I know, I know.  I already wrote about this once, and said I couldn’t really put together a definitive “best of” list.  But I’ve done more research, much more reading, and I’ve come to conclude that I can!  And have!  This list builds on that old one—you can just ignore that post, in fact, and consider this one the superseder…..

The best cover of the year appears at right.

For the rest of the list . . .

Hit the break!

15.  S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel).  Oddly innovative, this extremely Jonathan Hickman-like series features the magnificent art of Dustin Weaver.  He’s not just a great artist–he’s a great choreographer.  The panel arrangements are careful and intricate, and complicate Hickman’s brainy story.  Frankly, you could buy it based on art alone, but luckily there’s no need to do so.  Finding out how Leonardo DaVinci and Galileo defeated Galactus, and what an underhanded snake Sir Isaac Newton was, is reward enough.

14.  X’ed Out (Pantheon). Odd and creepy, a nihilistic version of Tintin in an original graphic novel.

13.  Sweet Tooth (Vertigo). Rich, haunting, beautiful and desolate.  A fantasy about a poor little deer-faced boy in a world full of hostile, punishing hunters.

12.  Thor and the Warriors Four (Thor/Power Pack) (Marvel). An all-ages book that was fun, intelligent, beautifully illustrated, hilarious, and fun.  And did I mention fun?  That is, after all, what comic book reading is all about.

11.  Amazing Spider-Man: Fever (Marvel). Brendan McCarthy’s psychedelic take on the webslinger wasn’t extremely well written, but what the story lacked in linear sense, it more than made up for with incredible art and originality. Simply put: You have never read a Spider-Man story like it before, and you probably never will again.

10.  Criminal: The Sinners (Icon). A 2010 trade of the 2009 loosies. How do Brubaker and Phillips keep on keeping this book so fresh?  And in case it’s cheating to put a reprint from a 2009 book on a 2010 list, you can substitute the following:

10.  The Last Days of American Crime (Radical). A miserably violent crime novel by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.

9.  Power Girl (DC). So she’s basically invulnerable, can fly, is super strong, etc.  Why can’t Superman be anywhere this fun?  Two reasons.  Say it with me now: Boobs!  Sadly, Amanda Conner and writers Palmiotti and Gray have left the series, but I highly recommend picking up the trade volumes.

8.  Secret Six (DC).  I’m late to the party on this rollicking ride through mercenarydom.  But I’m loving every minute of it.

7.  Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story (Vertigo). An original graphic novel that takes place during Hurricane Katrina, it avoided stereotypes and cliché left-leanings by simply using New Orleans as the backdrop for some terrific character development and a pretty tight crime story.

6.  The Unknown Soldier (Vertigo). This harrowing, meticulously researched book is essentially the story of what would happen if a man with the bloodlust of Wolverine and the impassionate strategic skills of Nick Fury were dropped into an African civil war.  Extraordinarily well written and illustrated, this is a most unusual, moving comic book.  It’s as brutal as Ennis’ Punisher, but it has a conscience.  It doesn’t revel in violence, or pander, or condescend.  Sadly, it ended this year….

5.  X-Factor (Marvel). Peter David continues to prove that mutants work best when they’re marginalized.  X-Factor is at bottom a self-contained “side book” that “doesn’t matter” in the big Marvel Universe picture—but that’s what makes it so much fun, as well as so thought provoking.

4.  PunisherMAX (Marvel). Jason Aaron is actually writing on a par with Garth Ennis, proving that there’s life in the old Punisher boy, yet!  Even better, Aaron attempts to fold Frank Castle back into the context of the Marvel Universe.  I know it’s MAX, so the “history” is different, but at least some of the characters are the same: Bullseye and Kingpin, to be precise.  An absolutely stellar run.

3.  Batman and Robin/Batman Incorporated (DC). While I wasn’t a fan of the Bruce Wayne time-travel mini, these two books represent some of the best adult-oriented superhero books of all time.  They are true to the lore and mythos, while at the same time they break new ground.  Absolutely brilliant.  And this is from a Grant Morrison hater, too.

2.  The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel). The book that brought in some of the most talented people in comic books today, and reimagined the entire Spider-Man rogues gallery, delivered in spades (O.M.I.T. notwithstanding).  I probably looked forward to reading each issue of this book more than any other this year.

1.  The Walking Dead (Image).  The reasons are obvious: It’s a long-form story that has never dipped in quality or suspense.  Truly anything can happen in the Kirkman Zombieverse.

HAVEN’T READ, BUT INTEND TO:

  • Scarlet (Icon)
  • Action Comics (DC) (from when Paul Cornell signed on)
  • Avengers Academy (Marvel)
  • Hawkeye & Mockingbird (Marvel)
  • Taskmaster (Marvel)
  • Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Marvel)