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Top 20 Comics of 2010

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Here we are again.  Another year, another best-of list.  These are my favorite comic books from 2010, including manga, superheroes, graphic novels, reprints, etc.  I try to be as true to how I feel about a book as possible when ranking them, which is why it may seem odd for some to see a superhero title hardly anyone read rank over an acclaimed graphic novel.  If I enjoyed my experience of reading it more, it was placed higher on my list.  I hope you enjoy my list of twenty choice books.  I read a lot of great comics this year and certainly encourage you to pick up any of the wonderful graphic novels that made the cut this time around.  Without further adieu, here are my favorite comics of the year...
Honorable Mentions
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (Moto Hagio)
Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Fumi Yoshinaga)
Set To Sea (Drew Weing)
Stumptown (Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth)
Weathercraft (Jim Woodring)

20. Twin Spica (Kou Yaginuma) - The manga that starts out my list has a retro feel to i…

Pick of the Week 12/29

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Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday...


Crickets #3 - A good old-fashioned alternative comic book!  At one point announced as being cancelled due to Diamond's new minimum order policy, Sammy Harkham's highly-anticipated third installment of Crickets finally comes to stores this week!

Other Noteworthy Releases
Batman: The Dark Knight #1
Bigfoot HC
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales HC
Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1 (of 2)
John Carpenter of Mars: Weird World TP
Ka-Zar by Mark Waid & Andy Kubert (Volume 1) TP
The Man of Glass GN
Red: Eyes Only #1
Tomb of Dracula Omnibus (Volume 3) HC
X-Force: Cable & The New Mutants HC

10 Best Manga of 2010

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2010 was another great year for manga.  The following are my favorite ten of the year, the best of which will also be ranked on my forthcoming overall best comics of the year.

1. Ayako (Osamu Tezuka) - He's the god of manga for a reason.  Ayako was crafted in the early 70's and contains plenty of World War II commentary as Osamu Tezuka beautifully unfolds this story of a family unraveling.  This story has action, murder, intrigue, love, mystery - everything you could ask for in an epic family drama.  Often brutal and dark, this unpredictable story is just another example of clear, compelling storytelling from an immense talent.

2. not simple (Natsume Ono) - Natsume Ono has constructed an amazing story here full of turmoil.  Very intense stuff.  She uses simple cartoony lines to illustrate her book, one that looks more alternative than most manga out there, and almost reads more like a graphic novel than what you'd expect picking something out of the manga section in the book…

The Little Prince GN

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Joann Sfar & Antione de Saint-Exupery

Joann Sfar's The Little Prince graphic novel adapts the classic children's story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, retaining much of the whimsy and magic of the original story.  I never read the prose version of The Little Prince when I was a child, so perhaps that's why the story never really meant much to me.  It's kind of meandering, following a pilot who's trying to repair his plane in a dessert and meets a small boy who recalls his adventures on his little planet and floating through space meeting strange people.  It's kind of a sad tale, and a little weird for kids, but I can see why a lot of people really enjoy this tale - I just wasn't really struck by it.  This graphic novel by Joann Sfar, however, really does work well with the story by Saint-Exupery, bringing it to life in a cinematic way with his loose, cartoony art that really captures the whimsical tone of the prose story.  Joann Sfar is kind of the perfect …

10 Best Superhero Comics of 2010

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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 2010 list. 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. S.W.O.R.D. (Keiron Gillen & Steve Sanders) - Spinning out of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's excellent run on Astonishing X-Men is this short-lived superhero story that takes place on a space station in Earth's orbit, where the very capable Agent Brand protects the planet of extraterrestrial threats.  With a fun crew of characters, including X-Men Beast and Lockheed, this book is one of the funnest comics that I've ever had the pleasure of reading, right out of the gate, with a great balance of action, humor and verbal sparring, and clear storytelling courte…

Best in Music 2010

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Here are my favorite albums and singles of 2010....

