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My Top Ten Comics of 2010

Just for Greg Burgas, I waited until all the 2010 comics were finished being released. Another difficult year to narrow my favorite comics down to just ten. I think I’ll put up a quick selection of honorable mentions before I get into the top ten (and no ties for number ten – that’s cheating!), so enjoy!

I enjoyed a crapload of comics in 2010, but I think you know that. It’s not like me not mentioning a comic here doesn’t mean I didn’t like it a lot. Hell, I very well might have forgotten a really cool comic that I wanted to mention here but forgot.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

I really enjoyed Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s Stumptown. It really challenged for that last spot on the list.

As I’ve written a few times during 2010, Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson and friends continue to make The Boys a compelling read with their approach of taking the most outlandish ideas but grounding them in such believable characters that you can achieve true character-based drama even in the midst of total (often crass) absurdity.

Afrodisiac, by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, was an absolute delight.

Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Simon Bisley and friends have made Hellblazer relevant for the first time in awhile.

Incognito returned with a vengeance by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Val Staples.

The Bulletproof Coffin, by David Hine and Shaky Kane, was a blast.

Kate Beaton’s Hark, a Vagrant (here is the link) blows my mind on a regular basis.

Brian Michael Bendis had a great year, both on the Avengers titles, and even more so with Powers, as he and Mike Avon Oeming did a wonderful job on the latest volume.

Strange Tales was great, as has been its sequel.

Chris Roberson and Mike Allred are doing a standout job on iZombie.

Garth Ennis’s Crossed was great, but I dunno, only two issues came out in 2010, making me think of it more as a 2009 comic than 2010.

Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less deserves all of the praise it has been receiving.

This is getting too long. I’m just going to stop it here. Suffice it to say that there was a lot of great comics in 2010. David Lapham’s Sparta USA, Roger Langridge’s Muppet Show, Mark Waid’s Irredeemable and Incorruptible, Gail Simone’s Welcome to Tranquility, see if I don’t stop here I will just list books forever, and I don’t want to list books forever – that is way too much time!

On to the list!!

10. Tales Designed to Thrizzle

Another hilarious issue by Michael Kupperman.

9. Batman and Robin

Grant Morrison’s Batman work as a whole was an entertaining roller coaster ride of fun plots with awesome over-the-top action. I was going to cheat and just say “Grant Morrison’s Batman,” but, well, that would be cheating. But yeah, Return of Bruce Wayne was nearly as good and Batman Inc.’s two issues were amazing. What’s really amazing to me about this section of Morrison’s Batman is just how PLANNED it all is – it is remarkable how complex the story has been while also clearly having each plot point play into the overall story. This is different from his early Batman work where certain stories were not a part of the overall whole. Everything is part of the overall whole here.

8. Punisher MAX

Jason Aaron has somehow managed to match Garth Ennis’ extremely high level of writing for the MAX version of Punisher, all the while actually bringing in characters that don’t seem to FIT in the “Max” world (Kingpin and Bullseye) but MAKING them fit. And, as Chad pointed out, the fact that he’s doing this with an artist, Steve Dillon, who will forever be associated with Garth Ennis makes it even MORE audacious and effective.

7. Achewood

Another fine year of laughter and…well…depression.

Here’s an absurdly acute savaging of modern social media…

It is inspiring how Onstad keeps the quality up year after year. It is worth noting, though (as a few commenters have done so), that the release of strips on the website has been a lot more erratic this year than years previous, as Onstad seems to be looking for new ways to monetize his content, and part of that has been less free strips on the site and more material that you pay to read. That is true, but I think the strips we have gotten are still strong enough to merit its inclusion here (like the above social media strip).

6. Little Nothings

You always know what to expect from Lewis Trondheim’s Little Nothings – just well-crafted, entertaining collections of, well, little nothings, but damned if he doesn’t deliver every single time with interesting slice-of-life tales.

5. Return of the Dapper Men

Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee deliver a visually stunning piece of work that captures the sheer joy of creating original comic works.

4. Smile

Raina Telgemeier takes a story that, on the face of it, sounds pretty dull (detailing her extensive dental work over a six year period from her pre-teen years up through high school graduation in the late 1980s/early 1990s Northern California) and not only makes the mundane interesting, but makes it compelling. When you combine it with her absolutely astounding storytelling skills (I swear, Telgemeier could draw an entire graphic novel without words and you’d barely notice it, that’s how well she tells a story with her artwork) you have one of the most delightful comics of 2010.

3. The Outfit

I thought that Darwyn Cooke’s first Parker adaptation, The Hunter, was really good. It just barely missed my top ten for 2009. If I had a criticism at all, it was that the adaptation felt a bit too “on point,” as though Cooke did not experiment that much with the storytelling style. With The Outfit, however, he got even more complex and ingenious with his telling of Richard Stark’s The Outfit, including an absolutely jaw-droppingly amazing sequence where he details the various schemes of The Outfit and how Parker plans to take them down.

