The Gold Standard: Best Of The Rest 2011
by Grey Scherl on January 24, 2012

I’ve done Marvel, I’ve done DC, and now it’s time of the rest! A little word to those curious about what is soon to be an obvious omission…I oddly enough do not read Walking Dead. If I did I have no doubt that it would place highly on my list, and one day I’m going to get around to picking it up, but it is being omitted just by nature of not being something that I personally have read in the last year. Another unfortunate side effect of that is that I apparently only read nine books outside of Marvel and DC on a consistet basis….my New Years Resolution this year to try and add to that number, possibly even double it.

 

9. Irredeemable

 

This year was weird for Irredeemable. The insane asylum prison world, the secret origin of the Plutonian, his new ‘friends’…I dunno, but it lost a step this year. Mark Waid’s tale of a fallen hero turned villain is a great read, and the run for the most part has been great, but this year was weaker. The post-Plutonian world, and the way the Paradigm handled it, while cool…it lacked the same level of oomph that the previous arcs, and the final arc of the year, brought to the table. Seperating all of the characters was not a boon for this book, as Plutonian on his own is just not that compelling, and everyone against Cary just reminds me why I hate Cary. But the year ended with Plutonian back on Earth and in the middle of a crossover with Incorruptible, and doing a nice job reminding me why I love this book so much. Even if I wound up detesting the origin they gave him.

 

8. Buffy Season 9

I have loved issues of this book, which is my first time buying a Buffy comic in single issue form, but as a whole it hasn’t completely blown me away. Buffy dealing with the aftermath of ending magic on Earth is a cool concept, hell, the Zompires are ridiculously fun, but stuff like the guy who syphoned out mystic energy didn’t do much. Her roommates haven’t been very well defined at all, and her classic supporting cast is around but…the book is too much Buffy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great read if you’re a fan of the Slayer, but the core weakness of this book is the seeming shrug given to giving solid attention to Willow, Xander, and Dawn. I’m on board for the long haul, but if this book wants to move up on the charts next year what it needs more than anything is more issues like the first one. Buffy is character driven, that’s where the show found success. They just need to find a better footing.

 

7. Morning Glories

This one is funny, a few months ago I was agreeing with Jules in the sentiment of “F Nick Spencer”. It wasn’t a knock on his writing abilities, rather the over exposure he was receiving at Marvel. But I’m here to talk about Morning Glories, and really, that’s the book by him that I didn’t mind at the time. I was annoyed that it seemed like he was going to blow his plot load early by revealing too much too soon, but every issue he seems to find success in giving you as many new questions as he does answers. Even when you think you know the twists he’s about to throw at you, he finds new ways to keep you twisted. It’s a confusing book, but it’s one I’m definitely enjoying to read.

 

6. Incorruptible

Yes, that’s right, the sister title is my favorite of the two, as Max Damage’s journey to try and become a hero has been so much more interesting than the last year of the Plutonian’s life. Coalville has been made to be as important as so many cities in the big two, with Max’s desire to protect this one city being not unlike Jack Knight’s Opal City at times. Sure, the more we find out about Max, the harder it becomes to like who the character was before we met him, but who he is now is really compelling. He has a strong supporting cast, even if my favorite member of it, Headcase, has been locked up since the year began. Armadale dealing with the revelations of just how evil Max was in his prime, really not too long ago, the knowledge that Max had killed kids without remorse, I felt bad for the guy as he cracked open a bottle and got himself wasted to forget. It’s not a feel good book, not by any means, but I’ll be damned if we’ve had an anti-hero this well defined by any company in years.

 

5. Invincible

Books come and books go, but Invincible is one of those rare books outside of the big two that I just can’t miss. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that it has seen better days, but it’s still a more solid single issue read than most of what the big two put out. Robert Kirkman may be better known for the omitted Walking Dead, but really, this is the book that made me a fan of his. It’s what Ultimate Spider-Man could be if Bendis could do self contained stories or actual long term plots. Yes, the book has gotten a little bit too big and it’s hurt the quality, and yeah, I’ll admit that every issue feels like a shocking status quo change, but it’s still excellently written. Mark is back on Earth, his parents are reunited, Eve is fat, William is gay, and oh hey, Viltrumites are living among us. It’s a superhero book where anything can and will happen because it’s not trying to co-exist in a giant shared universe, and for that, it’s remarkable.

 

4. Angel & Faith

Maybe it’s that Christos Gage is writing it, but I like this book more than Buffy thus far. Maybe it also has to do with me liking After The Fall more than Season 8, or the final seasons of Angel more than the final seasons of Buffy, or hell, maybe I just really like Faith (I do have a crush on Eliza Dushku, I won’t lie). No matter what the reason, if Angel had to leave IDW, at least we got this. The two lead characters make for a great pairing, just like they did in the television series. Sure, I do still miss the classic supporting cast of Angel, but I imagine we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. Angel’s quest to find some way to repent for killing Giles, and Faith’s quest to not let him go too far, is pretty much turning the two of them combined into the new Giles, and it’s a really cool dynamic that Gage is doing a lot of justice for. And hey, there’s something about the sister books, you know?

 

3. Chew

This is kind of a cheat because I don’t actually read Chew monthly, and to be honest, I don’t know how current I am on the calendar, but 2011 was the year when I found Thwipster and began getting cheap trades from them. Two of my favorites thus far? The first two Omnivore Editions of Chew (which I believe takes me through issue twenty). I had read the first few issues a while ago when I’d heard the hype, but well priced pretty hardcovers (I have a serious weakness for hardcovers) are what hooked me. Likable characters, interesting story elements, and really, one of the most original premises I’ve seen in comics in a while. I’ve liked everything that I’ve read thus far, and it’s about to get moved up into my digital list this year as soon as I get a tablet. This book has seriously lived up to all of the hype, it’s so freaking good.

 

2. Ghostbusters

So one day I walked into my local comic shop and saw “Ghostbusters Ongoing #1” sitting on the shelf and it had to be mine. Maybe it was that I had just rewatched Ghostbusters the night before, or maybe it was the fact that I’ve been a huge Ghostbusters fan for as long as I can remember (most people I know will say Ninja Turtles or GI Joe were their favorite, but mine was the Busters). I had to buy it, and I regret nothing. To say that this book will make any fan of the franchise happy is an understatement, it’s simply a good and fun book. All of the characters are perfectly in line with their movie counterparts, the video game is referenced as canon, and John Belushi even gets to guest star as Ray’s spiritual advisor Jake Blues. Erik, Dan, and Tristan are doing some really great work here.

 

1. The Boys

What can I say? On a list of all around favorites this year, The Boys would narrowly lose out to Batgirl, and Ennis definitely has a spot on my top writers of the year. I love this book, it’s the casual reminder how to not take super heroes too seriously filled with everything about Garth Ennis that I love. It’s like reading his Punisher on a grander scale with much more fun characters. 2012 looks to be the last year for The Boys, and it’s going to be sad to see it go. 2011 proved to be a banner year though, as the origin of Billy Butcher was finally unveiled in a mini series, while the core title itself has done everything from show us the original ‘heroes’ of World War II, the death of a favorite supporting cast member, and even the real on panel introduction of the founder of the Boys. This book isn’t for everyone, but I’ll be damned if it’s not consistently one of the most enjoyable reads on the market. Garth Ennis at his absolute best.



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