crazy colored glasses

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Top 10 lists...

I usually frown about reading these sorts of lists, let alone trying to create one. I felt so compelled though after reading an list where they named The All New Atom the best new series of 2006... and I thought you've got to be kidding me. Although I think DC has had a great year and I have bought the first 6 issues of this title, it is far from the best new series of the year. I dont understand how EW could pick such a flawed DC book when all they needed to do was look a little deeper into the new titles DC publishes to find some real gems. Freedom Fighters, OMAC, Checkmate, The Trials of Shazam as well as the relaunch of Wonder Woman were far superior (in my opinion) to The Atom. With that said, I decided to give you my top 10 titles of 2006.

10. X-Factor
In a year that has mostly been crappy for the mutants, Peter David has spun a truly addictive tale of mutants post-M day. Who would have ever thought that the Multiple Man would one day be one of my favorite mutants (or not a mutant if you've been reading the book lately). He is easily one of the most complex and layered characters in Marvel today. Everything has been spot on in this book. From Siryn being attacked, to a powerless Rictor and his struggles to get by, to Guido being hypnotized to kill someone in their custody, to the cocky M, to the genius Layla Miller (who just knows stuff), to Rahne and her inner demons. It’s probably my favorite mutant read (besides number 8 on this list). High point of the year had to issue number 13 which had them all sit down for some therapy with Doc Samson. One of the must read single issues of the whole year.

9. Batman and Detective Comics
It was a return to form for the Bat books. They each reached very high levels of excellence in '06. Grant Morrison's story of the Son of Batman and Talia (Damien) was pure comic artistry. The pencils of Andy Kubert didnt hurt either. He took a character that no one really knew was part of DC continuity and introduced him to the general comic audience. I look forward to seeing future appearances of the true heir to the cowl. He will definitely be a character to be reckoned with.

Over in Detective, Paul Dini (he of the Batman the Animated Series fame) has crafted a wonderful set of single issues, which have the common thread of the Riddler as the new super-detective of Gotham. It's been refreshing to see a series of single-issues when the recent mainstream norm has been to tell huge story arcs which the publishers can then package into graphic novels and trade paperbacks. Anyway, Paul Dini's stories have been masterful. A true return to form for the Bat.

8. Astonishing X-Men
Truly the best-written mutant book on the market. Joss Whedon and John Cassady's run will be put up high on a shelf with that of Claremont and Bryne. It's that good. Witty writing with amazing visuals on a monthly basis. Cassaday’s pencils have always been spot on, but seeing his take on mainstream comic characters has been amazing. Same with Joss Whedon’s writing. We all knew he could write from his days on Buffy and Firefly, but his run on the X-Men is really legendary. I never thought he’d be able to tell a story as complex as he has. The return of Collosus. The betrayal of the White Queens. A powerless Cyclops. A kickass Kitty Pryde (never thought I’d say that)… all leading up to the Breakworld story. I almost don’t want their run to end. I’m sure Marvel doesn’t either what with the story state the other x-titles are in.

7. Girls
A pick for some of you who think I only read books from the big 2. Girls has been absolutely brilliant. The Luna Brothers sophomore effort (after the equally brilliant Ultra) has been nothing short of breathtaking. The story builds month after month. I most say “Holy Sh!t” at least once a month while reading this book. It’s old school cliffhanger type storytelling with an adult twist. A great blend of simple pencils with complex storytelling mix together to produce the best book (in my opinion) that Image publishes.

6. Captain America
While I’ve been both hot and cold with Civil War, the excellence in Cap’s monthly book cannot be ignored. Specifically speaking, the “Winter Soldier” story arc. I must admit I was one of those people raised an eyebrow when I heard they were bringing Bucky back from the dead. I didn’t think it would work, but leave it to Ed Brubaker (one of personal faves) to make it work. Plus, seriously, has Steve Eptings pencils ever been better. If it had only been the “Winter Soldier” story arc that would have been enough to merit being on this list, but the reintroduction of Union Jack was awesome as well (it did make me run out and buy the UJ mini… which I have thoroughly enjoyed).

5. Justice League of America and Justice
I know… I know. One title (Justice) is bi-monthly and the other (JLofA) only has a few issues under its belt, but can anyone argue the inclusion of them on this list. The art on Justice is enough for them to be here. Breathtaking sums it up. Doug Braithwaite pencils painted by Alex Ross have been phenonmenal. Even Jim Krueger (who I’m not a huge fan of) has been excellent. The pacing has been fast and the twists and turns this title makes are shocking. Similar to Girls… at least one “Holy Sh!t” moment every issue. It’s truly worth the wait in between issues.

