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AICN COMICS: Humphrey Lee & Optimous Douche's Top 10 Comics of the 2000's!

Hey folks, Ambush Bug here continuing our week long series of Top Ten Comics of the 2000’s from your favorite @$$holes. Today we have a pair of @$$holes’ Top Ten Lists for you, starting off with my pal, Humphrey Lee…

Humphrey Lee’s Top Ten Comics of the 2000’s

The following was an actual conversation…
“Hey Humphrey Lee, it’s Bug. I was just wondering if you wanted to write up an intro for your Top Ten Comics of the 2000’s list.”
“Ehh, not really. Just say something like, "I've read a fuckton of comics!"
“OK, and I will.”
LUCIFER (DC Vertigo)

Well, if you’re doing a best of list, might as well start with the best. And LUCIFER was a comic that, as far as I’m concerned, was comic book perfection. Mike Carey and could have taken this SANDMAN spinoff and presented it as just that, but instead they created a work of art on par with its source. The saga of the Lightbringer and all the machinations that you would expect to come from a book starring the former King of Hell was just beautiful to watch unfold. The twists, the turns, the overall weight of the subject matter, the development of all the supporting characters and the storytelling of it all (especially “The Yahweh Dance”, probably the best single issue of the decade), everything was just handled so perfectly. This series was an absolute masterpiece, and not just the best comic I read this decade, but amongst the top handful of comics I have read period.


On the subject of masterpieces, let’s go with one from an absolute master of the medium, David Mazzucchelli. While LUCIFER above was the best series I’ve read all decade, this is its equal in the Graphic Novel arena. The absolute most beautiful thing about this work of art is how it defies the ordinary. Everything about this book is extremely fresh, from the design of the characters to the way Mazz works with the panels and the pages and the color schemes and the open spaces. It completely redefines how the comic book format can be worked, and Mazz works it for everything it is worth. Oh, and the story all these revolutionizing techniques tell is a pretty engrossing one as well. This isn’t just one of the best comics ever made, but one of the most important for what it presents to the medium and how it challenges it.

Y: THE LAST MAN (DC Vertigo)

The work that really put Brian K. Vaughan on the map for me (though I bought/enjoyed THE HOOD as a precursor to this), Y: THE LAST MAN is one of my favorite character-centric pieces of comics. Yorick Brown definitely proved to be one of the most interesting leads I have followed in comics, from his eccentricities to his fountain of useless facts that drove his unusual personality, to his difficulties with the opposite sex. And his companions on his journey, 355 and Dr. Mann, played off of his goofiness and ofttimes dimwittedness perfectly. A great premise, great characters, and amazing art via Pia Guerra are why this made the cut for me.

100 BULLETS (DC Vertigo)

If you love grim and gritty and oh so dirty (and do I ever) then every issue of this book by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso was pretty much an orgasm on the printed page. Filled to the brim with sex and violence and complex storytelling (with even more violence!) every issue of this series was a feast. All the characters were highly intriguing on their own and, the beautiful part of this book, all played for their own stakes and to their own, sometimes fatal, ends. The story was complex, the characters were equally so, and the art was possibly the best I beheld all decade for its line work and storytelling. Oh, and it featured probably the best cover work outside of James Jean’s contributions on FABLES this decade coming from Dave Johnson, something that should be praised whenever it is exemplified because it does seem to be a lost art these days. 100 BULLETS was not just a great crime drama, but great comics.

FABLES (DC Vertigo)

I would honestly say that for about three straight years in the middle part of this decade, whenever anyone asked me what was the best comic out there, the answer that exited my lips within not even a second was FABLES. Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham took characters we all (mostly) know and love and turned our conceptions of them all on their head, while also presenting us with one of the best mysteries in comics while it was unraveling: “Who is the Adversary?” The universe they put these characters in, their interactions, the overall story and inevitable war they fought, all masterly handled. And like I just mentioned above, a great cover artist is a terrible thing to waste, and James Jean was the best of them this decade, his art mostly on display on this series. Admittedly, I have grown less enthused about this title in the past year – it seems to have climaxed and somewhat dragged – but there are still glimpses here and there of its former greatness, and when this book was great, it was the best.


