In the next installment of our series ‘Best Of…’ articles, Martin shares his thoughts on the titles and creators that have kept him entertained throughout the year.
As always, let us know what you think of Martin’s choices in the comments below.
Best Publisher – Image Comics
Not having read a lot of Image Comic’s output until the tail end of last year, I was largely unaware of some of the amazing work being done by the company’s stellar list of creative talent; a list that reads like a veritable who’s who in the comics industry. Due to increased exposure to the brand this year, I can honestly say the Image logo on a book is like a cast-iron guarantee of quality.
Best Writer – Eric Powell
With two books on the list below, it’s fairly obvious which writer gets my vote. For the second year running, it’s Eric Powell. His unique melding of influences, and ability to combine horror and humour whilst telling engaging, richly textured character-centric stories never ceases to amaze.
Best Artist – Eric Powell
Last year I found it difficult to pick a winner in this category, and again it’s simply stacked with candidates: Patrick Reynolds, Juan Ferreyra, Dustin Ngyuen, Greg Capullo, Khary Randolph, Dan Schoening, Sean Gordon Murphy, and John McCrea, to name a few. However, for his exemplary work on Big Man Plans and The Goon, Eric Powell takes this one too. Aside from the memorable imagery, each page is laced with symbolism and metaphor, greatly adding to the re-read value of each issue, and comes with a level of detail and consistency that is truly mind-blowing.
Top 5 Comics of the Year (In no particular order)
Once Upon A Hard Time (Dark Horse) – Eric Powell’s masterwork just seems to get better with each passing year, and the arc in the long-running saga is no exception. This is The Goon at his most volatile and most vulnerable; a character at his lowest ebb with seemingly no way to combat the encroaching darkness slowly consuming him. Powell commits some stellar work to the page, in terms of both writing and art, creating a unforgettable tale of love, hate, betrayal, and revenge.
Big Man Plans (Image Comics) – There has not been another book this year, or in recent memory, that has hit as hard and left such a lasting impression in memory as Big Man Plans. The book’s disquieting moments of violence, macabre themes and imagery, overlay a heart-rending story filled with pathos, pitch-black humour, and a central character you’ll hate to love. Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch allow their twisted imaginations to run wild throughout, so be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart!
Descender (Image Comics) – In a genre that is close to becoming over-saturated, Jeff Lemire’s Descender has very quickly risen above the rest, with each new issue going from strength to strength. Lemire has created an engaging, richly complex, and assuredly familiar universe in which to tell a story with real emotional heft. Dustin Ngyuen’s sublime watercolour art absolutely seals the deal, bringing the emotion and drama of TIM-21’s odyssey to life.
Chrononauts (Image Comics) – Nobody does blockbuster comics quite like Mark Millar, with nearly every project he’s ever done being adapted for the silver screen. Chrononauts is just another example of how easily he is able to set up a premise, establish characters and motivations, and whisk us off on a whirlwind of excitement, drama, and above all, fun! Sean Gordon Murphy was along for the ride this time, and it’s clear he had an absolute blast, creating some spectacular sequences and characters we’ll likely be seeing on a cinema screen soon.
Midnighter (DC Comics) – Having seen the character for the first time in the pages of Grayson, I was intrigued to find out more about Midnighter, but did not expect to enjoy the solo series half as much as I do. Writer Steve Orlando treats the subject of the character’s sexual orientation exactly as he should, as completely beside the point, presenting a refreshingly confident and honest hero completely at ease with his place in the world, who is a complete and utter badass into the bargain.