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It’s the best (or rather, my favorite) comics of 2013! Huzzah and rejoice!

Yes, it’s the end of the year, and instead of reading all those other “best of” lists made by LOSERS, you should just stick to mine. Your entire comics-buying future is at stake!!!!

Last year, I tried a bit of a different format, listing just the 50 best comics I read in 2012. I didn’t really like that, because I still argue that it’s hard to judge ongoing series against graphic novels, and anyone who does so is a fool. A FOOL!!! Okay, not really, but comparing ongoing series to standalone graphic novels is for better people than I, so I’m going back to the old format. That means a list of ongoing series, a list of mini-series, a list of original graphic novels, a list of the best single issue/story, a list of the best covers of the year, and this year, I’ll add a few more lists. Why not? Plus: the return of the coveted Fell Award (I took last year off), and some other fun categories! Whoo-hoo!

As always, if you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out my other year-end lists: 2012 comics, 2011 comics, 2010 comics, 2009 comics, 2008 comics, and 2007 comics.

All right, strap in, because, as usual, it’s a long one!

BEST ONGOING SERIES.

1. Mind MGMT (Dark Horse) by Matt Kindt. Issues #7-17, plus a short story in Dark Horse Presents #31.

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Mind MGMT started strong last year and kept getting better, as this year we got two brilliant story arcs. In the first, Meru and Lyme begin recruiting a new team of agents to take on the Eraser, who’s trying to reform Mind MGMT. In the second arc, Kindt shifts to a suburban neighborhood where things start to go terribly wrong. He ties this back into Meru’s quest, and eventually the two threads smash into each other with devastating effects. Kindt is fantastic at telling stories from different viewpoints and out of order, so that he circles around to things we’ve seen before but in a new light, and he keeps the reader guessing wonderfully but still makes it all clear. His artwork continues to be stupendous, as he expands beyond his comfort zone well and always challenges us with strange camera angles and odd perspectives. It’s kind of unfair how good Kindt is at comics – you’ll notice what tops my list of graphic novels this year – but it does mean we get amazing stuff to read on a regular basis.

2. East of West (Image) by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin, and Rus Wooton. Issues #1-8.

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Hickman is basically a typical home run hitter in baseball, which means he swings for the fences every single time, and when he misses – his run on Fantastic Four, for instance – it’s a failure but at least it’s a spectacular one, and when he connects, it’s like watching Barry Bonds hit one – no matter how much you might loathe Barry Bonds (and I’m a Bonds hater from way back in the early 1990s), you can’t deny that his bombs were majestic. East of West is a spectacular home run, with a tremendous first issue leading to an epic bloodbath in issue #4 and then continuing on into Hickman’s brave new world of 2064, where the Three Horsemen roam the land, conspiring against Death, who’s broken from them to seek his child, and the political players of a post-Apocalyptic America jockey for position. It’s insane in the best possible way, and Nick Dragotta’s artwork has never been better. This is the kind of comic Hickman wishes his Avengers could be, and I just hope it continues to be this good as we move forward.

3. Chew (Image) by John Layman, Rob Guillory, and Taylor Wells. Issues #31-38.

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Layman and Guillory’s masterpiece makes its annual appearance on this list – it’s pretty much my favorite comic whenever you choose to ask me, but occasionally another comic comics along and steals its thunder just a bit, but as long as Layman doesn’t go insane over the next few years (or more insane, I suppose), this should always be a fixture on my year-end list. The events of issue #30 put the series into a different light, as Tony gets his job back and goes after the main villain of the book with a vengeance, but Layman is still teasing out that plot point. Tony also learns a bit more about the weird chicken-worshipping church, while Colby has a secret agenda with Mason Savoy, so all the threads of the comic are slowly drawing together. I say “slowly” because Layman continues to throw Tony and Colby into the weird cases that make the book so much fun, and in the current storyline, Tony is learning more about his sister and how she can help him find out the truth. Meanwhile, Guillory continues to dominate, with his wonderful cartooning skills adding the right level of absurdity to the book, and the labels he adds to the many signs and surfaces are twisted and hilarious. The book might be great simply for the double-page Poyo spreads that show up every once in a while! Plus, this showed up in the letter column of issue #34:

Why yes, my daughter IS awesome, why do you ask?

Why yes, my daughter IS awesome, why do you ask?

4. Young Avengers (Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, Kate Brown, Emma Vieceli, Christian Ward, Annie Wu, Kris Anka, Stephen Thompson, Matthew Wilson, Lee Loughridge, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles. Issues #1-14.

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I’m totally in the bag for a Gillen/McKelvie book, so I had high hopes for Young Avengers, and it didn’t disappoint. The greatest thing about this book is that Gillen turns this into almost an anti-superhero, anti-team comic, something that it’s almost impossible to believe Marvel allowed to come out and one that DC, in 2013, would run to the hills to avoid. Gillen creates a year-long arc with a fairly dumb villain, but that’s not really the point of the book. Gillen is writing a coming-of-age book about teenagers (or young adults) who don’t really know how to act, so they act ridiculously quite often. The characters, for all the superheroing, feel like real people who interact with each other like real people do, even as they’re battling creatures from another dimension. McKelvie, who’s been good for so long, takes another step forward, as his layouts in this series are amazing, pushing the envelope nicely in superhero artwork. The book had some rough patches – Miss America remains an underdeveloped character, which is too bad, and the lack of backgrounds in many issues becomes somewhat annoying even before they reached a dimension with no actual background – but it’s still a brilliant comic. I can’t wait to see what these creators do next, because I will be there!

5. The Sixth Gun (Oni Press) by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, Bill Crabtree, Douglas E. Sherwood, Ed Brisson, and Crank! Issues #28-36.

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Yes, it’s another series that usually ends up on this list, but I refuse to apologize! Bunn and Hurtt kept up the quality this year, as they finished “Winter Wolves” with Becky deciding to kick a little more ass in her quest for the guns, which did her well when she went on a spirit quest in the next storyline. Becky and Drake’s relationship deepened a bit – Bunn has not made them a romantic couple, which is nice, but they’ve become much better attuned to each other. Becky’s fractured romance with Kirby also came up, and Bunn does a wonderful job with that, too. Hurtt continues to be amazing on this book, too, with brilliant creatures and wonderful action and solid creepiness. The five-issue mini-series, Sons of the Gun, was also a pretty nifty series, with Brian Churilla providing the eerie art. It was a good year for the comic, and while the book ramps up for its conclusion, I keep enjoying each issue.

6. Batman ’66 (DC) by Jeff Parker, Tom Peyer, Jonathan Case, Ty Templeton, Joe Quinones, Sandy Jarrell, Rubén Procopio, Colleen Coover, Ted Naifeh, Wes Hartman, Maris Wicks, Rico Renzi, Tony Aviña, Matthew Wilson, and Wes Abbott. Issues #1-6.

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It’s kind of sad that the best book DC is currently publishing is a digital-first “homage” to a television series people who don’t read comics like to mock, but there it is. Parker gets just the right tone of the book – it’s often very funny, but not in a mocking way, and he makes sure that, while light, there’s plenty of action. Part of why it works, I think, is because the characters don’t speak in voices, so we don’t get Adam West’s overwrought “acting” (which, in a trade-off, means we don’t get Julie Newmar’s silky, sexy, venomous tones either). Parker does a really nice job with the capers, as they’re just silly enough to be fluff but still deal with actual crimes. The artists are also a huge reason for the success of the book, as Gotham City looks far less cheesy when an artist is drawing all the outlandish stuff than when it’s poorly-constructed sets. It’s too bad Jonathan Case hasn’t done more work on the book, because his stories have been superb, but it’s not like there’s a big drop-off in any of the other stories. As I’ve mentioned before, these stories could easily be “real” Batman stories with just very minor tweaks, but DC won’t allow any glimmer of hope to intrude on their utterly dark Bat-verse, so these get relegated to “elseworld” tales. That’s fine with me. I hope Batman ’66 continues for as long as Parker wants it to, because each issue is a delight.

7. Fatale (Image) by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Dave Stewart, and Elizabeth Breiweiser. Issues #11-18.

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Fatale was good last year, but this year, it got better, as Brubaker spent the first few issues of the year (#11-14) writing single-issue stories about different “Josephines” throughout history, which seemed to make the ongoing narrative feel more … interesting? important? credible? I don’t know, but the break was a good one – not only were the four single-issue stories really good, but it whetted my appetite for the “real” Josephine and Nick’s ongoing saga. When Brubaker got back into the ongoing narrative, he placed Josephine in grunge-era Seattle and turned up the darkness quite a lot – the current story arc is very bleak and very sexual, with Josephine taking a more active role and possibly showing some true colors about what she really is. Phillips is terrific as usual, and the shift to Breitweiser on colors has been smooth, as she’s at least in the same class as Stewart. I don’t know if Brubaker has decided whether this series will end any time soon, but this year, at least, he and Phillips were firing on all cylinders.

8. Astro City (DC/Vertigo) by Kurt Busiek, Brent Eric Anderson, Alex Sinclair, Wendy Broome, John G. Roshell, and Jimmy Betancourt. Issues #1-7.

