Superman – Red Son: One of the best uses of the Elseworlds concept, which reinvents the stories of famous heroes. This one imagines Superman’s rocket crashing in Soviet Russia during the Cold War and ending up a tool of the Communist government. Lex Luthor is the American hero who tries to take him down.
Batman - No Man’s Land: A huge, sprawling, ambitious story. Gotham City is devastated by an earthquake, and the US government washes its hands of the problem (a twist that seemed impossible on its original release that became infinitely more plausible, and insightful, after Katrina). Batman and his buddies are left to deal with the scared and out of control populace. Unlike most of the Batman events this decade, this one delivered on its potential.
The Walking Dead: This zombie series doesn’t pull its punches. It’s graphic and bloody, featuring zombies who arms and faces are rotting away. But like all good zombie stories, the real rot takes places among the humans who are picking up the broken pieces of civilization. The dialogue can be a bit cheesy, but the plots are brutal, and the black and white art is perfect.
Blankets: A sweet little love story to remedy the bad influence of those zombie comics.
Ex Machina: While everyone was salivating over the clever series Y: The Last Man, Bryan K Vaughan was also writing this even better series about a man with superpowers who foils half of 9/11 and ends up mayor of New York City.
Justice: Everybody loves Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come, and I admit that series was more innovative. But Justice reaffirms why people should read classic superhero comics. It offers sharp characterization with insightful little moments, gorgeous art, interesting villains, and great action sequences.
Torso: This true life account of a murder investigation late in Elliot Ness' career redefines what the genre can do by blending actual documents from archival research with gritty art.
Gotham Central: A brilliant premise, made even more brilliant in its execution. Essentially, this is NYPD Blue if it happened in Batman’s Gotham City. It offers fully realized cop characters who must deal with the problems that come with a city overrun with costumed super-villains. By letting Bats and the Joker recede into the background, the series humanized the comic world. Without hyperbole, you could make a case that this 40 issue series is the best that DC comics ever produced.
Stay nerdy, folks!