Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Favorite Comic Books of 2011

There are probably a lot of spelling errors here as this is one of the longest posts I've written. I'll try to catch them when I eventually re-read this. Sorry for any inconvenience.

So, another thing I want to talk about during my little 2011 retrospective would be comic books. My history with them? It was when I think I was either nine, ten, or eleven years old and I walked into a comic book shop and asked what the owner would recommend for a new reader. I had seen the X-Men movie and although I wasn't as taken by it as my friends were at the time, I figured it would be cool to check out the books that I saw action figures, cartoons, and now films become based on. He recommended Ultimate Spider-Man #1 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley.

I checked it out, it was a re-introduction for a new universe of stories featuring Marvel's most well-known characters. I kept reading the Ultimate Marvel Universe, moved onto the Marvel Universe, moved to the DC Universe, moved to Vertigo, then to... well just about everything. With the help of message boards and websites like Newsarama and Comic Book Resources, I've been able to keep up-to-date on what I should be reading from creator-owned books to the characters that have been around since the 1940s (in fact, pretty much all of my list can be even be found on their current retrospectives for 2011).

I divided it up into Marvel/DC and other. Only seemed fair considering the characters owned by the "big two" have been around for such a long time while the other series are all original creations to a certain extent. So here it is.

Title and issue numbers if applicable (regular writer/regular artist)- publisher


Action Comics #1-4 (Grant Morrison/Rags Morales)- DC
Morrison's Superman has moved away from being the all-American character many audiences have known him as and is now a rebellious young adult still trying to find his way. This character is quick to fight and has a certain swashbuckling nature about him that Morales does a great job of capturing with his art. Lex Luthor is also very well-written because his concerns are very similar to the reader. Is this Superman really worthy of being a hero and perhaps one day being the world's greatest superhero? The most radical of the new DC universe interpretations is with the company's flagship character and that seems like a great way to kick-off a new era.

All-Star Western #1-4 (Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray/Moritat)- DC
This new series that replaced Palmiotti and Gray's previous Jonah Hex series, features the gunslinger making his way to the Wild West's equivalent of Gotham City. Although the city is just beginning to become the crime enterprise that it is in the Batman books, Hex still finds plenty of criminals to fight. He teams up with Amadeus Arkham (the founder of the same Asylum) as they fight criminals with bullets and psychology (guess who uses what). Palmiotti and Gray used to write mostly one-shot stories, but now I am happy to see that this series will most likely be made up of some longer and very entertaining arcs.

Amazing Spider-Man #652-676 (Dan Slott/various)- Marvel
As the series moved from the Brand New Day storyline and into the Big Time storyline, Slott remained and in his first couple of arcs he shook up Spidey's supporting cast with a number of deaths and changes. This has pretty much continued throughout the year, but I'm amazed at how every couple of issues there seems to be a major change in the status quo. Slott is taking a lot of risks, but he is also recognizing how large Spidey's world actually is. This all led to the Spider-Island arc in which all of Manhattan gained spider-powers. That story was illustrated by Humberto Ramos who was just one of the many talented artists to work on the book during these past twelve months.

Animal Man #1-4 (Jeff Lemire/Travel Foreman)- DC
Over two decades ago, Grant Morrison took Buddy Baker and turned him into a hero that was as complex as any of DC's more well known characters. Similar to Morrison, but with his own original style of writing, Lemire is telling stories as wierd as they are fascinating. I'm surprised at how well the family aspect of the book mixes and contrasts with the dark horror and the general sense of dread that is occuring in this first storyline. Foreman is taking his artwork to a new level than I've seen from him in the past as the situations that Buddy finds himself in have brought forth some of the most disgusting images I've seen in a while.

