Happy Holidays Clashers. We here at CBC decided we are gonna have some fun this week. And how so? Why with a bunch of countdowns and more talking about all the stuff that happened last year.
So what do we start with? #1s of course. There have been soooooooooo many #1s this year that it was incredible. And yes, this is in part due to the New 52s. Yet, even with that, we saw a vast majority of interesting concepts and ideas seen this year. And These concepts carried over to new ideas. And you are about to see many of those concepts. I am only counting #1s that came out during 2011.
WARNING: This list is subjective while still explain why their places and prepare for a few surprises.
BY FRANKIE RODRIGUEZ (aka SERAPH)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
Batman: Knight of Vengeance # 1
The Occultist # 1
The Infinite #1
Demon Knights #1
TOP 11 #1 ISSUES OF 2011
11. VOODOO # 1
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Sam Basiri
And right out the gate I am getting people going WTF. But make no mistake. This book is GOOD. The first issue is one that was a bit different from the others in the New 52. It told a story of two government agents. The female agent ended up proving herself to be tough and serious about her job. The male agent, on the other hand, seemed more laid back. Voodoo herself was a mystery; which is part of the allure of the book.
Marz gives us a very different Priscilla Kitlen then we have seen before. She is sexy. She is smart. And Boy, is she dangerous. Yet, the question becomes is she good or evil. And Marz lets the reader either make their own judgement or have them decide to keep reading to see her ultimate fate.
Basiri continues to give a very sexy book where men are men and women are GORGEOUS. Voodoo is still a stripper and we even get a link to her name. You are not sure what side Voodoo is on but it is the beginning of what will be an interesting, sleek & sexy romp. Good tone and pacing make it worthwhile. Unfortunately, the ending was great and left a good cliffhanger but there was points were I wanted more screen time of Priscilla herself. Still, one of the best #1s of this past year that is sorely underrated.
10. UNCANNY X-MEN # 1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Carlos Pacheco
Okay. This issue offered a lot. A whole lot. And I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cyclops at the end of Schism. Yet, Scott Summers had changed so much since he became the “ruler” of mutantkind that it scary what the man thinks now. And it seems very consistent with the evolution that Scott’s been having since the days he was in Grant Morrison’s hands.
Scott forms the Extinction Team; a team of X-Men with a dual purpose:
First, to act as the World’s Greatest Super Heroes; and already stepping on the toes of Avengers, I see Scott.
And Second, to show the world that the X-Men will not be victims anymore as proving that they are, as Scott says “weapons of mass destruction.”
With the team that he picked, Scott really showed us that this could very well be the strongest team in X-Men history: himself as leader, Storm as his second command (who was begged to stay with Cyclops’ faction of X-Men), Emma Frost, Magneto (yes, he has not turned back into a villain), Namor, Colossus (who gained the powers of the Juggernaut during Fear Itself and lost Kitty Pryde in the process), Magik (yep, resurrected cause of House of M and still powerful), Danger & Hope Summers (technically, Scott’s granddaughter).
Showing that they will be handling as many big threats as possible, Scott and his Extinction team faces off against the Dreaming Celestial and . . . well. The number one established the team, gave some interesting character interaction to show that this team is not entirely happy being together and establishing Cyclops new status quo for the mutants on Utopia. The fact that Cyclops left a letter to humanity as both a call saying they are there to help but don’t mess with mutants or you’ll get it just bright to light how this group of mutants are gonna operate.
A great start for a different kind of X-Men.
Yo Joe! After Chuckles infiltrates Cobra to kill Cobra Commander, Cobra decides to hold a contest to bring forth a new Cobra Commander. And the contest has 8 candidates. How do these candidates win this contest? Simple . . . the person with the most Joe kills becomes the new Cobra Commander. And this premise opens the doors to soooooooo much. We see ample Joes in the first issue as well as meet up with a few of the candidates. Baroness shows up. And Joes begin to die like flies.
This new premise gives a new danger to GI Joe we have not seen before. Dixon composes a script where there are scores of characters but no one really feels like dead weight. And Cobra strikes while setting up multiple conflicts with Cobra and GI Joe as well as within both organizations. This issue made me want more and reminded me that NO Joe was safe. The large cast though made it feel crowded. It was handled well but still a bit sufficating at times. A great starting point to a great story.
8. STORMWATCH #1
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Miguel Sepulveda
Now. Yes. I know that some people find this surprising. And it is a surprising to me. Yet, I loved this issue. And before I get ringed out for not posting other #1s . . . keep reading but let me point somethings out. Out of ALL the new 52 #1s, Stormwatch #1 is the one I read the most. Yes! READ THE MOST. Within the first week of its release, I read Stormwatch #1 7 times. SEVEN TIMES!
The Wildstorm elements in the new DCU was really welcome and this book delivered it the best. Cornell, like he did with Demon Knights, showed us all the characters; each with distinct personalities, quirks and more. Engineer’s trying to fix situations and questioning her leader. A bit of Adam One’s interesting mental issues. Jenny Quantum’s wonder as a super powered child. Apollo’s want to do right but not be part of the costumed community. Jack Hawksmoor’s way with the cities on the planet. Martian Manhunter’s resolve to be a warrior, not a super hero. Projectionist need for recognition. Harry Tanner’s misdirection and wonder.
