The Gold Standard: Best 10 Books Of 2010 And Amazing Spider-Man

Well, let me open up the big news that some of the regulars might care about, but I’ve officially lifted my Spider-ban. Sure, it started with Rick Remender and his upcoming Venom ongoing series featuring Flash Thompson, but after checking out a few issues of Dan Slott’s current run on Amazing Spider-Man I started to sway. It was honestly walking into my local comic shop this week and seeing Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 that did me in, I bought it, and I enjoyed it. Sure, the issue had nothing to do with the goings on of Spider-Man, but it was a gateway issue. And if I could buy that issue, I could easily buy the next one, the one where they buried Marla Jameson. Easily one of the best Spider-Man issues I’ve read in years, the kind that validates me buying the book, and just makes me want the next issue even more.

I still loathe the events the obliterated the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, but I miss Spider-Man, and from what I’ve read….Carlie isn’t that bad.

I feel dirty saying that, but it’s true. I’m going to have faith in Dan Slott and see where it gets me. Make mine, Marvel.

Now for the fun! I’ve got a brief list of my ten favorite ongoing series from 2010. The criteria is that the books have to had at least six issues out in 2010. Unfortunately, the ongoing criteria eliminates Justice League: Generation Lost from getting a nice spot near the top.

10. Secret Warriors – My first encounter with Jonathan Hickman was Secret Warriors, and for the past two years he’s been carving out a hell of a story in it. 2011 promises to be the end of it though as Hickman’s announced final issue is set for this calendar year. It’s been one of the most original, and best written stories Marvel has put out in a while. Hickman is digging up the secret origins of SHIELD and Hydra, and I couldn’t be more on the edge of my seat wondering what conclusion we’ll have at the end of the series.

9. Supergirl – Sterling Gates made me a fan of Supergirl, which is not something I ever expected to be. I was not a fan of Peter David’s Supergirl, the Matrix Supergirl of my youth confuses me to this day, and the early does of the current Kara Zor-El made me wish she could go the way of Cir-El. So why did I gives Gates a chance? I don’t remember fully, but I told myself I’d give him three issues, and the next thing I knew it was some twenty-five issues and two annuals later and I was upset that he was leaving the book. Gates gave Kara character, depth, and most importantly, he made her someone you wanted to like. Even New Krypton was actually a boon for this series, as giving Kara back her parents, even if only temporarily, helped forge her character and motivation. She’s a much stronger character now than when Gate took over the book, and she’s deserving of the title on her own merit. Not to mention the awesome Bizarrogirl storyline, which was my favorite Bizarro anything in years.

8. Avengers Academy – Talk about a sleeper title, when Avengers Academy was announced I was expecting the thematic followup to Initiative, but what we wound up with was a lot more awesome. We have a cast of characters that were broken by Norman Osborn during his time in charge, and a group of heroic mentors that are as damaged as the students, and it’s their job to make sure these kids wind up heroes and not villains. The students are dynamic, interesting, and one of the more original groups that has been assembled in recent memory. Mike McKone’s art was perfectly suited for the title, and the entire package was great. On top of that, Gage is doing great work with the mentors, especially Hank Pym, and you can’t go wrong with a well written Hank Pym.

7. Invincible Iron Man – Matt Fraction was my man of the year at Marvel for 2010, and Iron Man was a big part of it. He’s been crafting a very well told tale as he brings Tony truly into the future, and with a new mission statement he’s been just that much more interesting. With Stark Industries gone, he’s formed Stark Resilient, and their first project is a car using repular technology, the same tech that power Iron Man. He wants to create an unlimited energy source for a vehicle, which is something that isn’t hard to get behind in this day and age. Iron Man is relevant, interesting, and a must read book.

6. The Boys – What can I say, it’s one of my guilty pleasures. The year began with the origin of The Female, and from there Hughie’s relationship with Starlight spun out as Butcher finally discovered it. There was also SooperDooper, and their psychotic murderous new member, and how Hughie stepped in to do the right thing….only to build more suspicion against him. It was a year of trust issues all around, but it was answering questions many had had all along. We also got the Believe Festival, and Ennis sowing us how the powers react to religion. It was a twisted year, I won’t lie, but if it wasn’t I’d honestly be shocked.

5. Action Comics – Lex Luthor could have his very on ongoing for forever, and as long as you can find a writer like Paul Cornell, I would buy it. He added dimensions to Superman’s greatest foe by putting him in the starring role and going with something completely original. Sending him after black energy, the remnants of Black Lantern energy, and putting him up against other villains of the DC Universe from Deathstroke to Grodd and even Vandal Savage. Lex is a phenomenal character, and I’ll be sad to see Superman eventually retake this title as his own. Lex is just so much….better.

4. Batman and Robin – This is all about Morrison, as no offense to Paul Cornell, but his three parter was incredibly weak. Grant Morrison gave us three incredible story arcs, from Blackest Knight which revealed the secret of the Batman buried in Bruce’s grave, to Batman vs Robin which did a phenomenal job soldifying Damian’s character and just what he wants to be, to Batman and Robin Must Die which was perfectly fitting conclusion to the events Morrison began in Batman R.I.P. Three great story arcs, three great artists, and Morrison has left yet another unforgettable mark on the Batman mythos.

3. Fantastic Four – Jon Hickman’s Fantastic Four current ranks at #4 on my list of favorite FF runs, and when I say that, it’s just barely at number four, as the only thing keeping number three in place is nostalgia. Number three being the Heroes Reborn run by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi that was actually my formal introduction to the Four, the second being Mark Waid and the late, great Mike Wieringo, and the first obviously being Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Even without the conclusion to Three (which shipped in 2011), this book is more than deserving of its spot on the list. Hickman has built on the mythos while leaving his own mark on the franchise. It’s been a remarkable start with an incredibly promising future.

2. Green Lantern – Geoff Johns is still spear heading what really has become DC Comics premier franchise, and 2010 was a big year for him. Opening with Green Lantern #50, in the thick of the tail end of Blackest Night the book never took a break. When Blackest Night ended Johns dove immediately into the storyline with the entities, which is culminating currently in the lead in to War of the Green Lanterns. Johns excels at epic superheroes, with giant world ending, universe obliterating, reality shattering proportions. Yes, sometimes that can get grating and you just want to cool down with something down to Earth. In the case of Green Lantern though? Every issue he makes you glad that he hasn’t taken that momentary breather, because he doesn’t do fill in issues anymore. Further proof of that? Doug Mahnke hasn’t missed an issue, when Ivan Reis was the artist on this book they had fill in artists for every other story arc.

1. Batgirl – Bryan Q. Miller’s take on Stephanie Brown as Batgirl has quickly grown into my favorite monthly title on the stands. Not bogged down by years of obstructive continuity, or at risk of constantly being pulled into events, the title has managed to find it’s own unique voice. The book doesn’t feature universe shaking events, or even constant appearances by non-core characters, but that works. Miller has been building up a supporting cast that is uniquely Steph’s, and giving the character a much needed sense of identity. I can’t tell you the last time I missed Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, and I also can’t tell you the last time that I was this in love with a title. It’s not a big event book, but if anything, that’s why it’s so great.

Come back Tuesday for my top 5 moments of the week, as well as my look into the ten best bets of 2011!

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