Best of the Noughties (2000-2009): Comics

A few weeks ago, I wrote a guide on the frugal way to start a comic book collection (the post can be read here). At the end of that post, I also promised to list down my favorite comic books to point your collection in the right direction. While doing that, I noticed that most comics on my list were released during the last decade. That, of course, prompted me to start a series of “Best of the Decade” posts instead. I know that the 00’s are done, and we’re almost into 2011. But, like they say, better late than never.

Bill Willingham's Fables

I just recently got back into collecting comic books (two years ago). So, while I have read a lot of books in the span of two years, I haven’t read them all. Still, thanks to the collective knowledge of comic book geeks in the interwebs, I was able read some of the best comics. But enough stalling, here’s my list:

10. New X-Men
The reason I stopped reading comics in the 90’s was the declining story of the X-Men books. The story arcs took them elsewhere and their “struggle”, the very thing that made me love them, was forgotten. Then, in 2001, Grant Morrison happened and took the X-Men back to their roots by killing 16 million mutants in his first story arc. That made me happy. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. He also revamped the main characters, giving them second mutations and solidifying their personalities, heralding the X-Men title into a new era.

09. The Ultimates
While Grant Morrison got me back into reading the X-Men, it was Mark Millar and The Ultimates who got me into reading superhero comics again. I was never expecting a lot in comics back in 2003. But when I picked up the first trade of The Ultimates at a Walden Bookstore, I was blown away by it. It was a new take on The Avengers, much modern, darker and more real. Suddenly Wasp and Ant-Man have marital problems, Thor is a radical environmentalist, and Cap is struggling to adjust in this new age. They weren’t just cowls and capes anymore. They were cowls and capes facing real-life problems.

08. The Authority
The Authority is pretty much like The Ultimates, a comics with a darker, modern and realistic take on superheroes. But it was The Authority that did it first, and they did it better. I mean, they have a bad-ass Batman-like and Superman-like characters (The Midnighter and Apollo) that are actually gay couples, facing gay-related issues. Can it get any more better than that?

07.  Runaways
The tagline of Runaways –which says: “At some point in our teenage years we all thought our parents were the most evil people alive. But what if they really were ?”– was catchy enough to make me pick up the series. True enough, the book was as good as its tagline. Runaways is about a group of teenagers who, well, became runaways after they found out their parents were super villains. Mostly dealing with teenage problems, the stories in Runaways were really cool. But what made me love the series are the fresh variety of characters that I haven’t seen in any comics.

06. DMZ
DMZ has been on my pull list since the day I got back into comics. There’s a perfectly good reason as to why: The series is just so damn good. Its setting of a battle-torn Manhattan, caused by the 2nd  U.S. civil war, brings the theater of war into the U.S. soil. It’s a “what if” story that also inflicts the chaos that’s been happening in Iraq and Afghanistan on an American City. It will change the way you think about the morality, business and politics of war. Definitely an important graphic novel of the noughties.

05. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Chris Ware’s work on Jimmy Corrigan pushed the potential of comics to the next level, both in storytelling and art. The story of the loneliest character ever created, every person can relate to Jimmy Corrigan in one way or another. At first, you might find it boring. But the deeper you get into it the more complex it gets. It will show you layers of stories that goes across generations. The artwork here is simple, yet intricate because it conveys so much emotion. The way the panels were arrange is also uniquely insane.

04. Blankets
I’ve read a lot of “coming of age” stories but Blankets is the best of them all. This book will simply remind you about growing up, of falling in love for the first time and coping with various problems. It is also well-written and beautifully drawn. Reading this book, you’ll feel the love that Craig Thompson (the author and illustrator of the book) has for his work. It’s on every line and letter of this graphic novel. I highly recommend it to any mature readers. Especially to people who thinks comics are still for kids.

03. Y: The Last Man
I’ve read a lot of work by Brian K. Vaughn in the last decade. They’re all good but Y: The Last Man is his swan song. This book, which tells the tragic tale of Yorrick, the last surviving man on Earth, really made me think about many topics such as gender-related issues and science ethics. It also made me less shallow by scaring my fantasy, of being the last guy alone on a planet full of needy women, out of me. If you haven’t read this book, you really need to pick up a copy now.

02. The Walking Dead
I’m a big fan of the zombie genre. I’ll watch and read anything I can that has them, even poorly made B-movies. But my obsession stopped the moment I read the first volume of The Walking Dead. Focusing on the condition of the survivors –their sanity, humanity, morality– of a zombie plague, rather than the zombies itself, writer Robert Kirkman showed me that the genre can be more than just gore. So, now, I’ve been expecting more from the genre. But, so far, no other zombie-related entertainment has matched The Walking Dead’s riveting survival drama.

01. Fables
The 00’s was about the modernization of superheroes. But Bill Willingham turned his attention into fairy tales and modernized them instead. Fables is a “here are they now” story that follows characters from fairy tales we read in our childhood. What makes this series so brilliant is that it succeeded in turning those characters into modern day, magical people that we can enjoy as grown ups. Here you’ll see Cinderella as a show store proprietor, a Prince Charming who’s a womanizer and Jack (of the Beanstalk) who’s into get-rich-quick schemes. It’s a wonderful comic book that no avid reader, comic book fan or not, should miss.

Well there’s my list, my favorite comics in the 00’s. Let me tell you, it was hard making this list. Especially knowing that I have to skip some of my favorites (like Planetary and Powers). But I also had a lot of fun writing it. So I hope you guys will enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it. Anyways, that’s one “Best of the Decade” list down, probably 5 more list to go. So keep an eye on them.

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4 Responses to Best of the Noughties (2000-2009): Comics

  1. gillboard says:

    I’ve now expanded my book reading to those outside of Marvel, and I’m overwhelmed. I’m almost updated in following Rick Grimes’ story in The Walking Dead

  2. gillboard says:

    non-marvel… i read unwritten, chew, walking dead and american vampire.

    marvel: iron man, captain america, thor, wolverine, uncanny x-men, secret warriors, shield, fantastic four, children’s crusade, and nemesis.

    i need to cut on these titles though, i just don’t know which.

    sigh.

    • Skron says:

      Only I can think of is Nemesis and Uncanny X-Men. Though I myself can’t seem to drop Uncanny X-Men. Oh, and they’re canceling Secret Warriors. Plus, Shield and Children’s Crusade are only bi-monthly. So your list is not that bad.

      I can canceled Unwritten a month ago. Because it was either that or Sweet Tooth.

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