Comic Book Awards for March 2015

~Nandor Shaffer

Spring has set in and things in the comic book world are booming (or blooming, if you prefer…sorry, I knew that’d be too easy to catch). The fact still remains that after this April, changes will be coming. Both Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers will be sadly wrapping up with Secret Wars on the horizon, as well as Fantastic Four with #645, supposedly being the very last issue of the series for the foreseeable future (which I’m not too happy about). March was the penultimate month for these books and, as you can expect, they were quite the highlights of the month. March was also the last month for many comics in the DC corner as DC’s hotly-anticipated multiversal Convergence event invades the stands this month and the next. The Flash and Aquaman concluded their current storylines on high notes and will return after a brief hiatus in June. Uncanny X-Men took somewhat of a retrospective breather with #32, while Nick Spencer and Roman Rosanas continue their up-beat, humorous, and fresh take on Ant-Man to much applause from me and other critics alike. Last but not least, the start of the 9th Doctor miniseries from Titan Comics debuted.

But out of these and other nominees, which titles received the Comic Book Awards Awards of the month? Here we go.

Cover of the Month Award: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #9

Cover Artist: Brian Williamson 

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You might be wondering how Brian Williamson’s cover for Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #9 managed to float its way up to being awarded Cover of the Month, especially compared to the many other excellent covers that graced a sizable majority of the comics in March. There’s not much to it, there’s barely any “real” artwork, and only huge red letters pervade the blank white background behind The 11th Doctor. This is all true, but here, and as a whole, less is more. Firstly, this is a wholly stylized cover. The black, white and red all compliment each other to give you a picture of impactful symmetry. The Doctor shown here on his knees only completes the creation to hit you emotionally. In the end, it’s memorably ominous.

Art of the Month Award: The Flash #40

Penciller: Brett Booth 

Inker: Norm Rapmund

Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

Flash-40The art team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse have been lending their exceptional talents to The Flash ever since #30, so what makes the artwork in The Flash #40 stand out from every previous issue? Just to clarify, it’s no secret this has been a strikingly beautiful book. Brett Booth carries with him a pure comic book style, almost a call-back to that sharp, bombastic form prominent in the 90’s. That’s not seen too much in mainstream comics these days, which is why I always look forward to seeing what he decides to cook up in The Flash. In #40, he lets it all out. The extra-sized issue makes the extra dollar worth it in every case, not just from the art, but here we’re given so much. Packed with action and energy, it’s just as blasting as a real life lightning bolt. This might sound like the perfect art style for a Flash comic book, and, in some ways, that’s absolutely true. Not everything about Brett Booth’s is pretty per say, but it’s no less sensational. Moreover, his panel work is skillfully orchestrated in The Flash #40. We also cannot forget about Norm Rapmund’s inks and Andrew Dalhouse’s essential colors. This issue, no less this book, would not look nearly as good it does without them. They are put through their paces and come out more than champions.

Story of the Month Award:  New Avengers #31 (“Rabum Alal”)

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

4388270-new_avengers_31_coverNothing will prepare you for what you will find in New Avengers #31. Or, put more accurately, whom you will find. Dr. Strange is seeking out the Great Destroyer, Rabum Alal, to destroy him, but sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. This issue begins with him and the Black Priests looking for access into, they soon realize, where Rabum Alal is located. After intense battles with various Black Swans of many different universes, Dr. Strange meets Rabum Alal face to face and the ramifications of this reveal are tremendous. It wouldn’t be at all fair of me to spoil what many readers, including myself, have been curiously and anxiously waiting for ever since the first few issues of New Avengers released two years ago, so I wouldn’t dare to. I will say it is a complete shock; one I didn’t see coming whatsoever and one that will leave you with your mouth dropping. Jonathan Hickman, you’ve done it again.

Issue of the Month Award: New Avengers #32 (“The Fall of Gods”) 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman 

Artist: Mike Deodato

Color Artist: Frank Martin

Cover Art: Adam Kubert & Frank Martin

New_Avengers_Vol_3_32While New Avengers #31 is unquestionably the issue of the month that will turn your world upside down, #32 will destroy it. It’s tragic, invigorating, scary, and overall powerful. It’s been hinted at how immensely formidable and threatening The Beyonders are. Well, here, we see them in action…against members of the Avengers. The outcome of this battle is terrible for our heroes and I don’t know what to think in the aftermath. This is a last grand stand for these Avengers put on display divinely by penciller/inker Mike Deodato and colorist Frank Martin. It’s true that a lot of the time Mike Deodato doesn’t pull me in like other artists do, but he and Martin broke through any preconceptions of mine and, really, shamed me to why I ever thought this. The combination of detail and vibrancy in New Avengers #32 brings a teeming weight to the issue. Since it takes place in deep space, blackness, stars, and asteroids present an ethereal setting to the events taking place, offering a tranquil resting place for those who fail to make it out alive. What could possibly be next for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

Thank you again for checking out my awards and check back sometime next month for April’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!

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