2010 IN REVIEW

The Orbital staff had a look at their most beloved books, series and collections released in 2010 and compiled a list of their very favourite books of the year.

The Incal The Incal Classic Collection (Graphic Novel)
by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius
Humanoids

Karl says: OK, so this isn’t new by any means. However, this is the first time Jodorowsky and Moebius’s epic as been collected in its entirety, in translation anyway.  The Incal has been unavailable in English for years now, so to have the whole saga in one volume is a real treat after all this time.

And time hasn’t dimished the might of this galaxy spanning cosmic opera. Jodorowsky’s multi-layered characters and script combine with Moebius’s (at the height of his powers) simplicity of line and intricacy of detail to weave a tale which is, by turns, a spy thriller, social and religious commentary, vast science fiction and a mystical adventure. Very funny in places too!

An essential work of graphic fiction for any serious fan of the form. Good to have it back; nice job, Humanoids!

Weathercraft Weathercraft (Graphic Novel)
by Jim Woodring
Fantagraphics

Camila says: Apart from a few short stories and some collected reprints, there hadn’t been a new Jim Woodring book since the second volume of Frank in the mid 90s, so there’s no need to say that Woodring fans were really looking forward to this, and even with a couple of decades worth of high expectations to live up to, Weathercraft didn’t disappoint!

The book is every bit as beautiful, weird and mesmerizing as I expected, and serves both as great introduction to Jim Woodring’s wondrous world and a wonderful treat to those already familiar with it.

Like most of the Frank stories, it is fuelled by Woodring’s powerful visual storytelling; completely wordless, but still incredibly rich in detail.

Focusing on Manhog, one of the many weird beings who inhabit the world created in the Frank books, the story follows the pig-like creature on a journey of enlightenment, redemption and even some ass-kicking in a way that only Jim Woodring could do. I have to say, it wasn’t for no reason that the man got a Stranger Genius Award for Literature.

Strange Tales II Strange Tales II (Miniseries)
by Various
Marvel Comics

Taylor says: Strange Tales II was both haunting and hilarious, from the Silver Surfer’s tragic love life, to fridge-Magneto, to Sandman’s hapless attempts to gatecrash the lady Avengers’s beach party, all three issues were original, entertaining, and beautifully produced. This was the Marvel concept of 2010 that really delivered.

Batman and Robin Batman & Robin (Ongoing Series)
by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
DC Comics

Liz says: It was a year of strong contenders for book of 2010, from Paul Cornell’s study of Lex Luthor in Action Comics, to Jason Aaron’s ever-gripping Scalped and particularly any output from the unstoppable Nick Spencer, but the standout for me was always going to be Grant Morrison’s run on Batman & Robin, because it was one of those rare books that distils everything I love about comics.

Batman & Robin hit the ground running in 2009, but it was this year that the seeds planted early in Morrison’s run on Batman really bore their fruit. Zany new villains (and a wicked twist on a classic rogue) kept the adrenaline pumping and the stakes high, as the great mystery of the Wayne family played out and lead to a fantastic showdown. But it was the developing relationship between Dick and Damian is the real gem of the story. Seemingly an oddball pairing at the offing, they become brothers over the course of the series in a natural, genuinely charming way. Thanks to the considerable talents of artists Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart and Frazer Irving, it also looks fantastic. A joy to read, and a book that should be remembered for many years to come.

Locke and Key Crown of Shadows Locke & Key Crown of Shadows (Ongoing Series)
by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
IDW

Sharon says: Horror comics rely upon still images to convey a feeling of uneasiness, but all too often they revolve around a monster roaring at a damsel with no dress, or they revert to cheap gags and gore filled horror. Locke & Key is more sophisticated, nodding to all the relevant horror landmarks and institutions of the past, whilst creating its own place within the canon. I started reading this series when it came out in hardback in 2008 and I must be honest, my initial flick through it left me cold. I am embarrassed to say, I was not convinced by the artwork. I found it lacklustre and nearly discarded it. Luckily I loved the story and continued on through the first few pages, getting more intrigued as I read.

The horror begins from the start with the murder of Mr Locke in his own home. To try and escape from the shocking memories, his wife, sons Bode and Tyler and their sister Kinsey, move out to Lovecraft Massachusetts, to live in the old family home of Keyhouse.

The story progresses with the youngest family member Bode getting caught up in an ongoing supernatural dialogue with ghost-like creatures, whilst his two siblings try to keep the real world demons at bay. By volume three Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows it’s beginning to get really interesting. Skeletons are unearthed about the Locke family history and the shadows are circling tighter. Mrs Locke struggles to battle her personal anxieties and the kids fight to keep the darkness at bay.

The genuinely scary thing about Locke & Key is that whilst it does deal with elements of the supernatural, it also gets you to think about universal themes of family relationships, grief, adolescence and the joy and horror of letting our imaginations get out of control.

Joe Hill is a great writer, trust me.

