When they announced this title and showed the image for the first issue I was interested. This was at the beginning of my whirlwind romance with Mike Carey in 2009. We met in a couple of X-Men titles in 2007 and 2008, and I always liked what he had going on between the panels. But this year it was magic — magic and Tommy Taylor and a whole lot of literary references. I’m not going to pretend that I get all of them but I get enough that it enriches the work. And even if I didn’t know any of them, I would still be interested in this concept and committed to the series because of its excellent execution. The pages of internet reaction to this story are genius and show how much flexibility Mike Carey has as a writer. And Peter Gross is doing a fantastic job with clear, effective art, and solid sequential sequences. This is Vertigo’s next Y: The Last Man, Preacher, or Sandman. It’s that good.
Writer of the Year — Mike Carey
So, uh, based on what I just said about Mike Carey (basically implying that I want his word babies), this category is a no-brainer. Besides The Unwritten, Carey is writing my current-favourite X-Men title, X-Men Legacy, where he is not only telling entertaining stories about today’s X-Men, he is also fixing old continuity and making X-Men — as a franchise and cohesive narrative — better. This was also the year I caught up on Crossing Midnight and God Save the Queen, so we had a great year together. He’s one of the industry’s best and I don’t think people give him nearly enough credit.
Artist of the Year — J.H. Williams III
This man brings the medium to a new level that puts 80% of working artists out there to shame. This man thinks about his pages carefully, and constructs them masterfully. This man is the best artist working in 2009.
Cover of the Year— Incognito #6 by Sean Phillips
Phillips’ covers are consistently some of the best in comics. His Incognito covers were fantastic, with his use of sepia tones and only splashes of colour, but I think the cover to the finale is the best of the year.
Hero of the Year — Hank Pym
I’m not going to say that I liked every issue of The Mighty Avengers but I have really liked what Dan Slott, Brian Micahel Bendis, and Ed Brubaker have done with Hank Pym this year. Obviously Slott did all the heavy lifting there, but he’s been consistently painted as a guy who wants to be a hero, knows he hasn’t always been his best, and is working hard for a second chance.
Villain of the Year — Norman Osborn
He was a much better Tony Stark than Tony Stark was. By “Tony Stark” I mean guy who shows up in every book and acts like a douche bag. He’s crafty, media savvy, insane, and a lot of fun to see in charge of the world’s premier spy organization.
Splash Page of the Year — “Recoil” in Secret Warriors #4
I love when a splash page isn’t for an action shot. When it’s used as a story beat because you need to pause on this moment — and this is one of those pages. This page is an answer to an important question: Nick Fury is going to lead a team against a lot of men who he used to call comrades, “What are you going to feel when you put a bullet in one of those men, Nick.” Turn the page. Splash. Hold it. “Recoil.” And it’s one of my favourite moments of the year.
Fight of the Year — Batwoman vs Cult in Detective Comics #854
Part of me really hates that I’m including Williams on two art-centric categories. But I can’t think of a single other fight that stood out as much as this one. Notice how her boots are kicking two different guys in the face in two different panels and on two different pages? That’s brilliant and so well-executed. And then the action within the panels is vicious without being gory. I could stare at this page all day.
Saddest Cancellation— Agents of Atlas
There were only two books that I was following that were cancelled, this and Young Liars. Young Liars is a better comic but it had a satisfying conclusion — Agents of Atlas did not. And there’s a good reason, the story is still going. Jeff Parker is still writing the team as a backup in Incredible Hercules and there is a four-part Avengers mini-series coming out in January. And while those things are great, they aren’t this title as an ongoing.
Most Pleasant Surprise — S.W.O.R.D. and Dark X-Men
These titles both came in at the very end of 2009 and I wasn’t expecting much from either of them. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I bought them. There was some trigger, some pull, and I’m very happy it happened. Both are not what you expect and bring some humour into the mix. It’s really nice to see some series that go for the laughs as well as the punches.