It is the end of the year and you know what that means! LET’S PUT EVERYTHING IN LISTS!!!!
This Top 10 Comic Books of 2013 list started out as a Top 5 but then I realised I had so much fun reading so many comic books this year that it quickly spiralled out into a Top 10. Also I’m pretty sure I could have made a Top 20 list but that just seemed ridiculous.
But before we get started here are a few honourable mentions that while being really good comic books, were just not quite good enough to make the Top 10:
- Batman Incorporated
- Batman ’66
- Geoff Johns’ last issue of Green Lantern
- Superman Unchained
- Forever Evil
- All-New X-Men
- Avengers & New Avengers
- Iron Man
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Superior Foes of Spider-Man
- The Walking Dead
Now onto the Top 10…
10. Superman/Wonder Woman
The newest comic in this top ten list with only three issues under its belt, Superman/Wonder Woman deserves its place because of how god damn fun it is to read.
Within its pages we get the continued exploration of Superman and Wonder Woman’s still relatively new relationship and them facing off against threats only they can face. Large scale action, high stakes drama, beautiful art from Tony S. Daniel. This comic has it all. If you are a hater of the current Supes/Wondie love fest then I am sure your blood is boiling at the mere mention of this book. But hey I do not care! It is a fun comic book and you are missing out on it due to your blinding rage. It has echoes of the old Superman/Batman series which I adore with its scope and ballsy-ness. I cannot wait to see where it goes next.
For fans of New 52 stylings of Superman and Wonder Woman and good old fashioned adventure.
Despite being a tad on the slow both on the story and releasing regularly side of things, Hawkeye is still one of the go to Marvel books. From issues told from Pizza Dog’s perspective to continued playing around with the comic book format Matt Fraction and Co. keep pushing the envelope. The only major issue with the book this year has been the constant switching of focus leading to some confused storytelling. A minor gripe in the grand scheme of things when you have a book as unique as this being published by one of the big two. It is also notable for being the comic that delivered the biggest gut punch this year. IT BROKE MY BARBECUE LOVING HEART! There is not much else I can really say, just read this book it is rather good.
For fans of new ideas and hipster chic creeping into your comic books.
8. Captain America
After Ed Brubaker finished his epic run on Captain America I thought it could never be matched. At least not for a few years. Then suddenly Rick Remender comes swinging on the scene and hits it out of the park.
Gone is the dark spy story tone of Brubaker’s time and in is the big, loud and colourful story of Cap being a man out of time and out of this dimension. Stuck in a hell dimension of Zola’s making, Cap has been put through years worth of hell with an adoptive son at his side. We see a exploration of fatherhood through the lens of a crazy sci-fi comic book full of twists and turns. The ending of Dimension Z is just heart breaking and we are only just starting to witness the fall out. It has been constant edge of your seat reading and only now are we getting a brief pause before the next crazy thing happens. It also has art by John Romita Jr so read it just for that!
For those who enjoy balls to the wall crazy action and Father/Son stories.
7. Young Avengers
Man, Young Avengers came out of nowhere this year. It basically turned up at your house, made love to you, trashed the place and then left without saying goodbye.
Kieron Gillen really stepped up his game in both dastardly trickery and making you fall in love with every character in the book. Then you have Jamie McKelvie’s art which is just beautiful and unique. I have enjoyed the hell out of this comic! It is just such a shame it is coming to a close as Kieron Gillen moves onto the next step of his plan to take over Marvel. (He is British it is like the law, we must take over all comic books!) This is the first teen superhero focused comic that has actually had its characters behaving like teenagers crossing over into young adulthood. They are a young bit too cocky bunch of emotional messes who are far to fond of kissing each other. It is perfect! It reminded me of my younger days (minus the dimension hopping and punching people in the face of course!) and just being part of a rat tag group of friends facing a world that is indifferent to you. Great stuff by a great creative team. Plus it has Kid Loki in it so you know it is going to be fun!
For fans of youth and kicking ass with sass.
6. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is the most consistently awesome book of the New 52. This year has seen Diana face a threat of epic proportions, her family! And come out of the other side a stronger character. Taking the mantle of God of War in the process too which is a brilliant reflection of the inherent dichotomy of the character. I doff my cap at you Brian Azzarello.
Wonder Woman is one of my favourite superheroes and this is a book that does her justice. Diana is shown time and time again to be a strong, amazing and loving character while brandishing a giant axe that could cleave of mountain in two. She is perfect and has all the supporting characters being built up around her following suit as she brings out their inherent virtues. It is a tale of gods and monsters up there with the mightiest of Greek and Roman myths. Go read it if you know what’s good for you!
One for fans of long form story telling and trying new things with an old format.
Plus I really hope the folks making that fancy pants Superman/Batman movie featuring Wonder Woman are looking at this book VERY closely.
Marvel’s thing of late has been having one event leading directly into the next. It felt like Avengers Vs X-Men has only just finished then we were thrown into the Age of Ultron. Then, as soon as that was over with, Infinity was staring us in the face with an evil grin. I was tired. I was evented out. (I made a new phase, deal with it) My brain could not handle one more dose of “nothing will ever be the same again” so soon. Then like a chump I bought the first issue. I read it and then I wanted to read the next issue right away. By the end of the series all I could do was go outside look up to the heavens and shout,
“Hickman! You mad, crazy bastard! You made a comic book event have meaning again!”
Infinity is a true grand scale event. It is told to you via the most epic of epic narrators and reads like tale of old made for today. This is the story of the Avengers saving the Universe then coming back to save the Earth. The scope it massive and the pace is relentless as you see the space team deal with the Builders and the home team have to try and deal with Thanos. Then the shit hits the fan and suddenly there are Inhumans everywhere. It just never lets up.
This is what Hickman’s brief and somewhat confusing time on the Avengers and New Avengers has been leading up to. It can only get better from here, trust me.
For those who like grand epic tales full of space ships and explosions.
4. Superior Spider-Man
“Oh my god! They killed Spider-Man and Doc Ock is running around in his body! HOW DARE MARVEL DO SUCH A THING! Let’s put together a lynch mob and kill Dan Slott!”
Thank the powers that be that I am not one of those people.
Dan Slott is a man of his word and when he took over Spider-Man full time with the start of Big Time he said something along the lines of it being everything going right for Peter. That everything is awesome for Peter all the time. He has the high paying science job, the gig in the Avengers, his personal life is starting to come together and he is on top of the world. He told some great Spidey stories within that framework and sat there giggling to himself as we all lapped it up. That is because Dan Slott knew what would happen, he knew that the Parker Luck would return and in a big way to counter act all the good that has happened in Spidey’s life.
Superior Spider-Man is the story of Parker Luck being the true villain in Spider-Man. Over the past year we have seen Otto slowly chip away at the last vestiges of Peter Parker that remained within him. Along with slowly corrupting his own twisted vision of Power and Responsibility and the image of Spider-Man as a hero of the people. In the past the people of New York saw Spider-Man as a menace or a misunderstood hero. Now they are actively afraid of Spider-Man and what he will do next in the name of “good.” Doc Ock has been slowly alienating everyone in Peter’s personal and professional lives as both an Avenger and a scientist. He has even put Aunt May’s life savings on the line! I can not stop reading it! I just need to know how it will all end!
Things are starting to come to a head and the whole thing is going to come crashing down around Doc Ock and it is going to be both glorious and painful reading. Then after that happens who do you think will be left to pick up the pieces just in time for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to hit movie theatres in 2014?
One for people who enjoy good comic books and do not blindly hate.
Saga is a beautiful book and you should be reading it.
Oh you want a bit more detail? Fine!
