Steve Higgins | Comics

  1. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips | Criminal (Marvel/Icon)

I liked these creators’ previous collaboration, Sleeper, a great deal, and now they’ve reunited with a book that takes all the best elements from their former work and removes the superhero trappings. Its story pacing is brisk, its narration is taut, its colors muted, and its artwork dark. In every aspect, Criminal is modern day noir done to perfection.

 

2. Mike Carey and Jim Fern | Crossing Midnight (DC/Vertigo)

This Vertigo book takes elements of Japanese culture and mythology and repackages them for the Western reader as a horror book about twin siblings torn apart by forces beyond their control. It’s well-drawn and well-crafted, and amongst the number of great ongoings Vertigo is currently publishing (including American Virgin and Scalped), Crossing Midnight stands out as the best.

 

3. Andy Diggle and Jock | Green Arrow: Year One (DC)

Before reading this miniseries, I felt it was a bit unnecessary, since Green Arrow’s origins had already been so masterfully retold by Mike Grell during the ‘80s. But the creative team behind The Losers stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun with this new revisitation of Oliver Queen’s early days, telling a rollicking tale of high seas adventure and espionage.

 

4. Steve Niles and Scott Hampton | Simon Dark (DC)

Only three issues of this book have been released to date, and yet it finds a place on my top 10 list. The atmosphere Hampton’s art creates is just so freaky, and the undercurrent of sublime terror Niles is weaving really gets under your skin.

 

5. Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten | Wasteland (Oni Press)

It’s a good time for post-apocalyptic comics, with Zero Killer and Fear Agent from Dark Horse, Walking Dead from Image, the conclusion of Y the Last Man from Vertigo and the beginning of Resurrection from Oni. But Wasteland, set in a world that hasn’t seen rain in centuries, is the best of the bunch, set apart from the others in how it has built its world up in the fine and minute details.

 

6. Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty | Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 (Dark Horse)

Buffy is back, in comics form, and it’s like she was never gone. This "eighth season" is sure to delight fans of the TV show, as it picks up directly where it left off. Whedon’s continuation of the storylines he ended the series with is picture perfect. The rhythm of the story didn’t miss a beat; the only thing that’s different really is that the effects budget is now unlimited.

 

7. Matz and Luc Jacamon | The Killer (Archaia Studio Press)

The plot for The Killer is thin and the art is only passable, but the real draw of this book is its point of view. As its title suggests, this book dives into the psyche of a hired assassin, and through the protagonist’s narration we really come to know him and understand why he does what he does.

 

8. Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone | The Spirit (DC)

An excellent companion to the previously mentioned book, Cooke’s revival of the Spirit takes the classic character and re-imagines him for the modern day. The core of the character is intact; it’s only the details that have been updated. It’s a bit darker than Shazam (see below), but that feeling of it being a book from a foregone time, one which you remember fondly, is still there.

 

9. Jeff Smith | Shazam: Monster Society of Evil (DC)

Remember when superhero books were fun? You do if you read Jeff Smith’s Shazam miniseries this year, because it’s the kind of book that makes you nostalgic for an era that most readers were never actually around for and may never have existed in the first place. It’s just plain fun, the kind of lighthearted superhero adventure that reminds its readers what it’s like to be a kid again.

 

10. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie | Phonogram (Image)

Phonogram was a great little gateway comic, because it’s so steeped in music references that if you give it to any fan of music in your life, they’re sure to get into it. But you don’t have to be a music lover to grasp this book, because it’s really about obsessive love for a niche of pop culture and the power that can be found in that, a theme any comic lover will be able to get behind. | Steve Higgins

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