The Comics Nexus Awards 2007 – Day 3: Story

UPDATE: a lot of you who are using Internet Explorer would have noticed severe page hiccups during the past few days and we would like to apologise, as the browser was clashing with some of the code that Firefox was otherwise ok with and we never noticed until now! Enjoy the rest of the show!!

DAY 3 – STORY

Welcome back to the Comics Nexus Awards 2007!

If you’re arriving late to the party, get the lowdown on the new format with our Day 0 introduction and check back to Day 1 of the Nexus Awards for the winners in the character categories and Day 2 for our creator awards

Best Male Lead: Blue Beetle
Best Female Lead: She-Hulk
Best Supporting Character: Agent 355
Best Villain: Red Skull
Best Team
Best Writer: Ed Brubaker
Best Artist: J.H. Williams III
Best Editor: Nate Cosby & Mark Paniccia
Best Breakout Talent: Christos N. Gage
Best Company: Marvel Comics

Standing strong after 3 days, your Nexus Awards hosts:
Manolis Vamvounis (editor, graphics,words) and Iain Burnside (words)

On to Day Three:

Collection

If there has been one noticeable trend in the comic book industry of late that does not involve mass-crossovers, variant covers, arbitrary deaths and resurrections or even the appearance of a zombie, it is the thankful realisation that reprinting the vast corpus of classic material in finely printed and durable formats is what we Obvious Pointer-Outers refer to as A Good Thing Indeed. Marvel has released a number of Omnibus collections of well-regarded runs and continues to eventually produce many oversized HCs of more recent titles. DC has delved into the oh-so-heavy waters of Absolute editions, plus yester-year paperbacks like Chronicles and Showcase. The likes of Image, IDW and Dark Horse are also getting into the practise, what with more readers favouring the durability of owning actual books rather than advert-clogged, poorly-stapled single issues that are prone to delays and far harder to keep in good condition. Besides, the weighty tomes just look cool. So, what were the best ones on offer?

Runners-Up:

Bronze Nexus — Fell HC

Silver Nexus — Captain America Omnibus

Winner – Golden Nexus:

DAREDEVIL OMNIBUS

You know who likes big, heavy books about blind people? Starman!

Frank Miller’s been in the public eye a lot this year. Between the wide-spread success of the film “300” – based on Miller’s Eisner-winning comic of the same name – and the news that Miller himself was helming a big-screen adaptation of Will Eisner’s own “The Spirit” comic for 2008, the comics industry has one heck of an mainstream elder-statesman in Miller.

PhotobucketThis is all the more shocking considering Miller’s own lack of popularity in recent years in the industry that made him famous. With comics-related projects more and more infrequent over the past decade, Miller’s more recent work has been fraught with controversy. There have been charges of sexism regarding his “Sin City” work. There have been charges that he was “phoning it-in” or “playing a prank” with his “All-Star Batman and Robin”. And there have even been charges of Miller having gone completely insane, based on his attempts to publish a story based on the concept of “Batman vs. Al-Queda”

Still, whatever you think of his recent work or current state of mind, none can deny the influence that Frank Miller has had on the comics industry and few can deny the quality of his now-legendary run on Daredevil. With artist Klaus Janson alongside him for most of his run (though Miller penciled a few issues himself), Miller redefined a hero of the Marvel Silver Age who’s most notable enemies were “The Owl” and “The Matador” into a tougher, grittier hero who spent more time fighting ninjas and street-punks than colorfully-costumed criminals.

Of course these classic stories have been collected before but the Daredevil Omnibus marks the first time that all of Miller & Janson’s works have been collected in a single hardcover volume. With sturdy binding and a larger-than-average page size that allows for the artwork to be more fully examined and appreciated, this book presents both old Daredevil fans a way to see their favorite stories as if they had never seen them before while offering new fans a chance to read the entirety of the run in one convenient book.

It is for this extraordinary ability to make the old seem new again that we have voted to honor the Daredevil Omnibus with the award for Best Collection.


Crossover

Who doesn’t enjoy buying seventy-three thousand and six individual issues released sporadically, sometimes in the wrong order, sometimes with minimal relevant content, just to get the entirety of a superhero story that would have taken at most two issues to be told in the ’60s?

Runners-Up:

Bronze Nexus — X-Men: Messiah Complex

Silver Nexus — World War Hulk

Winner – Golden Nexus:

SINESTRO CORPS WAR

PhotobucketDropping by to accept the Nexus Award for Messiah Complex, it’s the X-Men’s very own Mike Carey!!

“Very cool, guys. Thanks. On behalf of Ed, Craig, Chris, Peter and myself, I’d like to say: exegi monumentum aere perennius. Writing Messiah Complex was about as much fun as you can have without buxom women, exotic oils and pizza. I hope it was as much fun for you to read. I also hope you won’t wake me up this early next year unless we get a gold.”

