2013 is in the rear view but we haven’t finish looking back just yet. If you catch tonight show, you’ll find we’ve been thinking alot about what 2013 had to offer. So let me take this time to look specifically at the best comics to grace the shelves at your local comic shop. There’s been a lot of great stuff that’s come out this past year but only so many can be touted as the best. So let’s take a look at my picks for the best ongoing series comics of 2013:
#10 – Astro City
One of the more satisfying moments of the the comics’ year was when Astro City returned as a monthly comic. Longtime fans of the series were waiting on baited breath, hoping that this new series, still sporting the same creative team it always has, would live up to its past incarnations. It had been a couple of years since the last mini series was released so there was some trepidation that this might not be the title it once was. All of my personal fears were put to rest as soon as I opened the first issue and was introduced to the Broken Man. From there was a series of issues with Busiek and company playing to their strengths – telling stories about real world folks living in a fantastical place where superheroes, supervillains, magic and otherworldly forces exist. Smart, mysterious and always with a strong attention to detail, each issue was a feast for both the kid in me who loves superheroes and the adult in me that loves multi-layered characters. Astro City is back and hopefully, here to stay for a long time.
#9 – Daredevil
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee delivered another fun and exciting year for the Man without Fear! Whether it was dealing with dudes who were trained to fight just like him, racist dudes who worshipped snakes or the odd monster or two, there was never a dull moment for Matt Murdock. Add to that the very serious and heartfelt plot of Foggy’s battle with cancer and you have the makings of a very well rounded book. What amazes me even more is that Samnee appears to becoming tighter and tighter as an artist with each issue. I look forward to what he and Waid have cooked up for us on the fiftieth annivesary of the character’s debut. Daredevil continues to be one the most enjoyable reads on the comic shelf today.
#8 – Guardians of the Galaxy
I know a few folks complained about the fact that for a year’s worth of issues (almost), the Guardians didn’t really do much except avoid getting killed. And to that I say, “SO WHAT!” This book is all about the characters. Who cares if they’re not fighting a different baddie each month. It’s all about the interactions. Starlord’s an arrogant, young swashbuckler who’s getting taken down a few pegs by his current lot in life. Gamora is the most dangerous woman on the planet because she’s got major issues (as Tony Stark has now found out first hand). Rocket Racoon is sometimes the smartest guy in the room by just making the simplest of suggestions…..and if it works, he’ll never let you forget it. Groot is, well, Groot is Groot and he won’t let you forget that either. Then you add Angela, the Neal Gaiman creation, to the mix. Here’s a character you think wouldn’t fit into this group at all. Well, I guess you were wrong on that one because she’s been a perfect addition to the cast. It was also nice that the teams inclusion in Infinity (although not a very large inclusion as they only dealt with it in the confines of thier book) made perfect sence and didn’t disrupt the flow of the series. The book is funny, fast pased and exciting. If the movie is a tenth of what the book is like, I will be happy.
#7 – Mind the Gap
So if you saw my list for the best comics of 2012, you’d know that this is another returning champion of said list. Just like last year, it’s still a story about a girl, Elle Peterssen in a coma after being attacked on a subway platform…..or was she? Her conscience is trapped in The Garden (a sort of limbo) and she’s got to find a way to communicate to her best friend Jo and her boyfirend Dane, the only people she knows she can trust, that she’s still alive and sort of well. She just can’t remember much about what happened to her. This year gave us a lot of answers as to what exactly is going on in the Peterssen clan. The reveal of Hoodie, the truth behind Elle’s “attack” and the depths of the conspiracy behind it were shocking to say the least. Now a new chapter has started in Elle’s journey and the jump to where the book is now has been seemless. I never thought the world of a coma patient could be so exciting.
#6 – FF
I’m guessing some of you out there may be surprised to see a book written by Matt Fraction on this list. I know, I know, a year ago I was always bashing Fraction. But what a difference a year can make, right? Not only does that make this book an odd choice for me but it’s also a Fantastic Four book to boot. Okay, so it’s not exactly a Fantastic Four Book. Turns out Reed Richards and company are off on an excellent space adventure so they’ve left Ant Man (Scott Lang), She Hulk, Medusa and Miss Thing (not as dumb as it sounds) to take care of the Future Foundation school of super genius kids. The results have been some of the craziest, silver age-inspired tales involving a plethora of classic Fantastic Four villains. With art by the always talented Mike Allred and family, this book is fun for all. It’s a shame it’s wrapping up so soon. Dragon Man is the bomb, yo!