There's no time like the present There’s No Time Like The Present (Miniseries)
By Paul Rainey
Self-Published

Tom says: Tough call between The Boys, Bulletproof Coffin, Action Comics, RASL, Sweet Tooth and 20th Century Boys, but in the end I had to go with There’s No Time Like The Present which concluded in 2010 with part 13.

The strength of Paul Rainey’s There’s No Time Like The Present lies in its ability to juxtapose relatable personal drama with lofty cosmic science concepts, from the grind of daily life in Milton Keynes to the millennia-spanning galactic odyssey Cliff and the rest of the cast find themselves in, you care about all of it. It’s a story about geeks in a world where time travel is possible yet owning collectibles and watching Doctor Who is still of paramount importance.

TNTLTP revolves around a small cast of characters in Milton Keynes in the near future. Time travel and the ‘ultranet’ (like the internet, but it allows you to view websites from the future) have been invented and have caused a lot less fuss than you would expect. Everyone gets on with their lives, occasionally stopping to take notice of travellers from outside of their own time, download future episodes of Emmerdale or watch ‘future porn’. However, when our Doctor Who loving protagonist Cliff discovers the flatmate he dotes upon has read on the ‘ultranet’ something she doesn’t like about her future, an adventure spanning thousands of years, different planets, one almighty memorabilia collection and a Dalek ensues.

Rainey has a fantastic eye for pacing, whether in awkward social encounters or sci fi action sequences, the 8 panel page Rainey often uses works perfectly, his sharp black and white art effortlessly whisking us from Milton Keynes to the other end of space and time. TNTLTP presents smart sci-fi ideas alongside moments of humour and human tragedy. It’s almost as if the daydreams you have about time travel and outer space to escape the drudgery of everyday life and acute social failure are true, but so is the everyday life and failure.

Should you be reading Neonmomicon, then for your own sanity I would recommend TNTLTP.  It’s riddled with moments of hope and lightness which, as well as serving the story and balancing out the lofty science concepts, also serve as a pleasant breather from protracted fish-beast rape.

Please read this comic, it’ll make you a better human and improve your unborn children’s genes. I promise.

The Walking Dead The Walking Dead (Ongoing Series)
by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
Image Comics

Rob says: Having woken from a coma to a comic that had already been going and rated and raved about for six years, this has been my ‘year of the zombie’. The Walking Dead is a store staple among my fellow Orbiters as it follows the lead Rick, a sheriff, and his son Carl, a small boy, as they try to survive against a backdrop of a zombie uprising. The characters are built to be loved and the zombies drawn to repulse as Robert Kirkman’s story simmers and Charlie Adlard’s art scares in equal measure.

For those stiffs who have been cynical of anything involving zombies , I would say make 2011 your ‘year of the zombie’ and start with The Walking Dead Weekly which reprints every issue from #1. I am confident you wont get far before you can’t resist making a leap to the trade collections!

Morning Gloriest Morning Glories (Ongoing Series)
by Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma, Rodin Esqueljo
Image Comics

Chris says: Although there were a number of great collections and reprints during 2010, when it comes to new releases I immediately think of Image’s Morning Glories. This is the book that made people sit up and take notice of writer Nick Spencer. Spencer takes the best of Runaways, X-Men and Harry Potter and weaves them together to create something entirely new . Despite being over-hyped and speculated on by comics wannabes, Morning Glories is a great series which is generally deserving of the accolades it receives. With an economically priced collection on its way early this year, now is the perfect time to jump on board and see what all the fuss is about.

The Bulletproof Coffin The Bulletproof Coffin (Miniseries)
by David Hine and Shaky Kane
Image Comics

Maria says: A big time favourite amongst all the Orbital staff, The Bulletproof Coffin was one of those miniseries that leaves you wanting (and hoping) for more; a lot more! A bit quirky, a bit weird, very clever, super entertaining and astonishing to look at.

The story kicks off with the discovery of a series of comics published in the late ’50s, that had supposedly been cancelled before any of those issues came out. From there it all just makes less and less sense to the main character, as his life and comic book fiction blend together.

It feels like the kind of thing that anyone who reads comics has daydreamed about at some point, filled with comics culture references and tons of ingredients for a good fun story: time travel, zombies, superheroes, mystery, some comedy, some horror, and a guy with a big giant eye for a head! And that’s just the beginning! Highly recommended!

The Elmer Elmer (Graphic Novel)
by Gerry Alanguilan
Slave Labor Graphics

Bobby says: Having evolved to consider themselves a race no different from any other, chickens have fought for their rights as an evolved species to live as an equal race to humanity. Elmer follows the story of Jake (the eldest son of a family of chickens), his ongoing battle for equality and the discrimination he faces as he learns the history of their past while trying to understand and survive in a complicated world.

Beautifully drawn and written by inker Gerry Alanguilan (Superman Birthright, Wolverine, X-Men), Elmer is touching, clever and funny.

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