Monday, January 20, 2020

Comics Lust 1/20/2020

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/decade delighter Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). No intro this week, as there’s a TON of stuff to get through, so pour yourself some water (or a beer for a mostly-dry January), sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Favorite Comics of the Last Decade

First off, this is not an original idea of ours. Nope. We have to give credit where credit is due as my pals at 11 O’Clock Comics (ummm…yeah, they don’t know me but I’ve known them for years now, so…pals?) recently had an episode (#646 to be exact) where they talked about their 20 favorite comics of the past decade. So, my puppy executive team and I got together over some beers and nachos and decided to totally ripoff expand upon that great idea. We began Donist World back in March 2010 and although we didn’t really begin reviewing and telling y’all about all of the wonderful comics consuming our brainwavages for a few months after our start date, nine and a half years easily rounds up to a decade of existence in our minds.

Being comic book nuts, we have to lay some ground rules as there always has to be rules around these sorts of things—it’s in our nature, why fight it? Anyhow, here are the rules and specifics:
  1. There will be 20 comics on the list
  2. The majority of the comic series, if not the entirety of them, needs to have been published within the 2010–2019 decade
  3. Original graphic novels (OGNs) definitely count
  4. If a 24-page one-shot blew our minds, then it can dang well be on the list
  5. The comic cannot be a reprint if the original material was released in an earlier decade
  6. I will provide links to the best/easiest ways to obtain a collection of the works whenever possible
  7. Trying to order these 20 titles into number one, number two, number three, etc. could quite possibly kill me, so, I’m giving them all equal weight and putting them in alphabetical order
  8. There are quite a few comics that started off strong, that would have been on this list, but for whatever reason, the creators just stopped making them. No explanations. No words of encouragement. Nothing. I will not be mentioning those books.
  9. There will be a bunch of “Honorable Mentions” because dropping many of the titles from the list caused me actual pain and y’all still need to know about them
That’s about it for the rules and disclosures, let’s get to our Favorite Comics of the Last Decade:

1) Black Hammer

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dean Ormston, published by Dark Horse Publishing beginning in 2016)
I totally regret not buying the first issue when I saw it on the stands. Oh well. Better late than never and the hardcover collection is the way to go. A bunch of heroes (Silver Age amalgamations of Marvel and DC heroes) defeat the greatest threat to all of humanity and vanish from the world to appear on a farm in a rural community from which they cannot escape. I also count Lemire’s various miniseries tie-ins (Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows) as part of the main series as those are every bit as spectacular as the main title.

2) Chew

(Written by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics beginning in 2009 and ended in 2016)
Gross, disgusting, hilarious, touching, and thrilling, Chew is unlike any comic you will ever read. Detective Tony Chu is a Cibopath: one who takes on the memories/impressions of whatever he eats. If he consumes an apple, he will know where the apple came from and who picked it. If he consumes a little bite of a murder victim…well, he’ll know how that person met their end. Add in the threat of aliens, banned chicken consumption, a possible vampire, a whole mess of weirdos with food-based superpowers, and a murderous luchador chicken named “Poyo,” and you have one of the most creative and bonkers comic book series I have ever read. It’s also finger-licking amazing.

3) Daytripper

(Written and illustrated by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, published by DC/Vertigo Comics beginning in 2010)
Daytripper was very much outside of my wheelhouse at the time. Most of the comics I read back then gravitated toward superhero or horror comics but for some reason the unassuming image on the first issue cover of a man sitting on a bench with his dog caught my attention. What I found within the pages was a lyrical work of visual and written beauty around the life of an obituary writer named Brás de Olivia Domingos and his desire to be so much more than he is in his current station in life. That first issue ended and I was utterly floored. I had no idea what to expect in the second issue, and what followed exceeded everything I imagined. I desperately need to reread this work of pure beauty and I’m kind of getting choked up just thinking about it. So very good.

4) Descender/Ascender

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Ngyuen, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
Okay, you’ve been hearing me carry on and on and on about the heavenly Descender and its successor Ascender for over four years now. Without error, I mention this epic space opera in issue form, in collected form, at every year-end roundup. Basically, at every opportunity I can mention this gorgeously watercolored treasure, I am there to sing its praises. The first half is a sci-fi adventure where monstrous robots annihilate large swaths of the populace across the nine planets of the United Galactic Council, while the second half (still releasing) is a fantasy tale of witches, vampires, and a universe of limited tech. Combined, this is my favorite comic of the past four years.

5) Detective Comics

(Written by Greg Rucka and then Scott Snyder, illustrated by J.H. Williams III and then Jock and Francesco Francavilla, published by DC Comics beginning in 2009)
I might be cheating a bit with the Greg Rucka run as the majority of that landmark series that focused on the updated and amazing Batwoman first appeared in 2009, but following Kate Kane’s story as gorgeously illustrated by Williams III (one that would spawn a television show that I need to see and inspired girls, women, and this here Donist) within the same series was Snyder’s dark take on Dick Grayson taking up the mantle of the Bat. Very much a noir/serial killer tale, Jock and Francavilla (who became one of my all-time favorite artists after this comic) delivered a nervewracking Batman tale that brought the Dark Knight back onto my radar.

