A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.
So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.
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!
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my ninth pick is the Asgardian who doubles up on Earth as a Norse god, the mighty Thor from Jason Aaron’s phenomenal Thor: God of Thunder from Marvel Comics, a new series that started last year with the Marvel NOW! initiative and has consistently been one of Marvel’s top comics of each month. I credit Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic for helping me break into Marvel’s comics full and proper with this title and its been a damn good read throughout its run till now.
Hit the break to see why I picked this character.
Well, here we are. This will be the final CPoTW post of the year, even though today is the last new comic book day of 2013. Just the way these schedules all work out and all.
Moving on, this was a somewhat light week in some respects since I didn’t get around to as many comics as I wanted to. Quite a few titles slipped through the cracks, which is happening more and more given the sheer volume of how many comics are (generally) released each and every week. Still, one bright ray of sunshine in all of this was that I managed to read three entire graphic novels this week, all of them for Batgirl, with one featuring Cassandra Cain and the other two featuring Stephanie Brown, both characters who are much in demand among several outspoken communities of fans to be revived in the New 52. Having read these graphic novels, I certainly agree with that!
For whatever reason, Marvel decided to put out a 5-issue mini-series set something during The Amazing Spider-Man but numbered after the final issue of the now-discontinued titled with Dan Slott’s #700. The first issue of the mini-series was released earlier this month and it was a nice simple issue that dealt with a relatively small scale problem in some ways, but was still pretty important for Spider-Mana aka Peter Parker. It was a touching story that promised a lot of cool, neat things and focused on the character being a hero.
The second issue, which followed the week after the first issue, is more of the same, but with the tension ramped up significantly. The message in this review is simple: a hero is a hero whether he or she is saving someone from a burning building or going up against a crazy supervillain. David Morrell’s script is very simple in its execution but the message is quite important, and the artwork by Klaus Janson and Steve Buccellato helps significantly in delivering that particular message.
A few years ago Marvel put out a 4-issue limited series called Origin which detailed the earliest years of Wolverine’s life. Casting him as the son of a landowner somewhere in Canada, the young James Howlett suffered through many trials and tribulations that ultimately led to him forsaking society all together. Several plot threads of that comic were reused for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, and the adaptation took away from a lot of the mystique that that comic had created, the deep sense of character and history.
And now we have Origin II, the sequel to that series that tells of the time between Origin and later, when the character joined the army and fought in the first World War. This Wolverine we see is completely different from any I’ve seen before and I have to say that I’m really intrigued. Usually Kieron Gillen’s writing doesn’t work for me, but this has proven to be a different case. And the art is quite good, despite the dominant white palette. Still, really good.
Looks like its going to be the month of busy weeks. The last two weeks I’ve read two graphic novels each along with all my regular monthlies and this past week proved to be no different. Both Detective Comics Volume 4 and The Flash Volume 4 proved to be exceedingly good and now I have two more series that I need to catch up on for the New 52. Tall order, but doable. And as regards the usual monthlies, there were comics across the board, in all sorts of ways: genres, publishers, characters, etc, etc. The year has slowly transformed over the months into a really solid year for comics overall.
I still haven’t made any dent in the pile of graphic novels I have to read, but I’m not too worried about any of it, to be honest. Already used to that phenomenon from my novel reading.
For better or for worse, Marvel’s next big event has kicked off and a lot of titles this month are suffixed by .INH to indicate that they are all tie-ins to this big event, that won’t actually start till April of next year. Its a fact that Marvel comics this year have been embroiled in one event after another almost non-stop, and that things aren’t looking to slow down either. Last month’s Uncanny X-Men #14 was an issue where one minor character got his time to shine, independent of any tie-in business. It was quite an average issue at best, and far too removed from previous events so I was looking to see if this month’s issue would be better.
