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Top Twenty Comics of 2009

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Here it is - the culmination of all of the reading and reviewing I've done over the past year, from superheroes to manga, graphic novels to comic strips, these are the books that I enjoyed above all else.  I try to be as honest with myself as possible in regards to what excited me the most, and deliberated each rank seriously before moving on to the next.  Truth be told, this year was especially hard to come up with my number one book, as I went back and forth with the book that ultimately landed at number two (which was number one until shortly before I sat down to type them out).  I think it's just great that comics are such a diverse medium, where so many different kinds of books of such varying material can be lumped together under the greater umbrella of "comics."  I won't hesitate to recommend any of the following books.  Please enjoy my list for best comics of 2009...

Honorable Mentions
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (R. Crumb)
Cul de Sac: Childr…

Manga Monday: Swans In Space

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Swans In Space (Volume 1)
Lun Lun Yamamoto


Swans In Space is an energetic manga for kids about an elementary school girl, Corona Hoshino, an overachieving class representative who's nice to everybody.  One day, strange classmate Lan Tsukishima, who's an avid fan of the science-fiction television show Space Patrol, gives Corona a watch from the show and she suddenly finds herself a part of a real-life Space Patrol, reporting to a blue bear who gives her her cosmic assignments.  It's a cute premise, with Corona determined to be successful and whip lazy Lan and her video game-obsessed Instructor into shape.  The adventures that the girls go on aren't very dangerous or scary, but they are pretty entertaining, although this book seems more interested on Corona's home life and how she juggles that with her new secret life, to be honest.  Swans In Space is in full color, making the book very vibrant and perhaps making up for the rather simple, unimpressive art.  I kind of l…

10 Best Superhero Comics of 2009

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The following are my favorite superhero comics published this year, the top titles of which will also fall into my forthcoming best comics of 2009 list.  There are some titles I didn't get around to checking out this year, unfortunately, such as Gail Simone's Wonder Woman, Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four, and Robert Kirkman's Invincible (still)...but other than those few stray series, I was pretty immersed in the various universes of superheroes throughout the year.  I like to do a separate list for superheroes (and manga) because literary comics tend to overshadow genre works, even though I really, really love superhero books too.  I feel I need to highlight the best the year had to offer, so here are my personal favorites...

1. Spider-Woman (Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev) - Bendis and Maleev's new Spider-Woman ongoing series is a very dark book, featuring a troubled protagonist who is having a hard time adjusting to a post-Secret Invasion world, as well…

Miss Don't Touch Me

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Hubert & Kerascoet

Miss Don't Touch Me is a French graphic novel from writer and colorist Hubert, and Kerascoet, a husband-wife art team who have done work on some of Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar's Dungeon books.  Speaking of Joann Sfar, the art on this book very much reminded me of the type of pencils I would see him turn out, loose and willowy and expressive.  This book kind of does several different things, and to fantastic effect, but ultimately, this is a murder mystery.  Someone is cutting women to pieces in 1930's Paris, dubbed the Butcher of the Dances, and Blanche warns her close friend Agatha to quit attending the dances in the suburbs where the murders are occurring.  However, it's something much closer to home that the girls need fear.  While alone in her room one night, Blanche witnesses something chilling through a hole in the wall that looks into the abandoned building behind her.  What she sees will upend her world and send her to uncover the meani…

In Stores 12/23

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Here are the highlights of books available at comic shops tomorrow!

Pick of the Week


Footnotes In Gaza HC - Comics journalist Joe Sacco illustrates an event in Rafah that ended with the death of 111 Palestinians, while painting a larger picture of Gaza that spans fifty years.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Agents of Atlas: Dark Reign TP
Angel Annual #1
Angelus #1 (of 6)
Art of Herge: Inventor of Tintin (Volume 2) HC
Atomic Robo (Volume 3) TP
Blackest Night: JSA #1 (of 3)
Brian Michael Bendis: 10 Years at Marvel TP
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow One-Shot
Captain America Reborn: Who Will Wield the Shield?
Criminal Macabre: Cell Block 666 TP
Daredevil by Bendis & Maleev (Volume 2) Omnibus HC
Dark Reign: The Hood TP
Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man TP
Dark Reign: Skrull Kill Krew TP
Dark Reign: Young Avengers TP
Fall of the Hulks: Gamma
Gantz (Volume 8)
Garth Ennis' Battlefields: Happy Valley #1 (of 9)
The Great Anti-War Comics SC
Green Lantern Chronicles (Volume 2) TP
Guardians of the Galaxy (Volume 3): War…

10 Best Manga of 2009

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2009 was a fantastic year for manga releases.  And as I've read more manga this year than ever before, there were many books that did not make it to this pretty exclusive top ten list, many that I admire greatly.  My top choices will land on my overall comics end of the year list which will be out shortly.  Anyone looking to expand their library, I recommend the following books wholeheartedly.


