Prof. Challenger - Sinestro, GREEN LANTERN (DC).
Stones Throw - Barack Obama. This guy crossed over more multiverses than Nazi Supergirl, appearing in SAVAGE DRAGON, THUNDERBOLTS, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and YOUNGBLOOD, got his own comic book biography from IDW, a cool-@$$ T-shirt painted by Alex Ross and an endorsement from THE GOON (AKA Eric Powell and the Comics Industry for Obama).
Ambush Bug - Poor, poor Crusader (Marvel). An obscure character, possessor of the Freedom Ring, Skrull with a heart of gold. Dan Slott and Christos Gage made his the most compelling story of all of the threads weaving through the vastly entertaining tapestry known as AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE this year. We saw Crusader come up through the ranks at Fort Hammond, prove himself in the field of battle against the Hulk during WORLD WAR HULK and angst his conscience to hell debating whether or not to side with the Skrulls or with the human world he had grown to love during SECRET INVASION. The Crusader’s final fate was less than satisfying and I was pissed off when I read it. But his story that ran through the entire year gave weight to a vapid crossover and, although brief, his story did have a definite beginning, middle, and end. Sure this is comics and someone may bring Crusader back, but looking back on his whole angst-ridden journey, his made him one of the coolest characters of the year.
superhero - Rick Grimes of THE WALKING DEAD (Image). This poor bastard's been through hell this past year and he's been the most interesting character to read by far. I don't think I could handle being put through half of what he's been through but he just keeps going because of his love for his son. It's his story that keeps me reading this book and I just hope that at some point he can find happiness.
Vroom Socko - I’m not exactly a fan of this character, and the person she’s been impersonating is someone I downright loathe. But if there’s anyone who had a bigger story impact this past year than Queen Veranke, aka Spider-Woman, from SECRET INVASION (Marvel), than I can’t think of them. Not that I liked the story that much, or the resolution, but the last person to mess with the Avengers on this level was Kang, and even he wasn’t as nasty as this psycho Skrull bitch.
Jinxo - Well I could say Kitty Pryde, number one with/in a bullet. But that would really just be for the joke. OR I could pick Gog from the Justice Society but then we would have to wait foreeeeever as he slowly walked to pick up his award. In the end I have to go with FABLES’ Boy Blue (DC Vertigo). I mean… this is the Boy Blue, from the lame nursery rhyme. The guy with the sheep and the horn who tends to fall asleep. The idea that you could take BOY BLUE and make him a character to root for? That’s crazy. Yet Fables turned him into the regular guy putting his ass on the line in a massive war, making the critical difference. And in the end he also pays a high price. He misses his chance with the girl he loves, he gets injured and now is slowly rotting away. He’s heroic and pays the price, gaining no great reward… except saving his friends.
BottleImp - Jamie Madrox, X-FACTOR (Marvel). You can keep your Batmen and Wolverines—for my money the multi-faceted, multi-talented Multiple Man is a more interesting character than any of the big name, appearing-in-five-titles-every-month heroes that glut the comic pages. An emotionally fragmented mutant group leader who can (and often does) literally argue with himself—you can’t beat that.
Optimous Douche - My originality award goes to Yellow Lantern Kryb. A species that evolves a baby cage on their back and inter-species lactation abilities is the true stuff of nightmares. My complex character in a fucked-up world goes to Wee Hughie of THE BOYS (Dynamite). I’ve always loved the characters that seem to be separated from the world they live in, looking at everything from the reader’s point of view, pointing out the lunacy of the characters and events that unfold around them (think Jim on THE OFFICE).
COMIC MOST IN NEED OF A NAME CHANGEMarvel and JMS’ THE TWELVE…no wait, maybe we should call it THE SEVEN OR EIGHT WITH A COUPLE OF SPECIALS TO TIDE YOU OVER…no wait…ahh, just forget it.
SECOND-BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIEHELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
BIGGEST DROP IN QUALITY AWARDTerry Moore’s RUNAWAYS (Marvel)
MOST HAUNTING COMICLilli Carre’s THE LAGOON (Fantagraphics)
MOST SHAMELESS BANDWAGON-JUMPING ON A SEMINAL EVENT IN A NATION’S HISTORYMarvel’s Obama variant cover of SPIDER-MAN, charging an extra dollar for a rush-produced five-page back-up.
