The mysterious story of Le Tops Stories, review

The mysterious story of Le Tops Stories, review

The mysterious story of Le Tops Stories

Panini Disney once again draws from the very deep library of Made in Italy series and stories with mice and ducks as protagonists and proposes, in 4 hardcover volumes, The Tops Stories. It is a series in 12 episodes, all re-proposed in chronological order in the volumes, released between 1999 and 2002, the last phase of the season of the great Italian Disney-based experimental series, signed by the great Giorgio Pezzin (texts) and Massimo De Life (drawings). It is about a dozen stories slightly different from the Disney standard both in narrative structure and in the topics covered, albeit always filtered through the lens of the publishing house, ideally referring to certain French-speaking series such as Blake & Mortimer or our own Martin Mystere.

The Tops Stories

The mysterious story of The Tops Stories

Mickey and Goofy are enjoying their deserves when they are joined by a London notary. The man has the task of delivering the will of a distant relative, the adventurer Top De Tops, to Mickey Mouse. The legacy, however, does not consist in money or property but in a thoughtful trunk full of diaries and accounts of the incredible adventures lived by De Tops.| ); }
Not just exotic places. Tops Stories 2 begins with Mickey and Il Popolo del Mare and De Tops investigating the disappearance of his cargo ship by coming into contact with a mysterious underwater civilization. And then to Scotland to unravel the mystery of Stonehenge in Mickey Mouse and The Revenge of the Highlanders finally ending in Mickey Mouse and the Cave of Ali Babà again in the North African desert to discover the mysterious secret of the hiding place of one of the most famous marauders of all time.

Simplicity and concreteness of Le Tops Stories: towards an “adult” cut

The narrative program of Le Tops Stories is quite simple and linear. It is a narrative in analpses in which Mickey plays his ancestor Top De Tops while Pippo is a wild card, showing off his superlative transforming abilities. It is clear that, in this sense, the easiest term of comparison is with the trend of parodies, however Giorgio Pezzin mixes the plot in a more adventurous sense, drawing heavily from that basin made up of archaeological fiction, myths and legends. De Tops in this sense is the archetype of the pulp hero and adventurer, a more academic Indiana Jones but no less inclined to action and discovery.

Le Tops Stories

The Tops Stories De Vita's choices are very interesting as regards the division and organization of spaces and the table. On the one hand, the designer plays with close and medium planes, leaves the task of breaking the tight rhythm to the long planes and the most daring shots, on the other hand the table shows a cage with a regular setting but whose squares are never aligned. Almost like the musical upbeat, De Vita always leaves slightly irregular squares in the table giving a sense of urgency to the consequentiality and thus being able to sometimes play with their shape up to more extreme solutions with transversal cuts or edging.


Panini Disney re-proposes The Tops Stories in the already tested 18 × 24 cm format that combines the practicality of the “booklet” format with the authority of the hardcover. The dimensions allow for easy and clear reading thanks to the excellent print yield, on matt coated paper, and the precise trimming of the pages. What enhances the series, however, is the full-bodied editorial and extras apparatus. In addition to the classic prefaces and contribution on the birth of the series, signed respectively by Alex Bertani and Giorgio Pezzin, the volumes are enriched with unpublished curiosities and background on the stories revealed by Pezzin himself. In fact, digging into his archives, the writer presents, in each volume for each story, a contribution in which he reveals the inspiration for the story, the complete original subject and notes on the changes made during publication and why they were requested.

Best Avengers stories of all time

Another classic Avengers tale from comic books is about to inspire a movie as Marvel has officially announced the film Avengers: Kang Dynasty, based on what may be the definitive tale of the Avengers' enemy Kang the Conqueror.

Alongside Kang Dynasty (which, yes, is on this list), these are the best Avengers comic stories ever told.

10. Red Zone

Best Avengers stories: Red Zone

Best Avengers stories: Red Zone (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

In the time since his brief stint at Marvel Comics, Geoff Johns has surely gone on to more acclaimed work, but 'Red Zone (opens in new tab)' is the high point of his two-year run on Avengers. It has a simple setup: a flesh-eating plague is ravaging the country and it's up to the Avengers to stop it. But Johns packs a ton of story around the premise.

