At this point quite a few “Best of” lists for comics have come out. What I have to pick and what I have to say about them will not be shockingly different but I’m going to go for it anyway. I will point out here at the start that the fourth Love and Rockets: New Stories is not on this list because I haven’t read it or obtained it yet but I can say with all confidence that if I had that it would be on this list. So officially unofficially just go ahead and count it everybody. Away we go.
Mark Waid, Paolo & Joe Rivera, Marcos Martin, Marvel Comics
This sucker is on everybody’s list because it deserves to be. It’s so shockingly classic, old-school refreshment. Mark Waid is on the game that he was hitting when Wieringo was drawing the Flash or whenever he writes Captain America. The plotting is airtight and dense with incident. The characters are individuals with clear motivations. Every issue stands on its own. You could pick up the middle chapter of either of the two three-parters that have been published to date and be able to get into effortlessly, because every issue could be somebody’s first everybody. The Rivera’s and Martin, if accolades were cargo on a ship the ship would sink from weight. This art is gorgeous Rivera is clean and concise with ink lines that manage to look like pen and brush simultaneously. It’s like John Romita Sr.’s spirit traveled through time from 1968 and possessed this dude’s body. Rivera was the surprise here, we’ve all known for a long time that Martin was special and the moment you see him the clock starts ticking for the day when he moves away from the dregs of big two publishing and goes Mazzucchelli all over our asses.
J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, Dave Stewart, DC Comics
I’m not going to talk about the art. The art is stunning, a foregone conclusion, even when the layouts don’t quite work I appreciate the ambition of them. The biggest trade up is that Williams has opted for a much slinkier, dripping with sex aesthetic in the new series. Batwoman is a sexy book. What I like about this and what I liked about the original run in Detective Comics was that all this gorgeous art was wrapped around pretty trope-tastic, unassuming, superhero plot lines Batwoman’s secret identity is constantly in danger, she’s a little over her head, she keeps screwing up her romances, and can’t move past the tragedy of her origins. Surprise this is the most engaging Spider-Man comic since 1987!
Journey into Mystery
Kieron Gillen, Dougie Braithwaite, Whilce Portacio, Richard Elson, Marvel Comics
Kieron Gillen is a talented motherfucker. Journey into Mystery’s scripts are so engaging, Neil Gaiman minus coyness, that he could overcome one of Marvel’s jive-ass numbering/retitling scenes, losing Dougie Braithwaite for Whilce Portacio halfway through, and Shit Itself (also known as Fear Itself too few who care now.) I wanna see how the puzzle fits together, I wanna see Loki not get busted and also get busted. I’m in this long game.
Captain America: Gulag (Captain America #616-619)
Ed *never gonna leave Cap* Brubaker, Butch *I ❤ Steranko* Guice, Chris *I’ll be Darwyn Cooke in 10 years* Samnee, Mike *sigh* Deotado, and Bettie *Godaymn!* Breitweiser, Marvel *Sorry for Fear Itself we shouldn’t bring it up again* Comics
This shouldn’t have worked. Three artists who don’t look even a little bit alike stylistically working on a story that had a much better ending stolen from it by Shit Itself (I don’t care how cordial what Brubaker says they fucked him out of his “Bucky fakes an ignominious death in Russian prison”ending.) That said this ended up being a tight little conspiracy section full of everybody trying to fuck the heroes over and wins that were only technical at best.
Mike Mignola, Duncan Fergredo, Dave Stewart
There finally came a day when if somebody says “Nobody drew Hellboy better than Mignola” the other person at this here social could say legit, “I think Fergredo did.” Cause Fergredo matched Mignola’s tightness and shadows and beat him at scale. Mignola could never draw “The Fury” as is, he would’ve had to lower the boom a bit to match his claustrophobic scale. But that’s all supposings, what happened is that Mike Mignola tied together the mythology of fifteen years of publishing, of apocalyptic armies he wouldn’t want to draw gathering and then boiled it down to one last monster fight, a good finish. However for all the craft on display it was the ad for what comes next that put this over the top, Mignola’s self-described “retirement comic”.
Craig Thompson, Pantheon
In terms of that “Asterios Polyp” big project in 2011 (what was 2010’s, I’m blanking) it was a toss up between this and Chester Brown’s “Prostitutes Like It, I Need to Cummmmmmm” this was sure the one I read it. It gets by on density and ridiculously skilled cartooning. It’s a little too rapey, a little too precious, a little too full of impossible love. Amazing to look at but hard for me to love it made me think, “get him a writer to polish this up and we could have something”. Would you call this fainted with damned praise?
Prison Pit Book 3
Johnny Ryan, Fantagraphics
I found out that Prison Pit is supposed to last for six books. So when it comes to Book 3 Ryan smartly sidesteps the escalation of the first two books by introducing a new character and plot for most of this one and taking Cannibal Fuckface’s story to a different place then I think any of us would have figgered. This might be weird but it reminded me of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes”. Charlton Heston shows up mostly at the end and the whole middle is James Franciscus fighting radioactive mutants and only some apes. I might of lost the thread on the comparison here.
-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011