Saturday, January 14, 2006

Favorite Comics of 2005

Hot Gimmick - This soap opera series about the loves and internal politics in a Japanese corporate housing continued to be my favorite running series. The different plots lines of young love, obsession and how people of all ages can use each other just keeps me hungry for more.

Every new volume gives me a different perspective on things, like in Vol. 10 were I suddenly realized why Hatsumi, the 16-year-old lead who finds herself in a tug of war between young suitors and her family’s delicate job related politics, had feelings for Ryoki. (the son of the boss who runs both the company and corporate housing unit)

Ryoki is physically abusive, self absorbed and power mad. Yet of all the people seeking Hatsumi’s affections, he’s the only one totally honest about how he feels about her. Which makes him stand out to her, even if it is a wrong choice, though none of the suitors seem to be a right one for her.

Tramps Like Us - Following Sumire Iwaya, a young career woman who has taken in a young man(nicknamed Momo) off the street to be her pet has been an interesting ride this year.

I started off not really caring a lot for it, as while I love reading about Sumire, Momo just seemed annoying. Yet the more I read, the more I grew to love both characters, as they are there for each other through difficult times.

This is the one truly adult, I mean in terms of maturity not porn or bad words, manga I’ve been able to find so far. With themes of office politics, trying to love someone you’re supposed to, while really being in love with one you’re not.

These are adult concerns told in fun, but sympathetic ways, that makes for an interesting read.

Human Target - Writer Peter Milligan took human chameleon Christopher Chance on a journey delving into the very nature of identity, using stories pulled from today’s biggest headlines.

This book made me think why I and others may act as we do, as Chance has to question these reasons to become the people he does. It was a series that ended far too soon, and I only wish they’d collected the last storyline. (since I missed the last few issues)

Legion of Super-Heroes - My one fanboy conceit title here, as this is the one superhero title I have a personal connection to. Having met and bonded with some of my closest friends through it, and its rather unique spirit really drew me in at a time I was thinking of giving up comics years ago.

In recent years I’d given up on the comic sadly. I became a fan after discovering the series during the Giffen and Biernbaums era, where its internal connections and sense of anything can happen(including blowing up the Earth in my first issue) drew me in. I devoured back issues and archives, and learned even more once I got online and could talk with fellow fans and those professionals responsible for the books.

Yet shock stories, mismanagement of characters and just pure boneheaded moves drove me away.

Then Mark Waid and Barry Kitson come on board for yet another reboot, and I can’t believe how well it worked. Here is the core concept of young people trying to make a difference, in a futuristic world that is full of wonders.

Yet while keeping to the core, they are not rehashing old stories or even old relationships. These teens are familiar and have the heart of what made the original characters so loved, yet these are different kids with different experiences.

Making this one of the few series that is mindful of the past, while strongly moving ahead in fun new directions.

Gosh I feel kind of bad to have such a short list, yet over this year comics really took a lower priority with me. Add in that a lot of favorites went away, and that there seemed to be very little new to replace them. Made this a year that while it had a number of things I was interested in reading, nothing new* particularly stood out to make it a favorite.

*I did read and loved the first Scott Pilgrim GN this year, but since it came out in 2004 I didn’t want to put it on the list. Hopefully I can read the second and third one before the end of this year.

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