bestoftheyearsmall.jpgWhile I have no problem writing Best Of and Top Ten lists, this is my first year coming up with a Best Of list for comics, and it has been a real challenge. First there is the whole “thousands of titles out there” deal, then there is the fact that these kinds of lists are a touchy subject to write. What may be on my Best Of list, is on the @$$ List for someone else. Regardless, it’s time to look back over the year and see what was tops when it came to comics.

1. DC’s 52

In this age of delay after delay for titles (Civil War, Wonder Woman, All Star Batman and Robin), who would have thought a weekly series would meet its deadlines. Crossover events from the past, which required readers to pick up every tie-in issue regardless of the title, are tough to market, because someone may not want to pick up the latest Aquaman just to find out what world changing event takes place. DC was wise enough to realize that keeping everything under one banner would sell better than any tie-in. 52 has kept me on the edge of my seat each week, and is the first title I read when my weekly shipment arrives at my doorstep. Whether it is trying to figure out the identity of Supernova, watching Ralph Dibny tread the fine line between life and death, or waiting for the ultimate demise of Vic Sage, I’m sold on 52 as the best title of the year.

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2. Paul Dini writing Detective Comics

DC made another smart move by bringing Paul Dini on board to write Detective Comics. For fans of Batman: The Animated Series, having Dini write these one shots month after month is the next best thing to having the show on again. Dini brings back the detective in Detective Comics giving readers a glimpse into the method Batman uses to solve the crime. While all of Dini’s issues have been one-shots, I’m hopeful he will try telling a multi-part story in 2007.

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3. Ultimate Spider-Man: Clone Saga

Lest you think I’m a shill for DC, I do have a fondness for some of what Marvel is doing. Case in point, my number three for the best 2006 had to offer. What made fans angry during the 90s telling of the Clone Saga, Brian Michael Bendis seems to have done right with the Ultimate Clone Saga. I was not a Spider-Man fan during the last telling, but I’ve come on board Bendis’ telling of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe. Sure, there were a lot of story telling clichés, but they were executed well enough to keep my interest for each installment.usm100cover.jpg

4. Adam Beechen writing Robin (and LODK)

Having Adam Beechen write Robin’s adventures One Year Later is like a breath of fresh air. Beechen has tapped in the issues of his youth and brought them forward for all of us to enjoy (and to remember our own younger years). Beyond introducing new characters in a well thought out way (as opposed to the Goon of the Month with no back story), Robin has grown as a person in the few issues released in 2006 under Beechen’s eye, without going all Emo. While many fans have been screaming for his head, you have to give props to the man who turned Batgirl from smoldering jail-bait to hard core villain and not blink an eye.

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5. Heroes

Ok, it isn’t a comic book per se, but Heroes has been an extraordinary television series that has done more for the comic genre than Smallville and Saturday morning cartoons ever could do – it gripped us with the tales of awakening powers and those who choose to use those powers for good and those who want to destroy everything. Yes, the whole “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” tag was kind of lame, but from the very first scene of episode one, I was hooked. Unlike Lost, which doesn’t have a path to the end, Heroes does have definite story closure and seems well thought out enough to last several more seasons.

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6. Meltdown

Maybe it is because I read this issue on one of those days where life kicks you in the teeth, grins maniacally, then kicks you again, or it could simply be the fantastic job done by Schwartz and Wang, but I have to say this is one of the best titles I have read in a long, long time. Even with all of my fawning over DC’s 52, it doesn’t hold a candle to the emotional storytelling found in the pages of Meltdown. Meltdown deserves an honored spot as one of the Best of 2006.

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7. Dead@17

Josh Howard has grown as an artist and a writer since we last visited the Dead@17 universe. When the new series kicked off, it was clear from the very first page that we were dealing with a brand new set of characters dealing with the doom and gloom of a potential apocalypse. Howard’s style is still the same, but continues to be refined with everything he works on.

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8. Hellboy Animated

Fans just can’t get enough Hellboy. Even though a few Hellboy and related titles made their way to the stands this year, seeing Hellboy animated was a real treat. Producer Tad Stones did a marvelous job of bringing Hellboy: Sword of Storms to the small screen and to DVD. And even though Hellboy Animated reside in its own world, Stones does a brilliant job of telling a Hellboy story that stands alone yet honors what came before. I can’t wait for Blood and Iron, and am hopeful a green light will be given to all future Hellboy Animated projects.

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9. Web comics

Web comics have been around for years, but this year I have seen more and more quality web comics start up and gain a large fan base. What make web comics stand out is their ability to thumb their noses at traditional media outlets and make a go for it on their own and be just as successful. Without having to spend a huge amount of money each month for printing costs, these new media artists are able to get their message out to a much larger audience and make a living doing it. What are my favorite web comics? That list could fill an entire entry, but let’s just say there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 that I read every day.