Justice League of America has also been great. Did anyone expect anything else from Brad Meltzer. I mean he did write the most important in-continuity story of all time, at least in my eyes. Identity Crisis is one of my favorite reads of all time. JLofA does not disappoint on any level. Every issue of this series has been right on. He makes us care about the Red Tornado, when was the last time something like that happened. B-list characters like Black Lightning, Vixen, Arsenal (Red Arrow… awesome) and even Hawkgirl are given their moment in the spotlight. Cool new villains, and new takes on old villains, I can’t wait to see where this story ultimately heads. I hope Meltzer stays on this book for a long, long time. The same goes for Ed Benes, who I have thought has been on the cusp of superstardom for some time. Every issue has been beautifully penciled. I hope he can keep up with the monthly demand of this book. He has set the bar way high for what a book of this scope should look like.

4. 52
This is another DC book where the writing and characterization really carry the story. It doesn’t matter who is doing the interior art, you want to pick up and read this book every week. It was a daring gamble by DC, but they’ve made it work. J.G. Jones covers have been excellent. He has the rare ability to find the one moment in every issue and frame it as the star. He might be the best cover artist in the business today (whenever Alex Ross isn’t doing any covers). The writing has been the most impressive and seamless thing that has impressed me with this title. Waid, Johns, Rucka, Morrison… I challenge any ready to tell me which writer contributed which parts to the story. Its all woven together so seamlessly, which is no small task for a weekly title written by multiple personalities. Similar to JLofA they have taken a cast of nothing characters and made them into people I want to read about every week. Renee Montoya, The Question, Black Adam, Supernova who woulda thought these would be some of the more popular DC characters of 2006.

3. Ex-Machina
Brian K. Vaughn (one of my friends on myspace) and Tony Harris basically put out a superhero/political soap opera every month. Its like the Real World meets the West Wing meets Heroes. I’m captivated by every tale of Mayor Hundred. The way the stories are told with flashbacks to Hundreds days as a costume crime-fighter are always handled so well. I never feel like some of those sequences are thrown in to jus to get some action in. They all help in the pacing of the book. They give us true insight to this great character. The political drama is also captivating. This book contains some of the best political commentary being written today, in any forum. Why aren’t more people reading this book. I also don’t understand how Tony Harris continues to fly a bit under the radar. This guy and book are amazing.

2. Daredevil
I’ll admit I was scared senseless when Bendis and Maleev left the title. I was sure there was no creative team on the planet that could follow what they put together. Boy was I wrong. Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s run fits right in with what Bendis and Maleev were doing. Easily the best read in Marvel comics today. The only top-batch read currently in Marvel. You almost feel bad for all the pain and torment that Brubaker and Lark have put Matt through. Getting locked up… listening to Foggy get killed (or so he thinks, Daredevil issue #82… what an issue)… having to team with the Kingpin… escaping from jail… hiding out overseas, what a year. In my eyes it’s the “24” of comic books. I can’t wait to see what these two have in store for the man without fear in ’07.

1. Superman and Action Comics
I don’t think this is as much a homer pick as others might. Yes, I’m a lifelong Superman fan, but this truly has been a banner year for the man of steel. I was relieved that Wizard picked Superman as the Hero of The Year for 2006. He did have a great year.

“Up, up and away” was clearly the best of DC’s One Year Later stories. What Busiek and Woods did was revitalize a stale character. They gave the titles a shot in the arm that was necessary. They proved that Superman can be cool. That he is relevant to todays comic reading audience. The showdown with Luthor in the finale of that story was one of my favorite comic moments of the year.

Then DC did one better, they announced the creative teams that would be taking over. Kurt Busiek would be staying on to write Superman teaming up with Carlos Pacheco as the artist. Now, I consider myself to be a bit of a Superman expert, so I feel like I can say that I think Carlos Pacheco is the best Superman artist of all time (sorry Jim Lee and John Byrne). His pencils are beautiful every month. Compare his pencils from his run on the Superman/Batman title to what he is doing now. No comparison. His work is truly amazing. The book is so good on both fronts. It really shows how good Superman could be when you have A+ talent on the title.

Lets not forget Action Comics, with the creative team of Richard Donner and Geoff Johns writing and art by Adam Kubert. “The Last Son” story will go down as one of the greatest Superman stories ever. Just like in the Superman title, every aspect of this book is excellent. Writing, art, inking, covers… all in all a great package. DC should be proud of what they have done with their marquee character. It truly was a year within the Superman titles that I will never forget.

Now I’m sure people will agree or disagree with some of the above picks, but I felt the need to put out a list of my favorite books. The books I enjoy on a monthly basis. So there it was. All in all I think it was a great comic year (with the exception of Deadly Genesis, Vulcan and mindwipes, please. House of M, lots of hype, very little payoff. Spider-Man, The Other might have been the worst story of the year)… especially for DC.