BOOKS OF THE DECADE: 2000-2009

 

PART I OF IV: COMICS

There were plenty of comics that attracted my attention (and even my money) during the past decade, but many were old favorites or just cheap thrills. These offered more:

 

Fun Home/ Alison Bechdel

In this memoir, Bechdel examines her father's life (and death) as a closeted gay man even as she describes her own gradual coming out. A home run: Moving, funny, thought-provoking, and deep, told with clarity and beauty in deceptively simple black and white.

 

Astro City/ Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross

The super-hero seen from the human point of view: a loving reworking of the Marvel/DC tropes with a fresh point of view, a keen eye for detail, and enough homages to satisfy the most demanding fanboy.

 

Lucifer/ Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Dean Ormston et al.

The best sustained fantasy comic of the decade. Carey's Lucifer is pride on wheels, deadly and cruel, yet oddly admirable at times. Not just a Sandman spin-off, but a bold extrapolation from it.

 

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E./ Warren Ellis,Stuart Immonen

Okay, okay, one cheap thrill. But oh so worth it. Ellis and Immonen assemble a group of third-rate Marvel heroes--even Machine Man, for god's sake--for a pointedly self-conscious metanarrative about people in tights beating things up. Repeatedly. Hilarious.

 

Transmetropolitan/ Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson

Possibly the best comics series of the 21st Century, and certainly the best science fiction series. Spider Jerusalem, a drug-popping journalistic crusader with a bowel disruptor gun, is turned loose on a future full of technological and political perversion. Stand back.

 

Preacher/ Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon

A book so American only a Brit could write it: Texas preacher Jesse Custer is unwillingly filled with unearthly power and goes on a journey to find God and make Him explain Himself. Featuring blood, gore, demons, John Wayne, and truly creative profanity.

 

The Cartoon History of the Universe/The Cartoon History of the Modern World/ Larry Gonick

Anyone who's tasted the vinegar of textbooks will find Gonick's brand of honey most appealing: carefully researched history that never fails to keep its audience entertained even as it covers everything from the Big Bang to the Renaissance to 9/11. Superb.

 

Identity Crisis/ Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, Michael Bair

Not a commentary on or reworking of the Super-Hero, but that rarest of stories: a super-hero narrative that you care about. Mystery writer Meltzer sets up his tale as a whodunnit, but it's the characterization (along with Morales' gorgeous art) that drives it.


From Hell/ Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell

Yes, it's from 1999, but I didn't read the collection until this decade. A dark, unsettling retelling of the Jack the Ripper case, told in excruciating detail in perhaps the only medium where that detail is remotely tolerable. A carefully researched tour de force.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/ Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill

Pretend the movie didn't happen. Instead, enjoy the improbable thrills possible in a world where ALL of literature's adventurers coexist: Allen Quatermain, the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Sherlock Holmes... it's like Disneyland with a brain and a library card.

 

Top 10/ Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Zander Cannon

A police procedural that just happens to take place in a city full of super-heroes... so the cops have to be super-heroes, too. A ludicrous idea that never stops spinning off new ones (including the wonderful Smax mini-series), full of wonderful characters.

 

Bone/ Jeff Smith

Smith's writing and art are so sophisticated that they seem simple, hearkening back to the masterful work of Walt Kelly. In this tale of three brothers trying to save a peaceful valley from monsters, you'll never be bored, and you'll often be delighted.

 

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood/ Marjane Satrapi

The story of the Iranian revolution, told from the point of view of a teenaged girl growing up in the middle of it. Perhaps more relevant now than ever, Satrapi's memoir is rendered in clear, accessible black and white, and speaks to the fears and dreams of every person.

 

Y: The Last Man/ Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra

A thrilling, funny, and daring tale with a very simple premise: what happens after the death of every male mammal on earth? For Yorick Brown and his pet monkey, the only exceptions, the answers are rather complicated. If you like Joss Whedon, give it a look; Vaughan's dialogue alone is worth the price of admission.

 

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius/ Judd Winick

If you like ludicrous plots, imaginative gadgetry, and characters who use "fuck" and "shit" like prepositions, you'll love Barry and his hyperactive conscience Jeremy dealing with life's little challenges: bigfoots, aliens, gorillas, dinosaurs, time travel, and true love.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on January 3, 2010 8:55 AM.

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