• Columns 

    2011 in Review: Best New Series

    By | December 7th, 2011
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    2011 was one hell of a year for new comic book series. If you look across the industry, there were huge launches from the DC (at least 52 of them), Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, and a whole lot more, even in the self-published depths of the comic book world. Our voters each ranked their own top five Best New Series for the year, and what we came up with can be found after the jump.

    Also, big thanks to Tim Daniel (Morning Glories, Scarlet) for the design work on our 2011 in Review logo.

    5 (tie). The Strange Talent of Luther Strode

    Why it made the list (David Harper): This book is pretty universally beloved around our parts, as it made it on a couple different lists for this category and was in consideration for a number of others even though there are only three issues out as of today. But I figure I might as well not repeat what I said before – below is what I said in my review for issue number one.

    “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode is one of the strongest first issues of the year, and one of the strongest debuts by any creative team in recent memory. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other people think, but I strongly believe that if you’re a fan of comics, you’ll love this.”

    It stood with the first issue, and man, it still sticks after today’s third one.

    5 (tie). Rachel Rising

    Why it made the list (David Harper): Rachel Rising is only three issues in, but given what we’ve received from series creator Terry Moore (Echo, Strangers in Paradise) previously, we know it’s only going to get better and better from here.

    And what it is right now is a scary tale with fantastic characters and great art. In just three issues, Moore has created some really solid, unique characters with a overarching story that feels original, hooking readers like myself in the process. It’s a great book now, and my prediction is it will just get better with each passing issue.

    4. Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors

    Why it made the list (Mike Romeo): I will tell you now that I pre-ordered the first issue of Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors based entirely on the title and the cover. I could not conceive of how a book could be anything less than spectacular when it looked and sounded so awesome. Then it started popping up in the press. Preview pages, synopses, character names; this thing was going to be wild. Turns out I was exactly right.

    After reading and re-reading Gladstone’s #1, I proceeded to tell everyone who would listen that it was the best number one issue I had encountered so far this year. And I still stand by that. In a single issue, we learn the history of the school and it’s founders, meet this year’s class, catch a glimpse of the ciriculum, and find out that everything that you just learned about the school may be a lie. A lie for the benefit of the students.

    That’s where Mark Andrew Smith Begins unpeeling the onion. What is the school? Why are they shielding the students from the truth about their parents? Why stage faux hero versus villain mega battles on pay-per-view? What’s with these comics that no one’s been allowed to read? This can sound like some heavy stuff, but that’s where Armand Vilavert comes in and dresses it all up in vivid technicolor and exaggerated cartoon anatomy. He and Smith Are perfectly suited to compliment each other. From dialog to body language, this book is punchy, quick paced, and hilarious. These creators have given us a world with an incredibly rich history and a virtually infinitely expandable future, ripe with years worth of stories. Mandatory reading for anyone who’s ever wanted to have fun.

    Continued below

    3. FF

    Why it made the list (David Harper): I have to say, as much as I enjoy Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four work, I may actually enjoy his FF work more. I love the added focus on the Future Foundation – well, the kids aspect – and I love that this book feels like the wild family adventures like I always loved previously from the Fantastic Four books. Throw in some superb art from Steve Epting and the addition of Spider-Man to the team, and this book has been one of the most enjoyable titles from Marvel in 2011. Plus, 12 issues have come out since the series launched in late March. That’s pretty much amazing…or fantastic even.

    2. Wolverine and the X-Men

    Why it made the list (Brandon Burpee): Wolverine and the X-Men is an exercise in pure unadulterated fun. Between Jason Aaron’s scripts and Chris Bachalo’s art this book is doing all it can to not blow the staples in its spine and unleash it’s unique energy all over you face. In two issues so far we’ve already had an amazing blend of new fun with new concepts and even more fun with continuity and older concepts. It’s a book that sits so far apart from everything else X-Men that you can’t help but feel drawn to it.

    The blend of new and old that I mentioned earlier makes this book one of the easiest X-books to get into in some time while also catering to long time fans. Some of the best new concepts are the books characters. From new students like Broo and Kid Gladiator to new villains like the Hellfire Club Pampers Edition this book is firing on all cylinders when it comes to potential new favorite character options. This is just a small sampling of the new character fun that we’ve been presented in the last two issues and doesn’t even touch on things like flame throwing versions of Frankenstein’s Monster.

