Comics have been all over the place lately like the always are at the end of the year. As such, pull lists have been either humongous or a scant few. This doesn’t just apply to me, but to all the customers at the shop I manage and spend so much of my time at. Whether they’re from Marvel or DC, self-contained “annuals” are everywhere, including big name teams or bigger name heroes. Sometimes they fit into continuity and sometimes they don’t. What they always do, though, is come with a higher price tag – five bucks an issue, as it so happens this year.
Normally, I’d be all over Amazing Spider-Man and telling you all about it, but right now, one event in particular’s going on – The Spider-Verse! I like it better than the Clone Saga, but as convoluted as it is. Instead of a pull list, this week is all about looking backwards than forwards. Yes, we’re looking at the very best comics of 2014. I’ll tell you this much: Image released some comics you just can’t miss.
1. Rat Queens
I already wrote a whole feature about this Rat Queens, so what more is there to say? Lots really, but I’d rather not spoil my favorite book of the year….maybe ever. Its popularity has spawned so much fan art, cosplay, and merchandise that nothing can seem to stop the meteoric rise to fame for this title.
Recently, the book’s needed a new artist for reasons I’ll not get into here, but it’s nothing a Google search won’t reveal. Regardless, new artist Stjepan Sejic seems quite up to the task of drawing my favorite quartet of kick-ass femme fatales. If you love high fantasy, or have 3ever played a game of D&D read this book. If you like strong female leads, or like to laugh, Rat Queens is a book you won’t regret it. Seriously, we can’t keep the trades or issues on our shelves at my comic shop.
2. The Amazing Spider-man
Peter Parker has proven to be a favorite of mine since I was very young and the character’s in good hands with Dan Slott helming the book. He seems to have the same love for Spidey as I do and I trust him to write even more compelling stuff in 2015. The Spider-Verse’s been good, if not a little convoluted in the most fascinating ways.
Slott does a great job of managing all its break-out characters and plot lines, the least of which are Silk and “Spider Gwen.” After the dust settles from the war between Spiders and Inheritors, who will be left standing? Keep reading to find out, but know that The Amazing Spider-man‘s proven to be nothing more than that – amazing, if not definitely Superior to the rest of the Marvel.
3. The Autumn Lands: Tooth and Claw
The Autumn Lands seemed to come out of nowhere when it released, but I decided to give a shot on a whim while paging through Previews Magazine and I’m quite glad I did, because Kurt Busiek writes one hell of a story. In it, anthropomorphic animals rule the skies and the ground below in this world. Magic is fading and a fabled warrior may be needed to save the world.
Autumn Lands’ art is both beautiful and visceral; not an easy combination to pull off, I’d imagine. Only two issues in, this book took me by storm. Did I mention it is a full forty-eight pages Did I mention there are no ads? This is how a comic book should be. Take notes, Marvel and DC.
We don’t need an advertisement every two pages or five buck price tags. The three dollar price tag for all this awesome in paper form is some rather tempting icing on a very tasty cake. It’s good to see creators doing what they want for a change and this is the kind of thing I long to do someday. Support this book and more great creations will follow.
Publisher Of the Year: Avatar [Ferals, God is Dead, and Uber]
Gory, mature, and impeccably written, an Avatar book is unmistakable. They always provide a nice change of pace from super hero comics, its most recent works included. In Ferals, Werewolves are among us and looking to take over the world. In God is dead and the pagan deities want to carve up our world in a bloody fashion. Uber, meanwhile is about super soldiers in an alternate WWII in which the Nazis developed them first as the world played catch-up in a great “what-if?” fashion.
Runner-up #1: Image [The Fade Out, Skull-Kickers, Wayward, Squarriors]
I feel that, if anything, Image might’ve offered the most this year for given people looking for something different. Fadeout is a wonderfully done noir murder mystery in graphic novel form; Skullkickers, a comedy book in the manner of Rat Queens in genre and tone; and Wayward, a high fantasy mercenaries and merging humorous hijinks even without having read issues three nor four. Check it out if you like Manga, this book really feels like a well written westernized Manga.
And let’s not forget an instant favorite of mine – Squarriors. It really reads like a version of Mouse Guard with a far more mature and violent bent and its art is seriously eye popping. I’m kicking myself now for missing the Kickstarter.
Runners-up #2: Avengers, X-Books, Superman Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, World’s Finest
I could never choose between Marvel or DC’s slate this year, both so much like a roller coaster for me and others. There were great issues and there were some pretty bad ones too. Avengers had great characterization and amazing dialogue. It suffered from a lot of jumping around in the plot and even in time. The X-men issues were pretty good for the same reasons the Avengers were good, throw in some soap opera themes and you got a recipe for success. Just let Wolverine go away though, please.
Superman Wonder Woman really felt like a book for shippers. Don’t get me wrong, it really is a super powered soap opera that guys can read without feeling guilty (well, not very guilty). The relationship feels organic, but reading a book based on a couple is like standing under a piano or cartoon anvil waiting for it to drop. It’s going to happen.
Harley Quinn’s been funny, but I fear it will suffer from over saturation like Deadpool. As it stands it really reads like Deadpool with some cheesecake for the guys and a little beefcake for the ladies. World’s Finest only made the cut because it included two of my favorite heroines: Huntress and Power Girl. The book became more about Earth 2 and I lost interest.
Runner Up #3: Big Dot Ink [Critter, Joan of Arc, Ursa Minor, New Warriors]
Last but not lease, were the fantastic works by Big Dog Ink. I got to meet the writers and artists at C2E2 this year. Great guys with great talent, if I do say so. If you like catgirl super heroes, angelic ass kickers, and were-bear vampire hunters, (and who doesn’t?) check these titles out.
One day, all of them sadly came to a halt and Big Dot faded away. The good news is they’ve been acquired by Aspen as an imprint and they might one day return. Chris Yost’s New Warriors, a book I feel got axed too soon, may be the biggest casualty of the fallout. My time with the team was all too short. I’m such a fanboy, aren’t I?
I’m sure I left out someone’s favorite titles. What were your favorite books this year? Let us know in the comments below!