CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2009, #100-76

Tue, December 29th, 2009 at 11:58am PST | Updated: December 30th, 2009 at 9:59am

Comic Books
Kiel Phegley, Staff Writer

Each year, CBR wraps its coverage of the comics industry with a virtual nerd cage match to determine the very best comics of the year. Every single CBR staffer – from our news team to our all-star columnists, from CBR's many bloggers to our legion of reviewers – had the chance to chip in their favorite books of the year with only the highest vote-getters ranking up on our massive top 100 comics list, and this year neither the staff nor the comics disappointed.

2009 was a year bursting at the seams with big names, big releases and big news. Though the economy's been down and the business of comics has been changing, there was still an abundance of great comics last year to choose from, from the top flight superhero and genre periodicals of the direct market to the astonishingly varied manga and graphic novels ruling book store sales to the oh so independent comics of the festival circuit and the web.

And while it's nearly impossible for even the combined staff of CBR to have read every single ongoing series, miniseries, one-shot, graphic novel and web comic published in and throughout 2009, we are confident that you'll find no better indicator of the breadth and quality of the industry as it stands today than right here. So read on to see who ranked in spots 100 through 76, and head back each day this week for more of the Best 100 Comics of 2009!

#100. Monsters
Written & Illustrated By Ken Dahl
Publisher: Secret Acres

Ever wondered what it would be like to have herpes? Dahl breaks all the misery down for you in an extremely funny, warm and relatable manner.

– Robot 6 Contributor Chris Mautner

#99. Dark Reign: Zodiac
Written By: Joe Casey
Illustrated By: Nathan Fox
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In "Dark Reign," the bad guys are in charge, but Casey and Fox introduce a bad guy who likes being bad, and hates Norman Osborn more than the heroes do. A twisted, energetic read that shows what a true supervillain mastermind is capable of as Zodiac beats up Johnny Storm, fakes a Galactus attack, and pulls down Osborn's pants in front of the world (not literally). Plus, Nathan Fox's frenetic art gives the book a visually stunning look that suits the material as it shows the quirky, odd side of the Marvel universe.

– CBR Reviewer Chad Nevett

98. Immortal Weapons
Written By: Jason Aaron, Duane Swierczynski, Rick Spears and David Lapham
Illustrated By: Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The most "Sandman"-like kung fu comics miniseries in 2009 was easily the supergroup-crafted "Immortal Weaspons" project from Marvel editors Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons. Revisiting Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction's "Immortal Iron Fist" supporting cast, the mini covered the lives of Fat Cobra, Bride of Nine Spiders, Dog Brother #1, Tiger's Beautiful Daughter, and the Prince of Orphans and sculpted a supremely articulate sequence of tales that felt genuinely mythic while breathing believably human motivations into some of comics' fiercest warriors.

- Contributing Writer Brian Warmoth

#97. George Sprott
Written & Illustrated By: Seth
Published By: Drawn and Quarterly

Sad yes, but lyrical and lovely, and much more of a critique against nostalgia and its trappings than some critics would like to think.

– Robot 6 Contributor Chris Mautner

#96. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
Written & Illustrated By: Josh Neufeld
Published By: Pantheon

Josh Neufeld delivers the stories of people who survived Hurricane Katrina and while the narrative may feel crowded with the juggling of characters, Neufeld's skills as an artist and the way he lets the voices of his characters guide the narrative make the loss and outrage they feel all to real and bring this horrific tragedy and this moment in time to life.

– Staff Writer Alex Dueben

#95. Yotsuba&!
Written & Illustrated By: Kiyohiko Azuma
Published By: Yen Press

I feel like such a cliché including this book, because everyone loves Yotsuba&!, but I confess that I do too. While I enjoy Yotsuba's antics and the gentle humor of the other characters, I also really appreciated Azuma's art in this volume; he has a knack for putting you into the scene, whether it's a cluttered interior or a sweeping landscape.

– Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

#94. xkcd
Written & Illustrated By: Randall Munroe
Published By: Self-Published at http://xkcd.com

The transcendent simplicity of Randall Munroe's webcomic "xkcd" doesn't demand any introduction on the Internet, but his strip this year produced a few epic creations, including his "Movie Narrative Charts" installment and a graphic representation of the enjoyability of "The Star Wars Holiday Special," as well as poignant and virally successful commentaries on Facebook suggestions and Pandora that kept the comic prominently visible wherever links were shared in 2009.

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– Contributing Writer Brian Warmoth

#93. Secret Warriors
Written By: Jonathan Hickman & Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated By: Stefano Caselli & Alessandro Vitti
Published By: Marvel Comics

I've always been fascinated by the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs HYDRA conflict. In "Secret Warriors" writer Jonathan Hickman and his collaborators have deepened that conflict with the addition of new mysteries, secret conspiracies, and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA were part of the same organization. Plus Nick Fury is a fascinating character and so are his HYDRA adversaries.

– Staff Writer Dave Richards

#92. Madame Xanadu
Written By: Matt Wagner
Illustrated By: Amy Reeder Hadley & Michael W Kaluta
Published By: DC Comics/Vertigo

Part origin story, part supernatural mystery series, this book is consistently entertaining. As Wagner stops off at different time periods in Madame Xanadu's history, Amy Reeder Hadley captures the feel of those eras perfectly. Having legendary Madame Xanadu artist Mike Kaluta come on for a guest arc was a treat as well."

– Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

#91. G-Man: Cape Crisis
Written and Illustrated By: Chris Giarrusso
Published By: Image Comics

Anyone who only knows Chris Giarrusso as "The Mini Marvels Guy" needs to pick this series up and see what they've been missing. Giarrusso writes with a great sense of humor, and the relationship between G-Man and his brother Great Man will immediately resonate with brothers and sisters everywhere. A fantastic all-ages book.

– Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

#90. Multiforce
Written & Illustrated By: Matt Brinkman
Published By: Picturebox Inc.

Collected from the seminal underground newspaper Paper Rodeo – straight outta the Providence, Rhode Island art-noise scene – Mat Brinkman's broadsheet-sized saga of giants, monsters, "mini-men" and assorted other creatures battling for an underground city works as an imaginative fantasy-adventure, a riotous buddy comedy, a parable about community and entropy, and an stunning exploration of the outer limits of the comics page.

— Robot 6 Contributor Sean T. Collins

#89. Mighty Avengers
Written By: Dan Slott
Illustrated By: Khoi Pham
Published By: Marvel Comics

The best of the bunch, and the most "Avenger-y" title in the brand right now. Marvel is pushing the brand, but this is the only "Avengers" title that matters to me.

– CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

#88. Final Crisis: Superman Beyond
Written By: Grant Morrison
Illustrated By: Doug Mahnke
Published By: DC Comics

A plus-perfect example of Morrison's Mad Idea Machine, this book just zips from crazy idea to crazy idea, and justifies, all by itself, the entire "Final Crisis" project.

– CBR Columnist Brian Hibbs

#87. Far Arden
Written & Illustrated: Kevin Cannon
Published By: Top Shelf Productions

"Far Arden" starts off as a zany fun adventure comic, and at some point morphs into something a bit more serious. And somehow, it works really well. It's actually kind of shocking how well it works, too, and how much emotional investment you realize you have in the characters when you hit those last few pages and wish there was more.

– Robot 6 Editor John Parkin

#86. The Cartoon History of The Modern World Part II: From Bastille to Boghdad
Written & Illustrated By: Larry Gonick
Published By: Harper Collins

Another work that seemingly no one paid any attention to. Gonick wraps up his massive history project with style and flair, showing all the poseurs how nonfiction comics should be done.

– Robot 6 Contributor Chris Mautner

#85. X-Force
Written By: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Illustrated By: Mike Choi, Sonia Oback & various
Published By: Marvel Comics

Mainstream heroes acting as a wetworks crew for the mutant community? Cyclops condoning murder? These ain't your daddy's X-Men. Relaunching a title that was known for the worst comic book excesses the 80s/90s had to offer was a dangerous proposition, but Yost and Kyle have succeeded in making a timeless (albeit bloody) tale.

