@@@ 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 Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug, editor for AICN COMICS / AICN HORROR. I’ve hired the effervescent Englebert Humperdinck and his orchestra to play out any reviewer who gets too long winded in their @$$ie Picks.
There was a time when we could fit all of the @$$ies into one lengthy column, but the @$$Holes’ ranks have grown too big for that and the awards have grown in number through the year, so I decided to spread it out all week to post the @$$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!
(Click title to go directly to the category)
Best One-Shot/Annual/Special/Original Graphic Novel!
Favorite Super Team!
Best Artist/Art Team!
Best One-Shot/Special/Annual/Original Graphic Novel!
Justin Burkhardt & @justinburkhardt - STAR WARS: C-3PO #1 (Marvel Comics)
This one-shot turned what could have been a boring story of how C-3PO got his red arm in THE FORCE AWAKENS, into something much more. The story dives deep into the theme of artificial consciousness, something largely ignored in the movies. I’m also a sucker for a good Star Wars expanded universe story.
Humphrey Lee – DC REBIRTH #1 (DC Comics)
I’ve talked about moments from and the impact of this book a couple times already in these awards, so it only makes sense this universe rebooter make its proper appearance in this space. This issue in of itself wasn’t just a touching love letter to a DC Universe that the company nonsensically decided to run from with the “New 52” reboot, but it was a precursor of things to come for a rejuvenated line that has yet to falter, though obviously we’re still in the shallow end of the ocean of new stories and creative machinations opened up with this first REBIRTH tale. The reemergence of Wally West in these pages was my top moment of the year but the overall execution of the issue building up to that sequence was pitch perfect and even I can’t help but be morbidly curious where a certain blood encrusted button leads to, even if it part of my brain keeps muttering “this is a bad, bad idea” over and over again when I really think about it. Regardless, for 80 pages last spring everything was right again with the DCU, and my enthusiasm has been high for the publishing line ever since.
Ambush Bug - QUILTE (ComixTribe)
I picked up QUILTE at New York Comic Con last Fall and read it on the plane ride back. While folks around me slept, I found myself riveted to each page. John Lees has a way of grabbing the reader by the throat with his words and tense pacing, but when he teams with his AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE artist Iain Laurie, Lees brings forth the stuff of pure nightmare. QUILTE is supposedly set in the same world as AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE and it is as powerful in a one shot form as that miniseries was. Following a therapist who gets wrapped up in the dreams of one of her patients, QUILTE is filled with mystery, terror, and creeping unknowns and is an exemplary way of how horror can be done right in comics form.
Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - DC REBIRTH #1 (DC Comics)
In the dialing it in category this year, I once again pick REBIRTH #1 for best one-shot original. To show effort though, I choose this title a second time for a completely different reason than the return of Wally West as my favorite moment. No, this time Rebirth gets rebirthed into my list for the appearance of a familiar smiley face with a small drop of blood. We still don't fully know how the Watchmen will change DC now that they reside in-continuity, but I do keep watching to find out more.
Masked Man - THANOS: THE INFINITY FINALE (Marvel Comics)
Jim Starlin's latest Adam Warlock / Thanos epic comes to a close. For the past few years, Starlin has been working on this tale through mini-series and Original Graphic Novels. And THANOS: THE INFINITY FINALE (though I still got to say it should have been named RESOLUTION, to match with the previous REVELATION and RELATIVITY) brings it to an end, with Ron Lim jumping into the artist chair. As usual Thanos and Warlock discuss life, morality and universe, while battling it out with Annihilus.
Favorite Comic Book Super Team!
Masked Man - FUTURE QUEST (DC Comics)
I suppose I'm super bias, as I love all the old Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoons, heck I got them all on dvd. But it's been pretty impressive to see Jeff Parker manage to put them all together in one connected universe. I sure hope DC doesn't completely dump this concept, because while the cartoons were all cheap, the concepts were all pretty cool.
Justin Burkhardt & @justinburkhardt - The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW Publishing)
What a year the TMNT have had in the comic world. IDW released the series TMNT UNIVERSE, an expanded look into IDW’S TMNT world. That book coincidences with IDW’S on-going TMNT, which continues to be a great book after 60+ issues. They’ve also had two fun and different crossovers with the Dark Knight. Michael Bay’s’ awful movie aside, TMNT had a great year and remain my favorite comic book team.
Humphrey Lee – Power Man and Iron Fist (POWER MAN & IRON FIST, Marvel Comics)
The obvious line here is “the boys are back in town” but it is super fitting. Years and years it has been since these two superheroes from opposite sides of the train tracks were bringing their own brand of (social) justice to the streets and they had been sorely missed together in action. And their return to their roots has been everything one would hope for in a reunion from their base personalities and how they mesh and conflict but with the proper amount of reflection about how much they’ve changed over the years. Luke Cage’s somewhat timidness to get into unnecessary scraps and use foul language now that he’s a family man plays oh so entertainingly with Iron Fist’s almost childlike energy poking and prodding at him while they prowl old haunts and come into conflict with old foes and unexpected new nemesis’ alike. The book has been everything a fan of these two characters could ever want between writer David Walker and his artistic partners having their fingers on the pulse of topicality and infusing it so well in these pages with classic fisticuffs and smack talk. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this reunion isn’t long for the world in this form of this book now with DEFENDERS taking the wind out of things, but it has been great while it lasted.
