A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the novels I have read in the first half of this year. That list followed the same format that I have been using for 2 years now, but with this new list I decided to make a big departure, owing to how many comics I’ve been reading in recent months, often 80+ comics in a single month! That’s crazy.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the year. The next post will be at the end of the year for the second half of the year.
You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
I started reading Vampirella comics back in 2012, courtesy of some of the stuff that Dynamite Entertainment was putting out at the time, and I have to say that I found them quite enjoyable as far as both writing and artwork are concerned. Sure, the covers were often quite risque, but the internal artwork was almost always great, such as the case with Walter Geovani’s work on Ron Marz’s Prophecy or Johnny Desjardins’ work on Tom Sniegoski’s Vampirella Strikes. As with Red Sonja under Dynamite, Vampirella is definitely a favourite character to read, and with the new series launching last week, I figured it was time to properly get on that ride.
Vampirella #1, which I just finished reading, is a great entry-point to the character and her setting as far as I am concerned. Sure, some things are kept to the chest, but you get enough through Nancy A. Collins’ writing to see who Vampirella is, and just what she is as well. Plus, Nancy ties the story in with a seemingly old foe of the character, so that provides a lot of tension and direction to the narrative, with two really good twists that will surprise you for sure. And the artwork by Patrick Berkenkotter is also quite nice, which is another plus.
After all the heavy reading of the previous weeks, this past week proved to be a little less intensive, but not by much. The only real difference this time was that I didn’t get to read any graphic novels or trades. And I only just managed to read all these comics anyways because things are getting hectic here with all the marriage preparations, not to mention the court marriage I had the other day (yes, officially married now!). So yeah, things are just a little bit really hectic.
The surprise hits of this week were 7th Sword #1 from IDW Publishing, Harley Quinn #6 from DC Comics, and Dejah of Mars #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. The surprise flops would be Batman #31 and The Flash #31, both from DC Comics, both of them quite disappointing in that the arcs do not make sense anymore and I’m really turned off of them. Comics that I expected to be great, such as Ms. Marvel #4 from Marvel and Thanos Annual 2014, also from Marvel, and Future’s End #4 from DC Comics, were all good, amongst others. So a nice spread of everything, as usual.
There’s only so far you can go in an action-packed story before you have to stop and consider where all the character development is. A spy thriller like Velvet requires that the characters always be first and foremost but more than that, you also need some strong context of their histories and what all has happened to bring them to that point where you are becoming familiar with them. In the past four issues of Velvet, we’ve seen some tantalising glimpses of Velvet Templeton’s past as an agent of ARC-7, and all that has done has whet my appetite for more.
In Velvet #5, we see significant sections of Velvet’s past as we see how she was recruited by ARC-7 and what her training was like in those days. The entire story this time picks up straight from the cliffhanger from the previous issue and Brubaker just runs off with all of it, as he walks Velvet through a personal betrayer that still haunts her. Brubaker’s writing is just as fantastic and richly-layered as always even as the artwork by Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser still rocks. If you thought that the previous issues were good, then Velvet #5 will challenge that.
This week I was a man on a mission. I’d resolved to make a big dent in my weekly reading pile, given all the great comics that were coming out, and I did just that. Not counting my graphic novel binges, since those count as a single item only, this has been my biggest week so far to date. 23 single issues in a week, with 15 reviews of these titles. Pretty damn good odds I say. I’m definitely hitting my stride here.
The best part of the week, other than all the fantastic new comics, was catching up with comics that I’d left off with or had put aside for other comics, such as American Vampire: Second Cyle and Pandora. The former proved to be really good while the latter not so much. But such is the way of things. I may be behind on novel reading, but I don’t care so much about that. Comics are where the excitement is going down!
After a break in February, Image Comics’ Velvet returned to stores a couple weeks with its fourth issue, which continues the story of former ARC-7 field agent Velvet Templeton as she tracks down how and why one of the agency’s best agents was murdered. Ed Brubaker’s characterisaton has been one of the highlights of the series since its debut last year, plus the great visuals conjured by Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser, which made this one of my favourite new series in 2013. The whole espionage thriller feel has definitely kept me interested and coming back month after month.
In the new issue, Velvet hunts down another lead into the mystery of why X-14 was murdered, this time as part of a massive festival in Monaco, a festival that is quite reflective of the espionage and intelligence community. The formula is starting to feel a bit tired, but I won’t deny that Brubaker’s plot and dialogue are still on good form and there’s a great revelation at the end of the issue. And the art team goes full-on crazy in this issue, making it one of the best so far.