High Five! Comics

Posts Tagged ‘Warren Ellis

For dubbing our San Diego condo “Hive Five Headquarters,” we sure were quiet during the actual convention. Surely, the other blogs were covering all of the actual news stuff (OMG EYE-STABS) while we were out, you know, having fun and stuff. But we wouldn’t be much of a comic blog if we didn’t talk about San Diego Comic-Con itself, so here’s the day-by-day goings on through the eyes of us High Fivers.

Wednesday, July 21

Not much really goes on at Preview Night, but it’s always nice to get the lay of the land. Early access to the floor and first pick of whatever is for sale is cool and all, but that’s more or less all that happens. The highlight of Preview Night (for me) was definitely getting Bill Willingham to sign my copies of Ironwood #7-10 (pfft, don’t judge me). He was shocked when I pulled them out of their bags, and for a minute I thought the whole exchange was going to be super-awkward, but then he jovially asked for our I.D. cards and starting sharing some insider information with us, like how his former studio mates’ mugs are hidden in the cover art of issue #10.

Maggie’s Preview Night highlight? Shaking Michael Dorn’s hand and mumbling “Thank you,” like a big dumb fangirl.

Aside from that, I managed to pick up Power Man and Iron Fist #50, Flash Volume 1 #289 (first Firestorm back-up, the first thing George Pérez ever did professionally) and DC Comics Presents #17 (Superman and Firestorm team-up, a huge hole in my Ronnie Raymond collection). Hell yes.

Thursday, July 22

All the other blogs are putting in their two cents about this, so we might as well follow suit. Yes, Westboro Baptist Church protested Comic-Con and it’s “worship of false idols.” While High Five! unilaterally agreed with Warren Ellis’ plan of “ignore, ignore, ignore,” some attendees opted to counter-protest. Whatever, go for it. My biggest problem was that while most of the signs mocked religious intolerance (I did laugh at “the Cylons destroyed the 12 Colonies for your sins” and Maggie loved the “Kill All Humans!” sign wielded by a Bender),  some of the signs in the counter-protest (namely “Fuck God”) were just as offensive as Westboro’s signs, more or less giving Phelps and crew exactly what they wanted. Oops.

Inside the convention center, we got Hava all badged up and headed straight for the “BOOM! Irredeemable/Incorruptible” panel. Highlights included the potential for character-specific one-shot tie-ins and listening to Waid and Peter Krause discuss their writing process. Oh, and the Irreedemable perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (friends of Hava’s, plug plug plug).

Later we hit up the “Mondo Marvel” and “DC Comics 75th Anniversary” panels. Holy shit, I could listen to Dennis O’Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow!) and Jerry Robinson (creator of Alfred, Robin, and the freakin’ Joker!) talk all day. Fun Fact: According to Jerry Robinson, Batman’s sidekick was NOT named after the bird, but after Robinson’s own childhood nickname.

Maggie and Hava tried to hit up the “Geek Girls Exist” panel but the place was well over capacity and half-full of dudes. Bummer! Still, rather than pout, the girls gave up getting in and held their own Geek Girls panel at a bar on Fifth Street, because this is San Diego Comic-Con, and you can always find something awesome to do when your original plan falls apart. Big congratulations to the Geek Girls’ Network for hosting a massively successful panel!

Later on, Maggie went over to w00tstock and met Wil Wheaton and Aaron Douglas and Matt Fraction while Hava, Jon, and I went to the BOOM! Studios’ Fifth Anniversary Drink-Up and spent upwards of an hour and a half chatting up Peter Krause. Hell of a way to end a night.

Friday, July 23

Friday was Room 6DCE day. After sitting through the “Marvel Video Games” panel (and, I’ll admit, “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” looks pretty rad), the barrage of DC panels began.

First up was “Spotlight on Grant Morrison” and, my god, that was entertaining. Between his bajillion impressions, he announced the release of an Absolute We3 and revealed that Seaguy: Eternal will be coming sooner rather than later.

Next up was the “Batman: The Return” panel. The stage was packed, with Grant Morrison, Bryan Q. Miller, Gail Simone, Paul Dini, Paul Cornell, Judd Winick, Scott Snyder, Frazer Irving, David Finch, Dustin Nguyen, and Mike Marts (I probably forgot somebody). Biggest news was that Morrison will be replaced by Peter Tomasi on Batman and Robin while Morrison starts a new Batman team-up book called Batman Inc. Paul Cornell will also write Knight and Squire (which we’re all pretty psyched for) and a Batman Beyond ongoing was hinted at. Also, the whole panel kept joking about how Dick Grayson is about to get “a bullet in the brain” meaning that I’m pretty sure Jon and I were right (at least about something).