I, like so many others, am pretty fucking tired of zombies after this decade. The fact that a book with the flesh eating ones as a centerpiece is one of the best things I am currently reading pretty much speaks volumes on how good this book really is. As writer Robert Kirkman has made abundantly clear by this point, it’s not so much about all the dead people, but what has become of day-to-day life for the scant live ones. The trials and tribulations that Kirkman has put these poor bastards through from day one sometimes makes me want to watch SCHINDLER’S LIST just to cheer up, but the emotional highs and lows that these survivors endures make for pretty much the best example of a zombie work I have ever encountered. It’s not just great geek porn, it’s great human drama.

SCALPED (DC Vertigo)

If there’s anything I could say about this book, it’s that this feels like a combination of my two favorite TV shows, THE WIRE and DEADWOOD, in comic book form, and that right there is an amazing feat. THE WIRE reference comes from the complete shithole setting that the book takes place, and how it is brought to life like it is a character in its own right, let alone all the stories that take place in it and the highs and (mostly) lows they reach. And the DEADWOOD riff comes from Chief Red Crow, who reminds me so much of Al Swearengen, probably my single favorite character in all of television history. Very dirty, very sobering, very tense and saddening via all the shit that hits the fan in this book, particularly for lead Dashiell Bad Horse. I know it’s relatively young compared to the majority of all the other books I picked for this list, but given what we have seen so far, this is already one of the all time greats and it’s really just getting warmed up.

EX MACHINA (DC Wildstorm)

While Y: THE LAST MAN put BKV on the map, this book claimed the entire map for him. Just like Y, this book thrives on excellent characters, a highly intriguing overarching plot, and glorious art. But my love for it grows even fonder than it does for Y because it really is in a world of its own. We’ve seen post-apocalyptic comics time and time again (hell, there’s two of them on this list alone) but it’s so rare to see a comic really even acknowledge contemporary politics and real world events, let alone thrive on them. The social relevance of this book, and the moral dilemmas that its star Mitchell Hundred – one of the most human and unique characters I’ve encountered in a comic – has to endure just make this comic a show like no other comic I have read. And as it winds down, it is turning into a pretty exemplary piece of sci-fi, which tickles another fancy of mine just right. If it weren’t for his disappearance to a hit TV show this would have easily been the decade of BKV to me, and this book was/is his best and brightest.

SLEEPER (DC Wildstorm)

Doing its damned best to not let 100 BULLETS hog all the crime fiction spotlight, SLEEPER was not only my first exposure to Ed Brubaker, but still the work of his I maintain is his best. This book absolutely oozed everything the noir world that Brubaker works typically exemplify. Watching Holden Carver every issue finding himself going deeper and deeper into his own personal hell, and all the sex and violence that seemed to accompany him on his descent, was just exhilarating in its decadence. And Sean Phillips’ pencils were absolutely sublime, right up there with the best visual storytellers like the aforementioned Mazzucchelli and Risso and so on. And that ending? So beautifully bittersweet, the best way to describe this book on the whole.

PLANETARY (DC Wildstorm)

I know how easy it to spite this book because of its chronic tardiness. But, these transgressions were only so painful because of how excellent this book was when it did arrive on the shelf. PLANETARY was everything I loved about so many things. It was everything I love about Pulp, about Superheroes, about Science Fiction, about Warren Ellisonian dialogue, about comic book art and on and on. The way Ellis and Cassaday played with and on so many iconic characters and comic book tropes was the biggest and best love letter to comics you could find. Yes, we all screamed bloody murder when it did not show up for months, sometimes years, but that’s only because we knew it was worth every second.

Thanks Humphrey!

Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.

