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Why I Love Comics Awards for 2009!

Welcome to a very special edition of the Why I Love Comics Column. The Why I Love Comics Awards for 2009! Our second annual venture into the awards ceremony where I pick the best of the year and probably create a lot of controversy throughout the column. This year had a lot of strong contenders in every category and the best of the best won out in the long run, not to mention too many strong competitors in some categories that there is more than one winner! So let's jump right into things!


BEST TV SHOW


Titan Maximum is technically a Robot Chicken sister show, which employs the same animation style and features a cast that is all from Robot Chicken, co-created by Tom Root and Matt Senreich. It's about a bunch of teenagers or young adults who basically shouldn't really be allowed to pilot the giant robot that they do which is named Titan Maximum.

It's a funny show filled with a great cast like Seth Green as the once team member now supervillian, Gibbs. Breckin Meyer plays the titular hero known only by his last name, Palmer, who cares more about quipping stupid one liners then actually saving the world. Jodi is the character that we as an audience side with overall, and the most normal cast member played beautifully by Rachael Leigh Cooke, and of course we have the awesome monkey Leon, and Palmer's annoying kid brother Wally played by Dan Milano. Oh, and Eden Espinosa as the Paris Hilton like Sasha who you can't help but like even though she's the biggest bitch in the galaxy.

Another thing the show really has going for it? On the writing stuff are none other than Geoff Johns and Zeb Wells who both do some really great comic work that we all know and love. The first season was only 9 episodes but a blast to watch the entire time and it's why it gets the award.

Supernatural this season took a turn for the dramatic and really amped up the tension as hell is rather literally coming to Earth. And the boys, Sam and Dean, are going to have to stop in order to save everyone on the planet. But the positive? They're hunters, they totally got this. We are ten episodes into the season but each one gets stronger than the last and the writers actually manage to throw in some fun ones along the way. Whether it's Dean getting launched into the future to see what happened to the world if he didn't agree to a certain deal or the guys getting stuck by the trickster in TV land, the show never gets too serious even when putting out all the stops.

The acting and effects are all top notch for the small budget they have and it goes hand in hand with some of the best horror movies I can think of. Sam and Dean are both growing as characters and it's really great to see that you can't predict a show like this. Really curious to see if by the end of the season, both Winchester boys will still be alive to save the day.



BEST MOVIE


Turtles Forever which lived up to the hype and then some. For those that don't know the latest versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came face to face with their 80s counterparts as well as the actual black and white comics versions. Let me just tell you right now that this will spark your memories of all the stuff you love about the Turtles. The 80s/very early 90s Turtles are goofy but very lovable. Your favorite villains for the most part all make appearances and April and Casey as well.

Honestly this made me fall in love with the Turtles all over again. Not to mention seeing Krang and the classic Shredder brought back plenty of memories. Even Karai got some screen time. The stuff with the classic comic Turtles was right on point too. We even get cameos from the entire multiverse of turtles, in which I saw the Archie versions as well as the movie ones. The script and the voice acting were really on point and not to mention that ending, which I don't want to spoil for anyone. This is a pure love letter to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and when it comes out on DVD it's well worth your time. Highly recommended.

Waters of Mars had the Doctor embrace his god complex in an almost master like way. He stumbles into the wrong point in time and does his best to leave it behind. Sadly things don't work out that way and he has to spring into action before it's too late. The effects shots are beautiful, David Tennant brings in a brilliant performance and it truly makes you question every single thing you know and love about the Doctor.



BEST INTERNET SHOWS


The Guild had a very strong year with a music video, a Halloween episode and the full third season of Felicia Day's brilliant online comedy series about a guild of online gamers who all live in the same area. I'd say a highlight of the online series this year was Wil Wheaton's guest starring appearance as the leader of another guild. He played a cocky, ego driven prick who had some great obscenity filled one liners.

That was another positive about this season, the Knights of Good actually having a fully fledged group of adversaries, and Tink going AWOL to the opposite side and Felicia's character doing her best to be guild leader. For an online show the camera work is pretty well done and some of the cool stuff they do I really have to admire. I'm really looking forward to season 4 and what the ending of the season could possibly mean for whatever comes next.

The Variants is like Clerks if it took place in a comic shop. It's gotten a lot of love all over the internet and I am certainly no different. Richard, Joe, Keli, Barry and Vlad the stockroom guy deal with the insanity that comes into the comic shop and it's really great watching each episode. Cinematography wise it feels a little like The Office meets Clerks and never lets up on the insanity. Joe drives Barry crazy, Keli is the normalsweet girl who keeps the guys from killing each other or customers and Richard...well he obsesses over Mariah Carey for some reason.

