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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Top 10 Artists Of The 00’s!

In such a great decade for comics, you always hear an awful lot of praise for the writers.  When you hear people talk about Watchmen, a great deal of attention is paid to Alan Moore; when you hear people talk about Wanted, lovers and haters all talk about Mark Millar.  But a comic book is primarily a visual medium, and a talented artist can make a so-so book better, a good book great… or a great book only average.  Witness the art problems that plagued, for example, Grant Morrison’s ground-breaking run on New X-Men.

But this decade had its fair number of stars, art-wise, artists whose style and intensity nearly defined the titles they worked on.  These are our picks for the Top 10 interior artists of the 2000’s.

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Review: Final Crisis #6 – Spoilers!

Large Cover of Final Crisis #6 of 7

(*****)

I’m exhausted. My brain is mush. Yet I must press on because I love this book so much. It’s killing me.

Page 1: Why are Superman and Brainiac 5 here? Last time we saw Supes he was trapped in Limbo and Brainiac 5 was…well, the last Legion of 3 Worlds came out months ago. Who can remember? So, I guess this takes place after those two books?

Pages 2-3: Superman is “fading”. Probably because of that “time breaks down” nonsense Brainy was talking about. You’ll find a lot of techno-babble in this issue. I like Renee Montoya’s line later, “Enough of this sensory %$%@$ overload”. Anyway, Brainiac introduces the Miracle Machine. You like awesome technology right? Hmm, you can only think positive thoughts, who can do that better than the “Big Blue Boy Scout”?

Pages 4-5: Look out! Here come the baddies! Tattooed Man is an honorary JLA member? They’re really going for the old “Anyone can join the Justice League” maxim. I wonder how long any of this will last. Oh wait, it’s Morrison. All his continuity gets washed away once he’s gone.

Pages 6-7: Catfight! The Supergirl vs. Desaad Marvel fight continues! Beautiful action and good banter, let’s move on.

Pages 8-9: Hopefully Black Adam fans can calm down now. Yes he got hit hard last issue, but his power is fading and Desaad Marvel is very powerful. Oh and Mary is Desaad, it’s official.

Pages 10-11: The Tawky Tawny vs. Tigerbak fight continues! Desaad uses innocent people to attack Supergirl. That bastard! He’s so evil!

Pages 12-13: Whoa! Tawny guts Kalibak! Freddie and Mary go back to kids thanks to magic. Darkseid can’t control everything! Mary says, “I can never say it again”. Again, how long will this last?

Pages 14-15: Tawny gets respect! It’s the moment you never knew you wanted to see! Shilo explains more about that face paint. Mr. Terrific mentions “Black Gambit”. Will those OMACs ever come? Uh, if you’re not familiar with that reference, it’s just more evidence that the tie-ins have meant nothing. Unless of course reality is just really messed up. Hey, that’s a good excuse.

Pages 16-17: Ooh! A pretty New Furies splash! But that is nothing compared to that Super Young Team dialog. “Most of our powers are cosmetic!” and “I have the greatest power of all, Mister Miracle. I am so rich I can do anything” are pure genius. But there’s also the young love! So much awesome, I would be very happy with a Morrison Super Young Team mini.

Pages 18-19: Hero against hero, the soul mate and the person that showed a villain the light. This comic has everything! I’m still curious about Tattooed Man’s new tattoo.

Page 20: The Atoms together, more great stuff. “And here, our mystics attempt to contact the Spectre in the afterworlds”, but isn’t the Spectre Vandal “Cain” Savage’s slave?And Renee Montoya is in New York or something but she’s here too and…

Page 21: This is that “sensory overload” Montoya line I was talking about. Lord Eye, this is the whole Black Gambit business? Hmm it sounds like they’re preparing another Earth in case this one dies. I hope thatdoesn’t backfire.

Pages 22-23: I love that advertisement! You know, the one for the issue I’m reading. Way to go DC! Whoa! Calculator gets lynched! The villains unite to say “Fuck you aliens!” which is totally Luthor. Libra “dies”, but even Sivana says, “And that’s a classic “We haven’t heard the last of him!” if I ever saw one”. So, Libra will be back?

Pages 24-25: Did you forget about the Flash family? Will they stop Darkseid (If he hasn’t been stopped by the end of this issue)? Will Barry outrun the Black Racer (Barry has a new mini coming up so I’d guess yes)?

Pages 26-27: Batman pops up like a daisy! Ok, let’s just consider Batman #682-683 part of this issue. That’s where he broke free and got that nifty gun. Oh, so Darkseid shot Orion. Of course! Ah, but Orion caused Darkseid’s fall. “Wounded you beyond repair”, it sounds like it, right? Batman has the time bullet with him? That’s so Batman, but he wouldn’t use a gun would he? Hey that bullet looks familiar. Remember that weird thing from the last page of Final Crisis #2? I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was the time bullet. Anyway, Batman shoots Darkseid! Yay! Batman will be ok, right? He won’t get vaporized by Omega Beams like he was in JLA: Rock of Ages will he?

Pages 28-29: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Batman!!!! They took my buddy away, damn it! At least he got a two-page death that looks great (In a book with more artists than Batman: Black & White). I’ll talk more about this “death” later.

Pages 30-31: Is that Lois in the upper-left panel? Again, what’s up with that? The Hawkman/Hawkgirl scene may seem a bit random, but it continues the rebirth theme. I’ll talk more about that later. The GLs aren’t here yet. Metron is still around. Nix Uotan’s new look “inaugurates the Fifth World”. “These new humans face a greater menace than Darkseid if they breach the Bleed Wall.” Ah crap, that’s what this whole Black Gambit stuff is doing isn’t it? I knew it would backfire! Oh well, bring on Mandrakk (The Evil Monitor from Superman Beyond)!

