It's been a while since I've written, which is how I start every blog, but I haven't been ignoring comic books for the last several months. I am currently co-hosting a podcast the Weekly Longbox with my buddy Todd and lots of preparation goes into that, week in and week out.
So, for my top ten list, I have some self imposed guidelines. It must be a book that either told a complete story in 2011 or was published for at least half the year. This keeps any of the DC New 52 books of the list as with only four issues of any given book published, it would be unfair to judge against books that had twelve issue or a mini series with a beginning, middle and end. There are two cheats on my list, though not really and you will see why. Let's get to it!
10. Avengers Academy: written by Christos Gage, art by Mike McKone, Tom Raney & Sean Chen - with 16 issues this year, perhaps a bit on an unfair advantage over other books, however many Marvel books were double shipping since the summer. I've written about this book here four months ago and the book is still firing on all cylinders. The team has moved out west, added new instructors (Hawkeye), picked up some new students (X-23, Julie Power, White Tiger) and has been tackling some pretty heady issues of late. It is unfortunately one of the lower selling books Marvel has, so don't sleep on this one!
9. Criminal The Last of the Innocents: by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips - the only mini series on the list and the only book by Ed Brubaker on the list. Not that Captain America hasn't been good this year, since the Fear Itself crossover and exit of Bucky from the book, Cap has been...late of late. Criminal is Brubaker and Phillips' crime noir book, this being the 6th volume of such and is always awesome. Their next project, Fatale, comes out in January from Image.
8. Punisher Max: by Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon - after a five month hiatus, Aaron's Punisher book has come roaring back in 2011. Many have said Garth Ennis' run could never be followed and by using the same artist will definitely draw comparisons. But Jason Aaron faces them head on and is awesome book. This run is reaching it's natural conclusion in February, which could be the death of Frank Castle?
7. Green Lantern: by Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke - the first of two cheats on my list as this is one of the few books unchanged by the new 52 relaunch, just a new #1. The continuation of Johns' run on this book gets a shake up with Sinestro as the lead as opposed to Hal Jordan is a cool twist, but I don't think it will last as long as I would like it to. Which is forever.
6. American Vampire: by Scott Snyder & Raphael Albuquerque - the only Vertigo book left standing on my pull list due to the unbelievably great story telling from Snyder & Albuquerque. Starring my favorite character from last year, Skinner Sweet, a great modern day take on the vampire mythos that never feels stale or suspect.
5. Scalped: by Jason Aaron & RM Guera - not a cheat, but I'm getting this one in trade, two came out this year, collecting issues 35 to 49, more than enough to make an informed decision. The movie pitch of this was "Sopranos on an Indian Reservation" may have fit around the first few issues, but now, the book is it's own creature. Making horrible decisions and crushing my very soul with every reading.
4. Detective Comics/Batman: by Scott Snyder, Jock, Francesco Francavilla & Greg Capullo - my other cheat as the only thing that changed with Snyder's Batman is the change from Detective to Batman proper. Not that it matters what they call the book, it should just be title "Awesome." The storyline from Detective Comics recently collected as the Black Mirror is possibly the best Batman story in ten years.
3. Daredevil: by Mark Waid & Paolo Rivera - Just recently relaunched in July, another book I recently talked about as well and already is my favorite Marvel book. As I stated before, after nearly 14 years, ol' Matt Murdock needed some levity on his life and Waid & Rivera have given it to him.
2. the Walking Dead: by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard - Consistently my favorite book, month in and month out and the first book I read when it comes out. Every new story arc is just more pull the wool out from under you sort of storytelling that Kirkman is a master of. One can hope the strength of the AMC TV show is driving more readers to this book.
1. Secret Six: by Gail Simone & J Calafiore - the heartbreaker of the list. Last year's number one book (for me), one of the many casualties of the New 52. It suffered in sales, had no big name lead, but dammit, IT WORKED! It only had seven issues in 2011 but all of them were awesome. The last collection, entitled the Darkest House with these last issues comes out in January, so pick it up and show DC you want Secret Six back!