The Best of 2011: Comics

Snapper Carr:

Breakout Character: Roy Harper: Before the new 52, Roy Harper was many things. He was a cat killer, a villain and a drug addict. Let’s flash forward to the New 52. He is a drunk, kind of a dick, and really funny but at the end of the day he really just wants to be a hero. After attempting to be killed by Killer Croc, he pulled himself together and got Waylon James (a Batman Villain) as his A.A sponsor, attempted to liberate an evil Middle Eastern government and slept with his sort of best friend’s girl. Roy Harper is far from being a perfect character but definitely one of the most interesting characters in comic books.

Biggest DisappointmentSupergirl. Yes, I loved most of 52 but there was plenty of trash that I read. Here are a few titles: Supergirl, Green Arrow and Stormwatch. I expected so much from Supergirl because I figured the origin would be different and wouldn’t be the normal, “Oh her shipped crashed on Earth and she is confused and lost and that is the end of issue one”. Ugh…..that is exactly what happened. Issue one and issue two consisted only of fight scenes and zero character development. To me that is pretty boring. If I could redo the first couple of issues, I would do it without the suit and I would do it on Krypton. It would give the reader a better introduction to who Kara is and what she will become. The point of 52 is to be new and exciting, the 52 Supergirl we were given is boring and stale.

Best CompanyDC Comics. Through 2010 and mid-way through 2011, comics were not doing it for me. Comics were too fast of a read and I was getting bored easily. For years, I was a huge fan of DC Comics but up until last year that began to fade. When 52 happened it changed everything. 1) My wallet had less cash in it. 2) DC was kicking ass again. Many complained that DC was only doing it for the money. I can’t deny that but I want to believe that maybe they did it for the fans also. Pre-52: Besides Green Lantern and Batman, the rest of the DC Universe sucked. Superman complained about not feeling human enough, Wonder Girl kept flip flopping on whether or not she was the right leader for the Teen Titans and the Justice League was full of B and C rated superheroes. The final months of 2011 put an end to all that bullshit. The Superman we all know and love is finally back, Aquaman is cool, and those that voted to kill Jason Todd realized they were wrong.

Best Artist: Joe Eisma. This was a tough choice. First off, I am going to explain why I didn’t pick Jim Lee. Justice League Issue four’s art was a little sloppy. The final match was Kenneth Rocafort, Red Hood and the Outlaws vs Joe Eisma, Morning Glories. At first I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rocafort’s art. The images of the people in the background always seemed a bit off. However, I began to notice the brilliance in his art. I’ve noticed the incredible skill in the characters’ expressions. The movement of the lips and eyebrows really added an element to the story-telling. Dear Joe Eisma, please do more books! Thanks- all your fans. Eisma’s artistic skills bring a truly important element to Morning Glories. The face expressions, the body movement, the architectural and landscape details are flawless. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artist draw vomit and Joe Eisma nailed it. The winner is Joe Eisma.

Best Writer: Geoff Johns.This started out as Battle Royale: Jason Aaron vs Geoff Johns vs Brian Michael Bendis vs Scott Lobdell vs Grant Morrison vs Robert Kirkman. And the winner is… Geoff Johns. Let me state some facts for you. In less than a decade he brought back Hal, Barry and he made Booster Gold a true hero. But, in 2011 he made Sinestro a Green Lantern again. Let’s not forget, he did the unthinkable. Somehow, he made Aquaman a really cool superhero. For the last three years, the Justice League of America was full of wannabes. Thank Rao for that not being the case anymore.  Geoff Johns brought back the Big Six! I say six because I’m not sure how I feel about Cyborg being on the team.

Best Single Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #672. When I learned about “Spider-Island” I thought meh. Jeez, I was 100% wrong. The entire story arc was magnificent. Everyone in NYC got spiderpowers, Dan Slott brought back Kaine, and MJ said those three words that guys freak out at.  My Best Single Issue of 2011 is The Amazing Spider-Man #672. Have you ever read a conclusion of a story arc and be utterly disappointed with? Me too, it happens a lot!!! That was not the case with this issue. It was clever, fun, and ended on a high note. Mid-way through “Spider Island”, there were rumors spreading that Ben Reilly was being brought back from the grave but Slott shocked us all with Kaine. For years, Kaine has been decaying but he fell into some kind of gunk and now looks exactly like Peter. With Kaine normal and fighting along aside Spidey, it was fun reading their back and forth witty rapport. If you are a Spider fan you know about “Parker luck” aka, life sucks. In one of the few times in his life, he saved everybody and no one died. By the way, I loved when Mary Jane told Peter she loved him but since he was in the moment, he was deaf to it. By the way, Mary Jane > Gwen Stacy.

Best Overall Comic Book: Invincible. It took me a few hours to decide on this one. I went through Dan Slott’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Grant Morrison’s version of Superman and Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. I decided on Invincible because it’s the best superhero comic book in the universe. As readers, we are so used to the writers never really developing the character and doing the same story over and over again with little tinkering. Mark Grayson aka Invincible could be the most flawed superhero of all time. In 2011, Mark and his father went to war own with their own species (the Viltrumites). The war ended with a stalemate. The Earth was saved and the Viltrumites were allowed to breed with humans. While he was at war, his girlfriend had an abortion. Most recently, Mark decided to a free Dinosaurus (a villain who blew up Las Vegas) because he believed he was right in doing so. According to teasers, Mark will no longer be Invincible in 2012.

