With Conan Vol.1: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories, Dark Horse embarked on a bold strategy where the classic Conan stories were shaped anew, with writer Kurt Busiek putting together a continuous narrative that charted the rise of Conan from a simple Cimmerian warrior to the King of Aquilonia. With the addition of fantastic artists like Cary Nord and Dave Stewart, the series began well with the first volume, establishing a clear frame of reference for the characters and his adventures in a way that would always leave you wanting more.
In Conan Vol.2: The God In The Bowl and Other Stories we see more of the same as Conan now sets out for the Nemedian city-state to learn more of the world, to hone his skills as a thief and see more of what the world at large could offer someone like him. Kurt’s writing is very much on point in this volume, as it was in the previous one, and now that the Cimmerian is in more familiar circumstances, the story becomes all the more enjoyable. And along the way, artists Tom Mandrake, Cary Nord, Thomas Yeates and Dave Stewart add a particular vividness to the visual aspect, enhancing the story in every way possible.
It has been a good long while since we’ve had a Death Vigil release. Stjepan Sejic ended the sixth issue on a very grim note, with events heading completely downhill for the Vigil, especially Bernie, and it was a really, really bleak moment for the entire crew, especially once there was a betrayal from within. It was a grim story, but at the same time, a lot of Stjepan’s comic timing really made its presence felt as well, and that kept me chugging along. And it kept me foaming at the mouth for the next release, which was unfortunately delayed until recently.
Some personal problems for Stjepan meant that we didn’t get Death Vigil #7 until last week, and that too through his own blog rather than through the regular distribution. I won’t go into the specifics as they are kind of irrelevant to matters at hand, but suffice to say that the new issue is well worth the long wait since mid-January. Stjepan launches straight into the story and picks up the beats from where he left off, and the new issue proves to be one hell of a ride, keeping up a fine tradition that began in Death Vigil #1 last year.
Last month we saw a pretty big and epic showdown go down between various members of the Death Vigil and the coven of necromancers who have opposed them for several centuries now. It was something that Stjepan Sejic had been building up for a while now, and to watch it unfold was something straight out of my imagination. Or so I’d like to think, though the fact stands that if there’s one thing that Stjepan has done really well with this series, it is that he continues to surprise and amaze with each issue.
This past week’s Death Vigil #6 continues on that same path. This is a pretty big issue actually, both in terms of its page-count and also in terms of the story packed herein, which the cover makes quite plain I think. Or the direction of it in any case. The showdown results in some big changes in the status quo and we see that sometimes the good guys really get outdone by the bad guys. The twists just kept on coming in this issue and with the typical Sejic high-pace, the story leaves you gasping for air and almost crying because of what happens in the final pages.
Last year I did a small roundup over at The Founding Fields with fellow reviewer Bane of Kings which contained a list of the best new comics to have come out in 2013. It was a rather small list with only 10 entries each from the two of us, reflecting our reading for the year and the consequent small pool to pick from. But in 2014, I greatly expanded my weekly reading, and so for the round-up of the best new comics to have come out in 2014, whether as mini-series or ongoings, I have decided to go much bigger.
There were a ton of new comics to come out last year and many of them started off well enough but unfortunately well by wayside since subsequent issues were nowhere near as good. That however, is a call to make on any new comic and you have to have a wait-and-see attitude for the most part. For this embiggened round-up, I have some mini-series here and some ongoing titles. Some have had multiple issues come out in 2014, while some have had less than three.
Irrespective of that, these are all the most promising new series of 2014, and I think that they are all well worth the read in 2015.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
A few days ago I did my best of 2014 list for the comics I read in the second half of 2014. And back in July of 2014, I did the first “best comics of 2014” post. The reason I mention that is because of the changes I’ve made for this list. While previously I used to do it so that I put up my top 6 comics, in July’14 I did a top 12 on account of the increased number of comics I was reading at the time. And that same holds true for this list as well since I’ve gone up on the number yet again, and this list has the top 20 and then 20 honourable mentions.
More comics, yay!
