Top Ten Best Comics of 2009

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Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2009! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.

1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).

2. These are stories that ended in 2009. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2009, they’re eligible.

3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Kirkman books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.

Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!

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Review: Hulk #13

Writing: Hulk has been one of the titles, like Captain America and Thor, that has operated within its own continuity. Well, that ends this issue with that “Dark Reign” tag slapped on the cover. Thankfully, it’s really not that intrusive. Norman Osborn has heard that the Hulk is truly gone, which is what occurred in Incredible Hulk #600. So, he sends Ares to get to the bottom of it. What follows is a done-in-one story that involves Banner’s revelation that the Hulk really is gone, Ares reporting back to Osborn, and the reconciliation between Banner and an old friend.

Art: Of course, there’s a bit of fighting involved, which is McGuinness’ specialty. You want vein-bulging, muscular people pounding on each other? He’s your man. However, there are a lot of quieter moments in this issue too, and McGuinness did a good job rendering those as well. Hulk is always a good-looking comic, and this issue is no different.

Final Word: Done-in-one stories are always refreshing in this comic climate. Did the overall story of Loeb’s run progress much? Not enough for my liking, but this is still a quick, gorgeous comic that’ll keep you entertained from start to finish.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Hulk #12

Hulk #12

Oh, lord. This comic will upset people. It shouldn’t, but it will. As I’ve said several times, Loeb is writing a modern Stan Lee comic, full of bombastic action, corny lines, cool stunts, and fun. This is, as I’m sure Loeb will agree, fun fluff. It’s not hurting or helping anyone, just trying to entertain. As someone who reads about 20 books a month, I feel these types of comics are necessary. They’re a good, quick ice-breaker.

Something about that upsets people. I don’t know why. If you were upset when Rulk punched Uatu (Rulk even mentions that in this issue, a bit of a wink to the reader), you are going to be steaming after this. As you may or may not have known, Hulk died last issue. What? You didn’t hear about that in the news? No, because we’re dealing with a cosmic game of chess between gods. Anything can happen, and I do mean anything. Rulk pushes the limits of what he can achieve. Oh, it was also revealed that Rulk can absorb energy. That’s why he’s so powerful.

We’ve been promised the big Rulk reveal in the next installment, Incredible Hulk #600. I’ve thought for the longest time that Rulk is this guy. We get a lot of clues in this issue:

Rulk has known Hulk for a long time

Hulk left Rulk with a broken heart

Hulk made “us all suffer,” said Rulk

I haven’t read a lot of Hulk. Anyone want to piece that together? Anyway, get your fluff where you want to, but with the zany antics and the beautiful art, Hulk isn’t a bad place to get your fluff.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #5

(****)

I love comics. When a comic reminds you of that, it’s pretty damn sweet. This is a medium where you can do just about whatever you want. You’re not hindered by the burdens that come with TV. So, Lindelof totally cuts loose. This comic is broken into five parts:

Part One: In Which Logan Pisses Off A Panda

Part Two: In Which Logan Loses His Head

Part Three: In Which We Once Again Flash Back In Time To Explain Things Better (How Original)

Part Four: In Which Logan Makes A Valuable Ally In His Toilet Bowl

Part Five: In Which Logan Ignores The Panda’s Advice And Thusly Screws Himself Good At The End Of The Issue

That’s actually what happens. Logan really does fight a Panda, which reminded me of this. Logan’s head really is detached from his body. Hulk and She-Hulk…wrestle with each other. Forge’s (Why is Forge everywhere right now?) head pops out of a toilet. All this stuff is absolutely ridiculous, but it makes for a highly entertaining and memorable comic. If it wasn’t my favorite comic this week, it was definitely the most fun. Oh, and Leinil Yu is still drawing really pretty pictures.

For more comic goodness, go here.

July 2009 Solicitations

Wow! This July will apparently be the best month for comics ever! Check it out!

REBORN #1 (of 5)
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Penciled by BRYAN HITCH
50/50 Covers by BRYAN HITCH & ALEX ROSS
Variant Cover by JOHN CASSADAY
Solicit to be revealed soon
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Is Steve Rogers coming back? That seems too obvious, but then again, Marvel and DC aren’t usually subtle about these things.