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After a hiatus of some years, Astro City returned this year, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Despite the fact that a lot of people didn’t like “The Dark Ages,” I thought it was well done but for the fact that it took so long to come out, which I think dragged on some readers. But now Busiek and Anderson have returned to the modern day, with some simmering subplots to go along with their very good short stories. So we get the dude who breaks the fourth wall and the aliens who have landed outside the city, and who knows if they’re connected. Meanwhile, Busiek is doing a nice job mixing the original intent of the series – showing superheroes from a “normal” person’s perspective – with more straight-forward superhero tales, and that mix is working very well right now. We got the two-part story about the young lady who works at the call center that screens requests for super-assistance, the excellent single-issue story of the older superpowered woman who doesn’t want to fight any battles, and, in the most recent issue, the first part of a multi-part story about someone trying to besmirch Winged Victory’s reputation. Anderson continues to provide excellent work, making Astro City and the world it inhabits as mundane as possible while still nailing the thrilling parts of superheroing. It’s nice to see Astro City return, and I hope Busiek has many years of stories left to tell.

9. Glory (Image) by Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell, Ulises Farina, Owen Gieni, Emi Lenox, Sloane Leong, Jed Dougherty, Greg Hinkle, Charis Solis, Douglas E. Sherwood, and Ed Brisson. Issues #31-34.

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Here’s what I don’t get about some “year-end,” “best-of” lists: everyone is so keen on celebrating the new and even the stuff that came out recently that they forget about some comics. Glory showed up on a lot of lists last year, but did everyone forget that it finished up this year, and these four issues are as good as the ones that came out last year? Keatinge manages to make the ending of this comic both unbelievably brutal and emotionally gut-wrenching, as Glory fights her war and does some horrible things. It’s brilliant how well Keatinge telegraphed the end of the comic while still making it feel horrible and stunning. Campbell’s art is tremendous, and the other artists do very nice work, as well. I’m amazed that Image hasn’t offered a giant, 12-issue hardcover yet, but if they do, snap it up. Glory is an excellent comic.

10. Journey into Mystery (Marvel) by Kathryn Immonen, Valerio Schiti, Pepe Larraz, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles. Issues #648-655.

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I’m still surprised that Marvel didn’t relaunch this with the Marvel NOW! thing, because it seems like a perfect place to do it. Maybe it still wouldn’t have lasted, but I imagine it might have had a bigger chance. Either way, we got 11 issues of greatness, as Immonen turned Sif into a berserker just for the fun of it, and then threw her into a mystery in space with Beta Ray Bill. This book was very exciting, very funny, and the dialogue crackled wonderfully. Even the fill-in issue, #651, was very good. Of course, Schiti’s artwork had a good deal to do with that, as his work is stunning on this series – it’s very dense, but precise and crisp, and it manages to make the comic light even though Sif gets to hack up a lot of monsters. Much like Image with Glory, I imagine Marvel will eventually release an 11-issue hardcover of this run, and that will be a nice package.

Some recent favorites didn’t make the list, through no fault of their own, really. I usually have Elephantmen on this list, and while it was good this year, I think these others were just a bit better. Last year The Manhattan Projects was on this list, and it’s still a good read, but once again, these other comics were better. Wasteland is still a solid read, but it didn’t quite make it. Whenever I start making these lists, I think I’ll have trouble coming up with 10 titles, but then I get to #10 and think, “Man, I could easily do more.” I won’t, though. Let’s move on!

BEST MINI-SERIES.

This is a tougher category every year, as DC and Marvel aren’t really doing mini-series anymore and I’m getting a lot more in trade, including mini-series, and I have those in a different category. So I’m only doing 5 in this category instead of 10. It’s my post – I can do what I want! I’m also going back to my old rule: A series has to be finished to show up on this list. That’s just the way it is!

1. Numbercruncher (Titan Comics) by Simon Spurrier, PJ Holden, Jordie Bellaire, and Simon Bowland. Issues #1-4.

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This comic originally appeared in Judge Dredd Megazine, so maybe it’s a cheat to count it this year, but it was repackaged with some coloring for the American market, so it’s close enough to new. Spurrier gives us a story about an enforcer for God who keeps souls on their appointed courses, but a mathematician figures out a loophole so that he can be reunited with the love of his life. So begins a cosmic game, as the forces of “Heaven” try to rein him in while he keeps figuring out ways to thwart them. Spurrier manages to keep the time twisting manageable even as he continually raises the stakes, and before we know it, the book becomes about the devastation love can wreak on people we don’t expect it to damage, and what we can do about it. Holden and Bellaire are wonderful on the book – Holden’s excellent pencils and inventive layouts keep the “real world” and “Heaven” separate, while Bellaire colors only the “real world,” which adds a nice contrast between its earthiness and the coolness of the spirit realm. It’s a very cool comic.

2. The Black Beetle: No Way Out (Dark Horse) by Francesco Francavilla and Nate Piekos. Issues #1-4.

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Francavilla’s pulp noir story is very cool, with an interesting mystery and gorgeous artwork. Francavilla is one of the more inventive artists working right now, so his layouts are brilliant and his colors are superb. The story is winding enough to keep us guessing even though it’s not really that complicated, and Francavilla even comes up with a weird villain, Labyrinto. The follow-up is delayed, unfortunately, but I’m sure it will be quite cool, too. Now, if only DC would let Francavilla do “Batman 1972,” the world would be a groovier place.

3. Witch Doctor: Mal Practice (Image) by Brandon Seifert, Lukas Ketner, and Andy Troy. Issues #3-6.

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The second Witch Doctor mini-series is as good as the first – Seifert is a bit more ambitious with the story, as it sprawls over six issues and seems to have disparate plot threads which all tend to converge as we go along. Dr. Morrow continues to be a douchebag, and Seifert makes him slightly less sure of himself in this series, which allows for a bit more humor. Meanwhile, we learn a bit more about Eric and Penny, Morrow’s two sidekicks, and of course the plot is wonderfully demented. Ketner’s art is excellent, as he handles all the crazy stuff that Seifert throws at him, blending horror and humor quite well. I hope the creators can continue with these series-of-mini-series, because they’ve been so entertaining so far.

4. Change (Image) by Ales Kot, Morgan Jeske, Sloane Leong, and Ed Brisson. Issues #2-4.

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Kot’s story isn’t perfect, but it’s ambitious in the right way (meaning, not to show off, but to tell a grand story grandly) and Kot is in control of it enough to make it fascinating. It’s a love story in many ways, but it’s also about the many facets of love, all plugged into an odd apocalyptic plot that goes weirdly scatological toward the end. Issue #3 is tremendous, though, and the other three, while not as good, show that Kot can go to some strange places but he never loses sight of the humanity of the characters (even the ones that aren’t quite human). Jeske is a good choice for this book – his work is somewhat spastic and electric, and he gives Kot’s Los Angeles a twitchiness that matches the script quite well. Kot is getting better, which is nice to see, but Change is a good place to start with his work.

5. Colder (Dark Horse) by Paul Tobin, Juan Ferreyra, Eduardo Ferreyra, Laura Binaghi, and Nate Piekos. Issues #3-5.

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Tobin’s horror comic is a rarity, in that it was actually quite creepy. Tobin gets into the heads of his three main characters to bring us a story about insanity and what it does to people, and it’s one of those stories that doesn’t terrify you but does make you a bit uncomfortable as you’re reading it. While Tobin’s script is strong, Ferreyra’s tremendous artwork is a great boon to the series, as he turns the world of madness into a truly terrifying place while making sure the “real” world is bright enough to provide an excellent contrast. Tobin is planning to return to the characters, but this mini-series is easily taken as its own thing. I do hope we get more, though!

BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL.

RedHanded1. Red Handed: The Strange Art of Fine Crimes (First Second Books) by Matt Kindt.

While most reviewers were slobbering over Kindt’s Mind Mgmt (and, obviously, I count myself among them), this graphic novel also came out this year and kicked the crap out of noir detective stories, because why wouldn’t Kindt be good at that, too? A detective solves every crime in the city of Red Wheel Barrow, but he can’t contend with a bizarre crime wave. Kindt ties it all together very well, and the ending delivers an emotional punch to the gut that’s logical but still devastating. Meanwhile, Kindt does a lot of different things with the art, from lush watercolors to stark, black-and-white pencils, always with a specific meaning in mind. Red Handed is brilliant, and with it, Kindt continues to show that he’s one of the best in the business. I reviewed it in more detail here.

LostBoy2. The Lost Boy (Graphix) by Greg Ruth.

Ruth’s eerie tale about a boy in the 1960s who goes missing and the two kids in the present who go looking for him is a bit creepy, a bit scary, and incredibly tense, as Ruth turns the notion of a shadowy fairytale world into something a bit more disturbing than you might expect. However, it’s also a wonderful story about friendship, resolve, and forgiveness, as Nate and Tabitha – the kids in the present – discover secrets that make them question themselves and who they are. It’s the kind of comic that could easily have become a horror story, but Ruth is too clever for that, and so while there are some weird elements, it’s more a story about how difficult it can be to grow up because things aren’t as simple as when you’re a kid. Ruth’s stunning artwork is crucial to the story, as he’s wonderful at both the fantastic elements and the characters themselves. Ruth has planned this as a trilogy, but this one, at least, can be read as a single comic. It’s a marvelous comic. My original review is here.

BadHouses3. Bad Houses (Dark Horse) by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil.

Ryan’s story about the people in Failin, Oregon, is a beautiful love story on the one hand, and on the other, it’s a incisive social drama about the secrets people keep and how they hold us back. Ryan comes up with a good metaphor for the book – the main character, Lewis, helps his mother out with estate sales, so the idea of life’s detritus swirling around people is always there, even though Ryan doesn’t belabor it. Lewis falls for Anne, a girl who likes taking photographs, and the two of them have to navigate a new romance and deal with the various neuroses that they bring to the relationship, as well as dealing with their mothers, who have secrets of their own. McNeil’s naturalistic art is perfect for the book, as she is able to show so much in the smallest details, and she is instrumental to bringing Ryan’s story to life. Here’s my original review, in case you’re interested.

