Wanted to get this in before the actual New Year started. A few friends and myself have discussed recently the past year in comics, and with their input in mind I have decided to present awards in several categories in comic books.
This was a really hard choice for me to make, being that I'm such a Matt Fraction fanboy to the point that I follow all his twitters, read pretty much everything he puts out including the amazing Invincible Iron Man comic he's be writing, and we're both fans of The Mountain Goats, but the award has to go to Brubaker. He has been the mind behind the most creative and influential titles for the past couple of years. 2009 has been the year of Brubaker. He continues to be the driving force behind the Captain America series, adding elements of espionage and drama to a super hero title like no one has in some time. His work on Daredevil was ground-breaking, and he took his expertise for writing brilliant crime comics and added a super-human spin to it with his super-villain/noir themed book 'Incognito'. And has just recently started on his latest installment of his 'Criminal' series with the story arc 'The Sinners'. Everything that Ed touches turns to gold, and I know that comic book fans can't wait to see what he does in 2010.
J.H. Williams III
J.H. Williams is easily the best artist in comics right now and kind of came out of nowhere. His work in books like 'Promethea' and 'Desolation Jones' kind of flew under the radar of most fans,but its his otherworldly skills in 'Detective Comics' that has made him the number one spot on many critics and fans lists. Every thing about Williams' technique and style is mind-blowing. His amazing layouts, delicate touches, flawless character design, and beautiful paint and coloring work puts him head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Hopefully he will spread out not only through the DC Universe, but to the rest of the mainstream comic world as well.
Comic Book MVP:
Every business whether it is entertainment or corporate has a stand out employee. The kind of guy that everyone wants to strive to be. If you were picking a team for a company dodgeball game Geoff Johns would be your first choice. Geoff is a man who truly loves and respects the craft that is comic books. He is the wonder boy of DC comics with titles like 'Flash: Rebirth' and is the brainchild behind several Green Lantern titles including the current series 'Blackest Night'. Having met him and seen him speak several times I can tell you that he is truly a man who loves what he does and don't be surprised if you see him running DC within the next few years.
Best Comic Series of 09 (My Choice):
At the tail-end of Marvel's summer blockbuster series 'Secret Invasion' the long awaited return of Nick Fury finally came, and he returned not just with great gusto, but a new team of commandos featuring a 12 year old god of fear, the grandson of phantom rider, and a girl named Yo-Yo just to name a few. The team co-created by Bendis Maleev was handed down to the phenomenal writer (and artists) Jonathan Hickman, who went to town along with the help of artist Stefano Caselli. What soon followed was a comic series filled with action, espionage, conspiracies, Nick Fury decoys, the re-assembling of HYDRA, more action, and Dum Dum Dugan. Now chock it up to me growing up on G.I. Joe, Jonny Quest, and Hardy Boy books for my love of this book, but Secret Warriors has been the most entertaining comic I've read all year. Whenever I put down an issue it makes me sad that I have to wait another whole month to see what happens next, and I feel like that is the ultimate sign of a great comic book.
Comic Series of 2009:
The Walking Dead
Any zombie comic that comes on the market now-a-days has a big brother to look up to for tips and life lessons on how to survive on the comic shop shelves, and 'Walking Dead' is that big brother, who also has a sweet mustache and drives a trans-am with a panther on the hood. 'Dead' isn't like every other zombie comic out there. It's main focus isn't about the gore and brain-feasting that majority of living corpse books are about, but more on the struggles that the survivors face and their adapting to their new lives. Kirkman (Invincible, Battle Pope) is a writer who really knows how to pull at readers heart-strings. His characters have such a human side to them that when one of them dies the reader feels some sort of emotion whether it's sadness or anger. The other thing that Kirkman reminds everybody is that in a world like the one in 'Dead' that no one, not even main characters, are safe. 'Dead' is well into the mid-70s issue wise and keeps building and building story and character wise. We don't know when it's going to happen,but when this series finally comes to an end its going to be a sad day in comic shops across the country. 'Dead' will be one of those comics that forever stands the test of time.