This story doesn't have as much to say as some of the other stories on this list, but with a mystery at its center, Johns manages to make it an enthralling thrill ride from start to finish. We're also treated to an earlier look at the work of Olivier Coipel, who is still refining his art here into the iconic style we'd begin to see bloom in his run on Thor (though he was certainly no slouch at this juncture). 

'Red Zone' is representative of what Avengers comic books should always strive to be: a really fun read that takes full story advantage of the characters and concepts at the heart of the team.

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9. Breakout

Best Avengers stories: Breakout

Best Avengers stories: Breakout (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Almost as quickly as Brian Michael Bendis broke up the Avengers in 'Avengers Disassembled,' he put them back together again - and decided that the team didn't need to be a lineup of stars and scrubs like it had been in certain eras. (We're looking at you, Triathlon.)

While adding Spider-Man and Wolverine to a team may seem like little more than a way to move units, the beginning of Bendis' years-long Avengers epic starts here. And he was able to add layers to the Marvel Universe with the addition of Sentry and the rise of characters like Spider-Woman and Luke Cage into truly heavy hitters.

'Breakout (opens in new tab),' and the New Avengers title in general, would be a place where the best heroes for the job would be called in, rather than sequestered in their own corners of the Marvel Universe. For the first time, truly anyone could be an Avenger, and that's a torch that's been carried into the MCU.

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8. Young Avengers

Best Avengers stories: Young Avengers

Best Avengers stories: Young Avengers (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

OK, so they're not technically the Avengers proper, but Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung's Young Avengers (opens in new tab) represented a unique way forward for a franchise that needed an injection of youth (and paid homage to the team's classic roster at a time when the Avengers were nowhere to be seen).

Marvel has less of a track record with legacy characters than their Distinguished Competition, but that didn't stop Heinberg from cobbling together a team that was built on the foundation of the older Avengers, but who faced their own unique problems. This was a love letter to the Avengers stories of the past that also recognized that you couldn't keep throwing Captain America and company into the same situations over and over again.

Jim Cheung's art is a big reason for the series' success as well. His work has a level of polish to it that makes him one of the definitive Marvel artists of the '00s - and maybe all-time.

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7. Avengers Forever

Best Avengers stories: Avengers Forever

Best Avengers stories: Avengers Forever (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Avengers diehards likely have more than a few offbeat choices for their favorite lineups of the team - but maybe none was stranger than the roster Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco put together for Avengers Forever (opens in new tab).

The Avengers take on Immortus and the Timekeepers in a tale that spans generations of Avengers history, as Busiek assembles this squad from various points in the timestream. The result is a completely out-of-this-world celebration of everything that makes the Avengers so great.

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6. The Korvac Saga

Best Avengers stories: The Korvac Saga

Best Avengers stories: The Korvac Saga (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

'The Korvac Saga (opens in new tab)' represents one of the early team-ups between the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy (though, not exactly the ones you're likely thinking of). It's a story about how power can change someone and the Avengers are simply no match for Korvac.

Jim Shooter's story spans ages and brings in some of the Elders of the Universe - the Grandmaster, the Collector, and Eternity - in addition to the central villain. And while our heroes would eventually win the day, it's a somewhat bittersweet conclusion as readers are left to wonder what might have happened if the man Korvac had reimagined himself as - Michael - had just been left alone. And, the Avengers are left with the trauma of their adventure.

It practically goes without saying that a story mostly drawn by George Pérez (with an assist from Sal Buscema) is gorgeous from cover to cover but here we are saying it anyway. One more reason 'The Korvac Saga' is a must-read.

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5. Behold the Vision! / Even an Android Can Cry

Best Avengers stories: Behold the Vision! / Even an Android Can Cry

Best Avengers stories: Behold the Vision! / Even an Android Can Cry (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Vision is a character so intrinsically linked to the Avengers that it's often odd to see him separate from the team. This two-part story told in Avengers #57 and #58 (opens in new tab) by Roy Thomas and John Buscema cements him as an essential part of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes and an all-time great Marvel hero, truly bringing the android Avenger to life with a story dripping in pathos.

