The Flickering Myth writing team pick their favourite comic books of 2013....
2013 has been an exceptional year for comic books. It's one of those years where both the independent publishers and mainstream comic companies have been going toe to tow with quality titles. It's been an embarrassment of riches for comic book fans, and I have found myself enjoying so many titles week after week. The quality of the work being done should be commended, as should the variety of titles out there. I can't remember a year with so many choices. Marvel's superhero titles have never been better. Image has been putting out fantastic fiction and sci-fi titles that are leading the industry in innovation and entertainment value. Dark Horse's pulp line of comics has seen a welcome resurgence. The long dormant Valiant characters have made an amazing comeback. IDW is putting out some fun, over the top titles. And DC Comics... well... ummm... lets see... Batman and the Justice League titles have been fun. The rest of the New 52 could be called "the forgettable 50."
Still, even with hilarious editorial gaffes over at DC, the rest of the industry seems to be firing on all cylinders. Here's a look at some of our favorite comics from the funny book loving staff here at Flickering Myth...
My Favorite Comic of 2013 - Zero
The concept behind Zero is nothing short of brilliant. The story itself is an espionage tale with a heavy dose of science fiction shenanigans shoe-horned in. While the storytelling from writer Ales Kot is top notch, it's the execution of this series that has made me such a fan. Each issue is drawn by a different artist. In theory, the idea of a constantly revolving door of artists feels like it could prevent creative cohesion or feel disruptive to the readers. However, Kot's cavalcade of artists have delivered an experience that is both unique and singular. Every issue feels like something familiar and something new. The cloak and dagger story is engaging and the artistic experiment gives each new issue a new twist. 2013 was a year in which I marveled over how good mainstream comics were becoming, and yet its still the independents who find a way to create a new experience. As a comic reader for over thirty years, the exhilarating feeling of discovery can't be dismissed. Zero is a revelation, a damn fine read, and the best discovery of 2013.
Runner Up - The Superior Spider-Man
I come here to praise Dan Slott, not to bury him. Reaction to Slott's take on everyone's favorite web slinger has been polarizing to say the least. The mind of Peter Parker is gone, hijacked by Doctor Octopus who plans to recreate Spider-Man in his own image. Putting a mad scientist in the driver's seat of one of comics' most iconic characters is the kind of weird risk I wish more mainstream titles would take. Watching Doctor Octopus deal with the many maladies of Parker's existence and handle them with the subtlety of a mustache twirling mad villain has been one of the best highlights of 2013. The art by Gage and Ramos has been top notch with some of the most kinetic and interesting panels on the shelf. All of it feels like it's building to something epic. I know a lot of fans want Peter Parker back in control, but if I'm being honest here, The Superior Spider-Man has been the most entertaining this book has been in ages. I know it can't go on forever. I just wish it would.
Gary Collinson - Editor in Chief
I've never been much of an Expanded Universe fan, and you'd have to go back to the old Marvel days for the last time I was a regular reader of a Star Wars comic. However, Brian Wood's relaunched series has had me hooked from the very first issue and is far and away my favourite comic book title of 2013. Taking place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the series follows the Rebel Alliance as it searches for a new base following the Battle of Yavin, while Darth Vader and the Imperial Fleet desperately look to gain revenge for the destruction of the Death Star. It's rare that a Star Wars product deserves to be mentioned anywhere near the same breath as the Original Trilogy, but this series is does, and it's required reading for any and all Star Wars fans.
Runner Up - G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files
IDW relaunched its G.I. Joe continuity with three new books this year - G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe: Special Missions and G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files. Overall, the relaunch been disappointing, but if it wasn't for The Cobra Files it would have been an unmitigated disaster. Contining on from the previous Cobra volume, The Cobra Files is a world away from the simple good guys vs. bad guys approach of your typical Joe title, offering instead a gritty and mature take on the G.I. Joe universe. While Antonio Fuso's art style is an acquired taste, Mike Costa's writing has been superb throughout the entire series, and it's a crying shame that book has come to a premature end after just nine issues
My Favorite Comic of 2013 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Taking an affection for everything that came before, but blasting off in its own direction, TMNT is in its third year and still moving forward strongly. Well paced stories allied with some truly exquisite artwork make for a title that should be picked up by everyone. It's so much more than cool fighting, with heavy doses of heart and characterisation. The Heroes, Villains, and stunning Secret History of the Foot Clan mini series are serious additions, not throwaway fluff, and if like me you didn't think much of Michelangelo, prepare to have your mind changed!
