Comic Book of the Year Awards 2014-Part 2

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Biggest News Story

Nominees:

Girl Thor
DC is a D*ck about a statue
All New, All old Marvel
Marvel Phase 3/DC movie line up
Magneto is not the father of Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver

Marvel Phase 3 lineup Captain America Civil War Doctor Strange Guardians of the Galay 2 Thor Ragnarok Black Panther Captain Ms Marvel Inhumans Avengers Infinity War Part 1 Part 2

Winner: Marvel Phase 3/DC movie lineup

Kim Kardashian’s butt might have broken the internet but the release of the big two publisher’s movie release schedules burned it down.

Within moments of DC’s announcement that they were going to go all out with their properties, facebook feeds and forums around the world flooded with tears of joy, fan made movie posters, and plot and casting theories.

There was a worldwide shared moment of happiness for a collective of people with a uniform dream. A simultaneous fist pump and high five amongst a fan base that was more like a family. There was finally a confirmation of seeing all your childhood icons in the flesh and spandex. All your juvenile fantasies made concrete, all your years of casting arguments made irrelevant.

Marvel is no news outlet’s page two, so after DC had its moment of mirth, Marvel took the headlines back by announcing its “Phase 3” movie line up.

Perfect is rarely an appropriate term in editorial but Marvel’s Phase 3 pretty much was. It had not only sequels to stuff we had loved in the past but sequels that were immediately intriguing like Captain America: Civil War. It proved it was paying attention to its fan base by giving them the films it had been screaming for, with Black Panther, and Captain Marvel and it even threw in a surprise with Inhumans. You can tell how exciting the collective announcement was because I am only now getting to the fact that we are getting a TWO part Avengers film.

With a press release and a presentation two companies filled in our summer calendars for almost the next decade. It drastically changed two industries in a moment and collected our attention like no other news story this year.

Best Moment

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Nominees:

“He’s spoken for” Batman #33
“This is the story of how my parents split up” Saga #19
“That Night I declared War on the Sex Police” Sex Criminals #6
“Kill a world” New Avengers #21
“Nick Fury’s Head” Original Sin #2

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Winner: “He’s Spoken for” Batman #33

***Spoilers for Batman #33***

Batman is a God of our pop culture. He is a character that has been a part of our lives for over 75 years, so making a change to that character or his mythos is a mountainous feat.

Over the last four pages of the story arch “Zero Year,” writer Scott Snyder is able to not only make a change to the Batman mythos, but completely flip the way we as readers and fans view who Batman is and how he plays into the healing of Bruce Wayne.

The change is not a grand explosive moment or shocking revelation. It is a subtle and quiet shift of perspective, an introduction of a small and simple idea.

After the major events of “Zero Year” Alfred informs Bruce that a childhood crush of his has returned to Gotham and wants to reconnect. Alfred pushes Bruce to give it a chance, to get a drink with the young lady and try to find some happiness.

Bruce’s response is a simple statement that wraps a goliath idea. No drink, nor woman, nor normal life will make him happy. The only thing that makes him happy is being Batman.

He leaves it up to Alfred, whether to accept the date on his behalf or to make up an excuse for him and send the woman on her way.

In that moment Alfred has a vision. A vision of Bruce happy with this woman. They get married, have a child, and share a life. Alfred sees Bruce healed from his trauma and happy. Alfred sees a world were Bruce doesn’t NEED to be Batman to have meaning or relief.

This seems almost like a throw away sappy moment but it is so huge. In all the years Batman has been around creators have portrayed Batman as a necessity to Bruce Wayne. Something he needs to become to make peace within himself, or needs to do because he needs to bring justice to the world after what happened to his parents.

This is the first time a writer has been brave enough to posit that there was a simple and easy alternative to Batman in the healing of Bruce Wayne. Batman is no longer emotional chemotherapy. He is a choice, a calling, like the calling to be a doctor or an engineer.

When stated so matter-of-factly it sounds like Snyder has removed the character’s edge and romance but it’s the opposite. Batman is no longer a burden, he is a cause. He doesn’t exist because of Bruce’s past he exists because of his future.
It means that Batman might have existed without the death of Bruce’s parents. That Batman is an outward projection of who Bruce is, not a lashing out of a part of himself he wishes would go away.

All the elements of this idea come at the reader fast and heavy as Alfred watches the vision of what Bruce might have been fade away and he tells the woman, “I’m so sorry miss, but I’m afraid …He’s spoken for.”