ABoyandAGirl4. A Boy and a Girl (Oni Press) by Jamie S. Rich, Natalie Nourigat, and Ed Brisson.

Another love story (yes, I’m a sucker for a good one), this time set in the near future, as a college student named Travis meets a girl named Charley at a party and falls hard for her. Rich separates them, then brings them together for one night, as Charley needs to leave in the morning for a mysterious assignment that becomes a big part of the story. They talk about love, naturally, but they also talk about ethics, politics, and slavery, and Rich does a wonderful job keeping the conversation lively. We know it probably won’t end well, but while the ending is bittersweet, it’s also perfectly done. Nourigat is amazing on art, as she makes the future just futuristic enough so we buy it, and she gets all the facial expressions of two people falling in love down perfectly. If you want to read more, check out my review.

Domovoi5. Domovoi (Dark Horse) by Peter Bergting.

Bergting’s fable about Jennie, a girl in Stockholm who needs to go on a quest to fight an evil sorcerer who wants his bones back (it’s a long story) is haunting and beautiful, a visual feast as well as a deeply affecting tale of friendship and respect. Jennie is a wonderful character, a young lady who believes that she’s broken free of her past but realizes that some things are worth holding on to. Bergting surrounds her with interesting characters, like a talking cat, a strange uncle, and two somewhat snotty goblins, and their journey to the north is full of brilliant moments that teaches Jennie what living is really like. Bergting’s art is stunning, too, as he creates an old-world environment that feels both a little threatening but also nostalgic, and the colors on the book are superb. Check it out! You can see my original review right here.

Property6. The Property (Drawn & Quarterly) by Rutu Modan.

Modan’s story about an elderly lady who returns to Warsaw with her granddaughter to claim a piece of property her family owned before World War II is a love story and a mystery. Mica, the granddaughter, falls in love in Warsaw, while the grandmother, Regina, tries to keep a secret from her as she wanders around the city where she was born. There’s a lot going on in the book, and Modan does a nice job introducing different kinds of “property” and what that means to each character. She also shows that some people don’t want to reconnect with the past for many different reasons, but sometimes they can’t help it. Modan’s precise artwork is excellent, too, as she does a wonderful job creating the city and the many tiny details you find in such a place. Modan is quite good at creating interesting characters and letting them do their own thing, which leads to some fascinating places. I write more in my original review!

Templar7. Templar (First Second Books) by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, Alex Puvilland, Hilary Sycamore, and Alex Campbell.

As you all know, I dig me some historical fiction, and this story about some Templar knights who manage to escape the purge of the Order in the early 1300s and who are trying to find the vast treasure the Order accumulated over the centuries. It’s a heist comic, basically, and Mechner does a very nice job with it. He does a fine job giving us a very interesting look at the 14th century in France, from the way the king and the Church ran things to the way the common people lived, and even while he’s creating a fine portrait of the High Middle Ages, he’s also doing a great job with the mechanics of the heist. Of course, bad things happen, but the book remains both thrilling and an interesting examination of what kind of men the Templars were. Pham and Puvilland do a very nice job with the artwork, from the scenes of Paris and the environs to the brutal kind of violence that heavy swords create. This is a deeper book than you might think, but even if you’re just there for the heist, it’s excellent at that, too. Here’s my review.

CallingDrLaura8. Calling Dr. Laura (Mariner Books) by Nicole Georges.

Georges’s story about coming out has a few good hooks that help it rise above most coming-of-age autobiographical stories. We think it’s about her discovering that her father, whom she thought had died when she was a baby, actually left his family and turned out to not be that great a dude. Georges uses this hook to explore her own quest for a sexual identity, and she does it very well, circling around the main themes of the book subtly, introducing them slowly and giving them room. Her calls to Dr. Laura Schlessinger form another theme of the book – no one gives her very good advice, so Georges is left to figure things out for herself. Georges does a nice job with her art style, using more simplistic linework for flashbacks to a childhood that should be easier but really isn’t, while she does some other clever things with the “present-day” scenes. You can read my review here, and I’m glad it’s been getting some love around the Internets.

Jerusalem9. Jerusalem: A Family Portrait (First Second Books) by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi.

Yakin tells the story of a family in Jerusalem during the crucial years 1945-1948 and all the things that happen during that time. Yakin uses this family – the Halaby family – to tell the many facets of the story, as each Halaby kid gets involved in the various sides of the conflict. Two of them fight for the British in World War II, while another gets involved with the Zionists. The patriarch of the family is engaged in a personal conflict with his wealthy brother, the matriarch, Emily, appears to be a horrible shrew but has some hidden kindness, and Yakin even brings in the theme of Jews arriving from Europe and intruding on the lives of the people who already live there. Obviously, things don’t go well for all involved, but Yakin never lets the story become mawkish. Bertozzi is always good, as he draws a large cast very well, using small details to distinguish between characters who often look alike. He’s also quite good at the action, which is not something he’s always doing in his books. Naturally, I reviewed this, if you’re interested.

DelilahDirkandtheTurkishLieutenant10. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (First Second Books) by Tony Cliff.

The final few spots on a list are always the hardest to fill, because there are so many good choices. I could have put a few in the 10th spot – Babble, Crater XV, An Enchantment, Strange Attractors – but in the end, I think Delilah Dirk is a little better than those. Yes, it’s probably because I’m a sucker for historical fiction, but this is a really cool comic. Delilah is a free-spirited English lady, while Selim is a fairly strait-laced Turkish soldier, but circumstances force them together in early 19th-century Turkey, and they have many adventures. Cliff is more interested in the way the two characters become friends, as neither seems to be really the other’s type and they only stay together early in the book because the Ottomans think Selim is in league with Delilah. After that is no longer a problem, Cliff does a nice job showing how they can have a good influence on each other. Cliff’s art is superb, cartoony and brash, with a wonderful sense of place and brilliant action sequences. Delilah Dirk is a very funny, exciting comic, and I look forward to more adventures. Here’s my review!

BEST SERIES WITH THREE OR FEWER ISSUES.

I know that some people were criticizing the CBR list of Top 100 comics because some very, very new comics made the list, and how can you make a judgment when only a few issues have come out? I tend to agree with that, because some writers throw all their best stuff into the first few issues and the series struggles to keep up with that level of excellence, so I decided to note my favorite very new series. You’ll notice that some of the ongoing series I listed above are new this year, but they’ve been around long enough to establish themselves. I’m still not sure about these, although I have high hopes! I’m just going to point these out and not get into them too much.

Black Science #1-2 (Image) by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Dean White, and Rus Wooton.

Excellent start, as a team of scientists jumps around to different dimensions and bad things happen. Scalera’s and White’s art is excellent, and Remender keeps things zipping along. Remender has started series really well before and not followed up, so I’m hoping this time it’s different!

Letter 44 #1-2 (Oni Press) by Charles Soule, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Guy Major, and Shawn DePasquale.

Soule’s sci-fi story about astronauts sent to check out a strange alien presence in the asteroid belt and the new president’s attempts to deal with this secret is pretty cool and has some obvious potential to be very creepy. So far, so good!

Manifest Destiny #1-2 (Image) by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, Owen Gieni, and Pat Brosseau.

I picked this up on a lark, and I’m glad I did. Both issues have been exciting, weird, and creepy, and the art is wonderful. The concept of Lewis and Clark encountering monsters on their expedition is clever, and so far, it’s been a winner. I hope it keeps going as well as the first two issues.

Super! #1-3 (Unlikely Heroes Studios) by Zachary Dolan, Justin Piatt, Laurie Foster, Everardo Orozco, Tara Kappel, Estela Ýáñez, and Ludwig Olimba.

I haven’t actually bought an issue of this yet, because Justin Piatt has been nice enough to send them to me, but it’s really a good book. I thought the first issue tried a bit too hard to be funny (even though it was funny in many places), but the last two have struck a nice balance between the humor (which has gotten better) and some good solid superheroing. Piatt and Dolan have created a world full of (potty-mouthed) superheroes, and they throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. You should really check this book out.

Umbral #1-2 (Image) by Antony Johnston, Christopher Mitten, John Rauch, and Thomas Mauer.

Given that I like Johnston’s writing and Mitten’s art, I wasn’t surprised that I like this, but it really is a cool book. Johnston gives us a world of dark fantasy, but with a good central character to keep everything grounded, while Mitten is excellent as usual. What might put the book over the top is Rauch’s gorgeously lush paints, which make everything deeper and more mysterious. I hope this runs for a long time.

Velvet #1-2 (Image) by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser, and Chris Eliopoulos.

The hook of Brubaker’s latest series – what if Miss Moneypenny were really a secret agent? – goes a long way, but two issues in, this is a very entertaining comic. I’m not sure if it’s anything better than that, but so far, so good. Epting’s work is always solid, and although, like a lot of Brubaker’s work, the book is a bit dark (not in tone, but in coloring, and I’m not sure why that is when he doesn’t have anything to do with the coloring), but that’s okay. I’m curious to see what happens when the hook wears off a little.

BEST SINGLE ISSUE/SHORT STORY.

