Monday, January 23, 2012

BEST COMIX: 2011

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL:




-"STARSTRUCK Deluxe Edition" ↑ ; by Elaine Lee, Michael Wm. Kaluta, and Lee Moyer

Still the smartest, funniest, and most creative series there is.

And the lavish, giant-sized omnibus packed with goodies blows all other competition away. >

StarstruckComics.com








BEST COMICS:



DC:



Click image to enlarge



-"BATWOMAN" ↑ ; story by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman; art by J.H. Williams III, or Amy Reader
The best of the best.

-"SWAMP THING"; by Jeff Lemire and Yanick Paquette
Pulls off the impossible, by bringing back all of the best elements of the Wein-Wrightson original, the Moore-Bissette-Totleben renaissance, and with a new sense of surprise. Astounding so far.

-"ANIMAL MAN"; by Todd Snyder and Travel Foreman
Matches the original heyday of Grant Morrison with better art and its own sophistication. A wonderful companion piece to the new SWAMP THING.

-"ACTION COMICS"; by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
The 1938 Superman was a populist everyman who fought for the workers and took down the fatcats who lorded over them in the Depression.

The new Superman is again an avatar of the foreclosed, the downsized, and the penniless under the heels of the greed machine.
Look, up in the sky...it's our raised fists!



MARVEL:




-"ULTIMATE COMICS: SPIDER-MAN" ↑ , by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
While some jerks overreacted to a new Hispanic/African American Spider-Man, what we really got was a tender coming-of-age story of a charming teen kid starting his path to glory. Excellent all around. >

-"MOON KNIGHT"; by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Bendis and Maleev...hey, what more could you ask for?


TOP SHELF:




-"LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDIANARY GENTLEMEN: 1969" ↑ , by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
Alan Moore takes on the lit and culture of 60's London. A dream come true.


DARK HORSE:




-"DOLLHOUSE: Epitaphs"" ↑ , by Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Andrew Chambliss, and Cliff Richards

The DOLLHOUSE tv series reached its height with the shocking leap into a dystopian future in its final "Epitaph" episodes. The scriptwriters return to sketch out the deeper details of that future in this mini-series, with the promise of more to come.







GRAPHIC NOVELS:




-"HABIBI" ↑ , by Craig Thompson
BLANKETS was an intimate story with a wide canvas. HABIBI is an intimate story on an epic scale that encompasses religions, countries, cultures, and gender. Ambitious and stunning.

-"GREEN RIVER KILLER: A True Detective Story", by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case
Noted pop culture writer Jeff Jensen details the personal dimension of a notorious case solved by his father.

-"CELLULOID", by Dave McKean
One of the best fine artists in the field doing an experimental meditation on erotica.

-"BATMAN: NOEL", by Lee Bermejo
Lee. Bermejo.



Everybody's-Talking-About, Dept:
(a.k.a., "haven't read these yet but the talk about them is great")


-"FINDER: VOICE", by Carla Speed McNeil

-"ANYA'S GHOST", by Vera Brosgol

-"HARK! A VAGRANT", by Kate Beaton

-"DAYTRIPPER", by Gabriel Ba

-"LUCHADORAS", by Peggy Adam







BEST COLLECTIONS:




-"WONDER WOMAN Chronicles, vol.2" ↑ , by Wm. Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter
Moulton's 1940's proto-feminist parables are still light years ahead of any version of her done since, and Peter's nouveau art is still as wonderful as it is unsung. >

-"The Complete POGO, vol. 1", by Walt Kelly
The definition of smart art. Absolutely essential.

-"KAMANDI Omnibus, Vol. 1", by Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby in the early 70's. Unbeatable.

-"CHASE", by D. Curtis Johnson and J.H. Williams III
Fans may know Chase from BATWOMAN; this overdue volume collects all her early adventures, with art by J.H. WILLIAMS III.

-"X-STATIX Omnibus", by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred
A huge compilation of their fun and satiric X-FORCE and X-STATIX series.







OUR CREATORS:




-"LILY RENEE, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer", by Trina Robbins.
Historian emeritus Trina Robbins shines light on another creative woman who deserves her place in the pantheon.

-"The Adventures of HERGE", by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental, and Stanislas Barthélémy
A biography of Herge done in the style of his beloved TINTIN books.

-"SUPERGODS", by Grant Morrison
Grant's insights on comic history are required reading.

(His judgement on Alan Moore is lacking, and can be corrected by reading...)

-"ALAN MOORE: Storyteller"↑ . by Gary Spencer Millidge
The most comprehensive overview on the multi-talented maestro, including an exclusive CD of his performance recordings.









