Wednesday, November 14, 2007
ADD's 2007 Year in Review -- Let's look back at a great year for comics. First up:
THE BEST of 2007
* Crecy, Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres (Avatar) -- This one took me by surprise, and ended up being by far one of my favourite comics of the year. The way Ellis uses the lead character's narration is pretty unique in comics, and adds a layer of comedy and depth to the true story of a crucial historical battle. This is one you have to experience to really appreciate how accomplished it is. [Full Crecy review].
* Criminal, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon) -- Although I didn't review any single issues of this in calendar 2007, it was still my favourite monthly read and a more entertaining and well-crafted title than any other five comics you could name from either Marvel or DC. The second story arc, "Lawless," just wrapped up, and it was one of Brubaker's best pieces of character work ever, with Phillips contributing his usual amazing artwork -- he's the very best artist currently creating monthly comics, no question. [Criminal #1 review].
* Marvel Zombies: Dead Days and Marvel Zombies 2, Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips (Marvel) -- Nothing captures the real spirit of Marvel's heyday better than this perverse reimagining of their core characters, which has become a franchise unto itself. Stick with the books by Kirkman and Phillips, and know you're in for a grand time. [Marvel Zombies 2 #1 review].
* I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics Books) -- Junky and presumed-forgotten comics by one of the artform's weirdest minds were recontextualized by Fantagraphics and editor Paul Karasik into one of the must-read collections of the year. You may never look at superheroes the same way again, and never have as much fun reading them. [I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets review].
* A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Saga of the Bloody Benders, Rick Geary (NBM/ComicsLit) -- This was one of the finest and most fun original graphic novels of the year. You don't hear much about Geary on the comics news sites, but he quietly has become one of the most unique and dependable storytellers in the entire medium. [Bloody Benders review].
* Please Release, Nate Powell (Top Shelf) -- If there's a more thoughtful and interesting artcomix practitioner than Nate Powell, I don't know who it would be. He's someone you'll be hearing a lot more about in the years ahead, and the stories in this collection are a good indicator why. [Please Release review].
* Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel) -- I didn't review this, but I don't think there was a better value for your superhero dollar than this 99.9 percent perfect collection of possibly the greatest superhero comics of all time. The misspelling of Steve Ditko's name on the last page is the only flaw I could detect, but Jesus, what a flaw to have in an otherwise exquisite presentation of these essential comics.
* All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC) -- The most fun I've had since, well, any other Morrison and Quitely project you could name. One of the greatest, most entertaining teams working in corporate comics.
* Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly) -- Any other creator delivering a novel this dense and entertaining would probably be hailed in every corner of the blogosphere, but the excellence of Shortcomings is by now expected, and therefore possibly not as thrill-generating. But rest assured, this exploration of race and relationships is Tomine stretching, even if just a little bit, and that makes it more than worth your attention. [Optic Nerve #9 (Shortcomings Chapter 1) review].
* The Complete Peanuts, Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics) -- This series is well into the most glorious era of the best comic strip ever, and you should definitely be reading along to see how the magic happened, day after day, for half a century. I recently reviewed David Michaelis's Schulz biography, Schulz and Peanuts, as well.
* Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty (Dark Horse) -- I don't know if this title will bring any new readers to comics, but if you were ever a fan of Whedon's TV work, this is the most note-perfect adaptation/continuation you could possibly have asked for. Even writer Brian K. Vaughan's arc is keeping me entertained, and that's quite an accomplishment considering his stuff usually not only leaves me cold, but makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
* Spent, Joe Matt (Drawn and Quarterly) -- I suppose this is the sort of story anti-artcomix folks are talking about when they damn all artcomix with the "navel-gazey/autobio/masturbation" accusation. Fuck them, I love Matt's stuff. [Peepshow #13 (Spent Chapter 1) review].
* The Boys, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite) -- Anyone who dismisses The Boys as mere foul-mouthed satire is missing one of the wildest and best superhero rides around. The book just gets better with every passing issue. [The Boys #8 review].
* Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni), and Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill (DC/Wildstorm) -- All right, I haven't read these yet because they come out today. I admit it. But by this time tomorrow I will have likely read both, and based on previous volumes in both series, I have no doubt they belong on this list. If I'm wrong, I'll happily come back and edit this post. But I don't think I'll have to. Related: As much as I miss Moore's ABC line, I am pleased as punch for him that he's out from under his indentured servitude to DC, a company that has gone far out of its way to shit on him time and time again. And I look forward to supporting every project he chooses to create with any other publisher. DC really, really fucked up when they decided (multiple times) to alienate the best writer ever to work in comics, and they will likely lose hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in future revenue as a result of their petty, vindictive bullshit. Fuck anyone who had a hand in Moore's decision to separate himself permanently from the company.
And now, because there was just a lot of it, here's some of:
THE WORST of 2007
* Martha Washington Dies, Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons (Dark Horse) -- I don't know what I was expecting from this, but having really enjoyed the original series back when it debuted, this came as something of a shallow, pointless kick in the teeth. [Martha Washington Dies review].
* Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special #1, Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver (DC) -- Noogies. Fucking noogies. Who does Geoff Johns have pictures of, and what farm animal are they sodomizing, exactly? I can't believe anyone would even have to ask if Geoff Johns still sucks, but there it is. He sure as fuck does. [GLSCS #1 review].
* Tales from the Crypt #1, various (Papercutz) -- Very possibly the worst idea of the year, if not ever. [TFTC #1 review].
* Thor #1, J. Michael Straczynski and Oliver Coipel (Marvel) -- "How mightily it fails to impress," I said, proving just how pervasive Thor's pseudo-Shakespearean dialect might be. This was one big, malodorous turd in the mighty small punchbowl that is "what I expect from Marvel these days." [Thor #1 review].
* The Highwaymen #1 (DC/Wildstorm) -- The creators of this exercise in generic tedium were shocked when the title was canceled after a handful of issues. I sure as hell wasn't. [The Highwaymen #1 review].
What am I looking forward to in 2008? Hopefully more surprises like Crecy and I shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, and more expected excellence like Criminal, All-Star Superman, Scott Pilgrim, anything by Rick Geary, and The Boys. And I really hope Dark Horse collects (in hardcover, goddamn it!) Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth's Born on the Battlefield, one of the most compelling Conan stories ever presented. I'd also like to see Barry Windsor-Smith's Paradoxman collection from Fantagraphics, and see Marvel get its head out of its ass and release BWS's Thing graphic novel.
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