2006 Comic Book Commentary (Part 2)A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Keith Dallas
Best ongoing title: The Exterminators (Vertigo): writer/creator Simon Oliver initially pitched The Exterminators to Hollywood as a TV series, but then Vertigo got their hands on this. And it’s a good thing they did, because the stories are so wonderfully strange with strong characterization, horrific situations, sick twisted humour, and of course, Tony Moore doing his best work.
Biggest letdown: Fantastic Four Civil War (Marvel): Ben Grimm leaving the country!? Leaving his family? What a cheap shot, this is even more unrealistic than the Clone-Thor. This absolutely undermines the character of The Thing. 40 years of characterization down the drain.
Best new book: Wasteland (Oni Press): Oni Press is considered a small publisher, but Wasteland is a huge story. The art (as well as the story line) in this book is refreshing. It keeps me really hooked on what will happen next month after month.
Greatest Trivia: Spiderman’s Iron Man suit (Marvel): The most important outcome of “The Other” story line for me was Peter Parker being aware that he can get more out of his spider powers then he already has. This is really interesting and proves that he doesn’t need technology to be even more powerful. So the new high tech suit is totally unnecessary and undermines the year long “The Other.” Like AC/DC sang, let’s get “Back in Black.”
Most boring writer: Greg Pak (of Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk): “Planet Hulk” started out really interesting, but after a few issues, it got really boring. None of the characters are being developed, and the story is thin like butter on a bagel. It’s going all over the place… except forward. Let “World War Hulk” begin.
2007 wish: For Marvel to collect all of the “Spiderman Clone Saga” in trades, because this controversial era is better than you think it is. And I hope no one is buying the Heroes Reborn trades, because we don’t want Marvel to get the wrong idea that these stories are worth one penny.
Kelvin Green: Frankly, I don’t think it’s been a particularly good comics year, so I’m going to struggle to come up with five highlights. Long term readers will know, however, that my capacity for miserable grousing is superhuman in scope, so here’s a truncated list of what I’m most grumpy about in 2006.
The 1990s: Only in the bizarre and insular U.S. comics industry can an era that’s universally derided make such a successful comeback. So we’ve had a year awash with bloated crossovers and events, variant covers (will we see holofoil return in 2007?), writing by committee, Apocalypse and Onslaught, publishing lines stretched to breaking point (just how many Spider-Man monthlies are there now?) and Rob-Spastic-Gibbon-Liefeld all over the chuffing place. I didn’t like the 90s the first time around, and I certainly don’t want to see them again.
"Proper" writers: Arguably, DC started this egregious practice with Brad Meltzer and Identity Crisis, but Marvel have shot themselves in the foot most often, particularly with the vaguely biannual Ultimate Wolverine Versus Hulk and Kevin Smith’s Black Cat rape epic. Leaving aside the considerable issue of the industry’s wretched sense of self-worth in rushing after these people at the expense of its own creative talent, how many of these alleged superstars have produced anything worthwhile? For that matter, how many have produced anything at all, in between writing their TV shows/movies/cookbooks? DC and Marvel have ransomed themselves off to a series of work-shy layabouts who treat the medium as an occasional hobby.
Fantastic Four #536 and #537: An affront to comics storytelling, issue #536’s cover showed Doctor Doom grasping Thor’s hammer, and the issue itself gave us a lengthy fight scene culminating in Doctor Doom grasping Thor’s hammer. Just like on the cover. Which is free to view on the internet. So that’s $3 saved right there. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the Marvel Universe knows that only the truly heroic, worthy and pure-hearted can lift Thor’s hammer, and Doom is none of those things. So, in issue #537, after another fight scene and a lengthy flashback in which Doom talks to himself about the continuity of a completely unrelated character (no, really), we’re left with the dramatic revelation that Doom cannot lift Thor’s hammer. I’ve read worse comics of course, but I’m not sure I’d ever read an actual non-story before these issues came along. They’re vivid examples of the concept of anti-narrative, as produced by a “proper” writer (cf.) from the world of television and published by Marvel (cf.).