The storylines for each episode are fun, from a man bringing a whole bunch of long boxes in full of old worthless comics to a Night of the Living Dead homage where customers want to get their hands on a movie pass, the show has it all. Even the one liners are great, which are filled with arguments about Kurt Russell or Barry's quip about Joe Quesada and the One More Day fiasco. I am looking forward to seeing where the series is going in the future and hope they keep going with it for a long time.



BEST LIMITED SERIES


New Avengers: The Reunion is everything that is right with mainstream comic books. If you've ever read the original Hawkeye miniseries from the 80s this honestly feels like a direct sequel to it (If you include West Coast Avengers #100 as well in that). Basically we get the return of Bobbi Morse via Secret Invasion and she's hiding stuff from her fellow Avengers, which leads Clint Barton to investigate. David Lopez's artwork is beautiful and the story is incredibly strong.

Something I really have to give [writer] Jim McCann credit for is the fact that Bobbi was "dead" for at least 15 years. Obviously people still love her and new comic fans were pulled in as every issue sold out. Not only that, but there were several printings of at least a couple of the issues. The dialogue was fun, the characterization was spot on, there was a great scene between Clint and Bucky and plenty of Easter eggs for fans to catch.

The miniseries definitely deserves all the praise it gets and I can only help build that more. For Jim's first big Marvel project he nailed each moment perfectly and his pacing was on point. Dave's redesigns of both characters costumes were pretty awesome and the supporting characters were a lot of fun. Here's hoping for a sequel in the future!


BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL


We the People is hands down my favorite thing that Jason Burns has wrote so far, not to mention it has the best Joe Eisma artwork to date. From a storytelling standpoint it's almost as if Jay was channeling both Joss Whedon and James Robinson and this is what we got as Joe did his best Tony Harris like work. We follow the modern day ancestors of Sinbad, Zorro and Robin Hood as they do their best to fight the corruption in their city. The three don't get along right away and via some flashbacks that are easy to follow we see exactly what happened between the three.

The danger never feels heavy handed and each character is lively and likable. I also like the fact that from a storytelling standpoint Jason Burns took a move from BKV's Ex Machina and jumps to different points in time, which helps further the story and the background of the characters. It's a great world that Jay and Joe created with a unique premise and well worth the 8 dollar price tag. Go seek it out!


BEST NEW SERIES


The Unwritten is a giant love letter to everything in fiction. It's as if Mike Carey put this together as that very love letter. We follow the story of a young man who once had a successful book series inspired by him name, Tom Taylor. Tom is an average guy who just wants to be left alone but soon things from the books start coming after him and a bigger mystery about the past starts to unravel itself.

Mike Carey weaves a tale around both historical and fictional people and characters in the 8 issues we've had since press time and Peter Gross's artwork is fantastic. The uses of the internet and message boards are clever and the use of some of history's most unique people is rather cool. Not to mention the whole scene in issue 2 that argues about everything in horror.

Sweet Tooth is a fun ride about a young boy named Gus in a post-apocalyptic world who has deer antlers. He meets a Punisher/John McClain/Clint Eastwood hybrid who decides to help the young boy out. The art by Jeff LeMire is quirky but beautiful and the story is rather enthralling. The story while grim at moments has this feel of hopefulness.

Gus is a sweet and innocent character who you can't help but to love and his badass protector is a really great fold to that. One of them has seen a lot of the world and what it has to offer while Gus is just an innocent kid who's been shielded his entire life.

Chew is hands down the most unique book to be launched in a few years, possibly the last decade. Tony can get the history of the food he's eating because he's a cibopath, his old partner is now a cyborg and his mentor was a fellow cibopath. The twists and turns of the series are never predictable even when the put it on the front cover and the characters are likable and funny.

The art of the series matches the zaniness that's thrown at you every issue. I really enjoy the different ways that Layman uses in his storytelling and Rob's art matches everything in fold. I really honestly cannot say enough positive things about this book!

Secret Warriors is the best Nick Fury has been in a long time. It's the Howling Commandos and Young Avengers mixed into one book. You have a bit of teenage drama infused with a handful of war and intrigue as well as plenty of shocking moments thrown in all together. Hickman manages to nail the spy elements of the Marvel U while still throwing in a superhero element with the actual warriors.

Each character in the book gets time to shine in the 11 issues we have so far (I am of course including The List one shot) and of course Nick himself has never been more badass. I really like the fact that it seems Nick is reforming SHIELD from the ground up and cannot wait to see if this connects into Siege at all. I remember Hickman say that the series would only last a little over 30 issues though so here's hoping that will change.

Batgirl is the most fun I've had reading a Batman universe book in a long time. I love Detective Comics as well but this book brings fun on entirely new levels.