    All the new stuff is great but as a long time X-Men fan I love seeing continuity in my books and this book does not shy away from it. While the title does play with continuity, just like Grant Morrison’s X-Men, it doesn’t become a slave to it. Instead it uses things from the X-Men’s storied past and does something new with it. A couple great examples of this are the new mansion being built atop Krakoa and the new Hellfire Club itself being a twist on the nefarious group. Both are concepts/characters that have an integral place in X-History but have been repurposed and are fresher than they have been in a long time.

    All in all if you aren’t reading this book because you haven’t enjoyed the X-Titles in a long time this is the best chance for you to jump aboard. On the other hand if you’ve been reading X-Titles for what seems like forever and a day this book is great for you too. It’s a multipurpose fan approved book for both new and old. Pick this book up and love your life. Just be careful not to get hit by the staples blowing of the book’s spine due to its over the top awesomeness!

    1. Animal Man

    Why it made the list (Josh Mocle): Oy gevalt, as if I haven’t said enough about this book! But, it was my number one new series, so I suppose I have made my bed this time around. As for why it was my number one new series, well I’ll be the first to admit my own personal bias in favor of this book. From the moment I heard that the DCnU was on its way, I very publicly stated that it would be the perfect time to bring Animal Man back to prominence within the DCU. Afterall, following Grant Morrison’s immensely fantastic run with the character in the late 80s/early 90s, not much had really been done with ol’ Buddy Baker in a significant way. I knew this was an uphill battle of course, but since when have those been something to avoid.

    Continued below

    And oh, did DC fight back. First Jeff Lemire (a personal all time favorite) was announced as the writer, then he revealed he would be drawing a lot of content from the Morrison run, then he revealed he would be making Buddy into a counter cultural icon inside of his own book and then, finally, the book came out and was a runaway success for DC, begetting multiple reprints and massive critical acclaim. Crafting a mysteriously psychological tale that is still playing out, Animal Man has been one of the most compelling, horrific and progressive entries into the new DC canon and Travel Foreman’s art (while still definitely hit or miss) has made sure to bring every bit of morbid detail in the script to the page. However, at the heart of the book is Buddy’s family. It is what motivates him, it is what makes him unique, it is what makes him a character worth reading and Lemire has not forgotten that. Despite all the blood, horrific beasts, undead pets and bloody eyes this book has seen so far, this is still fundamentally a book about a father trying to do right by his family, and that is why it will continue to be as fantastic as it is for years to come.

    David’s Picks
    1. Wolverine and the X-Men
    2. FF
    3. Rachel Rising
    4. Reed Gunther
    5. Witch Doctor

    Matt’s Picks
    1. Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker
    2. Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors
    3. FF
    4. Moon Knight
    5. Near Death

    Gil’s Picks
    1. Batwoman
    2. Demon Knights
    3. Wolverine and the X-Men
    4. Animal Man
    5. Swamp Thing

    Brandon’s Picks
    1. Wolverine and the X-Men
    2. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
    3. Red Hood and the Outlaws
    4. Batwoman
    5. FF

    Josh’s Picks
    1. Animal Man
    2. FF
    3. The Strange Talent of Luther Strode
    4. The Li’l Depressed Boy
    5. Daredevil

    Walt’s Picks
    1. The Strange Talent of Luther Strode
    2. The Infinite Vacation
    3. Wolverine and the X-Men
    4. Moon Knight
    5. Undying Love

    Brian’s Picks
    1. The Rinse
    2. Animal Man
    3. I, Vampire
    4. Wolverine and the X-Men
    5. Mudman

    Ryan’s Picks
    1. Rachel Rising
    2. Animal Man
    3. OMAC
    4. Near Death
    5. Green Wake

    Chad’s Picks
    1. Daredevil
    2. Alpha Flight
    3. Swamp Thing
    4. Animal Man
    5. Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE

    Mike’s Picks
    1. Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors
    2. Dark Horse Presents
    3. Swamp Thing
    4. Animal Man
    5. OMAC

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).