In 2012 and, by extension, 2013 we had the greatest surprise in comics in recent years. Or so I believe. Doctor Otto Octavious essentially killed Peter Parker and transferred his consciousness to his body. Now, for more than a year, the “new” Peter Parker has been the Superior Spider-Man, marking a new age in comics where a villain became a hero in an attempt to genuinely do some good. I’ve certainly never read a story like this. Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman’s Superior Spider-Man Volume 1 proved to be an eye-opener in many ways for me, and through all his appearances in other comics, I’ve definitely come to enjoy Superior Spider-Man.
With Marvel’s latest event, Inhumanity, things are gearing up for the launch of the event’s premier series Inhumans in April and in the lead-up we are getting several titles each month which lay down the groundwork. Inhumanity: Superior Spider-Man #1 is one such title that, while it has only a passing connection to the event for now, helps to flesh out the ordinary lives of New Yorkers as they deal with the fallout of the Infinity event and the Terrigen Mists causing widespread mutations all over the world. One of my favourite writers by far, Christos Gage tells a really personal story in this issue and he is assisted most handsomely by Stephanie Hans who turns out one of the most gorgeous comics I’ve seen in a long time.
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!
This was a really busy comics reading week, primarily because I read two graphic novels this time around, both of them for Marvel no less. I have finally dipped my toes in full in Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and the first taste has been quite interesting and fun. On the flip side, the somewhat older Immortal Iron Fist proved to be a bit of a mediocre book, but no less intriguing for that fact and I’m quite interested in the character now. Other than, a lot of the DC comics this week were really good and this is quite pleasing in fact. And Zero Year tie-ins are finally over so I look forward to a month of no such tie-ins.
I still have a big backlog of graphic novels to burn through, so I have that to keep me busy further I suppose. More on that as it happens.
Slightly slow comic-reading week again, but not by all that much since I got to read a graphic novel as well, so that balances things out a little bit. Really interesting week this one, particularly with the launch of a Harley Quinn ongoing from DC Comics and some really good second issues or the start of new arcs for some of the other regular books.
The month is closing out now though, not all that much time left, just a handful of days, and I’d like to end the month on a good high. TO that end, I might well be reading two graphic novels at least this weekend to catch up on things a little since that particular reading pile creeps higher every week or two weeks. Getting almost scary now!
Last year Marvel made controversial history when it killed off Peter Parker and brought in the notorious supervillain Doctor Octopus as the Spider-Man. Doc Ock is the one who killed Peter and took over his body and his memories, essentially becoming Peter Parker, and reinvented the persona of the hero as Superior Spider-Man. As I hadn’t really read any Spidey comics before, I wasn’t really interested in the status quo, not until I began to read Al Ewing’s Mighty Avengers and read Mike Costa’s 3-part crossover Arms of the Octopus.
This is my first comic reading fully about Spider-Ock in his own title. And I have to say that I really liked it. I’ve read Christos’ Angel & Faith comics before and I really liked them, so Christos is definitely a writer I’m willing to try on any title. He brings a simplicity to this issue that really works. This is a fairly good stand-alone story that ties into the larger story being told by Dan Slott, the series writer, and I think it served as a good intro to the reinvented character. It definitely did for me.
As the larger cosmic event Infinity begins winding down, so do the various tie-ins and current arcs going on in the related books. Mighty Avengers, a book which launched in synchronicity with the event in September, ended its first arc this week, and it has been doing quite decently from what I’ve heard of the sales for the first two issues. Of course, there’s also the matter of the exact make-up of the team, which has generated no small amount of buzz itself.
This is a book that showcases the minority characters, and characters that are seemingly overlooked by the rest of the Marvel universe considering that most of the books the publisher is putting out right now are X-Men books with largely similar teams, and Avengers books that are all about the high-profile heroes. Al Ewing has done great in bringing together all these characters and telling a really fun story involving them, partnered up with some decent artwork,
Slow reading this week, mostly because of the fact that my weekend was taken up entirely with celebrations for Diwali, an annual Indian festival, and because the National Novel Writing Month began on the weekend too. So I was either having a blast with cousins, and getting tired out a lot, or doing lots of writing on a new project which you can read about here.
Right mix of comics once again, some of them disappointing, some of them unexpectedly good, and some in between as well. Got another graphic novel finished this week, which was good. I’ve had it on my reading list for ages now, so its nice to get that out of the way and reduce my immense reading pile by that much at least. Pretty tough to maintain a reading list as long as mine.
Next week, or this week rather, should be good since there are a lot of cool comics coming out. And I’m hoping to get another graphic novel out of the way. We’ll see.
Earlier this month, writer Mike Costa began a 3-part crossover story that focused on some of Marvel’s premier heroes, the young X-Men of the past from All-New X-Men, Bruce Banner/Hulk from Indestructible Hulk and Otto Octavius/Spider-Man from Superior Spider-Man. This was a story that brought together a very informal team to deal with a very specific, and quite incidental threat, and thus far, the highlight of the crossover was in the interactions between the characters and the light-hearted charm that Mike brought.
Concluding in this week’s Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special #1, the crossover continues to highlight the fact that what Mike was trying to do here was all about the characters. These are guest issues by him since he’s not working on any of the three titles, and I think it creates a nice way of getting onboard with these characters since you don’t really need to know much about them, other than the broad general stuff, particularly in the case of Otto Octavius being the Superior Spider-Man.
Despite my initial hesitations and concerns, mostly to do with the artist, Mighty Avengers #1 proved to be a rather satisfying read. It maintained a good balance between action and story progression and characterisation. It wasn’t the best first issue I’ve read, but given that I had no idea who any of these characters were, outside of the cameo by Thanos himself, it was still a pretty good comic. Plus it tied into the whole Infinity ongoing crossover event and provided a nice side-story, much like Frank Tieri’s Infinity: Heist (review) is doing.
With the new issue however, Al Ewing has to face a bit of an uphill battle for the precise reason that this series launched in the middle of a crossover and its premise depends on that very crossover. So there are some sacrifices being made here that work against the comic, rather than for. That’s really the big negative point of this series so far.
Its no secret that Marvel, ever since its universe relaunch last year under the Marvel NOW! banner, has released Avengers titles, with all sorts of team make-ups, whether featuring all the older and recognisable heroes or some of the younger generation heroes, many of whom are directly tied to the older heroes. I’ve had a rough time getting into any of Avengers comics because of this and only recently have I made any inroads on that front, having read the first two issues of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Kieron Gillen’s run on Young Avengers so far. Given how Mighty Avengers shaped up with its first issue, it looks like I just might be adding it as well to my regular pull-list alongside Young Avengers.
When it was announced a few months ago, I was kind of really excited for the title. It seemed to feature heroes that I know next to nothing about such as Monica Rambeau and Luke Cage, or heroes whose current incarnation I have no experience with, such as Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body and calling himself the Superior Spider-Man. My excitement was slightly tempered by the fact that Greg Land was drawing this comic, an artist who seems to be quite reviled among many fans to an almost Rob Liefeld level. So I was hesitant going into this title. But I got to say, I kind of really enjoyed this book, on almost all levels.