CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2010, #50 - 26

Each year, CBR wraps its coverage of the comics industry with a virtual nerd cage match to determine the very best comics of the year. Every single CBR staffer -- from our crack news team to our well-researched columnists and from CBR's many daily bloggers to our legion of comic reviewers -- had the chance to chip in their favorite books of the year with only the highest vote-getters ranking up on our massive Top 100 Comics list, and this year neither the staff nor the comics disappointed.

While 2010 came marked with some seismic changes to comics from industry shakeups and sales swings to the long-awaited introduction of a viable sales platform for digital comics on phones and tablet devices like the iPad. But while the world around comics may be in for some immediate change, the artform itself remains as versatile as ever. This year, we found a wealth of notable entries from all segments of the marketplace including the heights of the superhero and genre mainstream, the vast array of literary and art comics on the stands, the in flux yet still powerful world of manga, the cutting-edge experimentation of the web and more!

And while it's nearly impossible for even the combined staff of CBR to have read every single ongoing series, miniseries, one-shot, graphic novel and web comic published in and throughout 2010, we are confident that you'll find no better indicator of the breadth and quality of the industry as it stands today than right here. After out first two installments knocked off the first 50 comics (#100-76 here and 75-51 here), we kick off Part 3 of our week-long countdown where mainstream superheroes roar back with some new and surprising series as a wealth of engrossing graphic novels continue to entertain and educate all the while some choice indie series make their mark on the staff.

50. Orc Stain

Written & Illustrated By: James Stokoe

Published By: Image Comics

Along with Bryan Lee O'Malley and Brandon Graham, Stokoe seems to belong to a new generation of cartoonists whose influences draw from a seemingly disparate array of sources. A close read of "Orc Stain" can spot references to Heavy Metal, shonen manga, D&D and a host of other things. The combined brew results in something that is frenetic, hilarious, imaginative, utterly original and utterly comics.

- Robot 6 Columnist Chris Mautner

49. Action Comics

Written By: Paul Cornell

Illustrated By: Pete Woods

Published By: DC Comics

As a lifelong fan of the Man of Steel, I despise Lex Luthor. I mean, I really, really don't like him. And yet, somehow, Paul Cornell and Pete Woods have tricked me into cheering for the Big Bald Bad in the pages of "Action Comics" even when he's up against supervillains I adore like Mister Mind and Gorilla Grodd.

- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

48. Atlas

Written By: Jeff Parker

Illustrated By: Gabriel Hardman

Published By: Marvel Comics

Let's take a quick look at what the book offered: a killer robot, a talking gorilla, a goddess, a telepathic alien and an undersea princess, all following the lead of a rejuvenated 1950s secret agent who is destined to rule one of the greatest criminal empires in the history of mankind. That criminal empire also has a dragon as an advisor. Doesn't that sound like a great summertime movie? It's either that or one hell of a set-up to a nerdy joke.

- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

47. BB Wolf and the 3 LP's

Written By: J.D. Arnold

Illustrated By: Rich Koslowski

Published By: Top Shelf Productions

Writer J.D. Arnold makes his comic debut with this graphic novel illustrated by Rich Koslowski. It's the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf, but they take a tale we know by heart and turn it into something else -- a fable about how we live and how we have lived, transforming it into something heart-wrenching. Though we know how it will end, we're brought almost to tears by the tragic inevitability and what it says about us.

- CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

46. Solomon's Thieves

Written By: Jordan Mechner

Illustrated By: LeUyen Pham, Alex Puvilland

Published By: First Second Books

Mechner ("Prince of Persia") has created a loving tribute to the nameless, rank-and-file Templar Knights who found themselves unwilling pawns in a political game between the Pope and the King of France. Not only that, he pays brilliant homage to Alexandre Dumas by crafting a story worthy of the father of the historical swashbuckler. A story that Pham and Puvilland bring to life with majestic, sensual art.

- Robot 6 Columnist Michael May

45. Make Me A Woman

Written & Illustrated By: Vanessa Davis

Published By: Drawn & Quarterly

Part sketchbook, part diary, part short story collection, Vanessa Davis' "Make Me a Woman" is especially noteworthy for not only her fluid, beautiful art style, but how easily she pulls the reader into her orbit. You'll finish "Make Me a Woman" feeling like you've known Davis for years, and that in doing so, had a new close friend to boot. Some people are writers or artists; Davis is a true storyteller.

- CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

44. Hereville

Written & Illustrated By: Barry Deutsch

Published By: http://www.hereville.com/

Set in an Orthodox Jewish community, Barry Deutsch's story of a young girl who dreams of slaying dragons someday mixes fantasy and everyday life in a comfortable and convincing way. Deutsch uses a simple drawing style but animates his story with creative layouts that not only carry the action but also hint at his characters' thoughts and feelings.

