CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2009, #75-51

Wed, December 30th, 2009 at 11:58am PST | Updated: December 30th, 2009 at 12:28pm

Comic Books
Kiel Phegley, News Editor
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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 75 through 51, check out our rundown of #100 through 76 and come back later week for more of the Best 100 Comics of 2009!

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#75. Prison Pit
Written & Illustrated By: Johnny Ryan
Published By: Fantagraphics

And then there's this: A huge kick to the solar plexus, not just in terms of the way-beyond-NC-17 level of gore and bodily fluids on display, but also the sheer wealth of no-holds barred imagination and utter sense of play that's on every page. The craftsmanship on display is just as striking as the violence.

– Robot 6 Contributor Chris Mautner

#74. Astral Project
Written By: marginal
Illustrated By: Syuji Takeya
Published By: CMX Manga

The first volume of this came out in late 2008, and three more were published this year. This is a surrealistic supernatural story that wraps together a mystery, a touch of philosophy, and some serious mind games. Readable and intelligent, although the art is a bit uneven.

– Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

#73. Dark X-Men
Written By: Paul Cornell
Illustrated By: Leonard Kirk
Published By: Marvel Comics

Spinning out of the pages of "Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia," the creative team responsible for the outstanding "Captain Britain and MI:13" is back for another run. Mystique, Mimic, Dark Beast and Weapon Omega are now Norman Osborn's team of X-Men. While it may only be a limited series, Cornell's ability to write the team dynamic never ceases to amaze and Kirk's Mystique is a vision to behold. It almost makes up for "Captain Britain and MI:13" getting cancelled. Almost.

– Staff Writer Steve Sunu

#72. Batman: Streets of Gotham
Written By: Paul Dini & Marc Andreyko
Illustrated By: Dustin Nguyen & Jeremy Haun
Published By: DC Comics

I've been a Batman guy since the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, and I really love the old-school approach of a lead feature and a backup. And this title has a great lead feature and a great backup...not really innovative but just plain good. I'm all about series that you can count on to be a good read month after month without having to run out and buy a lot of other crap.

– Comics Should Be Good Contributor Greg Hatcher

#71. The Brave & The Bold
Written By: J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated By: Jesus Saiz
Published By: DC Comics

Since Straczynski climbed on board to right this ship, it's been smooth-sailing. Good stories, great art, and fun character pairings.

– CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

#70. Big Questions
Written & Illustrated By: Anders Nilsen
Published By: Drawn & Quarterly

It's not just that Nilsen's series, about a flock of talking birds whose lives are irrevocably changed when a plane crashes in their midst, asks the "big questions" about violence, death, love, and whether we can ever really understand the point of any of it. It's that both his writing and his achingly vulnerable art have the guts not to answer them.

- Robot 6 Contributor Sean T. Collins

#69. Strange Tales
Written & Illustrated By: Various
Published By: Marvel Comics

Peter Bagge, Paul Pope, Dash Shaw, Molly Crabapple, Tony Millionaire, etc., etc., etc. Marvel's three-issue series featuring indie creators' takes on famous heroes and villains was inspired. Really hoping for a second round.

– Staff Writer Shaun Manning

#68. Missing The Boat: The Offered Salvation & Inevitable Demise of the Churamane
Written By: Wayne Chinsang/Justin Shady
Illustrated By: Dwellephant
Published By: Image Comics

I'm afraid this small hardcover book at Shadowline got overlooked when it was released earlier this year.  At first, it seems silly and over-the-top, but by the end develops into a touching, heartfelt, and often laugh-out-loud funny story of the two creatures who missed Noah's Ark through their own laziness, thus dooming their species.

– CBR Columnist & Reviewer Augie DeBlieck

#67. Mysterious The Unfathomable
Written By: Jeff Parker
Illustrated By: Tom Fowler
Published By: Wildstorm

The tale of how a sleazy magician and his latest assistant are dragged into an off-kilter world of magic carried off its set of genre tropes and hocus pocus turns with more charm and style than big two comics can typically pull off. Parker's script and characters make the mundane feel bizarre while Fowler's lyrical art warrants new jaw-dropping with each page.

