Thursday, January 10, 2008

BEST OF 2007

Yep, i know it's January 10th of 2008, so it's a bit late for a '07 review. Sue me, now is when you're getting it.

Personally, the best of 2007 was having Freak Show Book 1 in print, winning the Eagle Award for Hero Killers, printing my first creator-owned book and of course, getting the contract for illustrating Frankenstein. Add making friends with some great comic artist (all great people) and 2007 was a pretty great year for yours truly.

Another thing that happened to me in '07 was moving to Aberdeen, setting up a studio underneath a comic shop, giving me unprecedented access to hundreds of comics and graphic novels. So, with that in mind, i present my favourite reads of 2007:

X-Factor (Marvel)
I've been enjoying this series from #1. I haven't been enjoying the run as much as of late, but that's because the book can't seem to find a regular artist to match the mood Ryan Sook started with. There's been a real up and down in art quality, but the story's still top-notch. Here's hoping 2008 will see the book finds an artist deserving of its title.

Green Lantern (DC)
Never been a regular reader of this book, or of its writer, Geoff Johnns, but i picked up both the Sinestro Corps one-shot and Green Lantern #25 and was blown away by both. Great, old-fashioned superhero stories illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver at his best, and a quite phenomenal Ivan Reis.

I wish this book was out every week, i really do. If i could only buy one book a month, it would be this one. Fantastic characters and stories imagined by Ed Brubaker and drawn with fantastic noir-ish mood by Sean Phillips. This second story arc, Lawless is even better than the first arc, and by story's end, certainly doesn't disappoint.

Hellboy (Dark Horse)
Some fans were probably not happy to hear that Mike Mignola wasn't drawing his book anymore, and as much as we're missing out on that front, we're certainly being treated with Duncan Fegredo on art duties. He's blowing away on this book, finding the mix between the minimalistic Mignola-esque style, and his own established gestural style. So much so, it's almost depressing me.

Ultimates 2 (Marvel)
Finally wrapped up this year and recently bought the hardcover. Nothing i can say about this book hasn't been said already. It's the title that got me back into comics with a bang after college. And, although i wasn't mad about the ending, it really is a fantastic series, that raised the banner as far as superhero stories are concerned.

Ex Machina Masquerade Special (DC/Wildstorm)
Really enjoy this series anyway, but having John Paul Leon stand in for Tony Harris is a rare treat. Leon seems to have done a few fill in issues this year (Midnighter, Scalped, Hellblazer, etc), but as a stand alone story, i prefer this the best. I'm sure the story written by Brian K. Vaughan certainly attributed to that....

Astonishing X-Men
Loved the first arc of this, and this arc does not disappoint. Both Whedon and cassaday are on fire on this book. One thing i love about this story is how Whedon have showed that Cyclops is a badass. For years, creators have dismissed the character as the flat, boring leader-type, and now he's been seen as a ballsy, no-nonsense badass.

New Avengers
Never thought i'd ever admit i was loving an Avengers book, but Brian Michael Bendis has really turned the Avengers around. It's a great, enjoyable read, with some really energetic artwork by Leinil Yu. Id'd still prefer he had an inker, rather than just digitally inking his pencils as they can seem too loose at times, but i'm just nitpicking here.

Punisher (Marvel)
Read the odd trade of Ennis' run but i think the recent issues have been flawless. Absolutely Ennis at his best, with suitably disturbing art from Goran Parlov. Very sorry to hear Ennis is wrapping up his run soon. Should also mention the Annual out that year written by Mike Benson, with dark, moody art by Laurence Campbell. An absolutely chilling stand-alone Punisher tale. Highly recommended.

Daredevil/Captain America
I've lumped these two together cuz as far as stories go, i can't decide which i love more. Wish i was reading them in trades, cuz by the time i get into the issue, it's over. Art on both is sterling, but i personally lead towards the Lark/Gaudino/Acateza linework, and Matt Hollingsworth colours. Superhero stories at thyeir best.

Batman (DC)
Never the biggest Morrison fan truth be told, and i found the arc he wrote for Andy Kubert disappointing, but the 3-part story illustrated by JH Williams lll is great. Fun Batman story with innovative panel Layouts by Williams, and some great colouring by Dave Stewart.