Aquaman #1-4 (Geoff Johns/Ivan Reis)- DC
Coming out of the Brightest Day storyline, Aquaman seemed like the perfect character for Geoff Johns to take ahold of and delve into. The man has after all resurrected such properties as the JSA, Hawkman, Hal Jordan, Booster Gold, the Teen Titans, and worked on Flash, Superman, and now the JLA. Johns is very skilled at finding a way to make us truly care about these characters by reminding us what is great about them while still bringing a modern interpretation to their mythos. Along with his Green Lantern artist, Ivan Reis, Johns is continuing the tradition with Aquaman and the book is chock full of great character moments.

Batman #1-4 (Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo)- DC
Snyder moved from pre-New 52 Detective Comics to New 52 Batman without missing a beat. Although it's a new story, the book is just as exciting and crazy as just about everything that Snyder writes. Having seen Capullo on Haunt at Image, I was surprised that he was picked for a book especially considering how his style might not work with Snyder's grim stories. Well, I was proven wrong as Capullo impresses with each newly released issue. I won't delve too deep into what storyline Snyder is revealing at the moment as it is full of shocks and surprises, but it is one of the most interesting takes on Bruce Wayne as Batman from this past year.

Batman Incorporated #3-8 (Grant Morrison/various)- DC
One of the more interesting aspects of Batman's vigilante life that Morrison has played with has been the "League of Bats". A group of international Batmen that Bruce Wayne has been sure to make a part of his new effort- Batman Inc. From a native-American Batman to the original Batwoman, this series is brimming with the kind of outrageous storytelling that Morrison has been known for. The series also introduced me to Chris Burnham whose pencils will be accompanying Morrison's follow-up, Batman: Leviathan.

Batwoman #1-4 (W. Haden Blackman/J.H. Williams III)- DC
Picking up the reigns from Greg Rucka's take on the character (which Williams also worked on), the book is making Kate Kane's war on crime to be as memorable and unique as her male counterpart's. What is perhaps the greatest selling point for this book is the artwork. Williams' pencils are just so damn stunning. The book looks absolutely gorgeous and the designs for each page are always different and stunning. Just when you think he can't surprise you with anything else, Williams manages to come up with some sort of brilliant and stylized interpretation of this group of characters and Gotham City with each and every issue.

Daredevil #1-7 (Mark Waid/Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin)- Marvel
Matt Murdock was a character that over the past volume of stories by Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Andy Diggle- he only seemed to work when his life was being torn to pieces. His ex-girlfriend died, his secret identity was revealed, he became the Kingpin of Hells Kitchen, he went to jail, his most recent girlfriend was driven insane, he became the head of the Hand, and then he left New York. Now, Mark Waid has brought Matt back to the city in a book that is full of joy and features a more brave and fun-loving take on Daredevil. What a welcome change that manages to work very well. The art by Rivera and Martin just pops off the page with their clever designs.

Deadpool MAX #4-12 (David Lapham/Kyle Baker)- Marvel
Similar to when Ennis took the Punisher to the MAX imprint, Lapham's Deadpool is one of the most creative takes on the character that I've seen in a while. Kyle Baker was an unexpected choice as series artist, but his handling of the more comedic and violent moments is what has made his work on titles like Plastic Man and Truth work so well. This book is a constant delight that just might be too insane for Deadpool's usual fans. Lapham has went from PG-13 buffoonery and has taken the character somewhere as R-rated and twisted as it is entertaining.

Detective Comics #873-881 (Scott Snyder/Jock and Francesco Francavilla)- DC
The final run on the title before the relaunch was an intense mystery that was equal parts horror and superheroics. Snyder's story, The Black Mirror, was one of the most thrilling and constantly surprising stories of the year. Featuring Dick Grayson as Batman, this book included new characters for the new readers that might just be discovering the series, but it also harkened back to known Batman tropes and characters when necessary. Everything was only made better by the two artists which is a rare feat, but Jock and Francavilla complimented each other nicely. Normally first arcs or relaunches tend to have the most fresh interpretations on a character, but Snyder managed to pull it all off in the many months before the launch of the new DC universe.