2. Scalped

In 2010, Jason Aaron’s Scalped mostly went with a few shorter stories (spotlighting in great depth minor characters in the overall narrative), and as a result, we also had a variety of artists working on the issues this year. The book’s main artist, R.M. Guera (who is brilliant) did the majority of the issues, but Danijel Zezelj and Jason Latour each contributed an issue and Davide Furno did two.

So, working with four different artists, it was striking to me just how consistent the storytelling was for this year’s worth of Scalped.

We continued to get a series of complex and compelling character studies with moody, evocative artwork. Depending on what you consider Acme Novelty Library is (is it an ongoing series?), Scalped is the best ongoing series in comics, and Jason Aaron is right up there with the very best writers in comics.

1. Acme Novelty Library #20

Poor Scalped. Each year I think maybe this is the year that Scalped hits #1 on my list. Last year, with no Acme Novelty Library to deal with, Asterios Polyp came out! This year, I though, “You know, if Ware doesn’t outdo Acme Novelty Library #19, I will move Scalped to #1. I think it deserves it, and it wasn’t like Acme Novelty Library #19 was SO much better than Scalped. So if #20 doesn’t outdo #19, then Scalped gets #1.”

Well, as you might have guessed, Acme Novelty Library #20, “Lint,” did, in fact, outdo Acme Novelty Library #19, which was pretty damned impressive itself (Scalped is pretty damned impressive, too).

In Lint, Chris Ware delivers a strikingly complex life study of the entire life of a supporting character from Ware’s continuing Rusty Brown series of stories. And when I say the entire life, I mean the ENTIRE LIFE.

It is not just the fact that this is pretty darn experimental (although that is impressive in and of itself), but what really gets to me about this story is the way that Ware’s makes this story a captivating one. It’s not that Jordan “Jason” Lint is really all that interesting of a fellow, but what Ware shows us in this extensive volume is that EVERYone has a fascinating story if you look closely enough, and boy does he look closely enough in this comic!

Maybe next year, Scalped!!

16 Comments

Sad that Achewood hasn’t come out regularly this year.

Great list Brian. I wasn’t entirely in love with Cooke’s Parker (more just for the story than for anything to do with Cooke who I adore) but your placement of the second installment so high here…I’m going to give it a try.

Huh. I would’ve bet lots and lots of money that Love and Rockets would be on your list somewhere. (It’d be a solid top three on mine.)

[…] Comic Book Resources – My Top Ten Comics of 2010 […]

Definitely deserved an honorable mention, Mark!

Great list. I’m such a sucker for Best Of lists, especially when they have a good variety of material. (Even though it frustrates me how much I want to read but haven’t yet read.)

It looks like you list Danijel Zezelj twice on your Scalped fill-in artists. Having fallen way behind on that series, who is the other?

Solid list Brian. Noticed this:

“The book’s main artist, R.M. Guera (who is brilliant) did the majority of the issues, but Danijel Zezelj and Jason Latour each contributed an issue and Danijel Zezelj did two.

So, working with four different artists…”

You only mention three.

Thanks, Corey and Drew, I seem to have put Zezelj twice instead of Davide Furno. Fixed now!

Just read the Outfit and I agree with every word you said about the Parker adaptations. It’s like Cooke had to get used to the idea of adapting one of his idols works, and then was able to cut loose once he became comfortable. The first one didn’t grip me anywhere near as much as this one did, as it’s pure comic gold.

I liked a lot of stuff on your honorable mentions.
More so, I’m always tickled when I see Achewood show up as the only webcomic on lists like this.
I damn well wish it would get back on a schedule, but when it’s firing on all pistons, it works so well other comics have to catch up to it.

Did you get a chance to check out Graphic Cosmogony? I couldn’t afford it and so only got to skim through it at Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest, but it definitely looked like it was best of the year material from what I could see. Most of the books from Nobrow looked like they could be at the top of a best of list really, and along with ARGH!, Europe is really kicking North America’s ass when it comes to anthologies (though I don’t think an ARGH! issue came out this year).

Dang scalped always the bridesmaid never the bride!!!!

Really though, 2010 was an insane year for comics. I hadn’t really thought about it because 2009 had a lot of big releases and a lot of the great things crossed over, but there has been so many top quality comics out just this year that I feel like I’m going to need another year or two just to catch up on all of them. The idea of narrowing it down to just ten titles is pretty daunting.

I have the impression that Achewood has moved a lot of its content over to the for-pay side of the line, with the occasional free strips now acting mostly as loss leaders.

Doug M.

Brian, I’m so glad that Scalped is getting the credit and recognition it deserves from an acclaimed comic book press figure such as yourself. Scalped is my number 1 only because 100 Bullets is concluded, but that’ still saying a lot. Jason Aaron was my #1 writer when I submitted my votes to the Top 100 Comic Book Writers feature. He creates these fantastic black-and-gray morality characters and situations, and makes you really care about them despite the fact that many of the people in Scalped have few if any redeeming qualities. He’s the reason I started reading Wolverine again and why the Ghost Rider Jason Aaron Omnibus is on my Amazon wishlist. I’m just waiting impatiently for Scalped volume 7 to come out. I’m one of those “Trades Only” guys.

[…] Little Nothings made Brian Cronin at Comic Book Resources’ top ten of […]

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