- Robot 6 Blogger Brigid Alverson

43. Two Cents Plain

Written & Illustrated By: Martin Lemelman

Published By: http://www.twocentsplain.com/

This is an amazing memoir that didn't get anywhere near enough attention this year. Constructed as a series of vignettes, it tells the story of the author's parents and the soda fountain they kept in Brooklyn for decades. Author Martin Lemelman mixes nostalgia and realism, bringing in period touches such as drawings of vintage toys and candy but never shying away from the grittier details such as his parents' anger, their poverty and the rats that swarmed through their apartment.

- Robot 6 Blogger Brigid Alverson

42. The Flash

Written By: Geoff Johns

Illustrated By: Francis Manapul

Published By: DC Comics

Arguably the biggest name in comics today, Geoff Johns has re-imagined Barry Allen as a top-tier superhero with a perfect blend of Gil Grissom gumshoeing and Silver Age charm. Francis Manapul's pages are so majestic, I find myself pulling a Reverse-Flash back to the first page the minute I've finished an issue to take a second (or even third) look.

- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

41. The Unsinkable Walker Bean

Written & Illustrated By: Aaron Renier

Published By: First Second Books

As popular as pirates are, you'd think there'd be more comics featuring them. Renier does his part to correct that, but "The Unsinkable Walker Bean" is way more than a pirate comic. It's a wonderful, oceanic adventure about a young boy's love for his grandfather and his willingness to do whatever it takes to save him, including fighting pirates, his own father and giant lobster-witches.

- Robot 6 Columnist Michael May

40. Blacksad

Written By: Juan Diaz Canales

Illustrated By: Juanjo Guarnido

Published By: Dark Horse Comics

This year I discovered what many comic fans all over the world already know; the European comic series "Blacksad" is awesome! It's an anthropomorphic crime series set in the 1950s that follows the exploits of a tough, feline private eye named John Blacksad. This year's volume features three fascinating film noir stories, each one showcasing mind blowing and breathtakingly beautiful art.

- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

39. Sweet Tooth

Written & Illustrated By: Jeff Lemire

Published By: Vertigo/DC Comics

"Sweet Tooth" is another Vertigo series that picked up steam in 2010, turning Gus, a young boy with antlers, from a wide-eyed innocent into a wide-eyed innocent who's seen some ugly things and found strength in adversity. That, and he may or may not be the reason this wild, depopulated world with animal children came to be the way it is. Awesome and engaging.

- CBR Staff Writer Shaun Manning

38. Irredeemable

Written By: Mark Waid

Illustrated By: Peter Krause

Published By: BOOM! Studios

What do you do when the world's most powerful superhuman turns bad and kills millions? Put your head between your knees and kiss your butt goodbye (while enjoying every single second of it, courtesy of scribe Mark Waid).

- CBR Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas

37. The Abominable Charles Christopher

Written & Illustrated By: Karl Kerschl

Published By: http://www.abominable.cc/

Karl Kerschl's lovely printed collection of his weekly webcomic set in a woodland and populated by a variety of woodland creatures, including the titular (and mute) Charles Christopher, a gentle abominable snowman, is gorgeous, and moving. The story varies wildly from hilarious to heartbreaking (yes, this book has made me cry and more than once) and is one of the best-drawn comics you will find anywhere. Kerschl's characters, whether bird, bee, or abominable snowman, are undeniably relatable and it's nearly impossible not to fall in love once you start reading -- but prepare yourself to shed at least as many tears as laughs.

- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Kelly Thompson

36. Weathercraft

Written & Illustrated By: Jim Woodring

Published By: Fantagraphics

The sometimes disgraceful, sometimes pitiable character Manhog goes on a Cambellian hero's journey by way of Luis Bunuel in Woodring's first comic in years and lengthiest story ever. It's a twisting, twisted, often bizarre, often disturbing but always gripping tale of one creature's self-redemption and ultimate sacrifice told without words and often as enigmatically as possible. If you had any doubt that Woodring could still deliver after laying low for so long, consider them erased.

- Robot 6 Columnist Christ Mautner

35. PunisherMAX

Written By: Jason Aaron

Illustrated By: Steve Dillon

Published By: Marvel Comics

Jason Aaron has somehow managed to match Garth Ennis' extremely high level of writing for the MAX version of Punisher.

- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronan

I didn't think anyone could follow Garth Ennis on the character, but Jason Aaron did it -- and did it with the artist most associated with Ennis! Every issue was a twisted surprise.

