Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Weekly Crisis: Best of 2010 - Ryan K Lindsay

2010 has been another great year for comics, and I think when you look back each and every year you can surprise yourself with how much you have enjoyed over the past 12 months. This is my personal list of awards and choices, others will follow later in the week. Hit the jump to see what I think earns the Best Writer, Artist, Ongoing, Mini, Issue, Fight, Character, Supporting Character, Villain, Moment, New Series, Cover, Colourist. And MORE!

Best Writer

Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

It’s just for one work but damned if it isn’t one of the finest works to have ever been created, and I thought so at only halfway through the series. The writing and thought behind this ten issue maxi-series is phenomenal. They have trapped the human spirit on the page and opened it up for your perusal. There’s a great marrying of words with art and that helps that these two were the artists and so they knew exactly the shortcuts that could be used and would work perfectly.

This is a comic about death that's exploring life and in the end you choose which is more important. The formula might look trivial if you aren't paying attention but if you are then trivialities will be evident and even more important. There's emotion on every page and thought in every panel and this title will only get better with further readings. Every word is measured, every thought calculated, and the pure structure and mastery in each word balloon and caption hints at a work of people working decades behind a typewriter and not just these Brazillain savants.
I’m not sure when these two are planning to write again next but I hope they eventually do. No need to rush it, just take their time and come back with another perfect series. That's not too much to ask.
Best Artist

Dustin Weaver

If you picked up any of the issues of S.H.I.E.L.D. that shipped this year then you should know why I’ve chosen this fine young artist as my top of the year. There is an intricacy and delicateness to Weaver’s pages and illustrations that make his work look like the product of an older time. He doesn’t just overly layer and cross hatch his work, he creates it completely to the most fine degree. Whether he is dealing with the celestial or the infinitely human, Weaver makes you believe and sit in awe at his ability. It also helps that Weaver can pace a page and make the action and the ideas flow.

He’s only had a few issues out, and he needs to be put onto a bi-monthly schedule to make deadlines, but it is completely worth it. There is consistency and glamour within the title and it easily feels like the best thing I’ve seen visually all year.

Each issue could be stripped of all words and it would all still be worth the $2.99 price tag. Weaver is a master, that much is certain, and I'll follow his work on S.H.I.E.L.D. for some time more and you should as well. Check out our in-depth first issue review.

Best Ongoing Title

American Vampire

There has not been one bad issue. Nine issues shipped this year (as at this date) and every single one of them has been stellar. That’s an amazing streak and deserves to be commended. It’s a comic about vampires, about history, about generations of war, and about phenomenal character work and density of story. Stephen King contributed to the first arc but now Scott Snyder has the title all to himself and he’s continuing the excellent quality on every page. This comic is the best new thing to come out of Vertigo and more people need to be reading it.

It also helps that American Vampire is a stunning comic to look at as Rafael Albuquerque is doing career best work. His layouts are great and his design of character and vampirism is something to marvel at. He is a major aspect of the success of this series and hopefully he will stay on there for some time.

This comic also works completely month to month, and we thought so from month one. There are multi-issue arcs but still every segmented section of the tale fulfils and satisfies. American Vampire is the comic that you really need to jump on.

Best Mini


Not only easily the best miniseries of this year but also one of the greatest comics of all time, in my opinion. This is the sort of thing that should be winning more than just awards within the comics industry. This should be up for true writing and art awards because it is better than most pretentious novels I’ve read that masquerade as being about the human condition. If a Man Booker panellist can’t find time for this then I can’t find time for them.

This comic is about a man, Bras, who we see through important days within his life. Sadly, at the end of each of these issues/days he dies. It’s tragic but ultimately life affirming, if you stick with the title to the end. This is a comic about death that’s actually about life. This is a beautiful and haunting tale of the little moments that make us who we are and influence what we do and think. Ba and Moon manage to capture just the right angle on each moment to make it resonate universally. This comic is beauty and deserves to be applauded as something special.

Best Single Issue

Secret Avengers #5

I have to choose this issue purely because I loved it so much, which I did from first reading. It helps that it’s a standalone issue but it is also pretty damn awesome. It recounts the secret life of Max Fury. Who is Max Fury? you might ask. Well, if you read this issue then you’ll know all. He’s a Fury LMD who eventually got his own consciousness and broke loose. It’s an issue that borders on the hack but through pure force of will and fun Brubaker made me believe in this and like it.