"I touched my mother's breast. It BLED on me.": Eeew! Frank Miller, what the heck is wrong with you? Holy Oedipus, Batman!
Marvel Comics: Dear sweet Buddha on a bike. I grew up with Marvel titles, and I have considerable residual affection for the company, but my gosh they’ve fudged it royally this year. From making their own comics literally unreadable by packing in more adverts than story pages, the “no gays in our comics” debacle, letting their main event run late and announcing more extraneous chapters rather than, you know, apologising, all the way through to cynically exploiting the death of Jeph Loeb’s son to sell a shitty Rob Liefeld comic, Marvel has spent 2006 engaging in rampant dickery on a vast corporate scale. What’s even worse is that each and every one of these violations of all that is good and decent has been accompanied by the usual smug hyperbole informing us of how exciting it all is and how grateful we should be.
But it's not all bad: Step forward and take a bow Nextwave, Invincible, Annihilation, Jack Staff, Best New Manga, The O Men, 2000AD and Fell. You’re all fine examples of the kind of fun and interesting comics that got us involved in this medium in the first place. And you’re all selling far less than Fanboy Action Figure Smackdown (or Civil War, as Marvel doggedly continue to call it).
Bah, and indeed, humbug.
Fables #50: Possibly the best issue so far of Bill Willingham’s book about “Fairytales in the modern world.” Not only is this issue double-sized, not only does it contain a large amount of story, not only does it mark the return of Bigby Wolf who goes on a commando raid into the homelands, but it also celebrates the event that all Fables readers have been waiting upon for ages: the wedding of Snow White and the aforementioned Mr. Wolf. This book has continued to deliver the same levels of quality and pure enjoyment since day one and this issue marks the culmination of one of the most touching love stories I’ve read in comics. If you’re not reading this series, start, now.
Civil War #1: Civil War as a whole has not really been as good as I was hoping it might, with the whole lauded real world social issues relevancy thing not really happening and a couple of Marvel heroes behaving like utter arseholes. But this first issue still strikes a chord with me. From the wiping out of the New Warriors to Captain America escaping form S.H.I.E.L.D., this issue was, and still is, a great opening to Marvel’s big event.
Meltdown #1 (of 2): This is something different. A story featuring a superhero, not from one of the “Big 2” and who it would seem will only ever be seen in these two prestige format books, but still worth the $5.99 admission price. The idea of the hero, Cal, finding out he’s going to die and going on a rampage to make sure he permanently takes out as many bad guys as possible before he burns out is great. Schwartz also uses the book to look at how people’s childhood hopes and dreams are often squashed by the reality of adulthood and the economic truths of this world. And as if the story alone weren’t good enough, the art by Sean Wang is stunning, progressing from a colourful childlike style to very grim and gritty thus reflecting the transition from Cal’s innocent and carefree childhood to his bitter, disappointing and angry adulthood. Great stuff.
Detective Comics #817: This issue of Detective Comics, which marked the beginning of “One Year Later” for the Dark Knight, was a welcome return to what I like about Batman. I’m not saying this from a nostalgia point of view, I’ve never followed Batman in comics much, but rather that this formula just works for me. Commissioner Gordon, Bullock, Batman and Robin working as a team and leaping onto a speeding Batwing to face one of their old foes. This issue got me coming back month after month for more Bat-action.
Fantastic Four #541: Tough choice for the last spot. I was tempted to go with Young Avengers #12, but given that other issues I’ve chosen mark the culmination or beginning of big stories or plotlines, I decided to go with a single individual issue that’s just plain fun. Yeah, I know, this issue only came out last week, and if I really dug through all the comics I’ve read in the last year, I might find something equally, if not more, entertaining, but this is fresh in my mind and is such a welcome break from all the doom and gloom storylines currently occupying most superhero books. No hidden agendas, no backstabbing, no corrupt governments, just the good guys taking on a bad guy and The Thing clobbering in Paris. Nice.