So, with the books of the second half of 2014 already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite monthly comics of the same period. The next post will be a list of the top graphic novels I read in all of 2014.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
The seventh book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Star Trek: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow, which is the fourth novel in last year’s The Fall quintology, itself a series that is a part of the larger Typhon Pact mega-arc in the setting. James carried on from David Mack’s excellent A Ceremony of Losses in this novel, and the story he told, focusing on William Riker and Tuvok, among other characters, totally pulled me in. There’s a larger story at work here of course, and I’d certainly recommend reading from the first novel in this series, Revelation and Dust by David R. George III, which is a bit of a rough start, but builds up towards the end and the other two novels after that, The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack and David Mack’s A Ceremony of Losses are all damn good reads.
The seventh set of comic covers I pick this year are for Death Vigil #1 by Stjepan Sejic, with cover by him as well, and the second of the set is for Grimm Fairy Tales #99 by Joe Brusha, Joel Ojeda, Stephen Schaffer, Eric Arciniega and Jim Campbell with the cover by Artgerm. Death Vigil is Stjepan’s first full work in that he is the writer and artist both, and he has been absolutely fantastic on this series. Month after month he’s delivered a great story and even better art, and the title is definitely among the best of the debuts this year. Grimm Fairy Tales #99 is basically one of the keystone moments of Zenescope’s massive Age of Darkness crossover event that has been going on for more than a year already, and it sets in motion some of the biggest events of the crossover, and is a prelude to the big… defeat of the Realm Knights themselves, the guardians of all the different Realms that connect to Earth in Zenescope’s reimagining of various fairy tales and folk tales and other myths and legends.
So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Getting on a roll again, this week I managed to repeat the “Magic 40” with 2 graphic novels and 38 singles, with many of the latter being absolutely new series, so that was a lot of fun for the most part.
My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Archer & Armstrong: One Percent #1 from Valiant Comics, Deep State #1 from Boom Studios, Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment and Vertigo Comics, and The Kitchen #1 from Vertigo Comics also. The most disappointing comics of this week were Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 and Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #4 both from Marvel Comics, New 52 – Batman #36 from DC Comics and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Hexed, Fables, New Suicide Squad, Red Sonja and Unity all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were King Conan: The Hour of The Dragon by Timothy Truman, Tomás Giorello and Jose Villarrubia, and Fables Volume 5 by Bill Willingham, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Vozzo, Todd Klein, James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha.
Stjepan Sejic has been building up to an epic showdown between Team Evil and Team Good for a while now, pretty much since the start actually. He has shown us the Death Vigil through the eyes of the new recruit Clara and at the same time we have also seen some stuff with many of the other members of the Vigil, focusing on their histories and their personalities as they are. It has all been enormous good fun thus far and I doubt that Stjepan is going to take a break from any of it for a good long while since he is so damn good with this book, whether we talk writing or art.
The latest issue of Death Vigil sees Team Evil finally let loose on an unsuspecting world and it has some enormously great cinematic scenes that show that all is not well for the Vigil or for the Reaper herself, Bernadette. There’s so much to like about this issue, especially since we finally get a history on Allistor and Mia, two necromancers who are also kinda-sorta friends with the Vigil. If you’ve liked the previous issues then this one is certainly going to be very appealing since it crystallizes a lot of things and Stjepan has aced the story and the art once again.
Stjepan Sejic’s Death Vigil has been one of the most fun new comics to come out this year, by far and it is also a comic that I absolutely love. Characters or story or art, Death Vigil is like a masterclass in storytelling in comics, and it is something that everyone should be reading. In the first three issues we’ve seen Stjepan bring together his main cast and introduce their enemies. The extra-length first issue helped immensely in that regard, the size of two issues really, and the following two regular issues have done much to expand on all of that.
Death Vigil #4 continues Stjepan’s excellent worldbuilding as we begin to learn ever more about the necromancers who have been causing all sorts of problems for the Death Vigil, a group of immortal guardians of the Veil between worlds who are led by none other than the Grim Reaper herself, Bernadette, alternatively referred to as Bernie or Dette in the comic. Aside from all the stuff we see about the villains, we also get to meet some old friends of the Vigil, whom we’ve seen before in small cameos, and that subplot here lends itself to some great drama, in typical Stjepan Sejic style.