Welcome to Girls Read Comics’ Best of 2010! From behind the scenes to the comics themselves, we’ve come up with a list of our favorites this year.
Dee: I found a lot of these tough. I’m never good at choosing one favourite at the best of times, and in some ways 2010 was exactly that. There were so many options to pick from, it was hard to pick a best in each category. But I did my best, and only have one or two honourable mentions this go ’round.
Chantaal: I’m with Dee, this was tough. But after a lot of deliberation and talking it out (mostly to myself), I finally managed to pick one above all.
Best Ongoing Series
Birds of Prey
Writer: Gail Simone
Dee: This was also my most anticipated series of the year. I’ve had a Birds-shaped hole in my comic-reading life the past few years. What Simone gave us has been brilliant, it started at such a high level of intensity and has never let up. Her stories are well crafted, and while each issue satisfies, it ties into a bigger picture and leaves you desperate for more. She’s reformed the core team of Oracle, Canary, Huntress and Zinda and added two new team members in Hawk and Dove. They’re stronger than before, and once again she nails exactly what it is I love about all of these characters. Huntress’ moment of prayer in Thailand was a defining one for her, and like many others, gave me an insight to the character that I loved. Her balance of drama, tension, fighting and humour is just spot on.
The Walking Dead
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Chantaal: With a critically acclaimed hit TV series, The Walking Dead is finally in the spotlight, where it belongs. The series is incredibly well written, focusing on what happens to the survivors more than it does the zombies. The threat is always there, and though I do enjoy some zombie bashing every now and again, it’s the characters I always come back for. Nearly 80 issues have been printed so far, and Kirkman doesn’t seem to be running out of ideas or paths for his characters to take.
Best Limited Series
Dee: There’s a tie here. I’ll call it independent vs major label.
Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Paul Gulacy
Dee: There are things that I just love, and time travel stories are one of those things. There’s something brilliantly fantastical about them, and when they’re done well, they are one of my favourite things on earth. Add to this time travel that goes wrong and lands the travellers in World War II Germany and two of my favourite writers and you have something amazing. This is a tightly scripted story that manages to be full of action, plot and characterisation. AND NAZIS. Seriously, 150 pages of awesome.
Chantaal: I have every intention of reading Timebomb. I’m just, uh, lazy. I swear I’ll get to it soon!
Writer: Jen Van Meter
Artist: Javier Pulido (Covers by Amanda Conner)
Dee: Jen Van Meter gets Black Cat. She’s a strong character, a strong woman who isn’t always on the right side of the law, but isn’t always on the wrong side of it either. This is a very entertaining story that shows the Cat at her best. Her family threatened, she has to use her team to make things right – with no input from Spider Man which I also love. It’s a fun story, but a story strong on characterisation that shows what makes the Black Cat tick.
Chantaal: I absolutely loved the Black Cat mini. Though a fan, I’ve never read much of her beyond a few issues here and there in any given Spider-Man series, and I find myself inexplicably drawn to Felicia. Jan Van Meter wrote an appealing storyline with just enough emotional resonance to keep things entertaining and in touch with the reader. Felicia’s more than just a pair of boobs in a tight black suit, and this mini showcased that to great effect.
Thor and the Warriors Four
Writer: Alex Zalben
Chantaal: I’m sure everyone’s tired of hearing me talk about Thor and the Warriors Four, but you’re all just going to have to suck it up. Okay, I’ll give everyone a break and just ask you to check out our TatWF category tag for my previous reviews.
I love this series, and will love to one day share it with my kids when they’re old enough. It’s fantastic.
Best Original Graphic Novel
Dee: This was another tight race, and Jim McCann and Janet K Lee’s Return of the Dapper Men almost won. But something else held my heart from this year.
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit
Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Dee: This book was my find of NYCC. It’s a beautifully told adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker books. The noir gangster-related story, the heist, the beautiful stylized art… The Outfit is amazing.
