Best 100 Comics of 2008, Part I

Mon, December 29th, 2008 at 1:28pm PST | Updated: January 4th, 2009 at 8:12pm

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

This year was another in a decade brimming with awesome talent and fiercely entertaining work from all areas of the comic book industry. A small number of staffers attempting to identify one or two titles as the best of a stellar year like 2008 would be a disservice to CBR readers, so this year we polled every single CBR contributor to create our list of the 100 Best Comics of 2008, which we will unveil twenty items at-a-time over the next five days.

CBR’s list was compiled after the entire staff submitted their individual picks for the best books of the year – ongoing series, miniseries, one-shots and graphic novels published in and throughout 2008. No limitations on genres or publishers were imposed, and the ranking was determined by democratic vote. All editorial remarks represent only the views of those to whom they are attributed.

NOTE: Some items -- such as “Y: The Last Man,” which was recognized in this feature last year -- released only one or two installments in the very early days of 2008, and thus do not appear on this list. Such items were not deemed ineligible; their absence here reflects reader consciousness of these comics as being, for all intents and purposes, highlights of 2007.

Written and illustrated by Michael Allred
Publisher: Image Comics

Spend some time with this. You'll get your $3.50 worth. - Staff Writer Shaun Manning

Written and illustrated by Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Nate Powell's career in zines and minicomics has remained largely (if unintentionally) overlooked by even the most ardent alternative comics pundits, and they've been missing out. Powell's past short form work went a long way in evoking a wide range of emotional responses through a careful balance of assured, scratchy cartooning and sharp attention to detail when it came to life's little moments. With "Swallow Me Whole," a semi-spooky feeling and memorable romance set against the heartbreaking reality of mental illness, the artist has finally started to get noticed outside of the music and D.I.Y. circles, and the comics crowd will only be the better for championing his talent. - Staff Writer Kiel Phegley

Written by Tim Seely
Illustrated by Emily Stone
Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing

At the surface level, “Hack/Slash” is as fun and enjoyable as the horror movies it spoofs and pays homage to. But if you take a deeper look, it's also a story about one of the most fascinating friendships in comics: Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad. And on top of that, Vlad is one of the best “gentle giant” comics characters to come along since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the world to Benjamin J. Grimm. - Staff Writer Dave Richards


Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Patrick Gleason, Prentis Rollins, Drew Geraci, Various
Publisher: DC Comics

With Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner leading the way, the Corps has been dealing with the fallout of the Sinestro Corps War, picking up the pieces all over the galaxy. Tomasi and Gleason have continued to develop the main characters while building toward the upcoming Blackest Night event. - Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

Written and illustrated by C.F.
Publisher: PictureBox

C. F.'s bizarre Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure comic reads like the work of brilliantly crazed adolescent world-maker, and with Volume 2's release this year, that world became twice as large. Give this comic a chance and you might find yourself sucked in for good. - Columnist/Reviewer Timothy Callahan

Written and illustrated by Matthew Loux
Publisher: Oni Press

Loux's Salt Water Taffy is one of those great all-ages books that really has something for all ages; if you don't crack a smile at all of the fantastic adventures that Jack and Benny go through the little town of Chowder Bay, you're probably dead on the inside. - Reviewer Greg McElhatton

Written by Mark Powers
Illustrated by Mike Bear
Publisher: Devil's Due Publishing

The "World War III" storyline was the swan song of the Devil’s Due era of G.I. Joe, and it did not disappoint. Cobra Commander set the world afire and Joes were scattered all over the globe trying to save it. A great end to a great run, Powers and Bear should be proud. - Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Who cares that he's Stephen King's son? Joe Hill's brilliant in his own right, mixing the horror human beings get up to with the supernatural we all fear exists. Add in Gabriel Rodriguez' beautiful art and you've got a nightmare of a book -- in a good way. - Columnist Jud Meyers

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Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's been a banner year for “New Avengers.” 2008 began with an exciting new lineup of characters and adventures that mixed street level action with daring super heroics and an intriguing dollop of paranoia due to the looming Skrull invasion. Later on, when Secret Invasion began, the compelling stories continued as the title featured back-stories about how the massive Skrull plot came to pass. - Staff Writer Dave Richards

Written and illustrated by Alex Robinson
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

