Julie’s Top 10 Comics of 2010

Hey everybody! We’re back to wrap up 2010! In making a list of my favorite comics of the last year, I had to make a few caveats. I didn’t want to include ongoing titles that had made the list last year (SorryPower Girl! Sorry Atlas! Sorry Ultimate Spider-man!).
Also, though it feels like I read a lot more books, when I looked, it turned out many of them were older books, or series I had just started, but hadn’t read any of the issues released in 2010 (Sorry Locke and Key!). So, given these restrictions, I went on from there.
Also, I didn’t actually rank the books last year, but Rina ranked her’s, and now she’s making do the same. It’s haaaaaaaaaaaard. :(
Oh well, let’s go!

#10 – Brain Camp
Writers: Sunsan Kim and Laurence Klavan
Artist:Faith Erin Hicks

When I got to the end of Brain Camp and read the author notes, I learned that one of the writers used to write for “Are You Afraid of The Dark?” After reading this, I said aloud:“Ohhhhhhhhhhh!” If you’re ever watched any old episodes of that show, or it’s ilk, this book makes instant sense. It’s that cool kind of young reader horror that is a lot of fun for any ages. It gets all weird and crazy and gross and isn’t terribly concerned with it all making a lot of sense, but that’s just fine. It’s a load of fun.
I’d like to say more about the craziness, but being one of those Goosebumps-y type stories, I don’t want say much more about the story, since it’s all mystery and full of crazy twists and such. I will say that the characters are a joy, and (Halifax local!) Faith Erin Hicks’ art looks great in full colour.
Also, I just realized now that all the owls on people’s shirts on the cover are also looking toward the center, and it’s creeping me out a little.

#9 – Teen Titans (Issue 88+)
Writer: J. T. Krul
Artist: Nicola Scott

Teen Titans is one of my favorite all-time comics, but in the last few years? Not so much. A series of increasingly depressing and/or gruesome plot twists and character deaths lead to me dropping the book for a while. Which was kind of a shame, because they added a bunch of characters I really liked during that time, like Blue Beetle, Static, and Miss Martian.
While they’re not in the book anymore, I went ahead and picked up the first issue by the new team of, and was pleasantly surprised. A good, balanced team with bunch of my all-time favorites like Raven and Kid Flash, great art, a fun, lighthearted tone, all that good stuff. And then they bring in the new Damian Wayne Robin, and he’s a jerk and everyone hates him and it’s hilarious. It’s a great flipped take on the team dynamic, and I can’t wait to see more next year.

#8 – The Guild
Writer: Felicia Day
Artist: Jim Rugg

Nerd niches are weird, because I guess from what I hear this comic based off Felicia Day’s web series is really doing well bringing new readers to comics. I say it’s weird because it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone besides me watched the show, and I thought the comic would introduce people to that, not visa verse. Shows what I know.
Regardless, the comic is great, and if your a fan of the show, gives you a great origin story for the Knights of Good. And if you are new to the series, it paints a pretty great picture about this girl who’s life is spinning out of control, and how retreating into a fantasy life might actually be the healthiest thing for her. The Guild can be pretty biting in it’s depictions of these messed up nerds, but the comic is a great reminder that there are some really honest and lovable human beings past the jokes.

#7 – Prince of Power
Writers: Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Artist: Reilly Brown and more

Alright. I’m cheating. This is totally cheating. While “Prince of Power” is a stand-alone mini-series, it’s really just a continuation of the on-hiatus “Incredible Hercules”, following Herc’s “death” (heavy quotes on “death”), and leading into the current “Chaos War” mini (I’m sick of saying “event”).
But while it’s really more of the same, it’s kind of all new at the same time. It gives us an honest-to-god(s) solo book staring Amadeus Cho, who’s one of my favorite new characters in recent memory. Recasting him as CEO of the Olympus Group (and giving him a nice suit) grows the character up a little, despite him remaining intentionally and staunchly juvenile. And if you’re a fan of mythology, it’s always fun to see Cho (and his sidekick, Thor) run ramshackle through a variety of pantheons and, as the title“Blasphemy Can Be Fun” suggests, completely ruin them. Just ask Sekhmet…

#6 – Darkwing Duck
Writer: Ian Brill
Artist: James Silvani

Boom! Studios continues it’s onslaught of Disney comics with a return to the Disney Afternoon. Darkwing was one of the best super-hero parody shows back in the day, largely because it sticks to the golden rule of satire by actually loving and celebrating that which it makes fun of.
And the new comic does a fantastic job sticking to that as well. The comic ages a little bit with it’s audience, taking itself the teeniest bit more seriously, reintroducing Darkwing and friends with “The Duck Knight Returns”, taking it’s title and some story clues from the famous Batman story, with a retired Darkwing pulling himself back into crime-fighting to free St. Canard from an evil corporation.
And while the story plays itself somewhat strait, with some great character developments from both DW and his classic bunch of villains, it’s also committed to celebrating how totally insane the show got, with a whole page in the first issue dedicated to Darkwing with a snake for an arm. Yeah.

