Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dork Awards 2010: Best Single Issue

So it's time once again to return to the Dork Awards...


Best Single Issue

Crafting a great single issue of a funnybook series really is an art form, and one that’s increasingly rare in this era of multi-part stories and novelistic pacing. That’s my preferred sort of serial funnybook writing, too, which makes finding great single-issue comics that much harder. Still, I was able to pull together a list of issues that made me happy this year without too much difficulty. To whit…

 



Iron Man Annual #1
by Matt Fraction and Carmine DiGiandomenico

This story recreating the Mandarin as a villain for the 21st Century is perhaps Matt Fraction’s best Marvel work to date, and is almost certainly the best single-issue corporate spandex story of the year. It’s only competition, in fact, is…

















Batman and Robin #16
by Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart, Chris Burnham, and Frazer Irving

The big finale to Morrison’s Batman & Robin is a big splashy mess of a comic, filled with great moments, the best of which is probably the Joker’s final confrontation with Dr. Hurt.



















Scarlet #1
by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

A thrilling literary exercise kicks off this series, with Bendis breaking out some new montage narrative tricks, and bringing us a heroine who’s not an unreliable narrator, per se, but definitely a manipulative one.













Strange Science Fantasy #2
by Scott Morse

Shogunaut.

Nuff.
Fucking.
Said.
















Phonogram: Singles Club #7
by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

The second (and final?) Phonogram series wraps up with a rather brilliant silent issue starring instinctive phonomancer Kid With Knife. Much like the Kid himself, it’s simple, fun, and to the point. A nice capper to a series that was sometimes too cerebral for its own good.









And the winner is…

Iron Man!

Another tough choice, but one that found me being true to the spirit of the category: stand-alone stories. Scarlet and Batman & Robin might have been better comics, truth be told, but they’re dependent on the rest of their series in ways that the Iron Man Annual just isn’t. You could pick this book up without ever having read a single issue of Iron Man, and it would be just as good.

And it is very good indeed, from all the perspectives that matter. The story involves the Mandarin kidnapping an acclaimed director to film his life story, a situation that slowly evolves into a battle of wills between the two. Fraction drew on his own experiences directing a music video for Kanye West for the story, which lends it some verisimilitude, and the director’s plight is genuinely harrowing. But what really impresses me is Fraction’s characterization of the Mandarin himself. Vain and eager to hide his own less-than-impressive background, Mandarin changes his life story on a whim, and it’s implied that one of his own rings may make him believe the hype. Corporate spandex doesn’t get much better than this, and so it takes home the Dorky.

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