I know that “favourite comic book things” is pretty vague, but more specific lists are irksome to make. You set out to do the top five writers and you get three right away, have to think for ages to get the next two, and always feel like you’re forgetting someone. Then, you go to do your top five books, and they’re all written by your top five writers, so you’re writing about the same things twice. And then thrice, when you do your top five artists list too. So I think vague is the way to go.
Here are my top 11 very favourite comic book things of 2011, in order. I’ve undoubtedly forgotten some and will kick myself later on, but I for sure love the following 11 things AND I’m not writing about anything twice:
11. Terry Moore’s Art On Rachel Rising
Not that the writing isn’t good too… it’s a super well written book and is enjoyably bizarre and disturbing. But the art is fantastic!! These days, when comics have killer digital colours and everything is all bright and shiny and fancy, Moore’s gorgeous artwork really stands out. It’s literally black and white… “black and white” usually means various shades of gray, but Rachel Rising is just Moore’s impressive pencils and inks.
10. The New Animal Man
I’ve never liked Animal Man, at all. I found the Morrison stuff gimmicky, and I never really got into any other depictions of him that followed. He was mildly interesting in 52, I suppose, but then he got outshone by bad ass Adam Strange. So I didn’t pick up Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman’s new Animal Man this September, and then everyone said it was AMAZING and I reluctantly gave it a try. Everyone was right. It’s a crazy good book, and a really pleasant surprise. It’s one of my favourites each month.
9. Detective Comics With Scott Snyder, Jock, And Francesco Francavilla
This is the old Tec, not the DCnU Tec that sort of sucks and that I’m probably going to drop soon. Snyder’s run on the book was one of the best Batman stories in years, and made me not completely hate the then Bat-status quo with Dick as Batman and all the annoying Batman Inc. stuff. That’s no small feat. Plus the art was fantastic, and I loved how Jock and Francavilla’s art worked together in certain issues… they have very different styles, but it was very complementary. I miss Jock and Francavilla on Syder’s also very good DCnU Batman.
8. Batwoman Is A Series Now, And It’s REALLY Good
I really enjoyed Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman stories in Detective Comics, and was excited she was going to get her own series. Then it was delayed and delayed and it turned out that Williams was going to write it… Rucka is a hard act to follow, and artists writing doesn’t always work out so well, so I was a little nervous. Now we have a regular Batwoman series in the DCnU, and it’s GREAT!! The art is as amazing as ever, and the writing is really solid… it’s one of the best books in the DCnU by far!!
7. Kelly Sue DeConnick
Lots of new writers had big years in 2011, but Kelly Sue DeConnick is the creator I’m most excited about. Her Osborn: Evil Incarcerated series with Emma Rios was spectacular and so not what I expected it to be (in the best way possible), and made me want a Nora Winters series. Her short run on Supergirl achieved the rare feat of making Supergirl interesting and fun, plus it had Lois Lane… every book is better with Lois Lane. I very much hope that we’ll see DeConnick on some more minis and series in 2012.
6. Hark! A Vagrant, And Kate Beaton Generally
If you’re not visiting Kate Beaton’s site regularly to read her hilarious historical comics, then you’re really missing out. And if you don’t have her new book yet, then you’re just a crazy person. Beaton is ridiculously funny… her ideas are fantastic and weird, and then she completely sells them with her spectacularly expressive artwork. AND she’s from Nova Scotia, where all the coolest people in the world come from.
5. David Lopez, Alvaro Lopez, And Nathan Fairbairn’s Artwork On Mystic
G. Willow Wilson’s writing and Amanda Conner’s covers were great too, but the art in Mystic was SO GOOD. It felt almost like a Disney movie, but with a slightly harder edge. Everything was so expressive and ornate and beautifully designed, and I was so sad that it was only a four issue mini. The pencils and inks were killer, and then Fairbairn’s colours took it up a notch, especially using different colours to outline things instead of the usual black. They definitely need to do a sequel!!
4. Volstagg In The Mighty Thor
Thor and the rest of the gods were busy fighting Galactus and the Silver Surfer, so it was up to Volstagg the Voluminous to defend Asgard from the angry hordes of Broxton, Oklahoma. And he did so in hilarious fashion. Since Fraction took over Thor, Volstagg has been comic relief but also one of the most practical of the gods, taking care of Earthbound matters while Thor and Odin were busy elsewhere. Along the way, he became one of my favourites characters of the year.
3. Skottie Young On The Oz Books
Skottie Young has been drawing Marvel’s Oz adaptations for over three years now, and he’s just getting better and better. This year, Ozma of Oz wrapped up and now we’re into Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and I don’t think I can recall such a consistently amazing run of artwork. Young fits the world of Oz so well, or rather he has the unique gifts to so perfectly construct the world of Oz. Along with Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s gorgeous colours, Young is in the midst of one of the best art runs in the history of comics.
2. The Painfully Brilliant Casanova: Avaritia
Holy cats people is this a good book. Casanova has always been great, and the recent Icon reprints of Luxuria and Gula in colour were fantastic, but Matt Fraction has outdone himself with Avaratia. We’re only two issues in, and I have a sneaking suspicion that when it’s done it might be the best comic story I’ve ever read in my life. After wiping out entire universes in the first issue, Avaritia turned from genocide to suicide when Casanova killed a Fraction analogue at a comic convention in the second issue. It’s so dark and depressing that it almost hurts to read it, but it’s SO GOOD. Fraction is just bleeding over every page, and Gabriel Ba’s art captures everything so beautifully… I can’t wait to read the rest.
1. Brian Azzarello And Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman
I decided to do only one entry per book for this list, because otherwise the vast majority of the list might have been Wonder Woman related. Here are the various things I would have put on the list:
- My favourite character in all of comics, Hermes. He’s got bird feet!! He’s the coolest looking dude, plus he’s just chilling out ALL the time.
- My second favourite character in all of comics, Strife. Best new villain I’ve seen in ages… she’s just a terrible, terrible person and I LOVE her.
- The expressions Cliff Chiang puts on Zola’s face… they’re just priceless.
- Azzarello building something epic. You know when Azzarello builds something, it’s going to be goooooooooooooooood.
- All the hilarious lesbian jokes in Wonder Woman #2. So funny.
- That me and my best friend STILL argue about the Hippolyta/Zeus sex scene in Wonder Woman #3.
- Matthew Wilson’s gorgeous, evocative colours. He nails every scene.
- CLIFF CHIANG. He’s just the best, in every way. And his Wonder Woman is classy and powerful and beautiful.
I could go on. When Azzarello and Chiang were announced as the creative team for the new Wonder Woman, I was over the moon excited, and I’m ridiculously glad that the book has turned out so well. While I’m inclined to enjoy Wonder Woman, as you can tell from my site, my love for the character results in ridiculously high expectations, and they totally blew my socks off. It’s a spectacular book, and far and away my favourite comic book thing of 2011.
The end of one year obviously means the start of another, so here are some things I’m looking forward to in 2012:
- Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga. It’s been WAY too long since BKV’s put out a comic, and an alien space adventure sounds like a fantastic time to me.
- The new books from Vertigo, Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country especially.
- The second wave of DCnU titles. It looks like a bunch of the New 52 might get axed soon, and I’m excited to see what comes next.
- The continuation of some new series I’m digging, Fraction and the Dodson’s Defenders in particular.
- The Dark Knight Rises AND The Avengers… it’s going to be a good summer!! It looks like 2012 might be kind of cool for comics all around, really.