The Third Time's the Charm Award: Green Arrow #17
Since the New 52 relaunch, Green Arrow has been a troubled (i.e., terrible) series. The team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino is the third creative team attached to the book and it's probably the best…mainly because it's the first time I've read an issue of Green Arrow and found it remotely competent. Lemire's storytelling is solid, but it's Sorrentino's gritty and cinematic art that makes the book work, lending the action a genuine sense of danger. This is good stuff -- it's not the best comic starring an archer on the market (Hawkeye!), but I'm up for issue #18.
Best Use of Canada-Related Humor: Dial H #9
Dial H is a weird, confusing and often wonderful series and it's probably the only comic on the stands that can get away with a subplot about the Canadian government desperately trying and failing to enter the superhero arms race (after all, America has Superman). Yep, you've got me, China Mieville: I'm not above laughing at "Canadians are polite!" jokes.
Special Prize For Being Juuust Good Enough For Me to Buy the Second Issue: The Fearless Defenders #1
While DC attracts daily controversy for its weak and one-dimensional female characters, Marvel is building entire books around ladies. A few months ago, Sif took over Journey Into Mystery and the main X-Men book will soon feature an entirely female line-up, but right now, we have The Fearless Defenders, a book that's charming, funny and as light as feather. I'm not sure if there's any substance at the core of this series, but as a showcase for tough ladies kicking ass, it's solid entertainment.
Most Accessible Batman Comic of the Week: Detective Comics #16
Scott Snyder's main Batman series may be the one that everyone talks about (and that's because it's pretty terrific), but John Layman's Detective Comics has been a thing of beauty, effortlessly using one or two-shot arcs to build a larger story (a tactic Layman has used to great effect over in Chew). While Snyder is running an effective marathon, Layman is sprinting fifty yards every month, quietly delivering the spiritual successor to Batman: The Animated Series. It's that good.
"Holy Shit!" Moment of the Week: New Avengers #3
I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will scream "THEY WENT THERE!" over and over again. This is the kind of thing that's going to have serious repercussions across the entire Marvel universe in the coming year and I can't wait to see the fallout.
The Ed Brubaker Award For Filling Ed Brubaker's Shoes: Winter Soldier #15
Hey! It turns out that Winter Soldier post-Brubaker may be fine! Jason Latour and Nic Klein's take on Bucky Barnes is a little funkier than their predecessor's, but they've nailed the series' fickle combination of noir and superhero silliness. Also: serious bonus points for proper use of Nick Fury Original Recipe.
Special Prize For "Thank God 'Rotworld' is Finally Over": Swamp Thing #16 and Animal Man #16
How did the crossover between Jeff Lemire's Animal Man and Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing go so horribly wrong? Who thought it was a good idea to separate two of the best characters in the DC universe from their vital supporting casts and fling them into a gimmicky future adventure where none of their actions mattered because of the obvious reset button waiting at the end of line? Why did both series devolve into a game of "Which Zombified Superhero Will We See Today"? 'Rotworld' is a pretty serious blemish on two books that have otherwise been highlights in the DC. Thank god it's over.
Runner-Up Comic of the Week: Hellboy in Hell #3
As a recent convert to the Mike Mignola's Hellboy universe, great swaths of Hellboy in Hell have left me a little confused and issue three is more of the same. However, I'd be lying if I said this gorgeous and creepy series wasn't an absolute blast to read. Anything I don't understand isn't a deterrent, but rather a kick in the pants to get caught up on the back issues of this amazing character.
Comic of the Week: Red Team #1
It's amazing how good restraint looks on Garth Ennis. Red Team is still clearly his voice in that it's a dark, masculine story about finding your personal definition of doing the right thing (in this case, whether or not it's okay for a team of police officers to murder a criminal they can never catch through legal means), but Red Team is quiet, thoughtful, mature and about as far from the ridiculous excess of The Boys as you can possibly imagine. Stripped of his infantile crutches, Ennis' best qualities as a storyteller, namely his ability to sell complicated relationships and the weight he gives his pay-offs, are all that remain. I have a very, very good feeling about the future of this series.