Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Top 10 Comic Series

So not long after discovering bit torrents, I discovered that one could download comics this way. I hadn't read comics for several years, but having any number of free comics right at my finger tips was just too much temptation. I had read in various sources about comics like The Invisibles and Preacher, and maybe a year before the Constantine movie came out, so I had read the Hellblazer TP Son of Man, which was ace.

I downloaded a ton of comics while I was in Korea from the amazing site Demonoid.com. Alas, the copyright monkeys (may their souls rot in hell) have shut Demonoid down, and comics are now far less accessible on the web. So I've actually resorted to *gasp* buying some comics. Which kinda sucks, since the comic store I live next to never orders enough copies of anything.

I recently had the idea to do reviews of my ten favourite comic series. I mean this to be quite broad; you'll see what I mean below.

This is my basic list, which is subject to change. Over the next few weeks I'll write out proper reviews, complete with images.

10. Infinity Gauntlet - I think this was the first truly great in-continuity crossover. I was too young to understand how comics worked at the time, so the slaughter of the heroes in #4 was pretty traumatic to me.

9. The Ultimates, Vol. 1 & 2 - The Avengers re-interpreted as a paramilitary unit. Thor is a leftist hippie, and the Hulk is STRAIGHT. Volume 3 seems to be intentionally destroying any coolness the Ultimates once had, but the first two Volumes are easily the second best non-regular Marvel universe stories I've ever read. The best is #7 on this list.

8. Scott Pilgrim - "See, I've grazed you!" "How appropriate, you fight like a cow!" I've only read the first two volumes, but I will definately track down the rest. Draw in a vaguely manga style by a London, Ontario native, Scott Pilgrim is hilarious and cool, and his life is precious. Status: awesome.

7. Garth Ennis' run on The Punisher. From the hilarious Welcome Back Frank in which Frank drop kicks an armless, legless old woman* into a burning house to the infuriatingly brutal darkness of The Slavers, Ennis has a serious triumph on his hands.

6. Annihilation - The finest mainstream, in-continuity comic story, ever. Hands down. Not even the sequel Conquest has topped it so far. Annihilation gathered up obscure, second rate characters from the wider Marvel universe and dropped them into a hopeless battle against a seemingly infinitely large military force. The broad collection of genres and themes all mixed into this series make it a truly excellent work.

5. Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits - Another Garth Ennis story. Is there a pattern here? John Constantine finds himself dying of cancer, visits old friends, makes new ones, drinks great beer, and scams the lords of hell. Good times.

4. Preacher - Jessie Custard used to be the Lord's servant -now he's the Lord's worst enemy. A 66 issue run of booze, sex and violence. A wicked sense of humour. Probably the funniest R-rated comic you'll ever read.

3. Naussica of the Valley of Wind - A sprawling, epic story from Hayao Miyazaki, the anime genius. I have to admit that Naussica is probably the most magnetic comic character I've ever come across. Charismatic and invincible. In the hands of any other writer, such a perfect character would be facile; Miyazaki manages to create a wonderful hero. If the conclusion of this series doesn't make you want to dance, you have no soul.

2. The Invisibles - Grant Morrison's 5 year long sigil. An impossibly cool collection of ontological terrorists, trannie witches, and kung-fu fighters. The Matrix stole all its best ideas from this series.

1. Ichi The Killer - A spot of the 'ol ultra violence. A sadomasochistic Yakuza rampages through the city looking for his missing boss, a boss that has already been sliced up the the masochistic Ichi. Brilliant art, and a great meditation on love and hope. The best comic series I've ever read. There is love in this violence.

*Don't worry, she totally deserved it.


Jamie A. Grant said...

Ooh, I have the strong urge to create my own Top 10 list now...

And thanks for adding that footnote. It wasn't there at first and I was confused. That Punisher really seemed like a mean guy until you clarified that the old lady really deserved what she got. :)

Wait a minute - you completely changed this list just now! Naussica wasn't even here when I read this an hour or two ago...

Mike said...

yeah yeah yeah. I forgot about Naussica when I was thinking about this list this morning. Completely slipped my mind.

No more changes!

Jamie A. Grant said...

The question is, which series got bumped from this list as a result...?

Mike said...

Ultimate Galactus. Paradoxical, I know, since I rated it higher than Infinity Gauntlet, but at the end of the day, IG has more... historical importance.

Lawyer Kid said...

Is there a particular genre here, or has such comics like Calvin and Hobbes just disappeared off your radar screen?

Jamie A. Grant said...

*shakes head* Ah, Lawyer Kid. Mike is listing comics. Calvin & Hobbes are comic strips. Those are entirely different mediums, even though they both tell stories through art.

That's like comparing music videos to musical and operas. Sure, they both have music and stories. Sure, there are superb examples in both of those mediums. But they're not the same at all...

Mike said...

Jamie, your point is a great one, but I think I could have included Calvin & Hobbes here, if only because C&H did so much to change the comic medium. Both the art and the stories were far more dense than your average comic strip, excepting perhaps Peanuts. Alas, I never understood the appeal of Peanuts.

If there was a number 11 on this list, it would have been the true spiritual successor to C&H: Yotsuba&!.

It isn't a comic strip, but rather a manga series. It has the same sense of absolute wonder with the world that C&H always had. Even for a manga series, the art is dense.

The author, Azuma Kiyohiko, has made a career out of telling charming, simple stories. See also Azumanga Daioh. Though I'm mostly familiar with Azumanga Daioh through the anime series.

Yes, I've watched a complete anime series about high school girls. Sue me.

Lawyer Kid said...

Oops, sorry about that. I'll just slink back to my regularly scheduled naivety.

Jamie A. Grant said...

And I'll just slink back to my regularly scheduled comic snobbery...