Sorry for that, Mike! Hey, XMC is in the running for next year as well, don’t despair 😉

If there’s a better man to write about war in the stars than a man whose name is synonymous with both stars and being a man, well, we’ve yet to find him… in other words, over to Matt “Starman” Morrison!

We had several one-sided votes for the awards this year. This was one of them and I can’t say that I’m the least bit shocked.

Why? Well, ignoring my own status as a life-time Green Lantern fan, I knew that this series was going to go the distance a few months ago. Newsarama did a poll asking what the best Maxi-Series of the year thus far was and the readers of Newsarama responding overwhelmingly in favor of The Sinestro Corps War. 2 out of every 3 votes chose SCW – with it’s nearest competitor (World War Hulk) over 50 percentage points away with a percentage that was barely in the double digits
Our own vote was not quite so overwhelming but it was still a solid majority

Of course popularity is no measure of quality but in this case SCW has proven to be as skilfully written and illustrated as it is beloved. Building off of the battles waged in his own Rebirth storyline and his monthly Green Lantern title, Geoff Johns combined his own contributions to the Green Lantern mythos with the early works of Alan Moore regarding a prophecy foretelling the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps.

Sinestro. Superman Prime. Amon Sur. The Cyborg Superman. Parallax. The Manhunters. All fearsome foes in their own right – all granted the power of a yellow-energy ring powered by the fear it’s bearer inspires. Throw in an army of never before seen like-minded villainous types as well as the fact that they are all working under the command of the universe-destroying Anti-Monitor and you have a group that is a credible threat without any unnecessary editorially-driven hype.

That more than anything separated SCW from it’s competitors. It didn’t require a mass of tie-ins or cross-promotional issues for it to sell – the story sold itself. And what a story it was! Heavily devoted to the history of the Green Lantern Corps, it still managed to be accessible to new readers and moved quickly to the action without being weighted down by backstory and continuity.

Put simply, this story was comics at its’ finest. And for that reason above all others, we are proud to give it the 2007 Comics Nexus Award for Best Maxi-Series/Crossover.

Will the day ever come when Uncle Plasma Screen threatens to destroy the Marvel Universe? Oh, wait, that’s Joe Quesada’s Sunday name. Anyway, let’s move on rather swiftly from this humourless low. !


Webcomic

The internet has provided humanity with many great advances. We can order our food online, get it delivered to our house, eat it and get fat and never have to even speak to anybody. We can skulk around naked and watch free porn all day long. We can rant and rave about movies on irreverent forums to make ourselves feel better. We can read Ulysses. And we can get a shitload of creator-driven webcomics at the click of a button and the skip of a mongoose!! Here are our favourites…

Runners-Up:

Bronze Nexus — Girl Genius

Silver Nexus — In His Likeness

Winner – Golden Nexus:

Girls With Slingshots

And now a bunch of words and a thousand of them in the form of a picture from none other than Danielle Corsetto herself and her Girls!

“Hey, wow!! Thank you so much, I didn’t even know I was in the running! I must say, I agree in full with your second and third place choices as well. :)”


Storyline

If the classic single issue is a dying art, then great storylines remain eternal. Yet which of those released in comic book format in 2007 are going to be remembered at the end of time, or even by the end of 2008? And which involved the most gratuitous use of MAGIC? Of those that deserve to remain in memory, we preferred these ones…

Runners-Up:

Bronze Nexus — “The Last Iron Fist” (IMMORTAL IRON FIST)
Bronze Nexus — “Lawless” (CRIMINAL)

Silver Nexus — “Island of Dr Mayhew” (BATMAN)

Winner – Golden Nexus:

“Death of a Dream” (CAPTAIN AMERICA)

Now, who the hell could possibly have anything left to write about Captain America? Only Paul Beasley, that’s who!!

Some stories need no fanfare in order to spark interest in the hearts and minds of the comic-buying public. Some stories just come out of the blue and hit you in the face like a crack-addict kangaroo boxer wielding a baseball bat. And often these stories; the ones that have not been hyped, over-hyped and hyped again; are the ones that really matter and the ones with the best execution. For all the big crossover events there have been over the last couple of years, one story that Marvel published in 2007 had a bigger impact than any other. It was probably the boldest move since their Distinguished Competition sent Big Blue into the big blue yonder. Marvel Comics killed Steve Rogers. They did. They actually killed Captain America.