10. You!

Yeah, I know, “What a cop out”, but I’m going to cop out in the same way Time Magazine made me the Time Person of The Year. The comic and related industries have had a boon year with attendance at conventions reaching overload, television and movies franchises growing, and the general interest in comics reaching even those that have never picked up a comic before. This wouldn’t have been possible without You!

I also say You are the Best of 2006, because without You, this site would not have grown in the way it has. In just six months, Major Spoilers is receiving more traffic than I ever expected, and it is due in large part to those of you who come day after day looking for news, reviews, and of course spoilers about the industry. I hope to make 2007 an even better year so You keep coming back, and making this a premiere site for fans around the world.

So there it is.  There are so many other items I would like to have put on the list, but Ten is Ten.  Things like Civil War, Fables, and so on, almost made it on the list, but were just edged out.  So the big question is “What was The Tops for you; Civil War, Planet Hulk, The Outsiders, or something else altogether?” Give a shout in the Comments!

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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3 Comments

  1. January 2, 2007 at 10:24 am — Reply

    Stephen,
    Excellent (and diverse) list. Fables is one of my favorites. You are the one who got me reading it. I’d receive the Wednesday comics and box yours up. If I saw Fables I’d flip through it. Now it’s on my pull list each month. I ordered all the TP’s and started from the beginning. It’s always a great read.

    I saw Willingham in Baltimore last year and talked for a few minutes. He’s a really nice guy.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. January 2, 2007 at 11:13 am — Reply

    Thanks James,
    Glad I got you hooked on Fables! Fables made number 11 on my list, with Jack of Fables at number 12. If you haven’t read Jack of Fables, you might enjoy it as much as Fables.

    I’ve met Willingham a couple of times at conventions – first in Kansas City, then again in San Diego. It was at the time he was writing Robin and Fables, and I quizzed him on a possible Batman/Fables crossover (with Mad Hatter from both worlds being involved), but he and DC dodged the question (grin).

    I’m really looking forward to what 2007 has to offer!

  3. January 3, 2007 at 6:37 am — Reply

    Mmm… In no particular order:

    Gail Simone’s Secret Six. It’s perverse, it’s creepy, and it’s brilliant. The Mad Hatter alone made this series worth the price of admission.

    Experimentation. Sure, not everything is a monster hit (or even any good), but at least we’re getting things that TRY to show us something new.

    Marvel being willing to change. I admit it, Civil War does nothing for me, but at least we’re not in the endless tapdance of “Peter Parker is still college age” holding pattern that we orbited from 1973 to about 1999…

    Creators being important. Yeah, I hate the delays on books like “Ultimates 2” and “Wildcats” as much as the next guy, but it’s good to see that the creator is now considered to be more than just work for hire.

    Peter David. The big guy is back, and he’s brought his old sensibilities to what’s essentially a whole new world of comics. It’s good to see someone dealing with the gray areas of adulthood while maintaining that it doesn’t have to be all grim and gritty to do so. Old fellers are funny, too, y’know.

    52. After Action Comics Weekly tanked back in the dark ages, the weekly comic book was considered to be a ridiculous idea, and nothing but a publicity stunt. Instead, we get something with depth, with bite, and with a really hot redhead kissing other girls. And something like three times out of five, the issues are stellar pieces of work, too.

    Lying In The Gutters. Okay, this isn’t strictly comics, and in some mindsets, it could be considered “the competition” but you have to love ya some nice gossip. And when some of it turns out to be true, it’s even more entertaining.

    Shadowpact. 60 years of DC all rolled up into a nicely packaged Bill Willingham story. Seeing Nightmaster as a force to be reckoned with (as befits a man of his costume and bizarre LSD Lord Of The Rings backstory) is one of the true pleasures of comics right now.

    Agents of Atlas. Killer robot. Naked girl. Spaceman. Karate Man. Monkey with guns. It’s the comic we all wrote when we were seven, only this one doesn’t suck.

    Jay Garrick. The man is 88 years old, and the source of his powers has been removed, everybody who follows in his footsteps bursts into flame dramatically at the end of a big crossover, but the man in the Packard hubcap keeps on steppin. If and when they finally decide that it’s Jay’s turn to ring down the curtain and join the bleedin’ choir invisibule, we can finally officially call the deathknell of the DC Universe, at least in the form we’ve known it. And we’ll all be a little poorer for the loss, whether we know it or not.

    Also-rans: Checkmate. Brian Michael Bendis’ dialogue. Invincible. Two thirds of V For Vendetta, the movie. Jonah Hex’s shocking return. Heroes (with the exception of Mohinder, and Niki’s whining).

    Now, if they can just get The Flash, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, The Martian Manhunter, and The Fantastic Four to click again, and maybe realize that Mark Guggenheim is the epitome of a hack then we’d be gettin’ someplace.

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