Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Best Comics of 2011 - Part 3 (of 5)

30. Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #1-3 (BOOM! Studios)
Written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; Art by Gabriel Hardman
Up until 2011, the Planet of the Apes movies and other assorted media were never my favourite thing. Indeed, had it not been for the one-two punch of the epic Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie and the announcement that Gabriel Hardman would be tackling creative control on an Apes comic book, I would probably have never delved into the universe beyond the original movie. Handing us some beautiful artwork (let me reaffirm: Gabriel Hardman is one of my, if not my, favourite artists working right now) and a story that blends the classic films with political intrigue, murder and mystery, Hardman and his wife, Corinna Bechko, hand readers a series that stands apart from all prior incarnations of the universe and yet blends so seamlessly with the original concept that you'll swear it was always part of the canon.

29. Batman: Noel
Original Graphic Novel (DC Comics)
Written by Lee Bermejo; Art by Lee Bermejo
Lee Bermejo has always been a name in comics, boasting a painted style that blends realism with cartoons and presents itself as sets of tapestries rather than comic book pages. Following two great stories focusing on supervillains, Joker and Luthor (although, that was a reprint of an earlier mini-series), Bermejo tries his hand at writing as well as illustrating for his latest venture, Batman: Noel. The story is a loose adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and it boasts some of Bermejo's best artwork, while also presenting to readers some concrete evidence that he may be more than just an "art guy." The story is paced brilliantly and the way the words mesh with the artwork is truly admirable. It's a shame it takes Bermejo so long to come out with new books, because this only makes me more excited for the next one.

28. Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance/Flashpoint: The Outsider
Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance #1-3:
Written by Brian Azzarello; Art by Eduardo Risso
Flashpoint: The Outsider #1-3:
Written by James Robinson; Art by Javi Fernandez
Prior to the line-wide relaunch in September, DC released a ton of mini-series tying into their big event book, Flashpoint. While the main title fell flat, along with the majority of the tie-ins, two mini's stuck out as inventive, fun and engaging. Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance gave the backstory on the Flashpoint universe's Batman, revealed to be Thomas Wayne, who turned to crimefighting after the death of his son in the infamous robbery. It's a great twist on the Batman mythology, with a version of the Joker who is truly horrifying and utterly twisted. Brian Azzarello paints a bleak picture through his words, while Eduardo Risso drowns us in his exquisite art. The other highlight was Flashpoint: The Outsider, a mini-series focusing on an entirely new character and offering us a glimpse at the potential the Flashpoint universe failed to cash in on throughout it's existence; the Outsider is a brutal villain, a Lex Luthor with even less of a conscience, and by the time the mini-series drew to a close, James Robinson had given no indication of which side this creation would fall on. The art by Javi Fernandez captured the brutal world perfectly and offered some of the best images to come out of the event.

27. The Shade
The Shade #1-3 (DC Comics)
Written by James Robinson; Art by Cully Hamner
James Robinson's Starman is one of my favourite series of all time; every issue is bursting with energy, takes a while to read and boasts gorgeous artwork to match the concepts. The characters from that series have largely faded into obscurity, but now my favourite supporting character has finally been granted his own twelve-issue series. The Shade follows the adventures of the titular Shade as he deals with an assassination attempt and attempts to unlock the various pieces of an increasingly complex and mind-boggling set of mysteries and puzzles. Cully Hamner supports the issues with some stellar art that reminds us why he is considered one of the greats. The highlight, though, comes in the form of the Shade, himself; dark, mystery and growing in complexity every time we revisit him, the character is always perfect when Robinson writes him. Not bad for a throwaway D-List villain from decades ago.

26. Witch Doctor
Witch Doctor #1-4 & Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation #1 (Image Comics)
Written by Brandon Seifert; Art by Lukas Ketner
How do I describe this series in a way that does it justice? I could tell you that it's the House of horror comics. In fact, that's probably the best way to describe it: A grisly, misanthropic doctor who deals solely in supernatural cases. The introductory mini-series was one I read on a lark and I'm absolutely thrilled that I did; every issue boasts a story that is largely self-contained, features a brutal creature of some kind, and develops the overarching narrative wonderfully. The writing by Brandon Seifert has the punch of a medical drama without resorting the babbling intelligence, while Lukas Ketner keeps things dark and brooding with some marvelous artwork, highlighting gothic tones and exaggerated features. This series is definitely worth a look before the next arc is released; the characters are great, the story is fresh and the experience is absolutely wonderful.

25. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8/Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9/Angel & Faith
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #40 (Dark Horse Comics):
Written by Joss Whedon; Art by Georges Jeanty
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1-4 (Dark Horse Comics):
Written by Joss Whedon and Andrew Chambliss; Art by Georges Jeanty
Angel & Faith #1-5 (Dark Horse Comics):
Written by Christos Gage; Art by Rebekah Isaacs and Phil Noto
Since around the halfway point of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, it started to show that the series was spiraling out of control. There were too many storylines spread over too great a timespan that readers were becoming confused and bored by the series. Then, in the final year they kicked it into overdrive, bringing the book back to it's initial brilliance and starting 2011 with a stunning finale. After a hiatus, the book returned, accompanied by a companion piece focusing on Angel & Faith. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 immediately felt fresh and original, with Georges Jeanty once more capturing the likenesses of the actors, while also infusing them with a cartoony style. As the arc in Season 9 progressed, the side-story in Angel & Faith infused it with a sense of urgency and engagement that made both books feel like necessary reads. This is how Season 8 should have been for it's entirety, and hopefully that's exactly what the creative team have learnt for Season 9.

24. Wolverine/Wolverine and the X-Men
Wolverine #5-20 and 5.1 (Marvel Comics):
Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Renato Guedes, Jefte Palo, Daniel Acuna, Goran Sudzuka and Ron Garney
Wolverine and the X-Men #1-3
Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Chris Bachalo
Everyone's favourite X-Man has had a hard run of it in recent years. Following a sales smash under Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, nobody seemed to know what to do with the character. The only solid patches in that dark period were penned by Jason Aaron, eventually earning him the side series Wolverine: Weapon X. When the main Wolverine title was relaunched in 2010, Aaron was placed on the book, but it wasn't until 2011 that we really got to see how well he writes the character. In 2011, Wolverine has battled the hordes of hell, had a cracking birthday party, fought the X-Men while possessed, had his inner demons unlocked by an intricate brain invasion, killed long-time nemesis Mystique, hunted his enemies, slaughtered his own children, attempted suicide and lead an investigation alongside a giant ape. The strength of Jason Aaron's Wolverine work won him the role as writer on the post-Schism lead X-title, Wolverine and the X-Men. In the first arc of that series, Wolverine opened the Jean Grey Institute and battled creatures from the deep and the new Hellfire Club. One thing is clear from all this; Jason Aaron gets the character of Wolverine and the announcement that he is leaving the solo series in 2012 is heartbreaking.

23. Sweet Tooth
Sweet Tooth #17-28 (DC Comics)
Written by Jeff Lemire; Art by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Nate Powell and Emi Lenox
I've learnt in 2011 that Jeff Lemire writes some damn frightening comic books. I'll get deeper into it later on, but for now I just need people to marvel at the brilliance of Sweet Tooth, the post-apocalyptic series that boasts great characters, an intriguing scenario and some of the creepiest moments I've read all year. We kicked off the year with revelations about Jeppard's past, as well as reuniting him with Gus and establishing a handful of new supporting characters. As the year continued we journeyed deeper into the friendship between the characters, established a new status quo leading into a new threat and delved into the history and evolution of the hybrids. 2011 also saw the introduction of new artists into Jeff Lemire's world, something that added a fresh twist onto the old story elements and helped make the book a slice of pure excellence month in and month out.

22. Secret Avengers
Secret Avengers #16-20 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Warren Ellis; Art by Jamie McKelvie, Kev Walker, David Aja, Michael Lark and Alex Maleev
I'm being really specific with this one, because outside of these issues Secret Avengers has been an absolutely horrible book. Poorly written by both Ed Brubaker and Nick Spencer and featuring some of the worst excuses for artwork I've ever seen the series was a waste of time month in and month out. But then Warren Ellis came along, joined by a team of superstar artists, and in the space of five one shots, each highlighting a different art style, the book was transformed into one of the best reads every month. Ellis turned the team into a covert ops team that actually engaged in covert ops, each chapter dealt with a different element of science fiction and every chapter tied together to form a larger narrative but could be viewed as a one-off as well. Despite the fact that Ellis has voiced his distaste for the work, it really is some of the best superhero action Marvel has published in years.

