The 10 Best Comics of November 2011

With five Wednesdays in the month, there were more comics to love in November, which meant some very, very tough choices. So tough, in fact, and so packed with landmark issues, one-shots, and epic finishes, that we included an entire, other list after our top ten. Yeah. It was a crazy month. Here’s the Top Ten Best Comics of November, and don’t forget to scroll down for some very Honorable Mentions:

10. The Shade #2

While not as pitch perfect from first page to last as issue one was, writer James Robinson and artist Cully Hamner continue to successfully recapture the lightning in a bottle let loose when Robinson left Starman all those many years ago. Full of endless creativity and brilliant characterization, this is a must for anyone who was a fan of Starman – or comics, period.

9. Severed #4

It took me a while to warm to this book, but now it’s rolling… And Severed is sheer terror in comic book form. There are a pair of panels in this issue – one at the mid-way point, one towards the end – involving the tomboy character of Sam that perfectly illustrate the dichotomies running through this book. The first, the hopeful beauty of America, the second the horror that lurks behind every closed door.

8. Angel & Faith #4

Writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs are simply nailing it on this Buffy The Vampire Slayer spin-off, making it even more of a “must read” than the title it spawned from. Crackingly good action, murky morality appropriate to the lead characters, and a tease in the last few pages that make this series a must read. What more do you want from a comic?

7. The Goon #36

I don’t know how Eric Powell manages to top the insanity and hilarity of The Goon, issue after issue, but by golly he’s done it again. Real life Burlesque performer Roxi Dlite guest stars as a con-woman going up against The Goon for possession of a golden knick-knack. It also features one of the best lines ever written: “Oh no, my vagina has fallen off!” Beat that, mainstream comic books.

6. The Punisher #5

Another slow burn series, Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto have finally hit high gear with this issue… Which features nearly no action at all. Instead, we get a snow-filled look at the Punisher recovering in a warehouse, and a small boy who idolizes – then later hates him. In between, we get some stunningly smart characterization from the supporting cast, and one of the best single issues of The Punisher ever written… Even if he barely kills anyone.

5. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while, I get sick of comics. Too much repetitive action and banal plots. Too much of the same old stories, over and over. I was in one of these funks when I read Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4, and it single-handedly made me love comic books again. Joy oozes off every page, as Miles Morales starts to become the new hero he’s meant to be. I didn’t think I could get excited about yet another origin for Spider-Man, but here we are, and I’m glad writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli have brought us there.

4. Amazing Spider-Man #673

This epilogue to Dan Slott’s epic Spider-Island storyline is one of the most chock-full issues of a comic I’ve read in a good long while. Full of laugh out loud moments, big character moves, teases for upcoming storylines, and a last page that I dare you not to get choked up by, and this is easily one of my favorite Spider-Man issues of the year… And a fitting end to Spider-Island.

3. Fantastic Four #600

If I’ve had one long-standing complaint with Jonathan Hickman’s writing, it’s that he favors brains over heart, almost to a fault. Here though, that pays off in spades with a massive, 96 page original issue that is essential reading for anyone interested in the Marvel Universe. Plus, bringing in artists like Ming Doyle to illustrate a fascinating Black Bolt story, or Farel Dalrymple to pencil a brilliant look at how kids play makes this a must-read.

2. Fear Agent #32

I can’t really say enough about Rick Remender’s series ending with this issue, other than he totally stuck the landing, making Fear Agent one of the best comic book series of all time. Seriously. Up until the last pages, I still thought Remender was going to twist a knife in the gut of his hero/punching boy Heath Huston… And he does, in a way that provides a beautiful, emotional end to the series, while still staying true to its bleakness. There are few perfect endings in entertainment, from comics, to movies, to TV. This is one of them.

1. Locke & Key: Guide To The Known Keys

What else was going to be number one on the list? From a gorgeously illustrated lead story that illuminates new information about the ongoing series while also standing alone – and breaking our hearts – to multiple back-ups, including a “guide to the known keys” that tells an essential story in and of itself, this is a perfect package of a comic book. Writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez have been justly lauded for this series, but if this issue – which is good for anyone from new fans to old – doesn’t clean up come awards season, there is no justice in comics.

Honorable Mentions:

The Infinite Vacation #3, SkullKickers #12, Daredevil #6, Wolverine #19, Snarked #2, Uncanny X-Force #17, Justice League #3, The Boys #60, The Unwritten #31

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