To celebrate the end of the year, the staff of Sequential Planet will be listing their favorite things from 2019! Below are some of Ethan’s favorite picks of the year.
Series of the Year: Little Bird
Little Bird is special. I know it’s special because when I look at the categories below this one, I could almost pick Little Bird (or one of its creators) for every one of them. It’s a book that came out of nowhere from a creative team I’d never heard of before and blew me away. Ian Bertram’s art is otherworldly, and Darcy Van Poelgeest’s writing is concise and poetic without becoming self-indulgent. It’s a hard story to read, because as far out there as some of the sci-fi ideas are, its core themes are frighteningly relevant.
Honorable Mentions: Silver Surfer: Black, Farmhand
Best Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Ooh, I live for controversy. Honestly, though, it may seem a strange pick as the man didn’t write my favorite book of the year, but he did write MANY of my favorite books this year. Superman, Young Justice, Action Comics, and Legion (though it’s early), are all books that go straight to the top of my stack every Wednesday. I’m excited about superheroes again, particularly Superman, and that’s in very large part due to Bendis’ move to DC. It feels as if he’s been rejuvenated by the change, and he’s doing for DC what he did for Marvel all those years ago.
Honorable Mentions: Darcy Van Poelgeest, Jeff Lemire, Tom Taylor
Best Artist: Tradd Moore
Moore’s work on Silver Surfer has been nothing short of a revelation for me. It stretches and plays with the concept of comics storytelling: ditching panel borders, exaggerating anatomy, and intuitively drawing the eye with minimal effort or thought from the reader. He achieves all of this and more and makes me wish all comic art could be so ambitious.
Honorable Mentions: Ian Bertram, Steve Liever, Jorge Fornes
Best Colorist: Dave Stewart
I know, it’s not much of a shocker. There is a reason Dave Stewart is Dave Stewart: he’s just the best there is at what he does, and what he does is color real nice. All colorists contribute to the storytelling, subtly or not, but Dave Stewart does so with more finesse and variety of technique than any other artist in the business.
Honorable Mentions: Jordie Bellaire, Matthew Wilson
Best Issue: Batman Annual #4
Tom King’s run on Batman has been controversial, to say the least. I mostly really like it, but regardless of your feelings on the regular story, it’s undeniable that the annuals are all spectacular. Each one of the four I’ve put down after reading and thought “Well, that’s just an instant classic.” This one has art by Jorge Fornes and it’s just unreal how good it looks. On top of that, it’s great to see the team play with the structure throughout the issue. It begins with a few longer stories, and gradually throughout the issue, the stories begin to grow shorter. A pattern develops, and because of King and Fornes’ strong portrayal of Batman’s character (as seen through Alfred’s eyes), the book trains you to fill in the gaps on your own. Eventually, the stories are distilled down to just one panel each with minimal words, but the stories are still entirely clear and compelling. It’s poetic, it’s beautiful, and it’s the goddamn Batman.
Honorable Mentions: Young Justice #1, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6, Little Bird #3
Best Publisher: Marvel Comics
Two years in a row now Marvel has been batting a high average throughout pretty much their entire line. Last year marked the start of their “Fresh Start” relaunch and was a huge hit right away. It’s been long enough since that relaunch that every week I expect the quality to wane and become stale, but as of now that hasn’t happened. Every book I pick up from Marvel recently is top tier at best and just average at worst.
Honorable Mentions: DC Comics, Image Comics
Best New Series: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen
What a year for the Superman line, eh? Despite the controversy of the big two Supes books (which I adore), the tangentially related books have been stellar. Lois Lane, Young Justice (reintroduces Superboy, so I’ll count it), Legion of Superheroes (Jon’s book), and of course, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy, however, stands a head above the others. It’s the one that’s truly playing with the structure of 20-page comics and doing something entirely unique. It’s a bit of a silver age throwback, but it’s not a copy-paste job, it feels totally new. It’s genuinely hilarious, and of course, that’s partially due to Matt Fraction’s sense of humor, but Steve Lieber absolutely nails the comedy. Whether it’s due to some of the best facial acting in comics or just the way he paces the various ridiculous scenarios and jokes, it’s incredibly well done.
Honorable Mentions: Young Justice, Ronin Island, The Question: Deaths of Vic Sage
Best Miniseries: Little Bird
It’s the book of the year and a mini-series, so of course, it takes this spot as well. Read Little Bird, the new hardcover is gorgeous.
Honorable Mentions: Silver Surfer: Black, Black Hammer/Justice League. House of X
Movie of the Year: Avengers Endgame
Look, I’m not ashamed of this. I love superheroes, I love comic books, and I love movies. I can say with confidence that Endgame made me feel more than any movie I’ve ever seen. By the end, I was quite literally shaking in my seat from excitement, as well as the tears, and I’ve just never had a movie touch me that way. I completely understand that this is in very large part due to my personal attachment to the source material and previous films, but I truly don’t care. This is what I like, and I stopped being ashamed of that long ago.
Honorable Mentions: Us, Booksmart
Best Performance: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
I’m aware this isn’t a hot take, but Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur Fleck was something spectacular to behold. He carries literally every scene in the movie, and not once does he remind me that he’s an actor playing a part; it’s too natural and consistent. It’s a testament to his acting ability that he managed to pull off the best performance I’ve seen all year in a movie that I’m not all that crazy about and have no desire to see again.
Honorable Mentions: Lupita Nyong’O (Us)
TV Show of the Year: Doom Patrol
Oh boy, do I love Doom Patrol. Everything about this show appeals to me. It’s incredibly whacky and dumb, and it revels in it. It’s hilarious, but there’s also a genuine heart at the core. From the very start, it presents the audience with a compelling cast of characters, who are brilliantly portrayed by actors who are probably way too big for a show on a platform like DC Universe. That’s why its wackiness doesn’t get tiring after a short time; because there’s more to it than that. It swings back and forth between genuinely heart wrenching to uplifting and hopeful on an episodic basis, and then presents you butts with legs that murder people.
Honorable Mentions: The Orville, Watchmen, The Mandalorian
Video Game of the Year: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
I don’t play a lot of games, but I do love Star Wars more than most of my blood relatives. This game works for me because I genuinely get a thrill every time I pop out my lightsaber or Force Push a crowd of stormtroopers into the abyss. The characters are mostly boring and, despite having finished the game literally last night, I’m not certain I could tell you what the story was. I don’t care though, because I hit a lot of guys with my lightsaber.