Today's top five is the top five best current ongoing titles from DC's Vertigo line of comics.
Please note that this is intended to be PRAISING these five titles, not knocking any other titles Vertigo is putting out.
5. Jack of Fables
I find Jack to be a very interesting character, but I do not know how well he works as a lead, which is why I think writer Bill Willingham (and co-writer Matthew Sturges) are doing a nice job of surrounding Jack with as many other intriguing characters as possible, so that the book really works almost as quite literally Fables II.
Tony Akins does a nice job on the artwork, and the story so far has flowed well.
Brian Wood's tale of a reporter telling stories about the few hundred thousand people left in Manhattan after a Civil War broke out in America (turning Manhattan into a demilitarized zone, otherwise known as the DMZ) has had flashes of brilliance, but also has been struck by a recent storyline that went on about an issue or two too long, sapping the book a bit of its momentum.
The most recent issue was a very strong look at culture inside the DMZ (with art from Wood himself), and it was a very fun issue.
I am wary, though, to see Wood embark on another long storyline, as so far, I have found the book to be at its strongest during shorter tales, where Wood's gift with connecting the reader with the characters who inhabit the DMZ shines the most.
The artwork for the title has been quite good, from Riccardo Burchielli to Wood to Kristian Donaldson.
I was taken aback by how strong Denise Mina's opening arc on Hellblazer was, with her clever idea of having John Constantine be struck by something he's never experienced before - empathy. And what that would do to John. It's a genius idea, and Mina explored it very well.
Then her story stops to take an issue off, and the jarring effect was pretty darn evident. It really annoyed me, and when the story picked up again for the "next arc" (I use quotes because it is clearly just continuing the first arc which never had an actual ending), it lost a little luster for me.
I don't blame Mina for this, of course, as I believe it was more editorial.
In any event, the title is still very good, as Mina has a nice grasp on the personalities of the characters she is using and gets good interactions with them all. Leo Manco has been good on the art.
It was recently announced that Mina will be leaving the book shortly, but since her replacement is Andy Diggle, I don't think we'll see this book tumble from this spot any time soon.
2. Y the Last Man
Brian K. Vaughan's Y The Last Man got off to a great start, and I do not think it ever really captured the same energy it did at the very beginning, but few long-running travel stories do, so I do not begrudge Vaughan that.
What has remained most impressive to me in this series is the consistent goodness of the artwork. It would be one thing if Pia Guerra drew every issue, but she hasn't, so the fact that Goran Sudzuka has been able to fill-in for her so frequently without a noticeable drop in quality, that's truly impressive to me.
For awhile there, this book got into a bit of a rut, with Vaughan repeating certain tics a bit too much for my taste, but impressively, he seemed to break out of that rut (certain things still repeat, but not nearly to the extent they once did), which, as I just mentioned, was quite impressive to me (and may I note that I don't think he's ever fell into a rut with Runaways, which is to his great credit).
Someone once referred to this book as filled with "action-movie characterization," and in a way, I think they may be correct (it certainly changed the way I viewed the book ever since I heard that description), but at the same time, I LIKE action-movie characterizations sometimes, if they're done well. I dig the characterizations in Die Hard, for instance, so while it may have been meant as a shot (and in most cases, it probably WOULD be a shot), here, I think it works in Y The Last Man's favor.
Bill Willingham has really created a brilliant framework here, hasn't he? As I mentioned above, in Jack of Fables, there are so many neat characters that Willingham has access to, he has literally filled a whole separate title with cool characters!
And that is the beauty of Fables, the "s" at the end of the title. There are a vast multitude of fables, and Willingham has done an excellent job in making nearly all of them into unique and engaging figures, so that it's almost like he just has to put a couple of them into a room together and let the rest follow naturally.
That may sound like it is devaluing his impact upon the book, but it's quite the contrary, as it is he who has created these characters to the point where they are so multi-dimensioned that he can set them loose and write them as they are.
I really dig Mark Buckingham's art, in addition!
So Fables is my favorite current Vertigo ongoing title.
Agree with my top five? Disagree? Let me know!