Accentuate The Positive: The Best Of Comics In 2014
One month gone into 2015 and I'm just now providing a very belated take on the best comics of 2015? Yes, I have become the Jim Lee of comics blogging. Having an infant and a two-year-old will do that to you. I'll probably have forgotten some key ones, but here's current take on my favorite comics of 2014:
Twilight Zone Annual: Takers - While it's not as well-written or well-drawn as my other entries here, I just have to include this story for the sheer schadenfreude of seeing a Paul Ryan analog being transported back to the Great Depression and eaten alive by cannabalistic poverty-stricken Depression-era Dust Bowl residents in a Shirley Jackson-esque lottery. Karma is sweet, even if it's fictional. And as icing on the cake, his name is "Galt Randall". I kid you not!
Sex Criminals - "The Lick-ed And The Divine". That almost catapulted the book into THE best of the year. Also, I want Chip Zdarsky to draw all contraception instructionals.
The Wicked + The Divine - Kieron Gillen's ruminations on mortality and celebrity + Jamie McKelvie's breathtaking artwork = WIN!
The Fuse - Murder mysteries in space. A thrilling combination.
Ms. Marvel - 2014 was the year of Kamala Khan. At a time when Muslim characters are considered by some to be a gimmick or a PR stunt, G. Willow Wilson gave us one who was a compelling and likeable person. And the Alphona art seals the deal.
Multiplicity: The Just - This comic was Kingdom Come if it had been written by Kieron Gillen. And that's a good thing.
Multiplicity: Thunderworld - This was definitely a Fawcett Captain Marvel story written by Grant Morrison, alright. And that's an extremely good thing.
Saga - This series won my "Best" award back in 2012 and it's still just as good now.
Grendel vs. The Shadow - How great was this Matt Wagner comic? Let's put it this way: Before reading it I had so little knowledge of Grendel that I didn't even know he was a bad guy, yet this miniseries hooked me instantly.
Black Canary And Zatanna: Bloodspell - The best way I can describe this fishnet-laden team-up is pure concentrated fun. And the Joe Quinones art is fantastic.
She-Hulk - I can't believe this is the same Charles Soule who wrote Superman/Wonder Woman, because he is fantastic here. And Javier Pina's art is an absolute delight.
Silver Surfer - She named the surfboard "Toomey"! As in "Toomey, my board"!
Sensation Comics - Not all news on the Wonder Woman front was bad this year. This anthology gave us wonderful takes on DC's most iconic heroine by creators who actually get her. Now why in the fresh hell can't we get that in the Nu52?
Grayson - It boggles my mind how a gem like this comic sprung from the steaming turd that was Forever Evil. But Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin make this concept work, even ably explaining how a hero whose identity has been exposed to the entire world can function as a secret agent. When done right, Dick Grayson can be one of the most uplifting characters in the DC Universe, and here Seeley and King do him very right, even out of costume. And he works extremely well in this spy motif.
Boo! Halloween Stories Vol. 2: Murder Ballad - Last year a few Twitter compatriots and comic creators came together, under the guidance of Jon Morris, to give us Boo! Halloween Stories Vol. 1. Among them were the team of Ken Lowery and Shawn McGuan, who gave us a From-Dusk-Til-Dawn-esque romp featuring brother-sister musicians June and Johnny Valentine. This year, both gentlemen dramatically stepped up their game with this stunning prequel story. Lowery shifts the tone 180 degrees for a jarringly serious and thoughtful story tinged with fascinating musical folklore. McGuan, for his part, gives us a fuller sense of his true artistic range than in last year's tale. Observe:
Astro City - Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have been outdoing themselves since they relaunched. But the best story was this year's "Wish I May" which told the story of teen villain Simon Says and his archenemy Starbright. This one straight up moved me to tears.
But the best of 2014 had to be:
Daredevil - Mark Waid's run on the Man Without Fear's comic has been one of my top five favorite comics since it began in 2011. His first volume of DD, the latter portion illustrated by Chris Samnee, consistent wowed me issue after issue. However, when he began his second volume this past year, Waid has managed to up his game on this character even further. He started by choosing to take Matt Murdock out of his New York comfort zone and send him to California. Waid clearly researches the hell out of every issue he writes. This is apparent not only in his take on Matt's struggles in his new surroundings, but also his analyses of the effects of postpartum depression (and when have you seen a comic tackle postpartum depression of all things?) and general depression itself are brilliant. Waid really puts Matt through his paces, presenting him and the reader with fascinating and puzzling dilemmas and showing us Matt's process as he comes up with the ingenious solutions necessary to extricate himself from them. Best of all, he makes Matt's morality and strength of character shine throughout the series. This has been a virtually perfect comic series.