When the CBR staffers all decided to do a "Best of..." list, we had no idea what we were in for. First off, how does one determine "the best"? Secondly, what qualifies a book for being considered a 2005 book: when it was solicited, when it was supposed to be released, or when it was actually released? And, third, with so many books out there, how can one cover them all?
The simple answer to the last question is...we can't. Here's the deal: these lists consist of books which arrived in stores in 2005 that we individually read and rose to the top of our pull lists. Between the three of us, these are sizable pull lists (see our bank accounts for proof), but we still can't cover everything; therefore, please excuse any exclusions. So go ahead and read our lists, then hop over to the CBR Forums to agree, disagree, or throw a witty retort in our faces. We can take it, except maybe Arune, who still cries at "Transformers: The Movie."
George: 2005 was another great year for comic book readers. Narrowing my "Best of..." list down to five titles, writers, and artists was an extremely difficult task, and I had to leave out so many in each category it hurt. For example, Dan Slott had "She-Hulk," "Spider-Man & the Human Torch," and "The Thing" this year (to name a few) - all terrific entertainment that people should be reading. Heck, I probably should've included Slott on my writer's list for the fruit pie incident in "Spider-Man & the Human Torch," but I just ran out of room.
Bill Willingham gave us another great twelve month on "Fables," while "Robin" and "Day of Vengeance" showed he could work within the DCU as well as outside it. And add Gail Simone to the list of writers that gave us loads of monthly fun in "Birds of Prey" and "Action Comics." Even though she barely missed making my writer's list, her presence is felt in another of my lists .
Keith Giffen fans - this was your year! The writer was all over the place in 2005, and the industry is all the better for it. 2006 looks to be even busier for the prolific writer, so hold on to your BWA-HA-HA-HA's.
Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley (who never gets enough credit in my opinion) delivered us another outstanding year of "Ultimate Spider-Man," and I want to thank them for that. And while I'm on the Bendis boat, his work on "Daredevil" with Alex Maleev was as strong as ever, too. While the two have a good team to replace them after their final issue in 2006, I know I'll miss this monthly combination.
A new writer-artist team that made my radar in 2005 is Daniel Way and Steve Dillon. They've done several miniseries together and I've loved each one. I never thought I'd want to see Dillon with anyone other than Garth Ennis (whose "Punisher: The Cell" was a highlight this year), but Way complements him nicely.
In the art corner, Ed Benes had a good year on "Superman," and his "star artist" status will most likely be cemented when his "JLA" series with Brad Meltzer hits in 2006. I also enjoyed seeing Jamal Igle's "Firestorm" art and look forward to his take on the character's costume redesign.
Pia Guerra ("Y - The Last Man"), Ryan Ottley ("Invincible"), and Tony Harris ("Ex Machina") delivered us beautifully-drawn and clearly told stories on a monthly basis, and I can't thank them enough. Plus, I want to mention Doug Mahnke. Between "Batman: The Man Who Laughs" and the monthly "Batman" series, I think he's given fans the best-drawn Batman that we've seen in awhile.
And speaking of things we hadn't seen in awhile, I was happy to see Igor Kordey back in top form in IDW's "Smoke." For those who only know of him from his X-Men days, you didn't know him at all.
Brian Wood kept the world of indie comics hopping with "DMZ," "Local," and his upcoming "Supermarket." Readers got a new Harvey Pekar book with "Quitter," and Doug TenNapel delivered us the beautiful and thought-provoking "Earthboy Jacobus." TenNapel manages to combine objects like dimension-hopping whales, symbiotes, and alien technology into stories that are fun and well-told. "Elk's Run," despite some scheduling difficulties, is also worth checking out for those who happened to miss it.
There are so many more writers, artists, and titles I could mention, but I need to give my fellow staffers a chance to sing their praises as well before we get to our lists. So here they go...
Arune: Thanks George. I always hate these lists, because I know I'm going to forget someone whose work I loved. Dan Slott was one of the go-to-guys for awesome writing, from his mini-series work to the incredible "She-Hulk" (no pun intended); Adrian Tomine showed us all how to do it with "Optic Nerve #10"; Bryan Lee O'Malley wrote my favorite book of the year with "Scott Pilgrim"; the trade paperbacks of "New Frontier" were amazing and I'm proud at how CBR News helped promote the book back when it wasn't going anywhere at DC; Giffen & Co made me "bwa haha" with their Justice League work; Grant Morrison made me believe a man can fly.