FF #1-13 (Jonathan Hickman/Steve Epting)- Marvel
Coming off the death of Johnny Storm, Hickman turned Fantastic Four into the FF (Future Foundation) and continued their adventures of trying to save the universe, reality, you name it. He has continued to make Franklin and Valeria as interesting as he can and with the addition of Alex Power, Hickman has suceeded in making the kids as interesting as their adult caretakers. At the end of the day, the creative team is sure to let readers know that this book is about a family. Even with one of their number gone for the moment, as long as they stick together, they can always be counted on to save the world.

Flashpoint: Batman- Knight of Vengeance #1-3 (Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso)- DC
Tie-ins to big events are normally very missable, but a lot of readers took note of the re-teaming of Azzarello and Risso who had previously delivered the beloved Vertigo series 100 Bullets. Well, everyone's suspicions served them right because this series proved to be one of the most haunting and violent books in mainstream comics. This alternate universe story featured Thomas Wayne as the caped crusader who is now attempting to avenge of the death of his wife and his son Bruce. Surprisingly good; I wish a lot more tie-ins were like this.

Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #1-4 (Jeff Lemire/Alberto Ponticelli)- DC
Take a crazy-monster that was just re-invented not that long ago by Grant Morrison and give him a cool organization to take orders from and the result is one of the best horror-fantasy comics around. This is like Indiana Jones... if Indiana Jones was Frankenstein. Lemire is a perfect fit for the title as he seems almost like an heir to Morrison's style of storytelling.

Journey Into Mystery #622-632 (Kieron Gillen/Doug Braithewaite)- Marvel
Although Gillen first started having to write a Thor series because Marvel and J. Michael Straczynski parted ways and JMS's story needed to be finished, Gillen has decided to stick with the characters and have a lot of fun with Thor's supporting cast. Loki (who is young at the moment) has to learn about growing up at a time when the Marvel universe is in a bit of turmoil. He is also the god of mischief so that ends up getting him stuck in a few difficult situations. For a book that spent most of the year dealing with the Fear Itself storyline, Gillen and Braithewaite have come up with a series that is equally fun as it is serious.

OMAC #1-4 (Dan Didio/Keith Giffen)- DC
I had such low expectations for OMAC. Dan Didio had not really impressed me as a writer despite my admiration for his skills behind-the-scenes at DC Comics these past couple of years, but he and Giffen seem to have found a character and come up with a story that just clicks. This book is highly entertaining and full of some great action and adventure. I really enjoy the nods to past DC continuity now that everything has been re-set. Something about this book tells me it might be the most revealing when it comes to explaining how this new DC universe is different from the last.

The Punisher #1-6 (Greg Rucka/Marco Checchetto)- Marvel
Following the work of Garth Ennis, Matt Fraction, and Rick Remender is no easy task, but crime and comics veteran Rucka has managed to keep the epic nature of the character's adventures while still being as realistic and gritty as the MAX-imprint work by Ennis and currently Jason Aaron. Somehow, having the character take on street level crime in a universe that is unmistakingly belonging to Marvel has been pulled off. Congrats to the creators.

Punisher MAX #10-20 (Jason Aaron/Steve Dillon)- Marvel
Aaron and Dillon continued to impress with a story about how Frank Castle's return from Vietnam signals that the Punisher was born quite a long time ago. The scenes where we start to realize that Frank might've been using his family's death as the excuse he always needed to unleash his inner demons was one of the more disturbing moments in the character's history. Aaron and Dillon have handled such a complex story with such grace that for those who thought there was nothing much to the Punisher, think again.

The Shade #1-3 (James Robinson/Cully Hamner)- DC
Robinson returns to a character he was well known for writing back when he won over fans and skeptics alike with his awesome Starman series. Now, he works on re-defining the Shade for the new DC universe and with former collaborator Tony Harris on covers and Darwyn Cooke set to work on upcoming issues, I can't wait to see where Robinson takes this story. It has the superhero action and fun concepts that Robinson was known for with the usual great art from Hamner.

