Since the turn of the century, two trends have taken hold in comics. The first is "decompressed" storytelling, as exemplified by the likes of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar. The second is "writing for the trade", which results in stories usually being a minimum of six issues long.
Combining these factors with fans' need for more complex and long-form storytelling means that "done in one" comics have almost become a thing of the past.
While there are "sample books" like the Hellboy 15 cent Adventure or those given away on "Free comic day", these are usually the exception rather than the rule.
However, this was not always the case, and back in the Golden and Silver Age of comics, stand-alone stories were the norm. The collapse of the direct market has not helped, with publishers more focused on products that they can sell through physical bookstores and digital marketplaces.
Although "One Shot" comics are still prevalent among the Indie community, creators rarely get the opportunity to tell a complete story in 22-24 pages at the major publishers. When it does happen, these diamonds in the rough are often far better than whatever "epic" story proceeded or followed them, regardless of what the marketing machine will have you believe.
10. X-Factor #87 - X-Aminations
Peter David's original run on X-Factor is criminally underrated. Debuting in the shadow of both Jim Lee's X-Men and Rob Liefeld's X-Force, it is easy to see why it might have gotten lost in the shuffle. If proof was needed that David's run had much more depth than either of the Image partners X-Books, then look no further than X-Aminations.
X-Factor, at this point, is a government-backed mutant team that is reeling from a recent battle. The team's liaison, Doctor Val Cooper, sends Havok, Polaris, Guido, Wolfsbane, Jamie Madrox and Quicksilver for psychological evaluation.
The story is a series of interviews conducted by Doctor Leonard Sampson which not only deconstructs each member of the team but looks at the divide between X-Factor and the government. This book is David telling the readers what is unique about each character and why they are so much more than just X-Men lite.
However, the highlight of the issue is Quicksilver and the revelation of just why the silver speedster has always been a bit of a jerk.