2010 has been a mixed year for me on a personal level, with several high points and sadly some low points as well. That said, it gives me great pleasure to see this post bring me to 20 for the year - equalling my output for 2009 despite a period of shocking and inexcusable inactivity in the Summer. It has been, in all honesty a below par year for comics. Sales are down to near unheard of levels and my pull list has been mercilessly shorn. Despite this there is much to celebrate, as in my mind Marvel's Heroic Age has been a quiet success, ushering in an end to the event driven storytelling of recent years. Hopefully next year will be a great, and improved year for comics with increased sales and more great stories! But for now, let's focus on the best of 2010. Happy reading, happy new year and a million thankyous to anyone who has spent even a moment reading my inane ramblings this year!
Best Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
While Bendis has been one of the most lauded figures in modern day comic books, he is also heavily criticised, with online fandom taking issue with his decompressed style of writing and distinctive patterns of dialogue. Thankfully, given his rather prolific output I am not one of those critics. While his relaunched Avengers title has faltered, both New Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man have been firing on all cylinders. Bendis deserves this award for consistently delivering quality, despite a workload that would reduce many other writers to tears.
Best Artist: Pasqual Ferry
The jury is still out on Matt Fraction's hotly anticipated Thor series, yet its biggest success in my eyes has been Pasqual Ferry's distinctive artwork. I am not art critic but Ferry's work on the title has enlivened Fraction's occasionally pedestrian scripts, making Thor one of 2010's most readable titles.
Best Series: Avengers Academy
Christos Gage is a writer that few would have been familiar with just a few years ago but in the last 12 months he has risen to the top of my list of up and coming Marvel writers. In his acclaimed, if not hotly anticipated run on Avengers Academy Gage has mixed deft characterisation with classic superheroics, to brilliant effect.
Best Single Issue: Ultimate Avengers 2 #2
Mark Millar's return to the Ultimates characters that he made famous has sadly not fully lived up to its potential, despite being an entertaining enough blockbuster action romp. The undoubted highlight in my mind was the second issue of the second volume of his Ultimate Avengers series. In the space of 22 pages Millar introduces a compelling and multi-layered new character, as well as finding space the hard hitting fight scenes that made him famous. Add Leinil Francis Yu to the mix, back to his best after a lacklustre showing on Secret Invasion and you have my favourite single issue of the year.
Biggest Disappointment: Avengers
While he was my favourite writer of the year, this title's inclusion shows that Brian Michael Bendis is in no way exempt from criticism. Avengers promised much, especially after a stellar opening issue, but delivered little. Its opening arc was something of a confusing mess, although a promising latest issue suggests that the title could be in for a much improved 2011!
Best Film: Shutter Island
For someone who quite simply did not understand Inception, Shutter Island stands as a memorable highlight in a solid year for film. Martin Scorsese's psychological thriller melded a star studded cast and a bafflingly brilliant storyline, to create one of the most thought provoking films of the year, with probably my favourite twist ending of all time (Yes, I didn't see it coming).
Best TV Series: The Trip
I was sorely tempted to give LOST, my personal favourite television series of all time, this award, but the fact is that sixth season was slightly below par, and was largely saved by an outstanding conclusion. With that in mind, my favourite television series of the year goes to a show that probably won't be widely known outside the UK - The Trip, starring British actors/comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan. Boasting a confusing premise, the Trip's strength lies not in its comedy but its honesty, with Brydon and Coogans often inane conversations standing apart from anything else on modern television. Infused with an unexpected bleakness, The Trip is a rare breed - a completely unique modern televison program. Highly recommended.
Song of the year: O Children - Ruins
Album of the Year: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Well that brings us to a close, and concludes my postings this year. While I still have your attention I implore you to listen to the above songs - they really are excellent! Thanks to everyone once again for reading, if you disagree (or agree) with any of my choices then by all means contact me - the links are in the top left of the page. Happy new year readers! Josh out!