It helps that David Aja and Michael Lark were the two pencillers on this issue. I like both of their art styles but they really made this package feel like the absolute best hits of Max in a montage of espionage and style. As far as rereadability goes, this issue is right up the top. It isn’t world changing but it was enjoyable and that needs to be applauded. Sometimes a comic needs to be a perfect comic and this one just feels like it, to me.

Best Fight

Wolverine V Deadpool by Rafael Grampa

This short tale contained, barely, within Strange Tales II #1 was one of the best things I had read in a while. It’s a graphic little tale about a mutant fight club featuring characters who can regenerate themselves. The lower card fight is Sabretooth V Wild Child but then we get to the big stuff and that’s Wolvie V The ‘Pool. And it’s one hell of a throwdown. Neither party needs to hold back because it doesn’t really matter. They might feel it but they’ll be fine.

Grampa draws the characters and the brutality like he’s composing a crescendo of blood on a Renaissance canvas. It’s simply gorgeous and wondrous and you can take just the words, or the art, and enjoy this fight. The fact that it’s all an allegory about the emotion behind Wolverine is just the gravy on top. This fight actually has meaning, it’s not just a two-fisted team up because the genre demands it. It’s something special and if you didn’t get it first time around then you need to track it down.

Best Character

Skinner Sweet

He’s a vampire from the Wild West who is alive for all the fun eras and only really likes chaos to reign. He’s like the Joker meets Kurt Cobain and he’s always fun when on panel. For a completely new character, Scott Snyder has made Sweet one of my favourite characters to see appear on the panel. I like him because when it comes down to it, he’s fun. There's a sense of spontaneity and glee in everything Sweet does, even when he's killing. Especially when he's killing.

Sweet looks cool, which also helps, he's got a great design and a fluidity on the page. He’s also a vampire who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. He’s manipulative and determined and he’s the new breed. This makes him something completely different from most anything you get in tales these days.

Seeing those teasers with his quote, “we’re talking about evolution”, just always made me smile. Sweet is a man to follow.
Best Supporting Character

Death’s Head, yes?

How can you go wrong with a guy created for use in the Transformer’s comic? He’s a very silly idea used to spectacularly silly use by Kieron Gillen and Steven Sanders within their short-lived Marvel title, S.W.O.R.D. The best part, that he ends most sentences as questions, yes? It’s a simple tic to make exceptionally amusing.

Overall, though, Gillen wrote Death’s Head into this title to actually be used. That’s pretty impressive. He makes sense as part of the setting and he helps move the tale along. He was fun and very cool to look at and he needs to be used some more. Especially if Gillen and/or Sanders are involved.

Death's Head is fun because you'd probably never buy an actual ongoing based around him but once he becomes part of the mesh and wallpaper behind another good title everything is made so much better. He even takes the time to correspond with us review sites.

Best Moment

The End of Batman Inc. #1

It’s a great moment because it’s inventive but it’s also really well written and drawn. It’s pretty much got everything the end of every comic should have.

Batman is on his way to recruit a Japanese addition to his new Incorporated enterprise. He is too late and the man has been killed by the Lord Death Man, so he tries to find the sidekick but he’s already busy with the death trap set up around his love. As Batman and Catwoman arrive on the scene, they are just in time to lend a helping hand. Morrison breaks the page up like it’s the end of an old serial, and Catwoman dives into the water of the trap in the floor where the innocent girl has dropped. The page breaks and as we chase Catwoman over the turn we discover her within the apartment below, filled with water, and a giant octopus. It’s a perfect set up and pay off to leave a cliffhanger dangling that no one could ignore.

It’s just a purely awesome comics moment. You could frame it. And it's only one reason why that issue was brilliant.

Best Villain

The Homelander

He’s a villainous Superman, if you want the elevator pitch. He’s nasty and maniacal and has a super ego but why does he make the villain of the year for 2010? Because he’s finally losing it. The moment where he flies the family off in their car, after they win the major prize at the Believe festival, but then drops them purely because he just hates people is one of the most shocking moments I’ve read in a while. That one scene alone is enough for me to give him this title. He’s a nasty piece of work but he’s also a character and Garth Ennis is doing a good job of ensuring he writes both.

