Best 100 Comics of 2008, Part IV

Thu, January 1st, 2009 at 8:58am PST | Updated: January 4th, 2009 at 4:21pm

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.

If you missed items #100-61, check them out: Part 1, Part II, Part III.

UPDATE: Due to the fact that some contributors incorrectly voted for some inelligible items such as collected editions, the rankings have changed slightly to compensate for the new math. No published items have been removed. Two new items have been added to the bottom, in places #99 and #100. Simply put, everything has just been moved up a spot.

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40. HELLBOY / B.P.R.D.
Written by Mike Mignola, John Acurdi, Joshua Dysart
Illustrated by Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Richard Corben, Duncan Fegredo, Jason Armstrong, Paul Azaceta, Jason Shawn Alexander, Ben Stenbeck, John Severin, Herb Trimpe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

In the Hellboy titles, “The Chapel of Molloch,” “The Crooked Man” and “The Wild Hunt,” Mignola and his artistic collaborators told past and present days tales of one of the most fascinating and original characters in comics. And over in the BPRD books like “The Warning,” “The Ectoplasmic Man,” “1946” and “War on Frogs,” writers Mignola, Acurdi and and Dysart along with a team of highly talented artists again showcased more exciting and horrific supernatural tales packed with intriguing characters. - Staff Writer Dave Richards


39. FINAL CRISIS: ROGUES' REVENGE
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Scott Kollins
Publisher: DC Comics

Never have villains looked so good. Visceral and real, you'll root for the bad guys. - Contributing Writer Brian K. Eason


38. WHAT IT IS
Written and illustrated by Lynda Barry
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Lynda Barry is one of the finest cartoonists to be found in America right now. This book is a memoir, the story of an artist, but it is also a book about how to create art and how to think about art, which sounds a little pretentious, but part of what makes it so good is that what she has to say seems simple but is profound (or is it the other way around?). An essential book for the creative, the aspiring, the struggling and the merely interested. - Contributing Writer Alex Deuben


37. EX MACHINA
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by Tony Harris & Jim Clark
Publisher: Wildstorm

If “Y: The Last Man” was Brian K. Vaughan's flash of genius, then “Ex Machina” is the result of what happened when the superstar writer harvested lightning like a modern day Nikola Tesla. - Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud


36. ORDINARY VICTORIES: WHAT IS PRECIOUS
Written and illustrated by Manu Larcenet
Publisher: NBM

A sequel to one of the best comics of the decade and while not quite on par with its predecessor, it's clear that the first book wasn't a fluke. Larcenet has a profound understanding of human nature and has avoided many comics tropes and structures to tell his story in a way that is subtle, thoughtful and beautiful to look at. This shouldn't be read without reading the first, but taken together they offer a glimpse of the world that is not heavy handed or soft pedaled, but in its greatest moments, like any great work of art, it is possible to hold the pages up and through them, see the world. - Contributing Writer Alex Deuben


35. FINAL CRISIS
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino
Pubisher: DC Comics

Fanboy kvetching about the inconsistencies of "Countdown's" plotting and mock indignation about J.G. Jones' deadline troubles aside, DC's mega event has delivered more original, creepy, thought-provoking moments of sheer comics insanity in five issues than any event has the right to accomplish. Morrison's syncopated script style and Jones and company's surprisingly consistent art work wonders together with a genuine sense of dread and uncertainty bubbling up through the shiniest of all of comics' heroes. Sure, we've got two (or three depending on how you look at it) issues next year waiting to show whether or not "Final Crisis" will triumphantly payoff or collapse into a pile of unfulfilled ambition, but as far as 2008 is concerned? So far, so great. - Staff Writer Kiel Phegley


34. INVINCIBLE
Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Ryan Ottley & Fco Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics

This year, Robert Kirkman threw down the gauntlet and challenged creators everywhere to add to the comic book universe by making original, independent creations. "Invincible" is the model of what creators should strive for and what can be achieved. - Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas

“Invincible” continues to be the most aggressive display of superhero storytelling today. - Columnist George Khoury


