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7th ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS!
Welcome, all, to Day Four of the 7th Annual AICN COMICS @$$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 @$$ies!
(Click title to go directly to the reviewers’ picks)
BottleImp’s @$$IE AWARDS!
Lyzard’s @$$IE AWARDS!
@@@ BottleImp’s @$$IES! @@@
Best Original Graphic Novel
45 (FORTY-FIVE) (COM.X)
Not your typical superhero story, this graphic novel works on two levels. First, there are the concise, engaging one-page solo stories that introduce the reader to a new world of superpowered beings. Next, there is the deeper comprehension of the shared universe these characters inhabit, and the shadowy conspiracies being weaved about these seemingly simplistic tales. Writer Andi Ewington and a host of talented artists succeed in bringing something new and innovative to the table with excellent book.
The Deep One handjob from NEONOMICON #3 (Avatar Press)I may be branded a sicko for this, but the black humor of this moment can’t be denied. After seeing her partner killed and subjected to humiliating and degrading sexual acts (which include multiple rape by a fish-monster), FBI Agent Brears avoids further congress with the creature by getting him off with an old-fashioned handski. The situation alone is absurd, but throw in Brears’ familiar attitude towards the Lovecraftian beast and add the juxtaposition of a fish-man jizz-shot against the verbose grandeur of Lovecraft’s mythos, and you’ve got a scene that’ll make you laugh out loud even as you recoil in disgust.
Gabriel Rodriguez (LOCKE & KEY, IDW Publishing)
Rodriguez’s interior art for the series is spectacular, but his covers are always brilliant and eye-catching. The covers capture an essential essence of each issue, whether by literal depiction or symbolic imagery, and are a welcome counterpoint of the more prevalent crop of “standing around posing” covers that litter the superhero comic landscape.
THE TWELVE: SPEARHEAD #1 (Marvel Comics)
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never see the conclusion of THE TWELVE series, but at least I know whom to blame. Chris Weston mans up where J. Michael Straczynski pussies out and takes over writing duties in addition to providing the excellent art for this comic, which serves as a prologue to the (seemingly) aborted series. It’s a neat little tale which features the cast interacting with more prominent Marvel heroes such as Captain America, but above all, this one-shot proves that Weston is faultless when it comes to the series’ status, and really deserves better than to have his work curtailed by a lazy, lazy writer.
Invincible, INVINCIBLE (Image Comics)
Though the series itself doesn’t grab me like it once did, I still like the way Robert Kirkman continues to develop his title character. Over the years Invincible has grown from a happy-go-lucky hero to a dark avenger to a mature adult, and the past year has really put the character through the ringer as his father’s race mounted their invasion of Earth. One of the chief complaints about the icons of Marvel and DC is that they aren’t allowed to grow beyond a certain point and thus remain “trapped in amber,” as some put it. With Invincible, the only constraint is Kirkman’s imagination, and that makes for one very interesting superhero.
THE THANOS IMPERATIVE (Marvel Comics)
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. The Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. An invading universe of Lovecraftian Mythos-skewed evil doppelgangers.
Brad Walker and Wes Craig (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, Marvel Comics)
This is a bit of a cheat, since they didn’t actually work together, but the tag-team duties they played on this title made for an exciting visual experience month after month. On the one hand, there was Walker’s detailed, realistic approach. On the other, there was Craig’s simplified, almost cartoony style. But both approaches were unified by a common sense of dynamic composition and dramatic use of light and shadow. No matter which artist was at the helm on a particular issue, it was guaranteed that the pages would crackle with visual energy.
Peter David (X-FACTOR, Marvel)
It may not be the flashiest title on the rack, but X-FACTOR is always the comic that I enjoy most, and it’s 99.9% due to David’s writing. He combines action and intrigue with quieter, more intimate moments and does it all with the best-realized, most three-dimensional cast of characters to ever grace the comic stands.
Marvel or DC?
I can’t make up my mind here. The lion’s share of what I currently read is from Marvel, so points to them for putting out some great titles. But I have to hand it to DC for their decision to listen to readers’ complaints and price all their regular monthly titles at $2.99. I don’t know if this move will pay off for them in terms of sales, but it’s a good PR move nonetheless. So it’s a split decision for me on this one.
X-FACTOR (Marvel Comics)
For all the reasons mentioned above, and toss into the mix the attractive artwork of Valentine DeLandro, Emanuela Lupacchino and others, overlay with the excellent coloring work of Matt Milla and Jeromy Cox, and wrap it all with the great covers of David Yardin, and what do you get? A comic book that deals with superhero melodramatics and real human emotions, humor and horror, action and romance, and does so each and every month.
