FRANK MILLER’S TOP 10 COMICS

Frank Miller is a tough guy to do a top 10 for.  His early comic book career changed superheroics forever—and that was way back in the early 1980s at Marvel, and then the mid-’80s at DC.   His indie career, beginning in the early 1990s, paved the way for the neo-realistic post-noir comics that literally wallpapered the racks by the year 2000. 

And then he turned to “historical fiction” and, once again, created market where there really hadn’t been one before.  Along the way, he experimented with publication formats (higher-quality gloss with longer page counts in Ronin and The Dark Knight Returns; wide-panel hardcovers with The 300; pulpy B&Ws with Sin City), shattered all genres, and crashed into screenwriting with original scripts for Robocop 2 (deemed too violent to film) and adaptations of his own original work that proved hugely successful, as well as inspiring the modern superhero film with his work on Batman.

He was controversial as Hell, with his use of graphic, detailed, physical violence and his seeming glorification of vigilantism in a much more realistic, street-focused way than ever had been done before.

So when you pick just ten great Miller books, do you go for breadth?  Do you go for sales numbers, influence, or critical success? I don’t know if there’s a “right” answer to those questions, but I can tell you what I chose to do: I’m picking the ten I enjoyed reading the most.  The ones I can pick up over and over, and/or the ones that influenced the way I buy and read comics.

Click more to find out!

THE TOP 20 COMIC BOOKS OF 2012

NOTE: This was originally posted in 2012 on my old site. I am reprinting it here for posterity.

It’s December.  That means it’s time for an annual roundup.  Usually, I try to bust out minis, ongoings, new series, graphic novels…But with today’s publication schedules, sometimes a miniseries will debut and conclude and come out in trade, all in the same year.  And with all the reboots by the big two, it’s hard to keep straight what’s a “new” book and what’s a true “ongoing” title.

So, this year I’m just doing one big list: The twenty comics that made me happiest this year.  From brand-new titles to big bound beasts full of pretty pictures.  Hopefully, you’ll find some trade paperbacks to buy or hardcovers to give as presents, and maybe you’ll add a title or two to your pull lists.

But first: The honorable mentions that didn’t make it. 

FOUR “MUST HAVE” REISSUES OF 2012

4.  Punisher by Rick Remender Omnibus.  Yes, it’s Frankencastle.  There are a few other really solid arcs in this book, but Remender’s time with Frank Castle will always be most remembered for the way he revived the Legion of Monsters.  So, don’t read this if you want to see something like what Greg Rucka did with the character, or Garth Ennis, or Jason Aaron.  This is a different kind of comic.  This is the kind of story you can only tell in a comic book.  It’s fantasy, it’s nuts, it’s way, way, way out there.  Now, read it again and enjoy it.

3.  The Stuff of Legend Omnibus.  I love this book, about a battle between “toys” over the soul of childhood.  It’s scary, moving, funny, incredibly well-drawn, and good for just about any kid (depending on how easily your kids get spooked) or adult.

2.  Dreadstar Omnibus.  Jim Starlin’s Epic Comics epic was the first non-Marvel, non-superhero book that I completely fell in love with.  And it stands the test of time.

1.    Secret Warriors Omnibus.  Another “doorstop” reissue, Jonathan Hickman’s book about Nick Fury’s extended “family” gave Fury a depth we haven’t seen in years, and provide that C-list characters can make A-list fun.

THE “TOO SOON TO TELL” AWARDS

Ten books that started in 2012 but aren’t deep enough to make the top 20.  This includes miniseries that show promise but, without a conclusion, I can’t yet fully endorse.

10.  Happy.  Grant Morrison’s new miniseries is certainly weird.  But is it good?  I can’t tell yet…

9.  Marvel Now Deadpool.  So far, so good, but I need to see where they take this “dead Presidents” arc before I pronounce this comic book a success.

8.  47 Ronin.

7.  Zaucer of Zilk.  I like the weirdness, but where is going?

6.  Where Is Jake Ellis?  “Who Is Jake Ellis” was terrific.  I can’t imagine this one won’t be as well.

5.  Stumptown Volume 2.  I’m loving reading this book again, but it’s a mystery so, until the last book is published, it’s impossible to call it “great.”

4. and 3. Marvel Now All-New X-Men and Indestructible Hulk.  These books have nothing but potential.

2.  Punk Rock Jesus.  I’m close to being sold, just waiting for it all to come together.

1.  Locke and Key: Omega.  As I write this, only one issue has come out…But I can’t wait to see how this brilliant horror comic ends.  That said, the “Grindhouse” one-shot that came out this year was terrible.

THE 2012 REST IN PEACE AWARDS

These two wonderful comic books died so that others might live: Avengers Academy; I, Zombie.

THE “BUBBLING UNDER” 5

Five comics that caused me pain when I cut them from my top 20.  If I’d done a top 25, they’d have so been there…Listed in no particular order: Morning Glories; X-Factor; Avenging Spider-Man; Avengers vs. X-Men; and The Massive.

Read more for the top 20!