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 tenth book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Gareth Powell’s second Ack-Ack Macaque novel, Hive Monkey, which was an absolute joy to read this year. It follows on from last year’s Ack-Ack Macaque and is pretty much just as good a novel, if not better. Gareth expanded on the world he’d created for this series, and he did it magnificently, with a twist that you could never have seen coming from a mile off. That’s the fun thing about his work, his twists are always awesome.
The first of the tenth set of comic covers I pick this year is for Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 by Ales Kot, Marco Rudy and VC’s Clayton Cowles with the cover by Marco only. The second is for Catwoman #35 by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, Lee Loughridge, Sal Cipriano and Taylor Esposito, with the cover by Jae Lee and June Chung. The third is for Predator: Fire and Stone #1 by Joshua Williamson, Christopher Mooneyham, Dan Brown and Nate Piekos of Blambot with the cover by Lucas Graciano. The first cover is for the first issue of a new Bucky Barnes series set in the aftermath of the recent Original Sin
event wherein Bucky undertook a thankless but vital task on behalf of all of humanity, inheriting one of Nick Fury’s oldest burdens. The second comic is a soft reboot on the title and follows on from events in Batman: Eternal that see Selina Kyle leave behind her life as Catwoman to become Selina Calabrese-Kyle, one of the most powerful of all the mob bosses in Gotham, and the switch has been darn amazing. The third one is yet another new comic that is a part of Dark Horse’s wider Fire and Stone event and is definitely among the best of the four new mini-series launched by the publisher.
So without further ado, hit the break to see all the covers in their full glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.
Almost a month after the last time, I finally had a Magic 40 week! And not just any plan Magic 40 week, but one where I managed to read three graphic novels as well!
For this week, the surprise hits were Fables: The Wolf Among Us #1 from Vertigo Comics, Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #6 and Spider-Man & The X-Men #1 from Marvel Comics, Justice League #32-36 from DC Comics and The Valiant #1 from Valiant Comics. The comic (yes, the only one!) that proved to be rather disappointing, even unexpectedly so, was New Suicide Squad #5 from DC. Apart from that, a good run continued on several other titles like Hexed, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Batman: Eternal, Birthright, Prometheus: Fire and Stone and others.
The three graphic novels for this week were: Grimm Fairy Tales: Code Red Volume 1, which is set during the recent Age of Darkness crossover event from Zenescope Entertainment, Mighty Avengers Volume 2 from Marvel, which is an effort by me to catch up on this mostly-good title, and Supergirl Volume 1, which is an older Supergirl title, pre-New 52.
This segment is proving to be quite interestingly popular in certain corners, and I still am taken with how it allows me to cover so many more comics than I would otherwise be able to. It is suitably time-intensive as well, which can sometimes wear on me when I have so much more to do, but not such a big deal. Plus, choosing which comic to feature here, while a challenge, is also quite a fun process in and of itself, so that’s something as well.
The picks for this week are: Brides of Helheim #3, Chastity #4-6, Dredd Uprise #2, Hexed #5, Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 and Prometheus: Fire and Stone #3-4. Lots of catch-up on the reviews this week, as you can see!
No “Magic 40” this week since I wasn’t able to get around to a lot of the comics I wanted to get through this week, largely because I am traveling and in India for a cousin’s marriage. These things always take up a lot of time. I haven’t even had a chance to work on my NaNo novel these past two days!
Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were Amazing Spider-Man #10 and Spider-Woman #1 from Marvel Comics. Other than that, the regularly great titles like Black Widow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 , Future’s End, Predator: Fire and Stone and Witchblade all proved to be immensely fun.
The graphic novels for this week were Aphrodite IX v2 Volume 2 by Matt Hawkins, Stjepan Sejic and Troy Peteri, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Volume 2 by Dan Abnett, Rafael Kayanan, Kathryn Layno, Deron Bennett, Yildiray Cinar, Randy Mayor, Michael S. O’Hare, Frazer Irving, Pop Mhan, Tom Derenick, Tony Avina, Ken Lashley and Ryan Sook.
Last month Dark Horse kicked off yet another Fire and Stone crossover book wih Joshua Williamson and Christian Mooneyham’s Predator, that is the tail-end of the stories being told in this crossover. With Galgo sacrificing his crew yet again to get out of a tight scrap, it was a very fun issue that also showcased the utter deadliness of the Predator and it seems that both the writer and the artist have the monster alien hunter down pat, since they imbue him with all the hallmarks of that which made the original films so good all those years ago.