#5 – Fatale
Another returning champion from my Best of 2012 list, the horrors that plague Jo, our seemingly immortal heroine, were ramped up even more in 2013. Jo’s big problem is that she’s been cursed with the supernatural ability to cause men to become deeply infatuated with her. This is a power she can’t control so she tends to shy away from intense relationships with the opposite sex as she’s seen first hand what kind of damage can result. She’s also on the run from a violent cult that worships strange creatures that are somehow tied to Jo’s power. These creatures, almost Lovecraftian in nature, are horrific and Jo has to always be on her toes to stay one step ahead of everyone. So what happens in the early nineties when a traumatic accident leaves her without her memories? Well, nothing a little rock n roll and bank robbery can’t cure. Jo’s spent most of this past year with a seattle grunge band. But due to her amnesia, she’s not taking it easy around these gents and all hell has broken loose because of it. Dark and gritty with equal helpings of Crime Noir and Old School Horror, this is by far one of the best series Brubaker has ever written and this arc is probably the most thrilling one thus far. Sean Phillips appears right at home in this scary little corner of comicdom as his pencils are best suited to making the underbelly of society look so cool. Spooky, trippy and intoxicating, don’t be surprised if Jo’s powers start coming off the page and you find yourself a bit smitten with her.
#4 – Superior Foes of Spider-Man
So yeah….theses guys. It’s hilarious that the title of this book mentions Spider-Man and there is no sign of him except in the fact that these cats have tussled with him before. But this story isn’t about Webhead, so who needs him? Instead, the focus on the New Sinister Six (All 5 of ’em). Headed up by Boomerang, the team is trying to either make it rich or take over the criminal underworld or both, depending on who you’re asking (and if they’re being honest with you). Nick Spencer crafts this mostly comedic take on the bad guys of the Spiderverse and uses Fred Myers (Boomerang’s square name) as not only our window into this madness but our guide to the richest stories that no hero would know about. When I read this book, I like to picture Fred being played by Comedian Bill Burr. His crass attitude and killer timing is very reminiscent of the stand up comic and makes an already amazing book even more enjoyable. This book is dripping with charm and Spencer knows when to you leave you on a cliff hanger and when to let you down easy. No moment is wasted as every move Fred and his crew of Speed Demon, Overdrive, Shocker and Beetle make usually comes back to bite them on the ass eventually. Steve Lieber provides great visuals for this raw look at the lighter side of costume criminals.
#3 – Lazarus
For a woman that gets shot alot, Forever Carlyle is unstoppable. In a near dystopian future the government has fallen and possession is 10 tenths of the law. A half dozen families rule the planet and the rest of us are either servants or poor. It’s Forever’s job to protect her family from outside threats. But what if the biggest threats are on the inside? Greg Rucka and Michael Lark reteam to bring you this hard knuckle trip into the world of the haves and have nots on a post apocalyptic level. Forever is the type of character that Rucka writes well: a strong loner with family issues who will never let you see her cry. This book is a dark take on the future (is there any other kind in comics?) that explores not just some pretty interesting characters and relationships but also makes some subtle and not so subtle comments about society today. At the end of the day though, nothing beats a bad-ass with a sword and Forever got the goods.
#2 – Star Wars
This book surprised me. A LOT. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Star Wars comic universe but this book feels like it was written for the original, hard core fans of the movies. Taking place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the comic focuses on the Rebels’ search for a new home base. Leia’s got her hands full as she’s pretty much in charge of this but also, at the request Mon Mothma, has to fett out a possible rat in the group who’s been feeding intel to the Empire. Enter the stelth squadron – Leia’s handpicked crew of pilots who are on the case. Brian Wood does a great job of giving a fullfilling story that feels like the films. Not only do the characters feel genuine but he and artist Carlos D’anda do a great job of keeping the same pacing as the flicks by jumping back and forth between a plot and b plot frequently. Out of all the comics, books and movies (ugh) that have come out since the original trilogy, this comic is the first to capture the magic we felt when we first saw this galaxy far, far away.
#1 – Hawkeye
If you caught Geek Hard’s Best of 2013 Episode that aired last night, you’d know that I shocked the world (not really, but I shocked Kris Johnson and Mr. Green) when I declared Hawkeye the best comic of 2013 and Matt Fraction the Best Writer of 2013. Anyone who reads this book knows that both are true statements. This is more than a superhero book. It’s rich with character and plays with the conventions of how to tell a story within the medium. Each issue feels like a cool french action film that nobody’s seen before. The Pizza Dog issue alone showed that there’s more going on here than just a guy with a bow and arrow fighting other guys who say “bro” a lot. The retelling of scenes with new information, the play with perspective and the focus changing from issue to issue make this book the work of art that it is. I guess I was way wrong about this Fraction chap. He’s spinning yarns like nobody else with talented artists backing him up. You gotta love Hawk-guy.
So there you have it. My picks for the 10 Best Comics of 2013. Let me know what your picks are by leaving a comment.
If you’re gonna geek out, Geek Hard!