I’m not sure I can do much of a “best of” list for last year since it seems to be the year I parsed my comics into un-buy piles and a few completist projects I swore I wouldn’t do again. So I’ll try to make this list a bit different than the other ones you’ve no doubt read by now. And just in case you don't know where I'm coming from, I mostly just read a few superhero comics so there's no encylopedic knowledge base here.
My best of 2006 in no particular order:
Solo #11 - Sergio Argones
This comic returned me to my childhood and I quite simply had fun reading it. That's all it takes for me to like your comic too - I need to simply enjoy reading it. The last issue was also interesting but kind of freaked me out so it gets an honourable mention for pushing the limits of what mainstream superhero comic book buyers will read.
Batman Year 100
This is what comic book mini-series should be – good. What else can be said about Batman? Apparently Paul Pope figured out that the legend of Batman would make a good story and by simply showing us a world that is equally recognizable and foreign he proved that mainstream superhero comic book fans are capable of stretching their horizons and are, in fact, hungry for new stories.
Sure it came out randomly but whenever it came out it made me happy. It’s that holy grail of comics where whenever the comic isn’t perfect those imperfections don’t feel like glaring errors that make me want to give up comics forever in frustration. It is simple, fun and beautiful.
Like All-Star Superman last year, this gets a “best of” nod on the strength of one issue. That one issue was better than a lot of what else is out there. And it’s not even an original property, which I’ll admit had me worried. I approached this comic with trepidation but discovered not just a good take on The Spirit, but a really good comic, full stop.
Pride of Baghdad
This OGN has been trumpeted elsewhere and with good reason. It is a fantastic tale with interesting characters and visuals. Add to that there is some great commentary on the current catastrophuck in the Iraq. So with all the serious tone and wonderfully dark storytelling there is also Brian K. Vaughn’s answer to that age old question “Who would win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a lion?”
Again, another book I wasn’t expecting to live up to the hype and was completely captivated by the entire thing. This creation as a whole was a true eye-opener for me as I tend to like most indy-type comics only in theory.
One year and a bit later we have Paul Dini taking over and repeating his success first shown on Batman: The Animated Series. With his current output Dini is proving that you can tell genre fiction fantastically well and that there is an audience for any book as long as the stories are simply told well. Again, there isn’t much more to say about Batman, but Dini shows that with the right writer there is always the potential for good stories.
Yes it does have problems but I still find it entertaining week in and week out which I respect.
The Ottawa Public Library
2006 is also the year that I discovered what a great resource the Ottawa Public Library is for comics. They have a fantastic Bandes Designes selection as well as manga, independent and main stream comic collections. It lets me save a lot of cash and lets me read a lot of stuff I’d never pick up for the ridiculous prices they sell for up here. It is totally free and I can order the books I want from home. Darn near perfect.
The Dubious List
As I started to reflect back onto 2006 I notice that it was the year I dropped a lot of undeserving books and skipped a lot of books I should have been reading. I mean, curiosity got the better of me and I bought Civil War #1 but it was like when Morgan Spurlock ate that double quarter-pounder with cheese super-sized meal. I didn’t mind it to start out with but I was just ill and disgusted with myself by the end of it. I never bought it again.
Books I should have bought but for some reason didn’t
Nextwave: Agents of HATE
This is top of the list. I read the first issue and the humour just felt laboured to me so I never went back to it this past year. And yet, everyone who is anyone in the comic blogtagon seems to love it with unabashed love. I have to say it looks like a lot of fun from the outside but for some reason I still don’t think I would enjoy it without an encyclopedic comic knowledge. I know I dismissed the series based on one issue as comic book navel-gazing and now I feel sort of ashamed to jump back into it – I may pick up another issue at some point.
Again, another book I dismissed after one issue. This one I feel really guilty about since I want to encourage more comic book creators to approach comics with a unique sensibility and push the limits of the medium. I also want to support more comics outside the big two superhero publishers but I fail on both accounts here. I guess it’s like jazz and electronic music – I can appreciate why it is good and why people love it but I don’t crave it for myself.
Another book that looked to be comic book gold with a Marvel character I like and an approach to him I can appreciate. The thing that killed me picking this book up was the pleading of the creator and his claims I was responsible for killing comics. All I can say is “mission accomplished.”
The All-New Atom
This is the biggest guilt trip I can possibly lay on myself. Gail Simone stopped by this very blog and I promised myself I’d give it a try. I didn’t because I suck and my brain for comics has shrunken to the limits of Ray Choi is himself capable of shrinking. Okay that sounds betters aloud than written online.
Another book I promised the creator I would buy after Antony commented here. I had trouble finding the first three issues so I’m now officially waiting for the trade. I was really hyped about this one too.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters
I actually enjoyed Battle for Bludhaven and this is meant to be better. The boobs killed this one for me. Yes, that is probably somehow sexist since I think Phantom Lady is an otherwise strong character.