This week’s Predator: Fire and Stone #2 continues Galgo’s story as he tries to fight against the Predator who took over the Perses in the last issue. Well, more like ineffectual resistance since the Predator pretty much caught by the end of the issue and now Galgo is basically Ahab the Predator’s servant. Of sorts. It is pretty awesome. Joshua really ups the stakes with this issue, giving us some background on the Predator early on, and then launches off on a really fun story. And the art? It is pretty damn perfect too!
Dark Horse Comics’ big re-energising of its various Alien, Predator and Alien vs Predator franchises began last month when the publisher launched new 4-issue mini-series for each franchise, and also another one for Ridley Scott’s last, Prometheus, which is the prequel to the first Alien movie. All four books have been quite amazing so far and the great thing about them is that they all flow from one to the other, to show how Prometheus‘ LV-223 came to be infested with Xenomorphs and how they spread out and how the Predators got involved. Really fun stuff!
Christopher Sebela and Ariel Olivetti’s Alien vs Predator: Fire and Stone is the story of how the survivors of the Geryon and the other ships get off LV-223 and how they bring xenomorphs aboard thanks to the android Elden who is somehow corrupted during Prometheus: Fire and Stone and becomes the big bad monster of this series. Following the scientist Francis and the gun-arm Galgo and even Galgo, this is pretty much how I expected a fight between the Xenomorphs and Predators to go down. Ariel Olivetti’s leaves some things to be desired, but the sheer ferocity of the Predators and the horror of the Xenomorphs is captured very well!
Coming in at the tail-end of the 1980s, Predator stands as one of the best contemporary action-horror SF movies I’ve seen to date. Sure, the movie has a rather thin plot and the characters are archetypes for the most part, but come on, it had Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers trying to out-bicep each other and the whole concept of an alien tribal hunter stalking a special forces unit in the jungles of Central America. I think it is pretty great, personally, specifically the second half, which I think is fairly strong on its own. Though, must be said that most Arnie action movies are awesome. Its Arnie!
Going along with Dark Horse’s recent revival of the Alien and Predator franchises, this week saw the release of Predator: Fire and Stone #1, which is set after the events of Prometheus: Fire and Stone #4 (not yet released) and Alien vs Predator: Fire and Stone #1 (released). The timeline juggling is interesting, but the great thing is that Joshua Williamson focuses on the immediate story and gives the reader just enough about the previous stuff that it is not a crutch. This is a great survival horror story, or the start of one, and artist Christopher Mooneyham does an incredible job illustrating all of it.
Despite having a star-cast, Ridley Scott’s 2012 venture Prometheus was a complete dud for me, as I’ve mentioned in my review of the movie from more than two years back. It stands as one of the worst movies I saw that year, and does an incredible disservice to the the Alien franchise, more so than the later sequels of the same name. However, it cannot be denied that there are indeed some interesting narrative points in the movie worth a second look, and that’s what Dark Horse Comics is intending to focus on its new series, Prometheus: Fire and Stone, part of a new age of books in the Alien, Predator and Aliens vs Predator franchises.
Prometheus: Fire and Stone takes place many years after the end of the movie, some hundred and twenty-six years in the future, when one of the neighbouring worlds to the moon designated LV-223. It follows a new crew, following in the distant footsteps of the Prometheus, intending to recover some valuable salvage from LV-223. But what they find on the planetoid/moon surprises them, and they inevitable run into a horde of aliens, setting off a great story that is quite typical of the franchise. These two issues are really great and I liked the art as well, worth making a movie about, actually!
Getting back into the groove of comics reading I might be, but I’m still struggling with getting around to graphic novels/trade paperback collections, and that’s something I really regret. Every month that pile gets higher and higher with no end in sight and it kind of depresses me. But there’s so much new material to read too!
Anyway, the surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War! #3 from IDW Publishing, Sundowners #1 from Dark Horse Comics, Wayward #1 from Image Comics and Star Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I.Zombie from DC Comics. The surprise flops of the week would be Smallville: Continuity #1 from DC and Star Trek: City On The Edge Of Forever #3 from IDW. After having read some of the previous issues in both, I was really surprised by how boring these were, and of course, Savage Hulk #3 was abysmal, but that was to be expected anyway. The others, well they were all a mix of good and bad, as usual.