At least I got this out before the Oscars.
In an effort to try something slightly different with these annual retrospectives, I will now present to you not necessarily the best in comics– I’m not the scholar for that– but the five comics published in the year of our King Kirby 2009 that possessed the most raditude. These are the comics that got drunk and made out with my brain while leaping the gorge on a skateboard that was on fire– only the bitchin’est, most awesome comics need apply. Onwards!
5. Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6
A lot of folks really enjoyed Dallas #5, which is not the one in which Patrick Duffy came out of the shower, no no, but the one that– suddenly and unexpectedly– took place in Vietnam, and had vampires and a giant mummy. The final issue of the mini-series, however, tops that one in radness. In explaining how, however, I’ll give the game away. Let’s just say the subtitle is important, and the book delivers a remarkable payoff cleverly foreshadowed in the opening pages of Dallas #1. Of course, this issue also features Number Five’s child-self battling his old-man-self for control of the future, and a dude with an actual fishbowl for a head. It all ends with a song. I can’t wait for Way and Ba to bring us the third volume– these two have a couple of the best imaginations in comics today.
How rad is it? Radder than the “RAD” setting on your calculator.
4. Ghost Rider #34
Jason Aaron and Tony Moore gave us a hat trick of great issues this year, one of which featured cameos by the Ghost Rider versions of Solomon Kane, Chuck Norris, and Burt Reynolds, as well as Knuckles O’Shaugnessy, the Sensational Character Find of 2009, another which had Johnny Blaze vs. Sailor Moon, but it was this issue, sandwiched between them, that win the kewpie doll. After all, it’s here that Aaron and Moore bring us the triumphant return of the Highwayman from the pages of U.S.1, resurrected as a demon trucker from hell, with only Dan Ketch in his way. This one’s a note-perfect tribute to every lovingly grotesque B-grade grindhouse flick, as well as all the ones that only exist within the mind’s eye, drawn in the most delightfully lurid manner by the aforementioned Mr. Moore. It’s even got a post-credits (or post-letters-page, in this case) extra scare! You can tell Aaron and Moore were having more fun than is legal in most states, and that energy transfers to the reader, straight through the eyeball.
How rad is it? Radder than William Shatner punching Hitler in the face.
3. Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time #2
This is how rips are roared. In this issue, Atomic Robo teams up with Charles Fort in 1926 New York to do battle with H.P. Lovecraft, who has been taken over by a– well, a Lovecraftian monster. It teaches readers “that there’s one underlying scientific principle common to all existence. Everything explodes” as Robo literally turns it up to 11 and drives a car filled with lightning guns into what passes for the beast’s face. It also features cool hats, cool mustaches, the voice of Nikola Tesla, enough tossed-off details and ideas to choke Grant Morrison, and the keenest art ever keened. Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener triumph again. It’s the comic made just for me, and the other thousand maniacs just like me.
How rad is it? Radder than making love to a dinosaur that has chainsaws for teeth.
Written by prince of the internet Chris Sims, and drawn by his own personal art slave, Matthew Allen Smith, this is a webcomic about, in Sims’s own words, the “World’s Greatest Half-Vampire Skateboard Champion Private Detective” and his British girlfriend, Minxy Flatbush (whose father is the Mayor of England) as they battle Tyrannosaurus Hex, a dinosaur that is also a witch, and the ghosts of all the other extinct dinosaurs. It sacrifices sense for pure, blinding spectacle, and is colored exclusively in benday dots. Sims can walk the walk. The second issue is set to premiere February 24th.
How rad is it? Radder than a comic about a half-vampire rollerblading champion private detective.
1. Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time #4
So what could be radder than Atomic Robo and Solomon Stone? More Atomic Robo, of course! According to Greg Burgas, this issue has 2.73 awesome things per page. But that’s not all! As I said in September, “this is a comic in which Dr. Atomic Robo Tesla teams up with Carl Sagan in 1971 Peru to capture a Lovecraftian elder beast from beyond the universe using the fifth cardinal direction, Zorth.” Not only that, but it also sets up the Council of Cross-Time Robos, and features lines like “Let’s do some science,” “Robo. I think I’m insane now,” and “Cold, hard fact will save this universe.” Clevinger has never written a better script, Wegener has never drawn a better comic, and I have never dreamed a more impossible dream– and yet, it came true, and here it is. Only in comics could such a thing exist! This isn’t just the raddest comic of the year, it’s the raddest comic of all time.
How rad is it? Radder than playing Europe’s Final Countdown on a keytar in space while the sun goes supernova and propels you backwards in time.
And that, my friends, is that. Join me in 2011 when we count down the Top Five Most Tubular Trade Paperbacks of 2010, or something equally wicked.