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Top 10 Comic Books of 2014

Hello and welcome to my top 10 books of 2014! This is where I expand upon further from my list recently mentioned on the What Are You Reading Comic Book Show. Where I tell you why I love these books so much. I don’t know why we need to know more, these are the books in 2014 that stood out among a very strong and impressive market.

10. Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour

I can oddly relate to this book. Having to go back to my hometown where I grew up in a situation where I really didn’t want to go but had to and I remembered by the hell I wanted to leave and never come back. That said, Southern Bastards is much more interesting than anything revolving around my reasoning of relating to it.

The year has been good for the author, wrapping up Wolverine and the X-Men, writing Original Sin, ending Thor: God of Thunder then beginning the next volume of that book, and now his own Image series, a souther gothic crime drama that is heavy on the crime and the drama with a side of compelling characters and backstory.

Aaron writes a damn fine compelling tale that is just downright dirty, disgusting, gritty, and unforgettable. He paints such a vivid picture in the two arcs he’s currently done with the smalltown itself a character as well as the ones that inhabit it. Jason Latour’s art, who weirdly took over Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, draws the book perfectly with his style fitting the tone of the story. I couldn’t think of a better writer/artist team up of the year that truly made the book how it is.

Southern Bastards is a book that will walk right up to you and knock some your teeth out, I love it!

9. Gotham Academy by Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan, and Karl Kerschl

As a rule, for me to consider staying on with a book or considering something as best of the year, I like to read at least five to six issues of a book to get a general feeling for it. So imagine my surprise when I put Gotham Academy on here dispite being only three issues in. That’s how good this book is.

Its helping to change things up at DC and within the Batman series of books. It’s a young adult drama set at a prestigious Gotham prep school with teenagers as our main characters, but they are interesting. I truly care about all these kids, because they also feel like actualy kids of their age. Now there is an underlining mystery over and event that involves out main character Olive Silverlock and her mom that caused a riff between her and boyfriend Kyle.

The book excels at show, don’t tell right away and its fantastic. Fletcher and Cloonan have already made one the most engaging stories out there and character that already have you fully invested. Then there’s the great art which is a standout itself among all books out there by Karl Kerschl. Its bright, grim, alive, and just wonderful. It’s a book that just gets you hooked right away and you’re not going to stop. It buried its way deep into my pull list and I can’t seem to get it out. Gotham Academy. Damn you worked fast.

8. The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber

Marvel’s fan favorite sleeper hit came to a close last month and man what a ride it was. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber created a great Spider-Man that didn’t even have Spider-Man in it. It was about the new Superior Six, even though are five of them, and them being a ragtag team of super villainous misfits in New York City.

They all want respect and have their own twisted ways of going after it. Each character feel so different and fresh and are instantly memorable. They each have their own personality and role within the group for the long con, which is what this book was, a long con. They were a heist team and I love heist stories. They are great and this is no exception. The twist and turns the book takes are exciting and keep you hooked on reading the rest of the book to find out what exactly the endgame is and by Ditko himself is a great ending.

This is another group book of lesser known villains, one where the most well known villain is the clown of the group, that gains a strong cult following, myself included. I love this book and hope there is an omnibus released by Marvel of all 17 issues. Bon Voyage, Superior Foes. I’ll miss you!

7. She-Hulk by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido

A lawyer himself, Soule brings up a very well defined sense of what’s going on when Jennifer Walters shows off her skills in the courtroom. Soule gets legal prescedents right, but really its about more than that, it is about what makes Jennifer Walters such a damn great character and why we love her so damn much. She’s fun, brass, knows how to have a good time, skilled, loving and caring, and all around badass. The first issue demonstrates all of this perfectly in a nice one-in-done issue that’s one the best single issues of the whole year.

Jennifer will do what’s necessary for the name of right be it within the confines the law or when giving a huge great big punch to some Doombots, she’s not going to stop until justice is served for you.