Best Trade Paperback
Power Girl Vol 1 & 2
Writer: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner
Dee: I cheated. I totally cheated on this one. I couldn’t decide if I liked A New Beginning or Aliens & Apes more, so I’ve listed them both. Gray and Palmiotti do something brilliant with Power Girl. They take a character that has foundered over the years – her past re-written so many times – and they breathe new life into her. She’s smart, she’s a little bit jaded at times, and she’s trying to live a normalish life – at least on the surface. It never works out that way for her, and between their very clever writing and Amanda’s kick-ass art, these are two books I think everyone should own. Some of the page sequences are just brilliant, from the most mundane details (Stinky. No one can read this book and not love Stinky or doubt that Conner does too) to epic fight scenes with the New York cityscape as a background, this series is amazing.
Chantaal: I’m gonna go with Dee on this one, though I’m more fond of A New Beginning.
Dee: Another very close race, and Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen’s Shockrockets came so close to winning it. But another book crept in there for me, and won me over.
Kabuki Volume 1 (Hardcover)
Writer & Artist: David Mack
Dee: Wow, is David Mack talented. I had no idea just how much until I started looking through Kabuki books, and picked up some of the reflections sketchbooks from him at NYCC. This is a story that is lyrical, slowly unfolding with each beautiful page. His art suits it so well. A haunting story with haunting art. It’s the best way I can describe it.
Best Web Comic
Writer & Artist: Katie Cook
Dee: I’ve written about Gronk before, but it needs repeating. This is an absolutely gorgeous story about a young monster who doesn’t fit in, so goes to live in the human world instead. It’s charming and sweet and geeky and funny. I am a bit in love with Katie for giving us this, and I’m totally in love with Gronk.
The Devil Inside
Writer: Todd Stashwick
Artist: Dennis Calero
Chantaal: I’ve written about The Devil Inside before, and stand by my review. I’m still a little behind on it, but this story about the Devil stopping in a small town and the mayhem that ensues is an enjoyable ride.
Best Single Issue
Dee: This was an interesting issue for the Six. Almost an Elseworlds issue, it saw the six in a Western town. Scandal as the Sheriff, Deadshot as the bounty hunting gun slinger coming through town, Ragdoll as a puppeteer and town freak. Yet the characters still played their roles. They were caught up in a fight not necessarily their own and lived and died by it. It was an extremely clever issue, referencing old villains and things that have happened to the six in the past. And it was beautifully drawn by Calafiore. I’m actually interested to see if Simone manages to tie this into regular continuity at all.
Chantaal: I’ve talked and talked and talked about how much I love this series, and while it was hard to pick just one issue, the fourth was my favorite. Though the baby Norse gods have been returned to their rightful state, it boils down to the Power Pack to help save Asgard from Loki’s clutches – and it was done in such a satisfying, awesome way that I can’t help but be a little in love with Alex Power. (Not in a bad way, I swear.) It was a perfect final issue for a perfect little mini series.
Dee: TIE! I’ve decided to award one to DC and one to Marvel. It’s the only way I could choose, and even that’s not much of a choice, is it?
Dee: I love this cover. A scene from Penguin’s little fantasy world, it shows three of our birds in strange alter-ego roles. A friend of mine and I have started calling this the Penguin Corps, and plan to cosplay it at Dragon*Con, we actually like a cover that much.
It’s intriguing, it hints at what happens in the book and it’s memorable. Everything I want a cover to be.
Dee: I’ll admit something. I didn’t read Girl Comics. But I own the book. I bought it for the cover, flipped through it a fairly uninterested manner, and then put it in a frame and hung it on my wall. No, really, I did. Jen’s attitude, the way she’s kicking Tony’s ass in arm wrestling, the crowd cheering them on, Wolverine handing his lost bet over to Ororo… There is nothing in this cover to not love.
Chantaal: AGREED. I actually have a print of this cover signed by Amanda on my wall.
Chantaal: I’m a big Adi Granov fan, and loved that he did the covers for all the mutant books involved in the Second Coming event this year. He gives comic book art a whole new dimension; I feel like I could put a print of this up at home and not have someone inevitably ask, incredulously, is that from a comic? (Yes, it is, and no, I’m not ashamed to have comic book art on my wall, sis.)
