Comic Book Awards for September

~Nandor Schaffer

Having reached the one year anniversary mark for my Comic Book Awards (check out August’s awards in case you missed it), its back with September’s edition and is proud to summarize what my monthly batch had to offer its comic book readers across the globe. In the Marvel corner, the eleventh and final issue of Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier, Star Wars #8, and Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1 were the only three titles to make the cut for September (the sixth issue of Secret Wars is to be released in October). Marvel will also be inaugurating its All-New, All-Different line in October, so be ready for much more excitement coming from them. My two current ongoing DC titles, The Flash and Aquaman, had both their 44th issue published since the dawn of the New 52 and Titan Comics’ mega event, Doctor Who: Four Doctors, said farewell after its conclusion with issues four and five this month. I was additionally pleased to get my hands on Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim’s The Dying & The Dead #3 from Image Comics after it skipped publication the last few months. Hickman’s note at the end of the comic explains the solicitation hiccups and, sadly but wisely, goes on to say that the series will not return until next year for time and quality purposes. In the meantime I recommend that you find the first three issues, read them, and be ready for what this ambitious independent book is going to bring in 2016. With all that said…

Out of these nominees, which comics received the Comic Book Awards for the month of September?

Cover of the Month Award: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1

Cover: Phil Noto 

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Cover artist Phil Noto brings a lot of good vibes with his cover for Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1, a new comic book series taking place straightly right after the events of Return of the Jedi under the media-lapping Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens banner. Heroes from the original trilogy – Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Lando Calrissian, Wicket – all stand in celebration on the Forest Moon of Endor with shining smiles, recapturing that victorious moment when the Rebel Alliance defeated the Empire at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI. It’s a combination between this and Noto’s – metaphorically speaking – fragrant and lively iteration of that moment which had me pick it to receive this award. The attention to lighting and precision is delicately wonderful and to draw up that classic Star Wars feel is an envious artistic outcome to master. It’s, frankly, a beautifully magical cover.

Art of the Month Award: The Flash #44

Penciller: Brett Booth

Inker: Norm Rapmund

Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

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I know The Flash has been awarded Art of the Month once or twice before and Brett Booth’s awesome, premiere superhero style of comic book art has still been an appetizing treat to look over in the last year despite it not getting recognized more often. How much goes into these pages of The Flash #44 appears daunting; the exaggerated panel layouts, excessive use of lightning and minuscule detail, and fast-paced action will keep your eyes moving and keep your mind at work. It would be my guess Booth has all the artistic freedom for the page layouts and what I love about how they are so sporadic is because they ideally suit The Flash as a character. Every page of The Flash #44 has this snappy energy to it, as do Booth’s previous issues on the series, and it’s absolutely rife with intensity from the outset. Of course, the comic does have slow points, but by the twelfth page and from then on, things get explosive as The Flash’s battle against two of Zoom’s team members sets off. At times, Brett Booth can handle the anatomy poorly, but there’s hardly any sign of that in The Flash #44. In all areas complimented by inker Norm Rapmund and excellent colorist Andrew Dalhouse, this is an art team that valiantly captures the form of the fastest man alive like they’ve been doing it all their lives.

Story of the Month Award: Doctor Who: Four Doctors #4

Writer: Paul Cornell

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Anytime you’re dealing with a Doctor Who story, especially one containing three Doctors within the story, there is bound to be serious complications and pivotal moments. There’s also the need for a satisfying payoff, one that isn’t rushed and manages to orchestrate a successful climax that gives credit to the beginning and middle of the adventure, wrapping everything up in a nice little bow(tie?…okay, I’ll stop). Doctor Who: Four Doctors #5 is the final issue for this comics event and, while it doesn’t exactly capitalize on an epic note, there’s plenty of excitement and great developments within the issue. I was surprised by how well Paul Cornell expertly maneuvered the pace and finale of such an (at least from where I’m sitting) challenging plot involving the three Time Lords and their respective companions. With the Doctors’ cleverness in action, all the characters do their part to put an end to what the old, renegade Twelfth Doctor has set in motion as the leader of the Voord. While I would’ve liked to have seen more fantastic instances of all The Doctors working together to save the universe in this issue and have their departures from each other to have been written with more care, the majority of the issue is a brilliant blast. This series is, on all accounts, a truly amazing Doctor Who story and most likely my favorite comic book story of the TV show that I’ve read. The Voord are an impressive addition to the numerous alien races within the Doctor Who universe and I wouldn’t mind seeing them appear in future episodes of the TV show, if that would be possible.

Issue of the Month Award: Doctor Who: Four Doctors #4

Writer: Paul Cornell 

Artist: Neil Edwards

Colorist: Ivan Nunes

Cover Art: Neil Edwards & Ivan Nunes

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Doctor Who: Four Doctors #5 might have the better story, but it is #4 that takes September’s award for Issue of the Month. The reason for that is this issue is the turning point for the series, where the adventure gets real and dire. After the astonishing cliffhanger of #3 revealing that an alternate, older version of the Twelfth Doctor was in fact the perpetrator of this entire situation, we are given his ultimate reasoning behind his actions and what this means for his previous incarnations and the universe. We get to see most of what occurs in Doctor Who: Four Doctors #4 from the perspective of the scarred Twelfth Doctor as well as Gabrielle Gonzales, and what carries the issue along is the curiosity of how the Doctors will come out of this incredible circumstance on top. It appears the Voord have the upper hand, and, as one companion falls, what might be the answer to saving the Doctor’s from creating their own destiny of loneliness and desperateness? You’ll have to read this issue and the next to find out. Another reason, a big one, why this issue deserves this award is because of Neil Edwards and colorist Ivan Nunes. Both their cover art and interior artwork is top of the line for Doctor Who: Four Doctors #4. This creative partnership for the series reminds me of artist Bryan Hitch’s work, and that’s a pretty steep evaluation. Edwards does a exemplary job at facial expressions and the storytelling aspects of the comic. Coming into the series, I knew he would do a good job, but, instead, he’s done a fantastic one. 

Thank you all once again for checking out my awards for September and be sure check back sometime next month for October’s Comic Book Awards (I’m excited to see how those turn out)! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!

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