As always, I try to avoid issues from series I’ve already written about. I also try to make sure these issues are ones you can read completely in a vacuum. I don’t always succeed with these two criteria, but I do try! I got quite a lot of anthologies this year, which was cool – lots of short stories that I might have missed. Anthologies are coolio, yo! It has also not escaped my notice that several on the stories on this list were originally published digitally. Why are DC’s digital comics so much better than their print comics? That’s a mystery for another day!

GodlandFinale1. Gødland Finale (Image) by Joe Casey, Tom Scioli, Brad Simpson, Rus Wooton, and Sonia Harris.

This is as much a “lifetime achievement award” as it is for the trippy 37th issue of the series, which wrapped up quite a bit but kept quite a bit open to interpretation. Gødland became more and more esoteric as it went on, and this issue is keeping with that theme, as Casey and Scioli make sure to update us on all the characters while still showing us that stories never really end. Scioli’s magnificent art makes this a visual treat, as well. I haven’t re-read this because I suck, but I’m sure it’s the kind of comic that will show me something new every time I do. It’s nice to finish on a high (if odd) note.

Zero22. Zero #2 – “I Remember Who You Are” (Image) by Ales Kot, Tradd Moore, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles.

I liked but didn’t love Zero #1, the first issue in Kot’s new series about Edward Zero, super-duper secret agent. At that point I didn’t know he was going to tell the story of Zero’s life non-linearly, with a different artist for each issue. Then issue #2 dropped, and it hit me in the gut. Kot goes back to Zero’s childhood and his first assassination, and that enough is an unbelievably tense situation. He also shows Edward and Mina Thorpe, his best friend, and their conversation while hanging by their legs from a tree is hauntingly beautiful, especially if you read issue #3 (which you don’t have to do, because this is self-contained, but Kot is telling the story of one person, after all, so things will link up). Moore is absolutely wonderful on the book, packing the book with panels but knowing when to let things loose, and the violent scene at the end is unbelievably tense. Issues #3 and 4 have been good, and the book is a keeper, but this issue is staggeringly great.

Batman6613. Batman ’66 #1 – “The Riddler’s Ruse” (DC) by Jeff Parker, Jonathan Case, and Wes Abbott.

I broke Rule #2 with my first pick, and now I break Rule #1! To be fair, every issue of Batman ’66 stands alone, so even though I think it’s one of the best ongoing titles, it’s not like there’s a plot line running through every issue. “The Riddler’s Ruse” from issue #1 is partly so good because of how unexpected it was – no one was quite sure how Parker would play it, and while there are some goofy elements, what’s so great about “The Riddler’s Ruse” is that it’s a perfectly entertaining Batman story, with thefts, double-crosses, clues, and plenty of action. Case might be the real star, as his artwork captures the 1960s zeitgeist really well without mocking it, and his colors are bright and insane without being overwhelming. I know the digital version of this comic is even cooler-looking (according to people who have read it), but the print version is pretty danged keen, as well.

AdventuresofSuperman14. “Fortress” in Adventures of Superman #1 (DC) by Jeff Lemire, José Villarrubia, and Wes Abbott.

I haven’t been getting the Adventures of Superman book, mainly because I’m just not a huge fan of Superman, but I picked up the first issue, which featured some neat stories. Lemire’s is the best, though – it’s about two boys playing superheroes, and it’s just a nice evocation of youth and how boys create fictional worlds. Of course there’s a twist, but it’s a mild twist, and shows how, even though a world with superheroes would be a terrifying place to live, it could also be a magical place. Lemire gets that very well.

Deadpool135. Deadpool #13 – “Deadpool, Power Man and Iron Fist” (Marvel) by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn, Scott Koblish, Val Staples, and Joe Sabino.

This issue led to the incredibly bleak “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” story arc, but if you read it as a single issue (and you certainly can), it’s a tremendously funny book. Posehn and Duggan put Deadpool in 1977, and he goes to get a job with Luke Cage and Danny Rand, who happen to be fighting a dude called the White Man. It’s not only a solid superhero story, but Duggan and Posehn do a remarkably good job making it feel like a book from the 1970s, and Deadpool, of course, has fun mocking it (and the Steranko homage is hilarious). Koblish, meanwhile, kills on the art, as he packs the book with wonderful details of the time period, and Staples colors it like a book from the ’70s, too. I didn’t love the consequences that came from this issue, but the issue itself is superb.

LilGotham66. “Father’s Day” in Li’l Gotham #6 (DC) by Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, and Saida Temonfonte.

I don’t love all of Li’l Gotham (although I like it every month), but occasionally, Fridolfs and Nguyen come up with a real winner, and the dinner party of Jim and Barbara Gordon and Ra’s and Talia al Ghul is one of those. The tension in the air is thick and hilarious, and then Alfred checks in because the Bat-Men are trying to cook him dinner and not doing a very good job of it. Finally, Talia has to explain the difference between ninjas. It’s all wonderfully illustrated by Nguyen. Most of the time, the stories in Li’l Gotham are good but not great – “Father’s Day” rises above them, and that’s why it’s on this list.

Outfoxed7. Outfoxed (self-published) by Dylan Meconis.

Meconis’s fable about a fox who becomes a man came out in late 2012, but I didn’t get it until this year, and it’s really, really good, so I’m counting it, dang it! The fox is trying to escape from hunters, and he asks a laundress to hide him. When she does, he manages to turn into a man and then declares his love for her. Things … do not go well. This is a creepy comic, as Meconis leads us to darker and darker places, until she resolves it with a clever and evil ending. Her art is wonderful, as usual, as she uses layouts very well and colors everything in shades of red, which helps as the tone of the book shifts. Yes, Meconis is one of my favorite people in comics, so I’m looking for an excuse to highlight her work. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a very cool comic! (If I wanted to push it, I’d put Lucy Bellwood’s True Believer on this list, but that came out even earlier last year, so I don’t want to push too far. That’s a damned fine comic, though, too, and well worth your time.)

CBLDFLibertyAnnual8. “The Mustache at My Heels” in CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013 (Image) by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra.

The Liberty Annual has a bunch of pretty solid stories, but Tobin and Ferreyra’s is the best one. It’s only three pages, but Tobin manages to do a whole biography of Paul Morgan, who died in Buchenwald. Morgan narrates the story and makes many references to “the Mustache” – Hitler – as he explains how he managed to end up in the concentration camp. Ferreyra changes his style to make this more cartoonish, which makes the fact that he’s drawing a story in which the main character dies horribly even more uncomfortable, and he even makes the paper yellowed and cracked, as if we’re discovering Morgan’s story after it had been hidden for a long time. The anti-censorship stories in The Liberty Annual aren’t meant to be subtle, but Tobin and Ferreyra add enough to this short story to make it far more effective than if it had just been a recitation of the facts.

LegendsoftheDarkKnight69. “Look Inside” in Legends of the Dark Knight #6 (DC) by Rob Williams, Juan José Ryp, David López, Santi Casas, and Saida Temonfonte.

There were a lot of good stories in LotDK this year, and issue #5 (the Slam Bradley issue) was thisclose to making this list, but I decided to go with Williams’s story of the strange man with the van whom the Penguin hires as an enforcer before realizing that he’s the next victim, necessitating a call to Batman. The bad guy is terrifying, and Williams doesn’t bother to explain him or the van, which makes him more effective. The way Batman wins is an old chestnut in the Bat-mythos, but it still works really well. Plus, I love Ryp’s art, and while his Batman is a bit too chesty for me, his mystery villain and the van is really cool, adding a nice layer of eerieness to Williams’s story. I don’t want supernatural stories in my Batman comics all the time, but when they’re done really well, they’re very keen.

Hawkeye1010. Hawkeye #10 (Marvel) by Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Chris Eliopoulos, and Clayton Cowles.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m not doing this to be contrary – I really do think this issue is better than “Pizza Dog,” mainly because as much as I dig what Aja does on that issue, I like both the art on this AND Fraction’s story of Kazi, the dude who actually killed Gil. He does a good job with Kazi’s back story, and his meeting with Kate is really well written. Francavilla’s layouts are brilliant, as usual, and his coloring job is superb. The whole issue leads to the murder, and Fraction does a tremendous job building to it, and the final panel is chilling. Hawkeye is hit-or-miss, but this issue was a highlight.

There are a lot of other good short stories and issues this year, obviously. As I was going over these, I was reminded how good Vertigo’s Time Warp was – lots of good stuff in there, so if you happen to see it, pick it up!

BEST COLLECTED EDITION COLLECTED IN THAT FORMAT FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR.

I didn’t want to put older reprints on here, because so much of it has already been collected, so this is just stuff that’s been collected for the first time in a certain format. This category will include ongoing series that I read in trade and webcomics that got a print edition this year. So you’ll forgive me if I bend the rules just a little – I’m not sure that some of these haven’t been published already, but I don’t think they have been!

Westwardvol11. Westward volume 1 (self-published) by Ken Krekeler.

Yeah, I know I like to pimp this book a lot, but it’s so freaking good! My own rules mean I can’t put in the best mini-series category (it hasn’t finished yet) or the best single issue category (issue #6 was excellent, but it wasn’t really a standalone issue), but I can put it here! This volume collects the first three issues of Krekeler’s story of Victor West, the scion of a wealthy industrialist’s family in a steampunk world who, a decade earlier, was in a horrible accident and wakes out of his coma to find the world a very different place. It’s an intense mystery and a gripping political thriller, and Krekeler’s artwork, for which he uses models and photography heavily but still manages to make look organic, is tremendous. I can’t recommend this book enough!