Swamp Thing #1-4 (Scott Snyder/Yanick Paquette)- DC
How can Snyder write so many horror series with each one feeling as original as the last? Well he does it again this time by re-introducing a character who perhaps like many readers, has forgotten what made him so great. Alec Holland is having a bit of an existential crisis and his story of exploring who he really is and what his place in this world may end up being is contrasted against William Arcane. Arcane's disturbing and villainous story-arc is just as interesting as Holland's and I look forward to seeing how Snyder and Paquette will choose for these characters to come to blows in the future.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-5 (Brian Michael Bendis/Sara Pichelli)- Marvel
In the new character of Miles Morales, Bendis has created a unique person to continue on Peter Parker's legacy. This could be seen as a huge risk for the series, but at the end of the day, the creation of the imprint was a huge risk. The whole point of the Ultimate universe was to make it a place where the unexpected could happen with Marvel's characters and with over a decade of stories set in that realm, it makes sense that Bendis would try and mix things up a bit. He is coming up with a great origin story and Sara Pichelli's artwork is a revelation. She is perfect for capturing the spirit of this series with her striking pencils.

Uncanny X-Force #4-19 (Rick Remender/various)- Marvel
Could an X-Force book really be this good? I should never have doubted Remender. This year, with The Dark Angel Saga storyline, the writer has crafted such a brutal and shocking arc that I can't help but wonder how he gets past editorial with being so merciless with these characters. It is great to see a writer taking such risks with the characters in a shared universe as Wolverine's black-ops team is currently going through some of the most dark and heartbreaking stories that I've read in a long time. Even though the series is solicited for the months to come, I keep wondering how certain characters will get out of the mess they've found themselves in due to the tension that is created each and every issue

Vengeance #1-6 (Joe Casey/Nick Dragotta)- Marvel
I unfortunately have never read much of Joe Casey until this year. I've read his occasional miniseries which was always work-for-hire and I've been meaning to check out Godland, but I never understood why he had such rabid followers. Now I do. Vengeance is a series that features a ton of villains... and well some really interesting stuff happens. I'll let anyone who wants to check out the book discover it for themselves. Now I just happen to know why Joe Casey is so beloved. He understands these established characters, but he is anything but conventional in the hoops he puts them through.

Wolverine and the X-Men #1-3 (Jason Aaron/Chris Bachalo)- Marvel
After coming off the events of X-Men: Schism, Aaron has managed to create a book that feels so fresh despite the years of continuity that can often prevent writers from taking risks with these characters. Aaron did so with Schism and now he is taking a lighter, but just as well-written approach with Wolverine's current X-team. The book is an equal mix of humor and thrills and he also has one of the best interpretations of Kitty Pryde that I've seen in a while. With Bachalo on art, I look forward to seeing where the book goes in the coming year.

Wonder Woman #1-4 (Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang)- DC
Another of the more unexpected surprises of the new batch of DC titles. I never would have pegged Azzarello as such a great writer for this character (his past superhero work has varied from a great Batman story to a poor Superman story). He has decided to really have this book embrace the rich and ancient mythology that surrounds Diana and her people. Chiang's energetic pencils only add to the enjoyment because of all of the well-choreographed fight scenes. Wonder Woman is finally the badass warrior that so many other writers have tried to turn her into over the past couple of years.


American Vampire #11-22 (Scott Snyder/Rafael Albuquerque and Jordi Bernet)- Vertigo
It is refreshing to see a great vampire story during a time when there is a bit of a vampire craze going on unfortunately thanks to a series of poorly-reviewed tween movies. Snyder's epic moves throughout American history which serves as a fascinating backdrop for this story about the complicated history of the various vampire groups. Along with guest art by Jordi Bernet, the series also had a spin-off miniseries titled Survival of the Fittest that served to answer some of the questions about the mythos and lore that surrounds the book's universe.

