Best Comic Books of 2009

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I said in an earlier post I’d stay away from doing a “best of” list.  I changed my mind.  Unlike other sites I plan on doing what I felt were the best comic books and graphic novels I read in 2009.  This means it could of come out in an earlier year, but I finally got around to reading it at some point in 2009.

The Invincible Iron Man 1Best Super Hero Comic – Invincible Iron Man

It’s been a tough year for Tony Stark.  With the end of Secret Invasion he went from having the world in his hand to being the world’s most wanted.  His company was in tatters after a series of attacks and Norman Osborn wants what’s in Tony’s head.  Matt Fraction gave us a man on the run and is finally bringing the long running arc to it’s fantastic conclusion.

In the last few issues, Fractions gave us a Tony Stark who has thrown himself at the mercy of his friends literally putting his life in their hands.

However, this is the Stark we should expect, unrepentant for his past actions thinking they were what needed to be done.  And Fraction finally weaved in all the side stories running throughout the series including Pepper Potts and Maria Hill whom both hold keys to Tony’s future.

The beautiful art by Salvador Larroca helps bring Fraction’s amazing writing to life.  Overall, this series is a monthly must read that won’t let you down.

Runners Up -Captain America, Green Lantern

DMZ #3Best Non-Super Hero Comic -DMZ

Every month Brian Wood gives us some of the best political commentary out there in comic book form (or any form for that matter).

His story of the Second American Civil War, and it’s standstill in Manhattan (the DMZ)  is not just a gripping action packed tale, but it’s layers are an amazing timely critique of modern American politics.

Up through 2008, the series was very much a statement on the Bush administration and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But, Brian Wood pivoted his entire series in a few issues to take on expectations not met by our leaders and the election of President Obama.  A series ability to critique both the left and right so easily is just plain impressive.  Here’s hoping Wood keeps this going for years to come.

Runners Up: Chew, Daytripper, Fables, Unknown Soldier

Dark Reign Lethal LegionBest Limited Series or One Shot – Dark Reign: Lethal Legion

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion is one of those series that was just overlooked in a glut of books.  I generally enjoyed Marvel’s status-quo changing Dark Reign storyline, but much of the limited series attached to it were not needed and sub-par.  However, this series written by Frank Tieri, art by Mateus Santolouco and covers by Tommy Lee Edwards stands out from the pack.

The story is pretty simple, the Lethal Legion decide to take on Norman Osborn.  However, the series is told as a murder mystery with a series of flashbacks.  It has a very the Usual Suspects vibe to it.  With some great plot twists (that I didn’t even see coming) the series easily stands out as some of the cream of the crop.

Runners Up – Dark Reign: The List – Punisher, War of Kings

Love BuzzBest Graphic Novel – Love Buzz

What can I say?  I gushed over this graphic novel when I read it about a month ago and haven’t stopped talking about it since.

While the various graphic novels listed in this category stand out for their story telling and use of visuals to tell them, Love Buzz stands at the top.

Not only is the story fun, and real (I could of sworn this was my high school and college love life) but the use of panels and art increase and enhance the already solid narrative.  The characters are realistic with their banter and the dialogue is exactly what you’d expect from individuals their age.

This was a graphic novel I could relate to.  It had me reflect on loves that have come and gone, it made me think at an emotional level.  How many comic books made you do that this year?

This graphic novel was not just the surprise of the year, but also think it’s the sleeper comic of the year.  It also helps we gave the graphic novel our first perfect 10 ever.

Runners Up – the Alcoholic, Asterios Polyp, Noir, ’08

Best Event of the Year – Blackest Night

The event isn’t over but Blackest Night is tops the list of the event of the year.  It’s main mini-series and tie ins with Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. have been top quality each issue, not faltering one bit.

You can feel the dread slowly creeping over our heroes and keeping the focus of the series on only a few individuals has only helped the series.

