Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Comics Should Be Good Best Comics Of 2005 - Best One-Shot Or Mini-Series

The breathtaking Comics Should Be Good Year-End Review continues! This time: the best one-shot or mini-series! Sharpen your knives now!

Greg Hatcher:
Okay. This is going to look like blatant logrolling, but I just don't care because more people need to know about this guy. Brandon Hanvey's The Stereos: In The Garage was without question the best one-shot I saw in 2005.

Now, full disclosure: Brandon and his wife Nicole are dear friends of ours. Known them for years. We were at their wedding. I've worked comics shows with Brandon and in fact we're splitting a booth at the upcoming Emerald City Con in Seattle this April. Nevertheless, I honestly think that his book was the best single issue of anything to come out in 2005, and the reason is simple: crossover appeal.

This gentle story of a high school rock band is the most lovable comic book I've ever seen. I loved it. My students loved it. My friends at the printshop loved it. My wife loved it. Everyone who has seen it loves it. Over and over I would have the book in a stack of comics on a table, in class, at the art studio, wherever, and every time without exception it was Brandon's book that people would pick up to flip through, and once they started flipping, they stopped what they were doing and read it from start to finish. I saw this phenomenon play out any number of times; even the press operator at the shop that prints my students' zines did this. The Stereos is a comic that, like Brandon himself, is simply impossible to dislike.

So yeah, I know the guy. But I would plug his book anyway. Because it's just a great book. If Brandon weren't so in love with being a small-scale independent comics guy, he would be rich; because as soon as a major publisher picked this thing up and got it into bookstores, it would be a license to print money. Seriously.

Brad Curran:
If We3 counts, since 2/3rds of it was published this year, I think I'll go with that. If not, I'd say Livewires, which was a whole lot of fun.

[Editor's note: Only one issue of We3 came out this year.]

Bill Reed:
I could choose one of the Seven Soldiers minis. I mean, Klarion was awesome, Guardian had a killer second half, Zatanna was trippy fun. But those picks are probably too obvious, especially coming from me. Looks like I'll have to go with something else. But, like I said earlier, my memory is terrible. Does Street Angel count? Is that series returning? Whatever. The Street Angel trade is one of the best comics of the last decade. We'll go with that. And then, if a #6 shows up out of the blue, I will mimic Numfar and do the dance of joy.

Mark Ludy:
God. Damnit.

I totally missed Kim Deitch's Stuff of Dreams. Didn't even know it existed 'til I saw it mentioned in some other fine folks year-end comix blog reviews.

Which means that, with the addition of, like, three new panels ...

Ice Haven, a slightly modified reprint of Dan Clowes' sarcastically heartfelt and occasionally howlingly goddamn funny story of small town crime.

Well, actually like eight stories of small town crime.

Except that some of them aren't about crime.

But they're all in a small town.

Except the one about the Blue Rabbit. Shit. I dunno WHAT the fuck that was.

Anyway, this modified edition is twice the price an' smaller than the original form back in Eightball 22, but this story's good enough that it might be worth eight bucks for 3 pages.

Brian Cronin:
I would go with the Seven Soldiers series overall, but if I had to pick one, then I would definitely go with Seven Soldiers #0, and since I am never one to waste time, here is my initial review of Seven Soldiers #0:
Sometimes, it really is almost moving to see how Morrison does these things. He writes these comics ... and he uses a lot of the same ideas (don't get me wrong, another specialty of his is using ideas that other writers CAN'T think up) as other writers, but he manages to make them just come out ... better.

I think a lot of it comes from the lack of cynicism.

You could say the guy is too hip for his own good.

I would disagree, but you could say it.

But his work is not cynical.

And I admire the heck out of that. After you read the work of cynical writers, it just gets to you. It is like a fog covering you, and constantly following you with the wind currents.

In Seven Soldiers, Morrison introduces a big group of superheroes, and
kills them all in #0, setting up the gathering of the NEXT Seven Soldiers.

That is such a hackneyed idea, but Morrison totally avoids it coming off like that. Partially by using new characters (who you have more leeway with), but furthermore, by actually spending so much time investing in these characters that you actually feel sad when some of them die.

It is really good stuff.

Greg Burgas:
This is a very tough category, since all comics seemed to be geared toward mini-series these days. I don't know if "one-shot" refers to Original Graphic Novels, but I'm going to assume it doesn't because OGNs and minis are so different. I would put a particularly good issue of Solo in this category - so there! Anyway, Brad is right - Livewires was very fun, and apparently no one bought it. Mnemovore was very good. The Surrogates is doing well so far, but I'm not going to pick it because it's not finished. Elk's Run is close, even though it's only half done. Lastly, Captain Gravity and the Power of Vril was derivative, but extremely entertaining. All of them are worthy, but only one rose above:

GrimJack: Killer Instinct.

The return of John Gaunt! The return of John Ostrander! The return of Tim Truman! An excellent story with lots of twists and turns and weird stuff and betrayals and murders and all sorts of hard-nosed attitude from Mr. Gaunt and ... ninja mimes. NINJA MIMES. This is the kind of all-out, balls-to-the-wall fun that comics should be (not fun in the sense of it's funny, but in the sense that you have fun reading it). Buy the trade. Make yourself happy.

Tomorrow: the final installment!

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Blogger Bill Reed said...

And see, I'm a total idiot, because I realize now I probably could've said "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League," or the Cooke issue of Solo, or maybe even something else I know I bought but can't recall right now, but, you know, them's the breaks, kid.

1/07/2006 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Brandon Hanvey said...

Wow. Thanks Greg. I never heard such high praise of my book.

1/08/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I just think it is weird how we ended up having two entries on you back to back.

Pretty odd coincidence there.

1/08/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Isaac said...

Where is the love for B.P.R.D.?

Also, are you guys reading Lewis Trondheim's "Dungeon" comics as they get translated by NBM? Maybe they qualify as an "ongoing" series...

1/08/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Oh, or Fin Fang Four. That was good, too.

1/08/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

totally agree with the GrimJack choice, but I am biased towards Gaunt on the whole. If Solo counts as one shots the Allred issue would be my hands down winner, but for true "one shots" I would have to vote for Eric Powell's going Marvel on us and vote for Devil Dinosaur, it was just pure mindless FUN!

1/08/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

return of Grimjack gets my vote. Not only were the original stories good stuff, but the new story kicks ass!

1/10/2006 02:41:00 PM  
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