Shawn Hill: The big stories this year were, of course, Marvel’s Civil War and DC ’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis to Infinite Crisis Hardcover to OYL to 52 progression of cross promotions. Aesthetically, DC carries this one by a mile: they’ve found a way to keep the stories interesting, with new directions for several of their franchise characters, without betraying most of those characters’ pasts. In fact, they’ve opened up doors to previously erased bits of those pasts again, finally.
And for others they’ve chosen “clean” deaths to clear the way to update several old-timers. I find this far preferable to the character assassination running rampant at Marvel, where long-term heroes are only cannon fodder. Civil War made no sense from its insipid inception; it makes less sense with each (delayed) issue, and long-timers like Wasp, Black Goliath, Thor and, most of all, Iron Man and Reed Richards have become mindless ciphers, automatons going through the motions without any reasoning to back up their misguided actions.
But it’s the season of giving, so lets be cheery (however forced), and give out some accolades rather than brickbats. Ho-ho-ho, here we go!
Best mini-series: Beyond!. McDuffie and Kolins proved a creative and consistent team, taking an odd array of ducks (including Wasp and Hank acting like themselves at least in ONE story this year) and having quirky dramedy fun with Kirby-size concepts in space. Note to Marvel: we still love Deathlok!
Best Hardcover: Despite the many storytelling problems with this series, the Infinite Crisis Hardcover was a bargain purchase. I didn’t find reading the story in one volume to correct all its flaws in coherency, but I did appreciate the new art that enriched the rushed first attempts from the pamphlets. The altered dialogue opened up story possibilities rather than closing down fates forever (as the original COIE did), perhaps in response to fan clamoring for more Earth-2. Phil Jiminez emerged as a star in his own right next to his inspiration Perez, and the contributions of both (as well as Ivan Reis, Jerry Ordway and Andy Lanning) make this a gorgeous graphic novel from cover to cover.
The story still trades on sentimentality and violence, in alternating doses, but that’s what you get whenever Geoff Johns is in charge. Like it or lump it.
Best writer: Warren Ellis. This year he lazered the Ultimate universe with hard-core sci-fi in Ultimate Extinction (and let the ladies shine in Ultimized versions of Marvel’s most intriguing amazons); closed up shop with touching grace in the subtle industry meta-commentary that was Planetary; and mocked the industry blatantly with razor-wire wit in the stylish, gleefully airheaded Nextwave. More please, and don’t screw up Thunderbolts with your badass attitude, Mr. Cool!
Best Trade Paperback: Essential Defenders Vol. 2. This hefty tome is deep reading, encoding seventies political agendas on racism, feminism and psychology with genius Steve Gerber dialogue, and featuring top drawer art by Sal Buscema and Klaus Janson, amongst others. Several Giant-Sized issues are included, focusing on the trials and tribulations of such supporting characters as Valkyrie, Clea, the Son of Satan and Nighthawk. Sure, I’m sentimental, but THESE B-listers are my Defenders, not the dull foursome of Surfer, Doctor, Mariner and Hulk Smash! The tragicomic misadventures of the Headmen will have to wait for Vol. 3 (wait till you see Ruby run for public office!), so keep ‘em coming!
Best revitalized title: Ed Brubaker has spent 2006 giving us better Claremont than Claremont himself in Uncanny X-Men. It’s taken over ten years (since X-Factor), but Lorna and Alex are interesting again, and Marvel Girl is working as a character for the first time in at least as long. The ongoing plot developments and the balance between the teammates are two elements working like a well-oiled machine; it’s nice to see a writer still capable of solidly crafted entertainment. By mining continuity so faithfully, Brubaker avoids resorting to facile shock-value tactics and page-padding splash pages (like that dude who has hijacked the Avengers, for example).
Honorable Mention: Seven Soldiers of Victory #1 was incomprehensible to some, manna from heaven to others, but undeniably a complex and ornate capstone to an ambitious undertaking on any scale. It was a bookend for twenty eight different issues written in almost that many styles, and J.H. Williams III proved an ideal collaborator for Morrison in tying up loose ends and prepping all seven Soldiers for whatever comes next.