Next was the “Superman: Man of Tomorrow” panel with J. Michael Straczynski, Jeff Lemire, Sterling Gates, Shane Davis, and Paul Cornell. Straczynski discussed his upcoming run on the “Grounded” storyline in Superman (nothing we didn’t already know) and the Superman: Earth One graphic novel he’s writing, with art by Shane Davis. Cornell revealed that Neil Gaiman’s Death will be a major character in Action Comics #894. The biggest news (to us, at least) was that the Phantom Stranger would be a major character in an upcoming Superboy book by Jeff Lemire. YES.

The last panel of the day was “DC Nation.” Dan DiDio, Straczynski, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, and Jim Lee (flanked by fans in costumes, including a Darkseid who stayed frighteningly in-character) revealed a few future projects, but nothing too crazy. Mostly that Geoff Johns will write a book starring Bart Allen and the other speedsters called Flash: Speed Force, that he’s writing a Dex-Starr Valentine’s Day special, and that he has an upcoming secret project with Grant Morrison.

On the way out, after nearly six hours parked in 6DCE, we ran into fellow blogger Kelson from Speed Force. Who’d have thought people from the internet have, like, faces and stuff!

Maggie and Hava headed over to the Geek Girls Tweet-Up while Jon and I went to Tweet House Party on the U.S.S. Midway and watched William Shatner, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton promote a website they knew nothing about and then run away to a VIP area. At least we got to be serenaded by Alice Cooper’s son’s band (Oh God. No).

Saturday, July 24

By this point, we were exhausted, and we still needed to get a ton of shopping done. The only panel we attended on Saturday was “Avatar Press and Max Brooks” where they talked endlessly about Crossed and Lady Death before casually mentioning that Warren Ellis is working on a second volume to Ignition City and that Supergod #4 is fiiiiinally ready to ship next Wednesday. While there wasn’t much news on the Ellis at Avatar front, listening to Max Brooks riff for 45 minutes was a hoot. He even touched on inter-fandom animosity, saying, “Everyone gets to have something, even teenage girls who are afraid of penises. Suck my blood, but don’t touch my tits!”

The rest of the day was dedicated to buying books and gathering sketches (we’ll share those in a separate post) and autographs. Jon managed to track down a sweet copy of October 1976’s Captain Britain #1 (complete with mask) and Maggie got June 1967’s Strange Adventures #201 (featuring an old Animal Man story that’s screaming for the Silver Age Recap treatment).

The most awesome thing of all, however, was talking extensively with Frazer Irving (who drew a three-second Batman for Maggie even though he wasn’t supposed to) and getting a bunch of books signed by Grant Morrison. Oh, and this.

We win at everything.

Sunday, July 25

I guess Hall H had nothing going on because the Exhibit Hall was fucking packed. Everybody walking past the immense line to get signatures and sketches from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Francis Manapul asked what the deal was and then walked away, unimpressed by some of the best artists in the business.

Maggie gathered 3 out of 4 signatures for her copy of 52 #1 last weekend, with a bit of Con luck on Sunday. We were talking with Greg Rucka at the Oni Booth about some of his upcoming books, including the next issue of Stumptown and a new Queen & Country novel.  As Rucka signed some comics for Maggie, up walked Geoff Johns. Rucka signed 52, then turned around and handed it to Johns for her. The two writers shared an “Aw! Remember the good old days!?” moment, and Maggie did a fist pump because in case you didn’t know, now that Johns is running half the DCU, his signing lines are enormous.

The only panel we attended on Sunday was the “DC Town Hall Meeting.” Dan DiDio and Jim Lee really, really wanted to know what we thought of digital comics. (Answer: We like them, but don’t you dare fuck with our weekly books.) Also, Maggie may have terrfied poor Mr. DiDio. He brought it on himself though, when he asked (albeit jokingly) if she didn’t mean to be at a Harry Potter panel instead.  Sorry, DiDio. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

We’ve got more San Diego news in store, including some reviews and the High Five! Sketchbook, San Diego edition. Stay tuned!

