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Best Comics of 2015

Posted by Panel Beats Team at 10:28 on 31 Dec 2015
Best Comics of 2015
If you've been a PanelBeats reader for any length of time, you'll be aware that for one reason and another, we haven't had an incredibly busy year in terms of writing about comics. But we've still been reading them, and so with the end of the year upon us, it seems a good time to check in and let you know what we've enjoyed in 2015, in case you've missed any of it yourself. Look, it's an end-of-year post: you know how these things work.

Rather than doing a ranked countdown based on any kind of consensus, we've instead individually written about which books stood out for us this year. As ever, our tastes and consumption habits can vary hugely (although there is some crossover); and of course, we're aware that we don't necessarily cover the full spectrum of everything that was published across the industry in 2015. Nevertheless, if we've mentioned it below, then as far as this site's concerned, it was a highlight of our year - and is well worth checking out if you haven't already.

Reviewing the Ultimate Universe

Posted by Seb Patrick at 10:35 on 30 Jun 2015
Reviewing the Ultimate Universe
While it's difficult to take any of the events of Secret Wars - that is, the destruction of Marvel's entire continuity - with any serious conviction until the series ends and we learn the new post-relaunch status quo, one thing that seems a pretty safe bet is that the Ultimate Universe experiment is finally, fifteen years after it began, coming to an end. Of course, we've been here at least twice before - both Ultimatum and Cataclysm were pitched as events that were going to bring things to an close - but it really does all feel rather more final this time, particularly with the confirmation that Miles Morales is going to join the regular Marvel U.

And so it seems as good a time as any to look back over the past decade-and-a-half of revamped, alternate-universe Marvel stories. And to do so in as much punishing detail as possible, by examining the merits of every single ongoing and mini series published under the imprint.

30 amazing Batman costumes only seen on action figures

Posted by Seb Patrick at 11:22 on 21 Apr 2014
30 amazing Batman costumes only seen on action figures
Batman is easily one of the most popular characters in action figure history, with several hundred different figures of him having been produced over the years. Unfortunately, he also - with the odd exception - has tended not to change his costume in especially dramatic ways, save for the occasional switch from grey to black, or the addition and subtraction of the famous yellow oval.

Despite this obvious handicap, his popularity in plastic form is such that toy manufacturers have never been shy in coming up with wild, inventive and frequently batshit mental alternative costumes to flog to unsuspecting parents the world over. Here, then, are thirty particular favourites of ours...

Phonomancy (or: Why Phonogram Matters) Part 2: Trying to Find the Perfect Match Between Pretentious and Pop

Posted by Seb Patrick at 16:00 on 16 Jun 2015
Phonomancy (or: Why Phonogram Matters) Part 2: Trying to Find the Perfect Match Between Pretentious and Pop
Ahead of the publication of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl in August, I'm taking an unnecessarily personal look back at the two previous volumes of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's breakout work. In part one, I covered the first volume, Rue Britannia. In this concluding chapter, unsurprisingly, I look at volume two: The Singles Club.

Daredevil liveblog

Posted by Abigail Brady at 08:00 on 10 Apr 2015
Daredevil liveblog
Hello, I'm Abigail Brady and I have booked off Friday from eating and needing to go to the toilet, so I'm going to be liveblogging Netflix's Marvel's Daredevil, starting at 0800 sharpish (midnight Pacific). Watch this article from then for updates about how I didn't understand a thing because I was too busy writing about it, until either I finish or pass out.


Nearly 12 hours later: Well, that was certainly the best Daredevil film I have seen. It could stand to lose a few hours.

My recommendation: don't marathon it, don't even rush it. Eke it out. There are some big spoilers out there but you should be kinda able to see them coming anyway, and while I wouldn't recommend seeking them out, I don't think your enjoyment will be substantially reduced by it.

The boldest thing about this series is the decision to entirely dump the overall tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that mix of humour, action and emotional truth, that everything from Iron Man to Thor to Agents of SHIELD to Agent Carter has been going for (with varying degrees of success - I'm as fervent in my dislike of SHIELD as James is). This feels very different. There's a combination of tenseness and violence to it quite unlike any of the MCU stuff, with a kind of stylised approach that's also not like any of the grim crime dramas I've been watching lately. It's its own thing. I'm still not sure whether I liked that thing. But it absolutely did what it was trying to do.

Indie Spotlight: Kickstarter Special

Posted by Seb Patrick at 13:12 on 23 Mar 2015
Indie Spotlight: Kickstarter Special
In our latest Indie Spotlight, we're taking a look at three comics-related Kickstarter projects that are currently ongoing and have caught our eye. Of course, a KS project is no real indication of what the final quality of a book will be like - nor indeed that it will ever show up! - but nevertheless, all three of these have looked to be of interest to us for different reasons.

Is Spider-Gwen the most important new comic of 2015?

Posted by Seb Patrick at 20:30 on 27 Feb 2015
Is Spider-Gwen the most important new comic of 2015?
It's a sign of the desperation that pervades an awful lot of comics industry strategy that we're so frequently told that a particular comic is going to be a hit, or something that we absolutely should read, before we know much else about it.

This is, of course, the very nature of media publicity in general - but there just seems to be something particularly acute about it in comics. Genuine, industry-shattering hits are rare - and ones that break through into the wider consciousness all the rarer - and so for that reason, the publishers seem determined to make sure that they, and not the readers, are the ones to identify which ones they'll be, so that they can be accordingly prepared to deal with them.

Phonomancy (or: Why Phonogram Matters) Part 1: Is It Something I Do To Myself

Posted by Seb Patrick at 11:13 on 19 Jan 2015
Phonomancy (or: Why Phonogram Matters) Part 1: Is It Something I Do To Myself
"I believe that the best way to show how music affects the world is to take evidence directly from life to show how music has changed me and people around me. Not that it's a particularly truthful form of biography. There's a key line in the second issue: 'Sometimes the truth just gets in the way of what really happens.' That's absolutely key. The phrase I'm using is Automythology." - Kieron Gillen

Best Comics of 2014: Silver Surfer

Posted by James Hunt at 16:12 on 31 Dec 2014
Best Comics of 2014: Silver Surfer
In the seven years Seb and I have been picking the best comic of the year*, finding a consensus has always involved strict criteria. It has to be something we've both read, and loved, and we both have to think it's sufficiently prominent in that year to justify taking the banner over anything else. Perhaps the most difficult criteria is that it has to be an ongoing series which has released enough issues that if the sheen was going to wear off, it would've done so. How approriate, then, that this year we're picking out a character who literally has a sheen that has yet to wear off.

Best Comics of 2014: The Multiversity

Posted by Seb Patrick at 23:59 on 30 Dec 2014
Best Comics of 2014: The Multiversity
Around five years or so ago, the prospect of Grant Morrison writing a multiverse-spanning, self-referential exploration of DC's superhero lineage would have been pretty much the most exciting thing in comics. But as the time between The Multiversity's conception and its actual execution grew ever longer, the doubts began to creep in. The resetting of DC's entire continuity was the biggest elephant in the room: if The Multiversity was originally conceived pre-New 52, would it be compromised by eventually coming out after it?

But even aside from that, with what seemed to be Morrison's final definitive statement on the superhero comic, in his epoch-defining Batman run, finally at an end, and following the apparent inability of his Action Comics to stake out a claim for greatness in this new era, this supposed final hurrah began to feel like little more than an afterthought. Sure, it would be nice to see a bit of new Frank Quitely art, especially if he was drawing the Blue Beetle. But would The Multiversity really have anything new to say?

It turns out that yes, it did. And what it had to say was The Man Don't Give A Fuck.