Stormwatch even hinted at connections with Milestone’s Shadow Cabinet. World threatening moon. Wonderous excitement. People not getting along. Heck, Midnighter’s appearance showed his ability and his desire for Apollo in one smooth appearance. ALL IN THE FIRST ISSUE.
Why did I not top it on this list, you ask? Simple. For all it’s good, the other 8 issues were just better.Yet, Stormwatch holds strong as #8.
Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev have been wooing audiences with their stuff for Marvel and Icon for quiet sometime now. The team has such a solid record that the mere mention of these two working together means the book will sell on that fact alone. So, what do they do together after celebrated hits such as Alias and Daredevil? Why, they deal with Marvel’s answer to Batman . . . Moon Knight? Yet, this time, Marc Spector is a bit different this time around.
Bendis first puts Spector back in the West Coast, actually producing a television show based on his time as Moon Knight. Next, the hero is sent on a mission by Captain America, Wolverine and Spiderman to take down the new Kingpin of LA. Spector agrees, taking down some smugglers as he finds some VERY important stolen technology. Third, Spector decides to look into the stolen tech . . . which come to find out, has connections to a classic Avengers villain and an Avenger. Finally, Bendis shows us that Spector is just not over his multiple personality disorder . .. but it is quite a different animal this time around.
The clues are in our faces at first but we don’t really see it. These interesting twists on the character makes for a new, compelling beginning for the Fist of Khonshu and made readers want to know more like: Who is the new LA Kingpin? What does this have to do with that “technology” that was being smuggled? And how crazy is Marc Spector?
These were just some of the questions that made readers want more . .. such as myself.
6. WONDER WOMAN# 1
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Cliff Chang
GEEZ! This book is AMAZING! Ok. Let me calm my fanboy. *breathes in and out* Seriously, this book made me scream yes, yes, YES!! Finally. A creative team that is putting Diana up to a level where her adventures and threats are on par with Batman’s & Superman’s. Azzarello gives us a new, terrifying new version of the Greek Gods and it is GLORIOUS.
Diana is sucked into a battle with the Gods as a young woman is being hunted down by Sentaurs . .. created by the latest incarnation of Hera by chopping off the heads of 2 horses and MAGIC!
WOW! Azzarello commented over and over again that this WW was a HORROR book and Cliff Chiang lived up to that with some terrifying yet amazing imagery and panel work. Diana, still looking like the Amazon she always ways but a bit darker, did not hold back in this issue either. Yet, the thing that is putting this down was that it was between a quick issue and a full story. It felt like a few pages were missing. Otherwise, this was just solid.
Did I reread this #1? Yes I did. Did I share it with my friends? Yes I did! This first issue gave us a Wonder Woman that was quite different from any other and it was amazing!
5. UNDYING LOVE #1
Written by Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman
Art by Tomm Coker
Okay. I love mythology. It is one of the reasons why I love comic books so much. Stories of gods, heroes, villains and everything in between to give you lessons and/or warnings. So, when I heard this book was dealing with vampires and Chinese mythology, I was onboard.
Coker and Freeman tell the tale of lovers Mei and John. John is former military and he and Mei want to be together. So, what does John want to do for his immortal love? Why turn her back into a human being. And how does he accomplish that . ..why, go after the vampire that sired her. But that is DEFINITELY NOT going to be easy from the looks of it.
Coker and Freeman mix love, action, horror and mythology that flows together seemlessly in this first issue. Yet, there just felt that there wasn’t enough in this first issue with the two lovers. With just enough information to get you to care and enjoy the characters and story but still keep you wanting more, Undying Love #1 was a true triumph of a number 1.
4. BATMAN #1
Written by Scott Synder
Art by Greg Capullo
This book was definitely refreshing in so many ways that it hurt without me realizing it. Snyder took Bruce Wayne’s world, Gotham City, and made it into the living organism that not only spoke to the readers and characters but seemed to have actions of its own.
We see Bruce starting a new stage in his life and for Gotham as he plans a massive revitalization project for the slums where his parents were murdered. As we see Bruce and 3 out of his four wayward “sons”, the city starts to react in its own way.. Murders start to spring up and an old urban myth reemerges leaving Batman stumped. Especially considering evidence that one of his “sons” may be a murderer.
The characterizations of Batman and his supporting cast were spot on with slight evolutions to Bruce, Dick and Alfred. The fact that there was an organization that is moving against Batman with his own city helping along seemed intriging.
All of this was rendered beautifully by Capullo’s art. We get the dark, grim tones of Gotham, with plenty of villains to match but also a great look at Bruce and Batman in different ways. Capullo is drawing for his life in this book and it really shows. This book felt like a truly packed issue and full story and not a breeze some of the other DC 52 #1s did. The only thing that was really bringing down this first issue; a subplot idea that was introduced and left clues towards the cliffhanger but something that could have definitely been a story onto itself. Otherwise, a great start for Batman.
