Comics | Comics Reliefs: Forget 2008’s Crisis/Invasions and check out the year’s finest work. 

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Just like that, 2008 is gone already. It seems like just yesterday comic-book fans were on the edge of their seat anticipating whether it would be Final Crisis or Secret Invasion that ruled the industry. But since the new year has arrived with the slate wiped clean, here’s a look back at the year that was. n



Best Writer: Matt Fraction—He’s been a fringe player for the past couple of years, but in 2008, Fraction basically was given the biggest toys in the Marvel sandbox and never once disappointed. He launched an Invincible Iron Man ongoing series just in time to coincide with a little movie starring Robert Downey Jr.; his Thor one-shots kept raising the bar time and again; and he (along with Ed Brubaker for a minute) made Uncanny X-Men readable again. This was the year you couldn’t pick up a Marvel comic and not know who Matt Fraction was. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.



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Best Artist: Gabriel Ba/Fabio Moon—I’m cheating here, but since these two are twins, they’re being counted as one vote. Either way, they’ve both been making a huge splash in comics this year. Ba was the artist for the first Cassanova arc, and Moon picked up the chores on the second while his brother moved over to The Umbrella Academy. Their styles are similar, yet distinct; next year they’ll team up for a new Vertigo series called Daytripper. Keep your eyes open, because these two are the next big thing.
Best Ongoing Series: Criminal (Icon/Marvel)—A best of the year list wouldn’t be complete without Ed Brubaker somewhere on it. Much like last year and the year before, Brubaker has made a habit of putting out consistently great books—whether they be superhero titles or something else entirely. This time, his creator-owned noir comic with Sean Phillips shines a light on a seedy world not seen since the heydays of Chandler and Hammett. The stories are always top-notch, but the bonus material—usually an essay by a prominent writer on little known noir films—makes each issue even better.
Best Mini-Series: Wolverine: Old Man LoganFirst, this isn’t technically a mini. It’s a story arc in the main Wolverine, but it should have been a stand-alone series, because as soon as it’s over, there will be no way to follow it. Mark Millar and Steve McNiven (Civil War) have re-teamed to tell this epic story of Logan and Hawkeye crossing the country in the distant future, after all the other superheroes are dead. It resembles Unforgiven a bit, but Millar has enough crazy ideas up his sleeve that it’s hard to compare it to anything. Oh, Rice-Eccles stadium makes an appearance as the venue for Daredevil and the Punisher to battle dinosaurs to the death. Like I said, it’ll be hard to beat.
One You Might Have Missed: Pax Romana—Jonathan Hickman is good. No, more than that—he’s scary good. He dropped out of nowhere last year with The Nightly News, and he continued raising eyebrows this year with Red Mass for Mars and the excellent Pax Romana mini-series. His epic futuristic/time-traveling/philosophical/religious strife series has gotten him noticed by just about everyone in the industry. Expect big things from this guy in the years to come.
Biggest Disappointment: DC Comics—I don’t like picking on DC, really I don’t, but come on. So many things have gone wrong with that company this year, and they just keep opening themselves up for more ridicule. First, there was the weekly Countdown to Final Crisis series that didn’t even lead in to Final Crisis. Then, there was an artist change halfway through that series (which was supposed to be a summer event that’s been plagued by internal delays and still isn’t finished) and a number of prominent creators have been fired or forced out. The list just keeps on going—probably well in to 2009.

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