1. Fear Agent, by Rick Remender, Tony Moore, Jerome Opena
A science fiction comic series that echoes “Mars Attacks!” and other two-fisted adventures, but with a serious emotional core. Drunken space cowboy Heath Huston finds himself pitted against robots with human brains and amoeba creatures. Swashbuckling adventure in space! The art, by Tony Moore and Jerome Opena, is first-class, and Remender’s writing is both fast-paced and deliberately plotted.
2. Machine of Death, edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, David Malki !
What if there were a machine that could tell you how you would die? Inspired by an episode of Dinosaur Comics, the editors asked for writers to send in their short stories based on such a machine. The results range from darkly humorous to shockingly tragic. Each story is paired with an illustration as well, so it’s double your pleasure. To make this book even greater, it is self-published, and a grassroots campaign by regular Internetters made it number one on Amazon for a day, beating out Glenn Beck’s new book on opening day.
3. Thor: The Mighty Avenger, by Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee
The comic series lasted only eight issues, but it’s a wonderful take on the Thunder God. Thrown out of Asgard, a naive Thor meets up with museum curator Jane Foster and learns about life and love on Earth. It’s an all-ages book, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the storytelling. Battles, deception, kissing, robots, magic: it’s all here. Samnee’s art adds a childlike innocence to the blond Norseman that makes him even more appealing. It’s a real treat to read. The last issue will be out this month, and the series is being collected into two trade paperbacks.
4. Stumptown by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth
A comic book set in Portland, Oregon about a young private investigator with a gambling problem and a knack for taking punches. She’s got smarts where it counts, though. Artist Southworth uses an interesting combination of hand drawing and photo references to create a realistic Portland. The story has a real dangerous feel to it, and with luck, the team will be able to meet the monthly deadlines for the next arc.
5. Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett
Remember when you were a kid and you’d read those big coffee-table Time-Life history books with the maps and photographs and sidebars? This is that book, only about a robot invented in 1893 who never really got the spotlight it needed. Presented as truth, the book shows Boilerplate’s involvement in real world events, like the Boxer Rebellion and the Alaskan Gold Rush. So it’s science fiction, but also history! Pretty sneaky.
6. Cee-Lo, “Fuck You”
Not the whole album, just this song. What a fabulous thing, with a neo-soul, Charles & Eddie sound and an unbroadcastable title. I could listen to it for hours. I much prefer the first video, which animated the song’s lyrics, to the “official” one, which changes the story into more of a revenge fantasy. Cee-Lo’s delivery is perfect, and the backup singers are hilarious.
7. David Bowie, Station to Station reissue
The music industry seems to be working very hard to regain my trust. Bowie has reissued his 1976 album with some very nice extras. Along with a transfer of the original analog master, the buyer will receive the fantastic and much-bootlegged concert at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. The merits of the original album aside, it has been expertly restored, and the addition of a two-disc live show makes it undeniable for the Bowie fan. Stupid-crazy fans can get the Deluxe Edition, which adds the 1985 CD master, a disc with five single edits from the album, vinyl copies of the album and concert, and a whole bucketload of replica memorabilia like concert tickets and fan club stuff.
8. Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle 30th Anniversary Edition
Again with the reissues, music business? Keep ‘em coming. Numan’s first album under his own name (as opposed to Tubeway Army) is given a healthy shine. The second disc contains demos of each song on the album and remasters of various B-sides from the singles. A third disc, available when ordering from Numan’s website, contains rare live performances from the time. Perhaps not for the casual fan, but certainly an important look at the beginnings of modern electronic music.
9. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Late to the party on the book, but what a precious thing once I got to it. Hilarious and sweet and annoying. If you played video games in the ’80s and ’90s, you will connect with these books right away. The movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World absolutely transfers the energy and humor of the books to the screen, too. It’s not slacker culture, though it does have traces of that time. Much much fun from Portland’s Oni Press.
10. Apple’s iPad
Yes, that’s right. It was released last APRIL. It hasn’t even existed for a year yet, and somehow I can’t imagine a time without the little tablet device. Bridging the gap between smart phones and netbooks, but with a functional culture of its own. I don’t have one, but just knowing it exists (and will probably be upgraded in April 2011) makes me very happy. Comic reading is going to enter a whole new dimension very shortly.