Saga is perhaps one of the most original stories I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. This is a true long form tale more akin to a serialised novel than a traditional comic book. Within its pages Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples are crafting a whole universe of the weird and wonderful as the reader follows the story of an unlikely family on the run from everyone due to the protagonists, Alana and Marko’s forbidden love. (Those pesky kids and their forbidden love! When will they ever learn!) It is Star Wars mixed with Game of Thrones with a dash of Flash Gordan thrown in for good measure.
This year we have continued to see the book evolve into a slowly building epic for the ages which promises much and somehow manages to deliver on it with out much happening in a given issue. We are getting a deeper look into the characters and the universe of Saga is constantly being added to with each stunning page of art adding a new wrinkle to a brilliantly realised fiction. Whenever I get my hands on a new issue it is the first thing I read. I just get lost in the pages and the story. I never want it to end. If you have not yet sampled Saga’s delights go buy the first trade now and thank me later.
For those who like grand but personal tales and reading medium defining works as they are originally published. Also full frontal nudity.
Batman, Batman, Batman. You had to be on this list somewhere! This year has seen Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo continue their groundbreaking and truly gob smacking run on Batman by taking a look back to the past. Retelling an origin for a superhero is always a tough job especially when it is going to be the new in cannon origin for the character. The task is even harder when the origin is as well established as Batman’s. Near enough untouched since Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Year One back in 1987 save for a few minor tweaks and changes. Batman’s origin has been one of the biggest sacred cows in comic books. You just do not change it, ever, unless you want to unleash the internet mob.
What Snyder and Capullo have achieved with the ongoing Zero Year story is genius. It does its own thing while paying homage to past. Melding parts of Year One with the original comics when Batman appeared in the pages of Detective Comics in 1939 and then weaving new elements on top of that. It gives you a very different but familiar take on the beginnings of the character which fits perfectly with the New 52 way of doing things. Everything down to the colour palette is a defiant stand against the modern tradition of Batman being grim’n’gritty. It is almost as if Snyder and Cupullo remember that Batman can be a fun and dynamic character in a world of more colours than shades of grey. They play with your expectations as you see everything come together and Batman slowly become the Dark Knight we know him to be. This is the kind of stuff that the New 52 initiative is all about. This is that idea of taking the old and making it new again at its best. This is the stuff that cements the upstart new cannon of the New 52 that everyone apart from me seem to love hating. This is a damn fine comic book.
For those who like healthy nostalgia, truly fun comic books and purple gloves.
1. Thor: God of Thunder
If you said to me a year ago that my favourite book in twelve months time would be a Thor comic I would be rolling on the floor laughing. As much as I love the character of Thor and everything that comes with him any book focused on him is a very tough sell. Thor comics usually come off as a hot mess or super cheesy and not in a good way! I bought the first issue of Thor: God of Thunder reluctantly. The idea of not one but three Thor’s caught my eye and I figured I would read one or two issues then drop it like I have with every Thor comic I have tried in the past. I was not expecting much at all, the cover looked cool but I doubted comic’s interior would live up to it. Then I turned the page and Esad Ribic’s art blew me away. I had never seen anything like it. It was other worldly. It has hints of heavy metal to it with this grandeur that makes it godly. It was the absolute perfect match for the character and setting. So yeah I liked the art. I liked it a lot!
Then I read the story.
And I knew that I would be reading this book until the bitter end, whenever that may be. This is Thor how it should be. Godly problems for the mightiest of gods who just so happens to be partial to Earth. It gets everything right and Jason Aaron weaves his tale of the Godbutcher brilliantly. It is beautiful, epic and exciting. You are cheering Thor’s name on one page and then on the next you are laughing out loud for five minutes on a train while sat in the quiet coach (true story). The sheer joy I have experienced reading this book month in month out is hard to explain. I devour each page with awe as I see the God of Thunder do his thing like I never have before. The Godbutcher and God Bomb arc is a modern classic that should be celebrated and while the book may never reach those dizzying heights again it is still the best read I have every month. So full of life, ideas and fun. It is comic books at their best.
Thor: God of Thunder is truly something else. A true unexpected gem. A comic that will stay with me forever and will be re-read until I die.