HIS BEST OF... 2010

This year was a land mark year for me on CR. I reached my 200 th review last month for the site and I launched my 5 Minutes With... column with some of the industry's biggest names and that wouldn't have been possible without the help of Chuck Moore, Brant Fowler and Peter Simeti for opening the door. Without the guidance of these fine gents and all the feedback I have received from the CR community at large my thoughts and comments would have never been seen by anyone. For that I am thankful.

So in doing all the reviews, I have read many more books that have either been reviewed by Dan or Otomo or others or are just books I have read without commenting on. As a result I am going to list the books, creators and companies that stood out this year that I have read. Bear in mind though I haven't read everything published so if you think something better than what I mention is worthy of the Best...2010, let me know I would love to read it.

Best Publisher: Vertigo

This one was very easy if for no other reason they were one of the few companies to have an up year compared to most. I feel Marvel took a step backwards this year. Their writing wasn't as strong as in previous years though Siege was a better event than Secret Invasion. Marvel took to cancelling strong books like Captain Britain while continuing to publish several sub standard Deadpool titles. DC was too centric on Blackest Night/Brightest Day. You couldn't turn around and you had a book that was tied in even peripherally on the event. The main event was actually very good but I consider it too little to carry the company to Best Publisher. That goes to Vertigo who had a stellar year. DMZ is starting its final year. Fables/Jack of Fables/Cinderella/Peter & Max count for some of the very best story telling in comics. Hellblazer, the main title, Pandemonium & City of Demons were great. Northlanders and Scalped were top notch. With titles like this, how could you begrudge them Best Publisher?

Best Writer: Michael Alan Nelson

This may surprise some people. I am not basing this on any writer producing several books a month. I am not basing this on sales achieved. I am basing this on the amount of entertainment delivered from a single writer from a single book. The big names didn't have a great year on some titles. Bendis on New Avengers I thought had a bit of a slow start with the re-launch. Brubaker was up and down on Captain America. Johns had a good time with Blackest Night. In fact there were many writers whose work I liked this year but only one was at the top of my reading pile every month. 28 Days Later was an immense piece of story telling with excellent characterisation and story beats. With a small cast it was easy to focus in on the characters and lose yourself in their travails. Nelson provided some of the most moody, dark, and consistently entertaining issues published by anyone this year.

Best Artist: Jean-Michel Ponzio

Just take a look at The Chimpanzee Complex and die happy knowing you have seen perfection. The cinematic style art was a wonder to behold and if TCC wasn't good enough as it was with an unbelievably good story the art clinched it. With a grasp of emotion, style and aesthetics you couldn't possibly go worng. Notable mentions must go to Liam Sharp's return to Dredd and Dec Shalvey on 28 Days Later

Best Single Issue: The Bulletproof Coffin #1 (Image Comics)

This issue took me completely by surprise. Written by David Hine and drawn by Shaky Kane a.k.a. Michael Coulthard this comic was a wonder from start to finish. From my review: The book starts off with a quote from Destrtoyovski dated 1967 which is actually a pseudonym for Shaky Kane who along with Hine use their real names in this book as creators of a comic within the book. The opening scenes follow a character called Steve Newman and his best pal Joey Spinoza who are contractors who go the houses of the recently dead and clean the properties using items found to be sold at auction for the benefit of the city. Steve has an arrangement with his boss that he can go in the night before the house is officially going to be done and take items of his liking as long as they have no discernible value.

In this particular house Steve finds a treasure trove of vintage comics and paraphernalia and takes his fill all the while his friend can't understand what is so special about old comics. On the way back to their van Steve sees across the street two guys in all black driving a vintage black car. It reminded me of two things. One, the X-Files knock off show from the late nineties that took place in the sixties called Dark Skies (bet I was the only fan of that one) and two, the fact that it was Shaky Kane who was on Vector 13. A little perturbed Steve gets home to a wife he no longer knows and two television addicted children who don't care about him. After eating a tasteless dinner Steve makes his way into the attic to read his newly stolen loot. He finds something a little odd about the numbering of the comics. He knows from reading a price guide that the book he has in his hands ended years before with issue 127 but is numbered in the high 190's. It also smells brand new.

