Marvel didn’t need a relaunch to make 2011 one of it’s biggest and craziest years in recent memory. From it’s Civil War-sized event in Fear Itself and the perhaps-better-than-Fear-Itself-event in X: Men Schism the universe has seen a shake-up of the ages; the split in the X-Men camp, the new Ultimate Spider-Man, the real Spider-Man as a new FF member, Wolverine traveling to hell and back (literally), the “death” of just about every character imaginable and the new breath of life from characters like Punisher, Daredevil, Venom, and Hulk…the list can go on and on…it was a big year.
Our favorite Marvel books category includes any comic book series from 2011.
Invincible Iron Man | Geoff Arbuckle
This one took me a long time to think about. When everything shook out, I was left with three choices: Journey Into Mystery, Invincible Iron Man, and Avengers Academy. At the end of the day, nothing was more consistently exciting and interesting as Invincible Iron Man. Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca have enjoyed more than 3 years at the helm of the Golden Avenger and they show no signs of slowing down. With each issue, they continue to make Tony Stark interesting and relevant while making supporting characters like Pepper Potts stronger than ever before. The Fear Itself tie-in issues alone served as a brilliant centerpiece to a great year for ol’ Shellhead.
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Fantastic Four/Future Foundation | John Barringer
Jonathan Hickman’s run with the Fantastic Four this year has been nothing short of amazing. His ability to write mind-bending story that would spin the heads of even the biggest sci-fi fans is just as impressive as his knack for incorporating family drama, tension, and love into a book that is anything but grounded. Some of the most inventive tools the Marvel Universe has to offer are played with in each issue, all the while building a bigger and bigger Fantastic Four mythos from the roots of it’s own history. And all this under the artistic umbrella of Steve Epting (for most the issues), a masterfully consistent artist who can draw out emotion from small panels or deliver eye-dropping action and detail in wide open spaces. I’d imagine that most Marvel fans would agree, Hickman’s handling of one of comic books most beloved families is worthy of the history he’s working with.
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Avengers | Phillip Carson
During Fear Itself, I found that I’d developed a taste for the Marvel heroes. And maybe it’s just the build-up of excitement I have for the Avengers movie coming out next year, but I just can’t get enough of this title. Unlike DC, which seems to have a real problem telling a good story without starting from scratch every eight minutes, Avengers does the opposite, digging into the rich history of the Marvel U and its characters to craft long-running plots that actually pay off. The group’s recent reformation and Norman Osborn’s return has got me salivating in a way DC’s Justice League just doesn’t. Maybe this title just feeds the continuity fan in me, or maybe I’m just jazzed for the movies, but whatever it is, Avengers Assemble!
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Uncanny X-Force | Dan Cole
As it finished it’s first story arc in January the book has gone from strength to strength. Remender, with the help of Jerome Opena, Mark Brooks and Billy Tan, have created not only the best X-Book on the shelves but the best Marvel title. Mixing a strong cast with high concept action is the secret to it’s success. The titles The Dark Angel Saga is quickly becoming the most entertaining event in superhero comics, which just goes to show that you don’t need a line wide event surrounded by hyperbole to put out an enthralling epic.
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Uncanny X-Force | Victor Kutsenok
Even though he has no clue how to write Deadpool, Rick Remender’s Dark Angel Saga was an awesome read. Bringing Fantomex to the front and shining a huge spotlight on him, Remender has created a new fan favorite character that has the potential to spawn off an individual series of his own. Not to mention the fact that this saga revitalized the Age of Apocalypse universe and created a spin off book that looks to be a star in 2012. On top of it all, the story arc was filled with incredible non stop action as well as dozens of “Holy Crap” visual moments that will stick in my head for years to come. With an ending that had some minor effect on the current status quo of some characters, this book was always a great read. (Except if you’re a Deadpool fan!) It was the only story arc of the year that kept me riveted each and every issue. A very impressive feat.
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Wolverine | Paul Mallory
Jason Aaron has taken Logan on a journey of self-discovery which has led through the flames of Hell and the frigid cold of the Canadian wilderness, leading him back to what he is and always will be: a leader of the X-Men. This is a book worthy of the $3.99 price tag. And don’t forget the graceful covers by Jae Lee.
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New Avengers | Wayland Smith
I love the dialogue and interplay between the characters. Heck, they managed to make Squirrel Girl a somewhat more serious character, which speaks volumes for them. The membership keeps shifting a bit, but there’s a feeling of closeness about them. For some great framing, checkout the first and last pages of the issue where Daredevil joins. The fact that I’m recommending that is amazing as Daredevil is generally one of my least favorite characters.
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Let us know what your favorites were!