2014 is in the rear view but we haven’t finish looking back just yet. On last night’s show, we talked a lot about what 2014 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 ton 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 2014.
#10 – Morning Glories
It’s been off my list for a year or two but it’s back due to a strong run of strange storytelling. Morning Glory Academy has been a pretty freaky place since issue 1 back in 2o10. Since then we’ve seen the story, as well as the cast of characters, become more and more ambitious. In this past year, we’ve seen the students of this exclusive prep school travel both through time and the dream scape and even display some powers of the superhuman variety. Yet Nick Spencer is able to take the simplicity of extracurricular activities such as sports teams and student government and make them just as interesting, if not more so.
#9 – Astro City
A returning title from last year’s list, Astro City continues to be a great introspection of the traditional hero story. Whether it’s old an woman who loves herself some robots or a dude who’s the greatest adversary the Honor Guard has ever seen, we’re always treated to well developed characters that help us look at what we thought were overused, cliched story tropes and see them in a totally new and interesting light. Kurt Busiek and company keep bringing us a comic that’s full of nostalgia but still has something new to say, which is a very hard line to travel. Somehow, they always pull it off.
#8 – Hawkeye
A damn fine book that I wish we saw more of this year. The Answer is “What is Hawkeye?” Whether it was “super sleuth” Kate Bishop (who’s practically an Avenger) solving crimes in sunny L.A. or a beat down (and deaf) Clint Barton bonding with his bro while fighting off as many track suits as he can, this was a fun year to be a hero named Hawkeye. With amazing artwork provided by both David Aja and Annie Wu, Matt Fraction continued to tell compelling tales of archers on both coasts using conventional and experimental story devices. Issue 19 stands out especially from the bunch as it incorporated sign language into the comic and added a new layer to Clint’s character in the process.
#7 – Black Widow
When it comes to new Marvel titles this year, the ones that excelled the most were single hero stories that dealt with more “street level” content. This is the best executed spy book I’ve seen in quite some time. That’s saying something since there are a few pretty awesome spy books out there right now. But even though Grayson and Velvet are both kick-ass, there’s something about Natasha’s story in this title from Nathan Edmonson and Phil Noto that really grabs the reader. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that everybody wants to kill her or that deep down, she thinks she deserves it. Whichever, it’s the best depiction of the Widow EVER!
#6 – Deadly Class
An urban street kid gets enrolled in a secret, international school of assassins that boasts a study body made up of the children of the criminal elite. And all of it is set against the back drop of 1980s punk sensibilities. The premise alone makes a it a must read. Add to that the intense character analysis provided by Rick Remender who makes every warm body count. Throw in a bunch of drugs, a number of murderous acts (as homework assignments) and one crazy trip to Las Vegas and you’ve got an exciting thrill ride of a title. And hey, there’s a little teen angst thrown in there to boot. Sold!
#5 – Ms. Marvel
Pardon the cheesy opening but this book is MARVELOUS! Not since Lee and Ditko’s Spider-Man have we seen such an energetic and positive teen superhero character who’s made all the more interesting by being a Muslim American living in Jersey City. Kamala Khan is fun and nerdy and easy to relate to. She’s always felt different due to her fangirl ways, writing superhero fan fiction and idolizing Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel). Now she gets to be the hero she’s always dreamed of. Easier said than done and the learning curve has been a blast to watch. This is the hero that fandom needs.
#4 – She-Hulk
The most surprising title of the year to be sure. I never thought we’d see a She-Hulk book that was both funny and thoughtful that focused more on Jen’s law practice within the Marvel Universe and not on bustin’ up baddies. There was some bustin’ to be had, that’s for sure. But what made this book special was getting to see Shulky wearing the hat of counselor. She helped Hank Pym with patent problems, defended Steve Rogers in a case against Daredevil and even aided Dr. Doom’s estranged son in defecting to the U.S. The book was a lot of fun and made all the more so by the Javier Pulido artwork.
#3 – Fatale / The Fade Out
The first year of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ 5 year deal with Image proved to be great one. The end of Fatale, their horror noir series about a writer who comes in contact with a beautiful, cursed woman running from a group of satanists who worship a cthulhu-like creature, was both satisfying and bittersweet. But before we could lament the end of this great comic, Ed and Sean lay another awesome title on us. A murder that’s being written off as a suicide in old Hollywood? Leave it to a screenwriter to become a detective of sorts. The best new book of this year to be sure.
#2 – Secret Avengers
The only Avengers book I still read and if you think it’s because Jonathan Hickman’s stuff is a little too weird, you’re dead wrong. Ales Kot and Michael Walsh got some pretty weird tales cooking themselves. A sentient bomb that just wants a friend. A terrorist obsessed with oil that looks like the Ultimate Warrior. A mouse assassin sent to kill a poet assassin. Plenty weird. Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Phil Coulson & Nick Fury Jr. have had their hands full. But the crowning achievement of this book? Taking a character as silly as M.O.D.O.K. and turning him into a bad-ass without changing a thing about him. Now that’s weird….and pretty cool.
#1 – Lazarus
When it comes to titles that are both “good and good for you”, nothing compares to Lazarus. Dealing with the socio-political landscape as well advances in science and technology, this title touches on a dystopian future that might not be far off in our actual lifetime. The world is now owned by the 16 richest families in the world. Each family has a Lazarus – a protector who manages the family’s army as well as maintains the personal well being of the individual family members. For Forever Carlyle, it’s the most important job she has and she does her best to keep her father and siblings protected. But is she really a member of the family? Definitely the best book this year.
So there you have it. My picks for the 10 Best Comics of 2013. Let me know what your picks are in the comments below.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!