3. ACTION COMICS #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales
Grant Morrison. The name alone has made people decide to buy the book, with a select number deciding not to touch it. And the name was not the only draw to the book. Unlike Batman, Superman’s entire history was being rebooted with this book telling how Clark Kent aka Kal El started out as Superman. And let me tell you, this is distinctively different.
Morrison crafts a tale of a Superman who is more for the common man; partially an omage to the early Superman comics in the 30s & 40s while also standing as a tribute to the sign of the times in our world now. This Superman is a brash, goes up against corruption and does not mind hurting the bad guys too much. Rags Morales’s pencils really give depth and charm that really illustrates this Clark in a different way. Ma and Pa Kent have died and Clark is just starting out. Lois is the go-getting firecracker that she always was with a modern spin. And Lex . .. in the few pages we see him, is VERY much the slimball we known.
Action gives a great dipection of a man who is learning to be a Superman in EVERY sense of the world. Not just in power levels, which are decreased at this point in his career but also in attitude and mind frame. Yet, what is bringing this down. Well, honestly . .. the way it ended was good but it felt like they could have added a little more suspense to it. That is what is bringing this issue down. It is the story of the construction on the “world’s greatest super hero” (YES, I STOLE IT FROM DAN SLOTT & SPIDEY). And Morrison and Morales really hits this first issue home about this everyman learning to be a true Superman.
2. WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Chris Bachalo
THIS BOOK IS SOOOOO GOOD!!! When they first announced that the X-Men were splitting in two with their books following suit, I was happy. I meant the the Cyclops/Emma Frost/Wolverine/Magneto/Namor show .. . I mean their continued use as the forefront characters was coming to an end so that other X-Men were gonna be able to shine.
Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo bring the most fun, most ridiculously cool, high concept X-Men book in years. Not since the now fabled Whedon and Cassidy run on Astonishing X-Men has the book been so fun. Not since Morrison’s X-Men run has the group mixed high concept with classic ideas. The next Generations of mutants in this school are not just pretty little things. They are multifaceted and are all colors and shapes, making this feel truly international and flavored.
We see familiar characters in new roles or different roles that they have either never been in or just not comfortable with. And it is GLORIOUS! Wolverine is the uncomfortable headmaster who really feels that he does not know what he’s gotten himself into and has dragged Kitty along with him as his headmistress. The Beast has made the new school, which he renamed the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning. Ah if Wolverine is not giving the finger to Scott with this move, I don’t know what is. The students are just as interesting as the teachers.With compelling, yet multifaceted characters like Kid Omega and Idie to new characters like Broo and Kid Gladiator, this school is showing us a whole new charm of its own. And Aaron knows his X-Men history as he digs from the past to give us an old threat in a brand new way.
All in all, this book is funny with great dialogue, characters that are believable in unbelievable circumstances with some brand new concepts mixed with classic X-Men tropes to really stand out. Bachalo is drawing the work of his career and this books is just so good. Pick this up. Yet, with all this, it could not top the next book. This book made me laugh and feel true happiness but it did not do what the number one did. Still, if you want to see and read one of the best and fun books in years, this book is it.
1. ANIMAL MAN #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Travel Foreman
I know I am getting some interesting looks . .. a few WTFs. And there are a few fans going like YES! This book has caught critical acclaim. It is the second most reprinted book of DC’s New 52, besides Justice League. THIS BOOK. Not Action. Not Batman. Not Wonder Woman. Not Teen Titans. THIS BOOK. This book has single handedly turned nearly all its readers into fans. And I can honestly say that I am one of those people.
I LOVE this book. I am a big team book person but this year, it was revenge of the solo titles. And BY THE MATRIX, is this book worth every single drop of admiration it has gotten and more.
Lemire brings us a brand new first issue which introduces us to Buddy Baker, Animal Man, and his family. Lemire constructs to us a man who feels that super heroing is part of his life but not the main focus. He see his family life. We see him as a hero and we see how twisted and quickly this book can change. Human reactions to his daughter getting powers. Foreshadowing of the horrors to come. Touching character relations when a father loses his child and Buddy must confront them.
Foreman’s art brings home the touching human moments, glorifies the super heroic parts and frightens the terrifying beings that will become Animal Man’s protagonists. The shading, inking and color differs from each part just a little to make them distinct but still flow amazingly well. This book is NOT a typical book. Much like Voodoo, this isn’t necessarily about superheroes but a family.
Overall, this book set a new standard in writing and art that just resonates with me in a whole new way. It is the #1 issue I continually tell people to read. Yo . .. you should read this. Hey! READ THIS BOOK! If you haven’t read this book yet, get the reprints of #1. You owe it to yourself to read it.
This book made me think. This book made me laugh. This book made me tear up just a little. And this book scared me. I instantly became attached to Buddy and his family and I am horrified by the two major plot developments in the last third of the issue. With all this, I just could not stop wanting this book more and more; thus making it my #1 book of the year.
And thus my list of the Top #1s of 2011. Feel free to agree or disagree and leave some comments below. And prepare yourself as Comic Book Clash will have a very big year ahead of itself. From everyone here in Comic Book Clash & J1 Studios, Happy Holidays!