CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2009, #50 - 26

Thu, December 31st, 2009 at 10:58am PST

Comic Books
Kiel Phegley, Staff Writer

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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 check back to see what books ranked at #100 through 76 or #75 through 51, and then read on below to see who ranked in spots 50 through 26! And of course, come back tomorrow for the final 25 of our Best 100 Comics of 2009!

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#50. Gotham City Sirens
Written By: Paul Dini
Illustrated By: Guillem March
Published By: DC Comics

It's like "Birds of Prey" with Batman's femme fatales! Everybody wins! Combine equal parts Harley, Ivy and Catwoman with a healthy dose of Paul Dini's incredible handle on the characters and Guillem March's sultry success on the female form and you'll hear the sirens calling in no time.

– Staff Writer Steve Sunu

#49. Doom Patrol
Written By: Keith Giffen
Illustrated By: Matthew Clark, Justiniano, Livesay
Published By: DC Comics

One of the best editorially directed relaunches of the year, "Doom Patrol" couldn't have have been better matched with its creative team. Keith Giffen ignited the classic group's new outing with a "Doctor Who"-caliber storyarc that has managed to be accessible even while leveraging past continuity. Livesay's inks were perfectly synced to the series' dark sci-fi, giving Matthew Clark and Justiniano's lines the kind of modern clarity with a rusty razor's touch that Howard Chaykin should be proud of.

– Contributing Writer Brian Warmoth

#48. Punisher
Written By: Rick Remender
Illustrated By: Various
Published By: Marvel Comics

Giddily trashy, this would be the cult comic of the year if it weren't so unabashedly appealing to the mainstream. But this is still a subversive little gem of a superhero comic.

– Columnist & Reviewer Timothy Callahan

#47. X-Factor
Written By: Peter David
Illustrated By: Valentine de Landro, Marco Santucci
Published By: Marvel Comics

Peter David's dry wit and a tightly-composed year-long story arc combined to make X-Factor Marvel's most consistently solid X-title this year, even if the detective angle was lost. David's skill lies in turning B-listers like Shatterstar and Darwin into fan favourites, as with Madrox and Layla Miller before them. A relaunch with the series' 200th issue promises that the title will be even better next year.

– CBR Reviewer James Hunt

#46. Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #15
Written & Illustrated By: Various
Published By: Bongo Comics

2009 gave editor Sammy Harkham a lot of much-deserved recognition following 2008's over-sized $125 "Kramer's Ergot 7" anthology. In addition to bringing his talents to "VICE Magazine," Harkham received an invitation to oversee this year's "Treehouse of Horror" special for Bongo. This landmark joining of one of mainstream entertainment's most popular cartoons with an indie creative team including Jeffrey Brown, Jordan Crane and Kevin Huizenga erected a tower of diverse and atomically hilarious stories that will make for a tough act to follow in 2010.

– Contributing Writer Brian Warmoth

#45. Fantastic Four
Written By: Mark Millar, Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated By: Bryan Hitch, Dale Eaglesham
Published By: Marvel Comics

When Millar and Hitch's run was coming to an end, I was admittedly quite prepared to drop "Fantastic Four" as I couldn't think of a team that could properly succeed them. And then Marvel puts together the most unexpected partnership since Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett – Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham. Brilliant.

– Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

#44. Stylish Vittles, Vol. 4
Written & Illustrated By: Tyler Page
Published By: Self-Published via Dementian Comics at http://www.stylishvittles.com/

The long-awaited conclusion to Tyler Page's epic autobiographical tale of college sweetheart love.  This one started as a webcomic before making it to print in a much smaller format than the last three volumes, but it's still satisfying and provides the closure fans have been waiting years for. Page plays with standard comic book autobiographical convention convincingly.

– Columnist & Reviewer Augie De Blieck

#43. The Incredibles
Written By: Mark Waid
Illustrated By: Marcio Takara
Published By: BOOM! Studios

Half a decade after the movie hit theaters, we're finally rewarded with a comic series that should have been started right after the movie's release.

– CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

#42. Sweet Tooth
Written & Illustrated By: Jeff Lemire
Published By: DC Comics/Vertigo

Like a backwoods collision of the barren apocalyptic landscape of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and the muddied vision of humanity shown in the Harmony Korine film "Gummo," Jeff Lemire's "Sweet Tooth" fit sensibly into DC's Vertigo imprint, but also expanded the publisher's breadth of pamphlet comics styles with Lemire's uniquely conceived world of animal children.

– Contributing Writer Brian Warmoth

#41. I Kill Giants

Written By: Joe Kelly
Illustrated By: JM Ken Nimura
Published By: Image Comics

A story unlike any other this year in a comic that didn't look like anything else this year. Engaging, powerful stuff from Kelly and Numura.

– Columnist & Reviewer Timothy Callahan

#40. Incognito
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Illustrated By: Sean Phillips
Published By: Icon

One of the best teams in comics does it again! If you enjoy their "Criminal" series but miss the superheroics found in "Sleeper," check out this book of a super-criminal in witness protection. It feels so real and gritty, you'll want to take a shower after reading it.

– Staff Writer George Tramountanas

#39. Footnotes in Gaza
Written & Illustrated By: Joe Sacco
Published By: Metropolitan Books

Joe Sacco returns to Palestine and considers the history of the Gaza Strip and the events around a massacre in the town of Khan Younis in 1956. It is a heartbreaking story that begs to be read at a furious pace and in small doses because too much at once can more than anyone can bear. Sacco remains one of the most important cartoonists of our time.

– Staff Writer Alex Dueben

#38. Mr. Stuffins
Written By: Johanna Stokes & Andrew Cosby
Illustrated By: Axel Medellin
Published By: BOOM! Studios

This tale of a toy teddy bear accidentally imprinted with superintelligent espionage software is simply made of awesome. I loved it, my wife loved it, my students loved it, everyone loved it. Unreservedly recommended to everyone.

– Comics Should Be Good Contributor Greg Hatcher

#37. Dark Avengers
Written By: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated By: Mike Deodato
Published By: Marvel Comics

Norman Osborn's team of villains masquerading as heroes have been the lynchpin of the Dark Reign event that defined Marvel's output in 2009. Filled with widescreen action, eye-popping plot twists and fantastic artwork, it's arguably the one title Marvel fans had to read this year.

– CBR Reviewer James Hunt

#36. Young Liars
Written & Illustrated By: David Lapham
Published By: DC Comics/Vertigo

To paraphrase what I wrote in my review of the final issue of this series, "Young Liars" was a brilliant, challenging, ambitious, audacious, flat-out insane series that, let's be honest, lasted longer than anyone really thought it would, but was still taken before it's time. A comic that was increasingly challenging and rewarding, engrossing and demanding, fun and energetic. David Lapham proved, once again, that he is a comic book genius and master storyteller.

– CBR Reviewer Chad Nevett

#35. The Life And Times of Savior 28
Written By: J.M. DeMatteis
Illustrated By: Mike Cavallaro
Published By: IDW

The best book of 2009 that (unfortunately) only the critics seemed to hear about. Based on an unused Captain America pitch belonging to DeMatteis, the writer crafted a superhero story that's smart, heartfelt, and relevant. Cavallaro's art is a revelation as well. Pick up the trade ASAP!

– Staff Writer George Tramountanas

#34. Locke & Key
Written By: Joe Hill
Illustrated By: Gabriel Rodriguez
Published By: IDW

"Locke and Key" is a title that I came into a bit late, somehow managing to miss even hearing about the initial mini-series. Instead, I arrived at the show with the second collection in mid-2009. Even after having caught up with the entire story to date, I'm constantly amazed and impressed with Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's story, which manages to be complex without becoming overly complicated, successfully marrying horror, teen angst, fantasy and family drama into a single compelling tale. In all honestly, I can't recommend the title highly enough.