Anyway, I do know that I did like the fact that Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley have kept making "Invincible" such a strong book for Image. Along with "Noble Causes," "Savage Dragon" and "Godland," I think Image might be my overall favorite superhero publisher. They're putting out books I love. I also love the feel of Bendis' "New Avengers." I disliked "Disassembled," but I'll be damned if I don't love every panel of "New Avengers," as Bendis and Finch manage to make someone like Luke Cage so damn cool.
I know that some are sick of the hype around "All Star Superman," but I do think it's an amazing superhero book. Grant Morrison has a knack for making his heroes cool, confident, heroic and complex, without falling prey to common clichs. His "Seven Soldiers" epic is also fantastic and it really shows his range. He's more than "mad" ideas: he's an excellent character writer.
I was sad to see "GTO" end over at Tokyopop, but I still have Viz's "Shonen Jump" to placate my manga desires. "One Piece" and "Naruto" are so darned fun and I'm not surprised that so many kids read them. I've never been a big IDW fan, though I've respected their work, and I loved "Angel" and "Transformers," both of which do their properties proud. Of special note is Peter David's "Spike" one-shot, where he proved once again that he is one our best writers in the industry. The man just gets it.
Doug Mahnke & Tom Nguyen are one of the best art teams in comics because their sense of anatomy and perspective is so darn solid. Their heroes look like real people, albeit very fit ones, and that's because Tom & Doug know the human body, from studying and from their own success at bodybuilding.
Finally, Marvel's work with "Franklin Richards" has proven to be a great draw for me, as well as Adam Beechen's work on "JLU": both are perfect for kids or the kid in you. I'd also be remiss if I didn't remind people to get Sean Murphy's "Off Road," a fun OGN about friendship and being a man in today's world. I should also mention "Street Angel," an independent comic that took the online world by storm and made a lot of us smile.
Dave: There was so much good stuff in 2005 and like my colleagues I feel like I will do one of my favorite books an injustice by forgetting to mention it, but I'll do my best to try and catch everything. As I mentioned previously, for me a lot of what was best about comics in 05 was variety.
One of my favorite comics of this year was Richard K Morgan's "Black Widow" mini-series from Marvel and its sequel which launched in September. Morgan delivers a great noir drenched action-espionage tale with complex and compelling characters. Plus Bill Sienkowicz's art is simply amazing.
I also got turned onto Fabian Nicieza's Marvel work this year. "Cable & Deadpool" is simply an amazing book and unique book. It's funny, poignant, action packed, and insightful. The closest thing I can compare it to is the late, great Acclaim series "Quantum and Woody."
Nicieza's work on "New Thunderbolts" is also loads of fun. You get a team full of compelling and conflicted characters and lots of cool Marvel style action.
I also discovered Dan Slott's Marvel work this year. "She-Hulk" is brilliant. It's "Boston Legal" with super heroes. And I just discovered "Great Lakes Avengers" with the X-Mas special. I liked it so much I went out and bought the trade of Slott's GLX mini-series today.
Ed Brubaker's thriller/action take on "Captain America" has been a fun ride and "Books of Doom" has turned out to be even better than I thought it would be.
And like my fellow colleagues mentioned, all hail the great and powerful Giffen. Keith Giffen had a great year "Formerly Known as the Justice League" and "New Defenders" were hilarious. "Howling Commandos" has been loads of fun. too. But I think Giffen's best work of the year was "Drax the Destroyer."
"Drax" was a great science fiction tale with a smattering of horror. Plus, Giffen provided the readers with great characters especially Cammi, the warped and twisted pre-teen who becomes much to Drax's dismay, his partner and side kick. Drax also featured some beautiful pencils by Mitch Breitweiser.
Over at DC "Gotham Central" continued to be a brilliant read even though 2/3 of the books original creators left the book this year.
Also Andy Diggle had a great year at DC. "The Losers" continues to be fun, roller coaster ride of a comic and Diggle's "Adam Strange" mini-series was a blast.
Dave Gibbons' sequel to Diggle's Adam Strange series "The Rann-Thanagar War" was also loads of fun and my favorite of the countdown mini-series. Gibbons also continues to weave a great space opera style story in "Green Lantern Corps: Recharge."