When released from his Bottle, the Imp takes the form of Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from the Northeast. You can see some of his artwork here. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.
IDW's DUNGEONS & DRAGONS line
Best Revival of a Publisher
Best Fish-Out-Of-Water Imprint
Best New Title
AVENGERS ACADEMY (Marvel Comics)
Most Promising Revival
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS (DC Comics)
"Best" Act of Stubbornness
Marvel not budging on $3.99 comics after DC's $2.99 announcement.
Best Handling of "Status Quo Changing" Events
Abnett & Lanning and the Marvel Cosmic line.
Best Use of Historic Figures Kicking Ass and Taking Names
S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel Comics)
Best Chance of Superhero Books That Mean Anything Getting Written Declining
DC Wildstorm's Untimely Demise
Best comic series failing to conclude 2010…again
THE TWELVE (Marvel Comics)
THE BROADCAST (NBM Comics Lit)
There was a typical direction Eric Hobbs could have gone in with THE BROADCAST, a story set on the night that Orson Welles terrified the nation with his radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. But Hobbs merely used this incident as a backdrop, focusing more on the characters and their stories. This created well-developed characters and a fascinating, even if long, read.
CALL ME SANTO (Marvel Comics)
Included in X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS-X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES #2, CALL ME SANTO is a take on Moby Dick. What makes this short story great is the lack of dialogue. It is all visual storytelling, yet the humor comes across seamlessly. I may not know the characters presented in the story, but it did not affect my reading of it.
James Silvani (DARKWING DUCK, BOOM! Studios)
Though the artwork on the covers of DARKWING DUCK is based on the cartoon and not the original style of Silvani’s, the covers he has created for DARKWING DUCK provide an insight into what each book holds. They are also bold and eye-catching, while being humorous at the same time.
X-MEN: CURSE OF THE MUTANTS-X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES (Marvel Comics)
I may have preferred the first issue to the second issue of X-MEN VS. VAMPIRES, but even book number two was a stronger tale of vampires than all of IDES OF BLOOD put together. My love of vampires may seem to cloud my judgment, but I am very particular in how these undead monsters are portrayed. There were no sparkles in X-Men vs. Vampires, just how I like it.
Pytho from NANCY IN HELL (Image Comics)
Utterly evil. I truly enjoy characters that revel in their darkness, that lack even an iota of goodness in them. Pytho, the demon, was a great source of villainy and humor through NANCY IN HELL. He is probably the one character I looked forward to each issue, waiting to see what schemes and dastardly plans he had up his sleeve.
THE DARKNESS: FOUR HORSEMEN (Top Cow)
Though incomplete as of yet, THE DARKNESS: FOUR HORSEMEN is still probably the best miniseries of what I have read this past year. I reviewed the first two issues for another site and they were my first introduction to the Top Cow character. Disgusted, dismayed, and yet intrigued, the comic is full of gruesome scenes that push the limits of what a weak stomach can hold. It is very much a rubbernecking series, something so horrible, yet you cannot look away.
Wayne Nichols for RYDER ON THE STORM (Radical Comics)
Nichols can draw something violent and/or horrific, but not make my stomach turn. But it is his choice of not showing everything at once that makes him my favorite artist of 2010. The artwork is rather soft in its lines, but this does not work against the hard quality of the subject matter. Wayne Nichols is able to blend fantasy, horror, and noir into one comic.
Malachai Nicolle for AXE COP (Dark Horse)
You may wonder why I chose a six year old as the best writer of the year. That is because only a six year old could have created such a ridiculous yet genius idea as AXE COP. His uninhibited imagination has birthed one of the best web comics, dare I say, ever.
Though I haven’t reviewed any IDW comics for this site (though I did review and highly enjoy DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS on another site), it is the publisher with the catalog containing the most comics I want to read. In the past I’ve enjoyed their 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and Cal McDonald comics, but now that I’ve finished several series I cannot wait to start on books such as KILL SHAKESPEARE.
DARKWING DUCK (BOOM! Studios)
Though I never got to read the first four issues, THE DUCK KNIGHT RETURNS, the following four were the most fun comics I read all the latter half of this year. I’ve read comics based on TV shows before and rarely do I find them to live up to the original, but DARKWING DUCK makes a solid attempt to provide the same level of entertainment as its source material.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).
Thanks Lyz & Imp! Hungry for more @$$ies?
Check out Vroom Socko & Johnny Destructo’s @$$ies here!
Check out Prof. Challenger & Matt Adler’s @$$ies here!
Check out Humphrey Lee & KletusCasaday’s @$$ies here!
Look for more tomorrow from Ambush Bug & Majin Fu! See you then!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G