10 Best Albums

1. We Are Born by Sia - Playful and wild, you can tell that Sia's having fun with her music.  It's refreshing, emotional and unique to anything that's out there.  Many of her songs are ridiculously contagious, even if it's a little hard to make out what's being said at times.  This is a fantastic, inspired album.  Anyone who hasn't heard this is missing out.  Key Tracks: Clap Your Hands, Bring Night, Hurting Me Now.

2. Hands by Little Boots - One of the most danceable CDs in years, Little Boots brings a retro flavor to great club music, with some interesting sounds and clever little songs (even if the lyrics are a little shallow). There's a consistency across the whole album here that seems unheard of nowadays in music, providing plenty of instant dance classics. Little Boots is a welcome new voice to the dance scene. Key Tracks: Remedy, Ghost, Mathematics.

3. Animal by Ke$ha - Obnoxious, offens…

Pick of the Week 12/22

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Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday....


A Single Match HC - From Drawn & Quarterly, this is a 240-page collection of short stories from Oji Suzuki, alternative manga artist whose work has appeared in GARO.

Other Noteworthy Selections
Black Widow: The Name of the Rose HC
Cyclops #1
Mice Templar (Volume 3) #1
Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword #1
Tank Girl: Bad Wind Rising #1 (of 4)
Tikitis HC
Ultimate Comics: Doom #1 (of 4)
Vampirella Archives (Volume 1) HC

Forgetless TP

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Nick Spencer, W. Scott Forbes, Jorge Coelho & Marley Zarcone

The trade paperback of Forgetless collects the entire five issue mini-series from Image Comics, as well as the back-up story illustrated by Marley Zarcone.  The main story has art by W. Scott Forbes and Jorge Coelho, with two styles of art very different from one another.  One style is very sleek and a little stiff, with a little Luna Brothers vibe going on, while the other is loose and detailed with more character to it, usually popping up in flashback sequences that go into the history of a character.  Actually, this story jumps back and forth in time a lot, and oftentimes a book can get a little muddled that way, but it works for this story, slowly teasing out mysteries and the how's and why's of the situation.  The book follows the last night of the nightclub Forgetless in New York City, where a newbie assassin has been charged to kill a boy that will be in attendance.  The back-up story, which boasts my favor…

Mouse Guard

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Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1 (of 6)
David Petersen

I finally finished the Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard mini-series just in time to pick up the first issue of the new series!  And while I appreciated sampling other artists through the anthology, it's nice to see Petersen draw a full story again and not just interludes.  He crafts his world beautifully - I love the designs of all the little guardmice, and the animals he incorporates into his stories, especially the birds that he depicts in this issue.  In the first issue of this new series, which is a prequel to the two previous Mouse Guard books he's released, we get to see the vicious ferrets that were before only hinted at.  The ferrets are merciless hunters who wear trophies from their kills, whether it be patches of hide, skulls or shells.  They're kind of creepy and serial killer-ish, especially when one of them sniffs after a pair of mice and a drop of blood drips from his mouth right in front of where two mice cr…

Crossgen comics are back!

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Marvel has announced their new Crossgen imprint, including the first two books, launching in March, Ruse and Sigil, as well as the creative teams behind them.  (Ruse: Mark Waid & Mirco Pierfederici, Sigil: Mike Carey & Leonard Kirk)

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2010/12/marvel-officially-announces-crossgen-imprint-first-titles/

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-crossgen-101216.html

The Littlest Pirate King

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David B. & Pierre Mac Orlan

This new graphic novel from creator David B. is adapted from French writer Pierre Mac Orlan's story, and is one of the first in a wave of European comics that Fantagraphics is publishing (Stephane Blanquet's Toys In the Basement is another, with more coming next year).  David B. made a big splash with his debut graphic novel, the autobiographical Epileptic, a few years ago, but it seems that his storytelling prowess isn't limited to non-fiction, for he brings to life the eerie world that Orlan creates with ease, to fantastic results.  I was really blown away by this graphic novel, featuring a pirate ship manned by the undead, who wish for nothing more than to end their existence once and for all, that is until they come across a human child, whom they raise as one of their own and plump him up in preparation for the day they actually make him one of them.  It actually takes awhile before the little human comes into the story, as David B. sets…