Over in the Indy's, Devil's Due Publishing has put out some excellent, fun and diverse reads. Tim Seeley's horror/humor series "Hack/Slash" is an always a fun read and features one of the coolest friendships in comics. Chris Kirby's "The Lost Squad" is a fun mix of action/war stories and pulp horror and Josh Howard's "Black Harvest" is a fun mix of The X-Files and Twin Peaks.
Over at Dark Horse, Mike Mignola, John Acurdi, and artist Guy Davis are knocking every issue of "BPRD" out of the park. This is a series with action, creepy horror, great characters, and stories with consequences.
And lastly I discovered the secret to being a good comic writer: You must be bald or relatively hairless and your first name must be Brian. Brian Bendis has had a great year: "House of M," "Daredevil," "Ultimate Spider-Man" and "Powers" were all brilliant and "New Avengers" continues to be the best traditional superhero book since Grant Morrison's "JLA" run. Brian Azzarello's work continues to entertain me: I eagerly await each new trade of "100 Bullets" and "Loveless" is off to a great start. Brian K Vaughan's work with "Runaways," "Y the Last Man," and "Ex Machina" was stellar this year. And last but not least I discovered the work of Brian Wood this year and "DMZ" is also off to a brilliant start.
George: Reading the comments from my fellow staffers, I find it interesting to see that despite our various tastes, we still appreciate many of the same books. I'm curious to see how our Top Five lists match up by the end of this. It looks like I'm kicking off the unveiling of the lists, so beginning with my writers list, here we go:
Top Five Writers in 2005
- Mark Millar
- Brian K. Vaughn
- Geoff Johns
- Robert Kirkman
- Allan Heinberg
While Mark Millar tops many people's list as a perennial favorite, he definitely deserves the title this year. He kicked off the year with the last issue of "Wanted," while finishing up his run on "Marvel Knights Spider-Man" and kicking off "Ultimates 2." He quickly followed this with his "Wolverine" run, which is the best writing of the character since Frank Miller (in my humble opinion). I know there were some fanboy grumbles about Wolverine's WWII appearance, but seriously, if you can buy a tale of the Holocaust told with mice and cats, why not Wolvie?
The other book that he wrote which thrilled me to no end was his "Ultimate Fantastic Four" run, which is still ongoing. I know Millar co-wrote the beginning of this series with Bendis, but this time the book has a totally different feel. This is the version of the Fantastic Four that I want to get to know, and he has me looking forward to each and every issue. In addition, both Ultimate Annuals he wrote were fantastic!
Coming in a close second is Brian K. Vaughn. "Y - The Last Man," "Ex Machina," and "Runaways" are such satisfying reads, they make me proud to be a comic book fan. His "Ultimate X-Men" and "Escapist" books also provide terrific entertainment.
Geoff Johns is the continuity guru and can somehow manage to fix any story problem that exists. The amazing thing is that he makes it look so simple. Not only did Johns bring Hal Jordan back from the dead, he restored all Green Lanterns and made their vulnerability to yellow make sense. And in "Infinite Crisis," he managed to explain what occurred in the original Crisis in just four pages. Plus, he gave us Flash's "Rogue War," "JSA," a great "JLA" arc, and made Power Girl an all-star in "JSA Classified."
Robert Kirkman was great as always with "Walking Dead" and "Invincible," plus his Marvel work was solid and included "Fantastic Four Foes," "Marvel Team-Up," and one of the wildest Marvel tales we've seen in awhile - "Marvel Zombies." I can't wait to see what he does with his upcoming run on "Ultimate X-Men."
Allan Heinberg squeaks onto the list at Number Five. While he only put out two books this year - "Young Avengers" and a "JLA" arc - both were so strong I felt I had to include him. Plus, he writes one of my favorite TV shows ("The O.C.") while still managing to get out monthly books. Comic readers should definitely keep their eyes out for future work from Heinberg.
