Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Weekly Crisis: Best of 2010 - Matt Duarte

 As the Decembers dawns to a close, it’s time to refresh our memories and look back at the year that was. Assembling “Best Of” lists is always a struggle for me, because I know that as soon as I commit this to “paper”, I will immediately regret my choices or think of a better answer. Still, I managed to assemble a list that I am pretty happy with. Hit the jump to see my Best of 2010 choices.

Best Artist - Stuart Immonen

Runner up - Dough Manhke

That’s the sound of no one being surprised at my choice for best artist, but I see myself justified. Stuart Immonen not only is an incredible artist capable of a wide range of work, from action heavy scenes to quiet emotional moments and everything in between, but also his workmanship and speed. Sure, there are other artists that are quite talented, but cannot keep a schedule without a noticeable drop in quality. Immonen embodies the qualities that every artist should aspire to, and this has been a great year for him. The fact that he will be drawing the next big event over at Marvel is probably a clear sign that I’m not the only one that thinks his work in New Avengers was incredible

Best Inker - Doug Mahnke’s Inking Team

Runner up - Wade Von Grawbadger

I know that’s a bit of a cheat, but the past year or so of Green Lantern made me appreciate how well in unison a team can work together. Dough Mahnke is a great artist, but the inking team rose up to the challenge of not only working harmoniously with him, but blending with each other so seamlessly that they deserved this award. The army of inkers include: Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Shawn Moll, Tom Nguyen, Mark Irwin, Rebecca Buchman and Mahnke himself. They did a great job, and the title was better for it.

Best Colorist - Matt Hollingsworth

Runner up - Christina Strain

Coloring is an art that is often overlooked, but that doesn’t mean that it’s efforts should go overlooked. Matt Hollingsworth has worked in a variety of high profile titles this past year, but the one that made me sit up and really take notice was Daredevil. During the Left Path of the Hand arc, Hollingsworth’s coloring became essential in conveying the mysterious and dangerous ambiance of the story, almost becoming a character into itself.

Best Graphic Novel - Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

Runner-up - Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit

Even though I haven’t gotten to review it yet (I’m doing them chronologically, and I really need to get those back on track), let me just say that Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour was the perfect finale to the series that Bryan Lee O’Malley created all those years ago. Funny, exhilarating, and emotional at all the right places, it truly was the franchise’s Finest Hour. The only thing that I disliked was that it was the end, the last dance of all these characters, and I wanted this final swan song to go on forever. It didn’t, but at least they went out in style.

Best Mini Series - The Stuff of Legend: The Jungle

Runner up - Last Days of American Crime

Another one in the “Not Surprising” department, as I have been raving about The Stuff of Legend for quite some time now. It was one of the most enjoyable and consistent reads of the year for me, knowing full well that whenever the title made it to my buy list, I knew a high quality read was awaiting. In a perfect world, it would come out every month, but I’ll take what I can get. The creative team delivered a highly entertaining mini series worth of all the praise I can imagine. If you haven’t checked out the series yet, you are seriously missing out.

Best Ongoing Series - Secret Six

Runner up - Thunderbolts

An underdog choice, sure, but I think I can stand by my words. Secret Six was one of the most unpredictable titles of the year, where every issue had you wondering what would happen next. The dark and twisted humor of main scribe Gail Simone (with the helpful aid of John Ostrander) sure helped to make Secret Six a thrilling read month in and out, always finding it’s way to the top of my reading list. Jim Calafiore rounded up the storytelling team with solid and reliable art every month, and he seemed to never falter despite how crazy the script would get.

Best New Series - Avengers Academy

Runner up - S.W.O.R.D.

I will freely admit that I only picked up Avengers Academy on a whim, just because I wanted to check out all the new Avenger titles that were going to come out at the same time. In just a half dozen issues, the series, its creators, and its characters has completely won me over. Academy is about a group of teenage super powered individuals, studying under the tutelage of seasoned senior Avengers members. What made this series work is Christos Gage perfect handling the huge cast, with each issue providing deeper insight into their minds, creating multiple layered characters that are as real as you and me. How far do these particular rabbit holes in their mind go? Only Gage knows, but I can’t wait to find out.

Best Single Issue - S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Runner up - New Avengers #7

How many crazy ideas can you pack in a single issue? How much breathtaking imagery? Or how much of human history can you rewrite as fiction? That’s what the team of Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver, and Christina Strain sought to answer with the first issue of S.H.I.E.L.D., a thrilling ride that spurred my imagination unlike any other single issue this year. While all the following issues have been just as good, we didn’t know what to expect before the first issue hit the stands, and I think that worked in its favor. Despite it’s strong pedigree, S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 was a pleasant surprise, and a unique book that hooked me along for the ride.

