My Favorite Comic Books of the Decade, Part I
When I was pondering topics to write about at the close of this year, I became inspired by the fact that comic books have played such a large role in my life over the last ten years.
So, I thought it was only appropriate for me to look back on some of the comics throughout the decade that inspired me the most. It should go without saying that narrowing down this list to only include ten comics was one difficult feat. With this, there are a multitude of other comic book sagas that have moved me.
However, the ten comics I will discuss in this article and its successor are the ones that I most often find myself revisiting, and if you have not heard of some of the works I will shed light on, I highly suggest you visit your local comic book shop or bookstore to check them out.
The Vision by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, & Mike Del Mundo (2015 - 2016)
To be honest, I am not even sure where to begin with this one. The Vision has undoubtedly become one of my favorite comic book works of all time. I believe it is also safe to say that it has become one of the most acclaimed comic books of all time amongst fans and critics alike. From its consistently impeccable cover artwork to its poignant depiction of human nature, the story is truly one for the ages.
Comprising twelve issues, The Vision traverses the notable Avenger's journey as he attempts to manifest a "normal" life. In doing so, he creates a family of his own and takes up residence in the suburbs.
It should come as no surprise that this seemingly positive domestic bliss quickly comes undone.
Ultimately, The Vision is a bold, nuanced story that challenges the form by which superhero comic book stories have been told. It maintains the ability to challenge anyone's perception of superheroes in addition to the definition of human nature as a whole.
The Vision is a book you must experience for yourself to truly grasp the gravity it holds and the impact it can make. By the end of it, you may feel as though you need to give it a reread to better connect the dots.
Having read the series a few times now, I can tell you that it is indeed a tale that requires repeated reading, but not because it is too complex. Rather, there are a variety of perspectives one can maintain on the story, with no single perception serving as the correct one. As a result, one can assess The Vision as a continuously evolving story, one that does not necessarily have a set objective as that objective is one we must continuously unfold as we repeatedly immerse ourselves into the mind of Vision himself.
The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman (2015 - 2018)
When I think of a word to describe writer Jason Aaron's work on The Mighty Thor, the word that comes to mind is "powerful".
Traversing the journey of Jane Foster as she battles cancer while simultaneously protecting the cosmos as the Goddess of Thunder, The Mighty Thor is an epic space adventure by nature.
The artwork from Russell Dauterman is wacky, psychadelic, and immersive all at once, truly pulling you into the thick of it all. Ultimately, Dauterman's depiction of Thor and the various settings she engages in contribute to an immersive, comic book reading experience. You will truly have fun scanning the pages of the series as you soar across the galaxy.
Now, with this, the characterization Aaron implements into Jane Foster is absolutely captivating. Without spoiling anything, the final issues of The Mighty Thor, particularly #705, comprise some of the most inspiring character evolution I have personally witnessed. Sure, this may not be the case for every reader who has picked up this story.
But, personally, those final few pages truly made an impact on me and a large part of that was because of Jason Aaron's nuanced portrayal of Jane Foster.
Sure, upon first glance, one may question how exactly they can identify with a goddess. I assure you, The Mighty Thor will prove just how as the saga brings you on an epic journey.
Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank (2012, 2015)
If you have read my articles before, you should know that Batman is among my favorite comic book characters. So, it should come as no surprise that a few of his stories made this list.
Upon their respective releases, Batman: Earth One Vols. 1 and 2 were stories that truly surprised me. I knew very little about their development prior to their releases. Consequently, I did not know what to expect from them.
Sure, interpretations of Batman's origin story have been done before, but this particular perspective, provided by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, maintains an innovative quality that differentiates its storytelling.
Firstly, Johns implements various changes to the Batman mythos we may have been familiar with. Though, he does not make these changes for the sake of making them. Additionally, the series does a fantastic job in depicting a developing Batman, one that is building out his portfolio as a detective, crimefighter, and every other role he has been known to play.
In this depiction, we witness a variety of Batman's own shortcomings that result from his own inexperience.
Ultimately, Batman: Earth One succeeds where a lot of other reinterpretations of Batman's origin story have failed. It provides something fresh and unpredictable despite the level of familiarity a reader may have with Batman.
Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (2018 - )
I always admire a comic book story that manages to bend its own genre. Immortal Hulk is a series that does just that.
Writer Al Ewing playfully manipulates the form of the story whether that is through non-linear storytelling or eccentric twists and turns. At times, Immortal Hulk reads like a work of horror. Other times, it reads like a dark comedy. Thus, when it comes to unpredictability, this particular series truly exemplifies the term.
Ewing offers one of the most radical takes on the Hulk I have ever witnessed. Now, despite his unpredictable and maybe even chaotic take on the character, Immortal Hulk never loses its cohesiveness. The story is incredibly well-developed and has yet to miss a beat in the evolution of its overarching narrative.
With this, Ewing has provided brand new facets to the Hulk mythos that actually construct a world around the character that has never been explored before.
Because of this, Immortal Hulk may be overwhelming for an individual exploring the character for the first time. However, it is definitely a story that has changed the game for the character himself.
Black Widow: The Name of the Rose by Marjorie Liu & Daniel Acuña (2010)
Natasha Romanoff's past before her time with The Avengers is often a subject of great mystery and controversy. With this, that past is quite difficult to discover.
Writer Marjorie Liu's work on Black Widow: The Name of the Rose takes readers on a reluctant journey into Black Widow's past. I use the word reluctant because the story we come to discover is one of an intimate and tragic nature. Despite comprising only five issues, Liu manages to compose a vignette of Black Widow's past that feels raw and immensely human.
Because of this, The Name of the Rose is my favorite depiction of Black Widow herself, and I cannot recommend it enough.
For a first time reader, the story may not deliver what you would expect if you have not familiarized yourself with the comic book depictions of Black Widow. With that though, this series is a great to get acquainted with Natasha Romanoff outside of her usual settings.
Additionally, the artwork is absolutely magnificent, contributing to a holistically solid series. So, if you are looking for a relatively speedy comic book read that maintains a well-developed story, look no further than Black Widow: The Name of the Rose.
As aforementioned, aggregating all of my favorite comic book series of the decade into a list of only ten was no easy feat.
There are a plethora of other works that have impacted me over the last ten years, but the ones I have mentioned today and the others I will mention at a later date transcend their pages and continuously impact my life day-to-day.
So, stay tuned for the continuation of this list as we revisit some of the greatest works of the decade.