Bendis’ Alias complete HC edition: A thick, thick, thick read, but wonderful from start to stop. This is Jessica Jones at her best, before she got all censored in the switch over from MAX to MU: anal sex, swearing, violence, nudity, JJJ and some really very clever stylistic tricks (for example, the repetitive double-page spread when Jessica is listening to a client).
Absolute Sandman v1: My shelves just groaned when I typed that “v1”; they can’t take the thought of v2, v3 and v4 all at once. V1 collects the first three trades plus oodles and oodles of bonus material. Recoloured. Gorgeous book. Buy it and dump the trades on eBay.
Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon: Everyone I know has an opinion on Iraq; most are the same as my wishy-washy liberal view, but even staunch Republicans have been known to shed a tear at the lions’ fate. I know, I know, kill thousands of humans and no-one cares, but injure a lion and all hell breaks loose. “Pride” here means not only the pride of lions the story is ostensibly about, but the pride which is derived from proud. Inevitable, but moving, a modern-day classic.
Bruce Logan: 2006 was the year of changes, and by that I don’t mean those taking place in the comic-universes. The changes I speak of for an avid comic buff like yours truly are of a more personal nature. Starting the year my pull list had a near even split between the big two publishers (with Marvel leading at a little over half of the 50+ titles in my box), with the others (Image, Dark Horse, Indies) making up for paltry 5-7 titles. However, as of the end of December 2006, my Marvel reading is down to three (soon to be two) titles, the number of DC titles that I read has both increased and decreased throughout the year and now it’s the same number that I began the year at. All the Marvel drops have led to my trying out (and staying with) quite a few Indie publishers (including IDW, SLG, and most of all, the new upstart, Virgin). Going by that trend, instead of doing a “Top 5” column, I am doing an about turn and recognizing the “Worst 5” events, changes, whatchmacallits of 2006.
5. Joe-Spider: The Great Spider Unmasking, or as many would call it, Unmaking. This point isn’t about that. Even though not all that deep and done solely as an attention grabber (which didn’t last as long as hoped, by Marvel’s TPTB anyway), the unmasking of Spider-Man doesn’t score among my “Worst 5.” This genie, just as the latest New Fantastic Four, will sooner or later be shoved back into the lamp it leapt out of, just like the New Fantastic Four will be old and forgotten news soon enough, I estimate in time for the next Fantastic Four movie, with the new Sue and Reed stand-ins, fading away into the same shadows that holds other illustrious Fantastic Four members like Crystal, Lyla and even Wolverine. This is about Marvel’s Top Brass’s adamant hissy fit about “fixing” the Spider. They feel like he is been taken away from who he is, and as such, the readers don’t identify with Peter Parker anymore. The situation as it stands according to them, calls for a back to basics approach, and what a way to get there but to have Spidey shed the excess baggage that is Mary Jane Watson-Parker and other supporting cast members that have been found guilty in the Marvel court of hampering the Spider’s swinging, (in more ways than one). While Joe Q and the Marvel Spidey-buddies are quick to point out other characters, they seem to forget that there is already one (in Spidey’s case, more than one) “unattached” (i.e. bachelor) version of the Webcrawler out there: Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, both of whom are specifically aimed towards the younger comic reading demographic. Selective Amnesia anyone?
4. Rise of the Son: Batman. Superman. Wolverine. What do these three have in common? Well, for one, all three of them have the same number of letters in their first names (including Logan’s real first name, James). They are also, easily, three of the most popular comic book characters (with Bats and Supes holding their positions for all time). Just to make it a three for three, with all three characters, their respective owners/publishers have deemed it fit to thrust upon them unwanted and in Batman’s case, clearly unneeded, male progeny. After all, it’s not like Bruce Wayne was wanting anyway in the “son” department. While good for short term thrills, neither Damien Al-Ghul nor Christopher Kent come across as particularly interesting or even well thought out characters. As for Wolverine, going by Daniel Way’s track record with the stocky Canadian (right from the “Origin & Endings” arc in the main Wolverine title), the “Son of Wolverine” is going to be as deep a character as a tea spoon of water. Better make that half a tea spoon of boiling and rapidly evaporating alcohol.
