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The 10 Best Comics of September, 2011

So normally these “10 Best Comics” posts get posted on MTV Geek, but the September one was turned in way late, because I’m a doofus. Thankfully, they gave me permission to post it here, since it was already written, and it’s not going up on the site. The October one, by the way, should actually be up on the site this week because I didn’t wait half a month to write it. Cough. Anyway, here you go:

10. Rachel Rising #2

Terry Moore’s trip to the land of the dead – and beyond – got even more surreal this month, leading us to believe this is the best black and white indie comic currently being produced since Jeff Smith’s RASL. The plot? Rachel wakes up in her own grave, comes home, and finds no one recognizes her… And it only got weirder this issue, with murderous little girls, over-tired morticians, and… Well, that would be telling. Point is, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor of something special.

9. Uncanny X-Force #15

Writer Rick Remender is pluming the deep, dark depths of the Marvel Universe, and we’re loving it. X-Force is dark – maybe the closest Remender has come to his indie work in a mainstream comic, pushing all of his Mutant characters, from Wolverine, to Psylocke and Archangel to the very edge, while recycling some of the craziest ideas of Grant Morrison and making them work. The Dark Angel Saga, which continued with this issue, might quite possibly be Remender’s mainstream opus. Not the penguin, FYI.

8. Severed #2

We weren’t totally in love with the first issue of this comic, but it was mostly about setting mood, and establishing character. You know, the things people are supposed to do in comics? But regardless, this issue ratcheted up the tension, the danger, and the horror, as well as solidifying writer Scott Snyder as the premiere guy to go for in historical accuracy. This is a beautiful, terrifying book that makes John Steinbeck’s work look like a “Love Is…” cartoon.

7. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

We didn’t think they could do it, but they did: Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli created a lovable, memorable character in the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, that we can’t wait to read more about. Fans may complain about the decompressed pacing, but they’ve been complaining about that since the first Ultimate Spider-Man came out… Ten years ago. This is just as good, and having read the next few issues by now, we’re happy to say it only gets better. 

6. All Star Western #1

Jonah Hex was one of the best damn books on comic book stands, month after month. Despite a title change, and a change in setting (we’re now in Gotham City), this is still the Palmiotti/Grey Hex we know and love… And it’s still one of the best damn books on the stands.

5. Optic Nerve #12

In a time when people are debating digital over print, and whether we should keep buying floppies, Adrian Tomine – as usual – provides a compelling argument for the printed comic in the beautiful, funny, and extremely well made Optic Nerve #12. There’s two great stories here, one goofy, the other heartfelt, with two intricately drawn characters. But it’s the overall package, including a two page strip where Tomine pokes fun at himself for even bothering to print the comic that makes this well worth the money. Few comics demand to actually be saved in a bag and board: Optic Nerve is one of those comics. Also? You should read it.

4. Journey Into Mystery #627

Kieron Gillen has been killing it for the past few months on this story of a Young Loki trying to prevent – or at least, soften – the apocalypse. But this side story where the Devil, quite literally, walks into a bar is a gem, and almost works better as a Point One issue than the actual Point One issue this title had. It also shows that, if Gillen decides to take the title’s focus away from Loki, and on to other characters, he’s mastered a tone for this book that’s completely unique in comics. More, please.

3. X-Men Schism #4

This series has been a superb example of how to do a character driven event from front to back, but issue four is the only one that literally made me stand up in my chair and scream, “OH S**T!!!” The fight scene between Cyclops and Wolverine is beautifully rendered and insanely dynamic under Alan Davis’ steady pencil, but it’s the conversation between the two characters, where, end of the day, it always comes down to the red haired woman who came between them that takes the cake.

2. Batman #1

There’s a lot of debate in the industry as to who comic books are for, kids or adults. And from one side at least, there’s a fair degree of lamentation that there are no books you can legitimately hand to a child that also work for the older fans. Enter Batman #1 from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the perfect book to hand to any fan of the Batman animated series, or to a comic book fan who just loves a great Batman story. A great mystery, excellent characterization, something that actually works with no prior knowledge as a number one issue, and the most surprising part, funny, this is about as perfect as a first issue can get.

1. Animal Man #1

Then there’s Animal Man by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman. It was one of the first New 52 titles we read, and the big question was, would it hold up after reading the other fifty-one? Yup. This is a work of comic book genius, brilliantly structured with unique panel art I’ll probably never forget, and not one, but three jaw-dropping pages. Now that we’ve read the second issue, and seen that the title keeps up the mystery, horror, and breakneck pace, we’re even more in awe of the amazing job the team did on issue one. Grant Morrison’s most beloved pet couldn’t be in better hands. 

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