Everywhere else on the internet there have been lists and voting ballots for what made 2013 great for comics. I mean, 2013 was a great year. Killer, even. Comics were greater than they have been in a while (despite how much I may have griped and complained) and in that light, we at DTC put together a hodgepodge list of what we think made 2013 a great year in comics.
To be honest, I sent out an email that said "LET'S JUST MAKE UP A FORMAT AND GO WITH IT," and this is what we ended up with. To be frank, it turned out a helluva lot better than I thought it was going to.
Hawkeye #11 interior frame
BEST ISSUE: HAWKEYE #11 - "PIZZA IS MY BUSINESS"
This issue was simple fantastic. Without spoiling too much, this issue focuses on Hawkeye's dog, aka Lucky aka Arrow aka Pizza Dog, and a few days in his life after a major moment in the series occurs. This is a truly genius take on the (nearly) "silent" comic. The use of iconography made this issue a greater story than any silent comic I've read. And seeing how this issue was the beginning of a bigger story that lived on through the following few issues, I was blown away at how beautifully Matt Fraction was able to craft this story. Best comic of the year.
BEST NEW SERIES: ZERO
Zero, for me, was the breakout series of 2013. Personally, I picked this series up on a whim and was pleasantly surprised to find it being the comic I looked forward to the most each month (over a lot of my go-to favorites). Ales Kot and his army of artists have created a comic I am proud to say I risked $2.99 on with their mystery-action-thriller-suspense in a future not-quite-unlike-our-own series.
BEST COVER: X-MEN LEGACY #10
Panel from Shame: Pursuit
The second book in the SHAME trilogy is just astonishing. Artist John Bolton does everything in watercolors, which makes this fantasy story stick out from others. He is what I call the master of hyper-realism. It is a bizarre story that does not quite follow mainstream fantasy/fairytales. Rare do you have a story that has a saint mother that gives birth to a human/demon child that in turns gives birth to the saint mother to escape her magical dome prison. Yeah. All of that happened.
This is a dark tale that has some moments of empathy and has me wonder is evil inherent, taught, or is there simply existence. Going in there is a pre-conceived notion of what or who is the villain in the book, but if placed in a similar situation with what stimuli was given, who's to say a similar outlash wouldn't be done? There is no truth or justice notations here, just opposing thoughts and forces. With the efforts of Bolton, this makes the story extra vibrant and has me hoping to see a lot more of his talents!
Gorgeous cover art and interiors from Bolton and the grand has set my standard for the genre.WESTWARD #6
"Achieve or die." That is the phrase that resonates constantly in this steampunk mystery series by Ken Krekeler.
The inking is in black, white, with shades of grey that plays so well into the noir style of mystery that lingers after reading. I tend to forget about this series as it is not monthly but once I sat down to read issue #6Just wow. Krekeler put the reader in the disjointed and chaotic thoughts of both Victor West and his sister, Annabelle West, as a most vile act was being forced upon them. Krekeler manages to weave a store with imagery so well that it is easy to see and experience how broken the characters lives are in this one issue and how far beyond repair everything has become. The scenes that were not directly shown, but described in detail from either perspective of the characters, onomatopoeias, and/or jarring visuals is what makes this shine so bright for 2013. Watching Victor panic in a manner that is realistic for any person forced to be a spectator in such horrendous acts and the full display of shock and panic from Annabelle is hauntingly memorable.
Engrossing, traumatizing, hopeless struggling, and desire to achieve are all well delivered here. I have come to admire the spirit of steampunk, which is a genre that I do not really gravitate towards. Krekeler is a very good story teller that does all of the inking and writing for his books that is noteworthy. I still get some chills down my spine from reading this steampunk-noir.
Website: Vol. 1 Kickstarter Video/Behind the scenes:
THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD BY CHARLES FORSMAN
Equal parts Catcher in the Rye, Badlands, and Peanuts, this story of teenage runaway lovers is an emotionally complex and engaging comic that showcases the storytelling potential of the medium. Forsman's simplistic, Schulz-like art belies the story's shocking violence and the existential angst of the main characters, James and Alyssa.
