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AICN COMICS Celebrates the 13th Annual @$$ie Awards Day One: Best Single Moment/Single Issue! Best Miniseries! Best Publisher!

Logo by Kristian Horn
@@@ 13th ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS! @@@

Welcome, all, to the 13th 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 M. L. Miller aka Ambush Bug, editor for AICN COMICS / AICN HORROR. Though you cannot see it, I rented a tux for the week for this event…

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 and the awards have grown in number through the years, so I decided to spread it out all week to post the @$$Holes’ picks for the best of the best in comics. Most awards are given around the turn of the year, but we think ours is kind of special, so while those outside of the know celebrate the time of the Oscar, we here at AICN COMICS celebrate the time of the coveted @$$ie Award. So sit back, crack the knuckles in your browsing hand, and scroll down as the @$$Holes pick the @$$ies!

And the @$$ie goes to…
(Click title to go directly to the category)

Best Single Issue/Single Moment!
Best Miniseries!
Best Publisher!

Best Single Issue/Single Moment!

Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - The Return of Wally West, DC REBIRTH 1 (DC Comics)

Despite the gut punches of child leukemia in PAPER GIRLS, the death of Scott Summers in X-MEN, and Negan turning to the side of angels in WALKING DEAD, I still give my @$$ie to the return of Wally West in REBIRTH. This one holds the gravitas of time for me. Wally was my FLASH growing up. I grew up with Barry as a ghost, a specter figurehead that loomed over the pages - not on them. When he was reinstated into canon with FLASHPOINT I welcomed the return, but not at the sake of losing the only ginger I have ever truly loved. When Wally II was introduced a few years later I was crestfallen. I've nothing against the New Kid Flash, and I'm all for synergy with the CW property, but damn it if it there wasn't a tinge of heartache that MY Wally was so damn replaceable. While I can argue if he's been used to top advantage since REBIRTH, I simply can't refute the warmth I felt between Barry and Wally when they hugged for the first time nor the ire we all felt at the years taken from them by the Watchmen....I mean the mystery character that isn't Ozymandis....I mean...shit, if you're Gen X you know what I mean.

Masked Man LADY MECHANIKA: LA DAMA DE LA MUERTE #2 (Benitez Productions)

Joe Benitez, with M.M. Chen and Martin Montiel, have been cranking out just a great adventure book with LADY MECHANIKA. But with this issue, as I said in my original review, things were going along as usual and then holy fu((. It was just wow, didn't see it coming, didn't think in was in this comics' wheel house. I won't spoil it here, incase these @$$ies inspire anyone to read it. But nothing this year got me to sit up from my easy chair more than this issue.

Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt - THE VISION #12 (Marvel Comics)

The first 11 issues of this limited series were so good that I though the final issue would never live up to my expectations. But I was wrong. Issue #12 gives us an ending like no other. It’s unexpected, it’s emotional, and it solidifies THE VISION as one of the best comic books in recent years.

Humphrey Lee - The Return of Wally West, DC REBIRTH #1 (DC Comics)

I couldn’t help it. I usually don’t fanboy much, I honestly don’t, but besides it being “just” the return of one of DC’s best and most beloved characters, I think this was a turning point moment for a publishing line that had lost its way and identity for the past several years. This wasn’t just a tender moment between mentor and student, it was a much needed slap to the face for clarity’s sake about what it is that makes the DC Universe the deep and homey place that it has been for decades and kicked off a so far pretty fantastic return to form for the publisher and most of its icons.

Ambush Bug - Lucille is broken, THE WALKING DEAD #159 (Image Comics)

Comics was filled with a lot of memorable moments this year, but the ones that always stick with me are the ones that show smaller moments rather than earth shattering revelations to get news coverage. If there’s one thing you can count on in THE WALKING DEAD is that no one is safe. Sooner or later, one of your beloved characters is going to die. While it is simply a wooden bat wrapped in barbed wire to some, Lucille – Negan’s Mjolnir, basically, is something he holds near and dear. When it shatters during his battle with Beta of the Whisperers, Negan’s reaction is priceless. It’s as if he has lost his child or best friend and offered up a layer of character he never really had before. It was at that moment that Negan stopped being a bad guy and started being a character in THE WALKING DEAD. You actually felt sorry for him in a way you felt when Wilson floated away from Tom Hanks in CASTAWAY. Brilliantly told, and amazingly rendered by the usual THE WALKING DEAD crew of Kirkman and Adlard.

Best Miniseries!

Ambush Bug - HOUSE OF PENANCE (Dark Horse Comics)

Peter Tomasi may be best known for his DC superhero work, but he is also one hell of a horror writer and he proved it in spades with the amazing historical horror story HOUSE OF PENANCE, a tale of terrible creeping guilt and mental illness which plagued Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester firearm fortune, who is trying to make up for the death the weapons had caused by building a surreal and intricate house that would never be completely finished as Sarah’s guilt will never go away. This story shows how haunted Sarah is in such a horrifying way. Much of it due to Ian Bertram’s fantastic imagery of tentacly death which seeps through the floorboards and through cracks in the walls. The rest of due to Tomasi’s fantastically tight story structure and memorable characters. This is a fantastic and timeless horror tale deserving to be read again and again.

Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - THE VISION (Marvel Comics)

Americana AI style. I haven't been this moved/disturbed by modern suburbia since the first time I watched "American Beauty." The more manicured the lawn it always seems the less manicured the lives inside the houses that lawn surrounds. The Vision simply wanted the perfect family, but as any life coach will tell you, perfection is simply untenable. Life is messy and imperfect. The harder you try to control it, the more it will always spin out of control. The variables of surprise are what make this journey worth taking, not the simple yes/no binary states of everyday predictability. Perfection is a fixed state of no progress, and perpetual disappointment in the everyday victories. Perhaps if the world were all Visions, this family would have lived boring ever after. Thankfully though they chose to spend time with humanity and deliver a story basked in tragedy that made the one or two triumphs at the end of twelve issues even more glorious. Fuck perfect. Thank you to the VISION and Tom King for making me remember this simple fact of life.

Masked Man - THE SHADOW: THE DEATH OF MARGOT LANE (Dynamite Entertainment)

It's kind of funny because there aren't ongoing series anymore, as everything gets canceled and re-launched every year or two. But the traditional mini-series that I enjoyed the most this year was Matt Wagner's THE SHADOW: THE DEATH OF MARGO LANE. First off, it's Wagner writing and drawing a character that just totally fits his sensibility. And second, it's rare that we see stories about the Shadow that has a personal stake in it, for our hero. Just a well written, great looking book.

Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt - THE VISION (Marvel Comics)

While I was sad to see the book end in 2016 after only 12 issues, I think that was the perfect amount for this dark, epic story. It was far and away Marvel’s best book last year, and my favorite from any publisher. This series will be talked about for years and years to come.

Humphrey Lee – THE VISION (Marvel Comics)

I’ll get ahead of it and say “calm down” to all you nerds whose first inclination is to point out that the “maxi-series” is a designation that exists and this betters fits the classification. Settle down and put that energy into touching boobs (or whatever you’re into) instead and just let me have this moment. This tale of Marvel’s android Avengers by Tom King and Gabriel Walta may have single-handedly wrung every last bit of emotional juice I have sloshing about my body through most of 2016. Watching the fleeting joys and mostly horrors that wracked the lives of The Vision and his new family as they grasped at the closest they could get to humanity was the epitome of the term “emotional rollercoaster.” The only things that this book did wrong as it ran most of the year were to end and to make me realize I’m not the dead inside robot I thought I had become to survive the horror show that was 2016.

Best Publisher!

Humphrey Lee – DC Comics

Nearly six years ago when the FLASHPOINT event was “Goddammit Barry!!”ing its way to a refreshed universe I was a bit wary of just how shoehorned everything felt and how the creative team quality of the re-launched line looked from the solicits. Not even a year into the “New 52” and I was barely holding onto any DC books and wondering what could pull the company out of the mess. Apparently, what it took was one yellow button and the return of a redheaded speedster and things felt alive again because my pull list is alive with icons and most of my hype for comic book stories is coming out of this bullpen today. And it’s not just the mainline that is garnering all these good graces; Vertigo, now firmly under the tutelage of Jamie Rich as EIC, has seen a much needed rejuvenation and the Young Animals line being led by My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way is spreading enough weirdness into the world of comics for even the most eclectic of readers. This may be a fleeting victory, this time next year I may just be writing another “well, that didn’t last long” moratorium on this “Rebirthed” lineup while I begin to extol the virtues of Image Comics for another five years straight, but right here right now, DC has earned the top slot.

Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - Image Comics

For me comics need to have two things: surprise and cliffhangers. That's it since CG blew away my one rule of yesteryear, "to do on page what can't be done on film." Month after month in '16, I returned with bated breath to titles like PAPERGIRLS, SAGA, I HATE FAIRYLAND, AIRBOY, THE FIX and WALKING DEAD simply to see what happened next and not once was I disappointed. Some of those titles were new this year, and each surprised me with their originality, humor or simple exercises in "damn, that's just wrong." Perhaps the biggest surprise of Image is still the fact we never would have predicted this house of ideas in '96 when trying to sell off the multiple issues of WILD C.A.T.S we bought to pay for our future children to go to college.

Masked Man - Valiant Entertainment

Valiant, more than any other publisher, just published solid comics of their characters all year long. With no a gimmicks of re-launching everything over and over again. While every individual effort might not be great, the fact they are committed to producing, no nonsense, good comics every week is to be admired. I can't tell you how much I wish the big two would stop with their marketing driven comics and just follow Valiant's lead.

Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt - DC Comics

While other publishers (IMAGE, DARK HORSE, IDW, TITAN) may have had more books that I personally enjoyed more, there is no denying DC’s dominance this year especially over their rival. Marvel had a couple solid books this year (DARTH VADER, VISION, BLACK PANTHER) but DC absolutely crushed them in 2016. Not only was Rebirth a hit, but surprises like THE FLINTSTONES and FUTURE QUEST showed that DC was a step above the rest this year.

Now it’s time to pick your own @$$ies in the Talkbacks. Thirsty for more @$$ie Awards? Look for more tomorrow when we pick Best One-Shot/Annual/Special/OGN, Favorite Super Team, Best Artist/Art Team!

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

Remember, if you have a comic book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.

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