Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Yet Another 2005 List

Everybody else is doing it too, so here are my picks for my favorite comics of 2005, with categories based on the Comic Bloggers' Poll, because I'm too lazy to come up with categories of my own, and this way I can just submit my picks over there and not have to come up with two lists.

(And note that my criteria here is 'favorite', not necessarily 'best'...)

Favorite Writer

Seven Soldiers #0Grant Morrison
For my money, Morrison is the most interesting writer working in comics today. He started off the year with the final issue of We3; had his Kirby-Meets-Bollywood Vimanarama in the middle; ended with the first issue of All Star Superman; and somehow in the middle of all that did his huge mega cross-over epic, Seven Soldiers. What I like about Morrison is that no matter what he's working on, he always brings his 'A' game, and swings for the bleachers each time he's up. He may not always hit a home run, but he's always trying--never phoning it in. And different things work for different readers--while almost no one has liked all of the Seven Soldiers series equally, most readers have found at least one or two to be very much to their liking, and every series seems to have its fans. Mainstream comics would be a heck of a lot more boring without Grant Morrison around stirring things up. With his new overseer position within the DCU in 2006, we'll see if he's able to have a 'Michael Jordan' effect on the rest of the line.

Honorable Mention

Brian K. Vaughan - Runaways, Y, the Last Man, and Ex Machina--different kinds of comics, telling different stories, but all very good. Vaughan is a writer who came come up with interesting, high concept titles, and then make them work.

Dan Slott - With She-Hulk, Spider-Man/Human Torch, and GLA, Slott is single-handedly bringing the Marvel Universe back to its roots of fun.

Warren Ellis - I really enjoyed the SF-based Ocean, and Fell and Desolation Jones show that Ellis still has a lot of milage left in his prototypical protagonist. And we even got a couple of issue of Planetary too!

Favorite Artist

All Star SupermanFrank Quitely
I'm pretty sure that he only produced two comics in 2005--We3 #3 & All Star Superman #1--but my those were two very fine looking comics. I'm still in awe of the visual tour de force that was We3, and his Superman is Super enough to be the defining look for a new generation.

Honorable Mention

Ryan Sook - May have a problem with deadlines, but Seven Soldiers: Zatanna was the best looking of the lot, and he's the perfect choice for the new noir-humor-based X-Factor.

Fabio Moon - My oh my, wasn't Smoke & Guns fabulous to look at? Moon does action so smoothly it just moves you along in the story effortlessly. It's worth going back to admire just how he pulls it off.

Favorite Ongoing Title

Gotham Central #36Gotham Central
Not since Homicide: Life on the Streets (from where GC gets much of its inspiration) has there been a series that combines police detective work and the personal lives of the characters into such a compelling narrative. And yes, there's a bit of super-hero stuff butting in, but it always comes off just as fantastic as it should. The series is ending soon, and it will be missed.

Honorable Mention

Desolation Jones - DJ #2 would be my pick for favorite single issue of the year. It may only be bi-monthly, but it's worth waiting for.

Lucifer - Mike Carey's ambitious saga of the path of the fallen angel and exploration of metaphysics and metaethics has me anxiously awaiting each new collection.

Y, the Last Man - Another series that I read in trades. In lesser hands the high concept here could have fallen apart, but Vaughan keeps it together and keeps it compelling.

Favorite Mini-Series

Banana Sunday #1Banana Sunday
It's hard to decide what was more fun: Root Nibot's entertaining story, or Colleen Coover's charming art. We should all be blessed to have a Go-Go Gorilla in our lives. Let us hope that there will be more Banana Sunday coming our way in 2006.

Honorable Mention

Vimanarama - Grant Morrison & Philip Bond's Kirby-meets-Bollywood mini-epic manages to be both cosmic and personal.

Spider-Man/Human Torch - Dan Slott & Ty Templeton remind us why we liked these characters, and wallow in some of their more embarassing trappings (the Spidey Mobile!) for great comedy.

Street Angel - Technically had only its final issue come out in 2005, but Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca's series about a homeless teenage skateboarding hero still sticks with me.

Concrete: The Human Dilema - A strong return for Paul Chadwick's most popular creation, once again using a guy trapped in a rocky body to address topical issues in a thoughtful manner.

Favorite Original Graphic Novel

Top Ten: The Forty-NinersTop Ten: The Forty-Niners
Alan Moore and Gene Ha create gleaming science metropolis of 1949, and tell a story that is both epic in scope and human in its details. And the handsome package was worth buying as a hardcover.

Honorable Mention

Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires - Spooky fun from Richard Sala, with lots of appropraite running around and screaming. Sala has a strong sense of storytelling and uses it to great effect.

Flight, vol. 2 - Massive anthology of gorgeous-looking comics. If this is the future of comics, we're in good hands.

Steady Beat, vol. 1 - My favorite of TokyoPop's batch of new OEL manga, Rivkah's story about an overshadowed teen who discovers a secret about her popular older sister hits all the right beats.

Favorite Collection

Black HoleBlack Hole
Charles Burns' tale of psycho-sexual horror among suburban teens was years in the making, and worth every bit of waiting. The strong visuals carry this story just as much as Burns' creepy and unsettling tale of angst and transformation.

Honorable Mention

We3 - I've talked about this enough by now, right?

Yotsuba&! - Delightful, charming, and at times very funny, Kiyohiko Azuma's stories of a strange green-haired girl, and her family and neighbors, is the sort of comic that can--and should--be enjoyed by all.

Sexy Voice & Robo - Iou Kuroda takes many of the tropes of manga and somehow remixes them into a compelling story about a teenage chat line worker cum Nancy Drew on the streets of Tokyo, proving that it all comes down to execution. (And Kudos to Viz for providing this comic the oversized edition it deserves.)

So there you have it. A lot of great comics came out in 2005, and I'm hoping for even more in the coming year.

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