Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A rededication...

Perhaps my single favorite comic book issue of 2009

After finding myself spending far too much time on FaceBook playing Mafia Wars I've decided to return to the blogosphere and to an activity I've been missing an awful lot lately, blogging. In particular I've really missed blogging about comics and the industry that produces them on a weekly basis. My New Year's Resolution for 2010 is to return to posting, at the least, one article per week about one of my favorite pastimes, comic books.

With that said, here is my year end, Top Ten List of the books I enjoyed the most in 2009.

10. R.E.B.E.L.S. (D.C.) With the exception of the two "Darkest Night" crossover books this has been one of my favorite titles of 2009. Tony Bedard handles the writing part of the book with a true aficionado's appreciation of the original L.E.G.I.O.N. title while at the same time creating a new and interesting storyline. Unlike Hannibal Tabu over at CBR (Who in my humble opinion wouldn't know a good comic book if it came up and sat on his hip hop face.) I think Tony handles the character Vril Dox with perfect understanding. While Vril Dox and his motivations for doing whatever it is he decides to do at any given time are central to the book, it is the antics of the front line characters who are manipulated by him that provide the center stage action of the series. Vril Dox is a behind the scenes puppet master. Tony understands this and handles Vril Dox with subtly and finesse. The best annual of the year too...

9. Greek Street (Vertigo) Again, a book that Hannibal Tabu dismisses as incomprehensible is to me a sophisticated and well plotted read. (It simply proves to me that being hip doesn't make one literate.) Peter Milligan's writing is elegant and gritty at the same time. He's produced a book that I can can only describe as a beautiful portrayal of the grand ugly. I'll miss the artistic stylings of Davide Gianfelice when he moves on, but for the time being these two have teamed up in a great book. This is a book I put my big boy panties on to read...

8. The Unwritten (Vertigo) If you enjoy something more in your comic book diet than capes, cowls, rings or super powers this is a book you'll look forward to reading every month. Mike Carey has created a marvelous world with a slowly unfolding story line that keeps me coming back for more with each new issue. I thought issue five, "How The Whale Became" was as good a story as I read in 2009. Again, this is a grownup book that requires the reader to engage their mind as actively as they engage their eyes. If you enjoy reading, you'll like this book.

7. Incarnate (Radical) Nick Simmons (Son of Kiss front man, Gene Simmons.) makes his comic book debut with this book. I have to admit that I was surprised and in no small way impressed with his abilities in handling both the writing and pencils of this book. Nick has talent and I hope he continues to contribute to the Radical line of comics in 2010. This three issue mini-series really entertained me and I'd like to see more of the characters he spawned in this series.

6. Citizen Rex (Dark Horse) I'm normally not the biggest fan of black and white titles. I just don't think many of today's artists understand how to make the genre work and the books just don't do it for me. The Hernandez brothers are masters of the genre and Citizen Rex was as good a read as there was to be found in 2009. The six issue mini-series was entertaining, well paced and a damn fine piece of science fiction extrapolation. This book is the ideal of what I think comics can be at their best. The story was well written and I enjoyed book six as much as I enjoyed book one. (I'm so sick and tired of mini-series titles that work for five of the six issues and then collapse into unresolved piles of spaghetti in the final book of the series. ) This story was seamless and complete. Period... The covers were sweet, the inside panels too. In a nutshell, the best damn black and white book I've read in a very long time.

5. Solomon Kane (Dark Horse) Spooky and dark. I simply couldn't believe what a great storyline Scott Allie managed to pull out of the scraps left to us by Robert Howard. This is another book that left me wanting more when I finished the mini-series and I'm very happy to report that a new Solomon Kane book is coming in 2010. And it will be illustrated by Guy Davis! I love Guy's work and can't wait to read the next installment of this title.

4. Incognito (Icon) Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker produced one of the best six issue mini-series titles of the year. I didn't want this series to end and as far as I'm concerned they could start a company of their own with the characters in this story and I'd buy every book in the line. Seriously, this was story telling at its most engaging and entertaining level. I want more...

3. The Dream Hunters (Vertigo) Neil Gaiman and P Craig Russell produced the most beautiful book of 2009. Visually one of the most engaging books I read this year and at the same time one of the most intelligent and sophisticated comic books I've ever read. Short run titles have become my favorite books these days. I like stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. I'm tired of the infinite cliff hangers that were the staple of the industry for so many years. Give me a story that runs a good course and isn't afraid of ending. I'm tired of characters that never die. Books like this prove that a character can die and a story end without bringing down the company. I wish there were more books like this on store shelves today.

2. B.P.R.D. (Dark Horse) Both the story arcs, "1947" and the conclusion to "War of Frogs" were great pieces of story telling. I'll never forget turning the page in issue four of 1947 and seeing poor Simon covered in bites and drifting away on the sea of oblivion while the succubi fed upon him. Mike Mignola is a god, plain and simple... Just as I will never forget issue four of 1947, I will probably be haunted forever by the final panels in book four of, "War on Frogs". I don't want to ever pass into the great beyond and find something like that waiting to carry me home. Gross and ugh! I still shudder when I think about it...

1. Hellboy (Dark Horse) The Wild Hunt was Hellboy at his best and I can't wait to see what Mignola has in store for 2010. Hellboy has begun to fulfill his destiny, but will it be the one everyone else has in mind for him or will he finally free himself from a predestined path and begin a journey solely of his own design? Mike Mignola represents what I believe to be the best of Dark Horse and the majority of the books they produce. Mike Mignola does whatever Mike Mignola wants to do and if the fan likes it, so be it. If the fan doesn't like it, so what, Mike remained true to his vision and his work carries a real integrity for doing so. And Mike knows how to relegate responsibility to quality people to work with his creations and trust in their ability to deliver quality goods. Scott Allie, Guy Davis... Need I say more?


  1. Interesting list.

    I honestly agree that Vril's characterization is awesome ... whenever we see him. I'd love the book to have way more panel time for him and I'd buy it a lot more, leaving it in my "hip hop face" (I love that, hilarity).

    I also am on board with your Incognito recommendation. Good stuff.

  2. Uh, Doh!? I didn't even realize Hannibal Tabu read my blog...

    Thanks for agreeing with me on the Incognito pick. I loved the book and if I weren't such a fan of Dark Horse titles I'd have probably made it my number one book.

    I do sheepishly admit to reading your column on a regular basis. Dude, could you at least consider looking at more books that aren't Marvel? Please? Seriously, there are some great books being produced and I think you miss a lot of them because you focus too much on the twenty year eterna-run books. Just take a look at some some of the short run titles that aren't Marvel or D.C. and you might be surprised.

    And thank you for your gracious comment. I'm not sure I deserved it...


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