See you in 2010!
In the end, I could not choose between these 2 titles, so I cheated and chose both of them. My blog, I make the rules 😉
This year The Walking Dead proved to be surprising and maintain a level of interest and excitement post-Woodbury / Prison siege (aka the ‘No-one is Safe’ arc) that is a tribute to the strength of the creative team of Kirkman, Adlard, Rathburn & Wooton. There were some pleasant surprises – they kept to Kirkmans promise of ‘On time in ’09 (great), as a result there was a distinct lack of whines about The Walking Deads release schedule (also great).
The big ‘event’ of the year, ‘Fear The Hunters’, but expecting a mass cull of characters was wide of the mark. What it did achieve was a major shift in the attitude of the main players. Rick, Abraham, Andrea, Michonne have deteriorating moral compasses – some may be deteriorating quicker than others. Rick, for example, is as savage and unforgiving as any surviving human left in the world. Although the ‘Fear’ arc cold not match the raw intensity and profound sadness that marked out the ‘No-one is Safe’ arc as the finest of Kirkmans work so far, it did provide enough tension and drama to sustain its 5 issue run.
Few new characters have arrived, but new arrivals have slotted in and they (and others) have faded into the background, (Father Gabriel, Rosita, Maggie, Sophia). Others have briefly emerged into the spotlight and then are quickly moved back to the fringes again (Eugene remained underused, then after his ‘secret’ was revealed, the repercussions were relatively unexplored).
One other character has developed alarmingly – Carl is a mirror of his Father in the way he has adapted to his hostile, unforgiving environment, a youth in age but with the knowledge and experiences of an embittered veteran. His progress in 2010 should be fascinating, as long as the Father / Son duologues between Carl and Rick are used with economy – I felt there tended to be an over reliance on these in 2009, and while they were mostly very good, they started to become a little trite.
While Kirkman has provided some memorable plot and dialogue, Charlie Adlard has proved his equal, providing consistently great art, with some images staying imprinted on my memory. The one I can’t get out of my head is of ‘The Hunters’ in conference sat around a picnic table on a typical suburban patio area in a back garden. Being able to infuse the mundane with such unease is a great gift. Charlie Adlard has that gift. And he does a great cover.
Some issues have been stunning, others very good. I can think of one issue that was a slight disappointment, but that is only because the standard and expectation is so high – by most standards in comic books, a ‘good’ issue of The Walking Dead stands head & shoulders above the vast majority of titles. When it is excellent it is pretty much peerless. 2010 promises a change of location and a potentially combustible environment for Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors. No doubt, like 2009, 2010 will prove to be another brilliant year for The Walking Dead. Let’s hope for a regular shipping schedule…
Then in August 2009, a title from Vertigo really made me take notice. ‘Sweet Tooth’ is a post apocalyptic fairytale. It is charming, beautiful, tender, heartbreaking, bloody and it envelops you. I wrote in my first review that it reminded me of both Pinocchio & The Road, and that was meant in a very flattering way. The best thing about the first issue was that when I picked it up in Amsterdam for 1 euro I was reading one of the best single issues I would read in 2009. For 1 euro. Cheers Vertigo / DC.
The story is set in a post apocalyptic America after a devastating (but as yet unexplained) Pandemic. Gus – the ‘Sweet Tooth’ of the title – is an 11 year old Human / Animal hybrid, raised in total isolation by his (now deceased) Father. Importantly, he is immune to the pandemic. Curious to see what lies beyond his Fathers imposed isolation in the woods, he moves out beyond his previous confines, is hunted down, but saved by a hulking, mysterious man known as ‘Jepperd’. His role of Guardian to Gus is fundamental to the success of the story, and his ambiguity (especially in his role as ‘Guardian’) is providing gripping entertainment.
Jeff Lemire is both writer and artist on this title, and it is his portrayal of innocence and innocents in a world of encroaching darkness, with depravity and despair seeping inwards from the corners, that stuns and delights. In his scratchy, slightly wonky art, he effortlessly convinces of Gus’ innate goodness and fragility. In Jepperd, he summons a creature who may be more than man – like something hewn form granite – and more than the protector. Maybe someone with more darkness and a direct danger to Gus?
4 issues in, and Sweet Tooth has not dropped a beat. Its quality is undeniable, it has easily become required and anticipated reading, and I think it is the finest title to debut this year by a country mile. I love it. Please buy it so it can continue for many years.
There is little doubt in my mind that this title will go down as an all time classic, and month by month its stature grows. Set in and around war-torn Uganda in the early 90s, the ‘Unknown Soldier’ of the title is Dr Moses Lwanga, a pacifist who, having seen so much horror, becomes quickly embroiled in conflict. The main arc this year, ‘Easy Kill’, had a controversial, contemporary storyline – the potential assassination of a Hollywood actress in Africa on a Goodwill visit – and a cinematic vision that delivered this tense, gripping tale. The writing and art are exemplary, and I have, on a few occasions, urged people to get into this comic book, as I believe most people who enjoy comics would get something out of this. It is a superior title, an intelligent, thought-provoking, challenging work. I will let the wonderful cover art and my reviews (linked at the bottom) of this years Unknown Soldiers do the rest. A highlight of the year and (no doubt) a highlight of next year.
