After reading over the contest entries, I saw some things that, in retrospect, I really should have put on my list, like All-Star Superman and Starman, but what's done is done.
So here's my list, with a bit of explanation about each:
10. Geoff Johns’ JSA -- Going back and rereading this phenomenal long run shows what a gifted storyteller Geoff Johns is (with props to David Goyer, as I have no idea how many of the ideas are his).
9. Grant Morrison's JLA -- Morrison here, seemingly effortlessly, shows us how to take stalwart characters and make them fresh and exciting again. Big, explosive, larger than life. As good as mainstream comics gets.
8. Astro city -- more than anyone else, Kurt Busiek took the ball that Alan Moore hiked in Watchmen and is still carrying it down the field. More genial and less of a deconstruction than Watchmen, but a much bigger canvas to paint on. And Brent Anderson and Alex Ross make it look so damn good.
7. Planetary -- One of the few books I know of in which the both the art and the writing match each other in terms of sheer brilliance. If that last fucking issue ever comes out, I'm going to sit down and spend an entire weekend contemplating it.
6. Miracleman -- If there's an earlier attempt to thoroughly deconstruct the superhero as a literary genre, I don't know of one, and if there is one, it isn't as good. Using an old British Captain Marvel ripoff as a vehicle, Alan Moore creates a metatextual explosion of ideas that not only functions as an examination of superheroes themselves, but also manages to be one of the most thoroughly engaging and gripping superhero stories ever written.
5. Love and Rockets -- Words don't do it justice, so I won't bother trying.
4. Alan Moore's Swamp Thing -- Brilliant, scary, disturbing, sometimes funny, Moore just ran full-throttle on this thing.
3. Hellboy -- Mike Mignola is a fucking force of nature. 'Nuff said.
2. Sandman -- the book that made me fall in love with comics. Probably my most BELOVED series. If it weren't for Sandman, I wouldn't be writing comics today.
1. Watchmen -- I've read this book so many times and I never stop being blown to bits by it. It's just so unassailably brilliant. So brazenly ingenious. It truly is the Citizen Kane of comic books. Hell, issue 4 of Watchmen may be the single greatest issue of any comic book ever.
That's MY list -- and the winner is: @robcaplis:
1Watchmen 2Sandman 3Swamp Thing 4Starman 5Criminal 6Astro City 7Kick Ass 8JLA 9NewFrontier 10CaptainAmerica
Clearly I need to break down and read about this "Captain America" character everyone keeps talking about.
So congrats to @robcaplis, and check back in a couple of days for more contest fun.