CBR's Ten Best Comics Of 2010

Thu, December 30th, 2010 at 2:58pm PST | Updated: January 2nd, 2011 at 3:25pm

Comic Books
Kiel Phegley, Staff Writer

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After spending the week chronicling the 100 best comics of 2010 (and be sure to check our entries for #100 -- 75, #75 -- 51 and #50 -- 26 and #25 -- 11), the entire CBR team is proud to present the Top Ten Comics of the Year!

Every single CBR staffer -- from our crack news team to our well-researched columnists and from CBR's many daily bloggers to our legion of comic reviewers -- had the chance to chip in their favorite books of the year with only the highest vote-getters earning a spot in the coveted top ten. Read on to see the intense character dramas, free wheeling action epics and imaginative takes on well-known characters that were the very best comics published this year!

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10. Wilson

Written & Illustrated By: Daniel Clowes
Published By: Drawn & Quarterly

I think this is Clowes' meanest book, but not for the reasons you think -- it's not Misanthropy On Parade like a lot of his old, witheringly sarcastic rant comics were. No, what's mean about "Wilson" is that Clowes keeps giving his loudmouth, obliviously cruel protagonist a chance, right down to the often incongruously cute cartooning and "Wilson" keeps slapping that chance away. Sympathetic portraits are often the most unflattering ones; no wonder so many people wanted to look away.

- Robot 6 Blogger Sean T. Collins

Dan Clowes always delivers for me, and Wilson was no exception. There is a school of meditation where the participants are encouraged to empty their minds by engaging in constantly opposing behavior. This book is like the embodiment of that practice, with extremely opposing styles used to tell the story of one man. While it can be read like a newspaper strip, randomly and in no particular order, there is great satisfaction to be had from piecing together the terrible contrasts and feeling out the path Clowes lays out for us.

- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris

Like his contemporary Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes knows how to compose a mountain of vignettes about the mundane nature of day to day life and the abrasive individuals who wallow in it with authority and spite. Clowes pulled another loser out of his hat for 2010's "Wilson," and the title character shines like a bronzed turd in the sunlight as provocatively as anyone to come before him in the pages of "Eightball."

- CBR Contributor Brian Warmoth

9. American Vampire

Written By: Scott Snyder And Stephen King
Illustrated By: Rafael Albuquerque
Published By: Vertigo/DC Comics

"American Vampire" may have gotten its initial attention by having Stephen King write back-up stories for the first five issues, but as soon as it hit stands we all realized it was Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque who were going to hook readers. Dark and dangerous, "American Vampire" takes what was the boring genre of vampire fiction and reminds us that it can still be great. (Plus, no sparkling vampires here. I promise.)

- CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

This is the vampire story you never knew you wanted, but will never be able to put down. Just when it seems vampires have hit their saturation point in the multimedia marketplace, Snyder makes these vampires different, not just in the weaknesses and methods, but in their very existence.

- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

Vampire fiction has become a genre punchline. This comic works to bring back the awesome of the undead. Snyder crafts a bleak landscape and characters with souls twice as barren. The stand out aspect of this comic, however, is that it has not had a single bad issue since it started. This title is easily up there with other classics in the Vertigo line like "Scalped" and "DMZ;" catch up while you can.

- CBR Reviewer Ryan Lindsay

8. Thor: The Mighty Avenger

Written By: Roger Langridge
Illustrated By: Chris Samnee
Published By: Marvel Comics

We pundits have a damn good time opining on what's wrong with mainstream publishers, direct market infrastructure and everything in between. But with this series, I am left asking "What the hell is wrong with us consumers?" How could a series so good (with great guest stars almost every issue) sell so poorly. I don't know what lessons we can all take away from only getting to enjoy the sweetest, most engaging Marvel comic in years for only eight issues, but I sure hope that if these two creators work together again, we appreciate it properly and make it a long-term bestseller.

- Robot 6 Columnist Tim O'Shea

The best introduction to the character since Walt Simonson's run almost three decades ago, Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee turned out to be an ideal match in terms of tone, charm and making this kind of superhero book look easy. I'm not sure any other series managed to give such great treatment to its guest-stars, either; I'd happily read a Hank Pym, Captain Britain or Namor series by these two anytime Marvel wanted to greenlight one.

- Spinoff Online and Robot 6 Blogger Graeme McMillan

A romantic sitcom featuring Thor and Jane Foster with a little action thrown in? What's not to love? A feel-good, entertaining read with every issue.