#5 – The Flash
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Francis Manapul and Scott Kolins

I don’t tend to read a lot of DC books, but not for lack of trying. I’m not sure why I decided to try out the new re-Barry Allen-ed “Flash”, though it was likely a combination of amazing art and having listened all the way through “Tom Vs. The Flash”.
As someone who wasn’t even born yet when Barry died way back, I wasn’t super interested in the character over Wally West, the standard of the last 25 years, but Jones makes a great case for Barry, playing up the “superhero CSI” angle, and constantly batting around one of the best rogue’s gallery in comics.
Also, there’s this one part where he RUNS ACROSS A HELICOPTER BLADE.

So cool.
#4 – Scarlet
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

I am an unashamed Bendis fan. I love fast paced dialogue from interesting people, and I’m okay reading a whole issue of the Avengers having breakfast. I’m cool with that. I completely get some people’s opinion that his best work is in his more crime-focused work though. I haven’t actually had a chance to go back and read some of his older work, so when his first new creator owned book popped up, I decided to jump on it.
I’m still not quite sure what Scarlet is about, but I’m quite interested to learn. At first, it seems to just be about the sudden shattering of one girl’s life, and how she decides to pick up the pieces and put them right. The real hook in the whole thing is really the story’s 4th wall relationship. Scarlet does some things that, from another perspective, could easily be construed as the actions of a villain, or even a crazy person. But then she stops and talks directly to the audience, explaining her actions as she sees them. This sudden shift can really catch you off guard, as you’re suddenly not sure how to feel about the events unfolding, as you really start to emphasize with even the most extreme of actions. It’s a unique style of characterization not really seen in comics that I really want to see develop further as the series continues.

#3 – Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Writer/Artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley

Might as well take this last chance to say that Scott Pilgrim is awesome. Not really news at this point, but hey, we’re here right?
A lot of people I know that read the finale when it came out had mixed reactions on it. I though it was a very satisfying ending at the time, and the more I’ve thought about it since, the more I find myself loving it. Many aspects of the resolutions are kept a little bit vague, but I think that it works where it is. All the major characters really do come full circle, and they’re arcs a put in the spotlight, where for most of the series they were all kind of lost in their own befuddled internal conflicts.
This summery got a little headier than I intended. Do you guys like video games? I do. So does this book. I like this book for liking video games. Again, this isn’t news, but I’m always happy to highlight the awesome use of gaming tropes and storytelling devices. Just getting that in at the last opportunity.
Also, enough time for one more classic Wallace moment:

#2 – Amazing Spider-man
Writers: Dan Slott, Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, more
Artist: Marcos Martin, Max Fiumara, Humberto Ramos, more 

Can’t put Ultimate on the list again, but Amazing sure was also, um… am…amazing this year. Yeah.
Anyway, the year started off with a series of great stories meant to redefine a number of Spidey’s most classic foes. These stories did a hell of a lot to remind everyone why Spider-man has arguably the best rogue’s gallery in comics.
Mysterio, Kraven, and more all get some great reintroductions. The pick of the litter though is without a doubt the amazing 2-part Rino story, that pretty much destroys any of the jokey, lame-brained versions of the character from here on out. One of my single favorite stories this year (and Spider-man stories EVER).
The latter half of the year also kicked butt, ending the “Brand New Day” era with a bang, with the “Origin of Species” story, a wacked-out muti-issue chase/fight featuring every villain they could fit in, and the start of Slott’s “Big Time” era, proving right away that he’s writing one the most enjoyably fan-servicey Spider-man’s I’ve seen.

#1 – Pluto
Writer/Artist: Naoki Urasawa

I’m admittedly late to the “Naoki Urasawa is mind-blowing” party, but it’s a good one to be at for any amount of time. Pluto is an astonishingly deep and affecting retelling of a classic Astro Boy story, centering this version of the murder mystery on robotic detective Gesicht.
Urasawa is one of the best storytellers I’ve seen in comics, especially in his proven field of mystery/thriller. His other works, such as Monster and 20th Century Boys (which may have been my choice, but I haven’t gotten to the more recent volumes yet) are just as astonishing, but Pluto’s added sense of skewing these well known characters and archetypes in it’s dark, psychological tropes make it seems like Japan’s answer to Watchmen.
I think my favorite part of Urasawa’s work is his ability to vignette. At points in his books, the story throws the breaks on, and then we’re suddenly reading about a completely different character, oftentimes one we haven’t even met yet. It can feel like a whole different story all of a sudden. Again, not unlike an issue of Watchmen would shift focus to Dr. Manhattan for an issue. Though as jarring as this is, it always feels like a part of the whole, and it’s always fascinating to wait and find out how this piece fits into the larger puzzle.

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