BEST COMIC WE WISH WAS ON A MORE REGULAR SCHEDULEWarren Ellis’ FELL (Image)
THE SELF-FELLATIO AWARDKICK-ASS (Marvel)
BIGGEST COMIC BOOK HYPEThe many “deaths” of Batman, for realzy realz this time. (Dan Didio, DC)
Humphrey Lee - Y: THE LAST MAN #60. (DC Vertigo) Dwelling on our @$$ies and what I was looking to nominate as my contribution to each category, Best Single Issue was pretty much the only no-brainer I had out of the bunch (besides Best Cover Artist--I mean, come on, that's a lock). Getting right to the chase, Y has easily been one of the best comics I've read this decade, and this series finale issue hit every last emotional note and did exactly what it needed to do to drive home what these characters have done and been through and to make you realize that you'll never see them again in new material. There were just so many heart-wrenching moments, especially the final fate of the ever lovable Ampersand, and the last page was absolutely haunting and liberating considering the kind of journey we've seen these characters, especially Yorrick, endure for years now. A fantastic and point perfect end to an absolutely fantastic series.
Prof. Challenger - FINAL CRISIS: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS #1 (DC).
Stones Throw - I think it’s indicative of the almost spooky magic of ALL STAR SUPERMAN that at the precise moment I turned the penultimate page of ALL STAR SUPERMAN # 10 (DC), and Joe Shuster utters the words “…this is going to change everything”, the story of the Superman rights reverting to the Siegel and Shuster estates was burning up the internets. It’s remarkable to me that a story that explores the fictional affecting the real world and vice versa, written months if not years ahead of its eventual release, could be timed so serendipitously. The fact that it also happened to be 22 of the best pages of Superman ever published is similarly impressive.
Ambush Bug - The return of Warlock in NOVA #11 (Marvel) was my single most favorite arc this year. We’re not talking Adam Warlock. I’m talking about the techno-organic goofball/Jar Jar Binks-ish character. Everything wrong and annoying about Jar Jar comes across as fun and nostalgic here. Having cut my teeth in comic booking with Claremont’s NEW MUTANTS, it was like a breath of fresh air seeing Warlock back in action, morphing and causing trouble. Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning told a tale of Warlock and his son Tycho. With Nova infected with the techno virus, it was up to this father and son team to save the day, and that they do. Seeing Warlock morphing around (drawn masterfully by Paul Pelletier) in a story where Warlock shows how much a hero he is was one of the finest reads of the year.
superhero - THE WALKING DEAD #48 (Image). Wow. Talk about heartbreaking and intense. In just one issue Robert Krikman changes the status quo of this title forever. I don't think there have been many times in comic book history where a title has delivered such a gut punch in one issue. The most disturbing and powerful comic I've read in years…which made me take the book more seriously than I have in a while. This book made me cry.
Vroom Socko - It could be that I loved this moment so much because so many of my friends went through the same thing this past year, or it could be because of what a significant game changer it was for this comic. But my pick this year, easily, is the marriage of Jade Fontaine and Brent Sienna in PVP (online comic). It was the culmination of years of character work, and it was followed by a whole mess of interesting plotlines, growth, and all around coolness.
Jinxo - I almost want to say Norman Osborn just because it was a big moment that actually paid off a lot of past events in a big crap sandwich for Tony Stark. But for my winner I’m going with a smaller moment from ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN’s “Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends” story (Marvel). Peter and his high school friends are at the beach. Liz Allen suddenly discovers she has mutant powers when she bursts into flames and flies off in a panic. Peter needs to become Spider-Man and go help her but can’t because there is one person there – Kenny “Kong” McFarlane – who doesn’t know he’s Spider-Man. He can’t expose himself. Only Kenny does know. He’s known for awhile and hasn’t said anything out of respect for Peter, hoping Peter would eventually tell him himself. But with Liz in trouble Kenny tells Peter Liz has been their friend since they were in grade school, that he knows Peter is Spider-Man and that he needs to get in gear and help her. It’s a great heroic and emotional moment for a character that could be written as just a big dumb jock. The cherry on the top is the fact that no one told Kenny. The big “dumb” jock figured it out on his own when no one else could.
