Big Tim’s Top 5 Comic Book Moments of 2011
Well here we are, staring down the gullet of 2012. We celebrated Christmas with family and friends, we drank rum and smoked fine cigars to herald in the New Year, and now some of us find ourselves back at work, with our noses to the grindstone.
When stuck in the old 9-to-5, I can’t help but look back with fondness on some of my favorite moments in comic books of the last year and I decided I wanted to share them with you. So with no further adieu, here’s Big Tim’s Top 5 Comic Book Moments of 2011.
[Warning: These are pretty spoilerific.]
5. Truly Surprise Ending #1: Crawl to Me #4
Robert took us on a rollercoaster ride through the eyes of an everyman named Ryan. From the first issue we were given violent gunfights, horror imagery and mystery that only deepened with each further issue.
Reading the story and knowing it was limited to four issues, I was surprised that issue three didn’t even begin to wrap up the series. At the time, I was worried that Crawl to Me would have a rushed, unsatifying end.
But Robert being the master of horror that he is, managed to not only finish the story with an ending that was completely left-of-center but tied Crawl to Me up in a way that couldn’t have been done any better.
So how did Crawl to Me #4 end? I’m not telling. Crawl to Me TPB is sitting on comic book store shelves as we speak so go out and grab it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
4. The Goon vs. Twilight: The Goon #34
The Goon, out of Dark Horse, has a well-earned reputation of lampooning pop culture movements, political knick-knacks and the rich and famous. With story and art by Eric Powell, The Goon is one of the most original comics you’ll find today.
The Goon #34 was Powell’s long-awaited return to his Depression-era, zombie-fighting, anti-hero. At the time, this Goon fan was frustrated by two things: 1. No Goon comics on the shelves and 2. The success of the international phenomena that is watered down, prissy little, sparkly skinned, emo vampires.
Made specifically for me (well not just me, but the multitudes of folks that shared my two frustrations) Powell threw us promises of Goon going toe-to-toe with the Twilight vampires.
And good goddess did he deliver…and then some. One of the most outrageously fun stories moves on from the violence and slapstick comedy to look at the real evil behind sissy-girl-wussy vamps: The insatiable tween.
3. The Murder of The Invisible Man: Screamland #1
As I’ve said before, Screamland is a murder mystery set in a unique world of aging monsters looking for a second chance at fame. The Invisible Man announces he’s going to release his ’70s-free-love-amateur-monster-porn film staring most of the washed up has-beens. Needless to say, a number of them don’t want the porno seeing the light of day.
Before long, The Invisible Man is murdered and the film disappears. Who took it? Who killed him? What now?
These questions are all answered in true noir-detective style in the five-issue run (which should be on shelves in comic book stores around the world in a collected edition titled Screamland: Death of the Party, another collection I can’t recommend highly enough) which is not only one of my favorites from 2011, but one of my favorites in my 20 years of reading comics.
2. Truly Surprise Ending #2: Criminal Macabre/The Goon: When Freaks Collide
This one is a selfish guilty pleasure for me and truly one of the highlights of my comics reading last year.
In Criminal Macabre/The Goon: When Freaks Collide, Eric Powell and Steve Niles (with the help of artist Christopher Mitten) teamed up their creations The Goon and Cal McDonald (from Niles’ Criminal Macabre). Goon and Cal find themselves not only in the middle of a monster gangland war, but then in the epicenter of a collapsing reality.
When I was reading Criminal Macabre/The Goon: When Freaks Collide, I was simply enjoying a fun crossover with tough guys and monsters. Then I reached the last page and found myself squealing with glee.
Showing up on the final page we get a confused Hellboy. Hellboy doesn’t know where he is or what’s happening but his appearance promises a Criminal Macabre/The Goon/Hellboy crossover sometime in the future to wrap the story up.
Hellboy’s my all-time favorite, so a well-kept secret cameo like that definitely makes my list.
1. Death of Hellboy: Hellboy: The Fury #3
When Hellboy: The Fury #1 was released by Dark Horse we were told:
War ensues between the forces of good and evil as Hellboy finally confronts the Queen of Blood one on one, setting the stage for a new chapter in Hellboy’s life!
By the time Hellboy: The Fury #3 part of the Dark Horse solicitation read:
The conclusion of the epic story that began in 2007′s Darkness Calls.
Little did I realize that this issue would actually mark Hellboy’s actual death. And one thing I love about the B.P.R.D. universe is when cats find themselves dead, they stay dead. My favorite character, Roger the Homunculus was killed off some years ago and the only story told about him since has been a flashback tale.
Mike Mignola always said he knew how Hellboy would die, where he knew the Hellboy mythos would end. Hellboy: The Fury was it.
This death isn’t like the majority of superhero deaths where heaven and hell have revolving doors and it’s only a matter of time before they’re back.
This is the real deal.
Hellboy is dead.
Honorable Mention. Frankenstein and Nina DON’T talk underwater: Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2
This is the only one of the New 52 out of DC Comics that I’m still reading. If you read my review of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2 you’ll remember how impressed I was with Jeff Lemire’s creative writing.
Instead of taking the lazy road most comic book writers take, and have them talking underwater, Lemire came up with a simple, but brilliant method for the two monster-hunters to communicate.
And it only took one example of out-of-the-box writing like that to give me hope for more intelligent writing in mainstream comics.
Well, that’s my five top picks for 2011. I hope you’ve enjoyed my picks, but more importantly, I hope you’ve enjoyed the actual comics.
Oh and feel free to share your highlights from 2011. I’d love to read them.