Of those who didn't make the list, it nearly killed me not to include Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker. Both had great years and I really had to wrestle with not including them, but we decided to limit our lists to five. Fortunately, they do make appearances on another list of mine. However, before we get to that list, it's time for me to put on my art appreciation cap…
Top Five Artists in 2005
- Phil Jimenez
- Frank Cho
- Eric Powell
- Ethan Van Sciver
- Jim Cheung
Phil Jimenez has always been one of my favorite artists, but in the past, some have unfairly relegated him to the status of a George Perez-clone. With "Infinite Crisis," I believe he shows that this is no longer the case. (Upon reflection, this statement may seem a bit odd considering the book follows in Perez's footsteps, but ultimately his art speaks for itself.)
In "Infinite Crisis," Jimenez is drawing hundreds of characters in such detail that it takes my breath away. How many artists could draw three versions of Superman (from Earth One, Earth Two, and Earth Prime), and make them look so similar yet different? He doesn't take shortcuts in his backgrounds, and I think his "Villains United" splash page is the image of the year. Once the Crisis is over, I hope we'll see even more of his art in 2006.
Frank Cho is an artist who is mainly known for drawing one thing (well, two things, but I won't name them because we do have some younger readers). Basically, he is a master of the female form as shown in both "Liberty Meadows" and "Shanna the She-Devil" (Marvel, please-please-please release a MAX version of this). In 2005, Cho also did some pretty fill-ins for a few Marvel comics, and he put out another book that some may have missed - "Zombie King." The art and story (which he wrote) on this book gave me a joy that went beyond words. But if I did have to pick a word, I can think of only one: moo. If you missed this book, find it!
Eric Powell is someone who I have only come to appreciate recently. His artwork on "The Goon" and "Marvel Monsters" this year quickly catapulted him onto my list. His line-work comes alive for me, and I can actually feel his characters moving about from panel to panel.
"Green Lantern: Rebirth" helped solidify Ethan Van Sciver as a superstar this year. His art is detailed, graphic, and bold. Simply put, I can't wait to see him on "Superman/Batman" in 2006.
Like his writing counterpart, Jim Cheung rounds out this second list. I had seen Cheung's art before, but he has moved to the next level with "Young Avengers." His work has just the right amount of detail, he picks interesting angles to show us what is taking place in each panel, and the storytelling is clear. Plus, most impressively, he does this while getting each monthly issue out on time. Thanks Jim!
Of course, Bryan Hitch, Jim Lee, and Alex Ross all gave us their usual top-notch work this past year, and I hope they don't think I'm taking them for granted, but I wanted to share the love. And now for my last bit of love to share, here are my top titles.
Top Five Comics in 2005
- "The Walking Dead"
- "Captain America"
- "New Avengers"
- "Infinite Crisis"
- "Villains United"
When deciding which books to include in this list, I really had to look at the books I brought home with me every week. I checked out each stack and asked myself, "Which were the first books I cracked open the minute I get home?" All the books on this list qualified.
"The Walking Dead" was such a surprise to me when I first picked it up. I had never been big on zombies, and I couldn't figure out how a book about some slowly-moving corpses could sustain my interest in the long term.
Boy, was I wrong!
Writer Robert Kirkman has created a whole world where anything can happen, and usually does. New characters can suddenly appear and, just as quickly, die. At the root of it all though, he's populated his book with people we can emotionally invest in. What more could a reader want? How about a letter column? Next to "Powers," this book has one of the best letter columns in the biz with Kirkman personally responding to both praises and criticisms. He doesn't have to worry about any of the latter from me though.
Next up, Ed Brubaker gave us action, mystery, and helped us to remember what a true patriot is with his take on "Captain America." I remember the collective "groan" that came from many fanboys upon hearing that Bucky had returned, but…damn! Brubaker made me buy it hook, line, and sinker. His Captain America is quickly becoming the definitive version in my mind.
"New Avengers" gave fans the best team they never knew they wanted. Like a few others, I wasn't too thrilled with "Avengers Disassembled." However, I'm a believer in Bendis, so I stuck around. I am so glad I did! Bendis has handpicked heroes he intimately knows, loves, and most importantly, knows that fans want to see. Readers get to know these characters on a personal level, and we get to see how these individual personalities mesh together to form the world's most powerful team. Marvel took a chance in creating the New Avengers, and it's paid off nicely.
"Infinite Crisis" is a doozy of a tale. It's like an ice cream sundae with everything you could possibly want piled on top: it's got heroes, villains, magic, aliens, and sci-fi technobabble. It would've been even higher on my list, but we're three issues into the series and I'm still not sure where we're heading. With Geoff Johns at the helm and Phil Jimenez drawing though, I'm on board for the ride. Check back next year and this book could possibly top my list.
