Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

11 January 2011

2010 in review

I had plans for a 2010 review as big as last year’s, listing my favorites (and least favorites) from among the books I reviewed this year. Unfortunately, the books I reviewed — 37 overall — tended toward the mediocre. (That’s not entirely fair; a rating of 3.5, which several books received, is above mediocre. A book that gets 3.5, in my opinion, is fun to read … but it’s not a book that inspires superlatives or a command to go out and buy the book.) So my list of books this year will be short:

  1. Birds of Prey, v. 5: Perfect Pitch and v. 6: Blood and Circuits: The antepenultimate and penultimate volumes of writer Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run, these two were the apex of her work on the title. After finally shedding artist Ed Benes, Simone (coincidentally or not) was able to hone her characterization and sharpen her plots while retaining her customary witty dialogue. If forced to choose between the two, I would opt for Blood and Circuits because the developments in that book finally jolted the audience from some of its complacency about the safety of the team.
  2. Usagi Yojimbo, v. 24: Return of the Black Soul: Stan Sakai finally explained the origin of the demon Jei, focusing on the demon’s story for a tale that was not only frightening but surprisingly emotional. After 24 volumes of Usagi in more than 20 years, Sakai is still able to tell stories about the character and his world that are new and powerful.
  3. G-Man, v. 1: Learning to Fly and v. 2: Cape Crisis: I’m a big fan of Chris Giarrusso, so it’s no surprise I loved his two G-Man books. Filled with his distinctive humor — a combination of subtle sight gags, running jokes, and absurdist dialogue — G-Man still manages to have an interesting plot, and Giarrusso seems to never forget how the world seems to children.

I actually did better than I thought with the timeliness of the reviews, although given how badly I thought I did, that’s not saying much; still, nearly half the reviews were of books that came out in 2010. Fortunately, G-Man, v. 2, and Usagi Yojimbo, v. 24, were among those, so they’re my picks of 2010. Honorable mention goes to Batwoman: Elegy, the beautiful but occasionally flawed book by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III.

The worst books I read this year were The Pulse, v. 2: Secret War and Gigantic. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, who occasionally puts out some great stuff, also generates some of the worst, and The Pulse was about as low as this blog goes: a frequently incomprehensible decompressed mess with bad characterization, saved from a 0 rating only by art from Michael Lark and Brent Anderson. Gigantic, by writer Rick Remender and artist Dustin Nguyen, was a high-concept piece that unfortunately did not live up to the promise of the concept; the writing veered from weird to surprisingly unsurprising, and Nguyen’s scratchy art didn’t help matters either. Since Gigantic was the one that came out this year, it gets my “Worst of the Year” tag despite being better than The Pulse.

What was the best (or worst) collected edition / graphic novel you read this year?

Previous year-end wrap ups:

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Blogger Marc said...

Ah, I remember that Gigantic review. Thanks again for saving me and my wallet from that one!

Looking back at the books I reviewed for my own blog last year, I don't think I read much that was actually published in 2010. The worst thing I read by far was Gambit Classic, and that came out in 2009. I'd say most of what I read fell in the range of "okay" to "good," but there wasn't a whole lot of "great."

8:11 PM  
Blogger Raoul said...

Ah, Gambit Classic. That's coming up in my reading queue, although at the rate I'm going, I'm not going to get to it until spring. Fortunately, I've read all the issues before, so I know what to expect, especially for the Gambit miniseries. Have you, by chance, read the review by David R. Henry for Gambit #4? It's a masterful piece, titled "The Moron Game." And really, if you suffered through Gambit Classic not knowing what was waiting for you, you deserve to treat yourself to that review.

Since I can't possibly top that review, I think I'm going to skip reviewing that -- other than maybe make a brief, mini-review mention of it. (Or to point out, as someone who has actually seen Cairo, Ill., that the artists have no idea what it looks like. But that's par for the course when it comes to small towns -- and I'm not even European. Non-urban Europeans, according to comic book artists, were mostly peasants who kept the pitchfork close at hand, even when the 21st century started.)

11:46 PM  

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