steve Yeowell, Daniel Vozzo and Clem Robins.

Following their time together on Zenith, readers could be forgiven for thinking that they knew what to expect from the team of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell when they paired again for a new series at Vertigo. Yet whilst that sense of political subversion continues onwards from their earlier work, The Invisibles is far more forceful than anybody could have predicted. It’s at once a celebration of anarchy a...

41st Place: Akira Vol 1 with Rosie Knight

This week it’s a high-octane apocalypse, as we look at the comic which came in 41st place: Akira #1 by Katsuhiro Otomo.

Akira is set in a post-apocalyptic future, a world where a bomb was dropped in the 90s which resulted in the outbreak of World War III. Years on from that point, and the story kicks off in high gear before somehow ramping things up to move faster and faster in an exhilarating and combustible rush of an opening. Akira is many things, but the start is just pure adrenaline – and so is this week’s guest, as...

42nd Place: Damage Control #1 with Al Kennedy

This week it’s time to clear up some of the mess left behind by superheroes, as we look at the comic which came in 42nd place: Damage Control #1 by Dwayne McDuffie, Ernie Colon, Bob Wiacek, John Wellington and Ed King.

Damage Control are a group who tidy up messes and repair the rubble after superheroes and villains have left the scene, and the first issue of the first Damage Control miniseries gives them a unique challenge: a giant robot collapsed in the streets of New York. And, uh… Spider-Man may be trapped inside? The rest of the Avenge...

43rd Place: We3 #1 with Chloe Maveal

This week is an emotional one as we look at the issue which came in 43rd place: We3 #1 by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant and Todd Klein.

The three-part miniseries follows three domestic pets escape from a military base where they’ve been experimented on by a sinister agency, who’ve grafted high-tech weaponry onto them. With everything they thought they knew about the kindness of their owners gone, the trio – a dog, a cat an a rabbit – try to find the best way to go home. But what is home? If you’ve read the series (or Ch...

44th Place: The Question #1 with David Brothers

This week things get gritty as we look at the issue which came in 44th place: The Question #1 by Dennis O’Neil, Denys Cowan, Rick Magyar, Tatjana Wood and Gaspar Saladino.

If you like noir you’ll be in your element here, with a distinctly of-its-time first issue which sets up the story of vigilante Vic Sage (aka The Question) as a precarious stack of dominos, which then inevitably start to collapse into one another. Things go wrong very very quickly, and despite the machismo and bravado which runs violently through the entire issue, Vic’s life goes downhi...

45th Place: Secret Wars #1 with Zachary Jenkins

This week we celebrate the death of the Marvel Universe as we look at the issue which came in 45th place: Secret Wars #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina and Chris Eliopoulos.

Jonathan Hickman had been writing the Avengers for years by the time he reached the first issue of this massive crossover event for Marvel, and he promptly uses the spotlight to… destroy the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe at the same time. Who gets out? Who falls in the final fight? And who sits back with a nice tall glass of champagne and watc...

46th Place: Daytripper #1 with Alex Lu

This week we turn to the comic which came in at 47th in our list: Daytripper #1 by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Dave Stewart and Sean Konot.

Daytripper is a complicated series as a whole, with each issue following a different path which lead character Bras de Oliva Domingos could take through life – and how each path will eventually lead to a different ending for him. It’s a heady series, and the first issue tells a taut and high-pressure story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a fantastic first issue, but there’...

47th Place: Suicide Squad #1 with Chase Magnett

This week we turn to the comic which came in at 47th in our list: Suicide Squad #1 by John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell, Karl Kesel, Carl Gafford and Todd Klein.

It’s an incredible concept: the US Government tell a group of super-villains that if they assist on black-ops missions, they will help commute their sentences in the long-run. If they follow orders and get the job done, they’ll be out of prison sooner: but if they break any of their rules, they’ll be assassinated immediately. And if they die on the mission? They’ll be written off...

48th Place: The Dark Knight Returns #1 with Kyle Pinion

This week we turn to the comic which came in at 48th in our list: The Dark Knight Returns #1 by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley, and John Constanza.

Hold on just a moment. That’s THE The Dark Knight Returns, one of the most important and influential comics ever made, by one of the most incredible creative teams assembled anywhere in comics history. And it’s only at position #48 in our list? Clearly we need somebody to investigate what’s going on – and who better than ScreenRex’s Kyle Pinion?


Kyle Pinion is the Entert...

49th Place: Sailor Moon Vol 1 with Kayleigh Hearn

This week we turn to the comic which came in at 49th in our list: Sailor Moon #1, by Naoko Takeuchi.

Matt spoke with writer and critic Kayleigh Hearn about the first chapter of the series. There are only two Manga entries in the list as a whole – why is that? And of all the comics out there, why was it Sailor Moon which found support from our voters when they were compiling their lists? Kayleigh talks about all that and more.


Kayleigh Hearn is the comics reviews editor for WomenWriteAbout Comics, and has writte...

50th Place: Thunderbolts #1 with Al Kennedy

In 2019 Shelfdust counted down the top fifty #1 comic book issues of all time, which you can find here!  Now the list is over and we know which issues made the master list, we’ve invited critic and podcaster Matt Lune to sit down with a different comic critic each week to look at every comic which charted into the top fifty, one issue at a time.

Our first comic in the list is Thunderbolts #1 by Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley, Vince Russell, Joe Rosas and Comicraft, which charted in 50th place. Wait, but isn’t that really low down f...