Michael Jordan

was in his prime, he was undoubtedly the best player in basketball. Players like

Charles Barkley


Karl Malone

wound up winning MVP awards because it seemed that some sportswriters were so used to Jordan's greatness, they held him to a higher standard, or they wanted to "spread the wealth around" and have other players win occasionally.

To Comics Guy, that's poppycock. If you're the best 10 years in a row, you should be rewarded for being the best 10 years in a row. It's the thing that has always bothered him about the Oscars - the idea that someone should win because it's "their turn" or that someone like Meryl Streep should lose to inferior actresses because she's won before.

If you're the best, you should be acknowledged as such.

In that same vein, Comics Guy looked long and hard to see if any comic book was worthy of being named the best instead of the title that won Best Comic Series of the Year in 2008 and 2009. There were a lot of challengers, a lot of well-done stuff. Some issues of certain books can be called legitimate masterpieces.

However, with such a plethora of quality material to choose from, there still is only one choice when it comes to the best that the comic-book medium has to offer. So for the third year in a row, "Scalped" is Comics Guy's pick for Best Comic Series of the Year.

Once again, Jason Aaron - Comics Guy's choice for Writer of the Year - has given us characters and story lines that are extremely compelling.

He is mining the story possibilities few dare to touch, let alone explore, about life on an Indian reservation, and gives us sharp yet real dialogue.

Most of all, he gives us moments - not only in every issue, but on virtually every page - that readers will remember forever. Whether it's Chief Red Crow proving that he is the wisest, most dangerous mob leader ever put on the printed page, the emptiness and desperation evident in many of the lives there, double-agent Dash being confronted by his deadbeat father or Red Crow's daughter Carol deciding whether she should keep her baby - there is extremely powerful stuff here.

Aaron tackled the abortion issue with Carol's pregnancy in a very non-cliché way. There are little moments when she feels that having the child will help her get her act together, and there are others when she feels that it would be insane to bring a child into the world she inhabits, in which her father is a crime boss and both she and her lover are drug addicts. Let's put it this way - Aaron does not take the easy way out and have Carol miscarry. She makes a decision and realizes that she will live with the consequences forever.

There were also incredible story lines, like one involving a couple determined to live by the "old ways" and for whom going into town to buy milk at the market is selling out, as well as a gay story line involving Red Crow's right-hand man, Shunka, which involves murder, betrayal and the perversion of the Indian culture, and it has a twist ending that will leave your jaw on the floor.

"Scalped" is one of the best comic series ever printed, and for yet another year, it's the best that the comics industry has to offer.

Comics Guy feels that a lot has to do with Artist of the Year R.M. Guera, who creates the perfect mood for "Scalped" and captures the wide range of emotions for each of the characters personally.

The rest of the awards are as follows:

* Hero of the Year: Wee Hughie. No, he doesn't have any superpowers or fancy toys to fight crime, but Wee Hughie's a character who is mostly decent and noble, a rarity in the world of "The Boys" and of comics in general, where it is considered cutting edge to have a straight arrow like Daredevil murder his arch-enemy, Bullseye. Hughie always strives to do the right thing, yet is undeniably human. In Comics Guy's eyes, that makes him a shining example of a hero.

* Heroine of the Year: Supergirl. What do you call a superheroine who continually faced personal and professional challenges and kept overcoming them, kept striving to be worthy of the "Big Red S," yet in the end came through stronger for it? You call her Heroine of the Year for the second year in a row.

* Villain of the Year: Norman Osborn and Lex Luthor can't hold a candle to Chief Red Crow of "Scalped" in being an evil, complex badass.

* Miniseries of the Year: "The Boys: Highland Laddie." This examination of arguably the two most decent characters in comics trying to rebuild their relationship in an increasingly indecent world edges out writer Garth Ennis' extremely powerful "Battlefields" minis to take the honor this year.

* Event of the Year: "The Siege" had everything an event book should have, delivered it in spades, had a satisfying conclusion and changed Marvel's status quo. Any questions?

* Moment of the Year: When Marvel's heroes finally took down Norman Osborn in "The Siege." Nothing else came close.

* Dynamic Duo of the Year: "Batman and Robin" was unpredictable, fresh and fun, with Dick Grayson and Damian taking over for Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake. By far, the best work by Grant Morrison this year.

* Best Comic Book-Based Movie: Sure, it had its flaws, but "Iron Man II" still had Robert Downey Jr., and still rocked.

E-mail comicsguy@phillynews.com