Top 5 Best Comics of May 2011

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I read 24 comics in May, and these were the best.


5. Butcher Baker #3

I haven’t really written about this series yet, but be assured that it’s good. However, it’s an odd format. Each issue is only 18 pages of story, and then about six pages of Joe Casey talking, with Mike Huddleston’s art in the background. So, while each issue has been good, particularly this one, it’s Casey’s backmatter that really steals the show. For me, it’s just about the most exciting thing to read on the Wednesdays it comes out. Casey is a man who’s made a fortune writing for TV, but his passion is comics and he’s fortunate enough to have enough money and pull without diminishing himself one bit. This makes for some of the most honest and profound writing about comics, given the caveat that it’s still about entertainment. Mike Huddleston’s art is also interesting to see behind the scenes, as he is most definitely doing things by hand, varying his styles quite a bit to produce a gorgeous comic. Sadly, his computerized coloring and Rus Wooton’s tiny letters undermine things a little. Still, all in all, Butcher Baker is slowly becoming a great comic.

4. Secret Warriors #27

This series is definitely something you could write in-depth about, especially as it nears its conclusion. Hickman’s approach to serialized comics is not to write for the trade, but to write for the Omnibus. It’s a pretty unsuccessful formula. However, Hickman’s skilled enough to pull it off, if only Marvel will continue to let him. In the case of Secret Warriors, it feels abandoned by editorial. Cheung’s covers, Sunny Gho’s colors, and Stefano Caselli’s pencils are long gone. Hickman started with an outline of about 60 issues, and Marvel’s cut that to less than half. Still, Secret Warriors perseveres. Last issue sure was a hoot, and this one follows up wonderfully. With one issue left, we still have an incomplete picture. I have no idea how things will end, but I can’t wait to find out.

3. American Vampire #15

You can find my full thoughts here. One of the finest issues of the terrific series so far.

2. Captain America/Thor: The Mighty Fighting Avengers

I could’ve sworn Rus Wooton was a good letterer. I seem to remember him fondly from some Kirkman comics, but this is twice on this list now that I have to criticize his tiny, tiny font. Perhaps I’m just getting older. Like that other Wooton comic, I’m not sure if I ever wrote about this comic, but I didn’t really need to. Everyone else on the Internet did. People loved this comic, and rightly so. It’s a true testament to the failing of the direct market, where retailers are forced to blindly order books and quality is irrelevant. Sad indeed, but perhaps it’ll alert a few people to that sad fact and something will improve. Roger Langridge writes a fun, beloved, and welcoming Thor comic, but Chris Samnee is the star here. Speaking of wake up calls, this seems to have been the comic that finally let everyone know just how talented Chris is. Seeing his unique take on all these old favorites is an absolute joy, and Matt Wilson colored things beautifully. It’s truly sad to see this comic go, but hopefully you all saw their swan song for free. Oh, and if you haven’t yet wasted your time and money on the Thor movie, don’t. Read this cancelled series instead.

1. Deadpool MAX #8

Kyle Baker’s cartooning here may not be up to the high-water mark of last issue, but it’s still pretty terrific. He gets to handle Bob’s hilariously heartbreaking origin this time, and David Lapham writes a doozy. Baker gets to play with all the stylings of Bob’s flashbacks, while blending his cartooning with the photo-realism of Bangkok. Since I established my comics-are-better-than-stupid-blockbusters with “Thor”, I’ll continue by saying this fun in Bangkok is much finer than “The Hangover 2″. Baker’s work also gets remarkably texturized by the end. It’s a sight to behold, and it also contains a traced panel that Baker recently covered in an excellent blog post. This series owes a lot to Elektra Assassin. I just reread that series, and, remarkably, Deadpool MAX’s quality seems to be comparable.

-Bruce Castle

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