My Most Recent 3 Favorite Comics

These are the 3 monthly comic books that I read in the last year or so, which have stuck in my mind. When I was putting this list together I was surprised when these were the first titles that sprung to mind, they’re a broad mix, and none of them are of the life-altering, weighty, intellectual bent that I think I like (turns out I still prefer a really entertaining comic at the end of the day). I think what ties them together for me is that they’re all titles that I’m emotionally invested in for some reason or another, and they’re all about characters who I have known for a very long time, and so I care. They’re not big, universe-shattering stories, they’re primarily stories about people.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #14

I like Whedon. He writes strong women and sweet men. People who are small and fallible human beings, but they’re strong and funny too. When the television series Buffy finished, I was sad. When he continued it in comic form, I was overjoyed. You can do a hell of a lot more in a comic, and the actors never need to slip up, or look weird.

Obviously, this has been the best issue in an already stellar run. But this one really pushed it to the edge. I’d say at this point that the comic became better than the tv show ever could. Can you imagine the budget?

There are so many things about this one issue that make me incredibly happy;

1. it’s set in Tokyo at night. Everything is a techno-heavy messy/pretty chaos. It’s wonderful looking.
2. There is a giant teenage girl terrorizing thousands of screaming people (and in the next issue, she battles a giant ROBOT teenage girl)!
3. It’s got Dracula in it. And not just any Dracula, but semi-Howard Hughes Dracula, who is super BFF with Xander.
4. The slayers are up against a troupe of simply fabulous goth Japanese vampires.
5. Everyone’s got some classic Whedon dorky lines, but Dracula is really funny, in that very creepy outsider-stating-the-obvious way (like an Anya kind of role).
6. The end (while completely horrible), hits you like a punch in the gut. It’s got some serious heft to it.

I know that this isn’t the first or the last in this (probably my favorite) storyline of the Buffy comics, but it sets such a great scene. I think it really might be the quintessential penultimate issue to a storyline, setting me up to spend an entire month perched on the edge of my proverbial seat, waiting for issue 15 (which I believe might have been an iFanboy Pick of the Week, or at least was discussed with joy at the timeĀ  — “Giant Robot Teenage Girl terrorizes Tokyo!”, etc).

Final Crisis: Requiem

Back when this first came out, I wrote a short article discussing how impressive I found this, and how touched I was. Nothing has changed, and a comic hasn’t hit me like this since, thus it deserves a place here. Back then, I explained how I felt about the character, and why The Martian Manhunter will always have a place in my heart. As a friend recently put it, I went from JLA J’onn, to New Frontier J’onn, directly to Requiem. That’s how the character has been shaped for me, and I have a lot of affection for him. So having said that, what was it in this issue that has made it have such a lasting impact?

This is the issue which rehashes the murder of J’onn J’onnz, and explores the final moments of his life. Unlike so many other comics, this is no quick and easy death, it’s hard to see this as some transient plot-device. In a medium where death is rarely permanent, this feels like a true ending, a real loss. From the first terrible cruelty of his ambush, to his desperate call to his loved ones, this is a comic that hits hard and takes its time doing so, right to the very end. I know it’s only a few pages of the comic, but when J’onn reaches out, sends the last thoughts of his home and his life to the people he’s been close to on Earth, it really touches me. I think it’s one of nicest uses of that kind of very abrupt scene-changing in a book, and the best expression and use of his powers in that moment.

Love & Rockets: New Stories #1

Now this is not quite the same as the other issues mentioned as favorites, because it’s a little bigger. The Hernandez Brother’s new format is nice and chunky, and there are some that would say this is a book, not a a comic per se. But still out of all the comics I read in the last year or so, this is one I still talk about and reference. If it were slimmer, I think it’d still count, it’s quality stuff.

Sometimes Love & Rockets is a smattering of the brother’s stories, sprinkled randomly and mixed up liberally. Here it’s more of a sandwich of Jaime’s work bookending the filling of Gilbert’s diverse stories. First, there’s always somethings seductive about Jaime’s lines, I’ve always loved the way he drew women, and I’ve always related strongly to his characters. In a deceptively light story, he mixes a crazy variety of his female characters. Women of all ages and sizes make up his story of rejected female superheroes. Somehow he manages to make it simultaneously wacky fun, and also quite disturbing. Conversely Gilbert gives us many stories, a huge range of surreal tales, from his disturbingly intimate little character studies, to his frequent forays into visually rich and surreal territory. This is as broad and representative a collection as you’ll ever get from Gilbert. In many ways this is a great jumping in point for new readers, but there are so many nods to the past that it caters equally to people who’ve been reading since the first issue. It’s a lovely package of a book.

It’s an odd mix of titles, and the real difference now (as apposed to my 3 First Favorite Comics which I wrote about last week) is that my primary concern now is not the art, but the writing. I don’t know what happened along the way? Did the general quality of the art in comics improve in comics so that it’s no longer a concern? Did my taste change, and the art is no longer as important to me? Or is it that I got lucky, and these are all examples of solid art, solid writing, and enough memorable moments to make them stick in my subconscious until I wrote this list? Whatever the reason, I can tell you that the best thing about writing this, was having an excuse to go back and read the books again. Still a lot of fun.

