Year in Review: Favorite comic series of 2011Written by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
2011 proved to be another diverse year for the comic industry, bringing with it numerous series that made their mark on discerning readers’ hearts and wallets. In recent years, companies seemed to have made a conscious effort to diversify their offerings with stories and characters that fall outside the standards of the medium — 2011 continued that grand experiment.
Monarch Cards & Comics’ Ed Katschke said that, despite the industry’s still-sagging sales, the Toledo shop is ringing in the new year with a profitable 2011. He credits several series that ran throughout the year with helping to fuel those sales, as well as pleasing him on a personal level.
“Fables” (Vertigo/DC) — by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
“Long before television picked up the idea of using storybook characters in a modern setting — ‘Once Upon A Time,’ ‘Grimm’ — DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint had been doing just fine with their Eisner Award-winning comic ‘Fables.’ Willingham has done a great job at taking traditional fairy tale characters and updating them to a modern interpretation while simultaneously keeping things fresh, interesting and lively. Buckingham’s pencils at once invoke modern comic greats like Jack Kirby while also managing to suggest classic children’s books illustrations with his charming border doodles.”
“Uncanny X-Force” (Marvel) — by Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, et al.
“One of the best recent efforts by the Marvel X-titles, ‘Uncanny X-Force’ deals with a secret black ops mutant strike force led by Wolverine to identify and eliminate threats to the world in general and mutant-kind in specific. Writer Remender has crafted a terrifically suspenseful series of stories, alternating grim and gut-busting funny in equal turns while also still finding the time to illuminate his characters’ deep moral ambiguity and internal crises. Opeña’s moody and expressive artwork round out the package and bring a depth to the material that one does not always experience in superhero comics.”
“Locke & Key” (IDW) — by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
“Set in a fictional East Coast hamlet, Hill and Rodriguez’s ‘Locke & Key’ chronicles the trials and travails of the Locke family, particularly their three children, and their move from California to Lovecraft, Mass. after the murder of their father. They become embroiled in the mystery of a Gothic family mansion with its many rooms and numerous keys, not of all which merely open doors. A great spooky story punctuated by horrific violence and leavened with remarkably compassionate human drama. Hill is clearly at the height of his craft with the narrative and Rodriguez’s art is by turns cartoon-like and expressive.”
“The Boys” (Dynamite) — by Garth Ennis, Russ Braun and Darick Robertson
“Garth Ennis is not a writer known for pulling his punches and ‘The Boys’ is no exception to that general rule. He’s crafted a dark and perverse world where the superhuman population is more scumbag than hero and was created and maintained by shadowy government bureaucrats and evil private corporations for reasons both economic and political. The Boys represent a group of independent and powered individuals whose job is to smack down, both figuratively and literally, any superhuman who crosses over a very thin line into depravity. Ennis and his artistic collaborators have often gone way over the line themselves in terms of violence and gore, but they have also crafted a compelling narrative about the effects of power on the human psyche and the consequences of vengeance.”
“Action Comics” (DC) — by Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, et al.
“There’s already been a lot of talk about the various titles comprising DC’s ‘The New 52’ promotion, but the one that I think encapsulates the changeover best is Morrison’s ‘Action Comics.’ By going all the way back to the beginning and showing us a brash, impulsive and not nearly so invulnerable Superman, Morrison has tapped deeply into the very things that have made Superman such an endearing and enduring character. Morrison’s fresh ‘back-to-basics’ approach to the material is aided greatly by his superior story construction and great ear for comic character dialogue. Morales delivers the goods with some of his most striking and detailed comics work to date. Out of all of ‘The New 52,’ this one was my favorite and the best representation of the high bar DC has set.