Friday, January 06, 2006

2005 2GBC Awards: Best Ongoing Title

Read the following list and tell me what elements of the past twelve issues of Y: The Last Man are not to like:

Monkeynapping, a ninja named Toyota, hot girl-on-girl action, pirates, a one-eyed spy, full frontal nudity, tabloid journalism, sea battle, aboriginal dreamtime, big explosions, a rogue Israeli commando, sibling rivalry, and the captain going down with the ship.

Put all that in the now-too-familiar post-apocalyptic world of women living out the end days, trying to fill the roles traditionally filled by men while trying to ignore the nagging fact there will be no future generations, and you have a book that is simultaneously dreary and humorous, hopeless and hopeful, and educational and action-packed.

2005 saw Yorick reunite with his sister and try to kill her. Ampersand, whose poop we'd learned in 2004 was responsible for Yorick surviving the plague that killed every other Y-chromosomed being on the planet, was stolen by a ninja. In pursuit of the monkey, Yorick and his crew wound up on a boat full of smugglers, who in turn had been infiltrated by a spy for the Australian navy, which in turn wound up torpedoing the ship and nearly killing them all. Yorick got himself photographed in the nude and 355 had to put her life on the line to get the film back.

All that aside, every issue manages to address some aspect of women's issues in a way that's so much more compelling than anything the Lifetime Network has ever done. Who knew Australia's was the only navy to allow women to serve on submarines? How would devoted Catholics react to the church's barring of women from the clergy if there suddenly were no men?

After a strong 2004, Y: The Last Man remains one of the best books published every month and with just 20 issues left on its run things look even more promising as things build to the big finish.

As I indicated yesterday, I'm a little biased here because the Punisher is one of my favorite characters. A year ago, I would have named this book as the most disappointing of the year. The Marvel Knights era of the Frank's adventures ended weakly, low-lighted by the tale of the guy who lived under a pile of dead bodies in an abandoned part of the subway tunnels (I'm going to have to write a review of that one sometime soon). The move to MAX gave us a good opening story arc, but 2004 brought us a story of Irish gangs at war featuring Punisher as a supporting character and the "Mother Russia" arc which limped to a halfway decent conclusion.

Garth Ennis, it seemed, had run out of gas.

2005, however, began with the Punisher launching a nuclear missle at Moscow. That was followed by "Up is Down and Black is White" which I already named the best story arc in comics for the entire year. The year ended with "The Slavers," pitting the Punisher against Serbian gangsters running a sex slavery ring, while the NYPD acknowledges it can't catch the Punisher and instead runs a negative public relations campaign against him.

Punisher's resurrection and return to excellence make it not only the silver medalist, but also the Comeback Player of the Year.

After years of set up, we finally got some payoff when in 2005 we finally met the Adversary face to face, but not before some fun action, fantasy, and a twist or two.

Boy Blue's return to the homelands in the "Return to the Homelands" story arc detailed yesterday was a mix of humor, swashbuckling, and subterfuge. In the end, Blue strikes a blow against the greatest conqueror in mythology, yet upon his return, he's treated as a criminal for having stolen the magic artifacts that made his journey and his victory possible.

Bill Willingham continues to craft strong stories that help us better understand the motivations, attitudes, and personalities of characters we've known since childhood. For example, Prince Charming is an arrogant prick, Beauty is kind of a bitch, Beast is a henpecked husband, and thanks to Fables we all understand why. Further, he develops background characters into three-dimensional main characters and continues to add new characters into the mix, such as Red Riding Hood, Sinbad, and the other Persian fables.

Fables proves to continually be a perfect balance of the wonderment of childhood storytelling and thoughtful, deep adult analysis.

Honorable Mention: Ex Machina; Conan; Invincible; Walking Dead


Blogger Jhunt said...

Y and Fables I certainly agree with, they're two of my favorite current series. Punisher, however, I admit I stopped reading following Steve Dillon's departure during the Marvel Knights run.

Steve DIllon should work with Ennis or be forced back to DC, I think. His recent Bullseye and Nighthawk stuff is wasted effort with the scripts he's working with.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

As much as I love Steve Dillon, I'd actually rather see him work on that rumored Ennis/Dillon Batman from a few years ago. Leandro Fernandez may not be the greatest artist in the world, but I like his work on Punisher a lot, especially the way he draws Frank Castle as a fifty-something, scarred beast. Everyone else draws him a little too clean-cut for a guy who's been wading in and out of war zones for the last 25-30 years.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Grotesqueticle said...

Total agreement with Jake there. The youngest Castle can be and still be a Vietnam veteran is 48ish or so. He definitly isn't a kid. Excuse me, I have to go out and buy Fables.

8:30 PM  

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