BottleImp - ACTION COMICS #865: “The Terrible Toyman” (DC) I’m not a fan of everything Geoff Johns does, but I’ve got to admit, he is a master at cleaning up DC’s continuity. He’s worked his magic on Hawkman, Green Lantern, and in this issue Johns ties together every incarnation of the Toyman in a story that’s elegant in its simplicity. Wonderfully written by Johns and beautifully drawn by Jesus Merino, this spotlight on Superman’s second-tier rogue is a must-read for any fan of the big S.
THE “DUDE, HIGH-FIVE!” AWARDDaredevil nails Dakota North. Why’s he so gloomy all the time again? (Marvel)
PUBLISHING COMPANY IN DESPERATE NEED OF A NEW ZERO HOURDC Comics. Just hit restart already and have Geoff Johns write it all.
BEST ELECTION TIE-INNot DC’s DECISIONS miniseries or Marvel’s gimmicky Colbert presidential run, but I think AMAZING SPIDER-MAN’s real-time mayoral election, which featured a charismatic young black man going up against a creepy white-haired guy funded by the Green Goblin…
2nd BEST VILLAINJunior (SECRET SIX, DC)
BEST AMAZING SPIDER-MAN WRITERMark Waid
MOST DISGUSTING MOMENT#3 of Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer’s CRAWLSPACE: XXXOMBIES (Image). In short: room full of babies, zombie nurse, jittery gangster. Yuck. In a revoltingly hilarious kind of way.
MOST GAY-FRIENDLY MAINSTREAM COMIC BOOKDC's MANHUNTER, which by its end featured no less than four gay characters in its supporting cast.
Optimous Douche - James Jean for his work on FABLES (DC Vertigo). This is hardly an earth shattering revelation since he’s been kicking ass on this title for a few years now. J.G. Jones comes in as an admirable second for his work on FINAL CRISIS, but in the end, Jones is just good. Jean’s renderings are good and bat shit fucking crazy to boot.
Humphrey Lee - James Jean for FABLES. (DC Vertigo) The only way this will ever change, as far as I'm concerned after having picked James Jean’s absolutely sublime work as the best I've seen these past three years I've been doing these awards, is if in some completely unexpected turn of events, James Jean just stopped doing covers, and that's just such a completely silly line of thought, that I'm not even going to waste my time consid...excuse me? What's that? What do you mean "gone to do his own thing"?!!? The fuck kind of bullshit lie is that?!? James would never leave us! NEVER!!!...Oh god...oh god...why, James? Why?! Didn't we love you enough?! DIDN'T WE LOVE YOU ENOUGH!?!?!...*sobs*
Prof. Challenger - Duncan Rouleau from METAL MEN (DC).
Stones Throw - Let down by a tardy Jim Steranko, Jack Kirby once drew an entire issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA over one weekend. J. G. Jones got out just over three issues of FINAL CRISIS (DC) with a year’s advance. But still, those covers were something to marvel at, with # 4’s Darkseid shot being especially cool.
Ambush Bug - This year’s best cover artist is my pick for best artist of 2007, Clint Langley (Marvel). The most whacked out of all the whacked out covers of Abnett and Lanning’s NOVA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY issues were done by Mr. Langley. Langley’s work has a brutal beauty to it. There’s something barbaric yet delicate to his work. I don’t know if it’s painting or computer manipulation or both or neither. All I know is that I love it and I can’t wait for Marvel to smarten up and give this guy an actual issue to draw. Until then, I’ll be slobbering over those amazing covers he puts out.
superhero - I have to give this award to two people: Jo Chen and Jon Foster for their work on the covers for BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON EIGHT (Dark Horse). Some of the most beautiful cover art out there. Really gorgeous work that makes the book stand out from the crowd at the comic shop. Be-au-ti-ful!
Vroom Socko - James Jean, FABLES (DC Vertigo). There is no other answer.