- CBR Reviewer Chad Nevett

7. Love & Rockets New Stories

Written & Illustrated By: Gilbert And Jaime Hernandez
Published By: Fantagraphics

The best volume since Los Bros went with this yearly anthology, "New Stories" #3 has exemplary work from both, but Jamie's story of the young Hoppers is one of his best comics ever.

- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

I've loved the Hernandez Brother's work for as long as they've been making comic books and this new format they've been using really works for me. At issue 3 "Love and Rockets" properly hits its stride and the two brothers use their unique approach to do something quite insane. Surrealism and realism in equal doses.

- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris

This year, I read nearly every comic ever created by Los Bros Hernandez; what a pleasure to discover at the end of my immersion that their two most recent comics are also two of their best, and thus two of the best comics by anyone. Gilbert and Jaime both tear furiously into love and sex; what they find inside is ugly; what they do with it is beautiful. I'll never forget that panel.

- Robot 6 Blogger Sean T. Collins

6. King City

Written & Illustrated By: Brandon Graham
Published By: Image Comics

Brandon Graham was finally able to finish the "King City" story this year, and it ended as it began, with mindbending feats of art alongside perfectly captured and rendered characters.

- CBR Reviewer Benjamin Birdie

Brandon Graham is comics. There's no other way to put it: there's something about his work that makes it seem seamless, the visual puns that match his wordplay that ties in with his character acting that moves the story along effortlessly. That "King City" was filled with the freshest takes on sci-fi ideas that I've seen in years, tied to some great character work -- he reminds me of Paul Pope that way, coming up with new ideas and making them seem matter of fact beside some subtle and sympathetic (empathetic?) character behavior -- only underscores the point. Graham makes comics that can't be mistaken for anyone else's work, playing with the medium and poking at the edges and making it all ridiculously fun to read.

- Spinoff Online And Robot 6 Blogger Graeme McMillan

Books like "King City" prove not only that manga has arrived as a major influence on the current generation of American comics makers, but that the influence is necessary to pushing the medium forward. Equal parts sci-fi treatise, dynamic and sexual character story and personal artistic mission statement, Graham spins his cat master epic like no one else in comics can dream, packing each page with so much visual information that I'll be poring over this one for years to come.

- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley

5. Scalped

Written By: Jason Aaron
Illustrated By: R.M. Guera, Davide Furno, Jason Latour
Published By: Vertigo/DC Comics

A complex and compelling character study with moody, evocative artwork from a variety of artists.

- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

In the conclusion to "Unwanted," Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera deliver a heartbreaking, gorgeous, complicated and subtle twenty-two pages about parenthood and loss.

- CBR Reviewer Benjamin Birdie

Year after year, "Scalped" proves itself the best ongoing comic in print and this year's issues haven't disappointed. This series, when it finally reaches its conclusion, will be remembered as a high point for comic book narrative.

- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

4. Parker: The Outfit

Written & Illustrated By: Darwyn Cooke (From the novel by Richard Stark)
Published By: IDW

Darwyn Cooke's art is like a time machine, bringing the reader back to the early 1960s not only with the settings of his hard-boiled crime story but also with the style itself. In this second volume, Parker heads out to get revenge on a crime syndicate, but Cooke's light touch, including several capers told as magazine stories, keeps this story entertaining rather than letting it get overly dark.

- Robot 6 Blogger Brigid Alverson

For your friends who believe comics are kids' stuff, take either of [Cooke's "Parker" adaptations] and hit them in the face with it. Darwyn Cooke has translated great noir into even greater comics. Pitch-perfect art and storytelling that leaves you anxiously awaiting the next volume.

- CBR Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas

Darwyn Cooke is pure genius and his re-imagining of Richard Stark's Parker into a series of graphic novels is just what the doctor ordered when you've had your fill of capes and tights. While "Parker: The Hunter" was a surprise hit in 2009, everyone was waiting for "The Outfit" in 2010 and Mr. Cooke -- like he's done so many times in the past -- delivered. Bang, bang.

- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

3. Daytripper

Written & Illustrated By: Gabriel Ba And Fabio Moon
Published By: Vertigo/DC Comics

I expected it to be gorgeous (and it was!), but the calibre of writing really caught me off guard. Sweet and sad, no comic affected me as much emotionally and intellectually as "Daytripper" in 2010.

- CBR Reviewer Chad Nevett

The script and dialogue of this maxiseries were of secondary interest to me, I must admit. There's a visual beauty and warmth to this series that made me hungry for the next issue the minute after I finished reading the latest installment. That being said, a crucial part of the warmth I loved was fired up by the themes of family, friendship and loss.

