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7th ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS!
Welcome, all, to the sixth and final day of the 7th Annual AICN COMICS @$$IE AWARDS, where comics best and brightest are recognized for stellar (and sometimes not so stellar) performances in comic bookdom. I’m your host, 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 @$$ies!
(Click title to go directly to the reviewers’ picks)
Optimous Douche’s @$$IE AWARDS!
Henry Higgins is My Homeboy’s @$$IE AWARDS!
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Best Graphic Novel
DAYS MISSING (Archaia / Roddenberry)
I’m a sucker for sci-fi; I simply can’t help myself. And when it’s built upon the underpinnings of morality and a myriad of alternate universes, well…then it becomes better than traditional sci-fi…it is simply Roddenberry. The man may be dead, but his legacy was perfectly encapsulated in the DAYS MISSING hardcover by Archaia. Take one God-like humanoid that has worked the earth for millennia collapsing monumental days in our collected evolution until we are ready…and then saddle this man with a human conscience. Watching as this “Steward” collapsed reality into fiction into treat, when he contemplated the morality of his “stewarding,” this book moved to transcendental.
EX MACHINA #50 (DC Wildstorm)
Sadly, this book not only marked the end of Mayor Hundred’s tenure as chief of NY City, but it feels like we lost the brilliant master of finite runs Brian K. Vaughan as well. Very few writers could plot out exactly where a book was going at a high level yet still make last minute changes to tie in current events. Yes, I’m being purposely elusive here because I want the few out there that haven’t read this book to get to it. It’s more than politics and so much more than a man that can talk to machines. It’s an examination of the human soul and how we all must sell pieces of it to get what we want.
FABLES, João Ruas (DC Vertigo)
A cover should do two things: pop from the shelf for marketability AND (see those caps) be somewhat indicative of the material inside. Starting with James Jean, oh so many years ago, the FABLES covers were a beautifully crafted holistically twisted reflection of the twisted universe inside. I cried rivers when he left. Fortunately, João Ruas seemed to be cut from not the same cloth. Couple Ruas’ work with the dewy dreamy water colors of Chrissie Zullo on CINDERELLA and Mark Buckingham’s continually great interior art (ohhh…those beautiful margins) and you have a formula that delivers an eyegasm month after month. And each cover is a reflection of the material inside…no one is dialing this book i
Wee Hughie, WEE HUGHIE: THE BOYS (Dynamite Entertainment)
This guy had a shit year: first he found the love of his life is part of a corporate owned group of superfucks that Wee Hughie is trying to destroy. If that wasn’t bad enough he then had to star in his own miniseries, which gets my @$$ire for worst series of the year HIGHLAND LADDIE. Yet through it all Hughie continues to amaze me and weaken my hope for a better tomorrow. Because even with great powers, life can still be one big shit storm.
Ryan Ottley (INVINCIBLE, Image Comics)
Despite Kirkman’s ability to defy the tensile strength of word balloons, this past year of INVINCIBLE was truly carried on the shoulders of Mr. Ottley. Yes, there were some dense word balloons, but there were even more simple panels of splendor that let the art convey the emotion and horror of Invincible’s world crashing in around him. The Viltrumite war, the pseudo-death of Eve, the pseudo-death of Oliver, the return of Dad…you get the idea. Ottley has always straddled the lines between realism and cartoons, but this year he proved that there is no fucking line. Good comic art is just that, no matter how many lines end up in the final panels.
Robert Kirkman (INVINCIBLE, THE WALKING DEAD, Image Comics)
This was a hard category for me; I love a lot of different writers for many different reasons. Matt Fraction’s prose reignited my passion for X-Men this year. Geoff Johns, who I affectionately dub the resurrectionist, makes old ideas new and exciting with one stroke of his pen. But if I had to pick one writer whose material I sink into despite other obligations like my house burning down, I most emphatically pick the Big K. While I found HAUNT to be an exercise in early 90s nostalgia, INVINCIBLE and WALKING DEAD continually affect me at the visceral level. These people are real and it has nothing to do with WALKING DEAD’S move to TV. These people are real because Kirkman allowed them to escape from his furry beautiful head.