3. Crisis of Infinite Re-Launches: The title alone is a giveaway for a dubious list: Flash. Hawkgirl. Wonder Woman. Three characters, three titles. DC’s new Trinity. Of failure, that is. A new Flash, a new “renamed” Hawkgirl and well, whatever and whoever is passing as Wonder Woman these days. These three characters, and the sizable number that having quickly fallen in line behind them and continue to do so nine months after DC’s OYL jump and the sheer deluge of launches, relaunches and legacies it brought forth and/or spawned, show just one thing: DC needed to rethink their NEW Earth strategy quite a few times before letting all these cats out of the bags. Rethink, forget that, I for one and quite a few other readers would have even accepted one real “fresh” brainstorming session, instead of, well, this is taking me into my next point, and so, I’ll stop here. To conclude, one just needs to take a look at the rapidly dropping sales figures for the titles starring the Trinity mentioned here and quite a few others to get a clear picture of the problem. New series lose readers; it is expected and accepted, but the way the Flash has shed numbers (and also Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Blue Beetle, Checkmate, I could go on), one would think that Bart Allen, DC’s Barry Allen 2.0, is not the Fastest Man Alive but rather the Fastest Faller Alive. I could comment on Marvel and its “hits” in this regard, but since I haven’t read any of them, I won’t.
2. DC’s Silver-Age 2.0: A couple of decades from now when the next big DC crisis rolls around, it will bring with it the countless resets and new legacy launches. In other words, a swift, hard kick to the groin for the mid-late teens to late twenties comic reader at that time. As for who will be doing the kicking? Who else but the people in charge at DC, for just as Dan DiDio and his “Grown up reading the Silver Age Comics” gang have “Crisis-ed” away just about every major development of the last twenty years or so, be it Wally West’s Flash, Wonder Woman’s public life (that had the much welcome absence of her Diana Prince, Special Lackey of the US Government, persona, which is back now), or (and they certainly are outdoing themselves with this one) a whole bloody league. Whatever else it did, for the JLI/JLE League members, Infinite Crisis sure made them into an endangered species, one on a fast track to the DC character slaughter house. On the bright side, we can look forward with hope for the next Crisis to do away with all of this forced brightness being shoved down the readers’ throats.
1. Storming into Obscurity: Storm. For a comic fan, even one in passing, the name alone is enough for him/her to not only recognize but even get a respectable enough mental picture of the character in question: her powers, her costumes and her physical features (including special quirks, i.e. the white hair and blue eyes, most of all her hair). However, while almost anyone will be able to place Ororo Monroe, Storm of the X-Men (even more so, thanks to Halle Barry’s rendition of her in the three X-Men movies), not many will term her as that “black chick” from the X-Men. One of the many minority characters on the X-teams, Storm is not only one of the most recognizable comic characters, she is also by far the most famous African-American character. (Note that she is American and not African, having been born in New York, USA, well, that is until the next wave of Joe-Hudlin-retcons). All this recognition, all this fame, and never has the race or the color of the skin of his character ever been a deterrent or a point to play…, until now. In the last year, ever since their House of M (and the X-Men’s “Wild Kingdom” story), Marvel has done everything in its PR-machine’s power to, not only play up (at every available or even deliberately forced opportunity) Storm’s racial heritage, they have done it in a way that has alienated her from the very base of her recognition and rise (the X-family and their millions of readers) and continue to do so with each passing month. Why all this? Why take Storm away from a place where she led her own team(s), and on more than one occasion, the whole X-Family and dump her in a setup that despite repeated decades spanning efforts has remained (and will remain) a niche corner of the MU? Try to imagine DC pulling a similar stunt and by means of retcons (almost all of them forced and incredibly tacky) setting up and going through the nuptials of Diana (Wonder Woman) and (gawd bless his brains) Ted Kord (Blue Beetle II). Now, just as idiotic this idea sounds, this proposed union between an A-level female character and a (at best) C-level male character is not all that different from what has been done with Storm. What is even more “cow pie in the face” for Marvel is that any hopes that they had from this “Farce of the Century,” any jump and sustained increase in the sales of the title Storm is in now, none of them came to fruition. Not one bit. One special issue, which was doubly loaded by slapping a Civil War tie-in on it, and not only did the sales return to previous issue’s levels, they also resumed the downward slide that that title has had ever since its first issue. So, what does that mean for Ororo Monroe, now an Ex-X-Woman? It means, that despite her mutation, this is one quicksand that even her winds won’t be able to pull her out of.
