10. Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell (Image)
This was the year that inclusion exploded in comics, and Infidel is a great example. Homosexuals, Muslims, minorities, and white men, all live together, with realistic (i.e., not overblown) recognition of their differences, and with a common purpose: To help each other overcome a threatening presence known fully to only one of them—a supernatural force that feeds on xenophobia.
This book by two unknowns was so good, so powerful, that it got optioned for film after just two issues.
9. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
When Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan said #54 would be the last issue of the story for a year, after which they will return and finish the story for good, I was kind of glad—their fatigue was starting to show in recent issues, which were only “very good” and not “great.”
Saga has been in my top 10 series of the year ever since it was launched—often resting at the #1 spot—and the book has won TWELVE Eisner Awards. So it is certainly one of the greatest comics of all time, but is it one of the most important? It’s hard to see it as influential because, frankly, it is so wholly original that it really can’t be copied. And it’s hard to imagine it being adapted—even Vaughan has said he’s not interested in a movie or TV deal. So it’s importance is only that it has elevated the medium and shown how comics—particularly SF books—can have emotional depth, humor, tragedy, and brilliant, wonderful art.
Elevating the medium should be enough. Comics-as-art, comics-as-literature is still a developing theme, with many still thinking comics are just for kids. If you know someone like that, buy them Saga Volume 1 and watch them change.
8. Ice Cream Man by W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo (Image)
Lots of good horror books this year. This one is kind of an anthology—the stories don’t clearly tie together from issue to issue, except that there’s a really, really creepy ice cream truck driver involved either directly or tangentially. Each story is very different, from an issue where dogs perform brain surgery (above) to one that contained some very nice musical references…
…To say more than that is hard. The stories are horrific and violent, but also can be quite touching—depending on the issue. Anthologies are usually pretty uneven, but every issue of Ice Cream Man has been predictably unpredictable, wildly different from anything else on the stands, and of the highest quality.=
7. Thanos/Cosmic Ghost Rider by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw (Marvel)
Finally! Someone has figured out a new take on Ghost Rider that’s actually worth reading! He’s Frank Castle, and he’s protecting a baby Thanos! That’s the idea behind Cosmic Ghost Rider, which serves as a humorous postscript to Cates’ impressive Thanos series, in which we see the future and see him, finally, win it all forever.
I know the rumors (or accusations), which are that Marvel stole this idea from Jim Starlin and basically robbed us of a final Starlin Thanos tale, but I have to say…Cates’ work is almost as good as Starlin’s. And that’s really saying something, as Jim Starlin’s Thanos work is definitive.
6. Coyotes by Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky (Image)
A bilingual tale of a young girl with the fantastic, violent ability to protect women from mystical coyotes who patrol the border. Yeah, it’s a werewolf book, but don’t get misled. This is not your average horror book. It’s got strong political overtones, particularly on aspects of race and gender, coupled with excellent character development, and perfectly suited, highly stylized art that will take your breath away.
Next: The Top 5!!!