UNCANNY X-MEN #513
Written by MATT FRACTION
Pencils & Cover by TERRY DODSON
Variant Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI
“UTOPIA: CHAPTER 2”
WHO ARE THE DARK X-MEN? He has his own Avengers team and now Norman Osborn has his own X-Men team. The other shoe has finally dropped and Emma Frost has betrayed Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men. And that’s just one of the huge surprises in “UTOPIA”.  Is that Namor? Cloak and Dagger? Professor X?!  The thing that you aren’t ready for is that Osborn is right.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

DARK AVENGERS #7
Written by MATT FRACTION
Pencils & Cover by MIKE DEODATO
Variant Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI
“UTOPIA: Chapter 3”
The DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN crossover continues!
San Francisco teeters on the brink of absolute chaos and the X-Men keep getting in the way of Norman’s vision of law and order.  So Norman takes his game to the next level: who are the DARK X-MEN?  And will Norman’s Avengers play nice with Norman’s X-Men?  Here’s a hint: no.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Ok, so it may not be the most exciting Marvel summer event, but it is the first crossover helmed by Matt Fraction, one of my favorite writers. And it appears that the whole thing will be written by Matt Fraction himself. No Bendis here!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #601
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Pencils and Cover by GENE COLAN
70th Anniversary Variant by MARKO DJURDJEVIC
*Black & White Variant Also Available!
A special double-sized issue featuring art by the legendary Gene Colan! Bucky and Nick Fury uncover a lost tale from Cap and Bucky’s days in WW2 – a tale of horror and war and brothers-in-arms.
48 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Again, not a big event, but Gentleman Gene Colan returns! That’s cool, right? And, though the book does cost 3.99, it’s double-sized. So, that’s also cool, right?

 

INCREDIBLE HULK #600
Written by JEPH LOEB
Penciled by ED MCGUINNESS
Cover by ALEX ROSS
50/50 Variant Cover by ED MCGUINNESS
Variant Cover by TIM SALE
WHO IS THE RED HULK?! 
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN IS GOING TO TRY AND FIND OUT! 
GREEN HULK!  RED HULK!  SPIDEY!  SECRETS REVEALED!
A STORY SO BIG IT CAN BARELY BE CONTAINED IN THE INCREDIBLE 600TH ISSUE OF HULK!  ALL THIS AND A STARTLING SURPRISE ENDING TO TOP ALL THE OTHER SHOCKING SURPRISES THIS HULK BOOK IS KNOWN FOR!
The chart-topping team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness bring you a 600th-issue celebration guest starring your friendly Neighborhood Web-Head as the original Incredible series returns!  Plus, back-up story by Fred Van Lente featuring the Savage She-Hulk! And representing the first issue of the Loeb/Sale HULK: GRAY series,
104 PGS./38 All-New Pages & Reprints/Rated A …$4.99

Will we actually find out who Rulk is? I’m guessing it’s this dude.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600
Written by DAN SLOTT, STAN LEE & THE REST OF SPIDEY’S WEB-HEADS
Pencils by JOHN ROMITA JR., MARCOS MARTIN, MARIO ALBERTI & MORE!
50/50 Wraparound Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
50/50 Cover by ALEX ROSS
Variant Cover by JOHN ROMITA SR.
Wraparound Variant Cover by JOE QUESADA
The greatest Marvel super hero of all celebrates his 600th issue with the biggest all-original issue of Amazing Spider-Man EVER! This one’s got it all! The return of Doctor Octopus, Daredevil, a wedding you never predicted, and the return of one of the most important people in Peter Parker’s life in a giant-sized lead story by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.  Doc’s back in town, but it’s only a prelude to darker days ahead as Spidey unknowingly prepares for a gauntlet he can’t even see coming.
On top of all that, witness the return of one of Spider-man’s creators, Smilin’ Stan Lee (along with Masticatin’ Marcos Martin) as he presents a story of unbridled passion, drama and angst as Spidey reflects over his many, many years of adventures.
But that ain’t all…as the rest of the Spidey Web-Heads bring you several short features showcasing some rarely explored aspects of both Spidey and Pete’s life, drawn by some of the greatest artists in comics. Plus, several other surprises and NO REPRINTS! 104 pages of goodness brought to you by some of the best creators that have ever worked on Spidey!
104 PGS./All-New/Rated A …$4.99

Yes, Marvel renumbers to get your money.

ULTIMATUM #5 (of 5)
Written by JEPH LOEB
Pencils & Cover by DAVID FINCH
Variant Cover by ED MCGUINNESS
Sketch Variant by ED MCGUINNESS
Gatefold Variant by DAVID FINCH
Fallen Heroes Variant by OLIVIER COIPEL
Is this what the end of the world looks like? You better believe it!!

As only Emmy & Eisner award-winning writer Jeph Loeb and superstar artist David Finch can deliver, it’s an apocalyptic conclusion where every, and we mean EVERY, score is settled! The Ultimate heroes have faced their final judgment…and when the dust settles will they be found wanting? If you can handle the growing body count, stick around as ALL is answered in this explosive series finale that will shock fans for years to come!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Yes, it was solicited back in May. Yes, a lot of people hate it. But it is a big event. Will it finally conclude?