The Homelander has always been a villain but now he's a villain losing it and that's always a good sign for future drama. Things are just getting worse for this guy and that means things will get bad for lots of other people as well.

Best New Series


It was a glorious time, for 5 sweet months. Kieron Gillen and Steven Sanders were bringing us intergalactic romance and opera as they looked into the agency of S.W.O.R.D. It was a comic that was funny and dense and well written and drawn. It was the exact sort of fan favourite that would blow into town, be a stack of fun, and then be cancelled. And that’s exactly what happened.

I can only wonder at what Gillen and Sanders could have done given another year, or two, or more, but that will never happen, so we’ll just have to enjoy the one amazing arc we did get. It works well on its own and I dream of a day where Gillen has the clout to get it picked back up. One day…

Until then, please go pick up the one trade that was created. This series is fun and smart and deserves to be appreciated. In twenty years it will be relaunched and we'll all remember the glory days.

Best Cover

The Savage Axe of Ares by Rafa Garres

I love a good pulpy cover but this one is simply great. Garres takes a character with a very cool visual anyway and just makes him more badass. I love the background of this cover,  the colours really bring it all into play. But perhaps the coolest part is the girl draped at his feet. She looks more like a felled enemy than a beautiful conquest. But overall, this cover captures the feel and spirit of the old Savage Sword of Conan covers and for that I will always love this cover. Make a poster and I'll buy it.

Best Colorist

Val Staples

I didn't even realise how prolific this guy was in the business until I did my research and realised how dominant he really is. Val works on Criminal and Incognito, which most people know, but he's also done some work for other publishers and a whole range of other great titles. Recently, he has wowed me with his work over Tim Seeley's pencils in the Ant-Man & Wasp mini currently shipping. He keeps up with the ideas well and makes the art flow in a way that you might take for granted but you really need to thank him for. I believe any comic coloured by Val Staples is a comic that is only going to look better.



I am so disappointed that this didn't make it in for any of the other awards so I'm slotting it in for it's own little category. This category is all about comics being comics, and by that I mean ridiculous fun and awesomeness that can appeal to all ages. Franken-Castle was certainly that as the comic was just the most wacky premise and yet Rick Remender and Tony Moore made it one of the greatest things to be published in 2010. The first arc, especially, showed that even in continuity fun can still be had. Watching Frank Castle turn into a Frankenstein's Monster type creature was an idea that would either swim or sink very deep down. While fanlads might have been raging, others were treated to an idea and execution that was simply sublime. If you haven't sampled this tale then pick up the Franken-Castle HC because it is worth the money on writing and art. You won't froget it any time soon and I mean that in the best of ways.

This is the best comic of 2010 that gives you so much of everything, and asks for nothing in return. You can simply enjoy it on so many levels and then kick back afterwards, no calories.


Man, sitting back and writing this post has made me realise what a fun year it really has been. So many good comics, and no need to focus on the ones not so good. 2010 has been a good year for many reasons, these are just a few of them. So, these are my choices. Agree/disagree, let me know what you think in the comments, I'd love to hear all about it.

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Bradbury said...

Interesting that you enjoyed 2010 so much comicswise. For me, this was the year I decided to give up buying new comics. I was raised on the brilliance of 80s Miller, Moore, Morrison and Gaiman – there's nothing like that out there for me anymore.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Bradbury - I think there's plenty to still stand up to those greats, Daytripper easily. One of the greatest things to be published ever, did you read it? If not, maybe you should. American Vampire in my opinion is also right up there.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I didn't read a single one of these.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Anon3 - I'll bite...what the hell have you been reading? I've covered Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Dynamite. Major continuity and minor. There's a wide scope here.

Just trying to work out if your comment reflects on me or you, ha :)

Jeremy said...

Franken-Castle for Best Comic is wonderful stuff.

Kevin said...

Very cool list. My favorite series of this year was Fantastic Four.

For artist I would vote in Weaver as well but there have been to few issues to give him the top stop, maybe next year. My vote would be for Dale Eaglesham who killed it on Fantastic Four and Super Soldier.

And for single moment it is hands down the Cosmic Avengers two page splash.

Still awesome list that is hard to argue with.

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