Spider-Woman is very easy to love. It's noir mixed with super heroics and a whole lot of mystery. Jessica Drew is exactly how she was inside of Alias, which is exactly what Alex and Brian make the book feel like. It's another Alias only 3 issues in. It was plagued with delays but you know what? They were worth it.

It's good to see Jess front and center in the Marvel U after what Brian did with her in Secret Invasion. Getting the kind of pulpy inner dialogue and all the great action makes it a great blockbuster. Like I said, I really think this is going to get to Alias level of quality.

The Anchor is a great series wrote by Phil hester from Boom Studios. I knew I wanted to pick it up the second I saw it in the previews but had no idea what I was getting into. The Anchor himself is a great character and the book feels incredibly Hellboy like in both story and art. Phil really has changed from an amazing artist to an amazing writer and I know I'll be following this for years to come.


BEST ONGOING SERIES


The Incredible Hercules is easily one of the best treats every month at Marvel. Amadeus Cho has become a personal favorite character of mine and Herc is his typical big luggish self that you can't help but smile at his antics. Adding a de-aged Zeus and the over lapping plot which has started to pay off in the assault of new Olympus has been a lot of fun.

Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak work as a great team together and they series split over 3 months between the two main characters was a huge risk that paid off extremely well. I am heavily looking forward to 2010 for the book and really don't know where it's heading.

The New Avengers - yes I know I'm going to get some crap for this one, but I'd say that right after Secret Invasion the book gained something it hadn't had since those first 18 issues, direction. Brian took Clint Barton in a new direction that sent him into a War with Norman Osborn. He brought in Bucky Barnes trying his best to escape Steve's shadow and brought the Hood, Dormammu, Stephen Strange and Brother Vodoo into new roles that have shown off exactly what the New Avengers feel like to me.

Not to mention Bobbi Morse coming back, Carol Danvers being second in command under Clint and just bringing a little more of a classic Avengers feel to the book. It looks like after Siege we will be getting a huge shake up again and I know I'm hoping that Clint stays in command of the team now that the business with Osborn will be coming to a close.


BEST WRITERS


Jim McCann only wrote 3 things this year but they were incredibly strong. New Avengers: The Reunion felt like a direct sequel to the original 80s Hawkeye mini and his What If? House of M issue with the awesome speech made by Peter Parker was just spot on for the character not to mention the What If? Astonishing X-Men, which was pretty shocking. I know Jim will be giving us some Jubilee in the new year as well as a beautiful looking original graphic novel. I'll be curious to see exactly what else is up his sleeve as he keeps teasing his future projects very mysteriously.

Mike Carey has been on the X-books for the last what, 3 years now, probably longer? I still say he's the most underrated X-Men writer who's given us some great stories in his run and managed to give us a new take on Charles Xavier for the year, not to mention what he's done with Rogue. Then of course there's The Unwritten which I honestly believe will be his best work and hope that it never ends. I'm sure we are going to be seeing a lot more from Mike in 2010, especially after Human Torch ends, I just have a feeling.

Daniel Way is writing one of the best books at Marvel. I am talking of course about Deadpool. He's made a lot of nods to classic continuity, masterminded Deadpool's vision and wrote some incredibly funny scenes. Wolverine: Origins is slowly wrapping up but has got strong ever since the crossover with X-Men Legacy. I am really warming up to Way's work. I mean anyone who can write meat suit Deadpool, the epic rocket launcher scene and Logan fighting Romulus head to head deserves some praise. He's quickly becoming a name to watch for at marvel.

Bryan Q. Miller has made me like Batgirl...nah scratch that, he's made me love Batgirl. Not to mention the arc he wrote of Teen Titans this year. He has a good handle on teenage characters and manages to write actual fun books when we are surrounded by darkness at both major companies. Not to mention he's made me love Batgirl, which I thought would never happen. Steph's journey has been a fun one and I'm hoping adding misfit into the book next year will just add more chaos. Bryan is a great writer who I'm looking forward to more work from in the new year.


BEST ARTISTS


Stuart Immonen has been on fire with New Avengers. I really hope he stays on the book for a long time. He's modified his style from Ultimate Spider-Man so much that you can still tell it's him but it's surprising to see the change in both tone and storytelling. You can tell just how well he can play off Brian Michael Bendis's scripts and he manages to keep a beautiful ability in his storytelling from each page. Whether it's an action scene or something where the team is discussing their next move, Stuart has an amazing talent and can only get better!

Rob Guillory won me over with a beautiful two page spread in Chew issue #1. Each issue his art constantly changes and gets better and is a constant highlight to see. I really love how he draws the actions scenes and show the absurdity of each new issue. I really love seeing the pain and expressions in poor Tony's face each issue. Rob hands down is the best artist John could have got for the book and I can't wait to see what he does next.


