Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Best Graphic Novels

It's feedback time! For this I'm defining a Graphic Novel ('GN') as either a collection of up to 12 continuous issues of an ongoing comic series, or a standalone GN which is not continued in a subsequent GN. So, Bone, Lone Wolf & Cub & Preacher instead fall under 'Epic Series' which has its own thread to vote on (well, it will as soon as I've posted it).

So in (probably incorrect) chronological order, here goes:

Daredevil - Born Again
The fall and rise of Matt Murdoch from Frank Miller. A truly inspiring story, well paced with an intriguing background. Terrific action scenes. If you don't cheer at the denouement then check to see if you actually have a pulse.

Watchmen
Alan Moore's revolutionary script, Dave Gibbons art and John Higgins colours are perfect. One of the few GNs you can read twice a year and still get something new out of it. The psychology and motivation of heroes has never been done better, and the notion of politicians forcing the 'unmasking' of heroes has been borrowed to great effect in Kingdom Come, The Incredibles and Civil War to name but three.

Moonshadow
Heartwarming 12 parter from J De Matteis deals with coming-of-age - except the boy's fate is governed by bizarre sentient moons and a gruff bear-like surrogate father with flatulence. Lavish watercolours from JJ Muth and poetry from P B Shelley are the icing on the cake.

The Bradleys
Terrifying suburban serio-comic drama from Peter Bagge: with inks poured onto the page by the bucketful, this snarling, spitting family bicker, rage and nearly kill each other in each installment collected from anthology 'Neat Stuff'. An inspiration for the Simpsons, apparently. See also: Studs Kirby.

Hardboiled defective stories
Any of Charles Burn's twisted 1950's suburban Sci-fi GN's could appear, but with the crazed drunk mexican wrestler El Borbo as the anti-hero, this is my choice. Hilarious dialogue, gorgeous noir B&W inks, and a tough as nails detective.

Elektra: Assassin
Insane artwork from Bill Sienkiwiwewzczczczc (sp?), flyblown spaghetti-western script from Frank Miller. And not a mention of Daredevil! This was the first surreal superhero comic I read and got me into Gaiman and McKean's Violent Cases, Black Orchid etc..

Sin City
Miller's European inking style, brutal action and snappy dialogue fit him like a glove. You can tell he loved writing it. Not a huge fan of the sequels, though...

Kingdom Come
Maybe it's the stunning Alex Ross painted art, but the future-story with a retired Superman, crippled Batman et al having to cope with ubiquitous, ungoverned superheroes of the future and a false saviour in Luthor is poignant and exciting. If there's a better comics moment than Captain Marvel taking out Superman at the end of part 3, I can't think of it

The Ultimates
Excellent update of the Avengers, with an anachronous Captain America, sleazy wifebeating Ant-man, pacifist cult leader Thor and Nick Fury controlling a budget of billions. All to start a fight with the Hulk so that Bruce Banner can feel a key part of the team!

Identity Crisis
Not just for the cracking storyline from thriller writer Brad Meltzer, or the crisp clean art from Rags Morales which rivals Brian Bolland , but for the sheer importance of making villains dangerous again. For too long villains have been throwaway hams, now they have motivation, intelligence and serious reason for a grudge. Includes a great ethical question on how far justice should go, too.

Right - use the comments link below to rant! Wot, no 300, Maus, Contract with God or Starman??!!

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