I read 19 comics in December, and these were the best.
5. Red: Eyes Only
This is the best thing to come out of that damn Red movie. There’s no way you could adapt that comic to fit into the Hollywood cookie cutter of action movies. But this prequel, written and drawn by Cully Hamner, is where it’s at. Hamner manages to properly grasp what Ellis was writing about, honing in on the corrupt establishment fueled cynicism and the personal optimism bubbling beneath the surface. This prequel mainly acts as a reinforcement of the comic, adding to its story while maintaining the same tone and ideas. And Hamner’s art, along with Val Staples’ coloring, is probably the best work he’s produced to date.
4. Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #4
And speaking of Ellis, we get the penultimate chapter of his much-delayed-but-always-worth-it Astonishing X-Men run. This issue has the most action in the arc yet, while providing the exposition to set up the conclusion next issue. Kaare Andrews’ art has been terrific throughout, even though Frank D’Armata tries to hinder that with his gaudy coloring. All the action gives Andrews a chance to show off that set of skills, and he does a good job, but it’s a two-page splash depicting the horrific fate of a dimension that really stands out. In fact, it’s the most striking image in comics this month.
3. American Vampire #9
You can find my full thoughts here. This is the best issue of American Vampire yet. Since this series often makes this list, that’s saying something.
2. Batman Inc. #2
This issue is even more dense than the last, but still maintains all that high-flying fun. Grant Morrison is in the same mode he was in Return of Bruce Wayne, creating a sort of Final Crisis meets Batman and Robin tone. Though I think he’s leaning a little more towards Batman and Robin with Batman Inc., adding some Batman: Brave and the Bold for good measure. I think Grant’s getting closer to his goal of making each issue feel like a major comics event. Michel Lacombe’s overly heavy inks are a little more annoying in this issue, but Yanick Paquette is still providing some terrific work.
1. Secret Warriors #23
“Your outward appearance is the physical manifestation of an inner deficiency.” Aint that the truth? That should hit close to home with most of you, as an eloquent articulation of a very common occurrence. Who would have thought that this issue could be better than the last? But really, this episode featuring the buddy team of the great Frank Miller character, John Garrett, and the return of Sebastian Druid could be the best in the series. I’ve talked about how Marvel has abandoned this comic, specifically from an artistic standpoint, but Alessandro Vitti does an outstanding job here. He’s probably overworked, but he handles the characters with much more eloquence than Stefano Caselli could’ve. His Druid wasn’t even fat! If these last two issues are any indication, Secret Warriors is going to be the best Marvel comic until it concludes.