BLACKEST NIGHT #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver
Sketch variant cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis raise the dead in the most anticipated comics story of the year! Throughout the decades, death has plagued the DC Universe and taken the lives of heroes and villains alike. But to what end? As the War of Light rages on, the prophecy of the Blackest Night descends upon us, with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps at the center of it all.
Don’t miss this 8-issue epic taking the DCU beyond the grave!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with three covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Ethan Van Sciver). For every 250 copies of the Standard Edition, retailers may order one copy of the Sketch Variant Edition (with a cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale July 15 • 1 of 8 • 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Really, it’s the biggest event of this summer. My only problem so far is that Arthur Curry appears to be among the dead. But he came back in Final Crisis, damn it!

 

 

GREEN LANTERN #43
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy
Variant cover by Rodolfo Migliari
The official prologue to BLACKEST NIGHT starts here as the first Black Lantern is born! Black Hand has been an enemy of Hal Jordan since Hal’s early days as a Green Lantern. But even Black Hand is unaware of the true power he holds that will connect him to the Blackest Night! Discover this villain’s connection to death and the Black Lantern Corps!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Rodolfo Migliari). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale July 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

GREEN LANTERN #44
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy
Variant cover by Rodolfo Migliari
“Blackest Night” continues! As Hal Jordan and Barry Allen investigate a bizarre crime in Gotham City, they come face to face with one of their oldest allies – J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter! But their old friend is not there for reunions; he’s come for much more. Meanwhile, Sinestro seeks to rebuild his army and take his revenge on the being who would usurp it – Mongul!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Rodolfo Migliari). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale July 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Doug Mahnke, one of my favorite artists, has found a home at Green Lantern, one of my favorite comics!

BATMAN AND ROBIN #2
Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by Frank Quitely
Variant cover by Andy Kubert
“Batman Reborn” continues with the reteaming of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, WE3, New X-Men)! In a blazing Gotham City police department, the new Batman and Robin face the bizarre, fighting freakshow that is the Circus of Strange and find that they don’t make as good a team as Batman had hoped! Meanwhile, the mysterious Sasha escapes from Professor Pyg and vows vengeance on the people who killed her father.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Frank Quitely), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Andy Kubert). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale July 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Yeah, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are just about the best creative team in comics. This will be AWESOME!

DETECTIVE COMICS #855
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III; co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Cover by JH Williams III
“Elegy” part 2 of 4 by Greg Rucka and JH Williams III! Batwoman captures her enemy, a madwoman known only as Alice who sees her life as a fairy tale and everyone around her as expendable extras – including Kate! But when the tables are turned, Batwoman finds herself in a hallucination slamming the present into a collision with the past, and the hints of a threat that will claim the lives of every man, woman and child in Gotham City.
And in the all-new co-feature starring the Question, Montoya’s quest to find a missing young girl turns deadly.
On sale July 29 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Greg Rucka+Batwoman+Renee Montoya+JH Williams III+Dave Stewart+Cully Hammer=BUY THIS BOOK!

THE FLASH: REBIRTH #4
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver
Barry Allen left a legacy that thrived after his death. Now his return threatens it all. What secrets does Barry hold inside him about the fate of the Flash Family? What destiny awaits Wally and his twins? What murderous force targets Bart Allen? And what does it truly mean to be a speedster?
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Ethan Van Sciver), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Ethan Van Sciver). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale July 22 • 4 of 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I wasn’t too impressed with the first issue, but this is probably the best Sciver has ever looked. And hey, I do love Barry Allen.

WEDNESDAY COMICS #1-4
In July, DC Comics gives a fresh twist to a grand comics tradition with WEDNESDAY COMICS, a new, weekly 12-issue series by some of the greatest names in comics today!
WEDNESDAY COMICS is unique in modern comics history: Reinventing the classic weekly newspaper comics section, it is a 16-page weekly that unfolds to a sprawling 28” x 20” tabloid-sized reading experience bursting with mind-blowing color, action and excitement, with each feature on its own 14” x 20” page.
Spearheaded by DCU Editorial Art Director Mark Chiarello, whose past editing credits include BATMAN BLACK & WHITE, DC: THE NEW FRONTIER and SOLO, each page of WEDNESDAY COMICS spotlights the continuing adventures of DC heroes, including:

