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New Year's Resolutions for 2011!

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It’s our fifth annual New Year’s Resolution column. Worthy comics are in need of readers! Will you make it your resolution to help them?

We here at Guiding Lines, for the fifth year in a row now, are making choosing your New Year’s resolutions easier. Instead of suggesting things for you to give up, we are suggesting things you should pick up. We have ten, low-selling books that we think you would enjoy. These are the titles you should add to your pull list now!

The deal is the same as it's been over the last four years. Each of these titles charted either just outside the Diamond 100 on a regular basis or are in danger of dropping there. This is the danger zone when it comes to sales and might mean these titles are in danger of cancellation. They also share the fact that I believe they are some of the best comics on the market. After each title, I will list the chart position and sales figures for the last several issues of each title.

If you clicked those links above, you will see a few repeat entries on this year’s list. Some have appeared on the list each year. You might say this means they are in no danger of cancellation. But this doesn’t mean they don’t deserve more readers.

So, without further ado, the ten books you should make it your New Year’s Resolution to start reading!

Jonah Hex (#59=#170, 11,444; #60=#161, 11,141; #61=#160, 10,796 ):

Last year was supposed to be the year that this title would rise out of the sales cellar. After all, a Jonah Hex film was hitting cineplexes, and a successful film often translates into new readers. Too bad the film was an abysmal failure both creatively and commercially.

The film did more to chase potential readers away than it did to bring them in. This is a shame because this title is still one of the best on the market. The series strayed away from done-in-one story lines to give us longer tales and elements of continuity. But it is still very accessible to new readers and features one of the most powerful lead characters in comics. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are joined by an all-star international group of artists to give us one of the most criminally underrated comics in the world today.

The Stand (Hardcases #3=#105, 18,352; #4=#111, 17,186; #5=#110, 16,751):
 
Dark Tower might have slightly better sales, received slightly better press, and gets better placement on bookstore shelves, but Marvel's adaptation of The Stand is definitely the better of the two by far.

Now, I might be biased. The Stand is my favorite Stephen King novel. But that doesn't take away from the fact that Robert Aguirre-Sacasa and Mike Perkins have done a masterful job bringing the book to life in comics. Each of the characters feel, speak, and look human. If you read the book, you know who lives, who dies, who becomes a hero, and who lets evil consume them. But Aguirre-Sacasa and Perkins still make you feel for the characters as they follow where destiny takes them.

Things are starting to pick up as the survivors have split off into groups, the good joining Mother Abigail in Boulder, Colorado, and the evil following Randall Flagg in Las Vegas, Nevada. What lies ahead are betrayals, escalations, and an ending that is nothing short of explosive.

Doom Patrol (#14=#180, 10,780; #15=#174, 10,081; #16=#166, 9,955):

Keith Giffen did the near impossible. He was able to mix the campy 1960s Arnold Drake/Bob Haney/Bruno Premiani version of the team with the more conventional superhero team from Paul Kupperberg's revamps of the 1970s and 1980s with Grant Morrison's esoterically odd new direction that jump-started Vertigo and also found a way to work in John Arcudi's corporate version of the team and John Byrne's throw-out-everything-and-start-fresh version from the 2000s.

The result is a book that stays true to every previous incarnation of the team but blazes a trail all its own. This new series is just as weird as the Morrison run, just as action-packed as the Kupperberg versions, and as good as any other book on the stands right now. The book is a labor of love for Giffen and it shows. It's too bad not many fans are willing to share in the love.    

Morning Glories: (#1=#167, 8,687; #2=#218, 8,265; #3=#156, 11,258; #4=#151, 11,292):

As you can see from above, this is a book on the rise. After the expected second issue dip, sales from #3 on have made quite the sizable jump. But the jump should be much bigger because this is bar none, hands down one of the best new books of last year.

Nick Spencer is a relative newbie in the comic book world, but you would never tell from this series. He has crafted a mystery that ranks as one of the best of all time. The story follows the going ons at an exclusive prep school with very stringent requirements: you have to be very special and you have to have been born on May fourth. Graduates have no problem getting into the best Ivy League schools, that is, if they live long enough to graduate. The latest class might be the best one yet, and they might just be the ones to get to the bottom of the shadowy goings on behind the school and its staff.


