I particularly look forward to Thursdays. It's that day in the week when I get my lottery ticket for daring bravery, for redemption, for happy endings.
I started reading comic books even before I could read. The pictures were enough. I didn't know their names but I knew they were heroes---she who controlled the weather, he who had incinerating bursts of red light shooting from his eyes, she who rose from the ocean but somehow changed, and he who loved the changed woman. It was very cut and clear back then. But it was undeniable that something clicked in my head after I read my first comic book, an important piece falling into place, the lock and key, the wind-up toy, unstoppable clock work.
So here they are. The titles of 2008 that took me, frightened me, amazed me, and continued to made me.
1. LOCKE & KEY (IDW) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Always on top of the pile, always a slight tremble in my fingers as I turned the pages. Compelling, original, haunting. This scary effer by Joe Hill raised comic book standards to new levels of intelligent sadism.
2. I KILL GIANTS (IMAGE) by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura
This is just a charmer. From the cartoonish pencils to the D&D geekery, it cleverly retells the delicateness of childhood, and how unexpected violence in any form can leave one scarred for life.
3. PHONOGRAM VOL. 2: THE SINGLES CLUB (IMAGE) by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
There is a light that never goes out. And that light is Phonogram. Before this, I never thought that it was possible to fall in love with a comic book---the butterflies in the stomach, starry-eyed kind. And this is exactly what I felt, and what the character Penny B. went through, incidentally, in the first few pages of Phonogram Vol. 2: The Singles Club. Penny, a phonomancer, conjures magic (on the dance floor) as the evening begins. Her friend stands on a corner watching her, after which the entranced spectator utters the most magical words to my ear:
Oh it hurts to see you dance so well.
As the night progresses, we get more of The Pipettes, The Long Blondes, and more Keneckie. It's not for everybody, but for those who do recognize the names, the music, and the palpable love for music, it's pure enchantment---Gillen and McKelvie has written us a love letter about the one thing that we irrevocably love.
4. UMBRELLA ACADEMY (DARK HORSE) by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba
Sure, there's Morrison all over it but Way does quirky his own acidic way. And it's the most brilliant superhero book of the year. It's grand and unpredictable. It's crazy and heartfelt. And there's no Didio or Quesada in sight. Pure lightning, as the creators intended it to be.
5. FABLES (VERTIGO) by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
No one does sprawling like Willingham's "Fables." They've moved past the point of novelty years ago. Snow White, Bigby (Big Bad Wolf), Boy Blue, the Frog Prince and Prince Charming and the rest of Fabletown have made a total turn-around and have become living, breathing masterminds, politicians, soldiers, assassins, spies and bums. This is Lord of the Rings meets Leon Uris' Trinity. You just had to be there.
6. AIR (VERTIGO) by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker
The best new book of Vertigo. Terrorism, magic-realism and a love that defies space and time.
7. THE WALKING DEAD (IMAGE) by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
The best ongoing-series for me. The bets are off when last year's storyline killed off 90% of its lead characters. It's a new series all over again.
8. FINAL CRISIS (DC) Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco and Doug Mahnke
You have to give it to DC Comics for coming out with a love-it or hate-it major event. The risks have paid-off with #6 but Final Crisis #1 was undeniably one of the best-looking books around with plot twists that demanded a degree of intelligence from its readers. And that's more than what one can ask from a major publishing group.
9. GREEN LANTERN CORPS (DC) Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
The main title is better than good but Tomasi's GLC is the hyper sibling, with a strange and grotesque cast. Sure, it is lighter in character development but Tomasi's subtle touches during the title's quieter moments speaks louder than inconsistent Origin stories. And I'm really just a fan of Peter Tomasi. Read the Vertigo mini "The Light Brigade" and you'll know why.
10. CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND THE MI13 (MARVEL) Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk
I obviously have a thing for the strange and the quirky. Paul Cornell's Captain Britain (he also wrote the MAX title WISDOM) was the best thing during the Invasion and continues to be Marvel's most creative book. And with Blade smack in the middle of the magical mix, we can expect more ass-kicking, sword-wielding, and wit-whipping fun from this book.