This year saw many great graphic novel publications, but perhaps none so great as the deluxe two-volume hardcover box set of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. Those of you who recognize the name Miyazaki no doubt know him as the director of the monumental animated films Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. As triumphant as those films may be, this graphic novel remains Miyazaki's magnum opus, completed long before he became a director. Nausicaa set the tone for themes most people now associate with Studio Ghibli: strong female characters, environmentalism, and the inherent destructive nature of mankind. Nausicaa is the closest thing comics has to The Lord of the Rings and should be experienced whether you're a fan of high fantasy or Studio Ghibli.
Dark Horse Comics continues to treat fans of European graphic novels with the third volume in the ever-growing Milo Manara library. While the first two volumes collected historical fiction rendered in lush watercolors, this third volume is a collection of surrealist storytelling in clear-line monochromatic splendor. The Manara Library Volume 3 collects all of the artist's collaborations with legendary Italian director Federico Fellini. As if that weren't enough, this volume is rounded out by Manara's masterful interpretation of the Chinese Monkey King legend. Most of these stories were published in various forms throughout the past decade, and have always been difficult to find in the U.S. This book will only be rarer in the future, so save yourself the hardship of tracking them down once they're out of print!
If you thought the resurrection of Rob Liefeld's Prophet was a miracle, the successful re-launch of his Wonder Woman archetypal character Glory is nothing short of divine intervention. Not even the deepest nostalgia for Extreme-era 90's comics could move one to care about this title, yet Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell somehow managed to do so. Artist Ross Campbell, best known for his goth angst comic Wet Moon, blends his dynamic sense of drama with his overt appreciation for gore in a perfect combination that is rarely seen in mainstream comics. The cosmic giantess known as Glory leaves her war-torn planet to experience Earth and winds up as the protector of humanity. This comic reads like a Saturday morning cartoon that ate Sailor Moon for breakfast.