All Star Superman (DC)
Thoroughly enjoyable, silver-age inspired Superman tale with wonderfully clean art by Frank Quietly.

The Walking Dead (Image)
Man, what a great book. Firstly, great, consistent black and white artwork by Charlie Adlard. Wonderfully paced storytelling, with quiet moments as well illustrated as the frightening horror parts. Secondly, the story, by Robert Kirkman has you on edge consistently. It's a zombie book, with sweet feck-all zombies in it. It's the wonderful characterizations mixed in with the constant threat and explosive relationships that make it a must-read.

Y: The Last Man (DC/Vertigo)
I picked this book up in trades, so i'm a bit behind in recent developments, along with Walking Dead but it's a fantastic read. Really knocks the 'last man on Earth' concept on it's head.

One of the most interesting stories to come out of 2007, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Hard to explain, so you should just check it out for yourself, but think John Constantine mixed together with NME.

Doomed (IDW)
I normally don't go for horror books, but i happened upon this trade, illustrated by Ashley Wood, by chance. Told in simple black-and-white, with some really interesting storytelling techniques.

Batman: Year 100 (DC)
Cool, futuristic story. Fantastic, energetic art. What else can i say?

(DC Vertigo)
A great, dark, disturbing, thrilling original graphic by David Lapham. Reminds me of how i should be reading more original graphic novels, rather than trade paperbacks. It really makes me wish i could sit down and write a story of my own to draw. Someday maybe.....



David Ferguson said...

I agree with most of your picks and your comments on X-Factor. They need a regular artist. Also, I can't wait till Peter David is free from Messiah Complex (even though he's losing a character after it). At least none of the issues are like that old issue by Peter that didn't include any of the book's characters (part of some cross over).

Bob Byrne said...

I refused to read your list because it wasnt alphabetised. I read Batman 100, all done in Painter I believe.

Tell Mike to order Angry Youth Comix and Pussey by Daniel Clowes. Now THAT's reading.

Stephen Mooney said...

Great post Dec. Wish I had the energy and commitment to do the same. Haven't read most of the books on the list, mostly down to time and lack of disposable fundage, but love, love, love Cap/daredevil, and cannot wait to get stuck into the Criminal trades. So I guess its Brubaker all the way for me as best writer of 2007.

g gfdg said...

Great list Dec. Personally I would have added Ultimate Spidey for additional Bendis whorage and Buffy since reading the BKV arc.

Will Sliney said...

Happy Birthday Dec!!!

Declan Shalvey said...

Oh yeah.... that thing. Thanks Will!

MoonDog, Brubaker is king of the writers this year, as far as i'm concerned. Tina Fey too, but that's TV, not comics.

Bob if you read ANY of those books i'd have more respect for you.

Scratch that: SOME respect for you.

John, enjoy Ult Spidet but not as much as the above. Haven't read all of Bufft yet, so the jury's still out.

David, i'm liking the CompleX stuff, but what i liked bout X-Factor was that it was different to all the other X-Books, with the whole detective agency thing at the start. Hopefully it'll soon get back on track.

Stephen Mooney said...

Happy birthday man! Ist today or yesterday? 27 right? Or 26? Also forgot to say, Ivan Reis... hands down artist of the year. By such a distance. Me love him.

Declan Shalvey said...

Hey Steve, thanks a lot man. I am 26 as of yesterday, the 11th .........shudder. I'm like the age when Ross turned into a loser and Chandler got fat in 'Friends' but i'm a strange combination of the two.

I found out about a lot of great artiats this year (am currently an a mad Paul Acazeta buzz), but i gotta agree; 2007 was Ivan Reis' year. That green lantern work blem me away. It's like Alan Davis mixed with Neal Adams, than knocked up a notch

jacintha said...

i won't pretend to understand any of the comic stuff in your blog...but Happy Birthday Pet!! now stop putting yourself down and that's an order!! 26 isn't old...well it better not being seeing as i only have a few months left of 25. Hope 26 and 2008 work out well for you :)