As 2011 comes to a close I take a moment to reflect on the comics and series that have made this year pretty fantastic in the realm of comics. Let’s jump right into it.
Starting off the list at number 8 is Cut the Rope. Inspired by the incredibly popular app game this comic stars Om Nom (the creature from the game) and introduces Evan, the boy who finds Om Nom mysteriously left on his front porch. Taking its cues from the game but going far beyond it, Cut the Rope is fun, cute and engaging for all ages. The side-plots and new characters (not to mention the evil company Big Vegetable!) turn the game into a very cool comic.
Rolling in at number 7 is super-indie comic A Skeleton Story. This book jumped out at me initially because of its almost hyper-detailed artistic style. The comic is based on an app game so players are already aware of the plot right from the beginning but coming in as a novice it was interesting to learn about the world and the characters within. It can be a hard book to find, but if you’re able, it’s worth the read.
Pulling into the fold at number 6 is Image Comics’ odd and dark series Green Wake. The series is an excellent crime noir piece set in a gritty ethereal world wrapped in mystery, murder and confusing time-space-continuum paradoxes. Follow the story of Morley Mack as he struggles to understand the strange world in which he now exists. I was drawn to Wake for the art but stayed for the story and was pleasantly surprised.
Number 5 is DC Comics’ Flashpoint. This epic summer series was the lead-in to DC’s New 52 reboot and brought Barry Allen back to the DCU you land-of-the-living. It’s a world turned upside down by the reverse Flash where Atlantis and Themyscera are at war over control of land in Europe and Superman never became…well, super. Masterfully written by Geoff Johns with art by Andy Kubert this series should have already been on your Christmas list, but if it wasn’t, start 2012 off right with the collected edition.
Coming in at number 4 on my list is Image Comics/SkyBound series Witch Doctor. The inventiveness of this mini-series is what really made it stand out to me. There are a lot of Horror Comics out there, but few are done right (another comes later in this list) so I am instinctively drawn to a quality comic like Witch Doctor. The writing of Brandon Seifert and artistic styling of Lukas Ketner take a decently cool idea and make it a pretty damn amazing comic. It’s got weird characters, strange storyline subplots, humor and mysticism. It may come in as last on my list, but put against the thousands of comics I could have chosen…yeah, definitely run out and get this book!
Number 3 on the list is a mini-series that managed to bring together two of my favorite things in science fiction: space faring war and time travel. Another Image Comics production to make the list, The Red Wing takes the reader on an adventure through space and time, leaving you wondering with every page: what’s going to happen next!? Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Nick Pitarra & Rachelle Rosenberg, this book is both visually and stylistically intriguing. I was constantly surprised and impressed with this book.
Moving on to number 2 on the list I move back into the horror realm of comics. DC Comics’ I, Vampire has been the surprise hit of their New 52 reboot. I was very skeptical of this book to start, even ignoring it during the initial launch and letting my counterpart in 8DaysAGeek’s month-long review of all 52 new number one’s handle the review. He panned it and hated it enough to put it in his Worst 8 of the DC Reboot list. But I started seeing it pop up on other reviewer’s top lists of the year so I felt I needed to see it for myself. To my utter surprise, I loved it. The book is visually AMAZING. The art is reminiscent of the Transformers/G.I. Joe series I reviewed earlier this year. Additionally, as the story has progressed through several issues the over-arching theme and plot of the ongoing series becomes more and more intriguing. I’m excited to see where this book goes.
Landing in the top spot of my Best Comics of 2011 may come as a surprise to some of you, but it really shouldn’t. Aquaman has easily been the best book of DC Comics’ New 52 reboot. The story through the first issues has been poignant about the previous flaws in the character as well as insightful about Aquaman as a person, not just a hero.
Too often writers have tried to force Aquaman into stories where he has no place (i.e. on land nowhere near water) but Johns has thus far avoided that. The villain in the initial issues is not a “classic” Aquaman villain, it’s a new danger that has the potential to bring death to all the creatures of both the sea and land.
Geoff Johns actively points a finger at the perception of Aquaman and says, “This is not what this character is anymore. Get ready to be kicked in the ass!” If you’ve been ignoring this book in your weekly pick-ups, I suggest you change that and pick up the back issues you’ve missed.