---MOVIES AND TV---



GREAT


GREAT: Movies



Super 8; Hugo; Tintin


-THOR
Kenneth Branagh really went for it all. The Earth stuff was a little rushed, but Asgard was glorious.

-CAPTAIN AMERICA
A refreshing surprise. No irony, no jingoism, just a great pulp adventure homage with all the right instincts.

-SUPER 8
My personal favorite of the summer.

In the mid-70's, science fiction films were declared dead. Then STAR WARS remade the movie industry like The Beatles revised music. All those 13-year-old fans then made the pop culture of the next three decades. J.J Abrams brings it all full circle with this mysterious and tender homage to the 1977-1982 movies that ignited everything to come.

-HAUNTERS (S. Korea)
The bridge between UNBREAKABLE and PUSH. Sharply made, great characters, constant surprises, a rousing finish.

-HUGO
A beautiful love letter to early film and classic books. And perhaps the most thoughtful use of 3D yet seen.

-THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
My old saw is, "Do Herge's actual clean-line style mapped onto CG puppets."

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson did the opposite -wedding Herge's world to 3D realism, noir lighting, and Hitchcock angles- and pulled it off spectacularly. A breathtaking avalanche of smart fun.


GREAT: TV



Game Of Thrones; Misfits; Fringe/Fringe


-GAME OF THRONES
Only 5% of this is 'Fantasy'. The other 95% is the best character drama about court intrigue one could imagine.

-MISFITS (U.K.)
The Sex Pistols of 'superheroes'. Sacrilegious and hilarious.

-FRINGE
X-FILES never paid-off any of its set-ups well. FRINGE always does, in an unwinding tapestry that only gets better as it goes.

-THE FADES (U.K.)
A supernatural thriller. Like reading one of the finest Vertigo Comics of 1993, with in-jokes galore.



GREAT: Animated




-CHICO AND RITA ↑ (Spain/U.K.)
Beautiful to watch, to listen to, and to feel. Wonderful.

-THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Japan)
Another gem from Studio Ghibli, this charming tale of miniature people is a winner all around. Smart, heart, art.

-BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD
I never liked Bat-Mite because he 'epitomized how the 1950's had ruined Batman'.

Until now. Here, Bat-Mite points out that this show is a love letter to the Silver Age Of Comics. And he's right. Before we got too dark and serious, comics used to be about fun, wonder, and impossible non-sequiters. This show brings all of that back with hyper zeal. It's great fun in all the right ways, and won me over completely.

-BATMAN: Year One
An anime take on the classic Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli origin. Effective, though Mazzucchelli's grittier artwork was more effective.

-FUTURAMA
Hey...It's Futurama!




GREAT: Documentary

-"GRANT MORRISON: Talking With The Gods"
Grand writer holds forth.






GOOD:


GOOD: Movies


-GREEN LANTERN
(Wait for it.) I like the 2/3 with the Lantern Corp and outer space.

The remaining third, the earthbound scenes with Mall-Friendly-Star and Model-Of-The-Minute, was hokey and cringe-inducing.

-SUPER
A bent Indie comedy take on what would really happen if you tried to be a superhero, featuring an unhinged Ellen Page.

-GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Australia)
A modest take on homemade superheroes, with an engaging romance and some twists.

-The Extraordinary Adventures Of ADELE BLANC-SEC (France)
The grumbling adventurer gets a fine film treatment of her illustrated exploits by Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element").


GOOD: TV


-THE WALKING DEAD
I like it enough, while others love it. It's playing one note pretty well.

-GRIMM
Whedon-esque characters, fun stories, terrific lighting. A pleasant surprise.








GOD-AWFUL:


GOD-AWFUL: Movies


-X-MEN: First Class
Yeah, I hear it already; "How could you give GREEN LANTERN any props while dissing this film?"

Two-thirds of that works, one-third of this does (Michael Fassbender). The story is wildly uneven; the Civil Rights opportunity is inexcusably ignored; and reaching beyond 1962 to homage culture styles well after it creates an anachronistic clusterfunk.

-TRANSFORMERS 3
As James Brown said, "Talking loud and saying nothing."


GOD-AWFUL: TV


-AMERICAN HORROR STORY
A textbook case in how to overdo everything and accomplish nothing.

(For the antidote, watch THE FADES series from BBC.)






Nuff said, pilgrim. Excelsior!





See also:

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST MUSIC: 2011


BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMIX: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010



The Roots And Branches Of STARSTRUCK
Waiting For SPIDER-MAN


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