Roy’s Top 11 in no particular order:
It is hard to come up with a list like this. At the end of the day, I had to go with which comics produced the most emotional response. Fantastic books in my collection look at me with hurt in their eyes. Honorable mentions to Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps, Swamp Thing and Animal Man, XO, Chew and Journey into Mystery. There can be only eleven.
1.Punisher: by Rucka. Call it Punisher, call it Punisher:Warzone, call it Beans on Toast-just read it. Before this I said if you could only have one/wanted to try out the character that you just needed Welcome Back, Frank by Ennis. Now I have to add this one. It bookends with Welcome Back rather nicely. It is just as dark, but with none of the humor. This story and the people in it have had all the humor leeched out of them. It follows the cops, victims, and reporters as much as it follows Frank, at least at the beginning.
2. New Deadwardians: I am not into zombies. I am not overly into victorain/edwardian crap just based on its flavor. But I love Dan Abnett. And I love New Deadwardians. While Abnett always gives a lot of depth to his characters, I know him in comics more for a big old-fashioned adventure yarn. Abnett and Culbard, instead offers a lot of quiet moments here. And also loud big and empty silences. “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way” as Pink Floyd would say. There was a war, and the old social strata are explored through the survivors-the vampires, the working class, and the shambling dead.
3. The Hypernaturals: Abnett and Lanning at it again! If the world of Hyperion Cantos and Legion of Superheroes had a baby this would be it. Mankind has spread amongst the stars with sentient AIs. The culture is post Technological Singularity. It is very Transhuman, but it is not gonna let science lessons take you away from the adventure! The Hypernaturals are the government Super team. When the current team goes missing, retired members and a few rookies have to pick up the pieces.
4. Saga: For how this book makes me feel I can only compare it to Fables and Moonshadow. Vaughan and Staples have created a delightful/horrible world. It is whimsicle but not saccharin. The best storytellers can make you love a character in moments. There are two great galactic powers who fight and drag everyone else into it. When two enemy soldiers fall in love and go awol, a hunt ensues for them and their child.
5. Aquaman: Johns and Reis deliver the best supers book on my shelves. (Okay a lot of the times it is not Ries, but it is still the best)
6. Fantastic Four/FF: by Hickman. Somebody was talking to me saying that Hickman has Grant Morrison Peyote Big Crazy Disease. I was like “Well, hell yeah!” But like Morrison, no matter how big and crazy it gets, it is still about the people involved. There is still emotional impact. It is hard to describe without giving things away. I will say it delivers what you want from an FF book: Doom, Inhumans, Namor, Celestials, Galactus, and more! Start at the beginning(Dark Reign Fantastic Four) and know you are in for a long ride. Your patience will be rewarded.
7. Manhattan Projects: Hickman and Pitarra being Peyote Big Crazy. It’s hard to tell anyone about this one. I don’t want to spoil the perverse joy that is this book. It is a world in which the atom bomb is the least scary/interesting thing to come out of the project. It is extreme people doing extreme things. Probably the most unique thing to hit me since Chew.
8. Before Watchmen: Minutemen. (Do you want to know what I think is the most telling thing about the whole Before Watchmen controversy? Moore has said he doesn’t want these works to somehow sully the original one. Then he went off to write another story about Mina Harker. Fuck Alan Moore)
In any case, this was probably the best pound for pound of the Watchmen stuff that has come out. Cooke does a fantastic job, as always. The old Minutemen get a lot of development. The history of the Minutemen as told through Hollis eyes. This is the first draft of Hollis’ book, and there is lot of juicy stuff that didn’t make the final edit. Cooke does a great job of adding new twists without pissing over everything that has come before.
9. Batman & Robin: This is best Batman book on the shelves. Batman runs a close second. This book deals largely with the relationship between Bruce, Damien, Alfred and Titus. There are still villains and adventure, and it does get quite dark. Tomasi always delivers whether on this or Green Lantern Corps.
