10 Comics I Liked in 2007

changebots_80.jpgThe “best of” list is a tricky seasonal form and I’m no master.  I might not know what’s best, but I do know what I like.  So here’s ten good comics I read in 2007.

At least, they’re ten I can remember after the holidays; and that’s saying something.  2007’s watchwords are “mature” and “fun.”

Let’s get gone…

All-Star Superman, vol. 1 (DC, 2007) written by Grant Morrison, art by Frank Quitely

Sometimes I like something so much I can’t sit still.  All-Star Superman had me running around in circles.  Morrison uses his knowledge of Superman’s history for evil, the good kind of evil—like Jimmy Olsen’s zee-zee-zee-ing Superman signal wristwatch and the Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen comics where Jimmy screws up, endangers Superman and then saves Superman himself.  Along with some signature surreality and some plain neat ideas, Morrison also presents Clark’s vulnerability as he struggles with mortality all without resorting to the
bloated angst that has become the mode.  Besides, Quitely’s art rocks.  I especially like the Unknown Superman of 4500AD.

changebots 250 1.jpgBeasts! A Pictorial Schedule of Traditional Hidden Creatures from the Interest of 90 Modern Artisans (Fantagraphics, 2006) curated by J. Covey, artwork by 90 artists.

This is a beautiful picture book with nice old timey printing details. Aswangs, kappas, the Beast of Bray Road.  Monsters are the shit.

Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special (DC, 2007) written by Judd Winnick, art by Amanda Connor.

Internalized sexism’s tinny voice advises I not admit to liking
this comic. But while it has its problems–say, “promiscuity is bad”–the approach to sex made me ponder how the best mainstream comics—maybe even most comics—offer is a fixin’s bar of repressed, weirdly sexless yearning topped with angsty rumination, violence and/or fan-servicing porn face, panties and scoops of silicon. I avoid fan service—and therefore many superheroines—so the revelation that stupidity around sex is not inevitable is a relief.  That aside, the comic’s fun, although not complete in an issue. At DC and Marvel, that is inevitable.

Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (Comics One,  2002) by Ma Wing-shing.

Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre is a crazy imaginative manhua about martial arts sects fighting over the eponymous swords to gain dominion over the World of Martial Arts.  It’s based on a novel by Louis Cha/ Jin Yong, the Tolkien of Chinese swordsmen fiction or wuxia.  Kung Fu Cult Master starring Jet Li packs one half of the same story into 99 minutes.  HSDS is volumes longer. Ma’s art—his chi lines, his waves, his glaciers—is delicate and carefully colored. 

Incredible Change-bots (Top Shelf, 2007) by Jeffrey Brown.

Incredible Change-bots might be my favorite comic this year.  I chase my friends around with it. Jeffrey Brown’s most famous for his b/w autobiographical work but here he colors in his Transformers parody/homage with markers and brings back the joy of drawing as a kid, sound effects and all.  Plus, it’s travel size and has as much political satire as you care to note. I’m gonna join the fan club once I get my copy back.

James’ Sturm’s America:  God, Gold and Golems (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007) by James Sturm

This books collects three b/w stories from three different periods in American history. “Revival” is my favorite with lovely prose and an aching depiction of the terror and beauty of faith and desire. At an 1801 tent revival, an Ohio couple begs God to bring their child back to life.

Laika (First Second: 2007) by Nick Abadzis

The saddest thing in the world from the premier publisher of sad.  I didn’t want to finish Laika, because I know how her story ends.  It seemed that somehow, if I didn’t, the end wouldn’t come and Laika wouldn’t be circling around us even now.

The Professor’s Daughter  (First Second, 2007) written by Joanne Sfar, art by Emmanuel Guibert

Charming, well-painted, sepia.  The Professor’s Daughter recounts in watercolor the forbidden love between Imhotep IV, a 3,000 year old mummy, and a Victorian professor’s daughter.  The professor doesn’t approve and neither does Imhotep III, who, along with Professor Bell, also appears in Sfar’s solo work, The Vampire Loves.

Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil (DC: 2007) by Jeff Smith.

File me under amazed.  A special little boy ruins nearly anything for me, but Satan save my hater soul, I didn’t hate Billy Batson, the boy who with a single word attains the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules… you know how it goes. Jeff Smith—yes, Bone—handles Billy’s homelessness so it’s neither mawkish nor sadistically realistic.  Smith’s Captain Marvel is likeable and I don’t usually go for likeable. Some all-ages books are condescending.  This one’s not. Not only is the art nice, but I really like the lettering

Walt and Skeezix, vol 1-3 (Fantagraphics, 2005-2007) by Frank King, introduction by Chris Ware.

Before there were Lone Wolf and Cub, there were Walt and Skeezix. And though they didn’t wander the land hiring out their swords, they traveled all over America when cars were new. The daily newspaper strip, Gasoline Alley, began featuring Walt and Skeezix in 1921 as well as “flivvers,” women with bobs, disturbingly rendered African Americans, incredibly well-rendered toddlers and characters that aged. In fact, Walt’s very old but still around in a continuing “Gasoline Alley” strip. Besides collecting the dailies, the books also present neat archival material. Chris Ware likes the character development—and probably the linework.  I like that too, but I’m also a sucker for the old car jokes and metaphors.  I might just be a rustbelt girl at heart, but I think they’re hitting on all six.

So what did you like in 2007?

~~~

Carol Borden is excited to be living in the future.

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4 thoughts on “10 Comics I Liked in 2007

  1. Hi Carol,
    I loved Walt and Skeezix, too. Much more, in fact, than I intended to. I especially enjoyed comparing King’s New Mexico drawings to Herriman’s Krazy Kat desertscapes. Plus, flappers!
    I think my favorite comic that I read this year was Medley’s Castle Waiting.
    Choo Chee Cho Choo, ala the Amazing Changebots,
    weed

  2. castle waiting is fantastic. i tried to pick books that i hadn’t already written about here. i also avoided books like shaun tan’s the arrival, that i think need way more time than a paragraph.

  3. I notice that three of your titles are DC (Superman, Shazam and Green Arrow/Black Canary.) I also especially enjoyed both All-Star Superman and Shazam. Hurray for DC!
    It certainly seems that DC is pulling ahead of Marvel in terms of making comics that both appeal in a classical way and provide something new. And really, I’ve had more than enough dark and gritty angst to last me another 10 years – Marvel needs to move into the new century and create at least some heroes that are optomistic or even idealistic (without being stupid.)
    Of course, DC isn’t all winners. Contrast Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman with All-Star Batman where Frank Miller is trying in vain to go back to the hey-day of gritty, grungy, scruffy anti-heroes. Maybe he should go back to Marvel where that stuff still plays. These days I’m liking heroes that don’t believe the ends justify the means.

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