Chris Murman: I’m still fairly new to the game over here at SBC, so I wasn’t sure what to write about in a year-in-review rant. Thankfully, this year has given me plenty of moments to be thankful for. So, without much further ado, here are my top 5 comic book moments this year:
Sloppy Joes, heh heh, 52!: No not Starman, even though his lines in the first Justice Society of America issue made me giggle. This shout out gives a big, “Neener, neener” to the less-distinguished competition who thought 52 wasn’t going to ship on schedule and be fantastic. I was always a big frequenter of my local comic shop, but never on a weekly basis. The unprecedented success of this DC line has done exactly that for me and many loyal readers who want to see real-time what is going on with this book. Has every issue gripped me by the throat and made me scream mercy? We all know that isn’t going to happen on a weekly basis. What it has done is get all of us interested in the DCU outside of Batman and Superman. The use of Batwoman has been a bit questionable since it seemed like a newsmaker just for the sake of it. We’ll see where it goes though. The story is now kicking into high gear, and it, of course, will conclude with “World War III” in issue #50 as we have learned. I can’t wait to see what happens and how this book will end. I will actually be sad on May 2 when I will be wishing we had more of this weekly book.
Cyborg becomes even more Super: I wasn’t reading comic books when Superman was killed, but I know what happened as a result. Four different people tried to take up the shield including Hank Henshaw, better known as Cyborg Superman. Once his story line was finished and we got Big Blue back in cape, we never knew what happened to him. At least I didn’t. In the events that came about in Green Lantern, we learned that Henshaw took the rings off of the Lanterns that Hal Jordan supposedly killed when he was infected by Parallax and was building an army of Manhunters powered by the Lantern’s bodies. It got me into the Geoff Johns series, and now I’m hooked as a result. Cyborn Superman is not done with either, and I have a feeling he is going to be a player in the Green Lantern universe in the months to come.
Peter Parker takes his mask off: Not for the reason most of you readers are thinking though. Civil War has provided many moments that would make the book a best seller, and most of them are neither necessary or warranted by the 616. This tops the list of “we wanted to sell books” moments this series has offered. What will come of our wall-crawler’s idiotic moment? Many smell a ret-con or some mind-wiping moment where everyone forgets who he really is. That would easiest, but probably is not going to happen. I prefer to watch editorial squirm and find a longer, more drawn-out process of getting Spidey back to who he was before this moment. While I will not be spending any money of my own to find this out, I’m sure we all will find out some way or another. Good luck Marvel! You managed to get House of M out of our minds quickly, let’s see how you manage to get this one swept under the rug.
Burning Cross gets Wildstorm burnin’: For those of you who didn’t get American Way, shame on you. This was a series I heard nothing about before hearing about it on Alter Ego’s comic pod cast earlier this summer. Now, I did not like this moment because I would like nothing better than our boy BC to go on a black killing spree. Instead, it was a great cliffhanger of the issue to see the Southern Defense fellas get so burnt up (pardon the pun) with the New American killing a white bad guy, they felt the need to kill him in retribution. All eight issues of this series were good from start to finish, and the ending of the book not only left me wanting more, but prompted me to carry the issues around to all my buddies to read right there in front of me.
This brings up a good point while I’m at it. While technically Wildstorm isn’t an indie label at all, there are plenty of books produced by this mid-tier comic line that are worth a read. We are seeing just that in books like Red Menace, The Boys and Welcome to Tranquility (which should be a great series in itself). Those aren’t even the ones that Brian K. Vaughan is putting out either. Jim Lee has put himself together a great cast of writers and artists. Give them a shot.
