all-star superman by grant morrison & frank quitely.
i just mentioned the four-panel doomed planet- desperate scientists- last hope- kindly couple origin kernel; that alone is such exellent, compact storytelling it really ought to be looked at for becoming a standard. the rest of the story is just loose enough to be free of continuity while at the same time giving a knowing superman wink to those who might care about a giant key being replaced with a key made from a neutron star. the stories are so off-the-wall that you can't help but be charmed by them, while at the same time being done with the respect that morrison clearly has for the character. beyond that, there is something deeply alluring about the science-fiction aspects of the superman story that are on display here: superman as the scientist, in particular. there is something about him hunched over a workbench that stays with me, like a pleasent haunting. so great.
the immortal iron fist by ed brubaker, matt fraction, & david aja.
in an interview, matt fraction said something along the lines of this comic being an exercise between himself & ed brubaker trying to "out awesome" each other. & you know what? brinksmanship for kick-assery? it works for you, guys. iron fist isn't a big name like some other capes. in a nut-shell, the immortal iron fist is a kung-fu master. he defeated a dragon, plunged his fists into the molten, still beating heart of the thing, & then joined a group called "heroes for hire." this story focuses on the the martial arts side of the equation, & it is fucking no-holds-barred. action! part of what really makes it are the little things, like-- in the tournament of immortal weapons (note: actual immortal weapons) of the seven cities of heaven (note: actual cities of heaven), when dog brother #1 fights the bride of nine spiders, he counters her "black milk of hell" attack with "razor dervish attack- ultimate." how sweet is that?