I read 12 comics in January, and these were the best.
5. Walking Dead #80
January’s always a bit of a sad month. Coming off the high of the holidays, terrible movies, and the cold doesn’t help much. This year, even the comics suffered, with some of the best titles not shipping. It does, however, give me an opportunity to a highlight a book I always enjoy, but have been reading for so long that it’s easy to overlook. But, Walking Dead is still great, despite the success of that crappy show, and the continued safety of the characters. Well, the show will go on, but the serenity in the comics is nearly threw. “No Way Out” doesn’t really open with a bang, but it does establish some events that’ll likely occur soon. Abraham gets a lot of spotlight, even some sexual business. I guess Kirkman couldn’t quite get that into last issue, with all the other sex. So, Abraham’s demise may be imminent, maybe even at the hands of the scorned Rosita. Kirkman needs to do something with her. And Carl? Well, Carl’s still a crackling crackpot of crazy. Might Rick have to put him down soon? Stay tuned.
4. Detective Comics #873
You can find my full thoughts here. Snyder, Jock, and Baron manage to transcend the editorially mandated hindrance, and I’m sure things will be even better from here on out.
3. Fantastic Four #587
Hickman doesn’t quite handle the death as well as I expected. It’s the typical heroic sacrifice/last stand scenario. But, perhaps I set my standards too high. Hickman does at least tease the demise of all four, and he did end up eliminating the member that I and seemingly everyone else hoped for. Conversely, Steve Epting and Paul Mounts’ work was pretty consummate. They were striving to produce career-best work, and it shows. If nothing else, this revelation signifies the end of an era, and the start of a new one. One written by Jonathan Hickman, and that’s pretty cool.
2. Casanova: Gula #1
More Casanova is a good way to ring in the new year. Chris Peter is working harder than ever to provide new colors for Fabio Moon’s story. Fabio’s the evil twin, in that respect, but he’s also the artistically superior one, if you ask me. Along with Dustin Harbin’s beautiful hand-lettering, this Casanova reprint is certainly one of the best looking comics on the stands. And it has writing to match, of course. I also enjoy the Hellboy-esque switch to mini-series. The third’s currently being advertised to release in the summer. So, if you have a problem with me promoting reprints in this monthly feature, you can soon take a rest because there will be NEW CASANOVA AT LONG LAST!!!
1. Deadpool MAX #4
This comic should be terrible. Deadpool MAX? Can you think of a title more chilling? That’s because you think “written & drawn by Rob Liefeld.” But, when you put in David Lapham and Kyle Baker instead, you have the most promising new release every month. Lapham’s a terrific artist, and you should definitely check out his short-lived Young Liars series, but he’s also written a lot, and none of it has read as well as this. With this issue and last, Lapham has Deadpool tackling criminals based in reality, taking a page from Garth Ennis’ MAX series. Lapham’s also been hugely inspired by the great Miller & Sienkiewicz collaboration, Elektra Assassin. I even noticed a few Millerisms in this issue, like a sultry fatale breathing out “you damn fool”, which makes me think Lapham’s riffing on Miller’s entire career. All of these critiques apply to Kyle Baker as well, which is why this comic works so well. Both men are auteurs in their own right. Everything feels so grounded in reality because Baker renders it so, even adding some photo-referenced Brad Pitt. However, crazies like Deadpool and Cable are dawn in such a glaring fashion that they truly seem deranged and out of place. Baker’s also paying homage to Elektra Assassin by adding a lot of Sienkiewicz’s style to his work. Can you believe that there’s this much to admire in a Deadpool comic? Neither can I, which makes this comic the poster child for the theory that any character can succeed with the right creative team.