Tuesday, December 20, 2011
You don't know if it's the end of the year until you've sampled a few Best Of lists so TWC wants to ensure you kick start your holiday season with some positive energy as well as some great titles for you to drop your Xmas money and gift cards on. Halfway through the year, I look at the Top 10 Books so far, and below are my definitive and final Top 10 Books of 2011. If you agree with my writing at all then you can pick up any of these titles and be assured of a damn good time - especially when it comes to Criminal or The Cape. What makes the list, and what doesn't, well, you'll just have to read on to find out. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't read everything on the shelves. If there are better comics than these, please tell me all about them in the comments. I'd love to check them out.
10. Animal Man
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Forman
You might think once a character has been done well, some might say perfectly, it is fruitless to revisit the well because the pump will be dry and no one drinks mud. You might think that but then Jeff Lemire would laugh in your face. After years on and off the shelf, Lemire and Travel Foreman brought A-Man back and they brought the thunder with him. This story is still only really getting started and yet it is brilliant. There are so many new things to admire and such scope to enjoy this new dawn for everyone’s favourite animal mimicking hero.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin
From every set of ashes, a phoenix may rise. Mark Waid and his rotating pals Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin deliver a completely shiny and new Matt Murdock and they do it with such talent and conviction that everyone is happy to turn a blind eye and just feel the love. This is a new incarnation of Daredevil and it’s not to be ignored. The writing is sharp and smart and the art is sublime.
8. Legion of Monsters
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Juan Doe
Comics can be well written, and fun, and beautiful, and wacky, and brilliant. Comics can be many things but they are so rarely all of these things. Dennis Hopeless takes the concept of the offbeat 70s monsters of the Marvel U and leads them to their logical extremes. The dialogue is sharp, the story is a hell of a lot of fun, and the glee with which you’ll devour these pages will astound you. It helps that Juan Doe makes with the beauty in every single panel. This will become the definitive statement on Marvel U monsters from here forth so if you dug “Franken-Castle” then you absolutely must jump on this mini.
7. The Cape
Writer: Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Zach Howard
Based on a short story by Joe Hill, “The Cape” has risen high into the ranks of great comics of 2011 because it shows no fear. The chilling portrayal of the origin of a very ordinary villain is a nasty comic. This medium touts itself as the arena where anything can happen, even if it so often doesn’t. In “The Cape,” it can happen and will most likely happen in ways you didn’t even want to know about.
6. Snyder’s Batman
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock, Francesco Francavilla, Greg Capullo
On “Detective Comics” and now the relaunched “Batman,” Scott Snyder has shown he can do cape comics and still bring literacy to the page and thrills into the panels. These longform tales both wish to entertain each month on the deadline and also build to represent a concept or theme about the main character. Gotham became a truly dark city once more and we remembered what to fear and respect about it.
5. American Vampire
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque, Jordie Bernet, Sean Murphy
You don’t ignore quality and you don’t ignore consistency – words of advice for any comic reader. “American Vampire” has not dipped with a single issue this year and the wholistic story only continues to expand in both scope and quality. Scott Snyder has shown he loves this title by keeping it chugging along professionally in the face of his many other commitments. He’s also used this title to experiment and shock and that ability to be something new adds fuel to this fire. “American Vampire” is one of the cleanest written books you will find and you must read it.
4. Uncanny X-Force
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena, Esad Ribic, Mark Brooks
Who would have thought this concept would work? Matching two overstylised words into the title should have been a giveaway and yet the industry was shocked when Rick Remender made a deadly team of most of the ubercool and oversaturated character into the must read of the Marvel U. The art, the dialogue, the nasty stories, and the dedication to still being a superhero comic and yet meaning something below the taught tension of spandex makes Uncanny X-Force the best ‘mainstream’ comic of the year.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: R.M. Guera
Scalped is about to end and Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera obviously want to end with their strongest feet ready to land. This tale drags every character down deeper into the mires of the rez and watching everything intersect with such passion and violence is an operatic display of humanity at its most primal. If there was a Sam Peckinpah award in comics this book would get it hands down.
2. Criminal: Last of the Innocent
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Criminal has long been one of the best comics on the stands and this mini might well be its masterpiece. Right up there with Bad Night, this pulp redo of the Archie mythos takes a wholesome concept and doesn’t just subvert it for cheap exploitation but instead wrings it dry until you are left hating with such passion you know the book succeeded. This anti-noir will take you for everything you’re worth.
1. Green Wake
Writer: Kurtis J Wiebe
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Green Wake is a gloriously melancholy descent into the ethereal unreality of emotion. This Cronenbergian adaptation of a Hammett whisper grips you with its first moody page and doesn’t offer a chance of letting go. Green Wake is a comic written with truth at its soul. The art is exceptionally graphic not in violence but in emotion. The narrative is one hell of a ride but it's the experience of this comic that wins me over every time. You will only get one chance to read this book for the first time. And then you get the awesome rereads where you pick up so much more.
These are my picks, and there were plenty more great comics to miss out but come so close. Now, I must know, what are your top 10 list of great books from 2011? And what exactly did you think of mine?