Over the past couple months, some people have been going batshit crazy over the fact that Kevin Keller (who is – wait for it – GAY) transferred to Riverdale High to spend eternity in high school with Archie and the gang. Granted, this is a big step for a property that allowed Spire Christian Comics to make a bunch of super-conservative comics starring the Riverdale gang back in the seventies, but there are plenty of other important (and often borderline offensive) gay moments in comics that the refreshingly normal Kevin Keller doesn’t even hold a candle to.

(10) Mikaal “Starman” Tomas joins the Justice League – Since its debut, the Justice League has been one of the least gay-friendly teams around. Considering how many members have come and gone from the team’s rosters in its 50 years of existence, it’s amazing that there hasn’t been a single gay member on the League until now. Following his Cry for Justice series, James Robinson took the opportunity to insert Starman into the team in May 2010’s Justice League of America #46. Considering how familiar the Justice League brand is, even to casual readers, I’d say this is a big leap forward in acceptance of LGBT characters in mainstream comics.

(9) Superman and the pink kryptonite – Well, this happened. You know how different colors of kryptonite have different effects on Superman? Well, in April 2003’s Supergirl Vol 4 #79, a Superman from an alternate timeline is exposed to pink kryptonite that causes him to, um, really, really like Jimmy Olson’s bowtie. I don’t know what’s better; an oblivious Lois in the back wondering what’s gotten in to the Man of Steel or Jimmy Olson in the foreground looking both slightly weirded out and very, very confused. Either way, it’s kind of awesome that DC (and not some parody/middle-aged woman’s slash fiction) had the guts to make a character as quintessential to comics as Superman gay, even if it was for all of one panel.

(8) BOOM! Studios’ 3rd Anniversary Party – In 2008, Californians were up in arms over Proposition 8, which would prevent same-sex couples from getting married.  Meanwhile, BOOM! Studios was getting ready to celebrate its third year of operation by throwing a big party at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. After booking the bar, BOOM! discovered that Doug Manchester, owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, had recently donated $125,000 to ProtectMarriage.com, masterminds behind Prop 8. So what does BOOM! do? Probably one of the greatest “fuck you” moves of all time, turning their own 3rd Anniversary party into a gay pride party.

(7) Rawhide Kid miniseries – This is one of those things that falls into the “one step forward, two steps back” category. In 2003, Marvel comics revived its 1950’s cowboy hero Jonathan Clay, the Rawhide Kid, gave him his own title,  and decided to retcon him as a homosexual. This marked the first time that a mainstream comic company had actually given a gay character their own book (albeit a limited series), which is rad. Only problem is, Marvel decided to put The Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather on its MAX imprint (which is pretty much just full of comics meant to offend everybody) and make him the most stereotypical gay character ever. And, um, guess what? As of last Wednesday, they began releasing volume two. Yay?

(6) Buffy and Satsu – The Buffyverse has always been kind to gay characters ever since Willow came out in season four of the television show. Still, it was  a bit of a surprise when during Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #11-12, fellow-slayer Satsu admits to being in love with Buffy and, following a fight with Twilight, the two of them comfort each other. Granted, it was just a two-time thing, but it was executed respectfully and cemented a bond between the two characters.

(5) Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority – When Warren Ellis created the Authority, Wildstorm’s Justice League parallel, he decided to make Apollo and Midnighter (their Superman and Batman, respectively) a non-overtly gay couple. Following his run, Mark Millar took over and decided that the perfect way to close the first volume of The Authority would be with a wedding between the two heroes, celebrated by the masses rather than frowned upon. Now, if only Midnighter would have worn something a little less ridiculous to it.

(4) Renee Montoya and Kate Kane headlining Detective Comics – In August 2009, Greg Rucka  (who we’ve applauded time and time again for his work with female characters) got his hands on Detective Comics. With Bruce Wayne lost in time and Dick barely getting the cowl, somebody had to get top billing. Enter Kate Kane as Batwoman and Renee Montoya as the Question in issue #854 as stars of the main and co-features respectively. Now that the “Elegy” storyline is complete and Rucka has left DC, JH Williams III will be co-authoring an ongoing Batwoman book with W. Haden Blackman (X-Wing: Rogue Leader), the first time a gay character has had their own ongoing book.

