Let’s be honest, this was a tough year for new books. The faltering economy and rising comics prices meant that readers and retailers were getting more conservative, and publishers were more likely to push out more of the same than try the road less travelled. Yet even in that climate, there were those that tried to break the mold, and give us the new. This list is a celebration of those intrepid souls.
#10 – American Vampire
Although this series was initially sold on the strength of Stephen King’s involvement, the big surprise is that Scott Snyder is a strong writer in his own right. The concept of the series is deceptively simple, but allows Snyder to tell a wide-ranging story, and leaves open plenty of room to continue the series indefinitely.
#9 – Birds Of Prey
This is technically a relaunch of an old series, but it has a completely different dynamic than the original. Yet crucially, it retains the humor and character interaction that defined Gail Simone’s first run. Ed Benes art has improved by leaps and bounds, and exhibits a lot more subtlety and nuance. One of the best things to come out of Brightest Day.
This series has a much darker tone than the original Justice League International series it’s inspired by, but that’s in keeping with the overall DC Universe these days. I had my doubts initially as to whether this book could work without DeMatteis alongside Giffen (you can catch their act on Booster Gold) but Judd Winick is holding up his end of the bargain, and there’s plenty of suspense and intrigue here.
A great comic by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee that was far too short-lived. People were outraged when this book got cancelled, but where were they when it needed the readers? There’s going to be another issue out for Free Comic Book Day, and Joe Quesada says they’ve heard the fan response, so perhaps it will return someday. Here’s hoping.
Most people these days know Paul Levitz as the former Publisher of DC Comics; indeed, he’d been on the editorial side for decades. But in the ’70s and ’80s he was known for his writing on several classic DC series, the first and foremost being the teen team from the future, the Legion of Super-Heroes. He’s now returned to the book, and surprisingly is showing no signs of rust. A lot of times when people come back to a series they once were famous for, they can seem tired and outdated, but Levitz’s dialogue and characterization is as sharp as the best of today’s writers. He’s fortunate also to be paired with artist Yildiray Cinar whose illustration is clean, dynamic, and easy to follow. It might not be the book at the heart of the latest DCU events, but it’s still well worth following.
I know Hawkeye isn’t Spider-Man or Wolverine; I know you don’t have a 20-year Hawkeye collection that you need to keep going. But Jim McCann is writing some great comics here! Don’t you want more great comics? Ok, you still have a chance; there’s a Widowmaker limited series going on right now where McCann is continuing Hawkeye’s story, and that’ll be followed by the Hawkeye: Blindspot limited series. Vote with your wallet!
#4 – S.H.I.E.L.D.
Ok, so it might not be what you were expecting from a Marvel comic called S.H.I.E.L.D., but from my POV, that’s a plus; one of the things I like most about Jonathan Hickman’s writing is that I never know what to expect. And any comic that can make Sir Isaac Newton into a supervillain is doing something right. An intriguing read each month.
#3 – Morning Glories
There aren’t many comics where you can say “I’m not really sure what this is about” even after the first arc is done, and yet still want more. Morning Glories has done that. On its surface, it bears a superficial resemblance to Cartoon Network’s new Tower Prep series, but Nick Spencer is able to put across in each issue the feeling that there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. What is this school, and why do they want these kids? Let’s find out.
#2 – Batman Incorporated
I know only a couple of issues are out so far, but it’s a great start with a great concept that only Grant Morrison could pull off. I mean, let’s face it, in anybody else’s hands, the idea of Batman becoming an international franchise within the comics themselves would come off at best as a parody. The fact that Morrison was able to convince the Powers That Be to let him do this, let alone actually make it the thrust of Batman’s direction going forward, is nothing short of amazing. Definitely the Bat-book to watch going forward.
#1 – Avengers Academy
I’ve heard the complaints; “The Avengers books are too much alike these days! Oh, for the days of classic Avengers dynamics!” Well, stop your complaining, and look no further than Avengers Academy. In addition to having a cast that’s made up of a number of classic Avengers, the dialogue and story developments are top-notch in the hands of writer Christos Gage. If the rest of the Avengers line isn’t doing it for you, this is the book that will.
Matt Adler hopes for more great new books this year.