Supplemental Best of 2010: Lots of Text!

As I said, I had an enormous list of potential "Best of" candidates that were ruthlessly whittled down to the top ten that has by now been enshrined in the hearts of nerdlingers everywhere. But why should all of my hard work go to waste, huh? Thus: the runners-up post.

First up, a list of books that I unfairly disqualified due to the fact that they have continued to be good rather than attaining greatness this year. Sustained quality should be praised but is kind of wearying to write about. Still, many of these brought me just as much delight as anything else this year.

Action Comics - The Superman books have been all over the place this year, but through it all, Action has been a safe haven. And now it features Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen, the two greatest Metropolitans of all!

Atomic Robo - Brian Clevinger has already attained a place in my "Top Comics of All Time" with this series, and every time he brings something like Dr. Dinosaur or the electric ghost of Thomas Edison into the mix he just nudges himself a bit higher up the charts.

BATMANS - Probably would have made the big list, only I felt kind of squirrelly typing in "Detective Comics, every other issue of Batman, the Return of Bruce Wayne, Batgirl, Batwoman, Batman Inc, Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Knight and Squire, that one 80-Page Giant and about half of Joker's Asylum II" as one comic. But seriously, this has been a great year for Batman.

Casanova - I completely missed the boat on this comic the first time around, so these reprints are a godsend to me.

Chew - I would love Chew if it were just a list of amazing new food-related superpowers in a spiral-bound notebook. The fact that it is an amazing comic is just gravy.

Doom Patrol - I love all incarnations of the Doom Patrol, even John Byrne's (but not as much as the others), so having Keith Giffen writing a fun, funny series that does a pretty danged amazing job of synthesizing their ultra-damaged continuity into something that works is like getting a birthday present every month.

Hellboy - Unless Mike Mignola goes crazy some day, and it is a very specific kind of crazy that causes him to make boring comics, this will always be on my list. Not only were the regular series filled with amazing revelations to delight the senses but there were two whole one-shot issues - a rare and amazing occurrence!

King City - More amusement per page than any other comic out there, plus lotsa great cat characters. If you like that kind of thing.

Power Girl - Of course no Power Girl comic will ever equal the Amanda Conner era and there have been a few rough patches, but I am still enjoying this, and as that was way more than I expected I shall tip my hat accordingly.

REBELS - It is an inarguable fact that the more Brainiacs you have in a comic, the better it is. Well, this book currently averages 3-5 per issue. It's a no-brainer!

Secret Six - Super-villains! Gail Simone writes super-villains like nobody's business - watching Bane become a likeable and interesting character was like watching an intricate magic trick. I saw it, I don't quite know how it was done and I am filled with delight.

Sweet Tooth - Jeff Lemire just keeps on filling me with that delicious despair. Odds of there being a happy ending: LOW.

Unwritten - Continues to shine. I just tried to think of an especially incredible issue to highlight here and ended up thinking of every issue in the series, sequentially. 

Usagi Yojimbo - Stan Sakai just hits this comic out of the park every issue. I kick myself that I didn't buy it for so long.

I have a bunch more, actually, but I'll leave them until tomorrow, lest you tire of me. 

John Buys Comics - Ill-Advised Edition

Yes, it's the weekly comics review by me, Johnathan. This week: I have been lured away from my post by old university friends and am, to put it euphemistically, suffering from heat exhaustion. 

Jersey Gods No. 12 - Oh, hell. I was really enjoying this series, but I guess that 12 is one of the magic "YOUR BOOK ISN'T SELLING ENOUGH" numbers. Wait, why wasn't this book selling enough? It was great! The entire population of a planet fused together into one colossal cosmic entity to destroy an asteroid! Kirby-style cosmic being had to meet Earth-style in-laws! There was a fast guy named Rushmore! Dammit, there are Philistines all around me.

Kill Shakespeare No. 2 - I may not have read quite as much Shakespeare as I convinced my English professors that I had, but I have to admit to being downright excited by some of the character dynamics in this comic. Richard III and Iago, two of the most deceitful characters in history, leading Hamlet, one of the most credulous, around by the nose? Only hijinks can ensue! And the art continues to delight! Please stifle any reverse-snobbishness that might be preventing you from picking this up: it is wonderful on any level of in-the-knowishness.