(3) Valerie Page in V for Vendetta – In Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Britain is taken over by Norsefire, a fascist group, who criminalizes homosexuality (along with being Jewish, Pakistani, black, or Muslim). Popular lesbian actress Valerie Page is incarcerated and writes out an autobiographical letter to whomever finds it detailing her persecution. Just before she is scheduled to die, she slips her letter into the cell next to hers with the hope that they will escape. This letter ends up in Cell V, acting as the impetus which causes its occupant to destroy the internment camp and become the vigilante V. Later, this same letter is given to V’s protégée, Evey, which causes her to become his successor.

(2) Hulkling and Wiccan’s GLAAD award – For a company that fucked it up so bad with The Rawhide Kid, Marvel attempted to make up for it with the teenage romance between Hulkling and Wiccan (first hinted at in Young Avengers #7). Allan Heinberg, the writer for Young Avengers, is openly gay himself and decided that making the pair of heroes a couple would give gay comic readers something they could identify with. In 2006, both Heinberg and Marvel received a GLAAD award in recognition of this decision.

(1) Northstar coming out – In March 1992’s Alpha Flight #106, while the team fights Mr. Hyde, Northstar happens upon and and takes in Joanne, a baby dying of AIDS. Turns out that fellow Canadian superhero Major Mapleleaf’s own son was a homosexual and died of AIDS, causing him to freak out and attempt to kill Joanne. To stop Mapleleaf, Northstar confesses that he too is gay. Northstar’s coming out issue received all sorts of media attention, what with comic books still being considered children’s fare (the Comics Code Authority banning gay characters outright) and it being a whole five years before that episode of Ellen. Truly, this was the most groundbreaking moment for gays in comics.

20. Kick-Ass – Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.

Any list of the last decade’s top writers would have to include Mark Millar. Famous for his work getting Marvel’s Ultimate Universe off the ground and for horror-satire-mind-f***s like The Unfunnies, Millar had already made his mark by 2008, but it took the creator-owned gem Kick-Ass to cement his name as a true creative juggernaut. Kick-Ass capitalized on that bit in every fan-boy (or fan-girl) that wants to know what it would REALLY feel like to be a hero. Featuring smart dialog, plausible scenarios (mostly) centered around teenage angst, and some of John Romita Jr’s best art to date, readers have been held on the edge of their seats since February 2008 and loved every minute of it. Readers loved it so much in fact, that Millar garnered a Hollywood movie deal for his story before the damned thing was even finished. We at High Five! Comics may sit a little uneasy at the thought of Nick Cage fronting another comic inspired film, but we can’t help but applaud Millar and Romita Jr for the near universal love for this story.

– Maggie

19. Planetary – Warren Ellis

Apparently, to us High Fivers, this was the decade of Warren Ellis. And if there was any book to sum up this decade for Mr. Ellis, it would be Planetary (if not for the fact that it took the whole damn decade for all 27 issues to come out). Basically, it’s about an organization funded by some secret guy called the Fourth Man, doing whatever they can to save the world and record its bizarre history. What I love about Planetary is that most of their adventures involve some sort of literary character (or, if not public domain, and homage to a literary character) in an attempt to, in Warren Ellis’ words, “take everything old and make it new again.” Sherlock Holmes, Godzilla, Doc Savage, and even a character similar to his own Spider Jerusalem pop up to either help or hinder the progress of our heroes.

John Cassaday’s art is compelling; much as his work in Astonishing X-Men, every page is so detailed and beautiful that it’s hard not to get engrossed in every panel. Planetary’s cover art is interesting as well, with each issue done in a different style (with no consistant logo) as a means of fitting in with the subject of the interior story.

Now, I haven’t read (and am slightly wary of) the Planetary/JLA and Planetary/Batman crossover books, so I can’t really attest to whether or not those are awesome (I mean, they’re also penned by Ellis so they gotta be okay at the very least) but, as for the main story, I highly recommend picking it up (and, hey, the last few issues are out in trade form come March).

-Rob

18. Captain America – Ed Brubaker

I don’t want anybody else to ever write for Captain America ever, ever again. I know that seems kinda extreme, but I’m totally fucking serious. Between the constant references to the Golden Age books (so many amazing flashbacks to the days of the Invaders) and the unexpected twists on every other page, Captain America Vol. 5 is one of the most riveting books I’ve ever read. It also ended up being one of the most controversial. In 50 issues, Brubaker managed to bring Bucky Barnes back to life (he’d been confirmed dead since March 1964’s Avengers #4, over 40 years before), kill Steve Rogers (something so extreme that it was front page news here on Earth-Prime), allow Bucky to continue the legacy, and prove that the Red Skull is a fucking dick.

