@@@ AICN COMICS @@@
@@@ 7th ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS! @@@
Welcome, all, to the 7th Annual AICN COMICS @$$IE AWARDS, where comics best and brightest are recognized for stellar (and sometimes not so stellar) performances in comic bookdom. I’m Ambush Bug. There was a time when we could fit all of the @$$ies into one lengthy column, but the @$$Holes’ ranks have grown too big for that, so for the next week or so, a pair of @$$Holes will be presenting their picks for the best of the best in comics. Most awards are given around the turn of the year, but we think ours is special, so while those outside of the know celebrate the time of the Oscar, we here at AICN COMICS celebrate the time of the coveted @$$ie Award. In between picks, subcategories compiled by all of the @$$Holes will be interspersed. So sit back, crack the knuckles in your browsing hand, and scroll down as the @$$Holes pick the @$$ies!
(Click title to go directly to the reviewers picks)
Humphrey Lee’s @$$IE AWARDS!
KletusCasaday’s @$$IE AWARDS!
@@@ Humphrey Lee’s @$$IES! @@@
Best Original Graphic Novel
REVOLVER (DC Vertigo)
Simultaneously a great piece of science fiction, a character study, and a commentary on modern media, REVOLVER easily stood out amongst a pretty large group of OGNs I read on the year. The story of a man jumping between two realities, one where he is an every day working schmoe who hates his job and the other a world gone to hell where he’s learning to become a survivor, REVOLVER is a work with lots of great visual elements at play. As the main character, Sam, jumps back and forth, Kindt plays a lot with his very thick-lined and angular art style to play up tension and emotion while working with two monochromatic schemes to denote these changeovers. It’s a great character-driven work by a man who obviously feels at home developing his stories in an OGN format, as well as being a slim and sexy piece of bookcase filler.
THE UNWRITTEN #17 (DC Vertigo)
This issue, a “choose your own adventure” style comic, almost single-handedly swayed my Best Series nod, not only because of how much a wonderful surprise it was, but how much it makes my head hurt thinking about how hard it had to have been to script. Not only was it a fantastic exercise in playing with the comic book form and an homage to that 1980’s young adult book trend, but it was a great contribution for the UNWRITTEN series itself, giving immense back information on several of the series’ characters, especially Lizzie Hexam. Not only was it an achievement in comic book scripting, but it was also a pinnacle issue for the series that fleshed out an already riveting world in a way perfectly suited to what Carey and company are trying to achieve with the book. Fantastic work all around.
PUNISHER MAX #6, Dave Johnson (Marvel MAX)
More for his body of work through the year in general, not just this cover that I happened to really love, I just thought this was a great year from a guy I haven’t seen much of since 100 BULLETS went away. There’s great composure to his covers, lots of visual elements and angle play and deliberate color schemes and so on. Look at not only his PUNISHER covers for the year but his ABE SAPIEN ones as well. Dave Johnson just seems to be one of the few cover men out there who understands that a cover is supposed to be something special that makes the book stand out whilst giving a bit of a tease as to what is held within. Most comic covers these days can be summed up with the words “just another pinup.” At least Mr. Johnson is still out there putting some effort into the art.
SEA BEAR & GRIZZLY SHARK (Image Comics)
Fuck it. It’s about a Sea Bear and a Grizzly Shark. They got mixed up motherfucker! If that isn’t Award-winning material, I don’t know what is!*
*No, seriously, it was pretty damned funny and had some great art. The hell else am I going to choose, another Blackest Night special?
Steve Rogers (Marvel Comics)
No one in particular really stuck out to me as being a part of some great moments or highly celebrated heroics, so I’m just going with the character I’m glad to have back. Checking him in the STEVE ROGERS mini done by Brubaker and watching him lead again in SECRET AVENGERS is a great reminder of why the original Cap is one of my favorite characters of all time. How he effortlessly leads from the front, always has his hand in dealing with one mess or another without stress, and how fun it is to watch his traditional style of comic book fisticuffs drive the action, it’s just good to have Steve back.
DAYTRIPPER (DC Vertigo)
In a way DAYTRIPPER was textbook Ba & Moon, but in another way…who the hell cares? Whenever the fantastic twosome get together for a creative jaunt you know it’s going to be something beautiful; something uplifting and bright. And DAYTRIPPER was exactly that. The story of a man and his many potential demises, about the missed opportunities and tragic circumstances that can and do make up all of our lives, DAYTRIPPER was at the least gorgeous to look at, at the most a testament to life. It was about accepting what you have, working toward a better future, and never taking those you meet along the way for granted. These guys always find beauty in life (go figure that from a pair of artistic Brazilians) and DAYTRIPPER is their best collaboration to date.
Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, DC Vertigo)
Not only was DAYTRIPPER beautifully written and uplifting but it also had art that matched those two terms exquisitely. The linework was pure Ba and Moon, with their fantastic blending of cartooning qualities blurring the lines of realism so that it is easier to get lulled into what they are doing. And what they are doing is bringing great atmosphere, tight storytelling that is both lighthearted and sad at the same time. It really is beauty put onto the paneled page and makes this book that was just as fantastic verbally as it was visually worth the price of admission based off of artwork alone.
Robert Kirkman (WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE, SCIENCE DOG, GUARDING THE GLOBE, Image Comics)
I think 2010, more than any year, is a year where a lot of guys and gals wrote a lot of stuff, but I never really saw much consistency down the line from anyone. There were a lot of writers who typically did one stellar book but I would think had some okay secondary titles. So, in a year when no one really stood out, I think it’s only fair to give it to the man who continues to write two of the top five books I get in a given year. Maybe THE WALKING DEAD TV show overshadowed TWD the comic book, but the comic was still as good as ever and to pair with it, INVINCIBLE, has been really upping the proverbial ante with its “Viltrumite War” saga over the past year as well. Add to that the occasional SCIENCE DOG issue (and I fucking love me some SCIENCE DOG) and his getting GUARDING THE GLOBE up and running with Benito Cereno, I think going with Mr. Kirkman one more time around is a fair, albeit safe, choice.
I think the rub here is that despite it having a much smaller line of books compared to the Big Two, in any given month I’m as likely to buy as many Image books as either of them. WALKING DEAD and INVINCIBLE are still of the two best books going and CHEW has been up there as well since it hit little over a year ago. This year I added books like SKULLKICKER and 24 to the mix and they were stellar, and add in stuff like DYNAMO 5, COWBOY NINJA VIKING, PROOF, etc that continue to go under most radars and it’s just a hell of a publishing line. And there’s always a gem of a Graphic Novel to come out here and there, like a new Doug TenNapel joint or an EMITOWN (yeah, I know, it hit in 2011) or what have you. Whatever it is that Image is doing it just works and I feel it’s the publishing line I grow more and more excited about each year.
SCALPED (DC Vertigo)
I mean, shit, I’ve picked this book for three of the last four years or something, why stop now when it hasn’t faltered in quality at all? The same pull the comic has all this time, the depressed setting, the violent history of Chief Red Crow and the local law, and all the other players in the book and how their lives have been struggled through or stamped on, it’s all still here and is playing for harsher stakes with extra tension attached as the book is winding down. It really is one of the all-time greats and I’m glad I’ve been there since the beginning.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST (Remember when their lives were happy?)
Best Resurrection of a Character that is not dead but you think is
The Haunt posing as Spawn
Best Revenge from both a character and creator
Giganta's torture of Dwarfstar over the death of Ryan Choi in Gail Simone's SECRET SIX.
Best use of Time Travel
ASTRO CITY: SILVER AGENT
Best example of a creator who's Lost His Mojo
J. Michael Strazynski
X-23 killing a Hellfire cult member in front of Nightcrawler (X-MEN: SECOND COMING #1, Marvel Comics)
There were a lot of moments this past year that got me exited: Red Hulk vs. Iron Man round 2, RED ROBIN defeating the Spider Council, the forming of the new UNCANNY X-FORCE, Magneto bringing Kitty Pryde back, Bullseye vs. Archangel, Obama and Palin sharing ice cream on an ARCHIE cover but nothing hit me as hard as when X-23 executes one of the Hellfire Cult goons in front of Nightcrawler causing him to exclaim “Mien Gott!” I mean not only is the guy super religious but he had no idea there was a team of pure bad asses running around in the darkness gutting people in the moonlight. X-FORCE is full of surprising moments unto itself but the fact that Nightcrawler witnessed firsthand the brutality of X-Force was perfect. The whole scene from start to finish was really awesome. X-Force and Nightcrawler get teleported on to moving vans to rescue Hope and Cable as they are being pursued by three van loads of Hellfire Cult members, the X-team pretty much rips through them with no trouble, its only when X-23 doesn’t get the answers she wants that she skips the small talk and pokes two holes in a guy’s head like it has a small animal in it that needs air, which results in him tearing up as he realizes his fate, convincing the next guy to speak up…quickly. The pacing, the art, everything about this scene (the issue as well) was perfect. The whole crossover was full of moments like this but this one grabbed me and it was drawn by one of the best, David Finch (see best cover artist).