I picked this New Mutants cover over the rest of Adi’s great work because of the disintegration effect. The calmness of the characters as they fall apart and blow away is a perfect representation of how Second Coming was handled, overall. Their world was coming to pieces (yet again), but the mutants stayed calm, stayed strong, and survived. It’s perfect.
Dee: A choice I’m sure surprises all of no one. I’ve found myself re-reading Cooke’s Hex issue about a million times this year, as well as his Parker books. I’ve found myself hunting online for more art, and looking up every cover he’s ever done. There is simply something in his style that resonates with me, and that I find gorgeous. He tells a story well, and I appreciate that also.
Chantaal: This was incredibly hard, but I’m going to have to go with Amanda. Dee and I have sung her praises multiple times, and I’m sure this surprises no one. Amanda’s work is 70% of the reason I gave Power Girl a chance, and I’ve started to look out for anything else she’s a part of, I enjoy it so much. She has such a way with expressions and keeping comic book art fun that I love.
Runners up include: Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), Adi Granov (Second Coming), Emanuela Lupacchino (X-Factor).
Dee – My runners up include Nicola Scott (her work on Titans has blown me away so far) and Amy Reeder who’s Madame Xanadu work and part in Batwoman 0 were stunning and made me fall in love.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Dee: I know, I know. You’re all sitting there and saying ‘what Dee, it’s NOT Gail Simone?’ And it was a tight race, but then I stopped and thought about it. This year Jimmy and Justin have given me a plethora of books that I’ve loved, all of them very different. They’re up to 60+ issues of Jonah Hex and I have every single one of them. This year saw the Freedom Fighters relaunch. It was the end of their tenure on Power Girl, but both trades were released. It gave us Time Bomb and the Last Resort. And with every book I’ve been delighted and entertained. They are a great writing team (as well as seperately) so this year, they get to share top honour. (And no, in this case it is NOT cheating)
Chantaal: No matter what I find, or which new writers I fall in love with, I’ve realized that Peter David is just about my favorite, and that’s thanks to X-Factor. Though it hasn’t been its best in the last year, it has been consistently good, and that’s due to his talent. He has the ability to write serious drama without making it seem melodramatic, balances a pretty big cast, and still manages to give each character the time they deserve. I also took the time to read a few of his original novels and his old run on X-Factor, all of which just confirms the above. Giving Peter David a book can only improve it.
Dee: I’d like to say that Peter David is pretty damn awesome. X-Factor is a book that has consistently performed for me, and that I will always buy. The slightly darker feel than the rest of the X-teams, dealing with Siryn/Banshee’s many issues, Rictor’s bisexuality, the awesomeness of the mixed up timeline – I have a lot of time for him.
Runners up include (Dee& Chantaal): Gail Simone (Birds of Prey/Secret Six/Welcome to Tranquility), Alex Zalben (Thor and the Warriors Four), Matt Fraction (Incredible Iron Man/Uncanny X-Men) and Bryan Q Miller who’s Batgirl work captures Steph perfectly.
Favourite thing of 2010 (Overall)
Batwoman Elegy Hardcover
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: JH Williams III
Dee: There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about this book. The collected Detective Comics issues featuring Kate Kane, this book holds a story that is well told and brilliantly illustrated. The combination of a story that Rucka obviously was passionate about and Williams’ art is a stunning one. Run, do not walk, if you haven’t read this book, go get yourself a copy now.
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour & Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Writer & Artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Director: Edgar Wright
Chantaal: Between the final volume, the film, and the amazing marketing at Comic Con (I have three free shirts & a signed poster by Brandon Routh), the second half of this year has felt like the year of Scott Pilgrim. As nonsensical as the story may seem at times, there’s so much heart to it. The film may not have done as well as us geeks may have hoped, but it was still a great film, one that pushed the boundaries when it comes to inventive directing. Edgar Wright took something fans have loved for the past few years and handled it with care and obvious joy and love for the source material.