SinTitulo2. Sin Titulo (Dark Horse) by Cameron Stewart.

Stewart’s long-running webcomic got a really nice hardcover this year, and it gives us Luddites a chance to ponder what he’s wrought. The book is gorgeous, not surprisingly, and Stewart’s odd, somewhat plotless narrative takes us to some dark places, as Alex Mackay, whose father has died at the beginning of the book, gets drawn into an odd nightmare world of parallel worlds and terrifying rest home attendants. Stewart confronts us with the emptiness of existence and dares us to move through it, and he keeps pulling the rug out from under us. It’s a creepy story, but there’s also a sad wistfulness to it that keeps it from being just a straight horror comic. I’ll probably have to read it a few more times to really process it, but it’s still really good.

Solo3. Solo (DC) by a bunch of different creators.

I’m not really sure what to say about this. It’s DC letting 12 creators go nuts for one giant issue, and there’s really not a bad creator in the group. It’s a phenomenal collection, even if not all the stories are excellent, mainly because the few clunkers are almost always drawn really well, and even those clunkers are few and far between. Solo is one of those comics that isn’t that old, but because of the widespread changes at DC, it feels like it came out decades ago. Reclaim that groovy feeling and pick this sucker up!

Bandettevol14. Bandette volume 1 (Dark Horse) by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.

Here’s another digital comic that got a nice printed hardcover this year, and Bandette is as good as all those losers who read comics on their computer say it is. Tobin’s delightful story about a thief and her confederates is fun, exciting, and clever, while Coover, who’s always good, turns in probably the best art of her career, as her pencils are softened by the beautiful coloring to give the book a slight nostalgic feel. I’m glad that Dark Horse is publishing these digital comics, because then I can read them like God intended!!!!

LegendofLutherStrode5. The Legend of Luther Strode (Image) by Justin Jordan, Tradd Moore, Felipe Sobreiro, and Fonografiks.

The sequel to The Strange Talent of Luther Strode takes the story ahead five years, and Luther is as unhappy with his “strange talent” as ever – he’s fighting a bloody war on crime, but he’s lonely. Jordan continues the quasi-romance Luther had with Petra, and also shows that the group looking for Luther is still doing so. It’s a good look at how superpowers might not be the boon some people think they are, and Jordon does just enough to make the book somewhat tragic. Of course, Moore’s art is a big selling point, and it’s as good as ever here. It would be nice if the creators can do another series, but who knows if they’ll get the chance. For now, we have this and the first mini-series, and that might have to be enough.

AdventuresofSuperheroGirl6. The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Dark Horse) by Faith Erin Hicks and Cris Peter.

Hicks’s comic about Superhero Girl is very funny, but it’s also a nice look at a person with superpowers who doesn’t really know what to do with herself when she’s not fighting people. She has to deal with “real life,” in other words, and Hicks makes those adventures as hilarious as her battles against King Ninja and her evil doppelgänger from the future. Hicks is an excellent cartoonist, so her drawing captures the wonder and absurdity of superheroes quite well. It would be so nice if Hicks could do a Big Two superhero book, because she would knock it right out of the park.

JoeKubertPresents7. Joe Kubert Presents (DC) by Joe Kubert, Brian Buniak, Sam Glanzman, Paul Levitz, Pete Carlsson, Brandon Vietti, Henrik Jonsson, Joe Panico, Jason Wright, and Adam Kubert.

DC wisely let Joe Kubert do a six-issue mini-series with little to no editorial interference, and Kubert had some fun with it. We get some classics like Hawkman and Sgt. Rock, but also some newer stuff, done in his very rough yet beautiful style, and we also get Glanzman telling stories of World War II and Buniak doing an Angel and the Ape story. It’s very good stuff, and it’s nice that Kubert was able to do something like it before he died.

Flashvol18. Flash volume 1 (DC) by Brian Buccellato, Francis Manapul, Ian Herring, Sal Cipriano, Carlos M. Mangual, and Wes Abbott.

In their infinite wisdom, DC published this two years after the DCnU launched, so these comics are from late 2011-early 2012, but they’re damned good comics. A lot of it has to do with Manapul’s fantastic art, which suits Flash stories really well, and Buccellato and Herring’s colors are fantastic, as well. But the stories are good, too, as Buccellato and Manapul do a good job making the stories modern while retaining an old-school optimistic superhero vibe about them. DC still hasn’t released the second trade (it’s been solicited, at least), but I’m keen to read more of this.

Bedlamvol19. Bedlam volume 1 (Image) by Nick Spencer, Riley Rossmo, Jean-Paul Csuka, and Kelly Tindall.

Spencer’s story about a supervillain named Madder Red who turns himself into the police and then appears to die, only to show up ten years later as a person named Fillmore who wants to help the police out on cases is hamstrung a little by the fact that in this first trade, we don’t know that Madder Red and Fillmore are the same person (it’s certainly implied, but not confirmed), but it was given away elsewhere (by Spencer on his site, maybe?), but it’s still a gripping read. Madder Red is a terrible person, and obviously something happened to him so that Fillmore is more helpful, but the cops don’t really trust him, which I imagine becomes a problem as the series moves forward. The book is scary at points and gripping throughout, and Rossmo’s frenetic art helps quite a bit (I know Rossmo left the book after this trade, but I’m just talking about this trade, aren’t I?). I don’t know if the book got worse or better after issue #6, but this first trade is really good.

JSALibertyFiles10. JSA Liberty Files: The Whistling Skull (DC) by B. Clay Moore, Tony Harris, Dave McCaig, and Wes Abbott.

This book has only a tangential connection to the JSA, as Moore and Harris introduce their own character, an agent of a secret organization who, in this book, goes around fighting Nazis (of course he does!). Moore does fine work both with William, the Whistling Skull, and his best friend Nigel, and he has a good time indulging in all sorts of monster tropes as the Skull battles the villainous Nazi doctor. Harris’s work is excellent, immersing us in this crazy world with lush lines and beautiful layouts. The series ends on a bit of a cliffhanger which I doubt will ever be resolved, and that’s too bad, but for the most part, it’s a wildly entertaining comic.

BEST COLLECTED EDITION COLLECTING STORIES COLLECTED BEFORE, BUT IN A NEW FORMAT THIS YEAR.

So these collections are ones that have been collected before, but this year, they got a fancy upgrade. As they’ve been available for a while, I’ll only list these and move on.

1. 50 Girls 50 and Other Stories Illustrated by Al Williamson (Fantagraphics).

I don’t know; maybe these haven’t been collected before, but they’re stunning. Not only to we get to see Williamson at the height of his powers, but the book tells us about how he collaborated with Frank Frazetta, Roy Krenkel, and Angelo Torres, as well. The stories are fascinating and often quite good, but the artwork is stunning, and if you’re a fan of comics, this is almost indispensible.

2. The Best of Milligan and McCarthy (Dark Horse).

Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy’s collaborations are stunning comics, and it’s nice to have them between two covers, especially some of the very rare stuff. This is hallucinogenic, insane crap, with two creators obviously bringing out the best in each other. It’s too bad they don’t collaborate anymore, but at least we have these!

3. Hellboy Library Edition volume 6 (Dark Horse) by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Hampton, Dave Stewart, and Clem Robins.

This Library Edition brings us pretty much up to date with the Hellboy saga, and it might be the best collection yet. It includes both The Storm and The Fury, at the end of which Hellboy, well, dies. It’s an epic story, and while it takes stuff from earlier Hellboy stories, it does stand largely on its own. Fegredo draws the entire thing, and his work is awesome. I’m not sure if this is the best place to start your Hellboy reading, but it’s certainly a very good place to find Hellboy stories!

4. Creepy Presents Steve Ditko (Dark Horse) by Steve Ditko (artist), Archie Goodwin (scripter), Clark Dimond (scripter), Terry Bisson (scripter), Ben Oda (letterer), and Bill Yoshida (letterer).

These Warren stories from 1966-67 are quite excellent – Godwin is an underrated writer – and they feature Ditko at possibly his artistic peak. Warren paid him less than Marvel but allowed him greater creative freedom, and he tried a lot of different things in these stories, from ink-washing more often, which adds a lot of nuance to his work, to letting his imagination go nuts on sword-and-sorcery stories and horror stories. It’s a beautiful book, and is one of those collections you can point to when you want to convince someone that letting artists do their own thing is probably a good idea.

5. The Manara Library volume 5 (Dark Horse) by Milo Manara (writer/artist), Kim Thompson (translator), Tom Orzechowski (letterer, and Lois Buhalis (letterer).

So far, this is the best volume of Dark Horse’s presentation of Manara’s work – I’m not sure if, chronologically, these comics came at a time when Manara had matured a bit, or if he just happened to strike gold. The book continues with the metafictional adventures of Giuseppe Bergman (who first showed up in volume 4), but Manara is much more interested in social commentary in these stories, both of society in general and, more specifically, in the attitudes toward women. Manara, obviously, is famous for his women, but he uses that skill to make pointed comments about sexuality and how men try to define women and their sexual natures. This book is also more thoughtful about race than some of the other books – in a few volumes, it appeared that Manara was trying to use racial stereotypes clumsily, and it came off poorly, but in this volume, he’s much better at showing the effects of cultural imperialism and how it changes our attitudes toward other races. It’s a far richer collection than you might expect, and a good place to start if you’ve never been impressed with Manara.

BEST COVER.