In a departure for normal storytelling the comic Steve is reading is reprinted in full in the issue itself along with yellowed paper. The comic is called The Unforgiving Eye and is told in the style of the old EC Comics horror books which should be enough to send Dan Royer running off to the local comic store to pick this up. When Steve finishes reading the comic he comes to the realisation that it is a genuine Hine and Kane collaboration which in that reality should be impossible as the two had a huge falling out years earlier over Hine selling out to The Big 2 comic company that bought the publishing house they were working for. Hine continued working for The Big 2 in a watered down creator capacity to what went before while Kane is assumed to have gone under the pseudonym of Destrtoyovski and gone to work on Russian pornography comics financed by a Russian oligarch.

Steve then feels strange, a shiver up the back kind of strange so he pops a quarter in the vintage television that he took from the house of the man earlier. When he turns it on he sees the unbelievable. The old man who died is being murdered on the television by the men in black that he saw earlier apparently because of something that he hid before being killed. Jolted, Steve goes back to the house to see what it is only to find that it a costume of one of the characters that Hine and Kane worked on.

The final scene is of Steve's two kids in the attic watching the same television in a menacing final panel. But the story doesn't end there. There is a text piece at the back of the issue detailing in minute details the fall out of Hine and Kane and the partnership in Golden Nuggets Publishing house in the fifties. And it lists various theories as to what happened to Kane in later years while detailing Hine's life after their split. You would think that you were reading an actual historical story about real events. But the text piece drops a very significant clue. It details a night where Kane showed up at Hine's house in a crude costume of a character they worked on that is the same costume Steve found under the floor of the mans house they were in before leading to the theory that the old man killed by the men in black may actually have been Kane.

Best Series: The Walking Dead (Image Comics)

This property had an unbelievable year. From the runaway hit TV show to the continuing high quality output from Kirkman & Co. The Walking Dead produced on every level. I am a trade reader of the series and with the most recent volume 13 released this past month the last two trades provided a years worth of issues and some excellent plot movements. With a cast that you can't attach yourself to in case they buy it next issue to scenarios so gut wrenchingly real you can't go wrong with this title.

Best Mini Series: The Chimpanzee Complex (9 th Cinebook)

9 th Cinebook selectively choose foreign language Franco Belgian comics and translate them into English. The Chimpanzee Complex written by Richard Marazano and drawn by Jean-Michel Ponzio was in a world of its own. With some of the most high concept writing and wonderfully fleshed out characters coupled with the very best detailed pencils this three issue collection is an absolute must for any comics collection.

Best Collected Edition: Hellblazer: Pandemonium

Written by Hellblazer legend Jamie Delano and drawn by artistic superstar Jock, this book was over a year in the making and when it hit it was something to behold. Jock completely changed his art style by moving his cover style to an interior setting to give us a completely new take on his interior work. Delano, who has written some of the classics of the title pulled a story that starts in Iraq and the real powers at work there. The British government set up John Constantine in an effort to get him to help them with a problem they have in battle torn Iraq. The narrative was spot on as was Delano's characterisation.

Best Comic Related Novel: Queen & Country: The Last Run

This was a close tie between Iron Man: Femmes Fatales and the above but the fact we haven't seen as much as a muffle from Q&C in three years made it the winner. The tale of Tara Chase's final op as Minder One was riveting from beginning to end.

Best Web Comic: New Comic Day

I don't read a lot of web comics but the two main ones that I did follow in 2010 were Tommy Kelly's Road Crew and New Comic Day. As good as Road Crew was, it fell away towards the end of its run earlier this year into the surreal but NCD was consistently funny. Its cast of characters getting into all sorts of debates and situations made it a guilty pleasure every week and made this decision actually quite easy.

Best Web Site: Comic Related

Seriously, who else?

You can agree with me or disagree with me but there was plenty of amazing material this year and the above was my selection of the best of it. Think you have something better deserving of the above titles let's discuss it below. I hope everyone has a Happy Holidays and a successful New Years and thanks for reading.

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