Friday, January 9, 2009

Ryan's Best of 2008: Part II

And the hits just keep ooooooooon comin'!

# 8: Kick-Ass - Marvel (Icon)

Scripts: Mark Millar
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.

Kick-Ass was the # 8 book for 2008 because for all of it's myriad really did kick some serious ass.

Of all the books on my top ten list, this one has by far the most warts. The dialogue is painfully bad in parts. It's paced oddly. It doesn't come out on time. As a reader, you don't really like Dave Lizewski or any other character, for that matter. And for a book supposedly grounded in "reality", Kick-Ass really strains at your suspension of disbelief.

So having said that, how in the hell does this book make a best of list??? The answer is that this comic book is so pure in it's goals and so wild in its execution that no matter how absurd it gets, you cannot put it down.

Kick-Ass is blood simple. You've got Dave Lizewski. He's read a lot of comics, and his life is boring. In the real world, Millar tells us that superheroes aren't created from a sense of justice or vengeance; they are born in loneliness and despair. He's just a normal awkward teenager who puts on a ridiculous costume and hits the streets to fight crime.

Kick-Ass is completely unpredictable. The concept sounds so basic that you'd swear it HAD to have been done before. It hasn't. And every time you think you know where the story is don't. It's better. There's only one book that came out in 2008 that was more pure fun than Kick-Ass - and it was another Mark Millar title we'll meet later, of course.

If you haven't noticed, Mark Millar is the preeminent concept guy in comics. His execution is often suspect, but nobody has better ideas. Simple, powerful, dynamic ideas. If you were foolish enough to start a comic book line right now and were looking for a Stan Lee - phone Mark Millar and pay him well. He'll build you a new universe that will work.

# 7: Invincible Iron Man - Marvel

Scripts: Matt Fraction
Pencils: Salvador Larocca

Invincible Iron Man was the # 7 book of 2008 because it was the perfect vehicle for Matt Fraction to showcase his talent for writing smart action/adventure.

While Kick-Ass might be the most flawed comic on my countdown, Invincible Iron Man might be the most perfectly crafted superhero book on the stands. Fraction brings it all on this title - the characters are vibrant, the dialogue is spot-on and distinct, Tony is brilliant, the stakes are high, the action is amped, and nine issues in we've yet to hit a lull.

I consider Mark Waid's original run on The Flash to be the benchmark of great superhero storytelling. Fraction's Iron Man is succeeding at a similar level for me.

I think the magic here is that Iron Man is facing off against epic opponents. First came a Stane using Tony's own technology against innocent victims. Ouchie. Now everything that he worked for with The Initiative and SHIELD is going to be undermined by a madman who's also hunting him like a dog. And a potential brain-wipe in the works? Now that's entertainment.

I adored what Matt Fraction was doing on The Order and Immortal Iron Fist, but they're both gone. He's got a co-writing credit on X-Men with pal Ed Brubaker, but if youre looking for pure Fraction, you need to be reading Invincible Iron Man.

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