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What Is Best in Life 2008: Criminal, Geoff Johns, John Scalzi
© Jay Willson
January 10, 2009

No one. No one in this world can you trust. Except RevolutionSF opinions about what nerd stuff was best in 2008.

Best Marvel Comic Book: Criminal

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips combine to create one of the best author/artist teams in comics history, and the result is one of the strongest attempts at bringing crime literature to comics. Inspired by the noir films of the 40s and 50s, and crime fiction authors such as Donald Westlake, James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard, Brubaker displays his true writing chops on this book. Of special note is the extra section in each issue, in which Brubaker and other noir fans highlight a favorite crime movie, book, or TV show, with a wonderful essay and a painted image by Phillips. A truly amazing and inspired comic book.

Best DC Comic Book: Action Comics

Until Gary Frank left the book to do the "Secret Origins" story, Action was the most consistently good comic by DC. The book contained wonderful stories by Geoff Johns, with art by Frank, and it arrived on time each month. Of particular note was the "Superman and The Legion of Superheroes" storyline, which contained amazing new ideas regarding the Superman legacy. The artwork by Frank is just outstandingly well drawn.

Best Comic Book Writer: Ed Brubaker and Geoff Johns

See above. ‘Nuff said.

Best Comic Book Artist: Gary Frank

Again, for reasons described above, and for completing the cycle full circle by drawing Superman to look like Christopher Reeve, and bringing Reeve’s memory back to Superman.

Best Comic Book Character: Scott Pilgrim

Read one of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s five Scott Pilgrim books and you’ll see why. This is one fun series. Reading Scott Pilgrim is like listening to a favorite CD.

Best Comic Book Artist Blog: Sure Beats Working

The blog of comic book artist Sean Phillips. Phillips posts new artwork every day regarding projects that he is working on, and often shows his art breakdowns, paintings, life drawing sketches and other terrific work. No wonder Criminal is so good; Phillips’ art matches the quality of Brubaker’s stories beat for beat. This is a great blog for comic book artist wannabes who don’t really understand how much actual work is involved in drawing comic books every day.

Best Book about a Comic Book Creator: Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

Blake Bell does the unthinkable, crafting an extremely interesting book about one of the weirdest creators ever to draw for comics. The book features pages of beautiful artwork by Ditko, reminding the reader of his original impact on the industry, but the riveting text that accompanies the artwork describes the gradual decline of this once-notable career. An exceptional examination of one man’s fight to continually support his beliefs, even at the cost of his career, and quite possibly, his sanity.

Best Science Fiction Series: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Hey, I read something other than comic books! Walking in the footsteps of science fiction master Robert Heinlein, Scalzi has crafted an intriguing and wonderful group of books that share a universe and characters. Starting with Old Man's War, a literal re-write of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (and yet, so much more), the stories of this universe continue in The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, The Sagan Diary and the recently published Zoe’s Tale. Each book is wonderful on its own, but all share concepts, ideas, characters and a common world, so reading them in the order of their appearance just adds an additional level of fun.

Best Genre Book Overall: The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril

This was a fun book to read. It is one of the greatest genre novels in years. Writer Paul Malmont obviously has a great love for the old pulp adventure magazines, as the protagonists for this story are Walter Gibson (creator of The Shadow) and Lester Dent (creator of Doc Savage). Sprinkle in murder mysteries along with a dash of pulp writers discussing and arguing about the craft of writing, and you have one fantastic book.

Best Action Figure: Thor

(Submitted by action figure collector par excellence, Mike McCormick) Bow to Mr. McCormick’s knowledge in this area, as he may very well own every action figure ever created. OK, maybe not, but believe me, he’s close. I might go with the Batman figure from the Batman and Son series myself (designed by Andy Kubert), but action figure sensei McCormick has so much experience buying figures, that I wouldn’t dare question his selection.

Best Example Superheroes Can Reach True Cinematic Art: Batman Begins and Dark Knight

When I think to how many years film producers attempted to make a good film version of a comic book, let alone a truly great film inspired by comic book concepts, it makes the quality of these two stand out. I can remember wondering if anyone could ever make a film that would cause audiences to really suspend their disbelief for five minutes and believe that these characters could exist.

Christopher Nolan did just that. He also delivered films with stories adults can bring other adults to see. Both films are truly masterful and they set a new watermark for comic book cinema.

Best Example Genre TV Can Reach True Cinematic Art: Battlestar Galactica

The show that got it right. They understood how much drama could be mined from considering the emotional power that would develop within a civilization stuck in outer space. The Sopranos won all the awards, but I’ve found myself gripping the cushions of my couch more watching this show versus any other. BSG has truly been one of the most impressive attempts to bring real science fiction drama to the television screen, and its dark storylines remind us over and over again just how petty and fragile we humans can be.

Don't drown in a lake of blood! Witness the rest of RevolutionSF's What Is Best In Life for 2008.

Jay Willson is the Comics Editor of RevolutionSF and can be found participating in very geeky activities when he thinks no one is looking.

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