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Posts made in November 9th, 2009

THE GREATEST COMIC BOOKS OF THE DECADE: Part Four: 2005

We’re halfway through the decade, so let’s recap:

Find Part One: 2000-2001 HERE, along with full bios of all contributors!

Find Part Two: 2002-2003 HERE!

Want part three: 2004? Go here!

THE BEST COMICS OF THE DECADE: Part Four: 2005

All-Star Batman & Robin

Frank Miller/Jim Lee
Sporadically from 2005-2008, currently on hiatus

At this point in the history of the cape, it seems like every conceivable iteration of the character has been tried, from the kiddie-friendly cartoon version on Super Friends to the much angrier, “adult” Dark Knight of the 90s. So what did Frank Miller decide to do when given the opportunity to handle the series yet another time? He said screw it all and completely re-launched the thing. And what a re-launch it has been! Clearly realizing the utter inanity of someone dressing up in bat pajamas and running around town saving innocent folks from baddies, ASBAR seems to be written somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn’t take away from how brilliant the series has been so far. This Bruce Wayne is certifiably crazy, going days without showering or shaving in his pursuit of justice. When Dick Grayson’s parents die, a sympathetic Wayne doesn’t show up on the scene and take him under his wing. THIS Batman shows up and literally kidnaps the kid. The other superheroes introduced thus far can’t stand him. An even more goodie-goodie Superman finds his actions reprehensible, and Wonder Woman hates all men. When Bats has Robin damn near kill Green Lantern simply to see if the kid is any good, well, let’s just say we’ve clearly moved into new territory here. Add to the mix that Jin Lee is doing all the animation, and you will quickly see why this is the Bat Signal that bears watching.
-CD of Les Enfants Terribles

Also picked by: Ekko and Mysterious Comic Book Guy.

All-Star Superman

Grant Morrison/Frank Quietly
2005-08

I love Frank Quitely. He is my favorite artist and combined with what I believe are some of Grant Morrison’s best superhero stories, this book is one I go back to every few months just to check it out. The ultimate Superman experience and I’m not a huge Superman fan. I love it and wish I could do something as cool with a character that can be just difficult to make fun.
-Mike Raicht, author of The Stuff of Legend

Punisher MAX #1-60

Garth Ennis
2005-2008

When my comic dealer first recommended I pick up the trades of Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher, I thought the same thing I imagine most people would. The Punisher? Really? Isn’t he arguably the worst character in the entire Marvel Universe? At best, he’s the poor man’s Batman, so why would anyone give a flying fig for his exploits? Once Ennis took over the book, however, all that changed immediately. For those of you not familiar with Ennis’ work, he tends to have a very distinct style–very dark, very violent and very intense. That’s not to say he can’t be funny as hell, too, but that’s not what he went with on the Punisher.

Quite frankly (pun intended), Ennis made the Punisher one of the grittiest crime books out there. His Punisher didn’t interact with Capes at all, but instead took on everyone from the Mafia to Soviet spies. Sure, Frank Castle’s actions and abilities still bordered on the superhuman, but Ennis apparently has never cared much for those kind of stories. Above all else, these stories are INTENSE. People die, more often than not in a graphic manner. Think the Sopranos amped up about ten degrees, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Ennis did with Frank Castle. Seriously, one of the most compelling reads I’ve had in years.
-CD of Les Enfants Terribles

Jonah Hex

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), with various artists.
2005-Present.
I love adventure comics and tough spaghetti Westerns and this book combines the best of both. The rotating cast of star artists like Darwyn Cooke, Luke Ross, and Tony DeZuniga among others tend to obscure the fact that the writing from Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti is some of the best I’ve seen in mainstream comics, just in terms of pure craft.
-Greg of Fridays With Hatcher

Also picked by . . .

Jonah Hex is stupid, right? He’s just Clint Eastwood with bad scar. And Western comic books are stupid, too, right? Right. Except that for every rule there’s an exception. If you want real stories–many of which are one-offs–then this book is for you. It’s way, way better than it ought to be.

I hope the movie is half this good.

-Mysterious Comic Book Guy

Green Lantern

Geoff Johns
2005-Present
I’ve written about this run at much further length, so let me see if I can condense that. Quite frankly, currently the best book in the DC universe, and it has been for about the last two year. Starting with the Sinestro Corps Wars, continuing through Prelude to Darkest Night through the on-going Blackest night, Johns has shaken up the entire Corps. The Guardians essentially are losing it, re-writing the Book of OA in an attempt to prevent what has been written in its pages from coming true. As the Yellow Rings start a power war, these new rules include the ability for Greens to kill their enemies. Concurrently, a new ring arises for each color of the spectrum with new corps of their own. All this leads to an all-out battle with the black rings. The kicker? Those black rings reanimate the dead. As you can imagine, old heroes literally are crawling out of their graves to fight DC’s mightiest. Blackest Night hasn’t come to its final conclusion yet, so we’ll have to see where it goes, but it’s been an excellent ride so far.
-CD of Les Enfants Terribles

Also picked by . . .

Over the course of the last 5 years, writer Geoff Johns took my least favorite Green Lantern and made him my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought Hal Jordan was OK. But Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner each had more appeal when stacked up against Jordan’s 2 dimensional personality. Starting with “Green Lantern: Rebirth” and continuing on through the current “Blackest Night” storyline, Johns rebuilt Hal into a more complex character, retooling the entire Green Lantern mythos in the process. His post-Sinesto Corps. retelling of Hal’s origin is one of the best origin updates I’ve read.

- Miguel of TheHeroBlog.com

Wolverine: Enemy of the State

Mark Millar/Klaus Janson/John Romita, Jr.
2005

Wolverine is in just about every single Marvel book on the shelves, either as a regular or a guest. It’s too damn much. And as if his legend (and tireless crusade for justice) wasn’t complicated enough, stories started popping up about Wolvie’s false (or possibly false) memories as well. It’s exhausting. The great thing about this two-trade story is that anyone can jump in. There’s no soap opera with Wolverine’s kids or his real name. it’s just Wolverine beating the snot out of a host of Marvel good guys in the first half (I won’t spoil how it happens), and then fighting tens of thousands of ninjas in the second half. Nonstop action. Great but simple story. All told cinematically. Typical Millar.
-Ekko

Daredevil

Brian Michael Bendis/Ed Brubaker.
2005-09
Under Bendis’ watch, Daredevil (who had become so lame that his title was nearly cancelled) took down the Kingpin and went to jail. A run that was unpredictable, brilliant, powerful, and character-changing. When he left the series, nobody thought it could get better. Then along came Brubaker who freed DD from prison via The Iron Fist, in a great bit of cross-promotion (Brubaker was trying to revive the 1980s green-tighted karate character). Frank Miller’s Daredevil was one of the best books of the 1980s, and this decade the hero returned (after that miserable movie misstep). Brubaker left the book with issue #500, a few months ago, and it remains to be seen if the new creative team can fill the shoes of their predecessors. Never before has a single comic book undergone a complete creative-team-change and remained so powerful.
-Mysterious Comic Book Guy

THE MIDDLEMAN

Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine
2005-07

This book is just pure fun, awesome in a box. The story is impossible to summarize really. But it managed to take everything I always loved about the sheer adrenaline rush of Silver Age superhero adventure comics and put it all between two covers, without giving up any of the sophistication of modern technique and the added bonus of doing it all with humor, style and wit. The television show, the single season of which is now on DVD, is also very highly recommended. Best translation of comics to screen…. well, ever.
-Greg of Fridays With Hatcher

Next: 2006!


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