– News Editor Kiel Phegley

#66. Power Girl
Written By: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Illustrated By: Amanda Conner
Published By: DC Comics

Who would have thought "Power Girl" could be this much fun? Once again, Palmiotti and Gray prove they can write great stories about any character, and Amanda Conner's art is outstanding. Easily one of, if not the best new series of 2009.

– Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

#65. Killer of Demons
Written By: Christopher Yost
Illustrated By: Scott Wegener
Published By: Image Comics

Dave is an average office worker that can see demons, and a cigar-smoking baby with wings is telling him to kill them all. Christopher Yost's hilariously macabre approach to the slaying of evil creatures is second only to "Atomic Robo" creator Scott Wegener's depiction of every demonic decapitation.

– Staff Writer Steve Sunu

#64. G.I. Joe: Cobra
Written By: Mike Costa & Christos N. Gage
Illustrated By: Antonio Fuso
Published By: IDW

I'm a big G.I. Joe fan but when IDW announced that they were rebooting the Hasbro franchise I wasn't interested. I'm an even bigger fan of Cobra, though, so my curiosity did lead me to pick up the "G.I. Joe: Cobra" mini-series which promised to explore the enigmatic evil organization through the eyes of an undercover G.I. Joe operative, and I'm glad I did. What readers of the series got was a noirish spy drama comparable to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips undercover masterpiece "Sleeper." The story and characters were excellent, and so was the art.

– Staff Writer Dave Richards

#63. The Stuff of Legend
Written By: Mike Raicht & Brian Smith
Illustrated By: Charles Paul Wilson III
Published By: Th3rd World Studios

Although it was only a two-issue series, this title delivered with a smart story and a fantastic adventure. Plus, the interesting size format truly made it feel like a children's story gone wrong. Let's face it – folks never outgrow their fear of the Bogey Man.

– Staff Writer George Tramountanas

#62. Beasts of Burden
Written By: Evan Dorkin
Illustrated By: Jill Thompson
Published By: Dark Horse

A group of neighborhood animals solving gruesome crimes of the supernatural – only in comics, folks! Though beyond being the kind of high concept that Hollywood runs from, the real strengths of "Beasts of Burden" are the craft chops on display in each issue, from Dorkin's whip-smart scripting to Thompson's lush, storybook painting. It's really creepy in parts, too.

– News Editor Kiel Phegley

#61. Final Crisis
Written By: Grant Morrison
Illustrated By: J.G. Jones, Doug Mahnke, Carlos Pacheco, Marco Rudy
Published By: DC Comics

Grant Morrison made a monster. Whatever your problems with how it was situated within the DC line, the Morrison-penned chapters of this thrillingly, even experimentally, paced event comic – from "Submit" to "Supeman Beyond" to "Batman: Last Rites" to "Final Crisis" itself – presented one of superhero comics' most graphically and narratively inventive and convincing takes on Evil ever. And in the end, its portrayal of heroism was just as bold, unusual, and haunting.

- Robot 6 contributor Sean T. Collins

#60. Captain America
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Illustrated By: Luke Ross, Butch Guice, Various
Published By: Marvel Comics

Quite possibly the greatest praise that one can give Ed Brubaker's run on "Captain America" is that, several years after "killing" Steve Rogers off, 2009 began without the fans demanding that he be brought back. It seems that most everyone pretty much bought into Bucky Barnes as Cap, and when "Captain America: Reborn" was announced, there was an actual debate as to whether or not Rogers should reclaim his mantle. When one stops to ruminate on the fact that Bucky was long considered one of comics biggest untouchable dead characters, never to be resurrected, it makes what Brubaker has accomplished all the more impressive.

– Senior Editor Stephen Gerding

#59. Children of the Sea
Written & Illustrated By: Daisuke Igarashi
Published By: Viz

An original spin on an old plot—a headstrong girl makes friends with two children who were raised in the sea, literally, and has to deal with the complications that ensue. Igarashi's art is absolutely gorgeous, and he has an eye for the telling details that make each scene come to life.

– Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

#58. Little Nothings, Vol. 2: The Prisoner Syndrome
Written & Illustrated By: Lewis Trondheim
Published By: NBM

Lewis Trondheim is a fascinating man, in part because so many of his little neuroses mirror my own.  This collection of his observations on life hit dead on for me, and his beautifully watercolored sketchy art has more life than many of today's top comic artists' finished work.

– CBR Columnist & Reviewer Augie DeBlieck

#57. The Incredible Hercules
Written By: Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak
Illustrated By: Clayton Henry, Rodney Buchemi, Dietrich Smith, Ryan Stegman & Reilly Brown
Published By: Marvel Comics

"Incredible Hercules'" continues to be the best superhero comic on the market. The stories are a mix of great elements: action, excitement, pathos, and best of all humor. The characters continue to be fascinating as well. Thanks to this series, Hercules is now one of my favorite characters, and even though he's a god, he's one of the most human of Marvel's heroes. Plus, this year Pak and Van Lente showed that Herc's sidekick, Amadeus Cho, was just as compelling a character as the titular god. Also you'll notice this book had several different artists this year, but that didn't disrupt the feel of the series one iota, which is another testament to just how good the title is.

– Staff Writer Dave Richards

#56. The Squirrel Machine
Written & Illustrated By: Hans Rickheit
Published By: Fantagraphics

Few artists in comics can tell surreal stories with the level of clarity and precision that Hans Rickheit achieves in his original graphic novel "The Squirrel Machine." In the same way that David Lynch squeezes compelling characters and memorable scenes onto film amid dark and obscured circumstances, Rickheit renders a feeling portrait of a young mad scientist named Edmund in one of the 2009's most inimitable reads.

– Contributing Writer Brian Warmoth

#55. Luna Park
Written By: Kevin Baker
Illustrated By: Danijel Zezelj
Published By: DC Comics/Vertigo

Kevin Baker's first graphic novel is a masterful look at Russian lives intersecting in Brighton Beach and in the old country as generations of men and women act out the same script and learn all too little from their experiences as they struggle to survive. Danijel Zezelj demonstrates once again that he is a great artist and one of the most talented creators working in comics today.

- Staff Writer Alex Deuben

#54. The Lone Ranger
Written By: Brett Matthews
Illustrated By: Sergio Cariello
Published By: Dynamite Entertainment

It's a really tough and cool Western, and I love Westerns. I also love how Matthews takes a story we all knew and stands it sideways to make it fresh and new again. Cariello's art is terrific, and John Cassaday's covers are always a treat. I wish it came out more regularly, but on the other hand, it's nice that "The Lone Ranger" comes out at all.

– Comics Should Be Good Contributor Greg Hatcher

#53. Cockbone
Written & Illustrated By: Josh Simmons
Published By: Self-published

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. Josh Simmons's horrifying tale of a brutal family, their grotesquely exploited golden child, and the cruel comeuppance they all receive, comes stapled between a wrinkled, grease-stained brown paper bag, as if to indicate that the images and emotions captured here aren't fit for public consumption. It takes a truly fearless, uncompromising, and gifted artist to present them to us anyway.

– Robot 6 contributor Sean T. Collins

#52. Agents of ATLAS
Written By Jeff Parker
Illustrated By: Carlo Pagulayan & Gabriel Hardman
Published By: Marvel Comics

It's a terrible shame that the buzz around this book never seemed to move past the "It has a gorilla and a robot!" kind of talk because Jeff Parker's retro-futuristic superhero book is so much more than kitschy pulp nods. An involved team dynamic, a twist on both the hero/villain dynamic and the Dark Reign mega story, a high concept action adventure…these are just the building blocks for Jimmy Woo and gang. I'm almost too busy thanking God "Agents" will live on in miniseries form to ask this again, but seriously…why do people not buy something this good?

– News Editor Kiel Phegley

#51. The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse
Written By: Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Illustrated By: Armando Mendoza
Published By: Viper Comics

We still miss the Middleman TV show, but this was an extraordinarily satisfying wrapup as well as being a terrific book all by itself, with plenty of introductory material to catch up new readers. A great story in a great package.

– Comics Should Be Good Contributor Greg Hatcher

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