How fitting is it that Brubaker is also the man now resurrecting Steve Rogers in Captain America: Reborn? Granted, yeah, Steve’s only been dead for a few years so it might seem like a bit of a cop out, but even this is gearing up to be a bit of a tearjerker. I only wish that they would have kept Steve Epting as the cover artist for Reborn. Most of his covers during Volume 5 look a little like movie posters for 1960s exploitation films, a few of which even re-use art from Golden Age covers, and I love those damn things.

-Rob

17. WE3 – Grant Morrison

Take Homeward Bound crossed with Philip K Dick, and you have some idea of what WE3 looks like. WE3 is the name of a futuristic killing machine team that consists of a dog, a cat, and a rabbit in robot-enhanced bodies. They were created by the government to be assassins, and are the cutest killing machines you will ever see.  About to be replaced by a newer, larger and more efficient creation, they make their escape from government tyranny. Grant Morrison is often accused of overwriting- making his stories wordier and more detailed than they need to be. In contrast, WE3 is remarkably sparse relying heavily on frequent counterpart Frank Quitely to move the story. Even the dialogue between the animals, which could come off as hokey and “Mr. Ed”-ish in the hands of a lesser writer, make perfect sense here.  Despite the cuddly looking cyborg-animals, this not meant for kids. WE3 is dark, gritty, bloody and despite the look of its premise, very pro-animal rights. Quitely’s artwork is so expressive, especially with the interactions between the animals, it will jerk a tear or two from even the coldest heart. Morrison and artist Frank Quitely succeed at making dystopia warm and humane.

-Hava

16. House of M – Brian Michael Bendis

Cross-over Events are a giant fan-wank. Sometimes you get one that’s fun to read, and sometimes you get one scrawled in KY gel anticipating the collective fanboy  ejaculation. Good or bad, crossovers exist in the world of continuity and rarely tell us anything interesting about the characters involved. What is remarkable about House of M is that for all the continuity mind-f***ing, at the heart of it is a compelling story by Brian Michael Bendis about a father, his two children, and their love for and disappointment in each other. This gut wrenching story was backed by solid character scripts from a notably limited cast. By limiting his cast Bendis opened up House of M to a humanity that most other Events are sorely missing.

-Jonny

A new decade has begun, and with it, High Five! Comics will soon be unveiling our special “20 (Or So) Best Comics of the Decade” event (take THAT, Siege). But before we reveal the big list, we’ll start with a series of supplementary entries from HF!C’s contributing writers about those comics we each individually loved, but that didn’t quite have the mojo to make the final ranks.

Today, Rob talks about some of his personal favorite books from the last decade.

The Invincible Iron Man – Matt Fraction (Rob’s #6)

Holy shit, it makes perfect sense. I mean, I never really was a big Iron Man guy and I just kinda bought this book on a whim and hoped that all the hype I’d been hearing from every comic shop owner ever wasn’t utter bullshit. The weird thing was, nobody could really tell me why this book was so great. I think I just figured it out. Tony Stark and Matt Fraction are pretty much the same guy. Seriously, look Fraction up on YouTube. Every time he opens his mouth, you kinda think, “Oh man, you are kind of a dick.” And then you read his work and you’re all, “Oh man, this is brilliant.” Now read any Iron Man book ever. Tony Stark: brilliant, but kind of a dick. Oh my god! It all makes sense!

Air – G. Willow Wilson (Rob’s #8)

Hey, if somebody could start buying this book before they end up canceling it, that’d be really great. I mean, the volume one and two trade paperbacks were ranked #104 and #404 respectively on Diamond’s chart for how-much-shit-sold-in-2009, and that’s just sad. Basically, this book is about a flight attendant who gets caught up in a terrorist plot involving Aztec technology in some weird country that got erased off the maps during that India-Pakistan thing. Also, she’s being helped out by Amelia Earhart and Quetzalcoatl. Also, she has the power to jump into other dimensions. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but the story itself is surprisingly captivating (by the way, ladies, Neil Gaiman looooves it) and the art by M.K. Perker is detailed, flawless, and innovative (best use of blank space I’ve ever seen in a comic). Look, just do me a solid and add Air to your pull list right now, because I totally want to see how this ends.