– Senior Editor Stephen Gerding

#33. Pim & Francie
Written & Illustrated By: Al Columbia
Published By: Fantagraphics

It's very rare that a year's long wait for any kind of art pays off in the way you want it to, but damn…Al Columbia. While the cartoonist produces (or at least releases) very little to the public, his works have whet the appetite of serious comics readers in strange and desperate ways over his career, and with "Pim & Francie" we finally get a longer work to justify the years of talking up the cartoonists talent. A totally creepy homage to the ink blot stylings of the early animation era, the book works as part horror comic, part abstract tour de force, part satire and all face melter, cementing Columbia's place as one of the most unique and mysterious voices in comics.

– News Editor Kiel Phegley

#32. Hark! A Vagrant
Written & Illustrated By: Kate Beaton
Published By: Self-published at http://www.harkavagrant.com/

The immediate draw of Kate Beaton's mostly history-themed comics is almost too evident to bear repeating – an expressive, cute cartooning style, razor sharp humor and a subject matter often overlooked by too many other comics. It's no wonder the print collection of her online strip – "Never Learn Anything From History" – was a smash on the summer con circuit. But still, the more of Beaton's comics you read, the more her mix of satirical pop culture nods, deceptively simple character work and signature line work add up to a lot more than fart jokes about Beethoven's crabby nephew. The fart jokes are great, though.

– News Editor Kiel Phegley

#31. Invincible Iron Man
Written By: Matt Fraction
Illustrated By: Salvador Larocca
Published By: Marvel Comics

Tony Stark's fall from grace after the Secret Invasion has been gripping, must-see entertainment over the past 12 months, as Matt Fraction took Stark from king of the world to near-invalid in an effort to protect the superhero community from Norman Osborn. Sometimes it's a guilty pleasure to watch someone break something, just so they can put it back together.

– Robot 6 Editor John Parkin

#30. B.P.R.D. 1947
Written By: Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart
Illustrated By: Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
Published By: Dark Horse

Every year, Mike Mignola's expansive "Hellboy universe" of released grows incrementally, and every year I marvel at how consistently great the line remains despite so much material hitting the shelves. And while 2009 saw some motion on the Hellboy proper story front, the real standout of what may be the best "superhero" line in comics was this intensely character-focused vampire throwback. From Mignola and Dysart's off kilter narrative focusing on WWII veterans to Moon and Bá's virtuoso performance playing off each other, "1947" is every bit as entertaining as any installment in the Hellboy saga.

– News Editor Kiel Phegley

#29. A Drifting Life
Written & Illustrated By: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Published By: Drawn & Quarterly

Who knew a mammoth, 800+ autobiography about a manga artist you've never heard of could be so fascinating? In the case of "A Drifting Life," though, it's not just about the creator (whose life post-World War II is engrossing) but about the re-invention of comics in Japan, even as those same moments are just now re-occurring in North America. This is a must-read for anyone interested in comics.

– CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

#28. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
Written By: Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
Illustrated By: Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna
Published By: Bloomsbury

The authors use the life of mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell to tell a larger story about the foundations of mathematical logic. They do a masterful job of combining the human interest of the characters and explaining the mathematical issues they are discussing. Not just for nerds!

– Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

#27. The Muppet Show Comic Book
Written & Illustrated By: Roger Langridge
Published By: BOOM! Studios

I grew up on the show. I watched repeats of the show on Nickelodeon as an adult. I bought the DVDs of the series before I ever had a child. And Roger Langridge beautifully keeps the characters and the series alive now in comic book form for Boom! Studios. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

– Columnist & Reviewer Augie De Blieck

#26. Batgirl
Written By: Bryan Q. Miller
Illustrated By: Lee Garbett
Published By: DC Comics

Bryan Q. Miller has creating Gotham's newest dynamic duo in this book. The relationship that's developing between Oracle and Batgirl is great, and Stephanie's enthusiasm for taking on the mantle of Batgirl is infectious. Miller does a great job of taking the reader along for the ride as Stephanie comes to accept the mantle of Batgirl while adding her own personality to the cowl.

– Contributing Writer Brian LeTendre

TAGS:  top 100 2009

 
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