Best Artist

Comic-Con-Artist-Alley

Nominees:

Ben Templesmith
Fiona Staples
David Aja
Tadd Moore
Greg Capullo

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Winner: Fiona Staples

No one can draw creatures assembled of exaggerated and mutated genitalia like Fiona Staples can. A trump card that no other artist, maybe in the history of comic books can play.

Despite Saga’s writer Brian K Vaughan giving Ms. Staples the task of creating such monsters, Saga never seems grotesque or laden with shock value. Fiona Staples’ colorful and soft style gives this excellent series a magical life. Somewhere between a fairytale and acid trip the world brought to life in the pages of Saga is one that is so soaked with loving charm it’s impossible not to joylessly drown in it.

I could spend the next several hundred words describing a cornucopia of ways that Fiona Staples’ art is special, but to keep it as simple as I can, her work is just incredibly fun to look at.

Her work, her soul and her personality are as much a part of what makes Saga, Saga as the snappy dialog, lovable characters, moments of pure heartbreak, and world shattering last page cliff hangers.

No artist is more important to their book than Fiona Staples is to Saga. It is better than anything hanging on your wall, or anything you have found the need to tattoo on yourself. If it were on its own, outside the pages of comic, it would be just as beautiful, but the heart it adds to a great story makes it legendary.

Best Writer

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Nominees:

Scott Snyder
Rick Remender
Jonathan Hickman
Matt Fraction
Brian K. Vaughan

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Winner: Scott Snyder

I feel that we undersell our comic book writers. Comic books have a tradition of being some of the most free and wild stories in all of popular fiction. A smaller, yet diverse population of readers allows for many different kinds of stories not burdened with the task of appealing to a broad audience. That, in tandem, with the unsettled freedom that the creator owned space provides has spawned some of the most twist laden tales and imaginative worlds we may ever see.

And these writers have to expand on these ideas and worlds EVERY month…in multiple different ongoings. It’s a creative task without peer, and how guys like Scott Snyder can do it and never have a bad issue is insane to me.

An idea as thoroughly mined as the Batman mythos can be hard to find intrigue in, but Snyder has made the icon his own, telling a tale so masterful and brave it makes you wish he would write the book forever.

Snyder’s epic horror/adventure series American Vampire started its second cycle this year after taking a year break and it might be better than ever, expanding on its dark velvet world and adding eons worth of legend to its ethos.

Snyder’s newest project Wytches, is a book that understands horror better than almost anything else in the genre. The book manages to be touching and relatable in one panel and by the next everything has morphed into a lonesome, greyed out nightmare, keeping readers off-guard and leaving them exhausted.

All three of these books are pillars of the current creative space and they trudge forward never dipping in quality or losing narrative momentum.

Snyder is on his way to being a Mt. Rushmore worthy writer in the comic book world. His portfolio is bloated with quality and it feels like this is only the beginning of what he is capable of.

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Best Series

Nominees:

Saga
Sex Criminals
Batman
East of West
Pretty Deadly

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Winner: Sex Criminals

“Brilliant” might be the most overused of the critically praising clichés. I wish we were more economic with the word, so when something like Sex Criminals comes along and is actually brilliant we can appreciate what that means.

This is a book that breaks down the origins of individual human sexuality. Showing how vast arrays of different stimuli and traumas feed into a person’s tastes and desires. Then demonstrating how those tendencies influence people beyond the sphere of sex. How do our sexual proclivities affect our tastes in friends, in professions, in passions etc? How do we as humans use sex to cope or lash out? How does sex affect the way we love and how does the way we love, in turn, manipulate our sexuality?
These are all super heady, dense and possibly bland questions. It could have made for a calorie intensive book to read. But this book is written by Matt Fraction, king of out of nowhere, yet, never out of place humor and probably the most charming creator in the comic book industry.

Sex Criminals’ humor and charm is what moves it from a smart book, to a brilliant one. Its levity is more than just its attempt to entertain us. It feels like the book is using the humor to wrestle with the ideas it is presenting, using its absurdity to yank the fangs out of scary topics.

The duplicity of goofiness and depth makes this book relatable, but it’s the personality it uses to present itself that makes it lovable. Sex Criminal embraces the Wild West spirit that makes comic books so special. Characters talk directly to the reader and present us with surreal imagery to demonstrate their points. This series is actually able to pull off a musical number in the pages of a comic book, all while breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging the licensing problems that go along with using a Queen song.
This book just does whatever the hell it wants and pulls it off pretty much every time. It is constantly rewarded for its own bravery and is an avatar for the full potential of comic book storytelling.

If you missed it make sure you go back and checkout Part 1 of these awards. Thank you all for your support this year, and have a happy new year.

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