Jim Doom says: (tie) Captain America #34 and Batman #681!
I went back and looked at my weekly reviews throughout the year, and these were two of the highest ranked. I felt like the relationship between the two was fitting enough to keep it a tie.
In Captain America #34, Bucky debuted as the new Captain America in what has been one of the best multi-year storylines I’ve ever read. Brubaker did such a good job building up to it that I said at the time “There was no shock for any regular readers to find that Bucky is now Captain America; the payoff for this issue was seeing how he did in his debut.”
Marvel showed that you can kill of a major character, even with some short-term hype incentive, and still make a fantastic story out of it, as it’s all been a part of Brubaker’s long-term plan.
Over in Batman #681, Grant Morrison spent several years building up to the conclusion to Batman RIP. Dan DiDio later revealed that it was an artificial conclusion imposed for the sake of trade paperback sales, and that the actual conclusion of Batman RIP hasn’t even happened yet, but this still worked as a powerful moment in the bigger storyline, particularly that involving the Black Glove.
What I loved most about it was Morrison’s portrayal of Batman. As I wrote in November, “It was without a doubt an in-your-face reminder of why Batman is so awesome. He’s outsmarting the bad guys. He’s beating people at their own game. He’s humiliating these supervillain wannabes, and the Joker is putting him over bigtime, letting the evil gang know just how screwed they are. For all the ambiguity of the first four chapters, much of this was straight forward and fantastic.”
Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mists of Death
Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch
These were two great standalone issues that only got bumped due to my admiration for how well the two winners served their respective series. A great single issue is one thing, but a great single issue that boosts the enjoyment of a month-to-month series deserves a little extra praise.
Doom DeLuise says: The Man Called Nova: Annual #1
This is an issue that simultaneously tells the origin story of Nova Prime, Richard Rider, as well as the story of the final battle in the future between the fully-restored Nova Corps and the Phalanx, as well as the current story that ties-in with the ongoing monthly about Nova dealing with the Technovirus that he’d recently been infected with.
So you have a perfect standalone story that fits the mold of what an annual should be, but it also ties into the ongoing at the very end, leaving you wanting to pick up the series and continue reading the Human Rocket’s adventures.
Holy hell, these guys are good. There’s a reason Abnett and Lanning are my favorite writers, and stories like this go a long way in explaining that reason.
Here’s what we thought were the Best Single Issues of years past:
Fin Fang Doom: Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1
Doom DeLuise: Criminal #5
Jim Doom: Civil War: The Confession
Fin Fang Doom: Infinite Crisis #4
Jim Doom: (tie) Wolverine #49, the Joker / Robin issue of Detective written by Paul Dini, Superman / Batman Annual #1, and the issue of New Avengers that was the Captain America solo issue.
Doom DeLuise: Villains United Special