6) Extremity

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Image Comics beginning in 2017)
I had been hearing about this one for months before I dove into the first trade. It’s safe to say that this series changed me. Warren Johnson became my favorite artist within those first few pages and this insane Miyazaki film / Mad Max: Fury Road of a hybrid comic totally blew me away. I reached that final page of the first trade and I was desperate to see how it all ended in the second and final collection…which thankfully arrived two months later. Beautiful and kinetic illustrations with an impeccable story Extremity is one of those series I will read every other year for the rest of my life.

7) God Country

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, originally published by Image Comics beginning in 2017)
 Another title to which I was very late to the party is the amazingly glorious God Country. With but six quick issues, you are in and out on this touching and epic tale of a man who is slowly wasting away from Alzheimer’s only to have his memories and self brought back to his grieving family when a god in the form of a sword appears in his hand to fight a great evil. Able to be both fantastic and down to Earth at the same time, God Country was a wonderful surprise that thrilled me just as much when I read it again yesterday as it did years ago.

8) Locke & Key

(Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW beginning in 2008 and ending in 2013)
Talk about barely making it onto the list, but the incomparable Locke & Key series saw the bulk of the issues release this past decade. What a series this is, Denizens. After a truly horrific turn of events that leaves their father dead and their mother traumatized, the Locke kids move to a mysterious mansion where strange, magical keys offer a host of experiences, but an evil lurks in the well house, whose influence knows no bounds and whose desperation to escape will torment the Lockes unless they can find a way to survive a new round of horrors. I cannot wait for the soon to arrive Netflix television series and I also cannot wait to reread one of the best horror comics not just of this decade, but of all time.

9) Mister Miracle

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics beginning in 2017)
If you read comics, then you already know how great this 12-issue series is. If you don’t read comics or you aren’t into superhero books or what have you, then please take my word on it that this is still a must-read book that you need to experience. Scott Free, the greatest escape artist of all time, a man who escaped the hellscapes of Apokolips has met his biggest challenge to date: escaping his own life. But something is not right and Scott must uncover what is real and what is not and whether escape is what he truly wants. Mister Miracle is a superhero book unlike any other and one that people will be talking about for years to come.

10) My Favorite Thing is Monsters

(Everythinged by Emil Ferris, published by Fantagraphics beginning in 2017)
This one came out of nowhere and completely rocked my world. Some things to keep in mind: this is Ferris’s first published work, she was in her 50s at the time of its creation, in her 40s she contracted West Nile fever and was paralyzed in her hands for a stretch of time, and My Favorite Thing is Monsters was drawn predominantly with ballpoint pens on notebook paper. Her art is unlike anything I have ever seen and given the unforgiving nature of ballpoint pens, it is something that few others could ever hope to accomplish. Couple this with the captivating mystery/slice of life story, and you have one of the best works of art ever created that just so happens to be in comic book format. You owe it to yourself to get this treasure before volume two drops in September of this year.

11) Prez

(Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, published by DC Comics beginning in 2015)
Wait, didn’t I say I would not be mentioning comics that the creators never finished? Yes, I did, but this case is different. The creators wanted to finish the second half of this 12-issue series, but DC Comics pulled the rug out from under them with no explanation to the adoring masses. Prez offered a satirical look at politics/big business/big pharma and was a critical success that this Donist fell head over heels in love with. It is the story of Beth the “Corndog Girl” who through the power of social media and the stupidity of established and out-of-touch politicians becomes the President of the United States. I’m sure Prez’s sales numbers weren’t the best, but given the critical success and with a little marketing push during the leadup to the Dotard becoming our President, Prez could have been so much bigger than it was allowed to be. Although the tale is not complete—and may never be complete—it is well worth your time and you, too, will be dreaming of a world where “Corndog Girl” is the actual leader of the free world.

12) Saga

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics beginning in 2012)
Saga changed everything by starting the Image boom with a flurry of new titles from immensely popular creators. Yes, The Walking Dead and Chew came before it, but Saga is one of the few to persevere and stick to an actual release schedule amongst the many titles that followed in its wake. This grand space opera has been described as “Romeo and Juliet in space” and is very much that. A magical man with horns falls in love with a technologically advanced woman with wings and they have a baby. The problem is that the wings and the horns have the strongest of enmities and the people of the galaxy must never know that peace, let alone love, is a possibility. Laugh out loud funny, laugh out loud uncomfortable, devastatingly tragic, impossibly uplifting, this series has it all and you are certain to fall completely in love with the myriad characters and there’s a good chance you will be sobbing at various points in this wonderful tale; once you start, you are in 100%. Hopefully, the creators return from their well-deserved break later this year. …I still want to know how Staples brings her stunning visuals to life.

13) Silver Surfer: Black

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2019)
I love love love this comic. I’ve always been a Silver Surfer fan, but Cates brings a tale of cosmic adventure and insanity that ties the Surfer to the world of Venom with Knull the God of the Symbiotes in the best of ways. And trust me, the story enough is reason to buy Silver Surfer: Black, but wait until you feast your peepers on Moore’s art. Oh…my…glob…it is a tripadelic visual feast from which you will never want to escape that is launched into the realm of all things heavenly by Dave Stewart’s flat-yet-vibrant colors. Definitely get the Treasury Edition so you can see the art nice and large as it was meant to be seen.