As the narrative shifts between their perspectives, it becomes clear that, despite their desire to escape childhood, James and Alyssa are unprepared for the cold realities of adulthood. Yet, as the story's momentum pulls them along, their proclamations of love for each other feel more meaningful than simple puppy love: it's the only thing they have left to cling to as their lives spiral out of control. TEOTFW is much more than another coming-of-age tale. Rather, it's an exploration of the effects of violence, the need for compassion, and how to cope with life's harsh indifference. It is also a haunting masterpiece of economical storytelling from an incredibly talented comics artist.
Available directly from , on , or at your .
BATMAN '66 BY JEFF PARKER AND VARIOUS ARTISTS
To be honest, I'd probably love a comic based on the classic Batman tv show no matter what. Luckily though, Parker, along with artists such as Jonathan Case, Ty Templeton, Joe Quinones, Colleen Coover, has been able to channel the feel of the show in a fun and innovative way. Taking advantage of Comixology's "guided view" technology, the comic mimics the cadence of the dialogue and the infamous "BAM! POW!" sound effects, making it an effective recreation of the show's unique brand of camp.
However, working in the comics medium means that Parker and company can expand the scope of the source material: Batman and the Boy Wonder have traveled to Britain, battled Soviet bears, and even scaled Mt. Rushmore. Thanks to Parker's ability to balance humor and action, and the innovative use of the digital comics format, Batman '66 was my favorite Batman comic of the year.
Available digitally on or in print at your .
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #12- "SAVIOR" BY ROB WILLIAMS AND CHRIS WESTON
This was the perfect story to wash the bad taste of Man of Steel out of my mouth. Williams and Weston manage to do in just 20 pages what Zack Snyder failed to do in 2 and a half hours: explain why Superman is an interesting, sympathetic, and most importantly, inspiring figure. Chris Weston's beautifully detailed art really shines here, and gives some of the more "silly" elements of the Superman mythology -Bizzaro being inaugurated as president, a giant Lex Luthor robot, Krypto the Superdog and Beppo the Super-monkey in the Fortress of Solitude- a realistic, emotional depth. This story is a perfect celebration of Superman and serves an excellent reminder of why he's been so popular for 75 years.
Available digitally on .
ZOMBO: YOU SMELL OF CRIME AND I'M THE DEODORANT BY AL EWING AND HENRY FLINT
You Smell of Crime and I'm the Deodorant collects the two most recent story arcs from Ewing and Flint's 2000 AD series. The title character is a half-zombie/half-human hybrid created by the British government to fight crime, and the comic combines brutal zombie-related violence and biting social satire alongside comics homages and pop culture references. From an ersatz Beatles band reuniting to stop the invasion of a sentient zombie planet to a digitized president who talks like a 1970s Jack Kirby character, Zombo has it all.It's easily the most fun, and funny, comic I read all year.
Available from or at your .
OTHER COMICS I REALLY, REALLY LIKED THIS YEAR:
BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope, BANDETTE by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, BATMAN INC. by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, HAWKEYE by Matt Fraction and David Aja, SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, THE PRIVATE EYE by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, MY DIRTY DUMB EYES by Lisa Hanawalt, DAREDEVIL by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, PROPHET by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, and Giannis Milonogiannis.
HAWKEYE #13 - "THE U IN FUNERAL"
This series had my attention since I first glimpsed the cover in my local comic shop. I hadn't heard much of the series, but hearing praise from my friends, seeing the cover art, and the names attached to it, I knew it was going to be among the best in my pull list.Since then, the series has taken some dramatic and funny turns, introduced many characters both new and old, all while giving us an incredible story and fantastic artwork. Previously distant superhero characters are shown in new light and are more relatable than any other series of it's type, possibly the biggest success of this series. And that's why, for me issue #13 is tops.
A culmination of the previous 4 issues, "The U in Funeral" ties up the loose ends of our characters loss in a dark and yet very uplifting way.Playing out almost like a mystery/crime drama, we see how Clint's role as Acting Interim Superintendent and Ownership Candidate for his apartment building is affecting his personal life as well as his life as an Avenger. Matt Fraction and David Aja deliver a cathartic story of pulling together in times of sorrow with the series trademark quirkiness and an emotional depth that really makes you feel for the characters.
A vivid and dismal portrayal of the future, this series by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark takes a fresh look at a world of many controlled by the few.The Carlyle family is one of a small number of families with all the resources, all the technology, and hence, all the power.Forever Caryle is the families "Lazarus," the one family member given every biological and technological advantage the family has. Trained since youth, she is stronger, faster, and more resilient than any other.