A 40-something smoker attempts to hypnotize away his habit and improbably lands back in his high school days where he took his first puff. A setup like that could take off in any number of clichéd directions from goofball "Back to the Future" style shenanigans to the inane, nostalgic naval gazing that dominates too many comics projects, but in the hands of cartoonist Alex Robinson, Andy Wick's trip through time sings. By carefully examining the missed truths of young Andy's personal relationships, Robinson delivers a story that illuminates the effects our formative years have on us in a way that only a insightful veteran can accomplish. - Staff Writer Kiel Phegley

Written and illustrated by Jason Lutes
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Reading Jason Lutes is a time consuming process. There's reading him for the story, reading him for the character bits and the way he juggles his cast, reading him to get a sense of the small historical details he imparts and the way he uses them, reading him to examine his drawings and the seemingly simple but intensely meticulously way he illustrates the book, and reading to see the ways he manages to convey the growing dread and march towards such a bleak future. - Contributing Writer Alex Deuben

Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Ryan Kelly
Publisher: Oni Press

What began as a series of narrative snapshots of various North American cities evolved into a character study and became something deeper and more meaningful than expected. In a year when Brian Wood produced good work all around, this is his best, and Ryan Kelly's art has never looked as subtle or dynamic. Columnist/Reviewer Timothy Callahan

88. REAL
Written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue
Publisher: Viz Media

Wheelchair-bound basketball players may seem like an odd subject, but Inoue's newest series is engrossing as it follows its three main characters. Plus, Inoue's art is some of the most beautiful in comics. Once you see it, you'll want to run out and start buying Inoue's other current series (the samurai epic "Vagabond") just to get more Inoue on a regular basis. - Reviewer Greg McElhatton

Written by Judd Winick
Illustrated by Cliff Chiang, Amanda Connor, Mike Norton, André Coehlo
Publisher: DC Comics

Ollie and Dinah’s wedding night may have gotten off to a rocky start, but the series really took off with the rescue of the real Oliver Queen, which lead to the assignation attempt and kidnapping of Connor Hawke. What followed was some truly inspired writing by Winick about a father’s desperate search for his lost son. Chiang’s artwork is at its best in this underrated book, which featured guest appearances by Batman, Plastic Man, Shado and The League Of Assassins. - Staff Writer Jami Philbrick


Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Illustrated by Ed Benes
Publisher: DC Comics

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash. If you are a fan of DC Comics, and you only buy one book a month, “Justice League of America” has it all. - Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

85. DYNAMO 5

Written by Jay Faerber
Illustrated by Mahmud A. Asrar, Ron Riley
Publisher: Image Comics

Jay Faerber was tired of the standard superhero universe tropes, so he did all readers a favor and created his own comic world. He puts the "fun" in "dysfunctional super-family." Solid storytelling, characters you can believe in, and a universe where anything is possible - what more could you want? - Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas

Written by Antony Johnston
Illustrated by Ben Templesmith
Publisher: Image Comics

This one might have been overlooked as a simple tie in to a video game. Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith did a great job of crafting a horrific tale that stands on its own, as well as provides a great prequel to the "Dead Space" game. - Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

Written by Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann, Bruce Jones
Illustrated by Various
Publisher: DC Comics

A diverse cast, political maneuvering and all-out spy action, all topped off with superheroes. Despite a woeful misstep in assigning the remaining issues of this book to Bruce Jones, this was an exciting read each month. - Contributing Writer Justin Eger

Written by Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis
Illustrated by John Cassaday, Simone Bianchi
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Sometimes a title can be defined by a single storyline, sometimes a single issue. In a rare case, however, a single panel, spread over the span of two pages, can make a title one of the best of the year. Joss Whedon and John Cassaday made Kitty Pryde's final act of heroism one of the most stunning and impressive single moments of the year, and for that they deserve no small amount of praise. - Reviewer Benjamin Birdie

Whedon and Cassaday's final issue had a glorious cinematic feel, proving that this team (and the X-Men) are truly “astonishing.” Ellis's sassier scripts provide their own guilty diversion, while Bianchi makes the whole thing look stellar. - Staff Writer Shaun Manning

Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Illustrated by Jordi Bernet, Darwyn Cooke, J.H. Williams III, Various
Publisher: DC Comics

"Jonah Hex" has become an essential title this year not just for the satisfying self-contained stories each issue holds, but also for the artistic contributions of some of the best illustrators in the industry like Jordi Bernet, J.H. Williams III and Darwyn Cooke. If you're a fan of westerns, if you're a fan of good comics, you were probably reading this book n 2008. - Staff Writer Andy Khouri

Check back with CBR tomorrow for items #80-61 of the Best 100 Comics of 2008!

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