Catholic Skywalker: Best in Comics:
Jonathon Hickman ended his legendary run this year, and it went out with a bang. Boy did it ever!
What makes the conclusion so great is that it feels so satisfying. He spent years building to his epic showdown of the War of Four cities. The stories were epic in action, theme, and scope. But he followed the giant confrontation with a series of “cool down” issues that tied up loose ends and closed the loop on several characters. And that was the truly important part. I am convinced that most of us read a series because we love the characters and become real to us. We want to know that they are okay and that they get some kind of closure, as if they are real people. Hickman understood this and closed out his run with a number of stories that were small in scale (one of them literally), but deep in catharsis.
I'm not sure that you can even call this a mini-series as much as an anthology series. But National Comics have hit more issues out of the park than most comics around. Each issue keeps it fresh and exciting. By having every issue be the #1 of a new story, you have all of the thrills of a first issue: the hook that makes you beg for more. This has been one of the better surprises in comics this year.
Best Single Issue
Fantastic Four # 605
After all of the hoopla and cosmic cataclysms, Jonathon Hickman gave us this touching story that combines great science fiction of with classic human interest storytelling. Ben Grimm, the Thing, has taken a formula that lets him be human for one week a year. But Reed Richards figures out that this is the only time he ages. So Mr. Fantastic travels forward in time to check in on his friend as the centuries roll by. It is such a simple, self-contained, beautifully written story that it will linger with you for weeks, months after.
Best Graphic Novel
Batman: Earth One
I have been effusive in my praise for this story, and I believe I am in the right. The concept was so simple: Batman as an amateur. He still has the drive but not yet the experience and the skill. And Johns turns the knife more by pitting this unseasoned Dark Knight against an enemy that would make the most experienced crime fighter blanch. The story was alternately fun and frightening. Geoff Johns didn't just make a hit, he knocked it out of the park. Couple that with Gary Frank's unbelievably good art and this is a book that every comic book reader should get.
Gary Frank (Justice League, Batman: Earth One)
The best thing about Gary Frank is that he knows how to make a face expressive. Often there are comic book artists who can convey the basic emotions. But Frank gives us such subtlety that one close up of a character in his book is worth pages of thought bubbles. Beyond that, his figures are both larger than life and yet very human. They feel very real while existing in a clearly comic book universe. As a storyteller, Gary Frank has done wonders with SHAZAM. He does wonderfully consistent things with facial expression and body language that shows the connection between Billy and SHAZAM. And Batman: Earth One is a book that you can follow even without reading the words, because Frank's drawings are so vivid.
Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Justice League, Aquaman, Batman Earth One)
|photo from besignyawn|
Although I admit he is my favorite writer, Johns almost missed out on this spot to Hickman for his Fantastic Four. Green Lantern, Justice League, and Aquaman have all been very good reads consistently Green Lantern gave us the exciting new story about the Third Army. Justice League has been fast-paced action and game changing character moments (e.g. Superman and Wonder Woman).Aquaman has never been this interesting to read. But even these stories are not up to the level of what he has given in the past. But it was Batman: Earth One that put him over the top. Johns when to places darker than he normally goes. And while the darkness is not what makes it great, it shows how he can find great stories in versatile places. The Batman origin has been done to death, and yet the work on that book was riveting. I read and re-read it over and over since my first reading: the mark of a great story.