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BF Awards 2011 - Best Writer Mainstream: Jeff Lemire

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2011 proved to be a breakout year for the incredible writer and artist Jeff Lemire, creator of emotionally powerful projects like Essex County and Sweet Tooth

As DC Comics unveiled its New 52 initiative, Lemire seemed like an unlikely candidate to tackle the superhero realm.  As fans of the always incredible Sweet Tooth are sure to agree, the slower paced, more atmospheric, and strange post-apocalyptic world would be an uneasy translation into world of capes and tights.  Yet, Lemire’s new projects Animal Man and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. are to this day two of the best titles in The New 52.  How did a writer best known for his works at smaller press companies like Vertigo and Top Shelf come to dominate the universe of Batman, Superman, and Green?  Let’s take an adventure and find out.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is a classical monster movie fanatic’s dream come true.  Blazing out of mind-bending stories like Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis is the Grant Morrison created Frankenstein, agent and team leader of a band of misfit monsters for the Super Human Advance Defense Executive.  Filling the shoes of one of the titans of the industry is no easy task, but the commanding voice of Frankenstein has never read better as he shoots, slices, and destroys his way through monsters and planets.  Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is the definition of fun. 

With allegories for classic monsters like the Mummy, Dracula, the creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Wolfman serving as his team, Frankenstein is, issue in and issue out, a blast and a rapid page-turner.  With the first arc, "War of the Monsters", recently coming to a bombastic conclusion, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is sure to continue its mix of monsters, science fiction, and over the top insanity well into the future.  As fun as Frankenstein has proven to be, however, it pales in comparison to the best book of The New 52, Lemire’s Animal Man.

When DC first announced The New 52, could any fan have expected a new Animal Man title?  And even more unexpectedly, did any reader expect family man Buddy Baker to be the leading the charge in a new breed of action packed, emotional, and excellent titles?  From the very first panel of the very first page, Animal Man’s charming family dynamic has captivated readers, especially when Buddy’s courageous yet naive daughter Maxine has been given almost greater importance than her father.  Skillfully intertwined with the Baker family drama is a layered story of epic proportions that mixes the mythos of Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing into a brilliant and organic struggle of life against death, The Red against The Rot. 

Lemire’s additions are simple yet so profound, his take on the title reads like a writer discovering the true history and importance of Buddy Baker’s life that has been hidden for decades.  And most importantly, Lemire has given readers Socks.  A once ancient and powerful animal avatar, or Totem, Socks chose to leave The Red at the detriment to himself in order to protect and guide the true hero of Animal Man, Maxine.  If the profound story of Lemire’s Animal Man is not found to be enticing enough, the very real family dynamic of the Baker family and their new pet Socks surely will.

Armed with the most unlikely of books, 2011 will surely be the year that the mainstream comics readership was introduced to Jeff Lemire’s unique style of storytelling.  Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. and Animal Man stand amongst a select few peers, telling wholly unique stories about some of the most untraditional of characters battling freshly created enemies. 

The explosion of new ideas, the superior quality of storytelling, all the while firmly grounding his stories in the roots of the DC Universe is why Jeff Lemire is the Best Writer in the Mainstream.

Full list of the 2011 Broken Frontier Award winners

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