21. Fantastic Four/FF
Fantastic Four #587-588, 600-601 (Marvel Comics):
Written by Jonathan Hickman; Art by Steve Epting, Nick Dragotta, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ming Doyle, Leinil Francis Yu and Farel Dalrymple
FF #1-13 (Marvel Comics):
Written by Jonathan Hickman; Art by Steve Epting, Barry Kitson, Greg Tocchini and Juan Bobillo
Jonathan Hickman did the impossible to Marvel's long-dead Fantastic Four title. He transformed it into an epic adventure that went to far greater heights than any run had dared for years; 2011 kicked off with the death of the Human Torch, transitioning into the end of the Fantastic Four ongoing and the start of FF, bringing Spider-Man onto the team and creating an incredible new dynamic for the book and the characters. As the long-running arc continued through the year, Black Bolt returned as did the Council of Reeds, while the biggest twist came with the splitting of the book at FF #12, returning it to Fantastic Four #600 and offering up the reunion of the Four and the start of the Future Foundation's ongoing adventures in their own separate title. With the conclusion to Hickman's long-running opus imminent it's hard to comprehend how he will top 2011, but it's looking likely that he will vastly eclipse our expectations.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Best Comics of 2011 - Part 2 (of 5)

40. The New Teen Titans: Games
Original Graphic Novel (DC Comics)
Written by Marv Wolfman; Art by George Perez
The Marv Wolfman/George Perez run on New Teen Titans remains one of the greatest comic book runs in history, and after decades of waiting, the team have finally released their original graphic novel that ties up their run completely. As a standalone story, it is a perfect example of the characters and their world; as part of the larger story it is a dramatic end-cap, boasting some great writing and some even greater artwork.

39. Rachel Rising
Rachel Rising #1-3 (Abstract Studios)
Written by Terry Moore; Art by Terry Moore
In a year when Terry Moore wrapped up his sophomore effort, Echo, it was quite a thing for him to launch right into his third ongoing series, this time focusing on Rachel, a dead girl who comes back to life and encounters strange happenings in the world around her. While the series hasn't quite hit it's stride yet, it is certainly far more engaging than the slow, plodding Echo, which didn't reach greatness until it was collected. This is almost on the same level as Strangers in Paradise, and if Moore continues to ramp up the horror and drama it might even surpass it's predecessor.

38. Action Comics
Action Comics #1-4 (DC Comics)
Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Rags Morales, Brent Anderson and Gene Ha
Pre-reboot, Action Comics had been on the downward slide; following a great year-long arc from Paul Cornell focusing on Lex Luthor, the series hit a rut and descended into mediocrity ending with a whimper. Now on the upswing thanks to Grant Morrison and an engaging retelling of Superman's early days, the series is looking good. Clark Kent has become a more grounded character, his adventures more engaging and the villains more threatening. The shifting art team has been a bit jarring, but Rags Morales and Gene Ha both maintain excellence, with only one issue faltering through the weaker style of Brent Anderson. If you aren't reading Action Comics, make it a priority.

37. Hulk
Hulk #29-46 inc. #30.1 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jeff Parker; Art by Gabriel Hardman, Ed McGuinness, Carlo Pagulayan, Patrick Zircher and Elena Casagrande
You wouldn't have been wrong in thinking that the adventures of General Thunderbolt Ross as the Red Hulk would wither and die, but somehow Jeff Parker has made the series a classic. For the majority of 2011, this has been THE Hulk book book. It's back-to-basics adventure with Ross going on the run from the military and facing off against various threats, culminating in an action-packed finale to Parker's initial arc and leading into the just as entertaining Arabian Knights influenced story that sees the year out. The art, for the most part, has been stellar with Gabriel Hardman showing off his insane skills in every issue he contributes to; the other artists do a great job, too, but Hardman is the true hero of this book.

