Saturday, January 03, 2009

Year in Review 2008 Part 2 of 2

A quick publishing note the normal posts that I would do on Monday and Tuesday will be skipped as I will be out of town and will not have an opportunity to do "What I’m Getting Wednesday" or "Best to Worst". Gwen and Lee have kindly stepped in to do post those days and then after that we should be back to a more normal schedule.

The Best Comics Series of 2008 was Scalped.

At first I thought this would be a hard decision but as I went through and reviewed ever single week in review I had done I consistently found this book to a top book. Any week this book came out it was invariably a contender for the best book of the week. Scalped has continued to build on itself and just gets better and better and better. Jason Aaron reaches inside these characters and puts their raw emotions on the table for us to see. No one has a great life in this book, but you can feel the pain these characters go through each and every issue. Dash Bad Horse, Gina Bad Horse, Red Crow, Dino and everyone else are full developed and living and breathing characters.

The main artist on this book is excellent, I have never seen (or noticed perhaps) R.M. Guera’s work before, but it is fantastic work and fits this title like a tailored made suit. The colorist Giula Brusco also deserves kudos, because too many comics that use a dark or muted palette are often either hiding poor art or they are just being lousy and obscuring good art. Brusco’s perfect touch allows us to feel the mood of Scalped and still see all the wonderful detail and strength of Guera’s artwork.

This series is perhaps the second best series to ever come out of Vertigo (Sandman still being number one). If this series has a conclusion (which I dearly hope it does and also hope it is not for another 3 to 4 years) and continues in the fashion it has been done so far, it will be one of the best series ever done in comics. It is that good right now. I would love to see this done as a movie.

The best artist of the year is Amy Reeder Hadley.
It might be because I never saw her work before, but her work is pretty. I know that almost sounds like feint praise, but that’s what it is.
She has some of the most beautiful pencils I have ever seen done in a comic. She has a light line that conveys emotions and expressions as well as any other artist. She has a fluid feel to her artwork that makes her character come alive and reminds me of the fluid ability of great artist like Ditko and Alan Davis.
How much Matt Wagner is helping her in any direction for layout and design is unknown, but her story telling ability appears to be excellent. Finally the level of detail she brings to the various costumes and backgrounds make Madame Xanadu a great book to look at. I really hope DC gives this book a deluxe reprint treatment down the road.

We are blessed to have so many great artists in comics and I creditied the internet with the ability to use any artists anywhere in the world to help produce so many comics.

The Best Mini-Series of the Year was Locke & Key.
This was a very difficult decision because I think we have had so many great mini-series this year, but many overlap the years and some are not yet concluded, so Locke & Key gets the final nod. Joe Hill has given us a family in crisis that is real as your friend’s family and put them in a horror situation that is both supernatural and all too real as there are sick and twisted people in this world. I’m very happy that we will have another chapter of this family’s story coming out in 2009.

A lot of credit has to go to the artist Gabriel Rodriquez, whose style is realistic, but yet has a unique flavor to it that has a touch of cartoon styling to it.

What impressed most was the one issue that was about the young girl of the family and her dealing with all the issues of moving to a new town. While the overall story was moved forward and we had all the elements that make this book what it is, we still got a heartfelt story that made us understand and feel for this child like she was your own.
What shocked me recently is that I learned that Joe Hill is the pen name of Joe Hillstrom King and he is Stephen King’s son. I appreciate the fact that he is not trying to make a living off his father’s name and is a heck of a writer on his own.

Other Top Series – In No Particular Order

Action Comics – (DC) This book under Geoff Johns and Gary Frank was DC’s best in continuity DCU book.

Proof (Image) The creators have so much fun on this book that it is infectious. A series that wins my heart each and every issue and a book that I will gladly recommend to any comic or non-comic fan.

Echo (Abstract Studios) Terry Moore’s magus opus. You can tell as you are reading this book that the entire story from beginning to end is already completed and Terry is just sharing it with us an issue at a time. All the characters are so real and they are just caught up in an unreal situation.