10. Stitched: Ennis and Wolfer give us a horror story set in the warzones of the middle east. If you have been turned off by Ennis before, trust me in that he doesn’t always feel need to write about drowning in vomit, or shitting on people, or blood speckled semen. I guess he just can’t maintain that level of quality. Or maybe a priest comes by every now and then and the ghost of a ten year old boy is driven out, if only for a time. When these conditions are met Ennis is perfect for delivering military fiction. Its stranded behind enemy lines with a horrific twist. However, I can only recommend the first arc. Stop reading when Ennis leaves. Or not…to each their own.
11. Uncanny X-Force: Remender’s X-Force is the best mutie book on my shelves. Like a lot of things (Hickman’s FanFour/FF, Morrison’s Batman) you really need to start at the beginning. It’s what you would expect in an X-Force book, a lot of it explores the ethics of killing. It’s not poorly written Punisher/Wolverine where everyone foams at the mouth to killl Kill KILL! But they ain’t gonna cry all night after killing Nazis either. The character mix is great and the hilarious dialogue it engenders is lol worthy, but Remender doesn’t beat you over the head with it ala Bendis/Sorkin. The humor and snark never get in the way of the story. All the characters grow from their experiences on this team, but ultimately the focus is on Warren, Betsy, and the omnipresent threat of Apocalypse.
Now for the opposition’s response.
Eric’s Top 11 (Also in no particular order)
Well 1-3 will be easy as they are repeats from last year: Aquaman, Daredevil, Amazing/Superior Spider-Man: They are still great and some of the best superhero books on the market right now!
4. Morning Glories: This has made my list every year and every year I tell you guys I still don’t know what is going on but it is GREAT! That is still true though things are starting to come together, at least in part. This is the one book the entire staff agrees on. A very rare thing. If you have not checked it out do yourself a favor. First TP is only 9.99 and it is worth the price. Plus comes with money back guarantee from Tribe. Don’t like it bring it back we will give you your money back.
5. Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi: A look back at where the Jedi came from. It is done by the same creative team as Star Wars Legacy another favorite of Roy and myself. It reads better in trade or chucks of individual issues but it is so damn good.
6. Thief of Thieves: A great caper book. If you liked the Ocean Movies you will love this book. Image keeps selling out of it but the first arc is collected in TP.
7. Mouse Guard Black Axe: The latest installment of Mouse Guard just finished up and it was great! I love mouse guard so damn much. This one should be out collected later this summer. A book on mice I never would thought I love quite this much but I so do. Art is AMAZING and the writing compelling. A great all ages book that is great for adults as well.
8. Journey Into Mystery: I can not believe Roy did not include this book on his top 11 and only gave it a honorable mention. Kid Loki is the best character to come out of Marvel this decade. A trickster god given a new start and trying to be a hero by the only way his nature will let him…lying and deceiving the villains and heroes into doing what needs to be done. It is simply great. While the series just finished it is done and well worth checking out.
9. Fantastic Four/FF by Hickman: Ok now for a review that will not scare the rest of you away from Hickman’s FF/Fantastic Four run. While he and Grant Morrison both do grand big tapestry crazy stories Hickman’s stories are what Mr Morrison’s would be if someone would just get him to write after the trip and not during. Where Morrison sometimes seems to lose the point (and reader) Hickman will bring it all back around and tie it up with a pretty bow. This maybe the single best run of Marvel’s First Family!
10. Earth 2: Everyone knows I am a HUGE JSA fan. I was not happy about the whole them being young and starting out again. Plus James Robinison’s latest stories, prior to this, have not been as good as his earlier work. Earth Two however is beyond anything I could have hoped for. The new versions of the Jay, Alan and Kendra are different while still capturing the essence of the character. He managed to give a post “Big War” feel without having it tied to WWII and the art by Nicola Scott maybe the best of her career.
11. Untold History of Marvel Comics: Ok so it is not a comic book but it is a book that every LCBS should have on their shelves. If you ever wanted to know how all the sausage was made from Marvel’s start till early 2000’s this is your book. I could not put it down. All the personality conflict and management debacles, not to mention all the close calls with bankruptcy. I coudl not put this book down. It is well worth your time to give this a read.
And that closes out the Dragon. It will be interesting to see what the Year of the Snake gives us for comics.