Top 10 Comics of 2013
2013 has been a great year for comics, with fantastic stories coming from the mainstream and independent publishers alike. We here at Geek of Oz have put our heads together to bring your our 10 favourites from the year that was. Feel free to mention yours in the comment section just in case we missed something. Hopefully 2014 will be just as good as this year!
So this one is a no brainier. Epic settings, memorable characters and giant space troll scrotum. What more could you want in an ongoing series? Well probably less troll scrotum admittedly, but unmentionables aside, with a writer like Brian K Vaughn at the helm and the exceptionally talented Fiona Staples on art duties there was never any doubt that this would be a killer ongoing series. Together they have crafted the beginnings of a fantasy sci-fi epic that keeps its characters disturbingly relateable. It's been a real thrill exploring the Saga universe through the eyes of Marko, Alana and their newborn, Hazel, and I can't wait to see what 2014 holds for them. Oh and Lying Cat, who doesn't love Lying Cat?
Writer Eric Stephenson and artist Nate Bellegarde have created an ongoing sci-fi series which is a mixture of all things intrigue, suspense, and non-traditional superpower plot. Employees of the World Corp are exposed to a mysterious biochemical agent which changes them once they return to earth. This is only half of the story. The other half is set in the past and shows us the relationship of the four World Corp founders, who are basically the Beatles of Science. This series has an amazing attention to detail and is worth much more than you are actually paying for it.
To say that Dan Slott’s plan to make Doc Ock the new Spider-Man was controversial would be the understatement of the century. Many a Spider-fan was (and still are) up in arms (all 8 of them) about the decision to have the main Spider-book center around the mind of Otto Octavius in the body of Peter Parker to the point where he even received a death threats about it. But personally I couldn't be happier. It’s so obvious that Slott is having a blast writing with the story as he effortlessly plays around with hero/villain tropes and stereotypes to great comedic effect. In putting a villain in the drivers seat Slott throws away the usual superhero story conventions and moralities to deliver an edgy and refreshing mainstream comic.
East of West
In my own personal opinion, East of West is my favourite Jonathan Hickman series to date. It’s a futuristic story, which is also grim, mysterious and overloaded with imagination. Nick Dragotta’s pencils deliver on that vivid imagination with panels seemingly bursting to the seams. As with most of Hickman’s work the story is teased out slowly, but in a way that leaves you hungry for more.
Who would of thought a book called 'Sex Criminals’ would actually be any good? Well admittedly anyone who saw the name Matt Fraction on the cover... but my point is that this comic could have easily sucked. The premise "when people have sex they stop time and rob banks" is pretty darn stupid but somehow Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky make it seem inspired. In just three issues they've been able to establish two very grounded and relateable protagonists in the form of Susie and John whilst staying true to the sex-comedy genre. This combined with Zdarsky's unique art style and strong visual theme make for a hilarious and bizarrely heartfelt story.
All New X-Men
Brian Michael Bendis has been given the keys to the X-Men universe. The first thing he does is bring back the original founding X-Men team from the 1960s (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Angel) to the present day by time travel. This was all done via modern-day Beast, who brings his younger self and original teammates forward in time, to convince the present day Cyclops to change his errant ways. It may seem confusing and make you go a little cross-eyed, but trust me, it’s great and is the most fun I’ve had reading X-Men in a long time. Stuart Immonen on art duties is icing on the cake as well.
Back in 2008 Gerard Way won over comic book fans old and new with his off-beat superhero series Umbrella Academy. This year he did it all over again with the more musically driven The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Teaming up with writer Sean Simon and artist Becky Cloonan, Way presents us with a bizarre and intriguing dystopia in which gangs of teenagers fight for their freedom against the faceless 'Better Living Inc'. The prose and dialogue is all exquisitely written, flowing from the page like a songs whilst the plot effortlessly dances around between an ensemble cast of characters. Cloonan's fun art brings a real playfulness to the story telling whilst never conflicting with the more melancholy and darker subtext. This series really is a treat for anyone who feels like a sojourn from the mainstream.
Set in a future, post-apocalyptic world, Lazarus sees the world run by a handful of powerful families. Each family has a genetically modified agent who protects the family’s interests, called a “Lazarus”. Forever Carlyle is the central character of this series, as she is the “Lazarus” of the Carlyle Family. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have created an intriguing serialised crime thriller, which is sure to go from strength to strength in 2014.
Admittedly this follow up to The Strange Talent of Luther Strode straddles both 2012 and 2013 but it really is too good not to have on this list. Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore, two creators who are relatively new to the industry, deliver a master-class in visual storytelling in this phenomenal mini-series. Justin Jordan lets Tradd Moore's subtle facial gestures and dynamic poses do a lot of the heavy lifting story wise whilst dispensing fast paced dialogue when necessary. Underneath the gore covered exterior of this ultraviolet tale lies a truly charming love story that provides 'The Legend of Luther Strode' with a beating heart. Plus each issue ends on some of the best cliff hangers I have experienced in a long time. If you haven't read this series you need to change that right now!
What does Hawkeye do on his days off from the Avengers? That is what writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja have produced with this series. It’s a gorgeous marriage of both traditional capes comics as well as the best of independent comics. Each issue of this series is a stand out from the previous in terms of writing and art. A special mention goes to Hawkeye #11, the Pizza Dog issue, as one of my favourite single issues from this year.