– Staff Writer George Tramountanas

84. No Hero
Written By: Warren Ellis
Illustrated By: Juan Jose Ryp
Published By: Avatar Press

The end of the sixth issue is one of the most graphic, shocking, and brilliant moments I've ever seen in a comic series. Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp took a simple idea about a young man doing whatever it takes to become a superhuman and transformed it into a brilliant statement on the superhero genre and its fans.

– CBR Reviewer Chad Nevett

#83. S.W.O.R.D.
Written By: Kieron Gillen
Illustrated By: Steven Sanders
Published By: Marvel Comics

It might be fairly new on the shelves, but Gillen and Sanders' relationship-comedy-in-space is one of Marvel's most unexpectedly original books of the year. With only two issues out, there's plenty of time to catch up with the series if you haven't already.

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– CBR Reviewer James Hunt

#82. Because I Love You So Much
Written & Illustrated By: Nikoline Wedelin
Published By: Fantagraphics

Found in the pages of the recent anthology of Danish comics, From Wonderland With Love, this collection of strips about a mother who discovers that her daughter is being sexually abused by her dad is one of the most harrowing and utterly stunning stories about a difficult subject matter I've ever read and easily equal to the works of, say, Phoebe Gloeckner or Debbie Dreschler.

– Robot 6 Contributor Chris Mautner

#81. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
Written By: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated By: David LaFuente
Published By: Marvel Comics

After "Ultimatum" hit, it looked like Spidey was a goner – but Bendis is back and this time "Patsy Walker: Hellcat" artist David LaFuente is along for the ride. The shift of focus from just Peter and MJ to what can only be described as "Aunt May's Boarding House for the Super-Powered" is a great move and opens up a whole new world of storytelling for Bendis to explore.

– Staff Writer Steve Sunu

#80. The Walking Dead
Written By: Robert Kirkman
Illustrated By: Charlie Adlard
Published By: Image Comics

This book seems to have a permanent place on my "Best of" lists, but that's due to the fact that, hey, it's the best! It sits on the top of my read pile every week it comes out, and after completing an issue, it always leaves me dying for more (no pun intended). Still the best zombie tale ever – bar none.

– Staff Writer George Tramountanas

#79. Boy's Club
Written and illustrated By: Matt Furie
Published By: Buenaventura Press

The latest installment in Furie's humor-comic series starring four college-aged monsters and their stoner shenanigans features a plotline it's impolite to discuss in public. But the bathroom-humor set-up is just a platform on which Furie's eagle eye for the stupid behavior we engage in when in the company of men can nail comedic beat after cripplingly funny comedic beat. I've never laughed so hard at a comic.

— Robot 6 Contributor Sean T. Collins

#78. Achewood
Written & Illustrated By: Chris Onstad
Published By: Self-Published at http://achewood.com/

From a teenager from our present selling the people of 17th Century Wales items like the bra or the nacho to a romance novelist working erotica into the Williams-Sonoma catalog (leading to a Sapphic Fiction Write-Off between the founder of Williams-Sonoma and a character from the strip - both in elephant costumes, of course, so no one could tell them apart), Achewood continued to deliver on laugh out loud absurd premises and practically insane character conversations. And, as typical, Onstad will occasionally slip in serious stuff, just to screw with our minds (like a quick realistic depiction of crippling depression). I await this year's Christmas strip with delight (and a little bit of trepidation).

– Brian Cronin, Blog Manager - Comics Should Be Good

#77. Empowered
Written & Illustrated By: Adam Warren
Published By: Dark Horse

Adam Warren, for some reason, makes remarkably entertaining comics that never quite reach the top levels of the sales charts, but should. "Empowered" is the latest, now with five volumes out in a series that started out as commissioned gags, but have since evolved into a very humorous character-driven superhero farce.  Part cheesecake, part Kevin Smith, "Empowered" is an event whenever a new edition comes out.

– CBR Columnist & Reviewer Augie DeBlieck

#76. Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dragon

Written & Illustrated By: Frank Cammuso
Published By: Scholastic

Frank Cammuso obviously remembers what it's like to be in middle school, and this tale of friends facing up to bullies in a high-stakes robot competition is packed with slapstick wit, and a kids-eye view that makes the whole thing work.

– Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

TAGS:  top 100 2009

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