Pages 32-33: Superman is blowing stuff up. Because of Batman I would guess. I wonder what he wished for. A lifetime supply of Popeyes Chicken? Or maybe it was to get back from wherever he was (The future?) and perhaps Lois’ good health as well.

Page 34: Ah, this image (From Doug Mahnke I believe. His name isn’t on the cover even though two inkers are) brings the Crisis trilogy full circle. Superman likes to hold cadavers.

And now for some more words. I want to talk about Batman’s death. I’m going to avoid the whole “This isn’t Morrison’s vision” and “Fuck Dan DiDio” stuff. I’ve covered that in my other Final Crisis reviews (You can read those, issue two, three, four, and five).

Again, I’m really tired so this won’t be as long as I planned (Which is good for you). Supposedly, Morrison’s original idea for this series was for the Magnificent Seven to all die and become New Gods. Do you remember those “Heroes Die, But Legends Live Forever” posters? Well that was the idea. Get the old guard out of the way (But still in the DCU) and make way for the kids. That idea was immediately shot down with the classic “Not the big three!” answer. Anyway the point is resurrection was on Morrison’s mind. Do you remember Superman’s Martian Manhunter eulogy in Final Crisis #2 and that hilarious “And pray for a resurrection” line? Well, Morrison talked about it on Newsarama (See it here) and said “This line foreshadows a major theme which will be played out as this series progresses”. He goes on to say “Now that I think about it, the whole story revolves around Superman’s (Pray for a resurrection) line”. So this may have been Morrison’s actual plan. We all know Batman will be back. Morrison certainly knows that as well. In fact, I believe his recent Batman run was all about how cool Bruce is and that no one could ever replace him. Heck, Batman could even be back in Final Crisis #7, but I doubt it. DiDio want his money. So we’ll go through all the Battle for the Cowl nonsense and filler crap. I just hope Final Crisis isn’t too compromised and that Grant (And maybe even Frank freaking Quitely) will be back on Batman soon.

Just for the hell of it, here’s what Grant Morrison thinks about this issue. Enjoy!

Review: Final Crisis: Secret Files #1

Final Crisis Secret Files #1 (Cover B)

(***1/2)

I love Final Crisis, but this issue demonstrates my biggest problem with the whole thing. Well, it’s more of a fear. What if this isn’t Morrison’s vision? I don’t want to go too much into it so I’ll just focus on this issue. Check out the solicitation. Grant Morrison didn’t write this issue. Peter J. Tomasi didn’t write this issue. Frank Quitely, other than the cover, did not draw this issue. Instead, we get a mediocre Libra tale that’s mostly been told before. It’s from Len Wein and Tony Shasteen and it should have come out after Final Crisis #2. The big kick in the pants? SPOILER Libra is just Libra END SPOILER. So, that’s a bumber. Anyway, this is important stuff people. It gives some Libra back-story. Len Wein provides a decent story and Shasteen’s art is…frankly, pretty ugly. But the last six pages are pure gold. We get some more Crime Bible from Mr. Rucka himself. This is about all that Revelations nonsense. Then we get a page from Morrison that explains in detail about the Anti-Life Equation. If I had a dollar for everyone who asked me about the Anti-Life Equation I’d be…well, not rich, but I’d have about thirteen dollars! See what I mean about the “this should have come out a long time ago” thing? We then get four pages from Morrison and JG Jones that explain all those Nix Uotan drawings. I hope we get to see more of these creations. Morrison has invented elaborate histories like he’s J. R. R. Tolkien. Again, Superman Beyond #2, Final Crisis #6 and 7 should blow some damn minds. This, not so much, but it’s still worth your time and money.

Final Crisis #5

I just want to apologize real quick for my lack of appearance in the last couple weeks.  I have a backlog of reviews that will be coming up in the next couple weeks, but I had to concentrate on finishing up my first semester of grad work.  Still, Internet access fixed and semester over, I will now be returning to my actual reviews

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Final Crisis #5: Into Oblivion

Keeping things relatively spoiler free – I have Bruce and Billy to give you the skinny on everything what’s gone down – I have to say that this was another action packed issue of Final Crisis… but the question with Final Crisis has never been ‘does anything happen’, but ‘how does it happen?’  The first issue, while exciting, introduced a great deal in a series of relatively choppy segments with brief, sometimes ill-handled transitions, and as much as I’ve loved the series since, it’s spent the entire time playing catch-up to the 40 different plots introduced in #1.

While we’re still playing catch-up, the series has definitely leveled out, finally, into a well-written apocalyptic story with a palpable sense of dread and some pretty killer action… and a few answers to long-standing questions.  In a comics industry that has trained us to follow these events like dogs chasing cars, knowing that nothing will really change beyond a new series or two – and a few cancellations – Final Crisis has at least moments of genuine peril, wonder, and excitement.  That sounds like the beginning of a rant, and after the ‘end’ of Secret Invasion, believe you me there’s a rant brewin’ on the nature of our (still beloved) event-driven industry… but it might be a smidge inappropriate to throw in here.

Final Crisis #5 was, though, a well-written issue setting up a promising finale.  While the series has failed to live up to the highest standards of event comics, set by projects like 52, two issues remain in which Morrison still has a chance to bring the series to a resounding close.

Grade: B+