The Boys #50-61 (Garth Ennis/Russ Braun and Darick Robertson)- Dynamite
The absurdity continues in this series as the conflict between the Seven and the Boys reached a boiling point. Russ Braun has done a great job since becoming the book's regular artist to chronicle the adventures of a team of strongmen that have been asked to police the superheroes. Still, it was great to see Darick Robertson return for the storyline that explained Butcher's origin. Not to worry, for such an outrageous book, Ennis still makes sure that the characters are the most important aspect.

BPRD #74-86 (Mike Mignola and John Arcudi/Guy Davis and Tyler Crook)- Dark Horse
I'm surprised how much more interesting I find the BPRD books compared to Hellboy. Then again, they aren't that different. Both are a superhero horror comic book, but I suppose BPRD has such a great group of amazing characters that are smartly written for such a fast-paced book. The Plague of Frogs story came to a conclusion this year and as Hell on Earth begins, it is nice to see that the book has retained its fun as well as its grit. New series artist Tyler Crook has also done a great job of living up to the departing Guy Davis.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1-4 (Joss Whedon and Andrew Chambliss/Georges Jeanty)- Dark Horse
The previous series, Season 8, was a stellar book with an ending that included a storyline so shocking that it provided a great deal of controversy and discussion among Buffy fans. With the start of season 9, Whedon and co-writer Andrew Chambliss continue what made Season 8 a success- a great affection and care for these characters. It almost feels like the TV show never ended because the series is just as smartly written and true to form as it has ever been. Plus, it is beautiful to look at thanks to Jeanty.

Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker #1-7 (Joe Casey/Mike Huddleston)- Image
Having really gotten into Joe Casey's work this year with Vengeance, I decided to check out this original series that was getting a great deal of acclaim. This book has such extreme action that I could've sworn that Mark Millar or Garth Ennis was writing it. This is both a parody of their kind of books while still focusing on what makes those types of stories work. As over-the-top and energetic it is, that feeling continues in the back-matter as Casey writes some essays that are as harsh in criticism as they are truthful and funny.

The Cape #1-3 (Joe Hill/Zach Howard)- IDW
Quite possibly the scariest comic of the year, Hill takes a lot of risks in the three issues he has released. This comic is about the origin of a super-villain and Hill is sure to make it anything but ordinary by being sure to include as many shocks as he can. Not that anyone should be measured to their father's standard, but Hill more than lives up to being the son of horror maestro Stephen King.

Casanova: Avaritia #1-2 (Matt Fraction/Gabriel Ba)- Icon
Fraction's Casanova returns and is as odd as it has ever been. The series follows a secret agent who is trying to get back at his evil father as he moves through dimension after dimension to enact some sort of grand plan... or maybe to just have some fun. Ba's great artwork and Fraction's awesome stories are both so inspired and original. The series went on a hiatus as Fraction began working in the Marvel universe. He has now moved the series from Image to Icon and I hope that with the title under the guard of his current employer's creator-owned imprint that the series doesn't go on another break anytime soon.

Chew #17-22 (John Layman/Rob Guillory)- Image
As insane of a conept this series has, the stories only get more and more intense. Layman isn't afraid to "go there" when necessary. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, this is a story about a cop with one of the most ridiculous of powers- he can tell the history of whatever (or whoever!) he eats. You really have to give this a read to understand how surprisingly well the creative team has a grip on such an outrageous idea. As events continued to build on each other, it was refreshing to see Guillory willing to experiment and play around with whatever curveballs Layman would throw him.

Criminal: Last of the Innocents #1-4 (Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips)- Icon
The most recent tale in the Criminal universe is one of infidelity. Brubaker once again suceeds in taking such a wholesome character and turning him into a monster. The book is full of twists that never feel exploitive towards characters who we feel like we've known forever. The series continues to be a master-act of noir writing and penciling that I hope this book doesn't conclude anytime soon.

