Friday, January 1, 2016

Anon's Top 10 Comics of 2015

   One of my pals (who prefers to remain Anonymous) has provided his Top 10 list (and a few extras) - so take it away, Anon

Honorable Mentions:

How’d these books wind up on the Honorable Mention list? Some print slowly or erratically. Other books have changed directions and/or creators, and often not for the better. They’re also a good read, but didn’t make the Top 10. 

Hellboy in Hell
Jupiter’s Circle
Manhattan Projects

Top 10 Comic Books of 2015:

10. Thors 

   Talk about a book that I expected nothing from.

   The four-issue story is a cop drama/murder mystery where the cops are various incarnations of Marvel’s God of Thunder, Thor

   While not on my pull list, I looked at the first issue because of Chris Sprouse’s art, which rarely disappoints. Beyond the art by Sprouse, which is great, Jason Aaron somehow gives this odd cast of knockoff characters depth and believable concern when one of their own is murdered. 

   As most long time comic book fans know, Thor, as a character, is often written poorly, especially the dialogue, but Aaron pulls the reader in quickly and solidly, even with this bizarre premise. 

   I didn’t see this one coming, but I’m glad I picked it up.

9. Midnighter 

   In comics, gay characters fall into stereotypes and caricatures easily. I never felt like The Authority’s Midnighter ever did that. 

   Hard as nails and quick to fight, the character’s sexuality was his own and hardly “closeted” per se, but, first and foremost, he’s a great character. 

   He’s also gay. 

   While early issues of this series have a bit of fun with this notion – for example, he recognizes hero-turned-spy Dick Grayson by his ass in one issue – it is a relationship of Midnighter’s that turns tragic and gives him the nemesis he deserves, which also happens to be one of my favorite villains in the DC Universe. 

   While this storyline is hardly wrapped up, I’m interested to see where it goes.

8. Airboy

   Hoo boy. I’m closing in on 40 years of collecting comic books and this book is one of the weirdest I’ve ever read. 

   Trust me - that’s a big statement. 

   From a marketing perspective, it makes a great deal of sense. There’s almost no chance that I would have purchased an Airboy comic book, no mater who the creative team was. 

   While I don’t want to spoil anything about this book, it’s more connected with the creation of an Airboy comic book as opposed to an Airboy story. 

   James Robinson’s writing crushes in this book and takes the reader on odd trip, including to some places most folks will not want to go. 

   This book also became a bit of a controversy, as a plot point involved an unflattering look at transgender folks and resulted in a heartfelt apology by Robinson to that community. 

   If you’re interested in the apology, you’ll find it here (but read the book first) -

7. The Eltingville Club

 Ah, those Eltingville boys.

   Imagine the worst of geek fandom that you’ve ever encountered, and you’ll find them there. 

   In issue #2, Evan Dorkin’s hopeless characters have become “adults” and we get to learn how little they’ve progressed. 

   Often funny, sometimes sad, but always referential, Dorkin shines a light on the dark side of fandom, and what we see is a little bit of ourselves.

6. Hawkeye

   Oh, the feels. Lots happen in the Hawkeye books previously, and new author Jeff Lemire keeps it going. 

   While it would have been tempting to do a Hawkeye-like-in-the-movies series, Marvel goes in a completely different direction. 

   Making the stories “small” in nature, they often deal with relationships between characters or even within Hawkeye’s own living space. 

   While the current storyline include both flashbacks and a future glimpse of Hawkeye’s life in the future, the reader remains invested in the characters. 

   Hawkeye is presented as an all-too-human hero who, at times, disappoints the audience and himself.

5. Saga 

   Creating a new world is a challenge. 

   Creating an entirely new universe seems impossible, but Brian K. Vaughn does it effortlessly. 

   Saga is a galaxy-spanning story that distills down to the relationship between two people. 

   Highly recommended for those of us with little ones, Saga is a great commentary on trying to be good parent when everything else gets in the way.

4. The Multiversity 

 I once heard Henry Rollins say in an interview that if he thought of James Brown when he was trying to create music, he’d climb under his bed and give up.

   Grant Morrison has that effect on me. 

   Morrison possesses a tremendous imagination combined with an impressive knowledge and reverence for DC’s mythology. 

   It’s from that reverence that Multiversity was born. 

   With some of the strongest artists in the business, Morrison paints a picture of the DC Universe that we wish existed. 

   The only downside is the ending, and then we’re stuck with the usual crap that DC is publishing these days. 

3. The Walking Dead

   I nearly dropped this title. 

   It got back on track after a multi-issue conflict that ended in a way that you didn’t see coming and was followed by 180-degree turn that still has readers reeling. 

   Robert Kirkman takes his characters and the reader into brand new territory with recent issues, and makes this book better than it’s ever been.

2. The Private Eye: The Cloudburst Edition Hardcover

   A mind-bending story that is a joy to read. Worth the $50. 

1. Secret Wars and the entire Hickman Saga

   I have Hickman’s Secret Wars and his other plotlines as number one on my Top 10 list, but make no mistake; the Secret Wars books have a lot of troubles. 

   Huge plot holes (which I blame on Marvel and its need to move the story along, not Hickman), a very delayed schedule (the Secret Wars isn’t over, but the rest of Marvel’s books are well beyond the end of the Secret Wars), and Marvel’s big 2015 crossover event is still not over (the last issue of Secret Wars should come out on January 13, 2016). 

   With all these headaches, this book is still excellent and transcends these frustrating hiccups. 

   The book’s plot is somewhat ridiculous – after the end of all existence, Dr. Victor Von Doom, the longtime Fantastic Four nemesis, saves reality by piecing together the entire Marvel Universe into a patchwork quilt of a planet where Doom is the omnipotent ruler of everything. 

   Of course, trouble ensues. As tight and cosmic as the writing is, the book is made better by the painted interior artwork of Esad Ribic and covers by Alex Ross. 

   Hickman gives the right voice to the multitude of characters and none of them sound out of place. 

   I won’t explain the plot any further, but any fan of Doom will be well rewarded with this look at a popular character that finally seems to get everything he’s always wanted. 

   While it’s not over yet, Secret Wars would have to go a long way to disappoint after telling such a rich and interesting story thus far.

Worst Comic Book(s) of the Year:

New Lone Wolf & Cub Trade Paperbacks

   I love the first Lone Wolf & Cub series. 

   It’s violent, weird, compelling and gives the reader a version of feudal Japan. 

   This new series is just too weird. 

   I’ve not read it as closely as the original, but knew something was wrong when a naked woman with blond hair saves one of the main characters from drowning, then walks naked with the character over her shoulder to the nearest town. Weird, huh? 

   I probably need to reread these books, but I cannot shake this weird turn in the story.

Favorite Purchase of the Year:

Nostromo Hat from Alien

   One of the cool things about the hobby of comic books is the nostalgia. 

   You find a book or item, and it immediately transports you back to another time. 

   I originally bought this hat, which is a replica of the hat worn by Harry Dean Stanton in 1979’s Alien

   I ordered the hat out of a magazine, most like Famous Monsters of Filmland or Starlog, and probably didn’t receive it until some time in 1980. 

   I think I wore this hat pretty much every day in my teenage years, which I imagine made me very popular with the ladies (sarcasm)

   Previews recently listed an order for the hat, so I snagged one for nostalgia’s sense. 

   I tried to explain this item and its connection to me to the folks at my local comic shop (who are great people, for the record). Besides what I’ve written above, I mentioned that this item was from the era before comic shops as we know them and replica items from films were nearly unheard of. 

   Both guys looked at me like I was an alien or just an old guy telling a story. 

   Oh, well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chuck!