Every week Comic Book Daily asks the question and the crew (and special guests) give their answers; we’ll be doing this for 52 weeks. Tip of the hat goes to the gang at Scans Daily for the inspiration and Scott VanderPloeg for this week’s question.
[box type=question]What’s the best comic on the shelves today (readily available) and why?[/box]
Without hesitation I would say Secret Avengers. I look forward to this title every month. The black ops team selection is excellent and there are some of my favourite Avengers back in the fold (in some ways Beast makes a better Avenger than an Xman). Steve Rogers is the real star off the book, but everyone gets their due.
Brubaker had tight, tight storylines that raced toward fantastic endings, the Fear Itself creative teams are doing great interim work, and I am ready to plotz about Warren Ellis taking over the title.
I have not been this excited about a super-hero title in years and it is a good reminder about what a talented creative team can do with third-tier characters. If you aren’t picking this one up for shame, and if you already have this book on your pull list you know what I am talking about.
The best monthly comic on the shelves right now is Batman Beyond. I was surprised with this comic. I enjoyed the cartoon, but I am glad it has been updated for the DC comic universe. The story has been intriguing. The artwork is great. And it is a continuation from the cartoon series. I hope Batman Beyond comes back after the DC Relaunch. It is a very good book, worth picking up off the shelf.
The collected edition that just came out on paperback, that is amazing is Batwoman Elegy. My wife checked the book out of the library for me, because the artwork looked cool. Since I read it, I am addicted to J.H. William III’s artwork (which lead to me reading Desolation Jones). Greg Rucka and JHW3 did a great job introducing Kate Kane/Batwoman, and I have been eagerly waiting for Batwoman #1. It was supposed to come out in the beginning of 2011, but now I don’t have to wait any longer. She’ll be back with the relaunched DCU. If you haven’t read Elegy, pick this one up as well. Not only one of the best Bat-Family stories, just one of the best stories in comics.
My favourite ongoing manga series is One Piece. The reason why I like it is that is it just so fun to read. The characters are very likable and the world they are traveling is so imaginative. The stories make me laugh and cry. This is an all ages series that I would recommend to any kid.
In North America, my favourite monthly comic is Walking Dead. I am not a huge zombie fan. However, what makes this series so compelling is the characters. They are all written with a lot of depth. You get to know them and some of them actually die. You really do not know what to expect in future story arcs.
Long running series eventually run out of steam and the stories become stale. Amazingly, One Piece and Walking Dead are not there yet. Quite an accomplishment by Eiichiro Oda and Robert Kirkman.
While not a monthly comic (well sort of… it’s monthly when it starts the next arc), Criminal is hands down the best comic book on stands. Solid stories, great art, there has yet to be a single storyline where I thought “eh… it was okay.” Criminal tends to be the first or second comic I recommend to people looking for something at the comic shop. It has even replaced my precious Buffy the Vampire Slayer as favorite ongoing comic book series.
I too would have to go with Criminal. While it may only come out as sporadic mini-series (alternating with the pulp infused ‘Incognito’) it stands hand and feet above any other title currently coming out. It’s not even one of those comics like Hellboy which you just know is going to be amazing each time, Criminal seems to surpass my expectations and leave me with a sense of giddy excitement and guilt that I haven’t felt since I initially started reading comics. The truth is I’ve been getting pretty burned out on comics in general, but it’s Criminal that changes my mind for me each time. Brubaker’s name has been synonymous with quality comics for a long time, his superhero work has always been the best of the bunch, but it’s his creator owned title where he really shines. No one draws like Sean Phillips; I don’t even know if he realizes just how seedy he makes each panel on every page. It oozes atmosphere and menace in a way that take Brubaker’s scripts to the next level.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Hernandez’ Love & Rockets – simply because it’s worth noting that it’s pound for pound one the most consistently brilliant things ever put to paper. I’m partial to Jaime’s Locas storyline based more on my love of his art and the realistic, but sometimes dream-like, chronicles of the friendship between Maggie and Hopey. Though Gilberto’s Thousand Years of Solitude riff with Palomar offers up some of the most breathtakingly beautiful moments in comics. (Seriously, who doesn’t gasp in awe at the statues under the water? It’s a beautiful sequence that should be studied forever).
