Best Comics of 2014
Any list of the best comics of 2014 is going to be subjective, and is bound to miss something. I don’t have the time to read everything and many comics I want to read just don’t come in front of me.
1. Edge of Spider-Verse #2: This was the debut of Spider-Gwen and quite possibly one of the most perfect comic books I’ve ever read. The use of Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman gives a new life to the character of Spider-Man. Her relationship with her father is one that adds a new wrinkle to the story, as Peter Parker’s relationship with the police was always impersonal, and here, it has more meaning. The cameos from Mary Jane Watson and Matt Murdock reflect how similar and how different characters can be in this alternate reality. Finally, the premise for Spider-Gwen is set in her relationship to her father, reflecting the relationship of a parent to a child where the child is pursuing a path that the parent doesn’t approve of. In February, she gets her own title and it’s one of the books I’m most looking forward to.
2. Saga #22: There was just something about the entrance of King Robot that set the stage for how important this issue is in the series. There’s the wonderful exploration between the aristocracy and the poor to make you enjoy Matthew K. Vaughn’s prose. Then you have the deterioration of Marko and Alanna’s marriage which tugs at your heartstrings after watching them endure so much just to get their daughter Hazel someplace safe. That fall is a slow one that can be seen coming so obviously, you wonder how it’s a surprise to anyone in the story.
3. Southern Bastards #4: It seemed to be the culmination of the story, but writer Jason Aaron took a turn right before it seemed like the trite ending of our protagonist finally emerging victorious against overwhelming odds. He didn’t end the story there, with a twist in his story going on past the completion of his story. This cliffhanger is living up to it’s name with the team taking the opportunity to explore the story behind the series’ antagonist. This issue shows why Southern Bastards is one of the best series being published currently.
4. Seconds: I just recently got to read this gem from Scott Pilgrim‘s Brian Lee O’Malley on loan from my public library, which just goes to prove what kind of quality Graphic Novels you might find in your public library system. However, if I ever see this for sale somewhere, I’m probably going to pick this one up. You totally should as well, because it’s just that satisfying a read. His art style meshes completely with his pace of storytelling and he excels at creating a believable environment for his characters to inhabit.
5. Father’s Day #1: I was not expecting a lot form this book, but walked away with a sense that I was reading one of the most underrated comics this year. It’s flown under the radar for a lot of people, but deserves to be read, because at its heart, it’s a story about the relationship between a father and his estranged teenage daughter. Mike Richardson ably transitions the story from that confrontation to the pair on the run from those that want to see the father dead.
6. Ms. Marvel #7: In the era where Marvel is defined by their shared, cinematic universe, it’s nice to see a comic capture that same feeling. With Wolverine on Death’s door, he still takes time to help outa new hero, showing how much of a true hero he truly is, other than just an rough and tumble bruiser. Kamala Khan also teaches him that the path of a hero does not mean sacrificing the values that help define her. The first storyline helped show us who the new Ms. Marvel is, but it was this issue that truly defined her.
7. Gotham Academy #1: Not everyone is a huge Batman fan. Too often, he is more defined by his gadgets and physicality rather than his intelligence and role as a detective. Also, like the TV series Gotham, many titles that explore the world of Gotham City focus on the darkness and evil that permeates and defines it. In Gotham Academy, we have what is, at its essence, a boarding school like any other. It’s the characters that make it unique, all while giving us the mysteries of the school itself and what type of connection Olive Silverlock has with the Dark Knight. It’s also quite refreshing to have young female characters that defy the tropes of DC’s New 52 and exist as characters instead of pin-ups.
8. Day Men #4: Vampires can be tiring. Too many writers treat them in hackneyed ways, trying to ride the back of whatever rendering another media has created. Here, the vampires are treated as the world for the protagonist, and we follow him throughout it. It was in this issue however, we got to see him not as the expert, but as a man in a world of super-humans. Hopelessly outclassed but surviving. The monsters were given a structure after three issues of seeming unstoppable, and now facing the real problems of their alternative society. Adding to that Brian Stelfreeze’s impeccable style and storytelling, and this becomes one of those great secrets in a comic shop that needs to be discovered.
9. Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow: Taken from a television project that never got made, this story is a remarkable tale for all ages. The story’s protagonists seem to be facing horribly unbeatable odds, and the antagonist is remarkably and almost cartoonishly evil in a way that can be understood, yet not horrifying. For fans of Henson’s creations, the extras give a view into his creative process aside from how Muppets are physically created.
10. Batgirl #35: Barbara Gordon goes to the trendy, very youthful neighborhood of Gotham called Burnside, and we see a Gotham that people actually live in. We get a view of everyday life for citizen’s of Batman’s city. Probably best of all, we see Batgirl as a character sure of her skills, but not of her choices. It’s one of the first mainstream comics to use social technology as a key, and mostly accurate story element. It would have placed higher, except for the horrible way her new antagonist was handled just two issues later.