36. DC Retroactive: Batman/DC Retroactive: The Flash/DC Retroactive: Justice League
DC Retroactive: Batman The '70s-'90s:
Written by Len Wein, Mike W. Barr and Alan Grant; Art by Tom Mandrake, Jerry Bingham and Norm Breyfogle
DC Retroactive: The Flash The '70s-'90s:
Written by Cary Bates, William Messner-Loebs and Brian Augustyn; Art by Benito Gallego, Greg LaRocque and Mike Bowden
DC Retroactive: Justice League The '70s-'90s:
Written by Cary Bates, Gerry Conway, Keith Giffen and J. M. Dematteis; Art by Gordon Purcell, Andy Smith, Ron Randall and Kevin Maguire
It took a long time to write out all those credits, but it was worth it. DC made a bold move between June and August this year by launching a series of one-shots focusing on various characters in different eras, and the above were easily the best. From the insanity of early-style Flash and Justice League to the epicness of a modern day Grant/Breyfogle Batman tale and a final Giffen/Dematteis/Maguire Justice League tale, these one-shots were some of the biggest delights of the year. If you're a fan of nostalgia, these are an essential purchase.

35. Near Death
Near Death #1-4 (Image Comics)
Written by Jay Faerber; Art by Simone Guglielmini
Jay Faerber has written some great series over the last decade, but this one might take the cake as being the best of the lot. Written in the style of an '80s action show, this is everything a TV nut like myself could want; the art is in a heavily-influenced Sean Phillips style, and the action is some of the best I've read in a comic this year. Each issue takes on a one-shot story making it accessible much like the TV shows it emulates; you can dip in and out, get a full story every time, and not feel like you're missing anything or don't find yourself engaging with the characters. If you don't enjoy this, you probably don't enjoy fun.

34. Moon Knight
Moon Knight #1-8 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis; Art by Alex Maleev
Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev are a dream-team in my books; ever since their definitive run on Daredevil in the early 2000s, I have vowed to check out everything they work on, so when news hit that they were to reunite working in the same style with the often mishandled beast that is Moon Knight, I was incredibly excited. And in the eight issues we've seen so far, everything has been excellent; the characters are fun, with Moon Knight's schizophrenia and multiple personalities playing a pivotal role, the action and suspense has been top notch, and the comedy has been crisp and engaging. With the first handful of issues now available in collected form, there is no excuse not to try out this excellent, gritty crime thriller.

33. The Strange Talent of Luther Strode
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1-3 (Image Comics)
Written by Justin Jordan; Art by Tradd Moore
When Robert Kirkman tweeted about this series a few months ago, I didn't know whether or not to give it a try; often when you hear creators giving their personal recommendations, it falls into the realm of 'my friends wrote this.' But The Strange Talent of Luther Strode was a different thing all together. For starters, it takes the premise made famous by Kick-Ass and hands the character super-powers rather than a psychotic desire to do good, and then it ramps up the violence to the point where blood red may as well be the only colour used. At the same time, relative unknowns, Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore have weaved a tale that keeps me coming back, and I am certainly glad I took Kirkman's recommendation. This could very well be a book I buy for non-comic-reading friends in the coming years.

32. Venom
Venom #1-11 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Rick Remender; Art by Tony Moore, Tom Fowler, Stefano Caselli and Lan Medina
For years now, Venom has been the butt of many jokes; the character who ruined Spider-Man 3 and aided in the downfall of Marvel Comics throughout the 1990s, we now find him represented by a new protagonist. Enter Flash Thompson, Spider-Man's biggest fan and a supporting character in the Spidey books since the earliest issues; in recent years, Flash has lost his legs and been cast out of the military. So, how do we mesh these two ideas together? By having the military turn Flash into the new Venom. It's a simple concept and it works; every issue of this series has been solid gold, even the tie-ins to the dreadful Spider-Island event, which managed to carry more of a punch than any of the main title's chapters. While Rick Remender maintains excellence in every script, the art is the true hero, represented for the most part by the exquisite alternating team of Tony Moore and Tom Fowler. Their styles are vastly different, but carry the style of the book in such a way that it's hard to miss either of them when the other is doing such a good job of filling in.