Gardner is our Guy: Let’s be honest, we love bad-good guys. Marvel has many including Punisher and Blade. The aforementioned The Boys is a team full of them. Lobo even was brought back into the fold in 52. Heading the list in my mind, however, is DC’s favorite Green Lantern cast off, Guy Gardner. We saw him get a ring back in Green Lantern: Rebirth, and the Warrior has been kicking ass, objectifying women, and taking names (and numbers) since then. Not only did he help Hal take down Hank Henshaw in the flagship emerald title I already talked about, but he is starring in his own monthly book and a mini by Howard Chaykin. Say what you want about Gardner and his antics, he is a fan favorite and is always good for a laugh, while major booty when he’s not busy chasing skirts.
Steven G. Saunders: This was a great year for not just comics, but for me, as well. Somehow, someway I fell into this whole writing-about-comic-and-stuff thing. So far, so good... So, anyway, here's a simple list of what I feel are not just the best new titles of 2006, but my personal favourites, as well. I should note that certain titles have only had one issue released, like Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade, Punisher War Journal and newuniversal (as of this writing), and though I love those titles so far and have been very impressed with what I’ve seen, I cannot rate them in my Top Five… yet. As far as I’m concerned, they’re candidates for next year.
1. The Boys: Without a doubt, this is not only one of the best comic titles this year, but one of the best EVER. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson really tear it up good, pooping all over whatever noble ideas you had of superheroes. And they do it with superb wit and style, too. So if you’re looking for something with outstanding art and some of the best cheeky writing this side of Krypton, check it out.
2. Star Wars: Legacy: I love Star Wars. Who in his right mind, doesn’t? Oh. You. And you, too? Damn. Anyways, I dig it, and what I dig even more is this sweet series that takes place around 140 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin, which occurred at the end of the first SW movie for those who are still confused). This title is strong with the Force, my friends. Imperial Jedi Knights, the last Skywalker (Cade) haunted by the Force ghost of Luke, pirates, cool villains, a great take on the Stormtroopers. It’s pure awesome. Kudos goes out to writer John Ostrander and the artists for this great book.
3. Zombee: This original graphic novel about zombies rampaging all over feudal Japan had me howling with laughter. Think Evil Dead and Night of the Living Dead meets Yojimbo or Seven Samurai. Plus, it’s got ninjas. I really do hope Miles Gunter does more with this. I mean, he better, dammit!
4. Moon Knight: Wow! What a way to bring a character back! I’ve always been a bit of a Moon Knight fan, but I’ve also always wanted something a bit grittier, darker—more visceral. This new Moon Knight title does just that. I like the art and love the story. Not everyone agrees with me here, I know, but I just don’t care. The new Moon Knight is awesome.
5. Battlestar Galactica/Classic Battlestar Galactica: At first, I was hesitant to read this series, fearing the worst. However, I overcame my fear and the realisation that the new Battlestar comics are some of the best things out there slapped me in the face like a wet-noodle made of adamantium. I’m counting these two titles as a tie for fifth, since I tend to pick them up together. Greg Pak handles the “New BSG” title like a champ, and Rick Remender keeps proving to me that he’s one of the best writers out there with his take on the further adventures of the “Old BSG” crew. The art on both series is fabulous. Now with more BSG titles coming out, I think my head’s going to explode. Stay tuned to SBC for my upcoming BSG comics write-up, which includes mini-interviews with Remender, Pak and Brandon Jerwa!
You know, it sucks I could only list five… er, six. There were some incredible new treats in sequential art with narrative this year. As close runners-up I’d like to select The Last Christmas and Battler Britton, two titles which are terribly funny (and seasonal, actually) and one of the best war comics I’ve read in awhile, respectively. Another runner-up would have to be the Starship Troopers comics. Some good stuff there! Oh, and I’d just like to add that my favourite cover of the year has to be Perfect Dark: Janus’ Tears #3. Spectacular!
I hope you’re enjoying reading the Top Five lists here, and my family and I wish everyone Happy Holidays!