Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Comics

Top 20 Comics of the Year:
1. Chew
2. Incognito/Criminal: The Sinners
3. The Umbrella Academy Dallas
4. BPRD Black Goddess
5. Hellboy The Wild Hunt
6. Beasts of Burden
7. Usagi Yojimbo
8. Incredible Hercules
9. Batman and Robin
10. The Unwritten
11. Sweet Tooth
12. The Muppet Show
13. GI Joe Cobra
14. BPRD 1947
15. The Unknown
16. Nova
17. Guardians of the Galaxy
18. Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye
19. Agents of Atlas
20. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man

Top 20 Graphic Novels of the Year:
1. Parker: The Hunter (IDW)
2. Rocketeer Deluxe Edition (IDW)
3. Bloom County Complete Library Volume 1 (IDW)
4. Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, Volume 1-5 (Viz)
5. Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 1-6 (Viz)
6. Amulet Book 2 (Scholastic)
7. Scott Pilgrim Vol 5 (Oni)
8. Johnny Hiro (Adhouse)
9. Mouse Guard Winter 1152 HC (Archaia)
10. The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack (Dark Horse)
11. Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2-3 HC (Dark Horse)
12. Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus (Marvel)
13. Criminal Deluxe Edition (Marvel)
14. Starman Omnibus Vol 2-3 (DC)
15. Empowered, Vol. 5 (Dark Horse)
16. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Pantheon)
17. RASL Vol 1: The Drift (Cartoon Books)
18. Pixu: The Mark of Evil (Dark Horse)
19. TMNT Collected Book Vol. 1 (Mirage)
20. Tiny Titans Vol. 1-2 (DC)

Favorite New Comic Of The Year: Chew
At the moment, my "buzz book" is Andy Diggle's run on Daredevil, which at three full issues into its run, is looking like a further evolution of the good work done on the book by Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. And while I've lost interest in the past few months, early on this year I was quite into Mike Carey's work on X-Men Legacy. In similar "not new number one but new creative team" books there's Marvel Adventures Spider-Man by Paul Tobin and several different artists, which synthesizes some of the best aspects of the Spectacular Spider-Man TV show, Ultimate Spider-Man and Tobin's own touches to become easily the best Spider-Man book on the shelves. Then there's the new Morrison Batman & Robin, which hasn't been perfect but has been damn good, and the Vertigo resurgence with the two must-read books, The Unwritten and Sweet Tooth. Those two in particular were real front-runners for this category. And Stumptown had a great debut, but with only two issues released in 2009, it's too early to call it the best new book of the year.

But the book with the most novel premise, not to mention providing a consistently excellent read with each issue, is Chew. John Layman's been toiling in the trenches for some time now, turning out quirky gems like Army of Darkness vs. Marvel Zombies and Puffed, but his new creator-owned Image series is far and away the best thing he's written. It's funny and strange on the surface, but there's plenty of world-building, plot detail and character development to go with it's "That is such a strange concept, I've got to read it" hook. And artist Rob Guillory has a fresh look that instantly grabs the eye, not to mention storytelling chops rarely seen in a debut. Together, these two put together the best new comic of the year.

Favorite Ongoing Series: Incredible Hercules
Pretty much everything in the ongoing series category is Marvel, with two exceptions. RASL, by Cartoon Books, is a notable exception. It ranks lowest on my list, however, not because of the quality but because of the frequency. Jeff Smith was putting out biggie-sized issues on a quarterly basis, and I was happy with that, it seemed to be a schedule he could meet. He announced this year that he was going to put out smaller issues, but bimonthly, and I knew that probably wasn't a great idea, and indeed, the flow of issues has pretty much stopped. This is a constant frustration for me as a fan and a retailer, as it makes it really hard to sell indie series, when so many of them disappear or become even more inconsistent in their scheduling, and it hurts the ability of new indies to sell as well. Folks fear getting burned again, and I can't really blame them.

Deep breath. That rant aside, the flipside of that is my other non-Marvel pick for ongoing series, Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. Consistently on schedule, consistently excellent.

My other favorite series contenders are Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova and Agents of Atlas, and of course my winner, Incredible Hercules. None of them register very high on the Top 100, sadly.

Favorite Mini-Series: Incognito
1. Incognito
2. Criminal: The Sinners
3. The Umbrella Academy Dallas
4. BPRD Black Goddess
5. Hellboy The Wild Hunt
6. Beasts of Burden
7. The Muppet Show
8. GI Joe Cobra
9. BPRD 1947
10. The Unknown
11. Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye
12. New Avengers: Reunion (Marvel)
13. Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter (Marvel)
14. The Incredibles Family Matters (Boom!)
15. War of Kings (Marvel)
16. Atomic Robo Beyond the Shadow of Time (Red 5)

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