10. DOOM PATROL by GERARD WAY and NICK DENINGTON (Young Animal/DC)
Rebooting a Grant Morrison project is almost impossible, so nobody ever really tries. Until now. Grant’s vision of the Golden Age team was of a gang of misfit weirdos who investigate the strangest threats to Earth—ones too silly for the Justice League but too dangerous to ignore. In the first arc of this reimagining of what appear the same characters—or maybe I should say reawakening rather than reimagining—the team begins to form again around a new girl. It’s still got the weirdness, and the heart of Morrison’s vision, along with obvious references to pop culture (like the Star Wars issue (#4))…
9. FOOLKILLER by MAX BEMIS AND DALIBOR TALAJIC (Marvel)
There will never be a Foolkiller series as good as Steve Gerber’s original series, which introduced the vigilante to the world. It was a compassionate take on death wish/Punisher that showed a depth and sympathy-for-the-devil not previously seen in comic books.
After Gerber, the character had a few one-and-done appearances that were all well and good, but simply used him to drive a superhero’s story forward. Then, he got several miniseries–including a MAX book–that were just awful. He was a cut-rate Punisher with even less depth than Frank Castle himself. For a very long time, it seemed like there would never be another Foolkiller series that was even readable.
Until this one.
What makes this book different?
It’s smart. Specifically, it’s smart about mental illness.
Rather than just play up his psychopathology as a stereotypical excuse for violence, the series used it to build a character who was only reluctantly sane. A man for whom treatment meant such a fundamental change to his being that, well, it was only of questionable value.
And who better to costar in a book about pathological violence? Deadpool.
Deadpool is another character who usually gets written badly, as a one-note, ultraviolent weirdo. But once again Bemis uses Deadpool’s insanity to build a story around getting better and getting worse, and the true nature of one’s true nature.
8. SIXPACK AND DOGWELDER: HARD TRAVELIN’ HEROZ by GARTH ENNIS and RUSS BRAUN (DC)
The universality of crazy, epitomized by the line, “I am Bator!” Solidarity against the coming void, among a loose collection of insane maniacs, including a drunk, a pervert, and a guy who welds animals together.
Am I crazy, or this is the most disgusting book that might actually make you cry? Garth, you mad bastard.
7. KINGPIN by MATTHEW ROSENBERG AND MARC LAMING (Marvel)
Told from the perspective of an embedded biographer, who is also a beautiful woman down on her luck, this exciting and fun miniseries explored how Kingpin’s greatest power—the power of manipulation—affects those around him, as well as himself. If they ever make a Kingpin film, this should serve as the script.
6. MISTER MIRACLE by TOM KING and MITCH GERADS (DC)
I never would have thought a New Gods revival would make an end-of-the-year list. It’s a testament to Tom King as a writer. He’s a genius, and every one of his books is different from the one before it.
Also, of course, Mitch Gerads kicks ass as an artist.