- Robot 6 Columnist Tim O'Shea

A poetic exploration of life's loves and losses. A humanistic fable. A saga of danger and intellectual discoveries. Absolutely gorgeous, and my pick for the best comic of the year.

- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

2. The Batman Comics of Grant Morrison

Written By: Grant Morrison
Illustrated By: Frazer Irving, Cameron Stewart, Chris Sprouse, David Finch, Frank Quitely, Georges Jeanty, Ryan Sook, Tony Daniel and more
Published By: DC Comics

Dark, witty, mysterious, eerie, thrilling and endlessly re-readable, Grant Morrison's Batman books -- "Batman and Robin," his three issues of "Batman" proper, "The Return of Bruce Wayne," "Batman: The Return" and "Batman Incorporated" -- featured career-best art by Cameron Stewart and Frazer Irving and got me pumped for the experience of reading new comics like no other books. They're exactly why I read superhero comics. The only problem is that they've kind of spoiled me for other ones.

- Robot 6 Blogger Sean T. Collins

That moment where Batman returns from the past and future just in time to punch out the Joker? That's a pretty great scene in what had been a thrilling tightrope-walk of a story.

- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

Grant Morrison's Batman work as a whole was an entertaining roller coaster ride of fun plots with awesome over-the-top action.

- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

Starring the odd couple of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, "Batman & Robin" has been one of the most technically brilliant superhero titles from any publisher since Morrison's own "All-Star Superman," with note-perfect writing and some of the best artists in the industry. Giving its heroes a chance to make the identities their own, the tone was at once swashbucklingly light and psychologically twisted, absolutely nailing the dichotomy of Batman even without Bruce Wayne in the role.

- CBR Reviewer James Hunt

1. Acme Novelty Library #20: Lint

Written & Illustrated By: Chris Ware
Published By: Drawn & Quarterly

Each time around, I am astonished by how Chris Ware takes it up a notch. In "Lint," he absolutely blew my mind with this strikingly complex life study.

- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

The life of Jordan Lint in all of its contradictory glory. Or lack of glory, in typical Waresian style.

- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

The most lauded cartoonist around, Ware proves why he deserves every ounce of praise with this encapsulated look at the life and sorry saga of one Jordan Lint. An encapsulation in some ways of everything he's done since, Ware draws a sharp critical eye on Lint's inner thoughts and outer actions and weaves an unforgettable story about family, parenthood, responsibility, memory and how we constantly forget that, just as others are supporting characters in our lives, so are we in theirs.

- Robot 6 Columnist Chris Mautner

Chris Ware's latest foray into his "Acme Novelty Library" continues to evolve and expand with volume #20. Certainly the most elegant and beautiful object of the library it is a beautifully bound book and an object to desire. Then we look inside. A strange book, but then isn't that to be expected from this master of the an almost cubist surrealism? A culmination of sorts, as Ware's continued "Acme Novelty Library" continues to evolve and expand. "Lint" works as an incredible stand-alone novel, telling the life story of one Jordan Lint, from his experience of the exact moment of his birth to that of his death. Complete and elegant, the story is as creepy and touching as you would expect from Ware. The intimacy, vibrancy and attention to detail betray the author's affection for his character.

- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris

This 20th volume of Acme Novelty Library explores the life (and I mean the entire life) of Jordan "Jason" Lint, a one-time bully of Rusty Brown who is now explored in the traditional Chris Ware exceptional and microscopic detail. As Ware shows us Lint's story from birth to death you cannot help but be moved and transfixed seeing a man's life laid out as only Ware can. In "Lint" Ware continues his experimental and highly effective examination of just what the comics medium is capable of. It's a must read, and as a bonus, for those new to his work, it stands on its own just as nicely as it does a part of the larger whole of "Acme Novelty Library."

- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Kelly Thompson

The most influential cartoonist of the past quarter century assigns himself the task of chronicling an entire life, from birth (and before) to death (and beyond?). In so doing he takes an unsympathetic bit player from his massive "Rusty Brown" storyline and crafts his single finest and most moving stand-alone work to date around him; launches a virtuosic, pyrotechnic display of formal mastery yet still manages to make the most important parts the stuff he never shows you. It culminates in a final page so dizzying that I actually felt physically stunned, as if someone had taken the book from my hands and struck me in the head with it. Not just the best comic of the year, but the best comic I have ever read.

- Robot 6 Blogger Sean T. Collins

Thanks for reading along, gang! See you in 2011!

TAGS:  cbr, site news, top 100 2010

 
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