Atomic Robo and the Revenge of the Vampire Dimension No. 4 - Look, my love for Atomic Robo is a matter of public record, but independent of that, I wish to state that Dr Dinosaur is one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. In support of this, I refer you to page 3, panels 2-5. That is all. 

War of the Supermen No. 3 - I know that I have been harshing on the Superman family of books on and off all year, but ultimately I would have to say that this is how you should run an event: keep it in the pants of the character's books. In the case of superman, things have been playing out in his own book, Action, Adventure and in half a dozen miniseries like this one. Tons of other heroes appear, sure, but in supporting roles, because there's no real need for the JLA and the JSA and the Teen Titans and Simon Dark and Oberon to each have their own special in which they battle an enraged Kryptonian. You can already picture how each of those fights go, right? TAH DAAA! No need for one thousand crappy tie-in issues.

Zatanna No 1 - Oh dang, I totally bogarted this from Dave even though he had something to say about it. Sorry Dave!

Wait, I have something to say too! AHEM: this issue has about one hundred really cool ideas, tied together by so-so writing. I'm going to blame the so-so-ness on the fact that this issue is chock-full of exposition and such, because there is the core of a really cool series here. And some very cool villains, too. I just hope that things even out in subsequent issues, because I really like the idea of a war against the magical Mob, complete with bearded guys in robes as enforcers. Keep on keepin' on, Dini!

The Spirit No. 2 - A huge improvement over No. 1, even if Yvette Plaisir/Angel Smerti had a weirdly and inconsistently rendered head and neck (I'm talking disconcertingly small, here). I'll continue to reserve judgement.

Legion of Super-Heroes No. 1 - I am definitely not the right person to tell you just how accessible this is to folks who aren’t already familiar with the Legion, as well as the DCU in general. I think that this issue and by extension this series are fairly accessible, barring having to pick up the trade of that Action Comics story from a couple of years back. Basically, as someone who reads comics that were written before I was born as a hobby, this sort of thing is super-plus great. For those of you that live in the now, I reckon that it could be regular great. Trust me.

Hey, I wrote this one while I was sober! "Brightest Day No. 2 - Okay, it looks like there aren’t going to be as many people saying “Brightest Day” in this as the Number 0 issue made it look, so instead I’m going to start tracking the ratio of horrifying events symptomatic of the kind of storytelling that this series is supposedly part of a general trend away from AS COMPARED TO the total number of issues. So far: 3/3.

On a positive note, it kind of looks like Firestorm is black in this issue, like he’s a combination of Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch(sp?)’s physical forms, and that would be a cool way of addressing the whole “inadvertent whitewashing” aspect of rolling back so many of the legacy heroes. In this one case, of course; it doesn’t make Ryan Choi less dead. Also, it might just be all of the weird lighting effects on Firestorm’s face because of his head being on fire."

Later Addendum: I don't really think that he looks black. I just want to. Dammit DC, THROW US A BONE HERE.

American Vampire No. 3 - THIRD ISSUE RECAP!

Pearl, an aspiring actress in 1920s Hollywood, is lured to a party and used as fodder by aristocratic European vampires. Despite being driven out into the desert and tossed into a mass grave, she manages to survive long enough for her friends to find her and get her to a doctor. She is still slowly dying, though, which prompts the enigmatic vampire Sweet to turn her and set her on the path of revenge. Bloody hijinks ensue.

Also, there is a backup story written by Stephen King and detailing exactly how Sweet came to be the only American vampire. Lots of beheadings!

Weathercraft - Came out last week, but I was lazy. It's no better this week, because I really have to go to bed soon, so in lieu of a legitimate review, here is an anecdote. 

When I used to work in a library, I abused my powers to take The Frank Book out for more than six months, in which time I read it maybe a dozen times. Jim Woodring's work is fascinating, folks, and Weathercraft is no exception. If you don't have a visceral dislike for books that are wordless and in black and white then I heartily recommend it.

And that's that. No pictures this week, unless I get really ambitious in the morning. Just the drunken truth, ayup. 

Good night, folks.