As soon Captain America #25 hit the comic stands, the headlines hit the newsstands. The mainstream press picked up on the story and it was discussed on television news programmes and in national and international newspapers. This was by far the biggest story in the comics industry for years, at least as far as the non-comic-buying public was concerned. And that was just as it should be. When you do something this big, you really need to get it right – because if you don’t, you will not be forgiven by the fans. Ever. In this the quality of the work was more than equal to the boldness of the content.

Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting had created a masterpiece, out of what was one of the most intricate and convoluted back-stories ever. The Red Skull was now merged with a Russian villain called Lukin. Lukin was the man who had brainwashed Cap’s original partner, Bucky Barnes, who Cap had always believed had died in WWII, into becoming a clinical assassin for hire called The Winter Soldier. Under Lukin’s brainwashing, Bucky had even assassinated another of Steve Rogers’ partners – Jack Monroe a.k.a. Nomad. At the same time, Cap had transformed from the symbol of America into a renegade, on the run from the Government’s forces. He had gone underground, fighting against the forced registration of super-humans, in the Civil War crossover event. When he finally handed himself into the authorities, Red Skull / Lukin saw his/their chance (you see how confusing this could get?) and implemented a plot to assassinate him. He was shot by The Red Skull’s lackey, Crossbones on his way in to stand trial. Of course Crossbones wasn’t shooting at Rogers. He aimed at someone else, knowing Captain America would put himself at risk to save the other person. And then, while Cap was lying prone, mortally wounded and defenceless, the final coup de grace was added to the plot. Cap’s long-time partner and on/off love interest, Sharon Carter, rushed over to his side…… and finished the job. She had also been brainwashed, by Dr Faustus, into acting as an unwilling killer, and shortly afterwards into remembering what she had done.

It was bold, it was brave, and it was brilliant. Brubaker’s writing and Epting’s art were as always exceptional. This story set the benchmark for the year’s comic storytelling, and continues to do so. With Carter, Barnes and The Falcon (another of Cap’s partners) out for vengeance against those that perpetrated the crime, the tale is not yet complete. But whether “Dead means Dead” in the long-term or not, this storyline will be remembered for as long as Captain America is remembered. It is quite simply one of the most important yet at the same time understated stories in Marvel history.

Piffle. Not nearly enough MAGIC involved.

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Single Issue

The single issue story is practically a forgotten skill nowadays, what with our demand for bookstore-friendly lengthy tales and decompressed storytelling designed to convince the self-loathing comic book industry that it possesses literary merit after all. (Hint: it had it all along) To this end, the most memorable single issues that people have actually heard of tend to be the ones with shock and hype value. Deaths. Reveals. Retcons. Debuts. Returns. Sometimes, however, single issues built around such moments can still be worthy and moving reads in their own right, crafting a solid grounding for the selling point before shaking the ground beneath your feet. Here are some examples.

Runners-Up:

Bronze Nexus — SINESTRO CORPS ONESHOT
Bronze Nexus — CAPTAIN AMERICA #25

Silver Nexus — ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #6

Winner – Golden Nexus:

SCOTT PILGRIM GETS IT TOGETHER (vol.4)

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Not surprisingly we’ve already covered most of the winners in our earlier story categories! We might as well use up the space to showcase some of the amazing moments from these issues which made them so memorable!

From Sinestro Corps One-Shot the last page which made the entire audience jump up from their seats in excitement, the gathered Sinestro Corps front runners:

In Captain America #25, Captain America lies dead at the steps of the courthouse in the most publicised image from a comic this year:

And finally from All-Star Super-man #6, the powerful images of Superman’s reaction to his father’s death:

Moving on from the doom and gloom, our big winner this year is anything but: Pulse Glazer has a few words on SCOTT PILGRIM‘s fourth graphic novel which came out last month:

Very rarely does a totally original book come onto the scene, but that’s what we have in Scott Pilgrim. The book follows the adventures of the Canadian twenty something in his aimlessly meandering life as he must battle his girlfriend’s evil exes to be able to stay with her. Each book comes out as a trade in manga format and features Scott’s ongoing… well, adventures is a bit much, but trials and battles with his girlfriend Ramona’s exes. The tone shifts quickly and abruptly between the normal life scenes, but the absurdity is always treated as perfectly normal by the characters, so everything manages to fit into a cohesive whole. The characters act like real people, with even the stranger folks having a live and breathe quality about them, having their own lives and concerns. Mystery is consistently maintained, and having the space a trade provides, the build in plot is perfect, yet due to the constant tone shifts, never dull. The last trade features multiple twists with truly heartwarming moments. It’s the best book you’ve never heard of. Make your comic shop order it today.


Almost done now! Come back tomorrow for our very last day of coverage, presenting the Best Series Awards:

Best Limited Series
Best Marvel Series
Best DC Series
Best indy Series
Best title

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