Uncanny X-Men #15 is barely better, at least in terms of writing. The first half of the issue is really good, but once all the Inhumanity stuff gets started, the issue takes a big nose-dive and it is quite disappointing because of how incidental it all seems. So definitely a mixed issue at best, and I’m really lamenting that this issue is not as independent as the previous issue. However, one thing I can say with confidence is that the art is pretty damn good, aside from a few off things here and there. Kris Anka is the guest artist on the issue and his work is glorious.
In the last few years, a really interesting trend has surfaced. When it comes to the entertainment industry, specifically the visual media segment, movies based on Marvel Comics characters have set a new benchmark for box office success in the superheroes genre. DC Comics characters have struggled to meet those same successes outside of the tentpole movies like the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and the recent Man of Steel. On the flipside, television shows featuring DC Comics characters have established their own high benchmarks that Marvel Comics characters are struggling to meet, rather desperately so. Case in point, the brand-new Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been hemorraging viewers every single week while DC’s Arrow, now in its second season, has continued apace and its success has led to DC green-lighting several more shows.
However, when it comes to the animation divisions, there is much more equity between the Big 2 of the comics industry, and this is where Wolverine and the X-Men steps in. A fourth animated adaptation of the X-Men characters, the show brings along a whole different team, and things start off with a bang, with a three-parter opening arc which puts the X-Men on the offensive from the get go and touches on various different areas of the X-Men universe. It is bold, it is ambitious, and based on the first three episodes it is also rather good.
For this new seasonal end of year list, the fifth book cover that I pick is Christian Schoon’s debut novel from Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry, Zenn Scarlett. Launched last year, Strange Chemistry has put out some great novels and Zenn Scarlett is certainly one of the best that I’ve read. Despite being a near-future science fiction story set in the near-future on Mars, it is also quite a magical fairy tale as well. I love that dual aspect of the novel and I’d certainly recommend it.
And the fifth comics cover that I pick is the first issue of writer Brian Wood and artist Olivier Coipel’s X-Men. This series made some waves before its release because it is a book absent of any male characters in its core team of X-Men. A more appropriate title for this book would have been X-Women. As it is, many people refer to it is as such any way, typically X-(Wo)Men. This is the book that got me really started with reading the X-books, and its been a fun ride for the most part. Another recommended series to read!
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.
For this new seasonal end of year list, the fourth book cover that I pick is Brian McClellan’s debut novel for Orbit Books, Promise of Blood, the first novel in the Powder Mage gunpowder fantasy series that, for me, does some really new things with magic systems. Additionally, it describes a very rich and layered world that is driven by politics on all levels of culture and society. And finally, Brian writes some great action scenes that definitely make it easy to visualise in the mind what’s happening on the pages. That in itself is quite fantastic.
And the fourth comics cover that I pick is the seventh issue of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder. This is the series that really got me to read Marvel comics since it was the only comic from the publisher for months that I was following regularly. The two creators together wove a wonderful space operatic tale with fantasy elements and the comic featured regularly on my end of month lists, which can be found here.
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.
If you’ve been reading your Marvel comics this year then you know that this was Marvel’s biggest year in quite a while, what with all the different events and major crossovers going on. I touched on this last night in my review of Jonathan Hickman’s 6-issue Infinity event. The next big phase for the Marvel universe involves the Inhumanity event, which is jumping off the events that happened in Infinity with the Terrigen bomb exploding at the moment that the Inhumans’ city Attilan was destroyed. The fallout of the bomb has spread all over the world, awakening powers and mutations in people everywhere. And that’s what the next big event is going to be about, all these newly-minted super-powered people adjusting and adapting to their powers.
Last week Marvel released a one-shot called Inhumanity which is a big tease leading up to the main event itself. There are going to be a lot of such one-shots until the event kicks off and Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipel have been given charge of leading the brigade and getting the Marvel fanbase interested in what’s happening next. Since this event is a spin-off of Infinity, we see a fair bit of recap here, as well as some big truths are offered up about the Marvel universe, truths that have been kept a secret all this time. It was a fairly decent issue, definitely among Fraction and Coipel’s better issues, and I have to say that I’m very curious about it all.