Dave Johnson (UNCANNY X-MEN #525, Marvel Comics)
David Finch’s X-Men covers are a fricken dream to look at; I’ve seriously stared at them for a while just imagining all the cool shit those characters have done. His variant for UNCANNY X-MEN #525 is badass and could be my favorite cover of the year but he’s not my pick. Dustin Nguyen’s Batan covers are exquisite and his water color art is phenomenal. My favorite cover of his is a BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM cover with Hush, where veins and shit are coming off of his head looking like tree limbs…sooo good…he’s not my pick either, though. Mauro Cascioli who does the covers for GREEN ARROW should get a fucking medal because those covers are a sight to behold, the covers for issues 1-7 are museum quality and need to be posters immediately…but he’s not it either. I have to give props to both J.H. Williams III and Adi Granov for also putting out some amazing covers. But my pick is Dave Johnson: this guy seems like he’s done covers for every comic out today and they all look good. It’s not about the detail or how good the drawing actually is...it’s really about the layout and unpredictability of his covers. His PUNISHER MAX: BULLSEYE covers are sick just because the way he plays with the whole target motif. He makes shapes out of Punisher symbols, Punisher symbols form into different shapes. The PUNISHER: WELCOME TO THE BAYOU storyline’s covers were great because he just made them look like B-movie VHS boxes and the shit looked awesome. Even the covers for FREEDOM FIGHTERS look badass. While I don’t think he’s necessarily a better artist than those other guys, he’s definitely more willing to experiment with the space given to him and come out with something you haven’t seen before. Now you may have to stare at it for a second to fully comprehend and appreciate his covers, but to me that’s not a bad thing.
GI JOE: COBRA SPECIAL #1 (Xamot & Tomax Mirror Issue, IDW Publishing)
I had the hardest time remembering any one shots, specials, or annuals. Does that mean I drink too much or was there just not that much memorable shit from last year? I had to scour the comic shelves to find something and even then nothing jumped out at me. It wasn’t until I sat Indian style with a wet towel around my body and meditated for 3 days that it came to me…GI JOE: COBRA SPECIAL #1. I always thought GI JOE had potential to get deep and to do some really interesting things with these characters and it wasn’t until I started reading GI JOE: COBRA (by Mike Costa, Christos Gage, Sergio Carrera) that I started to see that depth explored and this issue was a prime example of what can be done with these characters. This issue was a meaningful look into the minds of two of Cobra’s top ranking baddies with surprising results. The first half of the book, one of the twin brothers laments about how he loves his work at Cobra, the second half using the exact same pictures with only subtle differences describes the other twin’s desire to escape a life of international terrorism and do something more with his life. I love the way the comic is laid out, I love the story and how it introduces the idea that things aren’t cut and dry as GI JOE= good, COBRA=bad. I read this comic on a whim because Chuckles was one of my favorite toys when I was a kid, but now this series is one my favorite things out and does a great job of strengthening the GI JOE universe as well as giving it an entirely new dynamic. I just realized this comic came out September 2009…see that’s what I mean, everything I can think of came out the previous year but you know what I’m leaving it. Mike Costa & Antonio Fuso deserve some props so it will be I that provides it.
Red Robin (DC Comics)
Spider-Man is my favorite character of all time, hands down, forever BUT the past years haven’t really been the best for the ol’ webhead (I will say that Slott is single handedly bringing sexy…I mean Spidey back)…so I had to get a new boo or beau…whatever, you know what I mean. That man (boy?) is RED ROBIN. I’ve always liked Robin for the fact that he was next in line to be the Batman, he’s like the Vice President of ass kicking! But this Robin flew from the nest and became his own..uhh…bird…but he’s a shit kicking independent hero now operating on his own terms. Tim Drake is changing and superhero wise he’s the best he’s ever been but he’s becoming more and more like his surrogate father and moving from the fun loving innocence of years past to a tough as leather dictator with an agenda to fight crime from a smarter more efficient perspective. Which in this case is to submerge yourself almost completely into crime fighting only using your actual civilian life and a means to get things done that you may not be able to do with a cape on, like sex…I kid I kid. Robin is definitely one of those characters that could have stayed stagnant for long time just running behind Batman, obeying his orders and what not, but I credit DC because right now the entire crew of ex-Robins (and the current Robin) are all unique in some way and all of them are interesting. Robin has now taking the things Bruce has taught him and exacted a plan of his own to fight crime on a scale that most heroes don’t even fathom and he’s doing it mostly alone. He’s in Russia, Bangkok, Istanbul, Hong Kong, he’s in Gotham City, he’s on the JLA watchtower, he’s on the internet, inside the Unternet, he’s in the Batcave, he’s fucking everywhere! RED ROBIN is one of those comics I immediately open when I get a chance to read my stack for the week. So thanks to Chris Yost, Tony Daniel, Fabian Nicieza, Ramon Bachs and Marcus To for keeping Tim Drake looking good & kicking ass!
