Saturday, December 31, 2011

11 for '11: Comic Book Series

At some point this month, I had some grand idea to have 11 posts about my favorite things from 2011, one post each day for each of the last 11 days of the month. Obviously that didn't happen. Some things got in the way, but more than anything, I just realized that there weren't 11 topics on which I could produce a list of 11. So I narrowed things down to the three topics I write about the most -- comics, TV and personal experiences. So today, I'll have a series of posts waving goodbye to 2011.

Let's start things off with my 11 favorite comics series of 2011. This was the year I widened my comics horizons, beyond Spider-Man (and related titles) and TV tie-ins, and the list somewhat reflects that, but there are some mainstays too.

11. Spider Island: Cloak & Dagger
The only reason this isn't higher is because it was only 3 issues long. Nick Spencer (who'll show up again on this list) wrote an impressive tale that didn't require you to be reading the main Spider Island series to enjoy it, and Emma Rios's art was stunning. C'mon Marvel, make this an ongoing. You know you want to.

10. The Walking Dead
Ok, so I'm cheating a little here, because I just started reading this series, so the stuff I'm reading actually came out years ago. That said, all indications are that it's still going strong in 2011.

9. Jennifer Blood
I have to thank the owner of my local comic shop for turning me on to this series, which is like Suburbia meets The Punisher. I fell in love with the violence -- contrasted with Jennifer's perfect home life -- almost immediately.

8. Charmed
This series's went through a lot of artists early on, but things settled down a bit in 2011, and writer Paul Ruditis continues to craft a tale that takes Charmed to new places while respecting the history of the show.

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This series only had 5 issues in 2011, combining both Season 8 and Season 9, and the S8 finale from January was probably the best issue, but Season 9 seems to be going to good places.



6. Batgirl
I picked up a few issues from DC's new 52, the first time I've ever tried a monthly from the Distinguished Competiton, and the only one I stuck with was Batgirl. I didn't think putting Barbara Gordon back in the costume would work, but Gail Simone totally pulled it off, with a nuanced story that's complement by amazing art.

5. Ultimate Spider-Man
I'm rolling the original USM, Fallout and the new USM into one entry for this, since it really is one ongoing story. The death of Peter Parker, while wholly unnecessary, was handled beautifully, and things have gotten really interesting in the relaunched series.

4. Avengers Academy
This is another longer series that I just got turned onto this series this year, and I'm really enjoying how Christos Gage is blending these younger characters in with the established Marvel universe. I do wish they hadn't written Veil out of the team, nut hopefully she'll be back soon.

3. Angel & Faith
This is another series that hasn't been going on that long (just 5 issues -- and I'll get around to reviewing #5 this weekend) but its been so good out of the gate that it vaulted up the list. I love the art. I love the story, and I'm so happy Faith has something close to her own series.

2. Amazing Spider-Man
One of my friends, every time I bring up this series, just asks "are they back together yet?" referring to Peter and MJ. My answer is always the same: "no, but it doesn't matter anymore, because it's awesome." Dan Slott has totally restored my faith in ASM. Spider Island was what an event should be, and I look forward to picking this up every two weeks.

1. Morning Glories
OK, so I was at Baltimore Comic Con, getting a bunch of Marvel stuff signed by Spencer (the writer/creator of this series) and I saw one of the issues on his table. I asked him about it, and he gave me the basic gist of it -- which sounded awesome -- but for some reason, I didn't decide to pick it up for a few more months. Once I did, I was blown away.

Morning Glories is commonly pitched with the line "if you liked 'Lost', you'll love 'Morning Glories'" or something similar, but its about so much more than just the mysterious Morning Glory Academy and the twists and turns the story takes. The characters are so well developed already, even just 14 issues in, and Joe Eisma's artwork is stunning. Every month when I read it, I can't wait to see what comes next, but I also really enjoy just letting each issue itself sink in. The cast of characters is large, but not unmanageably so, and everyone has their own part to play.

Issues 1-12 have been collected into a deluxe hardcover (pictured above), though you can also get the two separate trade paperbacks if you want to catch up. Issue #15 is due out next month, and I'm sure Spencer and Eisma will be providing quality material in this series for years to come. In all honesty, if I was told I had to drop every monthly book from my reading list except one, this is the one I'd choose to keep, and that's coming from someone who treats the Whedonverse like a religious experience.

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