31. Batwoman
Batwoman #1-4 (DC Comics)
Written by J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman; Art by J. H. Williams III
I'm going to get this out of the way right now. J. H. Williams III is a god among artists; every single inch of this comic book has been truly beautiful, and issue four pushed the boundaries of DC printing by having nearly every page be a double-page spread, forcing the adverts that plague most comic books to be shoved into the back portion of the book giving the story a constant flow. While his writing skills may not be on par with those of Greg Rucka, he and W. Haden Blackman have also managed to pen a stellar narrative; it gets better with every installment and the twists and turns are perfect, along with the generous amount of character development stuffed between the pages. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the prettiest book being published right now, and if you haven't seen the art then you owe yourself to check it out. Oh, and Kate Kane is already one of the best characters in comics, despite only existing in this form for maybe half a decade.

Next: 30-21

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Best Comics of 2011 - Part 1 (of 5)

50. Secret Six
Secret Six #29-36 (DC Comics) & Doom Patrol #19 (DC Comics)
Written by Gail Simone and Keith Giffen; Art by J. Calafiore, Matthew Clark and Ron Randall
In a year when DC Comics rebooted it's entire universe, no series left a bigger hole in my heart than Gail Simone's Secret Six. Throughout their final year, the Six found themselves invaded Hell itself to reclaim a lost friend, engaged in a crossover with the Doom Patrol (which gave Keith Giffen the opportunity to write the group) and prepare for a final showdown as Bane's dark obsession with Batman took hold once more. While the series faltered in it's conclusion, the preceding issues are a lot of fun and give the characters far more depth than the series' they would otherwise frequent.

49. I, Vampire
I, Vampire #1-5 (DC Comics)
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov; Art by Andrea Sorrentino
In a reboot filled with superhero action and continuity rewriting, I, Vampire appeared as a beacon of hope among the gloom. Here was a regular-universe horror comic done right; and it played to it's strengths by incorporating elements that would engage Twilight readers. It's a dark, twisted romance that has slowly become a gem within the DCnU. Joshua Hale Fialkov has managed to craft a world where superheroes can exist, but the darker creatures are the more integral and perplexing of the bunch.

48. X-Factor
X-Factor #213-229 inc. 224.1 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Peter David; Art by Valentine De Landro, Emanuela Lupacchino, Paul Davidson, Dennis Calero and Leonard Kirk
Jamie Madrox has always been one of the more interesting X-Men, and through this series by Peter David, he has become important, as well. Throughout the year, X-Factor has dealt with members leaving the team to strike out on their own, a crossover involving J. Jonah Jameson which led to some truly hilarious moments, an intriguing pregnancy and a murder-mystery that literally made my skin crawl. It's quite an achievement for a series that, you'd imagine, had every right to die out years ago.

47. Brightest Day/Justice League: Generation Lost
Brightest Day #17-24 (DC Comics)
Justice League: Generation Lost #17-24 (DC Comics)
Written by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi; Art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark and Joe Prado
Written by Judd Winick; Art by Aaron Lopresti, Fernando Dagnino and Joe Bennett
After two years of bad year-long events, DC Comics finally broke the curse with the dual bi-weekly series', Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost. Both tied in together, and both featured some great moments as they moved towards their respective finales. Brightest Day dealt with the heroes resurrected at the end of Blackest Night and the growing threat to the world caused by dark forces, culminating in the return of the Vertigo Universe to the world of DC, along with Swamp Thing and John Constantine. Justice League: Generation Lost, meanwhile, served as a new era for the team of Justice League International, bringing them back from obscurity and offering them the challenge of defeating their old boss, Max Lord, one of those who was resurrected in Blackest Night, and who has erased himself from the minds of everyone, save the JLI...and one very pissed off Batman. It's a great stand-alone series, and Judd Winick demonstrates just why he should be writing the JLI book that launched with the DCnU.

46. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead #80-92 (Image Comics)
Written by Robert Kirkman; Art by Charlie Adlard
Given the success of The Walking Dead as a TV show, it's surprising that the series hasn't quite maintained the brilliance of it's initial run. The power has drained somewhat since the 50th issue, and though there is still a lot of greatness to be found in these pages, compared to the early days it's just not that great. Pushing that aside, though, this is still some of the best comics a person could read; the characters are all vibrant and exciting, with emotions that feel genuine, and over the year there have been some truly shocking and harrowing moments. Robert Kirkman knows how to write horror, and he knows how to make you care; it's just a good thing that Charlie Adlard knows how to convey both through his black-and-white illustrations.

45. Black Panther: The Man Without Fear/The Most Dangerous Man Alive
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513-523 & Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #523.1, 524-527 (Marvel Comics)
Written by David Liss; Art by Francesco Francavilla, Jefte Palo, Shawn Martinborough and Michael Avon Oeming
When it was announced that Black Panther would be taking up residence in Hell's Kitchen and dominating Daredevil's book in the aftermath of the disastrous Shadowland there were quite a few people who scratched their heads in bemusement. Despite this, Black Panther has become one of the most enjoyable comic books Marvel puts out; the character of T'Challa has proved engaged on a much more human level than in the past, the villains he's faced have been truly menacing, and the tie-ins to Fear Itself and other such events have been fleeting and not terrible. David Liss has shown a great ability to draw readers in, but it is the artwork that really sells this thing; Francesco Francavilla is one of the best artists working right now, while the fill-ins from great creators like Shawn Martinborough and Jefte Palo have maintained the style and still kept things original and engaging.

44. Aquaman
Aquaman #1-5 (DC Comics)
Written by Geoff Johns; Art by Ivan Reis
Aquaman has always been a senseless joke on the part of the media, and for years DC have played up to it, portraying Arthur Currie as a moronic buffoon, or at the very least as a hero nobody cares about. Fortunately, Geoff Johns cares about him, and via this new ongoing sprouted from the DCnU, we are finally getting a taste of the brilliance of the character. Gone are the lame one-liners and the ridiculous powers, in comes the brutality and sophistication and some of the best scares in a mainstream comic book. The only flaw is the constant references to Aquaman's previous loser status, something which would have been fine in the first issue but continues to crop up and feels like we're being coached into finding the character funny when the rest of the book tries so hard to portray him as serious. Regardless, this is a book you should definitely be reading.

43. Invincible
Invincible #77-86 (Image Comics)
Written by Robert Kirkman; Art by Ryan Ottley and Corey Walker
Where The Walking Dead falters, Invincible only continues to get better. Robert Kirkman's superhero epic began the year by wrapping up it's biggest storyline, and while it seemed as though the series was falling into the same funk as it's zombie-infested brother, numerous twists in the tale have guaranteed that this will not be a series to be trifled with. Sudden betrayals, a devastating attack on a major city and a change for the central characters that won't be so easily wrapped up. This is the kind of superhero book Marvel should be publishing, meshing comedy, drama and action perfectly in every single issue.

42. X-Men: Schism
X-Men: Schism #1-5 (Marvel Comics)
Generation Hope #10-11 (Marvel Comics) & X-Men: Regenesis #1 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Daniel Acuna, Alan Davis and Adam Kubert
Written by Kieron Gillen; Art by Tim Seeley & Billy Tan
The X-Men were about due for their bi-annual shake-up, and Marvel saw this as the perfect opportunity to relaunch their flagship X-Book (Uncanny) and at the same time announced a new series focusing on another team led by Wolverine. X-Men: Schism was the event that would give reason to the split, and while the finale has had numerous critics, it was a fantastic ride, particularly in the art department. As the rift between Cyclops and Wolverine grows, we see a darker side to Scott Summers and get to watch Wolverine develop into a mature individual. The tie-ins to Generation Hope and the needless epilogue with Regenesis are decent enough additions, particularly Generation Hope, which delves into the details behind the major catalysts in the event. Oh, and Alan Davis draws the fight between Wolverine and Cyclops. And it's perfection on paper.