And speaking of the Crisis, Gail Simone did a great job on the crossover series "Villains United." She took a bunch of B-list supervillains and made them stars. I was rushing to the shop every week to see what would happen next, and I was dying to discover the identity of Mockingbird. And even when we found out, it still wasn't the person we thought it was. How cool is that?
Looking back at all of my lists, it's intriguing to note that some of my Top Writers didn't have books on my Top Titles list and vice-versa. How is that possible? Well, "Titanic" won an Oscar for Best Picture and wasn't even nominated for Best Screenplay, so go figure…
Let's see how my fellow staffers did on their lists. I wish them luck!
Arune: Wish me luck? George, those be fighting words! I might just have to pull out the mini-flamethrower I'd been saving for just this occasion…
Jokes aside, despite how cynical I may seem at some times, I really enjoyed this year of comics, simply because there was lots of stuff I loved. That's what matters in the end, doesn't it? That we have something to enjoy is reason enough to give thanks for everyone who contributed to comic book this year.
Top Five Writers in 2005
- Grant Morrison
- Robert Kirkman
- Bryan Lee O'Malley
- Dan Slott
- Adam Beechen
Ok, now you're all looking at that list and saying "huh?" aren't you? There are a lot of great people I left out: Adrian Tomine, Tom Beland, Joe Casey, Ed Brubaker, Peter David, Brian Bendis, Mike Carey, Geoff Johns, Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis, Sean Murphy…but this list is meant to represent the people whose work impacted me the most this year. So if you're one of those people I didn't include, it doesn't mean I didn't love your work.
Grant Morrison was #1 for me this year due to the sheer volume of great ideas we saw take form this year, from the beauty of "Seven Soldiers," to the collection of "We3" to the phenomenal first issue of "All Star Superman." Looking at the sheer emotional resonance of "Manhattan Guardian," Morrison should be on everyone's list this year: he did the complex hero bit quite well, without making our lead seem weak or whiny and he then defined heroism in "All Star Superman," where Superman seemed like himself after some time. Luthor was evil. Superman was heroic. On the surface it seems like a black & white conflict, but Morrison infused it with depth and layers of emotion, which allowed him to accomplish more in one issue than some writers accomplish in a story arc. And before someone asks, I'm not one of those "Grant Morrison Is God" kinda guys, the ones you often meet at comic book stores. I never enjoyed "Invisibles," which I understand is sacrilegious to say, but I find he has a unique understanding of superheroes that melds moden thinking with the fun of Jack Kirby.
Robert Kirkman is a great guy. I met him last year in San Diego and the guy is a class act. He's a real fan of the comic book medium. And he's a helluva writer too, making "Invincible" my favorite superhero book of the year. He is able to keep the comic fun and accessible, while bringing in some serious themes and consequences. Our lead, Mark Grayson, deals with the return of a major character and it's played out as it should, but the book doesn't wallow in darkness. It challenges the notion of a hero by showing both sides of the coin and then making sure we're treated to something truly heroic. Every "civilian" I know has loved "Invincible" because it's like all the movies and shows they like: there's some soap opera, some cool fights and a lot of depth when you look further. Most importantly, it's fun.
Bryan Lee O'Malley first caught my attention with "Lost At Sea," a book that I feel would have been far bigger if not overshadowed by Craig Thompson's "Blankets." Both are good books, but "Lost at Sea" really gave us a unique ending and used less pages to tell an equally poignant story. However, my favorite comic book work from O'Malley was "Scott Pilgrim," the most fun comic book I may have ever read. It's like a Canadian version of "GTO," full of absurdities and craziness, but never losing sight of the characters that drive the book. Every character is richly defined and integral to the story. Every panel oozes with passion, sheer love for life and comics. It's a wonderful comic book. It's the one book from which I need to own a piece of original art. Simply put, "Scott Pilgrim" is the comic book that best shows that this medium is rich in possibilities and one need only put their heart into their work to transcend all pre-conceptions. Lots of people did it this year, but O'Malley may have done it best in "Scott Pilgrim."