The Immortal Iron Fist – Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction (Rob’s #9)

Really? More Fraction? Hey, shut up. As you guys all know, I am totally into the characters that people seem to forget about. That’s why when I first laid eyes on the Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus (and saw Brubaker’s name gracing it’s spine), I immediately went, “Oooh, pretty. I think I need to own that.” And, let me tell you, it is one of the most beautiful and well-written books I’ve ever purchased. Brubaker and Fraction do a wonderful job of telling the story of not only Danny Rand’s tenure as the Iron Fist, but of the legacy of the Iron Fist mantle itself, intertwined in a story about HYDRA trying to blow up the mystical city of K’un L’un. Confession time: I’ve yet to read any of Duane Swierczynski’s run on the book, but from what I’ve heard, he does the rest of the series justice right up to its conclusion.

NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. – Warren Ellis (Rob’s #18)

This book is way, way more amazing than it should be. Led by ex-Captain Marvel Monica Rambeau, Tabitha “Boom-Boom” Smith, Machine Man, Elsa Bloodstone, and the Captain (essentially a team of heroes nobody cares about), NextWave takes on former employers Dirk Anger and H.A.T.E., Fin Fang Foom, the Mindless Ones, and Devil Dinosaur (essentially, the villains nobody cares about). The best part about this story, however, is the controversy as to whether or not it takes place on 616. Warren Ellis and Joe Quesada seem to think that it takes place on some alternate Earth (what with most Marvel heroes being depicted as total dicks), while several Marvel books (Civil War: Battle Damage Report, for one) explicitly state that the events in NextWave were canon and on Earth-616. Mix that with the copious amount of tongue-in-cheek humor of Ellis (as well as its own goddamn theme song), and you got one weird-ass book. What more could you want?

Sentences: the Life of MF Grimm – Percy Carey (Rob’s #20)

It’s no secret, I love me some hip hop. When I found MF Grimm’s name staring back at me from a local shop’s discount rack, I was more confused than anything else. I’d heard some of MF Grimm’s tracks a couple times but wasn’t really familiar with his work, so I had absolutely no idea that Vertigo had gone and published his autobiography. Growing up in Manhattan, Percy Carey was able to witness the birth of hip hop firsthand, and recants the tale with a sort of wonder that I’ve never seen in a comic before. Be forewarned, however, Sentences is in no way a fun read, rife with profanity, explicit violence, and heartbreak, made all the more depressing because this shit actually happened to Carey.

Read Jonny’s list here and Brendan’s here. Tomorrow, Maggie unveils her picks.

A new decade has begun, and with it, High Five! Comics will soon be unveiling our special “20 (Or So) Best Comics of the Decade” event (take THAT, Siege). But before we reveal the big list, we’ll start with a series of supplementary entries from HF!C’s contributing writers about those comics we each individually loved, but that didn’t quite have the mojo to make the final ranks.

Today, Jonny talks about some of his personal favorite books from the last decade.

Wonder Woman – Greg Rucka (Jon’s #10)

It’s been said that Wonder Woman is the least relevant character in the DCU. Comic fans have consistently loved her as a concept, but this love was born from a feeling that she should matter rather than feeling that she did. While she gets credit for being the most significant Golden Age lady-hero and the certainly the longest running, we forget that her stories have rarely been interesting and have been largely antithetical to feminism. DC wanted her to be important, but they never knew how to make her important. This led to so many decades of reinvention that it eventually became offensive. All of that changed in 2002 when Greg Rucka did a 3 issue mini-series called Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia. The success of this little story landed Rucka 31 issues of in-continuity Amazonian drama that gave us something we’d always wanted. While it may be disappointing that it took 61 years and a dude to find something interesting about the alpha-female of comics, the important thing is that it finally happened. And what a delight that was.

Tom Strong – Alan Moore (Jon’s #13)

In the 1980s Alan Moore effectively turned the comic industry on its head with a body of work so glorious and enthralling that he could have retired in 1987 and remained the guru-god of comics the rest of his life. We never forgot that (and neither did he) but the fact is he kept writing. And in a decade fraught with Moore-shite like Promethea and Lost Girls it’s refreshing to know that Alan was still capable of churning out great stories that proved to be radically different than his previous dark works like Watchmen or Marvel Man. Dystopia be damned! Tom Strong showed that the Father of the Dark Age was able to stay relevant 20 years later and still write stories better than most of his contemporaries in the naughties.