Let’s keep the Top Ten Lists a comin’! Next up…you know him, you love him. He has difficulty with spelling names of 80’s iconic toys and also has a hard time coming up with more than five picks for a top ten list…Heeeerrrrrrre’s Optimous Douche…

Optimous Douche’s Top Ten Comics of the 2000’s

Optimous Douche here. I hate making lists, but I also couldn’t bear to spend one more week away, so I submit this “list” in the 12th hour. You will be reading this when most of my selections will have already no doubt been covered by my esteemed colleagues in the @$$hole clubhouse and been TalkBack praised, shat posted with single Fucktard blows in the subject lines (12 points to the first Talkbacker that does it for this wrap-up) and debated into a messy comicy pulp. Yet aside from loneliness, I also feel the need to justify the thousands of dollars I have spent, the seemingly infinite amount of long boxes in my closet and the sheer countless hours of joy comics have given me over the past decade. But I hate lists, so here’s a few books that made me go DUH-DAMN during the aught years.

Go ahead, bring it on, I’m ready for it. Bendis is talky, Bendis no action, Optimous big girl that likes reading soap operas in spandex. You know what, yeah sometimes I do. I can’t think of any other book that had the sheer staying power of ole’ ULTIMATE SPIDER MAN from story arc to story arc. Did it have low points? You bet your ass (i.e. This Review) of last issue before reboot), but did it also blow a second wind into Spidey’s then thirty-something year old sails to support the movie franchise and bring back at least one reader to the life of Peter Parker after many years away? Well to quote Bendis dialogue…yuh-huh…did!

FABLES (DC Vertigo)

First I want to mourn. James Jean I miss you. Your dewy charcoaled nightmares served as exquisitely sketched concierges into Willingham’s twisted take on Grimm’s Fairytales. Yes, the book has persevered without you and others have done admirable work, but know that you are deeply missed. Epic in scale and still growing, there has not been a genre that this series has yet to traverse and fully embrace. Want a spy story? Done. Looking for a military battle? No problem. Need a little intrigue, mystery, romance, lovers crossed and a talking pig head on a stick? FABLES…


Few names ring in a beautiful tandem these days like, say, Lee and Kirby. I would say the true team-up, the marrying of creators together not only on a single story arc but multiple books for multiple years, is truly a memory. Morrison and Quitely are the modern Lee and Kirby; they will be the names that are remembered fondly for their joint work twenty years from now. I know, ballsy statement; I don’t care. When these two have come together the comic enters a whole other realm of greatness. I would say ALL STAR SUPERMAN is the pinnacle of the M&Q think tank. Even though we could all recite SUPERMAN’S origins and countless adventures from memory, Morrison crafted them in such a way that every moment felt fresh. Quitely simply bled every raw emotion behind the mythos of Superman into every panel. If I was making a list, this might have actually gone first.

Y: THE LAST MAN (DC Vertigo)

The concept has been tried before on TV and in movies with either laughable or regrettable results. Only comics could afford the heady concept of all men on earth dying except one, the time to truly establish not just the central characters, but also the political and societal implications of natural Armageddon. While Yorick was great and all, it was always the larger world and how it changed that kept me coming back for more on Y. In the last issue, when women have been in charge of the world for sixty years, pay close attention to the architecture. Every building is smooth, oval, cyndrical – basically not a phallic symbol in sight except for the Eiffel Tower. It was little attention to details like that which gave me new respect for the concept of a finite series and introduced me to Vaughan’s “good, but not as good as Y” series EX MACHINA.


Could have cared less this took place in Russia. The end of this book was masterful.

There’s a ton of other books that I have truly loved: WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE, at times the cavalcade of stories at the big houses – HOUSE OF M, I kind of liked it. If I had to pick the books that a child being born today would want to read fifteen years from now, well there you have it.

Optimous is lonely and needs friends. Even virtual ones will fill the gaping hole, join him on Facebook or he will cry like a newborn kitten.

Thanks, OD! Be sure to check out the rest of the @$$holes’ lists from earlier this week!
Vroom Socko’s List
Matt Adler’s List
Ambush Bug’s List

And be sure to tune in tomorrow for Professor Challenger and superhero’s picks for the Top Ten Comics of the 2000’s!

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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