DC Comics / DC Vertigo
I give this golden @$$ie for two very distinct reasons to each side of the house that Superman built. On the DC side, love or hate the work done, they found countless opportunities to make 80 year old characters breathe new life. Batman is a family not composed of freaks as he was in the past, but an honest-to-God family. Superman may have stumbled on his walk across America, but over in SECRET ORIGINS and EARTH ONE, we see glimpses of a new tomorrow. As for GREEN LANTERN, the BLACKEST NIGHT mythos is starting to get long-in-tooth, but I still find myself entranced with the Hal Jordan/Sinestro relationship. Vertigo simply continues to tell some of the most original stories out there. SWEET TOOTH, AMERICAN VAMPIRE, UNWRITTEN…And the $1.00, give this book a try price has expanded my horizons by at least three titles this past year.
SWEET TOOTH (DC Vertigo)
I buy a fuckton of books…I receive a fuckton of books to review…However each week when SWEET TOOTH is in the pile, I shamefully admit that I shuck away the husk of obligation and tear into this twisted post-apocalyptic Jesus parable first and foremost. Lemire has created a book that speaks volumes with each panel of the page and that tweaks my sci-fi nether regions while at the same time picking away the hardened calluses that cover my emotions month after month.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
Portly Crook #3 From "One Moment In Time" (Marvel Comics)
Best Comic Book Heroine
Zatanna (ZATANNA, DC Comics)
THANOS IMPERATIVE (Marvel Comics)
Moment That Destroyed A Cherished Memory Most Efficiently
BATMAN: THE WIDENING GYRE #6(The one where it's revealed that during BATMAN YEAR ONE, in the defining moment of characterization for Batman, the quintessential Batman moment, he pissed his pants. That moment. (DC Comics)
Best Team Book
Gail Simone’s SECRET SIX (DC Comics)Best Comic Book Monkey
Congorilla (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, DC Comics)
Best Comic Book Villain
Homelander (THE BOYS, Dynamite Comics)
Most Pointless Death
Ryan Choi, The Atom (DC Comics)
Worst Comic of the Year
Every issue of "One Moment In Time", AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Marvel Comics)
Best Comic Book Hero
Nova (THANOS IMPERATIVE, briefly SECRET AVENGERS, Marvel Comics)
Creepiest Comic of the Year
David Lapham’s PUNISHER: TINY UGLY WORLD One-Shot (Marvel Comics)
SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR (ONI Press)
For a series so steeped in geeky comedy and all around silliness, Scott Pilgrim ended with a beautiful, bittersweet look at an adult who's not really an adult, an adventure that we haven't seen all of, and one of the most believable and enjoyable character evolutions in recent memory. Reveling in an amazing twist (that the events we've seen are skewed so far in Scott's perspective, we can't really be sure of how heroic he actually is), and showing the world through a now mature Scott's eyes, the universe these characters live in becomes all the more real. At the same time the series keeps its wit and charm, and finds a way to juggle the mediocrity of the adult world with the energy of the fantastic that everyone here manipulates. A brilliant villain, one of the most well rounded heroine/romantic interests in recent memory, and with some of the coolest looking art all year, SCOTT PILGRIM'S FINEST HOUR really is.
Batman Returns (BATMAN & ROBIN #15, DC Comics)
As a single story, Grant Morrison's Batman arc is one of the most well-crafted, beautiful, and introspective looks at an iconic character in comic book history. At times it could feel muddled and too insane, but when it worked, it worked. The story hit a high note with the climatic moments of BATMAN AND ROBIN #15, and featured the return of the actual Batman to an actual Batman title. It was expected, it was obvious a mile away, and it does feel like a deus ex machina. But that doesn't change the fact that the scene is incredible. With a single sentence, Batman is back. And as great as it's been to have Dick Grayson grow into his new role, there's nothing quite like the original.
FABLES (Joao Ruas)
With the departure of James Jean, someone of a special caliber was going to be needed to fix the hole. Ruas not only met the challenge, he found a way to improve on the already amazing FABLES cover gallery. With a dynamic colouring motif and a fantastic way of combing the bold looks of the old covers with a certain pop art sense of structure, Fables has never looked better.
