Just about every e-mail I get from readers of this column contains the same question: What comics are you reading right now that you’d recommend?
So without further ado, here are my picks for the best of 2006:
Best graphic novel: Lost Girls (Top Shelf Productions)
Lost Girls was easily the most groundbreaking work of 2006.
This three-volume collection — written by visionary Alan Moore with sumptuous art by Melinda Gebbie — has the power to change your perceptions of the word "pornography" by using familiar characters — Alice from Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz and Wendy from Peter Pan — to present something that is spectacularly literate yet unabashedly pornographic.
Other contenders: Pride Of Baghdad (Vertigo/DC Comics), Fables: 1001 Nights Of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Best ongoing series: All-Star Superman (DC Comics)
Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely might just be the best one-two punch in comics.
Their collaborations include such critically acclaimed books as New X-Men and We3, but All-Star Superman might be the best one yet.
Quitely’s finely detailed art style and Morrison’s sensationally cerebral and witty storytelling have taken this simple re-imagining of Superman’s life and made it a must-read series. Now if only they could stick to their bimonthly schedule, instead of the five-month break like the one between issues #5 and #6.
Other contenders: Daredevil (Marvel Comics), Fell (Image Comics), Invincible (Image Comics)
Best new series: The Irredeemable Ant-Man (Marvel Comics)
Finally, a series about a shrinking man who does what most men would actually do with those powers: Spy on women in the shower.
The Irredeemable Ant-Man’s cover tag reads: "The world’s most unlikable super hero" and Eric O’Grady lives up to every ounce of that label by stealing the experimental Ant-Man armour and using it to pick up women — especially vulnerable ones.
Sick, twisted fun courtesy of writer Robert Kirkman and artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks.
Other contenders: Star Wars: Legacy (Dark Horse Comics), Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. (Marvel Comics), Justice League Of America (DC Comics)
Best miniseries: Mouse Guard (Archaia Studios Press)
Writer/artist David Petersen’s sweeping and lavishly illustrated tale of three heroic mice’s struggles to save their homeland from invasion is a revelation.
Not many people had heard of Petersen prior to this book’s surprising surge in 2006, but it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the future.
Other contenders: Marvel Zombies (Marvel Comics), Civil War (Marvel Comics), Eternals (Marvel Comics), Escapists (Dark Horse Comics)
Best single issue: The Walking Dead #33 (Image Comics)
What came before: In a world where the dead wander the earth and feast on the living, three survivors — Rick, Michonne and Glenn — are captured and taken to the town of Woodbury, where the evil "governor" proceeds to chop off Rick’s hand and repeatedly (and violently) rape Michonne, while Glenn is forced to listen.
Now: This treatment of prisoners comes back to haunt the "governor" in a big way in this issue, as Michonne gets her revenge by slowly and exhaustively torturing him using such implements as a power drill, acetylene torch, hammer and nails and spoon.
Never has one issue made comic fans squirm so much.
Other contenders: All-Star Superman #5 (DC Comics), The Amazing Spider-Man #533 (Marvel Comics), Daredevil #82 (Marvel Comics), Infinite Crisis #7 (DC Comics), Savage Dragon #125 (Image Comics)
Comeback series of the year: Savage Dragon
Erik Larsen took over as publisher of a wavering Image Comics a couple of years ago and has really helped turn things around.
This was great news for fans of the company — renowned for its fantastic variety of titles and creators — but not too good for supporters of Larsen’s long-running series, Savage Dragon. With all that business stuff on his plate, Larsen was forced to put the book on hiatus.
But in early 2006, Savage Dragon returned and a rejuvenated Larsen brought his "A" game with action-packed resolutions to some lingering plot threads and a few new twists to keep fans looking forward to 2007.
Other contenders: Deathblow (Wildstorm/DC Comics), The Spirit (DC Comics)
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