Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Year in Comics - 2011

This simply was one of the best years of comics in my lifetime. With DC Comics relaunching every single title with the highly enjoyable New 52, while also wrapping up their old continuity with flurries of emotion, this was a banner year for DC. Where as Marvel sort of got lost in the shuffle this year with their predictable event after event nature. Even so, both companies managed to make some good comic book story arcs this past year, and both companies have not shied away from taking their characters into unexplored territory and effectively changing the status quo. Whether it is Barbara Gordon returning as Batgirl, or the X-Men splitting into two separate teams, this has been a great year to be a comic book fan. So here is my year-end awards of the best that this year's comics had to offer.

Best Writing
- Geoff Johns for Aquaman - Volume 7
Leave it to Geoff Johns to re-invent Aquaman for the New 52, and effectively make Aquaman cool again. He actually addresses -- through jokes -- the cheesiness that is often associated with Aquaman, while also showing us Aquaman's undervalued powers and how they work. Just huge props.
(Runners-Up: Judd Winick for Batwing - Volume 1; Kyle Higgins for Nightwing - Volume 3; Jason Aaron for The Incredible Hulk - Volume 3; Scott Snyder for Detective Comics - Volume 1)

Best Art - Ben Oliver for Batwing - Volume 1
There is a stark sense of realism to Oliver's work on Batwing. He draws with so many lines in the faces, penciling intricate details in body language and expression in each and every panel. But what makes the art stand out is the painter-like simplicity of the backgrounds and the environments juxtaposed to the realistic human figures.
(Runners-Up: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado for Aquaman - Volume 7; Marc Silvestri for The Incredible Hulk - Volume 3; Eddy Barrows & JP Mayer for Nightwing - Volume 3; Yanick Paquette for Swamp Thing - Volume 5)

Best Story Arc - "Grounded" from Superman - Volume 1
Trying a 12-issue storyline in comics is always dicey, because obviously certain issues will be stronger than others from month-to-month, but the overarching idea of "Grounded" kept me riveted from month-to-month. Superman, feeling disconnected from the human race after the destruction of his Kryptonian brothers on New Krypton, walks across the United States trying to reconnect with the world he calls home. Along the way Superman interacts with Batman, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Jimmy, all of the regulars in his world, but where this arc succeeded was in telling a Superman story without big, flashy action, and was a character story about a depressed Superman rediscovering himself.
(Runners-Up: "Asunder" from The Incredible Hulk - Volume 7; "The Black Mirror" from Detective Comics - Volume 1; "The Trench" from Aquaman - Volume 7; "The Court of Owls" from Batman - Volume 2)

Best Individual Issue - Aquaman #1 - Volume 7
As said above, Geoff Johns made Aquaman cool again, and he did it with this very first issue of Volume 7. When Aquaman lifts that armored car with his trident, I was sold that this was not going to be the cheesy Aquaman of old, but a new, hardcore version of the character that updates the age-old mythology.
(Runners-Up: The Amazing Spider-Man #667 - Volume 1; Superman #710 - Volume 1; X-Men: Schism #1 - Volume 1; Superman #713 - Volume 1)

Best Series
- Superman - Volume 1
No other series this past year had as much of an emotional impact on me. I think what made Superman so great year-out, was the, "Grounded," storyline. Having Superman re-evaluating his views on, "Truth, Justice, and the American Way," was the right thing for this cynical time. So many people have felt Superman has lost touch with modern times, and Superman over this past year has only helped to show how and why Superman is still needed in the modern superhero landscape. He is a moral compass for these jaded times.
(Runners-Up: Batwing - Volume 1; Nightwing - Volume 3; The Incredible Hulk - Volume 3; Aquaman - Volume 7)