41. Batman Incorporated
Batman Incorporated #3-8 & Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes #1 (DC Comics)
Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Yanick Paquette, Pere Perez, Chris Burnam, Scott Clark and Cameron Stewart
Grant Morrison's Batman run found itself in trouble as Bruce Wayne returned and we moved into 2011. Everything fell rather flat, and delays didn't help the flow of his latest Batman venture, despite the first two issues being stellar. Batman Incorporated suffered the most out of any other book this year, because it was judged poorly based on annoyance at lateness. In actuality, every issue had something great about it, even if it wasn't perfect. Mexican death traps, strange retcons and fourth-wall breakings, betrayal on an Indian reservation, a perplexing issue set within a computer and the best single issue Grant Morrison has penned with the Dark Knight (Number 6). That, and the series allowed us to discover Chris Burnam, an artist who meshes Cameron Stewart and Frank Quitely and turns in something even better.

Next: 40-31

2011: Best Songs of the Year

50. Built to Fall - Trivium

49. Spectrelight - Mastodon

48. Narcissistic Cannibal - Korn

47. Heartburn - Architects

46. Whose Life (Is It Anyways?) - Megadeth

45. Five Serpent's Teeth - Evile

44. Who We Are - Machine Head

43. The Devil You Know - Anthrax

42. Don't Carry It All - The Decemberists

41. You Got Me - Taking Back Sunday

40. Never Let Me Go - The Human League

39. Arlandria - Foo Fighters

38. Mondo Chaos - Gallows

37. You - TV on the Radio

36. You are a Tourist - Death Cab for Cutie

35. Holocene - Bon Iver

34. On the Backs of Angels - Dream Theater

33. We All Go Back to Where We Belong - R.E.M.

32. Black Tongue - Mastodon

31. Rewrite - Paul Simon

30. Homeless Jazz - letlive

29. Lotus Flower - Radiohead

28. Big Foot - Chickenfoot

27. The Devil's Orchard - Opeth

26. Bridge Burning - Foo Fighters

25. Fight 'em 'til You Can't - Anthrax

24. I Am Hell (Sonata in C#) - Machine Head

23. Hit the Wall - Adrenaline Mob

22. Lorelai - Fleet Foxes

21. Satellite - Rise Against

20. Hell and Back - Metallica

19. Beth/Rest - Bon Iver

18. Walk - Foo Fighters

17. Little Black Submarines - The Black Keys

16. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie - Red Hot Chili Peppers

15. Locust - Machine Head

14. Dead to Rights - DevilDriver

13. The Sunk'n Norwegian - Alestorm

12. Leg of Time - Bill Bailey

11. Hunting Pirates - Turisas

10. Killing Inside - Cavalera Conspiracy

9. The Lost and Alone - Heights

8. Dear Rosemary - Foo Fighters

7. Public Enemy Number One - Megadeth

6. Caffeine - Alice Cooper

5. Warning - Skindred

4. Curl of the Burl - Mastodon

3. I'm Alive - Anthrax

2. Darkness Within - Machine Head

1. White Limo - Foo Fighters

Saturday, 17 December 2011

2011: Best Comics of the Year - Issues

25. Swamp Thing #2
When It Comes A'Knockin'

24. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160
Death of Spider-Man: Part 5

23. Batman #2
Trust Fall

22. The Shade #1

21. American Vampire #18
Ghost War: Conclusion

20. Thor: The Mighty Avenger #8
The Man in the Iron Mask

19. Knight & Squire #6
For Six: Part Six

18. Demon Knights #1
Seven Against the Dark

17. Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine #6
Another Fine Mess: Conclusion

16. The Sixth Gun #11
CrossroadS: Part Five

15. Batman #3
The Thirteenth Hour

14. Scalped #54
Knuckle Up: Part Four

13. DC Retroactive: Batman - The '90s #1
One Night in the Rest of My Life

12. Punisher MAX #12
Frank: Part 1

11. Detective Comics #880
My Dark Architect

10. Jonah Hex #69
The Old Man

9. Detective Comics #875
Lost Boys

8. Daredevil #1
Man w/o Fear

7. Batman Incorporated #6

6. Scalped #50
The Art of Scalping

5. Detective Comics #881
The Face in the Glass

4. Animal Man #1
The Hunt Part 1: Warning from the Red

3. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #155
Death of Spider-Man: Prologue