CROSSED by Garth Ennis & Jacen Burrows is my favorite mini of the year, yup I know that makes me a twisted SOB but I liked it and I know some of you hated it but there was some serious danger within those pages and the art was sick (literally) and I was anxiously awaiting each issue to see how fucked up things were going to get and each issue delivered in that sense and I (me not you) liked it. Thus CROSSED is my pick for best miniseries for the reasons stated above and the fact that I couldn’t think of any other miniseries that even caused a stir in me…which may have to do with the constant drinking, lack of morals, memory loss, or attraction to gore but that’s my pick and I’m sticking with it!
TONY DANIEL (BATMAN, DC Comics)
This is tough. I mean, how can I possibly decide the best … It has to be someone who has consistently kept me entertained without the predictability that a lot of comics display. I guess I’m going to cop out and combine these two categories and go with someone who came out of nowhere (writing wise) and surprised the shit out of me. I have to go with Tony Daniel for both writer and artist on this one. At first I thought DC was taking a big risk on putting someone who was relatively unknown (writing wise) to tackle Batman after Grant Morrison’s wild and crazy ride but shit was I wrong. This guy has kept Batman interesting and fresh without straying too far from what we love about him. Dick Grayson is now Batman and Daniel is able to show that this Batman has a lighter side but still has the cunning, skill and determination to get shit done. Not to mention one of the most important things with Batman, his internal dialog is spot on and it does a great job of setting a dark tone while separating that tone from Bruce. On the art side, take a look at Daniel and Geoff Johns’ run on TEEN TITANS and tell me his work hasn’t evolved for the better and I expect it to keep going that way. He is definitely one of the best artists working right now from his use of shadows, to his action scenes, his willingness to pull out (heh heh) and show scenes from far away with less detail, to his subtle nods to other artists (Aparo and Miller are the two I’ve noticed so far), this guy is on point and has become one of my favorite all time Batman artists alongside both Jims, Lee and Aparo.
Who would have thought 20 years ago that Marvel would be putting out comics…say what…they have been…oh ummm…never mind then. Two years ago I would have picked DC because even though they didn’t put out as many books the quality of books were way high, now I’d say they are about neck and neck as far as quality goes (give or take) but as far as my pull list goes most of the stuff I read comes from Marvel. This may have to do with the sheer amount of comics per week they put out but the fact is I’m just buying more from Marvel. MARVEL has a lot more that I’m interested in…at the moment. I guess it may not be fair to pick one of the big guys but that’s where most of my money is going, so MARVEL it is. Plus I’m really looking forward to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN these days and for the past couple years I haven’t been…so that stands for something right?
X-FORCE (Marvel Comics)
I’m going to pick a comic that has produced some of the most genuine “holy shits!” to come out of ol’ Kletus’s bear trap of a mouth. MOTHERF$#@ING X-FORCE. This comic has a lot going on by way of story, not to mention Wolverine being his actual shit kicking head slicing self, Archangel…do I need to say more…about how he can shoot razor sharp daggers from his wings not to mention slice an opponent’s arm(s) off in battle if need be? How about X-23? You wanna count the amount of people she’s gutted, sliced or beheaded in this book? I didn’t think so and that’s only three members! Oh yeah there’s an issue where X-23’s feral scent gets put through the fire sprinkler system of an covert team of busters that are keeping her captive… …I wonder if anyone dies horribly? This comic consistently has kept the badass level though the roof…I mean they had bloody variant covers with bloody claws and bloody knives and I’m not speaking with British slang. Yost and Kyle just wowed me with this series to the point that I would be actually be mad when my coworker HH hadn’t read it yet because I was ready to freak out about certain parts and I couldn’t. He still hasn’t read #4 of UNCANNY X-FORCE and when I saw him out when I was completely wasted, the first thing I said to him was, “DIDYUUUREAAADX-FITRHHH?” He hadn’t and all I did was slowly shake my head which I quickly stopped because I felt nauseous. The end of SECOND COMING where Wolverine walks into a back room and forms the new UNCANNY X-FORCE almost made me jump out of my seat and the new series by Remender and Opena is just as awesome and if you weren’t shocked by the end of UNCANNY X-FORCE #4, you may need to get professional help. It’s very rare that an entire series keeps me on my toes every issue and X-FORCE did that and even into its new incarnation with a new creative team, X-FORCE has proven to be just as good every time.
Thanks, Kletus & Humphrey! Now it’s time to pick your own @$$ies in the Talkbacks. Thirsty for more @$$ie Awards? Look for more tomorrow from Prof. Challenger & Matt Adler! See you then!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G