Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Ten Favorite Comics of 2007: Issue 0

Surgeon General's Warning: This list has been artificially deflated to reach a psychologically satisfying number.

Time Magazine published all of their Ten Best lists over the last couple weeks, including their Top Ten Comics. The list was, like most, good in some places and odd in others. (Achewood is the best comic of 2007? Really?) But top ten lists aren't (or at least shouldn't be) meant to be definitive; they're meant to spark discussion. Anyone's top ten list is going to be biased towards the list-maker's preferences, and limited to what they've actually experienced. Nobody, not even Alex Cox, can read *everything*. You can expand that by bringing in more than one list-maker, sure, but then you'll just get a list full of two (or more, God help us) conflicting biases. It's the nature of the beast.

Take, for example, mine. I read mostly Marvel and DC comics this year, and a smattering of the more action-oriented independents. I am, as I pointed out on the CBR message boards, staggeringly unqualified to judge anything the "Ten Best Comics of 2007." Not to say the comics I read were bad (OK, some were, but not all of them), but I skipped a lot of the really good ones. My list could not possibly be a barometer of the heights comics reached this year. But it could be an interesting look back at what I enjoyed most this year. It could be an introduction to a comic you haven't read before, or a new perspective on one you have. It could even, if you're so inclined, be fodder for an armchair Internet psychoanalysis of my various neuroses, complexes, and quirks. Once I'm done, you'll certainly be able to offer a solid hypothesis on why I didn't land a girlfriend this year. (Then again, if you've ever read this blog before, you've probably already got that one figured out.)

My Ground Rules for selection were pretty simple:

1. The comic had to come out in 2007. For ongoing series, that's self-explanatory; any book that shipped an issue from January through October qualified. Limited series that shipped more than half their issues in 2007 also made the cut. For trades, it was a bit tricker. Obviously, trades released before this year that I didn't read until now didn't count, nor did trades collecting "classic" material. Some trades that shipped this year, though, collected mostly material from last year. Two of my favorite series, Fables and Y: The Last Man, only shipped one trade in 2007, both of which mostly collected material from 2006. That's why they're not on this list.

2. I had to have read it. Duh. This disqualified Wonder Woman, since I haven't read most of the issues it published this year, and I can't really endorse Jodi Picoult and Allan Heinberg's work based on how much I liked Gail's, can I?

3. I had to have paid for it. I read a lot of comics this year through loans from friends or in Barnes & Noble. But if I didn't eventually buy it, I obviously must not have thought it was very good. Some I did think were OK, but "OK" doesn't translate to "favorite."

After that, it was all about cutting the list of comics I read down to ten. I could have gone farther. Some books had great writing, but lackluster or inconsistent art. (The frequent shifts and fill-ins on the X-Books disqualified Mike Carey's X-Men and Peter David's X-Factor, both solid mainstays throughout the year.) With others, I went with one book by a certain creator over another. I tried to be fair and well-rounded, or as much as I could be given my admittedly limited intake.

In the end, I came up with six DC comics, three Marvels, and one webcomic that represent the most fun I had reading comics all year. I think that's a pretty good rubric. So, ten days left in the year, ten entries. In alphabetical order, my Favorite Comics of 2007. Regardless of whether or not you enjoyed them as much as I did, I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy the writing.

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