John Takes a Moment Away From Floating Down the River in an Inner Tube to Buy Comics

The mid-February statutory holiday has been shot down in flames once more here in Nova Scotia, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands and cashed in a week’s vacation. You might think that that would mean that my reviews of the week’s comics would be all shiny and done as early as can be, but if you did you would be a fool. A FOOL I SAY! Here they are, as late as can be:

Mesmo Delivery

This is one of those comics that I like so much that I want to open my review with a swear (today’s swear: holy hot damn!) and barely want to review at all, for fear of giving away plot points that were essential to my joy.

I shall persevere, however. I am nothing if not strong. First, the bare bones of the plot: a gigantic ex-boxer and a grizzled Elvis impersonator are driving a big rig, on their way to deliver a mysterious cargo. As you can see on the cover, there is a fight at some point. And that’s all I can bear to give away – even though I’ve reread this book at least two times the initial unfolding of the plot was so unexpected and enjoyable that I couldn’t in good conscience deprive another of.

What I will comment on, however, is the art, which is both insane and insanely terrific. Heck, this book would be worth noting for the super-nice logo designs alone, but Rafael Grampá has done a beautiful job here on both character design and crazy super action. This is an amazing first book - hell, this would be an amazing twenty-first book – there’s no question of me not eagerly snatching up any further books by Grampá.

Resurrection No. 8

I bought this issue of Resurrection because I enjoy reading the ISB and I like supporting folks, so I can’t really comment on the main story since I have no idea what’s going on (though having still-living former president Bill Clinton as part of the cast is a pretty damn novel idea. Usually a president’s got to be at least fifty years dead or Nixon to get that sort of starring role). I caught the basic plot pretty easily: aliens have invaded, stayed for ten years and then left again and now folks are trying to put the world back together. It’s interesting enough and looks good enough that I’ll be checking it out further.

But as I said, I bought it for the backup by Chris Sims/Chad Bowers and Rusty Shackles, and that backup features teenage boys in an apocalyptic future trying to get some lady-time and using the wisdom of 80s cinema to do so. And as much as I like to think that I would be concerned with higher things in such a situation, I know that this is not true – I too would probably be overly concerned with propagating the species. So: looked great, well-written and spoke to me on a spiritual level. Hurrah!

Almost Silent – For many years I only half noticed Jason as the guy with the weird animal-style comics with dark overtones that showed up in a lot on anthologies and such, and then I looked a little closer and saw that he was incredible and delightful to mine eyes and brain, respectively. This book collects four of his earlier works, which is great for me as I haven’t had the free cash to pick them up yet. Also, I love swank little hardcovers, especially when so much of the interior is taken up with the antics of zombies, vampires, wolfmen, skeletons and Elvis.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension No. 1 (of 4)

Sometimes I think that I should pay more attention to what’s coming out in the near future, just so I can claim to be well-informed, but that would preclude things like this sneaking up on me like they do. I learned that there was a new Atomic Robo series when I held this issue in my hand, and that’s a very good feeling – a man could go mad waiting for something as beloved as Atomic Robo.

This series looks like it’s going to have more of the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne, but more importantly, it’s going to have more Dr Dinosaur, and more Dr Dinosaur means more joy.

Joe the Barbarian No 2 of 8 – This is an astonishingly fun take on the old “youngster transported to a magical kingdom” plot, and it’s one of those joyous times that a Grant Morrison series is exactly the right length for Grant Morrison’s writing, so that I don’t get all confused and sad.

Streets of Gotham No. 9 – Not only was the second half of this two-part story just as boring as the first but it tried to fool me by being really easy to figure out. I almost let my triumph influence me into going easy on it! Well, pleeeaah, “Hardcore Nights”. You are a bad story. I look forward to the return of the regular plot next issue.

Power Girl No. 9 – Is it just me or does this book have some of the best facial expressions in comic books going on inside? Even if it is just me, I applaud - every month this comic is a treat.

Incorruptible No. 3 – Okay, I withdraw 60 to 70 percent of my complaints about this series, as with this issue Waid starts to hand out some pretty interesting clues as to why Max Damage might have flip-flopped on the issue of whether to be evil or not, clues which retroactively make his earlier actions make a lot more sense. However, there was still a heinous amount of ham-handed exposition in the first two issues.