Dan Slott is the Spider-Man of comic book writers: hard working, very talented, very smart and seemingly unappreciated by the public. Sure, he's one of those guys everyone knows of, but with the sheer quality of his books, I'm surprised his work doesn't chart higher. In "I'm With Stupid," he told the Spider-Man stories we've all wanted to see and the ones we'll come to call classics. The Hostess Fruit Pie joke is worth the price of the TPB alone. His "She-Hulk" is everything we want from comics: respect to continuity, strong characters, a lot of fun and cool fights. There's nothing more you can ask for.
Adam Beechen may be the oddest selection to some, as you're likely becoming familiar with his name after the announcement of his upcoming tenure on "Robin," but it's his work on "Justice League Unlimited" that struck a chord with me. It's simple, but it's the kind of comic book that kids love. It's the kind of book that will make them superhero fans. If for no other reason than that, Beechen is one of the most important comic book writers of the year because of how his comic is being attached to the "Justice League Unlimited" toys. More kids will see that comic than any other this year…and they're going to love it.
Top Five Artists in 2005
- Bryan Lee O'Malley
- John Cassaday
- Ryan Sook
- Patrick Gleason/Ryan Ottley
- Sean Murphy
Ok, so this was hard, as I wanted to include people like Bryan Hitch, J.G Jones, Phil Jimenez, Andi Watson, and especially Jim Rugg, from "Street Angel." There are so many amazing artists and I can't remember a recent comic where I didn't love the art. I'd also like to thank all the hard working inkers and colorists, where I'd pick Keith Champagne and Alex Sinclair as my favorites, respectively. Next year I hope to be able to take the time to honor them as well.
Bryan Lee O'Malley is my #1 pick this year because his art style is so unique, so energetic and so intriguing to look at. It's hard to turn away from his art because it just draws you in. Looking at "Scott Pilgrim Vol.2," there wasn't a single panel that didn't captivate me. He's that good.
While there is still debate over the storytelling in "Astonishing X-Men," no one seems to doubt the power of John Cassaday on art duties. The man brings the X-Men to life in a way not seen since Jim Lee, and before that, John Byrne. Cassaday will likely be doing X-Men sketches till the day he dies, because he's the real deal.
Ryan Sook is one of those guys who never seems to get the big time glory I think he's earned with his diverse career, but this year he seems to finally be getting the bigger projects. His work on "Seven Soldiers: Zatanna" was sexy without being slutty, engaging without ever boring and added a new flair to the classic titular character. His work on "X-Factor" has been equally nuanced, bringing a noir style to the comic that only enchances the strong script. His line work is slick and simple on first look, but has a complexity that you appreciate as you observe more of his work.
Now there's a tie for #4, because both Patrick Gleason and Ryan Ottley remind me of each other, both in demeanor and the way their work affected me. I met Gleason in Minnesota years back and he's a real nice guy. I met Ottley briefly last year in San Diego, but he seemed like a class act. Both of their current projects, Ottley on "Invincible," and Gleason on "Green Lantern Corps: Recharge," show how to bring some beauty and energy to mainstream superhero comics. Both are superb artists in terms of perspective and execution, but they manage to keep their work wholly accessible to new readers, without choosing the odd angles or stylistic quirks that keep some equally talented artists from being as effective.
Finally, Sean Murphy did great work with his "Off Road" OGN from Oni and I'm glad to see his star rising. His style is very "Realistic," but he has the same kind of energy we all expect from an Oni book. The lines are clean, the people aren't exaggerated, but there's still something magical and surreal about his work: it's very moving.
Top Five Comics in 2005
- "Scott Pilgrim Vs The World"/"Solo" #5
- "Young Avengers"
This has got to be the worst part to write. I loved so many comics: "Losers," "Franklin Richards," "Street Angel," "True Story Swear To God," "New Avengers," "Green Lantern Corps," "Off Road," "Little Star"…. So many and so little space to discuss them. I went heavy on superheroes, but I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles: I'm sure I'm not "cool" enough for some now.
"Scott Pilgrim Vs The World" is my favorite comic book of the year. I've probably said enough about it, and I'm likely a bit biased because of my Canadian heritage, but it's the comic to get this year. In "Solo #5," Darwyn Cooke again proves he's a master of the field. He would have made my other lists if we'd seen more work from him this year, but he's one of the greats by telling a variety of stories, but making each one count.
