Every year the Best Shots team over at Newsarama put their heads together and individually list their thoughts on the best books/creators/titles/publishers/etc of the year. I had a difficult time narrowing my choices to a solid three, but I'm satisfied with my selections here. It's a mix of the best of what 2011 had to offer in the comic book medium.
Bronze — Artifacts (Published by Top Cow): A maxi-series like this doesn't happen every day. While you do have your Blackest Nights and your Sieges and your crossovers and your tie-ins, things can get convoluted and scattered fairly quickly. Here, you have Ron Marz being the architect of one fine story that spans throughout the Top Cow universe. There's Cyber Force, Hunter-Killer, Witchblade, Darkness, Angelus... the whole schmear! What started as Sara getting her daughter back has turned into an emotional and dangerous roller coaster for all involved. While Marz has been the voice of the story, he's had great assistance from artists on the visuals, starting with Michael Broussard, who continues to be a powerhouse, to Whilce Portacio and Jeremy Haun. It was announced that Artifacts would be now an ongoing with Marz still at the helm, it gave me hope that people that have been missing out on the series will eventually pick it up and realize they have indeed been missing out.
Silver — Jim Henson's The Storyteller (Published by Archaia): Simply put, if you have not had a chance to read Archaia's adaptation of Jim Henson's The Storyteller, I dare say that is a crime. Showcasing a vast array of fresh faces and seasoned vets, this assortment of stories is sure to be the delight of any reader, of any age. When you have talents such as Evan Shaner, Tom Fowler, Katie Cook, Nate Cosby, Ron Marz and many more, what is there not to like? It's an eclectic group of creators and individuals that I'd love to see more work from, especially if it involves a project like this. Archaia has been on a roll with the Henson licenses and Storyteller exceeded all my expectations and gave me a reading experience I haven't had in a long while. A book like this shows the world what non-superhero comics are really capable of: a true work of art, and one of the best books of the year.
Gold — Daredevil (Published by Marvel Comics): Yes, True Believers! The Man Without Fear has made quite the comeback this past year with a classic take on the fan favorite and Marvel staple. Brought back from the deepest depths that the character has been in since Frank Miller's run by the incredible Mark Waid and a dynamic rotating art team of Paola Rivera and Marcos Martin. After the events of Shadowland left Matt Murdock in the most depressing state I think I've ever read, the road to redemption began here. And it's just plain, old-fashioned cool. Bringing Ol' Hornhead back to his swashbuckling roots, Waid has crafted a hero that doesn't do anything radical to the character, but builds on what has been established and it's actually fun! Rivera and Martin are dynamite and creative with the visuals and it's how a hero like Daredevil should look. When you have the first issue having DD go up against classic E-lister, the Spot, and a few issues later having him outsmart his way out of a shootout, you realize this isn't the Daredevil from last year. This is what superhero comics should achieve to be like, and hands-down the best book Marvel is producing at this time.
Item To Watch In 2012 — Justin Jordan: Image's The Strange Talent of Luther Strode has been making strides and gathering tons of buzz over the past couple of months, putting creative team Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore on everybody's radar. Recently though, USA Today named Jordan the Best New Writer, and I have to agree. While Luther is still gaining momentum, one can be sure to keep your eyes peeled on what this bright newcomer has in store.