@@@ 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. My dress? Oh it’s something my designed by Jame Gumb. He works with exotic materials, baskets, and lots of lotion.
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 Ongoing Series!
Humphrey Lee – DC Rebirth (DC Comics)
We’ve call this “Best Event” in previous years (if I’m remembering all these bloody columns I’ve written properly) so I’m going to cheat just a wee bit and default back to that title once again since, quite frankly, most of the “real” crossovers this year were god-awful and rebirth was an unmitigated success, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve mentioned several times through awards that DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH as an issue was a full scale admittance that things had gone horribly astray for the DCU and was tapping into the heart and legacy that made it such a great place to invest time and energy. And most of the REBIRTH’ed titles themselves have been very well executed since the relaunch book, with all the icons having a dedication to top tier talent and opening stories that have really boiled them down to their heroic essentials. Even anti-heroes like John Constantine and Deathstroke are getting four-star treatment under the relaunch banner with creative teams that know exactly what the root appeal of the characters are and are playing them up perfectly. Right now DC is as on its game as it has been in a decade plus and it all started with a Flash and an ominous yellow button.
Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - SECRET WARS (Marvel Comics)
I hate crossovers and events at this point, but since I have to pick I'm going with SECRET WARS. It's the one where I found the most variety in the side titles and the main event ending was an OK surprise. I mean it would have been better if the last book came out before the follow up books, but I don't lament the existence of air so bitching about whacked publishing schedules is equally railing against what simply is.
Justin Burkhardt & @justinburkhardt - BATMAN/TEENAGE MUNTANT NINJA TURTLES (IDW Publishing)
As a child, my Batman and TMNT action figures would always team up to take on the bad guys. I never imagined that two of my favorite childhood toys would actually come together in a comic book. The Turtles come to Gotham and cross paths with the Dark Knight and his rogues gallery. DC Comics/IDW’s crossover hit was everything I imagined it would be.
Masked Man - INHUMANS VS X-MEN (Marvel Comics)
I can't tell you how boring and terrible I found every Crossover-Event this year. Then in the last month, #0 and #1 of INHUMANS VS X-MEN came out, by Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, Javier Garron and Leinil Francis Yu. It actually had the spark of life and competency, that everything else was lacking. Even if it is another super-hero vs super-hero story. Overall it just seems more thoughtful and when the punching starts, being more thoughtful makes the punching more meaningful.
Masked Man - Moon Knight (MOON KNIGHT, Marvel Comics)
I've always had an interest in Moon Knight, but could never get fully on-board with him. As he can often come across as a weak Batman clone. Warren Ellis really gave the character a kick in the pants a year ago, and now Jeff Lemire is continuing to make Moon Knight something different, yet still a superhero. He's one of the few heroes I find myself rooting for this year.
Humphrey Lee – The Flash(es) (FLASH/TITANS, DC Comics)
So, yeah, fuck it, this string of columns are starting to wind down (I think, I don’t know how this shit gets edited) so I’m breaking the rules again because I’m all rebellious and shit. Or I just think that it was a great year all around if you’re a fan of speedsters of the scarlet kind and their legacy. Between the CW television show and Rebirth, it’s been a really good year for Barry Allen. The character has shown more personality and emotion being brought to life by Grant Gustin on the idiot box and scripted by Joshua Williamson on the comic page than I think I had ever seen the character exhibit pretty much ever. A lot of that newfound expressiveness on the comic book page comes in part due to the return of his former sidekick and confidant; Wally West, whose triumphant return I’ve already hailed as my Best (and most emotional) Moment of the year. Wally’s reintegration into the DCU has also been a great and harrowing experience as he has to reconcile his lost relationship with Linda Park but relish the highs of having his brothers and sisters in the TITANS rally back around him after having him wiped from all memory the past couple years. Between that run and the excellent “Godspeed” arc revolving around Barry in the proper FLASH title and, of course, the TV show, it’s just been a good year to root for crime fighters who bring their brand of justice at the speed of light.
Ambush Bug - Barry Allen: The Flash (THE FLASH, DC Comics)
It’s hard to find heroes today. Or at least my version of a hero, I guess. For me, a hero does something right, not because its due to a political ideology or because they are being paid millions of dollars to do so. If you’re checking twitter or right / left news sources before deciding if something is right or wrong, then your concept of heroism is way off. Heroism comes from the gut and it shouldn’t take more than a second to decide what the right thing or the wrong thing is. In trying to figure out what heroism is to me, I realized that it requires fast thinking, quick reaction and a heart that is noble and true, which pretty much sums up Barry Allen aka the Flash. It took a while for Barry Allen to grow on me. I was always a Wally West fan and always will be, but due to the always fun TV show and the consistently exciting adventures since FLASH REBIRTH written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico. The comic highlights the purely good nature of Barry Allen, be he teaching a new generation of speedsters or tracking down clues to solve a mystery or taking on one or all of his Rogues Gallery, he’s always taking them on from a place of goodness that most heroes (and writers of heroes) just can’t seem to fathom. Though I took a break from the speedsters after Johns left, I have found myself once again loving what the Flash represents and the heroism he shows every month in his comic.
Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - Superman (The New/Old One) (SUPERMAN/ACTION COMICS/JUSTICE LEAGUE, DC Comics)
S'long skinny pants Superman, hello barrel chested family man Clark Kent. I've professed my love enough for old Clark, Lois and young Jonathan on Podcasts and in reviews. Not only was this Superman behind the scenes every time young New 52 Supes did something stupid, but under Tomasi and Gleason's pen I once again care about the whole Superman line of titles.
Justin Burkhardt & @justinburkhardt - Black Panther (BLACK PANTHER, Marvel Comics)
I was reminded this year just how much I love the Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa looked incredible and has me really excited for the 2018 feature film. In comics, Ta-Nehisi Coates proved he’s the perfect writer to tackle the character and the world of Wakanda in this day and age.
Best Ongoing Series!
Optimous Douche aka Rob Patey - SUPERMAN (DC Comics)
I haven't cared this much about our favorite Kryptonian since numbered diamonds adorned the covers telling us stupid 90s people which books to read next. Honestly, Tomasi and Gleason has unlocked the secret sauce to make being virtuous a believable trait in a modern day hero, the nuclear family a fresh dynamic, and Lois as equally engaging as her spandex wearing spouse. I won't say you hate comics if you've missed this run since Rebirth, but I will tell longtime Superman haters to give this series a chance before you completely shun the classics.
Justin Burkhardt & @justinburkhardt - BACK TO THE FUTURE (IDW Publishing)
The series is written by co-creator of the movies Bob Gale, who has famously said there will never be a BTTF remake/reboot as long as he’s alive. Instead we have this awesome comic series that brings our favorite Hill Valley characters back into our lives. This isn’t a sequel or a prequel really; they’re stories from different timelines that are a great addition to the BTTF universe.
Masked Man - Power Man & Iron Fist (POWER MAN & IRON FIST, Marvel Comics)
More than Iron Fist, I've always loved Power Man (though as a superhero fan, I've not been crazy about the “Luke Cage, I'm not superhero” take he's had for the past few years). So when I heard Power Man and Iron Fist were going back to the superhero job, I had to check it out. Next thing you know, David Walker is taking everything Luke Cage and making it the most fun I've had with a comicbook since Keith Giffen's JUSTICE LEAGUE. There's been plenty of action for Sanford Greene, and his crazy style, to draw too. I always save this book as my last read of the week, helps me wash the stink away from the other books.
Humphrey Lee – DEADLY CLASS (Image Comics)
While it’s oddly been kind of a down year for Image comics on the whole with the publishing line being marred by delays or just absentee books galore, the known quantities of excellence that have been holding down the fort at the Big ‘I’ the past couple years have maintained that level. In the case of Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s DEADLY CLASS, though, the book has shifted up a gear and hit a whole new level of quality. Everything that made the book such a unique and engaging book in its freshman year ramped up multiple notches in its sophomore run. The politics of the book have thickened as cliques have drawn tighter to grab their own power in the halls of King’s Dominion and the altercations between them ramped up beyond fucking eleven to whatever it is when things hit a “Battle Royale” level of dismembering as the school year ends. Also, the levels of nihilistic meets juvenile humor this book successfully aspires to maintain is such a thing of beauty, it deserves an award almost solely for that. The characters, the setting, the amazing Wes Craig art, basically everything about this book raised the bar from an already high standard it had set in its first year and likewise rose through the ranks of my read pile while decapitating the competition.
Ambush Bug - SUPERMAN (DC Comics)
Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason deliver one of the strongest versions of Superman you’re ever going to see. Sure, writers seem to be able to write the power of Superman, but these two seem to get the power of Clark Kent and his love for his family. Anyone who reads SUPERMAN #7 without smiling through tears is a heartless soul I never want to meet. And this book is filled with heart-warming and wonderfully written moments of familial strength and power. While I don’t ever want these two to stop writing SUPERMAN, they’d make an amazing FANTASTIC FOUR book together some day. While I felt the “Multiplicity” arc was a bit of a stumble, the entire run of this book has been phenomenal in the way it sets the stage not only for Superman as the ultimate protector of the DCU, but of his family too. And with the slow, but smart way Jon Kent has been developed over the last year, it’s got me interested in the S-universe like I haven’t been in decades. This is the best book DC is putting out right now and deserves more eyes on it.
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!
Favorite Super Team
Best Artist/Art Team
Best Comic Book TV Show
Best Realized Comic Book Character on TV/Movies
Best Comic Book Movie
Best Cover/Cover Artist
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G