Runner Up - Batman
Make no mistake, this is an awesome title. Were it not for a few lulls and and some arc conclusions that didn't match up to the main story, this would be #1 without question. Snyder 'gets' Batman. He isn't infallible, striking a perfect balance between the God-like presence of Morrison's run and the gruff no-nonsense Miller Batman. I'm not completely sure what a perfect Batman design would look like, but Greg Capullo's can't be far off. If you're into DC and aren't picking up this title you're doing comics wrong.
My Favorite Comic of 2013 - Godzilla: The Half Century War
2013 has been a good year for the King of the Monsters with the trailer for his new movie impressing audiences around the world and Chris Mowry's Godzilla: Rulers of Earth has thus far to be quite the fan pleaser.
However there was a period in the earlier part of 2013 in which Godzilla was having a pretty dismal run in comic book form. It's not as though Duane Swierczynski's run was awful, it just wasn't very good. It was a very simple and slow story that was needlessly stretched out to the point where it became a chore to read. The series had a good list of characters from the franchise, but they weren't used to good effect.
Luckily enough, we had Godzilla: The Half Century War out at the same time.
The five-part mini-series followed a young Japanese soldier follow Godzilla's escapades and attacks across a 50 year period, from attacks on Tokyo to all over the globe. Like a lot of good Godzilla movies, it moved the focus away from the The Big G and gave audiences a human avatar to view his destruction through. The story, while not exactly brilliant, was very engaging and the main character Ota is incredibly likeable with his quest to kill Godzilla driving his motivation.
The series also used characters from the Godzilla library very wisely with the huge multi-kaiju battle in issue #3 being one of the highlights. The double-page splash of Godzilla blasting Hedorah while Kumonga and Megalon fight in the background with Mothra flying overhead and Rodan crashing into a building still remains one of the best all-year.
Perhaps it was the time of release as it was a refreshing change of pace from the emptiness of the on-going series, but Stokoe's Godzilla: The Half Century War is probably the best comic based around The King of the Monsters ever released and easily the best comic read all year. The artwork was spellbinding, the writing was brilliant and the overall tone made it a joy to read. Mowry's current Godzilla: Rulers of Earth has been excellent thus far, but it hasn't grabbed its audience quite like Godzilla: The Half Century War did.
Ian Flynn has been a cornerstone of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book universe at Archie for some time now, but none of his previous work has matched up to the fun and excellence of Worlds Collide - the first crossover between Sonic and Mega Man.
With 12-issues spanning three comic titles, Worlds Collide was a crossover that encapsulated everything fun about bringing two iconic franchises together. As comic readers, we're instantly attracted to the idea of seeing two properties interact with one and other and Worlds Collide is no different. Like Super Smash Bros, Worlds Collide was a celebration of both game series that also had the extra bonus of having a compelling, interesting and captivating story. Let's face it, the Archie Mega Man comics have never been brilliant but this is the first time the Blue Bomber has looked good on printed paper (although his recent The Curse of Ra Moon arc has been pretty good).
The true joy of the series came from the interactions of the characters and while Sonic and Mega Man trying to play the bigger hero was fun, the real brilliance came from the bromance between Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily. The opening comic of the series was used to set up their evil plan, but their dialogue was simply hilarious and so good that it got to a point where you wanted them to the focal point of the series. There was a variant cover released for one issue which had the evil doctors riding a tandem bike - encapsulating the sheer joyful nonsense that their friendship brought to the comic world.
A brilliant read from start to end, Worlds Collide might look like fan service on the surface but there was something more just pleasing fans of both franchises. It was a well-written, beautifully drawn and energetic comic that deserved more love than from just the hardcore fanbase.
My Favorite Comic of 2013 - Think Tank
A fantastic, intelligent, global thriller with a subtle and smart level of humour that even with an impending global war breaking you still leave the comic with a smile upon your face.
What were your favourite comic books of 2013? Let us know in the comments below...
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.