This series is what kept me committed to science fiction this year.Serious thought and research was put into the possible technologies and social and political outcomes of this future world and this grounding in reality gives one the feeling that this sort of thing could really happen. But while the technical fidelity adds depth, it's the characters and setting that really make the series.The incredible disparity in wealth between the families and those labeled "waste" is really something to behold, whether through your own eyes or through those of Tomorrow Carlyle.And though we only see a portion of the Carlyles territory, when we see Tomorrow interact with a neighboring family and their Lazarus, the implications of it all are enough to make you stop in wonderment.Definitely my favorite new series.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 - "DYING WISH: SUICIDE RUN"
This was the final issue of ASM and it was pure brilliance. Not only did it have a thrilling race and fight for survival but it also brought back the idea of everything that Spider-Man is and forever will be. I was in tears near the end and it is just some of the most fantastic writing I've experienced in a long time.
Dark Horse announced this mini series at C2E2 and after hearing about it I knew that I needed it in my comic collection immediately. Without giving too much away I'll tell you this: the series is about a young man who, when asleep, is possessed by angry spirits who take their revenge on the ones that caused their death. They then leave our hero to deal with the bodies in the morning.
This series is a fantastic read from beginning to end and you'll be incredibly sad when it ends. Get this book for the art if nothing else. Even though this is Greg Smallwood's first comic it is incredibly detailed and utilizes new forms for panels to tell the story. If you haven't read this series than you are missing out.
EVENTS, CROSS-INS, TIE-OVERS, REBOOTS, AND 3D COVERS
The above were the best things to happen to me in comics in 2013. Bear with me here. Marvel and DC both bombarded me with event after tie-in after crossover in order to acquire the hard earned dollars I had in my pocket, and to garnish the fading attention that I once had for them. They certainly did grab my attention, but perhaps not in the way that they wanted to (most definitely not in the way they wanted to).
You see, for years the superhero sagas had blinded me; the great tales of Gods and Monsters that seemed to just go around in circles with no real end in sight. This kind of storytelling left me unsatisfied, constantly craving more, craving some kind of closure with characters that I'd gown up with and loved. Yes, Lex Luthor is in jail and we have our supreme alien protector to thank for that, but what am I to think when a month later that same hardened criminal becomes the President of the United States of America? What am I to think when even AFTER a complete universal reboot the confusing retcon still requires the purchase of ten comics a week just to stay barely afloat on the scattered fleet that is the Big Two?
I'm ranting and getting ahead of myself here. "But these are negative comments, Wolfgangg. How does this equate to the best thing to happen in comics in 2013?" you might be asking yourself. Well I'll tell you: because I dropped 95% of the two biggest publishers in comic books from my pull list (I told myself Batman is perfectly acceptable, because, well, Batman wins all). This opened me up to a whole new world of comic books that I wasn't quite ready for, but accepted with open arms. Independent publishers have been doing amazing things in comics this year, and have been pushing boundaries that you simply cannot push with super heroes.
I know this isn't anything new, and it's not like I just discovered indys, but this complete removal (yeah, yeah, yeah, Batman, I know) of supers from my pull list evolved my way of thinking about what a comic book could be (and should be) to the point that I don't ever want to go back. There's a whole other world of stories out there, human stories, stories about life and love and death and sacrifice that can touch your soul and impassion you in wonderful ways.
So Marvel, DC, thanks for the memories, and I do hope that one day you get yourselves together again in a way that makes sense to readers like me, but for now, so long, and thanks for all the fish.
Alright, I wasn't going to do it, but here is a quick, unexplained list of bests from 2013.
BEST PUBLISHER: Image Comics
BEST MINI-SERIES: Six-Gun Gorilla (seriously, read this book)
BEST SERIES: East of West & Nowhere Men
BEST SURPRISE HIT: Letter 44 & Zero
BEST COVER: Pretty Deadly #1 (Thought Bubble Variant)
BEST WRITER: Jonathan Hickman (East of West)
BEST ARTIST: Matteo Scalera (Black Science) & Nick Dragotta (East of West)
BEST COLORS: Rico Renzi (Federal Bureau of Physics)
Attention! AND THAT WAS THE BEST!
Got any comments? Disagree? Let us know!