Multiversity Comics Countdown: Our Favorite Brubaker Books

By | January 4th, 2012
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Today is a big day for fans of good comics, as it’s the beginning of a brand new comic from one of the best writer/artist duos in comics today: writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips.

That book, called Fatale, comes from Image Comics and is another stunner from one of the best working pairs in comics (as you can tell from our review). To help celebrate this new book, this week’s edition of Multiversity Comics Countdown takes a look at our favorite books of Brubaker’s career to date. You can find that top five list after the jump.

5. Daredevil

A quick point before I get into Daredevil: a sad fact is that I have never read Gotham Central, so I couldn’t include it in this list (if you were wondering where it was) and the Immortal Iron Fist, while a favorite of mine, falls behind DD simply because it was Bru co-writing with Matt Fraction.

But the truth is that Brubaker’s Daredevil run was fantastic. I remember when it first was announced that Bendis was leaving the book, a lot of people were concerned that Daredevil just wasn’t going to be as good. Bendis redefined the character for a lot of people, but after talking about where to take the character next with him, Brubaker’s first arc, titled “The Devil in Cell-Block D,” quickly made believers out of everyone.

Truth be told, that arc remains to this day one of my all-time favorite DD stories, and Brubaker’s work on the book managed to take a lot of the story threads that Bendis had developed throughout the years and build on them in new and exciting ways. Granted, his run was highlighted by phenomenal art (namely, the work of Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano), but Brubaker proved to be an incredibly steady storytelling hand in the gritty world of Matt Murdock.

4. Incognito

It’s just a fact of life that Brubaker and Phillips together is solid gold Saturday night, and Incognito is excellent proof of that. Their most recent Icon creation, this series is a phenomenal blending of pulp concepts with superpowers, with two mini-series out so far that both stand out as individually fantastic stories as well as a superb continuous narrative. One of my favorite things about this book is how truly balls to the wall it is in a lot of ways, as characters have names like “Zack Overkill” or “Professor Zeppelin” and tend to do truly terrible things. This book is a great example of Brubaker and Phillips really going all out, but in a way that acts entirely in service to the story.

Plus, you get the awesome write-ups from Jess Nevins at the end of every issue about famed pulp characters from yesteryear. More value for your money, right there.

3. Captain America (and friends)

Brubaker, for many people, has become the definitive Captain America writer. And with good reason – when The Winter Soldier launches, he’ll be writing three Cap books at once, all of which will range from “good” to “superb.” He’s been writing Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes as the character since 2004, and the overarching legacy he’s created with the character and his world has been an all-time great run on one of the comic world’s most iconic characters.

His work was controversial at first because he broke fanboy law number one (don’t resurrect long dead characters!), but even the staunchest of opponents would find it hard to argue that the way he handled Bucky over the past seven plus years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Captain America has been at an incredibly high level of quality for the better part of a decade, and that’s assuredly thanks to the work of Brubaker (and friends).

Continued below

2. Sleeper

This Wildstorm title stemmed out of their flagship series WildCATs and, in particular, Brubaker’s own Point Blank series, but was the book that first introduced me to the magic of the Brubaker and Phillips combination. Sleeper was a book that was the precursor to Brubaker and Phillips eventual work on Marvel/Icon book Incognito (and Criminal to a certain degree) in many ways, as it told a heavily pulp/noir influenced story with a superpower swerve to it.

While it was similar in that regard, it still stands out as something significantly different from their more recent work together as it was them piecing together that type of story in the framework of an existing universe, and doing so in truly phenomenal fashion. I remember the first time I started reading through the first Sleeper trade, I was completely enamored by Brubaker and Phillips work together. It wasn’t their first time working together, but it was my first time experiencing their collaborative efforts and the results truly blew me away. If you’re a fan of Criminal or Incognito and haven’t read Sleeper, you’re really missing out.

1. Criminal

Criminal, for my money, is one of the best new books of the past ten years. In this collection of mini-series, Brubaker and Phillips have crafted an interconnected world of gangsters, dames, down-on-their-luck regular Joes, and anything in-between. This isn’t just an environment for stereotypes or caricatures to run amok in – the world that they’ve created feels like a living, breathing organism in which someone you’ve previously run into could walk into The Undertow at any given moment.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a story about tragically pursuing the nostalgic goodness of the past like in Last of the Innocent (arguably Brubaker’s best work yet) or one about a good-hearted small-timer trying to make it out of a big time heist alive like in Coward, Brubaker tells a phenomenal yarn that is a master class in crime storytelling in comics. Hell, scratch that…just crime storytelling in general. Needless to say as well, Phillips brings A+ work on every issue, although, like with Brubaker, Last of the Innocent was a stand out effort for him as well.

Like with Incognito, this book gets big bonus points for the always interesting back-up material. Some books give you back-up material that is better off ignored. If you’re buying a Brubaker/Phillips book, odds are you could be missing something great if you’re not reading it.

//TAGS | Countdown

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).


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