Ambush Bug - Clark, Lois, & Jon Kent (SUPERMAN, DC Comics)
It’s funny. Most people making comics seem to think things like marriage and families are not cool enough to have in their books. Most marriages are broken up, killed off, or written out of the story by Mephisto. Seems the only people brave enough to write a happily married family in comics is Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason in SUPERMAN. Who’da thunk a married Superman with a kid would be something refreshing and downright cool in this book. Seeing this family band together against all odds big and small through the last year really has kept me from giving up hope on comics which have become way too conscious of itself, un-heroic, divisive, political, and downright boring. The Superman Family is one team that encourages working together in order to take on all odds, which is what teamwork is all about..
Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - Black Hammer (BLACK HAMMER, Dark Horse Comics)
If my panache for picking pastiches wasn't permeable enough in my last pick, let me punctuate with these prose. Take a few great tropes from the Golden Age, make their powers more of a burden than a blessing, and then abandon them in a universe where powers aren't to be found in anyone else and they can't leave the confines of a small rural town in America's heartland. Sound like torture? You bet it is. For them. For readers, we get to see the true mettle of heroic merit tested not against alien invasions or thugs dressed like pimps, but against the toughest challenge of all - the self. Still not sure where this series is headed, but each characters' cross bearing is the true stuff of introspective heartache for glory days gone by.
Best Artist/Art Team!
Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - Joelle Jones (LADYKILLER 2, Dark Horse Comics
I'll keep picking Joelle/Laura year after year, as long as they keep the LADY KILLER goods coming. Together, the two can make the female form realistically beautiful, sixties Americana pop from the page, and gore simply gorgeous. I am as terrified as I am enamored with what rattles around Joelle's brain pan, but her ability to bring it alive on the page is something every comic fan can adore.
Masked Man - Jason Fabok (JUSTICE LEAGUE, JUSTICE LEAGUE VS SUICIDE SQUAD, DC Comics)
Jason Fabok is just my kind of superhero artist. Everything is just wide screen awesome, with great looking, heroic figures. His work on the “Darkseid War” in JUSTICE LEAGUE, before the Rebirth, was just kick @$$ work (even if the story was just ridiculous). I can't wait to see more of his work this year.
Justin Burkhardt & @justinburkhardt - Gabriel Hernandez Walta & Jordie Bellaire (THE VISION, Marvel Comics)
THE VISION wasn’t just a great story, it featured great artwork as well. Walta’s art and Bellaire’s colors were an absolutely gorgeous treat for the eyes on nearly every panel. I considered Fiona Staples here as well, but ultimately went with THE VISION art team since no other comic this year had art that matched the story as well as this one.
Humphrey Lee – Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson (BLACK WIDOW, Marvel Comics)
I honestly don’t know how Chris Samnee, currently of BLACK WIDOW fame, even still has a functioning drawing wrist. The amount of detail he has been cramming into every last millimeter of each page of the Widow during this run with writer Mark Waid and colorist extraordinaire Matthew Wilson has been absolutely astounding. I can’t reiterate how many times I poured over the debut issue of this run, as the art was very much the star of the show and one of the most kinetic, engrossing performances I’ve seen reading comics for over two decades. And because there is still a little flickering flame of good in the world, no one on this team has let up since jump, churning out exemplary visuals of ass-kickery for nearly a year now and hopefully at least a couple more.
Ambush Bug - Ian Bertram (HOUSE OF PENANCE, Dark Horse Comics)
I’m always on the lookout for fresh new talented artists in the comics industry—the kind of artist who draws a panel and makes me want to stop reading and really savor the images in the panel. While there are tons of artists out there deserving of a Best Artist Award, Ian Bertram’s detailed nightmare panels from Dark Horse’s HOUSE OF PENANCE blew me away in every issue of this miniseries. The way he gives form to the nightmarish guilt and horror people feel in this story is truly iconic. These images are going to make you squirm and give you an uneasy feeling, which is what good horror art should do. Bertram is going to be huge in this industry and this year he shined on HOUSE OF PENANCE!
Now it’s time to pick your own @$$ies in the Talkbacks. Thirsty for more @$$ie Awards? Here is a link to the rest of the picks from this week!
Look for more tomorrow when we pick Best Comic Book TV Show, Best Comic Book Character Realized on TV/Film, Best Comic Book Movie, and we look at comic bookdom’s fallen heroes In Memoriam…
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G