Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Best Books of 2006! Woo-Sucker Punch Ninja Kick!

It's not that I haven't been reading a buttload of comics the last two weeks. Because I have. In fact I'm working on a Seven Soldiers of Victory Review, and planning to review Bendis's entire Ultimate Spiderman run. I was going to do that this week, but the thought occured to me that when next I post a blog it's going to be lucky 07, and in that vein, like every other crazy review site, it's time to wrap it up on '06. Time to go back into the year and to the best of my recollection, give you my best books of '06. History holds there should be a nice round number of these . Like five or ten or a hundred. But a hundred would be unwieldy, and honestly, so may be ten. So I'm going with five. Five really good books from the past year that I fully reccomend. And since there is only five, I won't be doing anything silly like ranking them. Just five. Deal with it.

And without much more ado:

All-star Superman
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

In all honesty, there was maybe three or four writers who just completely pwned 2006. Morrison was one of them. He semi-quietly threw out some major good stuff. From Seven Soldiers of Victory to Batman to working on 52--even though it's tempting to give DC's year to Geoff Johns, at the end of the day Morrison's work was what kept me a proud DC fan.

And All-Star Superman was simply his best. As arguably the best book DC put out last year, ASM was no slouch. It's still ongoing, and I'll be sad when it's over. But the premise is kind of those silver age wacky superman stories of old. You've got a very mortal Superman, bouncing around in crazy situations with all the normal cast of characters we all know from the years. I don't even like Superman, in fact I kind of hate him. But that didn't stop this book from being one of the very best out there. Morrison's depiction of Lex Luthor has to be seen. And the art from Quitely is eye-gougingly beautiful. The colors are great. Just fantastic work. If you're looking for a Superhero book to read from the last year, I think this is the one.

Scott Pilgrim
Bryan Lee O'Malley

There's actually three Scott Pilgrim books that are out to get, and one of them came out this year, so technically this is okay. But I read all three for the first time this year and felt like all life to that point must have been empty and meaningless. I now know my purpose in life: To read the next Scott Pilgrim book. Collected in good chunk lollipop sized manga volumes, this book chronicles a slackless canadian layabout (perhaps even a rapskallion?) and his adventures or misadventures in love. He's constantly having to fight his girlfriend's ex-boyfriends so that he can continue to go out with her in wild video game-anime inspire fight scenes.

This is a book for everyone. I actually gave it as a christmas present to my sister and my secret santa, and they both adored the book. It's impossible not to like. It's got a charm and humor to it, that is impossible not to fall in love with. If you haven't read Scott Pilgrim, you are probably an evil doppleganger and I hope they find you and throw you into the sun.

Fell
Warren Ellis-Ben Templesmith
2006 also ushered in a bucket full of really good Warren Ellis writing. The King hath returneth. That he wrote both this and Desolation Jones(which I almost put on the list instead) puts him up there for best of the best for the year.

The concept for Fell is 16 pages, full story, 1.99. It follows Detective Richard Fell who has transfered across the bridge from the big city to Snowtown. Snowtown being something of a hellmouth for human degeneracy. The crimes in this book are often sick, disgusting, revolting, but the way in which solves the mysteries in 16 pages with a little bit of humor even, is remarkable and a testament to Ellis' abilities as a writer. There's a lot ot learn from Ellis on this book as far as how much story you really can cram into a book. There's so many books that are 6 to 7 pages longer than Fell that don't feel nearly as satisfying story wise. When you pick up Fell you feel like you're getting your money's worth. Definitely more than worth picking up.

Phonogram
Kieron Gillen-Jamie Mckelvie

If you read my review of Phonogram from a few weeks back and still didn't go pick up the book, I probably hate you, and we probably can't be friends. If I had to pick a favorite book of the entire year, it is either this or Scott Pilgrim. I would say of the two, Phonogram gave me the most food for thought while still being very entertaining. Read this book. Ponder it. Sit it down for 30 minutes. Go grab some bread or cookies or whatever it is you monsters eat. Then come back and read it again.

Love the concept. Love the art. Love the writing. Love people who listen to me and buy the stupid book.

Don't make me beg. Go buy the book idiots.

Pride of Baghdad
Brian K. Vaughn-Niko Henrichon

Incendiary. Beautiful. Brilliant. Brian K. Vaughn was the man about town in comics this year. There's nothing he wrote that you shouldn't have read. But this was the opus. Straight to graphic novel, this based-on-a-true-story, allegory about a family of lions who escaped from the zoo during the US bombardment of Baghdad dazzled.

This is up there with Dark Knight Returns. The Watchmen. Those great canonical books of the medium. Maus. It's immedietely applicable to the current situation in Iraq, as that is most directly what it is addressing. But the meditation it ends up offering on war, dictatorships, and freedom makes this something on the level of comic's Animal Farm. This book is hopefully just the first in many great works from hopefully the next great shining star of comics.

I've yet to encounter anyone who has read the book that didn't come away staggered.

Honorable Mentions: Ed Brubaker's Criminal; Warren Ellis's Desolation Jones; Rick Spears' Pirates of Coney Island

Here's to '07 folks.

1 comment:

Pat! said...

good picks

(and i like the fact you've started to add cover shots of the issue you review. kick ass)