Echo #28-30 (Terry Moore)- Abstract
Moore's most recent ongoing series concluded this year and proved to be a worthy follow-up to Strangers in Paradise. The characters were well-written and fully developed with fantastic arcs by the end of the series. The suspense was also handled expertly by Moore to the point where I almost was concerned the world would be destroyed. The science behind everything was also very interesting.

Fables #101-112 (Bill Willingham/Mark Buckingham)- Vertigo
Having passed its centennial issue, I'm amazed that Willingham has not run out of ideas for his series. Then again, how could he? There is so much folklore and so many fairy tales in existence, the series can go on for a very long time and it appears that it well. With such a large cast of beloved (and despised) characters, I hope this does not end for a long time. Somehow, with age, the series only keeps getting better and better and better.

Habibi (Craig Thompson)- Pantheon
The most recent work by Thompson since his graphic novel, Blankets, is a story about two slaves in the Middle East where fantasy myths have become reality. Compared to his previous work, this is his darkest and that contrasts brilliantly with his lush artwork. The most important thing about Habibi is that it cements Thompson (as if his previous three books haven't already) as a serious talent that one should keep an eye on and wait and see what he might have to say. With this graphic novel, Thompson explores the idea of love in a place where many have given up and that proves to be an universal allegory for life in general.

Irredeemable #21-32 (Mark Waid/Peter Krause)- BOOM
This is another great work from Waid, but without a doubt it is his darkest. Throughout the series he has played with expectations, only taking the audience to the "oh crap" moments when they would be most effective. That is perhaps the best way to tell this story of a superhero turned murderer. This year was another enjoyable one as we learned about some of the characters' backstories. Be sure to check out the title's spin-off, Incorruptible, if you haven't already.

iZombie #9-20 (Chris Roberson/Mike Allred)- Vertigo
I'm not always crazy about stories that are deemed "quirky", but this one is too good to pass up. This story is about a zombie girl and supernatural friends who solve crimes. This year we learned about a plot to destroy the world that is put into motion by the Bride of Frankenstein. Okay, so this might not sound like the greatest thing on paper, but Roberson and Allred sure as hell do a good job of making it look and read very damn well. For a series where most of the characters are literally dead, each issue is alive and full of energy. Another hit from Vertigo who can't seem to do no wrong.

Locke and Key #22-27 (Joe Hill/Gabriel Rodriguez)- IDW
Hill and Rodriguez continue to deliver a series that is always morphing and evolving as time goes on. It moves between being about the love a family has for each other, the teenage angst the younger characters feel, and being a horror series that delves deeper and deeper into the supernatural as time goes on. What is most refreshing about this series is how it feels so fresh and original with an atmosphere that is as chilling as Hill's other series that also made this list.

Love and Rockets #4 (Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez)- Fantagraphics
While Gilbert continued the tragic story of Fritz Martinez, Jaime decided to conclude the Love Bunglers storyline that has taken up about thirty years of the book. That is perhaps the great thing about the alternative comics movement. These series have been lasting for hundreds of issues (although L&R was relaunched just recently) so you really feel as if you've spent a lifetime with these characters. The brothers seem to love telling stories about characters that make bad decisions as their lives get worse and audiences are all the better for it by experiencing these tragedies. Throw in some great art and I hope the book has another thirty years in it as well.

Morning Glories #6-14 (Nick Spencer/Joe Eisma)- Image
Spencer's story of gifted kids at a school is anything but a re-hashing of the X-Men. Instead, life at the Morning Glories Academy is full of moments that rarely end happily for these characters. After the first arc, Spencer has begun to introduce even more characters, explain more backstories, and like any good mystery he keeps introducing new questions to be answered. Spencer's series reminds me of Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways in how it mashed teen angst with science-fiction/fantasy/horror all while ending on some incredible cliffhangers each and every issue.

