As the year draws to a close, I realize that a lot of my time was spent in Brave New Worlds buying a ton of comics, or just standing around talking to Brian and/or Rob. Before we ring in the new year I wanted to take a look back at some of my favorite comics throughout the year. Some of which have been completed and collected into trades while others continue to roll out monthly, or if your Mark Millar or Grant Morrison, whenever you get it finished. So let’s get started!
1. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour – Bryan Lee O’Malley’s awesome series concludes with Vol.6 and is without a doubt the best in the series. After five books of Scott being hilarious and often at times an idiot, he evolves into a, dare I say it, mature adult. Looking back on his past interactions with his friends and family, Scott faces the reality of his actions. Not all of which were that heroic in fact. What may have been my favorite moments of the book were moments that happened off the page when Scott was so busy with his own problems, and failed to see what his closest friends were going through.
2. Batman and Robin – Bruce Wayne is lost in time, many people thinking he’s dead. In the wake of his absence, former boy wonder Dick Grayson takes the mantle of the bat, while Bruce’s son Damien, becomes the newest Robin. I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I got some of the best Batman and Robin stories I could have imagined. Not to mention the revolving door of artists such as Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke, and Frazer Irving. Each bringing their own unique style to the story but never sacrificing story to show off their talent.
While the series is ongoing, I’d say you can’t get any better than the first 16 issues, which dealt with Bruce’s absence and the new dynamic duo working out their own personal issues to accept their new roles in protecting Gotham City.
3. Ultimate Spider-Man - Ultimate Spider-Man is probably the only series I started with from the beginning. While I dropped off around the time the Clone Saga was re-introduced, I jumped back on when artist Mark Bagley left and was replaced by Stuart Immonen. Let me just say that for his short run on the series, Immonen set the bar for Ultimate Spider-Man. Coupled with Bendis’ stories, USM was on fire and I thought it couldn’t get any better.
Then came David LaFuente.
While I would suggest picking up the trades that featured Immonen’s beautiful work, in terms of a jumping on point, LaFuente’s run may be easier. Taking place directly after the events of the horrible event series Ultimatum, USM was given a new life with LaFuente’s manga influenced style and and energy. Never have I enjoyed a Spidey book as much as as I have with LaFuente on the art. Also, bonus points to LaFuente and Immonen for drawing this 16 year old Peter Parker like a 16 year old. The series continues to roll on with new artist Sara Pichelli, who is also becoming an instant favorite of mine.
4. Secret Warriors – Jonathan Hickman has made me fall in love with Nick Fury. One part James Bond, all parts Badass, Nick Fury pulls together his own covert team of super powered beings to take down some of the biggest threats o the world. All the while staying under the radar and hiding in the shadows. I can’t reccomend this book enough. Hickman writes the series like a tv show with each issue ending on a hell of a cliffhanger. As this series draws to a close (ending with issue 25) I can’t wait to see how Hickman wraps everything up in 2011.
5. Batwoman Elegy – I picked this up in trade form and I kick myself for not picking up the indiviual issues. This series is awesome! It took me a couple of issues to really get into the groove of this story, but once I got hooked there was no going back. While the story itself, written by Greg Rucka, could have kept me coming back on its own, it was J.H. Williams III that sealed the deal for me. Every page had me drooling all over myself, which I normally would be doing anyway, but the art made me do it this time!
6. Thunderbolts – Luke Cage is given the unfortunate task of rehabilitating hardened criminals and getting them to turn their lives around. It’s kind of like the A-Team, but with the Juggernaut. And really, who could hate Juggernaut? See, you love this book already. Reading this and Secret Warriors back to back is a treat, if only to see how Fury and Cage both deal with having to run their teams. Neither one of them have an easy task.
7. TURF – Ok, I may not like vampires all that much, but put vampires in 1920′s prohibition era New York along with gangsters, and aliens, and I’ll give you my money instantly. No questions asked. Not to mention Jonathan Ross packs each issue with so much dialogue that it feels like I’m reading a short story more than a comic. I am not complaining about that at all. Along with the writing, Tommy Lee Edwards artwork makes my brain cry from the awesomeness.
8. American Vampire – Remember when I said I don’t like vampires? Okay, maybe I lied. I don’t like vampires that are written poorly apparently. American Vampire, now on it’s second arc, kind of came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t expecting it, much less liking it. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque create a different tone than TURF, giving American Vampire a quicker pace and keeping the dialogue fairly light.
9 Ex Machina – The final trade of Ex Machina threw me through a loop. For one thing it ended. On op of that it ended beautifully. However it ended in a way I didn’t see coming. It was a natural progression of character, but still it felt as if my brain refused to accept the outcome, no matter how much sense it made. But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you didn’t read Ex Machina, I’d suggest doing so. Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris have created one of the best comics of the last decade. You owe it to yourself to read this book. Might I mention that this story is so rich with characters, I’d have to nominate it as the next comics series to be turned into a television show. It is that good.
10. The Last Days Of American Crime – Can I just say that if you spend enough time in Brave New Worlds you are bound to pick up books you never would have found on your own. This book is one of them. Written by Rick Remender and drawn by Greg Tocchini, The Last Days of American Crime takes place in the not too distant future where the government is days away from putting in place a broadcast system that stops citizens from breaking the law.
Enter Graham, a less than model citizen who puts together a group of ragtag criminals to pull off the last big heist before the new broadcast goes into effect. What follows is violence, double crossing, violence, sex, and did I mention violence. Very entertaining, but most definitely not for the younger crowd.
11. Blacksad – I used to stare at the pages of Blacksad and feel depressed. Not because the art was horrible, far from it. I used to get depressed over the fact that I couldn’t read it because it was in french. Until this year, when Blacksad was published in english (!), and also included not one, but the original three trades in a nice hardback collection (!!). This anthropomorphic film noir series follows detective John Blacksad as he takes on various cases and criminals in his city. This book is great for those looking for a good crime series. Watching a black cat have a close quarter fight with a gangster lizard has never looked so awesome.
And finally, my favorite comic of the year…
12. Thor: The Mighty Avenger – This is without a doubt one of the best mainstream books out there. Well, it was one of the best until it got canceled last month. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to pick up the trades, the first of which dropped two weeks ago. Thor: TMA is so much fun. It’s got great action, an unbelievable amount of comedy, and a nice touch of romance that is sorely lacking in my superhero titles. All the credit goes to Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee. They made a character I haven’t bothered to care about and made him my favorite super hero of 2010. Here’s hoping Thor: The Mighty Avenger gets a second chance.
So there you have it! My incredibly long list of comics that I enjoyed. While most of these books are definitely more in the mainstream vein, there are tons more that I may have missed. So let me know if you agree or disagree with anything on this list. Are there any books you would suggest I pick up? What were some of your most pleasant surprises this year in comics? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!