FreakAngels – Warren Ellis (Jon’s #17)

Ok, so the title sucks. You know what other title sucks? “The Beatles”. Ok, so it’s steam punk. Well, Wolverine wears yellow spandex. Now that we agree a title and theme don’t always discredit art let’s talk about what Warren Ellis has done with his crew of 12 twenty-somethings and the world they destroyed. FreakAngels made my list for three reasons. First: it’s damned good. FreakAngels has a large cast of cantankerous, bickering characters, it has a great setting, and a story that really does make you beg for more. Second: this has got to be the best story you can get for absolutely FREE on the internet. Third and most important: FreakAngels has acknowledged modern technology and been among the first of it’s kind to embrace digital media. Way to go Warren.

Muppet Robin Hood – Tim Beedle (Jon’s #19)

A comic featuring characters licensed by TV-land was something I never thought I’d get behind. As a rule licensed works are lame, soul-less, and trite. And yet I cannot deny how fun the BOOM! Studios’ line of books is. Most of their licensed catalog is enjoyable, but Muppet Robin Hood takes the cake. Maybe it’s my undying love of the Muppets, or just my admiration for any publisher turning out this many kid’s comics that don’t suck, but I couldn’t resist thiscaper. Kermit Hood, Sweetums Little John, and Fozzy Tuck are here in a work that should have been a movie, and made me giggle just as much as their variety show did when I was a kid.

See Brendan’s favorites that didn’t make the cut here.

A new decade has begun, and with it, High Five! Comics will soon be unveiling our special “20 (Or So) Best Comics of the Decade” event (take that, Siege). But before we reveal the big list, we’ll start with a series of supplementary entries from HF!C’s contributing writers about those comics we each individually loved, but that didn’t quite have the mojo to make the final ranks.

Today, Brendan talks about some of his personal favorite books from the last decade.

Daredevil – Brian Michael Bendis; Ed Brubaker (Brendan’s #4)

Don’t let our list fool you- this decade belonged to Brian Michael Bendis. Before DC handed the keys to their mainstream continuity to a handful of writers in the mid 2000s, Bendis was setting the trend with his monolithic presence at the publisher across the street. But before he was running every annual blockbuster (New Avengers, House of M, Secret Invasion) he built his cred by raising street-level characters like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to new prominence in the Marvel U. Bendis’ four-year run with primary Alex Maleev on Daredevil was his most critically-acclaimed, and best, superhero writing in the 2000s. That Ed Brubaker took the reigns to continue a pitch-perfect showcase for the Man without Fear cemented its place in my top five for the decade.

The Goon – Eric Powell (Brendan’s #12)

Eric Powell’s “The Goon” initially appeared to be merely another attempted successor to Hellboy’s brand of smash-em-up paranormal adventure, but quickly managed to separate itself as an entirely different animal. Sure, The Goon would be plenty of zombie-thrashing fun even if Powell only played up the title for action and yuks, but after 40-some issues and assorted specials, the most memorable impression that it makes is for a deep-seated pathos underneath its surface elements. To experience the darker-than-noir world of The Goon is to immerse yourself in a place for gown-ups that’s scary in the way things were scary to you when you were a kid, when everything was big and spooky and unknown.

Daredevil: YellowJeph Loeb (Brendan’s #13)

Jeph Loeb didn’t exactly have a quiet decade, per se. He certainly wrote a lot of stuff. But the things he wrote didn’t seem to resonate with audiences the way his best work has in the past (Soulfire, anyone? Anyone?) If you need evidence, look to his flash-then-fizzle 5 issue arc following Mark Millar on The Ultimates, a borderline disaster that might have single-handedly derailed any plans for a fourth installment any time soon. But Loeb did capture the old magic once or twice by doing what he arguably does best: roots-revisionism of classic character continuity. Cherry-picking the biggest moments from a hero with such a singularly piquant history, Loeb and artist/soul mate Tim Sale connect a modern storytelling sensibility with retro crime comic style that manages to never feel gimmicky or cheap. Instead it does the character a faithful service, adding to the richness of that lush backstory and to the depth of the man behind the horns.