14) Starlight

(Written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Goran Parloff, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
Duke McQueen was once a space-traveling hero. He saved kingdoms, rescued space queens, and fought dastardly aliens but he then came back to Earth, got married, and had kids. No one believes him when he mentions his exploits. Now, his wife has passed, his kids are too busy to bother, and his life looks to continue to be inconsequential…until allies from across the galaxy reach out, requiring his help. This. Is. So. Good. When many comics dwell on the dark and on lost hope, Starlight is a ray of sunshine that will have you cheering this former hero as he strives to save the day one last time.

15) Sweet Tooth

(Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by DC/Vertigo Comics beginning in 2009 and ending in 2013)
We recently binge-read this fantastic series a few weeks ago and talked about it here. As uplifting and positive as the previous book Starlight is, do not expect that with Sweet Tooth. Well, to be fair, there are a few points that are uplifting, but just be prepared to have your heart broken more than you catch yourself smiling. This is the story of Gus, a hybrid child, who is the cross between a boy and a deer who holds a devastating secret and possibly the answer to a world where humanity is on the brink of collapse and the world has become a harsh, cold place. Think The Road with slight fantastical bend and characters you can actually love. A definite must-read, but one you need to be ready for.

16) Thanos Wins

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2018)
You all know how much I love Jim Starlin’s take on Warlock and Thanos and how I frequently say that only he has been able to capture the majesty of those two characters. Right? Well, Cates came along with these six issues that show he is a definite exception to the rule. Here, Thanos faces off against his greatest foe (not spoiling) and we are also introduced to the Cosmic Ghost Rider whose origins (he has a few) will take you by surprise. I just finished rereading this compelling-as-hell book this morning and love it even more than my first time through. Shaw’s depictions of the Mad Titan, Cosmic Ghost Rider, and the “Silver” Surfer (once again, check out Silver Surfer: Black) are sure to tickle your cosmic awareness and you will understand why Cates is one of Marvel’s powerhouse creators.

17) The Fade Out

(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics beginning in 2014)
A dead starlet, a writer with a possible career-ending secret, Hollywood blacklists, questionable studio head practices, and many, many other dark secrets lurk in this murder mystery of epic proportions. You have hopefully already been reading the masterful Criminal over the past couple of decades, but if you want a quick, 12-issue look into the seedy side of Hollywood, look no further than this noir tale of lies, corruption, and murder.

18) The Sixth Gun

(Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press beginning in 2010)
What do you get if you combine The Lord of the Rings with a Western tale? Why, The Sixth Gun, of course. Here Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief come into possession of one of six devastatingly powerful guns that when combined can bring about a terrible new world of the owner’s choosing. Our heroes will face monsters, spirits, and all manner of foul beings changed by the power of the guns and it is up to Drake and Becky to end the vicious cycle once and for all. 50 fantastic issues and a host of miniseries comprise this grossly underrated adventure that will thrill from beginning to end.

19) The Vision

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2015)
Before his hit, critically-acclaimed series Mister Miracle, Tom King had the hit, critically-acclaimed series The Vision, which is every bit as deserving of the accolades it has received. Yet another 12-issue comic that someone who is not a fan of superhero comics can get behind, The Vision follows the Avenger known as The Vision, who is a powerful synthezoid who longs to be more human and thus creates a wife, son, daughter, and even a dog to round out the family he so desperately desires. They move to a neighborhood and into house with a white picket fence, they meet their neighbors, and The Vision fights super villains when need be, but all is not well in the suburbs as something begins to go wrong with the members of his family and his wife’s dark secret starts to come to light. The Vision is a mind-bending look at what it is to be “normal” and one that will stay top of mind for a good long while after you finish it for the first time.

20) Thor by Jason Aaron

(Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by many, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2012)
After being one of my favorite characters growing up, I had given up on Thor for a few decades until I saw that Jason Aaron was about to bring him back to prominence. He did so beyond my greatest of hopes. We got the God Butcher, Malekith the Dark Elf’s return, Mangog, and a new Thor that had those of small mind screaming in rage and those open to new and great stories cheering to the halls of Valhalla. The entirety of Aaron’s run is a quest of epic proportions that fans of Odinson and newly minted fans of Jane Foster will be reading for years to come.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Amulet (Everythinged by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Graphix)
  2. Deadly Class (Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, published by Image Comics)
  3. The Flintstones (Written by Mark Russel, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics)
  4. Hawkeye (Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics)
  5. The Immortal Hulk (Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
  6. Manifest Destiny (Written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image Comics)
  7. Rachel Rising (Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio)
  8. Secret Six (Written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Dale Eaglesham, published by DC Comics)
  9. The Omega Men (Written by Tom King, illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda, published by DC Comics)
  10. The Private Eye (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, published by Panel Syndicate)

Thank you for following me these past ten years. I will see you next time!


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