BEST HORROR BOOK


The Darkness is made up of a lot of dark and horrible things this year under Phil Hester's awesome scripts. From the things that the Sovereign made Jackie do to the downright creepiness of the Scab and the haunting of the Bog, the title lived up to the horror it can truly display. I really have no idea where the book is going next but I am sure as hell sticking around for the ride.

Hack/Slash, yes, for a second year running. I don't want to hear any grief, the book deserves it. For a second year in a row Tim Seeley's awesome slasher book just continues to be the best on the market as Cassie and Vlad deal with new and crazy situations where we actually get more of the built in mythology, new characters and questions about Cassie's sexuality as well as a great done in one issue that has an Archie like character mixing with Lovecraft, I really honestly think that this will stay the best horror book on the market.


BEST TEAM BOOK


Gotham City Sirens had easily my favorite issue of the year featuring a guest writer and penciller as well as a guest who will be joining the cast full time in 2010. The book focuses on 3 of the women who have always been a thorn in Batman's side. Those 3 women are Harley Quinn, Selina Kyle and Poison Ivy and, well, that should entice you to read the book right there. Not to mention the fact that it's wrote by Harley's creator Paul Dini. There really is a lot to love about this book and the characters, who are all played very human for being in the world they are in. I really love Selina doing her best to look after two very damaged women who are trying their best to be on the side of the angels. Not to mention all the appearances by Edward Nigma. Seriously, get the first trade and you will not be disappointed.


TOP PUBLISHER


Vertigo showed a lot of guts and did something no other publisher did this year. I'm talking of course about the very smart 1 dollar promotion where books like The Unwritten and Sweet Tooth had their first issues put out for a dollar so that any reader could try and read them to see if they liked them. Not to mention getting some of the biggest names in the industry both independent and bigger names to work on projects for Vertigo is huge. I know technically they are a DC imprint but it's still huge. Definitely a great year for Vertigo and their books.


MOMENT OF THE YEAR


"Hank Pym you are my Scientist Supreme." With this one sentence, Hank Pym was back to being one of the top Avengers as he deserves to be. The fact that it's said by Eternity, a creature that only appears to guys like Doctor Strange is even bigger. It not only gives Hank a new status quo in the Marvel Universe it shows that while most writers seem to obsess over Hank hitting Janet once, that he is one of the smartest men on the planet.

The entire speech that Eternity gives to hank is beautiful and is Dan Slott writing at his best. It spells out how the smartest men on the planet are different and why and definitely makes me smile a lot. I really cannot wait to see where Hank goes into 2010.

"Say Jar Jar Binks is an abomination! Say it!" I don't think I've ever laughed this hard at a comic in a long time. But this got me; the whole issue actually was pretty awesome. Deadpool is a fan of the original trilogy which makes me love him even more. The whole conversation that starts this is pretty humorous as well and it manages to show just how unpredictable the merc with a mouth can be.


BEST VILLAIN


The Sovereign, who only appeared a few times in the actual comic this year, but manages to be a serious opposing threat to the Darkness and managed to string Jackie Estacado a long for a while. Of course, when Jackie finds out the truth he goes head to head with the statued creature and finds an equally opposing creature that can go head to head with him. He has his hands in a lot of different places and manages to send a lot after Jackie. I'll be interested to see where he goes next and if Jackie truly defeats him or not.


HERO OF THE YEAR


Tony Chu is an everyman, just with a very special ability. Tony is a Cibopath which means he can tell something's entire history from taking just one bite from it. He also uses this ability as a detective and soon finds himself working for the USFDA where he gets very unique cases. Now, what makes Tony hero of the year you ask? Well, he manages to save the day and not lose his mind with everything that's thrown at him.

Tony is the kind of man that manages to catch the bad guys and not give up no matter what's thrown at him. Even when it turns out his new partner is something he would have never guessed, he still doesn't give up. Not to mention for having such an interesting and incredible power he's still a very flawed man who feels very real.


So that's it for this year, folks. Another year down for the Why I Love Comics column and a great year it was. I know I, for one, am looking forward to Siege, the new DC animated movie, the Vultriumite War in Invincible, Proof #25, Rocketbots, more David Hine books like Bullet Proof Coffin and plenty of other things in the new year. See you back here in 2010!

Eric Ratcliffe is a young writer/pop culture journalist/interviewer currently working on pitching a project named the Hunter chronicles. When not reading his weekly stack Eric can be found watching DVDs, playing on his 360 (gamertag: Zack Hunter) or just surfing online trying to find a scoop or two. Brand new to the Comic Related family, Eric is a fun new voice. Eric shops at TJ's Collectibles. Visit them on the web at www.tjcollect.com!




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