Tower of Treasure

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Three Thieves (Book One)
Scott Chantler

In the first graphic novel in a new series of books, Scott Chantler (creator of the acclaimed Northwest Passage) introduces readers to the three thieves the series is named for.  Dessa Redd is the main character of this title, an acrobatic orphan whose snatches of memories hint at dark moments from her past.  She's a very likable protagonist, walking that fine line of being a good girl and getting into mischief, traveling with the circus that raised her.  But she succumbs to the tempting arguments her friends make, especially when she finds herself in a dire situation, and joins them as they attempt to rob a tower of treasure, where the queen's gold is kept - piles of it, despite the many peasants starving in the streets of the kingdom.  The other two thieves rounding out the trio are Topper, a juggler, the instigator of the scheme, who loves bragging about his thieving skills, and Fisk, a strongman who tags along with a childlike innocenc…

Comics on Nook & Nookcolor

I just received an announcement today that DMI titles are now becoming available on Barnes & Noble's e-reader devices, beginning with Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D.  Check out the details at their blog.  Volume one will be available in two parts for $3.99 each, while the same title on Amazon's Kindle is $7.95.  A few cents cheaper through Amazon, but I, for one, would like to split up the content as it's available on Nook - if I don't like the manga after a few chapters, I won't have to hash out that extra money for content I don't care to have.  It's going to be a nice way to sample a lot more manga at an affordable price.

Pick of the Week 12/15

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Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops on Wednesday...


John Byrne's Next Men #1 - A new ongoing series that brings back John Byrne's beloved creation Next Men! I know a lot of people are big fans of this series that ran from 1991-1995, and while it was exciting to see IDW collect his complete run into two volumes, it's even more exciting to see new stories produced by the creator.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Batgirl: The Greatest Stories Ever Told TP
Conan: The Road To Kings #1 (of 6)
Generation X Classic (Volume 1) TP
Light (Volume 1) TP
Magus #1 (of 5)
Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 (of 6)
Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! (Volume 1)
The Occultist #1
Showcase Presents: Our Army At War (Volume 1) TP
Steve Ditko Archives (Volume 2): Unexplored Worlds HC
Superman: Secret Origin Deluxe HC
Yotsuba&! (Volume 9)

Manga Monday: Ayako

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Osamu Tezuka

Ayako is another compelling page-turning thriller from Tezuka, written in the early 70's with plenty of post-WWII commentary.  Beautifully illustrated as usual, Tezuka's latest US release sees a family's slow downward spiral into ruin, beginning when son Jiro returns from the war, where he was a POW, to witness strange behavior in his family.  His new young "sister," Ayako, eventually witnesses something that the family wants to keep secret so that the family name isn't tarnished, and it is decided that she be confined to the cellar until she dies, and is pronounced dead and buried by the family physician before the police can question her.  Ayako lives longer than expected and when in her twenties, she is released from her prison, but is emotionally unready for the world she ventures into as a young woman.  There are a lot of complex characters in this book, mostly members of Ayako's family, most of whom harbor horrible secrets and guilty con…

Return of the Dapper Men HC

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Jim McCann & Janet Lee

Return of the Dapper Men is an original graphic novel about a land where time has stopped, populated by children who don't grow up, but live and play in an underground city, while robots inhabit the houses up above.  Nothing progresses, but one human boy and one robot girl, Ayden and Zoe, aren't content with the way things are, and are eager to change things, despite the ignorant children who chide them.  That change comes quickly when dapper men appear in the sky.  McCann weaves a story that feels timeless (and, well, is) and feels more like a fairytale than a comic book.  There are fun characters, such as the robot Fabre obsessed with a clockwork angel that stands motionless in the sea.  McCann has created a fine, imaginative world with a nice history and backstory.  But really, it's that amazing art by Janet Lee that makes this book stand out so much.  I was fortunate enough to see the wooden blocks of art that make up this graphic novel first-…

Best Covers of 2010

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Here are some of my favorite comic book covers from 2010....