1.  Pluto(Naoki Urasawa, Based on Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka) - Reimagining Osamu Tezuka's classic Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot On Earth," Naoki Urasawa interprets Tezuka's world in a realistic fashion, updating the beloved character in a story that's drawn out to let the characters live and breathe in a fully-realized environment.  Urasawa is a master of pacing, which fans of the creator have experienced since Monster first began to be translated into English a few years ago.  With Pluto, Urasawa takes that pacing to a whole new level, injecting genuine suspense,…

Chew (Volume 1): Taster's Choice

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John Layman & Rob Guillory


Image Comics'Chew is a certified hit after going through several reprints in floppy format, then topping the comic store graphic novel chart in November.  Admittedly, the premise is pretty neat.  A cop has the ability to receive psychic impressions from things he eats.  As a side effect, he doesn't eat much since the pesticides of fruit or the last moments of an animal are things that fill his mind whenever he does.  Except when he eats beets.  This power also makes Tony Chu a valubale asset to the FDA, who hire him and make him do some pretty disgusting things.  Or I should say, eat some pretty disgusting things.  Survivor was nothing compared to what this guy has to go through, usually involving cannibalism or something that's been rotting for days.  Chu also lives in a world where poultry has been outlawed, as many people allegedly died in some sort of chicken flu epidemic.  Because this prohibition is in place, the FDA has a lot of power a…

3 Comics I Had the Misfortune of Reading This Year

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Here are reviews for the three worst comics I read this year.  I'm sure there were worse out there, but these were the worst that I personally weathered.

1. Models Inc. (Paul Tobin & Vicenc Villagrasa) - "Borrowing" the name of an ill-fated television series (a spin-off of Melrose Place, at that), Models Inc. launches at Marvel, a mini-series that brings together several of the top models in Marvel's universe for a cheeky little Sex & the City gossip-fest that turns into a murder mystery by issue's end. Together on this fashion shoot are Toni Turner, Jill Jerold, Chili Storm, Patsy Walker (Hellcat), and the focus of this debut issue, Millicent Collins aka Millie the Model. Not only does this series "borrow" the name of its book, but also the faux-magazine covers that were the trademark of The Luna Brothers' breakthrough series Ultra: Seven Days. And the rest of the issue kind of goes with that theme, showing nary an ounce of originality by t…

Hulk: Winter Guard

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David Gallaher, Steve Ellis, Peter David & Dale Keown

Winter Guard is a team of superheroes from Russia consisting of Red Guardian, Ursa Major, Crimson Dynamo and Darkstar.  This one-shot establishes the modern-day incarnation of the team, courtesy of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, while a flashback to Incredible Hulk showing a past version of the team, from Peter David's run, with art by Dale Keown.  I wasn't a big fan of the content from Incredible Hulk #393, which was originally published in 1992.  It looks very dated when compared to the sleak cinematic storytelling of today's superhero comics, in particular when sandwiched in a comic book such as this one, between two shorts told in that modern style.  And perhaps it's just because I'm used to the modern style of superhero comics, but I preferred those shorts, which mostly focused on Darkstar, the superhero that Grant Morrison killed during his legendary run on New X-Men.  The Darkstar appearing in this on…

Black Widow & the Marvel Girls #1 (of 4)

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Paul Tobin & Salva Espin

This is pretty much throw-away material.  Clunky writing and dialogue, second-rate art:  Marvel wasn't exactly looking to sell a masterpiece with this one.  I'm sure the only reason a project like this even exists is because Black Widow will be appearing in Iron Man 2, and Marvel wants to capitalize on that with as much of a backlist as possible.  Well, hopefully they will collect some of Greg Rucka's mini-series featuring the character again because this is going to turn away any potential new readers.  And I mean running-away-screaming turn away new readers.  Tobin uses little imagination when it comes to using Black Widow in this book.  Unlike Paul Cornell, who is writing the other Black Widow mini-series running currently, Black Widow: Deadly Origin, which actually incorporates some good ideas, it seems like Tobin didn't know what he was doing when he took this on, beginning with a cringe-worthy opening scene where Black Widow infiltrate…

Iron Man 2 trailer

It's up!  See Whiplash and Black Widow (and Tony, of course) in action:  http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/ironman/

Best In Music: 2009

My Favorite 20 Songs of 2009

20. "Nobody" by Kate Earl - With a little bit of an 80's edge to it, and a good amount of soul, this makes for a good little pop song overall.

19. "Young Adult Friction" by The Pains of Being Young at Heart - A rock song with a good hook and a really fun climax.  Very youthful and fresh.

18. "Telephone" by Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce - Lady Gaga has a knack for overdoing everything, and producing some catchy dance grooves.  This is my favorite.

17. "Watcha Gonna Do" by Imelda May - Imelda May has a CD full of soulful, flirty songs on "Love Tattoo," and this energetic song is the best of the bunch.

16. "Sweet Sweet Heartkiller" by Say Hi To Your Mom - This restrained song is delivered with a heartbreaking lovely voice, and contains some pretty great lines.

15. "Once Was Love" by Ingrid Michaelson - "Everybody" has a bunch of great singer/songwriter type of songs, really fully-real…