33. WOLVERINE
Written by Jason Aaron, Mark Millar
Illustrated by Ron Garney, Steve McNiven
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Millar’s “Old Man Logan” storyline took fans by storm with this tale of an apocalyptic future where the bad guys won, featuring a passive Logan and a blind Hawkeye on the road trip of their lives. The team that brought you last year’s event “Civil War” hasn’t missed a beat and McNiven’s art is better than ever in this new futuristic classic. - Staff Writer Jami Philbreck

Marvel, thank you for giving two creators one of your top books and just letting them do what they do best (kind of like the title character). Mark Millar and Steve McNiven are topping what they did with "Civil War" in the tale of "Old Man Logan." Not having to tie into any major event, the two are free to let their imaginations roam and provide us with one of the best Wolverine tales ever (this is not hyperbole). - Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas


32. AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE
Written by Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Illustrated by Stefano Caselli, Steve Uy
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Slott and Gage write the freshest and most interesting characters to come out the Big Two in a looong time. These are characters that readers understand and relate to, because they behave the way we want to see comic book characters act: like heroes. - Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas

This was the best Avengers book by far over the past year. From the graduation of the first class to the Skrull Kill Crew, Slott and gage did a great job of juggling multiple characters and storylines, while Caselli's art held everything together. - Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre


31. SECRET SIX
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Nicola Scott & Doug Hazelwood
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s about time DC’s best grouping of villains got an ongoing monthly book, and the creative team is doing their level best to make sure each issue is tense, taut and entertaining. - Contributing Writer Justin Eger

Gail Simone can do no wrong. This book will make you laugh and cheer. - Contributing Writer Brian K. Eason


30. MADAME XANADU
Written by Matt Wagner
Illustrated by Amy Reeder Hadley & Richard Friend
Publisher: Vertigo

Arguably the most impressive debut of the year, Matt Wagner has taken a largely arcane DC Comics fortuneteller and breathed into her a whole new life. In the best Vertigo tradition, Xanadu’s magical story spans the ages, and with the help of breakout illustrator Amy Reeder Headly, readers follow the wide-eyed mystic as she rubs elbows with some of the most important figures in human history, from Kublai Khan to Marie Antoinette. With guest appearances by Etrigan the Demon, Merlin, Neil Gaiman’s Death and featuring a reinvigorated version of DC mainstay The Phantom Stranger in a co-starring and bizarrely romantic role, “Madame Xanadu” is poised to become Vertigo’s next classic series. - Staff Writer Andy Khouri


29. JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA KINGDOM COME SPECIAL: SUPERMAN
Written and illustrated by Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics

Fans of Alex Ross generally agree the superstar illustrator has been at the top of his game in this decade, but when such an artist completely one-ups himself with a stellar out-of-nowhere one-shot starring his most famous creation, it’s nothing less than inspiring. Foregoing his usual painted finishes for a more traditional pencil-and-ink approach, Alex Ross has created a brand new signature style, one we hope to see much more of in the year ahead. Also his debut as a solo scripter, “Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special: Superman” is a practically perfect look at the lost Superman of “Kingdom Come” as he wrestles with hard questions about his existence, the tragic death of his greatest love, the sorrow of losing a whole world, and doubt over whether he can even save ours. - Staff Writer Andy Khouri


28. JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
Written by Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Illustrated by Dale Eaglesham & Bob Wiacek, Alex Ross, Various

With amazing covers by Alex Ross, the further continuation of the “Thy Kingdome Come” storyline, which has seen the introduction of many “Kingdome Come” characters such as Kingdome Come Superman, Gog and Magog, and this summer's Annual, which featured a return to Earth-Two for Power Girl, this book has quickly become important reading for any DC fan. - Staff Writer Jami Philbreck

For a book described by the creators as Norman Rockwell’s version of superheroes, I don’t think we’ll see Kingdom Come Superman smoking a pipe from his rocking chair anytime soon. - Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud


27. THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Salvador Larroca
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I wasn’t particularly a fan of Tony Stark as a character until he spearheaded Superhero Registration in “Civil War,” but he has gradually become one of Marvel’s most complex and compelling characters. And “Invincible Iron Man” is everything an Iron Man book should be. Fraction’s star continues to rise, and Larocca's s art is the perfect compliment.- Staff Writer Emmett Furey

Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca jumped all over the "Iron Mania" fueled by the blockbuster summer hit with this title. A high-octance Iron Man series with action and adventure, this series gave readers new to the Marvel Universe (or even comics in general) a great spot to hop on. - Reviewer Doug Zawisza


26. THOR
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Olivier Coipel, Marko Djurdjevic
Publisher: Marvel Comics

My favorite kind of re-launch is one that redefines a title specifically to fit the focus of a singular creator. J. Michael Straczynski took the return of Thor to the Marvel Universe as an opportunity to tell an incredibly charming and engrossing story, not only of the gods of Asgard, but the small town Americans they now live among. In a lot of ways, I think Straczynski's take on this long appropriated conceit of mortal and immortal is the best I've seen in comics, which I was certainly not expecting in a Thor book. - Reviewer Benjamin Birdie

Not since Walt Simonson's run has "Thor" been this thoroughly entertaining. Straczynski's brought the Thunder God back into the Marvel Universe in epic style, finally giving him the respect he's been lacking for so many years. - Columnist Jud Meyers

J. Michael Straczynski is telling an epic tale in the pages of “Thor” each month. And "Epic" is Olivier Coipel’s middle name. The God of Thunder’s monthly adventure delivers a major boom on every page. - Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud


25. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Written by Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale, Zeb Wells, Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, Roger Stern
Illustrated by John Romita Jr., Marcos Martin, Chris Bachalo, Steve McNiven, Mike McKone, Barry Kitson, Salvador Larroca, Phil Jimenez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The list of talent on this book reads like an Avengers roster, and the stories being told are some of the best I’ve read in years. "One More Day," "Brand New Day," call it whatever you want, Spidey hasn’t been this consistently good in a long time. My standout story of the year is Joe Kelly’s Hammerhead arc. Brilliant. - Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

While few might have really been behind what got "The Amazing Spider-Man" to where it is today, I doubt anyone expected Marvel to then take so many chances on their flagship title. The book has featured some great writers, sure, but if anyone told me that an artist as groundbreaking and unconventional as Marcos Martin would be part of such a high-profile book, I simply would not have believed them. - Reviewer Benjamin Birdie


24. KICK-ASS
Written by Mark Millar
Illustrated by John Romita, Jr.
Publisher: Icon

This book really lives up to its name with an unapologetic, original and over-the-top story full of carnage and teenage angst. Millar and Romita are both in top form with incredible art and writing that make this one of the best books of the year by far. - Staff Writer Jami Philbreck


23. ACHEWOOD
Written and illustrated by Chris Onstad
Publisher: Webcomic/Dark Horse

"Achewood" delivers the laughs on a routine basis with Chris Onstad's absurdist look at the lives of these friends. - Brian Cronin, Blog Manager - Comics Should Be Good


22. YOUNG LIARS
Written and illustrated by David Lapham
Publisher: Vertigo

Twisted, unpredictable, complex, layered, insane, manic, musical, and totally messed up, "Young Liars" is everything I always wanted in a comic book but never thought to ask for. David Lapham is producing career-best work in an already stunning career. Each issue brings about new shocking revelations and makes me want the next even more. - Reviewer Chad Nevett

Fires “crazy” on all cylinders. Not for the squeamish. - Staff Writer Shaun Manning


21. THE PUNISHER
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Goran Parlov, Tim Bradstreet
Publisher: MAX Comics

That Garth Ennis’ “The Punisher” is not #1 on this list is not a reflection of its quality, but rather a betrayal of our collective cowardice. In all seriousness, “The Punisher” shows readers terrible, horrible things they could never in a million years imagine, and it dares them not to come to the ultra-violent conclusions reached by Frank Castle. “The Punisher” is grim and awful and depraved, and reading this title makes you feel sick and guilty as hell. Yet never before have I finished a comic book and run out of the room screaming, showing pages to anyone I can find. – Staff Writer Andy Khouri

TAGS:  best 100 comics of 2008, year in review

 
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