Thanos #17 (Marvel Comics)

Runners Up: Batman #43 (DC Comics), The Avengers #685 (Marvel Comics)

I love weeks like this.

As I read, I keep an informal ranking in my head. Most weeks, I’ll get through two or three books before I even add one to the early list. This week was not the case. By the end of my pull list, I had many more potential picks than I had spots. X-Men Gold, Iron Fist, Future Quest Presents, Justice League and Super Sons all almost made the cut and I think you should check those out as well. That said, this week’s picks are something special.

Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Thanos just did something spectacular. This is far from the book’s first appearance on the list, and that is part of why it took the top spot this week. Since its debut, Thanos has been one of the most enjoyable books on Marvel’s roster. Lemire’s cinematic tale was followed by Cates and Shaw’s more traditional tale. I say that with due admiration, Thanos now feels like classic Marvel storytelling at its best; a little humor, a little action and incredible characters. That last part is probably the most important. Subtly, through humor and action, Cates was able to flesh out a cast in just 4 issues. As evident by the immediate popularity of the Cosmic Ghost Rider, these characters were adeptly designed and presented. In issue #17, the comedy gets thrown out the door and the cast thrust into chaos. You may notice the Parental Advisory on the cover, boy is it earned. I don’t want to get too far into this, but Norrin Radd plays a massive role in the issue and, though in a possible future, this issue just might be one of his most important stories. This story just plain sticks out amongst the week’s selections, the type of issue that you don’t just enjoy, but will remember for years to come.

Tom King and Mikel Janin have a home on this list with their Batman entries, and while Janin is consistently one of the best in the business, this entry is mostly about Tom King…and me.

I don’t really like Poison Ivy. This happens once in awhile,a character who has a lot of history and just doesn’t connect with every fan. Sure, I get her parallels to Batman,she’s feminine nature, he’s masculine technology but she just seems a little too powerful for Gotham. Too often she’s just used as a means to control heroes and send them against Batman. King plays with this idea, in a delightfully restrained way, but that’s not what makes this book. Perhaps the most relevant aspect of Ivy’s character is her often ambiguous relationship with Harley Quinn. King addresses this in a brilliant and profound way. I may not be a big fan of Ivy, but this is a near perfect entry for the character.

Finally, Al Ewing, Jim Zub and Mark Waid write while Paco Medina draws Avengers. This was a great read, containing even more of the excellent action that the book has been providing since the start of No Surrender. Medina provides perhaps the best art since the re-launch, which is satisfying in this Hulk centered issue. Had it not gone up against such stiff competition, this could have easily been a top pick.