The Boys (no surprise there, right?). It’s the only comic that I still collect monthly and one that I won’t wait for trades to read.
I should also give an honourable mention to the ongoing Deadpool series as it’s fun and silly and just enjoyable.
There are monthly comics I read and enjoy, but none of them are in the “you HAVE to read this!” league. As far as readily available trades that are out, I’d say Walking Dead and any Mignola Hellboy books.
With Secret Warriors having read it’s run, I will have to go with Mark Waid’s Irredeemable as the best book on the shelves. It took a simple concept like “Superman goes bad” and fleshes out the concept really well giving the characters with no previous continuity real depth. The art is fairly standard but Waid’s strong writing carries the series. It seems like it would only be a short series based on the concept but Waid has really expanded on his Boom universe and given the series legs to stand on with his Incorruptible spin-off from Irredeemable.
Personally, I would have to throw two X-books out there, despite my completely objective love affair with Green Lantern and each of that franchises’ books (which are all worth reading, btw), both Uncanny X-Force and X-Men Legacy are consistently good books. With X-force’s delving into the AoA dimension and the ongoing Dark Angel saga, the story is really very interesting and has some great potential going forward. Legacy on the other hand, save one recent arc, has been solid every month for years. The book is anchored by Mike Carey’s writing, combined with fairly good artwork and a solid cast currently featuring Magneto, Rogue, Legion and Gambit for many of the recent stories.
I would also have to say that Lil Depressed Boy is one of favourite books right now, while Bendis and Maleev’s Scarlet appeals to the political scientist in me. Both are books with polarized tones, one being very emotional on a personal level in how the reader becomes able to sympathize, if not empathize, with LDB. Scarlet on the other hand is a very poignant book when we take contemporary revolutionary and anarchist movements in context, forcing us to ask how far we are willing to be pushed before we ourselves start pushing back.
As I’m a collected edition guy, I think there are books regularly published that are worth checking out, but there aren’t a lot I would say I’m rushing out and getting every month as single issues.
DC: Green Lantern has certainly been very good, but the shift to Sinestro for the reboot has me cold. At least Mahnke is still on as artist. Some of the bat-books (Detective, Batman and Robin) have been okay. With the reboot coming in a few weeks everything is essentially off the table. Fables and iZombie have been okay from the Vertigo line (as was Jack of Fables before it was canned).
MARVEL: Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Alpha Flight and FF have all been solid. Not interested in X-Men at all. Curious about the relaunched Daredevil. Cap and Thor have been pretty good. Spider-Man… well… hit or miss really – mostly miss.
Other: Invincible (although not as good as it once was), Walking Dead, B.P.R.D., Hellboy and um…. Glamourpuss? That’s about it. I think there’s more interesting material being generated for stand-alone graphic novels these days than in never-ending soap operas.
If I were to pick just one I guess I would go with Invincible in that it’s mostly self-contained and by a consistent creative team.
Andrew: I actually really like the idea of Sinestro as the central character in Green Lantern. It’s something I’ve been looking for over the last four years. He’s an interesting main character entirely not of the archetypal “hero” mold. For what he is and what the character believes in, he’s an anti-hero in every sense who very much believes in what the Corps itself represents. That’s interesting to me, and I like where the stories can go from here.
As for Daredevil, I was really disappointed with the first issue. I feel like it’s a step back from teams of year’s past.
Kevin and I share eerily similar collecting and reading tastes and alas I too don’t buy periodical monthly comics anymore. Best graphics novels I’ve read this year are the Sherlock Holmes adaptations from Edginton and Culbard. You have to be a Conan Doyle fan to really appreciate these as they’re quite faithful to the originals. Four published covering Doyle’s full length Holmes novels, A Study in Scarlet, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, The Sign Of The Four and The Valley Of Fear. Beautiful art, detailed backgrounds, really well done.
My favourite graphic novels of 2011 so far are: “The Island of 100,000 Graves” by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason, “Paying for It” by Chester Brown, and the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century – 1969”. Vehlmann and Jason by a nose, because it’s simple absurdities work so well I couldn’t help but love the book completely.