34. Peter David, Pulling Up Stakes. High-concept YA from the longtime comics writer/Star Trek novelist about a young guy descended from a family belonging to a secret society of vampire hunters who can't bear to tell his mom...that he's been turned a vampire. Hilarity ensues as he goes through the motions of what traditions expect of him while contriving to hide his deep dark secret. It's not trailblazing by any means, and I toll my eyes at any and every vampire story that starts by bragging about which vampire weaknesses aren't true (toss out too many, and you're not really writing vampires anymore, now are you?), but David still knows from punchlines and fast-paced adventure.
35. David Simon, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. A 2005 reissue of the 1988 nonfiction award-winner that was later adapted into NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street. It opened doors for Simon, then a Baltimore Sun journalist/editor, to connect with Hollywood, begin writing for the show, and then move on to create his own small-screen works like The Wire. Thirty years later, his fly-on-the-wall observations and sharp, insightful prose still have an impact when describing everyday life for the murder police back in the day. The 2005 edition includes a new foreword by the equally awesome Richard Price and a new afterword from Simon himself about the original writing process, how the book changed his career track forever, and a Where Are They Now recap of the detectives he shadowed and wrote about.
36. Mikey Neumann and Agustin Padilla, Borderlands: Fall of Fyrestone. I spent two of my last three years' worth of limited video-gaming sessions getting myself lost and mesmerized by the first two Borderlands games for PS3, and missed out on the short time when IDW Publishing brought the world of Pandora to comics. One of the game's original writers and voice actors (who now has his own YouTube series called "Movies with Mikey") was wisely put in charge, firmly maintaining the same tongue-in-cheek tone and inhabiting each of the four main characters in this loose run-through of the first game's first main mission, thankfully with a new take on it rather than a beat-for-beat transcription.
37. Sarah Ganz Blythe and Edward D. Powers, Looking at Dada. Coffee-table companion to a 2006 exhibition at NYC's Museum of Modern Art. I took a seminar in college that name-checked larger personalities from the original Dadaist movement, so it was fun to remember some of that and learn new names. Apropos of many things, this was a vacation souvenir from a modern art museum we visited in Utica back in July.
38. Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunleavy, Action Presidents #1: George Washington! From the creators of top-notch educational graphic novels such as Action Philosophers! and The Comic Book History of Comics comes the first installment of a new hardcover series in which their dual proficiencies in history and humor are brought to bear on the more renowned occupiers of America's highest office. It's fact-filled, impartial, funny, not averse to pointing out flaws but also not interested on obsessing on those flaws being the only things that matter. I was surprised and excited to find this in a gift shop inside Philadelphia's roughly 7,000 history museums.
39. Cullen Bunn and Joelle Jones, Helheim, v. 1: The Witch War. Vikings plus witches plus one zombie-fied super-viking, with equal parts betrayal and sacrifice tossed in, equals much bloodletting but a surprising amount of subtle emotional moments.
40. Mike Carey and Mike Perkins, Rowans Ruin. A shiny happy American blogger agrees to swap houses for one fun summer with a British lady her same age. Sadly her U.K. counterpart failed to mention she lives...in a haunted house! DUN-DUN-DUUUUUUN. I guessed the biggest plot twist early on, but not every twist. Successful on the spooky side anyway.