Jinxo - Wanting to spread the love but I think I have to go with my winner from last year: James Jean (DC Vertigo) for his work on the FABLES covers. As good as other artists’ covers might be, the ones Jean does are the only ones I look at and can picture hanging on my wall as art. And they nicely tease the story inside, too. Top example from the past year to me would be the cover of FABLES #74. The Fables are going to war to win back their Homelands. They use Sleeping Beauty’s curse as a weapon. They drop her into an enemy city and let her prick her finger so that she and the entire town is put to sleep and taken out of the war. The cover is an almost monochromatic shot of a young girl in a toga-like gown falling asleep down a flight of stairs, the yellow-green fruit falling from her satchel the only bright color in the shot. And then at the top of the frame in contrast to the soft, flowing, relaxed shape of the sleeping girl you have the more contorted tensely sleeping shape of a soldier, spear dropped from his hands, shield slung uselessly on his back. Great image for the story. Innocence in a magical sleep without worry of harm while the solider lies unmanned and positioned like his sleep might be more than a small slice of death.
BottleImp - FINAL CRISIS: REQUIEM (DC) I was totally bummed when the Martian Manhunter was killed off in FINAL CRISIS—especially since it occurred in one quick panel. Thankfully, Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke took that ignoble death and fleshed it out into one of the Best Deaths Ever. Even knowing the outcome, seeing J’onn J’onnz’ final struggle realized so dramatically sent chills down my spine. Hats off to Tomasi and Mahnke for giving this elder statesman of the DC Universe the send-off he deserved.
Optimous Douche - The Justice League was a wacky place in the 80s. Martian Manhunter was the stalwart voice of reason and normality amidst the shenanigans of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and Guy Gardner’s pre-pubescent lusting. No matter how zany things became, though, MM was always first and foremost a super hero. FINAL CRISIS REQUIEM (DC) might not have been the best comic of last year, but from murder to burial it engaged me more than any other single issue. Tomasi did a wonderful job laying the last Martian to rest.
Humphrey Lee - JOKER HC (DC) Probably the easiest recommendation - and quite a universally agreeable one methinks - that I can make this year for best Graphic Novel (One-Shot, what have you), JOKER was also simply one of the most engaging comic book reads I had all these past three hundred sixty-five days. Capitalizing on the phenomena that is the Joker, and more apt a depiction of him much more in line with the late Heath Ledger's version of the character, this Original Graphic Novel was a fantastic character study of a being that lives to defy convention. Brian Azzarello did a great job of presenting the character at his most raw, as well as in a story with the appropriate amount of dirtiness and criminality, and Lee Bermejo's pencils and paints were exceptional at bringing the whole ordeal to life as we glimpse the psyche of one of the most darkened and yet shockingly charismatic characters in all of comics history. This was absolutely haunting character stuff, and is a complete no-brainer as far as accolades for a single volume go.
Prof. Challenger - STRANGE AND STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO by Blake Bell. I know I'm cheating, but it IS technically a "One-Shot," it just happens to be a book and I could not put it down once I started.
Stones Throw - NAT TURNER, Kyle Baker’s self-published miniseries about the slave rebellion of 1831, was collected as a graphic novel last year, and it’s an astounding portrayal of a vital, bloody part of American history. Baker’s art is a lesson in comic book storytelling, communicating with only one line of spoken dialogue the story of a slave who broke from both mental and physical bonds by learning how to read.
Ambush Bug - Coming up with a new spin on zombies is tough to do, but Ryan Mecum of HOW Books wrote and imaged ZOMBIE HAIKU, an often hilarious, often beautifully poetic (in a morbid sort of way) collection of poems and imagery told from the perspective of a person at first trying to survive through a zombie plague, then turning into one, searching for other survivors. The poems get more gruesome as the story goes on, but the guy keeps on writing poems, despite the fact that his foot has come off and his jaw has dislodged itself. Now that’s dedication. This comic has sparked others to come up with their own undead poetry. It definitely left its mark on me. Follow the link above and seek this original and fun read out.
superhero - KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: SUPERMAN (DC): Alex Ross really pulled out his "A" game with this special. While I've thought that the whole Gog/Magog thing has been dragging on for way too long this issue stood out among the rest of the saga. I know some people have issues with Alex Ross but I'm continually impressed with his work.
Vroom Socko - Nowadays, we’re told that most superhero comics have strong character development, are adult and complex in their worldview, have meaningful and personal stories to tell. And then Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson give us something like ASTRO CITY: BEAUTIE (DC Wildstorm). And we realize, for an instant, how silly and uninspiring most superhero comics really are.