Gabriel Partridge:

Breakout characterVincent Morrow (Witch Doctor). This new Image (on the Skybound imprint) comic is so fresh in the comic world. It is equal parts hilarious and gruesome. It’s Fringe, meets Doctor Who with just the right amount of grotesquery thrown in. He has the charming wit of David Tennant version of the Doctor with the Frankenstein-ian madness of Walter Bishop on Fringe. Pretty damn good mix for me.

Biggest Disappointment:  Mark Waid’s Daredevil. As a huge Daredevil fan, I was really pumped for this comic. I was excited to see Daredevil returning to his non-emo days. Recently, he’s been a kind of woe-is-me whiner (although I did really like Daredevil Reborn) and I was looking forward to seeing Matt get back to his good old days.  I suppose they kind of got him back to that version of Matt but that was really about all they did for me.  They spent too much time on the Jobrani court case (Matt being a lawyer, is admittedly a big part of the comics, but I guess it just doesn’t really do it for me anymore) and not enough time with Daredevil thrashing villains. While it definitely wasn’t an awful series, it just sort of left me with a “meh”, unsatisfied feeling.

Best CompanyDC. It’s really hard not to talk about DC’s New 52.  They did a really incredible marketing move this year with the New 52. Love it or hate it, we all bought it. It helped reintroduce a lot of old fans back into comics and brought in a whole slew of new ones. There were a lot of less than perfect issues introduced this year with the New 52 but there were a helluva lot of good-to-awesome new titles. All-Star Western, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Red Hood and the Outlaws , Justice League, Batman, Green Lantern and Detective Comics made the whole thing worthwhile.

Best ArtistGabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key): Three words: Hoooo Leee Shit. Gabriel Rodriguez is an unbelievable artist. Rodriguez and Joe Hill really are the absolute perfect balance of a wonderful writer paired with a shockingly (and I mean “shockingly” in every sense of the word, given some of those incredibly bloody, gruesome scenes) outstanding artist. They come together to make the best comic I have ever read (and I really don’t mean to be gushing with my love for this comic, but I really can’t help it).I’ve always been one to feel that good art is just to accompany the more important: good writing. Gabriel Rodriguez made me completely change my POV. The art to this comic is so important that if a lesser artist were to do it, Joe Hill’s brilliant writing would be completely lost to its audience.  A great story is one thing, so many comics have a great idea or a great writer, but to be able to pair that with a truly impeccable artist like Rodriguez? Well, that’s one in a million.

Best Writer: Scott Snyder (American Vampire, Swamp Thing, Batman, Severed) Is this guy serious with the year he’s had? He’s doing one of the best ongoing series out right now in American Vampire. It’s such a brilliant and unique take on the vampire genre that’s become so popular and bogged down with tweeny romance bullshit . Swamp Thing is one of the bright lights of DC’s New 52, and is a pretty damn cool take on classic muddy monster. Severed is one of those rarities. It’s part mysterious, part horror, and all addicting. Snyder’s Batman is one of the top 5 New 52 titles. It (as well as Detective Comics) have done a good job of getting back to Bat’s detective roots. Every issue is a mystery in Snyder’s Batman. He’s also created a pretty sweet mysterious villain in Talon. Everything this man does keeps me on the edge of my seat and wanting to read more.

Best Single Issue:  Morning Glories #11. This is such a freaking cool comic. As one of the biggest fans of Lost you’ll ever find, this comic is right up my alley. It’s so goddamn, frustratingly, yet satisfyingly confusing. It always keeps me guessing and scratching my head. This issue in particular was satisfying. In a series that gives you so many question and cliffhangers, this one gave you a few answers (as well as a fucking awesome question/cliffhanger). We finally got to know a little about the little douchebag Ike, which got the audience to understand exactly why we should hate him (or be intrigued by why he’s even included in this group). It’s rare for me to like an entire issue that’s based on a character that I hate but this one was incredible. It delved into the past of the character and left us with one of the best cliffhangers/twists in recent comics: the imprisoned man and the man we were supposed to think Ike killed in the beginning of the issue, is revealed to be Ike’s seemingly deceased father, and one of the most mysterious characters in the comic, Abraham.

Best Overall Comic: Locke & Key. I really cannot say enough good things about this comic. As I mentioned before Gabriel Rodriguez really does some of the best art I’ve ever seen. The finale to Keys to Kingdom (Detectives, Part 2) did exactly what any good ongoing series should do: leave us wanting more. It was a great conclusion to a great story arc and left me itching for the next story. I really am just waiting for this series to fail and disappoint me because nothing can be this awesome for this long but it really continues to do just that. My favorite issue of the series (and possibly favorite issue of the year) was the opening issue to Clockworks; The Locksmith’s Son. We finally got the awesome flashback to Locke kid’s predecessors in 1775 and the inception of the keys, which was fuckin’ sweet. In my Best of 2011 post I really, truly and wholeheartedly, could have used Locke & Key for it all. And I mean Every. Single. Category. (with my  biggest- nay, only disappointment being that it has a timeline for an end date). I had to struggle to not use Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s incredible series as my best of for everything in this post, because, while they deserve it, what fun would that be?

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