2006 was a year full of Crises and Civil Wars, and a great time to be a comic fan. Here’s the best of the best from the past year.nn
Best Writer: Ed Brubaker. This is the year that saw Brubaker, once a bit player in the DC Universe, shoot straight to the top of the Marvel staff. He started his second year on Captain America, took the reigns of Daredevil, Uncanny X-Men and The Immortal Iron Fist, and launched his creator-owned title Criminal. With every one of those titles starting as strong as they did, it’s only fair to assume Brubaker is going to be the writer to top in 2007.nn
Best Artist: Stuart Immonen. This is a guy that has slipped under the radar for the past couple years, but 2006 finally proved that he’s about to become a superstar. He took every crazy idea Warren Ellis gave him for Nextwave and knocked each one out of the park. Immonen is an artist with some of the best ideas in comics and the style to prove it. 2007 will see him take over the art chores on Ultimate Spider-Man after Mark Bagley’s 110-issue run. He has some big shoes to fill, but if his track record is any indication, there’s nothing to be worried about.
Best Superhero Book: Daredevil (Marvel). Brian Michael Bendis ended his near 60-issue run with one of his best stories that saw Matt Murdock in prison and the world aware that he was the blind superhero Daredevil. That’s a hell of a mess to leave for the new guy'unless of course, the new guy is Ed Brubaker (see above). He took everything Bendis left behind and made it all his own. They made what’s usually a jarring transition between writers flow perfectly while still retaining their own voice. It’s easily one of the most consistently enjoyable reads every month.nn
Best Non-superhero Book: Fables (DC/Vertigo). This Vertigo title, which revolves around fairy-tale characters living secretly in modern day New York City, celebrated its 50th issue this year and is still engaging as ever. Bill Willingham has proven to be a master of his craft with each story arc topping the last as he moves seamlessly between a rotating cast that would overwhelm any other writer. Fables is a book in which the quality never slips and is sure to give you your money’s worth every time. If you haven’t started yet, it’s about time you did.nn
The One You Missed: Fell (Image). The only complaint about this book is that it doesn’t come out enough. Warren Ellis created the “Slim-Line” line for Image Comics (which means each issue is a self-contained 16 page story with 8 pages of extras for $1.99) and turned it in to one of the best independent books on the stands. In a year that was over-run with huge universe-spanning crossovers (see below), little stories about a small town detective were a welcome change. Ellis and Ben Templesmith seem to be back on track with three issues ready to go for the New Year, and it’s definitely a welcome comeback.nn
Biggest Disappointment: Infinite Crisis (DC). DC showed so much promise leading up to this series. It seemed poised to be the book to beat, but meandering storylines starring characters no one has seen in 20 years killed all the momentum. Conceived as a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, which came out in the mid-’80s, Geoff Johns’ series alienated many new readers by trying to do too much in too little space and getting rid of one of the best characters in the DC Universe: Wally West, aka The Flash. The end of the series set up a new status quo for every character and supplied the perfect jumping-on point for new readers. But since, IC was so confusing, it gave many readers (like myself) the perfect place to jump ship.