 


Sonia Harris is subsisting on tiny grains of sleep in San Francisco. You can email her at sonia@ifanboy.com.

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more about Final Crisis: Requiem.

  2. Requiem was such a great tribute to a character. That’s how a death in comics should be done.

  3. That whole Buffy storyarc was so good, but I just plowed through it at the time and haven’t had time to go back yet. (I really wish they would just take a break and start putting out some crappy comics so I would have time to go back and appreciate the good ones.)

    I almost skipped FC Requiem because I was so pissed about J’onn dying. I’m glad i didn’t. Peter Tomasi has just popped out of nowhere to become one of the best writers on the block right now. Incidentally, if you’re looking for more Martian Manhunter goodness, try to find the 36-issue run from the late 90’s. Good, good stuff. Not sure if its in trades or not, but it should be.

  4. Thinking of Requiem makes me wonder where the Batman tribute or memorial scene is. We know he’s not dead but Superman was holding his smoldering corpse and for all they know he is as dead as disco.  Seems like DC needs to sell it a little better. Requiem was great though.

  5. @Andrew  That’s sort of the premise of the Gaiman 2-shot, isn’t it?

    Nice choices with Buffy & Requiem (haven’t read Love & Rockets which is why I don’t mention that, but it sounds cool).

    Flipping through my past pull lists to see what my most recent favorite singles would be. . . last month’s ‘Invincible Iron Man,’ (11) which besides being a cool comic with an awesome fight scene was a great look at what it would really be like to be friends with Tony Stark.  Fred Van Lente’s last issue of Wolverine First Class (12) was a great look at some of my favorite X-characters, and, going back to last year (and more Fraction), his last issue of Immortal Iron Fist, with Danny Rand trying to figure out where he fit in the real world after coming back from the mystical cities was the best comic I’ve seen in ages.

  6. This article is complete bollocks.

  7. @ohcaroline Yes! I totally forgot how much I’m loving Invincible Iron Man, and Old Man Logan is damn good too. Ooh ooh! And I forgot how much I’m loving the Sword too. Blimey, there are some good comics coming out right now.

    @JoeCasey "Are you calling me on the cellular phone? I don’t know you. Who is this? Don’t come here, I’m hanging up the phone! Prank caller, prank caller!"

  8. Joe Casey must have a shrine for Sonia in his closet….That would explain the creepy stalking

  9. Requiem might be the best book DC has put out in a while. For such a cluster#$# that FC was, it was solid stuff.

     "He was my favorite martian."

    "Mine, too."

     SNNNNNNIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF! 

  10. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I actually went back and picked up Requiem per your recommendation a few weeks after the fact.  So glad I did.  (Thanks!)

  11. Being completely lost when it comes to current DC continuity, I still kind of want to read Requim. Was it just a one-shot?

    And I loved that entire Buffy arc. I’m following that in trade, and I almost want to stop since I don’t think it can live up to those issues.

  12. Seems like youre quite the J’onn fan…before this book came out and we just had the death scene in Final Crisis #1, what did you think that he was quickly killed off in pretty much one panel?

  13. i totally agree with you on requiem, like a few folks here.  i’m also putting old man logan up there as one of the best stories going right now.  and i had never read a single issue of wolverine OR x-men!

  14. Oh, I didn’t think of Old Man Logan, but each issue of that has gotten progressively more awesome and more insane. 

    About Requiem, I didn’t read Final Crisis but just picked this issue up based on all the good reviews, with a general idea of who Martian Manhunter was from some old Justice League story, and I thought it was amazing.  (Then, I always like a good funeral scene or a good wedding toast; it’s a thing).

  15. @comicBookchris When that happened in one panel I was livid. Of course it was totally redeemed by "Requiem", but at first I was sooooo upset.

    @BrianBear You could probably read that on it’s own and it’d still work.

  16. @ohcaroline-  I honestly don’t know if that is whats going on in the Gaiman story. It seems set in a different time and place than the current DCU. It is a Batman tribute, but more of an abstract death of the character for all time, instead of Superman or Hal expressing the loss of their friend and colleague. (if that makes sense)  Or maybe I’m not getting something. Thoughts?

  17. the most memorable book i’ve read in a long time was dave sim’s judenhass. it was a real masterpiece.

  18. I loved that Buffy comic. So great. 

  19. i loved the buffy comic and the requiem one got me so bad i started tearing up. havent tried love and rockets though. looks intresting

  20. @AndrewAL I think between Gaiman’s "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader", Daniel’s "Battle for the Cowl" and all of those tie ins, that there are plenty of books exploring how Bruce’s death has effected the DCU.  I feel Batman is far too pragmatic to want a funeral.  I’d much rather see how losing Batman changes heroes on a more quiet, personal level than seeing a bunch of heroes around his coffin saying, "Boy that was one scary mother loving hero".

  21. @savinglala I’m not reading all of these, (much as I love the character, I don’t believe it’s anything more than a sales boost exercise, so I’m ignoring it in protest), and should probably ask Conor, but how is it all feeling? Like a real death, or like a gimmick?