Scalped #45-54 (Jason Aaron/R.M. Guera)- Vertigo
As this 'Sopranos on a Native American reservation' epic enters its final act, I can't wait to go back and read this phenomenal crime drama in one sitting. The series is full of a lot of violence, but also a lot of heart as Aaron and Guera have created such memorable and multi-dimensional characters that I can't believe there is some sort of endgame planned for everyone involved in this story. This is sure as hell not the happiest of comics books as many of its characters have already met a dark fate, but the book has proved to be an enlightening experience in explaining how we might all be through with our pasts, but our pasts might not be through with us.

Severed #1-5 (Scott Snyder/Atilla Futaki)- Image
Snyder has created another thrilling book and along with Lemire has emerged as one of the most important talents of the year. The story follows a boy who is looking for his father, but instead he comes in contact with some very dangerous looking fellows. I'll leave it at that as the series is still in its early stages, but assuming Futaki's painting-looking pencils stay with the book, Snyder has another hit on his hands. Now I just have to debate, which of his series has the greatest sense of dread?

The Sixth Gun #8-17 (Cullen Bunn/Brian Hurtt)- Oni
Bunn and Hurtt have done a phenomenal job in melding the two genres of horror and western together. Those who have been fortunate to discover this book have realized how fresh Bunn's sharp writing and Hurtt's detailed pencils feel in an industry that could tire one out very quickly. With Bunn doing some work at Marvel, I look forward to seeing these two continue to have great careers. As with many of the series entering their second years, Bunn has chosen to reveal a variety of backstories alongside the shocking events that are unfolding in the present with each issue.

Super Dinosaur #1-6 (Robert Kirkman/Jason Howard)- Image
To think that the guy who writes people getting bit in The Walking Dead, bloody superhero battles in Invincible, massacres in Haunt, and even more people getting bit in Astounding Wolfman... would do an all-ages book about a dinosaur (tongue-in-cheek reminder: dinosaurs are usually portrayed as violent). Well, Kirkman has made it work with a series that is very exciting with great characters minus the blood and gore that he is known for. Howard's vibrant art improves and gets better with each issue as he and Kirkman have continued to collaborate on Wolfman and now this.

Sweet Tooth #17-28 (Jeff Lemire)- Vertigo
Similar to a series like Preacher or the works of Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Azzarello, Lemire loves to let things build-up until it boils over with a phenomenal climax. This post-apocalyptic series just recently had the talented Matt Kindt illustrate an arc where the backstory to Gus was explored. Lemire's mythos is so rich that I hope this series has a few more years left in it. This is the kind of universe where there never feels like there will ever be a shortage of stories to discover.

The Unwritten #21-32.5 (Mike Carey/Peter Gross)- Vertigo
This is a series about a writer attempting to determine what is reality and what is fiction. It doesn't get much more meta than that. This is one of the more intriguing comics being published at the moment as each issue where a long-standing question question is answered, there another couple of questions to go with what has been revealed. Carey is well known for his two previous Vertigo series, Lucifer and Crossing Midnight, and this lives up to his past work.

The Walking Dead #81-92 (Robert Kirkman/Charlie Adlard)- Image
Another twelve issues means another year of reading about this rag-tag group of survivors during the zombie apocalypse. Just when you think the series is settling down and nothing interesting is going to happen, something new and shocking occurs that will keep you awaiting anxiously for the next issue. With the success of the AMC show, hopefully more readers will check this out.

Who is Jake Ellis? #1-5 (Nathan Edmondson/Tonci Zonic)- Image
Like any good spy story, this series contained what the genre was known best for. It managed to feature some of the best "guessing-game" scenarios of recent espionage fiction as well as still be thrilling. You were kept guessing up until the final entertaining last page. I hope there is a follow-up because there could totally be more to this story and these character should the creators wish to return to the concept. This was a lot of fun and I hope to check out Edmondson's other work at DC.

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