Javier Pulido’s art also is a ball of fun. He has a stylistic look to him, something that’s 60s era like given that his designs can fit the era and still work for a modern day book. It’s an exciting look that I absolutely love to look at. Its just beautiful and dynamic. It gives the book a greatly distinct look.

The book even finally gave us a legal battle of She-Hulk vs. Daredevil. The book reminded us among today’s comic book market there can still be books that are fun, lighter while having a serious side, have some joke, and be very enjoyable. Sad as it is that the book will be gone next month, Charles Soule’s She-Hulk was around long enough this year to help leave a great mark on the market and fans. Can’t wait to see what’s next, Jen!

6. Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

A period piece espiongue book set in London from the creative team of the best run of Captain America ever. Why haven’t you given this book your money yet? I already have.

Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have temaed up again and proved their time on Captain America was not a fluke. Their story on how Miss Moneypenny is truly the world’s greatest spy and framed for James Bond’s murder is constantly intriguing, engaging, action packed, and full of suspense. Brubaker makes the best of his characters and settings, most notable of course being main character Velvet Templeton. In a year that saw comics have much more female protagonists stepping into the forefront, she stood out among them, and not just because of the white streak in her hair. She’s bold, confident, intelligent, honest, and willing to go as far as she can go to get the job done.

Epting’s pencils are perfectly suited for the book given his attention that can make any story better. His characters are some of the most well designed, he gives London a rich, full look, and he can still draw action like a goddamn boss. He makes some really standout sequences and fights.

Velvet hits so many sweet spots for me as a fan that I just love it. Please pick this up.

5. Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

DC’s best book since the New 52 once again remains to be, Batman. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s third year in on the book and they are still keeping the book as fresh as it was back in 2011. Holy shit, Snyder has soldified himself as one of the absolute best Batman writers ever and Greg Capullo is as outstanding as ever with his pencils here. I just love it.

The year saw the book finish up the year long Zero Year epic which ended on a high note of course but then go right into Endgame, which I should note takes places after the events of the weekly Batman Eternal series, is upping the stakes when it comes to the mythos of Batman. Snyder makes everything standout from character to action and its helped by Capullo’s great art which still hasn’t faltered.

The book gets the characters, gets the worlds, gets the history of Batman just goddamn right. I am excited for what this team brings into 2015!

4. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

The winner for my Best New Book of 2014 title once again goes to Marvel Comics for giving us the delight that is the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. Marvel’s decision to give the title of Ms. Marvel to a Pakistani American teenage girl in New Jersey who practices Muslim certainly got the attention Marvel wanted but people wondered if the book would be any good itself. Well I can confirm that it is indeed an amazing book.

Writer G. Willow Wilson writes such a fascinating character who’s first introduction into the book is her writing a crossover fanfiction of The Avengers with Marvel’s equivalent of My Little Pony. Kamala Khan is a great new character. She is us. She is essentially a comic book fan that’s turned into a superhero thanks to the Terrigen Mist, which turns her Inhuman and gives her the ability of shapeshifting.

Wilson makes this book her own. It’s a truly human book since it harkens what its like to be a teenager and trying to figure yourself out. Well you know with superpowers. Kamala deals with all we had to do deal with, but her main conflicts are balancing her hero life with the conflicts she has at home with her parents and her religious duties. Now having a writer of the same religious fate as the character isn’t necessary, but I think Marvel made the right move in handing the reigns over to Wilson who portrays the character, her family, and friends of Muslim fate as they should be, people. This book isn’t promoting or pushing a new religion or viewpoint on you, its telling a damn fine entertaining story of a teenage superhero that harkens back some of the work done in the original run of Spider-Man from back then.

Runaways artist Adrian Alphona brings his distinct style to the book and it’s a gorgeous looking one. His looks for everyone is damn great, New York City and Jersey look vibrant, and when he gets to draw the shapeshifting, it looks great. Your eyes follow along on the story with great delight thanks to his pencils.

Ms. Marvel is a book for all of us and that’s something I think we can all truly admire and enjoy.

3. Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Even since it debuted back in 2011, Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has been Marvel’s best book and the best of what makes superhero comics so goddamn great. After having been put through the ringer by Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Andy Diggle, Matt Murdock was in line for a break and that’s what legendary Mark Waid gave him, starting off what I personally believe to be the best run of Daredevil yet.

The run had many artists but Chris Samnee fit best and he was on for the majority of the run. The initial run of Waid’s tenure came to an end this February and from it came a new volume with Waid and Samnee still on board and it didn’t miss a beat at all. Now set in San Francisco, Daredevil is still the man without fear, still having exciting adventures. Waid just gets this character so well. He writes Matt Murdock so perfectly both in and out the costume, he tackles some themes, including a recent look at depression, which feels all too real. Facing off against the likes of the Owl, the Purple Man, corrupt politics and military, and discovering the truth about his mother, it still feels like a great continuation while being a fresh new volume. Even dealing with the fallout of the ending of the recent run is handled spectacularly.

Chris Samnee’s art is just so simplistically well done its beautiful. He makes everything he draws standout from people, props, cities, and perspective. I just love his style for this book as it fits in so wonderfully. The action and fight sequences have a great even flow to them, never feeling drawn out or too short, they’re done in just the right amount of time needed.

Daredevil remains the best superhero book on the shelves today and I will stand by that statement. Its just such a wonderful read and I kinda pity whoever has to follow up Waid and Samnee when their time on the book comes to a close.

2. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Saga has been one of the most talked about comics ever since its 2012 debut and its well deserved. The new Image creator owned series from comics megaforce Brian K. Vaughn and emerging artist Fiona Staples is a large epic scaled space opera that’s telling some the most personal character stories with humans, winged aliens, a topless spider-woman, a cat that knows when you’re lying, ghost babysitter, and a royal family with TVs for heads.

Now I know I just described how weird the book sounds, and yeah it is, but it is a story about characters, which is what Brian K. Vaughn excels at. His sense of world building and showing rather than telling which was present for Y: The Last Man and Runaways is ever so present here, but the characters he creates are the standouts among his books. You get to know them right away and you get to care for them, love them, hate, them, you run the full gambit of emotions with Vaughn’s characters.

Fiona Staples on art is just amazing, she makes the book a standout on her own as her pencils fits Vaughn’s writing like a glove. Her perspective work is dynamite and helps move the book along so well and her designs on the ships and characters all standout and leave a lasting impression on your mind long after you reading.

Saga is a book that’s just great in every single aspect. The love and craft that goes into this book is incredible and it just shows on every page. If you haven’t read it yet? What are you waiting for? Start reading.

1. Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Image Comics truly took its place among the top of the comic publishing mountain in 2014. It has been there for the past couple of years really but 2014, they took no prisoners with the stories that were being published. The right writers, right artists, the right books and no other book could better personify the great storytelling at Image Comics than Sex Criminals.

Just missing my list last year, I picked up the first few issues of Sex Criminals and consumed them and was instantly hooked. Matt Fraction has always been a writer that grabbed my attention from Immortal Iron Fist, Invincible Iron Man, Uncanny X-Men, and of course, Hawkeye. His tale of people with orgasms that can freeze time, and use said time to rob banks to save a library is the most human book of the year. Fraction’s character work is exceptionally on display here with the leads which are so quirky, honest, and relatable in many ways having one the best stand out issues all year with an issue that deals with what its like to live with depression and being mentally unwell.

Chip Zdarsky’s art is so well defined and nicely detailed and makes the story being told pop and memorable. His effects on the time stopping are fun. The sense of humor from Fraction and Zdarsky combined and their storytelling abilities stood out to me among everything I read in 2014.

The story is a truly weird out there tale, the characters are interesting and compelling, and the emotions feel true. It gets you hooked and invested very quickly. The book is often as outrageous as it sounds but it also knows when to play that down and let our characters tell the story. Each issue has a different centralized focus on it and its exciting to try and see what that might be when you pick up the next one. Once you’re done reading the latest issue or trade, you’re going to want to read more. That is what makes Sex Criminals my book of 2014.


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