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!
The third book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Christie Golden’s World of WarCraft tie-in novel The Shattering: Prelude To The Cataclysm. This novel marked a resurgence of my interest in reading tie-in fiction outside of Warhammer, Star Wars or Star Trek, and took me back to the days when I first read The Last Guardian and Rise of The Horde, two of the best WoW novels I’ve read to date. And since I never got to play the Cataclysm expansion properly at level, this prequel novel did much to soothe that longing.
The third set of comic covers I pick this year are for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs, with the cover done by Steve Morris, and the second one is for Superior Spider-Man Annual #2, also by Christos Gage, though he worked with pencillers Javier Rodriguez and Philippe Briones on this one, with the cover done by Michael Del Mundo. The former marked my first foray into reading Buffy comics, though I had read some of the Angel & Faith comics before that and the latter was another dip into the Superior Spider-Man territory, the premise of which I find rather intriguing, to say the least and love it as well.
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.
Following the close of the first big arc on the new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, writer Christos Gage launched into another fun arc that saw the Scoobies deal with ghosts of the haunted house variety even as they discussed some real-life, immediate problems such as housing. Christos’ consistency on the title was matched by guest artists Karl Moline and Cliff Richards who did a great job of staying consistent themselves with how Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson had handled things before and together the three of them delivered another great Scoobies adventure..
This week’s new issue sees Xander moving in with Spike, which is followed by some excellent bonding and bromance between the two, and also sees the rest of the gang dealing with their own problems, such as coming to terms with some of the recent changes in their lives. A good part of the issue is devoted to how Xander feels about Dawn, and how Spike feels about Buffy and that was kind of fun, to see some of the lingering threads addressed here. As always, I only have good things to say about this creative team, and nothing negative since they are so damn good each month..
Thankfully, I’m finally settling back into the groove with comics reading and, most importantly, comics reviewing, as I managed to review a fair bit of titles this week and even caught up with reviewing some previous titles that I’ve unfortunately had to neglect for one reason or another.
The surprise hits of this week were Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War: Billy and Mandy #1 from IDW Publishing, Wolverine Annual #1 from Marvel Comics and Vampirella #3 from Marvel Comics. The surprise flop of the week would be Batman: Eternal #20 from DC where the title seems headed downwards just when it was getting once again, and The Wicked + The Divine #3 from Image where the title took a nosedive this week after a second issue that was really good. No graphic novels again sadly, though I hope to correct that that this week. I hope..
Last month writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs closed out their first arc on the new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it was a pretty damn awesome issue by all counts. Pretty much perfect in fact, an issue that I really, really liked. The two of them were a really solid team and with this new season of Buffy they’ve made me really nostalgic for the good old days of watching Buffy and Angel on the small screen. That’s as it should be, by my count, since these are tie-in comics that continue on the story of the shows once they finale’d themselves and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 especially is one of the best new comics of this year.
The new arc on this series sees Rebekah Isaacs replaced by the duo of Karl Moline and Cliff Richards, and what’s great is that the two of them stay really close to Rebekah’s own style. Christos still tells a damn good story, one which involves all the members of the team as they try to get back to some semblance of a normal life after the recent events involving Dracula and the demon Maloker. The personal story here really speaks out to some real problems the team faces and I loved how that transitioned to a really great mission.
Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs launched the tenth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in great fashion some five months ago, and they’ve made this book into one of my top favourites of the year, something that I can depend on being super-good month after month. As I’ve said before, I got introduced to this due through their work on Angel & Faith Season 9 and they’ve brought the same awesomeness to this title. Reliving the adventures of this entire group through this new lens of comics is an incredible experience and the best things about it all remain the best still.
In last month’s Buffy #4, we saw that Dracula, out of his own hubris and inconsiderate manipulation of Xander, had begun to turn into the demon Maloker, the demonic father of all Vampires. In the midst of all the great character interactions, Christos Gage told a really involved story about friendships, love, betrayal, infatuation and manipulation, and he continues all of that in last week’s Buffy #5 as the first arc of the new season draws to a close. Not to be outdone, Rebekah also turns in some fantastic artwork coupled with brilliant colours from Dan Jackson.
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!
With the return of magic to the world and Giles to the world of the living at the end of Season 9, there have been quite a few interesting things happening in good old Sunnyvale, not the least of which is that there are some powerful vampires out there right now, vampires who exhibit some powers similar to Dracula, one of the most powerful vampires to have ever lived, and indeed a master vampire himself. With their first three issues Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs have knocked the story out of the park and made Buffy the Vampire Slayer an absolute must-read series.
In the new issue released yesterday, the duo deal with the resulting consequences of Dracula coming to Sunnyvale with Xander and Dawn to help the team against the powerful newborn vampires and then absconding with the book that rewrite the rules of magic as the owner sees fit. There are some true-to-form hilarious moments in the issue that make all the doom and gloom worthwhile and we also see some great examples of solid chemistry between the different characters, as well as their inter-personal relationships. Oh and the art is gorgeous and awesome as always too.
Dark Horse Comics, undoubtedly the king of tie-in comics, might have lost the license for all future Star Wars titles, but the publisher has not that be an obstacle this year, for it launched several new titles in the first quarter of the year and two of these titles are fan-favourites coming back for another run, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10. The first two issues of Buffy, under the pen and pencil of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs have been quite fascinating issues that have rekindled my interest in the Buffyverse and the series has quickly become one of absolute must-have titles each month.
Released today, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #3 picks up from where we were at the end of issue #2 and is the tale of Xander and Dawn bringing Count Dracula back to the United States for his help in countering all the new (and powerful) vampires who seem to be everywhere these days. There is a hell of a lot of humour in the title this month, largely because of Xander and Dracula’s interaction, and I loved every moment of it. Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on the show itself, joins Christos Gage on the writing this month while Rebekah and Dan are still on as artists, and all of them turn out another great issue.
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!
Dark Horse brought back its mainline Buffyverse titles for their tenth “season” last month with the first issues of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith. Both issues were excellent, with some fantastic art and some great writing, so going into this month, I was looking for more of the same. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 in particular was a really fun ride and it did a great job of reconnecting me with all these characters that I’d lost contact with after going through all seven seasons of the television series back in college, which was quite a while ago! But they are all back now and I have a good feeling about all of this.
Released today, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #2 picks up from right where the first issue left off and it does a lot of things. Writer Christos Gage jampacks this issue with all sorts of things, most notable of which is all the character development in the second half, especially as far as the newly-resurrected Giles is concerned. And the artwork by Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson is just as good here as it was in the first issue, if not better. Great vibe to the whole issue.
In my reviews of the firs two volumes of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs’ Angel & Faith series, I mentioned how much I used to love Buffy back in the mid-00s. It took me a while to get warmed up to the show when I started watching it in college (after having caught an episode here and there in high school), but when I did, I was totally into it. I could watch 3-4 episodes of the show back-to-back without taking a break. Those weekend nights were long in those days. I haven’t kept up with the comics series that have followed the show since it went off-air, partly because I find the sheer number of them to be intimidating.
But, with the first issue of the new season out, I think that it is time for a change, and what a change it is. There have been some pretty big events in the Buffy-verse since I was last in touch with it, especially after I read those two Angel & Faith volumes in 2012, but I have to say that the way Christos Gage wrote this issue, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. He put me right at home with the characters, and Rebekah Isaacs’ art was just superb all the way.