Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Best: Catholic Skywalker Awards 2015 - Best in Comics

With 2015 coming to a close, it is time for us to choose what the best entertainment of the year was.  And just as the Academy Awards have their "Oscars, " so too the Catholic Skywalker Awards have their "Kal-El's"

Now, you may be wondering why a blog called Catholic Skywalker would choose a Superman statue as it's award, and not something from Star Wars.   The reasons are 3-fold:

1.  The Catholic Skywalker Awards will cover movies, television, and comic books.  Superman is an icon for all three.
2.  The pose he has here, revealing his inner hero, is symbolic of the revelation of truth and beauty that we should find in all good art.
3.  It's a statue I actually own, so I can use this photo on my blog.

Catholic Skywalker: Best in Comics:

Best Series
Star Wars: Darth Vader

If you had told me a year ago that the best series would be about Darth Vader, I would not have believed you.  For a long time we knew that the rights to Star Wars comics would be returning to Marvel.  I assumed that it would be a serviceable set of stories, but ultimately it would be a money grab.  But the stories were good.

And Darth Vader is the best.  The deck is stacked against writer Kieron Gillen.  There is a very limited story space that he can use.  The series takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.  We know where all of this is going to end up.  How could there be any surprises?

But surprises there are.  And things are also surprisingly tense.

But what has surprised me most is the amazing supporting cast.  It is almost like watching a mirror universe version of Luke.  He has an evil Artoo and Threepio in Triple-Zero and BT.  He has an amazingly fun, evil, and fatalistic sidekick in Doctor Aphra.

And the art Salvador Larroca is top notch.  The visuals are bold and cinematic.  I find myself staring at the page after reading the words.

Great work and well worth the read.

Best Mini-Series
Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1

The overall Convergence mini-series was a big mess.  But like a sucker I bought all the tie-in books.  Most of them were forgettable.  But the Nightwing/Oracle mini-series was fantastic.  It made me miss the pre-Flashpoint relationship between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon.  It also reminded me why I actually enjoy Gordon as Oracle much more than as Batgirl.  Writer Gail Simone made the story tense and exciting, but she brought us back to why I read comics in the first place: the characters.  It made Convergence worth it.

Best Single Issue
Justice League # 41

(from my review of this issue on my blog)


Just as I was becoming cynical about comics, this one issue turns me completely around...  Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok have knocked it out of the park.

This story has been building since the beginning of the DC New 52.  You can feel how this story has all been a part of an overall plan.  Unlike the current Secret Wars, Johns very simply and cannily maps out the road that came before so that we can see how all the parts have converged into this moment.


One of the hallmarks of a Geoff Johns epic is to make the stakes look impossibly high.  This is so important because if we don't feel a sense of danger for our main characters, then all the tension is removed.  This is no easy feat considering that these are all franchise-level characters and they have god-like power. 

But this first issue of The Darkseid War hits you like a punch to the face.  Johns doesn't hold back at all.  He starts by slowly ratcheting up the tension.  And when it breaks, he goes full throttle.  The villain who arrives to cause mayhem (I will not say who) not only dispatches so many members of the league easily, they appear to be cunning as well.  When this villain appears, they look at Batman and say (I'm paraphrasing): "You are the human.  Yet you are still the most dangerous to me.  I hurt you first!"

Seeing as how Batman was one of the few heroes to fight all the way through Forever Evil, I love the fact that Johns ups the power and perceptiveness of the villains.

Fabok has done some amazing work here.  I was impressed with Ivan Reis work on the book, but Fabok is dynamic and beautiful.  His pages overflow with dynamic energy and he knows how to create just the right amount of tension with expression and body language.

Unlike so many other event books, I have never been disappointed by a Geoff Johns epic.  Pick up this issue, as well as the 2 prologue issue before.  You won't regret it.

Best Graphic Novel
Batman Earth One: Vol. 2

The magic one/two combo punch of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank is always amazing.  And their work on Batman Earth One has been stellar.  It is amazing how both of them can make characters who have been around for decades seem new and fresh.  The story was not only an action/mystery, but it was also a powerful emotional drama.  I don't think any writer has have made the Riddler as menacing or as much of a challenge for Batman.  And I have to say that this story has my favorite take on Killer Croc that I have ever seen.

Best Artist
Salvador Larroca

As I wrote about above about Star Wars: Darth Vader, Salvador Larroca's art is a big selling point of the book.  His art makes it feel like I'm watching a Star Wars movie, moreso than most Star Wars comics I've read.  And the fact that his main character is hidden completely, unlike most heroes and villains in comics, he must show us Vader's thoughts and emotions with body language and with his choice of framing and angles.  This might be his biggest accomplishment with his art: he makes a complete character of Vader primarily by his use of the visuals.

Best Writer
Geoff Johns (Justice League, Batman Earth One)

photo from besignyawn

Readers of this blog may be sick of me constantly putting Geoff Johns in the best writer spot, but I refuse to penalize him simply for being so good.  His work on Justice League, as stated above, has been incredible.  But combine that with Batman Earth One, put him over the top once again.  He is still the best writer in comics today and my only complaint about him is that he has cut back on a lot of his writing duties in the last few years.

And once again this year he is the best comic book writer of the year.

No comments:

Post a Comment