Best of Year 2007 – Mike Carey’s choices
For today’s Best of the Year picks we turn to a British writer who has his finger in more pies than a mutant baker with ten hands, Mike Carey. Mike has a number of series from a variety of publishers, including a number from the Big Two of DC and Marvel, with titles ranging across subjects and themes from mixing punk and Faerie with God Save the Queen, a wander through creation with the First of the Fallen in the critically acclaimed Lucifer, through teen girl oriented material such Blabbermouth as for DC’s new Minx range (where he collaborated with his own teenage daughter Louise), a great stint on Hellblazer, Crossing Midnight, diving into one of the biggest superhero teams of all with the X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four among many others. Somehow he also managed to squeeze in adapting Nicholas and Weston Cage’s Voodoo Child for Virgin and work on the fourth volume of his frankly brilliant series of supernatural-noir-detective prose novels for Orbit featuring his down-at-heels freelance exorcist Felix Castor, which I’m sure regular readers have heard me rave about a number of times not (I can’t stop recommending them to folks – book four should be due later this year, the third volume, Dead Men’s Boots came out recently and is more gripping than a Gekko with superglue on its paws).
Last summer as I read Peter F Hamilton’s The Dreaming Void he introduced a character who was a gestalt entity, shared mind versions of the same person in a variety of bodies living individual yet totally linked lives. I have come to the conclusion that the writer we know as Mike Carey is actually one facet of some such gestalt entity, quite possibly there are a number of him secreted around the country all linked telepathically and beavering away at the word processor to meet all those deadlines. Either that or he is just exceptionally gifted (and doesn’t sleep). Here are Mike’s selections from the last twelve months:
Daniel and Charlie Knauf, of Carnivale fame, turned their hands to comic books with this terrific follow-up to Warren Ellis’s Extremis arc (which I’d also put on the list if it wasn’t a 2006 release). Iron Man’s greatest strengths become his weaknesses, and he’s dragged kicking and screaming into a world of shifting political alliances and devastating personal betrayals. Great stuff.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are doing fantastic work on All-Star Superman: not a homage to the silver age, but a recreation of its simplicity, exuberance and wild excitement.
Joann Sfar is one of the most exciting talents to arise on the European scene for many a year, and this tale of a wandering Klezmer band in Eastern Europe in the years between the two world wars is, for my money, even better than his magnificent and endlessly inventive Rabbi’s Cat books.
The White Darkness, Geraldine McCaughrean
Okay, this actually came out in late 2006, but I don’t care. Read it and marvel. If there’s ever been a better YA (that’s Young Adult for those not in the know) novel than this brilliant, moving exploration of a young girl’s platonic love affair with a dead Antarctic explorer, I haven’t read it.
The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
Dawkins was accused of shooting fish in a barrel with this exploration of the contradictions and inadequacies inherent in our conceptualisation of God. It’s actually a fair criticism, but I still enjoyed the experience a lot. And hey, do a search for the book online and see the huge chorus of denunciations, ripostes and general teeth-gnashing: Dawkins struck a nerve among the fundamentalists, all right.
Shadowplay, Tad Williams.
Because nobody does huge, epic fantasy better. And Tad’s “huge” is huger than anyone else’s “huge”. While you’re at it, read the first volume in the trilogy, Shadowmarch, and the truly magnificent Otherland.
I think season three was a 2007 release, but obviously you have to start with season one and work forward. Absolutely gripping US crime series that explores the narcotics trade in Baltimore and shows both cops and gangsters with unswerving honesty. I recommend this to everyone, even if they hate TV cop shows, and only one person has ever given the box set back to me without watching the entire thing. Season three builds to a huge, epic confrontation between Daniels’ unit and the re-invented Barksdale crew – and an inevitable shift in the power structure of the Baltimore underworld. It’s also the one with Hamsterdam in it…
My Name is Earl
So clever, so funny, and so life-affirming, it could almost have been directed by the Coen Brothers – and in fact, it has more than a few echoes of their early masterpiece, Raising Arizona. This is a comedy show that makes you feel – just for once – good to be a human being.
The Final Cut (now released with the “making of” documentary, Dangerous Days. Do you need a reason to buy this?