This was an odd year for covers. None really blew me away, and a lot of non-Big Two comics have started doing this kind of standard cover format that doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity. But I still found some cool covers, because that’s just how I roll!

1. Hawkeye #8 by David Aja.

Hawkeye8

Really nice use of shapes and colors from Aja in this piece, and the little added touches – the shell casings, the “folds” in the page – help add even more nuance. Aja’s covers for Hawkeye are usually good, and this one kicks a great deal of ass.

2. Afterlife With Archie #1 by Andrew Pepoy.

AfterlifewithArchie1

I’ll write a bit about Afterlife With Archie below, but Pepoy’s variant cover (and I don’t usually put variant covers on this list, but this was less a “special” variant and more of a “We have a bunch of covers, and you get what you get” kind of thing) is everything the actual issue wasn’t – both scary and in the “Archie” vein, as his zombies look much more like Archie characters than the ones inside. Plus, it’s just a great drawing.

3. Miniature Jesus #3 by Ted McKeever.

MiniatureJesus3

McKeever’s terrific cover is creepy – what with the wolves bursting from the head of the dude – and beautiful, with a superb attention to detail and very nice gouache-and-ink work.

4. Pretty Deadly #1 by Emma Ríos.

01-07-2014 10;55;06AMPrettyDeadly1

The covers of Pretty Deadly have been tremendous, and this haunting image kicks off the series nicely. The skeleton animal on the back is creepy, while the upside-down image signals that we’re about to enter a strange world. The book hasn’t quite grabbed me yet, but that’s not the fault of the covers!

5. Li’l Gotham #3 by Dustin Nguyen.

LilGotham3

I love the frenetic energy of Nguyen’s cover, as the Joker finds himself irresistible to the women of the Bat-Universe, and they chase him down. The fact that this feels like it should be a double-page cover but isn’t actually adds to it, because it feels like it’s crashing in from the side of the page. Plus, look how awesome all the characters’ faces are!

6. Wasteland #47 by Christopher Mitten.

Wasteland47

I love the design of this cover, as Mitten creates the triangle that leads us down to the point, where the hands crushes against the chin. It’s a violent image, but it’s also a scary one, as everyone is falling to an unknown fate. The colors are very cool, too.

7. Mind MGMT #12 by Matt Kindt.

MindMgmt12

I love the chaos of this cover, from the logo messiness to the flurry of paper swirling around the two central figures. Plus, because he’s Matt Kindt, the papers all have writing on them that have vague connections to the world of Mind Management. Kindt doesn’t take tiny details off!

8. Kill Shakespeare: The Tide of Blood #2 by Andy Belanger.

KillShakespeareTideofBlood2

Belanger uses the mirror image motif very well, with Prospero and his hordes on the top, while in the water, we see the cast members trapped in his snares. It’s a nice drawing, and the fact that the cast is underwater makes it more tense, because how can they breathe?!?!?

9. Young Avengers #5 by Jamie McKelvie.

YoungAvengers5

Ah, negative space. Is there anything you can’t do?

10. Zero #2 by Tradd Moore.

Zero2

I love the uniformity of the cover, with Edward’s head providing the burst of individuality in an otherwise totalitarian design. It’s a chilling image, and I think it might have worked better without the logo being so large across the top.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT.

I always like to focus on the positive in this post, but some things did let me down this year. I can’t say these are the “worst” comics, because I’m very sure I could pick up a random issue of DC or Marvel and find things much worse, but these were the things that let me down the most. Stuff I really wanted to like but just couldn’t. They make me sad more than anything. So, in alphabetical order:

1. Afterlife With Archie.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I love Francavilla’s art, and the idea sounded great. The first issue, however, was just … blah. It was a zombie book. I mean, why did I care? Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script was okay, and Francavilla’s art was as good as ever, but what I really thought would be great is if we saw the weirdness of the actual Archie characters turning into zombies and playing that for horror. These characters bore a vague resemblance to the Archie characters, and they don’t really act all that much like the Archie characters, so it becomes just another zombie book. I know that this has been getting a lot of love from every corner of the Internet, but it just didn’t do it for me. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s use of “Archie” characters in Criminal was much better done, because Phillips actually altered his art style so the flashbacks actually looked like the Archie universe, which made Brubaker’s profane prose much odder and effective. Colin Smith does a very nice job taking this issue down a peg. I don’t know if I’m getting the trade, because I really want to like this comic, but it just didn’t work at all for me.

2. Batman, Incorporated.

I know some people will rave about the ending of Morrison’s Batman epic, but until I re-read the entire thing, I won’t be one of them (maybe then I’ll change my tune). The ending of Batman, Inc. really wasn’t that bad, but there was definitely a feeling of “Is that all there is?” to it. If we put aside DC undercutting Morrison with the reboot, the two big missteps in the latter part of the run were his characterizaiton of Talia, which was just awful, and his killing of Damian, which made the entire run, really, pointless. Damian is the Ultimate Woman in Refridgerator, as Morrison spent several years building up his character solely so that Batman could go nuts when he was killed. As I noted, maybe when I sit down and read the entire thing, it will work better, but the ending seems really sour to me.

3. Batwoman.

J. H. Williams and Haden Blackman’s languid story couldn’t keep up with the beautiful artwork, which bummed me right out. I dropped the book even before DC had their idiotic PR disaster about Kate’s marriage to Maggie, but that was a disappointment of a larger kind. This was so close to being an excellent comic, but man, the pace was just so frickin’ slow!

4. Battling Boy.

What’s not to love about new Paul Pope? Well, first of all, First Second’s presentation was terrible – the book felt cramped, and Pope’s art demands expansiveness, so that right off the bat, the book struggled against the confines of its borders. (My best graphic novel of 2010 was Fluorescent Black, which Heavy Metal published in a giant size, and Nathan Fox’s art was dazzling in it. That’s the kind of presentation this book needed!) Beyond that, though, while the book looked nice, it’s just a superhero story. There’s none of the social commentary that the best Pope work has, or even the dicier creepy subtext that Pope can indulge in (usually to marvelous effect). I get why people are excited about a new Pope comic, but this was kind of a letdown after some of the great stuff we’ve seen from him in the past.

5. Matt Fraction.

Despite the fact that an issue of Hawkeye shows up on this list, this wasn’t the best year for Mr. Fraction. Hawkeye lurched a bit, as Fraction spent a lot of time circling around one event, and while it’s not his fault the book’s schedule slipped, the fact that for months every new issue was about the same event was vexing. He’s still a bit too self-indulgent on the book, as the appearance of Elliot Gould shows. Meanwhile, his two new Image books are pretty lousy. Satellite Sam began with an intriguing concept set in the Golden Age of television and has devolved into a series about blowjobs, while Sex Criminals is a sex comedy for 12-year-old boys who think dildoes are the most hilarious thing ever. There’s none of the charm and inventiveness of many of Fraction’s best work, and I’m a bit sad the latter title, at least, is doing so well, because it means we might get more of it. Come back, Good Matt Fraction! I miss you!

6. Lazarus.

Here’s another critical darling that I’m just not getting. I mean, it started with a pretty good first issue, but since then, it’s just been a bunch of dull clichés masquerading as cutting-edge storytelling and muddy art. Both Rucka and Lark are so much better than this, and I’m really sad that this book isn’t kicking more ass.

7. The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction.

I’ve been enjoying IDW’s Rocketeer stories, and this year’s first mini-series, Hollywood Horror, was okay, even though I thought Mark Waid went a bit too far into horror. Then he teamed him up with the Spirit, which was pretty cool. And he got Paul Smith as the artist, which was also cool. However, I’ve heard some things about Smith and his work ethic and how it’s not great, and he only managed to draw one issue. J. Bone did the final two, but the shifts in art screwed with the tone of the book, and Waid’s story – about teleportation by television – was so ridiculous is almost didn’t matter who was drawing it. This was just a big mess all around.

8. Saga.

I just keep waiting for it to get better, and it never does. And Vaughan’s cheesy use of cliffhangers to end every issue is really grating on me. But damn, Fiona Staples can draw a comic, can’t she?

9. The Sandman: Overture.

The first issue wasn’t a problem, but it’s already late? I mean, you knew Williams would take a while, so why did it have to be released before he was at least done a few issues? DC even made it every other month, and he still couldn’t keep up! Or maybe it’s Gaiman’s fault? I don’t know, but it’s pretty sad that this series can’t come out even close to on time.

10. Brian Wood.

I’m not even talking about the disappointing revelations about Wood’s personality, which was quite disappointing. I’m talking about his work this year, which hasn’t been all that great. Mara turned out to be a fairly bland superhero comic. The first issue of X-Men was a bland superhero comic that didn’t inspire me to read more. The Massive is okay, but nowhere near as good as a lot of Wood’s comics, to the extent that I’m just not sure if I’m going to keep reading it. I’m hopeful that Wood, like I hope with Fraction, will turn it around, but this wasn’t really a great year creatively for him. Plus, you know, the other stuff.

THE FELL AWARD.

I decided to revive the Fell Award this year, which is the award for the book that has taken the longest to ship its next issue. I should point out, as I do every year, that this does not mean the book that has taken the longest to ship its next issue if its previous issue shipped in a different year than this one. I mean, there are plenty of books, Fell itself, that are still technically not dead, but if I tried to figure out what has taken the longest to come out, I’d go a bit crazy. Nobody wants that! These are comics that shipped an issue this year, but have since fallen off the radar a bit.

