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Kevin Forest Moreau's  and The Gentleman's Top 10 Comics of 2002

Best of: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

1. Promethea, Vol. III (America's Best Comics)
Alan Moore brilliantly employs the comics medium to explore the nexus of magic, emotion and imagination known as the Immateria via the ten spheres of the Kaballah. J.H. Williams's gorgeous artwork is the perfect map. The titular warrior-maiden sometimes seems little more than a cipher, but the depth and breadth of Moore's fertile mind and Williams's dreamscapes is stunning.
2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (America's Best Comics)
Moore again, this time casting the cream of 19th century adventure fiction -- Allen Quatermain, Nina Harker, the Invisible Man, Mr. Hyde and more -- as the British Empire's first-strike espionage supergroup. Kevin O'Neill's scratchy linework proves an improbably suitable fit, and Moore's wealth of background bon mots is an embarrassment of riches for savvy readers.
3. Daredevil: Underboss (Marvel)
Brian Michael Bendis picks up where Frank Miller's classic Born Again saga left off, elevating Daredevil to its highest peak in almost two decades. Alex Maleev's gritty artwork is perfect in its urban murkiness.
4. Ruse: Enter the Detective (CrossGen)
Mark Waid and the underappreciated Butch Guice deliver CrossGen's take on the Sherlock Holmes archetype, with a bit of sci-fi mysticism thrown in for good measure. Rousingly enjoyable.
5. The Ultimates Vol. I: Super-Human (Marvel)
The classic Avengers lineup gets the "Ultimate" treatment, with hilarious, disturbing and spectacular results. Gifted modern comics scribe Mark Millar at the top of his game.
6. Queen & Country Vol. II: Operation: Morningstar (Oni Press)
The second installment of Greg Rucka's impressively compelling British espionage series outshines the first, with a prescient plot involving the Taliban and the gradual redemption of grounded agent Tara Chace.
7. The Path: Crisis of Faith (CrossGen)
CrossGen does Kurosawa, with writer Ron Marz turning in perhaps the best work of his workmanlike career and artist Bart Sears completely and brilliantly reinventing his storytelling style. Immaculate color work as well. A slow-paced but engrossing monks-and-samurais epic.
8. Y the Last Man: Unmanned (Vertigo)
Brian K. Vaughan's all-too-plausible and unsettling look at the political, personal and scientific ramifications of a world in which all males but one (two, counting his pet monkey) are mysteriously extinguished. Taut and captivating, if a bit rough around the edges.
9. 100 Bullets: A Foregone Tomorrow (Vertigo)
The fourth installment of Vertigo's flagship crime noir conspiracy epic fleshes out and expands upon its deceptively simple premise and byzantine, X Files-ish milieu.
10. Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset (America's Best Comics)
Another take on classic crime fiction. Rick Veitch consciously and lovingly evokes Will Eisner's Spirit while conducting intriguing experiments in linear comics storytelling.
Notable near misses:
  • Fables: Legends in Exile (Vertigo): An intriguing premise -- fairy-tale favorites alive and well in modern-day Manhattan -- introduced within the framework of a sturdy and well-conceived murder mystery.
  • Howard the Duck (MAX/Marvel): Interesting, if self-indulgent and occasionally facile, resurrection of the classic metafictional, countercultural cigar-chomping mallard.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Return of the Monster (Marvel): Bruce Jones and John Romita Jr. take a fresh approach to the Jade Goliath, expertly unspooling tension and suspense to rival any cinematic or paperback thriller.
  • JSA: The Return of Hawkman (DC): The sprawling mainstream superhero epic at its near-best, from star-spanning adventure to the nostalgic thrill of revisiting old friends.
  • New X-Men: Imperial (Marvel): Grant Morrison begins to find his sea legs on the title, showing glimmers of the expansive conceptual heights of his work on Invisibles, Animal Man and JLA.
  • Supreme: The Story of the Year (Checker Book Publishing Group): Yes, Alan Moore again. This collection of his first 12 issues on the former Image/Awesome title builds on the childlike sense of wonder of Image's 1963 and lays the conceptual groundwork explored through the America's Best Comics line.
  • Swamp Thing: Earth to Earth (Vertigo): Alan Moore at his absolute peak. Would have snagged the top spot if the material in this collection weren't more than a decade old. Nearly flawless, including gorgeously moody and evocative artwork from Rick Veitch, John Totleben and Alfredo Alcala.

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 Ratings Key:
 5.0: Breaks new ground
 4.0-4.9: First-rate
 3.0-3.9: Solid
 2.0-2.9: Mediocre
 1.1-1.9: Bad
 0.0-1.0: The worst

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Best of: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002