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/05/top-comic-title-this-week-29042009.html Review Unknown Soldier #7
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/05/review-unknown-soldier-8-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #8
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/06/review-unknown-soldier-9-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #9
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/07/review-unknown-soldier-10-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #10
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/08/review-unknown-soldier-11-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #11
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/10/review-unknown-soldier-12-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #12
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/10/review-unknown-soldier-13-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #13
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/11/review-unknown-soldier-14-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #14
http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2009/12/review-unknown-soldier-15-vertigo-2009.html Review Unknown Soldier #15
New from Image Comics in February;
story BEN McCOOL
art & cover BEN TEMPLESMITH
32 PAGES / FC
ISSUE ONE: PAIN
Industry superstar BEN TEMPLESMITH teams up with writer BEN McCOOL for this deliciously skewed tale of hardboiled noir. Johnny “Choker” Jackson, once one of Shotgun City’s most promising police officers, is a bitter private detective with a terrible case of Alien Hand Syndrome. But he’s unexpectedly been offered a job back on the force: provided he can nail a twisted drug dealer selling a very exclusive product, that is…
RETAILER WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES
story NICK SPENCER
art & cover by ADAM GEEN
MARCH 24, 2010
The dead are killing, and troubled homicide cop Isaac Hernandez is on a desperate search for answers. His investigation leads him deep into the corridors of the Shuddertown housing projects, and towards a truth too terrible to face.
A STORY OF GUILT, REDEMPTION, AND RESURRECTION; PERFECT FOR FANS OF THE WIRE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE AND SE7EN.
IDW Publishing returns to the post-human world with a new Zombies vs Robots series, coming in February. Zombies vs Robots Aventure is a continuation of the original series from the Eisner-losing team of Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood that explored a world in which a group of robots try to protect the final remaining human from a planet full of zombies. The new four-issue Zombies vs Robots Aventure will feature three serialized eight-page stories per issue, each one offering a different take on the war between these two forces.
“The original Zombies vs Robots started after the war had already begun,” said Ryall. “This new series more fully fleshes out that world, so to speak. Before, we looked more at the battle between robots and zombies. In Aventure, we delve into how this fighting affected humans across the world. A couple of the stories take a darker turn than we’ve done in ZvR so far, but that undercurrent of gallows humor is never far from any of the tales we tell in this world.”
Ryall will pen each tale, continually developing the war between zombies and robots, and the role that human hubris played in the downfall of the world. The stories in Zombies vs Robots Aventure will feature new interior artists for the first time, with design and covers coming from co-creator Wood.
The stories serialized in Aventure #1 are:
* “Kampf,” featuring art by Mention Matthews III, is set in the early days of the struggle, where the military has developed its own resistance to fight the zombie threat alongside their robot army
* “Masques,” with art by Paul McCaffrey, follows up the earlier “origin” story of Zombies vs Robots and explores a non-combatant’s efforts to join the fight, with disastrous results.
* “Zuvembies,” by Ryall and Gabriel Hernandez, shifts the battle to Haiti, where resistance fighters are trying to develop their own undead army as a means of defenses
Issue #1 also features a different incentive cover by Wood, plus a bonus art gallery including pinups and sketches from all three interior artists.
Zombies vs Robots Aventure #1 (of 4, $3.99, 32 pages) will be available in February 2010. Diamond order code DEC09 0922.
So, we reach the penultimate episode of Crossed. After the shocking, terrible events of #7, this issue is more reflective, gives more detail on the wider consequences of the infection, and brillaintly shows how tensions are resolved amongst the survivors in this tragic, devastated world of the Crossed.
There are attempts to try and attempt closure, to allow some to grieve. There are moral choices that make sense in this altered world, where the summary execution of a human because of their treatment of an animal is logical, believable, even justifiable.
Short on the shocking imagery that has made this title somewhat notorious, this issue actually goes a lot deeper in exploring how people survive in this post-Crossed world. It is probably the finest issue to date – immensely readable, sensitive in its portrayal of the choices people make, and how people deal with loss – and it seems to be hitting its stride just as the curtain is about to fall. Maybe Ennis will consider a volume 2 of this title. Maybe Ennis will end the upcoming finale on an unremittingly bleak note (there is certainly a lack of hope throughout the series’ run). I am just glad that Crossed has become more than a one-trick pony, because despite some imagery that is so shocking it is not easy to forget (or even to justify), this title has matured into a terrifying, gripping tale of survival in a world where joy and hope are all but extinguished.