MOST IDIOTIC ACTION PERFORMED BY AN INTELLIGENT CHARACTERBatman choosing to have a nice little chat with Darkseid before shooting him in FINAL CRISIS #6 (DC), thus giving Darkseid ample opportunity to fry Bats with his eye-beams, instead of taking the shot without stupidly announcing his presence.
THE DISAPPEARED WITHOUT A TRACE AWARDBurlyman Comics. Hello? Where are you guys? Countin’ all those SPEED RACER residuals or somethin’?
CART BEFORE THE HORSE AWARDMarvel’s KICK-ASS had talks of a movie deal before the first issue hit the shelves. Sadly, a movie about a kid getting the shit beat out of him has already been made 100 times over.
WORST COMIC BOOK SERIES THAT KEPT INEXPLICABLY GETTING ITS ASSED KISSED BY WIZARD MAGAZINEDynamite's PROJECT SUPERPOWERS
BEST VILLAINDarkseid (DC)
BEST AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ARTISTMarcos Martin wowed the fans, but this award is Chris Bachalo’s, for his truly innovative and dynamic stuff with the wall-crawler.
BEST ONLINE COMIC STRIP COMPILATIONHELP IS ON THE WAY (Dark Horse)
Jinxo - BPRD: 1946 (Dark Horse). Screw the giant event dramas. This was the winner for me. A story from the Hellboy/BPRD universe before Hellboy was fighting the good fight and when his dad Professor Bruttenholm was the man of action at the BPRD. Nazis, vampires, all other manner of undead and a creepy little girl who has some little curls who, I think, when she is bad is satanically horrid. World War II grunts versus evil on top of evil. Good times.
BottleImp - TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN (DC). I really, really wanted to give my vote to THE TWELVE, but the increasingly long delays between issues have soured my enthusiasm for that series. And FINAL CRISIS got shoved down our throats by DC’s publicity department, but upon reading it’s clear that FC is all flash and very little substance. So if, like me, you’re looking for a nice self-contained miniseries that is first and foremost about entertainment, look no further than SUPERMAN’S REIGN. The DC characters you know and love behaving as they should—saving the world from extra-dimensional invaders without excess baggage of tie-in issues or crossover stories to weigh the narrative down. Classic comic book storytelling at its best from Dan Jurgens, Ron Marz and a bunch of talented artists.
Optimous Douche - We were treated to two titles that resurrected B-List golden age superheroes this year with THE TWELVE and PROJECT SUPERPOWERS. The latter had a strong first issue start, but too much time with individual characters slowed down the pacing. However, JMS was able to keep THE TWELVE (Marvel) extremely fast-paced never lingering too long on one character, but giving us snippets in each issue of all twelve heroes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take years for the final chapters to unfold like what happened with RISING STARS.
Humphrey Lee - I KILL GIANTS. (Image) I honestly didn't know Joe Kelly had this in him. After years and years of seeing him do nothing but pretty much Big Two work (including some excellent Superman/JLA tales and still possibly the best Deadpool we've seen) here comes this little ditty put together from equal parts pure quirk and raw emotion. Every part of this series hit home perfectly as we watch our heroine struggle through her life, from dealing with bullies at school to counselors she wants nothing to do with and then to the threat of the Giants which she so proudly proclaims to fight all the way down to her real fear that she refuses to confront until the very end. It's very much a roller coaster ride comic, filled with lots of energy, poignancy and some very beautiful line art that perfectly matches the theme and tone of the book. This is highly recommended reading.
Prof. Challenger - METAL MEN (DC Comics).
Stones Throw - Mike Mignola and Dark Horse knocked it out of the park last year in coordinating some top-notch Hellboy releases around an equally excellent movie. HELLBOY: THE CROOKED MAN (Dark Horse), with art from Richard Corben, was one of the best, a magnificently creepy three-parter set in rural Appalachia.