Yes, I actually wanted to read Up, Up and Away but just didn’t for some reason. I think it was financial and I had mistakenly chosen to read Face the Face which I liked but I think in the end this was the better relaunch. I’ll find out someday.
Yes, I get it everyone. It’s good but I still have that Ben Affleck disaster imprinted on my psyche and like Pavlov’s dog I am trained to avoid Daredevil. I’ll probably read it once the library gets it though.
The Punisher’s War Journal
Another good book I’m told but I was never a fan of The Punisher. This is only on issue #2 so I could jump on.
I was an X-fan in my youth and while I’m interested here, it’ll take a lot to get over that hump.
Comics I dropped for no good reason
The Secret Six
I was enjoying this book but missed it one week and just didn’t feel compelled to buy it again. I honestly can’t explain it.
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis
Another book I missed and just didn’t feel compelled to buy again even though I generally liked the whole thing. I probably would have enjoyed this as an Elseworlds graphic novel. That probably would have been a better way to test the waters so to say. The thing is, I always enjoyed this whenever I read it.
A comic I actually liked a lot but just sort of didn’t need to read anymore. It happens. I just want to have the financial freedom to try something else. See other people. I know you’re a good comic DMZ but there are just so many other good comics out there I haven’t met yet.
The Incredible Hulk.
I was enjoying Planet Hulk and while I like the idea I just didn’t like it enough to buy this comic until he returns to earth to raise a little hell. Okay, maybe that was a good reason and this should be in another category.
I just couldn’t find this after issue 5 or 6. I wouldn’t have dropped it otherwise. I’ve since seen the last few issues but don’t want to read them unless I can fill in the gaps. Really, I think it was the crappy schedule that made me drop this one, which brings me to the next category.
Comics that dropped me
The Ultimates 2
I’ll still get this if it comes out, I mean Cpt. America in a lightsabre fight is enough to keep me happy for a while. Stick with that instead of the whole Hawkeye ripping off his own fingernails.
Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk
This was going along swell then just decided not to call anymore. I wonder if it got arrested?
Comics that brought me aboard
Yes, it is as good as everyone says and with the new trade coming out I’ll be able to fill in a bit more of the backstory. I’m proof that you can join a title late and actually enjoy it.
Agents of Atlas
I was ready to just simply not buy Marvel Comics again then Jeff Parker came out with this doozy of a miniseries. It is fun, it is continuity laden, it is a miniseries – all reasons it should fail, but it hasn’t and I’m actually enjoying a Marvel comic.
This is like the perfect comic strip for me as I was a game geek before I was a comic geek. Heck I even learned how to 3-D animate (poorly) to try and get a video game type job. Plus, it's free and online. It's wonderfully mean, honest and loving in one fell swoop.
Clusterfuck of the Year
Basically, Marvel Comics. What the hell happened there? They have good creators, good artists, good writers and editors. They are a group of really talented people with great ideas and vision but for some reason the whole enterprise just doesn’t seem to be working all that well. I hate to pick on any one person but the EiC is probably the one to blame here. I know what it’s like to work with a boss who has a hard-on for the spotlight and runs off at the mouth to simply keep himself in the spotlight and damn the consequences, and I think that’s what is happening here. The whole, mature readers only for gay characters catastrophe to Civil War proving the age old adage that war is hell just has me at a loss for words for the company apparently leading the industry.
DC One Year Later. It started out strong but has since whimpered into the same old mold of yore. Yes some things were cleaned up and there were some changes that have allowed for some creators to actually tell classic feeling stories once again but for the most part it wasn’t the streamlining and updating I was hoping for. I wasn’t expecting anything from Civil War so it didn’t let me down.
Biggest Rut I Fell Into
Not broadening my comic buying horizons. I still don’t buy enough creator owned comics or buy anything all that diverse on a regular basis. I hope to improve on this and break some bad habits, like gravitating towards DC comics and continuing to buy mediocre comics instead of widening my horizons and trying books other people like. I’d also like to try and avoid talking about how much I hate my job and letting the day job interfere with the rest of my life to the point where I don’t want to blog anymore. I actually enjoy this, even if I sometimes don’t have a very informative or unique post to put up here.
Biggest Thing I’m Looking Forward to in 2007
Jeff Smith’s Cpt. Marvel miniseries. I hope it doesn’t get arrested like Hulk and Wolverine. Otherwise I’m looking to update my back catalogue by catching up on more Hellboy and Y: The Last Man. I want to finally read Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and start reading Fables at some point. The year is long and if there is nothing new to read, I still have a lot of catching up to do.
Wow, that was a lot longer than anticipated. Hope your bladder isn't hurting.