Every other blog and their cousin has done a top whatever list and lacking in creativity I thought, "Hey Donist, wouldn't it be swell if you put out a Top Eleven for 2011 list like everyone else did weeks ago?" Sure, why not.
Top Eleven Comics of 2011
Below are my favorite series that were released in 2011. There is no particular order other than alphabetical.
- Animal Man - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics. Back in the day I was a fan of Morrison's run, but after reading the first issue, it was clear that Lemire was going to bring something different. Equal parts family drama and horror, Buddy and Maxine's journeys into "The Red"to stop "The Rot" immediately grabbed my attention. This is one of my most anticipated reads on a monthly basis and my favorite of DC's 52. Coupled with the complementary Swamp Thing, the beginning of each month brings an amazing and scary good time.
- Batman - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. After reading Snyder's chilling run on Detective Comics there was no way I was going to pass on this new series. Bruce Wayne is once again the Dark Knight, and on the trail of a secret society that could not possibly exist. At times an informative history lesson of Gotham and others a frightening thriller, there's a reason why this is currently one of the best selling comics on the stand.
- Batwoman - Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman and illustrated by J.H. Williams III, published by DC Comics. Greg Rucka originally chronicled Batwoman's story in one of my favorite storylines in Detective Comics a few years ago. Now, Williams III has taken up co-writing with Blackman and they do not miss a beat. Batwoman (Kate Kane) is one of the strongest and most complex female characters in comics today and one of my favorite characters period. A cool and creepy murder mystery, Batwoman always leaves me wanting more.
- Chew - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image comics. Chew is one of the oddest and most disgusting books I have ever read, yet it is a great joy to read every month(ish). I love the idea of food based powers and the intricate tale that Layman and Guillory have created and kept flowing since the beginning is addictive. Cibopaths, saboscrivners, bird flu pandemics, alien plants that taste like chicken, conspiracies, family drama and the list goes on and on, but everything works together and to further the story as a whole. I hope to be reading this book for some time.
- Detective Comics - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Jock and Francesco Francavilla, published by DC Comics. I had not read any of the Dark Knight's books in quite some time, but after getting a hold of a second printing of the first issue, I was scrambling to gather up the other back issues I was missing. As much Commissioner Gordon's Story as Dick Grayson's, the pair confront threats both internal and external in one of the best BatBook runs I have ever read. A great and honestly terrifying run that left me peeking through my fingers as I read each issue, while afraid to turn to the next page.
- I, Vampire - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. As a kid, I only caught bits and pieces of the '80s I...Vampire stories and the relaunch of the title caught my attention primarily because Fialkov was writing and because of my interest in a character I knew little about. Now having read the first five issues, it's easy to say that I was blown away. A centuries old love story, Andrew Bennett's true love, Mary, finally embraces the evil within her and betrays the "man" she loves to rule the world as "The Queen of Blood." Filled with dark, lovely art and strong, emotion-filled coloring and an intriguing story, this is one of DC's best titles.
- Rachel Rising - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Following Moore's ultra-cool sci-fi drama Echo comes a horror story with a deliberate, slow-burn pace that is well-written, scary and beautifully illustrated. Why was Rachel killed? Who killed her? Why is she back from the dead? All are questions at the forefront of this murder mystery that finds the murder victim attempting to find her own killer, while a simulacrum wanders the streets inciting others to commit horrible acts. Weird, creepy and everything I want to see in a comic book.
- The Sixth Gun - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. What's not to love in this Western, supernatural mashup complete with cowboys and strong characters in possession of an evil set of guns. You have dead generals roaming the countryside in search of the mystical weapons, mummies, secretive religious sects, ghosts, train heists, and so much more. Becky, Drake and Gord have each pulled me into this great tale and I am not surprised that the first trade will be a mini-series appearing on the Sci-Fi channel in the future.
- The Stuff of Legend - Written by Mike Raicht & Brian Smith and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, published thy Th3rd World Productions. As a kid, and long before the days of Toy Story, I believed that my toys would come to life and go on fantastic adventures while I was away at school. I wished that I could join them. The Stuff of Legend team puts a twist on this scenario, when the Boogeyman kidnaps a young boy and drags him to the dark, leaving only his toys and his puppy to enter the spooky closet and retrieve their abducted friend. Charming, scary, nail-biting suspense make this one of my favorite books on the shelf. Currently on volume three: "A Jester's Tale."
- Swamp Thing - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics. Don't get me wrong, Moore's Swamp Thing is one of my most treasured runs of all time, but Snyder's reboot/relaunch/rewhatever is an excellent continuation and expansion of the Swamp Thing character. Alec Holland is again human, but with a link to "The Green" he does not want. Along with Abigail Arcane they seek to stop "The Other" also known as "The Rot" from enacting its horrendous plan. An excellent companion book to Lemire's Animal Man, I cannot imagine reading one without the other. So very creepy, so very good and a book that I rush out to buy each month!
- Sweet Tooth - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics Imprint. Sweet Tooth is one that I foolishly passed on buying during its initial release in 2009. After absorbing the first two trade paperbacks and scrambling to find the uncollected individual issues, I switched to buying the floppies as they release. I did this with good reason. Although Sweet Tooth is not the most uplifting of comics on the stands, it is one of the best. A post-apocalyptic tale of a world where humans are dying and animal/child hybrids are the norm. Lemire leaves the reader loving the characters and fearful for their safety with every page turn. A powerful and addictive series.
There you have it, but there are a few other titles that have me thoroughly impressed that I have to mention. Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang is incredible with heavy doses of myth and the strongest female protagonist of them all. Mark Waid's Daredevil is a shot in the arm for the "Man Without Fear" as Waid brings a sense of wonder back to the character who has been mired with a depressing and terrible life over the years (don't get me wrong, I loved Bendis's run and Brubaker's followup). Warren Ellis's done-in-one issues of Secret Avengers have been tons of fun and is currently the second Marvel title I am reading (I know, I know...I will read Uncanny X-Force soon). Nate Simpson's Image title, Nonplayer, was incredible and would have made it on the list if another issue had come out, but this is not a slight to the creator as excellence takes time and issue two should see release in 2012. Also worth checking out: Demon Knights, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Who is Jake Ellis, Witch Doctor, The Shade, Morning Glories, Severed. Overall a DC heavy list which I find surprising since before the relaunch Sweet Tooth was the only DC title that I was buying. I am excited for the coming year and for comics in general, it's a great time to be a comic book reader folks, so get out there and support the work of the creators you truly love.
*I hope to next do a look back at the Graphic Novel releases of 2011, that are worth checking out. If you feel there is something that I am missing, please let me know; I'm always looking for more great comics.