I honestly thought Chin Music would win this sucker, but when I looked back, issue #2 actually came out in August. The next issue is supposed to be here in February. We’ll see. The winner, however, is the appropriately titled Where Is Jake Ellis? Issue #3 came out way back in March, and then the series went into hibernation. This is not surprising – the first series was wildly delayed, too. It does not seem like anyone knows when it will continue, but I suppose Tonci Zonjic is working on it!

COMIC THAT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN IN MY TOP THREE IF IT HAD COME OUT THIS YEAR, BUT IT CAME OUT LATE LAST YEAR AND I DIDN’T GET IT UNTIL 2013, BUT DAMN IT’S REALLY GOOD.

The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon. Seriously, it’s really good. Here’s my review.

THE SHARK-MAN AWARD FOR THE MOST AWESOME COMIC IN THE HISTORY OF THIS YEAR AND POSSIBLY EVER.

FearlessDawn1

Steve Mannion published a Fearless Dawn comic! You know that has to take the cake!!!!

So there you go – my lists for the best comics I read this year. I don’t read every comic, but I hope I read enough so that my opinions have some validity. It was another grand year for comics, and I hope you enjoyed it, because comics are truly awesome. Let’s hope 2014 is even better for the art form we all love!

26 Comments

Sweet. I’ve been waiting for this. As per usual, I find all kinds of books on your list that I haven’t even heard of. (And I’ve tried waaaaay harder to keep current this year than in prior years.) That’s what I most love about this. I can’t wait to bust into some of this stuff.

I’m glad to see Red Handed hit such a high note for you. It’s been nearly a year since I read it so I need to dive into it again. I read the first two collections of Mind MGMT this year and am really just blown away by Kindt still. He’s amazing.

I read the first issue of Saga when it came out a million years ago and thought it was okay but not superb enough to follow doggedly. I’m waiting for the whole thing to wrap so I can binge read the whole thing from the library in one fell swoop.

Hawkeye had superb (superb) art direction, but with a few exceptions, I didn’t find the stories very envigourating. I think I’d have preferred the book if it was just Kate and Clint messing around and doing stuff. Like in one issue they walk around an outdoor mall. In another the go to the park. In another they go on a road trip to see Kate’s friend from college get married. Kind of like Taniguchi’s The Walking Man, only with Aja’s art and Kate and Clint’s snippy and snappy interactions.

I’m really interested in Journey into Mystery. I love Immonen’s writing and adored her both on Moving Pictures and Never As Bad As You Think. Really, i’m just desperate for another team-up with her husband. But I’ll take what I can get.

Now, if only DC would let Francavilla do “Batman 1972,” the world would be a groovier place.

HELL yes. Please, DC, Francavilla’s even already done all the damn marketing for you, it’s pre-sold.

Also, “Robert E. Howard’s SAVAGE SWORD” suddenly showed up with a new issue after two years in limbo. Even for a quarterly that only seems to show up twice a year, that’s FELL award territory.

Seth: That’s one of the reasons I like the Internet, because I can always find books I missed. It’s neat to see what other people are reading!

I think I like your Hawkeye better than the real Hawkeye. That’s why I would like Faith Erin Hicks to do a superhero book, because she did that awesome Wolverine story where he goes to the supermarket and I think she would kill on a book like that, where superheroes just hang out doing normal stuff.

JiM is very good, and as cool as Immonen’s writing is, Schiti’s art is tremendous!

As always, an entertaining and informative post. Thanks, Mr. Burgas!

Do you feel 2013 was a good year, comics-wise? I felt it was a really great one in terms of the diversity of series that I found. I didn’t feel that I had to put as much effort into searching for series that were not super hero comics. I also felt that Marvel got a little of their experimental vibe back.

I haven’t done a “best of”, but I think we’d agree on quite a few books. Except for the ones we’d disagree on. :)

Very nice year-end list. I’m happy with your assessment of Matt Fraction too. A very talented writer and I’ve definitely enjoyed his work, but I’m just not as impressed with Hawkeye as others are. My wife subscribes to it and read it (and enjoy it!) as it comes out, but whereas many folks throw tons of praise at it — it’s at the top of most of these best-of list — I find it mildly entertaining. A hair above mediocre.

I LOVED the Immonen/Schiti pairing on JiM. I was truly devastated when that one got canned. The writing and are were both top-notch and I fully believe that if Marvel had given it it’s due support or relaunched it as a Sif solo vehicle it would be as well-received as Fraction’s Hawkeye or DeConnick’s Captain Marvel.

I, too, was impressed with East of West and underwhelmed to the point of eye-rolling with Lazarus, Sex Criminals, and Satellite Sam.

A couple more of my favorites of 2013 that I’m extremely excited to see continue into 2014:

Rocket Girl (seriously, I LOVE it, the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen in a comic in a long time)
Red Sonja (Gail Simone’s relaunch)
Wake

Cheers to the new year!

Oh, Greg, did you ever read Boxers and Saints. It kinda seemed like it might be up your alley with the mix of history and religion and all. Also all the hallucinations.

If you didn’t, that explains why it didn’t get any mention. If you did get a chance and it wasn’t your bag, that interests me. I thought it was pretty solid work from Yang and thought the interweave between stories made each more valuable than they would be on their own.

Greg: I can’t believe someone from DC hasn’t seen Francavilla’s stuff yet and hasn’t at least brough it up to DiDio and Lee. Maybe a smoking Batman is too edgy? I mean, you can have the Joker skin his own face and Batman pummel him to within an inch of his life, but Batman with a cigarette? WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!?!?

Derek: I think every year these days is pretty good, because every year, we get more and more options. The rise of digital comics, even though I don’t tend to read them, is cool as well, because then we get neat-o printed versions! So yeah, 2013 was a pretty good year.

danno: I’m just not feeling Rocket Girl. I got the first two issues, but they didn’t do it for me. But yes, the artwork is really nice.

I’m probably getting a trade of Red Sonja, so maybe it will show up on this list next year.

I still don’t trust Scott Snyder, but I will give The Wake a chance when it finishes and DC releases the inevitable giant 10-issue trade. We shall see if that happens this year!

Seth: I’m really torn about Boxers and Saints. I didn’t put in on this list because I only read it once and I really don’t think I had time to delve into it too much. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and when I read reviews of it (including yours), I’m reminded that I probably missed a lot that I just didn’t consider. I have a feeling it’s one of those books that I’ll go back and read and really love, but with only one reading, I just didn’t think Yang did as much with the subject matter as he could have. It might also be that I know quite a bit about the Boxer Rebellion and felt he left too much out. I don’t know, but it’s one of those books that I think will work better for me if I can sit down and process it a bit better.

Greg – I get that. It was definitely more a narrative about bringing readers to empathy than it was about fully exploring the history of events (and also about him exploring his own identity as someone with ties to both China and the Roman Catholic church). He conflated and simplified things for the sake of his story. I thought it worked as historical fiction, and as an introduction to the period to those in search of more (I actually got one of the histories in the suggested reading list included in the backmatter and filled in a lot of the gaps in my own understanding of what went on and why).

On another note, I haven’t seen Faith Erin Hicks’ Wolverine thing, but I basically trust her to tell interesting stories of people well. Especially if she’s in charge of her own writing.

On another ‘nother note, I loved Bandette. It was just a load of ridiculous fun. I wouldn’t mind seeing some superhero stuff in that vein, but honestly, I don’t much need superheroes, so I’m happy for books outside the genre to be playful and enjoyable and fun too.

Seth: I also read Saints first, which I think was a mistake. I liked Boxers better and thought Saints worked as a decent companion piece, but I didn’t like Saints as much as Boxers. So that was a weird issue, too. But I’m sure I’ll get back around to it!

Hicks’s Wolverine story is probably on-line at her web site, if you Google it. It only takes a few minutes to read, and it’s very fun.

C’mon man, the title’s even Boxers & Saints. You broke the canonical order. My mom did the same and it messed up the books’ ordo apocalypsis for her too. I really think reading Saints first messes up the experience and I wish that First Second worked harder to make that obvious. Certain bits of Saints mean nothing without having Boxers under your belt (and while there’s a little bit of the vice versa, its not nearly as important).

Well, if you ever get the chance to read it again, I’ll be interested if your opinion shifts at all. That would be fun.

I also read Saints first. I’m so ashamed! I enjoyed them both quite a lot but wasn’t blown away.

I just finally read the first trade of Mind MGMT yesterday and it’s the best use of suspense/cliffhanger’s in comics since Y. Such great plotting.

I also finally read Calling Dr Laura today and found it to be very moving even though I rolled my eyes a bit at the main character’s hipsterX10,0000 style/lifestyle. Probably I’m just old.

I was blown away by The Property so the idea that there may be 5 graphic novels out there that are even better makes me very excited and I can’t wait to read them.

Anyway, I agree with most of your lists (the parts of them I’ve read anyway–and look forward to checking out the books I haven’t yet) except for your ranking of Chew so high and Sex Criminals so low.

Captain Haddock

January 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm

As always, Greg, I find myself shaking my head at most of your selections- probably the only thing we agreed on was JiM, YA, Bat 66 and Lil Bat, and I was outright SHAKING with fury at your lack of love for Battling Boy and Hawkeye/Sex Criminals/Fraction- I appreciate the way you articulate your viewpoints and present your case. I may disagree with with you, but I respect the heck out of you, so kudos. And there are a few things I’ve not read from your list and am now dying to read.
I will say though while the Flash is very very pretty, it is so blaaaahhh story wise, how the same man can recommend that while dissing Saga and Hawkeye is so far beyond me I keep expecting to see you pop up in random Marvel books wearing a random disco suit and jheri curls.