2. Fear Agent #32
Out of Step: Part 5

1. Batman #1
Knife Trick

2011: Best Books of the Year

20. The Traitor's Emblem - Juan Gomez-Jurado

19. Embassytown - China Mieville

18. Pym - Mat Johnson

17. Skullduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer - Derek Landy

16. 4 a.m. - Nina de la Mar

15. The Tiger's Wife - Tea Obreht

14. The Fear - Charlie Higson

13. Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth - Christopher Golden

12. Inheritance - Christopher Paolini

11. Ocean of Blood/Palace of the Damned - Darren Shan

10. 2030 - Albert Brooks

9. The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

8. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves - Matthew Reilly

7. Luther: The Calling - Neil Cross

6. A Dance with Dragons - George R. R. Martin

5. 11/22/63 - Stephen King

4. The Troubled Man - Henning Mankell

3. The House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz

2. Carte Blanche - Jeffrey Deaver

1. Reamde - Neil Stephenson

Friday, 16 December 2011

2011: Best TV Shows of the Year

KE - Key Episode

50. The Middle: Season 3
KE: Halloween II

49. The Cleveland Show: Season 3
KE: Die Semi-Hard

48. Grimm: Season 1
KE: The Three Bad Wolves

47. Blue Bloods: Season 2
KE: Moonlighting

46. Bored to Death: Season 3
KE: We Could Sing a Duet

45. Misfits: Series 3
KE: Zombie Cheerleaders

44. American Dad!: Season 7
KE: Hurricane

43. Young Justice: Season 1
KE: Downtime

42. Episodes: Series 1
KE: Finale

41. The Sarah Jane Adventures: Series 5
KE: The Curse of Clyde Langer Part 1

40. Bones: Season 7
KE: The Male in the Mail

39. The Simpsons: Season 23
KE: Holidays of Future Passed

38. Rock & Chips
KE: The Frog and the Pussycat

37. Once Upon a Time: Season 1
KE: Pilot

36. The Ricky Gervais Show: Season 2
KE: Future

35. Futurama: Season 7
KE: Law & Oracle

34. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Season 1
KE: A Day Unlike Any Other

33. Glee: Season 3
KE: Hold on to Sixteen

32. How I Met Your Mother: Season 7
KE: The Ducky Tie

31. Terra Nova: Season 1
KE: Vs.

30. Torchwood: Miracle Day
KE: The Categories of Life

29. Community: Season 3
KE: Remedial Chaos Theory

28. Grey's Anatomy: Season 9
KE: Dark was the Night

27. Fringe: Season 4
KE: And Those We Left Behind

26. The Mentalist: Season 4
KE: The Red Shirt

25. Family Guy: 10
KE: Back to the Pilot

24. The Killing: Season 1
KE: Pilot

23. Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Season 3
KE: Mitefall

22. Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 8
KE: Palestinian Chicken

21. Dexter: Season 6
KE: A Horse of a Different Color

20. The Good Wife: Season 3
KE: What Went Wrong

19. Prime Suspect: Season 1
KE: Bitch

18. True Blood: Season 4
KE: You Smell Like Dinner

17. Life's Too Short: Series 1
KE: Cat Deeley

16. Zen: Series 1
KE: Vendetta

15. Merlin: Series 4
KE: The Hunter's Heart

14. Castle: Season 4
KE: Cops and Robbers

13. Ringer: Season 1
KE: Shut Up and Eat Your Bologna

12. The Walking Dead: Season 2
KE: Pretty Much Dead Already

11. South Park: Season 15
KE: The Poor Kid

10. House M.D.: Season 8
KE: Parents

9. Smallville: Season 10
KE: Homecoming

8. Boardwalk Empire: Season 2
KE: Under God's Power She Flourishes

7. Spooks: Series 10
KE: The Kidnapping

6. Case Histories: Series 1
KE: Case Histories Part 1

5. Luther: Series 2
KE: Punch Part 2

4. Game of Thrones: Season 1
KE: Winter Is Coming

3. Doctor Who: Series 32
KE: The Doctor's Wife

2. Breaking Bad: Season 4
KE: Crawl Space

1. Sons of Anarchy: Season 4
KE: Family Recipe