- CBR Reviewer Chad Nevett

34. You'll Never Know: Collateral Damage

Written & Illustrated By: Carol Tyler

Published By: Fantagraphics

The second volume of Carol Tyler's memoir of her father digs deeper than the first book, expanding its scope in a way that feels very natural. The collateral damage of the title is Tyler herself in a story about how an emotionally distant father affected her, her daughter and others in the family. Her father never ceases to be "a good and decent man" as the title of the first volume called him, but as with all true stories, the truth is much more complicated than that. One of the most heartfelt books of the year and also one of the most beautiful.

- CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

33. Market Day

Written & Illustrated By: James Sturm

Published By: Drawn & Quarterly

Why do we make art? Who do we make art for? What do we do when the commercial realities of the world around us are at desperate, sharp odds with the art we most want to create? Those are the sorts of questions Sturm raises in his masterful little saga about an insecure rug maker who finds he no longer has a patron to sell to. And if you should by chance see some sort of contemporary metaphor for the comics industry itself in there, well, I'm sure it wasn't intentional.

- Robot 6 Columnist Chris Mautner

32. Secret Avengers

Written By: Ed Brubaker

Illustrated By: Mike Deodato, David Aja, Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano

Published By: Marvel Comics

Although Bendis has his hand firmly on the Avengers tiller, the franchise has benefited from the addition of Ed Brubaker. While the cast is unusual, Brubaker has turned second-stringers like Ant Man and Valkyrie into stars, weaving intrigue and mystery (befitting the name "secret") into every issue. The second arc even threatens to make Shang Chi interesting -- that's how good it is.

- CBR Reviewer James Hunt

31. The Sixth Gun

Written By: Cullen Bunn

Illustrated By: Brian Hurtt

Published By: Oni Press

What happens when you mix horror, dark fantasy and the wild west? If you're especially lucky, "The Sixth Gun," where every month Cullen Bunn comes up with new and fantastical creations for Brian Hurtt to beautifully draw. It's almost criminal the first issue was given away for free at Free Comic Book Day, because there's no way to keep from getting hooked after reading it.

- CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

30. Fables

Written By: Bill Willingham

Illustrated By: Mark Buckingham

Published By: Vertigo/DC Comics

One of the few series whose quality can be consistently counted on. The book may not have shipped every month this year, but the creative team more than made up for it with the best and biggest hundredth issue I've ever seen. I hope these stories never reach a "happily ever after..."

- CBR Staff Writer George A. Tramountanas

The first 93 issues, collected into 14 trade paperbacks, garnered the creators 14 Eisner Awards. How's that for consistency? "Fables" is the comic book equivalent to Joe DiMaggio. In fact, it's better since it just notched its 100th consecutive hit in December. Can't wait to see where the next 100 issues go. Huzzah!

- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

29. Special Exits

Written & Illustrated By: Joyce Farmer

Published By: Fantagraphics

Underground-comix journeywoman Joyce Farmer returns with a 200-page chronicle of the decline and death of her aging and infirm parents, with nearly every meticulously crosshatched panel drawn as if her life depended on it. Maybe it did. This is a magnum opus no one expected to read, a brutally frank depiction of what it's like for full lives you love to end, and it has the most painfully happy ending of the year. It made me cry. Don't do what I almost did and ignore one of the year's most moving comics.

- Robot 6 Blogger Sean T. Collins

28. Set To Sea

Written & Illustrated By: Drew Weing

Published By: Fantagraphics

Weing strapped the heart-rending quest of a simple poet onto a book sporting the energy of a Popeye cartoon and the beastly human proportions of an R. Crumb comic. It's a book that manages to read with the lightness of a feather while simultaneously keeping its audience keenly aware of mortality and the fickle nature of fate on the high seas.

- CBR Contributor Brian Warmoth

27. Uncanny X-Force

Written By: Rick Remender

Illustrated By: Jerome Opena

Published By: Marvel Comics

The X-Men's black-ops squad reinvented themselves with a new roster, a new mission and a new creative team this year to incredible results. Rick Remender's handle on established favorites like Wolverine and Deadpool make these variant-cover hogs feel like fresh, new faces, while new life has been breathed into Apocalypse while Fantomex recieved some much-needed time in the spotlight. Throw in Jerome Opena's action-packed panels and you've got a title where everything old is new again, and that suits us just fine.

- CBR Staff Writer Steve Sunu

26. Wally Gropius

Written & Illustrated By: Tim Hensley

Published By: Fantagraphics

The first great comic of the Great Recession. Tim Hensley's breakout graphic novel, previously serialized in the Mome anthology, seems like a send-up of silly '60s teen-comedy and kid-millionaire comics on the surface, but beneath lies as odd and accurate a cri de coeur about capitalism and consumerism as I've ever read. It also does things with body language I've never seen in comics, and is funny as hell to boot. There's nothing else out there like it.

- Robot 6 Blogger Sean T. Collins

Check back with CBR tomorrow as our Top 100 Comics of 2010 countdown concludes with #25 -- 1!

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