?Another year finally begins to draw to a close, and you know what that means. Countless best and worst of lists from just about everyone on just about everything. Whether television or movies or like in this case comic books, website after website floods the interwebs with their personal takes on the year’s most foam-at-the-mouth awesome and most slam-your-head-against-the-wall-to-forget awful.
So, here you go faithful readers. The Top 5 Best and Worst Comics from 2010, with the Top 5 Best first because let’s face it, no matter how much we love gushing about a comic, we love bashing the crap out of them more. One last thing before we get started though because we know it’ll come up: Grant Morrison is NOT on either list. Any mainstream title by him from this past year could end up in either section, depending on your comic book preferences. And while it would be incredibly meta to have the same comic at the top spot on both lists, representing the supremely subject nature inherit in all lists, we decided to just skip all that because it involves way too much philosophizing. With that out of the way — to those not already writing a “passionately voiced” comment — let’s get this started.
THE 5 BEST COMICS OF 2010:
5) Batgirl #15
?I never used to like Stephanie Brown. When DC revealed her as the new Batgirl, I wanted to hate it so much I prepped myself for receiving a Red Lantern ring. Thankfully, I gave newcomer writer Bryan Q. Miller a shot and holy unfair biased, Batman, I am glad I did. When a writer manages to take a character reviled by many fans and turns her into a favorite, that takes some serious skill. Miller writes an extremely affable Stephanie whose self-deprecating humor and realistic personality instantly wins you over. The choice for best issue came down to issue #14 — a standalone story featuring Supergirl and an army of black-and-white-movie Draculas — and issue #15, which ended up winning simply because of Miller and the amazing Dustin Nguyen’s three-page opener explaining the history of the Bat Family in the most hilariously adorable way possible.
4) Chew #11
?I’ll be honest here, I only picked issue #11 because it was the first opening issue of an arc for the year, so theoretically a good jumping on point for new readers. But seriously, pick up any single issue of this book and I dare you not to enjoy it. Easily the single greatest new series of 2009, Chew continues to provide brilliant and original storytelling every single month by way of writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory. It’s funny. It’s deep. It’s wholly unique. And it’s ongoing narrative and revelations build in a way that consistently delivers in the most satisfying way possible. It’s the Arrested Development of the comic book world. Yes, it’s that good. Chew on that, peoples.
3) Morning Glories #1
?With every issue of Morning Glories, writer Nick Spencer (remember that name for later) weaves a story so deeply complex and interesting you get pissed when you reach the last page because you want more now. You know, like every goddamn episode of Lost during the first season. And the engaging plot only falls secondary to the fascinating cast of characters. Each one of the new students attending the series’ Prep School of the Damned feels like someone you probably know, and the beautiful art by Joe Eisma just makes them feel that more real. If Chew was the unexpected, breakout success for 2009, Morning Glories without a doubt takes home the trophy for 2010, uppercutting the shit of any competition.
2) Avengers: Children’s Crusade #1
?If you never read Allan Heinberg’s original twelve-issue Young Avengers title, you need to get on that shit right the fuck now. I remember reflecting on that original run a few months ago, prior to the release of the first issue of this new bi-monthly series, and fondly recalled thoroughly enjoying the book in that, “Yeah, that was good,” way. Then I read the first issue of Children’s Crusade and it was like a lost love coming back into your life. You never realized just how much greatness was truly missing. Brilliantly written characters, beautiful art by Jim Cheung and a tone that reflects the great, classic, superhero stories of days past, Children’s Crusade represents Marvel Comics at its finest this year.
1) Action Comics #893
?Paul Cornell you magnificent British bastard. Look at the cover to this issue: Gorilla Grodd attacking Lex Luthor with a giant spoon! That screams awesome right there. Cornell writes an absolutely amazing Lex Luthor. Many writers approach villains with the notion of making them sympathetic, so readers might understand their motivation and realize that maybe they’re not so bad after all. Not the case here. Cornell’s Lex is very much a terrible and evil person — one with no qualms about using and killing others to obtain his own personal goals or about banging a robotic double of Lois Lane on a regular basis. Add to the fact the insanely unpredictable nature of the series and Cornell’s “Action” makes for the best and most interesting comic writing of the year. But why this issue when Cornell started his run with issue #890? Simple — because this issue began the Jimmy Olsen backups by Nick Spencer (told you to remember him). Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen tale is so crazy and funny and all around entertaining that you completely forget about the fact that you’re reading a story about Jimmy frickin’ Olsen — a character whose existence led to some of the most ridiculously stupid comics ever during the Silver Age. A character whose main point of note at best was being “Superman’s Pal” and at worst was wearing a bowtie. And yet, Spencer actually makes you enjoy reading about him.
