2005 YEAR IN REVIEWS
It's the year-end spectacular. I should take advantage of this last column of the year to goose the total number of trades and hardcovers I reviewed in 2005. Unfortunately, with Christmas Day arriving on the same day I use to write this column, I've run out of time to produce more. I shot for 100 such reviews this year and came up just short of that. Maybe I'll do better in 2006.
There's not going to be a Top Ten Series of 2005 list, just because the pool to choose from would be so short. With so many original graphic novels coming out these days, more books I'm waiting for trades on, and a dwindling pull list in general, it doesn't make sense to try to break it down that way.
One of these years, I'll keep track of everything I read as I go along and prep a list of Top Ten Books of the year, but I always seem to forget that going into the new year.
Instead, I'll flag the titles I best liked and most recommend from this list by throwing a little asterisk (*) up next to their names.
Anyway, let's break down 2005 by company:
Someone jokingly said to me this year that I review anything AiT/PlanetLar publishes. Every year when I put this list together, I see just how short of that the truth is. I meant to review SMOKE AND GUNS back in August, when I picked it up at the San Diego con a month ahead of its publication date. In the midst of all that craziness, though, I never got to it. I need to read the book again before I can properly review it now, and the odds at this point are not that great for that to happen. In the meantime, though, I did review five of those black and white titles:
This is a much longer list, but also woefully short. DC publishes so many comics each month that I could probably dedicate this column entirely to their output every week and be done with it. Thanks to the various CRISIS spin-offs, though, you'll all be spared from that.
The year began with Will Eisner's death. I had hoped to review the recent BEST OF THE SPIRIT trade as a bookend this week, but my store sold out. Good for them. It's a helpful sign that so many people were interested in the book.
I read and enjoyed a lot of Eisner's work at the beginning of the year. It's not anything any true comics fan should miss.
Slight tangent: I watched CINDERELLA MAN on DVD last weekend. All I could think of during any exterior scene in the slums is that they looked exactly like an Eisner drawing. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
- Will Eisner - six different graphic novels*
- Will Eisner's New York: The Big City
- Will Eisner's The Building
DC owns a dozen different imprints, it seems, but I know that's overstating it a bit. After breaking off their relationship with 2000 A.D. and Humanoids, that number is probably in the single digits. Some of the interesting releases from those side companies include:
There was some stuff of interest to talk about in the main DC Universe, though, but none of it circled around the "Crisis" event.
- Batman: Year One*
- Superman/Batman: Absolute Power
- Superman/Batman: Public Enemies*
- Superman/Batman: Supergirl
- Superman For Tomorrow, Volume 1
- Superman: Birthright
As usual, a newly re-energized Image Comics spat out a tremendous variety of good material. Sure, there are some dogs amongst their titles, and I mean that. This isn't just a matter of taste. There are some comics in that lineup that aren't much worth the paper they're printed on. It's stuff that harkens back to the worst stereotype of an Image comic book.
I found a simple way around that, though: I don't review those books. I did review some more pleasant titles, though, across a broad swath of the comics spectrum:
- Earthboy Jacobus*
- Freak Show
- Image Holiday Special 2005*
- Negative Burn: Winter 2005
- PVP Reloaded
- Small Gods, Volume 1
- Tales of the Realm*
- The Black Forest
- The Ride
- Tommysaurus Rex
- Wildguard: Casting Call*
Every year when I look at the breakdown of the books I purchased from various companies, I am reminded that I'm still a Marvel fanboy. That's been cut back a lot this year over previous years, in part due to Marvel's increased number of cross over type events. Still, my heart belongs to the Marvel Universe.
- Elektra: The Hand
- Hulk: Gray*
- Marvel Knights Spider-Man 1
- Marvel Knights Spider-Man 2
- New Avengers, Volume 1
- Wolverine, Volumes 1 - 3 (Greg Rucka series)
- Wolverine: Enemy of the State
- Wolverine: Enemy of the State 2*
- X-Men: Phoenix Endsong
A year without a review of a Francois Schuiten-drawn book almost seems like a lost year. We may be absent any Belgian artists in this year's review, but at least we have Rick Geary, Richard Moore, Lewis Trondheim, and Thierry Robin.
Oni put out a lot of great books this year, and I think this is a good sampling of their original graphic novel program right here. There's a lot more where these came from, but while I may have had my nits to pick, none of them was a letdown.
- Armageddon & Son
- Last Exit Before Toll
- The Long Haul
- Love as a Foreign Language, Volume 2
- Love as a Foreign Language, Volume 3
- Love as a Foreign Language, Volume 4*
I'm not reading all that much manga anymore. PLANETES is done, as is LONE WOLF. But Dark Horse seems to be publishing more Japanese import titles for me to read than even TokyoPop and Viz. (HIKARU NO GO, most notably, appears later in this column.)
And while Dark Horse seems to publish more and more licensed titles from Hollywood every year, there's plenty of other stuff to keep you busy. The big winner in this year's list is SIN CITY, which I reviewed in its entirety ahead of the movie's release. It would seem the licensing goes both ways.
- The Art of Usagi Yojimbo*
- Blade of the Immortal, Volume 1*
- Crush, Volume 1
- Sin City: The Big Fat Kill*
- Sin City: Booze, Broads, and Bullets
- Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
- Sin City: Family Values
- Sin City: The Hard Goodbye*
- Sin City: Hell and Back
- Sin City: That Yellow Bastard
And then there's the rest of it. The comics world may be dominated by Marvel and DC, but that's very far from everything. While most of this column may seem to come from there, I think this list is an interesting picture of the industry's diversity. You have everything in here from the humorous to the serious; from European to Japanese to America; from vampires to talking ducks; and from western to horror.
It may seem hard to find it sometimes, but there really is something for everyone in the world of comics.
- Asterix and the Falling Sky
- Asterix in Belgium*
- Boy Vampire (four volumes)
- Dead@17 Volume 1
- Dead West
- Hikaru No Go, Volume 1*
- I Luv Halloween, Volume 1
- The Legend of Grim Jack Volume 1
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck***
- Noodle Fighter Miki, Volume 1
- Odd Numbers
- Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan*
- Stylish Vittles: Fare Thee Well
- Suspended in Language*
- Penguins on Ice
- Youngblood Maximum Collection, Volume 1
That's it for 2005. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a Tip Top Tet to all of you. I'll be back in the first week of January with Pipeline Previews, taking a look at new comics scheduled for March 2006. Due to the delayed comics shipment post-Christmas this week, the podcast likely won't be up until Wednesday night. Life marches on.
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