Seriously, the Leonard Maltin of comics.

sgt pepper: Yeah, Georges’s hipster lifestyle didn’t bother me too much, mainly because I can deal with stuff like that if it’s very specific to a character. It’s when it starts being a stereotype and is used instead of character development that it starts to bug me.

Well, I hope if you get the graphic novels above The Property that you like them!

I know I’m going against the prevailing current with Sex Criminals, but it’s really just not doing it for me!

Captain Haddock: That’s the great thing – we can all find things to agree on and disagree on! :)

One of the reasons I was disappointed with Battling Boy is because I wanted to like it so much. I did like reading it, but it let me down too much. And that just bummed me out.

I thought the stories in the first volume of Flash were perfectly fine, and even fairly clever. The funny thing is that Battling Boy’s story was pretty blah to me, and yet a lot of people are praising that. So it’s just different strokes. And I like Hawkeye – I’m still buying it – but it’s wildly inconsistent. As for Saga – well, it’s probably the most frustrating comic I buy. Stuff like Hawkeye can vary in quality from issue to issue, but Saga manages to vary in quality almost from page to page. It drives me crazy, because the moments when it’s good are amazing, but the moments when it’s not are awful. Again, I know I’m going against a lot of opinions with regard to those comics, but all I can do is make a case!

Man, I would love it if some artist drew me into a Marvel comic wearing a disco suit and jheri curls. That would be awesome.

Mudassir: I don’t know what that means. I assume it’s derogatory, and that’s fine, but I don’t know why you feel the need to mention it every so often. The least you could do is explain why I suck.

But that would end the mystery of the whole thing. The way it is now, it’s like Marvel stringing along the whole Wolverine origin forever. Delicious.

Actually, there were 2 issues of Fearless Dawn this year. The Outer Space one also came out this year. And I still have yet to read either. I’m bad!

Reading your analysis of Afterlife With Archie, I’m willing to concede that you probably have a point, that it’s just not ARCHIE enough to really pop as well as it might. I think the new issue comes out today, so when I read the whole magilla again, I’ll see if you are correct.

I saw on bleedingcool that Francavilla is apparently showing off more Batman 1972 stuff. You Gregs have power!

Of course, you’re so right about Fraction (and you didn’t even read Fantastic Four), so I give you the benefit of the doubt.

I bet that DC Digital is so much more gooder because I believe those books are handled by the west coast editors, who are mostly ex-Wildstormers. If I’ve heard right. So maybe when DC moves out west next year, they’ll get more gooder again. If there’s still a company to get better. ;)

I read Saints first, because it was shorter. Hell yeah, I said it! I thought it worked out fine, although I obviously can’t tell for sure. I actually liked Saints a little better than Boxers, I think.

If it was so important to read Boxers first, they would have published it all as one book, amirite, Seth? So SUCK IT!!!

(I’m sorry, I apologize for that one.)

I’m inspired by the organization of this post to do up my own in the comments here tomorrow (after I look through my lists of stuff again. And figure out why I bought so many comics I’m not reading! AUGH!). At least if I can’t figure out my own post on 2013, I can crib your set up and tell you my own crap.

I’ll probably comment further on your choices with that, so you can look forward to that.

You’re not sorry at all Pelkie. I can smell it on you, the lack of remorse.

But yeah, I was pretty confused by why they might sell the two books separately since they seem to so much require each other. Honestly, between the two I think I prefer Saints because (spoilers) it struck me as more narratively interesting, what with being narrated from the afterlife and all. And being basically a version of black-and-white (save for the Joan bits).

Seth: Ha! Good point.

Travis: Dang, you’re right. I got that Outer Space one last year, so I didn’t pre-order it this year and just forgot about it.

Interesting point about the West Coast DC. Yeah, if the company still exists in a year or two, maybe it will get better!

All the comics that I haven’t heard of get to added to my “to be read” list.
And as for Sandman: Overture – the delay was Gaiman’s fault. Link: http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/66760368640/is-there-a-way-to-express-my-disappointment-over-the

Minuteman: Thanks for the link. I saw it today, said “D’oh!”, and then decided not to change what I wrote. But it’s nice that he came out and said it!

I want to commend you for saying about HAWKEYE and SAGA the things that I always wanted to say, but could never bring myself to say.

HAWKEYE #10 was similarly my favorite issue of the year, for pretty much the same reasons. I also have the exact same complaint about how the series has been going since. I don’t think most people realize that every issue since Gil’s death in #9 has either featured Kate in her, as I feel, forced move to L.A. (I also never understood why Lucky would go with Kate to L.A. I reread every issue to find evidence of Kate being nice to him at all and Clint had many more moments) or within a few days of Gil’s death. One thing that I never exactly understood was why #12 had to be entirely about Clint and Barney. That’s something that I could easily see being done in conjunction with another issue. What made me especially dislike that issue was that it offered very little in terms of new story/plot, and then #13 left us in nearly the exact same place (it’s pretty much the next day, as far as I can tell). The pacing in this series is beyond languid. We’re nearly entering into Dragon Ball Z territory here, there’s just more quirk and less screaming. Also: crappy release schedule. Fraction is doing so many things that there’s been a molasses-like drip of issues. #13 came out in October. One issue has come out since then. Not FELL territory, but still.

I agree with you to a point on SAGA. You’re 100% right about cliffhangers at the end of each issue, and 50% about the see-saw quality of each issue. Yeah, each issue isn’t really of the same quality as the last, but I wouldn’t say that it varies page-to-page. I feel like the quality of the issue is usually determined within the first few pages, rarely diverging from the path it’s set on. Anyways, those cliffhangers really piss me off. They have so little meaning anymore. The last one that had any kind of an impact was when Lying Cat was launched out into space, which I didn’t even realize was a cliffhanger. I thought that Lying Cat was dead for sure, so boy was I surprised when everything is fine within the first few pages of the next issue. Since then… I don’t care. It’s just so hard to care when things are going to be alright in a month. It also seems to have a similar problem to Hawkeye in that it has bad pacing. #13 is the first issue in two months and it ends on a cliffhanger which isn’t actually brought back up again until #17 (which I actually really liked, because I find this series to be very good when things actually happen). The three issues between the two are spent watching people sit around and talk, while some other people slowly make their way to the rest of them. It feels to me like Brian K. Vaughn is much more interested in telling the story of a bi-weekly or weekly series, as opposed to the monthly/bi-monthly series that he’s actually got on his hands. Maybe I’m just impatient. Maybe I just like my people to sit around and talk AND actually do things.

Something that I’d be very interested to get your opinion on is Manhattan Projects vs. Nowhere Men. A friend of mine told me that I absolutely had to buy the first trade of Nowhere Men, that it was really really good, and so I did. I read it in a sitting or two, and came away… interested… but not in love with it like my friend and so many others on the Internet are. To be entirely honest, I feel like it’s a less-weird/out-there Manhattan Projects and I don’t really see any reason why it should get more praise than Hickman’s series. Which do you like more? Which is actually better (e.g. I like Expendables more than Gone With The Wind, but one of those is clearly a better movie)?

I dunno if Greg read Nowhere Men, but I did, and while I liked it, the series seems to be much different than the way it was “sold”: that is, the ads promised “science is the new rock and roll”, with a very Beatles-ish group of science guys on the edge of new discoveries, but the series gives us this weird group that was on a satellite, corporate manipulations, hints at bigger conspiracies, and the mix overall isn’t as good. I’ve only read MP 1-10 so far, but overall I think it’s a more focused look at a group of science guys doing wacky shit in a fun way.

I will say that I enjoy the neat “scrapbook” aspect of Nowhere Men, with the different articles and books and other “clips” of things related to what the group did in the past, but overall, I’d say that NM is grasping big but not quite reaching the heights it wants to, while what I’ve read of MP is gonzo fun science craziness in a purer form.

Which one is “better”? I don’t know. MP is almost more a geeky blockbuster movie, while NM is more of a slow burn look at a science group with documentary pieces interspersed. I couldn’t gauge one as better than the other. They’re both probably about the same level of “good” in their respective types of stories.

Man, I wasn’t even going to go on about either book on my own list. Dang you Jack!

And yeah, you’re right Seth. Total lack of remorse. My remorselessness knows no bounds!

Jack: I haven’t read Nowhere Men, so I can’t say much about it. When it was first solicited, I wasn’t sure if it was something I’d like, and when that happens, I usually try to read opinions about it and then get the trade. Then, for some reason, I didn’t get the trade. I should probably track it down, but unfortunately, right now I just don’t have an opinion about it!

As someone who is current on Manhattan Projects, I can tell you, Travis, that it only gets crazier. Seriously, some of the things in the recent issues are just insane.

I just finished Kindt’s Red Handed and yeah–that’s genius. I immediately read it over again to see how it all fit together and I picked up on loads more connections that I’d missed the first time through.

Anyone have any ideas on the significance of the guy at the beginning and end who’s stealing dirt from construction sites? Is it just supposed to be a symbol or did he play some role in the plot that I missed?

I assume that the name of the town is an allusion to the poem, but I’m not sure what to make of it. There is a lot of talk in the book of using machines and tools to get jobs done. Maybe the red wheelbarrow is the heart (lots of mention of those or lack of in the book too), the machine that moves the blood–the antagonist loses her heart and becomes the emotionless, calculating machine that she hates while working so hard to force the detective to feel something in his heart. I dunno.

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