Vision first appears as a foe working for Ultron but eventually betrays him to save the Avengers. And the issue really explores Vision's humanity and the origins of Ultron. Whether Thomas and Buscema realized it, they were telling a story about generational trauma and how Vision sought to reject the sins of his father.

Vision proves himself and he's eventually invited to the team, leading to the tears referenced in the title. The story ends with a sequence featuring Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias - and Ultron's decapitated head, a chilling coda for an incredible story.

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4. Ultron Unlimited

Best Avengers stories: Ultron Unlimited

Best Avengers stories: Ultron Unlimited (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

'Ultron Unlimited (opens in new tab)' is a story that brings further context to the relationship between the Avengers and one of their greatest foes - Ultron.

Revealing something new about a decades-old character is a tough tightrope to walk, but Busiek and Pérez manage to fill in a gap that brings new depth to an old villain. With Jocasta's mind based on Wasp's brain patterns and Vision's based on Wonder Man's, the creators reveal that Ultron's mind was based on that of his creator, Hank Pym.

It's a turn that makes Ultron more than a jilted creation. He becomes more of a dark reflection of Hank Pym and shows readers the potential that Hank has to become a villain (something fulfilled years later when he physically bonded with Ultron).

But the story isn't all familial drama. The heroes have to face off against every previous iteration of Ultron as he attempts to raise his robot army, and Pérez knocks those fight scenes out of the park.

This story also provided some inspiration for the film Avengers: Age of Ultron (opens in new tab), with Ultron laying waste to an entire nation.

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3. The Kree/Skrull War

Best Avengers stories: The Kree/Skrull War

Best Avengers stories: The Kree/Skrull War (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

'The Kree/Skrull War (opens in new tab)' has just about everything you could want from a comic book crossover: warring aliens, huge stakes, and basically every Avengers character that existed at the time.

Roy Thomas balanced the action and bombast with the drama of the beginnings of Vision and Scarlet Witch's relationship and the political angle that positions the story as a commentary on McCarthyism.

Of course, it would be nothing without the artistic contributions of Neal Adams, Sal Buscema, and John Buscema. Adams, in particular, is near the height of his powers here, further cementing his legacy as one of the greatest comics artists to hold a pencil – and the legacy of this story.

'The Kree/Skrull War' is one of the key stories that form the basis for Marvel's 2020 event series Empyre (opens in new tab).

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2. The Kang Dynasty

Best Avengers stories: The Kang Dynasty

Best Avengers stories: The Kang Dynasty (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Kang is one of Marvel's greatest villains, and Kurt Busiek delivered a tale befitting his greatness in 'The Kang Dynasty (opens in new tab).'

Kang takes it upon himself to become the protector of Earth but the first step in his plan calls for him to conquer it. Naturally, that's not going to work for the Avengers, but Kang tells every villain that he'll let them keep any land they conquer when he eventually takes power. So, instead of being able to deal with the direct threat, the Avengers have to scatter to keep the peace.

It's a fight for the fate of the world that features more than a few fun villains as well as great artwork from a slew of artists including Kieron Dwyer, Alan Davis, Ivan Reis, and more. But Busiek also works to rectify the events of Avengers #200 involving Carol Danvers and Marcus, the Scarlet Centurion, as they take on the Master of the World because he decided to get in on the world-conquering action, too.

This is a story for all time, and it's a must-read for Avengers fans (especially now that it will inspire the first of two Avengers films in 2025) even if it's not quite our top pick.

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1. Under Siege

Best Avengers stories: Under Siege

Best Avengers stories: Under Siege (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

'Under Siege (opens in new tab)' is writer Roger Stern's lasting legacy with the Avengers and a testament to the fact that Marvel's best stories are not just set in the world outside your window but feature the interpersonal drama that their readers face as well. It's not just those merry mutants who can do soap opera dramatics.

Stern's story sees the Masters of Evil wreaking havoc on the Avengers while tensions are also building between the heroes, wonderfully rendered by artist John Buscema. It's a story about the fragility of life, of safety, and even, of masculinity. And it shows that true heroes rise above their differences and come together to win the day. 

Even when it seems like everything is out of control and falling apart, Avengers always assemble.

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