  • BATMAN, WEDNESDAY COMICS’ weekly cover feature, by the Eisner Award-winning 100 BULLETS team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso
  • ADAM STRANGE, by writer/artist Paul Pope (BATMAN: YEAR 100)
  • METAMORPHO, written by New York Times best-selling writer Neil Gaiman with art by Eisner Award-winner Michael Allred (Madman)
  • THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN, written by Walter Simonson (Thor, MANHUNTER) with art by famed DC cover artist Brian Stelfreeze
  • DEADMAN, written by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck, art by Dave Bullock
  • KAMANDI, written by Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN, GREEN LANTERN CORPS) with art by Ryan Sook (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL)
  • SUPERMAN, written by John Arcudi (The Mask) with art by Lee Bermejo (JOKER)
  • WONDER WOMAN, written and illustrated by Ben Caldwell (Dare Detectives)
  • GREEN LANTERN, written by Kurt Busiek (TRINITY, ASTRO CITY) with art by Joe Quiñones (TEEN TITANS GO!)
  • TEEN TITANS, written by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway
  • SUPERGIRL, written by Jimmy Palmiotti (JONAH HEX) with art by Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL)
  • HAWKMAN, written and illustrated by Kyle Baker (PLASTIC MAN, Special Forces)
  • SGT. ROCK, written by Adam Kubert (SUPERMAN: LAST SON), ilustrated by legendary comics artist Joe Kubert
  • THE FLASH, written by Karl Kerschl (TEEN TITANS YEAR ONE, THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE) and Brenden Fletcher, illustrated by Karl Kerschl
  • METAL MEN, written by Dan DiDio with art by Ian Churchill (SUPERGIRL)

WEDNESDAY COMICS will arrive in stores folded twice to 7” x 10”, with the first issue set to reach stores on July 8.
Issue #1 on sale July 8; Issue #2 on sale July 15; Issue #3 on sale July 22; Issue #4 on sale July 29 • 1-4 of 12 • 7” x 10”, 16 pg, FC, $3.99 US

This is original, and it feature’s some of the medium’s top creators. It’s fantastic!

So, comics in July will kick ass! From Marvel: The likely return of Steve Rogers, a Dark Avengers/X-Men crossover, the end of Ultimatum, and renumbering up the ass. From DC: Wednesday Comics, Flash: Rebirth, Blackest Night, and some phenomenal Batman books. Will DC finally beat Marvel this year? Or at least in July? Maybe?

Review: Hulk #11

Hulk #11 (Variant Cover Edition - Art Adams)

(****)

Perhaps this is your first time visiting read/Rant. If it is, please look around. Just hit that Frank Cho art at the top of the page. Even if you don’t care for my reviews, there are others who post their opinions. So if you have never read one of my Hulk reviews before, it may surprise you that I don’t hate the book. What’s that? This is Internet; why aren’t I bashing Jeph Loeb. I know. It’s shocking. But I have to tell you, for what this book is, it’s a lot of fun.

The last comic I read was Alan Moore’s From Hell. A much better comic than Hulk, but a much darker and dense read as well. What a breath of childish glee this comic is. Jeph Loeb, the worstest horrible icky man ever, according to the Internet, is channeling his inner Stan Lee in this new arc. It’s kind of a remake of Contest of Champions. We got the setup last issue, so naturally we get an all-action smash party here.

The Defenders have been plucked out of time, fighting for their loves, while the Offenders are a bunch of jerks. Basically, if you’re tired of all the darkness that now plagues our superhero titles (I’m looking at you, Dark Reign), this is the book for you. It’s jam-packed with splash pages, groin hitting, and twists that would make M. Night Shymanalan squeal. Oh, and did I mention that this is the book Ed McGuinness was born to draw? So if you’ll let it, Hulk can be a hell of a good time.

Review: Hulk #10

(****)

Ha! Hulk was the best comic that came out this week! Who would have thought? Now, Hulk, as I’m sure you already know, is not a book for everyone. It’s the real Silver Age throwback that everyone thought All Star Superman was. Hulk is very much a modern Stan Lee yarn. Lighthearted, goofy, and undeniably fun, Hulk proves that comics can still be entertaining without the need for darkness and nihilism. Instead of Jack Kirby, we’re treated to Ed McGuinness’ delightfully bombastic art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, McGuinness is a perfect fit for this book! I’m happy to say that in this arc, it appears Loeb has made room for several splash pages. I think they’re trying to set a record. There are at least four two-page spreads in this issue alone.

Are you ready for the zany plot? It’s a cosmic duel to the death of course! The omnipotent Grandmaster and his devious brother are having a galactic chess game. The good Grandmaster selects Hulk as his champion. Hulk has his choice of teammates and he assembles the Defenders! How does that fit into continuity? Well, when the gods want to play, they can make anything happen. All of these champions are snatched at the very moment of their greatest tragedy. How’s that for motivation? The heroes are fighting for love, but what are the baddies fighting for? We don’t know yet, but we do know that it’s the villainous Offenders we’re supposed to boo. We don’t see much battle yet in this opening chapter, but don’t worry, the game is all set and the fists are ready to fly!