Most Violent Comic of 09:
Any comic fan knows two things about Warren Ellis. 1) he does a spot-on Allen Moore impression and 2) he is completely insane. If you were to travel into Ellis' mind it'd probably be a closet in the basement of a crack house, and the closet has a broken lightbulb, and the walls are lined with rusty razor blades, old crumpled pages of Fangoria and porn from 1974, also there's a dog corpse hanging from the ceiling. If you think that's morbid andover the top just go read his book 'No Hero' and the analogy will seem tame in comparison to this comic. Ellis is without a doubt an amazing writer, but he's also teetering on the fence between crazytown and whackyville. The plot of 'No Hero' is a big time corporation creates a pill that turns normal people into superheroes. The latest guinea pig in the program takes the pill FX7, has horrible hallucinations of a inter-dimensional blood orgy involving huge centipedes, and when he wakes up his skin is falling off along with his man-parts. What follows is a gore-fest filled with decapitations, brutal fights, and spines being ripped out and used as a phallic replacement (I'm not kidding). All of this blood-splattering is made extra jarring thanks to artist Juan Jose Ryp, whose art is so detailed and disturbing that if you stare at it too long your brain would fall out through your eye sockets. 'No Hero' is hands down the most violent comic of 2009.
Best Comedic Performance of 2009:
It's hard for a comic book to pull of comedy, real genuine comedy. Especially if that comic is not exactly comedy-based. Coming from the creative team with two uteruses, Nicola Scott and Gail Simone have been pumping out not only a fantastically drawn comic but also one that is written with the perfect blend of humor, wit, drama, horror, and action. But it's the interaction between the dysfunctional family that is the 'Six' where the comedy comes in. Bane's dead-pan personality, Deadshot's complete lack of morals and loyalty, Scandal's extreme temper, and Rag Doll's enjoyable creepiness play out like a new-age vaudeville routine, but with more guns, murder, and cursing.
You Will Be Missed:
Comic books come and go, some get cancelled, some just fade away, and some just come to an end. The biggest passing in 2009 was the climactic end to the series '100 Bullets', created and written by writer Brian Azzarello. The gritty and violent crime comic reached its finale in April of 2009 with final issue #100. So let us say one more farewell to fantastic writing, equally fantastic artwork, and cover work that was second-to-none. You will be missed '100 Bullets'.
Happy To See It Go:
Do you have a favorite restaurant or bar, the kind of place where everyone knows your name, and then one day Mel the bartender or Tony the pizza cook goes away and they're replaced, then for some reason the beer doesn't taste as fresh or the pizza just isn't cooked right? Well that's kind of the same feeling with 'Runaways'. The shiny headed writer Brian K. Vaughn started a comic series that had both the nostalgic feel for older fans of books like New Mutants and Teen Titans, but the fresh new characters with their teen angst appealed to newer younger readers. Vaughn's run on 'Runaways' was too powerful to follow. Mr. Buffy himself Joss Whedon came in and managed to keep readers interest's afloat, but after his departure the ship known dubbed Creative Spark was about to sink into the abyss. Terry Moore (Echo, Strangers in Paradise) took over at the writing helm, and gave about 30 out of the anticipated 110% that 'Runaways' fans were hoping for. Things started to get worse when Humberto Ramos and his cartoon art style that fit the book perfectly in my opinion left and was replaced with mediocre artist Takeshi Miyazawa. After Moore jumped ship writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Sara Pichelli tried to salvage the wreckage, but sadly 'Runaways' was destined for the cancel bin. Immonen left readers with a cliffhanger ending and alot of questions to be answered. Hopefully the teenage heroes will return in 2010 with the same spunk they had when Vaughn first brought them to the masses.
Dave Lizewski grabs the award for best hero in 2009 because he is what every comic book nerd in their life wants to be at one point or another. A normal everyday teenaged geek who dons a set of colored tights and sets off to become an actual superhero. Even though his first attempt at the whole hero thing ends with him being beaten, stabbed, and run-over with a car, he held his head up high and went on to show street scum and drug dealers why he calls himself Kick-Ass.
The award list will continue in another post. For now I'm going to get some shut-eye. Expect the rest of the rather obscure and random awards before the ball drops on the 31st.
Currently Listening To: Colorado -- Grizzly Bear