The only fault we can find is the rather poor quality of the many limited series and regular series tie-ins.  They often feel forced and none (except Booster Gold) come close to the quality seen in the main three series.

With a few more months of Blackest Night to go, is it possible this could be the event of 2010 too?  It’ll have to compete with Siege for that title, so tune in next year.

Runners Up – Dark Reign, Free Comic Book Day, War of Kings

Best Genre of the Year – Noir

Super heroes are out, “gritty” detectives with flaws are in.  Noir is the “hip” genre.  Marvel has launched an entire line based around it and DC is doing the same in 2010.  Dark Horse gave us a fantastic graphic novel devoted to it and we have regular series like Criminal, Stumptown and the Last Days of American Crime, showing what you can do every month.

Runners Up – Zombie

Blackest Night Promotional Lantern RingsBest Comic Tie-In of the Year – Lantern Rings

Um, do I need to explain this one?  It’s Lantern rings in the flesh and blood.  And covering the entire spectrum, so you can choose your Corp.  The fact you got them for free with the purchase of comic books helps too.  I have two sets myself.  One to stare at in the pretty plastic bags and a second to wear for a night out on the town (or in reality running around my apartment).

Runners Up – Marvel Universe action figures, Marvel Universe Handful of Heroes

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – X-men Origins: Wolverine

You know it can’t be a good thing when the story of the movies leak overshadows the movie itself.  While it’s overall take wasn’t too bad, the critical and public reception didn’t live up to expectations.  The movie did open #1 at the box office with $85 million and went on to gross $179 million in the United States and $373 million worldwide.

One of the many flaws of the movie is the injection and outright destruction of so many secondary characters (Deadpool being the most egregious).  This sits at the top of a long list of what makes this movie such a disappointment.  Poor plot, cheesy acting and silly dialogue don’t help the movie’s perception.  It’s reception was poor with the public opinion giving it a 36% rating at and 14% from the critics on the same site.

It’s amazing that this movie not only has a sequel in the works but Deadpool (who was just so wronged in this movie) is getting his own spin-off.  They say George Clooney killed the Batman franchise, I thought this one could very well have done the same for the X-Men juggernaut.  Here’s hoping a sequel fairs better.

Runners Up – Blackest Night limited series tie-ins, Marvel Noir

Best Character -Norman Osborn

This man would get this spot just for the fact he’s the driving force behind every Marvel comic this year.  But the depiction of his bat-shit craziness barely being held in, no matter the comic and writer, was some of the most entertaining characterization of the year.  You could feel the tenseness as his world slowly has fallen apart and we are all waiting for the goblin we all know and love to burst from the seems.  It’s never been so much fun to be so evil.

His machinations, no matter his opponent, make Bush/Cheney/Rove look like puppy dogs.  And through it all, his pure evil really acts as a reflection of the past decade.  The political trickery, our disregard for justice and obsession with a 24 hour news cycle are all wrapped up in one psychotic character.

We know the wheels finally come off in 2010, and here’s to watching him crash and burn in pure crazy.

Runners Up – Captain America, Tony Stark

Publisher of the Year – Marvel

It was a reorganizing year for DC at the corporate level and Geoff Johns continued relaunching some of their flagship characters.  There’s been some solid series (their Vertigo line and Blackest Night) but DC has yet to reach the synergy and dominance across the entertainment spectrum their competitors have.

Oni Press had great year of releases.  Resurrection, Stumptown and Love Buzz being just a few examples of the solid work coming from this company.  They also have some of the friendliest staff out there (more on that in a future article).

However we take everything into account when deciding the publisher of the year.  From a movie (yes Wolverine was bad) on the big screen and direct to dvd animated features, great television series to keep us glued to the small screen, some great plot themes for the year in Dark Reign and War of Kings, some great new comic book series and kick ass toys it was a great year to say “make mine Marvel.”  Marvel did so well Disney sunk $4 billion to purchase the company.  That alone shows how rock solid they are.

Runners Up – DC, Oni Press