December 28, 2011

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Panel Patter's Best of 2011: Superhero Comics

Wednesday was always the day I got my new superhero comics, so I figured it was the best day to feature this particular best of column.  I don't read superhero comics like I used to.  What I do read, I often read very much behind, either in library trades or on digital comic sales.  As a result, I don't have a lot of 2011superhero comics to talk about.  While I am reading more thanks to the New 52 initiative of DC comics, they're all only a few issues in, and I can't place them on a best of list just yet, though I expect Batman, Demon Knights, and maybe OMAC of all things will be contenders for 2012.

In this case, we'll go with a Top Five for my Best of Superheroes in 2011...

5. Captain America Man Out of Time
Mark Waid is still one of the best around at writing superhero comics, regardless of the character or publisher.  This mini-series, targeted at people who might have just seen the Cap movie, is Waid at his continuity-knowing best.  He manages to modernize Cap's appearance in the world while respecting all that has come before it.  Had he chosen a different President, this would have been perfect.  As it is, it was the best Cap story I've read in a long time and definitely a favorite for 2011.

4. Black Panther The Man Without Fear
While I don't like some of the things Marvel has done with T'Challa over the years, I really liked this book, which I think made the best of an awkward situation, using the rich history of Marvel's characters to contrast their current arrangements, rather than refuse to admit that past existed.  The story is solid, the artwork is good, and I just wish people would start buying more of these kinds of comics so I could keep reading them.  Don't dismiss this book because of the events surrounding it.  It's worth reading.

4. Batman Joker's Asylum 2
The Joker takes on the role of Cain, the Cryptkeeper, or any other number of comic narrators you wish to name in this second anthology series of one-shots.  Just as good as its predecessor, these stories aren't weighted down by continuity or Grant Morrison's ego.  They're just good stories involving familiar characters, which seems like it can be too much to ask from DC or Marvel at times.  I had a great time reading this, and I would love it if we get a third collection.

2. Ex Machina
Ex Machina's final trade came out this year, and I took that opportunity to read through the entire series.  It comes to an awesome conclusion here, as Mayor Hundred goes quite far--but is he doing it for the right reasons?  A lot of the ideas we see in the second half of the series come to roost here, and Vaughan is deliberately ambiguous about some of it.  A great, self-contained series that was a bit difficult to classify, but I'll put it here for all the superhero comic book references.  If you never read this, go for it!

1. Irredeemable/Incorruptible
I might be cheating a bit here by putting these two together, but Mark Waid's Irredeemable universe holds together so well that I think they should be considered together, not as individual comics.  As I've mentioned in each review of the series, Mark Waid is at the top of his game in this series that asks what happens when Superman goes bad and we see that none of the world's protectors are above reproach.  The ideas and concepts Waid creates are detailed, layered, and complex, and when you add them to what it's like for an ex-villain who wants to go straight, the combination is pure dynamite.  Irredeemable and Incorruptible are tw0 of the best comics being made, month in and month out (though I think they read best in trade form) and easily were my best superhero comics of 2011.

I referenced why I did not include any of the DC New 52, but what did I miss in 2011 that you would have included?  What am I totally wrong about?  Let me know in the comments!