Madam Xanadu(DC / Vertigo) The great art is matched by great stories from Matt Wagner. I also love how they weave in the regular DCU and Vertigo so deftly.

Daredevil – (Marvel) All of a sudden I think Brubaker has hit his stride with this book. Between the arc he did with Rucka and the Lady Bullseye story Brubaker has surpassed Bendis on this book and is setting his sights on Frank Miller. Michael Lark and Stephan Gaurdiano as the main artistic team are doing a great job on this title.

Catwoman – (DC) I truly miss this book. Writer Will Pfeifer with art by David Lopez and Alvaro Lopez were a terrific team and made each issue special and produced it in a timely fashion.

Batman – (DC) Love it or hate it, this was a series everyone was talking about. Personally I have enjoyed Grant’s take on Bruce Wayne and look forward to more stories from him on Bruce Wayne in the future.

JSA – (DC) The build up for the Kingdom Come story line felt like it took way too long, but the pay off has been worth and I’m anxiously looking forward to the conclusion.

Other series of note Ghost Rider (Marvel), Nightwing (DC), Superman/Batman (DC), House of Mystery (DC/Vertigo), Invincible (Image), Thor (Marvel) and Secret Six (DC).

Other Great Mini-Series or One Shots

I Kill Giants (Image) – This book is an outstanding series. The artwork reminds me a little of Calvin and Hobbes, the story is so touching as we watch Barbara deal with the real world horrors of watching her mother die of cancer. We also see Barbara fighting against giants and impossibly large titans in a world of her own making (or so I think).

The Twelve – (Marvel) The best updating of lame golden age characters ever done. JMS makes us feel and understand the time lost nature of people frozen in time and revived sixty years later and what they feel like in a world that has past them by. The fantastic art by Chris Weston is a perfect match as he evokes a feeling of yesteryear and today at the same time.

Dominion – (Boom) A terrific series that shows us what true heroism is all about and gave us a great invasion story.

Next Issue Project #1 (Fantastic Comics #24 ) – (Image) A one shot that gave us the next issue of a golden age comic, a very cool concept and a lot of fun.

BPRD – (Dark Horse) A series of mini-series. The Mignolverse is such a great place to lose yourself in and the impending doom that has been hinted at for years is getting closer and closer

DC / Wildstorm Dreamwar (DC/Wildstorm) – Fantastic art by Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott with an inventive story that gave us a reason for an old fashion super hero fight.

All Star Superman – (DC) I have sung the praises of this series and can’t wait for the Absolute Edition. A seminal run by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly and frankly the best Superman story ever told.

Helen Killer – (Arcana) What a fun book, that took a historical figure and took some historically accurate facts and turned it into a great adventure.

Dead She Said – (IDW) Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson doing pencil and inks, it was a joy to behold.

Other great mini-series, Batman Gotham After Midnight (DC), Final Crisis(DC), Sparks (Catastrophic Comics), City of Dust (Radical), Universal War One (Marvel), Abe Sapien The Drowning (Dark Horse), Final Crisis Legion of Three Worlds (DC), Guerillas (Image), The Roberts (Image), Necronomicon (Boom), Crawl Space: xxXombies(Image), and Hercules Thracian Wars (Radical).

The two worst things in 2008.

First was Secret Invasion and thankfully I avoided the vast majority of those tie-ins, for being one big set-up to take us to Dark Reign. Dark Reign maybe interesting, but Secret Invasion was a plot device masquerading as a story.

Second was Countdown and it’s spin-offs as it did not tie into Final Crisis at all and the weekly series was horrendous I think DC owes their fans an apology for the way they mishandled the lead in to Final Crisis.

To end on a positive note, my favorite Publisher this year has to be Radical Comics for producing Hercules, Caliber, Freedom Formula and City of Dust. Each series has been done with high production values and an eye towards quality.

Also catch a great Cosmic Comic Conversation about the 2008 Year in Review where you can hear me and others sing the praises of our favorite books.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I totally agree on best artist!

  3. What, no mention of Walking Dead?