Best Adaptation - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Movie

Runner up - The Walking Dead

One of the most overheard complains about adaptations of comics into other media is either an over reliance on the original material, or a complete abandonment of the source. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Movie found that striking balance between the two, leading to one of the most accurate and entertaining adaptations I have ever seen. While it is easy to spot the panel-to-screen similarities, this movie worked because it fully understood the tone, humor, and characters of the original material, streamlining and modifying the things that would not work in the screen, and improving some other ones. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: is a wild technicolor ride for all of your eyes and ears, and the fact that it did poorly at the box office is a mere anecdote to me.

Best Cover - Daredevil #506

Here's a fun fact, both my choice and Ryan's choice for best Cover of The Year came out on the same week. What are the odds of that, huh?

Breakout Talent - Kieron Gillen

Runner up - Francesco Francavilla

2010 was the year of Kieron Gillen, and I will challenge to a knife fight anyone who dares to disagree. This is not to say that Gillen didn’t exist before this year, but the past twelve months have seen a remarkable rise in stock for the writer, and an ever expansive portfolio. Consider this, at the beginning of the year launched the S.W.O.R.D. series to acclaim but low sales, and now towards the end, he is well on his way of becoming the writer of Uncanny X-Men (he is currently co-writing along Matt Fraction) one of Marvel’s flagship titles. Along the way, he has written Thor, launched Generation Hope (an X-Men spinoff title), and other small projects. That’s without mentioning his creator owned work in Phonogram: The Singles Club, which earned him along with artist Jamie McKelvie, an Eagle Award (subsequently it broke into hundreds of pieces, in what I assume to be a moment of pure punk anger).

Best Writer - Jason Aaron

Runner up - Ed Brubaker

There are several factors that led to me choosing Jason Aaron as the best writer of the year. The deciding factor, however, proved to be his range and the equal level in the quality of his work throughout 2010. Aaron finished his character-defining run in the Ghost Rider title, full of grindhouse horror and black humor, as well as his incredible take on Wolverine, took over the PunisherMAX title to huge critical acclaim, not to mention his creator owned series Scalped for Vertigo. That’s a lot of work, and all of it is thoroughly enjoyable, something that I can’t say of any other writer.


I know this is not an end-all be-all list, just my personal list of my favorite works. Agree or disagree, make sure to let us know in the comments section. What were your favorite works and creators of 2010?

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Lucho said...

Amazing! I dissagree with everyone of your choices lol
Stuart Immonen better than Doug Manhke?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn've gone with Scott Snyder for American Vampire and now, Detective Comics. But hey, you can't go wrong with Jesse Aaron and Ed Brubaker!


Ken said...

Secret Six was the best book of the year, because it was one of the only books I know that lasted the whole year/wasn't a mini and was good throughout because it held onto one creative team.

Best new series, probably Morning Glories.

Brian Lee said...

I was a little disappointed in Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. It felt like a coda, not a complete volume like the others. There was plenty of greatness, but I don't feel like it lived up to the standard of the rest of the series.

I agree completely, S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 was about as good an issue (and an opening) as you can get. It was epic, it laid out some of the awesome ideas of the series perfectly, and had some of the most gorgeous artwork I've seen. Weaver and Strain both killed on that issue.

Ryan said...

Secret Six. Hands down winner. Atomic Robo for best mini-series. Ryan Ottley for best artist. I did really enjoy RB Silva on the Jimmy Olsen back-up. Reminded me a lot of Stuart Immonen.

Anonymous said...

Why not just beat him up and steal 10 grand Wonder Woman, at least you'd be honest about it that way.

quietomega said...

I agree with Secret Six being the best ongoing of the year; it was incredibly consistent, well-written, unpredictable and just flat-out awesome. It was the book I looked forward to each month, which is especially awesome since I don't think its hit a single delay

Best new series..probably Morning Glories or American Vampire.

I agree with Best Artist if only because Immonen made New Avengers tolerable for me

Abjekt said...

Love Stuart Immonen too. Nice and clean, very emotive when he needs to be too. Thumbs up for him!

Aaron K said...

Matt Hollingsworth's colors have been nothing short of superb on DAREDEVIL, but his recent work on THOR has been somewhat wanting. His bright, pastel colors make Ferry's pencils look very much painted -- an effect I don't love (though it's certainly not *bad*). By contrast, Laura Martin's earlier, bold coloring on THOR brought its mythic characters to life.

Aaron K said...

Best single issue: Fantastic Four #583. I dare anyone to read that issue and not feel absolutely compelled to come back for more the next month.

Best new ongoing/miniseries: Thor: the Mighty Avenger. Depending on how you classify it (it started as an ongoing and became a miniseries), I think its wonderful and consistent quality merits strong consideration.

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