Last Tuesday I presented my picks for my favorite graphic novels and manga of the past year. Today I complete my wrap-up with my favorite "pop" comics from 2007:
All Star Superman by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
If the twelve-year-old Dave from 1982 to come forward in time twenty-five years, this is the sort of comic that he would be delighted to see. As such, All Star Superman tickles not just my inner twelve-year-old super-hero itch, it also appeals to thirty-seven-year-old Dave's desire for intelligent, well-crafted stories with gorgeous artwork. It is also the work of a maturing Grant Morrison, trading the surface flash of his JLA and the showy weirdness of Doom Patrol for something with more subtlety.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane by Sean McKeever, Takeshi Miyazawa & David Hahn
Where A-S Superman strikes at my inner-twelve-year-old boy, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane appeals to my inner twelve-year-old girl. I don't think there was a single issue of this that when I finished I didn't say to myself: "That was a darn fine comic." These out-of-continuity tales of MJ & Peter in high school had just the right amount of angst, sentimentality and humor. The title was canceled with McKeever's departure for a DC exclusive (where so far his talents are being wasted on drudge like Countdown). Although Terry Moore has been tapped to restart the title sometime in 2008, it remains to be seen if this will come to pass since apparently Spider-Man no longer loves Mary Jane in the Marvel Universe.
Marvel Adventures The Avengers by Jeff Parker, Juan Santacruz, Raul Fernandez, & Leonard Kirk
Issue #12, featuring "Ego, the Loving Planet," was quite simply the most fun super-hero comic of the past five years (at least). Add in issue #9's story featuring the Avengers transformed into M.O.D.O.C.s with one of the most brilliant covers of the year, the Giant Size Special featuring Parker & Kirk's Agents of Atlas, and several other enjoyable done-in-one stories. Would that all of Marvel's super-hero comics be this enjoyable to read!
Love & Capes by Thomas F. Zahler
Super-heroes as romantic comedy have been done before, but Zahler's take in Love & Capes is so spot-on that it rises to the top of the pack. All the main characters are intelligent and nice with a sense of humor about themselves that they're easy to like and root for. Zahler's art is done in an attractive animated style in an eight-panel grid, and he packs in a lot of story and characterization into each issue.
The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke
Cooke successfully updates Eisner's The Spirit for the modern age while still remaining a classic feel as The Spirit. Plus, his art is very pretty to look at.
Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith
Smith's Shazam! miniseries was a comic not without its faults, but it makes it onto this list on the pure power of Smith's version of Mary Marvel. Every time Mary appeared on panel, the comic raised its normal entertaining level up to pure delight.
The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman
The most graphically-innovative comic of the year, and also the angriest. Hickman's The Nightly News requires a shift in the way that one normally perceives and reads comics, requiring that the reader enter a level of engagement with the material that reject a surface experience. The comic also frequently lies to its readership in its tale of secret societies, violence and corporate media, which again forces a closer reading of the material. It remains to be seen if Hickman's approach will work with other material, but for this subject matter it's near perfect.
Glister by Andi Watson
An all-ages title that works on multiple levels, Watson's Glister is an engaging story of a precocious girl who deals matter-of-factly with the strange happenings in her life, including literal ghost writers, wandering houses, and missions to faerie. It reminds one of cherished novels of childhood without seeming derivative.
Honorary mention: not at the top of the list, but still greatly enjoyed this past year were Fables and Jack of Fables; DMZ; Y, the Last Man; Captain America; Green Lantern's "Sinestro Wars"; Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: After the Fall.