CBR encouraged its readers to take to the message board and nominate their favorites, using only the rules that the series you nominated has to be an ongoing book which had at least two issues published in 2011. It sounded like a good idea to us but, armed with five new titles that made our Top 10 Ongoing Comics of 2011 list, it only seemed fair and sensible to open the floor a bit to some other opinions and maybe consider some of the ones we'd missed. The result was this list of ten awesome titles, brand new to last year, that were inexplicably ignored by the Eisners.
To make the discussion a little bit easier, no series which has existed as an ongoing series in the last ten years (Superman, Batman, Daredevil) was allowed on the list, although books which featured established characters in new-to-market titles (Wolverine & the X-Men, for example) or in their first ongoing in years (O.M.A.C. and Animal Man0 were eligible to make it. Is that splitting hairs? Perhaps, but in a marketplace that's driven largely by corporate-owned properties which are published in perpetuity, seeing a character disappear for ten years and then suddenly appear back on your shelves sure makes it feel like a new series to us.And at the end of the day, while a few of these characters have been around for a while, there's only one title on this list that has ever existed before as the name of an ongoing comic book series.
That may not be a standard guideline for the Eisner judges, but even removing the one title that's ever been an ongoing before and the
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello is the latest in a series of non-comics celebrities to turn out surprisingly good comics. Along with artist Scott Hepburn, Morello has created a post-apocalyptic, modern world full of familiar and strange imagery, kind of a mix of John Carter and Resident Evil.
One of a handful of really strong new titles (along with Orchid and a couple of others on this list) to introduce readers to a strong female lead, Batwoman combines superhero action and accessibility with the high concept and artistic ambition of an indie book with Eisner aspirations.
8. Reed Gunther
Hilarious and endlessly entertaining, Shane and Chris Houghton's Reed Gunther might not feel like traditional Eisner bait, but it's telling that the first trade paperback has Eisner mainstays John Layman and Stan Sakai saying nice things about the title on the back cover.
7. Wolverine & the X-Men
The most light-hearted and entertaining X-Men title to come around in a long time, this title perfectly showcases the versatility of writer Jason Aaron as well as pushing Wolverine into a more interesting place than just being "the best he is at what he does" ever managed for me.
So much has been said about Jeff Lemire's brilliant take on Animal Man that it's hard to top any of it, except to say that while this is the only title on the list which has existed before as an ongoing monthly, it's also been more than 15 years since that series ended and the undisputed brilliance of this new perspective on the character merits a nomination.
5. I, Vampire
Originally created by the inimitable J.M.DeMatteis, this title has been reinvented for the new century and the New 52 by Echoes writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (a rising star in comics if ever there was one) and quickly rose to the top of our must-read lists. With pitch-perfect art by Andrea Sorrentino, it's hard to imagine that this title doesn't deserve a little recognition.
A fun and darkly entertaining twist on Sherlock Holmes' mortal enemy, Moriarty has been a best-seller for Image, as well as inspiring a stage musical (no, really--this one's happening, not like that whole Mars Attacks thing). It's also a smart and well-crafted comic that incorporates literary and historical elements into its adventure-mystery tale.
Ron Marz and Lee Moder set out to make a book which, on the face of it, had a concept so cool that it was hard to resist: to boil it down to its Avengers vs. X-Men-style simplicity, the book is samurai vs. vampires. That said, it also incorporates historical fiction and a great, exciting interpretation of Japan from Moder. A clever genre mash-up with beautiful art, Shinku is one of the best new characters to come along in years.
2. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Alberto Ponticelli's pencils beautifully and perfectly capture the strange and awesome blend of science fact, science fiction, fantasy and adventure action in this hugely ambitious and innovative DC book, presenting a look at Frankenstein that makes the character more interesting than he's ever been at DC and arguably more interesting than he's been in popular culture in a while.
1. Rachel Rising
With a fantastic December issue and a 100% new, nobody-else-has-thought-of-it concept and lead character, Rachel Rising leapfrogs Frankenstein (which we named as our favorite title of the year) to be the best new title of 2011. Nominated for Eisner awards as the best continuing series and best artist (for writer/artist Terry Moore), it's the third series of Moore's career and the third time he's managed a home run.