All this week, Biff Bam Pop’s various writers will drop by with their thoughts on the best of the year when it comes to tv, music, movies, comics and more. Monday, we looked at what topped our tv list, while Tuesday featured our musical faves. Today, here’s a list of what comics left their marks on our writers.
Best – Dynamite Entertainnment’s The Boys – Fans of writer Garth Ennis know he’s not keen on the superhero genre. He enjoys it to a degree, sure, but he’s been poking fun at the cape & tights crowd since DC’s Hitman made it hilarious in the 1990s. The Boys takes it a step further in a world where irresponsible superheroes are the product of a corrupt corporation trying to find leverage in the arms market. Someone’s got to keep an eye on things and slap the supes down when they get out of hand, and that’s what The Boys are for.
This year, we got to learn why team leader Butcher Baker hates the cape-clad crowd so much in Butcher Baker, Candlestick Maker, as well as see Wee Hughie learn The Boys’ origins and reunite with the team to investigate an apparent murder by a member of the world’s “greatest” super team, the Seven.
The Boys are headed for some dark places as the final showdown with the Seven draws near, and The Boys have already lost one of their number this year. From this point forward, anything goes – and that’s how it should be.
Worst – Marvel’s Fear Itself – The devolution of creative comic culture continues, and Marvel’s corporate Disneyfication became more obvious when this seven-issue “event” made the rounds through the summer of this year.
Writer Matt Fraction’s usually solid character work got thrown to the wolves in favour of a story about Odin’s brother coming to take over Earth and reclaim Asgard by instilling fear throughout the world. How? He sends hammers – lots of hammers – to the most feared beings in the Marvel Universe. Suddenly the Hulk, the Thing and a bunch of powerhouse villains are possessed by evil spirits and go on a path of unrelenting destruction that gets magically fixed by the end of the series. That, along with a few death reversals and an overall story that was more Michael Bay than Marvel, helped put the House of Ideas out of mind as the rise of DC’s new universe became the event worth watching in 2011.
In The Black Mirror storyline found in Detective Comics, writer Scott Snyder and artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla took the words “dark” and “detective” straight to heart and mind during their run on DC Comics’ flagship Batman comic in 2011. Here, we have Dick Grayson, the first Robin, under the cowl of the caped crusader, discovering a Gotham City he had never really known. Attempting to live up to the heroic nature of the departed Bruce Wayne was a tough ask for this new Batman, made even more difficult by trying to forge a healthy relationship with Wayne’s son, Damian, the new Robin. Black Mirror is a tale that takes the reader, like Grayson, into the very essence of what it means to be Batman: the relationship between his friends and confidants, his crazed villains and the demented city itself, Grayson struggling the entire time with his own optimistic and positive personality – and lack of confidence as a hero. It is both a harrowing and humanistic read – a story that will go down in history as a “Batman” best.
It’s a tie between Scott Snyder’s Batman and Geoff Johns’ Aquaman. Following up on the success of his Detective Comics run, Snyder does an amazing job with the relaunch. And for Johns’s book, simply making Aquaman a cool character again should earn him accolades. The art on both of these books is impressive with Brandon Peterson on Batman and Ivan Reis on Aquman.
Our friends at Image Comics put out some amazing series in 2011, I can’t pick just one. I’ve raved about Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma’s Morning Glories more than enough on the site, but suffice to say it’s the best series I’ve read in years, with Eisma’s stellar art and a intriguing story by Spencer. Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft and Atilla Futaki’s Severed is an old school horror story that does something unique – takes its time. Meanwhile, BOOM! Studios Hellraiser is the best licensed title I’ve read, thanks in no small part to the fact that Clive Barker is actually involved in the storytelling. Gruesome stuff, and perfect for the horror lovers out there.
Over at DC, the New 52 was all the rage, but amazingly many of the new titles lived up to the hype. Scott Snyder’s Batman and Swamp Thing are high on my list, as is Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League, which is reintroducing our core characters in a compelling adventure. As for Marvel, the highlight of their year for me is Miles Morales, the brand new Ultimate Spider-Man. You’d think replacing Peter Parker would be unthinkable, but Bendis pulls it off with heart and style.