These are not necessarily the best of the best of ’00 to ’09. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a tonne and missed even more. And I know for a fact that I am heavily biased towards any character in a cape. Take the following with a grain of salt. In no particular order:
* Mark Millar
became my new writer-to-watch when I discovered Wanted
(Top Cow Comics, 2003/2004). Forget the movie adaptation; an Earth run by super-villains is both intriguing and violent. Our “hero” is a failure of a man, until he’s informed he’s the son of the world’s greatest killer. Then the bullets fly. But he’s also on my watch list because of…
* …The Civil War
mini-series (Marvel Comics, 2006/2007). All super-people are blamed for the tragic deaths of hundreds of civilians. America demands government control: the Super-Human Registration Act. Any Cape that does not publicly register their secret identity is branded a traitor. Teams are torn apart, bizarre allegiances are made. And it all leads up to some of the darkest moments in Marvel history.
* Neil Gaiman
, whose works are often more dreamlike than super-heroic, surprised everyone with his re-envisioning of the Marvel universe. Four hundred years early. Marvel 1602
(Marvel Comics, 2003) takes our post-modern Capes and places them in the court of Queen Elizabeth. Beautifully illustrated and curiously plotted, this tale remains true to the characters and yet true to the period.
* Speaking of history, Alan Moore‘s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
(America’s Best Comics, 2000 / Top Shelf, 2002) is a mash-up of the best Victorian adventure tales . Like most of Moore’s work, the first two volumes are compelling and clever, but quickly turns indulgent and weird. Nonetheless, this series dazzles with its literary references.
* More modern, and for Canadian content, check out Darwyn Cooke’s DC: the New Frontier
(DC comics, 2004). Two volumes summarize the entire Silver Age of DC comics…15 years in a solid, 50’s kitch
* And looking to the future, WE3
(new copies to be ordered
) (Vertigo, 2004) is Grant Morrison’s
terrifying take on the future of war. Imagine: An Incredible Journey
(Carl Burger, 1961) where the pets are armed with guns and cyber
-implants! Bloody and tragic, and sadly not outside the realm of possibility. But then, who wouldn’t want a robo
-bunny with grenades?
Fans of fairy tales, legends and lore, myth, magic and mayhem will find exactly all these things and more in the on-going comic book series Fables.…
* Fans of writer/director/producer Joss Whedon
received two amazing surprises in the Oughts
. With his TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer canceled in its 7th
season, the gang re-appeared in Buffy: Season 8
(Dark Horse Comics, 2007). What happens to the world when any girl could be a slayer? What happens when vampires become media darlings? What happens when the military declares war on magic? And also from Joss Whedon
* …Astonishing X-Men Series 3
(Marvel comics, 2004). Spanning four volumes, the world’s mightiest mutants revel in John Cassaday’s
wonderful art and Whedon
exceptional writing. The team reforms, new and old villains arise, a dead hero returns and another dies. And Wolverine makes dollies.
* Last on my list (and quite possibly my number 1) is an entirely new series, practically its own brand. Running strong since its inception in 2000, Ultimate Marvel
is a re-imagining
of key characters, distilled and modernized. Top-rated artists and writers bring classic super-human stories to a new generation by darkening the heroes, sympathizing with the villains, and telling tales avoided in the core Marvel series.