By Steve Seigh
Top 10 lists are never easy. What you’ll find here is a list of the Top 10 comics or series that I read in 2011 that had evoked the most emotional responses out of me. I don’t believe that there is any “correct” way to write a comic book and I always try my best to fill in the blanks with my imagination. There are a lot of books I would have loved to include here, but this is a Top 10 and sacrifices must be made.
Yet another series penned by Scott Snyder to appear on my list, Severed is downright frightening. Instead of piling on the information and intrigue right out of the gate, Severed takes a much more “slow burn” approach with it’s story, leaving the reader time to fear the twists and turns that are inevitably to come. It’s very rare that a book or character unnerves me in the way that Severed manages to with each issue. My whole experience with Severed has been something that I can only categorize as “cinematic”. This is a wayward adventure story through and through, but made so much more with the knowledge that the monsters we fear are real, they don’t rest, and they’re right behind you.
Kurtis Weibe‘s Green Wake is just what I look for in an alternative comic book. When I’ve grown bored of shooting lasers from my palms, hurling an 18-Wheeler into the face of Lex Luthor, or locking The Joker up in Arkham Asylum for the millionth time, it’s nice to be able to escape into the surreal town of Green Wake for a beautifully crafted tale of guilt and mystery. Green Wake is what I like to refer to as a “conversation” series. By this I mean that the messages of the book are not always as straight forward as you’d expect, making for some pretty wild assumptions and ideas on behalf of the reader. Many books within the industry, (especially hero-type books) are open and shut in their presentation and distribution of information, but Green Wake is a series that keeps me guessing. It’s for these reasons and many others that this creative series earns of spot on my Top 10 of 2011.
Another series by Jeff Lemire, Animal Man is carnal, otherworldly, and so very strange. I love the fact that Buddy Baker is a family man first and a hero second. The adventure Buddy and his daughter, Maxine, are on brings about a sense of horror and mystery like very few books have managed during the launch of The DC New 52. With the promise of a Swamp Thing crossover on the way I’m completely on board to explore the fate of Buddy and his family as they do battle against The Rot.
What do you say about a book that revolves around a naive half boy / half deer, a grizzled wanderer, and a spreading apocalypse? I remember reading two volumes of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth on the train while traveling into Manhattan one morning and just going, “Whoa! What the hell did I just read?” Sweet Tooth is one of those books that I can’t pinpoint exactly why I enjoyed it so much. Perhaps it’s the sense of danger and wonderment that comes with Sweet Tooth‘s journey into the ruined unknown, but whatever it is has me tuning in for each and every issue that hits the shelves each month.
War of the Woods
A little War of the Worlds and a little Wind in the Willows, Matthew Petz‘ War of the Woods is the reason digital comics releases exist. At only $6 for 5 beautifully rendered chapters War of the Woods is fantasy at it’s finest when a brave band of woodland creatures organize to defend their forest homes against a growing alien threat. I remember shotgun reading this series in one go while waiting for Bobby to set everything up for our weekly podcast, and the impression it’s left still resonates with me today. Of all the books I’m looking forward to in 2012 Matthew Petz‘ War of the Woods is near the top of my list.
Scott Snyder’s Batman is magnificent. Each issue has added to my enjoyment of the series and has restored my love for my favorite winged vigilante of the night. I love that I’m learning about the very nature of Gotham, and that this arc’s villain was spawned from the very city in which Batman has been protecting for so long. It’s as if an old part of the cities soul has been awakened from deep, dark slumber.
I don’t know of anyone who’s never wished that they could fly. What if I told you that I had a drug that could help grant your wish? What if I let you get too addicted to your new found power, but then tried to take it away from you? You’d probably want to kill me, right? That’s just a taste of Zenescope‘s Fly written by Raven Gregory with art by Eric J. By far my biggest “surprise” book of the year, Fly was a book that I read from cover to cover after picking it up at nearly 4 in the morning, telling myself, “I’m just going to check it out and then go to bed.” Not a chance.
The ushering in of Catwoman as part of The DC New 52 has caught quite the amount of backlash in recent months. Readers and long time fans are complaining that the character is being presented as some oversexed Bat-Harlot, and I most certainly do not agree. Looking past the risque spreads (as pleasing as they might be, and they are) there is a very emotional story being told here. Selina’s life is far from being considered the cat’s meow as all of her recent actions appear to wield life altering consequences. For Catwoman: loved ones are dying, a mentor is leaving her heart confused by his actions, and she’s learning very quickly that she’s just not as sleek and cat-like as she used to be. Having to cope with her confusion and loss, Selina is out for revenge and looking to change her ways. As one of the sexiest, strongest, and timeless characters of the Batman universe this series is all about exploring what makes Catwoman purr and I eagerly await each and every issue.
Done to Death
I first came across Done to Death while browsing inside of rude little comic shop inside the East Village of Greenwich, New York City. The beautiful cover art of Fiona Staples pleased me and at only $19.99 I was willing to give this book a blind by. It was only on the train ride home that I read the synopsis on the back of the book and a squeal of joy escaped my lips. A graphic novel about an editor, sick and tired of having to proof all those sparkling vampire knock off books poisoning our shelves, you say? Finally! Though, the book turned out to be far more than that. Dripping with talent and a sharp tongue, Andrew Foley pens a dark and hilarious tale of what happens when a very real vampire enters the fray looking to set the record straight. Fresh off my raving review of this book, we were fortunate enough to have Andrew join us for Issue #9 of our weekly podcast. My already being a fan, it was great to speak with him and get the insider’s perspective on this fun and bloody book. Done to Death is a book I will encourage others to seek out for years to come; they won’t be able to borrow it from me, because I’m probably busy reading it for the third or fourth time.
Rust: Visitor in the Field
Rust is the book this year that reminded me just how much I adore the storytelling of comic books. Taking place after a war fought between man and machine, Rust is the picturesque story of Jet, a mysterious boy of quiet demeanor, and a struggling farmhand just looking to make ends meet for his family, the Taylors. Heartwarming, pulse pounding, and expertly crafted, Rust tells the majority of it’s story through pictures rather than words, giving the reader plenty of gorgeous artwork to feast their eyes upon. I’ve already talked this book up so much on our podcast, but I failed to mention this one moment that I think is worth noting: There is this moment with a 4 year old blind girl about to take her first ride on a motorcycle. The driver of the bike advises her that if she happens to get scared while on their ride to just close her eyes, claiming that it helps. Seconds later, Roman, abashed by his comment, realizing that the little girl would not benefit from his advise she asks, “Does it work? Do the scary things go away?” Out of everything else that blew me away with this book it was this one moment that hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s for moments like this any more that Rust: Visitor in the Field if my favorite book of 2011.