The Ultimates – Mark Millar (Brendan’s #14)

Ultimate Spider-Man kicked off the Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe, and Ultimate X-Men broadened its horizons, but The Ultimates is the series that kicked its popularity into the stratosphere. Three years before Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were Disassembled and eventually made “New”, Mark Millar’s two-series run on The Ultimates was a reimagining of those classic characters in a form so dramatic and astounding that we couldn’t help but sit up and take notice- and be in awe- of them again. Those epic 26 issues gave us more than one indelible moment, but is perhaps most notable for giving Cap his most famous line of dialogue since he called the Avengers to assemble: “Surrender? You think this letter on my head stands for FRANCE!?!” Feel it.

The Authority – Warren Ellis; Mark Millar; Robbie Morrison; Grant Morrison; Garth Ennis (Brendan’s #15)

Yes, the action is as insanely over the top as it is awesome. Yes, the characters evoke comics’ archetypal icons only to openly subvert them. And yes, a lot of the critical ground it stakes was covered by, like, everybody since Watchmen. But people too often confuse and conflate abstractions like deconstruction and irony. Just as Robert Kirkman’s Invincible did for the true believers and classicists (main list spoiler!), DC/Wildstorm’s The Authority spent the better part of the decade being the modernist’s favorite study of the superhero. And the fact that it’s also just totally fun to see them fuck some shit up is just a bonus.

Hellblazer – Brian Azzarello; Mike Carey (Brendan’s #16)

Anyone who reads comics can tell you that John Constantine is one of the mediums absolute best characters. But despite his more than 20 years of continuous continuity in his own title, not many people can agree on what has been our favorite run with the occult detective/part-time sorcerer in Hellblazer. During his ridiculous hot streak early this decade, Brian Azzarello took a stab at John that brought him stateside and into new depths of deviousness, before Brit writer Mike Carey brough him back to England and shifted Hellblazer more definitively back to its horror roots. All told, the 2000s gave us 6 years of John Constantine at his best, setting a bar that every writer since has gloriously strived to surpass. Fans of Hellblazer couldn’t be happier.

Powers – Brian Michael Bendis (Brendan’s #19)

Independently, both superhero sagas and police dramas often deal in similar themes: justice, social order, honor, and the nature of public service, to name a few. In this creator-owned series Bendis marries the two genres to create an atmospheric, engrossing slow-burner of a book, something much closer in tone to his earlier crime thrillers than his Marvel megahits. Compared to all the flash and spectacle of a title like New Avengers, Powers is downright austere, but it’s also frequently tense, exciting, and (despite its general dourness) wryly funny. Most of the credit for its success is due to the series’ main characters- the laconic Christian Walker and live wire Deena Pilgrim are the heart of the book, and watching mysteries from their personal backgrounds unfold as they struggle to relate to one another through the Job is just as compelling as the cases they work to solve. Walker and Pilgrim made Powers a book to keep coming back to, even almost 70 issues in, just to see more of the decade’s most dynamic duo in comics.

In a world so distinctly sci-fi as Doktor Sleepless, Warren Ellis has found one hell of a twist on this Philip K. Dick meets Chuck Palahniuk vision of the future. If you have ever mused to yourself, “We live in the future. Where is my jet pack?” then you should know Warren Ellis feels the same way, and he managed to write 16 issues of a comic dealing with that very idea.

Doktor Sleepless: Engines of Desire is one part disenchanted 20-something, one part Americana’s eternal boredom, one part mysticism, two parts science fiction, and just a smidge of Cthulhu for flavor. It’s damned interesting despite the fact that I’m not yet sure what story Ellis is trying to tell. Though the ambiguity can be annoying, I get the distinct impression that Ellis is painting our protagonist John Reinhardt as a man of questionable integrity. The beginning of our story shows Reinhardt adopting the “cartoon” persona of “Doktor Sleepless” to usher in some grand change for humanity. Throughout the book we are taken between rooting for our champion of change, and fearing him as the ultimate destroyer of mankind. Is he an antihero, or a villain? I don’t know.

While it’s tempting to write off Doktor Sleepless as Tyler Durden in goggles and a smock there are too many different ideas swimming and churning in juxtaposition to pan the work. Visually stimulating and intellectually challenging, Engines of Desire delivers that unsettled paranoia that Warren Ellis is famous for and has me anxious to read the next trade whenever Avatar Press gets it in stores. While I don’t yet know where the good “Doktor” will take us, I do know the conclusion is likely to leave me where Ellis usually does: amused, satisfied, and just a little bit afraid. Here’s to chaos! Cheers.

-JonnyC


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