Back again here with the top comics of 2011. This is the “Best of the Rest” as we look at graphic novels and one-shots, mini series, and my choice for best writer and artist for 2011. Here we go.
Top Five Graphic Novels or One-shots for 2011
5. Book Smart (Kickstart)
A woman wakes up in a hospital in Nepal with amnesia. She’s got few clues as to who she really is, but what she has suggests that she might be an international spy. That would explain the people that are out to kill her. It’s a story that may seem familiar, but in the hands of writing duo Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, it feels fresh and new. And with art by Juan Santicruz, who’s no stranger to action having worked on both the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men, it’s a well paced thrill ride. A fun and smart read.
4. Hellboy : House of the Living Dead (Darkhorse)
A retro tail of Hellboy spending his time in Mexico in the 50s as a masked Luchidor wrestler. But this is no vacation. After losing a friend, big red is lost in a haze of drunken depression. But when a woman’s life hangs in the balance, he steps up and has to face all comers in an attempt to save her. It just so happens that all comers means fighting vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster. Mike Mignolia teams with regular collaborator Richard Corben to bring this tribute to Mexican Monster Movies to life and it doesn’t disappoint.
This Indie comic written and drawn by Chad Blakely is must reading for both fans and haters of Kevin Smith. It’s the story of two comic shop employees and former Smith fans who decide that in order to make it in the world of film, they need to kidnap Kevin and force him to write a screenplay for them. They thinks its a full proof plan, and like most plans of this nature, it soon falls apart upon execution. Smith is well represented here and his dialogue feels true to anyone who’s caught an episode of smodcast. For those not a fan of Kevin Smith’s work, you’re thoughts and feelings are repped here too as some of the arguments made against him in this book are pretty true to anyone I’ve heard whose bashed the filmmaker. But hands down, it was definitely the funniest read of 2011.
2. The Last Battle (Image)
For those who caught my interview with painter Dan Brereton, you know that I was huge fan of this book and his artwork within is one of the main reasons. But the story by Tito Faraci also plays a factor. Set in 52 BCE, it’s the tale of General Rodius, a retired war hero who’s called back into service by Caesar for one last mission – to track down the rebel leader who might make the difference against the roman armies in the battle for Gaul. The kicker here is that this rebel leader is also the surrogate son of Rodius. Both an physical and emotion conflict, this story has all the drama of any top sword and sandals epic, and it’s finally here in North America. And what pretty picture….so pretty.
1. Takio (Icon)
An all ages graphic novel from the men that brought you Powers – Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, this book made me feel like a kid again. It’s a story that deals with two sisters in a multi-racial, adoptive family who, due to thier overprotective mother, are forced to always hang out with each other. So what happens when these two kids end up attaining super powers? Awesome action! That’s what. My favorite thing about this book is that the kids actually sound like kids. You could see these girls in real life and I became attached to them easily. The story is classic kid adventure done well. I really hope that Bendis and Oeming produce a series of these books as the dynamic duo that is Takio still has plenty of stories to be told.
Best Mini Series
There were a few stand out titles this year. Both Image’s Who is Jake Ellis and IDW’s Rocketeer Adventures could’ve easily been the best of the year if it wasn’t for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips knocking it out of the park once again. This 4 issue mini took the memory of the fun-lovin’ Riverdale gang from Archie comics and painted them with a blood red brush. In this tale of crime and betrayal, Riley Richards, the stand in for Archie, plans the perfect murder of his wife. Will he get away with it. And how will his friends from high school and all the memories they shared in their sleepy home town help in the situation. Any fan of Archie will both cringe and delight in this story. And the covers are a thing of beauty.
If you read my Top Ten Favorite Comics of 2011 list, you know that Gage has been bringing meaningful and exciting superhero stories to life in the pages of Avengers Academy. With his knack for writing ensemble casts and strong character pieces, this book always has something to say and keep you coming back for more. But not only that, but he also had a hand in firing the first shot of the Cobra Civil War when he co-wrote the issue of Cobra where the Commander bit the big one. The man has an eye for detail and leaves not plot thread behind. I can’t wait to see where he’ll take the young heroes of Avengers Academy in the coming months.
Honorable mentions – Nick Spencer continues to crush it on Morning Glories. Mark Waid pulled off a miracle bringing Daredevil back to his glory and kept up the pace in both Irredeemable and Incorruptible. Jason Aaron didn’t slow down either as he cut out his place in the Marvel Bedrock.
I know this may be seen as an odd choice, but Atkins’ art was solid on Snake-Eyes, the G.I.Joe spinoff series, and made it the book get during Cobra Civil War. He captures the perfect balance of fun action with the dramatic story beats that happened throughout the story. He also delivered art that looked an felt like an actual G.I.Joe book, something that many artists have missed the mark on over the past decade. I hope to see more work from Atkins on Snake-Eyes (as presently, he has been relegated to covers only on the book) as well as in other titles in 2012.
Honorable Mentions – Ivan Reis’ work on Aquaman continues to be excellent. Paulo Rivera and Marcos Martin both bring out the best of the red devil in Daredevil. Joe Eisma shows off some fantastic storytelling with his art in Morning Glories.
So that bring us to the end of my look back on 2011. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my picks. Now it’s time to look forward to the many comics, movies, and television shows that 2012 has to offer.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!