Best Comics Of 2014
News, Reviews, Features, Podcasts, & Buyer's Guides...
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
She-Hulk is one of those characters who really shouldn't work. From the poorly-conceived, borderline sexist origin to the poorly-conceived, borderline sexist name, nothing about the character makes a lot of sense outside of the context she was created in: a hasty attempt to stop the Incredible Hulk TV series from creating (and potentially owning) a female version of the Hulk. And yet here we are with yet another stand-out run - at least the character's third - that brings out the best in its creative team.
So, then, to The Wicked + The Divine
. Unquestionably one of the major success stories of comics in 2014... and something that, if we're honest, it's difficult for us to talk about in any kind of objective or rational way, because it's by our mates.
I've had my eye on Michael Cho for a while now. I don't know quite how that came to be, because from what I can tell he hasn't published a comic before, other than an online serial... which I never saw.
But something led me to his blog
and his beautiful, 1950s-styled artwork. To me, his work seems on the same continuum as Darwyn Cooke
and Adrian Tomine
. Actually, somewhere in between the two, with the fluidity of the former but the structural rigour of the latter. I was intrigued when I saw he had a debut graphic novel in the works.
We didn't include Saga
in our end-of-year list for 2013. It wasn't that the comic hadn't been any good, more that it didn't quite jump out as staggeringly new and brilliant in the way that it had done in 2012 (plus, we were busy being wowed by another Brian K. Vaughan book - The Private Eye
- and in the interests of variety, didn't want to include two by him in the list). But that's a hard policy to keep going for 2014, a year in which the series once again reminded us of just why it's one of the most consistently excellent things being published anywhere in comics.
In a world where Ed Brubaker makes writing noir-tinged period pieces look effortless, what can we say about The Fade Out - a murder mystery set in Hollywood's golden age - except that "it's more of what you'd expect from this team, and that's why we love it"?
The Guardians of the Galaxy
movie instilled in me a deep and fervent affection for the character of Rocket Raccoon, and I suspect I'm not the only one. So it therefore came as little surprise when Marvel almost immediately began publishing a thinly-veiled excuse to cash in on his popularity with a new solo series. What was perhaps a little more surprising, however, was that it was just as immediately one of the best things they'd published all year.
Although Warren Ellis has significantly slowed his creator-owned output over the last few years, he's still producing interesting work. After 2011's SVK and the conclusion of the Freakangels webcomic in 2012, Ellis' most interesting work in 2013 was Scatterlands, a 50-instalment webcomic drawn by Jason Howard. That last one is, in many ways, the precursor to 2014's big thing: a new ongoing series from Image called Trees.
As is our annual custom, we're using the last ten days of the year to count down our ten favourite (or otherwise most significant) comics of 2014, one per day. The first seven are in no particular order, followed by one runner-up from each of us, and then our unanimous Pick of the Year on December 31st. But we start in a slightly controversial place...