The worst of ’10 is on the next page.
THE 5 WORST COMICS OF 2010:
5) Hulk #23
?You know how with Chew we said to just pick an issue and it’s good? Yeah, pretty much the opposite here. This title’s terribleness became infamous back when it first began and writer Jeph Loeb called for a double-page spread in issue #3 of the Red Hulk punching out the Watcher. Why? Just fucking because, that’s why. Honestly, any issue by Loeb works, but this one specifically sucks gamma-irradiated nuts because it at long last tells us the answer to the question, who is the Red Hulk? That’s right. It finally tells us the answer to the title’s primary mystery first set up TWO YEARS AGO IN THE FIRST DAMN ISSUE. Seriously, at this point, who even gave a shit anymore? It was like the Clone Saga all over again. And for those people who still gave a rat’s ass, the answer proved to be one of the most convoluted and insane misdirects ever. Now that I think about it, there was a reason for that Watcher moment. It was a metaphor for Loeb punching the fuck out of logic and breaking our brains.
4) Wonder Woman #601
?This has nothing to do with the costume because really, I could care less. We could all go back and forth about whether Wonder Woman needed a redesign or not but what she didn’t need is the butchering that occurred to her character. I understand the desire to make Wonder Woman a more interesting and appealing hero. For someone so famous, very few people actually care about Wonder Woman enough to read her comic — or for that matter watch her animated movie, a shame because that movie kicked major ass. Anyway, to make the Amazon Princess a more marketable character, they decided to kill off her people and turn her into a vigilante, street fighting hero. That’s right, folks. To make Wonder Woman more unique, they essentially gave her Superman’s origin and Batman’s MO. To solidify her place on the Big Three, they made her MORE LIKE THE OTHER TWO. It’s an infinite loop of insanity so dizzying that thinking about it for too long induces fits of vomiting and the urge to just lie down and go to sleep forever.
3) Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates #1
?Just when you think Jeph Loeb’s influence on the Ultimate line couldn’t get any worse, here comes the continuing adventures of the Ultimates, a title on which Loeb last gave us the brilliant line, “I guess that makes me the mother fucker.” Yes, it does. On so many, many levels. This book features characterizations so bad that they completely contradict the entire purpose of the Ultimate Universe by making it indistinguishable from the 616 AND sets back women in comics about 40 years. Everyone single person in this title comes off either bland to the point of uninteresting or ridiculous to the point of non-caring. I’d mention the plot, but really, what plot? I really think Loeb just doesn’t give a crap anymore. The issue — and series as a whole — comes off as a string of pointless events and women taking their clothes off for no other reason that Frank Cho is drawing it. That’s how bad this is. I’m complaining about Frank Cho drawing hot women. That’s pretty fucking bad.
2) Superman #700
?Specifically I’m referring to JMS, and as such, you should probably begin to notice a pattern here on this list. I could have picked the writer’s first full issue on the series, but his segment in this milestone moment warrants the placement simply because of how it sets up the YEARLONG “Grounded” storyline in the most unbelievably dumb way possible. For those that missed this, in a single page, JMS gives the worst reasoning possible for Superman deciding to go Forrest Gumping across the US. Basically, after saving the world during New Krypton, Superman holds a press conference and a woman shows up, slaps him, says she could care less about his intergalactic whatsits and blames him for not saving her husband… from a brain tumor. The ball isn’t dropped her so much as thrown to the floor and stomped on. It could have worked if say the dude died from, I don’t know, the Parasite attacking and Superman being off planet. Instead, we get brain tumor. I guess instead of saving the world from massive death and destruction and enslavement, Superman should just go around x-raying everyone on the planet to check their health. Although, how’s that for universal healthcare. What really makes it worse is that this actually works and Superman feels bad so bad he starts his hobo adventures. It’s completely asinine and because of this one moment we get Superman walking around for a year doing absolutely nothing of interest or remotely superheroic. This year, Jimmy Olsen was more interesting than Superman. That is quite the accomplishment right there.
1) The Rise of Arsenal #3
?As bad as Loeb and JMS have been, this single issue and really miniseries as a whole wins — or rather loses, I guess — because you know the people involved can do better. So many terrible things happen in this comic: Roy ranking how good the girls he dated are in bed, beating a woman with an extension cord because “she likes it rough,” impotence, heroin, and beating up junkies to protect a dead cat that Roy thought was his dead daughter. It’s like the absurdity of the ’90s fucked the grittiness of the ’80s and then they both doubled-teamed decency until… you know, I could go on here but then I’d be getting as graphically vile as this title itself. I could go on, but instead I shall leave you with this:
Indeed, Batman. So is our innocence.