"Invincible" was just a fun superhero book that reminded me why I love superheroes. Kirkman, Ottley & Co make me smile with every issue of this comic. It's not all old school, it's not all new school: it's the beautiful love child of the best of comics.
"She-Hulk" is easily Marvel's best series, with the strongest concept in some time (superhero law firm) and a superb balance of meta-commentary and superhero hijinks. Slott explores all the consequences of being a superhero, but makes them a lot of fun too, turning clichs on their heads. Juan Bobillo is great on art and hopefully stays on this book forever.
"Young Avengers" was supposed to be a joke. I remember how people laughed at the announcement. I think I did, too. Serves me right. Heinberg has written the best episodes of "The O.C," and has created a high adventure book that defies all expectations. Is "YA" reinventing the wheel? No. But it's not a book that is ever complacent: every issue makes it even better, just when you think it's as good as it gets.
Finally, "Lucifer" is the ongoing series that never gives up. With the series coming to a close, writer Mike Carey has upped the ante and is tying up lose ends. Nothing happens by chance in this book: it's all deliberate and well-planned. It's not quite "Sandman," but I believe "Lucifer" will continue to be one of Vertigo's top selling collections for decades. The series is too layered and too engaging for everyone not the be reading it.
Dave, your turn!
Dave: Best of lists are fun to compile, but they can be hard to compile especially when you had a year so full of good stuff like 2005 so here goes my attempt:
Top Five Writers in 2005
- Richard K Morgan
- Brian Michael Bendis
- Grant Morrison
- Brian K Vaughan
- Keith Giffen
Like I mentioned previously, Morgan began '05 by concluding the first "Black Widow" limited-series, which was a noir-drenched action thriller and featured a great compelling take on the character and Morgan ends 05 with the follow up to the mini-series which is shaping up to be even better than the original series.
05' has been a great year for Bendis. The man proved he could tell all kinds of great stories: superhero epics, crime thrillers, alternate history sci-fi tales, and much more. Plus all his stories feature great, very human oriented takes on characters.
Morrison continues to craft stories that blend the fun, wild creative elements of the past with modern day sensibilities. "Seven Soldiers" has been a fun, wild and diverse ride.
Vaughan also had an amazing year and served up a number of great tales featuring some of the best written characters in comics. "Runaways," "Y" and "Ex Machina" are all books with charismatic and identifiable leads.
Not only did Keith Giffen make me laugh uncontrollably this year with "New Defenders," but Giffen wowed me with his amazing character driven work on
"Howling Commando's" and especially "Drax."
Top Five Artists in 2005
- Michael Lark
- Mitch Breitweiser
- Bill Sienkiewicz
- Alex Maleev
- Sean Phillips
I've been a huge fan of Lark's work ever since I discovered "Scene of The Crime" and "Gotham Central." His artwork just has this great, gritty tone to it that I absolutely love.
Breiweiser wowed me on "Drax." His art work brought "Drax" to life and the way he played the sci-fi elements off the mundane elements was amazing
Sienkiewicz continues to serve up what he does best: dark toned work that beautifully conveys the mood and tone of books like "Black Widow."
Alex Maleev's work also conveys a gritty, stylized world that I love, and in "Daredevil" Maleev showed he could draw all types of scenes like personal/intimate, huge action, horror and they all maintain his unique sense of style
Phillips's work, like the others on my list, also has this great moody feel to it. His work on books like "Sleeper," "Black Widow 2" and "Marvel Zombies" is brilliant and elevates the feel of those books making them even cooler
Top Five Comics in 2005
- "Black Widow 2: The Things They Say About Her"
- "New Avengers"
- "Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian"
- "Drax the Destoryer"
Wow this was difficult but I went with my raw gut instincts here.
In "Black Widow 2," Morgan returns readers to the dark, clandestine corners of the Marvel Universe and this time he ensnares a bunch of new characters in Natasha's web. The result is an exciting and amazing read full of compelling characters and complex moral issues. In "Black Widow 2," Morgan has given us the best kind of sequel one that keeps all the elements that worked and ups the action, tension, and suspense to 11.
There's no other way to put this, but in my opinion "New Avengers" is quite simply the best traditional style superhero book since Grant Morrison's run on "JLA." It's one of the most fun reads out there.
"Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian" featured such wildly cool and bizarre things as subway pirates and heavily armed news boys and we got to see these elements through the eyes it's great protagonist, who is both utterly human and utterly heroic.
It's only been two issues, but "DMZ" has blown my mind. Wood has given readers a horrific and utterly fascinating setting and populated it with great characters. As a journalist, I have a soft spot for this comic because it demonstrates the power and nobility of the field.
Giffen told me "Drax" is probably the closest thing he's ever written to a Stephen King story, and he's right. In "Drax," Giffen served up a story worthy of King himself. It's wondrous, fun, and scary. Plus with Cammi, Giffen has created one of the most interesting supporting characters in comics.
Arune: Ok, we all have pretty different lists, eh? I think we all look at comics pretty differently, so what are you all looking forward to in 2006?
Dave: Well, 2005 has been a great year to be a fan of four color books. There were some amazing and diverse stories and the quality looks to continue into next year. Here's a few things that I'm excited for in '06:
- Charlie Huston's "Moon Knight:" I recently read Huston's two crime novels,
"Caught Stealing" and "6 Bad Things," and I was blown away by them so I can't wait to see what kind of brutal and interesting things he has in store for Marc Spector
- Brubaker and Lark's "Daredevil." If there's one creative team that can follow up Bendis and Maleev's amazing run on DD, it's these guys.
- "Annihilation." I'm a sucker for a good cosmic powered tale and this is shaping up to be a great one.
- "Green Lantern Corps" ongoing. I'm loving "Recharge," so I eagerly await the ongoing adventures of the New Corps. I'm quite curious as to shape of the DCU cosmos one year later
- "Hellboy: Darkness Calls." After learning lots of new info about my favorite crimson colored paranormal detective, I eagerly await the next installment in the life of Hellboy.
George: As I've indicated, 2005 was an excellent year and 2006 promises even more excitement. Among his many projects, Mark Millar has his fumetti miniseries "1985" coming out in addition to the mega-crossover "Civil War." Success with fumetti has been rare, and I question whether fans will be ready for another big event series (especially since similar stories have been told with the X-Men's Mutant Registration Act and in "JSA"), but Millar has earned my faith (and my hard-earned comic money).
Brian Bendis has issue #100 of "Ultimate Spider-Man" and the end of his Daredevil run approaching. Both promise lots of thrills and twists, and with Brubaker taking over on ol' horn-head...let's just say it's a good time to be a Daredevil fan.
I can't wait for the end of "Infinite Crisis," as well as all the One Year Later stories spinning out of it (plus the real-time comic "*52"!). We're getting a new "Blue Beetle" from Keith Giffen, a "JLA" from Brad Meltzer, a cool "Aquaman" from Kurt Busiek, and new twists on familiar characters from both Will Pfeifer ("Catwoman") and Judd Winick ("Green Arrow" and "Outsiders"). And let us not forget, Gail Simone will be delivering a follow-up to "Villains United," which I am eagerly awaiting.
Comic fans also have lots of other things to look forward to from film and TV as well: "X-Men 3" in May, "Superman Returns" in June, another season of "JLU" (Cartoon Network - please renew "Teen Titans" too!), the animated "Ultimate Avengers," a "Hellboy" cartoon series, more "Sin City" fun, and expect news about the "Batman Begins" sequel.
So hang onto your hats, comic fans! 2006 promises to be a wild ride!
Arune: 2005 has been an interesting year and for 2006, I hope that comic book companies begin to move forward with their trade paperback programs and diversifying their comic book lines. And I really hope we keep seeing the passion from fans, such as Justin Khortof, who's brought a lot of attention to comics with his BlueTights.Net website, or Andrew Troth, whose successful Minneapolis based store, "Mind's Eye Comics," is a mecca for fans of the medium. I just want to see more people reading comics, more people enjoying comics and more comics. Period. There's no reason that comic books can't be seen as a viable medium, in tandem with film and television. There's a lot of special work being done here and it's time the industry gets the respect it deserves. I can't think of specific projects I'm looking forward to more than any other, but I'm to see all the passion that will be translated onto the printed page this year. And I'm dying for "Superman Returns": after visiting the set, I know it's the Real Steel Deal.
And that's all for us. Please visit the CBR Community Forum and let us know what you thought about 2005. Here's to another great year in comics!