Ambush Bug - The best miniseries Marvel has put out in years came to its conclusion in 2008. OMEGA THE UNKNOWN (Marvel) was one of the most surprising, most surreal, and most ballsy releases to come from Marvel in ages. Drawn imperfectly by Farel Dalrymple and written with twists and turns that would make David Lynch proud by David Lethem, this tale of a kid who is raised by robots, stumbles across an alien, helps thwart the crimes of a would be hero, and battles severed hands and evil machinations is not your typical fare from the House of Ideas, and I loved it because of that fact.
superhero - Technically it began two years ago, but when it finished this year ALL STAR SUPERMAN (DC) showed us all that Superman stories could be done well with innovation yet still hearken back to the character's somewhat goofy past. I'll miss having this book to look forward to. Some of the best Superman stories ever told, but you didn't need me to tell you that.
MOST EXTENSIVE DISPLAY OF SUCKMarvel’s price hike. Most specifically ASTONISHING X-MEN: GHOST BOXES #1-2. Sure the art was good, but $3.99 for a couple of short stories then sketches and scripts? For shame.
BEST INDIE SURPRISEDaniel J. Olson’s SUPER MAXI-PAD GIRL #1 ( bewildered kid comics)
BIGGEST DROP-OFFDC’s THE SPIRIT, which under Sergio Aragones and Paul Smith can still produce the odd lovely issue (like # 16’s murder mystery set in an old-school film studio), but ain’t a whole lot compared to Darwyn Cooke’s work on the title.
COMIC BOOK WRITER TO WATCHJeff Parker (AGENTS OF ATLAS, Marvel)
MOST ARROGANT WRITERGrant Morrison re: FINAL CRISIS (DC) “Of course I’m aware of a perpetual and chronic discontent from a particular jaded minority on the internet but I try to overlook their constant expressions of dissatisfaction on the grounds that it’s depressing and often personally abusive. Every time I read about the agonizing pains of ‘event fatigue’ or how ‘3-D hurts my head...’ or how something’s ‘incomprehensible’ when most people are ‘comprehending’ it just fine, it’s like visiting a nursing home.”
BEST MUSICAL COMICBLUESMAN HC OGN
BEST NEW SERIESSECRET SIX (Simone & Scott, DC)
Vroom Socko - Odds are good I’ll be misspelling this, but of the artists whose work I saw over the past year, the one who held my interest the most was Gisèle Lagacé. She convincingly handled SF/Fantasy/Complete madness in COOL CAT STUDIO, is drawing one hell of a 21 Century bedroom farce in MENAGE à 3, and then there’s PENNY AND AGGIE. What? A grown man can’t enjoy a girls-in-high-school-rivalry story?
Jinxo - Well, let me just say that Humberto Ramos’s work on RUNAWAYS this past year…it brought tears to my eyes. Anguished frustrated tears of pain that…wait…wrong kind of tears. Well then there is, uh, also Alex Maleev’s work on books like SECRET INVASION: DARK REIGN. It takes some real creativity to take the badass, swaggering lady’s man Submariner and reimagine him as the creepy old weirdo sitting next to me on the bus. Used to be a widow’s peak, now it’s male pattern balding. Get a shave and take a shower--you smell like fish. In point of fact I’m going with the one guy who took a chance with a style left of center from the normal hero book look in a way that actually worked for me: Craig Rousseau for his work on SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE (Marvel). A smaller book but the haters can piss off. This book and ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN were the only way I was able to enjoy my Spidey characters, and the art in this book really made me smile.
BottleImp - Chris Weston, THE TWELVE (Marvel) Incredible attention to detail. Remarkable facial expressions. Characters that are so well-rendered that you know that if they existed in real life, they’d look exactly as Chris Weston has drawn them. Though casting a vote in this category is an apple-or-orange situation (what works art-wise for a title such as INVINCIBLE—Ryan Ottley’s stylized, almost cartooney designs—would never be as effective as Weston’s work on THE TWELVE, and vice-versa), I’ve got to go with Weston’s amazing work on this miniseries. Unfortunately, this vote is marred by the * due to the chronic delays in publishing. But even taking this into account, Weston’s work is some of the finest to grace the stands in 2008.
Optimous Douche - Frank Quitely on ALL STAR SUPERMAN (DC). As we saw with FINAL CRISIS, it is the rare artist that can truly capture Morrison’s utter insanity in picture form. The story for ALL STAR SUPERMAN was phenomenal, but Quitely made it all the more real with his unique style and attention to subtle details.
