Ten Comics Published in 2014 What Were Right Good

CBR’s Top 100 Comics List has now finished, and they asked me to send in my top ten picks as a part of the compilation. Some of my choices made it into the top 100, and some didn’t – so I thought I may as well share my list on here, give a look at my thoughts on the year in comics. I’m also over at Comics Alliance during ‘best of’ season this year, and should appear on The Beat soon too.

This is a slightly off-centre list – I weighted the list on purpose to try and force in a few comics I wanted in particular to make a surprise appearance on CBR, like Everstar and Moose Kid Comics. Which! Worked out quite nicely, actually. This was a year where I was away from the comic shop itself for a long time, and was more catching up on trades of old comics – like Manhattan Projects and Hellboy – than in reading new comics, and I think you can get that sense from this list. It’s perhaps not as imaginative a list as it could have been.

I do have a sensibility that leans towards fantastical stories, which also explains why some books – like This One Summer – aren’t in this final list. I genuinely do enjoy slapstick and superheroes, which is why both are so heavily represented in the list. Also: three books here are run by female writers/artists, which isn’t particularly balanced but at least does signal a slight opening up of the comics industry over the year. Again – some books haven’t hit trade yet, which is why Lumberjanes or Bitch Planet and so on haven’t appeared here

This year I’ll try to do more reading! But, y’know, it’s impossible to know what I’ll actually be doing in the year. Here’s my top ten choices:

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10: Quantum and Woody

It had a little artistic wobble right at the end, but James Asmus really managed to stick the landing as Quantum & Woody came to a temporary end this year. The most intimidating job in comics must be following Priest and Bright on their cult favourite, but Valiant’s relaunch of the series proved to be a winner from start to end. It tackled some rather close to home issues with grace and absolutely no dignity, proudly streaking through the comics industry, as Asmus showed himself off as possibly the funniest writer in comics today.

 

9: The Manhattan Projects

The sheer amount of imagination in The Manhattan Projects makes it worth a look, and artist Nick Pitarra’s storytelling took Jonathan Hickman’s insane plotting and brought it to the highest level. Eclectic and unpredictable, the characters continually throw the reader for a loop, establishing something strangely dignified with even the most ridiculous ideas. Dogs went into space and came back… changed, mental civil wars came to a bloody conclusion, Albert Einstein gave himself a totally bitchin’ makeover – 2014 saw The Manhattan Projects throw everything at the reader, then duplicate it through a wormhole so it could throw everything back at them a second time too.

 

8: Ms Marvel

Everybody seemed to be expecting some kind of brooding, CNN-approved tome when Ms Marvel was first announced – but with Adrian Alphona on art and G. Willow Wilson writing, this was never going to be a “woe is me” sort of comic. People went crazy about the concept, apparently having never heard of Muslim people before, but the actual comic we got once the presses locked themselves into solitary was bouncy, silly, and springy – just like Kamala Khan herself. Let’s stop pretending we’re reading Ms Marvel for the idea it provides high-intensity social commentary, and instead just accept that Kamala Khan is REALLY GOOD FUN TO READ ABOUT. Alphona was clearly having a ball throughout 2014, and Wilson’s script quickly seized on those quirks, as the creative team raced off and told some of the most bizarre and wonderful superhero stories of the year.

 

7: Dungeon Fun

With two more issues out this year, Dungeon Fun settled itself in 2014. Taking the madcap fun and energy of the first issue and layering it out into a more consistent longer narrative, the series proved that it had a whole lot of heart beneath the (very funny) jokes. Marked by delightful work from artist Neil Slorance and a brilliantly gung-ho script from Colin Bell, Dungeon Fun avoided the sophomore slump and was one of my favourite reads of the year.

 

6: Trillium

Jeff Lemire sure does like to make comics about sad little people, and Trillium was no exception to that rule. Wrapping up at the top of the year, Lemire’s Vertigo miniseries was unflinching in the portrayal of two rather messed up people, separated by thousands of years but finding a remarkable bond to one another. It was a romance, of sorts? But filtered through Lemire’s incredibly specific, honed-in style. He took a high concept, shook it constantly, and created something singularly his own.

 

5: Pretty Deadly

It came out in 2014! Don’t forget! Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire – proving to be probably the strongest creative team of any comic put out in 2014 – wove a many-layered tale of death, and what comes next, set in the wild west. Unpredictable and beautifully told, this is a story which merits repeat reading. On every page, Rios showed herself to be one of the finest storytellers in comics today – creating a balletic sense of poise in the characters even as they put each other to the sword. It’s a stunning piece of work, brought vividly to life by the artistic team.

 

4: She Hulk

We’re all onboard with She-Hulk, aren’t we?

 

3: Everstar

The story of a young girl who accidentally beams herself and her best friend onto an alien spaceship, and then decides she may as well designate herself captain and go off for some adventures now she’s there, Everstar proved that Thrillbent could offer something for everybody. From Becky Tinder and Joie Brown, the comic takes advantage of the digital format to really involve the reader in the story – and get them cheering on as their protagonist Ainslie takes the helm. Charming and with a pitch-perfect sense of humour, Everstar was a complete surprise to me this year – but proved to be one of the most purely enjoyable comics of 2014.

 

2: Moose Kid Comics

A digital comics anthology masterminded by UK comics hero Jamie Smart, Moose Kid Comics assembled a fine collection of the very best comic makers and invited them to make the very best kids comic they could. And, happily, their work proved to be absolutely up to the challenge – Moose Kid Comics #1 was masterful. Silly, dippy, subversive and very very funny, there’s an unbelievable consistency between all the stories here. Some of the most wonderful cartoonists in comics today work on all-ages books, and this proved to be a superb showcase that proved comics *can* still be for kids!

 

1: All New Ghost Rider

For all that people might mention She Hulk or Moon Knight, All-New Ghost Rider proved to my favourite comic of the year. Felipe Smith jumped on and immediately put together a book bursting with charm, charisma, and personality. Lead character Robbie Reyes (modelled on Zayn Malik from One Direction, swoon) proved himself to be a magnetic presence on the page, in part because of the heart invested in him by Smith and in part because of the astounding work done by artist Tradd Moore and colorist Val Staples. All New Ghost Rider looks unlike any other comic on the shelves, with a pure vibrancy that pulses out from every page. With Damion Scott now on the book for the second arc, the energy level hasn’t dipped for a moment. Heartfelt, powerful, genuine and really entertaining, it’s a dynamite series.

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