LARFLEEZE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (DC Comics)
One of the most pleasant surprises of the year came just in time for the holidays. Larfleeze has been a very fun character in the Green Lantern series, and is one of the most enjoyable new characters in the last year or so. As the avatar of greed, it makes sense to have him do a parody of Christmas specials, but Johns threw some very clever and fun things into the book. A certain amount of the book is tongue in cheek and fun, including a recipe for Larfleeze Christmas cookies. But the book also explored the character, and really delved into his motivations. A wonderful way to bring in the holidays.
Scott Pilgrim (SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR, ONI Press)
He can fight waves of enemies, use music as a secret weapon, have multiple lives, and somehow still become the most relatable character of the year. More then anyone else, you cheer for Scott, and hope he wins. Over the course of the series, you come to terms (alongside Scott himself) with the fact that the person you've been following for the entire story may in fact be something of a bastard. As he deals with this and tries to adjust to this fact, Scott becomes a better person and finally stops fighting for something and finally for someone - himself. All the while, you root for him all the more, because everyone can relate to the time they ended up with their back against the wall and heroically saved the day - when in reality, they were being just as much of a wanker as the "bad guy". To cheer on Scott is to cheer on yourself.
THE THANOS IMPERATIVE (Marvel Comics)
Every year, Marvel releases some new piece to the fantastic space saga they've been crafting. And this year, Abnett and Lanning provided one of the most well done and, let's be honest, epic story lines in recent memory. So rarely does a threat of absolute severity appear, and this one is so well done. With all sides united against one very very VERY threatening big bad, the book juggles the perfect amount of awe inspiring adventure and personal moments on the Guardians and their secret mission. Thanos returns in an absolutely incredible way, and none of the deaths ever feel cheap; the story gives a perfect amount of closure on the Marvel space epic, while also leaving room to grow.
Darwyn Cooke (PARKER: THE OUTFIT, IDW Publishing)
Cooke has never failed to impress with his work, and he may have actually hit his best work with Parker. Bold and stylistic, while still definitely Cooke. The colours are among the best I've ever seen in association with a comic (shifting in between muted and impressive effortlessly). No two characters look the same; neither do any two locations. While Cooke work comes few and far between nowadays, it's always well worth the wait.
Grant Morrison (BATMAN, DC Comics)
While it may have its flaws, while it may be confusing as all hell at times, and while it may seem too out there for a noir style character, no writer wrote a more impressive piece of fiction then Grant Morrison this year. Building on his already amazing run on the character, Morrison truly explored the character in ways that haven't been used before, exploring the character and his motivations, history, legacy, and role in not only in the history of Gotham but the DC Universe itself. I can't think of a more amazing look into a character as a concept than Morrison's Batman run.
While it is completely goes against my indie kid sensibility to go with some indie company (which have produced some incredible things this year), Marvel provided some of the most enjoyable mainstream stuff this year. While some stories were underwhelming (SIEGE, DOOMWAR, SHADOWLAND) and others fell to absolute shit in no time (ONE MOMENT IN TIME), for the most part Marvel provided some of the most enjoyable reads in the last year. THANOS IMPERATIVE, CHAOS WAR, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, SECOND COMING, GRIM HUNT, THE GAUNTLET, TASKMASTER…there was a new level of Marvel storytelling. I'm not saying all those stories are great, and many of them have their flaws. But more then any other company this year, Marvel really let their writers explore some new and interesting places with this year.
WALKING DEAD (Image Comics)
Quick quiz: can you name one bad issue of this series? One issue where nothing happened, where Kirkman didn't explore the ramifications and characters in new and exciting ways? Can you name one issue where something surprising and exciting not previously seen in comics hasn't happened? Can you name one ongoing series that came out in 2010 that was better than this? No? Thought so.
Thanks Triple H & OD! Well that’s our show! I know it was long, but hopefully you found something in the last six columns to agree or disagree with. If you’re still hungry for more @$$ies…
Check out Ambush Bug & Majin Fu’s @$$ies here!
Check out BottleImp & Lyzard’s @$$ies here!
Check out Vroom Socko & Johnny Destructo’s @$$ies here!
Check out Prof. Challenger & Matt Adler’s @$$ies here!
Check out Humphrey Lee & KletusCasaday’s @$$ies here!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G