Humphrey Lee -Sean Phillips for CRIMINAL. (Marvel Icon) Mr. Phillips is here this year for one big reason: he's easily one of the best storytellers (if not THE best) we have gracing our comics. Up there with the likes of Eduardo Risso or J.H. Williams III and so one and so forth, no one knows quite how to work a comic book page for all it's worth like he does. Whether it's squeezing as many panels as humanly possibly onto a page to capture every last moment, or just having the uncanny knack of being able to pick just the right angle to make every shot count for all it's worth, this man knows exactly what needs to be done to make the story flow. Combine all this with a fantastic level of detail, great shadow work, and a sort of gritty feeling to his work that sort of exemplifies it, almost making him the immediate go to guy if you want anything noir-like (which is why CRIMINAL benefits from his pencils so much to be as top a tier comic as it is). This is a man who not only understands the adage of substance over style, but goes one further by actually bothering to combine the two for one hell of a visual package.
Prof. Challenger - Ivan Reis (DC) continually knocks the breath out of me with his work on GREEN LANTERN.
Stones Throw - Jordi Bernet from JONAH HEX (DC). Justin Grey and Jimmy Palmiotti have the perfect partner for their li’l posse here. Even with A-list talents like J. H. Williams III and Darwyn Cooke illustrating issues this year, Bernet’s harsh lines stand out, evoking European westerns from Moebius to Leone, John Ford and Howard Hawks, and, most crucially, the American west.
Ambush Bug - Sometimes you’ve gotta respect the classics. Classics like Joe Kubert on TOR (miniseries). (DC) a miniseries that read as if it were unearthed from an old garage sale. Kubert’s pencils were as good as they ever were in this miniseries. He’s one of the masters and to think that he still has what it takes to give a thrilling adventure to a caveman with a mullet makes me feel all warm inside. One of the greats, Joe Kubert is. One of the best comic book artists of all time and he’s my favorite of 2008.
superhero - Naoki Urasawa for MONSTER (Viz). Possibly one of the best manga if not the best comics out there period, MONSTER finished its 18 volume run last year. What a run it was. Urasawa pulled out all the stops and provided some of the best storytelling and characterization I've ever seen in a comic book. There's a reason that this book is considered a classic and after finishing up this series I now know why. Bra-fucking-vo. I will now read anything that Urasawa writes and illustrates without hesitation.
Vroom Socko - The sign of a great comics writer is that before reading their work you’re impatient, while reading you’re enthralled, and after reading you can’t wait for the next installment. The writer that managed that feat with the most consistency this past year was a gentleman by the name of Rich Morris. His accurately titled YET ANOTHER FANTASY GAMER COMIC manages to handle the epic storyline and the quiet character moment with equal deftness. It’s an interesting story, in that the bulk of the cast is “evil” by the standard definition. The drama comes from seeing how and when some characters are more evil than others. He’s also responsible for a bit of brilliant fanfic called THE 10 DOCTORS that’s as good as anything the show’s ever done. Sure, I’m an obsessive DOCTOR WHO fan, but that’s beside the point.
Jinxo - Bill Willingham (DC Vertigo). Marvel disrupted all their comics with a giant invasion story that was pretty hit and miss. DC counted down and down and down…to a FINAL CRISIS that was too cerebral, overblown and overstuffed for its own good, like a CLIFFS NOTES GUIDE TO THE APOCALYPSE with every other page torn out. Both were so massive they needed tons of extra side-books to tell their full tale…and still they didn’t manage to make them quite work. Meanwhile there’s Bill Willingham’s FABLES. For the entire run of the book they have been building to and teasing an enormous mythic battle between good and evil on par with those listed above. Characters of myth and folklore have been hiding out in the real world USA waiting for a chance to take back their Homelands of legend from the forces of evil. Willingham could easily have left the final war between good and evil “just over the horizon” for forever. The need to take back the Homelands has been central to the book from the start. Resolving that plot was a risk that could hamstring the book. The war is over. What now? But Willingham…he just went for it. This year he gave us the war. A massive war involving tons of characters, multiple battlefronts, and loaded with long term repercussions for the characters. With one book using no side tie-in titles he managed to do what the big hero events failed to do. He told an exciting, complex epic that was easy and fun to follow and that gave the readers an ending that left them happily satisfied. So for g