G.I. Joe: Origins (#19=#173, 11,171; #20=#184, 9,482; #21=#178, 8,970):
 
IDW's G.I. Joe is not your father's Joe. And this series is not like any other G.I. Joe series you have ever seen. It is set back in the early days of the military force, back before Cobra was known as Cobra and it gives the story of how the members of the Joes and Cobra joined the teams and your favorite characters got their start.

That was before David Lapham took over. His arc deals with Cobra, who in the new reality is a terrorist group that tries to undermine the global economy whose front is legitimate companies such as a Blackwater-like security forces or a humanitarian aid organizations. He follows a new recruit to the force who has the potential for great things. How will he fit into the Cobra hierarchy? And where will his rise take him to?

Secret Six (#25=#101, 20,775; #26=#96, 20,377; #27=#91, 19,963):

Having this series sell this bad is like having an oil reserve in your backyard and not tapping it. It is the best mainstream superhero book being published today. Granted, it features a cast full of supervillains, but you know what I mean.

This is some of Gail Simone's greatest writing. She took a mix of second rate villains, a group of has-beens and never-weres, and created some of the most interesting characters in comic history out of them all. They are bad guys out for a buck. They'd sell out their friends in a heartbeat but have their backs in a firefight. They are the most complex, realistic characters in comics today. They would work in any type of story, but Simone takes them on adventures that are imaginative and exciting. Seriously, this series should be in the Top Ten, not struggling to stay in the Top 100.  

Scalped (#40=#200, 6,593; #41=#232, 6,623; #42=#235, 6,476; #43=#218, 6,324):
 
This series is yet another title that has been a regular resident on this list year after year. Last year, I made note of the fact that this probably meant that Vertigo would let this series run its natural course. However, with all the changes at Vertigo over the past year and the number of cancellations of titles that sold as bad if not worse than this one, nothing is certain.

This series is great, and consistently so. It is a grim and gritty crime drama that does not forget the criminal element. You care about the "good guys," you care about the "bad guys," and that makes for entertaining drama. Pick this book up even if you are only reading it in trades. I really want to see how it ends.

The Boys (#46=#100, 20,789; #47=#98, 20,198; #48=#90, 20,004):
 
The controversy of this title's move from Wildstorm to Dynamite has died down, and while it still stands as one of the best-selling Dynamite books, it still has fewer readers than it deserves. The quality certainly hasn't declined in the years since the move. If anything, it’s gotten better.

The series works on many levels. It works as a searing satire on the comic book industry. It works as a vicious lampooning of characters such as the JLA and Avengers. It works as a pointed commentary on politics and religion. It works as a dramatic examination of the world of a black ops operative. It even works as a romance, believe it or not.

It is audacious, daring, and definitely for adults only. But it is still a great book. And it keeps getting better.  

Haunt (#9=#117, 17,894; #10=#110, 17,309; #11= #111, 16,658):
 
This series is exactly what you'd expect from the pairing of Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman. We have a supernatural hero, trained by the government, with a tragic air of melancholy about him, much like Spawn. You have all-out action mixed with gruesome violence much like Invincible. What you might not have expected was that it would be this good.

Don't get me wrong, the series will not cure cancer or anything like that. But it is a fun, fast-paced, thrill ride. It's like a Charles Bronson film directed by George Romero. It features a former priest mystically bonded to his spy brother's ghost. The bonding gives him superpowers and lets him try and avenge his brother's death.

Booster Gold (#36=#112, 18,504; #37=#108, 17,806; #38=#106, 17,276):

There have been some changes since we placed this book on our list last year. Dan Jurgens, the man who created the character and came in to write this book after Geoff Johns left it, ended his run. The man who created the character was replaced by the team that most defined the character: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis.

Giffen and DeMatteis kept the main idea behind the series: that Booster was a hero who worked behind the scenes to keep the time stream safe and intact but seemed like a goofball to everyone he met--but brought back the funny. There were certain moments that were laugh-out-loud funny. If you liked the glory days of the JLI, then this is as close as you are going to get to having them.

So, once again, there you have it—10 books in need of love and you in need of a New Year’s resolution. That seems to be a marriage made in heaven. You might save a comic from extinction and find a new favorite book at the same time. Wouldn’t that make your new year great?

     
###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife, Jennifer, and his daughter, Vanessa. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a contributor to Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.
 

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  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Jan 12, 2011 at 4:00am

    The Stand.... I am "doing" the Dutch translated HC's and am loving every page!!
    I read the book, but that was ages ago and I feel like I am rediscovering King in all sorts of new ways!!

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