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Gabe Bullard | Comics

 

1. Bryan Lee O'Malley | Scott Pilgrim Vol. IV: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (Oni Press)

The Scott Pilgrim series keeps getting better. In the latest installment, Scott wrestles with employment, jealousy, and a very irate lesbian ninja, all while being surrounded by video game and indie rock references. Enough said.

 

2. Eric Powell | The Goon: Chinatown (Dark Horse)

Chinatown may seem like a departure for the Goon (it's not a comedy) but Powell's first original graphic novel tells his zombie-fighting hero's backstory with unparalleled adeptness. Seeing familiar characters in this new context is slightly disarming, but Powell seems perfectly comfortable leaving out the jokes.

 

3. Matt Kindt | Super Spy (Top Shelf)

Since it's about espionage, Super Spy is full of betrayal, gadgets, murder and sex. But it goes beyond that. With beautiful art and clever writing St. Louisan Matt Kindt weaves tragic, funny, and bizarre stories of World War II spies into a near-perfect comic.

 

4. Jeffrey Brown | The Incredible Change-Bots (Top Shelf)

Just in time for the Transformers movie, Jeffrey Brown came out with Changebots, a parody that showcases the ridiculousness of the Transformers concept while still maintaining a certain nostalgia for Optimus Prime and the gang. It's Brown's first full-color book and it's also one of his funniest.

 

5, Renee French | Micrographica (Top Shelf)

Even though they were drawn smaller than a postage stamp, the comics in Micrographica have more humor and heart than books fifty times bigger.

 

6. Various Artists | MySpace/Dark Horse Presents #1 (Dark Horse)

By teaming up with the ubiquitous social networking site, Dark Horse was able to make a webcomics format that's infinitely more enjoyable than Zuda. By getting contributions from creators like Joss Whedon, the publisher was able to relaunch a once-legendary publication in new glory online. While the comics featured in the first issue weren't perfect, they were good, plus, it's hard to beat free comics.

 

7. Jason | I Killed Adolf Hitler (Fantagraphics)

What starts out as a mildly confusing story about an assassin traveling back in time becomes a mildly confusing love story. Jason doesn't use many words and his depictions of action are brief and demure, but there's something to be said about restraint. Also, the idea of one of history's most notorious murderers as a walking dog is disturbingly wonderful.

 

8. Various Artists | Zuda Comics Round Two (DC Comics/Zuda) The interface still sucks, but content is king in the second round of DC's webcomics tournament. Standouts like Avaste Ye and PLAYBACK:stl's own Carlos Ruiz's Development Hell are funnier than any of the first batch while Pray for Death and The Adventures of Maxy J Millionaire are practically unrivaled by anything current online or in print.

 

9. Milton Caniff | Terry and the Pirates, Vol. 1 (IDW)

These days, adventure comic strips are generally terrible, and at first, Terry isn't much different. But once Caniff got going, he was able to pack more action and intrigue into 18 months that Mark Trail has seen in its whole career.

 

10. James Kochalka | Squirrelly Gray (Random House)

The often vulgar American Elf cartoonist is no stranger to children's books, but this one goes beyond Peanut Butter and Jeremy. It may be meant for youngsters, but like all the best kid's literature, Squirrelly Gray has enough substance and smarts to make adults happy, too. | Gabe Bullard

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